Meditation: Ego

Ego is Latin for I. That is it. It takes on a much broader meaning, much like karma did, when it is applied to everyday life. Egotistical is a very negative description of a person’s behavior. It is used to describe a person that is excessively conceited or absorbed in oneself; self-centered. The ego is what makes us try to justify our existence, and explain why we are here. Of course, we are here, just by a quirk of fate, because are parents decided to become intimate, at that exact moment. I have often wondered, why that is so hard to accept. Is it just the thought of our parents making love, that we try not to think about. However, those are the facts Jack. One definition of ego, states, that it is the mental organ of justification. Does this mental organ of justification, take on a whole new life, when there are many egos involved? I think, when there are many egos involved, that the justification syndrome goes out of control. I think we have just defined an organization.

An organization is an organized body of people with a particular purpose, especially a business, society, association, etc.. I will not get into specifics, but an organization is formed because a group, in some cases, can achieve more than an individual. Once the organization is formed, there are leaders, within the organization, that help achieve the goal. The other members of the organization will vote on proposed ways of achieving the goal, and will contribute their time and sometimes money, in achieving the goal. Sometimes the goal is to help members with the organization, or it can be to help the general populous, that are less fortunate or infirmed. Once the goal is achieved, that is where the problem can arise. Some organizations may develop some type of natural evolution and really need to maintain their group. In many cases, once an organization accomplishes its goal, it has to create a new problem, to keep its existence going. In some cases, the heads of these organizations, make a substantial salary. They have a big incentive to keep the organization viable, and to convince the membership that they are needed. There can be many officers in an organization, and when these egos are threatened with a loss of substantial income, they are going to find many ways to justify their existence. I call this, the multiple ego syndrome, trying to survive. This is very true, when the organization has been set up, to help the members of the organization. Once the goals are met, the organization needs to take a lesser role. Instead, the leaders of the organization will create problems, in order to justify their existence. This is when egos go out of control, and the membership of the organization will suffer, rather than getting any benefit.

The single ego is rarely a problem. A person may try to justify their existence, by trying to make themselves seem important, but in the long run, they really do very little damage to the general public. They may be obnoxious, and not very much fun to be around, but they are pretty much harmless. However, when egos unite, and their existence is threaten, public beware. The greater good is not being served, and we need to move far away from such thinking. Once an organization accomplishes its goals, it needs to step back, be happy for the achievement and either go into a lesser maintenance mode, or completely disband, and create a new organization that is really needed, to solve a totally unrelated problem. In order for an organization to continue to do some good, the organization needs to become selfless and suppress the ego urge. I am not too sure that multiple egos are capable of doing that.

Meditation: Karma

We have all heard of karma. The literal definition of karma is action, work, or deed. The world thinks of this word in much broader terms. To look at it from a Western point of view, karma would fall under the sayings of ” you reap, what you sow, or positive thoughts will create positive outcomes. The Eastern world wants to have good karma so they will have a happier rebirth. One has to have a belief in rebirth in order to make that work. Karma is associated more with eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism. You rarely hear the word karma by itself. Most of the time people refer to something or someone having good or bad karma. Some people have the idea, that if you do good deeds, then good things will happen to you. They also believe, that the reverse is true. Remember however, that karma is an act, and really does not impact the future. Is the idea of karma just another way of trying to keep individuals in line, much like the idea of heaven and hell in Christianity. Then, there is the belief that karma is tied to causality, not to be confused with casualty. Causality is defined as the relation between a cause and its effect or between regularly correlated events or phenomena. In other words, the type of action you take, will effect the next action that is taken. By the strict definition of karma this really is not true. So does karma exist?

Of course, karma exists by the simple definition of action. We take action everyday, and those actions will have consequences, that will either be good or bad, or possibly neutral, for lack of a better term. It is how we feel about those actions, that may be the true karma. That may be what this is all about. Can we feel good about every action we take, and when we don’t, why is that. Why do we do things that we do not feel good about? I don’t know the answer to that one, just yet. Is that what true enlightenment really means? Always doing things that you feel good about. Karma is in the internal world, and in my view, has nothing to do, about the outside world, or your future actions. Does karma or action stand in the way of true enlightenment. Should we just be about inaction as much as possible, and meditate 8 hours a day. It’s a thought, but I don’t think I will be doing that, in the near future. I find it interesting that such a simple word has such a wide and diverse meaning. The literal meaning, does include, work and deeds. There goes work, getting in the way of things, again. You should feel good about the work you are doing, and the deeds you do, on a daily basis. Karma, I believe is quite simple, and I am not planning on a rebirth any time soon. I think we need to take away the power of karma. No more internal judgements of our daily actions. Isn’t this what it is all about, no judgements. Then we should feel good all day long. I am feeling better already.

Food: Hawaiian Style

I spent July 7th, until July 16th, in Hawaii, and it was quite an experience. We stayed on the island of Oahu, four letters, three syllables. It is the third largest island, behind The Big Island( they were up all night thinking of that name), and Maui. We stayed at the Aulani Hotel, which is a Disney Resort. We had a wonderful time, and there was lots of eating and drinking, especially the drinking. A very popular drink in our group, was the Mango Mojito. The name just rolled off your lips with ease, even when your lips did not exactly work all that well, after the third one. The drink went down just as smoothly. The beer was excellent, with many Hawaiian brews to choose from. My favorites were the Longboard Lager, Bikini Blond Lager, and Pete’s Island Wheat. Needless to say, I did no driving, while on the island. Overall the food ranged from good to excellent. There was one extraordinary dining experience, but will save the best for last. There were some surprises, and disappointments, so lets get them over with. The surprise was, there were not that many seafood choices. I expected this to be a seafood feast, but this was not the case. Beef and pork took center, stage at most restaurants, that we went to. The most disappointing experience was the Lua, we attended, on our first night there. Some of that has to be attributed to Covid. Instead of a buffet, you received two prepared plates. One was a salad plate, with macaroni salad, and some greens, and vegetables . Then the entre plate, had some pulled pork, baked chicken, fried chicken thigh, with some sticky rice, and some broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots. They did not have any sauces to go with the food. The only thing they had was tartar sauce. Do they put tartar sauce on chicken and pork in Hawaii? I did not go for that and did not care much for the sticky rice. Stinky rice is what I would call it Although the entertainment was very good, the food experience left a lot to be desired. They did make a great Mai Tai, although not quite as good as those Mango Mojitos. They were potent enough to make it difficult to walk back to the hotel, but we made it. Now, lets get to the good stuff.

