2007-11-30

next tuesday...

we just won tickets to a private session with tegan & sara from 94.7 FM (a local radio station) next Tuesday! So cool, as we love Tegan & Sara, and we never win anything! Whee :)

doo ba dee doo

Well, yesterday I broke the 500 post mark on my blog. That seems like a lot of blabbing :) Hope you all more or less enjoy it :)

Today I'm listening to the album Some Devil by Dave Matthews, and really enjoying it. I'd highly recommend checking it out if you haven't heard it.

That's about all for today, except that I'm feeling very wintry and holiday-y lately. I'm excited to get a tree and break out decorations soon :)

Happy Friday all!

2007-11-29

sparkle

her eyes by candlelight
sparkle akin to stars
twinkling with the intensity
of God's love

I can't help looking
how could I?
I find something in them
which is a part of my soul

I long to embrace
with everything I am
the soul behind
those sparkling eyes

2007-11-27

the right shape

how is it that
intimacy
closeness
knowing

is perhaps the
single most
desired and
feared thing,
simultaneously?

when I listen
to my own heart
it tells me
it knows
it was made for intimacy

but that its vision
of itself
has been blurred
out of focus,
skewed

because of this
it isn't sure
it's the right shape
compatible
attractive

yet its feeling
of purpose
is strong enough
to leave a
haunting suspicion

that if I tried,
I would find
all the world
is the right
shape

the sun never says - hafiz

Even
After
All this time
The sun never says to the earth,

"You owe
Me."

Look
What happens
With a love like that,
It lights the
Whole
Sky.

i rain - hafiz

I rain
Because your meadows call
For God.

I weave light into words so that
When your mind holds them

Your eyes will relinquish their sadness,
Turn bright, a little brighter, giving to us
The way a candle does
To the dark.

I have wrapped my laughter like a birthday gift
And left it beside your bed.

I have planted the wisdom in my heart
Next to every signpost in the sky.

A wealthy man
Often becomes eccentric,

A divine crazed soul
Is transformed into infinite generosity

Tying gold sacks of gratuity
To the dangling feet of moons, planets, ecstatic
Midair dervishes, and singing birds.

I speak
Because every cell in your body
Is reaching out
For God.

2007-11-23

cooking fun :)

Tonight I was feeling like cooking again, so I looked up recipes, and the one that caught my attention was this recipe for Lemon and Olive Chicken from Martha Stewart. It turned out wonderfully, except the chicken was just slightly too dry, could have cooked for just a minute or two less and it would have been great. Here are some pictures:

The ingredients: some chopped onion, sliced lemons, sliced green olives, crushed garlic, olive oil, chicken broth, and of course, two chicken breasts.


Browning the chicken breasts in our new Le Creuset pot. The best pots ever, they cook so wonderfully.


After cooking, the broth with the olives and lemons and onions and the chicken on top.


Me with the finished product :)


The chicken and broth and veggies in the pot again.


The rice pilaf with the chickpeas cooking in our skillet.


The final product dished up and ready to serve. Yum!

2007-11-20

a mime - hafiz

A mime stands upon a gallows
For a crime he did not do.
When given a last chance to speak,
He remains true to his art.

A crowd of hundreds has gathered
To see his last performance,
Knowing he will not talk.

The mime takes from the sky
The circles of bright spheres,
Lays them on a table,
Expressing deep love
For the companionship and guidance
They have given him for so many years.

He brings the seas before our eyes,
Somehow a golden fin appears, splashes.
Look, dear ones, there is turquoise rain.

He removes his heart from his body and seems to
Arouse all life on this splendid earth
With such a sacred tenderness,
There for an extraordinary moment
It looked like someone was giving birth
To the Christ again.

He mounts his soul upon the body of Freedom.
The great Breeze comes by.
The sun and moon join hands,
They bow so gracefully
That for a moment, for a moment
Everyone knows that God is real,

So the tongue fell out
Of the mouth of this world
For days.

2007-11-19

thoughts about Christ...

