Java Zen:Thinking Out Loud Saturday, 2017.06.24
Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.

		Cicero

2006.06.17

Modern Day Marshalsea

While on a recent trip I found myself short of cash. “Not to worry,” me thinks. “A convenient cash advance from my credit card and all will be set right.” And so it was, until I got my credit card bill. I hadn’t done any kind of cash advance for years, as in 15 years. Having learned early about the black pit that is “Credit Card Debt,” I vowed to myself as a young lad never to fall into that dark, unholy place again. Since that day, I’ve paid my credit card balance in full each month.

But there are new rules (new to me, anyway) about cash advances. Not only do you pay a “fee” for the cash advance transaction, $20 in my case, but the damn thing is subject to immediate and Draconian finance charges. Check out the APR put in place by a simple cash advance:

Ouch

It would seem with the recent changes in bankruptcy laws (aggressively lobbied for by the banking and credit card industry) and the ability to jack interest rates to such obscene levels, the credit card industry has successfully pilfered the signage above the very gates of Hell: “All hope abandon, ye who enter here!” All the more reason to be mindful of the benefits of hard work and grateful I can pay my balance in full each month.

2006.06.16

Fake But Accurate News: More Zarqster Un-safehouse Documents and Items

Secret, covert and High Ranking Officials who wished to remain anonymous stealthily descended on the JZ:TOL campus via Black Helicopters this morning (Guys, next time do this at night so the neighbors don’t notice.) and revealed some of the details surrounding additional documents and items found after the Zarqster met his maker (Who knew Allah looked like a 500 lb. smart bomb?) Among these items:

  • A personal diary with fuzzy pink covers and sequin hearts pasted on the spine. The diary, unfortunately, is locked with a tinsy, tiny padlock and the key was not recovered after the raid. Elite CIA safe crackers and code breakers are currently working around the clock in an effort to breach this hitherto unknown security device.

  • A “To Jihad List” which included, among others, the following items:

    • Milk, Peanuts and Soy Sauce with MSG

    • That neighbor with the incessantly barking dog

    • The Moon

    • All clothes that are not black

    • Iceland

  • A cell phone with Paris Hilton’s phone number on speed dial (This may or may not mean anything. After all, my cell phone came with Paris’ number pre-configured for speed dial.)

  • A copy of “Jihadi Illustrated” – the swim suit edition.

  • Instructions for how to properly carve up a hostage for holiday presentation and intimate sleeper cell gatherings, including tasteful garnish suggestions.

  • Several trunks of collector’s quality GI Joe dolls.

  • A dozen bottles of extra-strength headache medicine.

I have the impression there was more to reveal, but the Home Owner’s Association Covenant Enforcement Committee had already flagged the helicopters as a violation so I had to ask the informants to leave.

2006.06.13

Aluminum Overcast

Growing up in the 1960’s, the events of WWII were a mere 25 years in the past. It seemed like ancient history at the time, but now that those events happened more than 60 years ago, both age and experience have given me a different understanding of times’ relativity. Its easy to understand why my brothers and I had a strong interest in that particular war. WWII was more recent to us than the Vietnam war is to the kids growing up today. We did the outward kid stuff like playing soldier and building models of ships, tanks, canons, aircraft – virtually all manner of military equipment was of interest.

But we knew more of the history around the arsenals we built. Certainly more so than the kids today. Our kid play involved re-enactments of the Battle of the Bulge, Anzio Beach and the Ploesti Oil Raid. We knew the history of the Desert Rats and the 8th Air Force. In that respect, it wasn’t play. We taught ourselves the details of an important time in world history and in doing so gained a lasting appreciation of war and its effects. That a man could die in battle wasn’t such an abstract concept. We didn’t have the Game-Over-Reboot-Start-Again filter.

My greatest interest, my speciality even, was aircraft. No detail was too small or insignificant to commit to memory. Indeed, no self respecting student of the Mustang would dare claim expertise without knowing the subtle differences between a P-51B and a P-51C beyond the obvious fact they were manufactured in different locations. No doubt enthusiasm of this sort was inspired partly by my father’s tales of being an Air Scout and hanging around the likes of Joe Foss.

But it was more than that. There was something attractive about being a fighter pilot or even a member of a bomber crew that was different from serving on the land or at sea. Once the aircraft left the ground, a whole new set of rules were in effect. All you had to work with was what you brought with you into the air and all you could do was move forward – no cavalry, no digging in, no backing up. Its the kind of environment that appeals to a grown up Aikido black belt libertarian who’s not afraid of a fight.

