Saturday, September 27, 2008

*The fans in the stands noticed he wasn't living up to his potential and booed.

People knowledgable in baseball knew he could be a great hitter, but in his third year in the big leagues in Japan, he wasn't even being average.

His hitting was getting worse, the boos louder.

His perceived potential was large enough that he had a hitting teacher for himself in addition to the team batting coach.

His batting teacher tried many things-- having him work on his downswing, having him watch akido classes run by the man who invented akido, comforting him insulting him.

"Maybe if the ball was as big as a basketball, you could hit it."

His teacher didn't have him actually do akido, just watch the classes, because his teacher said, "Martial arts and injuries are one and the same."

Watching akido classes made him think much and differently about how he held his body and made him think about where his center of power was--about two inches below his belly button. And think about blending with the energy of the situaion and then changing it, which is the basic akido approach.

Thinking like that probably helped him when his batting teacher told him right before a game to stand on one leg in his batting stance as he waiting for the pitch.

He did. The fans hooted.

He hit a single and a home run in that game. The fans learned to love what they called "flamingo hits" and "flamingo home runs."

He didn't have the raised leg anything like flamingo high, just off the ground a bit, but it was definitely different than anything seen before in baseball at the level and it definitely worked.

From his first flamingo hit game, he went forward in a straight line to become the greatest hitter in the history of Japanese baseball.

He still had much work to do in many different ways, under his teacher, but he was not longer spinning his wheels, the work he did worked worked in a direct immediate way to make him hit better.

He worked on budo, the tradition use of the samarai sword, which teaches concentration and taking responsibility--since the original idea was to kill and be responsible and aware while doing so--and also has one motion which is similar to the hitting a home run motion. It's not the usual baseball book that would note that one can kill a person with a gun and barely be aware one has done it, but with a sword one much notice, and samarai training helps you notice what is happening with the sword.

Oh was using old ways to really notice and make powerful the swing. As this kind of training all happened after his flamingo breakthrough, it worked and flowed and he just kept getting better. (Better use of killer swing developed over centuries.) So you can think of traditional things in your culture that physically hurt folks and think of how they can help people be skillful in a non-injury sort of way.)

Sadaharu Ho ended up hitting 868 home runs in his career in baseball in Japan.

In United States baseball, Babe Ruth hit 714 home runs. Hank Aaron hit 751. Barry Bonds hit 762.

868 is a lot.

Different leagues, different countries, but 868 is a lot.

The night before Sadaharu Oh stood on one leg waiting for pitches, he thought about quitting baseball.

He pictured telling his batting teacher he was quitting. He pictured telling his teammates he was quitting. He tried to picture living his life without baseball bit he couldn't.

After the home game that night, it rained, and Oh wasn't prepared. He waited for a cab to go home, and cab after cab drove by him as he got wetter and wetter. It was that kind of night.

When he finally got a cab and got home, he comforted himself with the thought that the game the next day would be rained out and he wouldn't have to play baseball.

When he woke up, it was a sunshiney, glorious day. It was also noon, and he should have been at the ballpart hours ago.

When he got there, he found there was to be no batting practice because the grounds crew was working to make the soggy field playable.

His batting teacher came up to him and said he should wait for the pitches standing on one leg, put his leg down as he swung.

Oh thought about how dumb that would look.

His teacher said, "I order you to do it."

At those words, Oh froze, bowed his head, and when the game started, he did it.
Single, home run, miracle feeling events.

He and his teacher, Hiroshi Arakawa, had gone through a standard breakthrough sequence.

1. Really want to solve the problem

2. Try many solution that don't work.

3. Give up.

4. Find the unexpected solution that works

Oh and Arakawa went through the sequence as a team. Oh gave up. Arakawa thought of the solution. Oh did the solution in a way that worked. In the oft told creative breakthrough story, Oh getting rained on would lead to Oh waking up with the great new idea. What happened was as good as that, with two people, they divided the job up. Oh gave up, Arakawa had the breakthrough solution, Oh did the solution and made it work.

On a one person creativity search, you must yourself hear the odd idea from within and get over how funny it might look on your own. 868 is a lot.

