Thursday, June 30, 2005

Will I get wet?


My boss is sending me to a week-long conference in Irving, Texas, next month. I'm trying to find something to do during my free day during the conference. It turns out that there are a few scuba parks in North Texas, so maybe I'll go diving. The lake in the picture is stocked with fish and plant life, and the owners have constructed platforms and placed objects underwater to make it interesting. Hopefully I can get wet. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Monday, June 27, 2005

To sleep, perchance to dream.

I went to the sleep clinic at the hospital here in Northshore Paradise today. I've had mild sleep apnea for the past couple of years, but it's become significantly worse in recent months, with frequent waking and really loud snoring (according to DW, anyway). I'm scheduled for an overnight sleep study on the night after DW and I return from Utah in August. I sure hope I don't have one of those wild dreams of mine that night. That might set off alarms all over the place.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Daily Zen

Wherever and whenever
The mind is found
Attached to anything,
Make haste to detach
Yourself from it.
When you tarry for
Any length of time
It will turn again into
Your old home town.

- Daito Kokushi (1282-1334)

I suppose it depends on how much you like your old hometown. Me, I'd rather be in New York City.

My kid the artiste


My son Toby loves to scribble with pens and pencils. I think he really wants to be able to draw free-hand pictures. He gets frustrated when I work hand-over-hand with him, so I guess he just wants to do things his way, just like Frank Sinatra. Posted by Hello


Toby's Blue Period. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Ride 'em, cowboy!


Adam loves to saddle up and ride! Posted by Hello

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Parental bragging

We viewed the new informational video for the St. Mary's Training School this morning, a video that briefly features Toby and Adam. If I can figure out how to go about uploading the DVD, I'll post a clip.

I busted a (rather large) gut last night watching Adam eat pizza. He takes the slice, turns it point-down and upside down, puts his mouth underneath, and takes bites off the end. When it gets too wide, he puts it onto his plate, takes another piece, and repeats the process. He ends up with a pile of pizza on his plate, which he begins to nibble at. He squeezes the mass, evidently to form it into something, or maybe just for fun. He continues eating until everything is a complete mess. Most parents would intervene to correct his table manners; I was too busy laughing out loud.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Cyber Toby


It's the same old Blue's Clues video, but it's on the computer! Woo-hoo!

We head back up to Alexandria tomorrow. DW and I are committed to helping out with the St. Mary's trainer appreciation day on Tuesday. We'll duck out early and spend a couple of hours with Adam before we come back here Tuesday night. Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Water baby


Toby got a little too wet today. We drove up to Alexandria via Natchez, Mississippi, this morning, to try out our possible hurricane evacuation route. It added almost 1.5 hours to a 3.5 hour drive. However, we figure we'll bypass the worst traffic that way, should we decide to head north and west during the next evacuation. Posted by Hello

Friday, June 17, 2005

Office picking

Our office is moving into a much larger space next year, and today the office manager took the first group to begin the "office selection process." I think that's what she called it, anyway. I've had a window office since 1991, but quite a few of our attorneys are cooped up all day without any natural light. Everybody will have a window office in the new place--even Craig would have one, were he still around, though he no doubt has a corner office with walnut paneling by now. I had hoped that the other folks in my group wouldn't notice the office way in back, which wasn't even marked as a supervisory office on our little maps. Unfortunately, everybody noticed it and wanted it. I'm number 7 or so on the seniority list, so I won't be moving into that office. Still, there were two other very decent senior citizen offices at the back of the building, and I may stand a good chance of getting one of them. The back of the building is secluded, and the view from there appeals to me. I just need to convince the people ahead of me in line that they want views of the courthouse and the park, and that the views from the back are hideous.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Physiology of religion

I picked up the recent issue of "Discover" magazine at Target the other day, mindful of recent conversations with DW and coworkers about how woefully ignorant all of us are about scientific issues. I read an article about developments in the study of out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences, religious experiences, and brain physiology. The author theorized that these experiences exist on a spectrum, and that different parts of the cerebrum are implicated. Of particular interest to Zen practitioners, brain scans reveal that activity in the parietal lobe--which is associated with movement, orientation, recognition, and perception of stimuli--slows dramatically during meditation. The individual's sense of boundaries and separation from the rest of the world is controlled by the parietal lobe, and the senses of boundaries and separation break down during meditation, allowing the practitioner to feel connected to everything and everybody. People who have experienced out-of-body and near-death experiences have reported the same feelings. Also, a brain scan of a monastic engaged in lengthy prayer indicated the same slowing of activity in the parietal lobe, so people who pray extensively can have the same kind of sensations.

