Baking on a cold winter day

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Baking this afternoon.  After working half a day because of a large job that came in to the shop I have been going non stop this afternoon.  The pup and I went for a long walk first then I came home and did a load of laundry.  

A batch of yogurt was the first item on my list of things to make.  Then I made a loaf of banana-raisin bread which is finished baking.


Banana-raisin bread 1/16/2009

 Next I mixed up a batch of chocolate cake to make cup-cakes, and now they are baking.    Well the cup-cakes are done now, the timer is going off and begging me to respond.

It is freezing cold outside today, literally freezing, but inside here in the kitchen it is quite toasty now with the baking that I have been doing.  They say it may sleet or snow tomorrow morning, I hope it does, it would be so nice.  It would be even better if it would snow several inches, I could get a picture of the front of the temple covered in snow.

Soon I’ll have to make a decision about what I’ll fix for dinner, I suppose I do need to eat something healthy, but all of these sweets surely are tempting me.  Maybe I’ll make up some curry Japanese style and have that over rice….yes….that is exactly what I’ll do.

See you later.


Medical Insurance

Friday, January 16, 2009

Today I was notified that the company provided health plan made a mistake in billing for my account for the past year and I now have to ‘make up’ the difference.  Grrrrr…….

I guess I wouldn’t mind as much if it weren’t for the fact that the deductable is so darn high that when I had surgery in July of last year virtually none of it was covered, yet I had to pay insurance.  On top of that, two of the medications I use to help with breathing problems are not covered so I pay almost full price for those, which I have stopped taking because it just is too expensive.

So, I am paying for insurance for what?

Waiting room doctor's office - by Ryusho, 11/2008

Waiting room doctor's office - by Ryusho, 11/2008

I am not alone by any means.  A good friend just lost her job, she is eligable for COBRA, but being eligable is not the same as being affordable.  Having a pre-existing condition make insurance almost an impossibilty and yet who, when they get to be our age, doesn’t have some kind of pre-existing condition.

I am not sure exactly what the answer is, but there has to be something better than what we have now.

There is such an uneven distribution of medical care that something needs to be done to even it out some or else make it equally available to everyone.  I wouldn’t want to deprive anyone of the best care possible, and yet a whole bunch of people suffer with almost no care.  I am at least fortunate that I can get care, even if it isn’t affordable.  Many do not have even that.

Some are fortunate because they have access to the latest and greatest in medical care with no regard to expense, either because they are very wealthy or because they have very good insurance, again probably wealthy.

Insurance companies don’t want to have as customers those who have conditions that may certainly require treatment, they also don’t want to handle those who can least afford it.  The insurance companies decide what treatments it will cover and how much they will pay, demanding doctors lower their charges and consumers pay larger portions.  It just doesn’t make sense.

Looking at the two major hospitals in Charlotte you see large campuses with many new buildings.  They both advertise the best of medical technology available, yet both are reluctant providors of care for the indigent or those least able to afford it.  And I know from a couple of friends accounts that this is the case because they have experienced it themselves.

Of course nothing I have said here hasn’t been said someplace else, I guess it is just my turn to rant some.

Number Six

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Yesterday Patrick McGoohan passed away.  I can’t say I was a big fan of Mr. McGoohan, but I was captivated by the character he played in the series “The Prisoner”, Number Six.

Andersonville National POW Cematery

I can’t say specifically why that show caused such a lasting memory, but it did.  Perhaps because when I was growing up in the 60’s it was the only TV show that I really enjoyed watching.  For many of my years growing up we did not watch TV.  I think the first spell with out TV in the family lasted about 3 years.

Our TV broke and my parents just decided not to have it repaired.  So we lived with out it.  I suppose at first it was a bit strange.  I do remember occasionally needing to explain to friends in school, when they spoke of a program, that we didn’t watch TV.  I don’t recall ever being really strongly attached to watching and don’t recall ever really missing not having one.

After a few years, three I think, we did get TV back for a while, but then we went without for a couple more years.  Since those times I have never enjoyed TV and even now don’t own one and haven’t owned one in over 8 years.

With my limited exposure to TV growing up The Prisoner stands out as my favorite show and frankly the only one I can remember from that time period.  I don’t even remember what was on TV at the time.  I can’t say I am a Prisoner Culty but I have gotten a hold of copies of various episodes over the years and revisited them.  Again, it is the only show I have ever done that for.

I suppose there were times, especially during the 60’s in my adolescence, I really did feel like a ‘Prisoner’ in the Village of my life.   As time went on and I converted to Buddhism at age 19 I began to feel less and less like a Prisoner but still could relate.  Now I approaching age 60 being a Prisoner is the furthest thing from my view of life and the potentials and possibilities.  Still though, almost romantically, I look back on those memories and experience certain kinds of fondness.  I wouldn’t want to go back though.

