News, Ramblings or Whatever


Being on dialysis I have the same benediction that Grandfather Bhisma had — I can leave my body any time I want. Stop the dialysis and 8 days later I am gone. Because of that I was allowed to register for hospice care. It is not active and activation would be the next step but for now I think I have at least another year before my liver fails so it is a contingency plan. Still one’s thoughts turn to the end game,

An email my sister:

Matt has an app on his phone that alerts him if his furnace is not working correctly. He got a message that the temp had dropped 10 degrees yesterday while in St Paul, MN so I went and sat at his home writing Christmas thank yous as waited for the Heating man to come over to fix it. Since quiet and by myself I had time to think of lots of our Dad, Paul stories, on what would have been his 92nd birthday. He sure liked to tell detailed stories! Just think he has been with Jesus Christ, family and friends for 20 yrs of eternity now! Wow, wonder what that will be like? Exciting future!! I can wait awhile still to find out, but have the hope of heaven since in a relationship with Jesus, so am thankful!

I was doing some Bible Study prep tonight and came across this passage in 2 Corinthians that always makes me think of Dad. He told me it was time to pack his tent up when preparing for his physical death, so know he was referring to this:

“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

“Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:1-10

I think of our mother when I read the verses below as it seemed as she got sicker, her spirit seemed to stay positive and mind clear. We were so protected by God that she was that way with her head so full of tumors! Remember her last words were “Trust and Obey for there is no other way”.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Love, your sister Laura

The all-digital facility is on pace to surpass 100,000 visitors in its first year.

Eric Gay / Associated Press

A computer screen displays books available at BiblioTech, a first of its kind digital public library Wednesday in San Antonio. BibiloTech is the nation’s only bookless public library.

SAN ANTONIO — Texas has seen the future of the public library, and it looks a lot like an Apple Store: Rows of glossy iMacs beckon. iPads mounted on a tangerine-colored bar invite readers. And hundreds of other tablets stand ready for checkout to anyone with a borrowing card.Even the librarians imitate Apple’s dress code, wearing matching shirts and that standard-bearer of geek-chic, the hoodie. But this $2.3 million library might be most notable for what it does not have — any actual books.

That makes Bexar County’s BiblioTech the nation’s only bookless public library, a distinction that has attracted scores of digital bookworms, plus emissaries from as far away as Hong Kong who want to learn about the idea and possibly take it home.”I told our people that you need to take a look at this. This is the future,” said Mary Graham, vice president of South Carolina’s Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce. “If you’re going to be building new library facilities, this is what you need to be doing.”All-digital libraries have been on college campuses for years. But the county, which runs no other libraries, made history when it decided to open BiblioTech. It is the first bookless public library system in the country, according to information gathered by the American Library Association.Similar proposals in other communities have been met with doubts.

In California, the city of Newport Beach floated the concept of a bookless branch in 2011 until a backlash put stacks back in the plan. Nearly a decade earlier in Arizona, the Tucson-Pima library system opened an all-digital branch, but residents who said they wanted books ultimately got their way.Graham toured BiblioTech in the fall and is pushing Charleston leaders for a bond measure in 2014 to fund a similar concept, right down to the same hip aesthetic reminiscent of Apple.Except Apple Stores aren’t usually found in parts of town like this. BiblioTech is on the city’s economically depressed South Side and shares an old strip mall with a Bexar County government building.On a recent afternoon, one confused couple walked into the library looking for the justice of the peace.

San Antonio is the nation’s seventh-largest city but ranks 60th in literacy, according to census figures. Back in the early 2000s, community leaders in Bibliotech’s neighborhood of low-income apartments and thrift stores railed about not even having a nearby bookstore, said Laura Cole, BiblioTech’s project coordinator. A decade later, Cole said, most families in the area still don’t have Wi-Fi.”How do you advance literacy with so few resources available?” she said.Residents are taking advantage now. The library is on pace to surpass 100,000 visitors in its first year.

Finding an open iMac among the four dozen at BiblioTech is often difficult after the nearby high school lets out, and about half of the facility’s e-readers are checked out at any given time, each loaded with up to five books. One of BiblioTech’s regulars is a man teaching himself Mandarin.Head librarian Ashley Elkholf came from a traditional Wisconsin high school library and recalled the scourges of her old job: misshelved items hopelessly lost in the stacks, pages thoughtlessly ripped out of books and items that went unreturned by patrons who were unfazed by measly fines and lax enforcement.But in the nearly four months since BiblioTech opened, Elkholf has yet to lend out one of her pricey tablets and never see it again.

