James Martini archive

Category : Life (19)

First world problems

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Published on: July 23, 2015

I don’t know when this phrase entered my vocabulary. The only recollection I have of it is a comment that I can’t remember by a person I can’t recall on a messages board I’m uncertain of: definitely a first world problem. That little phrase so accurately and powerfully put into perspective the minor irritation the poster was referring to that it immediately became a reflexive yardstick in my own mind.

The grocery store is out of the yogurt I like, definitely a first world problem. Someone is wrong in the internet, definitely a first world problem. I’m out of the artificial sweetener I like, definitely a first world problem. There is a login queue for the MMO I’m playing, absolutely a first world problem.

Looking it up in google it’s clear that this is a meme that has soaked into my mind through osmosis. Reddit has a firstworldproblems board and #tagdef has a definition for it.

It’s like coming across something in your house that you didn’t buy and didn’t borrow. You’re not entirely sure how and why it got to be there and yet it fits with the decor.

The Universe Plots Against Me. Again.

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Published on: February 7, 2013

So immediately following my fresh start with exercise and organization of my life, I come down with what has literally been the worst case of flu I’ve had in decades. I missed almost a week of work and two weeks after it began I still have a persistent cough. I can’t say it’s the worst case of the flu I’ve ever had since it didn’t almost kill me like that one time when I was a kid where my temperature shot up to 106 and I had to be put into a bathtub full of cold water.

I still remember the hallucinations from that day. Bats, a tree growing in my room and falling on me, the ceiling suddenly dropping to crush me. Generally a bad time all the way around. My stepfather didn’t help since he only knew that you kept sick people in bed so when I’d throw off the covers in an attempt to allow my body to cool down he’d put them back and pile on another blanket because I was shivering. The man meant well but wasn’t really thinking. The doctor was convinced that I lost about twenty IQ points that day as my brain slowly cooked itself.

The weather is warming up again and thoughts of yard work and gardening are starting to creep in. I have a whole list of things I’d like to get done this spring and I think that with regular effort I might actually get the back yard whipped into shape. For the most part if just cleaning up areas where I’d let the maintenance go. Corners that have accumulated detritus and gone to seed, flower beds taken over by unpruned bushes gone wild, that sort of thing. I still have no idea how I’m going to get rid of the moles.

Bad Buddhist

Categories: Buddhism, Life
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Published on: November 22, 2011

I occasionally frequently have days when I wonder if self identifying as a Buddhist isn’t a combination of irony and an attempt to pull the wool over other people’s eyes. I’ve been reading a lot more books on Buddhism and Buddhist themed blogs recently and I’m constantly struck by the gulf between my experience and the experience of other middle class white Americans who similarly self identify as Buddhists.

I don’t care about enlightenment. This isn’t false modesty, I don’t doubt that there some state of being in which one perceives and groks the nature of existence but such a state seems so distant from my daily mental locus that it’s like looking at the moon; beautiful but infinitely out of reach. I struggle just to not be a dick to people in my immediate vicinity

I think dharma names are silly. Maybe it’s because I did the whole goth thing back in the 90s and hung out with people who referred to themselves with fanciful names dripping with angst and import (you know who you are). I think it’s great that Rob Wierzbaski from Scranton has taken up meditation and instruction from a saffron robed teacher from the roof of the world. I admire his dedication and the discipline of the vows he has undertaken. When, however, he is referred to or refers to himself as Tendo Dorje I either have to stifle either a smirk or a sneer.

I’m suspicious of dharma transmission. I have a very different and more mundane take on the Flower Sermon. The Buddha silently holds up a flower, everyone is wrapped up in what he means by this, one person, looking at the flower, smiles. I’m sure that somewhere an enlightened tulku just had a shooting pain in his left arm as a result of how wrong I am but it honestly makes more sense to me than mental telepathy.

I masturbate about as frequently as I meditate. Okay, a lot more frequently. I sometimes wonder if there’s really that much of a difference but, in general, I’m far more relaxed after one than I am the other.

I have an Indonesian style Buddha head statue on my desk that was given to me as a wonderful gift by my loving wife. I don’t bow to him. I don’t pay homage to him. Truth be told, I don’t even dust him all that often. I do, however, wonder what music he listens to when I use him as a rack for my headphones.

I guess when it comes down to it there is a lot about Buddhism that speaks to me. The Four Noble Truths make sense although I’ll admit the third is a leap of faith. A lot of the things you’re supposed to strive for as a Buddhist strike me as things we could use more of in the world. Kindness, introspection, inner and outer peace, all pretty good things.

