Sunday, October 22, 2006

M.A.S.H. gourmet...

So here we are, out in Bowie. Yesterday we webcast a couple of classes, first Ven. Chukyi teaching Vinaya, and then Geshe Michael translating Uma Chidun and Uma La Jukpa. The webcast has been going well, but unfortunately not that many people are attending. I have lots of ideas for how to make the webcast more accessible. I need to implement them.

We've been leaving our weekend stuff (air mattress, sheets, etc.) at Susan and Deb's house in Bowie during the week so we don't have to schlep it all back and forth every weekend. Last night after translation class, we went down to Bowie to get it (it's about fifteen minutes from Diamond Mountain during the day, twenty at night because we go a lot slower to avoid running over critters). I was seriously on autopilot last night, so I missed the turnoff and we had to double back.

We get to the house, and it's dark. There's a light on in the back. Andrea knocks; nobody answers. The light is on in a room where people are sleeping. We don't have the key, and the front door is locked. What to do. Well, it turns out that I know a secret trick to break in without doing any damage (I won't detail it here, for security reasons). So I broke in. I'm just down into the room where the stuff is, and Alison, Susan's sister, finally decides that maybe she should go investigate these noises she's been hearing. Sigh. At least Yeshe (the toddler) didn't wake up. Alison was a bit freaked out, but very understanding. We absconded with our bedding and went back to where we're staying at DM.

So for the rest of the night (it was about 9:00 at this point) I hacked on style sheets for this django project I'm working on, which was a reasonably nice change from doing webcasting. I'm enjoying it quite a bit, although UI design is not exactly my strong point, to which Andrea will happily attest (she's is an expert). The nice thing is that my django skills are getting a lot stronger, so that I can just decide to do something and make it happen instead of having to read through the documentation each time I try to do something.

This morning after a brief yoga practice I went down to the Nectar Lounge. The Nectar Lounge is the new DM student center. Eventually it's supposed to be an actual building, but for now it's a tent. It looks very much like one of those M.A.S.H. army tents, possibly a bit smaller. I suspect it is actually military surplus. From the outside it looks like it's going to be really depressing inside, but then you go inside and there's raised wooden floor, with couches, chairs, coffee tables, a bar with stools, a big display refrigerator with munchies inside, a six-burner professional cookstove, a sink, and a counter in the middle for chopping veggies.

On the weekends, as a fund-raising measure, Jerome is making breakfast for anyone who's interested. This morning the featured breakfast was a sort of Huevos Rancheros thing - corn tortillas with cheese melted in, scrambled eggs on top, fresh salsa on top of that, and an avocado floret on top. It looked like a work of art, but not enough so that I was willing to forgo eating it. Sort of like a sand mandala, I guess. Anyway, it was so good it would almost have been worth driving out from Tucson to have one. Fortunately we were already here. But it's a nice touch. I guess as a tie-in to my last posting, the service was great. :')

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Annoying people...

So I was sitting here, doing my work, and for some reason I had this feeling that someone who is here was going to come up to me and try to say something friendly to me, and it was going to be something that I didn't want to hear. I know this sounds very hypothetical, but it was based on past experience being annoyed.

So I'm hacking, and I'm in the mood to deconstruct things logically, so I deconstructed this fear that I was having. Basically, the person coming up to me to be friendly is doing it because, perhaps, they want me to like them, or think I don't like them, or whatever, and they want to be nice to me either because they want me to enjoy the experience of them being nice to me, or because they want me to like them.

The way I normally react to an unwelcome overture like this is to say something polite that I hope will give the impression that the overture was unwelcome.

To deconstruct the overture further, you could say that the person is making an offering to me, or trying to serve me, and my reaction is to reject what they have done. To complain about the bad service.

And then of course my next question is, where the fuck do I get off complaining about the service?!?

So to anybody to whom I have complained about the service, please accept my humble, groveling apology.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Up late...

I was playing around with some django features I hadn't tried before. Finally got them all working. Django is cool, but still a little rough around the edges.

While I was hacking on my django code, I got distracted by a link in the iTunes music store to Joan Osborne, and I decided to see if she'd done anything recently. She actually just recently cut a single of Brokedown Palace, which is apparently an old Grateful Dead tune from the American Beauty album.

American Beauty is an album that my sister used to play incessantly when I was a kid. I had some kind of weird belief that I was supposed to hate all of her albums. I professed a particular dislike for the Grateful Dead, or "Dreadful Grate," as I used to call them. This was particularly pathetic because I actually kind of liked them. I don't know how I got it into my head that it was cool to pretend dislike for things that I actually liked, but I guess it was some kind of high school thing.

Anyway, I normally just send off for the album from Amazon rather than getting it from iTunes, because keeping my iTunes libraries in sync with DRM's songs is such a pain in the neck, but I bought the Joan Osborne song anyway, because it sounded pretty good in the sample, and it was a single - not something I'll ever bother to get on CD, if it's even available that way. It's a good song, and she performs it well. But I got it into my head to listen to the original, which I also wound up buying from iTunes. And it's much better. I like both versions, and I'll keep them in rotation, but wow, the Dead were really good, weren't they? Maybe there's a reason people used to follow them around in old converted school buses.

I was watching an episode of Grey's Anatomy yesterday, and the theme seemed to be delusions, or something like that. One of the characters got into a bad accident because he had developed obsessive/compulsive disorder. Stopped at a red light, he couldn't go until he was done counting up to three hundred something, even though the light had changed. Another character resisted surgery to fix her ruptured spleen after a bad fall because her horoscope seemed to be telling her it was a bad idea.

And it occurred to me that actually most of what we do is like that. Invading Iraq is like picking up a penny, only with lots of killing. There was no way before the war that we could have predicted any kind of outcome, positive or negative, other than that a bunch of people would definitely die because people die in wars. Looking back on it, the decision seems completely idiotic. I mean, I thought it was idiotic at the time, but now it looks ten times more idiotic. I can't see my own blind spots, but I'm sure that I have some that are just as huge as our country's blind spot about retaliation and safety.

The latest thing in the news is the school shooting of a bunch of young Amish girls. The Amish have reacted very intelligently to what happened. Their focus is on forgiveness. They are grieving privately. They are bringing in the harvest. They aren't talking about retribution. They aren't talking about shunning the killer's wife. They are talking about forgiving him, and welcoming her. The Amish, I now see, are some of the least superstitious people in the United States. We have a lot to learn from them; I am grateful that they found their way into the public eye, even if the occasion was death.