August 2006

Went to squat on some high-speed access at the temple yesterday. I moved to WordPress where you can categorize posts. To do that on the back posts I imported from Blogger, I have to open each post and set the category(ies). This is excruciatingly slow on dialup. It is still a chore with a high-speed connection, but at least the waiting to load thing isn’t prominent.

The only way I could get high speed at home is via satellite. There are too many miles of copper lines between the fiber optic network and me so DSL doesn’t work. When DSL first came out, I was told there was a plan to bring a fiber optic line out Rte 250. Then I would have only had a mile of copper, and been able to get it. Unfortunately, when 9/11 hit, Verizon lost so much infrastructure in lower Manhattan, their whole budget was swallowed up to replace it, and the 250 project got scrapped. Interestingly, while they can’t provide DSL, they can give T-1 access, which only requires 8 phone pairs. Cost for T-1 for me is out of range. Cable TV doesn’t come out into the country, so that is not an option. As is the $60 a month satellite access would cost, plus a few hundred in equipment. So internetwise, I am a third worlder.

Since I don’t have a laptop, I have to hunt for an open workstation at the temple, which is possible to find, but I don’t want to inconvenience any devotees, so only got a bit of time yesterday. Made an actual arrangement for today, so might make a bigger dent. When you see the “uncategorized” category disappear in the sidebar, you will know I have completed my task. I am sure there are worthier tasks, but that is what I am doing now.

Problem is when I go to the temple, there are so many interesting things to do, and I get off track. Yesterday I ended up talking to Gopal, who lived here for several years but hadn’t been back for a visit in 5 years. He lives in Kansas now and puts a lot of energy into distributing books, especially at colleges. Plus, I was beating the drum for the NV Blog Aggregator, talked to a few devotees about that. It is all approved and everything, mostly positive feedback, just some time is separating.

There is a new devotee who has, I think, agreed to do a temple blog, using the name Brijabasi Spirit. This was the name of the original community monthly magazine from 30+ years ago, which has reincarnated several times, but is currently unmanifest. Perhaps he was only being polite, I will try find him again today and confirm the commitment. I am jonsing, since has been offline for a couple of weeks now after a hack attack, and that was my primary source for online devotee nectar. That has added urgency for my quest for a NV version.


Most of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples are aging and their senior years are rapidly approaching. SP himself set a great example by walking every day, which has so many health benefits. It is also generally recommended that some weight training be involved, so I thought I would pass this on, specially since so many have lived sedentary lives, which brings the risk of osteoporosis, fragile bones.  Lifting builds and/or retains bone mass. 

Exercise For Seniors  

Here is an exercise suggested for seniors, to build muscle strength in the arms and shoulders. It seems so easy, so I thought I’d pass it on to some of my friends. Just don’t over-do it.  Begin by standing on a comfortable surface, where you have plenty of room at each side. With a 5-LB. potato sack in each hand, extend your arms straight out from your sides, and hold them there as long as you can. Try to reach a full minute, then relax.  Each day, you’ll find that you can hold this position for just a bit longer.  After a couple of weeks, move up to 10-LB. potato sacks. Then 50-LB. potatoes sacks, and eventually try to get to where you can lift a 100-LB. potato sack in each hand and hold your arms straight for more than a full minute.  

After you feel confident at that level, put a potato in each of the sacks. 

he-went-thata-way.jpgI see you got the message from one of my seven mothers over at the old pasture.  Nice of her to send you over. This will be my new virtual home, so set your cites on this new address. Wouldn’t hurt to do it right now, so you don’t forget. What? No, I am NOT projecting my forgetfulness onto you, just, er, ah, trying to be helpful. Yeah, that’s it, helpful.

 I am trying to learn how WordPress works. Seems I may have to set up the NV blog aggregator myself and this is the host that was recommended to me, so as part of the learning curve I moved over and set myself up here first. Once I finish settling in, I will expand my frontiers by trying to figure out how to do automatic site feeds and posts.

 LOL. I just ran the Spellchecker and it doesn’t have the word “blog” in it and no learning feature. I guess every advantage does come with a different set of disadvantages. No perfect solutions in the material world. 