I saw Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back as a kid and wanted to be wise like Yoda. I had a philosophy professor in college who one said I had sainthood within my grasp which is a hell of an ego boost for a twenty-something year old but, in retrospect, is more like a gypsy curse that has taken the form of the 800 pound gorilla of unrealized potential.

Anyway, time to wash the dishes and vacuum the house.

Achievement Unlocked: The Third Gem’s The Charm

Categories: Buddhism, Life
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Published on: November 13, 2011

My friend Jim has restarted the Buddhist meditation group at the local Unitarian Universalist church. I’d gone previously a few times when it was being run by James Ownbey (so many Jameses) but didn’t really stick with it. At the moment it’s being held at 10am in the office of the minister rather than in the main hall. The down side is that the office faces onto the foyer and the church is quite active before 11am services so concentration is proving to be challenging.

It’s pretty nondenominational in terms of the school of Buddhism. While the previous James seemed more involved with the local Tibetans, Jim is decidedly zen in his leanings. It’s probably best described as Reformed Western Buddhism.

The central UU webside still lists James Owenby as the primary contact and links to a URL that no longer exists. I’ll have to talk to Jim about getting that fixed at some point.

This Blog Sucks

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Published on: August 25, 2011

I think that this interview with Ira Glass pretty much sums up why I’ve always bailed out of many of the creative endeavors I’ve begun. Thanks to WWdN: In Exile for bringing it to my attention.

So if you’re reading this crap blog on even a semi-regular basis (sorry Jyllian) be prepared for it to suck. A lot at first, maybe less a few years down the line. Who knows, twenty years down the line when I’m shaking my liver spotted fist at kids with their direct neural interfaces and semi-autonomous matrix zones this blog may continue to suck. Maybe I’ll achieve perfect zen beginners mind and suck as much at the end as I do at the beginning.

Which brings me to what I love about zen, nothing to achieve which takes long, difficult years full of hard work sitting down to accomplish. You achieved enlightenment? That’s nice, did you remember to take out the trash and scoop the cat box?

Author’s disclaimer: not an enlightened being by any stretch of the imagination.

One Day of Peace

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Published on: August 17, 2011

Sometimes you look at a problem and it’s just too big. You don’t even begin to know where to start or whether any effort you make will make the slightest bit of difference. Quite frequently these are precisely the problems that most need a solution but any action you can conceive of would be like attempting to empty the ocean with a teaspoon. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the enormity of the problems that afflict us at the personal level let alone on a global scale.

We forget the power of a single person armed with an idea and unshakable determination.

 “A man has an idea. The idea attracts others; likeminded. The idea grows. The idea becomes an institution.” — Top Dollar

Cemetery ducks

Categories: Buddhism, Family, Life
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Published on: August 14, 2010

Spent some time feeding the graveyard ducks with Emily in the morning. The ducks and geese were generally well behaved. As we left I noticed that someone had broken the face off a small Buddha statue that is near the back “entrance” to the cemetery.

Errands and cleaning followed by a visit from Laura, Cedar and Sam.

Spent some time in the evening recovering lost notes for Memento. The virtual machine is gone but I set up a new wiki for project notes and identified a couple books to read.

Project July

Categories: Buddhism, Fitness, Life
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Published on: June 30, 2010

For the month of July I’m going to be making a concerted effort to post daily, exercise, improve my diet and again become established in meditation. The daily posting will be of primary importance as it is intended to keep me honest regarding the other aspects of the project.

Goals

  • Post daily
  • Exercise at least 5 days a week
  • Track my diet on a daily basis
  • Meditate at least 15 minutes every day

Exercise is primarily going to be strength training with light cardio on the off days. Diet is primarily tracking what I eat and develop a more long term plan over the course of the month. Meditation is to establish myself in daily practice again.

Iconoclasm Under Glass

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Published on: April 23, 2010

I ran across a reference to Dale Chihuly in the opening page of the book Iconoclast. It only took a moment to look him up on Google but a half hour to tear myself away from his website. Absolutely amazing glasswork.

Let me explain… no there is no time, let me sum up

Categories: Family, Life
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Published on: March 17, 2010
  • Wife was ill
  • Grew another eye on the back of my head
  • Wife is better
  • I was ill
  • The eye is still there
  • Exercise is hit and miss
  • Emily loved the Lightning Thief
  • Emily loves Lady Gaga
  • Still hacking out ideas for Memento
  • Going to get the eye removed soon
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