Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Who needs fiction?

Someone my wife works with recently lost a loved one. On the way home from work, my wife stopped at the funeral home to pay her respects.

At the funeral home, she found the family in the parking lot, gathered around a van, eating some sandwiches; instead of in a hospitality room, as is usual at a funeral home.

The funeral home has forbidden any food to be brought in, since a recent food fight.

A food fight at a funeral home. Who needs fiction?

Writer's block

Pen over paper
Poised to express ideas
That never come

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Chen Taiji Master Chen Xiao Wang giving a seminar in Michigan, in August

Chen Xiaowang Michigan Seminar/Camp 2005 August 16th - 21st ( SIGN UP TODAY )
WHERE: This years Seminar will be in Downtown Plymouth, Michigan (near I-275 & I-96) SEE MAPS
WHEN: August 16th (Tuesday), through (Sunday) August 21st, 2005

COST: The cost is: $200 for 2 Days, $400 for 4 days, $500 for 6 days (best deal)

TOPIC: Laojia 16-17 Qigong 18-19 Slikreeling 20-21
Email to: Question please write to

Friday, July 29, 2005

Tea Quotes

A friend of mine and I were talking about tea the other day; the next best thing to drinking it. Anyway, it got me thinking about tea quotes. If you have others of a similar vein, please post them, either in the comments, or on the tagboard.

The first one is my favorite.

"Although my neighbors are all barbarians,
and you, you are a thousand miles away,
there are always two cups on my table."

Tang Dynasty

"The first cup moistens my lips and throat.
The second shatters my loneliness.
The third causes the wrongs of life to fade gently from my recollection.
The fourth purifies my soul.
The fifth lifts me to the realms of the unwinking gods."

Chinese mystic
Tang Dynasty

"Better to be deprived of food for three days, than tea for one."

Ancient Chinese Proverb

"So I must rise at early dawn, as busy as can be,
to get my daily labor done, and pluck the leafy tea."

Ballad of the Tea Pickers
Le Yih
Early Ch’ing Dynasty, 1644

"Kissing is like drinking tea through a tea-strainer; you’re always thirsty afterwards."

Old Chinese saying

"I am in no way interested in immortality, but only in the taste of tea."

Lu t’ung

"In my own hands I hold a bowl of tea; I see all of nature represented in its green color. Closing my eyes I find green mountains and pure water within my own heart. Silently sitting alone and drinking tea, I feel these become a part of me."

Soshitsu Sen
Grand Master XIV
Urasenke School of Tea

"Tea is drunk to forget the din of the world."

T’ien Yiheng

"The tea ceremony is more than an idealization of the form of drinking—it is a religion of the art of life."

Okakura Kakuzo

"What is the most wonderful thing for people like myself who follow the Way of Tea? My answer: the oneness of host and guest created through ‘meeting heart to heart’ and sharing a bowl of tea."

Soshitsu Sen
Grand Master XIV
Urasenke School of Tea

"The best quality tea must have creases like the leathern boot of Tartar horsemen, curl like the dewlap of a mighty bullock, unfold like a mist rising out of a ravine, gleam like a lake touched by a zephyr, and be wet and soft like a fine earth newly swept by rain."

Lu Yu (d. 804),
Chinese sage, hermit.

"A wave of rare incense is wafted from the tea-room; it is the summons which bids the guests to enter. One by one they advance and take their places. In the tokonoma hangs a kakemono—a wonderful writing by an ancient monk dealing with the evanescence of all earthly things. The singing kettle. . . sounds like some cicada pouring forth his woes to departing summer."

Okakura Kakuzo
Book of Tea (1906)
Describing the last Cha-no-yu by Rikiu, a great tea master

"Tea is nought but this:
First you heat the water,
Then you make the tea.
Then you drink it properly.
That is all you need to know."

Sen Rikyu
Zen Tea Master

"Meanwhile, let us have a sip of tea. The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountains are bubbling with delight, the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettle. Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things."

Okakura Kakuzo
Book of Tea (1906)

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Li Po

The idea for this post came to me by way of my nostalgia for the poets of the old Tao-l list, who are scattered to the wind. Enjoy guys, wherever you are.

If the Tang Dynasty was the Golden Age of Chinese Poetry, many consider Li Po to be the Mozart of that poetry. Like Mozart, Li Po would dash off one of his poems in a single draft, and often drunk at that.

He was from a wealthy family, which allowed him to travel China behaving in a manner exactly the opposite of a well bred Confucian gentleman of the time.

About 1000 of his poems exist. Many in the famous anthology "300 Tang Dynasty Poems" ( ) are his.

Like Mozart, Li Po found no restriction in using the conventional forms of his time. For him they were not a cage to work within, but rather a point of departure.

Among his most famous, ''Changgan xing'' translated by Ezra Pound as THE RIVER-MERCHANT'S WIFE: A LETTER

While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead
I played about the front gate, pulling flowers
You came by on bamboo stilts, playing horse,
You walked about my seat, playing with blue plums
And we went on living in the village of Chokan:
Two small people, without dislike or suspicion.

At fourteen I married My Lord you.
I never laughed, being bashful.
Lowering my head, I looked at the wall.
Called to, a thousand times, I never looked back.

At fifteen I stopped scowling,
I desired my dust to be mingled with yours
Forever and forever, and forever.
Why should I climb the look out?

At sixteen you departed,
You went into far Ku-to-Yen, by the river of swirling eddies,
And you have been gone five months.
The monkeys make sorrowful noise overhead.

You dragged your feet when you went out.
By the gate now, the moss is grown, the different mosses,
Too deep to clear them away!

The leaves fall early this autumn, in wind.
The paired butterflies are already yellow with August
Over the grass in the West garden,
They hurt me.
I grow older,
If you are coming down through the narrows of the river Kiang,
Please let me know beforehand,
And I will come out to meet you,
As far as Cho-fu-Sa.

Twice he was exiled for being mixed up with some small time revolutionary plots, and twice he was forgiven by the Emperor.

No one is sure how Li Po died. One popular story is that while on a small boat at night while drunk, he reached to embrace a reflection of the moon, fell in, and drowned. Others think that he took Daoist elixrs in the hope of immortaility, which eventually poisoned him.

The exirls may not have given him immortality, but his poetry sure did.

Drinking Alone Under The Moon
Among the flowers from a pot of wine
I drink alone beneath the bright moonshine.
I raise my cup to invite the moon, who blends
Her light with my shadow and we're three friends.
The moon does not know how to drink her share;
In vain my shadow follows me here and there.
Together with them for the time I stay
And make merry before spring's spend away.
I sing the moon to linger with my song;
My shadow disperses as I dance along.
Sober, we three remain cheerful and gay;
Drunken, we part and each goes his way.
Our friendship will outshine all earthly love;
Next time we'll meet beyond the stars above.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Donnie Brasco

I like mob movies. Among my favorites are the Godfather Trilogy and Casino. One that I hadn't gotten around to seeing was Donnie Brasco. It was on cable the other night, and I saw it.

Donnie Brasco is based on the memoir by FBI agent Joseph Pistone. Pistone infiltrated the NY mob, and for six years posed as a jewel thief. The movie stars Al Pacino and Johnny Depp as the title character.

Al Pacino had been known as a great actor for quite some time, and without great writing, he still does a terrific job. Johnny Depp was still a relative newcomer, but did a great job, surpassing Pacino in my opinion, as an actor.

This is one of those instances where the book and movie both manage to stand on their own.

Here's a link to the book:

... and to the movie:

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


In Japan the crane was known as 'the bird of happiness' and was often referred to as 'Honourable Lord Crane'. In China the crane was the 'Patriarch of the feathered tribe'.

The Chinese saw the crane's white standing for purity, the red head for vitality (and also connected with fire).

The birds were associated with fidelity because they paired for life.

They were also symbols of longevity and in both China and Japan were often drawn with pine trees, tortoises, stones and bamboo - all symbols of long life. Both cultures also associated cranes with good fortune and prosperity so they are often painted with the sun - a symbol of social ambition.

The Chinese believed that cranes ('heavenly cranes' tian-he or 'blessed cranes' xian-he) were symbols of wisdom - the messengers of legendary sages who were carried on their backs in flight between heavenly worlds. They believed that pure white cranes were sacred birds which inhabited the Isles of the Blest.

The powerful wings of the crane were said to be able to convey souls to the Western Paradise and to take people to higher levels of spiritual consciousness.

The Chinese also saw valuable lessons in the flight of cranes in which the young must follow and learn from their older and wiser leaders.

Ancient Chinese symbolism included the crane with the phoenix, mandarin duck, heron and wagtail as a representation of the five relationships between people. The crane symbolises the father-son relationship - when it sings, its young answer.

In many parts of Asia the cries of migrating cranes were a significant signal of the seasons - crops needed to be sown as the cranes departed for their breeding grounds in spring, while their arrival coincided with the harvest in autumn.

Japanese creation myths talk of a legendary warrior who conquered his foes to extend the borders of ancient Japan. On his death, his soul took the form of a crane and flew away.

