May 2007


“Cows constitute the stay of all creatures. Cows are the refuge of all creatures. Cows are the embodiment of merit. Cows are sacred and blessed and are sanctifiers of all. One should never, in even one’s heart, do an injury to cows. One should, indeed, always confer happiness on them.”

The above and following excerpts are from an article entitled, “Milk in the Age of Convenience.”

“As with all great treasures, milk comes with certain caveats. As our society further distances itself from nature and turns gradually more synthetic, these caveats turn into dire warning signals. A look at milk’s qualities as expressed in the magnificent Ayurvedic text, the Caraka Samhita, shows the potentiality of both misuse and overuse…Sattva is a state of lightness, equanimity, clarity, and, in this case, fortification, strength and vitality. Tamas, on the other hand, reflects dullness, confusion, sloth, and in this case, the process of compromising its quality, leading to ill health and the potentiality of allergies. But what exactly is “compromised” milk?

“To answer this is to look first and foremost at its source: the Mother. When a nursing mother makes choices regarding her diet, she does so with the welfare of her infant in mind. She instinctively knows that what she eats will be passed on to her child through her milk, thus confirming milk as the essence of her diet, her emotional state and her health.

“It is not a far-fetched theory that makes a mother stay away from alcohol and cigarettes when she is nursing. It is, however, an act of “putting on the blinders” when she stops at that and does not extend the logic to her diet, her health and her emotional state. This begins the process of compromisation of the quality of her milk and the obvious implication is the shifting of her milk away from the desired sattvic state. As in life, there is not just black and white; there are various shades of grey in between…

“In farm factories around the world, cows are forced into yearly pregnancies for their milk. After giving birth they are milked for 10 months, often they are artificially inseminated during the third month so that they can be milked even when pregnant. This stressful demand for production of milk is more than her body can take, so she starts breaking down body tissue to produce milk.

“Most of the day the cow is tied up in a narrow stall usually wallowing in her own excrement till she goes lame. She may get mastitis because the hands that milk her so often are rough and usually unclean, so imagine her fate when milked by machines. She gets rumen acidosis from unnatural feed. She is also subject to the use of an array of drugs, including bovine growth hormone (BGH); prostaglandin, which is used to bring a cow into heat whenever the farmer wants to have her inseminated; antibiotics; and even tranquilizers, in order to influence her productivity and behavior…

“It is this milk that we are expected to equate with the sattvic milk of the Vedas, of the yogis and of Ayurveda. By all standards it will fail. It is in fact no longer the panacea promised by Surabhi, the celestial cow of the Vedas. In the epic myth of the churning of the ocean (manthanam), among the fourteen great treasures that arose was this “cow of plenty”…

“We live now in an age of convenience. Many of our children in the big cities associate apples with a supermarket shelf and not a tree in an orchard. We expect to find any and all foods at any and all times conveniently provided, forgetting that Nature gives us seasonal foods for a reason. Milk is associated with plastic and paper cartons with the picture of a grazing cow, and yet the reality is what is inside that carton, not in its outside advertisement. It is understandable to want this convenience, after all it is the fruit of our social and cultural advancement, but we must at some point ask not just at what price but also how many of God’s fair creatures, of whom we are supposed to show the most promise, are actually paying this price and in the end, we have to ask ourselves, what does this say about us?”

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It’s official — I am a one year liver transplant survivor. One year ago today I was strapped to a table being gutted. My factory original liver was being replaced by 65% of my son’s.

I had just had an esophageal varices bleed, a 40-50% chance of mortality, according to our local boy now interning to be a doctor, Krishna Balarama. Things weren’t looking too good, as once they start bleeding, another incident isn’t far behind.

Marken took an emergency medical leave from the US Navy and came home, went through a few days of screening, and in a couple of weeks, we were doing the deed.

He finished up in the Navy by the end of the summer, and enrolled in WVU, He also joined the West Virginia Army National Guard and is spending his 1 year anniversary in Oklahoma. Because his primary training is in the Navy, and the Army does things a bit differently, he is doing 6 weeks of training.

He only had to make a 3 year commitment to the Guard, as he already had a fulltime term of enlistment under his belt. Typically a Guard contract is 6 years.

