Saturday, January 31, 2009

31a0109

You!

Perfection seeks imperfection,
Ugly seeks beauty.
Tall seeks short,
Man seeks woman,
As day seeks night!

Seeking, reeking
Of 'the Other,'
Material and spiritual together,
Back and forth,
'Until we are lost
In each Other,
Not knowing
Which is which,
But, not really caring!

We are daring,
You!

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310109

I sit in the sun,
On the run-
G,
Going up, I am!

Not the 'ma'am'
Neither 'fe,' nor 'male,'
And not for sale!

I've discovered living
Is giving,
Not existence
For myself!

How can I sell
What's for free
You and me,
Together!

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Friday, January 30, 2009

300109

Things!
I detest things!

There are too many, everywhere, things!
I have nothing, but too many
Things,
Cluttering your life, your thinking,
Things!
Where to put?
Where to move?
Where to store?
Where to discard?
Things!
The material world full of things!
More things to sell,
More things to buy,
More things to discard,
Things!

I want to be without things!

In this empty room too many things:
Two mattresses
Two blankets,
One t-shirt, two socks,
A bottle of skin cream,
An empty bottle,
One small rug,
Two rubber sandels,
A desk lamp,
Miscellaneous papers,
The Heart Stone,
Clothing, clean and dirty,
Plastic bags,
Boots,
Power strips (we used to call them 'extension cords'),
An electric heater,
One cup,
A chair,
Luggage full of more things,
Two screw drivers, screws,
Things,
More things!

I detest things!

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009


280109

There's some pleasure in denying yourself what you desire. As presupposed pleasure becomes presupposed pain (suffering).

I once tried to explain this to an American friend that denial is a good thing to experience. He laughed! It develops discipline, which is much needed if we are to accomplish anything.

People believe I'm disciplined, but I'm not. I must fool them...?

Right now I'm denying myself both sugar and fat. And I feel myself getting stronger for it. If there are positive results of denying oneself something we are much more likely to continue denying. If no positive results we stop and indulge ourselves. We want good results from our 'suffering.' Your mind plays tricks on you, however, rationalizing that bad things are good for us, or at least they don't hurt that much. Thus, we feed our minds, while the body suffers, becoming weaker, until we develop an illness or disease.

But, 'man does not live by bread alone.' He doesn't live on 'good things' alone! We need to 'feed the mind' also. It's balance that's important! No bad, no good, and vice versa. This is 'Taoism in a nutshell!' So, no indulging, no denying! No denying, no indulging.

And so it goes, cycles, back and forth, enantiodromia, extremes always seeking their opposite ('the other'). This in the never-ending 'Merry-Go Round' of Duality.

Of course, the best is in the middle, balancing one extreme with the other.

I personally have been through 'the middle' (glimpsing 'peace of mind') thousands of times. But, I always seem to continue to the other extreme. Learning is suffering. Thus, my greatest 'teacher' has been 'pain!'

Now, denying myself I feel stronger, if only I have the discipline to continue (this program). If only I can 'love myself,' as much as others love me!

Of course, they don't know the real me! Someday, in a autobiography, I'll write the complete 'truth,' the unexpurgated story of F.A. Hutchison. They'll be shocked! Like the time I hijacked a 747 over the Atlantic Ocean. Actually, what I did was to 'hijack' myself, the ultimate results positive!

Life... It's so incredibly interesting!

F.A. Hutchison
'Hutch'
'Haqi'
'Fred'
'Nima'
'Alexander'
(and many more...)

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Friday, January 23, 2009

220109

Man's Best Friend!

One day I drove their big yellow Dodge truck to the dump. Of course, I took their dog, Porky along. He rode in the back on top of the trash.

The county dump was miles from their farm. You took the highway to town, but then crossed the river and then up a hill, winding up a road to a very remote place. It wasn't the first time I'd been there, although this was the first time without my sister along.

The drive with Porky was uneventful, except for the curvy road. I might have been in too much of a hurry, but I can't remember.

When I got to the dump Porky wasn't in the back. I thought he'd jumped out and was investigating the dump as always. I asked the operator if he'd seen a dog. No, was the reply, I hadn't arrived with one, he'd noticed? I scoured the area on foot to be sure, but no Porky. I was stunned, what could have happened? He was a seasoned truck rider. But, no Porky.

My sister would be upset, as the dog was technically her husband's. He would blame her for allowing me such discretion.

I off-loaded the trash, and drove back to the farm, hoping I'd see Porky on the highway. But, all the way back no sign of him.

My sister remained calm when I told her, but I knew she was secretly unhappy about this turn of events. 'I'll find him, I vowed!' I was no fan of her husband a red neck with the mentality of Archie Bunker. I knew he would 'torture' her over this.

I spent the next week driving all over the County. We put up 'Lost Dog' posters, offering a reward. I asked everyone I saw if they'd seen a large German Shepard dog that answered to the name 'Porky?' Nobody had.

I began to notice the gravity of the situation on my sister's face. She tried hard not to blame me, but her demeanor became more stern than usual. I realized I had a serious situation on my hands. I'd taken the dog to the dump, and he'd been lost! It was, in fact, my fault. I'd lost Archie Bunker's dog!

We intensified the search running an AD in the local weekly. I drove hundreds of miles covering every 'nook and cranny' in the Country. But, no Porky.

We'd almost given up hope, when one day a woman called, responding to one of our posters. Yes, there was a stray dog up in her orchard. But, she wasn't sure what kind, as it would run away when she approached.

