The Meaning of “Scarcity”

Last month, when self was visiting son and Jennie in Claremont, she got to sit in on a panel sponsored by Women in Business.  The speakers, all of them, were great.  At the end of the afternoon, every participant was given the choice of one of three free books.

The one self chose was Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, by Brené Brown.

Chapter 1 is on “Scarcity” (Honestly, you’d think self would have gotten farther than that by now.  Note to Self:  quit reading fanfiction!

There are three components to scarcity and how our culture perceives it:

  1. Shame:  Is fear of ridicule and Read the rest of this entry »

Buddha Mind

This afternoon is self’s Vinyasa Flow class.

It is soooo relaxing.

Self has been pondering taking a course on Buddhism.

For, as Japanese sage Hakuin Ekaku (1685 – 1768) once said:

To study Buddhism is to study yourself.  To study yourself is to forget yourself in each moment.  Then everything will come and help you.  Everything will ensure your enlightenment.

–  Nakahara Nantenbo (1839 – 1925)

She did actually ponder learning more about Buddhism, but there are so many things going on in her life at the moment.

Dear Departed Sister-in-Law Ying was a Buddhist, and a gentler soul never lived.  When she died in Tel Aviv, in 2008, self was heartbroken.  Her ashes are in the family crypt in Manila, but some are in a temple in Bangkok, per her instructions.

Ying!  She was so proud of self that she would carry around a copy of self’s books, and when people would ask what she was reading, she would show them.

Now that self is contemplating the Buddhism thing, she also remembers hearing about Shari Epstein, a former classmate at Stanford, who was said to have founded a city on the northern California coast.  A Buddhist, peaceful city.  What was its name?  Drat self and her horrible memory.  The City of 10,000 Buddhas?  Something like that?  In Ukiah?

She recalls, too, a teacher named David Nivison (whose books are all available on Amazon) who taught a class called Zen and Nothingness.  Can you believe actually taking a class like that?  Self recalls the first day:  there we were, Chinese Studies and Asian Languages students, scattered around the small classroom.  The professor enters:  a very very tall and a very very skinny man.  Without preamble, he opens his mouth and begins the lecture.

We students look at each other in dismay.  The teacher’s mouth is moving, but no one can hear anything.  Slowly — and as surreptitiously as possible — a few students begin moving closer to the front of the classroom.  By the end of that quarter, this is how the chairs were arranged:  Prof. Nivison seated at his desk facing the class, and all our chairs circled around his desk, some even touching the desk, and everyone straining their darndest to make sense out of this Zen and Nothingness which — don’t ask self to explain the concept, it’s something like the sound of one hand clapping.  She knows there was a midterm and a final, and she passed both. But she has no idea what she wrote, what she filled her Blue Book with. Her grade, she recalls, was a B.  Which was extremely kind of Prof. Nivison.

Back to the Buddha Mind!

When we are trying to be active and special and to accomplish something, we cannot express ourselves.  Small self will be expressed, but big self will not appear from the emptiness.  From the emptiness only great self appears.

Now synapses are firing like crazy in self’s brain, for she remembers the Abnegation faction in Divergent, which she made yet another attempt to read last night, before giving up and going back to re-reading Mockingjay.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Most Irresistible Quote of the Day 2: From The Lizard Queen @GrinningDuchess

Substituting one thing with another that’s just as bad isn’t the same thing as quitting or letting go. –  @GrinningDuchess, Twitter

Amen, @GrinningDuchess.  Amen.

Most Irresistible Quote of the Day

Not to know is bad.  Not to wish to know is worse. –  Nigerian Proverb


From the Long-Unheard From (Robert Greene)

The 48 Laws of Power is such an entertaining book!

Whenever self is desperate for a pick-me-up, she lets the book fall open on a random page.

Tonight she lands on Law # 3, p. 19

At the top of the page is a quote from that most learned Jesuit, Baltasar Gracian (1601 – 1658)

Do not be held a cheat, even though it is impossible to live today without being one.  Let your greatest cunning lie in covering up what looks like cunning.


Then self starts to ponder:  what if the shoe were on the other foot?  What if you looked at someone and thought: You are cunning, but I’m on to you.  You think I’m stupid, but I know you’re a cheat.

It truly is exhausting to be cunning.

Whereas, to be able to detect cunning is not only relaxing, it is empowering.  Because it makes you feel absolutely brilliant. Like Sherlock Holmes 3.0.  Especially if you happen to just stumble across the revelation.  While frosting a cake, say.  Draped in an apron.

