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Bhavatu sabba mangalam.
"May all beings be happy."
Vipassana meditation.
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« September 2002 | Main | November 2002 »

October 31, 2002

iPod engraving

Top Ten Things to Engrave on your iPod. Hilarious! [via iPodLounge]

Posted at 17:13 | TrackBacks (0)

pictures online

In case you're interested, all my latest pictures are online, including those from Sydney this past week (see the link list to the right). Be sure to check these out; the Australian Maritime Museum had a special exhibit on of American WWII propaganda. The mind boggles...

Posted at 16:57 | TrackBacks (0)

Going to Hawaii

My homeward journey slowly continues... Friday morning I'm flying to Hawaii and will be hanging out with Craig for a week; he's at the University of Hawaii getting his Master's Degree in music. We haven't seen each other or hung out in over a year, it outghta be great.

I've been reading up on Hawaii, as its history is fascinating- human sacrifice to McDonald's in ~150 years, incredible... very similar to New Zealand. Both places' indigenous cultures descend from the same Pacific Island culture. While Europe was still in the pits of the Dark Ages around the year 1000 CE and there were no white people in North America, the Islanders were sailing their huge canoes (~60 people + animals + supplies) on 40-day voyages covering, literally, thousands of miles of the Pacific Ocean, navigating purely from the positions of stars and ocean currents. They lived sustainably with the environment and suffered from no diseases. Then white folks (whalers, traders, etc.) arrived in the early 1800s, including a whole gang of missionaries from Yale, and Christianized the whole place. Something like 2/3 of the Hawaiian population was wiped out from measles and other assorted ailments due to their arrival.

Posted at 16:39 | TrackBacks (0)

October 30, 2002


"Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore..." Double-entendre there, first off I'm posting from Oz. Second, as soon as I arrived at Dhamma Bhumi they said, "There've been a few snakes around, so be careful." Snakes!?!? I just spent 9 months in NZ, where there ARE NO SNAKES! And here I am in the Australian bush, where the most poisonous snakes in the world are! As well as incredibly-poisonous spiders, several of which dwell in most of the rooms there at the Center! Then we went on a short bush walk and saw a kangaroo bounding by.

Fast-forward to the present, I'm in Sydney right now and it ROCKS; I haven't picked up on this level of buzz in a city since I was in Wellington two months ago. I'm staying with one of the co-founders of RGB, who I met at Dhamma Bhumi last weekend. And lucky for me, the folks living in the flat below this one have an Airport online. (grin)

It's totally surreal being here, thanks to the presence of the Harbor Bridge and Opera House, one of which is essentially always visible from downtown. Yesterday (my first full day here) we had spectacular weather and I went to the Zoo via a harbor ferry ride. The view was stunning, this city is gorgeous! Then I spent the afternoon wandering around The Rocks and stumbled upon the David Egan exhibit, wicked. In the evening I caught "Y Tu Mama Tambien" (hilarious Mexican film!) then headed to The Basement to meet a friend for some supposedly low-key live music. Instead, we were surprised with a few compressed sets by the originally-scheduled bands followed by a rock 'n roll extravaganza featuring Jeff Baxter from the Doobie Brothers! We didn't get out of there until 1am, after seeing 5 of Australia's most famous rock stars all jamming out on stage. Of course, I had no idea who any of them were, but one of the Ozzies there with us was smiling ear to ear in disbelief the whole time! Evidently these guys had all the big hits back in the '70s.

It turns out it was the benefit show for the Farmhand Drought Relief project; Australia is currently having one of its worst droughts ever, and this concert was to raise money to help out the farmers.

More soon, it's way past my bed-time...

