Monday, March 29, 2010

Soft skin and strong codes

Had my first spa day ever yesterday. A different experience; fascinating and definitely enjoyable. Maybe I should do this every couple of years. I should be able to afford going to a good spa and getting a pedicure and a fine massaging. The paraffin treatment on my hands was the most unusual part of the whole experience. Like wearing really hot mitts without thumbs. Lots of warm towels and steam to open my pores. It turns out I have really dry skin (REALLY?). Not on my feet, which was completely unexpected, but on my face. Obi Wan Kenobi said it best; "You have taken your first step into a larger world." For me, a world of moisturizers and lotions. Pampering the outer chica, so to speak. Not something I usually do. Mainly because I'm lazy and completely uninterested in that stuff. Yesterday was something of an eye-opener. After this most enjoyable morning, I met with Mom and my sister for lunch. Parking at the Forks was insane, but that's normal during the weekend.
As I mentioned the other day, I had planned to be deep in matters relating to the Samurai. Why can't people adhere to strict codes of honour anymore? Anyway, I'm reading 'Hagakure: the book of the Samurai' by Yamamoto Tsunetomo. I don't think it's the entire book, however. The translator apparently picked 300 out of the 1300 sayings and stuck them in this book. O to understand Japanese! The matter of committing seppuku is the ultimate end of obedience to a code of honour and ethics. And some of these warriors were ordered by their master to commit seppuku and they actually did it! That speaks of great honour and loyalty to the master. Again I'm reminded of the mighty kings and warriors in the 'Mahabharata'. If the treasured sage Drona had so willed it, men like Arjuna and Bhima would've gladly committed seppuku (or something like it).
People don't seem to have as great a respect for such codes or for oaths anymore. Something sad about that. Anyone interested in chatting about this, let me know. Going south this Wednesday if the roads stay open. That's all. BYE.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Buoyant again

Not that I was down in the dumps before, but Spring Break officially starts now, and I've got a week of rest and relaxation ahead of me. I'm reading 'Mejda: the family and the early life of Paramahansa Yogananda' but I should have that done before I leave with the gals on Wednesday for Fargo. I should be either deep in stuff about the samurai or deep in Book 2 of the Raj Quartet. Sooner or later, I knew I'd find myself entrenched in matters spiritual of one form or another. This evening, while driving home from the family homestead, I ventured down familiar paths of constant impermanence and the perceptions of others. It's not a matter of what others think of you that counts (at least, it shouldn't matter once you've moved on), but how others have perceived you will determine how you're mourned.
Being mourned is inevitable, as no matter how terrible a person you were, someone is going to remember the good choices you made once and will mourn you based on those good choices. Saints have flaws and monsters have virtues, no matter what anyone else is going to say about it. Good cannot exist without evil, so everybody is going to be mourned. Even if nobody comes to your funeral, someone is going to mourn in their heart for you. Nobody is completely anonymous forever. By the way, I have no idea why I ventured down this path - I don't see myself as being morbid (paranoid, certainly), but anyone who reads this post might perceive me as such. Will that be among the things said at my funeral? 'She was introspective to the point of being morbid and self-deprecating to the point of non-existence'. I've heard of worse perceptions. I can live with that (not that I would care by then).
I was thinking today about what I would do if I had 5 seconds to live (thanks to this game) and I guess that's why I got to thinking about everything else. Games. Keep'em. Anyway, that's about all. BYE.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

End of the British Raj

I'm reading Paul Scott's 'Raj Quartet' (skipped book 2 since I couldn't get a hold of it at the time), and I'm finding it easy to romanticise (sic?) over the coming of India's independance and the end of the infamous British Raj. I've read 'The jewel in the crown' already and I'm in the middle of 'Towers of silence'. The Brits riding out the last days of Britain's dominance are doing their best to hold on to what was. Did Joe Q. Public out in India know that Independance was near? Did he understand what that meant? Those who understood better than others seemed to be lamenting the approach; much in the same way we lament the approaching loss of a dear friend or family member as he/she slowly and steadily loses the battle to survive. Those who don't mourn and lament try their darndest to deny the end is close. That's what's happening in these pages as well.
There are people who have a very hard time accepting change (of any kind) in this life. Usually, when things change, it looks like it will be either for the good or for the bad, but it's just different in the end. Sometimes it's just better to say, 'Let the chips fall where they may.' When India and Africa were freed from Britain's control, I wonder what their leaders would've thought/said/ done had they been able to see 50 years (or even 20-30 years) into the future. I'm reminded of 'Mahabharata' at this point. Bhishma, long after making his memorable vow, bitterly regretted it, seeing how terribly everything had gone afterward. Since we cannot know what the result of our actions will be (that far into the future), at the end of the day, all we can do is say 'What's done is done.' Ignorance isn't bliss, but it sure can feel reassuring.
Even keeping a diary could cause me incredible regret 20-30 years from now. On the other hand, 2014 is only a few years away, and I'm still very grateful for those early scribbles. The good, the bad, and the angst-ridden (which turned very ugly at times). Anyway, I guess I'm done with this digital scribbling for tonight. BYE.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Birthday business

I spent my birthday night playing Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Great way to celebrate a milestone, eh? Meanwhile, my immediate family is treating me to supper tonight. I just finished reading Stan Lee's bio 'Excelsior' today. Easy read and lots of fun. I would've like to see a longer and more detailed account of this guy's life, however. There had to be more to the man's life than this slim deal. Hopefully someone will make a more detailed account after Lee has passed on. Before I got into 'Excelsior', I read a stunning and sorrowful book called 'Silence'. Sometimes the missionary ends up going down a most futile path where conversion is concerned. The concept of apostasy is also addressed in this book. When is it really apostasy? Isn't this a matter to be addressed in the heart? It's really more than a formality, or at least it should be more than a formality. If you form a belief, you need to form it completely in the heart and mind. Turning your back on said belief has to happen in both heart and mind as well for it to be true apostasy.
I'd like to get into this in more detail, but I don't have time. BYE.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

6 days to go...

Dancin' on the edge of 30, and I'm excited. I cannot explain it, for I know 30's a downer for many people. 20 was a downer for me, but 30 just makes me want to jump for joy. I just finished reading the last book in King's 'Dark Tower' series. It still escapes me why King put himself in the story. Maybe he wanted to live the experiences his tragic characters lived. Is there another series so intense out there? I think this series is truly a case of man and/vs. Muse, and while I'm not really impressed by the end of the story (it isn't really a satisfying resolution; anti-climax, actually) it serves its purpose as an ending. One way or another, King's done with this series, and I'm pretty sure there will never be a 9th book (not written by King, anyway). I wonder if anyone's done any fan fiction concerning this series. That would make for some interesting reading.
My focus has moved back to Forsyth and 'The dogs of war'. I'm hoping to see the same (or a similar) level of attention to detail that he applied to 'Day of the Jackal'. That is a splendid book, and anyone seeking to breathe life into their characters should go over it several times. I've read it 3 times already myself, and I might read it again in a few years. Exquisite stuff. Getting back to King for a moment, I've got the beloved 'Needful Things' waiting in the wings. I usually don't have a favourite book by anyone or about anything, but this is my favourite Stephen King book. Highly recommended, and not really nightmare-inducing. A study on wants and what happens when people forget this Rolling Stones song, which makes for a fairly good adage.
With the coming of March, the weather is getting nicer and nicer all the time. Soon Spring will be here, and then the cankerworms (UGH!) will dance and dangle from the trees. This area is a little older than So. St. Vital, so there will be MORE of the little mindless leaf-chewers. Stressful times ahead, I fear, but there's no reason to freak out right now. BYE.