--information and quotations from Chapter Six of "Sadaharu Oh: A Zen Way of Baseball" by Sadaharu Oh and David Falkner.
* To redeem words some, but not to let them know they're redeemed since words too confident get us into trouble beyond words.
* Everything's different than I think--the reasons, the kind of reasons, the amount of motion it takes to move.
* If we could include in our stories the wisdom of dolphins, the flow. . . .They live in air and water. They may not argue about which is best.
* Thank you for so far.
* Insanity is repititious. With sanity, something actually different might happen.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I don't know why, and I don't know why not. I've got to sit still
God has wrought many changes without dynamite because God is willing to take time.
The terms of disagreement are too small. Both sides are leaving out too much to be able to touch reality, the great mediator.
If I carry myself with my shoulders back, my heart and my power center have room to

a) exist


b) work together

If scrunched, my heart tends to whimpler and my power center tends to get cranky.
Welding and sewing.
"Like, if you believe in creationism, you shouldn't be allowed to go to the hospital."

--a man walking down Church Stree
On my way to gossip about football and baseball, I noticed there's a horse running at Golden Gate Fields called Delightful Kiss. I thought of you. "I got a touch right here, and now my heart is clear. . .."
It's hard to remember we're all human when we're acting in such over-simplified ways, each broad, dumb stroke producing, in reaction, another.
First, many people were close together, facing in one direction, listening to someone who couldn't be seen.

Then, it changed quickly, and they were spread out over more space, standing in twos and threes, talking to each other and listening.
God asks too much, then helps.

Friday, September 19, 2008

*It was a bureaucracy--a large, interlocking boat that didn't want to be rocked.

People's lives were at stake.

The way things were being done, the established routine, ensured more deaths.

When the new kid mentioned deadly flaws to his immediate superiors, they explained that because of a history of inter-agency conflict, because of the personalities of those in charge, he should, above all, not rock the boat.

Sometimes he couldn't stand the prospective deaths and found ways to change, not everything, but something.

[continuation intended]

--information from "Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker's War 1941-1945" by Leo Marks
*Life has declivities; sometimes things go down. Build a ladder? Sit and learn? Find a jewel?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Maestro Laura Jackson, assistant conductor of the Atlanta Symphony, was interviewed by Alan Farley on KALW-FM, San Francisco, on September 14, 2008.

Laura Jackson started as a violinist and became a conductor.

She talked about the vulnerability of conducting, of being up there with nothing but a stick and needing to communicate so much.

She talked about a great, scary move in her life was when she decided to leave New England, and all the free-lance work contacts she had in the Boston are, and go to the University of Michigan to its good, hard-to-get-into conducting program.

She talked about learning to love music all over again as a conductor. As a first violinist, she sat in front and played gorgeous melodies. As a conductor, she learned to hear againt, from the bass up, in all details. She learned, for example, that the tipanist can transform and elevate an entire piece.

Farley asked what her favorite part of the repetoire is.

She said she is still learning the repetoire and so doesn't feel she knows enough to have a favorite part.

She likes pairing an old piece and a new piece so that they both sound different, so Beethoven Five, for example, becomes a new piece, too.

She likes working on new pieces when the audiences doesn't have expectations and where she can talk to the composer.

How often she's been working on a passage by, for example, Brahms, and wished she could dig him up and ask him what he was trying for.

With living composer, you can ask them, and she loves it.

--The interview was conducting in connection with her guest conducting the Berkeley Symphony on April 2, 2008, in Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley.
Eschew cleverness.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

* I wonder if Moses got it in one.

God got Moses' attention as he walked around his daily routine by having a bush by the way burn and not be destroyed, just keep on burning. Moses stopped, looked, and God gave him a difficult assignment.

I wonder if that was God's first try and getting his attention, or if he had walked by other unusual nature moments, maybe subtler.

Moses definitely didn't get it in one in accepted the assignment. He gave God four reasons why he shouldn't go back to Egypt, which he had fled, and tell the Pharoah to let a bunch of enslaved people go.

Hot blooded courage and courage when you can think. Moses had fled Egypt because he had killed a supervisor who was beating an Israelite slave. This probably didn't improve things for anybody. The slave's life wasn't better from that day, and in many similar cases his life would be worse for being around for that.

But to go back and solve the big problem, the context of the beating.

Moses kept coming up with reasons why not.

He had a speech impediment. Speaking was easy.

God said, Your brother Aaron will speak for you.

So an accurate movie would have 2 guys facing Pharoah. Instead of one deep voiced guy, two, one not speaking, one speaking, presumably, well, conferences between talks.

Note that God was also telling Moses he could have company when he confronted power.