The other morning I was reading in the beginning of John, and the first thing it says about Christ's life on earth is sort of the beginning of his "public ministry" so to speak. It struck me again that the first miracle he performs is at a wedding where the host has run out of wine, so he finds the pots that had been set out for the Jewish ritual of purification, has them filled with water, and then tells the servant to take some to the headwaiter. The headwaiter tastes it and realizes it is wine. Now, this says a couple of things to me. First of all, Christ's first miracle is a very human thing. It's not super spiritual or holy or what we would really consider useful in any way. He saves the host of the wedding from humiliation at not being able to afford enough wine for his daughter's wedding. Only the servants knew what happened, as the headwaiter apparently just thought they had found some more wine or something. Also, Christ used the jars that had been set apart for a sacred ritual to make wine in. What this says to me, is that "sacred" is only a label we make up, in a sense. In other words, something we consider sacred is not too high and lofty to be used for something simple or worldly or what we would consider much less than sacred. These "sacred" vessels were not too holy to be used to fill with wine for a party. This may be reading too much into the passage, but I think I can apply that in my own life, in the sense that it changes my perspective on things - the sacred ritual or service is not necessarily more worthwhile or important than the simple pieces of being human. It's not necessarily less worthwhile either, but we have a tendency to view, for instance, a church service or a sacrament or whatever as a very holy and elevated and important thing (which it may be), but if it becomes too holy to touch humanity, then we have lost our perspective.

I also find it interesting that basically the next thing that happens after the wedding, is that Christ goes to Jerusalem, to the temple, and when he finds the people there making a profit from religion by selling the animals for offerings and changing money, he makes a whip, drives the livestock away, and overturns all the tables. As far as I can remember, this is one of the very few violent outbursts recorded from Christ, and it is in relation to people making profit by way of religion. Here is my first thought about why this was such a big deal. In terms of the Jewish religion, the sacrifices and offerings were the appointed way to make your relationship with God right again. Therefore, the intended point of those rituals was something very solemn and crucial. However, if you start, for instance, selling cattle, sheep, etc at the temple to be sacrificed - you subvert the meaning of the sacrifice. That is, the point for you is now at least partially diverted to making an income, and not simply restoring your relationship with God. In this way, I think that if you do anything in life with a secondary motive, the thing itself loses meaning to you. For example (one I've used before) - if I get into the coffee shop business partly to make coffee, but also to make profit and open more stores and spread and become popular, then the coffee will lose its importance to me, and I will sacrifice it for the profit and the stores and the spreading and the popularity. If I get into the music business partly to make music, but also to make a profit and to become popular and to be famous, eventually the music I make will become banal, formulated and just like everything else. I think Christ saw this and was outraged that people would subvert something so important, and also just saw the danger of this attitude in general. So, this warns me about making my relationship with God an enterprise of any kind, giving it any kind of secondary meaning or motive other than simply knowing and loving God. It also warns me against trying to manipulate others for my own gain by use of religion. And I see it as a pretty strong warning.

Ok, that's all for now :)

yum!

Last night for dinner, I made a Martha Stewart Irish Lamb Stew Recipe. It turned out really well, was the perfect meal for a cold wintry night, served with a nice fresh french loaf from New Seasons, our local lovely happiest-grocery-store-ever. I also got my lamb stew meat there, as well as some lovely carrots, celery and potatoes. I added celery and a bay leaf to the recipe, and I used Black Boss Porter for the beer base. I'm sure Guinness or some other kind of porter or stout would also work well as a base. Anyway, I highly recommend it if you like lamb and you're feeling the need for a good, hearty winter meal. Warning, it takes a good few hours from start time to eat time. But it's worth it :)

2007-11-17

city of my youth - czesław miłosz

It would be more decorous not to live. To live is not decorous,
Says he who after many years
Returned to the city of his youth. There was no one left
Of those who once walked these streets.
And now they had nothing, except his eyes.
Stumbling, he walked and looked, instead of them,
On the light they had loved, on the lilacs again in bloom.
His legs were, after all, more perfect
Than nonexistent legs. His lungs breathed in air
As is usual with the living. His heart was beating,
Surprising him with its beating, in his body
Their blood flowed, his arteries fed them with oxygen.
He felt, inside, their livers, spleens, intestines.
Masculinity and femininity, elapsed, met in him
And every shame, every grief, every love.
If ever we accede to enlightenment,
He thought, it is in one compassionate moment
When what separated them from me vanishes
And a shower of drops from a bunch of lilacs
Pours on my face, and hers, and his, at the same time.

the darjeeling limited...

...was a fantastic film... very Wes Anderson. the cinematography, sets and the story were all wonderful. Well worth seeing, especially if you are a fan of his other films (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic). One of the best things about his films, in my opinion, is his use of music. It's not all music I would just listen to on its own, but it always seems to set the exact perfect mood and tone for the film at the point it is put in. Ok, here are a couple of pictures of the evening (not the film). Cheers and happy weekend!



