28 December 2004

Heavenly Peace

Katie had two Hospice patients die on her in the last couple of weeks. Rather than being brought down by the experience, she's exalted by it. That's my best friend.

One guy wouldn't let anyone touch him unless they were Christian. He didn't have a lot of energy, so all he would do would just gasp out "Christian?" to every nurse on the unit, and if they weren't Christian "enough," he just wouldn't let them touch him. Katie of course, just smiled and said she was, even though she's more sort of an earth-pagan-universal-love type of girl. It's all about patient care. He accepted her, and didn't accept this one girl who WAS a real Christian. Though I think Katie's more Christian than most Christians -- especially the guy who claims to be a super Christian and grabs his coworker's asses when his wife is not around...

Anyway, he asked for the nurses to sing Christmas songs - real, Jesus-y, Christmas songs. And of course Katie knows none of those, so she just sort of hummed along. Finally, the day after Christmas, he died while listening to the Hawaiian "Silent Night" on his Christmas CD. "Moe me ka maluhia lani..." sleep in heavenly peace.

The other was a guy who had trouble breathing and was real uncomfortable one night. So Katie offered to rub the guy's back. And he died. Right then. And she said it was the high point of her nursing career to date.

See why my friends are the best people in the world?

25 December 2004

The Best Christmas Present of All!

I made contact with two very dear old friends today. So there's something good to say about the internets after all! Fifteen years, Christ Jesus. Time.

I wonder how much of the draw back to San Diego has to do with trying to capture a sort of carefree (if chaotic and dramatic) time of my life... and how much has to do with real karmic inevitability and growth. Hmm...

22 December 2004

The Decontextualization of Inspired Catachresis

I admit it, I secretly dig critical theory. Even though the normative structures of the academy have forced me to valorize performative language rather than simple constative constructs, it's a form of carnivalization (see Bakhtinian dialogics) that has aesthetic appeal.

Also it makes me feel wicked smart and fucks with people's heads.

Deep down, I really want to be able to write crap like the following (D.G. Leahy, writing in Foundation: Matter the Body Itself, from http://aldaily.com/bwc.htm):

"Total presence breaks on the univocal predication of the exterior absolute the absolute existent (of that of which it is not possible to univocally predicate an outside, while the equivocal predication of the outside of the absolute exterior is possible of that of which the reality so predicated is not the reality, viz., of the dark/of the self, the identity of which is not outside the absolute identity of the outside, which is to say that the equivocal predication of identity is possible of the self-identity which is not identity, while identity is univocally predicated of the limit to the darkness, of thelimit of the reality of the self). This is the real exteriority of the absolute outside: the reality of the absolutely unconditioned absolute outside univocally predicated of the dark: the light univocally predicated of the darkness: the shining of the light univocally predicated of the limit of the darkness: actuality univocally predicated of the other of self-identity: existence univocally predicated of the absolutely unconditioned other of the self. The precision of the shining of the light breaking the dark is the other-identity of the light. The precision of the absolutely minimum transcendence of the dark is the light itself/the absolutely unconditioned exteriority of existence for the first time/the absolutely facial identity of existence/the proportion of the new creation sans depth/the light itself ex nihilo: the dark itself univocally identified, i.e., not self-identity identity itself equivocally, not the dark itself equivocally, in "self-alienation," not "self-identity, itself in self-alienation" "released" in and by "otherness," and "actual other," "itself," not the abysmal inversion of the light, the reality of the darkness equivocally, absolute identity equivocally predicated of the self/selfhood equivocally predicated of the dark (the reality of this darkness the other-self-covering of identity which is the identification person-self)."

Aw yeah.

15 December 2004

Real Life (or something like it)

As much as I don't want to think about it, I have another final to take before totally putting fall 04 in the rear-view... so I better get on it. I been prematurely slackin'...

It's a nice, sunny day out though. Christmas weather upon us already?

