Saturday, May 7, 2016

Tibetan Blessings

The Transitory Nature of Existence

We normally think that a person is a subject who perceives and is separate from objects, and we tend to treat objects as if they were solid and dependable in some kind of absolute way. Yet mental objects—wealth, power, a house, a television show, an idea, a feeling, whatever phenomenon you can think of—are really not so absolute but instead are relative, arising and passing away, and seen only in relation to other phenomena.
But how can this be, you may ask? Surely as ‘‘I’’ read a ‘‘book,’’ they both exist, since there seems to be an ‘‘I’’ who holds the book in my hand. The answer is that all things exist in relation to one another, and existence is marked by change. Perhaps the best way to clarify this a bit would be to use the example of the body. The body is changing all the time. In babies, we can see this more vividly because they grow so quickly. But we all know that every body changes, even from day to day—for example, according to what we eat or how much we weigh. Even our moods can affect the body and be reflected in how we look, perhaps crestfallen or haggard or else bright and vital. Above all, we know that the body ages and eventually passes away. The body is a vivid illustration of the transitory nature of existence. If we think of the body as solid, fixed, and unchanging, and cling to this notion, that is grasping at the body as ‘‘self.’’

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

On Kanji and Content, Part 2

~~Continuing on from Part 1, let us look at the next five wrong uses of kanji according to Mr. Harazono.

⑥ 癌, Gan (Cancer)
 The  kanji for gan (cancer) shows us a picture of a disease () that is caused by a mountain (山 = over-surplus) of things (品 = foodstuffs), which is how the ancients chose to let us know that overeating can lead to cancer. What prevents us from seeing this is the brainwashing conducted by the agricultural, medical, pharmaceutical, electronic, insurance, mass communication, and health food industries, and the petroleum and livestock industries, and major financial institutions are all having a big laugh at our expense.

Tetsuwan Atom & Uran-chan
In ancient times, the Japanese were not accustomed to eating three meals a day. Do you know who it was who dictated that we should eat three hearty meals a day? It was the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826). Because he wanted to sell toasters, he promoted the idea of three meals a day: breakfast, the midday meal, and dinner. At various times, we have been duped in a similar way by various people. In order to spread the popularity of nuclear power, the Japanese invented Tetsuwan Atomu [Iron-Arm Atom] (called Astro Boy in America). He was a child of nuclear power, which made him super-strong and healthy. His little sister's name was Uran-chan. Now we can only laugh at that. . . .

In addition, I would like to point out that the items sold at supermarkets and convenience stores are "products" or "commodoties" and not "foodstuffs." Foodstuffs are natural produce filled with energy; food products are unnaturally man-made items that are dead. One thing that cancer has taught me is that a generic term for such commodoties is "social poisons"that is because the reason people get sick stems from the fact that they eat commodities rather than real natural foods.

⑦ 體, Karada (Body)
 The kanji for karada (body) was originally 體, which depicts a wealth/abundance () of healthy bones (骨). And the character for bone (骨)  is actually made up of the upper part, representing the skeleton, and the lower part, representing the muscles/flesh, and that for wealth/abundance () shows a vessel that is filled with grain ( 豐穣,  豊富) and placed on an offering table. So, examining this character, it can be seen that one's karada is the root from which the entire body naturally takes form, and thus appears in a particular shape.

When the kanji  體 was replaced by 体 (written with man [] + origin [本]), which had the meaning of slave connected with it, so it was not appropriate. The word 'object' (物体, buttai) contains the element 体, but using that character makes one live an unnatural life lived by plundering natural resources though lust and greed. When one does that, one becomes sick. Therefore, we should use the character 體 in order to live a healthy and cultural life in harmony with nature.

 ⑧ 塩, Shio (Salt) 
 Simple sodium chloride is obtained and sold in supermarkets as a "chemical precipitate," which is a dangerous chemical substance and not a foodstuff. Therefore, whenever someone makes reference to the "reduced sodium myth," I get chills.

The old-style kanji for salt is  鹽, which illustrates a man (人) looking down (臣) and taking some earth (土) from a plate (皿) and chewing it with his teeth (齒); similarly, the new-style kanji for salt, 塩, is a type of earth (土) that a human (人) takes from a plate (皿) and consumes orally (口) and that becomes his blood (血). [Wildcat555: Note that in the new-style character, 土 and 口.] The character for 'ocean' (海, umi) is written as the water () that serves as the mother (母) of humans (人), and all life stems from the mitochondria that grew in earth's oceans.  Salt made from seawater that is naturally dried is extremely rich in minerals.
Even in terms of the Yin–Yang theory, in modern society in particular, in order to counteract the extreme yin quality of radioactivity, it is essential to have an intake of natural salt, the bounty of the sea, in order to bring the body back to a more yang nature.