The two people confronting the pharoah, one the speaker, one the leader, is right there in the text, though it hasn't been presented in a movie.

What some people see as having been in the story once, but largely erased, is a story of not two siblings but three. Some people see that Moses looked like a leader, Aaron talked like a leader, and Miriam, their sister, thought like a leader.

There is little left of Miriam in the Exodus story. There's a story of God giving her leprosy as punishment for something. God also takes away the leprosy after a while. But she isn't presented as a leader, as part of the leadership team and definitely not as the brains of the team.

What if she was part of the leadership team, and the smart part? Then the story was made to give her leprosy to predict show and illustrate where women would mostly be in terms of open leadership for next few thousand years.

How to be the brains. There's definitely more room for some of us to think and lead at the same time. But what would that be like? Many of our example aren't great. Even the relatively good examples of leadership may be far short of what we could achieve if we knew to aim for it.

Is God out there burning but not destrying on this issue? Are we seeing what there is to see? Are we generating excuses?
* I need to think about what I don't even think of thinking about. Friends can help with that, and coincidence.
*Between passive and aggressive there is skillfully working it out.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I don't understand the mysteries and the glories.

Finding something to complain about is easy.
Many miracles are subtle.

They arrive slowly, from underneath, and don't get in fights about the rules.

They do not create an occasion for anyone to say that five years ago or five months ago, if conditions now present had existed, it would have been an extremely pleasant surprise.
Optimistic because sheltered. So arrange for more people to be sheltered? Structure things so optimism is non-dumb for more people.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

* Joshua Slocum was writing about how his family was long into sailing and building ships.

"My father was the sort of man, who, if wrecked on a desolate island, would find his way home, if had a jack-knife and could find a tree."

That's in Slocum's book "Sailing Alone Around the World."

By sailing alone around the world he was handling a transition well.

He had started working in sailing when sailing was the only way to move cargo and people across the water. He had continued to sail when he could say that his ship was faster than any steamer.

Now he was in the time whwere
* Plant people and people who sail have a basic contentment about them, under whatever is going on in their human existence. They are at home in a planet basic, the blue or the green.
*A person who casts out demons may be a person who is too interested in demons.
*If you copy the behavior of idiots, it is difficult for the fact that you are a genius to shine through.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

*At the plaza of the 24th Street BART station, there is an installation about the power of tree roots. Not intentional.

Plant a tree. Leave around it dirt for an area on each side of the truck about as long as an arm from elbow to fingertip. Beyond that, create a slab of concrete about three finger-widths deep and having, for decorative purposes, embedded rounded rocks.


The tree will grow above and below the ground. The roots will lift the slab, slowly. The slab will start to crack, slowly.

A good book called "The Urban Garden" talks about the wise ways to plant plants, including trees, amidst the concrete. It forsees things like that and says how one might avoid them. It is very down on planting trees singly--if you're going to plant six trees in an area, plant them together. They get more dirt to work with, feel better.

The tough thing about reading "The Urban Garden" is that it was written in a white-hot rage. It is difficult when exposed to an idea for the first time to have the person telling you be very, very angry that you don't already know it. But that happens, and often the ideas so delivered are indeed obvious and rarely done so you can see why the person is mad.

"Streets are for people" is another book like that, obvious great ideas delivered in anger. What's excellent is that those ideas happen more now in the United States than they did when the book was written.

Good to have it be easy and interesting to hang out in public with other people. Watching concrete crack in a predictable way is probably not an ideal activity.
*Basil Bunting wrote Ode 33 to Anne De Silva. It's a love poem, but he has a hard time saying much directly.

He says, more or less, that the dog wood blossoms are looking wonderful, but that's not because of the dog wood blossoms themselves.

Toward the end of the short poem,he spits it out, "Days less bitter. . ." and that's why the flowers look good and implied but not said the person who the poem is dedicated to is a big cause.

I don't think my days were ever bitter enough to earn saying "days less bitter. . . ." But a generalized improvement in the tone of being alive is a fine thing.

Flowers look good. They always did, and now I can get there to be with them more often.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The brightly painted TV that someone has left near the corner trash can shows that a turned off RV is a turned off TV and not an attractive thing to look at.
The "on" is small in the NO on H sign so it looks a bit like a poster for Noh theatre.
Rhythm and melody. Hit it and twirl.
Music is a prayer that sometimes makes itself come true just by being
One thing I like about novels is time travel. In "The Sun Also Rises" by Ernest Hemingway, about Americans in Europe in the twenties and written at the time, a character arrive in Paris from New York and tells people, "There had been a grand theatrical season and a whole crop of great young light heavyweights. Any one of them was a good prospect to grow up, put on weight and trim Dempsey."