I jumped into the yellow Dodge to investigate, as it was the only significant 'lead' we'd had. I think I prayed on the way, asking God to let it be, Porky! The orchard/ farm turned out not to be that distant from the dump.

I saw him before he saw me, a lump of gray-bown curled up under a tree. I yelled his name, 'PORKY!' His ears perked! I yelled his name again, rushing towards him. Then when he realized it was me he came alive running towards me. We grabbed each other like long-lost lovers. What a reunion! 'Porky, are you O.K.?' I kept repeating. He licked my face over and over. He knew he'd been saved!

He had, we guessed later, been thrown out of the truck on the way to the dump. I'd probably taken one of the curves too fast. Then, the only thing he knew to do was retrace his steps, trying to get back home.

My sister was elated to say the least! My 'stock' recovered! I was invited to have dinner with them! Porky fell into a deep sleep after devouring three bowls of dog food.

Porky never forgot me after that, and Archie was somewhat jealous of the attention the dog gave me.

As for my sister and Archie, we rarely ever communicate anymore.

Give me a dog over a human being any day! They are 'man's best friend' for sure!

Stay turned for more exciting adventures, 'Hell in White Salmon!'

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

20a0109

Unite!

You identify with a flag,
Only a rag
In the color
Of the blood you spill.

Wake up,
Citizens of the world,
Sheep,
Going to slaughter!
Your own government
Just a smaller group
Controlling a larger group
For fun and profit!
Corrupt,
Ruthless,
Arrogant
They submit you to the yoke,
It's no joke!

Marx was right!
The only problem, humanity!
'Power corrupts,
And absolute power corrupts absolutely!'

Power to the people,
Not the elite,
But, you and me!
'Citizens of the world
Unite!'

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Monday, January 19, 2009

200109

The 'Future' Determines the 'Present and Past!'

I've come across a radical idea. That the 'future' determines the 'present and past.' These words belie a conundrum as they suggest that time is a linear progression. And thus the imbroglio. We're ultimately 'trapped' in the words we use.

Humpty Dumpty had a better idea -- he chose the meaning of the words he used! That's why Western thought is so unique. The Chinese, for example, I doubt if it's ever occurred to them to change the meaning of a Chinese character (sound and meaning element to each). Beijing (the CP) 'writes' the Chinese 'dictionary' (Who can question?). Yet, Easterners, particularly the Chinese, may be the ultimate 'winners' of this 'game,' as they would concede such as folly. They're happier without ever thinking about such things .

The major difference between Western and Eastern thought centers around this idea, whether or not we have 'free will,' or are our lives predetermined (Fatalism). Do we participate individually in our destinies, or has the 'script' been already written? Are we mere players 'who strut and fret their hour upon the stage,' or by our thoughts and actions do we change the course of our lives? Interestingly, Spinoza, a 'Westerner' (Dutch philosopher) thought 'free will' to be an illusion.

In the West, however, we grow up believing we're the masters of our fate, the 'captain' of our own destiny -- a unique individual. In the East, they grow up as part of a group, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Whatever happens to them, is this 'whole' constantly trying to balance itself. Thus, if they die in an accident, it had to be. I watch in amazement at Chinese people crossing a busy street, transfixed on their mobile telephones, ignoring speeding traffic (that could injure them). We would say this behavior is foolish. They would argue that it doesn't matter trying to be safe, or not, as when your 'time is up, it's up,' and there's nothing you can do to prevent it. If you make it across the street without being harmed, you were supposed to.

On the other hand, they constantly implore the Gods in various ways for good fortune. They are very superstitious. For example, the #8 symbolizes just about everything Chinese people might desire: prosperity, good health, a good marriage, children, long life, etc. Thus, in the year 2008 (and I witnessed this personally), an inordinate amount of Chinese couples got married. Of course, China celebrated its 'coming out party,' the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Ironically, there were many natural and manmade disasters in China in 2008, from train wrecks, to riots, to floods, and earthquakes. Some of the more intelligent noticed this (and wrote about) it. But, the masses ignored (the masses don't know that they don't know). Even the Chinese Government labeled the Sichuan Earthquake 7.9 on the Richter Scale, when, in fact, it was 8.0.

So, what does it mean to say, that the 'future determines the present and past?'

In order to understand what Fatalists believe you must simply get beyond the words, 'past, present and future!' There is no 'present' determining the 'future,' nor such is 'past.' There is no linear progression. It's all happening 'at once,' or 'not at all!' Time is an illusion. Man created it. Change yes, as we can see the sun cross the sky. We notice night and day. But, time... It was just a way of organizing mankind into a more efficient 'machine.'

Einstein said time and space are the same thing. I finally understood this concept one day when using a public toilet. A beautiful woman had just used the very same toilet I was using, and then I understood. But, 'time,' and 'space,' are just words created to try to explain the inexplicable.

Belief determines action or inaction. But, belief is penultimate to knowing.

So, what is there to know?

All I know is that my mind is constantly assessing and changing, adapting to circumstances so that my body might survive longer. Certainly we're pre-programmed to survive. Not individually, but as a species.

The 'trump card' in the game, however, is consciousness. Most don't know that they don't know. And thus, religion (and superstition). It's human nature to solicit the vast unknown for favor. Religion just organizes this into anthropomorphic symbols and dogma. Seeking solace in symbols assages fear, whether it be religion or superstition.

