Archive for November, 2014

The Bottom Line: Winning

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.


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.


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.


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.

Here’s a personal post from a blogger about being a global citizen.

Bears LogoBeing a loyal Chicago Bears fan, last night was hard to watch. Actually, I turned the game off after the second Green Packers score. After rightfully so, the Chicago Tribune honored the loss with a special Sports section cover, Lambeau Bleep. The Bears took a big bleep at Lambeau Field, where the Green Bay Packers crushed them by a score 55-14 after taking a 42-0 lead at halftime.

Having played football and even thought of trying out for the Bears in an era of youth long gone, I knew the game was history in the first quarter. After reading last night’s postmortem, I presume Aaron Rodgers was pulled from the game due to a sore arm. Hell, throwing six (6) touchdowns in one half is tiring. In truth, Rodgers stated the Bears didn’t change much from the first game.

At work, I was queried about Chicago’s execution. “I’m in favor of it,” I responded. Simply put, the Bears couldn’t find lightning in a thunderstorm. Accordingly, Coach Marc Trestman quoted the usual, “We’ll take a day off, regroup and prepare for next week.” For a team that’s allowed the opposition to score 106 points in two games, I’m sure they’ll regroup – may not happen in this decade, but eventually they’ll be better, stronger, and faster.

Famed Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight once quoted, “Getting to the top is not as hard as staying on top.” From a business or sports perspective, when one seemingly has no concept of team, whatever that is, you lose. In business and life, you can’t win with essentially good intentions attached to mediocre talent.

Joseph Master wrote an interesting piece about Virginia McKasky.

“Despite some lean seasons in the 1990’s — at the height of which there was hearsay that the team would be sold; a laughable idea to all who know Virginia Halas McCaskey — the Bears have benefitted from excellent leadership. With Mike Ditka at the helm, the Bears won Super Bowl XX against the New England Patriots. Under head coach Lovie Smith, they defeated the New Orleans Saints to take home the 2006 NFC Championship trophy, which bears her father’s name. On that occasion, the First Lady of the NFL took to the field to receive the trophy while fans sang “Bear Down Chicago Bears.”

“It was glorious,” she says. “The only problem was we didn’t win the Super Bowl afterwards.”

From a Buddhist perspective, suffering can lead to faith, which in turn leads to joy, peace, all the way to the highest levels of happiness. How so? Well, first remember this is sports. It’s only a game, regardless of the fact the Bears play worse than my high school alma marter, William Fremd High School some thirty-years ago.

Sometimes athletic activities pull you into a natural state of mindfulness. For the Bears, mindlessness seems better suited.

Still … when faced with a Lambeau Bleep, it’s important to know the people around you and see how they come together to support one another. Loss can lead to a palpable sense of genuine connection. In order to progress forward, the Bears will have to find such support.

I remember the closing words from a memorial service: “My life has been so blessed.” Remember, most of us are truly blessed. Seems simple, but means everything. In one’s spiritual practice, facing the most frightening challenges can be a path to true awakening and each of us has the potential for awakening humanity in an unprecedented way.

May you find an unprecedented way.

tom1_wide-1deca903798e3cdc75d899f4c8ed25690a4072ba-s40-c85Many know I’ve been openly critical of National Public Radio. Repeatable fund drives, program reductions and staff cuts have moved NPR from frontline coverage to news with a ‘homey spin,’ one palatable for a broader audience, yet unremarkable in almost every way. I’ve detested rebroadcasting programs, where unaired or anciently aired programs are recycled for panhandling purposes.

Notwithstanding, as the comedic duo of Car Talk signed off in October 2012, I knew such a week was forthcoming. Simple deduction concludes one broadcaster was ill, for how would anyone surrender the love of rich vibrant laughter. I am saddened by the death of Tom Magliozzi, passing from complications of Alzheimer’s disease.

I was introduced to Car Talk thirty-years ago. Having made a living in the car industry for twelve years, I openly admit to knowing little about cars. Regardless of how hard my father tried, his effort remained futile. There was little, if any knowledge osmosis. However, Tom and Ray never seemed old. Tom was a true enthusiast, if not eccentric car aficionado, who mixed understanding against the limits of technology.

NPR’s Susan Stamberg captured Mr. Magliozzi’s essence best:

“Thomas Louis Magliozzi was a success in pretty much everything that counts. A loving son, a beloved brother’s other half, his sister Lulu’s best teaser. He was a husband, a father of two, a teacher (of marketing, at various Boston colleges), a mechanic and a man who could make everyone who heard or met him smile.”

