Friday, April 20, 2018

30 Days 30 Posts: Day 12

Day 12

or "The crappy music I listen to"

Topic: Put your music on shuffle and list the first 10 songs that come up.

1. Unsane - "455"

2. Entombed - "Abnormally Deceased"

3. Amorphis - "The Castaway"

4. Anthrax - "Any Place But Here"

5. Iron and Wine - "An Angry Blade"

6. Genesis - "Counting Out Time"

7. Temple Of The Dog - "Call Me A Dog"

8. The Misfits - "Astro Zombies"

9. AFI - "Dancing Through Sunday"

10. Roadrunner United - "Constitution Down"

Ok, that wasn't too bad. I was a little scared at first. Fortunately, none of the embarrassing stuff showed up. 🤣🤣🤣

I'll be back tomorrow!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

30 Days 30 Posts: Day 11

Day 11

or "More easy blog topics, please!"

Today's topic: What is your favorite quote?

My favorite quote is from writer, anarchist, artist and philosopher, Elbert Hubbard.
"The recipe for perpetual ignorance is: be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge." - Elbert Hubbard
See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

30 Days 30 Posts: Day 10

Day 10

or "#BurritoLife"

Topic: If you could live off of only one food and one beverage for the rest of your life what would it be?

That is easy. As far as the food is concerned it would have to be BURRITOS! You can basically put anything edible in a tortilla so the variety would be endless. Examples:

Ramen Burritos

Buffalo Chicken Burrito

Obligatory Vegan Burritos

Bonus Burrito Porn (link)

As far as living off one beverage to drink the rest of my life it would have to be water, right? If I could actually live off of it though, without negative repercussions, I'd choose coffee.
Ok, that was a short easy one. The next few days might be shorter posts too because I have to do some traveling back and forth from home. CYA tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

30 Days 30 Posts: Day 9

Day 9

or "I need to hurry up and finish this so I can go to sleep"

Topic: Your five favorite blogs.

Hardcore Zen  by Brad Warner

Brad Warner is a Soto Zen priest. He is the dharma heir of Gudo Wafu Nishijima. He is a Dogen and Buddhism nerd. Brad used to write for Suicide Girls. Flux was the best SG. That has nothing to do with Brad. 

That's So Zen by Gesshin Greenwood

Gesshin is a Soto Zen nun who lived in Japan for a number of years. She's in the States these days attending graduate school. There are a lot of female Soto Zen teachers and "nuns" (I don't care for that word when used in a Buddhist context. Can't they all be "monks"?) in the US but Gesshin is unique in that she has lived in actual Japanese monasteries for a few years.


Tofugu is a Japanese language and culture blog (and company). If you're interested in learning Japanese or about Japanese culture Tofugu is a great blog to follow.

No Meat Athlete 

Great source of information on running, self-improvement and plant-based eating.

The Narcissistic Continuum

I don't really know how to describe this site. It's ALL THINGS narcissism. Beyond narcissism the topics range from parenting, feminism to art. If you have, or think you have, family members or friends who are narcissists this blog might be worth poking around. It must be pointed out that the site navigation is a total nightmare. 

See ya tomorrow!

Monday, April 16, 2018

30 Days 30 Posts: Day 8

Day 8 Is Great!

or I Want To Go To 7-Eleven In Japan!

Ok, I have to get this done before the day is out!

The topic for today is: A place you have traveled to and somewhere else you want to go.

A place I have traveled to:

I haven't really traveled all that many other places outside of California. The furthest I have traveled was to Key West, Florida. I went traveled there to both visit my friend who lives there and to experience Fantasy Fest.
Fantasy Fest is kind of like Mardis Gras in Key West. It occurs during the last week of October. It consists mostly of lots of people with hardly and clothing on (or just body paint) walking around and partying. It culminates with a parade at the end of the festival.

