Archive for the ‘Karmic Economics’ Category

There is nothing I cannot afford

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

“If you’re passing through the Bay Area,” I wrote to my Bicycle Buddha mailing list, “come visit me at the San Francisco Zen Center. Come sit zazen with me, then take me out for a fancy coffee—cuz I can’t afford lattes on monk’s wages.”

“Hi,” a friend shot back. “With an inheritance that allows you to travel to Mexico to get your teeth fixed and then fly kitty corner across a continent and then off to a zen centre for 4 months I truly think that you should give up this “cuz I sure can’t afford lattes on monk’s wages.” (more…)

In the chair with Dr. Jesus

Saturday, December 10th, 2016

img_20161206_161728I am a dental tourist. This is the main reason for my 3-week residency in Mérida, in the Mexican Yucatan. I am here, like lots of gringos, to get my teeth fixed for a smidgen of what i’d pay at home as an outside-the-box Canadian. I have standard MSP of course, but dental’s not included – I guess because, as my friend Chris says, a holdover from the day when teeth were a luxury.

But i got a wee windfall lately in some long-overdue cash from my dad’s bequest, earmarked toward my genetically crappy and long-neglected chomps. So I flew to Merida, where Dr. J will do the whole shebang – 6 ceramic plus 2 metal crowns, a bridge, and several fillings, veneers, and accessories – for less than $4,000 cdn, vs. my dentist’s quote of $18-$20K. Add in a cheap flight (under $500) and three weeks at Casa ChiChi ($18/night) and it’s still a great deal, with a bonus tropical adventure.

I did two hours in the chair today w Dr Jesus and his dental tag team: wife Claudia, Gina, and the lovely Mar, whose Mayan eyes I have fallen in love with over her green paper mask. That was session number 4, with two or three more still to come. I recline in the chair to a wash of Mozart, Phil Collins videos, and easy Spanish banter. No pain, no heavy drugs.  Team Jesus are total pros.

So yeah, it’s hot here; sticky muggy hot, broken by delicious torrential rains (as I sit typing under the umbrella in the courtyard, rain slucing the cobbles through the seville orange and papaya and hibiscus trees). I am bitten all over by bastardly invisible mosquitoes, and at night, between the heat and the itching and the barking dogs, sleep comes and goes. But I’m happily ensconced at Casa Chi Chi Still, my funky little air bnb cum hostel with a it’s cool shady courtyard, tiny swimming pool and barky dog. It’s clean and cheap and relatively quiet by mex standards, ie, how many mariachi bands is too many? Between visits to Dr J I cruise Merida on my purple bici, with now and then a bus excursion to a beach or a ruins.

It is all so very far from perfect. It is absolutely perfect.

Dumpstering on Granville Island

Saturday, April 9th, 2016

Granville-Island-ShoppingI’ve been taking a course with Michael Stone down on Granville Island (more on that soon). The Island —which is technically not an Island but a Landfill—is an urban wonderland of hidden treasures and oddities. My coolest new discovery is the big green dumpster in front of the trés-upscale Public Market. Yesterday a quick exploration yielded carrots, green onions, and a package of baby pattypans. The day before, a fine cabbage, a perfectly good red pepper, many red and yellow potatoes, and a small (more…)

And this is why i quit my job

Saturday, April 4th, 2015

CBHsUmZUQAEO5lS.jpg_largeNo hard feelings Hollyhock. Its been a nice cozy winter, sitting in my corner office overlooking the ocean, three days a week, tap-tapping away on my (thank god) Mac with the nice big monitor, grooving with the marketing team. I think I’ve done a pretty good job. But that’s enough—I’m too old for this nonsense.

This nonsense being, the act of sitting in front of a computer for 8 hrs a day (well ok less than that, with lunch and plenty of stretch breaks), investing my heart and soul into something which isn’t my passion. Don’t get me wrong—I totally respect Hollyhock and the good people that make it tick. If I didn’t, I couldn’t work there for even five minutes, in any capacity. I respect, and I support. But I am 50 years old and I’ve only got so much juice in me. Life is too short to atrophy my body, or to pour out my soul, for something that isn’t the very reason why I am alive on this earth. (more…)

A small fortune

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

Fortune_cookieI got an email callout today from a filmmaker friend, asking if anyone could help him pay down some credit-card debt. The bastards had let him exceed his credit limit, and then without warning had simply upped his interest rate and added a hefty monthly surcharge to his bill.

My friend declared that he would much rather pay the interest to a friend than to those bloodsuckers. He is confident that he will be able to repay the full amount, with interest, within a few months. Could anyone lend him $1,000 for a few months? (more…)

Mail-order bride

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

There are two things you should know about riding a bike: it should be easy, and it should not cause you pain.

This is what I say to customers in the shop when they are hesitant about buying a new bike. They look at me skeptically, expecting that, like dental work or pilates camp, riding a bike will be painful and difficult and expensive. But they are prepared to shell out because they are convinced that it will be good for them. They say, “well, but I’m not really serious about cycling. I don’t intend to ride it very much”. I say: cycling isn’t supposed to be serious. Let’s find you a bike that will be comfortable. A bike that will be easy to ride uphill and fast to ride downhill. A bike that fits you and makes you feel good. When you find that bike you just might really want to ride it more than you think. When you look at that bike your heart will swell with love. You might even want to ride it all the time. (more…)

Bike shop boyz ‘n’ grrlz

Friday, June 8th, 2012

There are 24 boys on staff at the Bike Doctor. Twenty-four boys, and one other girl, plus Lady Jane who crossed over, and me. They are sweet guys and hot guys and dorks, drinkers and jocks and artists and freaks. We all have greasy fingers and make near minimum wage. The boys drink warm Pabst after closing and talk trash in the basement. When someone wheels in a nut-brown ’60’s Schwinn with a sharks-fin chainguard, or a slender Peugot racer the weight of a feather, we gather round like pigeons and coo. (more…)

The giving muscle

Monday, April 30th, 2012

There’s this old Zen chestnut where the monk asks, why does the Bodhisattva of Compassion have so many eyes? The master replies: it is like a hand reaching for a pillow in the night.

I love that image, of compassion or generosity as an autonomic nervous response, as natural as breathing. Every cell like an eye, that sees a need and responds to remedy the situation. We see with any one of our thousand eyes and respond with any one of our thousand hands, in maybe the smallest of gestures, to activate comfort—not only for epic wide-screen suffering but also for the most subtle and personal pain, which is equally deserving of attention and care.

I know I wasn’t born with a thousand eyes. Or if I was, then every eye is wearing dark glasses. (more…)


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