Today's card: Six of Wands

14 December 2004

The Worst Thing You Can Imagine

I spent a bunch of time talking to Kirk last night. Trying to listen, anyway; nothing I said was of any importance, he just needed to talk. Trying to hold it together in the midst of a family suicide, funeral, dealing with details etc. has got to be unbelievably hard. I was thinking of Sept. 11, when what had happened was just so unimaginable that it feels like a dream. For Kirk, December 11 will haunt him forever. And I don't think you ever put your life beck together after something like this. Ever.

In my own mundane and incredibly blessed life, things are going well. Passed all my classes... well, don't have two grades back yet but the outcome is clear, and I have friends and family around me. I have to remember gratitude in every moment of every day. It's all so fragile.

Today's card: Queen of Wands, Seven of Disks popped out of the deck

13 December 2004

The Prayer of St. Francis

O Lord, make me an instrument of Thy Peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is discord, harmony.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sorrow, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not
so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

12 December 2004

RIP Gail Dittenber

My best friend's mother shot herself last night. I am in a state of shock. I can't imagine what he's going through. Even losing a parent is beyond me, but to have it end with such violence...

She was 59.
The Golden Chain

Today was Bodhi Day service at the Jodo Mission. Everybody was working on the water line (finally!) so I was the only one in the dojo. Sensei rang the bell and eventually Mrs. Miyashiro and Mrs. Kaneshiro showed up, but it ended up being like a private service, which was kind of cool. At Bodhi Day we recite the Eightfold Path and the Golden Chain, which was really a very powerful meditation for me.

I had been thinking a lot about how I use my words and really wanting to be more mindful of that. So it was really fitting to me to recite these particular gathas. One of the steps of the Eightfold Path is Right Speech, and in the Golden Chain we talk about how we will "try to think pure and beautiful thoughts, to say pure and beautiful words and to do pure and beautiful deeds, knowing that on what I do now depends my happiness and misery."

I think it's really proper that we say we will "try" to do these things. It's so easy to get discouraged when you backslide on something you set out to do. And, of course, like anything else of this nature, affirmations are meaningless without action. But it's good to connect to an ancient tradition like this, and realize how many generations struggled with the same things. I really got a strong sense today of the love and support I have not only from my family, friends, and community (including Mrs. Miyashiro's deathgrip on my arm as I tried to leave without taking lunch), but also from the generations before me, both in my Buddhist and Catholic families of faith. It makes me feel encouraged to try harder to live up to my ideals.

Will hit me with a really good thought before I left home this afternoon. He said that you shouldn't avoid trials, that God puts them in your path for a reason, and if you try to walk AROUND them they'll just come back and hit you on the ass. It's not an especially novel thought, but it really seemed apt today.

08 December 2004

De Tener un Buen Corazón

[note to non-Spanish-speaking readers: I'm sorry if you can't read this, but my Spanish needs some exercise. You can go to Google's translations to see my words totally mangled if you want]

En el religion de Santeria, buscan los babalawos (líderes religiosos) a los personas de "buen corazón." Este calidad, a lo mismo de tan otras en relacion de carácter moral, es un poco dificil para defenir. El característico mas prominente en este calidad es la tendencia de dar más importancia a los intereses de una otra persona a que los de su mismo.

Pasaba mucho tiempo de mi vida calculando de cómo deseé aparecer: qué coche a conducir, qué ropas a llevar, cual muchachita parecería mejor conmígo. Es duro cambiar, pero cada momento que pasa me parece más y más que estes pensamientos no sirve nada.

Soy feliz cuando puedo ayudar a un otro. Y en realidad el mundo es mejor a lo mismo tiempo. Espero que podría continuar trabajando hacia "tener un buen corazón."