Self wishes the part that spells out “Observance of the Law” weren’t about 1850 and the young Otto von Bismarck, about the unification of the German states, about the war against Austria, about speechifying.

Self turns the page.  Apparently, von Bismarck came out as a peace advocate, addressing the German parliament and urging it not to declare war against its neighbor.  Then, as soon as he was appointed a member of the cabinet, he goaded a peace-loving king into war with Austria, “crushing the former empire and establishing a mighty German state.”

Interpretation of the Law:  “By being completely insincere and sending misleading signals, however, he deceived everyone, concealed his purpose, and attained everything he wanted.”

But what if you don’t know what you want, and advocate one course of action, but subconsciously want the opposite, and then things just turn out right by sheer coincidence?  Like, what if you’re not insincere, just confused?  And what if things turn out right because you’re lucky, but people think it was because you were insincere?

Just try wrapping your head around that one for a minute!

How did that song from Queen go?

Mama Mia, Mama Mia, Bee-yehl-ze-bub has a devil put aside for me.  For meeeeee!!!  For ME!!!!!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Week Before AWP Exhaustion and Self Is Already Exhausted

So, what better way to lose herself for a few minutes, or even an hour, than in reading Hunger Games fanfiction?  She found a really good one today.  Dear blog readers will probably laugh but it is no joke:  one of self’s bookmarked sites is

No, self will not go there.

Instead, she continues with Divergent.  Because the movie — well, the movie stars Shailene Woodley.  And self loves Shailene Woodley.  She’s loved her ever since The Descendants.

These are the young actresses self particularly loves:  Jennifer Lawrence, Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt (well, she’s a bit older; still, self loves her), Jena Malone and Shailene Woodley.  Oh!  She also likes Felicity Jones.  She liked Natalie Mendoza in The Descent.  She likes Lilly Collins. And Lupita Nyong’o who was absolutely incandescent in 12 Years a Slave.

Where were we?

Oh yes, Divergent.

On p. 33, self finds out a little bit more about the world of the book:

The narrator’s father has returned from a hard day at work.  He is some kind of political leader.

The narrator explains:

The city is ruled by a council of fifty people, composed entirely of representatives from Abnegation, because our faction is regarded as incorruptible, due to our commitment to selflessness.  Our leaders are selected by their peers for their impeccable character, moral fortitude, and leadership skills. Representatives from each of the other factions can speak in the meetings on behalf of a particular issue, but ultimately, the decision is the council’s . . .  It has been that way since the beginning of the great peace, when the factions were formed.  I think the system persists because we’re afraid of what might happen if it didn’t:  war.

Self loses herself in conjecture.  To tell the truth, self belongs in a faction like Abnegation.  But she longs to break out of it because it is just, so, so — limp. For instance, p. 34:  “We aren’t supposed to speak at the dinner table unless our parents ask us a direct question, and they usually don’t.”

Members of Abnegation must be humble and self-effacing all the time.  They must not take pride in their looks or in their character or in their intelligence or in their creativity.

What. A. Terrible. Way. To. Be.

Self knows, because she spent — oh, about 80% of her life doing all those self-abnegating things.  And it did her not. One. Bit. Of. Good.

Until self suddenly had this mind-blowing revelation, courtesy of Manang Marilou of Bacolod:  Nobody cares if you are miserable.  So you might as well be happy.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Reading for the Day: DARING GREATLY

Jennie invited self to attend a Women in Business Workshop yesterday on the Claremont campus (Self doesn’t know why, but she never noticed before how beautiful the campus is!  Especially Scripps).  Here’s Jennie looking oh-so-prepped in black jacket, purple top, grey tailored pants, and pumps.

Jennie, Yesterday:  Scripps College

Jennie, Yesterday: Scripps College

Anyhoo, the workshop was so very, very interesting.  Every participant got to take home a free book.  There were stacks of choices.  Self picked Doing Greatly:  How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, by Brené Brown.

The Introduction talks about the value of living “wholeheartedly.”  There’s a list of 10 Guideposts for living “wholeheartedly”:

  1. Cultivating Authenticity:  Letting Go of What People Think
  2. Cultivating Compassion:  Letting Go of Perfectionism
  3. Cultivating a Resilient Spirit:  Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness
  4. Cultivating Gratitude and Joy:  Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark
  5. Cultivation Intuition and Trusting Faith:  Letting Go of the Need for Certainty
  6. Cultivating Creativity:  Letting Go of Comparison
  7. Cultivating Play and Rest:  Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth
  8. Cultivating Calm and Stillness:  Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle
  9. Cultivating Meaningful Work:  Letting Go Self-Doubt and “Supposed to”
  10. Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance:  Letting Go of Being Cool and “Always in Control

One of the great things about visiting son is that, since he and Jennie are psychology grad students, there is no dearth of reading materials that address various subjects having to do with self, the psyche, etc.  The speaker yesterday, Michelle Bauman, is a Personal/Business Coach.  She talked about how most people’s mindsets lie on a continuum between “fixed” and “growth,” and how the proportion between one or the other changes as we learn from experience.

