Tuesday, September 25, 2007

200907b

Part I
'The marvel of consciousness, that sudden window swinging open on a sunlit landscape amidst the night of non-being!'
(Vladimir Nabokov)

Chapter One
'I had a lover's quarrel with the world!'
(Robert Frost)

I was born December 11, 1940, at 6:21 P.M. on a Wednesday evening at the St. Louis (Missouri) Maternity Hospital. Some 59 years later (1999) I visited the scene of my 'coming out party,' the building still standing but now absorbed into the giant medical complex, Barnes-St. Louis University Center. I arrived on my bicycle having just tried to locate the house where I was taken (but to no avail).

It was an emotional experience being in Maternity Ward, possibly feet away from where I'd been born some fifty-nine years earlier. Once outside the hospital I burst into tears! I think I cried because I was reminded of my mother and how she had suffered so much.

I was cycling west from New York City, all the way to the Colorado Rocky Mountains. I was retracing, via bicycle, my Hutchison family's migration as they moved west from Martin's Creek, Pennsylvania (1742), to Punxsutawney ('Groundhog City'), to Illinois, Springfield, Missouri, and finally to where my father had been born in Cripple Creek, Colorado in 1902.

"Regarding our Hutchison line, James, a sail maker for the British Navy, and Agnes, came here (to America) around 1742 from Northern Ireland when they bought the farm in northern Pennsylvania) on the Delaware River. His son John served as a private in the Revolutionary War." Says my sister, Sally.

My grandmother, 'Hutchie,' was a Leftwich, the Leftwich family arriving in 1650 and settling in Jamestown, Virginia.

My retracing of their migration west (from 1742 to 1902) was arduous, not because of the cycling, but because it was December, and I had little money (having just returned from living two years in Nepal). I would have camped out even in the cold, but didn't have the gear (tent and sleeping bag). I had to stay in motel rooms or rely the kindness of friends and relatives.

In Easton, right over the Delaware River I stayed in a 'Homeless Shelter,' for $3U.S. per (two nights). In the evening a local Christian church would arrive bringing our dinner (Christmas season). I slept in a bunk-bed room with three other men. The 'manager' let me park my bicycle in the dining room, everyone fascinated that for such a poor guy, I had such an expensive bicycle. I don't remember how I had talked my way into this, except for trading out a bed for a slide show/lecture about Tibet.

That was my brilliant idea for the 2,000-mile trip… That along the way I would give lectures about Tibet, in hopes that wherever they would let me 'crash' on a vacate bed afterwards. Of course, rules (insurance) and paranoia (no one in America allows a stranger to sleep overnight) prevented me from actually making this idea work. But, I did give several 'slide shows' along the way. At night I stayed in shelters or a motel when I could find a 'cheapie!' For longer periods of time I was lucky to have friends and an accommodating Hutchison family in the right cities at the right times.

I'm now (2007) living in XiNing, Qinghai Province, which if you looked on a map of China, would be north central China. You've probably never heard of it knowing only Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong (on the east coast). Actually, many Chinese have never heard of it, as China to them, is the eastern part (which I dislike).

I just glad I'm not there!

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

200907

Part I
'I'm a traveling man!'

Chapter One

I was born December 11, 1940, at 6:21 P.M. on a Wednesday evening at the St. Louis (Missouri) Maternity Hospital. Some 59 years later I visited the scene of my 'coming out party,' the building still standing but now absorbed into the giant medical complex, Barnes-St. Louis University Center. Arriving on my bicycle I had difficulty finding the Maternity building.

It was an emotional experience being on the same floor (Maternity Ward), possibly feet away from where I'd been born some fifty-nine years earlier. Once outside I burst into tears! I think I cried as I was reminded of my parents' marriage and how they had suffered so much.

I was cycling west from New York City, all the way to the Colorado Rocky Mountains. I was retracing, via bicycle, the migration of my Hutchison family as they moved west from Pennsylvania (1742), to Illinois, Missouri, and finally to where my father had been born in Cripple Creek, Colorado in 1902.

