Monday, May 29, 2006

Until We Meet Again

I’m off to the hospital again, this time at least it is scheduled. I can make my own excuse for not posting for a while. Last time, Tulasi posted something for me after I was already there. It will be a minimum 8 days before returning home, could be longer if there is complications, which is about a 50/50 deal. May be wasted when I get home, so who knows when I’ll post again.

It is Memorial Day in the USA when we used to honor our war dead. Some ceremonies are still done, but for most of the hedonists, it is just another excuse to have a 3-day weekend. By the by I would like to remember and thank all those who have been so supportive these last few weeks. To avoid missing someone, I won’t name names, but you know who you are. Got a lot of emails last time, and lack the energy to acknowledge them individually, but thanks. If anyone is visiting the Viet Nam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington, DC and don’t have any other names to look for, here is someone I knew.

Panel 02W - - Line 26

Caucasian, Male, Single, Born on Dec 01, 1950.
Everyone called his father Doc,
had since World War II.

Sgt –E5-Army-Selective Service.
Every morning Doc was given
a bottle of cognac,

Tour of duty began on Feb 25, 1971.
location of a mass grave,
and a shovel.

Casualty was on Sep 26, 1971
Doc looked for dog tags
and uniform insignia,

in Phong Dinh, South Viet Nam.
or measured femurs to
determine height.

Body was recovered.
Doc made it home,
married Virginia.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Gracie Takes a Walk

"Prabhupada: That is not very good intelligence. You drink the blood of the cow by natural process, which turns into white milk. You'll get better brain, better strength. Therefore cow protection is very essential in Vedic civilization. Therefore we offer respect Krsna: "Krsna is the benefactor of cows and the brahmanas." Namo brahmanya-devaya go-brahmana-hitaya ca. Go-brahmana-hitaya ca. Krsna is well-wisher first -- go, cow. You'll find Krsna always with cows. Here is Krsna's picture, you see how He's loving the cow and the calf. He's personally teaching from His childhood, from His boyhood. So we should follow. If we want to become Krsna conscious, we must give... The calf is also seeing to the face of Krsna for protection, and Krsna is giving protection, "Yes, I'll give you protection."..."

Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.16.19 -- Hawaii, January 15, 1974

Yesterday Grandma, Vraja and 2 ½ year old granddaughter Gracie walked with Tulasi on his way to work. He is working at ISCOWP for Balabhadra, which is about one mile out the lane that runs through our property. Gracie made it all the way there but did need to be carried a bit on the return walk. The cows were all in the barn so the light was difficult, but I do like this silhouette Vraja was able to get.

Still have the date stamp thingy but getting rid of that may require actually opening the Owner’s Manual, and that is more energy than I care to put into it at this time. No use learning more things I will never use. When I get home from the hospital I will have plenty of time to deal with it.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Wildlife Defies Chernobyl Radiation

"It contains some of the most contaminated land in the world, yet it has become a haven for wildlife - a nature reserve in all but name.

The exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power station is teeming with life.

As humans were evacuated from the area 20 years ago, animals moved in. Existing populations multiplied and species not seen for decades, such as the lynx and eagle owl, began to return..."

"There may be plutonium in the zone, but there is no herbicide or pesticide, no industry, no traffic, and marshlands are no longer being drained..."

Complete Article

For another, quite unique perspective on the area, click on "Tour of the Dead Zone" in my Links section.

Friday, May 26, 2006

World High Holy Days Begin June 9th

Marken and I went for our last pre-operative orientation today, getting medicines and dietary restriction for the day before, and instructions how to check into the hospital. A lot of the usual banter went on.

While there, we met a guy who 10 days ago gave 20% of his liver to his 6 month old son. He was actually walking unaided, and agreed to let Marken see his incision so he knows what he's in for. So although my surgeon, Dr. Kumar, cautioned me there is no guarantee of success, the fact they could pull it off with a 6 month old gives me a bit of hope it could work for me.

One of the things Marken is sacrificing to give me part of his liver (it will be about 60 % in our case) is a trip he had scheduled that included being in Germany for part of the World Cup. It would have been on a leave he was scheduled to take from his US Navy duty station in Italy where he has spent the last 3 years.

