February 2007


With Gore’s goading, Oscars go green

“More stars arrived than ever before in environmentally friendly limousines, like plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars, hoping to educate Americans on alternatives to fossil fuels blamed for producing heat-trapping gases…”

When they are ready to go Deep Green:

Vegetarian is the New Prius

“For a decade now, the image of Leonardo DiCaprio cruising in his hybrid Toyota Prius has defined the gold standard for environmentalism. These gas-sipping vehicles became a veritable symbol of the consumers’ power to strike a blow against global warming. Just think: a car that could cut your vehicle emissions in half – in a country responsible for 25% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Federal fuel economy standards languished in Congress, and average vehicle mileage dropped to its lowest level in decades, but the Prius showed people that another way is possible. Toyota could not import the cars fast enough to meet demand.

“Last year researchers at the University of Chicago took the Prius down a peg when they turned their attention to another gas guzzling consumer purchase. They noted that feeding animals for meat, dairy, and egg production requires growing some ten times as much crops as we’d need if we just ate pasta primavera, faux chicken nuggets, and other plant foods. On top of that, we have to transport the animals to slaughterhouses, slaughter them, refrigerate their carcasses, and distribute their flesh all across the country. Producing a calorie of meat protein means burning more than ten times as much fossil fuels–and spewing more than ten times as much heat-trapping carbon dioxide–as does a calorie of plant protein. The researchers found that, when it’s all added up, the average American does more to reduce global warming emissions by going vegetarian than by switching to a Prius…”

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“In due course of time, when the body becomes old and practically invalid, it is subject to jara, the sufferings of old age. There are four basic kinds of suffering — birth, old age, disease and death. No scientist or philosopher has ever been able to make a solution to these four miserable conditions. The invalidity of old age known as jara is figuratively explained here as the daughter of Time. No one likes her, but she is very much anxious to accept anyone as her husband. No one likes to become old and invalid, but this is inevitable for everyone.”

SB 4.27.19

Despite this clear admonition, I have been using denial effectively to evade accepting old age. Even starting this treatment with all its miseries, I can keep telling myself that it is only temporary and that at some point all will be well again.

My first weekly shot wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I have some experience of this because I tried the interferon/ribavarin before and failed at it and the side effects were much worse previously. Because of that failure, I am only starting at 2/3rds the strength of what I used before.

The first attempt, after I took a shot I had the chills and sweats and was pretty miserable. Of course, as with so many drugs, there was also abdominal discomfort, but my personal theory is that if a drug DOESN’T cause abdominal discomfort, it can’t be approved by the FDA, but that is simply anecdotal, not an evidence based conclusion.

That was minimized this time and if this is all I have to deal with, I will do this year standing on my head. I was pretty exhausted, but it is SOP that the day or two after the shot, you are useless. I fell profoundly asleep the afternoon after the shot, but that is better than insomnia, which is another possible side effect.

One common side effect is supposed to be nausea, which I have not gotten this time or the last. I attribute that to being vegetarian.

The reason I failed treatment before wasn’t inability to tolerate the sides; my immune system crashed. I got a cellulitis, an infection, and it wouldn’t resolve. I ended up in the hospital for 8 days on IV antibiotics before it responded. Afterwards, they said I wasn’t a candidate for retreatment. I started the process of getting on the transplant list, which, in my circumstances, took a year to do.

This time I’m starting with a healthier liver so my chances are probably better. Ah, isn’t denial a wonderful friend?

“The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Freed from all sinful reactions are those who rise from bed at the end of night, early in the morning, and fully concentrate their minds with great attention upon My form; your form; this lake; this mountain; the caves; the gardens; the cane plants; the bamboo plants; the celestial trees; the residential quarters of Me, Lord Brahma and Lord Siva; the three peaks of Trikuta Mountain, made of gold, silver and iron; My very pleasing abode [the ocean of milk]; the white island, Svetadvipa, which is always brilliant with spiritual rays; My mark of Srivatsa; the Kaustubha gem; My Vaijayanti garland; My club, Kaumodaki; My Sudarsana disc and Pancajanya conchshell; My bearer, Garuda, the king of the birds; My bed, Sesa Naga; My expansion of energy the goddess of fortune; Lord Brahma; Narada Muni; Lord Siva; Prahlada; My incarnations like Matsya, Kurma and Varaha; My unlimited all-auspicious activities, which yield piety to he who hears them; the sun; the moon; fire; the mantra omkara; the Absolute Truth; the total material energy; the cows and brahmanas; devotional service; the wives of Soma and Kasyapa, who are all daughters of King Daksa; the Rivers Ganges, Sarasvati, Nanda and Yamuna [Kalindi]; the elephant Airavata; Dhruva Maharaja; the seven rsis; and the pious human beings.”

SB 8.4.17-24

Well, I may not be meditating on all of that, but I did for a while yesterday meditate on some bamboo.

bamboodelivery.jpg

We know a gentleman from Michigan that we see at the gourd shows. His daughter is a veterinarian in Mississippi, so he drives down early in the year and plants his gourd crops there. That area seems to have a shortage of hay so he hauls some down. On the back haul, he brings back bamboo that he harvests while he is there.

The bamboo we grow gets about 15 feet tall, but the stuff he harvests grows over 60 feet tall. My wife uses it to make gourd mushrooms, and she needs the larger stuff for larger mushrooms, larger than what we can grow ourselves.

mushroomsoglebay.jpg

He was passing nearby going to Preston, WV to get some parts for a Graverly walk behind tractor so it wasn’t that far to swing over to drop the bamboo off. Normally, Vidya will meet him at one of the gourd shows and pick it up there, but she had run short so it worked out well. Also, it will make the packing up at the end of next show easier, not having to load in the bamboo.