"Regarding our Hutchison line, James, a sail maker for the British Navy, and Agnes, came here (to America) around 1742 from Northern Ireland when they bought the farm in northern N.J. (Pennsylvania) on the Delaware River. His son John served as a private in the Revolutionary War." Says my sister, Sally.

My grandmother, 'Hutchie,' was a Leftwich, and they go back all the way to 1650 and Jamestown, Virginia.

My trip became arduous, not because of the cycling, but because it was December, and I had little money (having just returned from living two years in Nepal). I would have camped out, but didn't have the gear (tent and sleeping bag). I had to stay in motel rooms (culture shocked by the rates after Nepal) or rely the kindness of friends and relatives.

In Easton, right over the Delaware River I stayed in a 'Homeless Shelter,' for $3U.S. per (two nights). In the evening a local Christian church would arrive bringing our dinner (Christmas season). I slept in a bunk-bed room with three other men. The 'manager' let me park my bicycle in the dining room, everyone fascinated that for such a poor guy, I had such an expensive bicycle. I don't remember how I had talked my way into this, except for trading out a slide show/lecture about Tibet.

That was the idea, trade out a bed for a 'show'… That along the way I would give lectures about Tibet, complete with many images my friend David had taken cycling across 'Roof of the World' the previous summer. This, in hopes that wherever they would let me 'crash' on a vacate bed afterwards. Of course, rules (insurance) and paranoia (no one in America allows a stranger to sleep overnight) prevented me from actually making this idea work, although I did give several slide shows along the way. At night I stayed in shelters or a motel when I could find a 'cheapie!' For longer periods of time it friends (Illinois) and an accommodating family (Missouri) that saved the day.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

190907

Foreward

I've been 'writing' this book or memoir ('Just Passing Through') all my life, although I didn't realize it! Strange how life can be… I have always pursued making movies (as career), yet life, for some reason or another, never has allowed it. And then one day it dawned on me, 'You're the movie!' it said, this little voice in my head which made me realize, 'I'm the story!' If this sounds hubristic you'll have to forgive me as I know no other way to describe how this has come to pass. I suppose my life isn't much different from many others, but for one thing, its mine! And now mine to tell…

"I asked the boy beneath the pines,
He said, 'The Master's gone alone
Herb-picking somewhere on the mount.
Cloud hidden, whereabouts unknown!"

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Monday, September 17, 2007

170907

'Just Passing Through!' (new title to my autobiography)

Introduction

What is life anyway, but a brief bit of energy in form? And for what reason? Is there a reason or are we like the common house fly flitting about, 'strutting and fretting our hour upon the stage?'

Most people never live beyond the 'small box' they've confined themselves in (yet may be 'happy')--the world too frightening to confront.

I've spent my life seeking 'enlightenment' (whatever that is?) trying to answer the great questions: 'What is life all about? Why are we (humanity) here? Who/what is God? Now, having lived nearly 68-years, I know what Dr. C.G. Jung came to know, and for you to discover for yourselves!'

This is the task of one's life as described by Sogyal Rinpoche (and no, I'm not a Tibetan Buddhist): 'The purpose of life is to achieve union with your fundamental enlightened nature, and to realize and embody your true being!'

The challenge… Overcoming the 'Ego I!' (Note: 'We have met the enemy and he is us!' Walt Kelly)

Christ, for Christians, sacrificed himself to 'redeem' them (mankind) from 'original sin' (ego consciousness). But, I'm afraid they got the story wrong… You have to do the 'redeeming' (living, learning, growing, changing, evolving, and enlightening) yourself. That's the 'bad news,' that 'he' didn't 'do it' for you! The good news ('gospel') is that it's possible for you to accomplish in your own lifetime! That was his 'message,' so mis-interpreted in history (taken literally) by Christians!

You 'redeem' yourself by becoming aware, aware (consciousness) that you are fallible, forgiving yourself first, and then forgiving everyone else! 'Endless acts of compassion,' the 'Talmud' prescribes (No, I'm not Jewish either).

Ultimately, the 'great mystery' is never 'solved' except for each of us individually (no Universal truths!)--this, if you pursue diligently. 'Two roads diverged in a wood one day! I took the road less traveled! It made all the difference!' (Robert Frost). Most, take the easy road, I took the one 'less traveled!' And to paraphrase Mr. Frost, it has made all the difference!