I was chronically hammered drunk by the time the night rolled around (I've been past due for sobriety for a LONG time 🤣) so I really don't remember much of the nightly festivities. I CAN say that during the day, though, exploring Key West was fun. My favorite part was going to the Hemingway House Museum and my favorite part of that was the polydactyl cats. I'm not claiming to be the biggest Hemingway fan but stuff he wrote like The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber is still one of my favorite short stories. The book The Wild Years, a collection of articles he wrote for the Toronto Star, is also a favorite of mine.

Somewhere else I want to go:

I REALLY want to go to Japan. I will list just a tiny fraction of the places that I would like to go in Japan.

First off there are a bunch of temples that I want to visit. I want to go to Eihei-ji. Eihei-ji is the main temple of the Sōtō school of Zen. The temple was founded by Eihei Dōgen, who is also the founder of the Sōtō sect. Sōtō style zazen, or Shikantaza, is the Zen meditation that I practice. I also think Dōgen is the bee's knees.

I also want to go to Fukusai-ji an Ōbaku Zen temple in Nagasaki, Nagasaki Japan. Ōbaku is the smallest of the three main Zen sects in Japan. Fukusai-ji temple was constructed into the shape of a turtle and an eighteen-meter high statue of Kannon, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, stands atop it.

I also want to go all of the areas that are known for their animal populations like Rabbit Island (Ōkunoshima), Cat Island (Tashirojima), Deer Park (Nara Park) and Zao Fox Village.

That doesn't even cover all the places I want to go just to try the food! I'd love to even just stop into the local 7-Elevens to try their nikuman!

Ok! That will do it for me today! I'll be back at it tomorrow!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

30 Days 30 Posts: Day 7

Day 7: TOYS!

or "YouTube clips and a lot of rambling"

The topic for the day is: What were your favorite childhood toys?

Here we go.

G.I. Joe

Almost all of my friends were into G.I. Joe. What is there to say? Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow were the coolest. Cobra always had the better looking figures. I cannot remember what I did with my figures but I know I still have an unopened Firefly figure somewhere.

Is it just me or does the blurring of their faces make it really creepy?

Zartan was cool because his skin changed color in the sun! I think I got Zartan in some sort of trade with a friend and didn't have the Chameleon or his mask which was a bummer. I also had his brother Zandar who changed color in the sun too.

I was really into the whole Serpentor thing at first. I remember reading the G.I. Joe Marvel comic issue #49 over and over and over. A year later though, by the time G.I. Joe: The Movie came out, I was pretty much over G.I. Joe and toys in general. I also remember the G.I. Joe movie really bumming me out when I saw it. My focus was about to switch from toys to video games at that point anyway. #NintendoLife


Like G.I. Joe, almost every friend of mine was into Transformers. I probably had more Transformers than G.I. Joe figures and absolutely no recollection of what ever happened to them.

I know I had some, if not all, of the Constructicons.

I know I had some of the Insecticons too. Well, I know I had Bombshell for sure.

My two biggest Transformer scores when begging for toys were Jetfire and Shockwave. I think Jetfire was $29.99 or something which might as well have been a million dollars when I was a kid. Thanks Mom!!!

Like G.I. Joe: The Movie, Transformers: The Movie left me kind of bummed out when I was a kid. Playing with toys was becoming passé. Soon it was all about rescuing Princess Peach from Bowser and running around Hyrule killing Octoroks.


M.U.S.C.L.E. (or "Millions of Unusual Small Creatures Lurking Everywhere") were two inch tall outlandish professional wrestling rubber figures. I never had the M.U.S.C.L.E. "Battlin' Belt"  or board game but I had the "Hard Knockin' Rockin' Ring". It was kind of like Rock'em Sock'em Robots...except worse. It was total crap. Oh well. 🤣 
One of the cool things about M.U.S.C.L.E. was that they sold multi-pack trashcans in opaque packaging. A picture of the "trash can" multi-pack can be seen here. Like Mystery Minis today, you never knew what figures you were going to get. 