Am I religious? I would say no. Do I implore the Gods when I need help? Yes! Do I believe a God? To answer I will reiterate a story, something that changed my life: I was sitting in a movie theater in Portland, Oregon, U.S.A. (circa. 1980). I was watching a BBC-produced documentary, someone interviewing Dr. C.G. Jung (at the end of his life). The 'movie,' seemed to be as long as Dr. Jung's life, exploring all of Jung's works (which are vast and deep). But, the interviewer/producer cleverly saved the great question to the very end. He asked Dr. Jung, simply, 'Do you believe in God?' Jung, never quick to answer, sucked on his mersham pipe, took another moment, and then said something than changed my life! He said, 'No, I don't have to believe, I know!'

Now, I know what Dr. Jung knew! How? By studying his works. By being open minded. By travelling the world and studying all the religions. By meditating. By, seeking the truth in your own way. By, getting out of the little 'box' you live in and come to experience the 'Great Circle' of existence.

You too can 'no!' But, you have to get beyond words (whether they be English or Chinese characters)!

F.A. Hutchison
Li Jiang ('Beautiful River'), Yunnan Province, China
20 January 2009

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

150109


Success! Yesterday culminated the Xining to Lijiang bicycle adventure ('Discover China (by bicycle)' series. We reached Lijiang at 1700 hours in the afternoon, this from a village (Song Gui) some 75KM / 45 miles to the south.

Interesting about Song Gui... We had the best 40RMB / $6U.S. room I've ever had in China. Clean, well appointed and provided with an electric heater. And the bathroom so good I took pictures (soon to be uploaded). I wish I could 'travel' this hotel around China!

At the end of yesterday (Song Gui to Li Jiang) it was pretty much up, and then a long flat expressway stretch. With the wind at our backs, we 'flew' along, enjoying the view of Yulong Mountain (Jade-Dragon) to the north. It had been cloudy in the morning, but arriving in Li Jiang (valley) sunny. First thought that came to me... Ah, this is like Colorado (same elevation as Woodland Park, 2,600M / 8,500ft). The total time in transit, roughly eight hours, and our usual 10KM per hour average. Of course, not running a race, we're never in a hurry, stopping to talk to people and 'shoot' video. Our lunch, longer that usual, took an hour and one-half. This day turned out to be leisurely compared with the previous day which was much up, no lunch, and for a total of 94KM .

Arriving on the outskirts or Li Jiang (at a roundabout) I stopped to 'capture an image,' of the classic horse statue (only one hoof on the ground). There are several of these in cities in western China (Korla and a city in Gansu Province come to mind). Xu Tan explained that these indicate a 'tourist' city (but, I don't think so). Passing, I noticed a wooden sign in English which read: 'Out of your head, there is a path!' How unusual a cryptic message I thought... What could this mean? It inspired the following poem:

'The Way to Heaven!'

Off my head,
There is a path,
The Way to Heaven!

Stop thinking!
Stop drinking!
Stop eating!
Stop working!
Stop!
Pause!
Relax,
Look around...

Get out of that little box you live in,
And into Haqi's Great Circle,
Jerk!

Work not!

Off my head,
There is a path,
The Way to Heaven!

We went directly to 'Old Town,' as had prior arrangements (via 'Melinda') to live in at 'short-stay' flat. But, again, as in 'Old Dali' it turned out to be completely different than she had told us (a Guesthouse). 'Melinda,' being young and naive believes what people tell her. But, what I've figured is that these people have been lying to her so desperate for guests. Not only that, but this owner/manager turned out so rude, we departed without even looking at the place. Luckily I'd spied a hotel coming into town.

Tourist communities are different than regular communities. Why? The people working in them become jaded and spoiled. The local people grow a distaste for tourists. There is more of the 'hustle,' and more thievery. On one hand they offer what I like in the way of sophistication like good WIFI cafes and 'laowei' food. But, you pay with rude and unkind people. There's always this dichotomy, some good things, and some not so good things.

We all keep looking for the 'perfect,' place, but 'utopia,' doesn't exist (except in our minds).

At that point it was getting late, 1730 hours, and we still had no place to stay for the night. I had Xu Tan ask at two nearby hotels, but both beyond our means (one 280RMB per night, the other, 1,000RMB (five-star hotel) / $130U.S. I had an idea to 'retreat' to the hotel I'd seen coming into town, far from the tourist crowd. And sure enough it turned out to be good for (200RMB per / $25U.S.), and WITH HEAT! Note, 'Out of your head, there is a path!'

Heat in a hotel room in China in the winter is not a given. I suppose in northern China it's more likely. But, what I've learned is that in southern China, even though it is cold (-3C to 6C here in Li Jiang in January), you can't count on a heated room. Chinese people grown up in long underwear which they wear all the time, including to bed. The standard concrete building in China 'eats' (as Xu Tan said) heat! So, they are used to being cold inside. I'm not! I don't mind being cold outside, but I don't like being cold when inside (immobile).

Anyway, we're here, and with our cycling trip, from Xining To Li Jiang, completed. But, to recap the entire trip (5 November to 14 January 09):

I started out with 'problem child' Zha yi'er in Xining November 5th. It took 13 days to get to Chengu, where we spent one week. Then on to Kunming, another 13 days on the road, where we spent three weeks (including Christmas an New Years). It was here that Zha yi'er returned to Urumqi (Thank God!) and Xu Tan replaced him. Then Xu Tan an I cycled west (425KM) to Xia Guan/'Old Dali' (five days on the road) where we spent another week. We stayed an extra four days in 'Old Dali' waiting for the full moon (to peak) and our bicycle tires from The Netherlands. From 'Old Dali,' we've come 170KM in the last two days.

