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The Elements of Typographic Style

Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T Pullover

Minding the Earth, Mending the Word: Zen and the Art of Planetary Crisis

North Face Base Camp Duffel (Medium)





Turkey Mountain

Took a hike at Turkey Mountain on Saturday. Beautiful fall day, a bit overcast, and the leaf colors were amazing. Image above is the view from the summit. Image below shows a lovely cairn along the blue trail.


Hurricane Patricia

Hurricane Patricia, the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded, is racing toward the Pacific Coast of Mexico with sustained windspeeds of over 200 mph. It is expected to make landfall in Jalisco this evening. The popular coastal resorts, Puerto Vallarta and Manzanilla, as well as Mexico's second largest city, Guadalajara, are all in the projected path of the hurricane. Storm surges, hurricane force winds, flashfloods, mudslides, power outages – this looks really bad. Gulp. 


From U.S. Marine to Zen Monk

Lovely video by tofu media about Scott Mangis, a former U.S. Marine who now lives as a Zen monk in Japan. Lot of great smiles. Love the exchange with his teacher (Jinen-san at Anon-ji Temple outside of Tokyo) at 6:00.

"The me before my mother and father met". A beautiful nine minutes. 


Back To Nam Sabi

Am heading back to Nam Sabi in Sagaing Region in two weeks to continue working on the Village Management Area and start putting together the application for a Community Forestry Certificate. Very much looking forward to this trip. More so, because son Luke will also be going along. [NOTE: Image shows U Aung Kyi from Nam Sabi holding the rope so that a crew member can measure the height of that tree]. 


Domestication of Dogs

Interesting recent paper about the domestication of dogs. Using a semicustom 185,805-marker genotyping array, a large-scale survey of autosomal, mitochondrial, and Y chromosome diversity was conducted in 4,676 purebred dogs from 161 breeds and 549 village dogs from 38 countries [NOTE: I took this from their Methods section; don't ask me about autosomal diversity or genetic markers, please].

Dogs are the first domesticated species, originating at least 15,000 years ago from Eurasian grey wolves (shown above).  What the authors of this paper discovered  is that the first domestication event occurred in Central Asia, probably near present-day Nepal and Mongolia. Good to know the next time you pet your dog.    


Stepping Down/Stepping Up

We held two important ceremonies yesterday at the Empty Hand Zen Center (EHZC). First, a Stepping Down ceremony for Myozan Dennis Keegan (shown above), Head Priest and Teacher at EHZC, who skillfully guided the center after the passing of Jion Susan Postal (see Jion Susan Postal) in February 2014. And then a Stepping Up ceremony for our new Guiding Teacher in Residence, Konin Melissa Cardenas (shown below). And then a delicious lunch (thx, Frank et al). I saw a lot of old friends and am pleased/encouraged/challenged by the possibilities of having a new Zen teacher in New Rochelle. [NOTE: The big chair next to the altar in the top photo was used by the teacher in each ceremony. Script read "teacher takes seat in fancy chair". We spent a lot of time trying to find such a thing].  


Marco Polo's House

After traveling around Asia for 24 years, Marco Polo returned to Venice in 1295. He and his family lived in a relatively unassuming residence – for Venice – near what is now the Corte Seconda del Milion. The house is not open to the public and is only acknowledged by the small marble sign shown above. You could walk right by it. [NOTE: The book, "The Travels of Marco Polo", is called Il Milione (The Million) in Italian, hence the Corte Seconda del Milion]. 


Letter are Things, Not Pictures of Things, But...

Insights from Robert Bringhurst (see The Elements of Typographic Style) noted while reading The Tree of Meaning: Language, Mind, and Ecology on the train to work this morning:

"I beg to remind you, however, that what you find on the font of a photosetting machine is the photographic image of a letter, and what you set with photosetting equipment is not in truth a letter but a picture of a letter. More precisely: a picture of a drawing of a letter. What you find on a digital font is likewise not a letter but a Bézier or cubic-spline description of a letter. What you set with your computer and print with a laser printer is a digital simulation of a letter. What you find in a California job case (see above) is also not a letter but a sort, which is a sculpture of a letter. What you print with a Vandercook or an Albion is the imprint of a sculpture of a letter. Where is the letter itself? This is the mind-body problem of the philosophers writ small."

And then I got to my stop. [NOTE: This book is a delight]. 


That Castle

The Buonconsiglio Castle in Trento was built in the 13th century. It was enlarged twice, and the structure has been used as a fort, a residence, a military barracks, a prison, and, most recently, a national museum. Was my first time to visit a castle. "Massive" and "solid" are the two adjectives that first come to mind. "Opulent", would be a third. I remember fantasizing about giving a talk in the meeting room shown below. How would you get the audience to stop looking at the ceiling?


Turning Off the Pump

Interesting piece in yesterday's New York Times about the link between deforestation and drought. Especially tropical deforestation. A mature tree in Amazonian rainforest transpires about 1,000 liters of water a day; the entire Amazonian Basin sends up about 20 billion tons of water a day into the atmostphere. The atmosphere over Amazonia carries more water than the Amazon River – which itself contains about one fifth of all the freshwater on the planet.

According to the article:

"One way forests may move water is known as biotic pumping. As water transpires into the atmosphere above the forest, the theory holds, it creates a low-pressure system that sucks in air surrounding it, eventually and continually pumping moisture inland from the ocean.Cutting down forests degrades these low-pressure systems, essentially turning off the pump. Large-scale deforestation is thus believed to be a major contributor to the extreme drought in Brazil".


"Forest represent a kind of ecological infrastructure that helps maintain comfortable living conditions on the plante, whether by taking up and holding carbon dioxide, cleaning water through their roots, preventing floods by stabilizing soil – or, in this case, regulating climate". 

Lots of reasons to stop cutting down tropical forests. And, really, how many soybeans and hamburger patties do we need?