Albert Einstein, bless him for this, said, 'Imagination is more important than knowledge!' So true!

I, personally, know why I am here, why I had a life, and my relationship with what I call 'the Other.' For to name would destroy it! 'The Tao named, is not the eternal Tao!' (Note: Yes, you can call me a Taoist!)

But, this took a long time! Herein lies the story…

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

100907

Yesterday, Sunday, Ujwal and I cranked up to Datong, a town some 35KM north of XiNing. I've been there many times now having lived in XiNing seven months. Wow, time does fly like an albatross around our necks! In fact, Xu Tanda and spent one night there last November on our way to XiNing and Shanghai--seems like only yesterday! We ended up in the Datong Hotel, now a common place to rendezvous.

Yesterday, Rucha came too, but in a car ('mit' our driver). Not knowing Datong very well, the only place we knew to meet was the Datong Hotel. So, understanding it would take us roughly two+ hours we headed out long before her.

It was overcast and rainy, but not cold. It's still summer, although you can feel Fall in the air! I love it, the change sensed in the light as well as the temperature. Yesterday on the way reminded me of cycling in The Netherlands where the sun rarely shines (wet and green)--the 'flat' (diffused) lighting saturated colors to the max (see images at www.cyclingpeace.org/gallery/)! The Cosmos flowers (originally from California) are all along the roadways, their shades of violet hues seeming to vibrate.

I had to stop for a toilet break at a service station. Here I taught Ujwal the Chinese characters for male (男) and female (女). Important, as I once made a mistake of surprising of some Chinese women! Whereas there's more 'unisex' in the West the East still highly segregated.

Note, in order to get the correct characters (for 'male' and 'female') you need the 'Pinyin' equivalent, typing 'male' and 'female' doesn't work (you have to know the Pinyin, 'nan' and 'nv'). This is what makes Chinese so daunting for English writers, as there's an intermediary language.

'Pinyin,' the intermediary 'language' between English and Chinese (characters), was created by the French. Once I understood it was the French, I understood why it's so difficult for an English person to figure out--as if the French were trying to get even with us! Somehow most 'Pinyin' names (for Chinese people) begin with 'l,' 'x, y or z.'

Interesting about the Chinese language, names… There are four basic family names (Li, Zhang, Zhou, and Wong). 90% of the Han Chinese population has these names. In fact, 300,000 people in China have the same Chinese name (Zhang Wei)--they should start a club! I joke… 'So many people, so few syllables and names. Note, the Chinese language has but 400 syllables, and thus four 'tones,' invented to stretch them to 1,600. In contrast English has 6-7,000 syllables.

But, I wasn't thinking too much about the Chinese language, as I glided through the rain drops. I was noting the fact it's harvest time here in Qinghai, seeing sacks of carrots piled high. Also, we saw many tractors pulling over-loaded trailers of hay. The 'bee people,' have packed up and gone.

Ujwal, on his first longer cycling trip, seemed to be having trouble keeping up. But, after having cranked to the top of 'Antenna Mountain,' a few days earlier, I was feeling strong and maybe I was going too fast. I asked him at one point, but he said no. I think it must be a bit strange adjusting to cycling in China versus Nepal, where the traffic flows just the opposite (as in the U.K.).

He also has to contend with our 'extra' bicycle, the one I bought for Elia. This is a 24-inch (short size) Giant I paid 2,400RMB / $275U.S. for in Kashigar. Elia, a Chinese girl I met in Kashigar one year ago. One moment, she wanted a bicycle, the next moment retreating home (Fujian Province), never to ride again. Ah, young people not knowing what the want from one moment to the next. I was the exception when I was her age!

Xu Tanda ended up riding Elia's bicycle all the way from Urumqi to Kanas, back to Urumqi, and then all the way to Shanghai, some 7,000KM. So, it did get some good use, the bike now having at least 12,000 kilometers on it! Comparatively, 'Ms. Fiets,' has gone at least 50,000KM.

