Friday, March 27

charred bones

I'm doing a little research to see what tattoo ink is made of, and if it is a good idea to get a new tattoo. (It will still be a long while before I do it, but it never hurts to learn a little).

Truth be told, there is not much research out there about tattoo ink safety. The FDA is supposed to monitor these things, but apparently has slacked on this task. That's probably for the best, since I'm not sure I would trust their decision anyway.

The consensus seems to be, "No one exactly knows if the ink is bad for the body, or what it does to your system." If this was a food item, I would definitely walk away. Adding something that we "created" and are unsure of to my system is usually a "no-go."

That being said, tattoos are so cool. Will I suffer for my vanity? Well, I already have one, and I'm no more screwed up than I was when I got it. I did find some information with a breakdown of the different color inks (which aren't actually "ink") and their typical ingredients. The tattoo I have on my left arm is made of black and green ink. Black is typically made from the charred remains of burnt animal bones or kerosene, or magnetite crystals, or powdered jet. Green is often made from copper, but can also come from many other sources including malachite, and some iron based chemicals. They are considered safe.

I have convinced myself that the tattoo I already have is made of charcoal, magnetite, copper, and malachite. Those substances sound pretty cool, magical. I can live with that.

Interestingly, the article mentions red as being the most likely pigment to be dangerous. Also, yellow is a problem simply due to how much pigment they must use just to get a decent value on the color.

So, the question remains, is the potential risk of having these materials inserted into your skin outweighed by the power that the symbol brings to the wearer?

I suppose I can always just get a clever tan.

(that's an insightful artist. look at this...)

Sunday, March 22

this is necessary (mana)

I had to celebrate passing my boards, so Rebecca and I went out to a new (for us) restaurant in Chicago, Mana.

Highly recommended. The dishes were delicious, and they offer small portions so you can order a bunch of stuff and share it.

I've been feeling the Spring, eating a lot more fresh vegetables, raw salads, etc. Also, the more I learn about food production and the animal industry, the less inclined I am to eat farmed meat. I've flirted with being a vegetarian before, and I'm flirting with it again. Just seems like these days, the higher up on the foodchain something is, the more contaminated it will be.

Also, what with the infiltration of big businesses imposing their own interests upon the USDA and FDA, food labeling barely means anything anymore. The definitions of such appealing terms as "natural," "free range," "cage free," and even "USDA Organic" are so loose that they've lost their original meanings.

It's a sad state of affairs when we don't even know what we're eating anymore.

The ethics of eating are complicated. As much as I would love to be driven by ahimsa, that philosophy would force me to define what is and isn't alive. The distinction between plants and animals can become very ambiguous; there are so many things that unite us. The fact is, though, that we have to eat something in order to survive. A favorite book of mine, Omori Sogen: The Art of a Zen Master contains a passage about this:

"But even a man of noble and god-like character cannot live a single day without depriving other forms of life of their life. This is the sad reality of human beings. Even the most honest and compassionate man must snatch water from the earth without paying for it, must breathe the air from the sky without authorization, and must steal energy from the sun. Without these acts, he could not sustain his existence even for an instant. This is the tragic fate of man. Because of this dilemma, everyone bears the original sin of dualism.

Consequently, even if a man really loves peace, he must kill the cow, kill the pig, kill the chicken, kill the fish, and kill the vegetables in order to strive toward this noble aim. To put it paradoxically, this man himself is part of the carnage caused by the survival of the fittest. Therefore, one can say that because there is no peace, he desires peace. Man's existence is subject to this dialectic structure. There can be no human life that does not participate in killing and death."

That's zen. So much matters that nothing matters. What I'm having a hard time with is the blatant disrespect that the food industry has for the things it is in charge of.

So I am alive, depriving other forms of life their existence, but I can at least take comfort in knowing that the plants I am eating can't possibly have been as mistreated as the animals would be.

