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Derby Gets New Legs

This is an absolutely amazing story.

Published on Dec 15, 2014

See how unique, custom 3D printed prosthetics allow Derby the dog to run for the first time.

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Balti_childrenI intended to write something different, but couldn’t muster the words. Listening to the British Broadcasting Company report upon the deaths of so many children in Peshawar, Pakistan and watch the video, I can honestly report, the scene was horrifying. Gunmen shoot children as they cowered.

There’s no insight into what to do in these situations. So I come back here to write. A few who know that I’m the Unknown Buddhist asked, “What are you going to write? What are you going to say?

What this whole thing is really about is the difference between ignorance and hope. Having traveled though so many countries, I’ve never taken my life in the United States for granted. Still, we who inhabit this island earth continue to judge one another by the content of character. We ignorantly stand before the masses and proclaim, “… my way or the highway.” I know there are wonderfully beautiful Islamic men and women. But tonight … for this moment … The Taliban and your version of Islamic faith is utterly repugnant.

Your version of Islamic faith lives in turmoil. And it’s unsustainable.

To terrorists who killed so many, tonight I celebrate real faith, real love and real dignity. I find a tremendous depth of inspiration from Karen, whom I’ve loved deeply, and briefly, shared my life. She’s out there everyday, trying to save children. This type of love comes believing in something better of humanity than most dare. Her spirit is one breath, in unison with faith, and she crushes anything an Islamic could offer tonight.

True love exceeds anything offered a million times over. Agape love continues for years and remains undiminished. Just as Karen would die for a child, I’d sacrifice my life for her. I chose not to destroy, but submit to another in love professes my soul in faith to Christ, to Buddha and enhances life.

Real love dazzles. Your’s doesn’t. The sweet taste of love is beautiful and appreciative. I bathe in the love that surrounds me. You swim in hatred. You feel superior. True love is superior to all.  You abhor. I admire! You’re ignorant. I’m not.

It’s our children that illuminates, warms, and revives.

Islam is not a monopoly of truth. There is neither a race nor a people, who have not been blessed with the bounty of divine guidance, and there is neither a region of earth nor people who have not received prophets and Messengers of God. We do not verify the truth of religious revelations through violence or death.

True love fulfills all human needs. And no other teaching is required.

cia-torture-report-carousel-20140805A summary report released Tuesday of the Senate’s investigation into CIA torture, is a portrait of immorality that’s hard to comprehend.

Of course there are defenders. There are those who claim releasing such information will do more harm than good. Sean Hannity quipped as much:

Our own intelligence community has assessed that this will cause violence and deaths.”

Likewise, House Intelligence Chairman Mike J. Rogers said the release of the CIA’s interrogation techniques will be used by terrorists to incite violence.

Like those passing a point in history, one could say the evidence of extreme brutality and lawlessness demands accountability, both as a moral and a national security imperative. However, in today’s world, there’s no appetite for holding anyone accountable. It’s almost impossible to interview any of the tortured prisoners. Dick Cheney, President Bush or Donald Rumsfeld (i.e., Chief of War) will neither see a Senate subcommittee, a trial nor a nun with a ruler.

How would I know? Well, for years in worked in the government. And like New York Times Op-Ed Contributor Eric Fair, I too look into blank faces. And I realize I could let myself feel a powerful sense of relief, for my crimes of some 30 years ago will fade. My transgressions will be forgotten. Unfortunately, I live with the faces of those whom I’ve lied, cheated and stole.

For service members in my job set, military bells toll loudly and requires much. Those bells require your soul. At first the bell percolates through your veins as you sell your body and your life. Thirty years later, your knees are shot, eye sight sucks and your heart slowly beats to a stop.

I can see my past, present and future, so I understand how I became the man I am. Born poor and friendless, I made his way through the world with tenacity. But as I focused upon my job, the rest of my life, my ethics and morale fell to the wayside.  In particular, my covetousness cost me the love of my life.

Deep inside, I’m scared. I’m alone. I’ve never been able to shake the faces. They remain vigilent, ever present. Always. Thus, I never absorbed the world surrounding me. And until Ms. K, I rarely understood the joy in it.

