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A dream of peace, spirituality, tranquility, sectarianism, and discord..

October 10, 2018

Peace, spirituality, tranquility, sectarianism, and discord.

A dream of true inclusivity.. a dream that eventually got worse, as inclusivity started to be enforced.. and the room changed, and the mood darkened..

This is a long post, and eventually, not a happy one, but still something to think about..

I just got out of bed a bit ago, and decided the first thing I should do would be, instead of my regular morning exercises, to type out what I had dreamed, how my dream changed, and share it with you, if you feel like reading onward..

Sometimes, I lay in bed and wake up very slowly. At first, I am in a dream state, and experience and realize what I’m dreaming.

Then, as I gradually wake up, my body starts to become tense, my mind starts to move on to its usual unpleasant preoccupations of worry, irritability, my own personal prejudices and fears, and the dream changes into my waking thoughts.

The dream this morning was at first quite peaceful, before my conscious mind began its intrusions.

In the first part, I was riding in a car. I was almost completely unaware of who was accompanying me, just some people, but this did not worry me, as I could tell they were nice, and I felt quite peaceful.

Just off a paved rural highway, there was an area with some trees, and a little dirt road that led to a building that was sort of a church, but not.

I don’t remember the outside of the building, because I saw the dirt lot we pulled into, and then I was inside the building.

Inside, It looked like it had been a small church sanctuary, but no longer was, and was without religious decoration of any kind.

There were cushioned church pews, arranged in two semi-circles, with an empty area in the middle. I had the feeling this might have been a Christian church of some kind, Protestant, but was not one anymore. It was a place for everybody, and everyone knew this without having to be told. It was why we came.

There didn’t have to be any sign on the door saying, “everybody welcome,” because everybody just knew.

The flooring that was visible in the empty space was a nice cream-colored whitish marble with little random patterns in it, as marble has.

In the empty space in the middle, there was a small, metal -frame portable podium, but there was no one standing there, and I understood that the empty podium was a symbol, that there would be no one standing there, no specific teaching delivered. No one to tell us what to believe.

No one sat in the pews facing us, and I had the feeling that no one should sit in the center part of the front pew, that it, like the floor in the middle, should be left empty.

It seemed we and the others who had just arrived were the first of the visitors of the day. It was late morning. We sat in the same section facing across the empty space, and other section of pews.

The little empty space was for anyone who believed in a god or gods, and they could imagine their god or gods being there.

The empty space was also for people like me who have vague beliefs in the existence of a god or gods, but don’t think as much about this anymore, and do not have any spiritual practice.

As this was a spiritual place, I didn’t think any atheists would be showing up. But the empty space could be for them too.

And the empty space could be for Buddhists as well, who are big on emptiness, so to speak. It would take too long to me to write about the huge significance Buddhists place on emptiness, so I won’t get into that now.

The space was there for whatever people wanted to put there with their minds and hearts.

In some of the pews, a few Catholics got out their rosaries, but they prayed silently as they moved their beads around in their hands. I didn’t mind this. There were also fold-down kneelers in some of the pews, and some people were kneeling.

It was very pleasant and airy in the room, and everyone was silent and glad to be there, and it didn’t matter what anyone believed.

There were no kids in the room. It was a place only adults went to. Perhaps, if I, the dreamer of this dream, were a parent in my waking life, and in dreams, maybe there would have been kids in the room, but maybe not, I don’t know.

There were a few caretakers there, three of them, I think. They were dressed like monks, in brown cassocks like Franciscan monks. But they were only part-time monks, who had not taken any official vows.

They were just some men who lived near the building we were in, and were part of a community.. a very small town somewhere behind us, kind of like Idaho City, where I went to this past Sunday.

I saw one monk pull on a cassock over his street clothes .. a button-up shirt and faded jeans. This monk outfit was just so he could be recognized as a caretaker of the place.

The only jobs of the monks were to keep the place clean and to keep art supplies stocked in another, smaller room.

There was a smaller room attached to the main one, with a table and some folding chairs, and some basic art supplies -pens, markers, little scissors, white paper.

People were happy to see this room, but no one, including me, sat down. We just stood around the table for a moment, smiling a bit awkwardly.. no one wanting to be the first to sit down and make art.

