Penn of Penn & Teller has a bizarre air travel story.
Also, holy crap I'm not feeling good about the world. Check out the links from there, like this one.
On the lighter side, have a look at what Penn Station looked like before they tore it down. And. What would Jesus smoke?
I can feel despair on the borders of consciousness the way depression used to be...maybe they're linked now. Almost got stuck thinking about what I've lost, but I breathed and concentrated on what I was doing and came out okay. I had two (2!) job-related calls today: first a woman setting up a phone interview for this afternoon for a job in San Mateo, and then a guy calling me back about a starting-very-soon job in Redmond, Washington (not for Microsoft), a 4-6 month contract. I don't really know how I'd manage that, but I decided that I could probably make enough money to pay Houseness rent and live a monk's life up north. Maybe. In any case I won't worry about it until tomorrow or so when they tell me if I'm even being considered.
I should hear from the San Mateo company tomorrow as well. I have some hope for that, since she said they called 6 people from a craigslist posting, which is sure to have had at minimum many hundreds of responses. They'll do physical interviews with 2 or 3. It sounds like I'm pretty well-suited to the job, so I hope that is apparent to them, as much as a commute to San Mateo would fuck up my doing aikido in Berkeley.
Happy Three Kings Day! A year ago today we were staying at Casa Kloster in Guanajuato, a couple of days after spending the night sleeping in the alley next to the 400-year old University. We got home from dinner and the family running the place invited us to take place in the ceremony they were holding, which was really nice and turned out to be followed by dinner. Three Kings Day is at least as big a deal as Christmas--the day when the Three Kings actually found Christ. Makes more sense in some ways as the day to give all the presents, since that's when the Magi gave their presents. Et cetera. I have so many vivid and colored memories of our time there, I still have the layout of the city in my head and I can take you down to the Gigante supermarket/toy store, or to the good tortas stands, down to the market, over to the Teatro Juarez, the Teatro Cervantes, the Museo Iconografico de Don Quijote. I could probably get you up into the hills to the La Valencia mine, and with a couple hours' driving out to San Miguel de Allende, probably stopping to ask directions a few times, because in Mexico you can't get a complete answer by asking once. And in the whole old city of Guanajuato I can take you to the only place to get food that's open 24 hours (as far as I could tell, and I looked really hard).
I cannot describe to you any pattern in how the church bells ring, except to say that someone rings a church's bells at fairly arbitrary times leading up to a Mass, and there are so many churches that the bells just ring all the damn time. Seriously. One time at 7:45 AM I heard one bell ring 17 times. Eight minutes later, the same bell rang 3 times. It's Mexico. Smile, nod, move on.
With a couple of my close friends with whom I am clearly never, ever, ever going to be romantically and/or sexually involved, there's a certain part of my mind activated by that certainty that I have difficulty describing; now, with the certainty of not getting involved with anyone, that button is being pressed all the time, even after just a couple of days. I think it will catalyze some kind of transformation, just as other decisions recently have catalyzed other transformations with regard to honesty and focusing on "now". It's sort of like water building up behind a dam made of sand: the turmoil builds and builds and finally passes the barrier, and the barrier erodes with time. So celibacy seems to be the key to passing into, among other things, "using sex properly". It just occurred to me that my natural progression here is sort of ticking off the precepts like a laundry list, except it's just happening.
Zen Master Seung Sahn said, "In our Temple Rules, it says, 'You have taken the Five or the Ten Precepts. Know when to keep them and when to break them, when they are open and when they are losed.' The Precepts are very important. They are like a sign pointing in the right direction, and without them it is difficult to find the true way. But it is also important not to be attached to the Precepts. No action is good or bad in itself. Only the intention matters. So if you keep a Bodhisattva mind, you may sometimes need to break the Precepts in order to help others."
I got a little Traveling Buddhist kit for Christmas: a little box that turns into a mini-shrine, a little laughing Buddha and a stand for it, and an incense burner and some incense. The Buddha is not the Buddha that I wanted, and in fact I have failed for many years to get a Buddha statue because I haven't found one to my liking and price range. I finally realized as I unpacked the laughing Buddha that this whole "liking" thing is complete bullshit, and if I weren't so hung up on "like" and "not like", I could put an empty can of soda on the altar and have that be Buddha, and that there's a great irony in being attached to what Buddha should look like. Once I realized that, the little laughing Buddha became very good, and reminds me always to not be attached to things and words and ideas (including the remains of my desire for Buddha to appear a certain way), and I laugh with him. Maybe I should write "Buddha" in marker on an empty soda can and put it on the altar.