The Discover article used a brain scan to show that activity in the frontal lobe-- associated with reasoning, planning, parts of speech, movement, emotions, and problem solving--also decreased during the experiences being studied. However, a Time magazine article from a couple of years ago used a brain scan of a Tibetan monk to show just the opposite result. Both could be right, I suppose. As I understand it, the Tibetans focus intently on an object or topic during meditation, while we Zen types focus only on breathing and posture.

Finally, the right temporal lobe--which is usually associated with perception and recognition of auditory stimuli, memory, and speech--appears to be closely linked with religious experiences generally. Back in the 1950s, a neurologist discovered that patients with right temporal lobe epilepsy appeared to have religiously based delusions associated with their seizures. Brain scan imagery apparently confirms that activity in the right temporal lobe picks up during ecstatic and mystical religious experiences. A couple of neurologists wrote a book about this in 2002, titled "Why God Won't Go Away." A friend directed me to that book a couple of years ago, arguing that religion is bogus because it has a neurological origin. However, it seems to me that a neurological explanation of these experiences is perfectly compatible with the theologies I'm familiar with. Zen and Buddhism, of course, focus on the mind, so those are not problmatic from a neurological point of view. As far as Christianity is concerned, it makes sense to me that an omniscient, omnipotent creator would implant a mechanism that would lead people to seek spirituality. Unfortunately, I'm not familiar enough with other theological traditions to take a guess at how they would view these questions. Anyway, that's just my take on it; I'd be interested to hear other thoughts.

The big news in Randyland over the weekend is that I upgraded my cell phone from a very basic Nokia model to a fancy Sony/Ericsson cameraphone. Some of the buttons on my old phone were hard to press, especially the one to make and accept calls. DW and I took advantage of a buy one/get one free promotion to get the fancier phones. Cingular Wireless is doing a Star Wars III promotion, so I've got Darth Vader wallpaper and an intergallactic fighter jet ringtone. Also, we get to go see the movie for free, if I could get the dang free-ticket website to work.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Guest Post: Randy's Links - The Daily Zen

What I know about Buddhism would not fill a thimble. Just spending ten minutes at the web site The Daily Zen reinforced how broad is the scope this ancient philosophy - and yet, how simple the practice.

Simple, but not easy. Just 30 seconds into Zenbo, a cyber meditation space, and my eyelids were getting heavy. Back when I used to try and meditate, I had the same problem...I would get drowsy and then my mind would start working.

I enjoyed the Zen Legends link, which told a story of the barbarian from the west, and how he instructed a very confused emperor on what actions have merit ("Only those that exist outside the mind.") There was also a reference to the meditative nature of the tea ceremony...something Randy hasn't mentioned participating in.

The artwork is lovely; from simple flowing line drawings to detailed illustrations of cherry blossoms or a mountain journey. Just looking at some of the artwork was relaxing and peaceful...not a sensation I normally associate with web surfing.

Of course, there's stuff for sale.

The links page looks like it would lead to many interesting sites - one that intrigued me is yakrider.com, which had a link on Christianity that could make for some interesting reading. The contrast in eastern vs. western concepts of time was also intriguing.

All in all, I think this is a site I would enjoy exploring in some depth. But to do so, I think I might have to be deep!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Daily Zen

It's been a while since the DZ had anything really quotable.

Sitting on top of a boulder
The gorge stream icy cold
Quiet fun holds a special charm
Fogged-in on deserted cliffs
A fine place to rest
The sun leans and tree shadows sprawl
While I view the ground of my mind
A lotus comes out of the mud.

- Han shan

I wouldn't characterize sitting atop a cold rock as "fun." I mean, it's pretty and all, but fun? Maybe if you're rigging up your fly rod . . .