The space is also more economical than traditional libraries despite the technology: BiblioTech purchases its 10,000-title digital collection for the same price as physical copies, but the county saved millions on architecture because the building’s design didn’t need to accommodate printed books.”If you have bookshelves, you have to structure the building so it can hold all of that weight,” Elkholf said. “Books are heavy, if you’ve ever had one fall on your foot.”Up the road in Austin, for example, the city is building a downtown library to open in 2016 at a cost of $120 million. Even a smaller traditional public library that recently opened in nearby suburban Kyle cost that city about $1 million more than BiblioTech.

On her first visit, 19-year-old Abigail Reyes was only looking for a quiet space to study for an algebra exam. But she got a quick tutorial from a librarian on how to search for digital books and check out tablets before plopping down on a row of sleek couches.”I kind of miss the books,” Reyes said. “I don’t like being on the tablets and stuff like that. It hurts my eyes.”Across the room, Rosemary Caballeo tried shopping for health insurance on a set of computers reserved for enrollment in the Affordable Care Act. Her restless 2-year-old ran around and pawed at a row of keyboards. The little girl shrieked loudly, shattering the main room’s quiet. She was soon whisked outside by her father.After all, it’s still a library.

1983-Summer-Ghat Construction-1

Recently there was a picture of Samba on the Brijabasi Spirit Throwback Thursday.  Naturally it reminded me of him. What he will be best remembered for is that he was a trucker who hauled in much of the materials that manifest as what most devotees would now recognize as New Vrindaban.

He took initiation from Srila Prabhupada in 1972 and helped build the Palace. All that marble you see at the Palace was hauled in and Samba made frequent trips to New York and other places to pick it up.

He was especially active in the 1980s when the lodge, Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Candra  temple and all the associated building were constructed. We had our own cement mixer for the floors and curbs and  a paving brick factory where all the pavers used in the parking lot were made. All that material was hauled in as well as the gravel substrata under the roads.  Also a lot of the construction materials that were used to build the structures.

Samba was so dedicated he would be at the gravel place when it opened in the morning. He would haul gravel all day until it closed. He would dump the gravel on a lot we purchased at Rte 88 and 250.  Then when  the gravel place would close he would reload the materials onto his truck and haul it the rest of the way  into New Vrindaban because he could get more done in a day that way.

When the lake by the temple, then called Kaliya Ghat,  was being built he was involved.   A large hole was excavatedIn order for a lake to hold water it needs a clay liner and the clay on site wasn’t suitable so he was trucking it in. He would dump it and the man (or in this case,  kid, our current ECOV director Chaitanya “Chaits” Mangala then age 14 ) on a dozer would smooth it out to make the liner.

BTW other members of the crew were Varsana Maharajah overseeing, Pippalada,  grader operator,  Murti, truck driver, Kaliya Krishna, trucker,  Sarva Saksi back hoe  and Samba, son of Hayagriva,  also just  a kid at age 12, dozer.

They would run in shifts around the clock and  a leader at the time said he couldn’t fall asleep unless he heard the equipment running.

Some of Samba’s ashes were spread in the ghat so the next time you watch a Swan Boat Ceremony, remember Samba.

Samba was also a devotee of Tulasi and spent a lot of time caring for Her.

After Srila Prabhupada left the planet and Kirtanananda took over Samba left for a few years. He got cancer and moved back to New Vrindaban to leave his body. He was set up in a room in what is the guest quarters now of the temple.

While there he was chanting furiously, so intently that a prominent leader  told him that because he had done so much service and was rightly situated in the temple that he didn’t need to worry so much about chanting so hard. Samba waited until the leader left the room then went right back to chanting furiously.

At the end there was a sannyasi who was visiting and standing next to his bed holding his danda. With his last breath Samba reached out, grabbed the danda , and left his body.  Those of us at the time who were hard core householders appreciated that although it is proscribed that at some time we take up the sannyasa life of celibacy, traveling and preaching, Samba only had to endure that for the shortest possible time, one breath, as we figured grabbing the danda was taking sannyasa. It was another thing to admire him for.

