April 2006



I wonder if they are worried that the rising price of oil might affect the rate of growth of grass in the pasture?

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Our 1990 Corolla was making noise, but the muffler was good. I took it to Dave, a local ridge top mechanic. He figured it was a cracked exhaust manifold. He tried to weld it but cast iron is difficult. Even if the weld holds, the piece is often warped. It sounded bad after I picked it up. I took it back, and he shrugged his shoulders and said it was okay the way it was, just keep driving it.

If I have something, I prefer to keep it in good shape. Unfortunately, paying top dollar for dealer service is off budget. So when a new devotee, Shyamasundara, started doing mechanical work, I took it to him. He immediately identified by ear the manifold was still cracked. He advised me to get a new one and the needed gaskets and he would install it.

Rupanuga has a parts car that is the same model. He said I could take the manifold for free; a nice gesture. I called a junkyard to see how much a used one cost, thinking I would give him something anyway. They didn’t have any, because everyone that came in was cracked. This got me thinking, so I went on the internet and discovered this engine has a cracking problem. If I paid to have Rupanuga’s removed, it might already be cracked; if not, it was an inevitable fate. In which case I would be out the cost of the labor and the gaskets for installation. So I decided to get a new one.

Now the fun began. I called the parts store, and they wanted $130 for a new one and gaskets. I went online, and found a place where I could get the manifold and a gasket kit for $70, shipping included. It arrived and I left the car with Shyamasundara. He brings it back, saying the gaskets (one goes on the engine and one another the muffler system) are wrong. Great. So I go down to a local place get a gasket kit. I take it to Shyamasundara. When he brought the car back, manifold installed, he said the “kit” only had the engine gasket, not the muffler one so he had to reuse the old one, which wasn’t sealing. So I still had a noisy, losing power car.

Not to be deterred, the next time I am in town, I go to a parts store and order the missing gasket. I leaned over the counter and watched the clerk input the information, and saw everything was correct because this time I was making sure. I bring it back to Shyamasundara and guess what? Wrong size. This was starting to get absurd.

Next attempt, my wife went to town. This time she takes the old manifold and makes the parts guy show her it fits. Off, again, to Shyam’s. I parked, and walked up to him to say I finally had it right. CRUNCH. I turn and see that someone backed into my car, and broke the running light. At this point, I had to laugh. The weird turn of events that lead to 4 attempts to get one little part, that I could attribute to bad luck and incompetence on my part. That at the exact moment I had finally gotten it right, something else breaks, that had to be Krsna making a joke. I had to laugh at the futility of it all. I hope He had a good chuckle too.

A modern tomato harvest in full swing.

“In spite of what Mother taught you about the benefits of eating broccoli, data collected by the U.S. government show that the nutritional content of America’s vegetables and fruits has declined during the past 50 years — in some cases dramatically.

Donald Davis, a biochemist at the University of Texas, said that of 13 major nutrients in fruits and vegetables tracked by the Agriculture Department from 1950 to 1999, six showed noticeable declines — protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin and vitamin C. The declines ranged from 6 percent for protein, 15 percent for iron, 20 percent for vitamin C, and 38 percent for riboflavin…”

“Davis said he doesn’t want his study to encourage people to stop eating vegetables on the grounds they lack nutrients.

“That’s completely wrong,” he said, contending his study shows that people need to eat more vegetables and fruits, not less. “Vegetables are extraordinarily rich in nutrients and beneficial phytochemicals. They are still there, and vegetables and fruits are our best sources for these.”…”

See complete article here.

The last breaths of an unbloggable
week were being drawn.
Watched the DVDed first season
of the Fox series “24” in two days;
painted something to watch it dry.

Mired in malaise,
trying to fit square words
into round sentences,
my eye was caught
by movement on the floor.

A moth with one and a half wings
crawled into the halo of my desk light.
Scooped up and placed on the porch,
the yellow angular stripes
on its black wings — memorable.

Looking online for an identification key,
I was bewildered by unlearned jargon
and over ten thousand known species
in America north of Mexico;
fourteen hundred in North Dakota alone.

Then a search of “moth” and “West Virginia”
found Bob Patterson’s life
list of five hundred plus photographs
with improvised English names.
A quick skim and a few guesses later

I saw my moth,
both wings whole,
enpixelized.
Apantesis phalerata,
The Banded Tiger Moth.