Each time I see one of the old WWII era aircraft fly over, I think of the men who went to war in these machines. Each of those moments is a Memorial Day unto itself as I cannot help but imagine standing on an airfield in England in 1944, the plane I’m watching having just taken off on its way to a mission deep in the heart of Germany. I’m seeing and hearing exactly what it would have been like over 60 years ago. These moments are a brief experience of times long gone. Unfortunately, memory of the sacrifice is fading, too.

I thought of these things yet again this past weekend as the Experimental Aircraft Association’s B-17G, “Aluminum Overcast,” visited Centennial Airport. My office window looks out over the flight pattern for Centennial Airport, so for the past four days I’ve watched this amazing piece of history take off and head out across the flat Colorado landscape several dozen times. I did manage a couple of good shots with my trusty Sony DSC-W7, and even a little video. Below is one of the better pictures.

B-17G Aluminum Overcast
Boeing B-17G “Aluminum Overcast”

[Edit History]

2008.06.02

Grammar fix.

2006.06.12

Michael Yon Still Fighting HFM, et al.

I purchased a legitimate print of this photograph, Strength and Compassion, from michaelyon-online.com and have it on prominent display in my office as a reminder of why we are fighting, what we are fighting and what it takes to be successful. The story behind the moment captured in this image of Major Mark Bieger carrying a little girl named Farah is particularly compelling. As a consequence, I have a small stake in preserving the integrity of this image as desired by Michael Yon. I therefore view the use of this image by HFM, in the manner in which they have done so, to be personally offensive.

[Edit History]

2006.06.19 – Sweet. Never underestimate the power in an Army of Davids.

2006.06.11

You Don’t Belong To You

The Orlando Sentinel reports:

A new state law that would allow Floridians to block access to their credit histories could be superseded by one of several federal proposals now working their ways through Congress.

Consumer advocates say one of the federal measures in particular would eviscerate the state “security-freeze” law, which was designed to protect credit files from identity theft.

I’ve been an advocate for such a credit report freeze for a long time. Credit checks are a critical link in the chain of events leading to identity theft. Anyone attempting to use your personal data to acquire a credit card, cell phone account or plethora of other items and services typically has to clear the credit check hurdle. In my experience, this has largely been regarded as a mere formality, something to breeze through on your way to acquiring that wicked kuel widget. If the vendor hit a credit lock, the bell would ring and stop the transaction.

I have not had my identity stolen, but I do have an Evil Twin. Some deadbeat dad with almost the same name as I (different middle name.) Since first becoming aware of this cretin during my first semester as an undergraduate, its been periodic waves of cleaning this bum’s stain off of my life. I’ve been sued by hospitals for Evil Twin’s unpaid medical bills, chased by the State of Alaska for child support to the tune of $40,000 (I have no children), harassed by a correspondence school in New York for non-payment of course materials and bunches of other bill collection issues. Some of Evil Twin’s slime ended up on my credit report and it took two years of effort to clear the record.

Had I been able to lock my credit report, this piece of the headache would have been prevented. The time measured in years it takes to clear a credit record is more than offset by the relatively infrequent delay in completing large item purchases (the ones that typically require a credit check.) And that’s all it is, a delay. I have every confidence the vendor will be interested in my money even after waiting a week or two.

But unfortunately for you and I, the credit card companies are not particularly interested in our pain and suffering. That’s all just collateral damage under the bridge in the name of maximizing business profits.

The Industry wants to limit the opportunity to freeze a credit history to those victimized by ID theft or those who have good reason to suspect their personal financial information has been compromised.

“The Industry” isn’t interested in preventing our suffering but they are willing to let us close the barn door after the horse has run off. Consider this: Its as if “The Industry” has control over all the doors on your house and by default all those doors are unlocked. This is so they can walk in when they please and entice you with nifty bobbles and shinny trinkets. They cannot do this if you control the locks. However, if your house is robbed and everything of value cleaned out, “The Industry” is gracious enough to let you lock the doors so that vast stash of nothing you have won’t be stolen.

I suspect most of the population has a purchasing strategy that doesn’t go much beyond their brain stem and can be summed up as “See shinny object. Bite.” But then there’s the rest of us who give due consideration to our purchases. A minority who are capable of independently determining what are our needs and what are our wants. Believe it or not, we don’t need advertising to discriminate between the two.

Many consumers may not realize how inconvenient a freeze on access to their credit records can be until they try getting quick approval to finance a purchase, said Anthony Dimarco, vice president of the Florida Bankers Association.