Posted at 01:58 | TrackBacks (0)

October 25, 2002

Buddha on Government

This is my last night, err, morning in New Zealand for the near-future. At 4:40pm I'm flying from Auckland to Sydney on Qantas Flight 120. After I arrive at 5:05pm, I'm hopping on a train to Dhamma Bhumi to help serve the remainder of the current Vipassana course happening there. Thus, I'll again be offline for the next few days. I shouldn't have any trouble getting online afterward, though. ;)

Regarding the debate still raging below, I give you this passage from a book I read while I was at Dhamma Medini (emphasis is my own):

In the days of the Buddha, as today, there were rulers who governed their countries unjustly. People were oppressed and exploited, tortured and persecuted, excessive taxes were imposed and cruel punishments were inflicted. The Buddha was deeply moved by these inhumanities. The [Buddhist scriptures] record that he, therefore, directed his attention to the problem of good government. His views should be appreciated against the social, economic and political background off his time. He had shown how a whole country could become corrupt, degenerate and unhappy when the heads of its government, that is the king, the ministers and administrative officers become corrupt and unjust. For a country to be happy it must have a just government. How this form of just government could be realized is explained by the Buddha in his teaching of the 'Ten Duties of the King.'

Of course the term 'king' of old should be replaced today by the term 'Government.' 'The Ten Duties of the King,' therefore, apply today to all those who constitute the government, such as the head of state, ministers, political leaders, legislative and administrative officers, etc.

The first of the 'Ten Duties of the King' is liberality, generosity, charity. The ruler should not have craving and attachment to wealth and property, but should give it away for the welfare of the people.

Second: A high moral character. He should never destroy life, cheat, steal and exploit others, commit adultery, utter falsehood, and take intoxicating drinks. That is, he must at least observe the Five Precepts of the layman.

Third: Sacrificing everything for the good of the people, he must be prepared to give up all personal comfort, name and game, and even his life, in the interest of the people.

Fourth: Honesty and integrity. He must be free from fear or favor in the discharge of his duties, must be sincere in his intentions, and must not deceive the public.

Fifth: Kindness and gentleness. He must possess a genial temperament.

Sixth: Austerity in habits. He must lead a simple life, and should not indulge in a life of luxury. He must have self-control.

Seventh: Freedom from hatred, ill-will, enmity. He should bear no grudge against anybody.

Eighth: Non-violence, which means not only that he should harm nobody, but also that he should try to promote peace by avoiding and preventing war, and everything which involves violence and destruction of life.

Ninth: Patience, forbearance, tolerance, understanding. He must be able to bear hardships, difficulties and insults without losing his temper.

Tenth: Non-opposition, non-obstruction, that is to say that he should not oppose the will of the people, should not obstruct any measures that are conducive to the welfare of the people. In other words he should rule in harmony with his people.

If a country is ruled by men endowed with such qualities, it is needless to say that that country must be happy. But this was not a Utopia, for there were kings in the past like Asoka of India who had established kingdoms based on these ideas.

The World today lives in constant fear, suspicion, and tension. Science has produced weapons which are capable of unimaginable destruction. Brandishing these new instruments of death, great powers threaten and challenge one another, boasting shamelessly that one could cause more destruction and misery in the world than the other.

They have gone along this path of madness to such a point that now, if they take one more step forward in that direction, the result will be nothing but mutual annihilation along with the total destruction of humanity...

Human beings in fear of the situation they have themselves created, want to find a way out, and seek some kind of solution. But there is none except that held out by the Buddha- his message of non-violence and peace, of love and compassion, of tolerance and understanding, of truth and wisdom, of respect and regard for all life, of freedom from selfishness, hatred and violence.

The Buddha says: 'Never by hatred is hatred appeased, but it is appeased by kindness. This is an eternal truth. One should win anger through kindness, wickedness through goodness, selfishness through charity, and falsehood through truthfulness.'

There can be no peace or happiness for man as long as he desires and thirsts after conquering and subjugating his neighbor. As the Buddha says: 'The victor breeds hatred, and the defeated lies down in misery. He who renounces both victory and defeat is happy and peaceful. The only conquest that brings peace and happiness is self-conquest. One may conquer millions in battle, but he who conquers himself, only one, is the greatest of conquerors.'