So, we spent 33 days on the road cycling 2,800KM, and some five weeks, or 35 days in various places for one reason or another. If you divide 33 into 2,800KM we averaged 85KM per day. Not, bad on a heavy bicycle, up and down, through the mountains of China (and 'shooting Discover China (by Bicycle).' And China has few flat places (for long). On this trip only the Chengdu Basin, and one of two other plateaus or valleys. You're either going up, or going down in China. It has no 'Great Plains' as in the U.S.

So, now what...?

If I can find a good and reasonably priced 'flat,' I'll stay in Li Jiang until March 15th. Xu Tan will be on his way soon, a part of the great 'Spring Festival' migration home (to visit parents). He's originally from Xi'an, Shaaxi Province, about 2,000KM northeast of here.

Parents have a much stronger influence over their children in China, than in the West. Thank God I wasn't born in China, lest I'd had many battles with my parents getting to do what I want, not what they expect.

Poor 'Melinda,' trapped in a village teaching primary students, her parents wanting her to marry a local boy. She now, being educated and exposed to a wider world, wants to 'stretch her wings,' and have a different kind of life that her rural/farmer parents have had. But, as I've told her it takes courage to be different. If she does what her parents want she will have an unhappy life. It she does what she wants, it will make her parents unhappy. What to do?

On the other hand, I think there are some good attributes to Chinese culture, in regards to parents and children. Chinese children take care of their parents in when they get old. They don't discard them like we do in the West 'warehousing' them in 'Nursing Homes' until they die. Chinese people tend to die in the care of their children, not some distracted, inattentive 'non-care giver.'

I have my own way planned, but in the meantime... '...Spanning the Globe, to bring you the constant variety!'

From Li Jiang,
Hutch
Discovering China (the World) by bicycle!

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Monday, January 12, 2009

110109

I sit in the setting sun (1730, the 11th of January), outside my room (#301), at the Greenville Guesthouse. This in 'Old Dali' (Yunnan Province, China). Xu Tan has gone off as all young men must. My way a little different. There's 43 years difference between us, or 1,560, 384,000 heart beats (assuming 70 beats per-minute average).

He's traveling the 'Yellow Brick Road,' on the way to 'see the Wizard!' I've already been there and met the 'Wizard!' I wish Xu Tan well in such a quest.

Life, what is it?
A beating heart?
Breathing?
Consciousness?
What is it?

Most never even ask these questions, as living in the dream. The Buddhists say, Life is the 'dream' we need to wake up from! I have, have you? Or, are you 'hell bent' after the Almighty money.

Do you stop once in awhile, pausing from your business to ponder your existence? Why you're here (have a body)? What's it all about? Life? Or, do you rush about like the 'Mad Hatter,' never understanding much, never asking these questions? If you are still lost in the 'dream' this will make no sense to you. 'I'm late! I'm late, for a very important date!' What date is so important you do not have time to ponder your own life?

I'm afraid for most people, so lost in the 'dream,' in pursuit of material wealth they lead lives of 'quiet desperation!' The two things they can't seem to live without, a mobile telephone and TV, distract them from what's important (quiet contemplation). They light incense and make offerings to deities, hoping this will make life easier or more prosperous. They follow rituals they don't really understand. They exist, but don't really live! They are the 'sheep,' their governments the 'shepherd.'

Twenty years ago (this year) I wrote my first line of poetry. It was a gift of the night, coming to me while I browsed the 'Shakespeare and something,' book store in Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.A. I had noticed the new moon, wandering around this Mall:

'Is this a new moon in an old desert, or am I just rising to the occasion?' I asked myself. This was in 1989, 20 years ago. Now, I can answer this question.

Ironic that I would 'be given' a line of poetry in a Shakespeare Bookstore, the Bard the most famous of English writers/poets. Jung would call this synchronistic, as a meaningful coincidence. Certainly it was, as since I've written hundreds of poems. But, if I were to start a chain of book stores they would be called 'Blake and Dickinson,' as my two favorite English poets. Shakespeare to me, is the Spielberg of the 17th Century. Or, Steven would like it better if I said, Spielberg is the 'Shakespeare' of the 20th Century. But, what he produces appeals to the masses (commercial) and not my kind of fare. Few know of William Blake or Emily Dickinson (outside of academia): 'See the world in a grain of sand.' 'Ample make this bed!'

In honor of Emily and William, a Taoist poem:

Supple make this bed,
Surviving
Without acting,
Being in all things!

Sleep without dreams!
Teach without words!
Go, without going!

Supple make this bed!

My friend Peter quotes somebody who said, 'Death, what a waste!' Maybe it's 'life,' that's the waste, as we never seem to evolve, repeating the mistakes of our grand parents. So, what is the point if we don't grow, change, and evolve?

We only want!
We rarely give!
We rarely love
Unconditionally!

We rarely change!
We rarely grow!
We almost never evolve,
Staying the same,
Playing the game,
For money!

We lust
Can't even trust
Ourselves
As we don't know,
That we don't know!

And thus, why life?

It's the 'whys?' I'm interested in, not the 'whats,' the 'wheres,' the 'whos' or the 'whens!'

But, I can only guess!

Another day
Like the second-hand tick,
Tock,
The broken lock,
The door ajar
Not that far
From going through I am...

What is on the other side
Of this great divide?
One material,
One spiritual,
'Going back and forth,
Until we are lost
In 'the Other,'
Not knowing
Which is which,
But, not really caring!'

Another day...
Is there another way?
No - yes!
But, I can only guess!