Personally, I really don’t have a strong desire to survive the transplant in order to practice my sadhana, to chant japa, or to serve the devotees. The dark inner secret is I only want to be able to watch some World Cup games and to again step out onto the pitch myself. The doctor said we'll probably be able to play in about a year. So motivation is there, but mostly material. Basically, Krishna knows my heart and He can decide which way it will turn out. Maybe He will have me stick around in this body just to trick me into doing something devotional. If not, I can’t really complain. It has been an interesting ride in this body.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Ramping Up for the Big Day

I mentioned to Marken that I had asked numerous devotees with digital cameras if they would get me some pictures of New Vrindavan cows. Not one has delivered over a period of several months, despite all of them professing to be glad to do it. I said if I had my own camera, I could get some myself. The next time he went to town, he came back with a camera and gave it to me.

Naturally, by this time, I am no longer in any shape to be wandering the pastures, so I was thinking what picture to take. I decided to take one of our new wheelchair ramp. So, besides some throwaway test shots, this is the first picture taken with the new camera. That is Marken pushing me. Tulasi took the photo.

If I were to do it again, I would frame the shot a little differently. Plus remove the date stamp and the little cart the boys used to haul lumber over to the ramp site. Also, next to my Norwegian flag is a little piece of weathered wood with “Out of My Gourd” wood burned on it that someone traded my wife for a crafted gourd at one of her shows. That extends out from the flag in a way that seems illogical in the photo. I would remove that. But with going in for orientation tomorrow (Friday) and being in Pittsburgh Monday to check in for Tuesday surgery, time and energy is too short so I can only ask the reader to imagine these changes.

Marken continues to work out the details of coordinating with his command on his ship so he has all the proper documentation and orders, but that seems to be all done in theory. His command has been calling from Italy everyday so no complaints about that end of things.

We have been ordering some vegetarian bouillon cubes assuming there will be some time on a liquid diet. Last visit, they gave me this fake fruit juice with high fructose corn syrup as the first listed ingredient, Jell-o, and chicken broth. None of which I wanted to take, though I did do the juice because I had to have something. Older and wiser now, we are bringing our own broth, real fruit juice, and some hard candies to suck on. The hard candies are allowed as long as I don’t swallow them. I like the horehound ones and Ricola cough drops. We are also working out a menu for solid meals, and will be allowed to bring in our own food. With the alternative menu and a set of earplugs, somehow I’ll get through it.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Cyclic Universe Could Explain Cosmic Balancing

"It is said in the Vedic literature that innumerable universes issue forth when Maha-Visnu exhales in His yoga-nidra and that innumerable universes enter His body when He again inhales."

KB 87: Prayers by the Personified Vedas

Cyclic universe could explain cosmic balancing act
Nature Magazine ^ | 04 May 2006 | Philip Ball

"Big bounces may make the Universe able to support stars and life.

A bouncing universe that expands and then shrinks every trillion years or so could explain one of the most puzzling problems in cosmology: how we can exist at all.

If this explanation, proposed in Science1 by Paul Steinhardt at Princeton University, New Jersey, and Neil Turok at the University of Cambridge, UK, seems slightly preposterous, that can't really be held against it. Astronomical observations over the past decade have shown that "we live in a preposterous universe", says cosmologist Sean Carroll of the University of Chicago. "It's our job to make sense of it," he says.

In Steinhardt and Turok's cyclic model of the Universe, it expands and contracts repeatedly over timescales that make the 13.7 billion years that have passed since the Big Bang seem a mere blink. This makes the Universe vastly old. And that in turn means that the mysterious 'cosmological constant', which describes how empty space appears to repel itself, has had time to shrink into the strangely small number that we observe today..."

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

"Nightmare" by The Luc

I dreamed I lay in a pool of blood,
propped on one elbow, howling souls all around,
sunset colors crackling and everything
plunged in a screaming red.
Suddenly I realized this was life,
no beauty or pleasure, no escape
in gentle dreams, no laughter
that wouldn’t turn into sobs.
Malevolent fate knew what she wanted
from me: She’d pin me down to struggle
on the earth’s surface like an ant
or mosquito. She’d bind my limbs,
release, pursue, and bind again.
If only this pretty body would dissolve!
If only I could sleep in peace!
But she shakes my soul, pries open my eyes,
while, from the brink of an abyss, a severe hand
forces me to look at the enormity of the world
where men are drinking hot blood,
swallowing some, spitting the rest at each other.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Late Breaking News --Trying for Four More Years

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006 (one week from tomorrow) I will be having the liver transplant. With a living donor, it is possible to schedule a specific time. I'll go in Friday before with Marken and we will get the orientation. He has gotten further feedback on his necessary orders from the Navy and so that all seems to be a go.

