Archive for March, 2021

Signs of the Times

28 March 2021

Sound somehow familiar? I posted an article by the same name last year…

This one is, if anything, destined to me more acerbic and less focused than the previous one.

School’s out … forever?

Remember the celebratory Alice Cooper song, School’s Out For Summer?

[Verse 2]
Well, we got no class
And we got no principles
And we got no innocence
We can’t even think
Of a word that rhymes

Alice Cooper
Typical high school parking lot.

As Alice so delicately pointed out in this song, everyone’s hatred for schooling has resulted in a population that can’t think for itself, is immoral and corrupt. Now that they don’t have to go to school, perhaps this situation will improve?

I’d say this one’s gotten a bit weedy!


Everyone’s life had to take a detour!

What do you do when you have to stay home all day, especially if you can’t work?

I have never seen so many babies in strollers being pushed around in DOCO and Old Sacramento!

And for those who couldn’t find a lover?

I weighed myself recently and it said 180. The scale could be wrong…two years ago I was 160, up from a fitter 150 (and that’s 40 years ago). But it could be true. My new friend reports a 70 pound gain over the last year or so…

And if the whole thing has gotten just too overwhelming…

Get Therapy!

Dive In! Sign in BART car.

Psychologists could benefit from an upswing of business from people who’s darkest fears have come to the surface in the “safety” of their lonely rooms.

California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) is an accredited university that strives to embody spirit, intellect, and wisdom in service to individuals, communities, and the earth. CIIS expands the boundaries of traditional degree programs with transdisciplinary, cross-cultural, and applied studies utilizing face-to-face, hybrid, and online pedagogical approaches. Offering a personal learning environment and supportive community, CIIS provides an excellent multifaceted education for people committed to transforming themselves, others, and the world.

CIIS website

This school is one of a wide range of “alternative” approaches to the humanities and psychology that have found some support in hip communities such as the Bay Area. My own church uses a similar training approach – inviting clients in to be counseled by student practitioners – but a radically different marketing approach.

Did you say BART…

The East Bay reach of BART has been significantly extended since I lived in Berkeley 40 years ago. The older trains definitely show their age, but the newer ones still look nice.

As mentioned elsewhere, BART runs mostly full-length trains every 30 minutes or so. This saves on train operators, I guess. And you could board a car where you are the only passenger! The same thing can happen in Sacramento, though the light rail here runs 2-car trains every 15 minutes. Keeps more train operators employed!

…or BIRD?

There are SO MANY scooters in downtown Sac! It is perfect for them – flat, and usually warm and rainless. I’ve seen fewer in the Bay Area.

Tryin’ hard to create community

This area is called the “Downtown Commons.” It is all corporate-owned, though there are a few local businesses located here.

The concept of a “commons” developed, it seems, in England, where this land was used mainly for pastoral purposes. In the U.S. the term is more often applied to large urban parks (Boston Common). It is this tradition, I suppose, that the developers of this outdoor mall called upon in naming this place. You can see behind the sign a row of orange electric scooters and an electric bike. Oddly, you aren’t supposed to drive these in the pedestrian areas of DOCO, though many people do. The original designers did not anticipate this scooter explosion, but bike trails have been pushed in Sacramento for many years, so I really don’t know what they were thinking.

On the weekends this place is filled with a mostly-young crowd that is majorly Hispanic. Where do they live and work? I’m not really sure. But they sure like to come downtown on the weekend!

This mural, on a container across from DOCO, shows mostly Afro-American faces. The third from the left lives down the hall from me! But those faces are a little more common in other areas of the city. There is no doubt, though, that Sacramento is heavily diverse, as are most California cities.

Which rules?

This rather enigmatic sign typifies the vibe that is “modern” California. If it looks a little like a sign you might find posted in the hallways of a stereotypical Catholic school, I can sympathize. Do you feel a bit talked down to? I do!

These are the basics of human life in a civilized society. What has happened to us that we need to be reminded of these basics while riding our bicycles along the American River? And who tells us what the rules are? Aren’t they supposed to be carefully worked out using a messy and time-consuming democratic process that is supposed to assure that our rules are adequate without being overly restrictive (or, in fact, irrational)? Why have we put this power in the hands of a bunch of “public health” fanatics who I would swear are working for the drug companies, not the American people?

You might want to review Alice Cooper’s insightful poetry, briefly quoted earlier, and find new meaning – almost an eerie sense of prophecy – in those crude lyrics.

Are you ready to venture out in search of some sanity yet? I sure am!

St. Patrick’s Day

17 March 2021

Today the 17th of March is St. Patrick’s Day.