Same person raving to his avant garde arty friends about the theatre and boxing--not anymore.

In Jane Austen, when some people want to get a message to someone in London, they ask a friend who is riding there on a horse to take it.

In "The Maltese Falcon" by Dashiel Hammet when the detective wants to figure out when the bad guys arrived, he looks at the long list of daily arrival of passenger ships in San Francisc. I read that and knew in a way I hadn't really felt before that all those piers that people keep brainstorming about how to use along the Embarcadero were hopping like an airport once.
* [added author's name to last sentence.] A book called "The Healing Power of Olive Oil" by Cal Orey suggests truly many uses for olive oil.

A lot of them seem like they couldn't hurt, and why not try? Sometimes the suggested solution is cheaper than the standard non-olive oil solution and far less likely to have side effects, so why not give it a go?

Like dealing with kid's head lice by shampooing their hair in olive oil and leaving it on for half an hour. Even Orey, the olive oil enthusiast, says it might work, and it might not, but since the standard treatment putting pesticide on your child's head, give olive oil a chance.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

*The end of the world is near. Yes, no, maybe.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

That isn't what God thinks it's about, and God's opinion counts.
The idea is to remind you of parts of your smarts you may not have been noticing.
Good weird music is what I need.
It is not a good thing to put people in a position where there is nothing they can do.

Usually there is something they can do, and it's a really bad thing for one and all. The situation previously not violent the cornered ones make violent. In the already violent situation, they create violence that is a breakthrough in its awfulness.

Sometimes the people who put other people in a position where there is "nothing they can do" are using their cleverness to do that.

When the cornered people explode, the clever people think it shows the essential badness and dumbness of the cornered people and nothing about them

Going "nyah, nyah, nyah" is never good, and if done in intense situations, it isn't safe. We live one life. We live inside each other's moods.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

*Getting drawn into a bogus story when there is a real story to live.
* As education becomes more widespread, some intellectuals try to make themselves seem better than other human beings by being difficult to understand.
*The hummingbirds are flying fast. The Earth is moving faster than the hummingbirds are flying. I'm sitting still, but I'm not.
* The more we connect the more clearly I can think. Support, knowledgable support, and a lot that I do not understand makes that happen.
* Butterflies flying pollen around help keep life going. Butterflies flying beauty around help keep hope going.
* The man using the public access computer at the library that I'm waiting for isn't really using it. I've never seen that before in hundreds of waits for the computer.

He's faking using it, and he doesn't know how.

Why? Why does he want to sit in front of a computer when there are all these other seats and why does he not know enough about using it to acutally use it?

My guess is that maybe

1. He doesn't know how to read very well so using it isn't really possible.

2. He's crazy in a way that he can't focus on a task like that and in a way where he feels better if he's in front of a computer.

3. Probably both.

Cities offer many chances to witness things that are both annoyances and societal failures.

He leaves the computer when his time is up, so the annoyance is over. The societal failure marches on.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

I find adding numbers in my head and multiplying to be rather comforting.
Mystery. Power. You.

The angel rides in on the unicorn to tell you its your job to make something impossible possible.

Intention plus lots of work plus possibly mythical beings want it to happen means you have a chance.
Another name for a book about fighter pilots could be "Dangerous Liaisons."
How can we love us? Who is the us we love--people who share a country, a religion, a hobby, a planet?
Turn it sideways, and it is symmetrical in a different way.
Softer inside because I know her, more things can grow there.
Find out what the day is as it happens.

Let the day explain itself in its own terms.
They are fascinated with pregnancy because they themsevles never grew up.

Begin, begin, begin, begin, begin. . .
A book about India's growing economy has, on the page where a dedication would be in many books, a photo of a little kid looking in through a car window and the words "India is arriving. Make sure to take me along."

--The book is "India Arriving: How this economic powerhouse is redefining global business" by Rafiq Dossani
Close harmony is encouraging, to sing and to hear. There are different ways to make it, such as doo-wop, barbershop quartets, and the work you're doing now.
Local adventures like letting your secondary hand do many things it rarely does.
He was named after an angel. By making beauty, he came closer to living up to his name than most of us can.