Bonus M.U.S.C.L.E. stuff:
Mental Floss article: A Brief History of M.U.S.C.L.E. Figures

Well, that will do it for today! 

Saturday, April 14, 2018

30 Days 30 Posts: Day 6

Day 6: Dark Questions

or "I swear I'm going somewhere with this."

The question for today is: What is your zodiac sign and does it fit your personality?

I am a Taurus, and yeah I guess so. I'm stubborn as hell, lethargic and like the finer things in life.

That is a stupid question. This is a funny video.

Ok. Let's get serious.

One of the questions or subjects for the fifth day of this challenge (I have to work off of multiple lists as each list contains dumb questions) has been rolling around in my head for the last twenty four hours. It was: A time you thought about ending your own life. My first thought was "Well, I am thinking about it right now."
First off, what a weird, random and dark blog subject to mix in with other topics like "what Pandora station do most often listen to?" Second, it really rattled me because I hadn't realized I was thinking about ending my own life until that moment.
Ok, I wasn't really thinking about actively ending my life but I was thinking it would be very nice to just lay down and start dissolving into the carpet, never to get back up again. That is just Depression talking. Hey, Depression! I see you there. Stop looking around and acting like you can't hear me! Just wanted to let you know that I KNOW you're there. See you around, D. Weirdo.
Anyway- thoughts like this are nothing new. I've dealt with depression before and I know what I need to do. I know how to be proactive and get ahead of the thoughts and feelings that I need to. I also know how to ride out the thoughts and feelings that just need to be rode out. If it gets bad enough I will seek professional help. This is old hat.
That all brings me to the real subject of my post: sobriety. March 4th, 2018 was the last day that I had a drink (i.e. got drunk) and I haven't really felt like drinking since then. Long story short, I decided I would have a couple of drinks that day. I told myself that I wasn't going to let myself get that drunk. I then proceeded to get straight-up blackout sloshed. Prior to that I had been blacking out here and there for months. I was already at the point where it was getting harder and harder to deny that I had a problem. When I woke up the next day I decided to throw in the towel and call it quits. This isn't the first time I've tried to quit but hopefully it is the last.
So with Depression showing up (Yeah, still you, D.) I have to admit drinking myself into oblivion would be very nice. I still really don't want to drink though. Like I can't even picture myself doing it. I am not going to drink, just like I am not going to off myself. It just isn't going to happen.* This will all pass.
I need to get involved with a community of sober people or start going to meetings (AA or Refuge Recovery) soon. In the meantime though, I have been filling my head with podcast episodes about people in recovery. I have found this helps a lot. Personally, it really takes the edge off, or, weight off of the depression. I'm pretty sure it adds to my lack of desire to drink too. If you feel like you have a problem with drugs or alcohol, no matter where you are in (or not-in) recovery, I really think listening to other people talk about their struggles helps. Here are a couple of the podcasts I'm listening to:

I mentioned the Rich Roll podcast before. Rich Roll is a committed 12-stepper himself and many of the episodes deal with recovery.
Rich Roll Podcast 
Rich Roll Podcast 226: Moby
Rich Roll Podcast 341: Amy Dresner

I've been putting as much of Anna David's Light Hustler into my head as I can. You can find the Light Hustler podcast on iTunes or whatever podcast app you use (I dig Pocket Casts). The episodes are also on Soundcloud. I'll leave you with a few of my favorites so far. See you tomorrow! (Note: Tomorrow's subject is a lot more lighthearted. Let's see if I can go some place dark with it. 🤣)

*I will try to convince myself I can drink again at some point. This is sure to happen. I will be ready for it one way or another.

Friday, April 13, 2018

30 Days 30 Posts: Day 5

Day 5: Five Questions

or I Already Ran Out Of Ideas For Posts

Five days in and I'm calling an audible. I found a couple lists of questions that other people have used in their own 30 day blog challenges. I have to use them as guidelines otherwise I will wind up talking about Zen in every post. I'm currently reading Reb Anderson's Being Upright: Zen Meditation and the Bodhisattva Precepts and binge-listening to Domyo Burk's The Zen Studies Podcast. I got Zen on the brain!

