Caveat: No me importa lo pasado

What I'm listening to right now.

José José, "Desesperado."


Por favor como estés
Como sea que a nadie le importa
Aunque te hallas manchado de todo para mí es igual

No me importa lo que seas
No me importa si has cambiado
No me importa si eres otra
No me importa si has pecado
Vuelve te lo ruego por que estoy…

Decidido a aceptar lo que seas,
tú has ganado
Ya lo ves que sin ti soy un hombre acabado
Sin ganas de vivir

Necesito tu cuerpo caliente a mi lado
Para darme esa fuerza que solo tú me has dado
Ten piedad de mí

Aunque vengas de Dios sabe donde aquí esta tú casa
Aunque te hallan tocado mil manos para mí es igual

No me importa lo que digan
No me importa lo que has dado
No me importa si estas limpia
No me importa lo pasado
Vuelve te lo imploro porque estoy…

Decidido a aceptar lo que sea, tú has ganado
Ya lo ves que sin ti soy un hombre acabado
Sin ganas de vivir

Necesito tú cuerpo caliente a mi lado
Para darme esa fuerza que solo tú me has dado
Ten piedad de mí

Decidido a aceptar lo que sea, tú has ganado
Ya lo ves que sin ti soy un hombre acabado
Sin ganas de vivir

Necesito tú cuerpo caliente a mi lado
Para darme esa fuerza que solo tú me has dado
Ten piedad de mí

[daily log: walking, 7km]

Caveat: 贈金川寺主



– 崔致遠

Modern Korean Translation

증 금천사 주

흰 구름 시냇가에 절을 지으니
서른 해 내리 이 주지로세
웃으며 가리키노니 문앞의 한 줄기 길이
조금 곧 산 아래를 떠나면 천 가닥이 되네

– 최치원 (신라 시인)

English Translation

Presented to the Abbot of Keumcheon Temple

By the White Cloud Stream you built a temple
where for thirty years you’ve been the abbot.
Smiling, you point to the single trail outside the gate.
At the foot of the mountain, it branches out to a thousand paths.

– Choi Chiwon (Silla/Tang poet, 857 – 924?)
– English translation by Christina Han and Wing S. Chu

Note that the Chinese is the original language of composition – all poetry and literature in Silla-Era Korea was written in Classical Chinese (similar to the way poetry and literature in Europe during a parallel era was mostly written in Latin).
I found the poem in the book Solitary Cloud: Poetry of Ch’oe Ch’iwŏn, by Christina Han and Wing S. Chu. The text of the poem is only in the Chinese characters in the book, along with the English translation. I really wanted to include the Chinese text here, but I am incapable of typing Chinese characters unless I know their Korean pronunciation, and I only actually know about 20 such hanja, so… I wasn’t sure how to figure this out.
I tried a little trick, which was successful: I took a photo of the Chinese text with my phone, I went to one of those free OCR (Optical Character Recognition) websites and uploaded my photo, and presto, a somewhat faulty capture of the Chinese text. I took that text, in turn, and googled it, to find the correct text of the poem (verified against the book’s text), where I also found the modern Korean translation – for which there was no attribution.
[daily log: walking, 7km]

Caveat: The Mysterious Case of Flight XYZ

I had a very strange dream in the pre-dawn hour. 

I was traveling by airplane. Maybe LAX to MSP or something like that. 

It was strange, because all the passengers looked like they'd been drawn directly from my facebook feed – all relatives and friends and long-lost acquaintances. And everyone was staring at their smartphones. 

Then the captain announced that we had a problem. We would have to make an emergency landing. Oddly, everyone was pretty calm. The airplane spiraled down in a wide loop, and I saw snow-covered mountains – the Rockies? We landed almost as smoothly as at an airport, but on a blustery, snow-covered alpine meadow. People got off the plane, but it didn't seem like anything was wrong with it. And everyone had cellphone reception, so people were announcing the landing on facebook and other sites, and people were watching news of our own emergency landing. 

But there was some delay in getting us rescued. There was only one helicopter arriving, to ferry out the 100s of passengers. So it would come and go, taking out only a half dozen at a time. A lot of us would have to stay the night. We camped out in the airplane, but it was quite cold. I felt sooo cold.

On the news in the middle of the night, that everyone was looking at on their cellphones, a scandal was erupting. It turned out the same pilot had made an almost identical emergency landing, in the same location, some years ago. How could that be? Especially since there was nothing obviously wrong with the plane. All the passengers and crew realized the pilot and copilot had disappeared. That was just too weird. On the next helicopter ferry arrival, some police arrived, with police dogs, who began looking for the pilot and copilot. 

I was just too cold. I didn't care about the pilot and copilot, I wanted to get out of there.

I woke up, and I had kicked my covers off. I sleep with the window open, and the building's heat had been turned off April 1 – the room was cold, it was chilly outside. So at least that's where the cold came from. The rest is just plain weird. The dream was far too coherent, in some ways. Almost like a movie or novel. It could be one.