On the way to Datong the rain came down in a steady drizzle, me wearing shorts. I stopped at one point and put on my 'gaiters,' to keep the moisture out of my shoes. I regretted not bringing long pants and my warmer gloves. Seems like no matter how much experience I have with tour cycling, I always forget something.

A call from Rucha to Ujwal informed us (ah, 'mobiles' sometimes 'handy') she was up waiting for us at the Datong Hotel. She must have passed us on the way (as only one highway), but she didn't say.

I found the Hotel without missing a turn, as we have stayed there twice now. Most recently the courtesy of a Chinese school and our friend, Li Yan ('Swallow).' She is a Chinese teacher, we met through the people at 'our' laundry in XiNing. About two months ago she invited us to attend her school function (some kind of dedication). Thus, we cranked up to Datong the day before and spent the night in the hotel (again).

By the time we got to the hotel Rucha was waiting, sitting in the park (in front of the Hotel).

We tried to find the restaurant 'Swallow' (Li Yan) had taken us to, when we were there last, but after walking for twenty minutes no luck. I had seen a restaurant possibility right next to the hotel when meeting Rucha, so we retreated to it. It was full of groups celebrating (something). Note, Chinese people don't need much to celebrate, just having more now enough!

We sat at a table and tried to order something to eat. Of course, Rucha is not eating these days because of diarrhea (when she travels). But, I think good as she's losing weight! Isn't it interesting how the mind-body works, fulfilling what's needed even if we're not aware, or subscribing to some other cause.

In order to get the food I wanted, I had written the Chinese characters for my favorite 'standby,' a corn dish with pine nuts (送仁余米). Ujwal ordered eggplant, knowing how to say, 'Chisza,' (sounding like, but in Pinyin spelled, 'qiezi'). Chinese cooks know how to cook eggplant (never liked in the U.S.), thus we all love.

But, let us use the 'corn dish,' versus eggplant as an example in trying to write Chinese. You can't just type 'corn dish' into a Chinese-English (online) translator. You have to know the Pinyin equivalent, in this case: 'song ren yu mi' (without inflection/tone marks). Then you put 'song,' and the rest into the translator only to get twenty different options for characters for each Pinyin 'word.' Thus, you have to know the context and recognize the Chinese character to communicate correctly! 'Song,' for example, can mean 21 different things! And Chinese people think English is difficult!

The food had hardly arrived when I was mobbed for autographs! I know this sounds unbelievable, and you'll hardly understand, but Haqi is a local 'celebrity.' The fact I can write, my name, and 'America,' in Chinese makes me 'in demand.' I must have signed 20 postcards. I now know what Paul Newman feels like when out in public. It's a strange feeling actually, knowing you don't really deserve such attention, but nonetheless they ask. Of course, I'd never turn down one, 'honored' that they request.

This always reminds me of a story about Troy Aikman, the Dallas Cowboys quarterback (for many years). I've told this story before, but bare with me if you've heard it.

Way back twenty years ago I had a production company in Dallas. We used to produce the opening interview to 'Monday Night Football!' Normally, when ABC came to Dallas they interviewed Aikman. One time, a woman in the office asked me if I would get his autograph, knowing we'd be with him. Thus, I prepared, with photographs and black marker.

After the interview, before he could slip away I asked Troy if he would mind signing the two photographs. Of course, he was happy too. But, nearby the Associate Producer (wish I could think of this assholes name) fumed! As soon as Aikman was out of 'ear shot,' this guy laid into me like I just committed the most egregious act possible! I was dumbfounded! His tirade continued out into the hallway, where others could hear! It seemed I'd breached some kind of corporate etiquette, which, even to this day, I'm not sure I understand. I can only surmise, that they weren't paying Aikman for this extra work, and my asking was adding to their 'guilt!'

I doubt there will ever be a time in my life where I won't have the time to sign an autograph if asked--for whatever reason!

After lunch, Rucha returned to XiNing, while Ujwal and I went to the Buddhist Monastery (temple complex/tourist attraction) on the hill; this hill looming over the town. I'd wanted to check it out since first seeing it back in November, 06. Little did I know what kind of 'hike' we were getting into. But, it cost little money to enter… the fee a mere 5 允 / .75 cents U.S. each.