Day 1: Discuss Your Current Relationship
I am in a relationship with spicy ramen and it is getting pretty serious.

Day 2: Where You'd Like To Be In 10 Years?
The exact "where" is not all that important. I'm really hoping in ten years I can make my living by working from home. I hope to have a little plot of land where I can farm ramen with my ramen-wife. I'm not planning on ramen-children though.

Day 3: Top 5 Pet Peeves

  1. Passive Aggression
  2. People who talk to you when you are clearly reading.
  3. Tailgaters
  4. When people bite down and clink their teeth on forks or spoons
  5. People who don't close cabinets or drawers after opening them
Day 4: Discuss Your Views On Religion
Damn! Right into the minefield! I already touched on this a bit on Day 2. I'm fascinated by religion. If I was independently wealthy I would love to get a degree in Religious Studies. This is a hodgepodge of my thoughts on religion.
Religions come into being and evolve out of our weird need for ritual and community. They grant purpose and meaning. Religion also allows another way people feel that they are right and other people are wrong. I respect everyone's right to believe what they want to as long as it doesn't cause harm to others. I adhere to the right to respect the believer but not the belief itself. I do my best to keep the two separate. I am very skeptical about supernatural claims and people who purport to know if there is an afterlife and what it is like. That's all I really want to say about that right now.

Day 5: What Are Your Favorite Comfort Foods? And Why?

Ok, not JUST Ramen. Burritos and loaded fries are also my favorite comfort foods. At one point I would have said nachos were one of my favorite comfort foods but I will now go for loaded fries over nachos any day. As far as the "why" of liking them...why does anyone like any food? It tastes good and makes me feel better (if only for a bit) after eating it. 

Ok, that is more than enough for today. I'm going to keep trying to post in the morning but I make no promises. Happy Friday the 13th!


Thursday, April 12, 2018

30 Days 30 Posts: Day4

30 Days 30 Posts: Day4

or Welcome to another installment of Thirty Days Of Narcissism!

Today presented the first real struggle in figuring out what to post. There is some heavier content to talk about but it's not time to jump into the deep end yet. Plant-based eating (note: diet is on point again today) is easy enough to riff on because it's fresh on my brain but I absolutely do not want to come across as preachy. I'm convinced PBD's are a good thing and have my own personal convictions about it but, that said, I despise heavy handed approaches when it comes to ANY diet.

So, I guess I'll talk about Zen again.

Like a lot of people I really knew nothing of Zen. I was aware of books like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (which I never read) and how in popular culture "zen" was synonymous with being tranquil or placid. Somewhere in my hardcore-atheist phase I had heard that Zen offered spirituality without God so I decided to check it out. I watched a documentary about Edward Espe Brown, a Zen priest and cookbook author, called How To Cook Your Life. At the time he came across as neurotic and whiny. I actually told to a friend, "If this is Zen, I want nothing to do with it." I find it humorous that I eventually got into Zen because my first exposure to it completely turned me off.

Since discovering Brad Warner and embracing Sōtō style Zen I have listened to a dharma talk or two by Edward Espe Brown and have warmed up to him. In hindsight, Edward was really just being himself. He was in the moment and not putting on a false airs. He can be a little bit of a mess sometimes, and what do you know, I can too. That means so much more to me than just faking it and acting the part of what a detached "Zen master" should look like.
A quick thought: One of the things that you notice after getting into Zen and meeting other practitioners is how neurotic and downright crazy (I mean that in a loving way) some, ok, most of them are. You don't decide to start twisting your legs into pretzels and staring at the wall for prolonged periods of time if you're already a well-adjusted individual.
Bonus video: Here is a Brad Warner's ordaining teacher, Gudo Wafu Nishijima, demonstrating how to practice Sōtō style Zazen, or Shikantaza. And with that I bid you all a fond adieu! See you later! またね。( ゚▽゚)/