Been in finals mania all week... is it only Tuesday? Well, I was here in the lab all weekend, so it feels like the end of a long week. Saturday was GREs, a fucking deathmarch through the valley of the shadow of standardized testing. I got a 610 quant, 800 verbal which is good but not that good... (couldn't help but notice that picture is from outside my old lab at Caltech) so probably UCSD is out of my reach. And this may not be an altogether bad thing, as I would probably go if I get accepted, whether it's what I really want or not. So maybe it's the orichas' way of getting this particular option off my table. Or at least to think about it being off my table...

Anyway, got my ass handed to me on the Theory exam, who knows how I did on the Database final project, gotta finish the requirements document tomorrow if I have to do it my damn self. But soon it'll be over... beach here I come.

I am so over university.

01 December 2004

Happy December.

I stayed up until 3 working on my final database project, so I'm still a little groggy. I'm going in search of caffeine soon, and then I'll have to finish up the database stuff.

God I am ready to be done this.

25 November 2004

What am I thankful for?

I'm thankful for waking up this morning.
I'm thankful for waking up late this morning.
I'm thankful for my peace of mind, fragile as it is sometimes.
I'm thankful for the fact my Mom lived to celebrate Thanksgiving this year.
I'm thankful that I didn't wake up in Gaza this morning, or in Guantánamo.
I'm thankful that I have family, friends, and a community that gives me love and support
I'm thankful for essential freedom of action.
I'm thankful for karma.
I'm thankful for God.

What are you thankful for?

22 November 2004

I Don't Practice Santería, I Ain't Got No Crystal Ball

Last night I was reading from Santería, the religion : a legacy of faith, rites, and magic by Migene González-Wippler. It's an account from an outsider's perspective of aspects of the religion, essentially respectful and thorough. The author has a lot of contacts that are santeros and babalawos, and it's quite detailed.

I was feeling a rising sense of irritation and jumpiness while reading it, which I noted because there was nothing in the book itself that was making me feel upset. I started to feel a sharp pain behind my left ear, and i was thinking maybe it was because my glasses were too tight or something... but the pain was lower, at the base of my ear. I kept reading because I was trying to figure out what makes one a "santero" per se... the process of hacer el santo ("taking the saint") wasn't clear to me.

The next chapter as I was reading was apparently a detailed account of the initiation of a santero. The author said that it would be wrong for a santero to tell about this initiation, but a santero had told her, and since she wasn't a santero, it was OK. I thought this reasoning was pretty weak, but I was curious, so I read on.

Suddenly, I heard a knock on the door. When I opened the door, there was no one there. I turned on the lights and there was no one upstairs, and all the other rooms were closed with the lights off. And the pain behind my ear was suddenly gone.

I closed the book, and brought it back to the library today.

21 November 2004

Spam Haiku

subject lines to four messages I got today:

Pliable and soluble lozenges for genuine guys
someone you know is getting better because of it
adolescent ang sexy angels are holding back you!
countenance banking company compete for your loan

Today's card: Page of Coins

20 November 2004

Luke Skyywalker, "Y Tu Mamá También," and the Future of Big Pimpin'

Today we worked out with Ivan's young client Matt, and we played the usual Saturday assortment: techno first, then hip-hop. Ivan rolled out some Too Short from 1989, but apparently that was just not G enough because he dropped the 2 Live Crew CD after only a couple tracks. So we schooled young Matt on raw ass nasty rap from the 80s, which was fun. I really came up on that shit, and it's got to be a reason - though far from the only reason - why I spent so many of my teenage and young adult years pretending to be such a pimp.

Last night I watched "Y Tu Mamá También" while waiting for the TD gig at Charley's. Great fucking movie... also a lot of great food for thought about sex, as was Charley's, the sweaty dive bar black hole of unrequited sexual need. You know, I never thought I would be quite so relieved about a sexual dry period. I still am a totally sexual person, but I am so, so burned out on sex with people I have nothing going with. I mean, I'd be perfectly happy to get something casual going if I could at least communicate with the person and feel like we were both in the same place with it. As it is, though... I'm fine just sleeping alone and not being distracted with all that shit.