Why this room? And why was nobody making art? I’m guessing because, for over a month, I’ve been thinking about art but not making any while at home. I’ve had a table set up in my room with my art supplies, but I’ve not made any art yet. I keep avoiding doing this, and get interested in other things.

But even though no one had yet to sit down and make some art, the mood was still peaceful and good, and silent, and inclusive.

As my mind started to become more conscious, I thought I should get out of bed and write about this nice and peaceful dream, while it was still nice and peaceful. I know from experience that when I lay in bed longer, my dreams and thoughts get worse. But writing is quite daunting and very time consuming for me, and I don’t do it much anymore.

I knew that if I continued to lay in bed, the dream would change, that my negative, conscious thoughts would start to arrive in my mind, and I wouldn’t feel as good. But being a natural procrastinator, and with a habit of making difficulties for myself, I stayed in bed, and my dream became unpleasant.

There became a sort of forced inclusivity.

First thing I noticed was that the floor in the empty space which had been a whitish mottled marble was now covered with a black, rough, thin carpet with some lines in it, lines which made no design, but were just there.

In the middle of the carpet was a sort of black dot surrounded by a bit of white that you might see in a yin and yang symbol, which is a symbol of balance.

However, there was almost no white around the black dot, unlike in the yin and yang symbol, where the black dot is surrounded by white, just as the white dot is surrounded by black in that symbol. But there was only a tiny white circle, just highlighting the black dot, surrounded by the lined black carpet.

I had an image in my mind of a hologram being projected out of the black dot in the floor. A talking, flickering image of a robed, turbaned Muslim cleric, standing behind the portable podium. (Islam is on my mind these days because many of the ESL students I tutor are Muslims, and I want to learn more more about their religion).

This is not actually what I saw, this hologram, but I understood that the black carpeted dot on the floor was actually a projector of a hologram, and that after the Muslim cleric, there might be a talking image of another teacher projected up from the floor, like that of a typical TV televangelist that most of us avoid watching, unless we want some unintentional entertainment.

I did not like this black carpet covering up the beautiful and pure marble in its natural state, did not like the black dot, and did not like knowing sectarian teachings might be presented.

I went to sit in the front pew facing some of the other people. The color of the pews had been brown, but had turned black.

There were less people in the room. A very serious and irritable middle-aged woman informed me that I should not sit at the center of that pew, but only off to the side.

I was not trying to place myself in a position of authority, by sitting toward the middle of the facing pew. I was feeling kind of sleepy, not paying much attention to what I was doing, and wanted my own space, just a bit away from every one else.

I did not like how this woman talked to me.. her tone of voice, but I moved over anyway. Didn’t want to offend anybody.

Then the dream changed again, though I remained in the same room. I was sitting back with the others.

My parents were there, and my mom was looking over a small, printed pamphlet that everyone was supposed to read.

This place was now an officially inclusive place – by that I mean we were supposed to try to be inclusive of others, and we had to learn about various spiritual traditions.

My mom looked over the pamphlet that listed classes we could take, and that it was implied visitors were strongly encouraged to take these classes.

We had already been through one class. It was on silent meditation – which in the good part of the dream, everyone was happily doing, without being instructed to do so.

Next was a class on another topic, and the mood was not good. Mom was complaining about not wanting to go to another two hour class on some topic she had no interest in, and I felt the same way. Dad, being a more passive person, didn’t say anything. He would have gone along with whatever, and without much thought.

Then things changed again. People in the room that still had the black carpeting in the middle.. the people started talking about their sectarian differences, and were becoming irritable with each other.

I had the thought that, “oh, we should have a separate room for Muslims, without any pews, so they can lay down their prayer rugs and do their thing.” And later wondered where the Jews would go.

Inside the main room, which was mostly empty now, sitting next to me, were two people, a Protestant and a Catholic, who where not at this time talking over their differences, but were, for the moment, sitting in solidarity with each other over what they did agreed with each other about, and were disagreeing with a Mormon woman, who was sitting across from them, in the front pew, but off to the side, where I was earlier sitting earlier. Mormons have a very different view of Christ, and one that Protestants and Catholics do not share.