Given this,  if one were to reduce the intake of sodium (salt), which is so important for the proper functioning of the body, the body would move toward a surplus yin quality, and people would suffer from such ailments as poor circulation and sickness would be unavoidable.

 ⑨ 雷、稲妻, Kaminari, Inazuma (Thunder & Lightning)
Lightning striking a field
The Great Law of Nature is that according to the Divine Will, everything must return to a zero field, a state of balance and stasis, and this law can be observed in the field of natural cultivation. For example, the word for "thunder"  (it is used to mean "lightning" also) is written "rain (雨)" over "rice fields (田)." And when lightning falls, the earth is purified and there will be a good harvest. Another word for "lightning" is inazuma, which is written "wife amid the rice plants," which also indicates a good harvest. Because it sometimes takes human lives, lightning is sometimes considered bad, but it is only the working of the Great Law of Nature. Similarly, earthquakes,  thunder, typhoons and tornadoes, and volcanic eruptions are also said work toward the purification of the earth.

 ⑩ 靈, Tamashii (Soul, Spirit)            
 The gods are nothing but expressions of natural laws, they are the energy that fills the Universe. In examining the kanji for spirit, at the top is rain (雨), which expresses the energy of Nature. In the middle are three squares (口), which represent the three-in-one nature of the soul, the mind, and the body. And at the bottom is a miko (巫), a kind of shrine shaman who accepts the raw energies of Nature in a balanced fashion. 

This kanji in itself clearly tells anthropologists that Japan once had a shamanic element in its culture. To write the kanji as 霊 would be to introduce an eerie presence that controls things from the background. (Wildcat555: This is why Mikao Usui wrote the name of his healing system as 靈氣, rather than 霊気.)

 )) * ((

Today's science and modern man immediately say, "Prove it," "Show me the results," but can everything be explained in such a way? The heaviness, the weight of Ki (Qi) is very important, but it is impossible to measure its weight. No matter how developed humans become, we can only hope to know at best a mere miniscule fraction of the knowledge contained with Nature. So we must never go against the Universal Laws; instead, we must learn to change our perception of things. Science is nothing more that the numeric expression of everything under our observation. (Wildcat555: This can be clearly seen in Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle: the more precisely the position of some particle is determined, the less precisely its momentum can be known, and vice versa. In other words, the very act of observation changes what is being observed!)

So, old-style kanji, or new-style kanji? Proper kanji or abbreviated kanji? Kanji contain great meaning in their original forms, so not using the old-style forms is scary. In fact, there are several hints hidden within the kanji. In an abbreviated form, the number of strokes required to write it is smaller, and there is data showing that writing kanji in the newer forms causes a disruption in brain waves. In addition, the proper, old-style form is generally used by overseas Chinese as well as and in Taiwan and Hong Kong. People's names are now written with fewer strokes, which changes their fortune, and some research has shown that using abbreviated characters makes it easier for one to get sick and harder to get well. A name written in the shortest possible form, the katakana  (カタカナ) syllables, easily invites misfortune—and all of this is according to "their" plan.

Image result for bruce lee
李小龍 / Bruce Lee
(Wildcat555 addition:) Just as an example of how this would work: Here is the stage name of Lei Jun-fan ( Lee Jun-fan 李振藩): Lei Siu Long—李小龍 (Li Xiaolong in Mandarin). You all know him as Bruce Lee. But after Mainland China's Mao Zedong ordered a simplification of characters (which took place in the 1950s and 1960s), his name on billboards all over China became  李小龙. Especially note that third character, the one meaning "dragon." The old-style kanji, 龍, has 16 strokes; the new-style kanji, 竜, was reduced to 10 strokes; and the simplified version,, has only a mere 5 strokes. But notice how different each of the three characters is from the other two. Whatever secrets were hidden in the original 16-stroke version have been stripped away by those who created and proposed the 5-stroke version. How could these three characters carry exactly the same significance? No wonder Lee's luck took a turn for the worse after the 5-stroke version was plastered all over China. . . .