It is easier to talk about Michelangelo than to be Michelangelo.

If my faith were true, how would that look expressed in beauty? Michelangelo answered with the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

It is impossible to be Michelangelo, but you can be in the same general game as Michelangelo, willing to work with the talent you have, to work awkwardly at something odd and scrunched up like painting a ceiling and getting paint and plaster on your face if that's what it takes to make your best attempt at letting the world have the beauty you know.

Would I get my face wet for beauty? "Do I dare to eat a peach?"

The peach question is asked in "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," which is largely about being bored in an office job. About being respectable and feeling trapped in respectability. "I have measure by life with coffee spoons."

The days arrive and leave.The process doesn't feel good. "When the evening is spread across the sky like a patient etherized upon a table."

With every day that is lived by rote, a different person he could have been dies a little more, numbness becomes a death of possibility.

After sunset, he might go to a party intellectual but not alive feeling. "In the rooms the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo."

But maybe he could connect with one of the women and eat a peach or something like that in a way makes beauty for them both.

Seven lines after the peach question, things get even wetter.

"We have lingered in the chambres of the sea
By sea girls wreathed with sea weed, red and brown
Til human voices wake us and we drown."

Lost in pleasure, lost in beauty, lost in creativity, making a world more alive than the one measure with coffee spoons--and interupted by other humans not in a transforming mood.

". . .human voices wake us and we drown."

Clunk, awakened, we fall back into long, dull days and poisoned sunsets, other possibilies drowned.

Or, lost in an aliveness unusual in our lives, we are startled by the voices of people who are being as rote as we usually are.

We decide to immerse ourselves in that other way of living we've been visiting, "and we drown."

Or we become mermaids, learn to become mermaids, awkwardly, then gracefully.

"Do I dare disturb the universe?" Do I dare disturb my universe?

--All quotes by T. S. Eliot't "the love song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

* Who the style of language includes and excludes has a lot to do with how power is passed around, or not passed around.
* My walking has been in the area between the North Pole and the South Pole.
*Last day of the month, a Sunday. Moving day in a city of renters.

Sometimes people moving leave the last bits of what they don't want to take with them strew on the sidewalk, as gifts to the neighbors, if neighbors want any of it, or as trash.

Walking along, I don't want the kitchenware, and I don't want the empty colored pencil box, but I notice an artwork that I don't exactly like, but I think it's good.

Now it's mine, or in my possesion. It's unsigned.

It's a watercolor collage combination.

I often don't like collages to look at because they try to do too much. (Collages are fun to make, regardless of outcome, which probably helps them be too busy.)

Watercolors can be uninteresting by doing too little.

This water color with some cut-outs from magazines pasted on it causes me to know something new.

My mild discomfort with the knowing it brings might mean that this knowing is just what I need.

Monday, September 01, 2008

During the day, leaves of plants take light from outside themselves and make it be energy for them to use.

At dusk, it goes briefly and weakly, the other way. Plants use stored energy to emit quiet light at dusk.

So we could reverse the usual every day, briefly and mysteriously and subtly

--information from "Plant and Planet" by Anthony Huxley in the chapter on chlorophyll called "The Great Invention"
Smart. Good heart. Start.
Thomas Paine published "Common Sense" one year and two months after he arrived in America.

George Washington said "Common Sense" "worked a powerful change in the minds of many men."

Thomas Paine was the immigrant who walked in and said, "You guys mean this, right?"

"Common Sense" made people who hadn't thought of it before think about breaking with Great Britain. And it made the reasons to do that big, having to do with the intrinsic worth and quality of each and every person who read "Common Sense."

The run-up to the American Revolution was filled with money squabbles. The intellectual world was filled with ideas of the rights of men, which didn't even mean all males, but meant lots more people having political power than had had it before.

Paine wrote short tracts that were read by thousands about how everyone should have a say in how they were governed and taxed. He wrote well, short, excitingly. And so many people read his tracts that they were easy to strike up a conversation about. They became part of what the people of that time and place, as a group, knew.

By his writing, Paine helped make what the American Revoltuion was about bigger.

By helping make what the American Revolution was about be bigger, he helped make we, the people of the United States of America be an inspiration to the world and a bunch of blaring hypocrites.

Shortening the distance between USA, the place where freedom becomes real, and USA, self-serving and money-centric, is work always available to anyone happy or unhappy here.

We mean this, right?