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

110109

'GIP, THE PIG WHO WOULDN'T EAT! (BY F.A. HUTCHISON)

Dedicated to the big fat pig whose throat was cut as the people laughed, his life draining away (in a village somewhere in northern Yunnan Province, China).

Gip looked like all the other piglets, all pink and cute just like you would think a piglet should look. But, he was different! When all his brothers and sisters ran to suckle mom, Gip was the last to join in, and the first to depart. He had other things on his mind besides stuffing himself. He would sniff the wind for flavor, and flop his ears when he heard music.

As time went on he developed a taste for vegetables, nibbling on the farmer's spinach and carrots. But, he had to be careful as once he was caught in the act and was locked in the pig pen for two days for his transgression. The slop that the farmer threw for his brothers and sisters didn't satisfy him. His brothers and sisters grew fat from it, while Gip remained slender and supple. He could run and jump as well as the farmer's dog. The other pigs watched in amazement as he would play with the dog, chasing its tail. Mr. and Mrs. Farmer scratched their heads at such antics.

'All the running around will ruin his chops,' the farmer remarked to his wife. 'Maybe we should pen him, so he can't run about!' responded Mrs. Farmer.

So, Gip was locked up. But, instead of squealing and banging at the gate, like the other pigs when locked up, he slept. Worse, he stopped eating anything. This worried Mr. and Mrs. Farmer even more. 'We won't get any bacon out of him worth selling,' complained Mr. Farmer.

So, Gip was set free, having lost weight, but none of his spirit. Immediately, he took up after the dog as nothing had happened. In fact, he was stronger and faster than ever!

Then one day, one of his fat brothers was dragged kicking and squealing out of the pen, and laid on a bench. He squealing pierced the air in protest, but six strong men held him down. Suddenly, the squealing stopped, blood gushing from his throat and into a pan. Soon, the quivering body lay still never to move again. His brothers and sisters were too busy eating and didn't notice, but Gip did.

Mr. and Mrs. Farmer celebrated that night with a feast, as the pork had brought a good price.

The next day Gip mourned the loss of his brother. All the others were too busy eating. 'Come join us,' one of them encouraged Gip. But, Gip had other things on his mind besides eating.

'Stop gorging yourselves, becoming fat,' he tried to warn his brothers and sisters. 'If you remain thin, like me, you'll live longer!' Eat fresh vegetables, not that slop they give you! All the pigs laughed at this idea!

So, Gip went his own way somewhat of an outcast, his sleek, strong body, ugly to all. Mr. and Mrs. farmer, stopped trying to coax him to eat more, as it just had the reverse effect.

'Maybe we can sell him as a pet,' offered Mrs. Farmer, it's becoming fashionable to own one. 'Or, we could chop off his head,' as a lesson to the other pigs,' Mr. Farmer countered with, angry at Gip.

Then one day, one of his sisters was dragged from the barn, her squealing heard around the village as unconsciously she knew what was coming. Gip tried to save her, biting the legs of the men, but they beat him back, and locked him in a pen. Soon the screaming stopped, the village suddenly quiet except for the happy chatter of the group savoring what this would bring: money and pork!

Again, Gip appealed to his remaining brothers and sisters, but again it fell of deaf pig ears! So, Gip gave up trying to save his brothers and sisters.

And one by one all of them went to the bench, their blood soaking the earth, their body parts taken away by buyers.

Alone now, Gip mourned all his brothers and sisters! He went on a rampage, and destroyed Mrs. Farmer's garden.

'What are we to do with this crazy pig?' asked Mr. Farmer, locking the gate behind Gip. He waved his finger at Gip, and said in a threatening tone. 'One more problem out of you, and you'll go the way of your brothers and sisters, regardless of the price you bring! You're worthless besides, with little fat on those bones!'

But, then one day as fate decreed a family stopped at the farm to ask for directions. They were lost on their way to visit new friends. While the adults were chatting, the young daughter discovered Gip in his pen.

'Oh, what a lovely pig you are!' noticed the little girl. You're not like other pigs I've seen,' petting his head. Gip fell immediately in love with this girl, so unlike all the other humans he'd known. She didn't care that he was thin.

'Momma, come look at this pig, he looks more like a dog than a pig!' Pulling her mother's hand, she presented Gip to her parents.

Her father and mother unsure of what to do examined Gip somewhat confused as to the girl's infatuation. 'He's so thin,' said the mother, maybe he's ill.'

'No,' Mr. Farmer chimed in, 'he just doesn't eat. We don't know what to do with him!'

'Can I have him?' the little girl pleaded. Her parents examining each other's expression. 'Please! Please! I will take good care of him, and he doesn't eat much!' persuaded the little girl.

Suddenly, Mr. Farmer saw the solution to this problem pig, negotiating skillfully. 'I'm afraid he's not for sale!'

The girl's father, not to be outdone, 'But, he won't bring much of a price, so thin.'

'Well, if your daughter really wants him, I suppose we can work out something!' Mr. Farmer said, smiling to himself.

'Oh, daddy, momma, please!'

Gip hearing all this, tried to help the situation! He stood on his hind legs and licked the girl's hand. She, in turn, grabbed and hugged his head! 'I will call you Gip!' as you're just the opposite of all those fat, ugly pigs I've seen.

So, Gip gained a new life as the families pet. They had both a dog and a cat, he made friends with, and they played until they dropped from exhaustion. But, it was the little girl he loved the most. He would even eat more when she suggested he should.

'Oh, Gip,' she exclaimed one day when she was a young woman. 'You're getting fat!' Gip beamed, as he liked making her happy more than anything.

Gip lived a very long time, and happily, ever after!

