Friday, January 18, 2013

He's A Complicated Man

The best story i've seen yet on Lance's Oprah interviews:

"The long road to redemption: Lance Armstrong realizes it's OK to be human"

Some people are wailing and screaming that he didn't seem contrite enough, or sad enough, or that it didn't seem as if he was hurt by the damage he did to others. I will never understand those people. Maybe these people are the same one's that were shocked when the doping report came out laying out how he had gotten away with it for sooooo many years. I call them fools.

Fools. Pure and simple. It has been clear for a very long time that Lance couldn't have accomplished what he did without cheating. Everyone with an open mind understood that. Forget that "he's never failed a test" nonsense — if you believed he was clean you were a fool. Instead of crying about how Lance is now handling himself as he comes clean, go stand in front of a mirror and look yourself in the eye and admit you're a fool. Admit that a hero, any hero, is more important to you than the truth. Admit that you consciously chose to bury the obvious simply so you could worship yet another sports star. Look yourself in the eyes and admit you're a fool. And vow never to do it again. They're outstanding athletes, not necessarily outstanding people. Not the same thing.

One more time for the record, i will always admire Lance as an athlete. He's a lying, cheating, obnoxious SOB, but he was a great athlete. Did he cheat? Yes, but so did all the others. I still believe that if noone had been cheating, and those seven Tour de Frances had been clean, then Lance would have won anyway. He was a great athlete, he had the best teams and management, he had the toughest training programs and toughest daily training regimes. I think he would have won anyhow. My hat is off to him for his skill as bicyclist.

But, he deserves everything that comes to him now. He cheated and should lose his titles, medals, and endorsements. He should be sued and have to repay those that gave him money. He should be sued and have to repay those that had to pay him over the years when he sued them. His feet should be held right over an open fire.

As long as companies encourage idol worship in order to sell their products, idols will appear. Pedastals will be built. And complicated, success driven, win at any cost human beings will climb on top. In my opinion, they aren't the real problems; the problems are the fools who choose to worship them at the cost of their integrity.

Cheats will always be among us. They only cause problems when the rest of society enables them.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I don't usually recommend much to people out there, figuring that what i like and dislike really has no bearing on your likes and dislikes. But, this is different ... somehow.

I eat a lot of nori, the Japanese word for dried sheets of seaweed. Those that eat sushi or onigiri (rice balls) will know what it is because it's the sheets of seaweed wrapped around your rice. Since i eat a LOT of rice balls each week and throughout the year, i go through a lot of nori, and the place i buy it is the semi-local Korean grocery store. (As an aside, i love that store. It's as big as a Walmart and has anything and everything Asian that you could possibly want to eat. Going there is like what it must be like to die and go to heaven.)

I have, for a decade, at least, always bought the same Japanese branded nori. It's good so why bother changing. Last fall, i decided to be brave because the store had some Korean nori on sale, and "sale" usually trumps taste with my current budget.

I can't read a word of Korean, so here's a picture:

(Click to enlarge if you want to read the packaging)

The nori that i first bought in November was the small package on the left. Because of the packaging i think i ended up with about 30 of these. Each package comes with about a dozen smallish sheets of nori. I went back a month later and bought several packs of the larger size that i can cut down to any size i want. The small one's will only fit very small onigiri, so when i make larger ones to take out on my bike i have to use the larger sheets.

I don't know what it is about the taste, but these are the absolute best nori i have ever eaten. Ever. I actually look forward to the nori more than the onigiri anymore. There is a different taste from my previous brand, but i don't know what it is. Are they just fresher? Dried differently? Are they a little more salty? Maybe, but if so only faintly and i can't be sure, but since i never use salt for anything except cooking sphagetti noodles even a very faint taste makes my tongue perk up.

If you find these in a store near you, buy some. They are delicious.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Questionable Art

So i'm just throwing this out there.

I bought the below oil painting (i think it's oil) way back in '73 or '74. It's about 3' x 3' in size. I was in the Navy, had just finished school, and been given my first assignment to a submarine and was looking for something to decorate the walls of an apartment i was renting. In Charleston, South Carolina.