Legend has it that Yorimoto in the 12th century attached labels to the legs of cranes and asked people who captured them to record their location on the label and re-release the birds - a very early program of bird banding to find out about the movements of a species. Some of Yorimoto's birds were claimed to have still been alive several centuries after his death, giving rise to the notion that a crane lived for a thousand years.

Another legend records that at Kakamura in the 11th century a feudal leader celebrated a Buddhist festival in which birds and animals are set free, by releasing hundreds of cranes as thanksgiving after a successful battle. Each had a prayer strip on its leg to pray for those killed in battle. This appears to be the first recorded association of the crane with celebration of peace and prayers for those lost in war.

The oldest known use of the motif of a thousand cranes is a 15m (50ft) long scroll by Sotatsu, an artist of the early 17th century. The theme was repeated innumerable times in art on screens and walls. Inevitably the crane's reputation for long life and prosperity became a symbol of good health, and origami cranes became a popular gift for those who were ill.

It is apparent that as populations of cranes declined, artists drew on the work of other artists for details of the birds. When a crane stands, it appears to to have a black tail, but the only black feathers are on the trailing edges of their long wings. Yet for centuries, many artists in China and Japan portrayed flying cranes with black tail feathers. While the symbolism is clearly more important than biological accuracy, it is interesting to note that the symbol came very close to outliving the bird which inspired it.

The crane is not so highly regarded in the mythology of India, where they stand for malice, betrayal and treachery. However, in one legend Ramakrishna, when aged 6, fainted with rapture at the sight of a flock of cranes flying low against the background of the temple of Kali, with whom they were associated. Western Asian tradition tended to follow Greek and Roman writers in associating cranes with Apollo the sun god. They believed that cranes (kurti in Persian and ghurnuq in Arabic) were awake very early in the morning saying their prayers.

They also believed that the brain and gall bladder of a crane had miraculous medicinal power to ensure a long life.

Unfortunately, I lost the link to the page where I found this.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Basho's Frog once again.

ふる いけ や
かわず とびこむ
みず の おと

Furu ike ya
Kawazu tobikomu
mizu no oto

Old pond
frog jumped in
sound of water.

Matsuo Basho's haiku about the frog jumping into the pond is probably the most famous haiku in the world. These 17 syllables so well capture a moment. It's everything a haiku should be, and I find myself coming back to it over and over again.

If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to a page which contains 30 different translations of this famous haiku, as well as commentary by Robert Aitken, a zen priest.

I think studying these translations themselves are fascinating. 17 syllables and the translations cover such a range.

A perfect study for a summer evening.

Bassho's frog went plop!
and never heard from again.

A snapping turtle.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Falun Gong Art Exhibition

If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to the website mentioned in the article.

----------------------------------------------------------------------This article was sent to you by someone who found it on SFGate.The original article can be found on here: ---------------------------------------------------------------------
Monday, July 4, 2005 (SF Chronicle)SAN FRANCISCO/Provocative art from Falun Gong followers/Paintings on tour to publicize China's alleged persecutionVanessa Hua, Chronicle Staff Writer

After a one-week run in the lobby of San Francisco's Federal Building, an exhibit of gruesome paintings put on by China's controversial Falun Gong movement is heading to Chinatown and other Bay Area locations. The show, which also includes depictions of more peaceful moments in a believer's life, has toured more than 30 cities across the United States, at times drawing complaints.

One of the paintings shows a woman being crushed between two boards,another a woman being beaten by police as cherubs fly above and a third, by Oakland artist Yao Chongqi, called "Unwavering Spirit," depicts a woman who police have poked with a cattle prod who is bleeding from the head as she slogs through snow. The exhibit of more than 40 pieces aims to publicize how the Chinesegovernment allegedly has tortured Falun Gong followers. It reaches viewers on a deeper level than demonstrations, leafleting and other forms ofprotest, organizers say.

"People usually appreciate artwork and are more into it," said exhibit organizer Huy Lu of Daly City. "They really watch it and look at thedescriptions. Sometimes when you see the truth, it's not easy to accept, but that's what is going on." The U.S. General Services Administration, which manages the FederalBuilding and approved the Falun Gong application, offers the space foreducational, cultural and recreational activities, said local spokeswoman Bethany Kirchoff.

Building managers did not consider the content of theFalun Gong artwork when reviewing its application, Kirchoff said. But she said they reject many requests including those that involve politicalsolicitation. Lu said he wanted to display the exhibit in the Federal Building because it would reach a large audience of government workers, and the space was free. The Mount Sinai
School of Medicine in New York yanked the exhibit last fall within a day, after visitors and staff said it disrupted thehospital's healing atmosphere. Workers at San Francisco's Federal Building said the exhibit was both disturbing and enlightening. Jose Saucedo, a painter for the building,deemed the exhibit "very emotional." "It's real, and it's happening. There are so many persecutions," he said.

Exhibit volunteer Ivan Velinov, 33, of San Francisco, said he tried to explain to viewers why the persecution of Falun Gong should matter toAmericans.

"Everything in stores is made in China. All the factories are moving to China," said Velinov, a Bulgarian immigrant who began practicing FalunGong about 2 1/2 years ago. "China is influencing our society. But China is the No. 1 violator of human rights. The Chinese consulate in San Francisco did not return calls for comment.

Several Chinatown community leaders said they had no objections to the upcoming Falun Gong exhibit. "I am pro-democracy," said businessman Allen Leung. "We have freedom of expression." He said he liked the martial arts and positive psychological aspects of Falun Gong, though not what he sees as its superstitious elements. Feng Wang, 34, a senior manager at a high-tech company, said Falun Gong helped her become less stressed and more healthy, truthful andcompassionate. Adherents of Falun Gong, who practice traditional Chinese breathingexercises for physical, mental and spiritual well-being, were rounded up in China in 1999, and some of their leaders were convicted of organizing a cult. The group's ability to organize protests of more than 10,000demonstrators via word-of-mouth and the Internet alarmed the Chinesegovernment, which fears large gatherings as threats to Communist control.

Independently confirming Falun Gong followers' reports of persecution is almost impossible, said Mickey Spiegel, a researcher at Human Rights Watch in New York. But she said some no doubt happens. Spiegel said since the crackdown, Falun Gong followers have done whatever possible to keep the movement visible.. To see the Falun Gong art exhibit online, go to www.falunart. org. The exhibit will be on display 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 16 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 17 at Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall, 836 Stockton St., San Francisco. E-mail Vanessa Hua at ----------------------------------------------------------------------Copyright 2005 SF Chronicle

Chinese Swordsman Movies

The following was found on the Chinese History Forum. If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed there.

1. Being the hero's parents will always be unlucky andwill usually be killed by enemies when the hero isyoung and the hero will become an orphan.
2. When a man is wounded and dying, he always managesto catch his breath and speak a few sentences toreveal the killer before dropping his head and beingdeclared dead.
3. Skilled people are able to fly over roof tops, uptrees and across distances without any sweat. But whentraveling to towns and villages, they still have towalk or ride horses.
4. The heroes need not have to work for money, butwill always have gold and silvers with them to pay fortheir dishes.
5. The heroes and villains will meet each other veryoften no matter how big the country is and no matterwhere they are.
6. Healing internal wounds in the body is as easy assitting down cross-legged, palms on the knees andsmoke coming out from the head.
7. They can keep a lot of stuff in their sleeves andwaistband and never drop them (carrying especiallylots of those gold and silver ingots)
///if you are the hero then there will be many girls whowill fall for you and are ready to give you theirbodies. Then by accident you touch some beautiful girlthen she will state that she already belongs to you.If your kungfu never improve you may consider jumpinginto a deep pit where you may be lucky to find somesuperhero who will give you a book or will teach yousome invincible kungfu.///When the Hero meets a beautiful girl and falls in love(or lust), 50% chance she will
a) be his half-sister which they discover only afterhaving promised each other the Sun and the Moon (cueMelodramatic Music)
cool.gif be killed by the Hero through tragiccircumstances (cue Melodramatic Music)
c) discover she is the daughter of the leader of theopposing side or other inimicable social status andcan't be together (cue Melodramatic Music)
Other Things One might see in Chinese M/A movies
* When your uncle (no blood relation, title of olderman friend) offers you his not-so-hot daughter, say"my background is too humble for your daughter's handin marriage"
More ...
* There a poisonous plant/animal occurs, there'salways a source of antidote within 5 steps of itslocation
* Practicing some unusual/Heretical/Unorthodox martialarts will generate tremendous amount of heat in thebody ... requiring the practicioner to do it in thebuff ... and sometimes ... in a room packed with ice.
* Despite being aware of their being highly soughtafter, Shaolin monks continue to keep their martialarts manuals in unlocked drawers and shelves in theirlibrary without a 24-hour attendant guarding.
* Losing one's internal strength also render oneunable to use the external movements, though one cancontinue to do other work. It's like Clark Kent losinghis Superman prowess.
* Endothermic consumption of lotus grown insnow-covered mountains will enable one to recover theinternal strength and ability to exercise the externalmovements.
* Eating the flesh of an exponent with greatinternal strength will transfer the strength to theeater.
* Ancient chinese can carry out eye-transplants.
* If the restaurant don't have small change, onesimply breaks a silver tael into smaller pieces tomake payment.
* Half-starved beggars can pose a formidable power byuniting in "Dog-Beating Formation" and bring down topexponents who are at full strength.
* The more pouches a beggar sport, the higher his rankis in the Beggars' Guild.
* Length of eyebrows can be equated to martial artspower
* More grey/white hair, more kung fu power
* Run away when you encounter the man with long whiteeyebrows
* When in the wilderness, there's always an abandonedtemple or a cave handy to seek shelter.
* People who plunged from heights and did not havetheir bodies found, did not die.
* A young chap in his 20s, and less than 10 years ofmartial arts training, can thrash a veteran expertstill in his prime with many more years of experience.
* People sleep in long-sleeved white pyjamas (in theolder shows)
* Everyone can style their hair without modern gelsand equipment ... and dye them too!
* Only foreign martial arts experts come to China tochallenge the local champions ... Chinese martial artsexperts never go overseas to challenge them.
* If you're a girl disguised as a man, everyone elsewill see through your disguise except the man youlove.
* The woman most capable of kicking your *** will bethe one you marry.
* Sometimes our hero accidentally drank some stuffthat made him go horny and he would find any girl torelieve his desire, even that girl might be his enemy.
* They are the masters of packing...when travellingall their luggage fits into a small bundle...if atall.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

