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

Sunday, August 30, 2009

This Just In: Aliens Have Possessed My Body. Oh, and Friday Frights.

Playing in the background: Loud Vornado fan, pushing the hot air into the kitchen to be sucked up by the vent. At least in theory.

Well, either that or my brain really is being controlled by a secret CIA experiment. Or maybe Scaley, my neurotic query-letter-fearing dinosaur, is on vacation. Hopefully at a nice rest home with a name like Sunnyville and many hypodermic needles full of artificial sleep. (Don't be too impressed by that line, though, I think I stole it from Stephen King.) Anyway, I somehow managed yesterday to send out five query letters in a single afternoon. I mean that is freaky. That's the intellectual equivalent of climbing Mount Everest, K2, Lhotse, Nupse and Ama Dablam all before breakfast one morning and without changing your crampons. (They're mountains in the Himalayas, gang. That's why we have Google, remember? And you should probably look up what crampons are, too, because it wasn't as funny as it sounded.)

I wish I could tell you that, obviously, I'm cured. I wish I could lay out with exacting precision How I Sedated The Query-Letter-Fearing Dinosaur and solemnly promise all of you that Everything Is Just Fine Now, Thank You. I wish I were reasonably certain I could do it again, like say, today. Unfortunately, it may have just been a one-time thing. But it was pretty darn cool, and I'm patting myself on the head over here. Now, if one of 'em would just come to fruition, that would be awesome.

If nothing else, it was a nice distraction from Jaycee Lee Dugard, America's very own Elisabeth Fritzl. In case you've been held hostage somewhere they don't get CNN, Jaycee was an 11-year-old girl in Northern California who was kidnapped, in full sight of her father, by a whack job and his equally whacky wife. They kept her locked in a weird compound of sheds and tents in their backyard for the last 18 years, where she gave birth to two of the husband's children, before suspicious authorities finally busted their game late last week. Okay, eighteen years is not twenty-four, and a back yard is not a cellar, but come on, people. Why does this keep happening?

Now, with Elisabeth, there was really no way the neighbors ever could have known. She was, for one thing, underground. When the police showed up, they found a door with an electronic lock that you could only get to by going through about eight other locked doors. But this girl was outside a lot of the time. Okay, no point in blaming the neighbors, it was all whack job's fault (though one could also blame the federal prison system; in 1977 the guy was sentenced to 50 years for kidnapping and rape and somehow got released after only 10. If he'd served his whole sentence, or even half of it, this wouldn't have ever happened.) But seriously. If you have a weird neighbor who seems to have an outbuilding attached to his house in which something or other strange may or may not be going on, for God's sake, call the cops, folks. Please? For the Elisabeths and Jaycees of the world? If nothing else you might bust a small meth lab before it becomes a great big really dangerous meth lab. Or just be mildly embarrassed and have to bake your neighbor some cookies or something.

(For the record, I have an idiot neighbor, and while he does have an outbuilding, I think he's in more danger of accidentally decapitating himself with a chainsaw than of abducting someone and keeping 'em in there. But I do watch the guy. Hey, he's entertaining.)

I have some good news, though. Apparently 18 years in a back yard (or 24 years in a cellar) will not ruin your life after all. Elisabeth Fritzl has a boyfriend. She and her kids have 24-hour bodyguards, and one of 'em has apparently fallen for Elisabeth. He's a lot younger than she is, but the family likes him and she seems very happy, according to the German press. Oh, and she got her driver's license recently.

I'm not a big believer in the ruinability of life, anyway. There's only this one, that we know of, and okay, Elisabeth's kids will probably never be CEOs of Fortune 500 companies or top-ranking neurophysicists, but that doesn't mean they can't enjoy a walk outside, feel the rain, laugh at something funny on TV or smile when a cat tickles them with its whiskers. And if you, who have not spent 20 years as a sex slave in somebody's cellar, don't enjoy walks outside or can't smile when a cat tickles you, why not, pray tell? I mean, life's short. A monster could attack your city tomorrow.

Speaking of which, I saw Cloverfield this weekend, which despite the nice peaceful title, is all about a monster attacking a city. You may have heard about this flick, which is supposedly all shot on camcorder from the point of view of the gang of friends that's running from the monster. Guess what, I was impressed all to hell. It was very real. I had no trouble believing this was how people would act in a situation like that, the acting was good, the dialogue was pretty good too (a lot of it improvised) and there were some creepy critters much scarier than whatever was attacking the city. Cloverfield gets somewhere between an AWESOME and a WOW (four and a half stars). Highly recommended.