They served lunch.  Ohh, the mango and coconut mousse was so great.

Seated next to self was a striking woman who introduced herself as “Music Watson.”  Self couldn’t resist asking her where she got her first name.  Her response:  “My parents were hippies.” Self asked if that meant they liked Carole King and James Taylor.  She said, “More like The Doors.”

Yesterday, in the milling around between panels, a student named Yael, who self guessed (correctly) was from Tel Aviv, and was a grad student in Information Systems, came over and introduced herself.  Then another student came up.  Self thinks this is because they assumed she was a Claremont professor.  Self was wearing black pants, a black jacket, grey pumps, black stockings, and a beige top.  I guess no one could be blamed for thinking she was a professor!  She bought the clothes special for the trip, when Jennie told her the attire for the Women in Business event was “business casual.”  A saleswoman in Anne Taylor Loft on Santana Row brought out the grey pumps, on sale for $19.95!  Self used her own black jacket, but she did buy the black pants which –  she didn’t notice until yesterday — had zippers down the calfs.  Cool!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

BLGF p. 241: Dubrovnik (Formerly Known as Ragusa)

Dear blog readers may well wonder how self got to p. 241 so quickly.  Well, she has decided that she can best enjoy Black Lamb and Grey Falcon if she takes it in small doses.  That is, if she elects to read only specific chapters.  Otherwise, she might still be lugging around this 1,000-plus page behemoth months from now.  Which would greatly exacerbate her chronic neck and shoulder pain.

If dear blog readers think that’s a crackpot plan for reading a book, self would just like to say that she used that method when she was a graduate student at Stanford, and it never failed her.  Never.

The chapter self is reading today is Dubrovnik, which self began after finishing the chapters Split I, Split II, Split III and Saloniae.

Dubrovnik used to be known as Ragusa until it became part of Yugoslavia.  The name was changed because it was thought that Ragusa “sounded Italian.” (p. 230)  According to RW, “it should be visited for the first time when the twilight is about to fall, when it is already dusk under the tall trees that make an avenue to the city walls . . . ” (p. 231) How self wishes she had decided to approach Venice in the same way.  She got into Venice at mid-afternoon on a scorching hot day, and after taking a bus from Marco Polo Airport, her first sight of the Grand Canal was in bright sunlight, and it had no romance at all.  In fact, the Grand Canal on that unseasonably bright day in April looked much like the main lobby of the Venetian in Las Vegas.  Which self has visited more than once.  And there were masses of tourists.  And self was just so disappointed.

Back to BLGF.  Somewhere in this chapter, self remembers reading that the word “argosy” was derived from Ragusa.  Which makes sense.  But self cannot point to the exact page where she came by this information.  She knows it is here in this chapter somewhere, but the text is so dense and crammed with historical facts that after 10 minutes of looking, she still can’t find it.  Never mind.  You can take self’s word for it:  the word “argosy” derives from the ancient name for Dubrovnik.

There is so much here about rulers and petty negotiations and the class system and social injustice because RW knows everything.  Everything.  She doesn’t bother to cite her sources so you’ll just have to take her word for it.  She’s either a genius or completely cracked.  At least, she writes in a tone of very convincing authority.  :

The Republic was surrounded by greedy empires whom she had to keep at arm’s length by negotiations lest she perish:  first Hungary, then Venice, then Turkey.  Foreign affairs were her domestic affairs; and it was necessary that they should be conducted in complete secrecy with enormous discretion.  It must never be learned by one empire what had been promised by or to another empire, and none of the greedy pack could be allowed to know the precise amount of the Republic’s resources.  There was therefore every reason to found a class of governors who were so highly privileged that they would protect the status quo of the community at all costs, who could hand on training in the art of diplomacy from father to son, and who were so few in number that it would be easy to detect a case of blabbing.  They were very few indeed.  In the fifteenth century, when the whole population was certainly to be counted by tens of thousands, there were only thirty-three noble families.  These could easily be supervised in all their goings and comings by those who lived in the same confined area.