Because it is difficult to go back to the original kyūjitai form for all kanji, it would be best to start with a few; with even that small step, the energy would change dramatically. This is because the kanji themselves have vibration, or their own frequency. If you use a character that carries a high vibration, that energy will invariably have an effect upon your own energy.  Why do these sentences express my thought clearly? It is because I have consciously used the kyūjitai characters in writing them. (Wildcat555: And I have included them as kanji within this blog.)

Mentioning kotodama (言靈, the spirit/power of words) briefly,  it is said that kanji came to Japan from China, but some have postulated that they actually had their origin in Japan, claiming that ancient Sumerian had been brought to Japan and later resulted in the Ahirukusa script (阿比留草文字—which looks very unlike the Cuneiform with which ancient Sumerian was written). The theory states that Ahirukusa script underwent change and became the Korean Hangul script as well as the characters of ancient China. . . . [I am not sure if this is true, but] many fossils including rice that are several tens of thousands of years old have been unearthed. . . . [So it could be possible. . . .]

We should learn to respect and preserve what we cannot see. It is time for the Japanese—indeed, for humans all over the planet,  to reawaken their intuition and sensitivity. Rather than living our lives without any purpose, now is the time for us to decide the direction we will take—[and that will have a great deal to do with our own energy and its relationship to the other energies surrounding it. So feel into it with your heart, and decide well!].

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

On Kanji and Content

First of all, let me explain for those that don't know that the word "kanji" means Sino-Japanese characters as used in Japan. The ancient way of writing them was changed after the war, and with the change in writing a change in society also took place. I have always told friends that one observation about the difference between Japanese and American people is that, very generally speaking, the Japanese tend to place more importance on form than on content, whereas Americans are most concerned about the content rather than the form. A myriad examples could be given, but this is not the forum for that discussion now.

Today I am basing my remarks on a blog posted 20160427() 223710 at 
by a Japanese man whose blog name is Hiroaki Harazono on the theme of the identity of the Japanese. In reading it, I found myself in agreement with much of what he said, so I am giving below a rough translation of his blog, but please note that I have in places slightly edited and/or altered it to fit my own thoughts about the subject. But I have made every effort so as not to misrepresent what the author wanted to say, so I hope that Mr. Harazono will accept my apologies. . . .

)) * ((

I am often questioned about my use of the old-style characters (舊字,kyūji), so today I would like to share with you what I feel are the meanings hidden within them by the ancients who created them.

Japan was defeated by America in the war and became occupied. By an international convention, the Occupation was to last for three years, but in order for the GHQ to completely set up brainwashing schemes in health care centers, educational committees, and university hospitals, the Occupation went on for some seven years.

Because education in prewar Japan had been based upon memorization through recitation, kotodama (the spirit of words), and Confucian morality, the Japanese were imbued with the spirit of being considerate of others, being in touch with the spiritual realm and being aware of past lives, following the samurai code of chivalry, and living in a world of harmony and connection on an equal basis. Embodying the spirit of co-existence and co-prosperity from as long ago as before the Jōmon period (pre-12,000 BC–ca. 300 BC), Japanese civilization was at a high spiritual level. Also, because people did not partake of too much meat, which pollutes the body, they were of sound build with lasting endurance in battle.

Therefore, "they" (Wildcat555: Read "those in control," or "the ruling elite" or even "the Illuminati") wanted to do something to defeat the life force, the strength, and the spirit of the people, because it was precisely those qualities that they feared. So "they" employed the Three S's (sports, the silver screen, and sex) to bring the people to the level of idiocy "they" deemed proper. "They" basically wrote modern Japan's constitution and dictated its government. "They" attempted to weaken the people physically by feeding them meat, bread, and sugar. It is even asserted that "they" buried 55 nuclear warheads in an attempt to spread radiation, and that they added poisonous chlorine to the drinking water, and it continues with the spread of vaccination, EMF radiation, GMOs, food additives, and pesticides, which are doing nothing but polluting the spirits of the people. "They" have made it illegal to use natural medicines such as marijuana, which were employed in ancient Shinto rituals to bring about awakening, in order to keep the people in the dark. Now the diet is based on meat, the educational system does not teach spiritual wisdom, and natural medicines have been outlawed, all of which adds up to the deterioration of the Japanese people in terms of body, mind, and soul—and it is still going on today.

Thus, in order for us to escape from a society of high-level brainwashing and once again bring about a world based on co-existence and co-prosperity, we need to return everything back to the way it was before "they" interfered.