Adding to Ms. Stamberg’s thoughts, that for all his shortcomings and faults, Tom had a life well-lived.

Tom Magliozzi was able to touch the soul of others. As such, he and Ray walked fertile holy ground through humor and laughter. While listeners spent time on the urgent, Tom helped us focus on the important. And for a short time in this world, Car Talk held the glue of life – love, the foundational principle holding all relationships.

From a Buddhist perspective, it’s no small task to be both brilliant and relatable, to be a legend and approachable. As a listener, Tom had an amazing gift to leave listeners feeling better. It wasn’t easy, he just made it look that way.

To those who knew Tom, there is little I can say. Quoting President Lincoln:

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming.

Like Mr. Magliozzi all of us need to leave legacies. We need lives well-lived. To our benefit, all of us had Tom. If God were here I know what He’d say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

NTNH-F1It’s hard to imagine anyone slicing America’s consciousness like Brittany Maynard. Barely 29 years old, one can ‘Google’ Maynard’s photos: the wedding, boating and rock climbing. It’s hard to picture this young, vibrant woman as ‘terminal.’ Yet Ms. Maynard voluntarily ended her life, effectively choosing a ‘death with dignity,’

Those against the ‘death with dignity movement’ argue only God can decide when death occurs. However, being a former medic, if one seeks medical care throughout life, one directly or indirectly makes choices about life itself. In effect, God does not actually make all the choices, we all do. If one drives too fast, drinks too much, smokes too much, eats too much or fails to receive proper vaccinations, then one impacts how soon the Angel of Death arrives. To see God working through respirators, kidney dialysis and heart-lung machines and assorted other devices trivializes both life and God.

In a Religion News article, Joni Eareckson Tada penned the following:

If I could spend a few moments with Brittany before she swallows that prescription she has already filled, I would tell her how I have felt the love of Jesus strengthen and comfort me through my own cancer, chronic pain and quadriplegia. I would tell her that the saddest thing of all would be for her to wake up on the other side of her tombstone only to face a grim, joyless existence not only without life, but without God.

Bishop Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, who heads the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life called Maynard’s actions “wicked.”

We do not judge the individuals but the act itself is to be condemned. This woman did this thinking she could die with dignity. But this is where the error lies: to commit suicide is not a good thing, it is a wicked thing because it is saying no both to one’s own life and to everything which signifies respect for our mission in this world and towards those closest to us.

God is probably not as repulsed as the Ignorant Tight-Ass Club (see West Wing: Midterms). Once Maynard became accepting of her life’s end, physical death became irrelevant. She accepted her own death as though it had occurred, and so fear of the actual moment when her heart stops ceased to exist.

Having walked the corridors of many hospitals, when terminally ill patients accept death without fear, they become free. They move onward in peace.

Still, the anti-death with dignity movement rarely understands the personal psyche of the decision. Their belief is etched in a foundational training that God and Christ’s faith is wonderful. From a Biblical perspective, writers really glossed over death. Genesis 5:4 quotes, “… Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters.” The Bible doesn’t articulate the quality of Adam’s last 100 years. What if Adam drooled from his mouth, got up at all times of the night, exposed himself to anyone around and couldn’t urinate on his own?

Another example? Genesis 5:8. ‘… Seth lived a total of 912 years, and then he died.” Did Seth really just live 912 years and then just die? What if Biblical writers neglected to mention Seth had diabetes; had to have any limbs amputated, needed help bathing, couldn’t see anything for the last ten years, couldn’t remember loved ones, couldn’t dress or had to eat mashed food because he lost all his teeth? What would we say then?

God does not expect us to be perfect. Diseases attack both mentally and physically. Caring for a loved one with terminal disease is extremely difficult, with caregivers burdened by doubt and guilt; stressed and struggling to balance compassion against hopelessness. God provides few if any perfect answers. All we can do is to do our best to provide the best quality of life we can.

As a Buddhist, I judge neither Maynard nor others, for most fail to grasp that ‘everyone’ dies eventually – mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children, ourselves. We impulsively string our loved to technology all the while believe this is God’s will. Extending life in such a manner flies in the face of reality, yet we often feel we must.

I do not fear death, neither do I seek it either. But I’ll welcome it when it comes. Death is as important as life, it validates all that we do during our life times, without an end, the journey is without significance.

Governor Jay Nixon tweeted this photo this morning while voting.

Remember – Missouri is the ‘Show Me’ State.

Butt Snip

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