He has about 2.5 years remaining so naturally we hope the war in Iraq is resolved prior to the next cycle of call ups that would affect his unit. He is typically overly optimistic that he will be finsished before it will go again, as it returned recently.

Projecting from what my rate of recovery was, I probably would have been near normal by now. I was walking 3 miles leisurely at a pop, and was dropping my time towards one hour for the 3, but starting the interfern/ribavarin treatment knocked me for a loop so a projection is all I have.

I am still treading water, waiting to see what Krishna has in store for me. I assume there is some point to having a life extended, beyond simply existing for the sake of existence. My guess is something to do with cows.

The next big stat is 5 year survival. Seems doable, just need to get the next 34 weeks of treatment over without freaking out.

It is Memorial Day in the USA, when we remember fallen members of the Armed Forces. The freshest memory for me is Marine Sgt. Christopher T. Heflin.

heflin.jpg

I got to know him in the summer of 2003 when I played in a summer roller hockey league. Somehow I ended up on a team that was composed of 4 or 5 Marines and a few addins. Heflin was the trainer at the local Marine Reserve Detachment, and the rest were reservists who lived locally.

He later volunteered to go to Iraqi and was KIA by a roadside bomb near Fallujah in November 2004.

He was hardcorp and played hockey with great enthusiasm, intensity and determination. One thing I liked about him was that he cut me no slack due to my age. I was held to the same standard as everyone else, based on performance, and if I performed poorly, he was displeased.

That really gives you a sense of responsibility that inspires you to play as hard as possible. Of course, he was often displeased. :-) It actually gave me a greater sense of belonging, even though I was clearly playing out of my league.

I can’t say we became close friends, but still it makes the cost of war more personal to me as I feel that playing as teammates did give me a bond with him.

peony.jpg

I had bought the white peony in the foreground, selected especially for fragrance. I have a cut one in teacup by where I sit and it pleasantly scents the air around it.

The others are from my mother who left her body 33 years ago. My sister-in-law sent me some divisions a few years ago from the flower bed where her and my brother live now, the house we had moved into when I was about 6 years old.

I never remember there not being peonies there. I don’t know if there were there when we moved in, or if she planted them, and if she did, where had she gotten them. In country families, sometimes plants are passed down like heirlooms generation to generation. I can say that these peonies have been in our family for at least 50 years.

Seeing peonies is a transient pleasure, but a nice contrast to other transitory states, and something I look forward to each year.

So peonies got the day off to a good start, but the best part was yet to come. I ended up meeting with an Indian gentleman and discussing setting up a trust with cows as the beneficiaries.

I would summarize by saying, he “gets” it. While many agree philosophically with cow protection, “getting” it is something else and not everyone one does.

I am consciously not mentioning his name at this time, as he is serious about his commitment and I will let him make his own explanations, but it was a pleasure to talk to him as he readily grasped the concepts of a trust without having to give detailed explanations.

He wants to set up an online discussion group and hammer out the details of a trust. This is something I have advocated for a long time but have lacked the skills set to pull off and I am optimistic that something good can come out of this.

While New Vrindaban has consistently been able to care for their cows out of cash flow donations, by taking it to the next level, a whole world of options open up. I will be discussing this more later.

One interesting thing he said was that his initial involvement came about when his 8 year old son saw a cow protection brochure and took an interest in it.

“You say we must have a gosala trust, that is our real purpose. krsi-goraksya-vanijyam vaisya karma svabhava-jam, [Bg 18.44]. Where there is agriculture there must be cows. That is our mission: Cow protection and agriculture and if there is excess, trade. This is a no-profit scheme.”

Letter to: Yasomatinandana — Vrindaban 28 November, 1976

Guiltless, by all measure
except empiric decree,
he stands where the sandbag
finished its chore.

Redeemed, at peace;
the warmth of the sun,
the Eye of God,
upon his cheek.

A scent of fruitwood burning,
diluted by a purifying wind,
reaches the platform
with the cry of a blue jay.

Floorboards tremble
under approaching steps;
he can count every bristle
of the noose against his ear.

A pause, and he wonders
if this breath will be the last
this body takes,
or the next.