Maybe I should have spent more time cleaning up my affairs in the eventuality I don't make it thru the operation, but have instead made arrangements for a wheelchair ramp to one door of my house. So I must be feeling lucky.

Incidentally, be careful for what you wish for. I had wanted to visit an ICU (Intensive Care Unit) like I would be in after the transplant in order to familiarize myself with one. It wasn't practical, according to the ICU nurses I talked to, because of hospital protocols. However, I did get my wish when I popped the blood vessel and had to go into surgery to get it banded. I ended up spending time in one. The catch is, I have no memory of it at all except at one point opening my eyes and seeing Advaita's face looking down at me. He says we had a whole conversation, but I remember nothing about it. Still, my wish had been granted.

I always remember the story Srila Prahbupada tells about "4 more years." It always seemed to me that that is about the time I needed.

"It is important to take to Krsna consciousness immediately, because we do not know how much time is left before death. When your time in this body expires, no one can stop your death. The arrangement of material nature is so strong. You cannot say, "Let me remain." Actually, people sometimes request like that. When I was in Allahabad, an old friend who was very rich was dying. At that time he begged the doctor, "Can't you give me at least four more years to live? I have some plans which I could not finish." You see. This is foolishness. Everyone thinks, "Oh, I have to do this. I have to do that." No. Neither the doctors nor the scientists can check death: "Oh, no, sir. Not four years, not even four minutes. You have to go immediately." This is the law. So before that moment comes, one should be very careful to become realized in Krsna consciousness."

LON 1: God and The Law of Karma

Hospital Cartoon

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Snippets of Memory

Roused to consciousness, I was being prepped for either ambulance transport or surgery (that part is vague). Two nurses are looking at me as I lay there and one asks, “What’s that?” At this point I have immediate realization that no matter how bad you feel, before going to a hospital, change into citizen’s underwear. Having to explain why you wear kaupins is always a trip, but after major blood loss, it becomes a mountain. A mumbled, “traditional loincloth”, only brought a bemused smile to the nurse’s lips as she asked permission to cut them off. Which I granted, as I was beyond removing them.

This is from my wife. After watching me vomit what she perceived as gallons of blood and waiting for what seemed hours, she was in a bit of anxiety. A transport ambulance to Pittsburgh (UPMC) had arrived after initial emergency treatment was performed. That had been a wait. Then another while blood was brought for the trip. Then, after I was finally loaded, and a transport nurse was located and assigned, more waiting. My wife asked what they were waiting for now, and they said the transport nurse had left. When my wife asked where she went, they sheepishly admitted she had gone to get a donut. The realization is that even if something is life changing for you, for someone else it’s just another day at the office.

After coming out of the coma, I was tied to the bed with catheter, heart monitor, IVs, etc. As such, when they gave me a laxative, options were limited to pass in place and ring for a cleanup. Sort of like a newborn. Later, when they tried to give me more laxative, I refused to take it. I’m on a high fiber diet, and what may be a good thing for white bread and meat eaters, really wasn’t necessary. The reason they want the patient to have lots of bowel action is so ammonia is excreted properly and doesn’t build up in the blood. This can cause a brain condition they call encephalopathy, symptoms of which include confusion and extreme tiredness.

Even though I was familiar with the term and the condition, when the doctor was trying to convince me to take the laxative, she was explaining it again. Only for some reason, her accent or something, it sounded to me like she said “enfecalopathy.” So I had this vision that they wanted me to pass stool otherwise my brain would get full of feces. This struck me as extremely funny, and I cracked up. So she is trying to have a serious conversation, and I am laughing like a madman. I tried to explain why I thought it was so funny, but realized I needed to get a grip or she would think I really was encephalopathic. So I apologized and promised to behave. I didn’t take anymore of that laxative though.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Plot Summary of Recent Events

I don’t seem to be bouncing back as quickly from this latest medical setback as I had hoped to, so will write less than I may have otherwise. Of course, since most of what I will skip over is whining about bodily discomforts that may be best anyway.

Here is the plot summary of last 10 days.

Woke up, felt bad, wife drove me to the hospital.
Puked a lot of blood.
Think I went into shock.
Taken by ambulance to Pittsburgh(UPMC).
Surgery to repair ruptured esophageal varix.
Two days in induced coma.

Woke up, got a little better.
Marken gets emergency leave from US Navy.
Fronted like I was fine, got released.
Marken gets home.
He tells me he is going to be a living liver donor.
Leaves me no room for negotiation.