As Buddhist, I argue violence is incompatible with Buddhism’s message of peace. So as I move toward my next life, I ask each of you to cultivate compassion, respect, and reverence for all life. I understand the unfortunate necessity of military action despite its negative karmic consequences. A righteous war may have merit. Yet in the early morning hours, when others dream, I speak their names. I see their faces. I hear the terror.

Death in the name of national security, without a fair trial or any other mechanism still counts. God sees it. The witnesses of truth comes from the deceased.

Non-conditional forgiveness is something like a ‘gift’ from the God.  Therefore forgiveness has to be attached with ‘repentance and transformation.’ Thus, real transformation must take place in many spheres: ‘law, history, politics, and existence itself.’ Therefore, the challenge is to create conditions for forgiveness. As a nation, we must progress and prepare to forgive and ask for forgiveness. In both our world, as in life, our most daunting political challenge is to create a discourse of forgiveness that takes as long as required. This form of communication, those loving exchanges of the heart, between people would benefit all.

The Heisman Trophy

Heisman-TrophyThe next Heisman Trophy will be dished out December 13th. And Heisman has problems: Jameis Winston, Johnny Manziel, and Cam Newton. Three of the past four Heisman winners have been great players on the college gridiron, but present so much trouble off field.

There’s also Robert Griffin III. The former 2011 Heisman winner looks eerily similar to that of Ryan Leaf – out of the league in four seasons. Griffin received extensive criticism of both work ethic and leadership. The most scathing assessment came from Coach Gruden, who described Griffin being “coddled” in past accomplishments. Gruden said Washington’s offensive output was “awful” and lambasted Griffin for passing blame onto teammates.

Approaching this weekend’s Heisman, the award is presented to the most outstanding player in college football whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work. Accordingly, the debate is always whether off-field stuff should be considered at all in a vote for the most outstanding player.

Have any of the past winners exhibited anything close to excellence with integrity? Unfortunately, sportswriters don’t like to change their process when giving awards. They focus upon statistics, lacking both research and introspection. There’s no objective standard for picking the Heisman winner. It’s just football.

I was reminded of this disparity while sitting in an airport waiting for a flight to nowhere, overhearing two men:

Jameis Winston is a true leader, a good Heisman candidate.”

Yeah,” quipped the other. “FSU is the best. Winston’s right up there.”

What happened to integrity?” said a woman overhearing.

Hey, Winston is a great field general. True leader,” one responded mockingly.

Really?” queried the woman.

Yeah,” both men nodded.

Either of you hear of ‘The Collegiate Women Sports Awards?’

Nope,” both men nodded.

The Collegiate Women Sports Awards is like the Heisman for women. The award recognizes not only superior athletic skills, but also leadership, academic excellence, and eagerness to participate in community service.

Wow,” each man murmured.

Now imagine the women’s nominee standing on a table, in the middle of a dinning hall, yelling ‘Kick the quarterback in the balls.’ Do either of you think she’d still be a nominee?

With that, she gathered her luggage and left to catch her Flight.

From a Buddhist perspective, everyone has to examine the life being led, your world-view and things taken for granted. Integrity is speaking with love, compassion, and understanding. Integrity is looking another in the eye who is causing suffering and telling them to stop. This form of integrity comes from compassion and for their victim. It is a truthfulness, which is not only within you, but is also in the world before you.

We all need integrity – more so if your a Heisman Trophy winner.

Do Black Lives Matter?

imagesLast week I was in Saint Louis, MO checking on a home I own. A day ago I was in New York visiting a client. Throughout each visit, I was peppered with “Black Lives Matter” and “I’m Michael Brown.”

Black Lives Matter started as a conversation on Facebook between two black women in two different cities – Oakland and Los Angeles. One friend wrote adding a hash tag to the three words that became a modern day slogan. And thus, “Black Lives Matter” was born.

After having a “Black Lives Matter” sign stuck in my face while stopped at an intersection near a store in Clayton, Missouri and watching New York protesters, I gave serious thought to the following statement.

Black lives son’t matter.

Before smoking steam, allow me to opine.

