Posts tagged ‘Offline’

2014/09/21

A thing I did!

So I have been offline since last Thursday sometime (I know, unthinkable, right?) and didn’t know whether Scotland was independent or the Stock Market had crashed or zombies taken over New York City or anything until I walked in the door coming back home not too long ago and M told me (well, she didn’t mention the zombie thing, but I assume she would have, right?).

Mt. Tremper that way

The reason that I was offline is that I was up in the wilds of North-of-Here New York State, at Zen Mountain Monastery in Mt. Tremper, where a mere eight years ago I did their Introduction to Zen Training Weekend (not the particular one linked to there).

I’ve been sort of vaguely considering doing a weekend-of-sesshin up there ever since, but never quite dared (sesshin sounds scary!). Then this year I noticed this new Basic Space Meditation Intensive, which is a sort of natural variation on sesshin weekend, and is new, so everyone would be doing it for the first time, and it has a nice name (“Basic Space”, although I keep writing “Open Sky” instead; same thing really), and it’s right before my birthday so obviously I signed up.

Zen Mountain Monastery, meditation hall

There is the Meditation Hall, behind some trees, taken actually from the parking lot as I was on the way out (the cellphone had to stay in the car the entire time of the retreat, natch). That is where I spent most of the time, up in the dorm room (the same one as eight years ago, in fact, and in basically the same part of the room, although they’ve rearranged the beds), and down in the zendo and the lounge and the dining hall and kitchen, and also in the nice circular-stairs area where you can see some people sitting on the right side of the picture under the trees.

I ate most of my meals out there on the circular stairs, because the weather was delicious the entire time, and it was good to be outside.

Not including, of course, the meals eaten in the zendo: that’s right, I have now done oroyoki: the famous formal Zen meal with the little bowls and the special knots in the cloth and the chanting and the putting of the spoon in the right place at the right time and the bowing to servers and all!

It was great. :) Everything was great, actually, including my early-on “dark night of the soul” moment when I was tense and miserable and my legs were in terrible pain and I was sweating and sure I was going to fail utterly.

I want to write about it all before it all escapes me, but I’m also (despite a couple-hour nap after getting home) really really sleepy, so I think I will just do this one overview post with the pictures in it, and maybe leave myself an unordered list of other things I might want to write about later in more detail, like say:

  • oroyoki,
  • Silly things I thought of,
  • Ceremonies and chants and stuff,
  • How I always end up washing bathrooms,
  • Also weeding,
  • Dokusan with Ryushin Sensei,
  • Footprints of the Ox,
  • Walking very slowly for an hour,
  • How marvelous everyone was,
  • Falling thump on one’s bottom in the zendo,
  • Buddhism and the Map and the Territory,
  • Moss the Cat

So I might include some of those in some more other postings later.

Meanwhile, here is the sign leaving, for the drive back!

Exit

(Not the best-quality picture ever, I fear; try to ignore the weird fingers lower right. The big sign says “Zen Mountain Monastery / Doshinji”; I keep meaning to look up that Doshinji, maybe I will do that…)

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2012/11/05

Trapped in the Real

So the power went out, quite suddenly, whenever that was. Tuesday, last Tuesday, the 29th, maybe? That was sometime after, I think it was after, the big tree limb fell on M’s car and, as it turned out, totaled it, for the Insurance company’s notion of “totaled”, which is a pretty low bar for a 1999 model (we’re going to talk to them Monday about “retaining the salvage” and getting it fixed ourselves, rather than ouch buying an entire replacement car) .

And it was sometime before the sustained whooshing noise that came later on, a bit scary in the dark, which later turned out to be three or four or five tall trees all knocking each other over into and across the old tennis court area (good thing we never replaced the above ground pool when the last two trees fell across it).

So: no lights, no power, no heat, no landline ’cause we get that from the Cable company or something now, and it needs external power. Even virtually no cellphone connectivity; the signal strength has been bad and sporadic, so probably our nearest tower is also without power.

We’ve been running the wood stove at night and when we’re home on weekends. It’s a little Vermont Castings “Intrepid” I think it is, and wants short little sixteen-inch logs, but we have a face cord of those from last season and just ordered more (by cell from the parking lot of The Mall, where the signal was decent.)