You will say this is all very beautiful, noble and sublime, but impractical. Is it practical to hate one another? To kill one another? To live in eternal fear and suspicion like wild animals in a jungle? Is this more practical and comfortable? Was hatred ever appeased by hatred? Was evil ever won over by evil? But there are examples, at least in individual cases, where hatred is appeased by love and kindness, and evil won over by goodness. You will say that this may be true, practicable in individual cases, but that it never works in national and international affairs. People are hypnotized, psychologically puzzled, blinded and deceived by the political and propaganda usage of such terms as 'national,' 'international,' or 'state.' What is a nation but a vast conglomeration of individuals? A nation or a state does not act, it is the individual who acts. What the individual thinks and does is what the nation or the state thinks and does. What is applicable to the individual is applicable to the nation or the state. If hatred can be appeased by love and kindness on the individual scale, surely it can be realized on the national and international scale too. Even in the case of a single person, to meet hatred with kindness one must have tremendous courage, boldness, faith and confidence in moral force. May it not be even more so with regard to international affairs? If by the expression 'not practical' you mean 'not easy,' you are right. Definitely it is not easy. Yet it should be tried. You may say it is risky trying it. Surely it cannot be more risky than trying a nuclear war.

It is a consolation and inspiration to think today that at least there was one great ruler, well known in history, who had the courage, the confidence and the vision to apply this teaching of non-violence, peace and love to the administration of a vast empire, in both internal and external affairs- Asoka, the great Buddhist emperor of India (3rd century B.C.E.)- 'the Beloved of the gods' as he was called.

At first he followed the example of his father and grandfather, and wished to complete the conquest of the Indian peninsula. He invaded and conquered Kalinga, and annexed it. Many hundreds of thousands were killed, wounded, tortured and taken prisoner in this war. But later, when he became a Buddhist, he was completely changed and transformed by the Buddha's teachings. In one of his famous Edicts, inscribed on rock (Rock Edict XIII, as it is now called), the original of which one may read even today, referring to the conquest of Kalinga, the Emperor publicly expressed his 'repentance,' and said how 'extremely painful' it was for him to think of that carnage. He publicly declared that he would never draw his sword again for any conquest, but that he 'wishes all living beings non-violence, self-control, the practice of serenity and mildness.' This, of course, is considered the chief conquest by the Beloved of the gods (i.e. Asoka), namely the conquest by piety. Not only did he renounce war himself, he expressed his desire that 'my sons and grandsons will not think of a new conquest as worth achieving... let them think of that conquest only which is the conquest by piety. That is good for this world and the world beyond.'

This is the only example in the history of mankind of a victorious conquerer at the zenith of his power, still possessing the strength to continue his territorial conquests, yet renouncing war and violence and turning to peace and non-violence.

Here is a lesson for the world today. The ruler of an empire publicly turned his back on war and violence and embraced the message of peace and non-violence. There is no historical evidence to show that any neighboring king took advantage of Asoka's piety to attack him militarily, or that there was any revolt or rebellion within his empire during his lifetime. On the contrary there was peace throughout the land, and even countries outside his empire seem to have accepted his benign leadership.

To talk of maintaining peace through the balance of power, or through the threat of nuclear deterrents, is foolish. The might of armaments can only produce fear, and not peace. It is impossible that there can be genuine and lasting peace through fear. Through fear can come only hatred, ill-will and hostility, suppressed perhaps for the time being only, but ready to erupt and become violent at any moment. True and genuine peace can prevail only in an atmosphere of amity, free from fear, suspicion and danger.

Buddhism aims at creating a society where the ruinous struggle for power is renounced; where calm and peace prevail away from conquest and defeat; where the persecution of the innocent is vehemently denounced; where one who conquers oneself is more respected than those who conquer millions by military and economic warfare; where hatred is conquered by kindness, and evil by goodness, where enmity, jealousy, ill-will and greed do not infect men's minds; where compassion is the driving force of action; where all, including the least of living things, are treated with fairness, consideration and love; where life in peace and harmony, in a world of material contentment, is directed towards the highest and noblest aim, the realization of Ultimate Truth, Nirvana.