So send the query letter, already. Tomorrow you might get stepped on. Yeah, kind of a nonsequitur, okay, but I had to come full circle on this post somehow.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

How A Buddhist Celebrates Ramadan

In case y'all didn't know this, today is the first day of Ramadan. That's the ninth month in the Arabic calendar, which coincides with God's revelation of the Qur'an to Mohammed on Laylat al-Qadr. It's also called the "dry month" or the "time of short rations". Observant Muslims use this month as a time of fasting and purification, ask God forgiveness for sins, ask for guidance and try to focus on modest, non-self-indulgent thoughts.

Since it's obviously impossible to not eat for a month and live (yeah, yeah, I know; Jesus did it, Buddha did it, etc - okay, but they were divine beings, gang) most Muslims fast from sunup to sundown. As an ex-member of a Lutheran street gang I used to do this on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and it was not fun. I never felt particularly religious either. Just cranky and out of sorts and occasionally unconscious (that hypoglycemia is a killer; just ask Paul Blart, Mall Cop.) So I wouldn't do too well at Ramadan. Luckily for me, there is an out; if you're physically or mentally ill, or there's some other medical reason you shouldn't fast, you can make up for it by doing service for the poor. If I were Muslim, I'd just park myself wherever the poor hang out for the entire month. Believe me, that would be easier. (And also safer. One should not drive while having a blood sugar crash.)

As someone who thinks Muslims are like totally cool (They pray in public and have sex in private! Totally the opposite of us Yanks! When they say inshallah they really mean it! They cook the world's best akawi pie!), this is a rough month for me. No, I don't have to fast from sunup to sundown, but I have to do without my favorite restaurant, Afrah. More to the point, I have to do without Afrah's pita bread, which is the best pita bread on the planet and makes that dry stuff you buy at the store taste like what it is: bird food. If you live anywhere near the DFW area and you haven't been to Afrah, you really owe it to yourself to check it out. C'mon, you're a swell person, you deserve a treat. It's in Richardson at the corner of Greenville Avenue and Belt Line Road just east of the 75. Just don't check it out between sunup and sundown until September 19, folks. Or is it the 22nd? Carp. I can never keep track.

During Ramadan, Afrah is closed until sundown, when it opens and throws a big buffet dinner for the low, low price of only $14.99. Cheap! I've never actually been to the buffet dinner, though, because I kind of feel like it's not my party, if you get my drift. I mean, my sponsor (who is Jewish) and I meet there all the time ("A Jew and a Buddhist go to a Mediterranean restaurant...") but I'd feel like the Irish Catholic crashing the Mexican Christmas Eve party, or, if that's too much of a religious in-joke, I'd feel like the gregarious New Yorker at a coffee-and-bars after church social in North Dakota. Still too obscure? Okay, I'd feel like the family member everyone felt obligated to invite to the reunion but secretly hoped wouldn't show. Still, I may try it this year anyway. As Joan pointed out, I'm a "regular." And I do start seriously jonesing for their pita bread a week or so in.

At the moment, I still have three (count 'em, 3) pieces of Afrah pita bread in my kitchen. They'll probably be stale by tomorrow, at which point they should by all rights be made into pizzas. Then we'll enter the pita bread drought and I'll just have to survive somehow. Gee, I don't sound like I have a problem with food or anything, do I? HA HA HA!! And here you thought I just went to OA meetings to hear myself talk!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Another List Of Stuff That's Blatantly Obvious To Me But That No One Else Seems To Get

(National Health Care Edition, c. 2009, all rights reserved)