Two years ago when the bars were open, the streets were full of people celebrating in the ancient Irish tradition of drinking beer.

The namesake of this holiday was a Christian preacher trying to convert the “pagan” Irish. I suppose all that is swept under the rug now. Irish culture today retains many of its ties to its pre-Christian roots.

I may add to this later. The image is from the yellow caboose sitting in the historical park in Old Sacramento.

Horses and other things that don’t matter…

14 March 2021


You gotta have horses in Old Sacramento, right?

This is one of the prettiest horses working in Old Sac.
This brown horse has a plainer harness.

Today there were some mounted police riding through the tunnel, and when they saw I wanted to photograph them, they stopped and posed. Their horses are both males.


I usually don’t photograph clothing, but I was imagining my favorite friend wearing one of these pretty embroidered dresses and wanted to send her a pic.

Then there are the t-shirts!


A few car enthusiasts like to cruise Old Sac on the weekends.

These are low riders who put special gear under front and rear axles.
Motorcycles, too!


I’m including this not so much because of the turkeys but because of how the sun was shining through the trees.

Thoughts on senior dating

10 March 2021

As my readers may or may not be aware, starting mid-January I have been using several dating sites in an attempt to find some women who would be willing to share some of their time with me.

This is basically the first time in my life that I have attempted anything like this. I am finding it very instructional.

About 1/3 of the U.S. population are single adults. There might be about 1/4 of these caused by divorce and 1/8 of these caused by death of spouse. There are also increasing numbers adopting single living as a way of life.

What I see on the dating sites are mostly a mix of divorced and widowed women. There are a few older women who never married, and when I run across them, I sometimes ask them for their story. My own story may be pieced together from other posts on this blog.

What this means is that a significant number of women I am meeting on line have men in their lives that they used to be married to. They might even be sharing their kids with the guy, to give the kids a chance to spend some time with both their biological parents. I walk into these lives with a combination of no experience with marriage plus my Scientology training, and whether I “fall in love” with her or not, my first impulse is often to see if I can solve or patch up the divorce.

My Scientology training includes what LRH calls the Third Party Law. There is a link to this on my “Shorts” page.

This law states that for a conflict to persist, a third party must be present and actually promoting it.

I get to know some of these women, and find evidence for the existence of third parties in their lives who might have contributed to the breakup of their marriage.

In a situation like that, what’s the ethical thing to do? “Take advantage” of the situation and try to step in as their new boyfriend? Or step back and see if I can help them sort things out and patch the marriage back together?

Either way, with my training I realize that a lot of these broken marriages are being caused by poor decisions fed by bad data on the subject of human relations. Scientology is all about human relations. Most people would benefit from studying it.

The bigger picture

Many commentators and observers, including Hubbard, believe that human culture is under attack in order to weaken it prior to a political takeover. These attacks would certainly include attacks on the traditional family structure.

There is considerable difference of opinion about exactly which social movements or trends are part of this attack:

  1. Feminism/birth control/abortions. Most liberals think that giving women a place in society more on a par with men is a good thing. This has, however, led to breakdowns in traditional child raising structures and moral questions concerning promiscuity and unwanted pregnancies.
  2. Gender issues. “Gender” has come to be defined as one’s attitude about one’s sexual identity. “Sex” now means biological forms and structures. In the absence of any concept of Spirit, I think allowing kids to choose a different gender from their sex is confusing and dangerous for everyone involved. There could be spiritual realities behind such a choice, but if this is not known and explored, it leads the kids to think that they are just the effect of their genes.
  3. Demasculinization of men. There are studies that point to various factors that are decreasing male testosterone levels. This has to do mostly with various man-made substances introduced into our environment. Some think this was done on purpose as part of this cultural attack. It seems to be resulting in more gender confusion and lower sperm counts among men. There are also increasing complaints of erectile dysfunction.
  4. Legal frameworks that tend to “reward” single mothers. These laws have led to an interesting “male rights” movement. They involve various biases or favoritism regarding who gets custody, who owes child support, and how welfare payments are handled.
  5. Psychoactive and other medications. There are many medications which create emotional side effects like irritability, depression, or even violence. These effects could definitely harm a marriage, and are pernicious because they are often assigned to other causes.
  6. Attacks on religion. Religions have been the traditional custodians of family values. If this and other benefits of religious communities are overlooked by the secularists, then their push against churches could lead to extensive cultural decay.

Brave new world

Some believe that a techno-space dystopia is inevitable on Earth. This could come to pass.