Kotodama (言靈, the spirit, or power, of words) resides within kanji. Their very form itself expresses a mystical significance, a message from our ancestors, which brings katadama (形靈, the spirit, or power, of form).

Kanji were not exempt from the attempt to bring about a deterioration of the Japanese people. In 1948, the old-style kanji  (舊字體, kyūjitai) were replaced by the presently used new-style kanji (新字體, shinjitai). If we wish to bring about a resurrection of the original spirit of the Japanese people, it is necessary to return even a few of those kanji back to their original kyūtaiji forms. Below is a partial list showing the new (left) and the old (right) kanji:

                                  TEN EXAMPLES OF THE WRONG USE OF KANJI

① 子供, Kodomo (Children) 

 The word kodomo, written as 子供, should never be used. Though we are told that -domo (供) is being used here as a plural suffix, this is not true. It actually comes from the ancient practice of making offerings (供) of children to barbaric gods as sacrifices in the religions of "their" ancestors.

The same parents who use the word kodomo (子供) probably also subject their children to vaccination, feed them foods containing GMOs, give them toothpaste impregnated with fluoride, and surround them with EMF fields from their cell phones and TV games.

When children are born, they already exist in a state of enlightenment. They lose it through the egos and mad teachings of their parents. The common words used to indicate pupil (従属, 隷属) actually mean subjugation and slavery. And do you know what is in the Starbucks coffee with the quasi- Illuminati mark? Pesticides, including Chlorpyrifos, an extreme toxin—this is a good example of the insane world in which we are living. Is it not our duty to protect and respect our children (子ども), who will create the future? We can start by not using the kanji 供 in reference to them.

② バカ, Baka (Stupid[ity])

In Sanskrit, one word for ignorance, delusion, or stupidity, is pāka (पाक), another is moha (मोह), which was written phonetically in Chinese as 莫迦. From the end of the twelfth century until the Second World War, this is how it was always written.  But somewhere along the way, it got changed to 馬鹿, which should not be used. Neither a horse () nor a deer (鹿) are stupid animals. By using such characters, one looks down upon the animals, and runs the risk of being reborn in the realm of the beasts, one of the Six Worlds of Transmigration (六道輪廻) of Buddhism.

(M)umashika (1832), by Yoshi Oda
At both the Grand Shrine of Kasuga in Nara, and Itsukushima Shrine (Miyajima) in Hiroshima, the deer has been revered as a deity since ancient times. But now, when the deer come down from the mountains near Hiroshima, they are shot and eaten. You can get about $175 for a dead deer. Since we have encroached upon their feeding grounds, they come down the mountains in search of something to eat out of the instinct to survive. How can we blame them? If the crops in our fields fields, don't we also then go into their mountains in search of other sources of sustenance?

The situation surrounding race horses is even worse. Horses ares forced into racing for the profit of their owners, and when they can no longer run, they are eliminated. All for the profit of humans. So when we use the kanji most common for the word baka today, we are condoning and enforcing the world of animal testing, increasing the darkness in the human heart, leading to an increase in suicides and uncontrolled killings. So it is better to write the word as バカ or 莫迦 in order to have more respect for life.

 腐, Kusaru (to Rot)
I personally do not eat meat (Wildcat555: I do, but in moderation and with care), and when asked why, I reply that the kanji for "rotting" shows meat (肉) rotting inside of the organs (府/腑). In Oriental Medicine, humans are considered to have Five Yin Organs (五臓) and Six Yang Organs (六腑), the the Six Yang Organs—Small Intestine, Large Intestine, Gall Bladder, Urinary Bladder, Stomach, and Triple Heater—are the main organs of digestion. When meat enters these organs, it putrefies. That action releases nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic, which is why meat was considered something that killed the people (靈止, hito) by the ancients. This has been proven by several scientific reports, such as the China Study and the McGovern report.

It was only with the beginning of the Meiji era (1868) and the end of the war (1945) that the Japanese started eating meat and wheat, partly because the Occupation forces were forcing their diet upon the nation. When a delegation from Peru suggested to the Tokugawa shogun the the Japanese should eat beef and drink milk, the shogun exclaimed with disgust, "Eat cows, and drink their milk? Ridiculous!" Thus it should be clear that the kanji for rotting (腐) itself, showing meat rotting within the digestive system, contains the message that we are not meant to consume meat. 
Image result for half-man half-beast
Man turning into a pig

Though "they" refrain from meat in order not to lower the level of their own high-level vibrations, "they" feed a great numbers of dead carcasses to the already dumbed-down populace in an attempt to lower the people's consciousness even more, bring about more of an animal nature and thus more violence, cause severe illness and obesity, and lead to a kind of beastification. 