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

30 Days 30 Posts: Day 3

Day three! So far so good with the daily blog posts but I really flubbed the whole plant-based eating challenge. I'm on track with it today though. It helps that I have been a little pissed off all day. A bit of anger always seems to help fuel the willpower for some reason. 🤣 Anywho, while I'm on the subject of challenges I decided I'd make a quick post about some of my go-to sources when I need a little inspiration. If you are looking for ideas to improve your life or for a little encouragement or enticement these blogs and podcasts might be worth checking out.

First off in you're interested in doing your own 30 day blog (or any social media, really) challenge here are a few links:

Tips, Tricks and Thoughts on Starting a 30 Day Blogging Challenge by Atiba Shaikh

I Posted on Medium (Mostly) Every Day for 30 Days — Here’s What Happened by Blake Powell

30 Day Social Media Content Challenge by Miranda Paquet

Here are some random ideas for 30 day challenges. I might try a few of these...🤔

100 Thirty Day Challenge Ideas To Inspire Your Life by Clare Hudson

Here are some motivational blogs and podcasts:

You can't have a inspirational/self-improvement list without Tim Ferriss in it. I've read and enjoyed both his 4-Hour Body and 4-Hour Chef. Although I don't listen to his podcast religiously the episodes I have listened to were informative and held my interest.
Tim's Blog
Tim's Podcast

Matt Frazier has been around the self-help block once or twice (Damn, I really need a new idiom for "having experience" 🤣). Matt is an ultra-marathoner and has written a couple of books. I really enjoy the No Meat Athlete podcast with Matt and co-host Doug Hay.

No Meat Athlete Blog
No Meat Athlete Podcast

Rich Roll struggled with drug and alcohol addiction until he was 31. Although he got sober he was about 50 pounds overweight. At 40 he decided to turn his life around and became a consummate plant-fueled ultra-endurance athlete. I really like and recommend Rich's podcast but some of the episodes (especially the earlier ones) can get a little too "woo-woo" for my tastes. He has excellent interviews with people like Tim Ferriss, Matt Frazier and Moby which make up for it.

Rich Roll Blog
Rich Roll Podcast

Well, I think that will do it for this post. I'll be back tomorrow to do it all again! 😁

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

30 Days 30 Posts: Day 2

"How I Got Into This Zen Stuff"

or "How I Ramble On And On About Something I Could Have Said In One Paragraph"