Moral of this story: Eat less (and fresh vegetables), and live longer!

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Friday, January 09, 2009

100109

Mankind is at the very beginning of his evolution. The question, thus, will he be able to survive himself?

Mankind is fatally flawed! One only has had to live some years, and have studied history to understand. We don't learn from past generation's mistakes. We keep repeating them ad infinitum. We don't evolve. Only the technology changes. To paraphrase Carl Sagan several years ago, ...civilizations tend not to survive their own technology. Thus, I suspect that sometime in the next 100 years man will go the way of the dinosaur. But, the great question, When the last homo sapien succumbs, will we have been here at all?' Life may be an illusion.

This recent financial 'meltdown,' the latest example of repeating mistakes. The media loves to complicate the issue (as they need something to write about - and to aggrandize their worth), but it was caused simply by greed. The same greed caused the 'Great Depression,' in the 1930s. Nothing new, except the means, and the fact that some 60-70 years later we repeated the same financial debacle.

One only has to have lived in China to gain further evidence. China has had massive material development in the last 30 years (obsessed with the modern). But, what they need is social development, not the material kind. Money, like in the rest of the world, has become their 'God.' They don't have jobs for college graduates now, but every mother has a child. Thus, it occurs to me... If people can't find jobs now, what's it going to be like in another 20 years? They lust for the big house, the expensive SUV, the 'trophy wife,' all the things that are ultimately useless (besides causing trouble). The traffic, the congestion, the noise, the corruption, the madness continues to increase. Yet, none of them (that I know) understands this. They, having 'dined' on 'Hollywood' movies and are going down the 'same road' we did, the one that leads to a 'dead end.' We, in the U.S., have set a bad example (for the rest of the world).

The financial system man has created (Capitalism) brings out the worst in the majority, not the best. Marx was right about this. But, the problem isn't the system, or the philosophy, the idea, but man himself. 'Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely!'

People (everywhere) lack consciousness. They simply don't know that they don't know. And thus, they keep repeating the same mistakes generation to generation.

Unconsciously, man has an 'inkling' of this, and thus has created religions (or superstitions) to cope. He knows that he is incapable of saving himself, and thus has invented saviors (Christianity the most obvious example). He prays, and does penance, going to church/temple/synagoge/shrines, hoping he'll get to a 'heaven' (having created a 'hell' here). Well maybe, we don't know. In the meantime, how 'bout creating a 'heaven' on earth?

Unconscious predators, we plunder Mother Earth everyday (China a good example), caring not for future generations only ourselves. We treat everything poorly, worst of all, our own fellow man! We are poor stewards of resources, animals, Nature in general, and thus 'She' is beginning to 'fight' back (to cure herself of this 'disease').

2008, to me, was the 'Year of the Earthquake!' There was a cataclysmic earthquake (actually 8.0 on the Richter Scale, but the Chinese Government, didn't want to call it such as the number '8' supposed to be good luck). This occurred in Sichuan Province (China) May 12th (we felt it in Xining, where I was living at the time, some 1,000KM to the north of the epicenter). But if you're like me, following the daily news, you should have noticed that there has been many earthquakes this year (and continuing), and all over the Earth. Just recently in Costa Rica and southern California (January 9th, 09). Maybe Mother Earth is trying to get our attention! Maybe Mother Earth is trying to cure herself of this 'cancer' (human kind).

Susan Sontag, years ago, wrote a book entitled 'Cancer as Metaphor.' Certainly, this is apt. I've often thought of myself and people in general as 'cells' (making up the total organism - Earth). But, these 'cells' have gone awry, and are now out of control (life out of balance, 'Koyaanisqatsi '). Thus, humanity is basically a 'disease' that the host 'organism' is trying to 'get rid of.' And She will, of course.

We think we're important, but we're not! We're only a tiny, tiny fraction of a 'Total,' something we don't even understand. Too new, too unevolved, we serve only ourselves, the Ego 'I,' the problem (out of control). Note, 'God' lamented when in the 'Garden of Eden Myth,' man became aware of himself (for the first time). 'God' knew this would cause nothing but trouble. Whomever wrote this in the Christian Bible was prescient.

So, is there any hope? As I oft quote (source unknown), 'There is infinite hope, but not for us!' We are basically a 'failed experiment.'

What to do? Live the best life you can, while you have it! Try to develop consciousness, 'seeing through, not with the eye!' Live for others, other things (not yourself)!

'Jesus,' brought the idea of 'love,' into recorded history. But, his idea wasn't about 'romantic' love, but unconditional love (best example, mother's love of child). This is what the concept of love is about, to me... Loving, giving, without any expectation of return. When you sacrifice for others (other things), you 'come into existence!' You gain much more than you give! But, everyday, I witness the opposite (in me too)! Thus, my conclusion:

'Mankind is fatally flawed!' And, 'There is infinite hope, but not for us!'

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

080109

It's the 7th of January (Wednesday), 2009, and we sit outside in the sun in 'Old Dali,' Yunnan Province, China.

We arrived last night after an arduous day of cycling over a mountain. But, we managed 88KM in 9 hours, and not bad considering my chain broke going up hill. I had to get off and push the bicycle for 5KM and into a village, where a man repaired it with a hammer. Amazingly this worked! But, for me, breaking a chain two times in one month very unusual. I've been riding Ms. Fiets for ten years and have never broken a chain before.

