And on the other hand...

Click here for The Yin Side where the other half of me holds forth!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Maui Memories

Had a wonderful catch-up visit with my dear friend-astrologer-painter on Maui this weekend. We talked a lot, watched a lot of movies, ate a lot of delicious food, talked, walked on the beach, talked, got sunburned, drank a lot of gin and tequila, talked. A perfect two-girl weekend. Did I mention we talked...a lot?

Although I had a hard time getting back home to Oahu from the rock -- a whole 'nother sordid story, details to be found over on the yin side, about the completely gross customer dis-service provided by the pesky upstart airline, Go!--my moments there were, as always, precious. And due to my cancelled red-eye return flight, we were able to talk, drink and eat some more. Easy for me, (I only had to cancel a doctor's appointment I had the next morning) but I felt sorry for the honeymooning tourist couple who had checked out of their hotel and returned their rental car. Left on their own, the airline did absolutely nothing to compensate them for the taxi ride and return to a hotel, accomplished at their own expense.

I share these images for your contemplation. But I recommend, if you go to Maui, don't go Go! Go Hawaiian. (Please be assured, I do not work for or nor am I compensated in any way by Hawaiian Airlines.)
Looking northwest from Kihei, to West Maui and Molokai

Beached Blue Boat

West Maui from East Maui

Red Flowering Tree, Blue Sky

Koi Pond at a Shopping Center

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Drive Me to the Moon

I love this story. A 91-year-old woman has been driving her 1964 Mercury Comet Caliente V8 for 46 years. (And she likes to drive it fast!) She got the car the same year I got my learner's permit. If I continue to drive TAO 61 , my beloved vintage Miata, which made 200,000 miles just a year ago, until I'm 91, I could break her record by a year (assuming she stops driving right now!). She also measures the mileage on her car by the distance to the moon...and back. I haven't quite made it to the moon yet, and I can't imagine that I will drive enough in the next 30 years to make the return trip, to say nothing of the fact that the older I get, the harder it is to get out of my little roadster with the top up. It's like crawling out of a hole. Still, I have to hand it to this lady. As she says,"I love my car!" I completely understand.

I don't know if she has a vanity plate. If I were her, I think I would order one: TAO 91!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Language Lessons

I am plagued with Chinese comments on my posts that I am pretty sure are not genuine comments, but links to malware, spyware or viruses. They are in simplified characters and I occasionally translate the phrases with a very effective online service. The phrases used to be mostly X-rated links, but lately they have a Confucian, fortune cookie/Chinese T-shirt quality and are sometimes vaguely related to the post topic, likely triggered by keywords:
  • What kind of learning program is not important, it is important what kind of person you are.
  • Good blog requires us to work together.
  • It takes all kinds to make a world.
  • Long drive straight toward the planet's people, the inverse falter on the road in the gorge who achieve their goals more easily.
  • When a person's heart can hold different conflicting things, this man started to become worthwhile.
The online translator breaks out all the characters word by word by meaning, and is helping me recognize some and understand how the sentences work...I wonder if the intent of the spammer is to help me learn language?

In the meantime, if you see one of these comments, which I do not moderate, but delete when they appear, do not click on them to find out more. Or I may just start publishing the translations. In fact, I see an opportunity for a whole new blog: translated Chinese spam, along with a glossary of the bizarre verification words I enter in other bloggers' comments sections. This is a feature I should probably enable, but I find the Chinese spam is beginning to be entertaining.

Enlitenment Made Easy

As they say --was it the Chinese?--a picture is worth ten thousand characters. Been working too hard recently, have little energy to write, but ideas and observations about China are still rattling around in my monkey brain. So I'll do the easy thing and just post some photos.

On our way to Wudangshan, where I knew what to expect, the less informed of our group may have been heartened by the truck stop convenience store. Not just 7/11, but Easy Joy to go.

Our trip was easily done even if we didn't arrange it through the easy company's apparent subsidiary.