-Walpola Rahula, 1959

Posted at 01:28 | TrackBacks (0)

Bye Bye Delilah

I parted with Delilah today, my faithful NZ touring car. When I bought her February 23rd this year, she had 255,125 km on her odometer. When I took the ferry to the North Island on August 29th, the odometer read 264,002 km. Today when we parted for the last time, it read 268,164 km. The grand total: 13,039 km, 8877 km on the South Island and 4162 km on the North Island. The proportion is similar to the amount of time I spent on each island, roughly 6 months down South and 3 months up North. She was an awesome car, I never had a major problem, as I kept up with the preventive maintenance. Of course, this maintenance is required by law here in New Zealand, via the Warrant of Fitness program. Pretty sensible, eh?

You may be wondering what's next for Delilah? My girl Debbie Trimble (picture from when we traveled in Tunisia 12/1999) emailed me a few months ago that she was thinking about coming down to NZ soon to do some traveling. Naturally, I sent her all the encouragement I could muster, including advice that buying a car is the best way for independent travelers like her to see NZ. She totally out-of-the-blue proposed buying Delilah and I agreed, as long as we could find a place to leave her until Debbie arrives in December. That soon sorted itself out, and the deal was done. For her it means she gets a reliable, cared-for car as soon as she arrives in NZ, no bargaining with dodgy backpackers or worries about its condition, etc. For me it meant I didn't have to worry about selling the car, which is potentially heaps of hassle. I've heard stories of travelers driving their cars to the airport for their flights home, leaving the cars in the parking lot with the keys in the ignition, because it's cheaper than spending a week in Auckland trying to sell the car then taking a shuttle to the airport...

Thanks for doing business with me, Debs, you bought yerself a fine automobile, treat her well and she'll treat you well! She's got a great stereo, too! ;)

Posted at 00:51 | TrackBacks (0)

Bryan Christianson

Yesterday afternoon I got to hang out at ihug HQ in downtown Auckland with Bryan Christianson, creator of WhatRoute, a MacOS-based traceroute package. For you non-geeks, traceroute is a program that lets one trace Internet traffic as it goes to and fro around the net, useful for finding bottlenecks on networks, etc. Anyway, a new version of WhatRoute will be out shortly, and it's drastically improved since v1.8.0 (Bryan gave me a copy). It includes an easy-to-use LAN monitor. Hmm...

Posted at 00:07 | TrackBacks (0)

October 24, 2002

Nuke the bastards.

nuke_the_bastards.jpgAfter reading through the raging blogversation going on down below, I decided to design a new t-shirt for the, err, more "nationalistically-minded" members of the audience.

It's already catching on back in Cleveland, I gather:


I got nothin' but love for ya, McCarinator! ;)

[original image from]

Posted at 00:19 | TrackBacks (0)

October 23, 2002


jetblue.jpgToday I booked another chunk of my "homeward bound" air travel, from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Thanks to a tip from Aunt Ann, I scoped out JetBlue- US$29 one-way for a 1.5 hour flight. Considering that Amtrak costs about US$40 for a 9-hour trip with 3 changeovers, and Greyhound is almost the same, it was a no-brainer. Even better, though, is the fact that JetBlue has a web app that lets passengers pick their preferred seat while booking (click the screenshot). I opted for 23A, hopefully far enough behind the left wing that I'll have a nice view out the window.

Posted at 22:50 | TrackBacks (0)

October 22, 2002

Apple tech

Phil Schiller: "You have these computers with more power than any server you could afford to buy for under $1,000. You don't need more power, you just need a way to make this completely seamless and invisible. Every client is a server and every server is a client. I want your music and my music to be seamless wherever it is. I want your photos and my photos to be seamless wherever they are."

Posted at 09:25 | TrackBacks (0)

October 20, 2002

Schools quote

Jack forwarded this several weeks ago, while I was offline:

"And what is a good citizen? Simply one who never says, does or thinks anything that is unusual. Schools are maintained in order to bring this uniformity up to the highest possible point. A school is a hopper into which children are heaved while they are still young and tender; therein they are pressed into certain standard shapes and covered from head to heels with official rubber-stamps."