It’s been interesting, these long disconnected evenings and weekend days (weekday days are normal, as work has power, and even had free lunch one day last week to thank everyone for having navigated the mazes of tree-blocked streets to come in). I’ve been doing lots more zazen than usual, which feels good, and more reading of the same thing for more than three minutes at a time, and probably more sustained thinking.

On the other hand I really miss, perhaps more than I would have predicted I would miss, the Temple of Seven Stars (is that what it’s called?), the Dread Wastes, and the hustle and bustle of the Stormwind Auction House, flying about on dragonback, teleporting here and there to shop for fancy clothes that I can easily afford, or to go listen to music with friends, the sixty-thousand things in my inventory, the ability to create a dirigible with my mind, to fly and script and create and play with the underpinnings of the world. Not to mention the more mundane pleasures of seeing what the usual people, and their usual people, are saying about politics and religion and weather and so on, and put in my two cents, or even a quarter, in one of a few different personae, depending.

Someone tweeted (and I can’t find or point to it now ’cause I’m back home tending the fire in the stove and the pad’s battery is down to 24% and it would be tedious to find it on the phone even if the signal happened to be strong enough) that they were expecting soon to see a horde of blog (“blog”) postings from New Yorkers about what they learned about their souls from a week of being disconnected. This is probably not going to be one of those unless I learn something about my soul between now and when I post this. :) But still it’s been interesting.

(And it may continue to be interesting for awhile yet, as Con Ed’s outage site, when it is working, gives a date of November 9th for most of the outages in this area; I’m hoping that’s a very conservative estimate to keep from looking bad by missing it and it’ll actually be much earlier, but One Never Knows…)

I started and finished two Ian M. Banks Culture novels that I was delighted to find on the pad here: Surface Detail and The Hydrogen Sonata. Both very good, very idea-packed, very Cultury. I enjoyed finding out about two or three more branches of Contact, and the Culture in general continues to be appealing, if in a slightly Mary Sue sort of way (if that concept can apply to an entire galactic civilization, as I think it can). Which is to say, they are The Good Guys, even to the extent of thinking carefully about what that means, and they are powerful and rational and sort of always mostly win.

(The revelations about the details of Subliming in The Hydrogen Sonata surprised, and at first disappointed, me. I’d always thought it was more like “once a civilization starts to develop technologies like X, Y, and Z, and then decides to continue to Q, it’s then not long before they vanish from the universe to, presumably, somewhere more interesting or something, usually in ways A or B or C”, rather than “if a civilization holds a vote and decides to Sublime, then the big black globes from the Other Place come and take them away”. But hey, it’s Banks’s world. :) So I’ll just have to do it my way when I write my own galactic future history…)

Battery down to 21%, fire doing nicely, temperature over by the thermostat up to 58F from 56F, which isn’t bad. Hope to get over 60 before bed.

I’ve been learning about generators, too. We are vaguely considering getting one, but still only vaguely. You can get a little four-cycle gasoline generator that puts out up to 2000W or so for under USD1000, and that’s probably enough to run the furnace (oil heat, so mostly the blower) and a few lights and device chargers. Gasoline is something like 36 kilowatt-hours per gallon, which seems to mean a few days of running a 2000W generator on not too much gas, unless there’s like a 10% efficiency factor in there that I’ve missed or something. (Hm, have to look up the power draw of a refrigerator.) Larger generators can be had for more money, and eventually need like certified electricians to install and all.

Radio Shack has these little dinguses (dingoi?) that plug into a car “cigarette lighter” and provide power out a USB socket which seem like a fair way to charge devices via gasoline. We have two of them now, but haven’t actually tried either. (And my cellphone doesn’t have a USB charging cable I don’t think, silly thing.)