Rather than depend on science,  I prefer to follow the wisdom of the ancients. Therefore, in trying to understand the katadama of kanji, I try to feel not with my mind but with my heart.

  氣, Ki (Élan vital)
Ki is one of the most important concepts, since Ki is vibration, and sickness is said to stem from disturbances in the flow of Ki. When the method of writing the kanji was changed after the war to 気, this was an attempt to lower the high-energy level of the people, by adding 〆, the abbreviation for shime (deadline) in place of rice!

The kanji for Ki must be written as 氣. It contains the character for rice (米, kome), which has long been used as an offering for the gods and is itself imbued with much spiritual power. Because divine power is contained (込められている, komerarete iru) within the rice, its name in Japanese is kome. Just thinking about these kanji will make it clear that rice is something that nourishes the spirit of the Japanese people.

Before the war, when the Japanese people learned by rote and did not pollute their blood by consuming meat, everyone had a very high level of energy, of life force. . . .

The part of the kanji for Ki written   expresses Heaven and Earth. The upper portion portrays the spiritual realms, while the lower part represents the physical realm.  The whole kanji is a representation of the energy contained in the combination of the spiritual and material realms expanding outward in all directions. On a micro level, Ki (氣) is prana, or the breath; on a macro level, it is a natural phenomenon. Ki is most important for activating the elements of Yin and Yang and leading to the creation and maintaining of the "ten-thousand things" that make up the Universe.

The element is seem by some as a pictograph of steam escaping from the pot while cooking rice, which is an indication of the power contained within rice. Thus, rather than the dead quality of meat, which rots when in the organs, the ancient Japanese chose to utilize rice as their staple, strengthening their bodies and spirits with the energy contained within it. 

In passing I should mention that even though I am calling it the most important, the reason I place Ki in the No. 4 position is that 4 is an important number. In the ancient counting system—hi, fu, mi, yo, i, mu, na, ya, ko, to—4, or yo, is the number of Heaven and represents high energy.  Likewise, 6, or mu, is a number of harmony and accord.

That 4 and 6 are very important numbers is well known by "them," who wish to control the masses. That is why hospital rooms in Japan tend not to include the numbers 4 (shi, or death) or 6 (mu, or nothingness), which are considered unlucky. We are taught that 666 is the number of the Devil, but it is only mind control that tells us so! How insidious are the ways that "they" try to control our minds! 

⑤ 營養, Eiyō (Nutrition, or Nourishment)
The original meaning of the word eiyō was "that which supports the activities of both body and mind." When one consumes foodstuffs containing chemicals, they build up within the body, rot, and cause all sorts of dis-eases, especially cancer, unless one undergoes regular regimens of detoxification. But if one eats naturally grown, fermented products, these foods promote the growth of healthy intestinal flora.

In this way, by eating fermented foods, the intestinal flora are nourished, and food is transformed into blood and flesh through the action of microorganisms that form the very basis of our lives. This is the true meaning of nutrition, but somehow we got on the wrong track. For our nourishment to be nourishing, even more nourishing nourishment is required. For that reason, many people these days overeat in an attempt to consume food that nourishes body and soul.

~~To be continued~~

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Blessings from the Dalai Lama

Now almost twelve years have gone by, but in 2004 I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the lecture/teachings given by His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama at the University of Miami. I would be staying in Ft. Lauderdale with my partner, who was joining me from Japan, and had been able to get a ticket through a friend who publishes Buddhist books near Boston. The Osel Dorje Nyingpo, a non-profit organization dedicated to the teaching of Tantric Vajrayana Buddhism, sponsored His Holiness’s visit to Miami September 19–22, 2004, and I was going to attend Buddhist Teachings open to the public on September 20 and 21 from 9:30 am–4:00 pm at the University of Miami Convocation Center, on just the 21st.
HH the XIVth Dalai Lama at U. of Miami, Sept. 2004
Ma namkha tang nyampé semchen tamché
Lama sangyé rinpo chéla chapsu chi’o 
I and all the mother sentient beings, equal to space—
Take refuge in the Guru who is the precious Buddha. 