There was a definitely unpleasant vibe, and I didn’t want to be in that room anymore, and I kept looking at the floor in the middle at the black carpet, and especially at that black dot, with just a little bit of white around it. It really didn’t look right to me.

And then the dream ended, and my muscle tension and slight back pain which I have every day came back, along with my general feelings of irritability, dread of working on things I should be working on but feel I don’t much want to do, like finally getting myself to start working on my art, studying Spanish, exercising, planning and cooking a meal later on, and writing all this down..

I very much liked the simplicity and peace of the first part of the dream. Everyone who came to that somewhat remote place knew what it was for before they got there. Everyone wanted to have no differences with each other, and just sit in a spiritual place of peaceful, happy silence.

Things got worse when inclusivity was forced, and even worse, when things became sectarian, and there was overt division.

Are there any places in the real world that are like how the place was in the first part of my dream?

I doubt it.

Here in Boise, there is a small Unitarian Universalist church. I attended a few services and meetings there. I share Unitarian Universalist, very open and inclusive view of spirituality.

The congregation is made up of people of many faiths, and people like me who have studied and practiced several religious, but who are still not religious, and likely never will be.

I do not attend the UU church because although the people there are very open-minded about spirituality, they are for the most part VERY closed-minded about politics.

The UU church, at both the local and national level, is quite strongly progressive. I, who am politically moderate, and sometimes right-leaning, definitely did not feel comfortable there.

If the UU church completely avoided politics, this would be the place for me, and be more like the place in my dream, but alas..

No, I don’t think there is any place like in the first part of my dream. We are all too divisive in our own way. Me included.

Put enough people in a room (two is enough.. or just one of us sitting alone, because we even disagree with ourselves on so many things), and we will certainly find something to disagree about.

And so we go to our own little groups, churches, institutions, knowing that that even in these places, we disagree with others, and don’t feel entirely at peace with others, or with ourselves.

But those of us who care, even if we disagree with others, will try to be peaceful, and at least work at being kind, and try not to let our disagreements turn ugly, to at least be civil, even though this is not always easy to do.

I guess the first part of my dream was just that.. only a dream. Nice while it lasted, before real life intruded.. real life, where we actually have to put in effort and time to make life better, even if we don’t want to.

Ah well.. time to get on with the day, and try to do some good, and try to find some good in the day, and to find good in myself and others.

How to get Spotlight to quit if you are using Mac High Sierra.

September 19, 2018

I just tried to update Safari on my MacBook. I got a message saying that extensions for the application called Spotlight were still in use.

I checked force quit, and it wasn’t there.

I then tried google for tips. Most of which did not help – probably for earlier operating systems.

I am currently running High Sierra 10.13.6.

I finally found  instructions that worked to make Spotlight quit.

Go to system preferences, then Spotlight, then de-select all the things Spotlight searches. You will find all but one of them in the white window in the middle. Scroll down to see all of them.

The boxes, which you will need to click on, are in blue. If you de-select them (click on each one), they turn white.

There is one box below the main white window. Don’t forget to click on that little blue square as well.

Then restart. (Thanks for the tip, Sue, who left me a nice comment – I forgot to mention the restart part of the instructions).

That works.

I followed these instructions, went back to the App Store, and was able to install the update.

After that, I went back to Spotlight in system preferences, and re-selected all the spotlight functions.

Hope this helps.

An odd memory…

September 1, 2018

Going through some random memories. Happened upon a strange one. I don’t know why.

I am a very light drinker, and haven’t had any alcohol in about two weeks. But I’ve been wanting some unfiltered sake, so I bought some today, and less than an hour ago, had two small glasses. And I’m tired. So..

The year.. 1997? The place.. my hometown, which I still miss almost every day, a city called Modesto, in the Central Valley of California. (I’ve been living in Boise, Idaho, for many years – a wonderful city, but I still miss Modesto).

Picture this.. two dudes, both straight, but you would not know that by looking at them.

One is sitting down on the steps of a small clubhouse at a driving range, where people spend lots of money to whack little dimpled white balls far distances, using narrow clubs.