For now, anyway...

Today's Card: Ace of Pentacles

19 November 2004

What Would Che Do?

It's kind of funny how I'm still fascinated with my childhood hero, Ernesto "Che" Guevara de la Serna. I still see his flaws as much as ever, even more so now that I'm about the age he was when he was killed. But, especially in these ugly days, I appreciate his strength and uncompromising spirit all the more. I'm not ready to become a guerrilla (so calm down, NSA spiders), but I would like to hold myself to standards as high as El Che's, and develop the qualities of leadership-by-example that made him such an effective commander.

Today's card: Temperance.

18 November 2004

Today is pretty much All College, All the Time. I nailed my Weather and Climate test and it kind of chaps my ass how I can get an A standing on my head in one class, and kill myself for a C+ in Physics and they both count equally. Hoo frickin' boy. Got to workon my database write-up for the rest of the day, so not going to work.

Me and Katie made dinner and watched a DVD of the Grateful Dead New Year's show from 1978, laughing at how young they all looked and getting nostalgic about touring. Hm. Nostalgia about the Grateful Dead. Like we're fucking fifty or something. Anyway, the cornbread kicked ass. She's still sad about Spike but Familiar (the cat) has been very engaging and sweet. He sweetly killed and ate a mouse, right there on the kitchen floor. Linoleum rocks.

Today's card: Wheel of Fortune
Yesterday's card: Eight of Cups

17 November 2004

Step on a Crack, Break Your Mother's Back

Gentle sunshine after heavy rain
Warm breezes and birdsong
the streets carpeted with fallen leaves
The hard edges softened
The silence falls like a blanket

What's left over when the router room floods
No internet
No phone
everything's right here
right now
the people around you
and yourself

What's left when the water recedes
and the world comes flooding back in?

What's hidden by the soft sunny days?

16 November 2004

This weekend made me realise I really should be blogging the freaky shit that happens to me, just for my own amusement and that of my friends. For example: my best friend Katie's dog just died. I loved Spike, he was just one of those great dogs, never on a leash, smart as a whip. He has been sick for a while, so his passing was a relief to us but sad nevertheless.

Anyway, I was going to help put him in the ground, because Katie's land is on the 1835 (I think) flow and the soil's not very deep. Katie decided that it would just be better all around if she cremated him. Katie being Katie, she was going to do it all herself, but I wanted to be there and... I mean shit, never burned a dog before.

So instead of doing homework on Sunday I was chopping wood at Katie's and building a huge funeral pyre in the fire pit. We thought we had a pretty stable place to put the little guy, and he was sitting pretty there for a while, but then the wind picked up and the fire burned away one side of the pile. It collapsed and... you guessed it: half-burnt dog comes tumbling out. Funny/sad chaos ensued as we tried to lever barbecued Spike into this raging inferno.

We eventually sort of moved the fire ON TOP of his body. On balance it was a pretty sweet time. We told Spike stories and just hung out on a pretty afternoon up Waiakea Uka. RIP Spike Dawg. See you on the other side.

17 June 2004

My geekier friends can follow the progress of my research by browsing the GAE Wiki.

16 June 2004

Finally at home!

Well, living out of a bag and going from couch to couch was sort of cool in a way. All my friends were so cool and kind and supportive (much love to you guys if you're reading this!) and I had a fucking blast moving around and seeing so much new stuff.
But, at the same time, it feels great to land. And, at long last, I have 'net access on my own computer! So I can start blogging again, post some pics, and - perhaps most importantly - start downloading music! Although... this LAN is surprisingly sleepy. I mean, it's student housing, but come on guys, it's summer! I guess everyone else has the same idea as me.
Shout outs to some Pasadena establishments. Trader Joe's rocks. Wild Oats rocks. Zankou on Colorado Blvd. rocks. I am presently enjoying a Sapporo from TJ's, grinding some cashews from the Oats, after a fine half-chicken dinner from Zankou... although I don't know what those bitter pink things were. If you're reading this and know shit one about Lebanese food, post a comment OK?
Must learn SNMP tonight. Perhaps more beer would help.