  • We already have health care rationing. It's called "what your health insurance company decides it will and won't pay for." If you don't have health insurance at all, you're "rationed" right out of the market.
  • There are no death panels. Nobody's going to kill your grandmother. If you believed that nonsense for half a second, you need to work on your gullibility factor. Hey, they're going to take away drivers licenses from everybody over 70! Oh God, don't tell me you believed that too. What is wrong with you?
  • Nobody's going to take away Medicare from senior citizens. Are you kidding? People over 65 are rapidly becoming the major demographic. Not even senators and congresspersons are stupid enough to piss off the AARP.
  • It doesn't matter if there are 18 million, 26 million, or 47 million uninsured Americans. If even one person is sick or dying because he or she can't see a doctor, it's too many.
  • WE NEED TO FIX THIS. NOW. We had a chance in 1994 and we blew it. Now the problem is much worse. Want to wait until 2014 when the out of pocket expense for health care is $36,000 per family? Me, neither.
  • National health care does not mean free health care. Nothing's ever free. In the UK they have much higher tax rates than here and national health is one of the things the taxes pay for. They made that choice. If we're going to make a different one, we will still need to find a way to pay for it.
  • Shutting large numbers of people out of any access to a doctor is not "finding a way to pay for it."
  • Even if it can't be free, is there really anything wrong with making basic care available to all Americans at an affordable price?
  • "Affordable" varies with the individual, which is why we need CHOICES, including a public option.
  • Here's a concept: Diseases, plagues and viruses spread much faster in communities that don't have ready access to medical care.
  • A hospital on every corner is not "ready access" if you can't afford care there.
  • Four people who come into the same emergency room with the same broken arm will be charged four different rates depending on whether they have A. Medicare, B. worker's compensation, C. private insurance or D. no insurance at all. Guess who's charged the most? D. Guess who's the least likely to pay at all? Yep, you're right again. Guess who picks up the slack? A, B and most of all, C. Yep, you're ALREADY paying for care for the uninsured, and the bill hasn't even been passed yet.
  • No mom should ever be put in the position of not being able to pay for prenatal care and therefore giving birth to a kid with serious problems--which will end up costing more to treat, if the kid even lives.
  • No kid should ever be put in the position of getting rheumatic fever, and the resultant heart damage, because Mom couldn't afford the antibiotics for his strep throat--which will end up costing more to treat, if the kid even lives.
Okay, that's enough from me. Here's some words from a Brit, who lives here now, and was recently back home on a visit:

When I was there it hadn't really ramped up to the rhetoric we are seeing now, so I really only began to take notice when I got back. From what my Mum was telling me people are really upset about it in that they don't think the US has the right to be critical like this as its all completely based on zero facts. The UK system is by no means perfect and most people will say that, however it is nowhere near as bad as it is being made out to be. Rather the people back home want the problems fixed, not the system disbanded.

Given that health care here fails a lot more people than in the UK I really don't think the argument stands up at all. All those doing the complaining either have great insurance or are loaded so it's in their favour to be like this. Also you will notice that there really is no alternative being offered by them, just the status quo. Seeing as the last 5-6 administrations have done nothing but put their heads in buckets of sand, the US now has a major problem. I don't necessarily think that that PBO plan is the best plan. However I do believe that the debate (notice the word debate, not "slagging match") needs to be had and I do think serious reform is in order.

[Family Member] went to the Dr the other day and was there 15 mins tops for some blood work. As she had not meet her deductible it cost her 112 dollars or roughly 10 bucks a minute. I don't think even Bill Gates earns 10 bucks a minute so how is this better? Yes it will probably mean paying taxes to help fund it, but is there a difference if you pay 40 bucks a month in taxes or 40 bucks a month in insurance and then anything from 20 percent upwards? To get to 100% you have to spend something crazy like $12,000. (Jen interjects: One emergency room visit.) Private is not better. It may be a little faster in the current climate but I am sure with work these issues could be resolved.

I hate health care here. I hate the fact that I pay all this money in insurance and then they find a way not to pay for it but pass the bill on to you. I hate the way they argue about stuff forever then send you a bill 11 months after the fact. I think the law needs to be reformed so that if you have not been billed in 2 months they have to bear the cost. The so called free market is not free, there is very little choice because you are not going to opt to watch a loved one suffer or die. Where is the choice in that? Huge premiums you can't afford or out of pocket expenses. How many people have had homes foreclosed or are in serious debt as a result of health care cost incurred for whatever reason? (Jen interjects: Don't know about foreclosures, but 51% of all personal bankruptcies are caused by medical bills.) Truth is, change is needed and I also include a lot better preventative care and better lifestyles and healthy eating exercise etc. Also I think of drug companies like oil companies. You never hear of a poor one do you?