“My biggest concern is if a consumer signs up for a freeze, then goes shopping at a department store and wants to get instant credit approval to buy something,” he said. “Suddenly, reality raises its head. You can’t unfreeze your credit instantaneously. The person may realize that’s not really what they want.”

That’s your biggest concern, Mr. Dimarco? First may I suggest some mouth wash because your breath stinks when you make such feeble attempts to tell us how we should be thinking about this. Secondly, your assertion reveals a fundamental misunderstanding about what at least some of your customers want. Those who are diligent about preserving the integrity of their credit history and who choose to make the effort to lock their credit report, are not the type to find themselves in the middle of a department store blindly signing up for instant credit. Rather, myself and others realize there is a far greater chance of some criminal attempting to get your instant credit in my good name. That’s what reality’s head looks like to us. And preventing that, Mr. Dimarco, IS what I really want.

[Edit History]

2006.08.02

Amy Alkon reminded me of another aspect to this issue. In addition to being particularly insensitive toward actually preventing fraud, “The Industry” would also rather you do the leg work for them in tracking down the deadbeats. Its implied in the description of what I’ve had to battle with in regards to my Evil Twin. A company is owed money by Evil Twin. Some butt hole flips open the phone book, looks up my name and says “Oh, look! Evil Twin is in the phone book!” and they initiate the machine to start hammering me for Evil Twin’s delinquency.

Sometimes I wish having a thought was attached to the pleasure/pain centers of the brain such that logical thoughts had a pleasant sensation whereas illogical thoughts had all the comfort of giving birth to a water buffalo through the nose. Note to “The Industry” bill collector butt holes: Deadbeats are not responsible enough to maintain their own phone number and such so just move along.

Alas, all I can to is rant, for sure as water buffalos are big, “The Industry” isn’t likely to care. In fact, they would care greatly if some legislation with muscle was in place that dinged them mightily for not fact checking. “The Industry” would undoubtedly vigorously fight such legislation. No, they would much rather I go to great lengths to prove the negative, that I am NOT Evil Twin. Having done that, they move on to the next poor soul listed in the phone book with the same name as the deadbeat. You would have an easier time convincing me that I am short than convincing me this is anything other than deliberate strategy.

2006.06.10

Government Demands Censorship Apology

Not good:

House Democrats from Long Island and New York City on Friday joined the chorus of critics slamming Ann Coulter.

The lawmakers signed a letter drafted by Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) demanding that the conservative commentator apologize for saying in her new book that widows of some 9/11 victims are “enjoying” their husbands’ deaths. The book refers to the four New Jersey women as “the witches of East Brunswick.”

I’ve been working on a more considered response to Ann Coulter’s remarks and the reactions that followed. But this development breached my patience and demanded an immediate response.

Is our Congress so out of touch with, you know, reality-based reality that they believe it appropriate and worth the time to issue what measures up to a demand for censorship? “Apology,” my ass. Coming from Congress, such a demand carries a far greater implication of intimidation than a similar letter from, say, the local cub scout troop.

In light of this pointed abuse of power, I care less about what Ann Coulter said specifically, and more about showing Congress with my finger just which Constitutional Amendment I’ll die fighting to protect. It is neither appropriate nor a good use of their time for the Congress to meddle in this issue. I felt just as strongly when they meddled in the life of Terri Schiavo. Neither party, indeed no elected official has any business here except to fulfill their oath to office and protect the Constitution.

This development has the same stench as the on-going revelations about corruption within the ranks of Congress and, even more troubling, the lengths to which they will unite to protect themselves from the very same laws we are all subject to, including members of Congress. The sewage that is Congressional Hubris assumes each of the members are above the law, entitled even. Likewise for those for whom they wish to confer protection. Bizzzzzzzt! (That’s the sound of me voting for America’s new Third Party: the Not-An-Incumbent Party.) Protecting their darling shielded puppets, what ever the cause, on my dime makes me want to Ensz in their shoes.

Note to Ann Coulter: Don’t! The issue just spilled over into your fundamental right to free speech and I support you in protecting that right.

Note to Congress, Democrats and Republicans: Get back to work!

Fake But Accurate News: Whitehouse Press Briefing

[Ed. The following are a couple of snippets from the latest press briefing by White House Press Secretary, Tony Snow, on the recent demise of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. A US military general was also available for questions. In attendance were terrorist operatives reporters from various Main Stream Media organizations.]