Having been a Saint Louis, Missouri resident and still owning a home, I bring forth the following observations.

  • When the Ferguson-Florissant school graduation rate is only 69.8%, we effectively say, “Black Lives Don’t Matter.
  • The Normandy school district, the district where Michael Brown graduated days before his death, is the lowest-rated school district in the state. The district’s rating declined 40 percent in a single year while under control of the Republican-led state board of education. The Republicans in effect said, “Michael Brown’s life didn’t matter.
  • 93 percent of black homicide victims from are killed by black offenders. It’s true most murders, black or white, are intraracial. But the black-offending rate (34.4 per 100,000) was nearly eight times higher than white-offending rate (4.5 per 100,000). In summary, killing one another is saying “Black Lives Don’t Matter.
  • When legislatures claim poor people are lazy freeloaders misusing taxpayer money on frivolities, rather than the necessities for which the funds are intended, legislatures effectively say, “Lives of The Poor Don’t Matter.
  • When Congressmen like Peter King (R-NY) say, “If he had not had asthma, and a heart condition, and was so obese, he would not have died from this,” King is saying Black Lives Don’t Matter.
  • When Senators like Rand Paul say, “Obviously, the individual circumstances are important, but I think it’s also important to know that some politician put a tax of $5.85 on a pack of cigarettes, so they’ve driven cigarettes underground by making them so expensive,” Rand’s saying “Black Lives Don’t Matter.”
  • When the actual number of new Ferguson, Missouri voting registrants from Aug. 9 to Oct. 6 totaled 128, Ferguson residents effectively said, “Black Lives Don’t Matter.
  • In the recent midterm election, only 42 percent of registered Ferguson voters cast ballots. This participation was actually 10 percent lower than the 2010 midterm. Ferguson, you’ve clearly stated, “Black Lives Don’t Matter.
  • Normandy, Missouri’s percent of single-parent households is over 60%. Saint Louis nears 58%. Residents fathering children are saying “Black Lives Don’t Matter.
  • Michael Brown’s stepfather, Louis Head consoled Brown’s mother. An enraged Head screamed “burn this motherfucker down” and “burn this bitch down,” he effectively said, “Black Lives Don’t Matter.
  • When Louis Head screamed, “burn this bitch down,” enraging the crowd to confront the police and place themselves in harm’s way, Louis in effect said, “Black Lives Don’t Matter.
  • Head is an ex-convict whose rap sheet includes several felony narcotics convictions. He plead guilty in 1997 to a marijuana distribution charge and was placed in a shock incarceration program and five years  probation. After violating probation, Head’s release was revoked and he was remanded to state prison. In mid-2003, Head was charged with narcotics trafficking, a felony count to which he later pleaded guilty. The St. Louis native was sentenced to seven years in prison. He was released in June 2008 after serving about five years in custody. When Head distributed and sold drugs to the community in which he lived, his actions say, “Black Lives Don’t Matter.
  • When Ferguson, Missouri protesters looted and burned businesses to the ground, they effectively said, “Black Lives Don’t Matter.
  • A self-described “urban militia” group offered cash bounty for the location of Ferguson, Missouri, Officer Darren Wilson. The “protesters” calling itself RbG Black Rebels announced a $5,000 bounty on Darren Wilson, with $1,000 bounty for any family member.  They effectively said “Black Lives Don’t Matter.
  • Five Saint Louis Rams players, Jared Cook, Kenny Britt, Stedman Bailey, Chris Givens and Tavon Austin came out for the Rams’ game against the Oakland Raiders with their hands up as a statement of support for Ferguson. When those same players strap a Stanley hammer to their helmet to show support for the Bosnian immigrant hammered to death by a black 17-year-old, then I’ll believe them. But since no one’s protesting for the murdered Bosnian, it’s clear “Only Black Lives Matter, Bosnian Lives Don’t.”