Tejo's curve

Here is a letter that got sent out by Jaya Murari to his mailing list. I am hoping to get him to start sending (teh the the the the the thethe the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the) the content to a blog. (Note the repeated “the”. This is because I have gotten a bad habit as a self taught typist to write “the” too quickly, often resulting in a “teh”. It is time consuming to go back and correct this, so I have made myself type “the” correctly 20 times in a row every time I make a mistake. I have been doing this for a while, but still not perfect so I am subjecting my subconscious mind to a public humiliation by not deleting the exercise this time. I apologize if this creates a lack of clarity)

“Haribol All Devotees of New Vrindaban,

“I have a humble important request to make. I was driving out to Rte 250 the other day and came close to wrecking twice due to people flying by. There really is no need to go 40-50mph down this road. I called the State Dept. and the limit is 30 mph. The road is windy and in many areas you can’t see around the corner or if the embankment has slipped. Going thru the residential area of Madhuban is another bad spot where people go so fast like it’s a highway. The speed thru a residential area is 25 mph actually (as it is going thru Bethlehem). We see animals and deer, baby fawns, killed left and right.

Dead fawn hit by speeding driver

“I will practice what I preach and commit to driving slower and on my side of the road. I ask all of you to do the same and if ever you catch me not following this please chastise me.

“Your servants,
Rama Lila dasi and family”

I would like to add to this the concept of a yellow line down the middle of the road is to indicate that while you are entitled to half the road, it isn’t the middle half. It is the right half. While I can understand the concept of cutting the apex of a curve to save wear and tear on your tires, and to save gas, please confine this activity to your side of the road. The half to the right of the yellow line is several feet wider than your vehicle, and is more than adequate to allow the cutting of the apex practice.

If your driving skills are so inadequate that you are fearful of going into the ditch, perhaps you should reappraise the viability of your driving at all. Or, SLOW DOWN so you CAN keep it between the lines.

If you see me coming and you are left of center, look closely at my hand. The gesture is NOT a friendly wave.

Kurma is coming to the Festival Of Inspiration in New Vrindavan next May. This is good news, as he is a famous cook, not just inside ISKCON but also all over the cooking world. Cooking is important because all whatever whatever aside, most devotees were originally attracted by prasadam, and will admit it in confidence. I am an avid fan of Kurma’s blog. New Vrindavan used to have the best prasadam. Today it is fashionable to treat Kirtanananda as a bad person, but the truth is not so convenient. Despite his flaws, he had some good qualities, one of which was his cooking and teaching cooking through surrogates. Srila Prabhupada taught Kirtananada (he called him Kitchanananda) and Kirtanananda taught the devotees how to cook. Unfortunately, all the great cooks have moved out of the temple and no younger devotees have been inspired to learn. That chain is now broken. Advaita told me he was cooking for the Sunday feast recently, making samosas Srila Prabhupada style, and not a single person knew what he was doing. They tried to tell him he was doing it wrong. In the old days, there were so many good cooks around, but many preps had one cook who could do it best. Radhanath was sandesh, Garga Rsi was rasgullas, Dharmakala was cheesecake, Ambarish was sweet rice, Pracetas was ice cream, Lajjavati was kanti, Kutila was malpuras, Candra Mauli was black walnut burfi, etc. They would spend years cooking the same prep until they perfected it, and if you wanted to learn that prep, you would go to them. Sudhanu and Advaita were famous for being able to cook large-scale feasts with the quality of a Deity offering. Cooks would also learn in other temples and then bring their knowledge and share it. My own meager contribution was the infamous oat water, so much maligned in the imagining. It was actually quite tasty and nutritious IF prepared CORRECTLY. It suffered from poor branding. Creamed Oats Nectar would have been a better name. Kirtanananda made it first, and then taught me how to do a small batch, then I taught Sudhanu and he introduced it in scale to the main kitchen. I would put it up before mangala arotik, and then let it simmer until after the morning program. Those were the days of the “shotgun program”. Tulasi and guru pujas were immediately after mangala, followed by SB class, all done in 1 1/2 hours. Lightly salted, with plumped raisins (added later in the cooking), ginger, and one tablespoon of ghee per gallon. It would become a drinkable liquid, the oats essentially dissolved. Longer cooking of grains converts starch to sugar, so it was sweetish without adding sugar. It digested easily, as opposed to globs of sticky oatmeal, and was very satisfying. Of course, like anything, oat water can be prepared poorly and be just awful, especially if it gets cold. The basic concept was adding more water and cooking it longer than recommended.