…..

Reporter: General, were the photos of the allegedly deceased Abu Musab al-Zarqawi “Photoshopped” prior to presenting them to the press?

General: “Photoshopped?” What’s that? I don’t understand what you’re asking. Do you mean did we have the film developed at a MotoPhoto? No.

Reporter: General, how do you explain the fact freedom fighter Abu Musab al-Zarqawi survived the blast from not just one, but two 500 pound IED’s?

General: First of all, the ordnance used in this operation were not “Improvised Explosive Devices,” or “IED’s,” rather very sophisticated weapons delivered with laser precision by highly trained and competent professionals. IED’s are the weapon of choice with the terrorist organizations and have killed and injured many of our brave soldiers as well as a great many more innocent Iraqi civilians. And as far as Zarqawi’s having survived the blasts, all I can say he was lucky.

Reporter: Can you elaborate on the “Conspiracy of Luck” which you just made reference to?

General: Ahhhhh…

…..

Reporter 1: Is there any truth to the rumor that His Eminence Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was robbed by elite US combat soldiers just before he died?

Snow: No truth. Rumors? I thought you guys were professionals and dealt with facts and stuff.

Reporter 2: So, for the record, are you not saying these rumors are unsubstantiated non-truths or are you not saying they are likely un-truths pending Congressman Murtha’s investigation?

Snow: Ummm…

Reporter 3: How do you explain the growing reports which claim Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Benevolent, was robbed by US military personnel as he lay on his death bed?

Snow: “Reports?” Because two reporters asked about a goofy rumor that makes it a report? I think I got off the elevator on the wrong floor.

Reporter 4: Is there any truth to the rumor that the Exalted Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was sexually abused by elite US combat soldiers just before he died?

Snow: I think I’m in the wrong building.

Reporter 5: Are you claiming these atrocities wouldn’t be true if they had actually happened?

Snow: Excuse me. I just remembered I have a dental appointment for a root canal.

Reporter 6: Are there any more rumors you care to neither confirm nor deny?

Social Parasites Wanted, No Experience Necessary

Amy Alkon is attending the Human Behavior and Evolution Society conference at the University of Pennsylvania. She makes note of these comments from behavioral ecologist Marlene Zuk (University of California, Riverside):

She talked about parasites as a normal part of life, and noted that they’ve shaped life from the beginning: “We evolved with parasites…” and “…we remove them at our peril.” She spoke of the unexpected downsides of removing our pathogens.

This has me thinking. It is a common observation that our social behavior is a more developed or complex extension of basic physical models and that our social structure is often modeled after similar systems in nature. So while Professor Zuk is talking about actual little critters, what are the implications of removing societal parasites? Is it actually a good thing for society to have some portion of the population living on welfare? Does the social burden of 14 million illegal aliens provide some as yet unrecognized benefit, something deeper than the ideas and claims being kicked around in the MSM and blogsphere? And the same for social security, Medicaid and Medicare.

I don’t have an answer to these questions, but they may merit consideration if a socially healthy solution is to be crafted to many of the current issues we face. I believe there is a very real possibility we are failing to define many of these issues in a manner which can result in positive solutions.

That which does not kill me makes me stronger.

Friedrich Nietzsche

[Edit History]

2006.06.10 – Ooooops. Wrong link to Advice Goddess post. Its fixed now.

2006.06.20 – Sissy Willis takes a similar tack with regard to immune response research and the social context.

2006.06.09

Picking Up The Politics

Too funny, puns-a-plenty and double entendre galore. Since for as long as I’ve owned dogs, my euphemism for the chore of picking up the poop in the backyard has been “cleaning up the politics.” Well today, the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post report that Kathleen Yvonne Ensz, a former professor of French at the University of Northern Colorado and a Democrat, was cited for dropping dog feces through a mail slot of U.S. Republican Representative Marilyn Musgrave’s Greeley office. Apparently, Ms. Ensz has the same mind set to “cleaning up the politics” in the backyard. Except for me, its a euphemism. For Ms. Ensz, its a waste of good material and call to action. And this bit of news happening in my own backyard!

2006.06.08

Spinning Little Worlds

As reported on Counterterrorism Blog

“Reacting to the killing of Abu Mus’ab al Zarqawi in Iraq, pro-Jihadi commentators on al Jazeera rushed to assert that the ‘death of Zarqawi won’t weaken al Qaida but will actually unify the organization.'”