The newspapers in the UK have been fighting back with various articles and even the Prime Minister weighed in, in defence of the NHS. (That guy is a serious loser or will be come next May). However, it was one article headline that really summed it all up for me and distilled it down to four words as far as health care in the US is concerned. "Land of the Fee."

To close out, Jen sez: Joan was in the hospital in Ireland in 2000 when she became seriously ill while traveling. This was a tiny town in the middle of nowhere with a small hospital, and it was like totally 1950s. Big open wards. Very little privacy. No computers, no beepy monitors. BEST. CARE. EVER. The nurses helped you get dressed and fluffed your pillows for you if you looked uncomfortable. They could do that because they weren't on the phone arguing with insurance companies all day. I guess if they had to yell at NHS they did it while the nun came around and gave Communion. Total cost? About $1,200 U.S. for an entire week, including all meds and treatments. And Communion. Yeah. That's what I said.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Silence for Sale

Playing in the background: Marsha Long, Angel Rhapsody

It's been a while since I picked on the DharmaCrafts catalog, that purveyor of fine merchandise handmade for your enlightenment pleasure and shipped to your door via FedEx. Partly that's because Joan bought me a fine string of cedar mala beads from this catalog for Christmas - a bargain at only $19.99, even if it won't get you nearly as far down the path of realization as will a 14k gold Mobius bracelet ($1,400.) But it's also because, frankly, it's too easy. I don't go looking for humor in situations that are already funny to begin with. I look for it in weird places like Catholic funerals and the debate over health care reform. I gotta say, I think Stephen Colbert must have the easiest job in all of comedy. "The jokes practically write themselves," one could say. Here's a brilliant rant about Sarah Palin and the "death panels", none of which is made up, except maybe the part about throwing magnets at the fridge.

Course I hadn't yet seen this month's DharmaCrafts, featuring a new! Improved! piece of merchandise that is a must-have for any serious sangha student: A CD of silence.

Well, okay, it's not called that. It's called an "end chime for meditation", and you can buy it here. To get an idea of what it's all about, I'm gonna quote you the product description verbatim:

No more watching the clock! This CD offers selectable silence up to 70 minutes. Then a low pitched Tibetan singing bowl is struck three times to signal the end of a silent meditation period. You can select the desired length of silence by selecting one of the eleven tracks. A bestseller!

A bestseller. Cripes. They not only sell these things, they sell a lot of them. I dunno if that should worry me, but it does. I mean, do they have copyright? Are they gonna get into a legal battle with John Cage's estate about the fair use of silence? Yes, I realize that only legal people ask questions like that, but it's worth mentioning all the same. And what about that singing bowl? Was it paid for its participation? Does it get royalties each time it's played on the radio? Did it consent to be used in this matter? Where's the disclosure form it signed? And don't give me that old tired story about a singing bowl not having any frick'n hands. That'll never fly in court.

In case a CD of silence isn't silly enough already, DharmaCrafts thoughtfully provides a track listing. Yes, you heard that right. Or rather, you didn't hear it. Here it is:

Lengths of Silence:
  • Track 1 — 70 minutes
  • Track 2 — 60 minutes
  • Track 3 — 50 minutes
  • Track 4 — 45 minutes
  • Track 5 — 40 minutes
  • Track 6 — 30 minutes
  • Track 7 — 25 minutes
  • Track 8 — 20 minutes
  • Track 9 — 15 minutes
  • Track 10 — 10 minutes
  • Track 11 — bowl strike
I mean, I'm really glad somebody's spelling this out for me because I'm just not sure I'm smart enough to get it for myself. I guess the good old days, where you just lit a stick of incense and stopped meditating when you couldn't smell it anymore (about 30 minutes) are just like gone the way of the Automat. I mean, can't you listen to a blank tape or something? Oh, wait, who knows what tapes are anymore? Hm, and blank CDs don't actually play, so -- starting to see the need for this. I must buy one immediately.

Lest you think for even a nanosecond that DharmaCrafts is alone in its purveying of spectacularly goofy merchandise, though, here's a Swarovski crystal pendant of Tweety Bird from the Danbury Mint. Uh, guys, Tweety's supposed to be yellow. I'm just sayin'.