Lastly, we have to give our police officers a break. Society straps a gun to their waste and tells them to save us from ourselves. These officers deal with our shit and we expect only perfection. Borrowing from Chapin, they see pimps and whores, rapes and more, punk gang wars, robberies and homicides. They walk the beat with the creeps of the street, it’s damn hard to hide. A police officer recently said,

“The first 5 years I felt good about who I was and what I was doing. That was until I realized I was a a social janitor. “Clean up in isle 9.” Someone vomited.”

I believe neither Brown nor Garner should be dead. However, we don’t have the audacity to claim impose our smug self-imposed judgement based upon prejudice. Justice for the few is not justice for all.

Every life has to matter. And believing Black Lives Matter requires participation. Society must participate in something beyond yelling, screaming and looting. It has to be meaningful and with love.

Anything less than full participation means “Black lives won’t matter.

And who’s responsible? You and I.

bottom-line-picAs the annual NCAA football bowl games fervor approaches, a friend queried about which college football team would be number one. I negated any interest by saying, “None.” In reality, it is none.

Since Jameis Winston and other professional football players have graced our national news, I’ve not watched football. As one writer penned, most college and professional teams subtly state, “Listen, if you want to hate, go ahead. We’ll keep on winning. That’s the bottom line here: winning.

In the two years since a woman on the Florida State campus accused Winston of sexual assault — throughout the initial investigation, Winston missed one game. To Florida State, yelling “Fu*k her in the pu**y” in a crowded lunch room is worth a one game suspension. But rape? Nada.

By the time both college and professional football seasons conclude, Winston will have applied for the NFL Draft and leave school, child abuse charges of Minnesota Vikings Petersen and spousal abuse by Baltimore Ravens Rice will come and go.

Most of us demand rapists and abusers be jailed, beaten or hanged. We scream, “No mercy.” For indeed, they deserve none. But then we punish the victim we’re fighting for? Why? We demand justice for victims, yet choose to do injustice? We print names, addresses, discuss personal motives, what they wore, what they said. We shun victims for something they didn’t commit? Why? For a goddam game?

Our strategy for dealing with rape has failed abysmally. Female students and women are raped in appalling numbers, yet the rapist almost invariably goes free. The New York Times reported more than 90 percent of college campus rapes are committed by a relatively small percentage of men — possibly as few as 4 percent — who rape repeatedly, averaging six victims each. Yet these serial rapists overwhelmingly remain at large – free to rape again.

Why?

Well, if you’re a number one ranked team with a very talented, albeit idiotic, quarterback or running back, it’s about the bottom line: winning. However, if society is genuinely interested in preventing sexual or physical assault, then we need to overhaul how we think about assault and what to do about it. To do this, we must forgo winning at all costs.

That’s why I’ve refused to wrap myself in either college or professional football.

At the end of the day, I’ve concluded college and professional football is nothing more than a contest pitting a bunch of well-compensated, no-neck entertainers against a millionaire boys’ club for possession of the nation’s fall sporting ritual. We as a nation must summon central issues, including the question of what makes one man walk the line and while management looks the other way.

As in any other game, success depends on the ability of the team to instill in its members a sense of shared values and goals. And personally, whenever I see or read about Florida State University, I question its ‘shared vision.’

It’s all about the bottom line: winning.

envyFor several months a friend repeated her envy of another. Her friend married a Harvard educated doctor, lives a life of prosperous wealth, works part-time, travels, owns an exquisite home and lives with relative ease.

Envy seemed to know no bound – until this past week.

During a meeting of a Christian group the envied friend requested prayers to fight early dementia, her constant forgetfulness and inability to find the right words. And having a sarcastic sense of humor, I quietly learned over and whispered, “Envy her now?

Whether or not I’m the prick everyone claims that I, at times, can be, we all know this envy. Everyone of us has envied someone else. “Gosh, if I only have what she has? Then I would make it.” “Wow, if I only had the talent he has? I would know no bounds.

All of us know someone better. They appear better, seem better; live better, laugh better and probably shit better. They’re better, in every way.

By perceiving others to have an advantage we subconsciously “level the playing field.”  We make up the difference by puffing ourselves. “I am envious of your success” translates to “I wish you would fail, I deserve your success more.” I am not happy with who, what or where I am.