Marken spends 3 days at UPMC being tested.
He is cleared to be a donor.
UPMC and Red Cross issue request to Navy.
He gets commitment proper orders will be issued.
Goes to Morgantown to connect with Navy duty station.
I try to blog.

Future: if paperwork goes through, transplant could occur as early as 5 days. Bleeding varices, once they start occurring, could be months or weeks apart, but eventually they become untreatable, and the body is shed.

I certainly had the opportunity to check out this time, but took advantage of modern medicine and hung around a bit longer. Marken, my 22 year old middle son, offering to be a living donor is overwhelming. It creates some complex and emotional responses. If it is successful, I may almost return to normal, and pray I do something right somewhere along the line to justify staying around.

Will try writing something more interesting later. Some funny things did happen during all this. I hope Krishna is something like "In situations, I am the humor." I might have a chance then.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I'm Back in My Barn

I'm back home and, after a couple of days, have made it over to my desk and turned on the computer. I was away for a few days, but I seem to have no memories of the really exciting parts. Like a ride in the ambulance and spending some time in an Intensive Care Unit using a ventilator to breathe. I also don't remember thinking of Krishna at any important or pivotal points in the experience, so I guess I am still on the "hoping for Mercy and Grace" path to advancement.

I will try to write some more tomorrow of what I do remember, but, for now, the 5 liters of fluid that accumulated in my abdomen while I was gone makes it uncomfortable to be upright for extended periods so I will cut it short for today.

Friday, May 12, 2006


For anyone who were wondering why there haven't been blogs posted the author is recovering in the hospital. He had some internal bleeding and now is in UPMC and he won't be posting for some time.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Taking Things Literally

Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other man pulls out his phone and calls emergency services and gasps to the operator: "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator in a calm, soothing voice replies: "Take it easy. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a shot is heard.

Back on the phone, the hunter says, "OK, now what?"

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Creationism is a Form of Paganism

"Believing that God created the universe in six days is a form of superstitious paganism, the Vatican astronomer Guy Consolmagno claimed yesterday..."

Personally, I could care less than I probably should about the whole Intelligent Design issue, but Creationists have latched onto it and seem to be misusing it as a stepping stone to their own views. So I do try stay a little current with it. If I had the juice to be doing real work any interest would vanish rather quickly in my rear view mirror, but, stuck in this rest stop, I do have to find ways to amuse myself. So below is a link to an another article on the topic. I have excerpted some quotes I hope are thought provoking.

But first, a word from our guru:

"A blind man can walk but not see, and a lame man cannot walk but can see. Andha-pangu-nyaya. The blind man may take the lame man over his shoulder, and as he walks the lame man may give him directions. Thus combined they may work, but individually neither the blind man nor the lame man can walk successfully. Similarly, this human form of life is meant for the advancement of spiritual life and for keeping the material necessities in order..."

SB 4.25.13

Creationism dismissed as 'a kind of paganism' by Vatican's astronomer

" "Religion needs science to keep it away from superstition and keep it close to reality, to protect it from creationism, which at the end of the day is a kind of paganism - it's turning God into a nature god. And science needs religion in order to have a conscience, to know that, just because something is possible, it may not be a good thing to do."

Brother Consolmagno, who was due to give a speech at the Glasgow Science Centre last night, entitled "Why the Pope has an Astronomer", said the idea of papal infallibility had been a "PR disaster". What it actually meant was that, on matters of faith, followers should accept "somebody has got to be the boss, the final authority".

"It's not like he has a magic power, that God whispers the truth in his ear," he said..."

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Room Without Walls

A stream carved in rock
flows into a lake
in a valley.

A monk is in the valley.
Tree cloaked ridges
surround the valley.

He stays in a temple.
The temple is on the lake.
Floating on the lake.

He lives in a room in the temple.
The room has no walls.
The room has a door.

When he enters the room
without walls,
he uses the door.

When he wants
to be alone,
he closes the door.

A visitor can follow
the path by the stream
into the valley.

On the shore is a rowboat.
The visitor can row
to the temple on the lake.

When a visitor enters,
the monk opens the door,
comes out, and makes tea.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Noah Knew

Everything I need to know about life, I learned from Noah's Ark...