By the way, has anybody else figured out that the "anti health care reform" people are spreading horror stories about "death panels" and "socialized medicine" not because they're against health care reform but because they want to bring down Obama, at whatever cost, whether it hurts other people or not? I'm just wondering.

Friday, August 14, 2009

What I Heard About Health Care Reform

(quoted from all over the place. Too funny not to share.)
Playing in the background: Pandora Radio. Love that stuff.

I heard it mandates abortion on all first born daughters.

I think it will make all people the age of 39 get vasectomies. Even if you don’t have male sex organs, it doesn’t matter. They will implant them into your body and then snip them, because, y’know, they have to have uniformity.

It killed my puppy! And it’ll kill yours, too.

It will mandate that all citizens be implanted with a series of numbers upon birth. When the government deems population growth is too rapid, or generally full of undesirables, a random lottery will be held, and every human being whose number is called will be captured and sent to a “Life Enrichment Facility” where they will be sacrificed and their bodies donated to the cult of science.

I heard Obama is personally going to go to every single hospital, doctor’s office, and nursing home in America, round up everyone over the age of 65, and then force them all into Gladiator-style contests where they are forced to fight to the death. Obama will sit on a huge throne wearing purple and gold robes and a crown of golden laurels and will issue the final judgment on whether people live or die by giving a thumbs up or thumbs down. And if he sees an old person who really pisses him off, then he reserves the right to ride out on his golden chariot and execute that mofo himself. All the while, the liberals will cheer from around the stadium and wave banners that say things like, “Kill the olds!’ and “Down with the age’d!” Afterwards, there might even be some acts of ritual cannibalism of the dead, which we all know liberals participate in.

Conservatives, of course, will be rounded up as well and forced to collect and dispose of the bodies. Later, they will be forced into indentured servitude in liberal households and forced to feed sex-addicted, homosexual, jobless, atheist, communist liberals grapes and clean their mansions, which of course the liberal government confiscated from all the formerly rich capitalists and conservatives. And when they turn 65, they’ll have to fight in the Gladiator games, too. Obama will still be around, obviously, since the liberals will by this time have declared him Supreme Dictator Emperor of America for All Time, Even Supplanting God and Christianity with His Muslim Terrorist Religion of DOOOOOM.

What? That’s not what you heard?

I heard that it’s going to take the health insurance away from all the rich people, and give it to the lazy poor people — just like Robin Hood — and then all the poor people will have health care (!!!!!) while the rich people have NOTHING. And then, the lazy poor people will have yachts and eat caviar on them with their good health, while the hard-working rich people die in squalor from treatable conditions. And as all that’s happening, Obama takes a jacuzzi bath in your personal tax dollars and laughs maniacally, because HE HATES RICH PEOPLE, especially the white ones, and wants them all dead. Since that’s what people born in Kenya do, you know, after they illegitimately become president. That’s what I heard. (Saw it on FOX!)

I heard that the taxes from health reform will be so high we won’t be able to eat, so we’ll all have to live in the hospitals we’re paying for, and then when we can’t work, they’ll throw us out on the street to die.

Except they won't be able to throw us out because we'll all have health insurance.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Two Jews and a Buddhist Go To A Catholic Funeral ...

A couple of days ago, one of our swim coaches, John Brinkhamer, abruptly dropped dead at the relatively young age of 53. I'd never actually met the man - he coached at another pool in another part of the city - but a bunch of folks on my swim team were going to the funeral, so I went, too. I sat with Ann, who is also my OA sponsor, and David, a cranky retired judge who is a blast to hang around with. The church was mobbed. It probably sat 2,000 people and almost every seat was full. We had to sit way up front because the people who want to hide in the back got there early. So there we were, two Jews and a Buddhist. Sounds like the beginning of a joke, doesn't it?

Now, I know some funeral behavior gets a little weird, but I wasn't expecting to giggle most of the way through this thing. To start with, the Catholic liturgy is almost identical to the Lutheran liturgy, and since I once ran with a Lutheran street gang, it was all pretty familiar. Not so for Ann and David. I kept slipping them cues; stand up, sit down, kneel, repeat after me. And it got pretty funny. I mean, if you think about it, all that standing and sitting an kneeling is pretty sillly if you don't know why you're doing it. Put in the position of the person who was watching the people who didn't know why they were standing and sitting and kneeling and realizing they didn't know why they were doing it, and I did, and that it was therefore silly, was even sillier. So, anyway, much giggling happened. When I was a little kid I used to hush my sister at church. Here I was having to hush two people who were quite a bit older than my sister. I hope we weren't too disrespectful. It really was a lovely funeral.