Golden Week Holidays

I had originally moved to Japan way back in 1974, which was the 49th year in the reign of Emperor Shōwa (known in the West as Hirohito). I had been born in the same year that the National Police Reserve was established (it became the Self-Defense Force in 1954), I had entered high school in the same year that Tokyo hosted the Olympics, and I arrived in Japan about a month-and-a-half before Gerald Ford was the first US president to visit Japan (and four years before New Tokyo International Airport, or Narita Airport, was opened). I was amazed at all the different national holidays in Japan, but what surprised me the most was the often week-long national holiday known as "Golden Week." and what was even more amazing was that I soon discovered that it began on April 29, or the reigning emperor's birthday, and ended on my own birthday!!! The holidays of the week in those days, together with later changes, were/are:

     April 29        The Emperor's Birthday  (Greenery Day from 1989; Shōwa Day from 2007)
     May 3           Constitution Day
     May 4           Greenery Day (from 2007)
     May 5           Children's Day

I thought that was just swell. But I never liked calling May 5 "Children's Day." It was originally called "Tango no Sekku" (Banner Festival, or Double-Five Seasonal Festival), and was unofficially called "Boys' Day." Girls still had their festival, ("Momo no Sekku," Peach Festival), which was still called "Girls' Day," so as it was my very own birthday, I always chose to call it Tango no Sekku. This is the supposed origin of the name:

In the old lunar calendar, the Fifth Month was the Month of the Ox (there are Twelve Animals in the Oriental zodiac, and they rule years, months, days, and even hours of the day), and it became the custom to celebrate the first Day of Ox during the Month of the Ox. The way to write the name of this festival in Japanese is 端午の節句. The character 端 means "beginning," and 午 means "ox," so at first, the name simple meant the festival of celebrating the first Day of the Ox in the Month of the Ox.

The five seasonal festivals originated in China, but in Japan they became changed slightly and were celebrated thus:

     Jan 1       Kochōhai       Nobles processed before the emperor in the Jinjitsu ("Human Day")
                                           celebrations, at which time people would eat rice gruel containing
                                           seven herbs for health and good fortune (now celebrated on Jan 7).
     Mar 3     Kyokusui       Courtiers floated cups of rice wine down a stream in the palace garden.
                                          Each guest would take a sip and then write a poem. Now it is the
                                          Doll Festival, when families with young girls set up special displays
                                          of beautiful dolls, incl. the Emperor & Empress, courtiers, musicians, . . .
     May 5     Ayame no dai     Ordinary people hung mugwort to dispel evil spirits; the Imperial
                                          Court celebrated the Iris Festival. Later, families celebrated their sons
                                          by hanging carp banners before their homes (they still do this).
     July 7      Kikkōden      Offerings were made on the Tanabata festival, celebrating the once-a-year
                                           meeting of the star-crossed Weaving Maid (Vega) and Cowherd (Altair)
     Sept 9      Chōyō no en    Originally featuring chrysanthemum wine, this festival later became
                                           associated with the autumn harvest and is now the Chrysanthemum

Perhaps the Double Five Festival came to be associated with boys because the word for iris was written 菖蒲, which can be pronounced either ayame or shōbu, and shōbu is synonymous with 勝負, which means "battle" or "contest," since the characters literally mean victory-defeat. The leaves of the iris were considered sword-like, and they were added to the bath water to give the both strength—both physical prowess and moral fortitude. Iris leaves are still sold for this purpose, and I always put some in my bath on the evening of May 5. Quite often, even now, families with sons also display beautiful warrior dolls, or suits of armor (as in the photo below), for this festival.

五月人形の飾り方 (五月人形 鎧兜三段飾り 毛氈飾り) 
In the display above, you can see a warrior's full array of battle armor (1, 2); military banners (4); bows and arrows (5) and a long sword (6); carp banners (10); and irises (15, and printed on the display fabric). The carp are a leftover from Chinese mythology: ancient Taoist tales tell of carp that persevere and  strive with their last ounce of strength to swim up a waterfall and go through the Dragon Gate, upon which they become dragons.