All's well that ends well, but the road isn't always smooth

It's been a bumpy road the last few weeks. All's well that ends well, but getting to the end isn't always easy or fun.

Backing up to June 14, I was in Florida watching Katie play volleyball at the AAU Nationals. Just before the start of the 2nd match, she sprained her ankle. That was bad enough, but there were a number of things coming up - immediately on returning from Florida, she was supposed to go to Pom Pon camp for the highschool team (now she would go, but couldn't participate), immediately after that was the Junior Olympics, and soon after that, there was the High Performance Camp, where 12 of the 24 girls selected for the camp were to go to a national tournament the following week.

On the 15th, I get a call from my mother's assisted living home. She had taken a fall and was being taken to the hospital. Ashley, my oldest daughter, who was home working and going to school, stepped up and handled everything while I tried to get a flight home. In the end, I made it home that day, at about 11 pm. I'm very proud of the way Ash took care of everything while I wasn't there.

My mother had had some physical problems that seemed to be a progression of some existing issues. It turned out that since the last time she was in the hospital, two years ago, she had developed diabetes. That fed a vicious circle of conditions that she already had to contend with, and added new ones.

The bright side was that we now knew she was a diabetic, and with the right treatment, many of her issues cleared up. She looks better now that she has in months. The other side was that it became clear that she could no longer live in the assisted living home. She required more assistance than they could give.

That meant that her next stop was a nursing home.

The way it works is while your loved one is in the hospital, you have to do a whirlwind tour of nursing homes in the area for both rehab and long term care. Then you give a list of the ones you've selected to the hospital social worker. On the day of release (which is always sooner rather than later), the social worker tries to find a bed in one of the nursing homes on your list.

Due to my mother's finances, she would be in long term care under Medicaid. Not all nursing homes have Medicaid beds (they therefore require "private pay" which can come to anywhere from $5K to $7.5K per *MONTH*), and most have only a limited number.

The nicest one I found had SOME Medicaid beds (which were all full), but had been working with the state to get all of their beds certified before my mother would be finished her rehab, and could simply stay there.

In the meantime, I had to move her out of her apartment at the assisted living home, dispose of her furniture, decide what to keep and what to throw away, figure out where to store things, etc.

So time passes, and after a couple of weeks, it's time that I have my meeting with the staff of the nursing home to discuss their evaluation of my mom's health, what their goals for rehab are, what input I could give them, etc., the usual. It's at this time (this is on a Thursday) that I find out that my mom has plateaued in rehab (basically getting her back on her feet with a walker, getting herself into and out of bed, the bathroom, or a wheelchair), and that she was going to be done with her rehab (which is covered under Medicare), and will have to then switch over to Medicaid.

Fine. That was the plan. However, they had another piece of news. They didn't get the building wide cerification. My mother would have to leave. Yes, they were continuing to try and get all the beds certified, and if I wanted, she'd be on the waiting list to occupy a vacant Medicaid bed as soon as one became available, but she'd have to leave next week. The doctor could fudge her records a little to give her an extra day or two, but it would be just that; days, not weeks or months. The soonest they thought they could get the building wide certification was October.

To stay there as a "private pay" patient was just under $200 a day.

The costs of long term care are mindboggling. Basically, if someone has to enter long term care, you have to use up all of their assets, then finally, when there isn't any money left, go on Medicaid. The next time long term care insurance is offered during the enrollement period for my company benefits, I'm going to have to take a close look at that.

Medicaid beds are hard to come by. Two days before she was supposed to leave, they found a bed for her at a place actually just around the corner from the assisted living home that is owned by the same company as the nursing home she's due to leave.

It's a much older buidling, and on account of that, simply isn't as "nice" as where she was leaving, but it was still pretty impressive as far as nursing homes go. They were pretty creative with what they had to work with, and if they didn't have some architectural constraints, this place could be right up there with where she was.

Ok. She's always been one to make the best of her situation. I moved her in there without any complaint, and I'm sure she'll do well. She has a lot less space at the new place, and it's not quite clear what I can bring in there for her, and what I can't. She's well enough that I can take her out of there for lunch sometimes, for example. They also have group outings, which she always enjoyed when at the assisted living home.

It's gutwrenching to think that so many lives are summed up in what can fit into a closet and dresser. Even when families live close by, so many people have no one to visit them. It's a shame.

This whole episode has been grinding on me, but it's done. I just have to wait until the old place has an opening, then decide to move her back or not.

As for Katie, she attended, but didn't participate in the Pom camp.

The rest allowed her to play at the Junior Olympics. She wasn't 100%, and by the end of each play day, her ankle was sore. Due to delayed flights, they played the first day with only 2 hours sleep. They finished pretty poorly on the first day, putting them in the lower half. They did the best they could have in the lower half though, finishing 25th out of 48 teams (top of the lower half).

She wasn't 100% for the High Performance Camp either. Her speed wasn't quite there, and neither was her jumping. She wasn't selected for the team that would go to Austin, Tx. She wasn't disappointed at all though. The camp had been so gruelling, that she was ready for volleyball to be over with.

From April through mid July, her team had played 181 games of volleyball spread over 76 matches, on 23 days of play. This didn't count the day she was called up to the 16's team on a day she was idle. Their record was 50-26 (in terms of matches), and 113-68 (in terms of games).

As for me, I'm leaving for long planned weekend at a neighbor's lakehouse. I've got a couple of days of doing nothing ahead of me. My mother in law will stop in to see my mom. I'm just going to sit and watch the waves and the birds.

See you in a couple of days.


Terrific Water Colors

If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to Tao Water Art Gallery. There are some truly beautiful water colors there.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Untitled Moment

A crisp
cool night.
The campfire is almost out.
only the train in the distance.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Tsukahara Bokuden

This story is about the famous duelist, Tsukahara Bokuden. Bukuden was the victor in 37 duels.

Tsukahara Bokuden was the classic knight-errant. A rich nobleman, he travelled the Japanese countryside, often with a full entourage, in search of adventure. Of course he often found it.

Bokuden, a master of the sword, was challenged by a mannerless ruffian. When asked about his style, Bokuden replied that he studied the "Style of No Sword." The ruffian laughed and insultingly challenged Bokuden to fight him without a sword. Bokuden then agreed to fight the man without his sword but suggested they row out to a nearby island to avoid disturbing others.

The ruffian agreed, but when he jumped from the boat to the shore of the island, drawing his blade, Bokuden pushed the boat back out, leaving the ruffian stranded on the island. Bokuden explained, "This is my no-sword school."

Who needs fiction?

Check out the July 15, 2005 entry at

I can't add anything to this.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Drawing the Dragon's Eye

If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to several pages of information on Asian dragons which are very interesting.


Bring the Painted Dragons to Life by Putting Pupils in Their Eyes

During the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589 AC), once lived a famous painter named Zhang Seng-Zuong. He was highly praised for his fine art by Emperor Liang Wu.

One year, Zhang Seng-Zuong was asked to paint on the wall of the temple of Andong. He almost finished the painting of four dragons, in which they were breaking into a gallop in clouds.

Everybody appreciated the vivid dragons on the wall. "But," asked one man," why didn't you put in the pupils of their eyes?" "Well, they will fly away if the pupils are put in." answered Zhang Seng-Zuong. But nobody believed him. They took what he said for jokes, so they still appealed to him to paint the pupils in the eyes.