2007-11-16

ann coulter

Well, I have to say, I'd never had the "pleasure" of knowing much about Ann Coulter prior to today... I have to say, I'm not really excited to learn more after reading the article on the front of her website (as of Nov 16, 2007). She basically just blasts anyone she doesn't agree with (including all Pakistanis and people with degrees from Harvard) as being terrorists, saying America is their enemy (particularly "liberals"), and slings all kinds of mud. Basically the entire article is just one big long mud-slinging. It doesn't even really address any issues, it basically just says "and they're stupid for this, and they're stupid for this other thing, etc."

From reading a couple of other things on her site, they are simply egocentric, arrogant and unthinking - for instance, in discussion about the war in Iraq, the argument is made that since we aren't really losing many more soldiers in the war in Iraq than we did in 1980 during peacetime, it therefore means that the war is a success and we should just keep on trucking! First of all, there's no mention of what the war is about or whether the motives for the war are valid, there's no mention of war-related deaths other than US Military (i.e. British, Polish, Lithuanian, etc troops, Iraqi civilians, civilians and political figures from other countries who get caught in the crossfire). Simply the fact that there aren't all that many US Military deaths means the war is justified and we should absolutely keep going, and anyone who would say otherwise (Democrats are specifically mentioned) is an enemy of America and an America-hater.

Ok, I should probably stop there. Sometimes I really hate politics in general, politics in America, and that's from both sides. I think both extremes (left and right) are equally ridiculous.

friday night entertainment


FOR YOUR VIEWING PLEASURE




SHOWING FOR THE FIRST TIME
AT THE CINEMAGIC THEATER


THE DARJEELING LIMITED
A WES ANDERSON FILM



The CineMagic theater is a little one screen, 420 person theater in SE Portland that has been around since 1914. We also saw The Science of Sleep here when it came out. I'm so excited to see The Darjeeling Limited, and especially excited to see it not in a gigantic brick of concrete (that is, a giant multiplex). Happy Friday Everyone!

2007-11-14

I Ching - Return

Fu/Return (The Turning Point) -

---- ----
---- ----
---- ----
---- ----
---- ----
---------

THE IMAGE

Thunder within the earth:
The image of THE TURNING POINT
Thus the kings of antiquity closed the passes
At the time of solstice.
Merchants and strangers did not go about,
And the ruler
Did not travel through the provinces.

THE JUDGEMENT

RETURN. Success.
Going out and coming in without error.
Friends come without blame.
To and fro goes the way.
On the seventh day comes return.
It furthers one to have somewhere to go.

The idea behind this symbol has to do with the cycles of nature, of work and then rest, sickness and return to health, estrangement and reconciliation, etc. There is an appropriate time for everything, and it is not necessary to force something to be, because in its due time, it will return. Movements are completed in 6 days, and the seventh day brings return. Winter solstice comes in the seventh month after the summer solstice, sunrise comes in the 7th double hour after sunset (in ancient China, time was kept in 12-hour days, so each hour was two of our current hours).

The winter solstice is a time of rest, so that energy may be cultivated and movement, which is just returning after the previous 6 months of decline, may be effective and not used prematurely.

It is important to know the proper times for everything and not to miss them or force them too soon. If proper times are observed, people come together in a common shedding of the old and putting on of the new in accordance with the times, and there is harmony.

my hair is not symmetrical

I've realized recently, more than ever, that I have certain spots of my hair on either side that behave quite differently to the corresponding spot on the other side. Since it is supposed that humans find symmetry attractive, particularly in facial features (hair is close to the face), I suppose this does not bode well for me. Especially since my ears are also not even, it seems like one is a bit lower than the other. If I trim my sideburns so that they are equal length, they don't line up at the same place on my ears, I have to trim one a bit shorter. My hairdresser has noticed this same phenomenon. Anyway, I hope you will all love me despite the lack of symmetry which seems to plague my head :) Happy Wednesday!

2007-11-09

I Ching - Peace and Grace

I'm starting to read the I Ching, which is a Chinese book, sometimes used as an oracle, containing kind of proverbs. It is a collection of symbols, which are represented by trigrams and hexigrams (groups of three and six lines), and traditionally, yarrow stalks are drawn to determine different number values for each line, which then leads to an interpretation of that hexagram in a particular situation. There is also an overall explanation of each symbol and what issues it represents in general. The system of trigrams is thought to have originated around 2700 BCE, and the written interpretations somewhere around 1500 BCE. Anyway, I was just reading the ones for Peace and Grace, and I really liked them, so I thought I would share:

T'ai/Peace -

---- ----
---- ----
---- ----
---------
---------
---------

THE IMAGE

Heaven and earth unite: the image of PEACE.
Thus the ruler
Divides and completes the course of heaven and earth;
He furthers and regulates the gifts of heaven and earth,
And so aids the people.

