friday fives

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Would you ever go “under the knife” (or laser, or dental pick) for cosmetic purposes?

Don’t really see the need.  Am lucky I’m a dude, though.  Society appreciates an older guy.  We age better.

Describe your dream home, including location, design, and who/what’s in there with you.

Have it now, am in it.  Whose there?  Wifey and I, 2 cats, 3 dogs, and 3 horses.  ei, ei, o.

You have one month to travel the world, all expenses paid. Where do you go and what do you do once you arrive?

Would like to go back and do more Asia.  Got to do Thailand and Cambodia and South Korea, but would totally do more.  Didn’t get to check out china or Vietnam, but want to.

What scares the bloody heck out of you? Would you face it down if someone paid you? What’s your price?

Spiders.  Kill them ALL.  I deal with them daily.  Btw, don’t give me that shit about how spiders are good for nature.  If you really believe that, I will bring you all of mine.

You’re stranded on an island. What five simple items do you have with you? How do you survive?

a Leatherman.  In fact, that is all i need.  There is nothing in life better than a Leatherman.  I don’t leave the house without one.  If you do not have one, you simply aren’t living.  it’s not 5 tools, it’s a trillion tools.  screwdriver (flathead and phillips), needlenose pliers, wirecutters, scissors, ‘buck’ knife, file, small saw, bottle opener, ruler… and that is all in the $40 one.  Seriously, how do you not have one?  i keep one in the truck, one in the wife’s car, and one on me at all times.

Best part of this story?  Leatherman is the dude’s NAME.  Was he not bound for greatness with that name?  They are made in America, in Oregon!

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Travel Thai-aries – Buddhism > you’re doing it wrong

First, as always dear reader, start here – please.

Thailand is a country of very many people. (ed Note: 66 million). Approximately 85% of these folks are Buddhist. These people fucking love the Buddha. They have approx a metric shit-ton of temples. (ed note: 47,000 to be specific). They have been Buddhists for thousands of years. Btw, you are saying it wrong. You pronounce it ‘boo-dah’. I did, too. No one in Thailand pronounces it like that, though. Even the wonderful folks who speak English in Thailand have no idea what you are saying when you pronounce it like that. You want the ‘u’ in Buddha to be like it is in pudding.

Here, listen to how Joseph Campbell says it. You need more Joseph Campbell. We all do, really… but you especially. Ever heard ‘follow your bliss’?

No? Man, you really need more Joseph Campbell.

So, you have approx. 60 million people who have been Buddhists as far back as their family tree goes. Now, how about if I tell you, and them, they are doing it wrong… and have been all along? Who am I to throw this wrench into world history? Well, a recovering Catholic who took a couple years of comparative religion and who owns the entire ‘Power of Myth’ series on VHS. So… yeah… I’m kinda a big deal.

Let’s look at the very basic tenets of Buddhism; All life is sorrow. Sorrow comes from attachment to things. The worst, and most avoidable, attachment is in the physical realm. Your favorite baseball cap, or parent. In time, you will lose ALL of these things… especially if you keep having to do life over and over again. All this is going to do is make you sad. You are a selfish greedy materialistic pig. So I am. Buddhism is about letting those things go.

In Buddhism, the primary purpose of life is to end suffering. The Buddha taught that humans suffer because we continually strive after things that do not give lasting happiness. We desperately try to hold on to things – friends, health, material things – that do not last, and this causes sorrow.

The Buddha did not deny that there are things in life that give joy, but pointed out that none of them last and our attachment to them only causes more suffering. His teachings were focused entirely on this problem and its solution.

This is done by recognizing the impermanence of all things and freeing oneself from attachment to these things.

There is a saying that Joseph Campbell loves to tell to quickly explain Buddhist philosophy. “if you see the Buddha in the road, kill him.” This is what it means to me, and (I think) to him; if you see the Buddha in the road, it means you are looking externally for knowledge and enlightenment and understanding and bla bla bla. These things are all inside you at all times. If you are looking for them outside of yourself, you are kinda missing the whole point. God isn’t in heaven, or church. God is in you.  It is why I allow myself to stay home on Sundays and watch football instead of going to mass.

There is much I love and respect about what I know of the Buddha. He was a very real man, who never wanted to be a religion. He certainly never regarded himself as immortal. He never believed you should take his word over all. Buddhism is NOT a religion. It is a philosophy. There are no rules. To be a Buddhist monk, for sure, there are rules.  To be a Buddhist… well – don’t be a dick ****

Knowing these things, why are there these amazing monuments and elegies to ‘Lord Buddha’? That is what they call him in Thailand… lord Buddha. Well, were he here today he would have stopped that nonsense first and foremost. To build the greatest and grandest temple to Buddha is to miss the entire fucking point.