At their request, Zhang Seng-Zuong had to take up his paintbrush to begin his troublesome work. After a moment of hesitation, Zhang dotted the key part of the dragons resolutely. Two of the dragons suddenly precipitated into a cloud of rolls of thunder and lightning before he could drop the paintbrush. The crowd was disordered into a mess; some lay themselves on the stomach, and some hid themselves behind pillars. A loud crash was heard and the wall toppled into pieces in the middle. The dragons writhed for a while and flew away high in the sky.

Fortunately the two without pupils still remained there on the wall peacefully.

The proverb, 'Bring the painted dragons to life, by putting pupils in their eyes' now is usually adopted to indicate the case that a person can make his speech or composition smartly lively just with only a few pointed key words or expressions.

This version came from

A Summer Haiku

Quarter moon smiling
Down like Cheshire Cat, songs
Crickets sing at campfires.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Red Maples

If you click on the title of this post, you will be directed to EmptyFlower, the premier website about the martial art of XingYiQuan. The following has been copied from that site.

Red Maples have fotgotten the six alignments ...
Tranquility will reveal the five elements

Two verses from Dai Fengzhong, Grandmaster Dai Longbang's ancestor. by Bernard Goh

These two verses are found on a pagoda/tower in grandmaster Dai's home town, overseeing a maple forest.

On the surface it would seem that Dai Fengzhong is using a tranquil autumn scenery and words from the old form of Xingyi (Xinyi Liuhe Quan) to form two poetic verses to decorate their property.

However, I believe that he is only being modest. A forest of red maples in the autumn will look like a huge blazing forest fire. I believe he has attained a extremely high level in the cultivation of 'qi'. I have heard my master say "qi and blood bubbling boiling" to describe this level. But being modest, he borrowed the scenery to describe this state.

He wants to share his understanding of martial arts: if you reach to this level, there is almost no need to pay attention to the forms you adopt. [This reminds one of Wang Xiangzhai]

For the second verse: the five element fist corresponds with the five main internal organs. He is saying that training calmly, you can feel and achieve this state.

In terms of research, I have found it interesting to view Xingyi using an revloutionary' standpoint. From Xinyi Liuhe to Xingyi to Dacheng Quan (Wang Xiangzhai), this evolutionary road of the art is molded by some very accomplished and colourful masters.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Bodhi Treee and Bright Mirror

One day, the Fifth Patriarch, Hung Jen assembled all his disciples and said,"Go and seek for Prajna in your own mind and write me a stanza (gatha) about it. The one who understands the reality of Buddhist nature will be the Sixth Patriarch."

The head disciple, Shin Shau composed his stanza and wrote it on the wall of the corridor, so that the Patriarch might know what spiritual insight he had attained. The stanza read:

Our body is the Bodhi tree,
And our mind is like a bright mirror with stand,
Diligently we wipe them all the time,
And let no dust alight.

Later, Hui Neng who worked in the kitchen heard a young man reciting the stanza. At once, he realized that the stanza did not reveal the reality of Buddhist nature.

As he was illiterate, he asked people to scribe his stanza, which reads:

There is no Bodhi Tree
Nor the stand of a bright mirror,
Since all is void,
Where can the dust alight?

Eventually, Hui Neng received the robe and Dharma from Hung Jen, and became the Sixth Patriarch of Zen Sect in China.

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Gallery of China

If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to a website entitled The Gallery of China.

They sell original Chinese art. What is interesting about the website is the explanations given about the symbolism of various animals, flowers, etc.

There is a LOT of stuff there. Enjoy.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

A Chinese Folk Story

A very old Chinese Taoist story describes a farmer in a poor country village. His neighbors considered him very well-to-do. He owned a horse which he used for plowing and for transportation. One day his horse ran away. All his neighbors exclaimed how terrible this way, but the farmer simply said "Maybe."

A few days later the horse returned and brought two wild horses with it. The neighbors all rejoiced at his good fortune, but the farmer just said "Maybe."
The next day the farmer's son tried to ride one of the wild horses. The horse threw him and the son broke his leg. The neighbors all offered their sympathy for his misfortune, but the farmer again said "Maybe."

The next week conscription officers came to the village to take young men for the army. They rejected the farmer's son because of his broken leg. When the neighbors told him how lucky he was, the farmer replied "Maybe."

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Who needs fiction?

If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to an article at the Detroit News. It seems that the Canadian Auto Workers want to respond to the pressures of world wide competition by asking for more time off, more investments in their plants, and more perks.

I wonder what color is the sky in the world they inhabit.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Some Martial Arts Links

Some of the best articles on YiQuan (I Chuan) can be found at the website of Gregory Fong:

A wealth of infomation on YiQuan can be found here:

A site that is primarily focussed on XingYiQuan, but also has information of interest for those who practice other martial arts is:

Information on Gao Style Ba Gua Zhang as practiced in the US can be found at:

The art of TaikiKen as practiced by Kenichi Sawai is the focus of:

A traditional Japanese Koryu Bujutsu, practiced in the US is represented at:

Videos of actual street fights can be found at:

The Aikido of Takashi Kushida that I practiced when I was young can be found at:

Joe Crandall has translated many classic Chinese martial arts manuals, such as those by Sun Lu Tang.

Jerek Symanski lives in China. He has both a lot of information at his website about Chinese martial arts, but all sorts of VCDs and DVDs. It's really worth checking out.

An important Chinese martial arts website from Canada:

On the other hand...

The bull might have other ideas ...

Monday, July 11, 2005

A Lot of Bull

The running of the bulls reminded me of the 10 Ox Herding Pictures. If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to the website where I found these; where there is a lot of other Zen related information.

Home Page
Right: The door to the outer garden,Himeji, Japan

10 Ox Herding Pictures

Around 800AD Zen teachers started using Ox herding pictures to explain the way of controlling the mind until enlightenment. There are many variations, but the standard version (below) is well accepted often seen in Zen art and literature. It is sometime explain in accompanying literature, but this perhaps it is better read, visualized and thought about several times before commentary puts fixed ideas in your head.

1. UndisciplinedWith his horns fiercely projected in the air the beast snorts,Madly running over the mountain paths, farther and farther he goes astray!A dark cloud is spread across the entrance of the valley,And who knows how much of the fine fresh herb is trampled under his wild hoofs!

2. Discipline BegunI am in possession of a straw rope,and I pass it through his nose,For once he makes a frantic attempt to run away, but he is severely whipped and whipped;The beast resists the training with all the power there is in a nature wild and ungoverned,But the rustic ox herd never relaxes his pulling tether and ever-ready whip.

3. In HarnessGradually getting into harness the beast is now content to be led by the nose,Crossing the stream, walking along the mountain path, he follows every step of the leader;The leader holds the rope tightly in his hand never letting it go,All day long he is on the alert almost unconscious of what fatigue is.

4. Faced RoundAfter long days of training the result begins to tell and the beast is faced round,A nature so wild and ungoverned is finally broken, he has become gentler;But the tender has not yet given him his full confidence,He still keeps his straw rope with which the ox is now tied to a tree.

5. TamedUnder the green willow tree and by the ancient mountain stream,The ox is set at liberty to pursue his own pleasures;At the eventide when a grey mist descends on the pasture,The boy wends his homeward way with the animal quietly following.

6. UnimpededOn the verdant field the beast contentedly lies idling his time away,No whip is needed now, nor any kind of restraint;The boy too sits leisurely under the pine tree,Playing a tune of peace, overflowing with joy.

7. Laissez FaireThe spring stream in the evening sun flowslanguidly along the willow-lined bank,In the hazy atmosphere the meadow grass is seen growing thick;When hungry he grazes,when thirsty he quaffs,as time sweetly slides,While the boy on the rock dozes for hours not noticing anything that goes on about him.

8. All ForgottenThe beast all in white now is surrounded by the white clouds,The man is perfectly at his ease and care-free, so is his companion;The white clouds penetrated by the moon-light cast their white shadows below,The white clouds and the bright moonlighteach following its course of movement.

9. The Solitary MoonNowhere is the beast, and the ox herd is master of his time,He is a solitary cloud wafting lightlyalong the mountain peaks;Clapping his hands he sings joyfully in the moon-light,But remember a last wall is still left barring his homeward walk.

10. Both VanishedBoth the man and the animal have disappeared,no traces are left,The bright moon-light is empty and shadowless with all the ten-thousand objects in it;If anyone should ask the meaning of this,Behold the lilies of the field and its fresh sweet-scented verdure.

This site ©2005 About the 'About Zen' site Site Map

Sunday, July 10, 2005

A Touch of Japan

The original article can be found on here: ---------------------------------------------------------------------Sunday, July 10, 2005 (SF Chronicle)Sonoma serenity/Quest for Japanese-style relaxing rituals fulfilled in coastal hills Christine Delsol, Chronicle Staff Writer

Freestone -- The mound of warm, moist cedar chips piling up on my body brought back the snug sensation of being buried in sand during childhood vacations at the beach. But wriggling in to mold the shape exactly to my body released a woodsy, yeasty scent instead of the tang of salt andseaweed. And here at Osmosis, my nest generated its own heat, setting off a fresh wave every time I wiggled a finger or shifted a leg. A veteran of Calistoga's mud baths and mineral springs all over Northern California, I had heeded the call of Osmosis' 20th anniversary to make my first visit to the spa in the western Sonoma County burg of Freestone, to try the only traditional Japanese cedar enzyme bath in the United States.