I don't know where all the material came from – I haven't been watching any TV lately, so there's no airplane thriller movies enrolled in my dream-queue. I haven't looked at facebook in months, so I don't know how that happened either. It was just strange. What does it mean?

[daily log: walking, 7km]

Caveat: People Forget About Luck

This cartoon is philosophically interesting.


The "hover text" (a feature of XKCD cartoons), says, "They say you can't argue with results, but what kind of defeatist attitude is that? If you stick with it, you can argue with ANYTHING."

Somehow, this quite seems like it could easily be attributed to certain prominent politicians.

[daily log: walking, 7km]

Caveat: magnificently meaningless

Time keeps doing that time thing.

What I'm listening to right now.

The Magnetic Fields, "Meaningless."


You mean it's all been meaningless?
Every whisper and caress?
Yes, yes, yes, it was totally meaningless

Like when two fireflies fluoresce
Just like everything I guess
Less less yes, it was utterly meaningless

Even less a little glimpse of nothingness
Sucking meaning from the rest of this mess
Yes, yes, yes, it was thoroughly meaningless

And if some dim bulb should say
We were in love in some way
Kick all his teeth in for me and if you feel
Like keeping on kicking, feel free

Who dare say it wasn't meaningless?
Shout from the rooftops and address the press
Ha ha ha, it was totally meaningless

Meaning less than a game of chess
Just like your mother said and mother knows best
I knew it all the time but now I confess

Yes, yes, yes, how deliciously meaningless
Yes, yes, yes, effervescently meaningless
Yes, yes, yes, it was beautifully meaningless
Yes, yes, yes, it was profoundly meaningless

Yes, yes, yes, definitively meaningless
Yes, yes, yes, comprehensively meaningless
Yes, yes, yes, magnificently meaningless
Yes, yes, yes, how incredibly meaningless?

Yes, yes, yes, unprecedentedly meaningless
Yes, yes, yes, how mind-blowingly meaningless?
Yes, yes, yes, how unbelievably meaningless?
Yes, yes, yes, how infinitely meaningless?

[daily log: walking, 7km]

Caveat: Art and the Maintenance of Motorcycle Zen

Someday, I want to create a story or novella with the title, "Art and the Maintenance of Motorcycle Zen." It would be a kind of sincerely felt, but also maybe vaguely comedic tribute, to Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. In fact, it wasn't that long ago that I was jotting down a few snippets that might pertain to such a story.

I am reminded of this today because I have heard that Pirsig has died. I have to say that Pirsig's book, and even some of his other activities, have had multilayered influences on my life.

I first read his book as a high school senior, I think. And it was a required text in my "freshman seminar," my first year at college. The book is easily in my personal list of "10 most influential books in my life." It might be the most influential book.

Some of this influence and importance derives from the very weird parallels between the book and my life. And it's an eerie set of parallels, because I read (and re-read) the book before many of those parallels occurred (ECT? check. Zen? check. Philosophical road tripping? check.). So the question naturally arises: did I, perhaps, subconsciously "follow" the book?

Certainly there is one very significant instance, where I think the book might have had a conscious influence. The main character, like Pirsig, is from Minneapolis. And perhaps this raised my awareness about that part of the world sufficiently that it made it possible for me to imagine going there – which is what I did for college. Not many California kids would move to Minnesota, sight-unseen, and so I think the book's presentation of the midwestern landscape embedded it higher up in my awareness, such that I might consider it. I guess it's difficult to say for sure – I remember tracing the route of his motorcycle journey in a road atlas, during my first reading. A line, drawn from Minneapolis to the west coast, that, incidentally passed through my home town on the Pacific, which is actually mentioned in the book (although not as a destination – just in a "passing through" way). That line was effectively reversed when I went to college less than a year later.

The other impact Pirsig had on my life came much later, and was indirect, I suppose - essentially unrelated to the book. He was one of the founders of the Minnesota Zen Center. When I moved back to Minneapolis in 2006 (the year before deciding to come to Korea), I attended the Zen Center a dozen times or so. Its location on Lake Calhoun was within walking distance of where I was living, and since I was working to transform my life and habits, I was walking or jogging past it daily - going around that lake was one of my new habits.

So Robert Pirsig is gone.

But, in the Buddhist spirit, I shall interpretatively paraphrase my friend Curt: "Death is nothing."

[daily log: walking, 7km]

Caveat: 띵가띵가놀지마

My students taught me this phrase the other day. I always learn the best Korean from my students.
Actually, they taught me the positive version: 띵가띵가놀은다 [tting.ka.tting.ka.nol.eun.da], which seems to mean, roughly, “goof off”, ” “play around”, or, as I pointed out, “dink around” as in to work completely unproductively. I wonder at the sound symbolism, because of that. Anyway, the term joins my long list of phenomimes and psychomimes. The term is not in the standard online Korean dictionaries, but I noticed that the googletranslate gets it right.
The negative phrase, 띵가띵가놀지마 [], I managed to use quite successfully, later in the same class. The kids were duly impressed. Lisa had been playing around with my collection of whiteboard markers, and not really paying attention. She gets easily distracted – a bit of a space cadet. So I said that: “띵가띵가놀지마!” She looked up, surprised.
Annie, who keeps trying to be my Korean coach, raised a thumb in broad approval. “Oh, nice, teacher. Good Korean!”
picture[daily log: walking, 7km]

Caveat: Verde viento. Verdes ramas.