Frequently over the many years when leaving a message on someone’s answering machine in response to “leave your number” I’ll just say “my number is: six”, and my ex-partner and I would offer as our parting words to each other the “ok” sign and say “be seeing you”.  Does that make me a culty?

I wish they had made more of the series, for me it could have gone on forever.

So long Patrick, you are no longer a Prisoner.

Andersonville National POW Cemetery – Andersonville, GA; photo by Ryusho, September 2008

Lotus Sutra – Reflection

Wednesday, January 14, 2009
1/13/2009 Sky

Charlotte, NC Sky 1/13/09

Last night, was the first class on Lotus Sutra Chapter 2 – Expedients.  Every month I am giving these classes twice in one week.  The same material is being covered on both nights, the intent being that if someone is unable to attend on one evening then there will be another opportunity for them to catch the material.

When ever I talk about the Lotus Sutra I continually remind people of the relationship that exists between our actions and our beliefs.  This is a crucial point, since our actions reflect our belief as it exists in the core of our lives.  If we look at our actions and they are not a reflection of what we say we believe then we need to dig down into our lives and try to discover the real belief.

Further, if we say we believe something then that belief not only should affect our actions it also has further implications as to what other beliefs would fall into place, sort of an “If – Then” logic statement.

We can say to ourselves, “If this is what I believe, Then what should my actions be?” and then “If this is what I believe, Then what does that imply that my other beliefs are?”


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

From Wikipedia – Microcredit is a financial innovation which is generally considered to have originated with the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh.  In that country, it has successfully enabled extremely impoverished people to engage in self-employment projects that allow them to generate an income and, in many cases, begin to build wealth and exit poverty.

I recently have made several small loans using Kiva at  At Kiva you as a potential lender can select from a listing of individual or lending groups and make loans as small as $25.  You choose who you want to lend to and how much.

You may lend as an individual or you may join a community and add your loan information to the communities (your loan remains yours regardless and not the community’s)

Here is just a small bit of information from the Kiva web site:

“Kiva’s mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.

Kiva is the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world.

The people you see on Kiva’s site are real individuals in need of funding – not marketing material. When you browse entrepreneurs’ profiles on the site, choose someone to lend to, and then make a loan, you are helping a real person make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for themselves, their family, and their community. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates and track repayments. Then, when you get your loan money back, you can relend to someone else in need.”

I encourage anyone to look into making a small loan.  If you would like you may join our temple’s community by entering Myosho-ji.  But more important than joining our community is just making a loan.

We benefit greatly from the properity of our society.  Consider giving back. (photo by Ryusho; Houston, Oct. 2008)

We benefit greatly from the properity of our society. Consider giving back. (photo by Ryusho; Houston, Oct. 2008)

Please consider this opportunity to give back some of the prosperity, no matter how small, that you have benefited from living in our very affluent society.  Many many things have come to us and have been made available to us without our ever asking.  Behind each of us is a tremendous economy from which we have benefited, even if only minimally.  This is a chance to put some of those benefits out to other people in the world.

This is not charity, these borrowers work hard to repay these loans, and indeed they are loans.  You can check out the repayment statistics.

Please consider this.

Puppy trip to vet & an idea

Monday, January 12, 2009

From iPhone

Good vet visit. Minor ear infection caught early. With her floppy ears care of them will probably be life long. It will be worth it if it helps in her well being and long life.

Otera Inu - Temple Dog (December 2008)

Otera Inu - Temple Dog (December 2008)

Thinking of having a community dinner/pot luck open to neighbors to promote friendship and understanding. Thinking that it would not be about religion but about creatng community ties.

How can I as a Buddhist and a priest and this space as a temple not just serve our sangha but also be a resource for the community and neighborhood?

Walking the dog through the neighborhood has afforded me the opportunity to meet and speak with my neighborhood. Can I do more?

Now, let me sit with these thoughts in front of the Eternal Buddha.

Finishing work for the day

Monday, January 12, 2009

About to finish work for the day, my part-time job.  Then this afternoon the puppy has another vet appointment so as soon as I get home I’ll have to poop & pee her then get her in the car and off to her next set of shots and exams.  I like the vet I go to, but sometimes I do think that they have slightly outgrown themselves.  It is starting to feel like a big factory type operation.  I have taken other dogs there and have always liked them so I’ll give them a bit longer to see how things progress.

Mainly I am writing this to test something out, wheter or not I have my twitter account and this blog linked up.  I really want to make as few entries as possible so I like it when I can get things to feed into each other.  So we shall see how this works out.