The story i always tell is that i stumbled across the painting in a grocery store. I still think that was true, but certainly wouldn't bet any money on it. I wasn't the art gallery type back then (they didn't sell beer) so it had to be something like a grocery store or Ben Franklins.

After 40 years i still love it but after carting it everywhere around the country, i've suddenly gotten curious as to who "Candace" is. That name is the only thing written on it. I've googled the name and the name plus "artist" but the returns are too many to make any sense out of it. I just see no way to figure out who the painter was.

I'm not assuming the painting is worth anything, i'm just curious about who painted it and what they might have done since. 40 years is a long relationship. No? So, the questions is, how does one go about figuring out something like this? Is it impossible? Possible if you have thousands of dollars to pay a professional to track it down (which i don't)? How? Anyone have any ideas?

Keeping Busy

In my never ending attempt to simplify and unclutter my house (and life), i decided to build a new bookshelf in the dining room and then use that to get rid of three smaller, 2-shelf units scattered here and there in three different rooms.

I didn't want my typical bookshelf — a basic box, completely closed in with sides and backing. I wanted something that left the wall open so that you could see through it and not make the room appear any smaller once it is in place. I also didn't want to lose the spot in the center of the wall where i rotate different pictures of the henro trail.

It's not nailed in place yet, but this is what i came up with. After it's nailed in place i have two more pieces to add on the left and right of the picture in the center, but that will take some time because i have to find two Japanese designs i like and then carve/cut it into approriate pieces of wood. Mt. Fuji? The henro trail and a temple? Some kanji: Namu Daishi Henjo Kongo on one side and Dogyo Ninin on the other? Hmmmmm.....

... a few hours later...

Still have to work on the decorative pieces over the next few days, but at least the books are now moved. Woodblock prints, Japanese art & architecture, Japanese joinery, Shakuhachi, Japanese gardens, Japanese travel, Japanese language, French, Mathematics, Physics, a few regularly-used Buddhist books, and some henro related stuff.

Time to call it quits for the day.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy New Year

A belated happy new year to all. Hope all find the beginning of this new season starting off well.

I've been fishing around for some kind of new year's resolution to make, but find myself coming up empty handed this year. I won't say I live in a rut, but when I look up I see mostly dirt sometimes.

I've begun another year with the Bhagavad Gita; this year it's the "BG As It Is." I'll spend another year with the Shōbōgenzō. Of course, another year of meditating. I'll get back on my bike for another year in the saddle as soon as it warms back into the 40's. In the meantime I pedal my NordicTrac bike in the library four times a week while watching episodes of the Mahabharata on video. I'll start another year of running when April gets here. Kanji? Unfortunately, I just can not make myself committ to skipping a year so have begun another year through the flash cards. This year will also include Kanji Kentei cards as well. All I worry about are the 1,006 Shōgaku kanji anymore. Since I never use them they disappear almost as fast as I study them. I started a second year through Algebra Two and Precalculus texts so I'm ready for the few questions I get from a couple of the kids I tutor.

The only new things I can think of are I'm going to build a tansu for the kitchen this spring, I've committed to reading two Physics textbooks this year, and will spend several months with a set of video lectures on the BG by Swami Dayananda.

I lead a pitiful life, it seems. The good news is that I turn 60 in August. I've looked forward to this milestone for many, many years. I'm already getting excited. Goofy, I know, but that's me. My current plans are to ride my first, and only, century (100 mile ride) on my birthday. If you're near Lockport, feel free to join me. ;-) In February the Year of The Snake begins, and since I'm a Snake, I'm looking forward to good things.

So, from the bottom of my rut I wish all the very, very best over the course of 2013. Dream big, shoot for the seemingly impossible, imagine attaining the unimaginable, climb to peaks you thought unattainable, love everyone, have compassion for all, and leave deep butt prints in another zafu.

Happy New Year.