Envy runs through history like raging water after heavy rain. It’s seen people kill, take their own lives, maim, undermine and give up. We aspire, then we hate.

Truthfully, there are days even I envy. After three decades of illness, I’ve worked hard on overcoming those who dart past me at 90 miles an hour without a care. I envy those who wake up without pain berating their body. I’ve envied this or that; this place, that place, here or there.

Envy – such a painful emotion that prevents peace within the moment, life as it is.

This Thanksgiving, serve gratitude. Be grateful to someone.  Look outside yourself and acknowledge your dependency on others – in particular love – for its the source of life’s goodness. Thank everyone for kindness, generosity and friendship.

Just as my friend was shocked by another’s dementia diagnosis – be careful for which you envy, for God might provide.

Free Stacey Addison

naPHCluJjXoeaul-580x326-noPadI heard Dr. Stacey Addison’s plight during a flight this past weekend.  I personally do not know Dr. Addison nor do I know of those trying to assist her.  I am reposting much of the Petition – Free Dr. Addison! website and a Facebook page. Even CNN picked Addison’s plight as well.

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Dr. Stacey Addison, a Portland, Oregon veterinarian is unjustly imprisoned in the South East Asian country of East Timor. While living her dream of an around the world trip Dr. Addison had the extremely bad luck to share a hired vehicle with a stranger who committed a crime. She has been imprisoned, denied due process and can be held with no charge against her for one year. Our government and the government of East Timor must take action immediately to release Dr. Stacey Addison from her illegal imprisonment.

Stacey planned and saved for two years for her dream trip around the world. What should have been a trip of a lifetime has turned into a nightmare.  On September 5th Stacey entered East Timor because her Indonesian visa was expiring and to tour the country. She took a shared hired taxi ( a common practice in developing countries) from the border to the capitol city of Dili. The other passenger, a stranger to her, asked the driver to stop so he could pick up a package. The police had been tipped that the package contained illegal drugs and surrounded the car and arrested everyone. Stacey, her belongings and Ipad were searched and she was given a drug test, all of which were negative.

Both the stranger who picked up the package and the driver testified that they did not know Dr. Addison. Still, she was held in jail for 5 days prior to being taken before a judge. At that time she was given a conditional release but told that her passport could be held for up to one year pending investigation.  Stacey asked to be questioned and cooperated in any way she could.  She obtained a local attorney.  She was never even contacted by authorities in nearly 2 months and yet on October 28th she was rearrested without a charge and taken to Gleno women’s prison.  She was told that the prosecutor had filed an appeal to have her conditional release rescinded without notifying Stacey or her lawyer.  This is a violation of her Human Rights and illegal under Timorese and International law.

Stacey is a dedicated and caring veterinarian.  Her passions are travel and animals and she has volunteered as a vet both in Peru and Ecuador during her around the world trip.  She has never been in any sort of trouble in her life.

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Please feel free to review Dr. Addison’s information and sign the petition if so inclined. Also, pass the links on to those who may support her.

Food for Cats and Dogs

crazy-ladyReading Ms. Anne Kadet’s article, I Did It: 6 Days of Eating Dog Food made me roar with laughter. Kadet explains:

I’ve been on a paleo diet all year — living on meat, eggs and vegetables. I love it and feel great. But all that fresh meat and produce costs a fortune. Plus, there’s a lot of cooking, and I have better things to do with my time — like reading dog food labels. And yes, I couldn’t help notice that my dog’s high-end kibble — like my paleo diet — is high in protein, grain-free and gluten-free. It’s made with “simple, holistic ingredients.” It’s fortified with omega-3 and omega-6 and antioxidants. The best part? Canidae is an expensive dog food, but at 85 cents a meal, it’s a lot cheaper than eating paleo.

Hmm. Yum, Yum.

So the Cadet took readers through a six-day dairy of edible nuggets. While I never consumed food like Andrew Zimmern or Anthony Bourdain, I’ve had a few strange eats.

For instance, I never let the fact one requires a license to prepare Fugu (pufferfish) stop me from slipping down several morsals. I know Dolphins get high eating the stuff, I did not.