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Complicated Pumpkin Shadow

I'm ripping off my gentle reader Kristian here, but I like this poem he quoted on his blog. The author even mentions shadows:

My senses open to this time and place
studder steps and craning necks
and we all fall about the place
this is where we came to hold hands
to wait on promises made good
by tradition and sorrows
my voice came
and the planes came
and they opened up their bays
to blue sky crying for some rain
and rain they did
I took my place
and put a little checkmark next to my heart
to remember this place for some other day
to live in the half life is exactly as it sounds
half taste
half pain
half dead
but wide awake in half light
I figure now i've lived just 18 years
as the other half of me
in mothballs and vanilla cream
patiently holds out for a little more
and fallen bells tumble her cross as bent as me
as we wave, the family and I, to what was
what was lives in the shadows
but it is the shadows of god's grace
my shadows all man made
gray and smokey turns
come along to this place where we stood
proud and happy and so understood
lest faith should follow faith
and love should follow love

Billy Corgan, "Half Light, Half Life," in "Blinking with Fists." Some of you may remember Corgan as the lead singer of The Smashing Pumpkins. The line about being wide awake in a half-light resonated strongly with me, as I have a tendency to wake up in the middle of the night and stay awake, thinking about life, the universe, and everything.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

La-Z-Boy

I'm currently reading "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying," authored by Sogyal Rinpoche. The Tibetans are too focused on death for my liking, but Sogyal has some interesting insights nonetheless.  I am partiuclarly intrigued by his notions of laziness:

There are different species of laziness: Eastern and Western. The Eastern style is like the one practiced in India. It consists of hanging out all day in the sun, doing nothing, avoiding any kind of work or useful activity, drinking cups of tea, listening to Hindi film music blaring on the radio, and gossiping with friends. Western laziness is quite different. It consists of cramming our lives with compulsive activity, so there is no time at all to confront the real issues. This form of laziness lies in our failure to choose worthwhile applications for our energy.


I had two knee-jerk reactions to his definition of Western laziness: 1) Sogyal has never been to Louisiana; and 2) that definition fits me and some of my best friends perfectly. Actually, part of me craves going back to cramming my life with compulsive activity so as to avoid thinking about all the stuff I talk about on this blog. I haven't sat zazen in a couple of weeks, in part for the same reason. I'm so damn lazy.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Guest Post: Randy's Links

Randy reminds me occasionally that I have posting privileges here. I've been looking for a place I can write something that's not about me and not about Mormon stuff. I was looking at Complicated Shadows at work today (bad Ann!) and gazed upon Randy's links. I noticed an empty space where a link had been. And a topic occurred to me: reviews of Randy's Links!

Today, I review Television Without Pity. This may seem like a strange thing to review. Probably everybody on the internet is a regular reader of TWoP. However, being not much of a TV watcher, I had never perused the site before today. It's pretty cool.

Plusses: excellent writing, a huge number of shows covered. Excellent home page that sucks you in to all the current stuff.

Minuses: probably nothing wrong with the site; I'm just woefully out of touch with pop culture. What ARE these shows? Are intelligent people actually watching Brittany and Kevin just to write snarky things about it? It takes all kinds.

Also, I was very, very surprised that Law and Order is not among the shows on the "Shows" page - not even on Permanent Hiatus. I heart Law and Order. It's how I know everything I know about the law. Well, that, and Randy is my friend. But he doesn't share much.

I read the description of the last episode of this season's ER as my sample page (because it's a show I watched once upon a time) and it was wonderful. Just the right blend of fan and wisecrack.

I would love to see that turned to Law and Order.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Hippotherapy 101

My sons' school is into its summer program now, part of which consists of hippotherapy. Like I said previously, Adam seems to enjoy riding on the horse, while Toby prefers being pulled in a cart. From the American Hippotherapy Association's website:

What is Hippotherapy?

Hippotherapy is a treatment that uses the multidimensional movement of the horse; from the Greek word "hippos" which means horse. Specially trained physical, occupational and speech therapists use this medical treatment for clients who have movement dysfunction. Historically, the therapeutic benefits of the horse were recognized as early as 460 BC. The use of the horse as therapy evolved throughout Europe, the United States and Canada.

