Sunday, November 30, 2008

Da future

At least as far as Summer 2009 is concerned. I passed my first evaluation nicely, and once March rolls around, I hope to pass the second evaluation just as well. Assuming I do, I'll have a steady job and can start branching out. This means moving away from the homestead and getting my own apartment for a year. From there I hope to move on to condo, but the apartment will be the major test of my mettle. It isn't the lack of cooking skills that worries my parents and I (assuming I follow the recipe, I don't do too badly with cooking). I've never been on my own before, so I don't know what this aloneness will do to me. My sister tried living apart and lasted about a month. This will be a trial (at least for a while). If I survive for a year in an apartment, I can move on to a condo and start getting some equity. I'm looking at this as pragmatically and unemotionally as possible right now.
I already have a car and fairly good credit, so that gives me the toehold I need. With a steady job, I can move into an apartment and then a condo. I'll have to pack my share of boxes once everything is said and done. I won't have to bring the family cat (he's eleven, and I don't think he'd handle such an earth-shaking change). Bascially, the only things I need are my diary, my computer and laptop, and enough clothes and utentsils to get by. My bed and a couple of sticks of furniture wouldn't hurt either. My bedroom here will look pretty empty after I've gone, although my sister, once sure I won't be back, will move in without another thought. I don't need monster amounts of space - just enough for myself and maybe a guest from time to time.
My parents are already okay with me dropping by the homestead from time to time for supper (call before I come). Yes, I'm thinking ahead; no, I'm not counting my chickens before they hatch. I'm just looking at this in a positive light. I've wanted to get out of the house since I was in my teens (although I haven't really been all that vocal about it). Assuming all goes well, I might possibly be in a new space by Fall 2009. We shall see.
This entry was not about books or Buddhism, as you will notice. This time, I'm being a little more practical. I'll keep you in the loop on the house-hunt and other practical matters from time to time. Rest assured, I'll have tons to say about books another time. BYE.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Rushdie in Central America

I'm feeling my years (strange thing to say for a 28 year old). I took out Salman Rushdie's 'The jaguar smile' the other day, and am nearly finished reading it. The book is an account of a trip Rushdie made to Nicaragua during the Contra-Sandinista battles of the mid-80s and of the people he met and the things he learned. He paints a vibrant picture of the turmoil and conflict of this tormented yet unabashedly proud country. I was only six or seven when the whole mess came to light, so I've had to rely on the history books for more information about it (hence my feeling my years so keenly). I had heard about the Iran-Contra scandal, with Oliver North, the CIA, and the late prez. Reagan from MAD magazine and other reliable media sources, so I had a clear enough picture of what had gone on, but Rushdie was actually there during the worst of it, so his picture is a little clearer than mine.
The locals were usually more on the Sandinista side, as the tons of anti-Contra graffiti proclaimed. Reagan and the CIA were reviled from every side and by every voice. There was (and probably still is) an insiduous thread of Americanism slithering in through the radio and on some signs (Coca-Cola's presence was everywhere). Whatever corruption there was, it was all blamed on the Contras and on America. Such is the way things are. Hypocrisy knows no borders, neither does corruption. All countries have them, and they reside in every soul, so I'm not singling anyone out here. Politics is not my bag (and I'm glad for it), and now I'm going to blast politics and its vicious circles and games. I could apply this to any country, but Nicaragua provided Rushdie the spark, so I'll use it as the example.
I recently discussed multinationals in one of my posts, and it looks like I'm back to the topic again. For starters, multinationals, no matter how they're reviled at home, are loved by other countries. They give people good, well-paying jobs. For the regular dude walking down a street in Nicaragua, the local multinational is a godsend. Perhaps the only way this dude can feed his family. He does the job well, likes what he's doing, and gets paid better for it than anywhere else in the country. Then someone back home starts screaming that the government out there is corrupt, the US imposes heavy sanctions, and the multinational has no choice but to close up shop and move on, thus depriving that dude of his livelihood. Poverty is on the rise, and the screamers back home howl that these countries need food, but the US won't send it because of the sanctions.
All governments have some level of corruption. How long would it take the US to howl if someone successfully imposed sanctions on it? It's just as corrupt as the next country, but its hands seemingly stay clean. If folks in the US are complaining about the economy now, imagine how much people would complain if what happens everyday to Nicaragua happened in the US? Frightening thing to consider, but it could happen someday. Okay, I'm done with my soapbox. BYE.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fumbling toward insight