Up and up we climbed the stairs, Ujwal reminding me it was like Swayambhunath (famous 'Monkey Temple') in Kathmandu (straight line of stairs up). We should have counted every step, as they seemed never ending. We never got all the way to the summit, as not realizing how high it was and time ran out. But, in the process of trying we got a great view of Datong some 300M below. In addition, I got to partake of some real dirt (most of China under concrete), when I went into the bushes for a toilet break.

Past the Temple building, past the gazebos, past several picnic areas complete with 'snack bars,' up the covered stairs/path we went (see images at www.cyclingpeace.org/gallery/). We stopped to rest several times (mostly for me). Up ahead of us were some Chinese climbers, thus I knew there was someplace 'to go.'

Maybe 60% of the way up I nearly ran out of gas, telling Ujwal to go ahead. Then after some deep breaths got a 'second wind,' and followed. I caught up with him at what I thought was the summit, but guess what, it was only a rest stop/view point. From there we could see the group in front of us 'snaking' their way up stairs seemingly hung on the side of the summit hill. It looked like a time-consuming endeavor, making the summit. I asked Ujwal (Chinese name, 'Wu Zhou') what time it was. Turns out it was after 4P.M., (1600 hours). I knew better to continue, with a 2-hour ride back to XiNing.

So, we 'retreated' back down, this time our knees suffering from the jarring. On the way up it's cardio-vascular stress. On the way down it's stress on the joints.

Down finally to our locked bicycles at 5P.M. (1700 hours) we wasted little time departing for XiNing, some 36KM to the south. Downhill slightly, it's a smooth route for making good time. The only disconcerting thing was the amount of traffic, but we dodged this and that, and it wasn't long (no stops) until we were at Homey's Supermarket (north edge of XiNing).

Of course, I always say the same prayer, when I get on Ms. Fiets, going anywhere: 'Oh God, protect us from harm and evil!'

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Friday, September 07, 2007

060907

My life is so full, maybe too full! But, I'm not entirely in control of it. Nor, are you.

'Free will' is an illusion. Sure, I can pick up a pen and write something, go to the toilet when needed, fix lunch, etc. But, the 'larger things'… I surmise something is participating in 'how the ship is steered.'

To use the Navy as an analogy… Yes, the pilot steers the boat, according to the Captain's orders. But, it is the 'Admiral' (and above) that gives the Captain his mission. Yes, the pilot has a cup of coffee but on a ship the 'Admiral' has desired.

'We' make decisions, but do we really understand why? Taking responsibility for your life really means finding out who you really are--understanding your motivations!

To me 'God' is Jung's 'collective unconscious.' And trust me, this plays a role in our ego lives. It's the 'total,' the Tao, 'energy' that is paramount! But, 'The Tao you call the Tao, is not the Tao!' There's 'something,' however, I know! (Note: To believe is penultimate!)

Yesterday, after four tries I finally cranked up to the top of the hill where the big TV tower is located (northeast of 'downtown'). The first time I ever saw this big tower from down in XiNing I had wanted to crank up… Yet, it took seven months, and four times trying (on different days) to finally locate the road up. Note, there are few 'direction' signs in China, and if there are, they are in the Chinese language.

Amazingly, I discovered the right road the first time trying--but I stopped as I didn't think right! What does it mean that it took another month to get to the top? That there is a right time for everything, and that something else participates in that choosing (refer back to the preceding discussion).

Of course, I had asked a long-time Chinese resident about it, how to get to the top, but he didn't know. In China, if you don't speak the language, you have to get inventive. Fortunately, I have the confidence to find my way…

The first time, I was sure it might be the right road, as it was concrete. So, up I went only to discover the concrete ran out, and the road turned into a rocky nightmare. My thinking at the time: a road to a Government facility will be paved.

In the interim we'd been up on Bei Shan (the mountain west) and I'd made a point to investigate such. From my vantage point on Bei Shan the road appeared to be paved.

Next time, weeks later, I tried the 'fork' to the right. I had seen a road going up the tower mountain across a canyon. Several 'cul de sac' experiences later and no road up, I retreated again. But in the process got to know this 'residential' area (north XiNing) very well--reminds me of Nepal for some reason. I also discovered a house I might like to live in (don't like the classic 'apartment' in the high-rise building.). But, no road up!