But it has been noted by researchers like Hubbard that we on Earth are particularly averse to corporate slavery. That is why we are here on Earth and no longer driving space ships around the galaxy. We didn’t agree with the worlds we were kicked out of; why should we be any different now?

In fact, the population seems nearly evenly split. A huge number seem fine with corporate slavery and the “safety” that results, and the rest despise it to varying degrees.

But I think it is safe to say that the corporate bosses will not leave us alone about this. They are too profit-motivated to let an entire planet of 7 billion people do as it pleases. So it looks like we have a fight on our hands.

May your relationships stay strong and your love powerful! We’re going to need it.

When the Bright Moon Rises – A Review

3 March 2021

Here is my review of this book by Dena Merriam which I have just finished reading. The official publishing date of this book is last year (2020) but I just recently received a copy of it from the author (or her friend) on the condition that I would write a review of it when I finished it.

From its first pages (the Dedication) it is obvious that this book will invite the reader to become involved in some of the more esoteric aspects of ancient spiritual wisdom.

After a brief introduction and Between Lives narrative, it launches into the exquisitely emotional story of a woman named Sundari, who lived the younger years of her life in a half-primitive tribal clan in India which was later forced to join the more robust urban culture growing up along the rivers. That culture was attempting to stay true to the sacred teachings known as the Vedas.

Several chapters later the book shifts its focus to its central story, the life of Zong Shu, last wife of famous Tang dynasty poet Li Bai. I knew nothing of Li Bai until I read this book. And I was quite amazed to discover that this man is an actual historical figure, and considerably revered in China to this day. Dena writes as Shu, one of her past lives. Shu was very involved in Daoism, and was mentored by a teacher who, it is later revealed, also played an important part in the life of Sundari.

During her spiritual training, Shu recalls big chunks of her life as Sundari, as well as other lives in China. And so the theme of the book gradually coalesces. The people of India were know as people of the Sun, while the people of China were known as people of the Moon. A central theme of the book is a “wedding” between the Sun and the Moon (Bright Moon), which reflects Dena’s own longing for a reconciliation between the ancient spiritual traditions of India and China, which she feels could carry the whole planet forward towards an age of peace and spiritual enlightenment.

I must emphasize that this book attempts to accurately portray actual past lifetimes of its author. To my knowledge, there are no other authors (of this planet!) writing memoirs of this type. In my mind, Dena is beginning a whole new literary tradition on Earth. Hopefully her stories will not remain the only examples of this tradition!

Yet these stories stand out for their meaning and relevance. They are carefully crafted, and very much seem to be told from the viewpoint of the roles that Dena played as she lived on Earth. Yet, the prose is very consistent. In each story, it is Dena telling us of her own experiences! Though her name changes in each life, she remains the same being, with the same basic approach to life, the same dreams, the same deep ability to love and feel love.

This book is full of spiritual wisdom and full of poetry! It is not a steamy memoir of passionate romantic liaisons. This is a recounting of Dena’s journey towards spiritual knowledge. The method through which Dena recalls her earlier lifetimes is only lightly covered in these stories. But the value of past life memory to self-understanding is obvious and repeatedly demonstrated.

This same lesson that has been passed on to me by my own spiritual teacher. He has in his turn paid homage to both the Vedas and the Dao in his lectures and writings. He dates the Vedas as 8200 years old, which is not that far off from Dena’s estimate of 11,000 years.

There is also value to this book in terms of theological history and understanding. We should bear in mind that Dena’s stories give us insight into how those traditions were taught and used back in those days. She estimates that her lifetime in India happened approximately 3,000 years ago, which is before the time of any extensive use of written language in that region. Thus Dena gives us a window into details of life and thought in those times. Such details are available through no other known research method.

I experienced these stories as very emotionally powerful. And though the power of these stories could be attributed to the literary skills of their author, there is also the factor that they are true stories. For me, truth always gives an edge to a story, an edge difficult to duplicate in fiction.

My personal reactions to these stories

All of Dena’s stories involve the development of extremely strong bonds between people. These are normally experienced as bonds of love. Though there survives to this day folk wisdom concerning how some people seem to be “meant for each other,” Dena’s stories make it clear that this is no mere saying.

Thus, my recent fierce attachment to a woman 40 years my junior might not be totally explained by the fact that she is very pretty. After all, she felt something special for me as well. With Dena’s writings, we get a chance to explore how relationships can develop over many lifetimes. Thus, the emotions connected with such relationships can be totally excruciating, but their power remains mysterious because the earlier sources of those feelings have been forgotten.