Romance Sonámbulo

Verde que te quiero verde.
Verde viento. Verdes ramas.
El barco sobre la mar
y el caballo en la montaña.
Con la sombra en la cintura
ella sueña en su baranda,
verde carne, pelo verde,
con ojos de fría plata.
Verde que te quiero verde.
Bajo la luna gitana,
las cosas la están mirando
y ella no puede mirarlas.

Verde que te quiero verde.
Grandes estrellas de escarcha
vienen con el pez de sombra
que abre el camino del alba.
La higuera frota su viento
con la lija de sus ramas,
y el monte, gato garduño,
eriza sus pitas agrias.
¿Pero quién vendra? ¿Y por dónde…?
Ella sigue en su baranda,
Verde carne, pelo verde,
soñando en la mar amarga.

—Compadre, quiero cambiar
mi caballo por su casa,
mi montura por su espejo,
mi cuchillo per su manta.
Compadre, vengo sangrando,
desde los puertos de Cabra.
—Si yo pudiera, mocito,
este trato se cerraba.
Pero yo ya no soy yo,
ni mi casa es ya mi casa.
—Compadre, quiero morir
decentemente en mi cama.
De acero, si puede ser,
con las sábanas de holanda.
¿No ves la herida que tengo
desde el pecho a la garganta?
—Trescientas rosas morenas
lleva tu pechera blanca.
Tu sangre rezuma y huele
alrededor de tu faja.
Pero yo ya no soy yo,
ni mi casa es ya mi casa.
—Dejadme subir al menos
hasta las altas barandas;
¡dejadme subir!, dejadme,
hasta las verdes barandas.
Barandales de la luna
por donde retumba el agua.
Ya suben los dos compadres
hacia las altas barandas.
Dejando un rastro de sangre.
Dejando un rastro de lágrimas.
Temblaban en los tejados
farolillos de hojalata.
Mil panderos de cristal
herían la madrugada.
Verde que te quiero verde,
verde viento, verdes ramas.
Los dos compadres subieron.
El largo viento dejaba
en la boca un raro gusto
de hiel, de menta y de albahaca.
¡Compadre! ¿Donde está, díme?
¿Donde está tu niña amarga?
¡Cuántas veces te esperó!
¡Cuántas veces te esperara,
cara fresca, negro pelo,
en esta verde baranda!

Sobre el rostro del aljibe
se mecía la gitana.
Verde carne, pelo verde,
con ojos de fría plata.
Un carámbano de luna
la sostiene sobre el agua.
La noche se puso íntima
como una pequeña plaza.
Guardias civiles borrachos
en la puerta golpeaban.
Verde que te quiero verde.
Verde viento. Verdes ramas.
El barco sobre la mar.
Y el caballo en la montaña.

– Federico García Lorca (poeta español 1898-1936)

Sin duda, este poema es mi favorito de todos los poemas en cualquier idioma. Me parece una falta el hecho de que nunca lo he publicado, antes, aquí en el blog. Pues, ahora lo publico. El tema trata de la guerra civil española.

[daily log: walking, 7km] 

Caveat: Quatrains #66-71

(Poem #262 on new numbering scheme)

"Philosophical zombie" is
a concept you may know.
I'd like to now propose a twist
to how those stories go.
Most typically these zombies are
like strange automata.
They act like people, react too -
but it is just data.
So nothing's felt and nothing's hoped;
there is no inner spark.
These zombies might seem like humans,
but their sad minds are dark.
Now here's the change I'd like to make:
let's add a soul inside,
but not connected to the flesh -
it will only reside.
Like those sad paralytics who
stare helpless and afraid,
this second mind lacks any link,
must wait for any aid.
So here's the first, with agency,
the second with the why,
together they must walk the earth,
as we do, you and I.

– six quatrains in ballad meter – an essay on phenomenology in six stanzas.

Caveat: 非夢似夢

I learned this four-character idiom from a coworker, and recognizing it as such, looked it up later.

"Half asleep half awake."

It's actually much easier and transparent than most of these types of expressions that I've attempted. It's a great phrase to know, too. Especially given the way I sometimes feel like I'm working my way through a dream.

There was a thunderstorm this morning. Nice, the hard rain scrubbing the air.

[daily log: walking, 7km]

Caveat: Quatrain #64

(Poem #260 on new numbering scheme)

Con chupe de pescado, pues,
soñaba sin querer.
Al despertar, me estremecí
¿cómo pude saber?

This is my second attempt at a quatrain using English ballad meter, but in Spanish – for which ballad meter is quite awkward. Still, this more or less works, except how it reverts to trochees in the last line. