Sunday, April 30, 2006

Solar Powered

I wonder if they are worried that the rising price of oil might affect the rate of growth of grass in the pasture?

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Karma of Automobile Maintenance

Our 1990 Corolla was making noise, but the muffler was good. I took it to Dave, a local ridge top mechanic. He figured it was a cracked exhaust manifold. He tried to weld it but cast iron is difficult. Even if the weld holds, the piece is often warped. It sounded bad after I picked it up. I took it back, and he shrugged his shoulders and said it was okay the way it was, just keep driving it.

If I have something, I prefer to keep it in good shape. Unfortunately, paying top dollar for dealer service is off budget. So when a new devotee, Shyamasundara, started doing mechanical work, I took it to him. He immediately identified by ear the manifold was still cracked. He advised me to get a new one and the needed gaskets and he would install it.

Rupanuga has a parts car that is the same model. He said I could take the manifold for free; a nice gesture. I called a junkyard to see how much a used one cost, thinking I would give him something anyway. They didn’t have any, because everyone that came in was cracked. This got me thinking, so I went on the internet and discovered this engine has a cracking problem. If I paid to have Rupanuga’s removed, it might already be cracked; if not, it was an inevitable fate. In which case I would be out the cost of the labor and the gaskets for installation. So I decided to get a new one.

Now the fun began. I called the parts store, and they wanted $130 for a new one and gaskets. I went online, and found a place where I could get the manifold and a gasket kit for $70, shipping included. It arrived and I left the car with Shyamasundara. He brings it back, saying the gaskets (one goes on the engine and one another the muffler system) are wrong. Great. So I go down to a local place get a gasket kit. I take it to Shyamasundara. When he brought the car back, manifold installed, he said the “kit” only had the engine gasket, not the muffler one so he had to reuse the old one, which wasn’t sealing. So I still had a noisy, losing power car.

Not to be deterred, the next time I am in town, I go to a parts store and order the missing gasket. I leaned over the counter and watched the clerk input the information, and saw everything was correct because this time I was making sure. I bring it back to Shyamasundara and guess what? Wrong size. This was starting to get absurd.

Next attempt, my wife went to town. This time she takes the old manifold and makes the parts guy show her it fits. Off, again, to Shyam’s. I parked, and walked up to him to say I finally had it right. CRUNCH. I turn and see that someone backed into my car, and broke the running light. At this point, I had to laugh. The weird turn of events that lead to 4 attempts to get one little part, that I could attribute to bad luck and incompetence on my part. That at the exact moment I had finally gotten it right, something else breaks, that had to be Krsna making a joke. I had to laugh at the futility of it all. I hope He had a good chuckle too.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Fruits, Vegetables Not As Nutritious As Before

A modern tomato harvest in full swing.

"In spite of what Mother taught you about the benefits of eating broccoli, data collected by the U.S. government show that the nutritional content of America's vegetables and fruits has declined during the past 50 years -- in some cases dramatically.

Donald Davis, a biochemist at the University of Texas, said that of 13 major nutrients in fruits and vegetables tracked by the Agriculture Department from 1950 to 1999, six showed noticeable declines -- protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin and vitamin C. The declines ranged from 6 percent for protein, 15 percent for iron, 20 percent for vitamin C, and 38 percent for riboflavin..."

"Davis said he doesn't want his study to encourage people to stop eating vegetables on the grounds they lack nutrients.

"That's completely wrong," he said, contending his study shows that people need to eat more vegetables and fruits, not less. "Vegetables are extraordinarily rich in nutrients and beneficial phytochemicals. They are still there, and vegetables and fruits are our best sources for these."..."

See complete article here.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

My Moth Eaten Life

The last breaths of an unbloggable
week were being drawn.
Watched the DVDed first season
of the Fox series “24” in two days;
painted something to watch it dry.

Mired in malaise,
trying to fit square words
into round sentences,
my eye was caught
by movement on the floor.

A moth with one and a half wings
crawled into the halo of my desk light.
Scooped up and placed on the porch,
the yellow angular stripes
on its black wings -- memorable.

Looking online for an identification key,
I was bewildered by unlearned jargon
and over ten thousand known species
in America north of Mexico;
fourteen hundred in North Dakota alone.

Then a search of “moth” and “West Virginia”
found Bob Patterson’s life
list of five hundred plus photographs
with improvised English names.
A quick skim and a few guesses later

I saw my moth,
both wings whole,
Apantesis phalerata,
The Banded Tiger Moth.

I went outside again, but only memory
fluttered around the porch light.
Watching in the sky,
bright enough to cast a shadow,
the eye of Krishna.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

If Oil Prices Keep Rising...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Of Seasons, I Am The Flower Bearing Spring

The weather is still pleasantly cool and spring like. We have had to give up most gardening, as I am not able to do any significant amount and my wife is taking the burden on too many other things. So what remains is some bulbs, some perennials, and flowering shrubs. The shrubs were planted with the primary criterion of succession of bloom, and fragrance as much as possible. A few haven’t thrived, so there are some holes in the succession of fragrance, but the blooming sequence is still working. Most of them are large enough now to thrive on their own.

After the forsythia, the spirea came in, covered with delicate white blooms that make up for their small size with abundant blossoms. Blooming before the leaves emerge, they cover the shrub like snow. Next is the olfactory high point of the year, the viburnum and the row of lilacs. My wife started the lilacs from seed, from seed stock selected for fragrance. When we moved into our current house 10 years ago, they were still like little toddlers, so we were able to move them easily. Now, they are 8-10 feet (2.5-3 meters) tall and make a solid row, filling our once primary garden space with fragrance that is heavenly. The viburnum we bought and installed once we arrived here. Many of the viburnums are showy, but blind when it comes to fragrance. We got the viburnum carlesii, which is very fragrant.

Day before yesterday I made it out and saw that the lilacs and the v. carlesii were partially open and already throwing scent. So yesterday I went out and picked a single v.carlesii flower cluster, now opened enough to cut, and put it into a cup of water next to the couch where I spend most of my time. Sometimes, you become acclimatized to a smell, and after perceiving it for a while, it fades from perception. Not the case with this v. carlesii bloom. I was smelling it all day; it was almost heady at times, and it is creeping over to me as I sit typing this out. A bloom cluster or two would scent an altar all day long. If the v. carlesii would grow in your climate, it is well worth including in any garden.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Waiting For The Dawn

Today was one of those rare days I woke up before the birds started singing, and it was still dark as pitch, the 4th quarter moon having already set. I was chanting some japa to pass the time. There was a thunderstorm and about every time I would start to doze off, a lightning bolt would strike somewhere and the clap of thunder would awaken me. Eventually, the earliest birds started singing, and soon thereafter the blackness subtly changed to a dark gray, the brahma muhurta hour was in full swing.

This past week was a turning point. I finally finished jumping through the hoops I needed to in order to be officially listed on the liver transplant list. This was a process that started last July when my specialist told me I had passed the tipping point and needed one. There were referrals, getting the medical aid lined up, all that sort of stuff, which took months. Over the last 6 weeks it has been an unrelenting barrage of interviews, testing, and procedures.

The last step was getting clearance from a dentist that all my teeth and gums were in good shape. The reason being that if a transplant was to actually transpire, they have to suppress my immune system to nothing and even a minor infection could become a serious problem. Dental work at that time is dangerous. I had to have a tooth pulled in order to get the nod from the dentist. Which needed to come out anyway. It was been bothering me for about a year, just in the hierarchy of discomfort that has been my lot, it wasn’t at the forefront. With limited resources and energy, I just hadn’t gotten around to it.

Needless to say, all this has made me even more bodily conscious than usual, so I am looking forward to have some interests other than being screened for a while. Now the waiting begins for the possibility of a transplant. Two years waiting on the list is almost normal, and 20% of people on the list don’t survive the wait. You would think this would make me more serious about things, but I prefer to not live in fear, so perhaps more denial is involved in my day-to-day consciousness than I think. So no, I am about as frivolous as ever. Might as well have a few laughs in the meantime.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

A Scientific Basis For Seeking Good Association

"But in spite of the individual mode of passion, there is always the chance of being influenced by the other modes of nature by association. If one is in good association he can develop the mode of goodness, and if in bad association he may develop the mode of darkness or ignorance. Nothing is stereotyped. One can change his habit by good or bad association, and one has to become intelligent enough to discriminate between good and bad."

SB 2.10.41

Angry/negative People Can Be Bad For Your Brain

"If you want to accomplish something that demands determination and endurance, try to surround yourself with people possessing these qualities. And try to limit the time you spend with people given to pessimism and expressions of futility. Unfortunately, negative emotions exert a more powerful effect in social situations than positive ones, thanks to the phenomena of emotional contagion..."

This article explores:

"1) One of the most important recent neuroscience discoveries--"mirror neurons", and the role they play in a decision like Robert's

2) The heavily-researched social science phenomenon known as "emotional contagion"

3) Ignorance and misperceptions around the idea of "happy people"..."

Friday, April 21, 2006

When Animals Suffer, So Do We

When Animals Suffer, So Do We (An article from the Washington Post).

"Do the animal rights nuts know something we don't?

As we observe the growing number of avian flu cases worldwide, bide time until the eventual large-scale outbreak of mad cow disease in the United States and hope what the world experienced in 2004 wasn't just a dress rehearsal for SARS, the time has come to reconsider humanity's treatment of nonhuman animals -- if only for the repercussions to our own health.

In past decades we have removed animals from pastures, sunshine and fresh air to stack them on top of each other in petri-dish-like buildings. As wild animals lose more and more of their habitats, they are forced to live on the perimeters of cities and towns and in a proximity to humans that increasingly appears to be detrimental not only to their health but also to ours..."

So what can we do as individuals? Okay, we can NOT eat meat, fish, or eggs, and minimize our consumption from commercial dairies to a cup or two a day. But what positive things can we do? One is to support Cow Protection programs.

"For the cowherd men and the cows, Krsna is the supreme friend. Therefore He is worshiped by the prayer namo brahmanya-devaya go-brahmana-hitaya ca. His pastimes in Gokula, His dhäma, are always favorable to the brahmanas and the cows. His first business is to give all comfort to the cows and the brahmanas. In fact, comfort for the brahmanas is secondary, and comfort for the cows is His first concern."

Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.8.16 Purport

Here are a couple of opportunities to help provide comfort for the cows. I am familiar will both and recommend them as worthwhile and sincere.

Care for Cows in Vrindavan

"Care for Cows in Vrindavan (India) maintains abandoned cows, bulls, retired oxen, and orphaned calves. We are international volunteers who offer our talents and resources to tend to the neglected cows living in Krishna's holy land. We provide stray cows hay, flour, fresh grass, medical attention and a place where they can recuperate from injuries..."

In America, there is:

The International Society For Cow PRotection

"Through their spiritual master's teachings, they have imbibed the practices and benefits, both spiritual and material, of lifetime cow protection. ISCOWP's primary concern is to present alternatives to agricultural practices that support and depend upon the meat industry and industrialized, petroleum powered machinery. To this end, ISCOWP trains oxen (male cows or steers) to replace farm machinery and thereby show an alternative to their slaughter. The tenets of cow protection and ox-power are universal and nonsectarian, available to all regardless of race, creed, or nationality..."

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Omigod! My Senses Are Still Imperfect!

If you were to cruise back through the archives of my blog, you will notice I have a mild obsession with objective exercises that demonstrate how imperfect our senses are. So here is another test to take that is guaranteed to at least nick your false ego.

If you still are in an early stage and haven't come to the realization of the power of illusion, this is mandatory. On the other side, if you think that due to your having the bestest mostest advanced Deity and/or guru and/or scripture and/or religious practice (sadhana) you have transformed your senses by "transcending" them, well, then, this test is mandatory.

Of course, I just take them because I enjoy them.

BBC Science and Nature: Human Body and Mind -- Senses Challenge

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

One Red Paper Clip

Here is the latest in the ongoing story of a guy who had a dream and set out to make it happen. Just like Srila Prabhupada had the dream to follow the order of his guru to take Krishna to the West. He wrote a book, then parlayed that into a ticket to America and a sponsorship where he arrived with a bundle of foodstuffs, some books, and little else. By faith and perseverance, he then went from merely being in America to, well, most of you already know the story.

I am posting about the red paper clip to show that no matter who or where you are, an opportunity always exists.

The "One Red Paper Clip" blog.

"My name is Kyle MacDonald and I am trying to trade one red paperclip for a house. I started with one red paperclip on July 12th, 2005 and I am making a series of trades for bigger or better things. My current item up for trade is one year in Phoenix. Do you want one year of FREE rent in Phoenix?... You can see the current offers here. I live in Montreal Canada but will go anywhere in the world for the right offer..."

Man Bartering for a House on the Web

(an article by ABC News)

"Kyle MacDonald had a red paper clip and a dream: Could he use the community power of the Internet to barter that paper clip for something better, and trade that thing for something else and so on and so on until he had a house?

After a cross-continental trading trek involving a fish-shaped pen, a town named Yahk and the Web's astonishing ability to bestow celebrity, MacDonald is getting close. He's up to one year's free rent on a house in Phoenix..."

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Since He’s Gone

Answer me, someone answer me,
Where is my Beloved?
Where has He gone?
Why has He left me alone?

Is this stone like His heart,
Hard and cold to my inquiries?
Can He really have gone away,
Leaving me without a word?

Will this tree console me, or the next?
That shrub, or it’s nearby twin?
Please don’t steal away, deer
Can’t you show where He has gone?

Can this robin tell me?
Why does it pretend to not hear?
Why does it sing so happily,
Perched in a cedar?

Did this grass bend under His foot?
Was this twig snapped as His arm passed?
Does that patch of dust bear His print?
Were those leaves scuffled by His step?

I see beauty around me bereft of Beauty.
I hear empty sounds, not His voice.
This smell of flowers is not like His hair.
This sapling is not smooth like Him.

Darkness in the midst of day
Cloaks my unbelieving mind.
Insensate in the midst of plenty,
His absence binds me in ungrasping.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Respecting the Beliefs of Others

An outsider's view of religion:

"I suppose you could argue that we should respect any religion that is peaceful and has good intentions at its core. And I certainly agree with treating all people with respect even if you’re not feeling it on the inside. But it seems to me dishonest to display respect for all beliefs equally. Surely there are beliefs that deserve slightly less respect than others.

This has to be an even bigger problem for those of you who have a religion of your own. You’re thinking something along the lines of “My prophet talked to a real angel whereas your prophet was evidently taking a drunken forest wiz and thought a tree stump was talking back to him.”..."

Complete Article Here

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Money Is The Honey

“The demoniac person thinks: "So much wealth do I have today, and I will gain more according to my schemes. So much is mine now, and it will increase in the future, more and more. He is my enemy, and I have killed him, and my other enemies will also be killed. I am the lord of everything. I am the enjoyer. I am perfect, powerful and happy. I am the richest man, surrounded by aristocratic relatives. There is none so powerful and happy as I am. I shall perform sacrifices, I shall give some charity, and thus I shall rejoice." In this way, such persons are deluded by ignorance…”

Bg 16.13, Bg 16.14, Bg 16.15, Bg 16.13-15

“People who know nothing of God and whose lives are centered on themselves, imagine that they can only find themselves by asserting their own desires and ambitions and appetites in a struggle with the rest of the world. They try to become real by imposing themselves on other people, by appropriating for themselves some share of the limited supply of created goods and thus emphasizing the difference between themselves and the other men who have less than they, or nothing at all.
They can only conceive one way of becoming real: cutting themselves off from other people and building a barrier of contrast and distinction between themselves and other men. They do not know that reality is to be sought not in division but in unity, for we are ‘members one of another.’ “

From New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton

Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Day For a Hangin'

In countries like America where spirituality is expressed through the context of Christianity, today is Good Friday, the Friday after Palm Sunday where Jesus is snatched up and hung on a cross. It doesn't get much play in the media because there are no consumer products associated with it. For an interesting angle on the crucifixion itself, check out

Image of Jesus' crucifixion may be wrong, says study

"The image of the crucifixion, one of the most powerful emblems of Christianity, may be quite erroneous, according to a study which says there is no evidence to prove Jesus was crucified in this manner...

The authors do not express any doubt on the act of Jesus' crucifixion itself..."

On a different note, the National Geographic channel on satellite/cable TV has been running a special on the Gospel of Judas, a 1700 year old manuscript that has recently been brought to public attention. Apparently, before the Roman Empire co-opted Christianity and made it the state religion around 300 AD, there were 30 or more Gospels in circulation amongst the Christians. The Romans cut it to the 4 that are in the New Testament.

I've seen only a few glimpses of the show, and but did check out the National Geographic Gospel of Judas website. The sense I got is because a major pillar of Christianity is Christ suffering for our sins, the crucifixion was essential. Since the followers of Jesus loved him, they couldn’t have brought themselves to betray him, so Jesus had to turn to his most trusted disciple, Judas, to do so. Popular opinion is that Judas was the bad guy in the drama, but the Gospel of Judas portrays him in a different light, as the one disciple who could be relied upon to carry out Jesus’ request to betray him.

Not mentioned here, but an even more radical view is that the true Messiah was not Jesus, but Judas. If Christ suffered for all our sins, even through the present, well, do the karmic math. Has all of mankind’s sins been expiated by three days of suffering? Jesus hung for 3 days, then was resurrected, and eventually elevated to Heaven, and has been adored and worshiped ever since. Judas, on the other hand, also died on a tree (hung himself) so was denied entrance to Heaven, and has therefore been suffering, ongoing suffering, all this time, parallel to the ongoing sins of mankind. Plus, he has been reviled by virtually everyone, all of whom take pride in thinking that they would not have betrayed Jesus. Pride is the root cause of all sins, the idea that I am more important than others, therefore I deserve more, at whatever cost. Profit, adoration, or distinction. The desire that causes us to fall from Vaikuntha. So Judas could be suffering for the sins of all.

I am not endorsing the idea, but it is interesting to contemplate.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Joy of Colonoscopy

"I do not know what you are eating, but the eating program should be nutritious and simple, not luxurious. That means capatis, dahl, vegetables, some butter, some fruits and milk. This is necessary for keeping good health. But we should not indulge in sweetballs or halevah or like that daily. Too much first-class eating may stimulate our sex desires, especially sweet preparations. Anyway, eat Krishna Prasadam, but be careful that we may not indulge in luxury. For Krishna we can offer the most beautiful preparations, but for us Prasadam should be very simple..."

Letter to: Gargamuni -- London 20 November, 1969

Monday I had the almost universally dreaded colonoscopy. One of the most recommended procedures by the medical community for everyone 50 years old or older, no one ever seems happy about having one. I had avoided it so far but during the transplant screening, it was made clear to me it was a deal breaker. No colonoscopy, no transplant.

It is a look inside your colon for polyps or cancer. I turned out to be completely clear. Colon cancer has two major contributing factors. One is having a family history of colon cancer, the second is basically environmental. Decades of chronic low fiber diet will lead to several different conditions, colon cancer being one of them. People who spend a lifetime eating meat and white bread, while drinking low amounts of water, and eating little or no fruits and vegetables are the prime candidates. Most vegetarians who eat lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, plenty of legumes (which are a high fiber source of protein) and drink water instead of beer and sodas are probably low risk. Though eating a feast type diet, with opulent foodstuffs like halavah, puris and milk sweets as a major part of a daily diet could also be a factor. Even though prasadam is transcendental, its effect on the body remains the same.

Turns out the worst part of a colonoscopy isn’t the procedure itself. You are sedated for that, so you don’t remember much of it. The one side effect of the sedation is that any family members who are there end up having a good laugh at how silly you can be while the sedative wears off. My son even came over between classes at WVU to watch the fun. It takes a while before full memory function returns. You are required to have a driver with you or they won’t perform the procedure. You may think you are able to drive, but, trust me, you aren’t.

The worst part for most people is the fasting required in advance of the procedure so your colon is completely clean. Most devotees wouldn’t have a hard time with this, but for those who don’t fast on a regular basis, it could be rather trying. Still, the worst part is that the night before. While fasting, you have to drink an impossible amount of fluid that contains a purgative. That’s right, you induce diarrhea. It is a mild diarrhea, with no abdominal cramping, but still a sense of urgency and a lot of time on the toilet. Such fun.

Aren’t material bodies fun? Yee ha.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Harvard to Add Study of India to Curriculum

Harvard University proposes India as its latest subject

"Visiting India as part of a Harvard university faculty delegation, led by Harvard president Lawrence H Summers, Bloom was recently quoted by the Times of India, as saying, "Harvard knows about ancient India, the teaching of the Vedas, colonial Indian and its struggle for independence. What we want to study now is the modern India, its aggressive economic rise, its multi-cultural society and its brilliant people. There is a huge need to study modern India if we want to know the 21st century world..."

"Now Harvard University, America's oldest place of learning, will soon have India as a subject. Just as students opt to study law or economics, students at Harvard will be able to select India as their study subject as India is soon to be the new listing on its wide array of study subjects. Teachers for this subject will include visiting faculty members such as Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, Gardiner professor of history at Harvard Sugata Bose and Harvard Business School professor Tarun Khanna.

Announcing this in India, Harvard University president, Lawrence H. Summers said the university was "working towards building a program especially on India, the subcontinent and South Asia studies," with the aim to "strengthen and increase our knowledge on the country, which is fast becoming a super-power."..."

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Meatrix 2; Yo! Gah!

Even if you haven't seen any of the movie trilogy The Matrix, the flash animated movie called The Meatrix 2 stands on its own and is worth watching as it is being watched by lots of potential vegetarians. The site contains links to discussions of several issues that would be tools for some to lead themselves closer to the mode of goodness. The site is getting a high volume of traffic and the meat industry is noticing. Worth checking out if you want to stay current.

On a different note, if you are interested in something that exists purely on its merits as laugh inducer, check out Yo! Gah! It is a short video of a guy who is like a hatha yoga teacher's worst nightmare. A little crude in one part so maybe not for everyone, but so funny I start laughing just thinking about it. It has a bit of a gag about karma at the end. Takes forever on a dialup connection, so I went to the temple where they have a T-1 line to watch it. I showed it to a couple of other devotees and they said it would probably be okay to blog it.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Outed as a Mayavadi; How To Be Creative

My last post, a Chinese poem from the 7th century, may have struck some as Mayavadi. Perhaps I am one. I don't think I am, but the power of illusion is sooo strong. If you were troubled by it, please click through to my blog and read the comments section on the poem. I hope I don't come off as just trying to cover my butte.

I am attracted to poetry, and try to find poems that demostrate some aspect of Krsna. This is a highly subjective process, and certainly makes me an easy target, but I really don't care anymore. :-) Still, I can always come up with some left brain rationalization for every choice I make and how it relates to Krsna.

On a related but separate note, a great website with 30 guidelines to go by if you do feel some creative urge, can be found at How To Be Creative.


14. Dying young is overrated.

I've seen so many young people take the "Gotta do the drugs and booze thing to make me a better artist" route over the years. A choice that was neither effective, healthy, smart, original or ended happily.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

"The more you talk and think" by Seng Ts'an

The more you talk and think about it,
The further astray you
Wander from the truth.
Stop talking and thinking,
And there is nothing you
Will not be able to know.
To return to the root
Is to find the meaning,
But to pursue appearances
Is to miss the source.
At the moment of inner enlightenment
There is a going beyond
Appearance and emptiness.

- Seng Ts'an

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Dark Secrets of the Organic-food Movement

For another, more seminal, aspect of the article cited below, see “Soil Husbandry Transcends Soil Science”

"It's hard to find fault with Whole Foods, the haute-crunchy supermarket chain that has made a fortune by transforming grocery shopping into a bright and shiny, progressive experience. Indeed, the road to wild profits and cultural cachet has been surprisingly smooth for the supermarket chain. It gets mostly sympathetic coverage in the local and national media and red-carpet treatment from the communities it enters. But does Whole Foods have an Achilles' heel? And more important, does the organic movement itself, whose coattails Whole Foods has ridden to such success, have dark secrets of its own? ..."

"Let's say you live in New York City and want to buy a pound of tomatoes in season. Say you can choose between conventionally grown New Jersey tomatoes or organic ones grown in Chile. Of course, the New Jersey tomatoes will be cheaper. They will also almost certainly be fresher, having traveled a fraction of the distance. But which is the more eco-conscious choice? ...”

“Another heading on the Whole Foods banner says "Help the Small Farmer." "Buying organic," it states, "supports the small, family farmers that make up a large percentage of organic food producers." This is semantic sleight of hand. As one small family farmer in Connecticut told me recently, "Almost all the organic food in this country comes out of California. And five or six big California farms dominate the whole industry." There's a widespread misperception in this country—one that organic growers, no matter how giant, happily encourage—that "organic" means "small family farmer." That hasn't been the case for years, certainly not since 1990, when the Department of Agriculture drew up its official guidelines for organic food…”

See complete article at "Is Whole Foods Wholesome?"

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Back From La La Land

To catch up on my adyatmika, sufferings caused by my own body, I have to mention that I went to Morgantown Tuesday to have an upper endoscopy. They stick a camera down your throat on the end of a cable and go see what they can see. They look for irregularities in your esophagus, stomach and duodendem. I can’t tell you if the procedure is unpleasant because they gave me some weird sedative that keeps you awake and able to respond to commands to swallow or whatever when they do it, but you only remember waking up later after it is over.

My wife drove me as I no longer have the strength to rely on myself to make the 3 hour round trip, plus do something while I am there. Maybe I could, but maybe I couldn’t. In this case, it wasn’t an issue because it is required that you have someone else as the after effects of the sedative make it dangerous to drive. After the procedure, they take you back to the prep area and you wait for an hour or two until you are coherent again and able to stand without assistance.

According to my wife, I would doze off and on, but when awake I was babbling on about whatever. She recounted what I had been saying, and I could remember pieces but not everything. Like at one point the nurse asked me if I wanted to drink something, and I remember thinking what could I ask for that they would be certain not to have so I requested some guava juice. They brought me apple juice instead and I drank it but I don’t remember doing that. My wife was having some fun rehashing what I had said and did while recovering, after we got home and were talking about it.

I had apologized in advance to the nurses before the procedure when they were preparing me, inserting the IV and all that. I warned them that sometimes I make dry jokes and get in trouble because people take me literally. So they were understanding. Apparently the weirdest thing I did was when they asked me if I could stand by myself. I got up and did my little act. Which consists of getting into the horse stance (feet parallel pointing forward, shoulder width apart, with slightly bent knees), striking myself in the shoulder with my knee while remaining erect, then slowly extending my leg and deliberately placing my foot on the ground. If conscious, I can do this quite smoothly, but it seems I wasn’t satisfied with my performance and insisted on doing it again. I remember none of that.

It did remind me that I really don’t like being intoxicated. The “No intoxication” regulation is one I follow not out of duty but out of desire. I dislike that feeling of being out of control, of being less than fully conscious of what is going on around me.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Amazing Mercy

Amazing Mercy

by Kamalavati Dasi, March 31,2006

This just happened today!!

For the past few days, a mother cow at the big barn was old and ill and couldn't stand up anymore. Jaya Prabhupada Prabhu made sure she was comfortable with lots of hay as she lay there helpless and unable to even eat or drink. He starting giving her water with a bottle which she gratefully sucked. He told me about the cow and I started coming down twice a day to also give her many bottles of water. There is a tape of Srila Prabhupada chanting being played continuously. I brought the cow a garland from the Deities.

Today another devotee came and brought her a garland that she was wearing all day. At about 5 PM this evening, I went over there and Jaya Prabhupada was also coming over. We both gave her water and chanted to her. She looked like she was really having trouble breathing now. We left. I went to the temple and about an hour later I noticed a big bright rainbow outside. I called Malati and a few other matajis to see the rainbow. I said, " Sometimes when a great soul goes back to Godhead a rainbow comes out. Maybe the cow left her body." So I drove right back down to the barn and checked. Sure enough, she had left her body, wearing the garland and listening to Srila Prabhupada chanting Hare Krsna !!!

This is Srila Prabhupada's Mercy!!!! These cows are great souls that we have the mercy to serve here in New Vrindaban. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!!

Your servant, Kamalavati Dasi

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Vishwamrita Enters Ocean Forever

Lives lived: A brother lost in life and found in death
Friday, March 24, 2006

By Gary Rotstein, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"My brother went by all three names, in a half-century of evolution, until his freakish death 10 days ago. A dam broke that morning at 6, and he was swept away, apparently to disappear into the Pacific Ocean forever. Six acquaintances lost their lives with him on Kauai, a tropical Hawaiian island nearly 5,000 miles from the asphalt Oakland neighborhood which he and I roamed as youths..."

"When you follow a swami, as Wayne began doing in his 20s, you are assigned a new name. He became Vishwamitra, or Vish, at a spiritual center in California and an ashram in the Poconos. He showed up unexpectedly in the mid-1980s at my apartment in Harrisburg. He had been kicked out of the ashram for disciplinary reasons I can't recall. Still, he was committed to finding a spiritual core. I can't recall what led him to Eastern religions we never heard of growing up. My guess is he knew the first decades of his life were essentially an unpleasant waste, and there had to be a path to something better.His search took him to the New Vrindaban Hare Krishna community in Moundsville, W.Va., where an immense golden temple is a tourist shrine. He built one of his fabulous gardens there, stocking the communal kitchen.

He lived there off and on for several years, though he never became a full-fledged Krishna, which forbids vices such as gambling and smoking. Wayne was never a shaved-head devotee banging a tambourine in public, though those around him were.

But my brother, the son of mixed-faith parents who never practiced religion, enjoyed being part of the extended Krishna family in West Virginia, the Southwest and Hawaii. He embraced chanting, meditation, yoga, vegetarianism, self-sufficiency and other aspects of the simple life..."

Complete Article in Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Monday, April 03, 2006

"The Cow" by Ogden Nash

The cow is of the bovine ilk;
One end is moo, the other, milk.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense

The linked article included herein is a good start for someone to study if they want to move beyond a dilettante's view of the Intelligent Design versus Science debate. If someone is simply supporting Intelligent Design because of their religious faith and aren't making debating it part of their interactions with others, not much point in wading through it.

If you did intend to debate it though, knowledge of the opposite side's position is essential. I am not sure this article is the best possible one available, but it makes an attempt at being thorough, even with its clear bias.

15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense

Personally, I think the very basis for the argument itself is off. I was thinking of the example of a painting. Science would be like trying to get all the information that went into the painting, like which pigments, which type of paint, what is it painted on, the light reflecting qualities of the painting, width of the brush strokes, etc, etc. Intelligent Design is more about who is the painter and why did He paint it. Science is about how it was painted.

One is an objective, the other is a subjective view of the painting, and to argue "who" and "why" versus "how" is a false dichotomy. Those who promote their angle, on both sides of the issue, without seeing the completeness and harmony of the material world, are not seeing the whole truth, which includes both. So I don't put much energy into it, but do offer this link to those who wish for a more in depth understanding.