If this is an accurate assessment, we’re left to wonder what prevented al Qaida from bumping Zarqawi off themselves and thus achieve the lauded organization unification sooner. Spun the other way, if eliminating the leader strengthens the organization, what do terrorist organizations think will happen when leaders of free nations are assassinated? When the world gets smaller, attempts to spin bad news as good just ends up looking like tail chasing. And yes, al Jazeera, those stripes DO make you look thiner.

Observing how jihadi spin is in such synchronization with the MSM leads me to conclude a fundamental strategy from both spheres, albeit with different agendas perhaps, depends on persons of freedom being incapable of rubbing two thoughts together. To some extent this is true, particularly among the extremes which simply have no room for more than one thought. But reading the signs, I have a growing confidence that this kind of shallow reasoning will backfire on those who presuppose its mystical, magical powers.

[Edit History]

2006.06.09 – Nice parody from Eric Raymond punctuating the freakish relationship between the MSM and terrorist organizations. But then again, the reality of it gets a little spooky.

2006.05.29

The Warrior of Peace Rests

It may seem incongruous to associate the word “Peace” with “Warrior,” but as history has shown and current events are testing, there can be no peace without warriors to protect it. Janet was such a warrior. She knew peace, how to create it, how to nurture it and she knew when to defend it. And there is no denying she knew how to fight. When breast cancer showed as an opponent, she knew most likely she was fighting for others, that they might have a chance at peace. A peace that she would not know again until she left this world.

I had one last obligation to Janet’s physical presence here on Earth. It was her wish that her ashes be laid to rest in Hawai`i. Janet and I had a number of conversations about what she wished to have happen in this matter. And I have had a year to come to terms with this transition and to think about what needed to be accomplished during this particular journey to Hawai`i, for both Janet and myself. I have a clear sense of peace that I was successful.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

About half of Janet’s remains were released at a spot along the Kalalau trail on the way to Hanakapiai beach. The view from this location is breathtaking and was one of her favorites. (Click images for larger picture.)

South West West North East South East
South West West North East South East

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A few were released at a brief ceremony on the Heiau where we were married. I had devised a special urn for the Heiau ceremony and called it Janet’s hōkū lele (Hawaiian for “shooting” star or “meteor”).

My role in this ceremony was to facilitate the completion of her transition from life on Earth to what Janet believed was the next phase in her spiritual growth. I do not know what was next for Janet. None of us can claim that knowledge. What I do know is what she believed needed to happen on this side of her transition. As anyone who knew Janet could attest, she could be rather particular and in this matter she was no different. She was adamant, for instance, that at least 72 hours pass before her cremation. And so it was. Most of what needed to be done has already been taken care of by Janet herself. My part, while perhaps important, is largely symbolic and pertains to her actual physical remains.

In keeping with how Janet thought about the world, her Hawai`i Celebration of Life builds upon the transition of five basic elements which are common in a variety of cultures and spiritual beliefs. Buddhist philosophy speaks of “go dai”, the five great elements of earth, water, fire, wind and void. Hinduism makes reference to the “Panchamahabhuta”, the five great elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air/Wind and Aether. Similarly, western culture from pre-Socratic Greece up through the Renaissance refer to these same five elements, although “Aether” is frequently substituted with “Heaven.”

Transition of Heaven was completed by Janet on April 22, 2005. She referred to this as her transition into Spirit. Likewise, the transition of Fire has been completed. No one can deny that Janet walked through the most intense of fires during her 10 year battle with breast cancer. Then, of course, there was her cremation. That leaves the transition of Janet’s remains to Earth, Wind and Water. Here, I have a minor role to play and larger forces will see to the completion of transitioning these elements – the Earth, the Wind and the Ocean.

In summary, the Heiau ceremony went as follows. I met with Fern Merle-Jones from Island Weddings and Blessings at the Kalalau trail head about mid-morning. I was delighted to see she was accompanied by four other Hula dancers, including Eana Rose who had recommended I contact Fern for the celebration arrangements. I have previously posted the rather interesting chain of events leading to my introduction to Eana. As we began the short hike up to the Heiau, several of the dancers began to chant in Hawaiian.

Upon arrival at the Heiau and before stepping into the circle of stones, each person was to state their name, the purpose for being at the Heiau and to ask forgiveness and clarity. Fern blew a conch shell several times. A small table was set up upon which a picture of Janet, leis similar to the ones we had at our wedding, leaves gathered on the way up to the Heiau, the memorial book from the May, 2005, Celebration of Life ceremony in Denver and Janet’s hōkū lele were placed. We then sat in a circle and I was invited to share some stories about Janet so they could know a little more about her. I formally began the ceremony (if such a free-flowing and improvised celebration could at all be referred to as formal) by saying:

Aloha Kakahiaka.