Next chapters:  Dubrovnik II, Sarajevo I, Sarajevo II, Sarajevo III, Sarajevo IV, Sarajevo V, Sarajevo VI, Sarajevo VII, Sarajevo VIII, Belgrade I.

Stay tuned.


Addendum for Sunday, 29 December 2013:

Have not agreed much with Dear Eric lately, but am resurrecting this weeks-old post because the quote from Plutarch Heavensbee (scroll all the way down) is so heavenly, and I’ve been mentioning it like mad, esp on Facebook!

*     *     *     *     *

Eric D. Snider can be so much fun to quote.  She hasn’t quoted him in a while, though.  Self owes him her deepest deepest gratitude for apprising her of the excellence of the following films:

  • How To Train Your Dragon
  • From Paris With Love (which is still self’s FAVORITE Jonathan Rhys Meyers movie, she kids you not!  She says this totally without irony)
  • The Raid:  Redemption (Self’s first Indonesian movie.  She gives it five stars!  She adores over-the-top, cheeky violence!)

If not for Eric D. Snider, self might have been suckered into seeing such high-quality cinematic products as:

  • The Counselor
  • Ender’s Game (At one point, Sole Fruit of Her Loins was very into this series by Orson Scott Card)
  • Last Vegas

But no!  Because of Eric D. Snider, self has now and then managed to hang on to ten bucks and two hours!  And, since life is short, she would never be able to get those back.  NEVER!

Today, self has endless free time.  Christmas is not yet here, and no one is coming to visit.  The day is yet young:  self has (so far) filled up her time with hanging Christmas decorations and writing Christmas cards.  If one were to ask self what the best use of her time would be at this moment, she might respond that if she were not able to write, or were not in the mood to write, she would be in the downtown Century 20, watching Hunger Games: Catching Fire for the fourth time.

But since self believes in “moderation in all things,” she has decided to go scarf up her copies of The Hunger Games books, which she hasn’t actually laid eyes on in at least two years.  She goes hunting all over son’s room, and cannot for the life of her remember where to look.  She hopes she didn’t leave them in Bacolod.

Anyhoo, Eric D. Snider has reviewed Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and instead of sharing his entire review, self will zoom in on a quote from Plutarch Heavensbee that he includes in his review (You know, if self didn’t know any better, she’d almost think the entire Hunger Games trilogy was a satire, a cheeky thing to be played strictly for laughs.  Especially when characters have names like “Peeta” who is a baker — tell self you didn’t immediately think of pita bread! — and Effie Trinket — Did you not think the name could be referring to something like: “This is just EFFING hilarious!”)

Our man Plutarch has decided to ask Katniss for a dance.  They’re twirling around a ballroom, making small talk.  It’s the kind of thing Natalie Dormer’s character in the TV series Game of Thrones (Margaery Tyrell) does so well.  While looking very poised and serene, she manages to produce words that function something like razor points.  So Plutarch is saying to Katniss:  “It’s appalling.  Still, if you abandon your moral judgement, it can be fun.”

Is that a direct quote from the book?  If it is, Suzanne Collins needs to be congratulated.  Because, as Eric D. Snider says, it “is true of so many things.”  (BTW, only an actor as skilled as Philip Seymour Hoffman could inject that line with the right amount of sarcasm.  Oh, the delivery, the delivery!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Been So Long: Law 13 of Robert Greene’s THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

When people choose between talk about the past and talk about the future, a pragmatic person will always opt for the future and forget the past . . .  it is always best to speak pragmatically to a pragmatic person.  And in the end, most people ARE in fact pragmatic — they will rarely act against their own self-interest. (p. 98)

*          *          *

In your quest for power, you will constantly find yourself in the position of asking for help from those more powerful than you.  There is an art to asking for help, an art that depends on your ability to understand the person you are dealing with, and not to confuse your needs with theirs.

Most people never succeed at this, because they are completely trapped in their own wants and desires.  They start from the assumption that the people they are appealing to have a selfless interest in helping them.  They talk as if their needs mattered to these people –  who probably couldn’t care less.  Sometimes they refer to larger issues:  a great cause, or grand emotions such as love and gratitude.  They go for the big picture when simple, everyday realities would have much more appeal (Obama, are you listening?) (p. 98)

*          *          *

“Most men are so thoroughly subjective that nothing really interests them but themselves.  They always think of their own case as soon as ever any remark is made, and their whole attention is engrossed and absorbed by the merest chance reference to anything which affects them personally, be it never so remote.” –  Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), quoted in a p. 97 sidebar

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