Twenty-years ago, I mistook a container of Science Diet (cat food) in the refrigerator for refried beans. I was advised of my error by the homes’ owner, Figaro. Coward by nature, Mr. Figaro became quite stalwart about his Science Diet. By what can I say, it was pretty good.

An old girlfriend loved eggplant, like an everyday love, nearly every meal love. I’ve never had eggplant cooked so many ways. So much so I’m convinced Ursula K. LeGuin was right when she retorted, “I doubt that the imagination can be suppressed. If you truly eradicated it in a child, he would grow up to be an eggplant.” To this day I’m convinced my ex-girlfriend was eradicated.

All I really know about the diet of cats and dogs comes from Christopher Hitchens:

Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.

Then again, I realize a cat is a sovereign state with a tail.

I’ve never eaten the same food for six straight days, just not my motif. But this doesn’t prevent humans justifying eating strange things morning, noon, and night for extended periods. At the end of the day, all I recommend is to eat healthy. The human body doesn’t require weird diets or crazy food.

One Zen student said, “My teacher is the best. He can go days without eating.”

The second said, “My teacher has so much self-control, he can go days without sleep.”

The third said, “My teacher is so wise that he eats when he’s hungry and sleeps when he’s tired.”

The JourneyNow that Republicans control both houses of Congress, there is newfound effort to craft legislation rolling back part or all of the Affordable Care Act. Obviously President Obama would veto any legislation that eliminates the whole program or threatens essential elements, such as the individual mandate requiring everybody to have health insurance. Still, Congress and the White House will probably play out the whole repeal drama anyway, no matter how scripted.

During the past six months, I’ve come to understand the greater untouched healthcare battle. The biggest costs to health and soul are lost in intimate moments, as loved ones care for aging parents, a disabled child or dying friend. Society rarely assesses impacts of social care from either the receiver or provider point of view. So while economic spillovers of healthcare benefits make a noteworthy newsbyte, neither private insurance nor public coverage through entitlement programs will meet the demand for care.

I am not unlike others, working by day, becoming healthcare provider by night. In reality, I care for two: my father and my ex-wife. My father has end of life dementia and my ex-wife has early Alzheimer’s. And while congressional leadership discuss gutting the Affordable Care Act, few, if any converse upon the daily efforts provided by millions. We’re neither cherished, honored nor recognized as financial burdens of caring mount.

It is we – the we that live and die in every moment – in the silent echoes of our mind, hoping for peace, hoping for relief, hoping for both.

Each of those whom I care had faith experiences. My father’s near death experience occurred in 2000. And until a few years ago, he claimed hving repeated Angelic visitors. My ex-wife claimed God spoke to her at an early age. In each case, personal communiqué with God propelled life, ethics and love.

As I lay my father’s aging hands under the sheets for another night, I reminisce when those hands possessed great strength. They lovingly provided for a family of four. Funny how the very hands that could craft wood now produces such great discomfort. And while massaging my father’s body, I wonder now if his Angelic friends remain near, provide any comfort or wait patiently.

Other days, I watch my ex-wife eyes explore a wondrous fish tank filled with beautiful guppies. It’s magical. In these moments, she’s freedom, grace, beauty and wonder — not merely a concept of mind, but as an experience reverberating throughout body and soul. Does she relive a thousand adventures, encased by swashbuckling heroes? Does she leave the boundaries of this tangible world to fly in the heavens of possibility? Has God conversed and eased her burden?

In reality, I know both will end either hooked to tubes and machines in an ICU or in a skilled nursing facility. But we caregivers struggle so hard, as adults, to figure out the meaning of what to do, how to be happy ourselves, and what it is we’re supposed to be doing versus what we can do.

Congressional representatives will provide little. Then again, I never thought of the radar until I became the radar. No one does. As a Buddhist, maybe answers aren’t important. Perhaps serving as caregiver was never intended to unfold life’s ultimate secret. Still, somewhere in the moments with those loved, I’ve found something far more important, a deeper sense of life itself.

Just like you, I live a journey. Maybe the journey matters. Just maybe.

Transitions

Sociological Inquiry Into Life in Transition

dhamma footsteps

‘sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya’

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