Thank you each for being here with me to participate in and witness the completion of Janet’s transition and to celebrate her life. The voyage Janet and I shared began on this sacred ground. We were married here. And here, on this same ground, this familiar landscape where we vowed tell death do us part, we do so today. Each on separate journeys, each with new eyes.

Janet had a profound respect and appreciation for sacred places. Her skill at creating such places was unparalleled. She would have begun this ceremony by calling in the light and that is what I will do my best to accomplish now.

Father, Mother, God.

Pele, Laka, Hinahina.

I ask that you surround each and everyone here with the Light of Aloha for the highest good.

Mai ka piko o ke po`o a ka poli o ka wāwae, a la`a ma na kihi `eha a ke kino.1

A Warrior of Peace comes to you swift as an arrow shot into the sun. I knew her as Janet Laurel. Please accept her.

Fern then lead the dancers in two absolutely beautiful dances for Janet. One of the reasons I think Hula appeals to me so much occurred to me while watching. I thought of Fred Astair, and watching him from an Aikido perspective – he is incredibly balanced and centered. I can see this when watching a single Hula dancer, but the really amazing experience happens if you can view all the dancers simultaneously with soft eyes and absorb the story they are telling as a group. Its like seeing the forest in the trees. Not easy, but its very cool when it happens. The five dancers assembled for Janet’s Heiau celebration were excellent and did a wonderful service for her transition.

It was my turn to complete the ceremony with the hōkū lele. As I spoke the words returning Janet’s remains to the Earth, I tapped the hōkū lele on the stones at the edge of the Heiau to release a few of her ashes onto the ground. As I spoke the words returning Janet’s remains to the Wind, I held the hōkū lele high and shook it to release a few of her ashes onto the sea breeze blowing up from off the waves below the Heiau. After I spoke the words returning Janet’s remains to the Water, I held the string tail to the hōkū lele tight and wound up for the best shooting star I could muster and launched it far out over the edge of the Heiau and into the waiting Ocean below.

The holes in one half of the hōkū lele would allow for Janet’s ashes to be released into the Ocean’s water. The Colorado granite stones and Anini Beach sand would insure the sphere would sink and not wash up on some beach for a tourist to find and pocket as a souvenir. The Colorado granite stones also provide a symbolic link back to another part of the world that Janet loved so much. In short order the glue (water soluble and non-toxic, of course) holding the hōkū lele together would dissolve and spill any stones, sand and remaining ash into the Ocean. Over a short period of time,the wood and cotton string would degrade, thus leaving no trace to its purpose.

Watching the hōkū lele sail over the distant Ironwoods, the Hula dancers began to chant. I stood on the edge of the Heiau and allowed this moment to wash over me, then ended the ceremony by saying:

Ua ola loko i ke Aloha.

A hui hou, Makamae Janet.2

Before we left the Heiau, Fern again blew the conch shell several times. At the base of the trail leading up to the Heiau, I walked out onto the rocks at the end of Ke`e Beach and threw the leis into the Ocean while the Hula dancers chanted.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

As is my tradition, I made my way to Hanakapiai falls. I was on the trail before sunrise and made it to the falls about 7:30 AM. Each time I make this hike, it serves to remind me the guides to living a balanced life in a complex world are simple and easy to grasp – watch your footing, keep your balance, notice the beauty, take care of your self, help others, wrong turns have their own lessons and can be just as beautiful…

I ended up with a full 3 hours by my self at the falls before anybody else arrived. While soaking my sore feet in the cool water, I noticed I wasn’t alone. An `Auku`u (Black-crowned Night Heron, native to the Hawaiian Islands) was across the way, intent on some fishing. `Auku`u, while belonging to the same family as the ubiquitous cattle egrets found on the Islands, are quite rare and don’t care for the company of humans generally. I’ve been fortunate in that for some reason they tend to find me or when I stumble upon them then don’t fly away. This has been true of the Great Blue Herons back in Colorado as well. Janet used to marvel at my affinity for birds in general and herons in particular. She decided they were somehow my protectors or guardian angels. Perhaps. I just think they are magnificent creatures and I tap into a deeper sense of peace and confidence whenever I am near one.

I moved in a little closer and got a pretty good picture.