There is a whole subculture of horticultural enthusiasts who are into Bonsai, the art of growing trees in containers by restricting their roots and directing their top growth so it looks like a miniature of the actual tree in nature. It is a mode of goodness type hobby that takes a lot of patience and determination.

Sometimes I feel like the Hare Krishna movement has mistaken the gift that Srila Prabhupada gave us as a bonsai instead of being a container plant meant to be planted out and grown on. It seems many want to keep it small and overemphasis the way it was and try to keep it that way instead of letting it grow.

If we want to grow tomatoes successfully in our climate, we can’t direct seed them into the place they will grow. We have to start them in a greenhouse, a protected environment where they can fructify and start out life without being killed by the exterior harsh conditions. Once the time is right, we then transplant the tomatoes out into the garden.

It strikes me that SP started this movement one way, but its intention is greater than its beginning. Although the success of a tomato plant is contingent on a protected start, its ultimate success will be stunted if it is kept in a container.

Of course, tomatoes can be grown in containers, just as a banyan tree can be grown and kept alive as a bonsai. See this example of a 40 year old banyan tree bonsai. Coincidentally, that is about how long it has been since SP came to America.

banyanbonsai.jpg

That is fine, but it isn’t the only possible expression of the potential of the seeds. It is not
that one use precludes another – there can be both bonsai and large size manifestations, but sometimes I think devotees lose sight of the potential of the large and fixate on maintaiining the bonsai type expression.

It is possible to keep this conception for a long time. Here is a 350 year old bonsai:

350yea-old-bonsaismall.jpg

I took these pictures at the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus OH where they have a very nice collection of bonsais.

Today is Mardi Gras, traditional last day of revelry and sense satiation before the austerities of the Lenten season begin. Of course, in contemporary American culture, the party is no longer followed by the penance for most folks.

Now, eating fish on Friday is about as harsh as it gets for some, but for most, Ash Wednesday is nothing more than Hump Day, counting down to the weekend.

I will start my own personal austerity tomorrow, commencing combination interferon and ribavarin therapy for my Hepatitis C, which was the underlying cause of my liver failure leading to the transplant. Only the treatment lasts for 48 weeks, not 40 days.

Apparently my 8 month old new liver is well enough to take the treatment. There is a promising new drug in Phase 2 trials, Vertex 950, that could revolutionize treatment of HCV, but even with fast track status from the FDA, 2 years to market is optimistic and my doctors don’t want me to wait.

Interferon is naturally produced by the body. This treatment overdoses the body with it. The symptoms you feel when your body is fighting the flu virus are caused in part by the body flooding itself with interferon, and the treatment is like, totally oversimplifying, having the flu for a year.

Be advised: one side effect is irritability, something I already struggle with, so I apologize in advance for that, should any of you enter its cross hairs.

I have to give myself a shot once a week. The worst symptoms are the first couple of days after the shot, so I am taking it on Wednesday so I can, possibly, be of some use to my wife on the weekends when she does her craft shows. I would take it earlier in the week, but have to have a blood test done at least 2 days prior to each shot in case my blood work goes wacky, so they can make adjustments, ergo blood test Monday, shot Wednesday.

I am just getting to feel like I actually could bounce back from the transplant and be able to play soccer this summer, but this hope MAY be obliterated by the treatment’s side effects. The new side effects will have to battle it out with the side effects from the Prograf, my anti-rejection drug. It will be interesting to see which set of side effects will prevail.

I celebrated Mardi Gras by going to Morgantown and getting a composite put in a tooth. Whoo hoo, party time.

I did get to see Tulasi and Marken for a brief time in their natural habitat, the apartment they rent near WVU, so that was a positive. Seeing them, not the apartment, that is; it was a little too stereotypically a college kids’ one for my taste. They seemed clear eyed and healthy though so that was comforting.

All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.

It’s snowing again in New Vrindaban. As it seems like it has been every day for a while; not large amounts but an inch or two every day starts to add up.

Although I have walked to the temple for the last 4 Sundays, I won’t be doing it today. No, not because of the snow –- that is, and this may be surprising to many, little of a factor. As long as it isn’t blizzard conditions where the wind is whipping the snow and visibility is an issue, walking in the snow is kind of fun.

The temperature is going to be up close to freezing so that isn’t much of a factor. The other Sunday’s I walked were worse from that aspect, they were all colder.

The reason Krishna stays 8 years old is for a reason. At 8 years old, this is off of school for snow days and sledding weather so what could be better?

Yesterday, I noticed a couple of vehicles parked by the side of the lane that goes through my property out to Balabhadra’s. I went out to investigate and at first it was a little bit of a mystery, they were empty, but then I heard voices on the adjacent ridge, accessible only by walking, and saw a bunch of teenagers out with sleds.

So despite these fun conditions for a walk, I won’t be making it, because I have to pick up my wife at the Wheeling Home and Garden Show. The show is over at 4 o’clock, and the feast isn’t over until after 3, so having to depend on catching a ride from the temple, getting home, getting my vehicle and getting there on time is theoretically possible but fraught with many pitfalls.

One will be that some devotees who would normally drive to the temple won’t risk the roads so getting a ride from someone passing by my house on their way home may be problematic. The other is that with the roads slippery, I will have to allow more time for the ride in.

The reason I have to pick Vidya up, is that she rode in with Lajjavati this morning. Laj also is set up at the show and she has a 4 wheel drive vehicle so slightly safer than driving in the Astro she needs to load her gourds into after the show. As the day wears on, it is more likely the roads will get plowed.

I have a few things I could do in town, so I will dovetail the trip to do them, which involves going in a bit early.

All in all, I think l have rationalized my failure to walk to the temple today quite well, don’t you?

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