Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Back in the water again!

Playing on the iPod: "Immigrant Song" by Led Zeppelin (
Meters swum today: 1600 - a mighty mile!

Thank God. I was afraid my skin would start sloughing off from lack of exposure to chlorine. Luckily there was lots. Chlorine, I mean. While I was driving to the pool at 6:30 am, and the temperature here in Dallas was a balmy 26 degrees (that's -3 for you Canucks) I had decided to be happy if I managed 1200 meters. 1400 would be excellent. But 1600? That I did not expect. I wasn't as tired as I thought I'd be, either, which means I'm in better shape than I thought. Or else that I'm delusional and in a few hours I'll wake up minus all of my limbs.

I drove over to Starbucks after the pool and I guess they were having a bad day or something. They must have asked me about my order four or five times. "Now, was that a double half-caf espresso mocha with a twist of lemon?" "No, it was a grande skinny cinnamon dolce latte." "Was that a caramel macchiato chai tea whack-a-mole fanny banger?" "No, it was a grande skinny cinnamon..." You get the idea. I was at the drive-up for like 15 minutes. Well, actually I did not keep track, but it was long enough that I broke out my issue of Tricycle and made it through most of an article on happiness.

One thing about Tricycle, it's one of the few lofty intellectual zines that can make me feel like I don't know what I'm talking about. I sometimes have to look up stuff in the dictionary. I'm serious. Anyway, when I did get to the front the flustered-looking lady at the cash register gave me my double half-caf espresso caramel cinnamon chai tea whack-a-mole dolce latte fanny-banger for free. About which I felt bad. I tried to pay her anyway and she wouldn't hear of it. One of the Big Five Precepts is to take nothing that is not freely given, the reverse of which being, I guess, that you take something that someone is insisting on giving you. So I quit arguing with her and took the coffee thing (it was good, whatever it was--still can't tell you) and drove to the mechanic's for an oil change. And to check out my ignition cylinder, which keeps sticking when I try to turn my key.

While I was there, I read the rest of the article on happiness. People actually study what makes people happy. Isn't that kind of like studying what makes humor funny? Anyway, this guy traveled to the supposed happiest places in the world, which were as diverse as Iceland and Bhutan. The United States is only the sixteenth-happiest place on earth, and Disney World didn't even make the list. Sooner or later, those dark tales about a rash of suicides among the Seven Dwarfs are going to come out. I can feel it.

Back to the article, though. Iceland is a wealthy, highly developed, very clean, technologically savvy society that's cold and dark for six months of the year. Bhutan is a beautiful, mountainous, semi-tropical but very poor country, where the per capita income is about $840 US and they just got phones a few years ago. Totally dissimilar societies, but most folks who live there are very happy. Again, I don't know how you measure happiness but it must be true. It was in Tricycle, after all.

There was a little statistical blurb about how money not only doesn't equate happiness, but after a certain point, more money actually makes you less happy. The tipping point seems to be about $50 grand a year. That's probably for an individual, not a family, but anyway, above that level people report being less happy. I guess you start worrying about investments and stuff.

About this time the mechanic came in and told me that the sticking ignition key problem was actually a bad ignition cylinder and they were going to have to change it out, as well as make me a new key. I said fine (I always say fine) and then I started wondering how much that's going to cost. I mean, a new ignition cylinder sounds kind of pricey. I just got my tax refund so I knew I had a little money but I was kind of hoping to stick it in savings.

A while later the mechanic came back and told me he was done. I went up the cash register, bracing myself. $400? $500? Good God, might it be four figures? Then the cashier said, "That'll be $36.50, ma'am" and my jaw about hit the floor. Turned out the ignition thingy was covered by the extended warranty that I'd forgotten I had. The only thing I was paying for was the oil change.

If I ever make over $50 grand a year, I'll let you know about that getting-less-happy thing, but for now let me say this. Today I got back in the pool after over a week away and swam a mile. I got a free coffee thing, whatever it was, and my new ignition cylinder cost $36.50. If you can't be happy about things like that, then all the money in the world won't help you.

Oh, and Saturn of Mesquite like totally rocks!

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