It seemed every Wat we were in (Wat is what they call the temples) there was a contest for the most Buddha statues and likenesses. In one beautiful temple, we counted 124 different Buddha statues. Our guide taught us about how each temple had its own ‘most valuable Buddha’. We saw one made entirely of gold. One made entirely of jade. We saw one the size, literally, of a football field. This statue was so big they built it first, and then put the building around it. (ed note:  this is Wat Pho) Ah yes, the longest Buddha, the most expensive Buddha, the shiniest Buddha. Buddhism is entirely about NOT being attached to material things… like golden idols.

Thankfully, we spent a few extra bahts to have a guide with us. He kinda unwittingly explained the whole thing to me. It won’t be too surprising. As we were in one Wat that had about 80 full life sized Buddha statues; I noticed the faces were all a bit different. I asked my guide why that was. He said “well, since it was so long ago… no one really knows what the Buddha looked like. So, each King kinda molded the Buddha statues during his reign to match his own likeness. This is how they are able to date the various statues.” BINGO.

Did you catch that? These statues, really, have NOTHING to do with Buddha. These are kings dressing themselves up as Buddhas so that history knows what a great and religious and pious and super rich each king was. In my eyes, none of this was built for Buddha. He not only didn’t want it, it misses the point entirely.

Next week, I’ll throw this little wrench in to history. You will read that Angkor Wat is the greatest and oldest and most significant Buddhist temple ever. It isn’t. Angkor Wat has almost nothing to do with Buddhism at all. It is 99% a Hindu temple. Again, we’ll hit that later.

**** we are talking Mayahaya Buddhism, here.  The more hardcore and disciplined wing of Buddhism is called ‘Theravada.  Pretty sure those guys would cane me if they read this.  Seriously.  I am of the Mahayana side, very much so.  That is the happy hippy dippy ‘we are all Buddhas inside.  I accept you all… let’s hug’.  Think of it like reformed Jews, or unitarian Christians.  Theravada is like first testament Christianity.  There is only god, and man is he ANGRY.

In closing, you know that awesome scene from Talledega Nights at the dinner table?  They are all gathered in prayer, and talking about how they specifically imagine what baby Jesus looks like?  Well, Buddhism is kinda like that.  There are about 54 specific recognized Budda poses and postures.  This is my favorite.

Note what the hands are doing, it is very important.  The left hand is resting, and opened up.  This is to accept knowledge and change.  In my eyes, with this hand he accepts and embraces life’s’ changes, and eagerly requests more knowledge.  His right hand, however, is also saying ‘BUT… you best back the fuck off.  Do not mistake my kindness for weakness.”

Lono Travel Thai-aires® – the Thai Massage

First, start here, please.

If you know about massages at all, you have heard of the vaunted ‘Thai massage’. You haven’t? Good news, I am here to tell you about it.

If you are a dude, odds are you have never gotten a massage. I know why. You may say that’s for chicks. Or, I don’t want a dude touching me. Whatever, I don’t want to hear your excuses because I know the real reason. You are afraid of massages because you may either: fart, or get a boner. These are very reasonable fears. I had them, until I finally got a massage. Now, I LOVE them, and get them often. I have never had a problem with either of the aforementioned threats. So, stop being a pussy and go get a message. It’s amazing.

With that being said, let’s talk about the ‘Thai massage’. It is a specific manner and technique of massage. It involves the masseuse using their entire body to contort your body.

 

To many people, my wife included, the Thai massage is a miraculous and happy and relaxing thing. However, if you are as broken as I am, not so much. Imagine this: imagine I made a bet with you. Let’s say that I bet you that Tony Romo will throw an interception in their upcoming title game that will cause them to lose the game. It’s an easy bet, he has done it 5 years in a row. You say he won’t. Let’s bet.

If I win, you have to get a torture massage. You get a massage from his guy, and it will be the most painful thing you have ever experienced. Like, water boarding type pain and fear. If you win, I buy you a happy sexy relaxy massage with candles and topless girls and one of them will give you the happy ending. And, they are playing your favorite CD and feeding you shrimp scampi in the meantime. That is if you win.

Now, what if I told you the outcome of both massages is exactly the same?

What if I told you will come out of the torture massage even happier than you would have been with busty mc handjob? THAT, my friends, is the essence of a Thai massage. It is very physical, and painful, and laughably awkward. When done right, though, it is insanely effective. The first people we went to were in Bangkok, and was recommend. That was a top dollar fancy schmancy place. For a full hour message, I paid upwards of $8. $10, with tip. Yeah, shit is cheap there, it’s awesome. I spend more than that here just on tips. She was able to finish by cracking my back. Since I have a chiropractor, I knew that was EXACTLY what I needed… especially after spending 2 days on a plane!

I went for 3 subsequent massages, and none were as good. Mostly, just painful.  How many swear words do you know?  Guess what?  After a proper Thai massage you will come up with a few more.  After a bad Thai massage?  Several more!  For the record, though, my wife loved them ALL. She is physically in superior shape. So, if you don’t have back problems like I do, go for it. Find a Thai masseuse. I would recommend, if possible, to do this in Thailand. While I am sure there are qualified people here, you would probably pay about $200. For that, you can almost fly to Thailand and get one there.