Another time, thinking this road begins further east, I cranked all around the XiNing RR station. This in search of a possible street leading to… But, again no road up.

Finally, weeks later I got the bright idea to have Xu Tan write me a note in Chinese (since I can't just ask). 'Where the fuck is the road up to the TV tower?' Well, not exactly that. The trick when you have these kinds of notes (in Chinese) is to select the right person to read (not just any bum on the street).

During this trip (the fourth) I began to have some luck. First of all, the uniformed woman in the gatehouse wisely handed the note to a passing truck driver. He knew… Gesturing west (back where I'd just been). Thus, I got going in the right direction at least. They had written in Chinese, the correct road that leads to… I ended up showing this note several times to various Chinese passersby. This resulted in much helpful gesturing (Chinese, in fact all Asians, love to help you.). I acted like I understood and thanked them all with a postcard (my picture and contact information).

But, I got lost in spite of all! Well, not for long, as I'm never really lost, just temporarily confused.

Retreating, I decided to try the 'old,' or original road that climbed up somewhere, dirt or not. I went up maybe a kilometer, with doubts again, but luckily I met a Chinese man walking up the same road. I showed him the note written in Chinese. He gestured 'Yes, yes, this is the right road!' I had a hard time believing, however, that a road to a Government facility wouldn't be paved. Plus, my view from Bei Shan confirmed such. But, just wanting to get out of the city I went up with only time to lose (and resigned to a further search).

Well, guess what? Another kilometer of dirt, rocks and hard cranking turned into easy concrete--amazing to me, but happily so! Why would you start a road with concrete, suspend for a kilometer, and then pour again? China, is so full of surprises. Maybe just to confuse the 'laowei' (foreigner)…?

I continued up this smooth concrete ribbon, winding up and up the mountain. To my left and to the west, Bei Shan across a wide valley. The afternoon was sunny and the landscape, the higher I climbed, became more and more delightful--wonderful vistas (could see the Qi Lian Shan snow-capped 100KM to the north). I was being rewarded for my perseverance!

Since it was a weekday there was hardly any motor traffic to contend with--motorbikes only. The further I went the more I became convinced that this was the right road. The more I climbed (tiring), the better the 'adventure' became until I completely forgot all that it took to get there!

The distance to the top turned out to be ten kilometers, versus Bei Shan, which are seven (to the top). But, even though longer, maybe not as difficult as less of a grade and with big sweeping turns. Best of all they've planted many trees, the road lined, reminding me of other pleasant times on my bicycle ('déjà vu'). But, just to behold nature soothes me. Besides, Ms. Fiets was doing well!

At the summit, the phallic symbol of XiNing… A very tall concrete/steel self-sustaining tower, maybe 100 meters high! I had first thought this was XiNing's broadcast TV tower, as covers all the valleys. But, at closer observation, the tower is covered with the typical antennas for mobile telephones. There is one satellite dish at the base, so the tower/facility must be for both telephone and television. And so 'vital,' there is the usual Chinese Army man standing guard at attention (behind a locked gate). When a dog started to bark announcing my arrival, he didn't flinch!

With the afternoon fading (now about 5P.M.) I didn't stay long at the top, but started my glide down and back to 28 Datong (some 13 kilometers distance). What had taken maybe two+ hours to get up, taking one-third of the time to get back down. Hot and sweaty on the way up with feet burning (can't relax), on the way down just the opposite: the wind chill almost cold and tired hands--you can rest your feet.

Note, cycling in the mountains challenging, and 'performance' clothing preferred (although I have few). Going up it's arduous with resultant body heat/perspiration, which soaks your clothing wet. Then at the top, where generally cooler, your wet clothing is subject for concern. You can get real cold, real fast (even in summer)!

I remembered thinking of Xu Tan and my coming down the Tian Shan in Xinjiang, this in snow. My hands became almost frost bitten. I also remember the same in the Qi Lian Shan (Gansu and Qinghai Provinces) coming down from 3,900 meters. The same problem as when you come down it's all hands and no legs. Thus, from little movement, except squeezing the brakes you get cold, your hands becoming stiff and aching! I remember having to take one off, and shake to revive, the other doing all the braking (dangerous in snow). And then at the bottom, stopping to get warm again! Ah, it's these moments when you know you're really alive!