Japanese culture doesn't have much of a hold on Sonoma County compared with, say, Italian or Latin American influence. But with Osmosis at itscenter, the soft, quiet landscapes that usher the Russian River to the sea abet the quest for serenity that's central to the Japanese approach tolife. My boyfriend, Ken, and I devoted our weekend to that quest. Home base was the Japanese-style Teahouse Inn in Monte Rio, 10 miles up the Bohemian Highway from Osmosis.

The little house has sliding shojidoors, a traditional tokonoma altar space and an attached bathhouse with a deep, wooden soaking tub where we warmed up for our visit to Osmosis.

It's a perfect fix for anyone who has had tea in Golden Gate Park's JapaneseGarden and wanted never to leave. The first thing we did was slide openthe doors, which take up two walls, to bask in the private garden. For dinner, we drove a few miles west to Duncans Mills. The picturesque town amounts to two wide spots on the road, offering a general store, acouple of restaurants, wine and cheese tasting, a bakery/coffee shop and a few other stores. Cape Fear, one of our favorite restaurants, serves awide variety of fresh, local ingredients with a down-home touch.

For a computer jockey, or anyone else with stiff necks and shoulders, oneof Osmosis' greatest treats is an unheralded one. After changing intoyukata (a kimono-like Japanese robe), we entered a private tearoom and the receptionist draped us with a U-shaped neck pillow filled with yucca and herbs and heated to the perfect temperature to dissolve aches and smooth out knots.

We were speeding toward nirvana even before our spa attendant brought a cast- iron teapot and poured a pleasant blend of herbal tea and plant enzymes said to boost digestion and detoxification. She left us to sip in our own miniature Japanese garden while she prepared our bathchamber. "Bath" is a misleading term; it might be more accurate to call it acompost heap.

The two large redwood tubs were filled with a fine mulch of cedar shavings, evergreen fibers, rice bran and hundreds of plant enzymes, which produce heat as they ferment. The temperature increases with thedepth, so guests with low heat tolerance will be happier near the top. After a few minutes of heightened alertness, a gentle buzz set in.

Soon I felt the blood pulsing throughout my body with every heartbeat. A coldcloth magically lighted on my forehead whenever sweat threatened to pool in my eyes, and a straw delivered ice water to my lips. What felt like enough time for a journey to another solar system was only about 20 minutes. We clambered out, soft and fresh as newborns yetlittered with plant matter, and stepped outside to brush off. I was glad we'd decided against bathing suits, which would surely still be embedded with cedar particles today.

As it was, Ken stepped out of the shower and began to dry off, laughed, and turned on the water again to try to finish the job before heading upstairs for a warm blanket wrap.

The Zen-inspired meditation garden, occupying one of the property's 5 1/2 acres, is something of an airlock between Osmosis' womb and the outsideworld. Guests may linger as long as they like among the pathways,waterfalls, ornamental stone, koi pond and sculpted plants. Osmosis holds the franchise on Japanese gardens in western Sonoma County, but there seems to be a garden or nursery at every crossroads. And agarden, which inherently tames the blood pressure and lowers the heartrate, makes a perfect après Osmosis afternoon.

A longtime fan of theLuther Burbank home in Santa Rosa, I gravitated to Gold Ridge Farm inSebastopol, where the horticulturalist who gave us the Shasta daisy andthe Santa Rosa plum conducted his breeding experiments. The rose-festooned cottage where he often slept now faces a sprawlingapartment complex, but behind it lie trails through 3 acres of flowers,trees and orchards. Burbank's familiar hybrids are here, but so are some failures, such as a cold-hardy orange with all the flavor and texture of a golf ball; "mother" trees, such as an oft-grafted English walnut bearing a different variety on each branch; and such oddities as a white blackberry.

On a cool Sunday afternoon, we encountered more wild turkeys than we did other visitors. Wandering in peace for more than two hours, I imaginedBurbank strolling here, surveying his accomplishments. With this as hislife's work, he had to have been a serene man. Returning in the evening to the Teahouse Inn prolonged the Osmosis glow.

We could have booked a massage with owner Judy Pierce, a licensed masseuse who originally built the teahouse for massage treatments. But this night we were plenty loose and relaxed. All that remained was to top the weekend off with a soak in our oversized tub, which had the added advantage ofbanishing the last of Ken's tenacious cedar shavings.

If you go

Freestone is about 60 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge. Follow Highway 101 north to Highway 116 and Highway 12 (Bodega Highway) west. Monte Rio is about 10 miles north on the Bohemian Highway.

Teahouse Inn, 22746 Sylvan Way, Monte Rio. (707) 865-2763, $150 a night (two-night minimum), including tax and breakfast.

Gaige House Inn, 13540 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen. (800) 935-0237,

Luxury Sonoma Valley hotel, 28 scenic miles from Osmosis, has added eight private Japanese ryokan-style spa suites (soaking tubs,private gardens). Suites from $395, other rooms from $275, includingbreakfast.


Cape Fear Cafe, 25191 Main St., Duncans Mills. (707) 865-9246. Entrees $16-$24.50.

Thai Pot, 6961 Sebastopol Ave., Sebastopol. (707) 829-8889. Unassuming downtown spot with extensive menu. Entrees $8-$12; lunch specials $7-$8.

Sushi Hana, 6930 Burnett St., Sebastopol. (707) 823-3778. Local favoriteserves a full dinner for about $15.


Osmosis, 209 Bohemian Highway, Freestone. (707) 823-8231,
Basic bath (1 1/2 hours including tea, cedar enzyme bath, blanket wrap)$80 weekdays, $85 weekends; $10 off for two or more. Seasonallavender-infused bath through July, $90. Other treatments include massage and facials.

Gold Ridge Farm, 7781 Bodega Ave., Sebastopol. (707) 829-6711, Self-guided tours daily, docent tours by appointment. Cottage open 9 a.m.-12 noon Wednesdays.


Russian River Visitor Center, (877) 644-9001,
Sonoma County Visitors Bureau, (800) 576-6662,
Sonoma County Farm Trails, (800) 207-9464,
"Flowers, Herbs and Nurseries" section of map and guide includes a variety ofgardens, some open by appointment. E-mail Christine Delsol at
------------------------------------------------------------------Copyright 2005 SF Chronicle

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Dead Horse and Talents

During the Warring States Period (475-221 B.C.), the State of Yan was defeated by the State of Qi. When King Zhao was crowned as the king of Yan, he was determined to make his state strong to remove the humiliation. Yet he complained that he did not have real talents to assist him.

One day, he said to Guo Wei, a minister, "Can you tell me how I can get great talents?" Guo Wei replied by telling a story.

"Once there was a king who offered hundreds of ounces of gold for a winged steed, a horse which can run 500 kilometers a day. He sent one of his men to search through the country but the man only brought back a pile of bones of a dead steed for half of the gold. The king got outraged.

But the man said, 'When people learn that you have paid so much for a dead horse, they will certainly offer to sell you a steed if anyone has got one.' As was expected, the king got three steeds in less than a year. If you are sincerely seeking top talents, why don't you treat me as a dead horse of that sort now?"

King Zhao did build Guo Wei a very expensive villa and regarded him as a teacher. Also he built a platform on which he placed a lot of presents for guests from different parts. Soon his sincerity was spread to every corner of the land. In a couple of years, great talents such as Ju Xin, Su Dai, Zou Yan, Le Yi all came from different states to gather around King Zhao. Very soon, with the assistance of them, Yan became a powerful state and defeated Qi. King Zhao accomplished his dream of revenge.

Summer Nights

Down a dark road
On a warm summer night.
One hand on the wheel, the top down

Friday, July 08, 2005

The Fighter

The Fighting Cock

Chi Hsing Tzu was a trainer of fighting cocks
For King Hsuan.
He was training a fine bird.
The King kept asking if the bird was
Ready for combat.
"Not yet," said the trainer.
"He is full of fire.
He is ready to pick a fight
With every other bird. He is vain and confident
Of his own strength."
After ten days, he answered again:
"Not yet. He flares up
When he hears another bird crow."
After ten more days:
"Not yet. He still gets
That angry look
And ruffles his feathers."
Again ten days:
The trainer said, "Now he is nearly ready.
When another bird crows, his eye
Does not even flicker.
He stands immobile
Like a cock of wood.
He is a mature fighter.
Other birds
Will take one look at him
And run."
Zhuang Zi

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Zhuang Zi Dreaming ...

Chuang Tzu And The Butterfly

Chuang Tzu in dream became a butterfly,And the butterfly became Chuang Tzu at waking.

Which was the real—the butterfly or the man? Who can tell the end of the endless changes of things?