I love this kind of stuff. The cultural fleshing out of the bones of Krishna consciousness:

Read the whole story at

“Though, there was a safety issue. There was no one to catch the guys who could have fallen down. That’s why we decided to break the hundi as soon as possible the last time to avoid any accidents. I am thinking that if we have just 5 more guys than what we had the last time, then this issue can be solved. Even the last time, the hundi was around 15-17 feet (above the ground) and it was looking very imposing…”

Utility is the principle:

Strong Opinions, Weakly Held

“I was talking the Institute’s Bob Johansen about wisdom, and he explained that – to deal with an uncertain future and still move forward – they advise people to have “strong opinions, which are weakly held.” They’ve been giving this advice for years…”

Knowledge is only skin deep:

The Deepest Hole

“Another unexpected find was a menagerie of microscopic fossils as deep as 6.7 kilometers below the surface. Twenty-four distinct species of plankton microfossils were found, and they were discovered to have carbon and nitrogen coverings rather than the typical limestone or silica. Despite the harsh environment of heat and pressure, the microscopic remains were remarkably intact…

“When drilling stopped in 1994, the hole was over seven miles deep (12,262 meters), making it by far the deepest hole ever drilled by humankind. The last of the cores to be plucked from from the borehole were dated to be about 2.7 billion years old, or roughly 32 million times older than Abe Vigoda. But even at that depth, the Kola project only penetrated into a fraction of the Earth’s continental crust, which ranges from twenty to eighty kilometers thick.”

I did a version of this last year for New Vrindavan college freshman:


“Most 18-year-old students entering the class of 2010 this fall were born in 1988. They grew up with a mouse in one hand and a computer screen as part of their worldview. They learned to surf the internet as they learned to read. While they were still in their cribs, the 20th century started to close as the Berlin Wall came down, the Soviet bloc disintegrated, and frequent traditional wars in Latin America gave way to the uncontrolled terrors of the Middle East…”

You think the ridge hills flowing, breaking
with ups and downs will, though,
building constancy into the black foreground

for each sunset, hold on to you, if dreams
wander, give reality recurrence enough to keep
an image clear, but then you realize, time

going on, that time’s residual like the last
ice age’s cool still in the rocks, averaged
maybe with the cool of the age before, that

not only are you not being held onto but where
else could time do so well without you,
what is your time where so much time is saved?

First, here are a few riddles.

What 5 letter word typed in all capital letters can be read the same upside down?

What 11 letter word in the English language ends with the same three letters that it begins with?

Krishna is everywhere, if we accept sastra at face value. Why can’t we see Him? The following riddle gives us a hint:

What country is hidden in the paragraph below?

As defendants, we deny all involvement in the unscrupulous dealings which have come to light in the recent government investigation.

(If you give up, the answers are in the Comments.)

As for what damage a little misplaced comma can do:

Comma Quirk Irks Rogers

“It could be the most costly piece of punctuation in Canada.

“A grammatical blunder may force Rogers Communications Inc. to pay an extra $2.13-million to use utility poles in the Maritimes after the placement of a comma in a contract permitted the deal’s cancellation.

“The controversial comma sent lawyers and telecommunications regulators scrambling for their English textbooks in a bitter 18-month dispute that serves as an expensive reminder of the importance of punctuation.

“Rogers thought it had a five-year deal with Aliant Inc. to string Rogers’ cable lines across thousands of utility poles in the Maritimes for an annual fee of $9.60 per pole. But early last year, Rogers was informed that the contract was being cancelled and the rates were going up. Impossible, Rogers thought, since its contract was iron-clad until the spring of 2007 and could potentially be renewed for another five years.

“Armed with the rules of grammar and punctuation, Aliant disagreed. The construction of a single sentence in the 14-page contract allowed the entire deal to be scrapped with only one-year’s notice, the company argued.

“Language buffs take note — Page 7 of the contract states: The agreement ‘shall continue in force for a period of five years from the date it is made, and thereafter for successive five year terms, unless and until terminated by one year prior notice in writing by either party.’… ”

“The validity of the contract and the millions of dollars at stake all came down to one point — the second comma in the sentence…”

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