Yesterday, cranking up to the TV tower one of those trips, one of those good times!

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Monday, September 03, 2007

020907

Spiritual intercourse!
Anytime!
Anyplace,
Such grace!
Such delight
The light
Of understanding
'Knot' like a 'machine,'
The dream
Of unconditional love,
Beyond all feeling
'Won' in the same!'

'Going back and forth,
Until we are lost in each other,
Not knowing which is which,
But, 'knot' really caring!'

If you only knew how good it can be…
The birds do 'it!'
The bees do 'it,'
No knowing which is which,
But, 'not' really caring!

Things are going great in XiNing! Ujwal, the 'U-man,' from Nepal has turned out to be a big help. And with 'Leo' and 'Monica' we're on our way, only a matter of time! Xu Tan has done a great job editing our 'company profile' video and that will set us apart from other media companies in Qinghai. In fact, they won't be able to compete with us for the status jobs (unless the usual politics applies)! Of course, someone will always do it for less!

In the meantime, 'Rucha' (our German friend visiting) continues to suffer from digestive problems. I think it has to do with the excitement of traveling. For older people (and she's about to turn 70-years of age) traveling changes things. And when you change your daily routine, the body has to cope, and older bodies cope less well. But, she's a 'game girl,' and is here with us! How many 70-year olds would fly alone from Germany to China? Not many!

Last night I tried to watch 'What Lies Beneath, with Harrison Ford and Michelle Pheiffer, but was the case of a bad DVD, and I was unable to finish. This included my 'plan B' which involves jumping past the 'bad spot,' by choosing chapters. Nothing worked so I had to give it up. Frustrating, when you are into the plot, and something is about to happen, the picture 'freezes,' soon afterwards appears a window which says, 'Error!' I wonder it the 'un-pirated' (now there's a new word for you) DVDs you pay a premium price for in the U.S. are of any better quality? Maybe! But, here's the difference in price 75RMB / $10 (in the U.S.) versus 15RMB / $2.00 (or less) in China.

Of course, the 'bad' movie I had no technical problem with (why couldn't the reverse been true?), but I stopped it after about forty minutes--couldn't take anymore. This called 'Beyond X,' with Morgan Freeman (must have needed the money). This your basic 'Hollywood' 'doo doo!'

I'm afraid I've watched so many movies in the last six months (DVDs in XiNIng) I'm running out of the better titles, and to risk watching whatever seems good (but usually isn't)! But, we're building up a heck of a DVD library (now more than 100 titles).

If I could,
I'd thank my parents
For the body
They gave me,
Not my mind,
But, you can't have everything,
Can you?

My body, strong, yet yielding
To it,
The end!
My mind,
Developed to surrendering,
To it,
And maybe understanding!

When I die, I will go into your hearts!
You will feel me,
The 'we of three!'
This is the Trinity,
The Bible talks of
Not really knowing!

'You' only 'no' when you die!

Gosh, watched a very good movie last night entitled, 'Little Children!' But, this is the third American movie I've watched recently that has a pedophile in the story (so must be on American's minds?). But, the movie is about much more than that! Basically about American married life post 2001. Of course, Christians will love this (if they can stomach the sexual intercourse) because the decision at the end is for the lovers, not to run away together, but to stay with their spouses (no matter how unfulfilling). There was only one mistake in this rather unique motion picture, and that was in the 'third act,' when 'Brad' (played by Patrick Wilson) is running to meet lover 'Sarah' (played by Kate Winslet). Desperate to 'escape' with her, he suddenly stops to take his first try on a skate board! I mean, Todd, (director/co-writer) how can you explain? Of course, 'Brad's doing so a 'plot point,' but out of character and one of those 'deus ex machinas' that maybe needed, but 'blew' the total for me!

'Life is mostly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone,
Kindness in another's trouble,
Courage in your own!'

Supposedly Princess Diana's favorite poem by, Adam Lindsay Gordon.

And I like too!

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