Also, I've been sprouting mung beans, and adzuki beans. It's so easy, and so worthwhile. Hopefully I give them a good life, and a good death. I didn't take this photo:

Tool hinted at this dilemma in their album, Undertow. The very last track of the album contains a brief diatribe/sermon about the holocaust of the carrots:

And the angel of the lord came unto me, snatching me up from my place of slumber. And took me on high, and higher still until we moved to the spaces betwixt the air itself. And he brought me into a vast farmlands of our own midwest. And as we descended, cries of impending doom rose from the soil. One thousand, nay a million voices full of fear. And terror possesed me then. And I begged, "Angel of the Lord, what are these tortured screams?" And the angel said unto me, "These are the cries of the carrots, the cries of the carrots! You see, Reverend Maynard, tomorrow is harvest day and to them it is the holocaust." And I sprang from my slumber drenched in sweat like the tears of one million terrified brothers and roared, "Hear me now, I have seen the light! They have a consciousness, they have a life, they have a soul! Damn you! Let the rabbits wear glasses! Save our brothers!"

This epiphany is followed by a beautifully dark chant: "This is necessary. This is necessary. Life feeds on life, feeds on life, feeds on life."

This is necessary. I'm trying to feed on life of whole grains and vegetables. Quinoa, brown rice, broccoli, brussels sprouts, mushrooms, avocados, green beans, spring greens, kale, chard, spinach, squash, carrots, adzuki beans, beets, sweet potatoes, mung beans...

I still eat some dairy products, like cottage cheese and yogurt, but I try not to go crazy on those.

Nuts and seeds are good too, and I've been eating coconut butter on brown rice toast for breakfast lately.

And of course, chips and salsa have become symbiotically linked with me.

Eating really well seems to happen in cycles for me. Sometimes I find that I've been eating irregularly, usually a lot of sugar/snacky things. Sometimes I realize I've been eating well, making my own meals, etc.

It's a good sign when the cutting board is always dirty.

Friday, March 20


On Monday, when I tried to get a sense of what my week was going to look like, I made sure to set aside time on Friday to study for my last two board exams on Saturday.

Wednesday, I actually looked in my planner, and discovered that the exams were actually Friday, not Saturday.

It doesn't matter! I just finished them, and passed both sections. Now, all I have left to do is finish classes, and pay some more fees to some more bureaucrats, and I am licensed (within 6-8 weeks of completing all checklists of course...).

Big things are coming.

Wednesday, March 18

ficus carica (wet dream)

I was in a gourmet fig shop last night. I made my selections from the varieties of the delicious fruit behind the glass. The girl behind the counter moved from shelf to shelf, as my interest darted about.

There were fresh figs, and dried figs, of all different colors. Dates, and similar fruits were there as well, but I focused only on the figs. They were so large and juicy, even the dried figs looked plump and bursting with flavor.

I finally finished putting together my order, and eagerly anticipated digging into the bag. I could almost taste the sweet fruit.

I sprung awake. Confused. Why was my mouth was soaking wet? I recalled the dream of figs, as the cats took turns sniffing my beard, investigating the drool as it dried.

Today was bound to be an interesting day.

Monday, March 16


A few weeks ago, Rebecca found a flyer for a farm just outside of Chicago. It was an open invitation to come "lambing" at the farm. Apparently, lambing is when you go to a place where there are lambs and then look at them, while an old man talks about how he removes their tails and castrates them with rubber bands. It was actually pretty fun, despite awareness of the bleak future of the male lambs, and especially the black ones, who are all destined for the kitchen table. The animals are funny to watch though:

When they want milk, the babies stand underneath a female sheep, and then ram their heads into her lower abdomen, insisting for the nipple.

They also had cows (turn the audio up for this one):

Of course there was a chicken coup as well. Rebecca has a thing for poultry, so she she was agog with this discovery:

We found a bucket of baby chicks as well. There was a young girl (besides Rebecca) there who was completely obsessed with holding the chicks. Reminds me of Lennie Small from "Of Mice and Men" or Elmyra from Animaniacs.

As the girl's parents were preparing to drag her away, we moved in for the cuteness:

I hope the volume is up so you can hear the buzz. I knew there'd be an apiary on the premises, and I had my moment of awe when we found the hives:


do not go to this movie.

