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Archive for January, 2010

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How I learned to live with less*

(* and wondering what I did with my brain all this while)

My friend John Doe sent me the other day a letter that took my breath away. He had never sent me anything other than a short note in his longhand. Twice if I remember correctly. Once when his father died and another when his daughter got engaged. Usually he phoned me or texted me via the Web.
Getting a rather fat envelope I was amazed to see it was all written in his longhand as though he got a second wind once he took the pen to write in old fashioned way.  At the end he had his signature, a clue to our childhood days, a sketch of himself like the signature of Saint made famous by Leslie Charteris.
America had swallowed him some 40 years ago but he let me show that his heart still beat within true. Only that the Great Economic Meltdown like the Great Fish spat him out of a society he was so comfortable with.. The latterday Jonah, from his missive seemed to have a crusading spirit to live with the less. He in his characteristic style told he was part of a Consumer society ‘but like the pole dancer I had to hit the ground sooner or later. Ben, I am cured off my madness.’
How did he do that?
1.    Monthly payments. Earlier I didn’t care about the price, as long as I could borrow to pay for it and I have enough income to cover the monthly payment. No longer. I’ve already got too much debt, and the banks won’t lend me the money anyway. Result: More cash purchases and a lot less financing of cars, furniture and other costly items.
2.    Window shopping is a luxury that I can well do without. If I really need something I let the urge cool off. What I haven’t bought on impulse hasn’t hurt me.
3.    Us versus them :Technology has made living easier but hasn’t safeguarded us, the economically vulnerable from hitting the skidrow. As long as Technology comes in the form of providing a safety net for its votaries a safe home and supportive community, the kids’ education, Internet connectivity, sustenance for a pet, it shall remain questionable in my book of Rules.
4.    Redundancy made me move to a small rental home in 2007 and suddenly it were like scales falling off from my eyes. ‘Where on earth did I acquire all these junk?’ it hit me hard. The snazzy things became all at once junk, and redundant. Ever since I use the Web to sell them on line. It is painful but every time I sold an item, was like a spiritual deliverance.  One doesn’t how the things, in the process of acquiring them,(for no other reason than keeping with the Jones’s) forge ball and chain for your soul.
5.    Cutting back on pay-TV services or canceling them altogether, which saves $50 to $100 a month. When I get an urge I look  into YouTube or better still watch people. It is highly educative, this people watching I mean. No scare mongering or commercial breaks but just fun of seeing plain folks in their unguarded moments.
I know TV is full of crap and radio shows are an exercise in futility with sponsors competing one another to reach into your wallet. If I want an informed opinion or a sane commentary of the world what can Limbaug do better than I? At least I use my brain for my own good. It is a change anyway.
Reading my friend’s letter I realized we ourselves in a craze to sound ‘successful’ by creating certain symbols for it, pulled wool over our eyes. (Ack: usnews- Rick Newman , January 21)

benny

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Mackerel head-study

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The sixth annual Walk for Life, organized by two Bay Area women, was bolstered by busloads of religious and conservative marchers drawn from organizations across California. They walked from Justin Herman Plaza to the Marina district.

At the anti-abortion rally at Justin Herman Plaza beforehand, speakers included religious leaders and women who have had abortions. The Rev. Jim Garlow compared “abortuaries” – clinics where abortions are performed – to Buchenwald, the Nazi extermination camp where millions of Jews and others were killed.( Anti-abortion forces flex muscles at S.F. rally-Joe Garofoli, Chronicle Staff Writer January 23, 2010)
Rev.Jim Garlow perhaps would  look other way when an abortion clinic is torched or an activist is killed. Or will he, given his penchant for exaggeration call it mass extermination? Who is kidding whom?

benny

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