Please read my disclaimer

The subject of Zen is guaranteed to come up often here. Zen meditation (zazen), books about Zen practice, academic books about Zen, and dharma talks by Zen teachers are a big part of my life. It might be good to address how this came to be so. I will do my best to keep it simple and flesh out the hows and whys later on.
My parents became born again Christians when I was five or six. I might have been younger but I was old enough to vaguely remember when they started going to church and being sort of confused as to why we were suddenly going somewhere on Sunday mornings. My Mom and Dad went to a Baptist church that friends of theirs went to. My Dad died when I was eight of lung cancer and people at the church were very kind and helpful to both me and my Mom.
At some point I became angry as all hell when I was teenager. I fell away from the church for a couple of years but came back and got involved with one of the praise teams. I was thumping bass strings for the Lord during the contemporary services. I started bouncing around to different churches in my late teens and early twenties but kept playing in the praise bands almost wherever I went. I wound up pretty much identifying as a Lutheran theologically even though I was attending a Presbyterian church (PCA for those in the know).
At some point I started having serious doubts about what I was supposed to believe. I started watching debates between Alister McGrath and Richard Dawkins and multiple debates between Christopher Hitchens and various people (including Dinesh D'Souza and Christopher's brother Peter Hitchens). I wasn't ready to abandon my faith yet though and started exploring the theology of N.T. Wright and other people the conservative Lutheran and Reformed big shots looked down on.
Then while watching the documentary Jesus Camp I had a visceral "Oh my God, there is no God" moment. It was as much an anti-conversion experience if there ever was one. God was just suddenly taken off the table and all belief in the supernatural suddenly seemed absolutely ridiculous. 
I read a little Richard Dawkins and some Sam Harris. I watched as many lectures by Dawkins, Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett as I could find on YouTube. I was fairly angry at anything that had to do with faith, the supernatural and spirituality. I was never angry at God because I didn't believe in him/her/it anymore. It seemed silly to be angry at a fictional character even though I knew quite a few people who seemed to do just that.
After a few years of identifying as an atheist I felt like I had been neglecting my weird monkey need for ritual and the numinous. I also missed the sense of community that came with being involved with church. So, I started poking around any "spiritual" group that seemed like it might be a good fit for a skeptical atheist. This was mostly a fruitless endeavor.
Then I picked up the Vol. 19 No. 1 issue of Skeptic magazine in 2014. There was a book review for Brad Warner's Hardcore Zen Strikes Again. I cannot remember what the review exactly said but it was positive enough for me to go check out this Brad Warner guy. I am almost sure this was the first video of Brad that I watched:
I was pretty much immediately hooked and started watching and listening to anything Brad Warner related. Although I explored other forms of Buddhism (more on that in another post) I always came back to Brad and the Soto lineage of Zen.

Ok. That should be enough rambling for today.

This is the book that was reviewed in Skeptic:

This is the first book of Brad's that I read:

Monday, April 9, 2018

30 days 30 posts: Day 1

What Is This Blog?

I'm doing something I have failed at multiple times before and attempting to do a blog post every day for the the next thirty days. I've been telling myself that I will start posting on this blog without actually doing it for far too long. I'm hoping this will knock me out of torpor and unlock and/or ignite some general creativity.
Although I have read you are only supposed to do one challenge at a time (or focus on changing one habit at a time) I am also doing this alongside a 30 day totally plant-based and (mostly) whole-food dietary challenge. I've watched the amazing physical transformation of Penn Jillette after he switched to a whole-food plant-based diet and have been inspired. I've been fairly unhealthy the last few years and very unhealthy the last year. I'm hoping I can undo some of the damage I might have caused internally if not just to my waistline.
So, what is this blog?
A little about me: After years of working in retail and construction I decided to do the "old man goes back to school" thing in hopes of bettering my life. Navigating school and a future career at an advanced age such as mine will probably be one of the central subjects I've also gotten back into a regular zazen (Zen meditation) routine- 34 days straight as of today. I have some, hopefully valid, thoughts about Zen, religion, and faith (or lack-there-of) in general. I've been around the block once or twice and I know a thing or two about a thing or two. There is also plenty that I do not know but I am willing and hoping to learn (and share).
Self-improvement blogs with public records of different thirty to ninety day challenges have been popular for quite a while. I guess this will be my attempt to throw my hat in the ring. It is time to improve myself so I can be the person I really want to be. It's time to push myself out of my comfort zones. It's time to forge new relationships and possibly end old ones. Most of this will all be done out in the open, success and failure both hung out there for all eyes to see.
If there was a sub-title for this blog it would be "If I Can Do It, Anyone Can." I have no plans on doing anything that will put me in the history books. I would just like achieve some of my goals and prove that it can be done. If this blog helps even just one person it has done it's job...and if it never helps even one person, hey, it's still a creative outlet. Who knows? My content might just turn into dumb shit I draw and stuff that made me laugh.
There it is. This is the first day and first post. Here's to at least twenty-nine more posts to follow in as many days.
Note: I will be tweaking the blog layout over the next several days too.

30 Days 30 Posts: Day 12

Day 12 or "The crappy music I listen to" Topic: Put your music on shuffle and list the first 10 songs that come up. ...