The guy on the steps is dressed normally for summer, except for his hat. He’s wearing shorts, a t-shirt, Converse Chucks, and a big, puffy blue top hat.

There is another guy. He has black hair, styled in a way that would make Robert Smith, the lead singer of The Cure, envious.

He’s pale, skinny, wearing black makeup, an old fashioned white blouse, and a stylish black skirt, which is about a hundred years out of style. And these are not his girlfriend’s clothes. He is squatting down to apply black lipstick to the guy sitting on the steps.

Why? The guy on the steps is not wearing enough black makeup. Duh.

Why the makeup and so forth? The guy applying the makeup is the lead singer of a local goth band called Healthy Morbidity. The guy on the steps is in a few moments to be playing bass guitar in the band, even though he really doesn’t know how to play bass guitar. Luckily, he just has to play a few notes per song, and look darkly weird. Or darkly silly.

After sufficient makeup is applied, the guys join two others, inside the tiny clubhouse, and they perform a few songs, for almost no one, except a few skater kids, who are confused, though, thankfully, not violent, and who are awaiting the next band.

This is the only gig the guy on the steps plays, because the singer, who is very easy to get along with, lives in the Bay Area most of the time, and is not around to keep peace with his bandmates.

The drummer is a friendly person, with a very slight case of cerebral palsy, in one of his hands. This, surprisingly, does not affect his playing.

The keyboard player is a total jerk, to put it mildly, and he is the reason the one-time bass player does not continue to perform with the band.

I was the guy on the steps.

No big story here, just an odd memory. Haven’t thought about that moment in years. A strange experience. Especially the part with the guy in drag putting lipstick and other makeup on my face.

This is a fond memory. I smile and chuckle when I think about it.

The ’90’s.. interesting times.

What is the hardest part about being an actor/actress in Hollywood?

August 25, 2018

I have answered over 100 questions on Quora.com this year.. covering a wide variety of subjects. This is a pretty good hobby, and I like to help.

Here’s my answer to “What is the hardest part about being an actor/actress in Hollywood?”

My answers tend to be lengthy, but I like to be thorough.

There are so many possible and very good answers to this question that it is difficult to single out one answer, or even a few.

Also, it would help if you could specify A-list actor, B-movie actor, or aspiring actor (I’m using the word “actor” because sometimes it is non-gender specific – I’ve heard women refer to themselves as “actors.”)

I think perhaps the biggest problem with being an A-lister is dealing with the utter insanity of fame. Neurosis, failed marriages, drug addiction, suicide. So many actors cannot cope with the fame.

I think the legends with the longest careers were probably more stable than most others who try to get into this field, and learned, over time, and with practice and patience, to deal with the fame. I’m thinking of such people as Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep. Natalie Portman, Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley, and Hugh Jackman seem quite level-headed as well, compared to others.

There have been casualties.. such as Robin Williams, Heath Ledger, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, who have not been so fortunate.

Another difficulty of A-listers is making good choices, and weathering flops. The longer and more successful a career, the more forgiving critics and fans are about flops. (This is true for directors, as well as actors). It’s tough to have flops early on or even midway through a career.

Some people just have a knack for picking films that will likely do well at the box office, and/or please the critics, whether these movies are blockbusters or smaller films. Scarlett Johansson is a master of this. Look at her filmography. I’ve seen her in a LOT of movies (she’s one of my favorites) but not just because she’s starring in them. So many of the films she’s starred in since she was a kid have been either great, or, in my opinion, better than average.

Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, and Jennifer Lawrence also have a better than average track record, I think. (Watch “American Hustle” to see excellent performances by those three, and Amy Adams – definitely a film for adults, though).

TV (not HBO, but network TV) actors, and B-movie actors, if they have come to accept what they are, and their place in Hollywood, might have good lives, and make a decent to rather good living. But it’s the minor leagues. So many aspire to fame and fortune, and never get there.

Aspiring actors.. so many difficulties. Here are three of the worst that I can think of: 1. an astonishingly immense amount of competition. Thousands upon thousands of people, especially young people, in Hollywood, working menial jobs, and hoping to land work as an actor.