Black-crowned Night Heron
Black Crowned Night Heron
(Nycticorax nycticorax)

We hung together for about 15 minutes during which time he caught two pretty good sized fish. Then with a magnificant spread of wings, he caught the draft of wind coming off the falls and sailed effortlessly down the valley. Can you find him in this picture?

Black-crowned Night Heron in Flight
A hui hou, my friend…

And of course, the falls were as magnificent, inspiring, healing and replenishing as ever.

Hanakapiai Falls 1 Hanakapiai Falls 2
View from the ledge. View of the ledge.

Back out at Hanakapiai Beach, it was an opportunity to experience some excellent, thunderous wave action. The surf is still really rough and the rip tides looked particularly vicious.

Hanakapiai Beach 1 Hanakapiai Beach 2 Hanakapiai Beach 3

Monday, May 29, 2006 (Memorial Day)

The last of Janet’s ashes were laid to rest on top of Haleakala on Maui. Haleakala means “House of the Sun,” and is the place where the Hawaiian God Maui captured the Sun and brought it to Earth. Fitting, as Janet was certainly my sunshine, and my star to steer by.

I made the trek to the top of Haleakala well before sunrise, carrying the last of Janet’s remains. Finding a suitable place to sit in the dark wasn’t particularly easy, but find it I did. Looking to the horizon I could see the faintest hint of the new day begin to color the edge between Heaven and Earth. Time to wait. And remember. Janet was fighting cancer barely three years into our marriage. Most days, I have to struggle to remember what it was like to be married to someone who didn’t have cancer. I thought of all the hopes and dreams we had on our wedding day – thoughts of children, family, friends, laughter, flowers, travel, music, writing – the images were rich and endless. Somehow, they didn’t seem to belong to me anymore. They weren’t mine to share with Janet. Our time together was for a different purpose.

On top of the world, surrounded by an Ocean of tears, there was no need to cry. What was my sorrow when compared to all those who have suffered before me or were suffering now? Since Janet’s death, I, too, have added tears to this Ocean and so have come to understand a greater depth to loss, courage, power and love. My life with Janet expanded my experience of what it means to care, trust and understand. So how shall I apply the gifts Janet has left me? How shall I and the world gain by this loss? This, it seems, shall be my koan into the next moment.

The very first rays of sunlight were dancing with the cloud tops when I released the last of Janet’s ashes onto a wide flat stone in front of me. The wind had picked up and immediately began to carry her off to greet the rising Sun. Looking out across the vast panorama of volcanic ash, the thought occurred to me, “ashes to ashes, sure enough” and I wondered what magnificent Phoenix would rise from this humble collection of dust.

I rested there on the top of Haleakala, watching the wind carry away Janet’s remains into the morning sunrise. I was remembering the last words I said to her for which I know she acknowledged having heard. “Peace be the Journey”, I said, and she nodded. I looked down to the wedding ring on my hand. The ring Janet put there close to 15 years ago and during that time had never once left my hand. The ring inscribed with our wedding date and the simple phrase “With Loving” – our affirmation and promise to each other, our challenge to fulfill each day.

For thirteen months I could not bring myself to remove this ring. I have continued to feel like I am still married. Where can I place the experience of 14 years with Janet? “Until death do us part” turns out not to be true. I can never leave her behind and yet what is there to carry forward? Part of me died with Janet and part of her lives on with me. I cannot stay and I do not want to go. This was the void feared for so long and I had arrived at the trailing edge of that unthinkable moment. I said the words aloud, “With Loving,” to be carried away by the wind along with the last of Janet’s ashes. As I watched the barest trace of ash left upon the windswept stone in front of me disappear, I slipped the ring from my finger and shifted my gaze to the horizon.

East
Haleakala East
North Haleakala North Haleakala South South
Haleakala West
West

A hui hou, Makamae Janet…

Janet Angel Bear
Gregory and Janet at Haleakala

[Edit History]

2006.06.05

I was reminded today, while reading what the Anchoress wrote on the passing of her brother-in-law, of the solace I frequently find in a simple haiku from Shinsho,

Does one really have to fret
About enlightenment?
No matter what road I travel,
I’m going home.

I had thought of this simple, yet powerful expression while reflecting atop Haleakala. Indeed, it is our poets and composers who best speak for us when we are struck dumb with grief and sorrow.

2006.07.21

Came across this quote in my collection:

The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.

Isak Dinesen

The woman knew.