So here in my adopted homeland, my birthday is a wonderful national holiday with a long history dating back to China. In fact, I share my birthday (May 5) with the Palestinian feast of St. George (the Dragon Slayer), as well as with many important people and events:

  867     Emperor Uda of Japan is born
1260     Kubilai Khan becoms supreme ruler of the Mongol Empire
1494     Christopher Columbus discovers Jamaica and claims it for Spain
1813     Søren Kierkegaard is born
1818     Karl Marx is born
1821     Napoléon Bonaparte dies on St. Helena
1862     Cinco de Mayo: Mexican troops halt a French invasion in the Battle of Puebla
1865     The Confederate government was declared dissolved
1877     Sitting Bull leads his band of Lakota into Canada to avoid harassment by the US Army
1891     The Music Hall (later, Carnegie Hall) opened in New York
1941     Emperor Haile Selassie return to Addis Ababa (Liberation Day)
1950     Bhumibol Adulyadej is crowned King Rama IX of Thailand [the day I was born!]
1961     Alan Shepard becomes the first American to travel in outer space (a sub-orbital flight) [This
             happened in the middle of my 10th birthday party with friends!]
1988     Adele (English singer-songwriter) is born
2010     Giulietta Simionato (operatic soprano) died at the age of 100

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Techno Trouble!

I had recently been having some trouble with an old 8 GB USB flash drive (memory stick), so I backed up all the files on my computer as well as on an external hard drive. Then I opened a brand new 16 GB USB drive and put on it only the most important files that I was currently working on. The was far less the 1 GB on the new drive.

I worked on those files for about two weeks, using the USB every day at the office on my Windows PC, and also every night at home on my iMac (OS X), and there had been no compatibility problems at all. That may have been because I was working mainly on Word documents.

Well, because the drive was so new, and because I was so busy, I kept forgetting to back up everything. Last Friday, I worked on the files all day at the office; I also worked on them at home all day Saturday. No problem; everything great! But I was so tired when I finished on Saturday night that I was afraid I might do something wrong or hit the wrong button and erase everything, so I decided to wait until the morning to back up all the files. In fact, I was so sleepy that I shut down the computer without remembering to first eject the USB drive—but that had never caused a problem before. In any case, the idea of postponing the back up until morning did not work out too well. . . .

Imagine my surprise and shock when I turned on the computer on Sunday morning only to realize that the computer could not recognize the USB—YIKES! It was like there was nothing plugged into the USB port at all. I tried another port. I tried taking it out, rebooting, and trying it again, etc., all to no avail. As the computer could not recognize it, there was no icon, so I could neither see nor access (open) any of the files. I have since sent the USB to a company that specializes in retrieving lost data. So wish me luck!!!

And, what could be more appropriate, before I could publish the first version of this blog, I hit a wrong button and lost it, so I had to write it all over again. Talk about making sure I learn the right lesson! OK, Universe, I think I got it this time!

So now, I would like to let you know the lesson I learned, and give you all a good tip, by paraphrasing the English version of the poem «Enivrez-vous» ("Get Drunk!") by the French poet Charles Baudelaire (1821–67):

Always BACK UP. Therein lies everything: it’s all that matters.
So as not to feel the dread burden of LOSS breaking your shoulders and crushing you to the earth, never stop BACKING UP.
But WHERE? Whether ON THE COMPUTER, ON AN EXTERNAL DRIVE, OR IN THE CLOUD, the choice is yours. Whatever: BACK UP. 
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To escape the fate of those tormented slaves of LOSS, BACK UP.
ALWAYS BACK UP, never ceasing.
 the choice is yours.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Diving In: Maldive Adventure, Part 5 (Conclusion)

The "speedboats" that serve as taxis ferrying customers from and to the airport on Malé  
In the photo above you can see the small speedboats that serve to ferry everyone from the airport on Malé island in the North Malé Atoll to the island resorts in both the North and South Malé Atolls. For those in the North Atoll, it is a piece of cake, because the boat never has to leave the protection of the atoll. But for those outside of the main atoll, especially those in the South Atoll, things can sometimes be a bit exciting.

On our arrival, we had easily found our boat, but the boatman dropped my bag of water and snacks into the sea, so good-bye to munching on board and staying hydrated, but the trip was uneventful. Even when sailing in the open waters of the Indian Ocean, the sailing was smooth, It was a nice, almost cloudless day, warm and sunny, with a light breeze, and it was very comfortable. No one got seasick and, even though it took quite a long time to reach Biyaadhoo (maybe 2½ to 3 hours?), we all arrived in good spirits and easily walked down the pier shown above to the resort to check-in. 

But the return trip to the airport was not like that—not like that at all.

It was a nice warm, sunny day, not a cloud in the sky. We had checked out, and together with the I's, the U's, Ms. S, and most everyone else on our island, we all boarded the speedboat that would take us back to the airport at Malé. Our bags had all put placed on board ahead of time. So, saying and waving our good-byes to those staying behind and to the staff, we made ourselves comfortable and our boat took off, heading north. While it was still within the protection of the South Malé Atoll, all was well. M was feeling so good that he climbed up onto the roof of the speedboat and sat up there, getting some sun and wind.