But, good fortune came to our rescue again. With the chain hammered together we thought we still had to go up over a pass. But around a bend it was suddenly downhill--a nice surprise! On the way down a shower wet the pavement, but nothing serious impeded our decent except I began to get cold. Combining wind child and wetness you can get cold fast. I didn't have my rain pants on, just cotton long underwear. Note, I wear a strange combination of cotton long underwear and cycling shorts, always causing Chinese people to stare. They just can't believe you might dress differently.

Down and down we went until suddenly, the wind, which we'd been fighting for days was suddenly at our back. Oh, do you notice the difference, as it feels like you have an engine. We glided down into a town (I rarely know the Chinese names) and onto a wide boulevard, the concrete surface as smooth as the proverbially babies' bottom.

But, again, the cosmos said, 'time to stop, maybe an accident ahead'... Interesting how you learn that what happens to you, although perceived as unpleasant, maybe something saving your life. I discovered my front tire going flat. But, it was sunny and warm now, and if you're ever going to have a flat, this was the place. We changed the tube, or I should say Xu Tan did (as he helps greatly with such).

I have Vedrestein 'Spider' tires from The Netherlands. But, this recent pair nothing but trouble from the beginning! The first pair went a long way, maybe 10,000KM with little trouble, but these two, the last two of the name (they discontinued the model)... I wish I hadn't purchased. Two small (for 26-inch rims), they're a 'bitch' getting on and off. We managed to damage the tube in the process, prying the bead onto the rim. Luckily, we had one more good tube. You should have seen us, however, sitting on the pavement, feet together pulling this tire in opposite directions, trying to stretch the tire onto the wheel without using a tool.

Then back into the wind as we turned West. Turns out the wind (da feng) we'd been experiencing for the past four days is famous in Yunnan Province. It blows everyday from the southwest (going in a westerly direction it hits you at 1000). I first thought (maybe hoping) that this was a January phenomenon in southern China. Now, I discover it's most of the time!

From here we could begin to see the Lake (Erhai) in the distance to the north. Dali is located between a mountain range to the west and this large lake (shaped like the crescent moon). But, I hadn't realized that 'Old Dali' is a small tourist town 15KM north of Xia Guan. Cycling through Xia Guan I was confused. And during traffic hour no less. I was ready to stop for the day, as had been fighting off a cold for the past two days. With the two bicycle 'incidents' I was feeling a bit weary haven't not eaten since 12 noon (it was now about 1800 hours or 6P.M.). But, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger!

At one intersection, Xu Tan hailed a man for directions to Dali. Riding a Chinese bicycle he stopped too quickly and fell. Two large water bottles crashed to the pavement that he had tied onto the rear rack. Xu Tan helped getting all back upright and together, but I felt badly as this man wouldn't have had any trouble had he ignored us, like some others. He, however, turned out to be a good guy, taking all the time to explain how to get to Dali. We put 10RMB into his pocket for the trouble, which he protested.

Then another cyclist (if you ride a bicycle you turn out to be a good person) helped us, by directing us to follow him (He would point out the way to Dali). He rode, probably out of his way to show us, (Would this happen in the U.S.?) and to the north-south boulevard we needed to take for Dali?

It was here, the sun setting behind the snow-topped mountain range that I realized what a beautiful area! There are houses, buildings up in the foothills most unlike anyplace I've visited in China. In fact, this area reminds me of California, U.S.A.

We continued northward on a very good six-lane concrete road, with a wide bicycle path. Now, getting dark, the sun having set behind the mountain, I was definitely wanting the day to end. We were supposed to rendezvous with the man Melinda (my Chinese daughter living in Yunnan) had set us up to meet (as he owns the place we were to stay).

Spoiled after Kunming, I was looking forward to another 'short-stay' flat we'd been fortunate to rent there. Xu Tan had called this man several times trying to coordinate our meeting. He told Xu Tan to find and meet him at the 'East Gate.'

Well, I stopped, at a gate, directing Xu Tan to ask. Sure enough, had we gone further we would have had to return, as this turned out to be the 'West Gate.' We headed east through the 'West' Gate and on a cobble stone street, the buildings, restored (or built) to resemble 'Old Dali.' I was amazed to discover a town of some charm, clean and movie-set in tone. It's most the un-Chinese like I've experienced yet. It was like 'at first sight!' If I had to compare, I'd say it has the same sophisticated 'feel' as Carmel, or Sausalito, California. No wonder it's the choice of foreign tourists. Again, I've been all over China, and for the first time I said to myself, 'I could live here!' But, first impressions can be wrong.

Speaking of 'wrong,' we ended up at the wrong 'Gate.' The 'East Gate,' turns out to be the 'South Gate' in my mind at least, but nonetheless we finally rendezvoused with a Mr. Yang in a white van. We followed him first north, to where his wife lives, and he showed us what is a hotel room to me. When we explained our expectations, he offered another choice, and we followed him back to 'East Gate,' and beyond to a 'guesthouse' and where his daughter was waiting. Again, not a 'flat' situation, but it does have a kitchen and office with a computer/Internet (not working of course). This is where we are now for 60RMB / $8U.S. per night. Note, something similar in the U.S. would cost at least $200U.S. per night, as this is very well appointed. Again, most un-Chinese like.

I was so tired, I took the first room on the ground floor, unloaded, made tea, and tired to get warm. There are some very strange paintings on the wall in this room, surrealistic in nature, ominous in tone. They didn't keep me awake, however. What did was a stuffy nose, the result of the infection trying to get the best of me.

The next morning I was the first up, of course, sleeping in to 0700 (still dark outside). I lit my camping stove trying to get warm as none of these buildings/houses/hotels are heated (in southern China). Note, in hotels they give you an electric heater if you want to pay for the electricity.