The upper trigram (three lines) represent Earth, and the lower three represent Heaven. Heaven moves upwards, and Earth moves downwards, so the symbol for peace represents the joining of heaven and earth. Peace is a marker of unity and singularity of purpose, and is a productive time. It is opposite of STANDSTILL. In the human realm, it represents the unity of the rulers and their subjects, each giving respect and deference to the other, and directing their wills to common purpose. In terms of the calendar, it represents Spring.

Pi/Grace -

---------
---- ----
---- ----
---------
---- ----
---------

THE IMAGE

Fire at the foot of the mountain:
The image of GRACE.
Thus does the superior man proceed
When clearing up current affairs.
But he dare not decide controversial issues in this way.

Grace is a bit more complicated of a symbol, and all the lines are interrelated, but the overall idea is a balance between content and form, as well as softness and hardness. The strongest points of the hexagram are when form is recognized simply as an accompaniment to content, and when form ceases to ornament content, but simply presents it as-is. So, in a sense, I see it as the elimination of pretense, or the unbiased presentation of self, just being.

2007-11-08

a few new poems...

tonight while Trina was at work, I gave myself a bit of time with a bottle of port and a pen, and wrote a few new poems :) hope you like them :)

simplicity
of thought
of feeling
I bring
to the table
one at a time
pearls
truth
in simplicity
yet deep
as eternity
simple grace
transparency
a simple gift
which is ALL

-----------------

singularity of purpose
multiplicity of action
I strive to love

-----------------

terror at the thought
of what life may
require of me
gives honor to hope
gives life to joy
gives potency to action

web browsers are stupid

I just have to get it out, that in designing web pages, it gets really frustrating how every web browser renders things differently, sends different values when forms are posted, has a different implementation of javascript, uses different definitions for CSS attributes. Holy cow people at the world wide web consortium, make some standards that do us some good!

2007-11-07

I admit...

that I am far from being an academic philosopher :)

lookie what I got! :)



If you're wondering why it's dated June 17 2006, and I'm just getting it, feel free to ask :)

2007-11-05

presidential elections...

I have to say that while I haven't done nearly enough research on all the candidates to come to a conclusion as to who I would vote for, I'm not feeling overly hopeful so far. Perhaps it's just the case that I'm a person who doesn't relate well to all the values and ideals of politics, I may be too much of an idealist. Here are my thoughts so far, after reading some of Barack Obama's ideas, as well as Ron Paul's.

Ron Paul:

I don't like his foreign policy at all. He spends most of his time talking about withdrawing from all international organizations which put any kind of restraint on what our government can or cannot do, but then says in one sentence that he would like to keep open relations with other countries. I can't help but feel that he is pulling the "we're Americans and we should be able to do whatever we want" attitude, which is why so much of the world thinks we're so arrogant, unthinking and abusive. I also can't help but feel that in withdrawing from these organizations rather than seeking to better them in the ways they are lacking, he would further distance America from the international community, which in this current world can only make things worse for everyone, I think. Every country's actions effect every other country in such a small world, and it will take compromise and cooperation to overcome global problems we face, we can't just withdraw into ourselves and assume our problems with the rest of the world will go away.

I also don't like his policy on immigration - I agree that this is a problem and that it's something that should be dealt with, but again he seems to just be putting up hard borders and focusing on preventing anyone from entering the US illegally, rather than looking at whether our current policies regarding legal immigrants are reasonable, determining how we might be able to make illegal immigrants active and useful members of our society and economy, or how to make coming here illegally less attractive.

He also doesn't say anything in the "issues" section of his website regarding domestic policy concerning poverty, slavery trade, improving public education and access to education, etc. He does talk about tax breaks for home-schoolers and making home-school diplomas and credentials as meaningful as public school credentials, and that's fine, but the simple fact is that not everyone is going to, or going to want to, or going to be able to, home-school their children, and it seems prudent to address other forms education as well. Also, if he's going to encourage home-schooling so strongly, I would like to see him also encourage social interaction for those children as a part of that.

I disagree with his determined view on the right to bear arms, particularly on the right to carry them in public places. I think that a lot of civilians having guns on them in a situation like the school shootings that have become more and more rampant would only cause more confusion and chaos. For instance, if the police come to a school/university where there is a shooting, to find 40 students or teachers firing guns, who do they go after? Also, how do you ensure proper training and usage of those firearms? How do you know that those 40 students or teachers with firearms might not do more damage than the one student who started it?