The water that flows into the depth of the distant sea
Returns anon to the shallows of a transparent stream.
The man, raising melons outside the green gate of the city,
Was once the Prince of the East Hill.

So must rank and riches vanish.
You know it, still you toil and toil,—what for?

Li Po

The painting is entitled, Zhuang Zi Dreaming of a Butterfly, by Lu Zhi. If you click on the title of this post, you will be directed to the website of an art exhibition: Taoism and the Arts of China.

New Article by Brad Warner

Brad Warner, a Zen priest who lives in California, has posted a new article on his website. If you click on the title of this post, you will be directed to his site.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Books and One Thing Leads to Another

I’m currently reading In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore.

Honore is a journalist who, like most of us, found himself running faster and faster just to keep up. He had an epiphany when he saw an ad for “One Minute Bedtime Stories” and was about to place an order, in an effort to make putting his child to bed more efficient.

He stopped and he asked himself what was going on.

In Praise of Slowness is a look at our relationship with time in the 21st century. Why do we feel compelled to go faster and faster, and what can we do about it.

Honore is no Luddite. He values technology as much as anyone else. He also has come to realize that there are limits and there must be a balance. What he learned was that there is a world wide Slow Movement, hoping to accomplish the very things he sets out to do.

The book has a lot of information about the Slow Movement.

In Praise of Slowness is every bit about our relationship to time as Your Money or Your Life is about our relationship to money and making a living.

Another book about time is The Art of Time by Jean-Louis Servan-Schreiber.

JLSS starts out with all the little time management tips and tricks, but quickly gets to the nut of the matter – have you ever notice that you have time for what what you really love? Therein lies the secret: love what you do.

Honore’s style of prose is light and fast moving. He doesn’t get in the way of the story he’s trying to tell. He reminds me very much of Malcom Gladwell, a regular columnist for the New Yorker. Gladwell’s past articles for the New Yorker make for entertaining and fascinating reading. They can be found on his website at:

Gladwell is the author of two books: The Tipping Point…

… and more recently, Blink

The Story of Dragons

This piece originally appeared at the JadeDragon website, an eMagazine. If you click on the title of this post, you will be directed to Unfortunately, I've lost the direct link to the orginal text.

The Story of Dragons

According to tradition, Dragon, Linlion, Turtle, and Phoenix are the four self-made animals, and thus they are respected as the Sacred Four. A linlion (unicorn) is a lion-like mammal that has two small horns on the head. A turtle is a reptile with the trunk enclosed in a bony shell. A phoenix is a pheasant-like bird that has three long tails. And a dragon has all the features of the other three: two horns, bony scales, and a long tail.

Dragons have their origin in fishes. Any fish can become a dragon, if it is brave and skillful enough. At anytime in their life, as the story goes, the fishes can prepare themselves for the ultimate test. And that test is a long journey that begins in rivers. The fishes have to swim upstream until they reach the Beginning of Water, or the birth of life.

They always encounter numerous dangers such as predators and obstacles like swift currents and waterfalls. When they meet predators, they evade; swift currents, swim harder; and waterfalls, jump. Many fishes, of course, fail the test. But a fish that is able to reach the highest stream in the highest peak will be able to transform itself into a dragon.

A dragon is a magnificent creature. It has high dreams and hopes, and it lives a wonderful life full of great activities. In Cao Cao's words: "A dragon can assume any size, can rise in glory or hide from sight. Bulky, it generates clouds and evolves mist; attenuated, it can scarcely hide a mustard stalk or conceal a shadow. Mounting, it can soar to the empyrean; subsiding, it lurks in the uttermost depths of the ocean."

Though possessing wonderful abilities, dragons by all means are not divine creatures. They have ambitious wishes, and they have to strive in order to achieve what they want. Dragons know what happiness is, so they bring water and wealth to people. Dragons understand justice, thus they cause drought and punishment to corrupt lands. And dragons love victory, hence they fight or court with each other.

Traditional paintings often depict two dragons striving for the pearls, two dragons courting each other, a dragon making rains, fishes transforming into dragons, a dragon in company with a phoenix, or a dragon flying in the clouds or oceans. Dragons are the symbols of glory. Humans love dragons not only because of their magnificent forms and great abilities, but also because of their soaring dreams and insistent undertakings.

- From
- Author Unknown

Tigers are born tigers, and live according to their nature. Dragons become dragons by the dint of their own effort.

- Rick

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Begin with Yourself

If you are going to try and save the world, begin with yourself...

'Millions missing' from tsunami fundsBy
Rob Taylor in Jakarta
July 01, 2005
From: AAP

MILLIIONS of dollars earmarked for reconstruction and relief in tsunami-shattered Aceh has gone missing due to graft, anti-corruption watchdogs and a politician have told Indonesia's Parliament.

The revelations, if proven, will infuriate overseas aid donors.The Aceh Emergency Commission aid group told a special parliamentary hearing that large-scale graft had occurred in the construction of emergency shelter housing for Aceh.

Spokesman Firdaus Illyas accused regional government officials of padding the number of refugees in their districts to claim more money from a scheme set-up to pay tsunami survivors a daily living allowance of 3000 rupiah ($0.45), the Koran Tempo reported.

Advertisement: An MP, A.S. Hikam, said more than 1.2 trillion rupiah ($162.2 million) of funds had disappeared from the $5 billion reconstruction program for Aceh.

Parliament was to summon seven ministers in charge of reconstruction projects to discuss the allegations, the paper reported.

Amid graft concerns, Australia refused to pool Canberra's $1 billion tsunami aid package into Indonesian-managed relief funds.

Instead, the federal Government established a special joint meeting of Indonesian and Australian ministers to oversee aid projects administered by government aid agency AusAID.
International donors have been concerned entrenched corruption in one of the world's most graft-prone nations will drain vital aid funds from Aceh and set back reconstruction in the province where more than 130,000 people lost their lives.

Kuntoro Mangukusubroto, the reformist head of Aceh's newly established reconstruction agency, has hired two international accountancy firms to keep watch over aid funds alongside a crack anti-corruption unit.

Kuntoro, who has a direct line to Indonesia's President, has forced his staff to sign a promise to avoid corruption and threatened instant dismissal for anyone found to be involved in graft.

"No extortion money, no bribery, no gifts," he told Singapore's Straits Times.

Koran Tempo reported the money was missing from Indonesian government funds set aside for Aceh, not from the millions of dollars donated by the international community.

The head of Indonesian Corruption Watch, Teten Masduki, said officials had also overestimated the number of refugees in some parts of Aceh and outlying islands.

The Government had to investigate whether the inflated numbers were a simple error or the result of deliberate graft, he said.

"The mistakes started with the data processing," Masduki said, warning authorities had not yet conducted a proper count of tsunami survivors.

Illyas said officials on Simeleu island off the Aceh coast had claimed more than 71,000 refugee survivors living there.

But the island's pre-tsunami and earthquake population was 69,000, and only 60 per cent of those were now refugees, he said.

Slaking a thirst with a fire hose July 5, 2005

This must be Tuesday, because poverty in Africa ended Monday.

All it took were a few chords, a lot of screaming, several acres of dirty hair and a cloud cover of lethal body odor. When the last guitar strings snapped Saturday night at those Live 8 concerts across the world, promoter Bob Geldof's over-the-hill gang had the prescription: just stuff a few billion dollars down the bottomless holes on the Dark Continent.

"This is the greatest rock show in the history of the world," cried the announcer at the London concert. Gushed a disc jockey on XM Satellite Radio: "This is the single most important concert ever."

No one wanted to stop there. Shouted one of the "musicians" of a group called Coldplay: "This is the greatest thing that's ever been in the entire history of the world." Since "the entire history of the world" includes the extinction of the dinosaurs, the eruption of Krakatoa, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the construction of the pyramids, the Resurrection of Christ and man's landing on the moon, Live 8 had to be impressive mush.

But this week the grown-ups take over, as grown-ups always must, when the G-8 economic summit commences in Scotland under the baton of Tony Blair, who not only wants to eliminate African poverty but to end global warming before Christmas.

The nations of the West must do something to ease the brutal pain of generations of unbridled greed, ignorant incompetence and rabid corruption in Africa. It's our Christian duty. But it will require discipline that is out of fashion in the 21st century, and it certainly isn't what the simple-minded noisemakers of Live 8 had in mind.

The example of Nigeria says it all. Figures released last month by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, as reported in the London Daily Telegraph, reveal that in the 45 years since Britain granted independence in 1960 a succession of despots squandered $387 billion (that's a "b," not an "m"), almost to the dollar the sum of all Western aid to all of Africa between 1960 and 1997. One of the despots, Gen. Sani Abacha, now safely dead, is believed to have looted Nigeria's vast oil reserves of more than $5 billion in just five years.

William Bellamy, the U.S. ambassador to neighboring Kenya, startled the guests at his Fourth of July garden party yesterday with just the kind of bluntness needed to keep African aid in realistic perspective. "Turning on the fire hose of international compassion and asking Kenya and other African nations to drink from it is not a serious strategy for promoting growth or ending poverty."

President Mwai Kibaki, the Kenyan president, was off at the African Union summit in Libya, helping other despots draw up their gimme list. In his absence, a deputy fired back at Ambassador Bellamy, complaining that Kenya had been singled out for criticism just because it doesn't take terrorism seriously. Aid for Africa, he told the ambassador, "should not get entangled with the politics of your dissatisfaction with a regime, unless you have decided on a regime change."

Nobody has, unfortunately, and that's exactly why aid for Africa is as close to hopeless as anything can be. Regime change all across the continent is sorely needed, even more than another concert by unemployed service-station attendants whanging away on electric guitars and other noisemakers.

Tony Blair's No. 2 man, George Brown, talks giddily of a Marshall Plan for Africa, but Nigerian despots alone have already pocketed the equivalent of six Marshall Plans. George C. Marshall's miracle scheme for rebuilding Europe worked because mature European leadership was determined to rescue the continent from the ravages of World War II. There's scant evidence that Africa's "leaders" want anything more than to drink from the fire hose

Live 8 concerts are nice, and the photographs of starving children will break the coldest heart, but unless Europe and the West accompany aid with the kind of supervision nobody has the courage to impose, the aid will wind up in the usual Swiss banks, and 20 years from now another generation of children will die while naive hearts bleed.

Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Times.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Three in the Morning

A keeper of monkeys said that each monkey was to have three chestnuts in the morning and four at night. But the monkeys were very angry at this; so the keeper said they might have four in the morning and three at night, with which arrangement they were all well pleased. The actual number of the chestnuts remained the same, but there was an adjustment to meet to the likes and dislikes of those concerned. Such is the principle of putting oneself into subjective relation with externals.

Therefore a wise man, while regarding contraries as identical, adapts himself to the laws of nature. This is called following two courses at once.

- Zhuang Zi

Zen Gardens

A Serene Garden Sanctuary
April 6, 2003By LINDA YANG

WITH my 95-year-old mother in tow, plus the guy she callsher "younger boyfriend" (he's 93), I wasn't sure we wouldall manage the seven-eighths-of-a-mile stroll through theJapanese garden at the Morikami Museum in Delray Beach,Fla. But knowing I can jog a 12-minute mile, I planted themon the dining terrace overlooking the lake, pointed them inthe direction of an exquisitely pruned gumbo limbo tree,and said "I'll be back in under 15 minutes!"

Thus began my introduction to the first of two new Floridalandscapes on my "must see" list: a tropical Japanesegarden and an orchid garden.

The 200-acre property that is now Morikami Park was aremarkable gift to Palm Beach County from George SukejiMorikami, who emigrated to the United States from Japan in1906 and died a wealthy landowner. He was the lastremaining and most successful member of the Yamato Colony,Japanese farmers who came to Florida for an agriculturalventure that ultimately failed. Shortly before his death in1976, he was quoted as saying he was giving his landbecause "America has been so good to me."

Fast-forward 27 years. The Morikami legacy has expandedfrom a small traditional pavilion that now houses exhibitschronicling the history of the colony to a spacious,elegant museum devoted to Japanese culture. And now thereis a new garden, opened in January 2001, where I foundblack olive trees pruned as if they were Japanese maples(which don't grow in the tropics), heard a shishi odoshi("deer chaser"), whose sound is made by a two-foot bamboostalk falling on a flat rock, and discovered aContemplation Pavilion, where a sign urges visitors to"listen with your eyes and see with your ears."

This 16-acre lakeside landscape is essentially a series ofcontrasting garden experiences inspired by various periodsin Japanese garden history, loosely linked by a meanderingpath. I began by traversing two small islands somewhattypical of the Heian period (9th through 12th centuries)connected by a zigzag bridge, stopping at the first benchto contemplate clattering bamboo stems and rustling whitepine needles.

This marriage of classic Japanese elements and tropicalFlorida plants is the work of Hoichi Kurisu, also aJapanese immigrant, and president of Kurisu International,a local landscape design firm. In partnership withRoy-Fisher Associates, Mr. Kurisu captured the essence of aJapanese garden - with its ever-changing reflections ofwater and sky, traditionally constructed bridges and gates,sound of water splashing on rocks - and tropical speciesthat appear absolutely at home in a Japanese gardensetting.

"A Japanese feeling is really achieved through thedetails," Mr. Kurisu explained. It comes from choosingappropriate species, pruning them artfully and developing"a harmonious relation between such elements as rocks andwater."

And so the garden includes Florida favorites like slashpine, podocarpus and strawberry guava trees sculptured toreveal the magical shape of their trunks and limbs. Thereis also a wall of fig trees, to help maintain the mood byblocking neighboring eyesores of the newly built homes inthis area just 15 minutes from Delray.

"Traditional Japanese gardens are mostly green," Mr. Kurisusaid, but "to add some awakening color there might be abright red cushion." Indeed, at surprise intervals, I wasawakened by powder-puff shrubs, known for the shock valueof their reddish blooms.

Rocks and moss, essentials in a traditional Japanesegarden, posed a special challenge, Mr. Kurisu said. "Ilooked at rocks in the Carolinas and Oregon, but they werethe wrong color - too gray for Florida." His solution waspink-hued granite carted in from Texas. "But moss, soeasily grown in Japan, is hard to nurture in tropical heatand sun," he added. "So I was delighted to find a bravelittle patch developing in a damp corner."

When pressed, Larry Rosensweig, the museum's director andresident visionary since 1976, admitted that his favoritespot was on the far side of the lake. I knew I'd found hisverdant retreat, with its orange jasmine and jacaranda,from his description of an "almost invisible long-leggedkotoji lantern and a special U-shaped stone that looks asif it's been there 10,000 years."

I agreed when he added: "This is a remarkable refuge - atrue oasis in the middle of crushing local development. Thenew Japanese gardens in particular - but really, the wholemuseum park - satisfies the soul in a most unique way."

Taking our leave of the Japanese gardens, my mother, theyounger boyfriend and I found the sign that marks the roadinto the American Orchid Society's International OrchidCenter, which I knew would be a very different experience.

A former goat farm, once also owned by Mr. Morikami, thisneighboring five-acre tract was recently bought by thesociety for its new headquarters, the first in its 82-yearhistory to be open to the general public. One of thelargest organizations devoted to a single plant group, theAmerican Orchid Society, which was founded in Boston, hasoften appeared too esoteric for ordinary mortals.

"But now," said Lee S. Cooke, the society's director ofnearly two decades, "we finally have a place where we canwarmly welcome everyone and introduce them to thisfascinating hobby."

Leaving my companions in the gift shop in the newMediterranean-style structure that also houses thesociety's offices, I headed out to the stone patio. Passingmassed plantings of annuals and perennials in brillianthues, I arrived at a large greenhouse.

Inside, I was stopped dead in my tracks by a 15-foot-high,multitiered waterfall draped in a floral fantasy of orchidsin every shape, size and color, from staid cattleyas ofcorsage fame to delightful oncidiums aptly known as"dancing ladies."

"Wedding parties love it here; it's a true Kodak moment" -Mr. Cooke's words echoed in my ear, and I marveled at thiswondrous if occasionally garish family of floweringspecies, the largest and most varied of any in the plantkingdom.

Returning outdoors past a formal garden, I ambled onto theundulating path that traverses the three-and-a-half-acrelandscape. Plantings along the path are organizedthematically by the various growing conditions that orchidsenjoy: jungle, native and water gardens.

Although donations of plants continue to arrive from allover the world, some 3,000 orchids are already tucked amongthe trees, shrubs and perennials that share theirpreference for the varied sites.

"In most gardens the flowers are all in the ground,"explained James B. Watson, the society's director ofpublications. "But many orchids are epiphytes, which meansthey perch on other plants." To replicate these growingconditions, the tree-perching orchids have been attached totheir favorite species by various means, including wire andliquid nails.

Among the many dozens of shrubs and trees transplanted hereto support the epiphytic orchids, I found a neem tree,southern magnolia and live oaks, sabal palms and screwpines. Along with their supporting role, these woody plantsprovide the garden with its strong structural outline.

And,thanks to the attaching methods, the trees and shrubs arealready festooned not only with clusters of bloomingorchids but also with some of the other epiphytes theyenjoy hanging out among. One staghorn fern had to be sixfeet across, and bromeliads flourished in countless shadesof orange and red.

Since education is a prime focus of this botanical garden,most of the plants are labeled: blue for exotics, green fornatives and frowny faces for endangered species. All aroundme, visitors were busily scribbling notes on variousspecies.

I stopped for a drink at the water cooler in the chickeehut, a local Seminole thatched-roof structure at the edgeof the Florida native garden, and realized my energy wasstarting to wane.

Returning to the gift shop, I saw that mymother and her friend were also ready to leave. After all,an early-bird dinner beckoned.

