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Future shock

I make a lot of purchases from Amazon and I rent a lot of cars from Hertz. I pay for both with an American Express card. The card was due to expire in about three years. In today's mail I received a replacement with an embedded microchip and an expiration date further into the future. I activated the new card, cut the old one into little pieces with a dull saw, and watched the video on the American Express Web site that explains the new technology, including the protocol for inserting the card into a chip reader and using a stylus to sign the touchscreen. Then I logged in to my Amazon account and updated the expiration date associated with the card, so future charges wouldn't be declined. And after that I logged in to my Hertz account and found that the change had already been made.
It's been a long time since I wrote anything about spiritual work, except insofar as it's all spiritual work. I've quit encouraging people because I've discovered that if you pursue the path of knowledge, impeccably and with perfect diligence, regardless of where it leads, sooner or later you're going to get the horrors. You'd be better off on a motorcycle. And indeed I met one man who made just that choice. I wondered why, at the time.

But people continue to do spiritual work anyway. Some of them, even while riding motorcycles. I do it myself: I don't know how to stop. They call me Crash.

Today I wrote a comment on a post in a journal of religious exploration. The substance of the post is that deservedness is a toxic concept — an assertion with which I wholeheartedly agree. Looking over my comment, I think a part of it deserves repetition here. (Blekh! You're poisoned!) How do I reconcile that with my general reluctance to write about spiritual work? I don't: I go with what feels right, so here it is:

You got me thinking about karma, and the way the word is used. As a consequence of contemplating what you wrote here, I've come to recognize that the most common understanding of karma involves a sense of deserving. I use the word to refer to a set of natural laws that's a superset of the laws of physics. (The laws of karma that are not also laws of physics differ from the laws of physics only in that we can't easily and precisely measure their operation.) It makes no more sense to me to pull the concept of deservedness out of a description of the operation of a karmic engine (as a magician might pull a rabbit out of a hat) than it does to pull the same concept out of a description of a steam engine. There are many other (philosophers? degenerates?) who think of karma as I do, but I now understand that there's a lot of folks who are committed to the other view, or who have only a passing familiarity with the concept, who can't even imagine where we're coming from.

Making sure that everything is working

We hiked the Upper Bristlecone Trail today, and followed the Bonanza Trail up to the top of the ridge that delimits the Pahrump Valley. It was easier than it's been. I suppose we're ready for our midsummer expedition. We'll do that in a couple of weeks, God willing.

Musing on my theology

Early on, God created the niche and the migration path.

I suppose that would make me an atheist in the eyes of the creationists and a creationist in the eyes of the atheists.

As expected…

I'm posting this from the municipal bus enroute from my apartment to the Strip. It's been a week of trips upon trips, following so fast that the variation among them has to serve in place of sleep. Which it does passably well, for a while. This pace will continue until Sunday night, when we begin our sabbath. Allah be praised for the sabbath!


I finally plugged in our new desktop computer for the first time, seventy-one days after it arrived. It'll be days and days longer before I try to do anything useful with it. Amazing how an old man like me manages to keep so insanely busy!

To contemplate and giggle over

I'm amazed that some folks actually see me as a conventional religionist. Nothing for it, at my age. People used to see me as a street hoodlum. I overcame that, but it took a long time. And the cops still see me as a street hoodlum, though only at night. I don't think I'll live long enough to overcome the perception that I'm a conventional religionist — certainly not while maintaining such an open and notorious relationship with God. (Maybe if I were to become a street hoodlum? Nah — too old for that too. Should have exploited the momentum I had in my teens.) Ah well... so it goes.
This morning outside my local supermarket there were a couple of guys collecting signatures on a petition. I walked past one of them twice; the other, once. The one I passed twice ignored me both times even though he was otherwise unoccupied. I said, "Howdy!" to the other one, and nodded, and he still ignored me. I'm getting real good at this!

I find on Facebook that my daughter-in-law posted a link to an atrocity story about lynchings of young Arabs by groups of young Israelis aiming to protect the purity of their women. Yeah, I can believe it! Israeli tourists used to protect the purity of their women at Plato's Retreat! The news about the lynchings reaches me the day after I started reading Portnoy's Complaint. Allah be praised! I'm slogging through the muck! What God wants, God gets! At least I'm invisible.

Farewell for now!

Once again (like the song says), we leave for Berkeley at dawn — this time in a 2012 Chevrolet Suburban. Weird! I should be back at my computer in about a week.


Yesterday _wind_spirit_ and I hiked Pine Creek Canyon. We were on the trail for eight hours, and went further up the canyon than we had in years. At one point on the descent, the way ahead seemed worthy of a photograph.

Today was our sabbath. Pillow talk:

old_cutter_john:   "I love you."
_wind_spirit_:       "My fun playmate!"
old_cutter_john:   "It's good to have got that figured out."
_wind_spirit_:       "That we love each other?"
old_cutter_john:   "'My fun playmate.'"
_wind_spirit_:       "Definitely!"