Suddenly two dogs
go teeth bared into survival
mode, snarling and biting,
loudly blind to all but their rival.

For an instant, as the hangman
turns instinctively to look,
a small cloud scuttles below the sun,
a flicker of coolness on his skin.

Then again the sky brightens
into a dome of blue,
so richly blue.

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ATTITUDE

There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and
noticed she had only three hairs on her head. “Well,” she said, “I think
I’ll braid my hair today.” So she did and she had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only
two hairs on her head. “H-M-M, ” she said, “I think I’ll part my hair down the
middle today.” So she did and she had a grand day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that she had
only one hair on her head. “Well,” she said, “Today I’m going to wear my hair in
a pony tail.” So she did and she had a fun, fun day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that there
wasn’t a single hair on her head. “YEAH!” she exclaimed, “I don’t have to fix my
hair today!”

Attitude is everything. biggrin.gif

Got demoralizing news yesterday. The surgeon won’t reduce my Prograf. I have been tolerating the sides and the thought of the potential for long term damage with the clear idea that once I made it to a year, the dose would be lowered and danger averted, and sides minimized. That hope is now shattered.

I guess a lot of people would think getting a disability check and laying around all day is a good enough life, but not for me. I don’t see the point in dragging things out if there is no good quality of life.

Maybe this life is good enough for some, but unacceptable for me. Uselessness is not good enough. I feel a little bit like I have been baited and switched — the carrot was out there of eventual near normal life after a year, and it isn’t happening.

“Just now f—— coming” doesn’t satisfy me anymore. I am tired of being tired, I am tired of the fatigue.

What I am really f—— tired of is people walking up to me and telling me how good I look. I suffer constantly and feel like s—, but I guess that doesn’t matter as long as I look good to them so their illusion of well being isn’t made uncomfortable by having to acknowledge someone is struggling.

This post is closed for comments. I don’t want to hear any bromides or touchy feely b—s—. Don’t call me either. This pathetically petty pity party doesn’t need any guests.

Now I have to recalibrate hope to the idea that with no relief in sight from the transplant side of things, it will be at least another 36 weeks before I can expect any improvement when the interferon treatment ends. Krishna give me the strength.

By that time I’ll be so f—— old even normal won’t be normal anymore.

Word of advice: if you get a transplant, kiss your surgeon’s a– every step of the way. If you ever get on the s— list and there is some gray area decision to be made, bear in mind that the surgeon is judged mainly by 1 and 5 year survival rates and not your quality of life or long term side effects like lymphoma, diabetes, hypertension or kidney failure and has the power to emphasize which criterion is most important.

Once you pass the 5 year point, long term adverse side effects don’t count against the surgeon.

 Keeping the dose high will be better for the surgeon’s stats, and worse for the longterm side effects.

Okay, the choice today was to not post or to vent. Perhaps not posting would have been a better choice.

Oh yeah, and Liverpool lost.

Most of you readers never actually visit my blog — you see it in feed readers.

Thus, you may not be aware that, at no cost to you, you can help support this blog.

If you are going to buy something from Amazon.com, click through on the Bhagavad Gita in the sidebar of my blog and then find the item and make your purchase. I will get a small commission. This comes out of their marketing budget and doesn’t increase your cost. Thanks in advance.

This is a small inconvenience but will help me out. While I am surviving on disability payments for now, that is a temporary situation and I will eventually be able to shake it off and earn a living again.

I could get into a political commentary type blog and try for huge numbers of readers and live on ad revenues. It could be a critique of policy decisions from the perspective of environmental issues. I feel I might have some limited success with this.

I even have the name picked out. It would be a shameless ripoff of one of Yadunath’s jokes. He said that Gore did an “Inconvenient Truth” and never mentioned industrial meat production. So there was going to be a new documentary that included that, “An Even More Inconvenient Truth”.

The problem is that to do so effectively, I would have to immerse myself in studying politics and environmental issues to a degree that it would become my life. It would require being in a constantly combative state. I don’t know that at this late and precarious stage of my life, I would want to be that absorbed in those sort of affairs.

So save me from that fate and pass through my blog on your way to Amazon.com

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