Visitor Information

The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens and theInternational Orchid Center are neighbors in Delray Beach,Fla., an hour north of Miami, and half an hour south ofPalm Beach. On I-95 from the north, take the exit at LintonBoulevard (No. 51); from the south, take the exit at YamatoRoad (No. 48B). There is construction along I-95 in thisarea, so you may have to follow signs for detours. Thegardens share a single entry street, on the west side ofJog Road between Linton and Clint Moore Road, which iseasily missed if you're going too fast (though for reasonsI can't fathom their addresses differ). Both are wheelchairaccessible.

The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens (Morikami Park),owned and operated by the Palm Beach County Department ofParks and Recreation, is at 4000 Morikami Park Road; (561)495-0233, Open Tuesday through Sunday, 10a.m. to 5 p.m.; closed holidays; $9; ages 6 to 18, $6;under 6, free. The Cornell Cafe serves pan-Asian fare 11a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.

The International Orchid Center, headquarters of theAmerican Orchid Society, is at 16700 AOS Lane; (561)404-2000, Open Tuesday through Sunday,10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission for the gardens: $7.

LINDA YANG is the author of four books on gardening,including "The City Gardener's Handbook" (Storey).

Sunday, July 03, 2005

On Technology

At seaBy Jack Ganssle, Embedded.comJun 29 2005 (15:31 PM)URL:

Dateline: 28 07N, 68 23W, 350 nautical miles south ofBermuda, 1000 miles east of Florida

In the 70s I bought a 40-year-old wooden sailboat fora pittance. Though at first little more that afloating assembly of wooden boards moored in nearproximity to each other, a couple of years ofpart-time work restored her to near-pristinecondition.

I replaced the 2,080 screws that held her hulltogether, the deck, the keel bolts, and far more.Eventually, flush with all of $1,500 and the optimismof youth, Arwen and I headed south from Maryland tosail around the world.

Though Arwen's purchase and refitting had all beenfinanced by my job as an embedded systems engineer,the boat had nary a single microprocessor on board. Inthose days stereos, such as they were, used analogtuners. The depth sounder was a piece of lead on amarked line, heaved frantically overboard only whenthe water looked thin.

Even the EPIRB--an emergency radio transmitter thatemitted a warble on aircraft
distressfrequencies--used but a bit of analog circuitry. Notenough, it turned out, to be effective when acontainer north of Cuba left me drifting in aliferaft. Low tech flares saved the day.

How things have changed. My current boat, built in thesame (1977) year Arwen and I left for points unknown,fairly bristles with antenna and electronic systems.As I write this in mid-ocean, a thousand miles east ofFlorida, bound for the island of Grand Turk, an 8051in Voyager's autopilot steers.

Only my wife and I are aboard so it's nearlyimpossible to keep a watch all the time, so the radarsweeps silently all night long, emitting a beepwhenever a target intrudes within a 10-mile guardzone. The beep is too quiet to alert these sleepingears, so I've tied the radar into a network. APIC-based box extracts the beep message and sounds aklaxon. The GPS passes position data back to the radarscreen; when a ship appears it takes but a moment toplace the cursor over the dot and get the vessel'sexact position.

The ham radio's DSP enhances weak signals. Our marineVHF radio scans multiple channels constantly. Adigital battery monitor displays the state of chargeof the twin 6-volt golf cart cells, and asimilarly-smart voltage regulator generates fourdifferent kinds of charging regimes to keep thebatteries topped off. The utterly-essential Dell MP3player (fondly christened a "DellPod") feeds 2,500sounds from its hard disk to a smart stereo.
Most astonishing of all is the GPS. It's a small unit, bulkhead-mounted,that constantly shows our position with an accuracy of meters. Oncenavigation was an arcane art, kept secret by ships' officers so crewscouldn't take the risk of mutiny. Now I turn the unit on at the start of thevoyage and do nothing more than watch our position update each second. WhatCaptain Cook would have given for such powerful magic!

Oddly, though, the charts are still crude, many ofthese remote islands based on surveys from the 19thcentury. It's ironic that the cheap little GPS is farmore accurate than the charts produced at greatgovernment expense.

On Arwen I navigated with a sextant, a slice ofantiquity that accurately measures angles. Given theangle between the sun or a star and the horizon, plusthe time, a bit of math produces a line of position.But there's quite a bit of skill required, and eventhe best navigators are happy with a mile or two oferror. Clouds thwart any sextant sight; over thecenturies hundreds of ships and thousands of liveshave been lost due to simple math errors and dank,dismal skies.

Today that same sextant lives over Voyager's charttable. I shot the sun and Jupiter yesterday, andreassured Marybeth that the GPS is still workingcorrectly. One wag suggested putting it behind a glasscase with a sign "break glass in case GPS fails." Butthe fact is one can now buy a dozen GPS devices forthe cost of one good sextant. The technology has trulyrendered celestial navigation obsolete.

Poor winds have had us motoring far too much.Voyager's three decade-old diesel is mercifullyprocessor-free, but I've been thinking about buildinga simple two wire network of
epoxy-coated CPUs andsensors to monitor its health.

In the 1,500 miles since we left Baltimore theautopilot chewed up a belt. One cabinet latch failed.Fish ate two lures. The engine is leaking just a bitof oil and might need an injector replacement. Theanchor light burned out, and one sail needs a bit ofattention. But every bit of electronics worksflawlessly.

I often rant about the state of the embedded art. Toomany systems are unreliable and bug-ridden. Yet evenon the anachronism of a sailboat, our lives areimproved and coddled by processor wizardry.

One report suggested that the average home has over200 micros today. Embedded systems are the glue thatholds the 21st century together. Frustratingly, fewnon-techies know what the word "embedded" even means,despite their utter reliance on an implanted pacemakeror smart coffee-maker.

It seems there's always an anti-technology backlash.People move back to the land. They reject the power ofscience; some yearn for Walden Pond. Me, I embrace thesort of life our smart electronics has created. Howabout you?

Jack G. Ganssle is a lecturer and consultant onembedded development issues. He conducts seminars onembedded systems and helps companies with theirembedded challenges. Contact him at website is

Reader Response

I take issue with but one statement in this column:
"Oddly, though, the charts are still crude, many ofthese remote islands based on surveys from the 19thcentury. It's ironic that the cheap little GPS is farmore accurate than the charts produced at greatgovernment expense."

While your GPS receiver might be cheap, I would bevery surprised if the sum cost of producing allmaritime charts in the 19th century approaches thecost of deploying (and maintaining) the GPS satellitenetwork for the last 30 years (it is difficult todetermine the cost of initially deploying theconstellation since it was a military project, butmaintenance has run around $400M USD per year since1978 for a total maintenance expenditure to date ofaround $10B USD).

So while the GPS is indeed more accurate than the 19thcentury charts, it was provided (as common sense woulddictate) at *greater* government expense than theolder charts.

There's no such thing as a free lunch Jack; rememberthis the next time you pay your federal income taxes(which is what actually provided the accurate positiondata you speak so fondly of - not the $49.95 you paidfor the receiver :-).

- Rennie AllenS/W Engineer

Jack,I agree -- the embedded technology has made manythings a whole lot easier. The big problem we all faceis what we do when (if?) the technology fails. I wasjust reading recently about a problem with a lot ofnew (and some old) airplane pilots, who, because ofthe accuracy and simplicity of GPS, have not developedtheir "dead reckoning" skills sufficiently. When theGPS occasionally fails, they're in trouble. Thesolution, of course, is redundancy. The electronicsare so cheap, you can have two or three of somethingas backups. It would be hard to go back to slide rulesand sextants!

- Dave Telling

I just wanted to tell you that I appreciate yousharing your gift for writing. You paint a wonderfulmental picture and it is a pleasure to read yourarticles. I am an up-and-coming embedded systemsprogrammer and your articles are inspiring. May theseas be calm and the wind be at your back :)

- Steve Broderick

I think that you have exactly the right attitude.Embedded micros do an incredible amount of such asmall cost. The 'on the mark' part is that you areaware of what they do, what their shortcomings are,and what your options are if they fail.

- Steve Nordhaus

Your conclusion regarding the proliferation ofembedded systems in our world leads my thoughts backto an earlier article of yours regarding certificationof software developers. Your GPS could easily providea location that was in error by a few hundred metres(perhaps causing you to run aground), due to asoftware error, and you would be none the wiser. Evena redundant GPS from the same manufacturer wouldlikely carry the same flaw, so calibrating one againstthe other would be useless.

The general masses who blindly trust technology (fortheir pacemakers, ABS brakes, toaster ovens, etc.) areat the mercy of an uncertified "profession" who faceno professional repercussion for a product createdwith questionable ethical input, where cost andschedule become more important than public safety.

- Diane Farish

Copyright 2005 (c) CMP Media LLC ###

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Shooting for the prize

'He who is contending for a piece of earthenware puts forth all his skill. If the prize be a buckle of brass, he shoots timorously; if it be for an article of gold, he shoots as if he were blind.

The skill of the archer is the same in all the cases; but (in the two latter cases) he is under the influence of solicitude, and looks on the external prize as most important.
All who attach importance to what is external show stupidity in themselves.'
Zhuang Zi