I was pretty impressed with the priest, too. I can't remember his name - Monsignor something or other - but he gave a sermon about how Christ lives in all of us and therefore John, and that it logically followed John continued to live in all of us, in our shared experience of having known him. It was a shockingly Buddhist concept for a Catholic priest.

Anyway, funerals suck as a general rule. But I actually enjoyed this one. I hope that does not make me a ghoul.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

So I Have This New Job, See...

Playing in the background: "Disco Inferno" on Get Down Tonight: The Disco Explosion (PBS)

Hey, it's just on in the background, okay? I'm not watching.

I know my legion of screaming fans has been freaked out about my temporary disappearance from the blogosphere, even to the point of running screaming headlines in the Times of London and squawking peevishly at my wife about "Why hasn't she written anything lately?" but it's just the new job, folks. Having a new job is just so darn entertaining that I can't take two seconds to post anything. Well, not at work anyway (never a good idea). I like it and I think it's going to work out great but I'm A LITTLE OVERWHELMED RIGHT NOW, OKAY?! THANKEWVERYMUCH...

The Job takes place at a funky little two story building in Deep Ellum, home of some of the best music in Dallas and a bunch of abandoned storefronts, among other things. We're in the top story, though the lawyers own the whole building, and they're thinking of kicking their tenants on the bottom floor out at the end of their current leases because they think they're gonna need the space. To say that they're a little busy is an understatement. I walked in the door and they handed me a stack of problems. Not small problems either. Big, nasty problems with sharp pointy teeth. It's all personal injury and wrongful death cases. Luckily for me, people still crash cars into each other, even during a recession.

So I've been getting up at 5 in the frick'n morning so I have time to meditate before I head out to the pool for the Oh Dark Thirty Swim. I dunno why, but being there at 6 is somehow a much greater imposition than being there at seven even though it's just a matter of 60 minutes. But I do it, and I swim, and then I hit Starbucks and then I go to work. I'm usually there a little early, which is good because all manner of things are going on before I even sit down. The first day it took me three tries to print a letter. The second day I somehow managed to break the postage meter (everybody was very nice about it, though.) What I want to do is fast forward in time to about a month from now, where I have a grip on some things and know what's likely to erupt next. Unfortunately, it don't work that way. As Lars Van Trier is always saying, you have to take der good mit der evil. (Sorry, Lars, but that Danish accent of yours is just really out there.)

The firm, though, is just totally cool. Nobody has a standalone computer; we all have laptops and they're all networked with each other on a wireless. When we need to have a meeting, everybody grabs a laptop and heads for the conference room. So far nobody's said boo about me listening to the Internet radio, and my two bosses are gone so much that they've pretty much left me, the other paralegal, and the gang o'support staff to run the place.

I mean, I've been a case manager before but this is the first time I've actually called the shots. Friday I had a kind of epiphany. I kept bugging one of the partners on his Blackberry to approve something so I could send it out, and he told me it could go back Monday. After the obligatory "is he going to be mad at me if I point this out" thing I responded by telling him that, no, in fact it did have to go out today because we had a Rule 11 saying it had to go out today and there was a pending motion that was gonna land on our heads if it didn't go out today and, yeah, it had to go out today. There was, of course, the option to just hush, but all of a sudden I wasn't willing to do it. Kind of like Gene Kranz saying we weren't going to lose an astronaut on his watch. We weren't gonna get sanctioned on mine. So I did some digital arm twisting and it finally got approved. At 4:49.

But, ya know, I decided not to get upset about it. It was just my job, folks, and I was just gonna do it, and that was the end of the story. And, yeah, it's not technically in my job description to stop at the post office on the way home with a certified mail package, but I did it and it got done. And I did not get upset about it. Which, for me, was a revelation. Am I just old, crazy and fed up? Maybe. But sometimes that's the best kind of person to be.

So that's the big mystery. I hope by next week I'll be more on top of things, and this space will once more be filled with musings about Buddhism, butts, bodacious babes, and big bad bloggitude generally. We thank you for your patience.