One: Don't miss the boat. Two: Remember that we are all in the same boat. Three: Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark. Four: Stay fit. When you're 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big. Five: Don't listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done. Six: Build your future on high ground. Seven: For safety sake, travel in pairs. Eight: Speed isn't always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs. Nine: When you're stressed, float a while. Ten: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals. Eleven: No matter the storm, when you are with God, there's always a rainbow waiting.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Waiting Has Officially Begun

Got the call that I am officially on the transplant list, and to be available 24/7. So yesterday I researched pager and phone options. Cell phones don’t work where we are, being below the ridge tops in a bit of a saddleback. Cell phone are line of sight. I found a local telecommunications company that has its own pager network. Tthey said they get better coverage in their area than cell phones. In addition, they give a free pager and service to anyone verifying they are on a transplant list. So I will see if it works at our house. That would simplify things. We have a phone service package that includes call waiting but I hadn’t activated it because if I was on the internet with my dialup connection, I would get bumped. I found out I could put the deactivation code into the dialup number sequence, and not be bothered while online, and when I hang up the call waiting is automatically reactivated. I can now get calls while someone is talking on the phone without voice mail stepping in. Leaves blank spots while online and outside, but the pager should fill that void if it works here.

The difficulty is the transplant nurse won’t leave messages. I tried to make the case that my outgoing voice mail messages differentiate between “no one is here to take your call”, and “the line is currently busy”. It seems leaving a message on “busy” would be as valuable as calling a pager, which in essence is also leaving a message, but my points fell on the deaf ears of “policy.”

They will call lots of numbers, so as a backup, Kuladri and Balabhadra have agreed to list their numbers. They are generally reachable. I’ll give them a list of neighbors they could call if someone needs to stop by and see if I am indeed home, if they can’t..

The pager is a local company, serving the Upper Ohio Valley, including Pittsburgh, and as far north as Butler, where Srila Prahbupada first stayed when he came to America. They go east to Morgantown and south some. That covers every place I usually go. The problem will be Columbus, Ohio where my daughter Manjari is expecting a baby in June. Hard to consider never going there, but we’ll work something out.

Ultimately, it is in Krishna’s hands. I am using my intelligence to make a network, but if He doesn’t want me to get a new liver, He’ll find a way to make it misfire and I won’t receive my notification. If I don’t contact the transplant center within an hour or two, they move on to the next name. The window of usability for a liver is narrow, and they won’t waste one. They usually call two people – the primary, and a second as backup in case the primary doesn’t make it timely. So He has the means to veto this process, if that is His desire.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Sharing Inner Peace

“All men seek peace first of all with themselves. That is necessary, because we do not naturally find rest even in our own being. We have to learn to commune with ourselves before we can communicate with other men and with God. A man who is not at peace with himself necessarily projects his interior fighting into the society of those he lives with, and spreads a contagion of conflict all around him. Even when he tries to do good to others his efforts are hopeless, since he does not know how to do good to himself. In moments of wildest idealism he may take it into his head to make other people happy: and in doing so he will overwhelm them with his own unhappiness. He seeks to find himself somehow in the work of making others happy. Therefore he throws himself into the work. As a result he gets out of the work all that he put into it: his own confusion, his own disintegration, his own unhappiness. “

From No Man is an Island by Thomas Merton

"Without coming to Krsna consciousness... Now, we, in the bodily consciousness, or national consciousness or community consciousness, you cannot become happy. At any time. You have to become brahma-bhuta [SB 4.30.20]. That is Krsna consciousness. Brahma-bhutah prasannatma [Bg. 18.54]. You'll be happy. Others will be happy. Without coming to that stage, you cannot be happy..."

Bhagavad-gita 2.13 -- Hyderabad, November 19, 1972

Monday, May 01, 2006

Rebuilding Its Temple

The lead article for the Pittsburg Tribune-Review, Sunday, April 30th, 2006, was a front page, above the fold, feature on the New Vrindavan Community in Moundsville, West Virginia.

Rebuilding Its Temple

"Thirty years after Hare Krishnas built a flamboyant shrine for their swami on a remote Appalachian ridge, the Palace of Gold is crumbling, and light from the chandeliers occasionally glistens in rainwater puddled on the marble floor.

This religious colony about 90 minutes south of Pittsburgh is dubbed New Vrindaban after a holy city in India and once was meant to be the showpiece of the Hare Krishnas, a Hindu sect founded by a Bengali missionary during the boom years of the hippie movement..."

"But on a recent Saturday just over the hill from the palace, the Temple of Understanding throbbed once again as the newest Hare Krishnas drummed, danced and sang to summon their lord.

"You get some kind of vibrations inside you when you keep listening to this music," said Srinivasan Madhita, a visiting New Jersey software programmer, shouting to be heard as a conga line of worshippers snaked by..."

There is a slide show with the article.