Think of the Penny character from “The Big Bang Theory.” (The actress who plays her, Kaley Cuoco, is an extreme rarity, a success story). Penny is a waitress, for years, who thinks she has talent, but doesn’t (I didn’t watch all the seasons of this show, so I don’t know if Penny ever lands a role – just using this character as one example). So.. the immense competition..that’s one huge obstacle.

2. Delusional thinking. Ever watch those early auditions for American Idol? Tens of thousands of people line up at these auditions, and most of them don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of even getting on the show, much less winning. They think they can sing, and sing well, but they can’t.

Aspiring actors also have a tremendous about of delusional thinking.

There’s a character in one of my favorite films, “Wish I Was Here,” in which Zach Braff plays a man in his 30’s who has a wife (who has a serious job that she hates), and two kids to support, but he keeps chasing his dream. Mush to the consternation of his wife, and his father.

Unfortunately, delusional thinking is massively encouraged in our society. Each speech by a celebrity who has ever won an award.. “Follow your dreams! If I could do it, you can do it too!!” Well, for most people, that is total bullshit.

Delusional thinking is a SEVERE problem.

3. A problem that is especially insidious.. Hollywood is filled with very sick and manipulative people who try all sorts of schemes to take advantage of starstruck young people. Bad contracts, charging huge amounts of money for services that turn out to be non-existent, and luring people into the porn business. These people are the destroyers of souls and dreams, and there are a LOT of them out there.

So, yes, lots of problems and pitfalls. I’ve tried to pick the worst ones to write about.

A Visit to Cleo’s Ferry Museum and Nature Trail.

August 11, 2018

Not much of a museum, but rather a roadside attraction and historical site, Cleo’s Ferry Museum and Nature Trail is located in the pleasant high desert and agricultural region of Southwest Idaho, about an hour’s drive from Boise, along the Snake River. It is located aways outside the small town of Melba, on highway 45, just north of where 45 joins highway 78, right before the bridge over the river.

In the past, ferry boats traveled along the winding Snake River, which flows through Idaho, and other states as well.

The ferry depot is called Walter’s Ferry. According to a small sign, a woman named Cleo R. Swayne is the name of the owner of this rather interesting, peculiar place.

Here is the review of Cleo’s Ferry Museum that I posted on Google Reviews. I am a google local guide – unpaid, of course – I write reviews of lots of places.

I’ll include photos of the place at the bottom of this post.

Here’s my review..

This is a VERY strange place, and quite heavily Christian.

You won’t find it unless you stop at Dan’s Ferry Service. Dan’s is a gas station and pleasant convenience store. If you pull into the parking lot at Dan’s (I hope you go in and buy something. The people there are friendly – great beer selection too), look to your right and you will see a narrow, paved road with a small sign directing you to Cleo’s. Turn down that little road.

You’ll see some interesting old buildings that were part of the ferry station (there was a time when ferry boats traveled the Snake River, and the ferry station at Cleo’s is called Walter’s Ferry), a home where the owners and caretakers live, and a dirt lot for parking. There are also two donkeys back there, in a little area that looks too small for them. I don’t know if the donkeys are friendly, and therefore, I don’t advise trying to pet them. I didn’t.

No fee to visit, but there is a locked donation box. Please put money in it. The caretakers do a good job keeping up the place, and don’t charge anything, so please be nice to them by leaving a donation.

The walking path is mostly paved, but not entirely. You will see massive collections of lawn ornaments, a large area featuring many life-size statues of people in a parade (this was impressive), some odd little buildings, and a few graves.

Not a cemetery though, like another reviewer wrote. I like walking through old cemeteries. I”m not the ghost-hunter type – I like the artistry of the headstones and the history of such places. (Want to see a very interesting old cemetery? Go to the one just outside Idaho City).

But there’s no cemetery at Cleo’s to walk through, and if you are not looking, you might miss the graves.

I liked the themed collections of lawn ornaments, the statues, the old buildings. And, even though I’m not a religious person, I did like the little garden of prayer – I think that is what it was called.

There’s a little chain link fence gate (close the gate behind you). You’ll see a shaded area, with some statues and a small pond. Good place to sit and rest, especially if you visit Cleo’s on a warm day, like I did. I didn’t mind that little area being Christian. Nice, actually.