He had been up there for some time when all of a sudden the waves got so bad that they looked like those in this picture of a Newfoundland crab trawler. The sky above was still sunny, but suddenly the waves were like the kind you see in disaster movies or in cartoons. One moment our little boat was crashing through the crest of a massive wave; the next, plunging bow-first into a yawning trough. And all the while M was on the roof above the bridge. Fortunately, he had seen the rough seas coming, and had had the foresight spread out his hands and feet so they were touching the lifeline, and he grabbed on with his hands for dear life. Sometimes the tops of the waves were above him! He was terrified. (So much so that I have been unable to convince him to visit the Maldives again!) I know it sounds funny now, but at the time, I seriously thought that M might get thrown off into sea—and if that had happened, he might never have been found!

The boat was tossed like a little toy on the rough waves, bobbing up and down, for more than 4 hours!!! It seems that there was a severe tropical storm not far from where we were, and that is what was causing the mountainous waves! The seas were so rough that, except for the crew, every person but two on the boat got very seasick. One was the husband (Mr. X) of a Japanese couple, and his wife (angry because he was OK) said, "He's too bloody dense to get sick!" I was doing OK, but that is because I was standing in a doorway looking out at the horizon and loudly singing operatic arias to keep my mind occupied and to keep me from worrying myself sick about M, because there was absolutely nothing to be done until it was safe for him to come down. Finally, we came close to mooring at Malé, but the waves were still so huge that we could not dock and had to stay in the bay. That did it—the up-and-down motion continued, but now there was an added lateral rocking that was so bad that one of the crew got thrown overboard aft. At first I thought it was M, and my heart sank, but it was a crewman whose fellows pulled right back into the boat quickly. The bobbing, plus the rocking, plus the now overpowering gasoline and oil fumes were too much—I finally heaved and heaved and heaved until I could heave no more. Yet Mr. X was still cool as a cucumber and now the only one to be unaffected—the lucky bugger!

Eventually, the waves lessened and we were able to dock, but M was not coming down. I had to send one of the crew up to see if he was still there, and the man had to pry M's fingers from the lifelines, which had certainly lived up to their name that day! He had been holding on for dear life for so long that he could not release his grip. The crewman helped him down, and as soon as he reached the dock and stepped onto dry land he collapsed and couldn't move. I asked him if he was OK and he said, "No! I have sunstroke and I'm dehydrated, Get me something to drink, fast.  I feel like I'm going to die!" Though I thought he was exaggerating, I went over to the terminal, but it was closed, and they would not let me in to get him a drink of water. When I went back and told him, he shouted, "You stupid fool! I need some liquid or I'm going to pass out!" Young Mr. U overheard him and ran over to the terminal,  and perhaps because he was speaking in Japanese, he managed to get in and came running back with two bottles of Coke.  Between the liquid and the sugar, Coke basically saved his life. (And it is still his drink of preference, but now he drinks the Zero version!) He revived and came around rather quickly, though he was weak. We eventually made it into the terminal, got on the plane, and started our trek home. So this time the route was to be Malé – Colombo – Bangkok – Tokyo, and again it would take close to 24 hours.

Japanese actor NT and his dive instructor, Mr. S, were with us on our flight once more, and, as it was more than half empty, we were all able to push down the backs of the seats in front of us and rest our legs up on them. It was the closest we could come to full reclining back in those days! I made arrangements to meet Mr. S in Tokyo and take the C card course with him (which I did, with JP, Japan Professional, which is associated with CMAS, from whom I now hold a 2-Star, or Advanced-Rescue level, card), and I've been diving ever since.

I should add that at one point during the flight, M, who had gained back his appetite and was feeling much better, got up to use the toilet, but he came back as white as a ghost. I asked what was wrong, and he said, "If you go use the toilet, you will see." While sitting on the seat, I could hear a loud hiss, like air escaping, and for the life of me I swear that I saw what looked like a small hole in the floor. We were all becoming nervous about whether the plane would fall apart or get us back safely, but get us back it did. When we landed at Narita (Tokyo International Airport), we all wanted to get out and kiss the ground. And we were all thanking God, Buddha, Allah, and all other Celestial beings for their help in getting us home safely.