OK, that's enough for now. I'll be back, I promise.
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
OK, that's enough for now. I'll be back, I promise.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Neem Karoli Baba (Maharaj-ji) was asked: how to serve god? He answered, "Feed people." Abraham Maslow talked about the necessity of taking care of our basic human needs before we are able to think about more esoteric things.
Here in LA, Union Station Homeless Services feeds people. The Sally, as we called it when I was working with the homeless, feeds more. Churches and food banks try their best. None of these are enough to care for the entire, dreadful weight of homeless people in our country, let alone the entire world. This Thanksgiving, serve people: go volunteer at the shelter or work at a food bank, or help out at a church supper and take a friend or a child along with you.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
I was 15, and had
The whole story would basically frighten the crap out of any reasonable person, let alone a parent, and for the most part I kept my worst stupidities from my parents (like sleeping under a bench in the port of Piraeus so that I wouldn't miss the boat in the morning, with no-one keeping watch), but eventually I arrived in Mykonos, quickly made friends with a dozen Berkeley grads on break, and settled into one of the best times of my life. (I did make SOME attempt to keep my folks informed of where I was and that I was OK; I wasn't a complete jerk, just 15 and incredibly self-centered.)
Anyway, after about a week on the main beaches, we decided to move to a more remote area, mostly to get away from the incredible tourist crowds that plague the islands. And so we found a beach around the side of the island, and hung out together, singing at night to the same 15-20 songs, which were all we knew on the guitar, cooking and swimming and just, you'll have to excuse the expression but it really does capture it for me, grooving.
Eventually, we got hungry for something more substantial than the vegetables we were buying from the local farmers, and headed into town for dinner and retsina. None of us had much money, so we looked around until we found a taverna with reasonable prices, and the 12 of us settled down with a couple of bottles of resin wine and some appetizers, and considered the menu. To our side, a spit turned, the lamb on it roasting gently and the smell of the dripping fat and the herbs just captivated us (we had been vegetarians by necessity, not commitment.) As we started to order, it became clear that we were all going to order lamb, and finally the proprietor asked us it we just wanted the whole thing? He'd make us a deal. Oh, yes, please kind sir, you don't have to offer twice...
He covered the table with butcher's paper, and he and a helper lifted the lamb from the fire, and slid the entire carcass off the spit, onto the table. A sound of orgasmic moaning came from 12 throats, and 24 hands began to slice small pieces off the edges of the meat, a process that rapidly became 24 hands tearing chunks of cooked flesh from a rapidly decreasing carcass. I have no idea what we looked like (starving wolves?), but we didn't care. The owner kept our glasses full of wine and water, and handed out paper towels and we ate, and ate, and ate.
Eventually the frenzy died down, and after some final picking at what was by now the skeleton of a lamb, we paid up and staggered off into the night.
Saturday, January 19, 2013
Anyway, along about July 1980, I was on my back to India for a second, hopefully longer visit. (Yes, I know I haven't told you about the first visit. Patience, young padawans.) I met my dad in Rome, where he was living at the time, and he took me around to meet some of his friends, one of whom had a rather fetching young daughter, S. We hit it off and spent the next few days touring Rome (where I had grown up in the late 60's, but it had changed in many ways, so guiding was important) and meeting her friends and extended family, culminating in a big family Sunday lunch out in the country. If you ever saw "My Big, Fat Greek Wedding", you know what sort of gathering I'm talking about: 40+ people, a table from here to there packed with food and drink and the whole thing happening at top volume and high speed.
My Italian is pretty good, and I was able, for the most part, to keep up my end of the conversations, asking vocab questions as needed, letting the older folks correct my grammar when it wandered into slang and generally relaxing and enjoying the wine and food. Especially the wine. I knew enough not to drink the homemade brews casually (they are often closer to 20% than 12%), but I was still feeling a bit light-headed as the chaos diminished along with the food. Finally, we were all at that point where you are looking at a particularly lovely piece of dessert or fruit and thinking it might just be too much trouble to raise your arm to put it in your mouth, when one of the Nonni (Grandparents) asked me what I did in America?
Well, the last real job I had held before my initial Indian excursion that I was willing to talk about (I had no idea how to say "Aircraft fueller" or "Drywall carrier" in Italian, so they were out), was working at Harrah's Casino in Lake Tahoe, CA. So, that's what I said, in Italian, "I worked in a casino."
There was a moment of shocked silence, and then stiffled laughter and sideways glances from the men, and blushes and giggles from the women. I had no clue what I had just said, and trying to fill the silence, I added, "I quit because working all night was too hard."
More choking and sputtering. I turned to S., who was trying her damnest not to burst, and said, "What did I say?"
S took a few deep breaths, and then said, still in Italian, "A gambling hall is a cah-see-NO. The way you pronounced casino (cah-SEEN-oh) means bordello." She had to stop again, as I contemplated how I could maybe disappear under the table. And then, getting hold of herself, "And then you said the night work was too hard!" and at that, all decorum was lost, and the nonnis and the bapus and the mothers and the kids were shrieking with laughter and making jokes and it all went to hell and we had a great time.
So when my little one asks about Brazilian Blow-Jobs instead of Blow-Outs, or for a bathing suit instead of a suitcase, or for me to pass her a condom instead of a condiment, I smile and think that she is certainly my child, all the way.
So, one detail that the sharp-eyed readers have noticed is that each house could be completely self-contained for electricity (solar/wind), waste (septic/compost) and water (well). True, but this makes the space each house needs much greater, and severely restricts where you can put 3000+ people! A three-bedroom house (septic is calculated from the number of bedrooms, not baths) needs approximately 1/4 acre of drainage, more if the soil doesn't drain well, and even more if it freezes. Septic zoning in upstate NY (say, Lake Placid) is minimum 1/2 acre leech field per 3 bedrooms, for example. And you need an oversize septic tank for when the ground is solid, which has to be pumped regularly. Meaning roads have to accommodate septic trucks (low grade and maintained) and, of course, this septic waste has to go somewhere. Who is going to take it? The problem is magnified for common buildings like meeting halls and for restaurants and businesses.
Solar is great, if somewhat spendy to set up, IF you get enough sun. Wind, ditto. And your well needs to be deep enough not to become contaminated by the septic system. (I've worked on a well-drilling rig, and I would like the contract for GBstan if he gets that far. Cash only, paid up front, per 1000 feet.) You will also need water storage for fire fighting, usually a pond or lake. (We're going to meet this again in governance.) And the thought of all the Tea Party wives trying to convince their husbands to sort, recycle and compost makes me smile. It's like they are re-creating the hippy communes of the '70s - anyone remember the Farm in Tennessee?
Anyway, you still need roads. Can't get away from that.