Other than the Lua, the food overall was excellent. The food at the resort was very tasty, ranging from an almond croissant to a smoked salmon bagel, for breakfast. The coffee was excellent to start the morning. The favorite eating place at the resort was called Off The Hook. Their wings and chicken fingers were great bar food. One night the feature was barbecued spare ribs with mash potatoes and the ribs were tender fall off the bone delicious. Across from the resort was a restaurant called the Monkey Pod, which, by far had the freshest and the best seafood. Their pork tacos were to die for, with raw jalapenos on top. They also had jalapeno mashed potatoes, which is something I will be making myself. For desert they had these cream pies, strawberry, chocolate, and mango, which were some of the best pies I have ever tasted. The most outstanding dining experience though, came at the restaurant, Senia, in the heart of Chinatown, in downtown Honolulu. I started the meal with a martini know as the Buttoned Up, that was very smooth going down. After drinking it, I was probably incapable of buttoning up. We had a private room for 8 and we all experienced the tasting menu of July 14th. It was a dream come true for my taste buds. There were nine items and each one or two were paired with a particular wine. The whole meal included various vegetables, caviar in a sauce with one raw quail egg, Kanpachi, which is a sushi fish, venison tartare, Scallops and a beef selection. Everything tasted superbly with each dish getting better and better. The wines were perfect for each dish. The desert, looked like various bird eggs, that you just popped in your mouth, and this wonderful sweet creamy nectar, would just explode all over your taste buds. Then the meal was finished off, with various chocolate cordials. Overall, it was one of the best dining experiences I have ever had. The wait staff was so informative, as they explained every dish, and every wine that was served. It was a great vacation for many reasons, but the food and drink made it one of the most festive experiences, that was much needed, after this year and a half of pandemic life. Still, it was good to return home, and get back to a normal routine. The blogs should return at their normal rate and yes, I will still write about the Pirates. Too bad, I don’t have the Mango Mojito any more, to make the job easier.

Sports: Pittsburgh Pirates, Swooning Continues.

The Pirates showed that May was no fluke, as they stumbled and bumbled their way, to a 9 and 17 record in June. The highlight of the month was the 10 game losing streak. Again there were no surprises, unless you call the bad players, going from bad to worse a surprise. The few major league players they do have, played some solid to excellent baseball. If baseball only put 5 players and a pitcher on the field, the Pirates could make a run at the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Pirates, there are 3 other players that have to take the field. They are so bad, that they desecrate the game. They are so far below the performance of a major league player, that they could only be productive, at the AA level of the game. These players should not even be playing for Indianapolis, let alone the Pirates. The list, in no particular order, is Gregory Polanco, Kevin Newman, Phillip Evans, Ka’ai Tom, Erik Gonzalez, Michael Perez, and Ben Gamel. Here is their corresponding OPS+, with the league average being 100: 74,46,73,60,55,62, and 87. None of them have a WAR of over .3 and most are negative war. The Magnificent Seven, they are not. These players who cannot hit, average one walk per 13 plate appearances. The league average is one walk per 11 plate appearances. The 5 major leaguers, that the Pirates do have on their team, average one walk per 10 plate appearances. Obviously these players do not learn by example. They really do not learn by any method, really. They certainly do not try and improve their game.

Despite having an overall horrible month, the Pirates did improve their Defensive Efficiency to 12th in all of baseball, from 20th. Ke’Bryan Hayes is probably the main reason for this. He has been a defensive star and is still hitting above the league average with an OPS+ of 122. His bat has been slumping a little of late, but every hitter is going to go through this once in awhile. In less than a month of playing is WAR is already, at 1.0. The Pirates are 29th in runs scored, with the New York Mets dead last, but only 5 runs behind. They are fortunate to be 6 games over .500, and the Washington Nationals are feeling the 2019 vibe, all over again. It will be interesting to see, if the Mets can remain in contention, throughout this season, let alone stay in first plate. It shows you what great pitching can do, but can it hold up for another grueling 3 months. Sorry about getting sidetracked about the Mets, but it is really hard writing about the Pirates. Will the Pirates finally go for the full teardown by getting rid of 3 of the 5 major leaguers they have, namely Colin Moran, Adam Frazier and Jacob Stallings. I am only discussing position players, as there are pitchers, both starters and relievers, that could be gone at the trade deadline. Only time will tell, how far the Pirates are going to go, in tearing this thing down. I mean the Pirates are a thing. They are certainly not a baseball team. They are about as bad as I have ever seen, even though they do not have the worse record in baseball, at least for the moment. Remember, I witnessed the mid 60’s Mets, and believe me, they were better overall, than this group. It would be nice to see 7 DFA’s come August 1st, but I doubt that will happen. Hopefully, Hayes bat will get hot again, and the other 4 will perform, as they have been. I guess 5/9ths of a team is better than nothing, or is it? Will look at them again August 1. Maybe they will surprise, that would be nice.