Hippotherapy uses activities on the horse that are meaningful to the client. Treatment takes place in a controlled environment where graded sensory input can elicit appropriate adaptive responses from the client. Specific riding skills are not taught (as in therapeutic riding), but rather a foundation is established to improve neurological function and sensory processing. This foundation can then be generalized to a wide range of daily activities.

Why the Horse?

The horse's walk provides sensory input through movement which is variable, rhythmic and repetitive. The resultant movement responses in the client are similar to human movement patterns of the pelvis while walking. The variability of the horse's gait enables the therapist to grade the degree of sensory input to the client, then use this movement in combination with other clinical treatments to achieve desired results. Clients respond enthusiastically to this enjoyable learning experience in a natural setting.

Physically, hippotherapy can improve balance, posture, mobility and function. Hippotherapy may also affect psychological, cognitive, behavioral and communication functions for clients of all ages. Clients who may benefit from hippotherapy can have a variety of diagnoses: examples include Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Developmental Delay, Traumatic Brain Injury, Stroke, Autism and Learning or Language Disabilities. However, hippotherapy is not for every client. Each potential client must be evaluated on an individual basis by specially trained health professionals.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Those wacky dreams

I had some weird, violent dreams last night. I remember one that may actually have been two, but I recall it as a single dream. I thought I'd write it down before I forget about it.

DW and I are at home, in our current house, at 5 a.m. For some reason, we haven't gone to bed yet. DW looks out the front window, and sees a large van parked in the driveway, with its lights on. I open the door from the laundry room into the garage, which is empty--and clean! (ahem. Note to Randy--clean the dang garage) The garage door is open, and a 50-ish man and woman get out of the van and approach me. They ask if they can bring their family into the house and stay for a while. I say absolutely not, but they ignore me and bring themselves and their kids inside.

They must have stalked us before or something, because DW told me that she had been instructed to dial "211" for assistance should these people ever bother us again. I dialed "211" and reported the weird van people. Now we're in a different house--a mansion with marble floors and posh, Louis-XV-style furniture (my tastes IRL run more towards the Bauhaus, Frank Lloyd Wright, and modern Scandinavian, but this is a dream and doesn't need to make sense). I look across the sunken area of the room, which is surrounded by columns, a la Caesar's Palace (tacky, tacky, tacky!), and I see DW holding a tray of large sugar cookies studded with M&Ms for the husband of the van couple. Suddenly, I'm enraged, and I put down the phone and run at the guy. DW grabs the wife, and she and I pummel, kick, and stomp the couple into two nearly-dead bloody pulps. I recall saying something about never wanting to hear from evangelicals like them ever again. The two are still breathing, but DW and I put them into glad bags and drag them around the McMansion next door and down the hill towards the garbage cans.

This is where a second dream may have begun, but I think it's really just part two. Down by the garbage cans, another man is standing, holding a gun on me. I think it's the old guy from part one, but it looks like Claire's boyfriend from the first season of Six Feet Under. He is raging against me, and is just about to shoot me, when a shot rings out. The other guy is hit in the forehead. I turn, and I see my IRL next-door neighbor, standing on the balcony of the McMansion next door, cradling a rifle like he's Chuck Conners (the Rifleman from 60s TV). The guy standing near me is even more enraged, and he and I start firing away at each other. My neighbor also starts firing at the other guy. The other guy is shot full of holes, and I am uninjured. Still, he hasn't gone down. I recall shooting him in the head again. He turns the gone towards his own abdomen and pulls the trigger. I recall him thinking that he wanted to splatter his guts all over me. Next thing I remember, I am very calmly describing the incident to an old friend of mine.

Weird, very weird.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Adam, cowboy

Adam's trainer at the St. Mary's school told me yesterday that he has been riding horses this week--not just riding behind in a cart like Toby does, but actually sitting in the saddle. He even throws tantrums when it's someone else's turn, a sure sign that he enjoys what he's doing. Ride 'em cowboy!

I seem to have some kind of mite-bites on my behind this week. At first, I thought it was just an allergy, but DW's dermatologist directed her to sanitize our entire house as if we had kids with lice. It was probably the motel linens in Alexandria, LA, but I told DW is was those missionaries who dropped by the other day, bringing in divine pestilence along with their good cheer.