-H.L. Mencken {1880-1956 American Author & Critic}

Gene's Note: And people say our public schools are failing. Unfortunately, they're doing exactly what they are meant to do. Mencken saw this 50 years ago!

Posted at 16:35 | TrackBacks (0)

Shakespeare quote

An email forward from my Aunt Marian:

"Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war

in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervour,

for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword.

It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind...

And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and

the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed,

the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry.

Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded with patriotism,

will offer up all of their rights unto the leader, and gladly so.

How do I know?

For this is what I have done.

And I am Caesar."

-William Shakespeare

Posted at 15:36 | TrackBacks (0)

October 19, 2002

Mulholland Drive

More on the movie front, a few of us caught Mulholland Drive last night. Bazaar flick but brilliant, along the lines of Memento. Luckily Fitz sussed it out for us back in September. Reading through the Salon feature cleared it all up. Fitz says, "You just have to be very psychologically attuned to emotional symbolism (as opposed to intellectual symbolism) for the film to have complete resonance." Obviously I ain't... ;)

Posted at 15:20 | TrackBacks (0)

Apocalypse Now Redux

Last week a few of us cruised downtown (Auckland) to see the Apocalypse Now Redux. Incredible. Absolutely mind-boggling. Way better than the original, which was already awesome. Go see it, asap. And keep in mind that Mike is there right now, teaching and traveling. Here are his comments about the movie and more, from a recent email (hope he doesn't mind):

"almost daily, i walk around thinking, what the f happened here. it's not like there is constant reminders or anything but it doesn't take much for the war to be touched upon. my vietnamese teacher fought for 6 years. the guy who serves me tea everyday fought. a guy i met at bar once fought. you know, all the old people. then they shake my hand and say 'we're friends now.' it's really quite incredible. oh yeah, and their kids are my students. it's interesting to get their take on iraq. i tend to stay away from political discussions (for obvious reasons of not wanting to be deported) but they often ask me what i think so i ask in return... and of 60 students, every single one was against the u.s. attacking iraq. something tells me they have a good perspective on which to judge the merits of war! when asked what i thought of bush, i simply drew a picture of a cowboy on the board. in response, they all used a synonym of 'aggressive' or 'crazy.'"

Posted at 15:10 | TrackBacks (0)

Marco's invasion

Also back in September, Marco forward this beauty:

Bush's Iraq invasion checklist

Posted at 14:45 | TrackBacks (0)

Matt B- War Cry

MattB emailed me this gem of an article back in September. Somebody pat Mohammad Khatami on the back for me.

Posted at 14:31 | TrackBacks (0)

October 17, 2002

Back to the mundane

Ok, I'm back to the mundane for real this time. Well, at least until January, that is... ;)

Since my last post, several friends and I went on a spur-of-the-moment camping trip to Waipoua Forest, then ended up spending a few days at The Tree House with some other meditators from the last Vipassana course. We got back to Dhamma Medini just in time for the 3-Day course. I've pretty much been offline in meditation courses for about a month and a half. A very profound month and a half...

My New Zealand visitor's visa expires in 9 days. As soon as I began traveling here back in January, I realized I wanted to stay as long as they'd let me. Thus, I'm flying out in 8 days! Here's my itinerary; I'm aiming at being home in time for Thanksgiving:

25/10/2002, Qantas Flight #120, depart Auckland 16:40, arrive Sydney 17:05

1/11/2002, Qantas Flight #3, depart Sydney 10:50, arrive Honolulu 31/10/2002, 23:10

8/11/2002, Qantas Flight #3255, depart Honolulu 14:30, arrive Los Angeles 21:42

I won't be home for long though, as I have to head over to London in early December for a job interview.

Posted at 16:03 | TrackBacks (0)

October 6, 2002


The Vipassana Course is over, it's back to the mundane reality for me... until the 3-day course starting Friday the 11th. How many of you completed your assignment?

Posted at 21:24 | TrackBacks (0)