I went outside again, but only memory
fluttered around the porch light.
Watching in the sky,
bright enough to cast a shadow,
the eye of Krishna.


The weather is still pleasantly cool and spring like. We have had to give up most gardening, as I am not able to do any significant amount and my wife is taking the burden on too many other things. So what remains is some bulbs, some perennials, and flowering shrubs. The shrubs were planted with the primary criterion of succession of bloom, and fragrance as much as possible. A few haven’t thrived, so there are some holes in the succession of fragrance, but the blooming sequence is still working. Most of them are large enough now to thrive on their own.

After the forsythia, the spirea came in, covered with delicate white blooms that make up for their small size with abundant blossoms. Blooming before the leaves emerge, they cover the shrub like snow. Next is the olfactory high point of the year, the viburnum and the row of lilacs. My wife started the lilacs from seed, from seed stock selected for fragrance. When we moved into our current house 10 years ago, they were still like little toddlers, so we were able to move them easily. Now, they are 8-10 feet (2.5-3 meters) tall and make a solid row, filling our once primary garden space with fragrance that is heavenly. The viburnum we bought and installed once we arrived here. Many of the viburnums are showy, but blind when it comes to fragrance. We got the viburnum carlesii, which is very fragrant.

Day before yesterday I made it out and saw that the lilacs and the v. carlesii were partially open and already throwing scent. So yesterday I went out and picked a single v.carlesii flower cluster, now opened enough to cut, and put it into a cup of water next to the couch where I spend most of my time. Sometimes, you become acclimatized to a smell, and after perceiving it for a while, it fades from perception. Not the case with this v. carlesii bloom. I was smelling it all day; it was almost heady at times, and it is creeping over to me as I sit typing this out. A bloom cluster or two would scent an altar all day long. If the v. carlesii would grow in your climate, it is well worth including in any garden.

Today was one of those rare days I woke up before the birds started singing, and it was still dark as pitch, the 4th quarter moon having already set. I was chanting some japa to pass the time. There was a thunderstorm and about every time I would start to doze off, a lightning bolt would strike somewhere and the clap of thunder would awaken me. Eventually, the earliest birds started singing, and soon thereafter the blackness subtly changed to a dark gray, the brahma muhurta hour was in full swing.

This past week was a turning point. I finally finished jumping through the hoops I needed to in order to be officially listed on the liver transplant list. This was a process that started last July when my specialist told me I had passed the tipping point and needed one. There were referrals, getting the medical aid lined up, all that sort of stuff, which took months. Over the last 6 weeks it has been an unrelenting barrage of interviews, testing, and procedures.

The last step was getting clearance from a dentist that all my teeth and gums were in good shape. The reason being that if a transplant was to actually transpire, they have to suppress my immune system to nothing and even a minor infection could become a serious problem. Dental work at that time is dangerous. I had to have a tooth pulled in order to get the nod from the dentist. Which needed to come out anyway. It was been bothering me for about a year, just in the hierarchy of discomfort that has been my lot, it wasn’t at the forefront. With limited resources and energy, I just hadn’t gotten around to it.

Needless to say, all this has made me even more bodily conscious than usual, so I am looking forward to have some interests other than being screened for a while. Now the waiting begins for the possibility of a transplant. Two years waiting on the list is almost normal, and 20% of people on the list don’t survive the wait. You would think this would make me more serious about things, but I prefer to not live in fear, so perhaps more denial is involved in my day-to-day consciousness than I think. So no, I am about as frivolous as ever. Might as well have a few laughs in the meantime.


“But in spite of the individual mode of passion, there is always the chance of being influenced by the other modes of nature by association. If one is in good association he can develop the mode of goodness, and if in bad association he may develop the mode of darkness or ignorance. Nothing is stereotyped. One can change his habit by good or bad association, and one has to become intelligent enough to discriminate between good and bad.”

SB 2.10.41

Angry/negative People Can Be Bad For Your Brain

“If you want to accomplish something that demands determination and endurance, try to surround yourself with people possessing these qualities. And try to limit the time you spend with people given to pessimism and expressions of futility. Unfortunately, negative emotions exert a more powerful effect in social situations than positive ones, thanks to the phenomena of emotional contagion…”

This article explores:

“1) One of the most important recent neuroscience discoveries–“mirror neurons”, and the role they play in a decision like Robert’s

2) The heavily-researched social science phenomenon known as “emotional contagion”

3) Ignorance and misperceptions around the idea of “happy people”…”

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