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Thirty some years ago my wife made me a set of japa beads out of some tulasis who had appeared and left their bodies in New Vrindaban. At the time we had ideal circumstances for growing tulasis in the Northern Temperate zone with the winters and all. We had a greenhouse that was attached to a heated building so she had maximum natural light and a warm space to grow in. The benches were made on top 55 gallon steel drums laid on their sides and filled with water.

I painted the south end of the drum flat black so during the day the drums would soak up heat with their thermal mass and at night give bottom heat to the tulasi plants.  They got over a meter high (4 foot) and quite bushy so the stems got big enough to make beads.  As a matter of fact, while the beads were regular japa size, the head bead  is 7/8″ (17 mm) in diameter. Which may be normal in more moderate climates but big for here.

I treasured that she made them for me but put them away and never used them out of fear of losing them  I have lost several sets of beads over my lifetime, including the ones that Srila Prabhupada handed me when I was initiated. I used to travel a lot and would leave them in places I couldn’t get back to so I held these in reserve.

A few years ago I realized i wasn’t traveling anymore  and as my life expectancy diminished I figured I better use them now or never. I never take them out of the house and on the rare occasion I do want to take some beads i have a second pair I use so there is no risk of losing them.

After using them for a couple of years I noticed that they tangle more than regular beads. The inner dynamics of bead movement in a bag while chanting sometimes causes the beads to get snarled which usually just needs a couple of shakes and they flow again but I realized it was happening a lot.

I took them out and thad a close look  at them and could see that while Vidya had  done a few passes with the file after cutting the individual beads to approximate roundness there was still a flat edge on the bottom so I got a file and started to roundthem off some more. This took several hours in a few different sessions.  The large head bead itself was quite square and was the main culprit for tangles to I really rounded off the ends of that as well as all of the beads

Tulasi’s stem is square so that had made some sharp corners but I round them as well as at the edges. Some of the beads were a little misshapen and I had noticed when I came to them that they distracted me so I smoothed them up so they glide unnoticed through my fingers now.

So although it took decades to complete I now have a set of New Vrindaban tulasi beads that are top notch to chant on and it adds a dimension to my chanting  I believe.

3 days a week I have to make the 16.4  mile (26 km) 28 minute drive into Wheeling to do dialysis. To save a few minutes I tend to drive 5 mph (8 km) over the speed limit as my experience is that even 8 mph over the limit law enforcement will give you a pass.

In Sherrard on Route 88 there is a bit of the road where the speed limit is 25 mph. I had just gone thorough the dip in the road and was heading up when here comes a State Trooper. He gave me a hard look and I glanced at my speedometer and saw I was at 33 mph, 8 mph over the limit. I watched him in my rear view mirror and sure enough the first driveway he came to he pulled in and clearly was turning around, waiting for traffic as the road curved and I lost sight of him.

Running a little late and not wanting to go through getting a ticket within a few seconds I was at Route 86 and I turned off onto it. It goes straight for only a few yards then turns and drops down behind a bank.  I hoped I would be out of sight by the time he got there.  Over 95% of the traffic on Route 88 stays on 88 so I hoped he would make the assumption I did too.

There was an anxious moment but in a few hundred yards (meters) I was at the turn off for Boggs Run and headed down there. Boggs Run is parallel to Route 88 so it didn’t add any distance to my journey but is a lot twistier and slower.

I soon realized he hadn’t followed me and I breathed a sigh of relief. I soon felt a pang of guilt as I respect law enforcement and generally am supportive so this wasn’t typical of me and I wouldn’t advise anyone else to do so.  I even have a son who is a policemen in Georgia,  of whom we are very proud, so I do try to see the world through their perspective.

I hadn’t actually heard a siren or seen flashing lights so technically I wasn’t breaking any laws by running.

The guilt was soon replaced by a thrill of adventure. My life is generally quite placid and routine and it has been years since I even had the thrill of competing in a soccer game, so this was quite out of the ordinary for me.  I will say it wasn’t an unwanted thrill that I had pretty much written off I would ever feel in this body again.

Plus it gave me something to write about. :-)

Will a new 240 H.P. John Deere diesel make mincemeat of an 1800′s steam tractor rated 18 H.P?

It’s all about torque and traction… enjoy!>

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