Saturday, March 7

two down

The Biomed portion of my board exams is over! I passed.

Since 2005, I've been accumulating pieces of paper and hoarding them, with the mindset of, "I'd better save this, so I can use it to study for my Boards."

Now I can finally throw out all that stuff.

It's really raining here. I saw horizontal lightning ripping across the sky all morning.

Friday, March 6


I had to rush to grab the camera, so it's a short video. Looks like it's officially warming up in our neighborhood...

Thursday, March 5

mister manifester

It must be spring.

I am unfolding myself from the funk I've been in. My head is still heavy here and there, morale can get low, some dizziness at times, but I'm feeling much more clear.

I've been doing manifestation experiments this week. My report follows:

1. On Monday, when I stepped out of the house to go to class, I put an intention out to the universe. I set my thoughts on speedy public transportation. I thought about the train arriving just as I was at the station, and then the bus being there when I arrived at the bus stop. But that's not enough, I also pictured my trip home going just as quickly and smoothly. I was amazed that the train arrived at the station just as I did, and there was a mere 30 second wait for the bus to arrive. The return trip home is usually the worst. There is something about it being 8pm that makes every transfer a wait. I left class and started walking down the street towards the bus stop. I had a feeling I would miss the bus, and just then I saw it pass through the intersection. I know sometimes you have to work with the universe a little bit, so I sprinted through a parking lot and an alley, and intercepted it at the next stop. When I arrived at the train station, I could hear my train arriving overhead as I walked through the doors. I knew it would be close, but I swiped my pass, and ran up the steps, past the people arriving. I hopped into the waiting open doors of the train, just in time, and said aloud, "I did it." It was only then that I remembered the intention I had set earlier, and realized that it came true.

2. For the past eight weeks, I've pretty much had the same schedule at clinic. I have 9am, 10am, and 11am patient slots on my Tuesday shift. I have a regular that comes at 9, and another that comes at 11. So, for the most part, I've been finding ways to amuse myself (and others) during my free time from 10-11. I decided this Tuesday that I would set the intention that I would be fully booked for all three slots. I arrived at the clinic and checked my schedule, to my surprise, I only had a patient at 9am. The 11am person was out of town this week. I was surprised that the one day I wanted some work was the one day I had a huge amount of free time. However, through the twists and turns of life, another intern was absent, and I took one of her patients. Then, an older patient walked in and scheduled for my last slot. My assistant was getting a little sick, so I wound up treating her too. Crazy.

3. On Wednesday, I figured I'd put it out to the universe that I wanted some money to come into my life. What the hell, right? It was in the back of my mind all day, but I didn't find any extra cash lying around. When I got out of school at four o'clock, I was going to go to a nearby park and practice some Ju Jutsu falling techniques. It was starting to get chilly by the time I got home, so I decided to save it. Today (Thursday) it's been a beautiful spring day, with strong breezes and winds. I skipped class (whoops.) and instead went to that park to practice my breakfalls. I found a nice place to practice on a hill, far away from anyone else. The wind would kick up in bursts. Midway through my practice, I found a dollar on the ground.

Wednesday, March 4

flower power

Since you're away, I'll update you on Charles and her day of spiritual transformation.

She had a hard time under the massage table, looking for action. She also was struggling with the comb.

Her misdirected energy even got in the way of interpersonal relations. A standoff.

Where will she find her peace?

Until Charles discovered the power of flowers...

And her nasovomer gland...

And with flowers, come peace and love.

{a cheesy ass blog, I know, but that's what went down today...}

Tuesday, March 3

home alone

Rebecca's in Santa Cruz for some sister time; I find myself the master of a large, lonely apartment. So far so good, since I have my Biomed comps this Saturday, I've been busy studying. I somehow find time to pump myself up on the trailer for the new Wolverine movie:

I fill the air with drum and bass, Sage Francis, and dub reggae, and tear through practice tests online, fistfulls of Gorilla Munch as my only sustenance.