2006.08.05

Edited for clarity.
____________________________
1From the crown of the head to the soles of the feet and the four corners of the body. A call to be mindful of one’s entire being- spiritual, mental and physical.
2Love gives life within. Until we meet again, Precious Janet.

2006.04.22

Missing You…

…and loving you truly, madly, deeply. Rest is at hand, Makamae Janet.
Nakita Cottage - Anini Beach

Cherry trees:
Contemplating their beauty,
Strangers are like friends.
Issa

[Edit History]

2006.06.23 – Added link to The Warrior of Peace Rests.

2006.04.02

Spilling The Beans – Cherubim Foundation Update IV

“It is…due to circumstance beyond our control that Cherubim Foundation is closing it’s doors,” begins a letter to donors from the Unfounding Board of Directors for Cherubim Foundation. I haven’t received this letter. It was sent forward by a friend who did. So far no one in my family or Janet’s family received the letter. Apparently what we did wasn’t worth recognizing and thousands of dollars donated over the years doesn’t count. Whatever.

The polytope that is Cherubim Foundation’s demise is difficult to hold in one space and grok the gestalt. Probably not worth the effort, actually. A few of the facets, however, are particularly shinny and merit a closer look by anyone considering starting or participating in a nonprofit organization. Likewise, there is much that can be learned from this experience which may help other organizations facing similar challenges. The veils of diplomacy and secrecy are no longer needed in this story so lets just tip over the bean jar and have a look at the circumstances they couldn’t control. (more…)

2006.03.26

Seismic Beer Events

Busted Beer
Busted Beer

Well, here’s a first which puts me in with a part of home brewing tradition and folklore I’d rather not be noted for having achieved. Exploding beer bottles – Yikes! (Hmmmmm. “Exploding Beer Bottles” would be an excellent name for a band.)

Back in the day, prohibition that is, the goal was to make alcohol. Brewing beer was the easiest and fastest way to do that. Stories abound of beer bottles exploding like popcorn in cellars, the result of covert brewmeistering in clandestine operations. In those dark times the knowledge for how to brew beer was, shall we say, an oral tradition passed down by anyone who managed to collect an audience. Inconsistent strains of yeast better suited for baking bread than brewing beer were used. Quality and environment control were at the mercy of the brewmeister’s patience. No one engaged in this practice had a biochemistry degree to help them through the subtleties of dealing with temperamental strains of yeast.

So what’s my excuse? I have a biochemistry degree. Actually, I have two of the darn things. Plus over 20 years of home brewing experience. Hard to say. That the bottles are uniformly over carbonated doesn’t suggest a poor distribution of priming sugar. A review of the notes by both my brew partner, Chris, and myself doesn’t reveal anything unusual. We certainly gave both the primary and secondary fermentation steps plenty of time, even for a stout. Me thinks a problem with the yeast. Something to follow up on with the yeast supplier.

But then, there is the potential terrorist angle. However mind bogglingly impossible the odds and chances that al-Qaeda, the Talibandidos or the Middle of the Road Progressive Isolationist Weekend Radicals had a hand in this, I would be remiss if this possibility wasn’t chased up every possible tree. Because one of those trees just might possibly potentially happen to be the right one to bark up at. I will, of course, need DHS money to follow these leads and fund multiple batches of decoy beer in order to bag the bastards. Neither can I dismiss the real possibility this is yet another strike of George Bush’s International Conspiracy to inconvenience me. I suppose a true Patriot would stay awake at night with a baseball bat guarding his beer against these threats. That or lobby for a law to guarantee Constitutional protection for my beer. Yeah, that will do it. Than I can sleep at night knowing there is a law to protect my beer.

Ah, well. This will all make more sense after I’ve kicked back and enjoyed a couple of home brews. Actually, for security reasons, I had better enjoy this batch as soon as possible. For now all the bottles from this batch are safely stashed in the refrigerator. Putting the chill on the yeast should stop any further pressure buildup and if any of the bugs decide to blow the frig should serve as an adequate blast container. Certainly better than the spare bedroom closet. What a mess.

2006.03.20

12 Down, 42 To Go

The streak is alive. With the project management class behind me, and another “A” in the books, I’m just about 1/4 the way through DU’s CIS Masters program. Thus far, I can say I’m not quite getting what I expected or wanted from the program. There are three factors which lead me to this assessment. First, I’ve only completed 1/4 of the program and much of what I want and expect depends on a successful graduation. In this respect, my evaluation reflects impressions on an emerging trend. How close I get to my target will depend a great deal on my experiences with future classes and what ever course corrections occur along the way. (more…)


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