It would be fun to run a zendo. What would be a good name? One could like rent a little room in some local community center (or use one’s living room, especially if there is lots of parking space in one’s driveway), and put out a little classified ad. “Wednesday Zazen in Name of Town, 8-9pm, Address Goes Here.” And all you’d have to do is put out some chairs and zafus and zabutons (the expensive part!), and maybe a little stack of Welcome papers, and at 8 you’d sit down, and at 8:05 you’d ring a chime for sitting, and at 8:30 ring one for kinhin say, and at 8:35 one for sitting again, and at 9 one for being all done and then maybe have cider and donuts until 9:30, and go home. Sounds like a blast. :)

19%. Maybe I will stop writing now and read something, or just sit. It’s about 7:30, still 58F in here, a bit above 40 outside. We have our candles and flashlights and book lights and fire and cat. And lots and lots of covers. :) Will post this from work tomorrow most likely.

Keep warm!

2011/08/31

Offlining

It’s odd being offline. Not that I’m entirely, or even primarily, offline. But I am significantly offline, and that’s significant.

(Hm, I don’t know how to control emphasis in this WordPress iPad app; pretend “significantly” is in italics, or HTML emphasis tags, in that previous paragraph, ‘kay?)

Sometime on ummm Sunday? Yeah, M confirms that it was Sunday, at about fourish PM, just when we were getting smug about the Enormous Hurricane having passed us with minimal damage to anything but a few hundred leaves forcibly removed from trees, the power suddenly went out.

And it’s still out! Many minutes, even days, later! And so is the Internet connection!

Meanwhile, in the basement, the half-inch of water that I figured would be our tenuous bond with people who had actual problems from the storm, got a bit over five inches deep before it started down again, and there’s still a good three inches down there. Which means, among other things, no hot water. And lots of very wet basement-stuffs.

And we still don’t have actual problems. :)

I mean, no trees fell on the house or cars, no one was injured in any way, no one is sick, and Panera has power and Internet, and work has power and Internet, and for that matter our cellphones have power (as long as they get to work or Panera now and then) and Internet (annoying and probably sneakily expensive and tiny-screened as they are, being nice primitive low-function cellphones), and there’s no water in the house anywhere but the basement, and so on and so on.

The iPad has a nice long battery life. (Especially given Panera, work, etc.)

And I’m getting pretty good at Sudoku.

I’m also reading some old-fashioned paper books, by flashlight and atmospheric candle-light, as well as some of the books cached on the device here, by the intrinsic glow of the screen. And getting to sleep (much) earlier.

But I do miss Second Life, and WoW, and all of that there virtual online stuff. (I did sneak into SL for a couple of minutes on my work laptop, during a boring conference call, to check on my virtual plants; the virtual sprinkler has been working fine and they are virtually healthy, and producing little virtual cuttings for virtual hybridization, although I could swear that I ought to have had another second-virtual-generation virtual hybrid by now and I didn’t notice one, grumble grumble.)

I’ve keeping up with virtual events to an extent by reading Dale’s Twitter feed; but it’s not really about the events. It’s more about putting one’s feet up at the end of a tiring day, and falling through the screen into a place where there is no PowerPoint, and no office politics, and you can fly, and fight the bad guys (ha, I can’t even remember that big Bad Guy group’s name; the Cult of Something, I think), and create a zeppelin with your mind and all.

And in the case of Second Life getting to talk to all those fascinating friends and not-yet-friends, and in the case of WoW getting to be pretty much completely antisocial, except for groups of random strangers and now and then a group of vaguely-known guildies to gang up on the unsuspecting and infinitely reborn evil monsters. (Some people get very social on WoW (see for instance the very funny and memorable “The Guild” web video series that I would link to if I weren’t offline), but I’m not one of them; SL is my virtual social, and Zeppelin-creating, place. WoW is for introversion!)

And (what’s with all of these “and”s?) I can’t do any of that stuff right now. But really it’s not too bad. Fasts of all kinds are good for the soul, in moderation, and this way I’m forced to enjoy the good old-fashioned offline things.

Well…

Good old-fashioned offline things including this iPad, that is. :)

(P.S. Weird Al’s “Genius in France” is a (begin emphasis)very(end emphasis) odd track. Is there some back-story there, or is he just being… weird? Maybe I will look it up next time I am in Panera…)

(P.P.S. “Twilight’s Hammer”, that’s it!)

(P.P.P.S. And the health club also has power and Internet, and now the water is just over one inch, but the water heater still won’t stay lit…)