I agree with some of his policy on reducing goverment's internal intelligence, and I agree with his statement that troops should be removed from Iraq, and that we should be less eager to go to war in the future. I agree with his policy on abortion.

Ok, on to Barack Obama:

I like his foreign policy more than Ron Paul's. He seems much more willing to be involved in the international community, to be a part of a whole, and not so much a single country standing against the rest of the world. I like the idea of disarmament, both of terrorists and of ourselves in terms of nuclear weaponry. Personally, I'd be plenty happy to just see us dispose of all the nuclear weaponry that exists, but I know that's not likely to happen.

I like a lot of his ideas regarding domestic policy, healthcare, environment, education, poverty, etc - but a lot of it seems like it would require a good bit of money, that at least in the "issues" section of his website, the sources of funding aren't really explained. I like his idea of becoming less dependent on foreign oil, both from an energy/pollution point of view as well as a political point of view. I do like in his healthcare policy, that pressure would be put on companies to either provide health insurance for their employees, or bump up wages so that employees could afford to buy insurance, with the exception that small companies meeting certain revenue thresholds would be exempt.

Increasing the size of the military to me raises immediate red flags, especially since his foreign policy seems to be that military action should be the last resort in dealing with a problem, which I think is good. I agree that having a good military is important, but it seems to me that we already have one, particularly in relation to the rest of the world. I like his ideas of modifying training to fit modern situations.

I like the idea of a more open government, especially after the current administration which is willing to look like monkeys throwing poo in order to keep a closed government. I'm a bit skeptical, however, about how well that would actually work.

I like his idea of protecting America by being an active and more importantly positive influence in the rest of the world, by actually working together with other countries and working to better their situations, not only for our own political or economic gain - because again, what happens to them effects us whether we like it or not. I think that's an important idea.

Please feel free to make any comments if you feel I'm not seeing a part of an issue or misinterpreting how a candidate views a particular issue. I'm hoping I find someone I can feel reasonably ok in voting for :)

2007-11-01

a tale of hallowed weenies!

*pre-warning, this is going to be a long post full of lots of pictures :)*

Well, last night started with a lot of scurrying and worrying as I came home from work and joined in the frantic race to decorate and cook before everyone came to the party. Trina and Theresa were madly decorating as I washed some dishes, moved cauldrons around, cleaned the bathroom and hurriedly munched down a wee bit of brown rice with peanut sauce to keep me from falling over.

The decor came together quickly, with Theresa making trips back and forth to her apartment to grab stuff, and the place looked really wonderful.



















Our friends Steve and Darla showed up, and helped us make some of the food and finish up some of the last touches of decoration, the candles outside lining the walkway, etc.



Theresa went back to her place to get her costume on and to finish up some of the food stuff she was bringing, and I went upstairs to change and quarantine the kitties so they A) wouldn't destroy decorations and B) wouldn't get freaked out and kill anyone.

Theresa made it back over with some cheese, crackers, fondue makings, caramel apples, pita chips, and we set out meatballs with spicy peanut sauce, red pepper dip, garlic stuffed green olives as well as regular green olives, with bat and owl toothpick-like thingies for the cheese and meatballs.



On the drinks front, we had some wine, port, rum, vodka, vermouth, cranberry juice, bloody mary mix, orange juice, and punch we made from unfiltered apple juice with cinnamon and nutmeg added, and then mixed with ginger ale.



Then Linda showed up and started baking the chocolate zucchini cupcakes! It was all a-bustle around the kitchen, with flour and chocolate everywhere! (ok, that's a little over-dramatic, but exciting!) :)

At last all the food was set out, and we were ready to go! So, now, a cast of characters :)

We have Theresa as Samantha Stevens, from Bewitched, of course:



We have Trina as the Raven:



Laura as Darth Vader (she had a darth vader head-shaped bucket, not pictured here):



Lance and Lindsey as The Grinch and Cindy Lou Who:



Linda as Elsa the garden gnome!:



Kristin (in the background) was a flapper:



Lisa was a scientist:



And I was Doctor Who!:



We watched an episode of Doctor Who, since it is wonderful and hardly anyone there knew what it was, and then we watched the 1931 Dracula with Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula.

All in all, it was a lovely evening.

To view all the photos, check here, here and here. I know Linda also has some photos, so I'll link to those as well once she puts them up.