Monday, March 16, 2009


I log in and realize that I haven't posted anything since January 11??!! Wow, lots happening. One thing happening is that I have bought a new laptop computer. Dell finally came out with mini computers at about half the price (or less) of traditional laptops, and it finally made it possible to think about. I've wanted a laptop ever since I moved in here, both because it's nice to have my very own computer and also because we sometimes get crunched with computers in the office -- we have two reasonably good working computers that get the bulk of the workout during the day, and another one in the library that is slower and sometimes in use by other residents or guests. Two other monks have their own laptops that they sometimes use for office work to take the pressure off, and I've wanted one for quite some time. But I looked at the price tags and just couldn't figure out how to justify spending $800-$1000 on something when I have basically no income.

But $350-$450 seemed possible, so I sprang for it. And to top it all off, I got it with a Linux operating system rather than Windows. I did that because it was an option, and a fellow monk ordered that system. I was intrigued. I don't know a lot about it, but people who use it seem to like it a lot. Our abbot Kyogen is also intrigued, and is considering it both for a personal laptop and also for an office upgrade. I figured it might be time for me to learn about it.

It hasn't been that simple, of course. I really haven't had the time to sit down and figure it all out. That's not how it works anyway, of course, as I know well. I work on a little bit here and a little bit there. (This is the first blog post on the new baby. Now I have it bookmarked, and will probably do most of my posts here.)

In any case, I still have access to the office computers, so it isn't as urgent as it might be otherwise. I do have the Internet set up on the laptop at both the Dharma House and the Sangha House (we have wireless Internet in both places), so that gives me a lot of capability right there. I can check my e-mail and post stuff right here in my room, instead of having to go down the street. I can't get on our office network, but I do have thumb drives, and sometimes e-mail myself (or others) documents or we sometimes use Google docs to be able to have access to things.

So things are progressing slowly on that front.

One thing I am doing on the computer is posting a poem a day. We have a poetry challenge at Zen Community of Oregon to write 30 poems in 30 days, with the rule being that you post one poem each day. To do that, we lower our standards and just post. I've done it every day this month (we started March 1). It would be good to post at least some of them here, and maybe I'll do that. It's been fun, really. Some of the poems are even not too bad. And it's a lot of fun to read others' posts.

As far as work goes, I've been extremely busy. We had a spectacularly successful silent auction. Final numbers aren't in yet, but we know we have taken in at least $21,000 (I think the final number will be close to $24K), with something like $6K expenses. People had a great time, and we did a lot of things right (along with, of course, a few things we will do better next year). Many people came who we didn't know, which has been a long-time goal -- to have others come in and have a good time and contribute to a good cause (our budget) at the same time. We're getting there. We have committed to doing this annually, and last week we had an evaluation meeting that also started plans for next year. Making it an annual event is putting us on the path of having more successful events, as we will continue to build on what we learned this year. We have already set the next planning meeting for a month from now. I feel good about it, and my part in it, and was also pretty tired.

Not to mention that I did a lot of work on the auction that caused me to put off other work that needed to be done. So a lot of this last week was trying to catch up with some of that. Today, my day off, will involve at least some work time this afternoon as I take the Events flyer to the printer and follow up on some stuff.

And I just found out yesterday that I will be Tenzo for Jukai. This is our annual week-long sesshin (silent retreat) here in town. Being tenzo, for those of you who have forgotten, means that I will be in charge of cooking all meals for the retreat. Numbers of people at meals are typically between 9 and 24, and they can vary that widely. Breakfast is pretty easy -- oats, tea, and fruit. But all of the other meals will require a bunch of planning, and I will have assistants to supervise. It's scary, but I feel almost ready to do it. It helps if I think of this as another opportunity to make mistakes, even to fail abjectly. Thinking of these things I am assigned to do as training positions, as practice, helps me to be less afraid of NOT DOING IT RIGHT. Even so, it will involve a fair amount of my time in planning this coming week. MrK will help, and of course Gyokuko, our executive Tenzo extraordinaire, will be looking over both our shoulders. I've been assistant tenzo for the last two years of Jukai, and have at least some idea of what's required and how it goes. [This photo was taken during Jukai and added later.]

So I think I'll close this post and look into getting some of the poems up here. I won't do all of them, but I may start posting the daily poems here as well as on the poetry blog site. I sometimes do them in the early morning, between when the alarm goes off and when I have to get up to dress for meditation. It's nice to be able to do that.