Boldog új évet!

And My Computer Is Now Working!

I will start 2019 with my old office computer, which has been newly updated with additional memory and a new graphics card. Apparently, the computer freezes I described were mostly the fault of the graphics card, which was installed late in 2015.

As long as the Trumposaurus is occupying the White House—or, even, earth, above ground, that is—2019 can’t really be a great year. But we can make the best of things. It’s how we tackle adversity that really counts. We cannot expect to live a live that is devoid of adversity. Real happiness is not the result of living in lucky times: It’s creating our own luck in dicey times.

So, to all my readers, I wish you all the best.

By the way, the title of my post is Happy New Year in Hungarian. All of you, be boldog.

 

Fighting Off an Invasion

Cimex lectularius and Progeny

At the same time that I was facing seemingly insurmountable computer problems, Martine and I were fighting off a bed bug (Cimex lectularius) infestation. I am writing about it only now because I wanted to stay mum on the subject until I felt we had licked the problem. It has now been a week since neither of us have received any new bites; so, I feel comfortable talking about it now.

If you follow my posts, you may remember that Martine last left me early in October, returning a few days later because she was unable to get a good night’s sleep. During her last getaway, Martine stayed at a shelter in South Central Los Angeles which housed hundreds of women, where I suspect she picked up a few “hitchhikers” of both insect genders. At first, we were bit a couple of times, which enabled the “pioneer” invaders to mate and lay eggs in our living room couch. From there, they migrated to the bedroom and took up residence in our box spring and the bed frame.

We counterattacked on several fronts:

  1. We encased both the mattress and the box spring in a zipped fabric that trapped bed bugs within and prevented further incursions.
  2. We threw out some old wood we had been using between the bed frame and the box spring.
  3. Where the wheels of the bed frame met the bedroom carpet, we used a double-bowl that contained diatomaceous earth (poisonous to bed bugs) in the inner bowl and soapy water (also poisonous to the critters) in the outer bowl. Note that bed bugs can neither fly nor jump, so the traps present an insurmountable barrier to them.
  4. Martine used a canister vacuum with a bladelike accessory for sucking up a large cache of bed bug eggs she found in the crook of the right arm of the couch.
  5. In addition to aggressive vacuuming, we washed and dried our clothes and sheets at the hot temperature setting.
  6. In case we find any more egg caches, we got some bed bug poisons from BedBugStore.Com.

I was the first victim of the little beasts’ attacks. I usually sit on the right hand side of our coach, and I picked up a pattern of bites on my right arm and the right side of my back.

During this time, Martine and I have noted the large number of mattresses and couches that are being thrown out from nearby apartments. I suspect that most of them are related to bed bug infestations. Our couch and mattress were both expensive and worth saving, as we both prefer extra firm and don’t want to pay out a small fortune.

 

 

Making Slow Progress

A Slow Return to Normal? (I Hope!)

While my computer consultant was out of town during the Christmas holiday, I have made several attempts on my own to understand why my computer would hard-freeze at irregular intervals. During the Christmas holiday, I would start each session with a scan, based on the suspicion that the problem could be the result of a virus or other malware. Whenever I selected the Full Scan option of the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool (MRT), the system would scan all umpteen million files on my computer in a little more than an hour. After that, the computer would not freeze for the remainder of the session.

Today, my computer has been up for approximately ten hours—a record!

In any case, I will not rely on this little trick, which may in fact be a fluke. I have two computers, both over five years old. My consultant will copy the hard drive on my existing computer, take the other computer to his lab, and install Windows 10. (I have been running Windows 7.) My alternate computer will have all my files (except for changes made in the next few days), and a new operating system. When he returns it, it will become my main computer, which will be fine with me as it has more storage and memory.

With luck, I will be able to resume my blog postings using my MRT trick as described above.

 

I Go To See the Dalai Lama

The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso

In April 1991, I drove up to Santa Maria to rendezvous with my friend and business associate George Hoole. The next day we were going to go to the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) to see the 14th Dalai Lama give a talk. My attendance at this talk cost me a great deal: Driving up the San Marcos Pass on State Route 154 in second gear, I burned out the engine of my 1985 Mitsubishi Montero. That was just the beginning of my problems with the Mitsubishi, which lasted another four years before being T-boned by an elderly woman who was afraid of being late to a doctor appointment.

Although I knew my visit was going to cost me dearly, I remembered the Dalai Lama’s talk with great fondness. It is the only time I ever saw one of the world’s great religious leaders in person. I have read several of his books since then and realize that he is a living treasure. When he passes on, which can be any time now, the world will be without a man of his spiritual stature. Of course, the Chinese will be delighted: They will simply choose their own Dalai Lama. Will the exiled Tibetans in Dharamshala, India choose their own candidate? Who knows?

Present at UCSB when George Hoole and I were there was the late Spalding Gray, author of Swimming to Cambodia, who did an interview with the Dalai Lama which was published by Tricycle. In that interview, the following appeared:

Do you ever entertain the distractions, invite them into your meditation and let all of these women in bikini bathing suits that you must see here out by the pool come into your meditation? As a monk, I have to avoid that experience, even in my dreams, due to daily practice. Sometimes in my dreams there are women. And in some cases fighting or quarreling with someone. When such dreams happen, immediately I remember, “I am monk.” So that is one reason I usually call myself a simple Buddhist monk. That’s why I never feel “I am the Dalai Lama.” I only feel “I am a monk.” I should not indulge, even in dreams, in women with a seductive appearance. Immediately I realize I’m a monk. Then sometimes in my dreams I see fighting with a gun or a knife, and again I immediately realize “I am a monk, I should not do this.” This kind of mindfulness is one of the important practices that I do the whole day long. Then your particular point, about beautiful things or men, women, things that attract: the analytical meditation counters that attachment.

For example, the sexual desire. It is very important to analyze, “what is the real benefit?” The appearance of a beautiful face or a beautiful body—as many scriptures describe—no matter how beautiful, they essentially decompose into a skeleton. When we penetrate to its human flesh and bones, there is no beauty, is there? A couple in a sexual experience is happy for that moment. Then very soon trouble begins.

I can see that if I ever wanted to achieve enlightenment, I have a long way to go.

 

“The Dread Xmas”

Some Things About Xmas Drive Me Up the Wall

And I use the word Xmas advisedly. I like many of the traditions associated with the Christmas holiday, mostly because of happy memories from my own childhood. What to me as a young boy was radiant and hopeful, however, has become for the adult me just another hurdle. For decades now, I have referred to the holiday as “The Dread Xmas”—and I make a point of pronouncing it as Ekksmas. Here is a partial list of my beefs about this time of year:

The Little Drummer Boy

There was no little drummer boy in the manger. The shepherds around Bethlehem would not have countenanced using a sheepskin to beat upon with a pair of sticks. And the song itself is sappy, sirupy, and soggily sentimental. Let us just leave this one out henceforth. To me, it is far worse than the “Baby It’s Cold Outside” song that is so lately controversial.

The Holiday “Spirit”

Let’s face it: This is a time of year when people are driven to perform endless errands—and in the worst possible spirit. In so doing, they clog the highways and especially the shopping center parking lots. Even with Amazon.Com and other Internet alternatives, you are likely to have some sour feelings about the holiday if you venture out of doors and onto the highway.

Charity Is Not Just for the Holidays

And yet, there is a positive onslaught of charitable requests from November until the end of the year. Giving some poor person a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner is a nice idea, but people are hungry and needy all year round. Every year at this time, I get at least a hundred requests this time of year. I suppose the timing has more to do with people trying to up their tax exemptions before the New Years, but it does get a bit old.

Holiday Guilt

As a newly retired person, I am now on a fixed income and frequently making raids on my IRA savings. There is no way that I can give Christmas gifts the way I used to, and I feel terrible about it. I have to make a special effort to tell my friends that I can’t be quite so generous as previously.

On the Other Hand

There are also some things about Christmas that I love: The old traditional songs, the classic movies such as the Alastair Sim version of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, getting together with friends, and trying to make small things into mini-celebrations. At its best, Christmas is about love; at its worst, about mere driven spiritless compulsion.

 

 

Contretemps

Aaaauuugh! I Lost My Passport!

As my Guatemala vacation approaches, I find that I have misplaced my passport. I applied for a new one to be rushed to me, but now it appears that our Ogre President is considering shutting down the government because no one likes him or his moronic policies. At this point, I am not sure that the U.S. State Department is scheduled to close its doors; and there is a chance that I will get my replacement passport before the Friday witching hour of midnight.

If that Marmalade-Headed Horror screws up my vacation, I will do my best to wreak revenge on everything he holds dear, like selling Ivanka to a notorious white-slaver or feeding Don Jr to one of his African hunting trophies.

I will attempt to be patient while visions of revenge rule my thoughts.