I did NOT like how every few feet I walked, I saw a little sign with a positive affirmation or Christian message.

I did not visit Cleo’s Ferry Museum to read a self-help book, nor the Bible.

The little signs distract the eye, and I kept finding myself reading the signs instead of looking closely at the exhibits.

One cool thing to do is follow a trail up the hillside. After you walk through the dirt trail forested area, you’ll come back to black top. Instead of turning, walk the dirt trail up the hill. There are some benches up there. Sit awhile, and enjoy the view.

I’d suggest retracing your steps down the hill. It seemed there was a trail going off toward the entrance, but the trail I was on just faded away, and I ended up walking through the brush downhill. Good thing I was wearing jeans.

This is the first roadside attraction I’ve ever visited. I went to this place alone, and there were no other people on the entire trail with me. I felt a bit creeped out at times.

If you go with family or friends, you will probably feel just fine.

This place is definitely family friendly, except if you have small, unruly children. If your youngsters are very well-behaved, they’ll do fine, but if they are little monsters, they will probably want to run around and play with the lawn ornaments and statues.

One last thing – I was disappointed there was no guide, and that the old buildings were locked. I would have liked to have seen inside. On the Cleo’s facebook page, I noticed that occasionally the people who run the place do open the buildings and are around. But not usually.

This place is worth visiting, but it would be a more enjoyable experience if all the little signs were taken down, if it were a mostly non-sectarian place, and if we could see inside the buildings and learn more about them and the ferry depot.

 

Cleo's Ferry Museum

Cleo's Ferry Museum, Tom Meninga

Cleo's Ferry Museum

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cleo's ferry museum

hillside, cleo's ferry museum

All photos ©Tom Meninga, 2018. 

 

 

 

Always Look For Pedestrians.

July 20, 2018

Always look for pedestrians. Always.

About 15 minutes ago, I almost killed two people.

I was not looking for pedestrians.

I was driving down 5 Mile Rd., and had pulled into the left turn lane, ready to turn onto Edna St., where I live.

I looked at the head lights of an oncoming car in the opposite lane. I figured I could make the turn safely, but I’d have to hit the gas, and do it fast.

I didn’t feel comfortable about doing that.

I am a very cautious, slow driver by nature.

It was only then, after deciding not to make the quick turn, that I saw an older woman and a little boy walking slowly down 5 Mile, in the Edna crosswalk.

They would have been in the EXACT spot where I would have turned, had I turned, and I would have been making a fast turn.

My mind made the unconscious assumption that no one would be walking across the crosswalk at 10:30 pm.

But other parts of my mind did other things.

There was the thought – better not make the turn – just wait until the car passes.

And something stranger. A few blocks before I got to the turn lane, the phrase, “a freak occurrence” came to my mind. I did not know why.

There must be good angels out there.. or.. something.

Right now, if I’d made a different choice, one or more of those two people would likely be dead, and I’d soon find myself in handcuffs, and rightfully charged with manslaughter.

Had I been drinking? No. Not impaired at all.

But that would not have mattered at all.

So.. I am extremely grateful to.. whoever.. that I was somehow able to make the right decision..

Even though I did not look for pedestrians.

Always look for pedestrians. Always.

A brief thought on writing..

June 28, 2018

A brief thought on writing, from the newspaper comic, “Pearls Before Swine.” I don’t know how to scan the comic here, so I will just type in the text.

The first four panels are just words We don’t see the main characters, the anthropomorphic Rat, Pig, and Goat.

“Today I will waste seven hours. Then I will be productive for just one hour.”

“Then I’ll hate everything I did.”

“Then I’ll think I’m a joke.”

“Then I will take out my frustration out on the person closest to me.”

In the last panel, we see the three characters. Rat, who wrote the first four panels, says, “How to be a writer, chapter one.”

Goat says, “How appealing.”

And Pig says, “When does the drinking start?”

I have a very difficult time writing nonfiction – these posts here on facebook and on my blog.

I have read about fiction authors. They struggle a lot too.. a lot more than I do, probably.

I’m guessing many writers, of either fiction or nonfiction will appreciate the cartoon. Sorry I could not scan it in here.