Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Lama Llama Lama

Went to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Saturday. That's what the lady from our local TV station kept calling him. "His Holiness." Said it five or six times in short sentence. While I think the guy is friggin' brilliant, and talks about a lot of important stuff, this woman sounded like the worst kind of fawning idiot. I mean, even he doesn't think he's all that great.

"I don't know."

How refreshing to hear that from the mouth of one of the most revered people of our time. After he had spoken (for what seemed like a very short amount of time), he allowed for three questions to be asked from thousands submitted. The first one concerned how we c an possibly get our leaders to finally turn away from war as a political policy to something more like diplomacy. He said something to the effect of. "That sounds like very serious question, coming from a very serious place. Truthfully, I don't know."

You don't know?!? How can YOU of all people, not have that one figured out yet?

He followed it up. "I had an idea, back in the 1980s, that perhaps what was needed was for the leaders of all of the superpowers to go on vacation together with their families. And not to talk business! Just have a good time, relax."
There you go! Simple, brilliant, and of course, never gonna happen, but still...

He did speak about nuclear arms at one point in his talk, and made a couple of profound suggestions. First off, he acknowledged that at one point, maybe we needed nuclear arms so as to prevent other bad guys from using them; but now, we just don't need them any more. He suggested that one way to begin was to disarm ourselves internally. To react to violence or conflict with the first thought being, "how do I deal with this situation non-violently?"

Golly. Where has my mind been?

I started writing this post before I left on the business trip mentioned in my previous post, and here I am, back after a week, I can look back on this day with a hazy fondness. I've been reading a book by Pema Chodron (there are umlauts and I'm not sure they'll work here), who is a Tibetan Buddhist Monk (technically a Nun, but who's counting?), and it's all about leaning into the point, or embracing chaos.

In other words, when you are in pain, or in fear, that is when you are at your most authentic. That is when the outside world is exposing you to yourself. So, instead of trying to hide from the fear, embrace it, revel in it... just deal.

This will be a lot of work, but I think it will be worth it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

That Old Technology Trip

Sunday - 5 am - SeaTac Airport

The boss sits next to me, texting. I feel like a Luddite, or a corporate Kerouac, writing in my tiny journal. I'm (obviously) not as good a writer as Mr. Kerouac, but I am on the road to Chicago.

I have brought three books to read. One is a book on Buddhist philosophy about embracing chaos and pain (how perfect is that?), another is a book of humorous essays, and the third is a book is by a famous novelist in conversation with a famous film editor.

I am beyond tired. Last night was a flurry of activity after a day of relative goofing off. I began Saturday by roto-rootering the sewer, as the shower wasn't draining the way it's supposed to. During my shower I realized that it hadn't helped. So I sent some drano down the drain, and it appears to have finally worked.

We're about to board the plane, which seems to be somewhat empty.


The plane is "full," but not full next to me. I sit with an empty seat between me and the young lady who looks minutes out of college.

I snoozed, I think. Woke up a few times to various forms of turbulence until I couldn't (or didn't need to) sleep anymore,

Read stuff.


Hotel has a TV in the bathroom, which turns on automatically when you turn on the lights, but with just enough delay that you might already be sitting down when someone starts talking to you from outta nowhere.

Really only bad when the person talking to you is a sports announcer.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

And for another thing...

Whatever happened to our two local weekly rags publishing movie times in the back section? My wife and I were out after our Banya experience (and having had a little lunch at the local Whole Paycheck), and I picked up a copy of The Stranger. The only movie times I could find in the whole issue were an ad for the independent movie chain.

While I understand that the entire hip world of Seattle has cute little PDAs or iPhones or whateverthehell kind of cell-phone/pager/browser/blender gizmos, I f**king don't.

I do understand that print space is costly. But won't the theaters pay you for informing the public about what times their movies are playing at? If not, why not? And better still, when did this change?

The movie we went to see was In Bruges, with Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes. Bloody as all getout. Much more somber tone than the trailer suggested. I kind of liked it, but RG (besides having to hide her eyes for quite a bit of the movie near the end) found the plot a bit too contrived and not nearly as funny as hoped for. I, on the other hand, liked the extreme twistedness of the whole thing, as well as the rather shocking aspect of Where Things Went Wrong. The film ended with me, grinning a nasty grin. Not perfect, and I sure wouldn't pay full price (as we did); but the visuals are worth seeing on the big screen - the scenes in Bruges itself, not all the blood.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Relaxed to near death

Thanks to Boegle mentioning the death of a hot-tub spa-type place in her neighborhood, RambunctiousGrl got it into her head that we had to try the local schvitz-place, AKA Banya 5.

We now expect to be going there twice a month.

First off, it's a Russian/Turkish bath. So there's the HOT room. the HOT STEAM room, the C-C-COLD p-p-pool, the (I'll stop doing the funny embellishments now) cold shower, the salt pool, and the hot tub. Which is just a hot tub.

The hot room (parilka) is supposed to be running around 200-210 degrees fahrenheit and low humidity. There was a fella there who kept dragging the poor front-of-house girls back to show them that the humidity was hovering around a constant 50%, which means that actual overheating doesn't happen.

Coulda fooled me.

So you spend about ten minutes in the heat, and then drop into the cold pool. Jump right out, sit for a minute, and then go back into the heat. Your basic sauna, right? Well, not quite.

I had a sauna growing up. Thought it was goofy. Now that I'm an adult, I f**king want one of my own!

However, if you have your own sauna, you won't get to see the contingent of the Russian Mafia having a nice sweat right in front of you. Old guys with big white bellies (with zero self-image issues) lying right on the hot boards of the sauna's top tier, while they whack each other with towels in order to increase the heat, and boost their circulation. Also in evidence were the young bulls, with the complicated tattoos that look like they might have happened in prison, but who knows, maybe I'm jumping to conclusions. All of the traditional guys were wearing funny little felt hats (chapka) which supposedly keep your head from overheating too much.

Russian Smurfs.

Anyway, best way to begin the day once breakfast has been consumed, and I imagine if one has a nasty hangover it works really well. Specially if you get that shot of vodka in your system before you go to the baths.