05 June 2004

I had this mental image of blogging during my travels, logging in from airports and such. But I didn't realise how FUCKING expensive airport internet is, or how much work my research plan would end up taking. So I ended up spending much of my travel time dealing with that.

I really love to travel. I think part of it is the joy of new places and the pleasure I take in people-watching, but also just the enforced downtime. Nothing to do but sit. It's a pleasure, especially after a semester of intellectual exercise.

The Pacific hop was surprisingly quick and uneventful. The time change always throws me, though: what happened to that day? I was almost amazed to find out all my stuff came through. Even more amazing was the fact that Travelodge sent a big van to pick up me and my shit.

(I have digital pics to share, but I don't have ssh right now, so I'll upload as soon as I can.)

I interacted with a lot of working class people at the motel; in LA, it seems, working class = latino. And I ended up talking pidgin to everybody and I'm not sure why. I guess it's just like home: talking haole would have made me feel all hi-makamaka. But latinos are just like local folks in that give-you-the-shirt-off-your-back sort of way. Everybody was so totally helpful and full of whatever is aloha in latino culture.

Anyway, put the bike together and got my ass rolling in the morning. For whatever reason the tyres were deflated, so I had to deal with that. And I had one of those great the-map-is-not-the-territory moments when I tried to get to the bus station. See I had planned it all out so I wouldn't have to ride so far through city streets. What I hadn't counted on was the fact that Sepulveda Blvd. TUNNELS under the runways of LAX! And that the shoulder of the tunnel was like 24 inches wide. I rode through that tunnel with my eyes down at the road, chanting the Emmei Jikyu Kannon Gyo over and over again.

Needless to say, I survived.

I liked the LA city bus. We went through Inglewood, Compton and Crenshaw... I kept thinking, "God, this doesn't look bad!" Kind of like Kona, but with more people. Obviously, life is hard there and I don't know the first thing about it. But it's interesting how I had a mental image of this bombed out landscape and it really wasn't like that. Map and territory again.

Union Station was very impressive and very clean. I felt weird rolling my bike through there. I got a tuna salad while I waited - more on that in a bit.

The train to San Diego was less interesting than I had hoped. Rolling through a lot of the light industrial neighborhoods of Southern California sort of left me cold. But it was still fun to travel.

San Diego city buses kind of suck. I waited about an hour for the 1 bus to University Heights, and the bike rack was rusty and stiff. It took a good 45 minutes to get up there, and I don't think it was more than 5 miles. Still, it beat riding uphill all that way with 50 lbs on my back.

Michelle's place was really nice, and right where MapQuest said it was! It was great fun finally having some time to talk after so many years of rushed encounters and brief phone conversations. She took me out for a really nice dinner, and here is where the tuna salad from Union Station comes into the picture. I started to feel weird and crampy in my stomach, but I just put it down to a "middle-aged moment."

Got rolling the next day, found a bike shop on a road that I knew and set off. Turned out the LOCATION of the bike shop on that road was six miles away, but oh well. Enjoyed motoring around for a while, then came back to work on my research plan. It was after my second cup of coffee that the cramps began.

Loooong story short: food poisoning, probably Staphylococcus aureus brought on by the tuna salad at Union Station.

01 June 2004

Memorial Day in Hilo
It's a beautiful day on the island... everybody's got the day off, and half of um came down Keaukaha.
It's all good though... I like the energy. Just one of those days that makes you love the rock. Mahalo e Hilo!

Did Memorial Day in Hakalau, and just cruised and packed for the rest of the day. Katie called out of the blue, which was cool as shit. So I feel like I really got to connect with the people I'm going to miss.
Still...damn. Leaving home.

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