Turns out I'm warmer outside, and colder inside (in southern China).

Note, Chinese people (everywhere) grow up wearing long underwear, and even in the summer (most of these concrete buildings not heated). Additionally, they have 'a thing' about their legs I don't understand. They always ask me, when I wear shorts, aren't you cold? I, in turn, having developed a response, point to their heads (almost never wear hats when cold), 'Aren't you cold?' They don't get it, of course.

It was a clear morning, the sun saving me, warming my old bones. Mr. Yang was there up and about, and started talking immediately when he discovers some human ears nearby. We communicated, or I should say, I acted like I understood. Since he noticed I was following the sun, he directed me upstairs to the roof. After climbing a steel ladder, I betook of a stunning vista of the area, the mountains to the west and the Lake to the east. It was a beautiful morning, the area a 'piece of jade,' in a garbage dumb or modern China. The Bai people (the local ethnic group), artistic by nature, have created a work of art!

Xu Tan appeared, and after his breakfast and my laundry hung up, we took off on our bicycles for Xia Guan. This is the commercial city 15KM south, we'd come through the evening before. We were in need of some bicycle repair, and we knew of another www.cyclist.cn, as part of the 'chain' in China. (Had been give a brochure in Kunming.). After a fast ride on a good bicycle path (part of the highway north-south) we were in its midst 'lickety split!' (old expression for faster than expected). First order of business, lunch, and we found a good restaurant on a street bordering the river (name?). I bathed in the warm sunlight, our table in the perfect position to keep an eye on our bicycles (we didn't lock). Afterwards, we found the bicycle shop without too much trouble (Xu Tan now with much experience now finding things in new cities more efficiently).

At the bicycle shop, the name having to do with Golmud (a city in in Qinghai), we discovered two good guys, 'Ben,' the owner, and his mechanic (don't ask me his Chinese name). I had gone to deal with my chain/shifting problem, only to discover Zha yi'er, a so-called 'expert mechanic,' had incorrectly installed the chain (too short) in Kunming. I had wondered if the length was wrong... Sure enough... Some times the man with intimate experience knows more than the 'expert.' Why? They're aren't any 'experts!' Least of all Zha yi'er, my opinion of, continuing to fall. I bought and had a new chain installed. Next, Xu Tan's needed much more, his cables old and worn. I think we were there two hours or more, feeling more and more at home with these two guys! At one point, 'Ben,' took me to a nearby 'camping store' where I purchased much needed butane canisters for my camping stove (to keep warm inside). It's aflame and keeping me warm at this very moment!

The typical concrete Chinese building, so cold on the inside. Chinese people, so fast on the streets, so slow in business. Everything is the opposite from the U.S. in China! And as it should be as on the opposite side of the world.

Now, it's the 8th of January (Thursday), and we've partaken of 'Old Dali'... 'The bloom off the rose' so to speak...

We went off this morning in search of the GoGo Cafe, as I had a bookmark AD I'd picked up somewhere. It turned out to be good, good WIFI connection, and good 'laowei' food (very good apple pie). But, very strange to discover and for the first time (too late) a sign in the toilet that reads, 'No Shit! Only Piss!' I've never seen this anyplace in China (or the world for that matter) thus I'm going to 'capture' an image of this and upload for you to see (in both English and Chinese). If you ask for the toilet and they direct you, they should inform you of such. Seems you have to go to the public toilet if you want to 'shit!' Ah, defecation... So simple, yet so complicated in modern life.

But think about the sheer quantity of human waste ('night soil' they used to call it in China). Everyday, roughly 4 billion meals are eaten, this EVERYDAY! Multiply 4 billion times 30 and you get 120 billion each month. Like Everett Dirkson once said, a billion here, a billion there, and after a while it begins to add up! I, because of the poor condition of public toilets in Asia, like to do 'it,' out there. Well, you can hardly find a private place ANYWHERE in China, where someone hasn't come before you. In another 20 years China (maybe the world) is going to be drowning in shit!

Later, after we had eaten lunch, both a German woman (Brigit from Frankfort) and a couple from Australia stopped to eat. The German woman, from Frankfurt, on a two-week holiday (probably to warm up and meet the man of her dreams). The Australian husband, was born in Austria, but had moved to Australia 20 years ago. His wife, who I couldn't hear, a native of Australia. I learned, unfortunately, that Australia is comparatively expensive. This is not good news for me as it was the next country on my itinerary. They said Austria is less expensive! This is hard to believe, but from the 'kangaroo's mouths.'

Xu Tan went off to cycle around the area ('shooting' video for 'Discover China'). He wanted to see the Lake. I sat in the sun until no more, and then went off looking for a bicycle lock. I found one, but the woman didn't want to sell it to me. Strange how spoiled some retailers can get, or in this case maybe tired of foreigners being demanding. Anyway, I said 'Thank you,' and departed without buying anything.

Returning to our guesthouse I found it empty, the sun setting behind the ('Lion') mountain.

Note, although I'm drawn to a sophisticated place like 'Old Dali,' I don't like settlements that lose the sun early (especially in the winter). Additionally, 'Old Dali,' reminds me too much of Thamel in Kathmandu (Nepal). Plenty of hustlers and beggars! Thus, after only two days 'the 'bloom is off the rose,' so far as Dali is concerned. I think I would prefer the 'real,' city (Xia Guan) 15KM to the south, if deciding to live in the area.

Tomorrow our final day in Old Dali before departing for Lijiang, another 'tourist town' some 180Km to the north.

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