And on the other hand...

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

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sighting Off the Port Bow

Like a good omen, and as predictable as the upcoming Blue Moon, I spied a kolea off to the left this morning as we drove out of the wooded and grassy residential area where they, and I, like to make our homes.  She may have been there the past few days, but it's been rainy and my morning schedule a little disruptive, not conducive to birdwatching.

It lifted my lethargic dog-days spirit a bit to see the returned bird, whose arrival I had expected to herald the final preparations for a trip I'm now not going to take. I suspect the economy and election year anxieties were responsible for my trip planner not being able to sign up enough bodies to make the trip worthwhile.  I could have done it on my own, but planning Plan B became more complicated than the trip itself.  I have been plagued with dreams the past couple weeks of travel, of confused packing, of ambiguous ticketing and conveyances.  Perhaps now they will cease and I can just get back to a normal, post-Labor Day, post full-moon routine existence of work, classes, painting, reading, writing, and the ongoing entertainment of Korean historical drama (a welcome diversion from the election-year yammering).  Somehow the politics would be more interesting if it involved swordplay and not just the yammering.

Vincent Zhao in "The Great Wudang." I'd vote for him.
I've been thinking about "yammering" a lot lately, its meaning being something like what wolves and coyotes do at night, calling to each other or the moon.  A lot of it on forums and blogs, about the meaning of life, morality, purpose, God, gods, wu wei, dao, qi, yammer yammer.  Meditation, by definition, is an escape from the yammering. (Well, so is Korean Drama and travel to foreign places.) The more we talk the less we know; the less we know the more we talk.  I so want to emulate the quiet kolea, coming and going as she will, with sufficient strength and wingspan to escape the howling dogs and prowling cats. 

But everyone wants to talk politics...why the president need/need not be a military man, why abortion is/is not a woman's health issue, why Monsanto is killing us while feeding us, why Islam is/is not a threat, why there are no jobs, why I can't expect to live on social security, why gun control will cause/prevent theatre/school shootings, why Bradley Manning is a traitor/patriot.  Yammer yammer.

I wish I could vote twice; then I could do my civic duty while also cancelling out my own vote. Voting as yammering.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Stuck in Neutral

After the milestone of TAO 61 making 225,000 miles, everything else in August seemed anti-climactic.  But not, really.  I have been exhausted after hectic business travel to Washington, D.C., returning home with a bad summer cold (though made bearable on the long return trip by the fortuitous upgrades to first class--real kind, with full reclining seats and elbow room and custom-made ice cream sundaes and free booze and real cutlery and dishes for real hot food. I don't quite know what I did to deserve it.)

Then an all-day program/presentation in which I had to teach faculty about research grants.  At first I approached that task in utter fear and not a little loathing, but it turned out to be a cat-herding exercise. And now people know me and what I do for them. 

The real pleasure of the month, counter-balancing the disappointment in the collapse of my September China trip plans, has been my Chinese painting class, with an extraordinary teacher who has taken my studies up yet another level.  I was painting images of my Taoist hermit, which kept coming out sad, despite his reputation for cheer, probably channeling my frustration at not being able to visit him and make obeisance in his little cave temple.  But finally, I laid in a sketch in ink, which only needed to be intensified with some color.  My teacher helped with that, so the final result is a true collaboration.  Not yet properly mounted, or signed, I share it here in its wrinkled state.  I don't want to mount it without laoshi's assistance. But I want to share it.
Jia Ye, by Laoshi and Me
Any morning now I should notice the returned kolea; my Chinese haiku-writing friend saw one a few days ago and penned this:
on my neighbor's roof
sighting of first kolea
autumn closing in

I should get brush, ink and paper together to illustrate it.  If I can't fly to Jia Ye, the kolea at least can come to me.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Moon Mission Milestone

My little Taoist immortal is closer than ever to going the distance to the moon--especially since I just learned that I was wrong; the moon is NOT 286,000 miles away, but ONLY between 221,600 and 252,000 miles (so maybe I already made it), with the average being about 238,000 miles. Was 286K a childhood myth?  I think some ancient Greek astronomer's calculation. 

So, based on the 238K average,  a virtual moon landing is achievable maybe in the next 18 months.  The personal milestone of 225,000 was reached this morning, pretty awesome I think for my vintage 1990 Mazda Miata, well and lovingly maintained.  I stopped on the freeway to photograph the odometer.  (Oil pressure looks low, but that's typical for hot idling...especially at her age.)  In any case, TAO 61 is a metaphor for Taoist cultivation:
  • practice good maintenance (like qigong and diet)
  • apply the ancient texts and wisdom, in this case the shop manual
  • and have a good mechanic, like a good shifu or priest to keep up with oil changes and prevent bad driving habits.  (In fact, you can call a mechanic a shifu; I am fortunate to have one who deserves this honorific.)

Perhaps the moon distance will be achieved on the mid-autumn festival, 2013; that would be auspicious!  Whatever the odometer reading, that would be a good time to celebrate.

That's 225,000 miles.
On the road.

Safe at home,.

Recent timing belt replacement; even more important than no-fault insurance.