Thursday, August 28, 2008


In Japan "oyaji" jokes are simple lame jokes made by old men. I'd like to find a book about them since I am so good at making them- my cleverest jokes are always unintentional.

I saw a video of Thich Nhat Hanh doing walking meditation with over a thousand people on the UCLA campus. Walking meditation, what a pompous sounding label, it's really just slow walking, like you were looking for a lost earing. But that's part of the whole idea- paying close attention not only to the environment around you but also the simple action of walking. You know walking is not only a great way to measure a distance (you've heard of pacing off a distance, right?) but it is also a great way to measure time.

Let me backtrack a little... A few years ago I tried sitting meditation for about a month then wrote it off as a waste of my time. For anyone who seriously tries to meditate, meditate alone that is, one of the challenges is to know when to stop meditating. You lose all sense of the passage of time during sitting meditation. So, I bought a vibrating alarm clock to, as unobtrusively as possible, let me know when I have finished meditating for the time I set aside to do it. This is why walking meditation is so much better- if you know your speed and distance, then you know how long you've been meditating, no clocks needed. So if you see me walking like a zombie or as if I had dropped my car keys somewhere, you'll know what I'm doing.

In humor research circles, it has been proposed that laughter is our response to the moment we understand an incongruity between a concept and the actual situation it relates to. (It's a good thing I don't have to explain this every time I try to make a joke.) In my job, I need to develop a rapport with my clients, and being funny is the method that works best with the majority of them. Some people really enjoy the attention that being funny gets them. Let me rephrase that, there are times when we all want attention, even if they are only few and far between. At my work, getting attention is the only way to coordinate a large group of people. Get ready to laugh, or groan, or a little of both.

I hate information. I eschew all forms of news. But no matter how I try it always breaches my defenses and I learn about the outside world. What's going on? I could care less. But when I am driving home after work for half an hour I need something to keep me awake. So I turn on the radio. Thank God for Clear Channel radio stations! Their mindlessly repetitive popular songs with no sense or actual resemblance to anything like music are completely devoid of intelligence. All I need to do is turn the volume up so loud that the speakers rattle and I am doze free the whole ride home.

I love my kids. They are wonderful. My daughter is so cute, she has no limits to her creativity. The other day we were listening to Afro-Pop on NPR and dancing in the living room. She picks up a plastic brontosaurus toy and moves it rhythmically to the music, then says through her pacifier "dinosaur dance!" Wow. I love the way those two everyday words sound together, she really brings them to life.

I don't like jokes. They are cheap, and like belly buttons, everyone's got one. But, and this is a big but, they are a better social lubricant than alcohol.

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