In the central story of this book, a very spiritual younger woman falls in love with an older man who, through extensive travel and social interaction, has found a way to express profound spiritual truths through poems about common experience. In my own recent relationships, there have also been age gaps. Yet in my case the personalities seem somewhat reversed. She is the more adventurous one, freely expressing Spirit while hardly being aware of her own considerable wisdom, while I am the home-bound spiritual scholar who has filled his life with deeply-held feelings rather than extensive adventures. I cried many times as I read this story, particularly towards the end when the older man died, forcing the younger woman to carry on without him.

But I also cried over her compelling desire for a new kind of peace among men. A peace that would be based on love rather than “mutual assured destruction.” The wars that occurred in China during the later part of Li Bai’s life nearly destroyed the previous culture, and terrorized an entire generation with the most perverse atrocities imaginable. And so has war continued to be an abomination in the hands of men.

In closing, I might mention an observation made by the author which I believe to be quite valid: She saw the corruption of the early teachings to be due in part to the decreased ability of Earth people to remember with accuracy, and with an overall decline in psychic ability, which together destroyed the workability of oral tradition in times before language technologies were adequate to preserve the teachings in their original form.

She also noticed that the fall of the Tang dynasty in China coincided with the Dark Ages of Europe, suggesting that something happened planet-wide that “polluted” the spiritual abilities of the people of Earth. This idea that some new suppressive force appeared on the scene around that time is supported by other research.

Here I quote Dena from near the end of the book:

Our identities were not confined to Bai and Shu. We were two souls who had a deep connection, a long and charged history behind us, and a path before us that we could not yet see, but one that likely we would each have to walk alone. We didn’t know if we would come together in the future or not, but it didn’t matter. A deep connection once made never dissipates. because it does not operate in the field of time and space.

Dena Merriam. When the Bright Moon Rises; The Awakening of Ancient Memories.

And so it is! She states here a fundamental truth of life and we should heed her words. How many lifetimes have we all been interacting with each other? We are probably all connected with each other to some extent. And that is worth keeping in mind the next time you’re not sure what to think about another person. Perhaps that person was once someone you deeply loved!

Endless Yearning

3 March 2021

Endless my yearning
To be with you in Ch’ang-an.

Faraway, where chirping crickets
thread autumn songs
around the well’s gold rail,
coldly I sit, cramped
on a bamboo mat
crusted with blue frost.

Dim is the light from my only lamp,
darkly ablaze my longing for you.
Lifting the curtain, I stare

hard at the moon.
Helplessly, I sigh and sigh, longing
to smell the flower-scent of a woman
who dwells far from me
as the remotest cloud at sky’s end.

Above, the night climbs
into boundless black.
Below, the river tosses up
billows of darkest green.

Must heaven be so high?
Earth so vast?

Between them, my unfed soul
flies over a road that even in my dreams
is blocked at every mountain pass.

This endless yearning
Breaks my heart!

Li Bai, about 750 A.D. as translated by Stanton Hager in 2018

Seven Daffodils

2 March 2021

Seven golden daffodils, shining in the sun
They light our way to evening, when the day is done
And I can give you music, and a crust of bread
A pillow of piney boughs to rest your head



1 March 2021

I was going to wait until tomorrow to make this post. But in the course of a “slow” weekend, I have finished Dena’s book, so my next project is to write a review. That means these photos from yesterday should go up now!

Though most of these were taken in Old Sacramento or nearby, I chose these for the personal meanings in the images, and so each stands alone.

Modern Art

This scene reminds me of my best friend.


These mats remind me of another friend!

Cutting boards

I used to have a beautiful board like this, given to me as a gift by my parents many years ago.

Music Man

This guy has found a way to express himself and make a little dough while doing so. I have passed him many times, but this is my first clear picture of him.

Pusher Engine

This engine was part of an operation that put an old passenger coach into the train shed in back of the Railroad Museum. The light pattern is the interaction of direct sunlight and the lens on my phone camera.


There she stood by herself in the bright sun, wearing one of those tops that are so popular right now. Nice!

Sunburst with dance party

This is mainly for the light pattern. They were having a party at the new dance studio that is next door to the new art gallery.


This is the display of one of the regular Old Sac vendors who does not have a storefront.

Blu Nile

Featuring a sidewalk sign for my favorite Old Sac gift shop (owned and operated by a real live artist!), the interesting contrasts of a Saturday afternoon here are depicted.

Low Rider

Here a beautifully restored Chevrolet Fleetline is given a low ride vibe.

And with it, another opportunity to promote my favorite gift shop!

Pink Flamingos

Metallic birds guard the entrance to The Aviary, one of the new Bars/Clubs that are a part of the development that I live in.