Shamelessly lifting part of Sarah McLachlan's album title here.... Anyway, some of my neater insights come from musing in my diary, but I was astounded by the source of this latest rambling. I was reading Keay's "The honourable company" and marvelling at the irony that manifests itself when I compare the concept of honour and match it with the deeds done by the East India Company. Nothing honourable about bribery, massacres, and plain and simple greed, so what makes this company so honourable? Was there ever a period in history that could forgive such barbarisms? No amount of temporal distance can justify what was done in those years. If there's anyone who can rationalize what men like Josiah Child and Clive of India did in the name of greed and wealth, I welcome all comers with an open ear. Don't give me 'manifest destiny' and don't give me capitalistic rhetoric.
Some people in the world today condemn multinationals for a variety of sins. The East India Company could be considered the first multinational, and the sins are more or less the same, only bloodier. I'm speaking from my own viewpoint - I am no expert on the economy or on multinationals, by the way - it just looks like they do more harm than good. Anyway, back to the East India Company and temporal distance. Anyone who's read this blog knows I take stock in karma, and reading "The honourable company" got me thinking about the sheer negative karmic debt these 'entrepeneurs' must've accumulated in this one lifetime alone. I tried to look at all this conquest in the most positive light and could find no justification for it. What could they have possibly brought forward to justify their actions? Surely, most of them met with a worse life next time.
Lately, my thoughts have been on karma and its myriad actions and the outcomes we go through when there's imbalance. I felt at one point like cursing karma for being so complicated and intricate. Wouldn't it be nice to know the karmic output of every last little action (thought/word/deed) we do? It would make the path to Nirvana a little easier. However, I quickly realized that most people (I hope fewer than most, but I'm too pessimistic to think otherwise) would rack up positive karma in the hopes of being reborn in paradise. That, according to what I have learned, is NOT the reason for it all. Nirvana would get completely ignored by such people. For Nirvana, the scales have to be completely balanced and the perceptions completely changed. Therefore, knowing the karmic output of every action is probably a big mistake.
Interesting where insight comes from, isn't it? BYE.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Chicken or Egg?

I am now going to meander for a long time and fill this space with convoluted typestrokes about the inevitable. Please excuse my being long-winded. Thank you, and now I go ahead...
Anyway, I was thinking and scribbling in my journal about Time and how it's inevitable that things age. My mother was lamenting about my being so close to 30 it scared her. My Grandpa is 60 years my senior, so when I turn 30, he'll be 90, and this was unnerving. Grandma's death three years ago was hard enough on my dad, but Grandpa's passing with all the messy details will be even harder to bear. Then and there, Mom said that I could not, under any circumstances, turn 30. I must stay 28 for the rest of my life. I reminded her that time's movements are inevitable and I will turn 30 regardless of what anyone says.
Naturally, this got me thinking about Time and what changes it brings about. The planet will rotate and the sun will shine upon our hemisphere again no matter what anyone says. Then the revolution will complete itself and we'll have the four seasons. Everything changes, and that is the one constant in the universe. People cannot stop change, for they change with every cell death and birth. Change is inevitable. Then I thought up a question which could very well get people thinking for weeks, at least. Is Time a result of Change, or is Change a result of Time? Which is the cause and which is the effect, in other words? A stunner of a question, and without a doubt, there are probably people out there who have gone through this question at least once.
Briefly, I am going to examine this question. They both seem inevitable, but does one follow the other? Looking at the question with Semi-Buddhist Eyes, I came up with the idea that Time could be an illusion; a reference point so desperately needed by people. Without such reference points, the ID would be lost. Does this mean that Time (or what we call Time) is a result of Change? Things change and we need reference points to remember these changes. It happened 'yesterday', but according to some Buddhist paths, there is no yesterday (or is there a tomorrow). Time is another way to ID.
I am not, for a moment, saying I'm right. This is just something I was toying around with in my diary. If there's anyone who wants to discuss the question further, please let me know. I'd love to chat.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Probationary employees

I'm on probation, but my term is half over. I should be getting evaluated by the end of the month. My last evaluation was a complete and total failure, although my family was sure the deck was stacked against me. I wish my previous employer well and hope my replacement is living up to my employer's expectations. Anyway, back to the present job. I've got two principals to keep happy, and I think I rose to the challenge yesterday with thinking on my toes. I was quick-thinking and accomodating, and what employer would fire someone who's quick-thinking and accomodating? Okay, it's just my towering doubts and fears insisting I will be fired any day now. I have plans for the future and I really would rather carry out said plans instead of being let go before my probationary period is up.
I attended my first union meeting (for this union; I've been part of several unions over the years) and while nothing exciting happened, I took the time to read and re-read that part about probationary employees. Once the 120 days are up, I cannot be fired without DAMN good reason! Right now, I'm not really paying much attention to the union, for it will not pertain to me until the 120 days are up and I actually have some say in what's going on. For now, I'm sort of on life support, I guess you could say. As long as I keep the teachers and principals happy until I pass evaluation (and after, of course), things should be all right. I don't think one principal is allowed to fire me without checking in with the other principal. After all, it is a full-time job, and both principals were on hand to interview me.
My sense of raging paranoia, however, will not leave me alone, so until the probation period is up and I'm fully in the fold, every meeting I have with my bosses is a potential dismissal. I wonder if it's just a question of self-preservation; sort of cushioning my fragile psyche for the possible crushing blow. That's pretty much how I see it. I know that this entry is shorter than previous ones, but this is what's been on my mind today. Perhaps next entry I'll have some rousing chatter on mysticism for you, but today things are pretty concrete. BYE.