I easily got a good meal at this restaurant near the Lama Temple in Beijing, where the Chinese food/English menu drew character-weary travelers. If you look closely at the photo, you will see, in the upper left window, signage that offers "characteristics cuisine" along with its assurance of a bilingual menu. Not that an English menu in a Chinese restaurant is comprehensible. I still don't know what "trepangs with elbows" might be.**

Across the street, leaving the smelly smoky Lama Temple (too many Buddhists, too many Buddhas) and seeking the Confucius Temple, (much more civilized), you might find what you're looking for without the effort of all the old-age meditation, temple incense, mountain stair-climbing and qigong exercise. Chinese signs in English being notoriously inaccurate, someone might have pointed out they should have spelled it "Lite." I might have checked out the easy enlightenment on offer, but the huge lapis geode in the doorway kind of scared me.
But China's modernization has, perhaps, overcome the traditional ways of seeking wisdom and personal development. When you're feeling up against the wall in life, just go to Jinshanling and stop complaining! I imagine Cultural Revolution-era political study sessions with PowerPoint. I just love the camel caravan in the logo (upper left).
**Well, I have actually learned that "trepangs" are sea cucumbers. The elbows still escape me. I am imagining slugs with macaroni. In hoisin sauce.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Reflections of China

Maybe it's the Monday holiday, but I'm not feeling like writing much of anything today, just reflecting on my trip, my return, what's in store for the second part of the year. So I will just share these reflections of China for your entertainment.
Purple Heaven Palace, Wudangshan

Summer Palace, Beijing
Summer Palace, Beijing

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Fellow Travelers

I rode with him in a taxi once
Only for a mile and a half,
seemed like it took a couple of months.
("Lenny Bruce," Bob Dylan)

Not my favorite Zimmie song, but that means nothing, like saying, "Not my favorite verse from the Tao Te Ching."
Traveling puts you in a taxi with amazing people, people who can teach you a critical lesson in seconds. You may never see them again, or you may connect in a way that keeps you in touch over many years. (Just like all the people we meet in our life's journey.) Our fellow travelers are reflections of ourselves, reflections of our anxieties, our aspirations, our current points on the path.
I have come to understand that when I have a strong negative reaction to a person, it is likely reflecting something negative in myself. (Although, some people are just assholes, and to them we probably are too.) And, when I find someone I admire -- harder and harder as one ages -- I recognize that I need to bring that quality I admire into myself. Or maybe it is an affirmation of myself. I generally like where I'm at; the reflection confirms that I'm in the right place.
The fellow travelers, guides and citizens I met on this recent trip -- and my previous pilgrimages -- have left me with impressions and lessons as strong as, if not more so, the Chinese gardens, the sacred mountain trails and stairs (mostly stairs), the elegant (and "arrogant") food and drink, the language barriers (through which I sometimes found amazing openings), the spoonfed sightseeing. Although I treasured my moments of solitude, I would not trade them for the moments of sharing time with other people.
Well, maybe not. Actually, that's the yang side of me talking. The yin side of me (where for some reason I cannot post, there is some glitch I need to solve, I blame Google or possibly Chinese hackers) is very happy to be alone, concurring that "l'enfer, c'est les autres." The challenge is to receive from others (and give) without attachment. In the same way there is a tension between mind (xin, if you will) and body, there is a tension between self and others. Resolving or relaxing that tension is the challenge of practice and spiritual development.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Pivotal Moment

Today is the point of the pivot on a fulcum of the year, Gregorian though it may many days behind as ahead.
Deng Ming-dao points out that this day, at least in an odd-numbered year, is the center. (Even numbered years --that is a 366-day Leap-Year-- have no center.) It provides a moment of perfect balance.  And how nice to have a long weekend to start of the shift to the second half of the year. Hope you enjoy yours!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Poet in the News

I don't generally have much comment on things that happen in the news -- oil spills, war, politics, sports...what can I possibly add to the already noisy debates and laments?  And Hawaii gets national news coverage generally only when threatened by volcanoes, tsunamis and hurricanes, and what can you really say about any of that.

But today I am compelled to comment on the naming of the nation's new poet laureate, W.S. Merwin. Not only does little Hawaii boast a more or less native son as president, but now, Maui can claim literary fame as the home of the poet laureate.  Funny thing, I actually wrote about W.S. Merwin just a few months ago.

How sad at the same time though, as sad as our Symphony's bankruptcy, that the foundation that runs the rather prominent Maui Writers' Conference regrets because of "recent events and changes in the economy"  there will be no further retreats or conferences in the future.  I was planning to go in August to look for an agent.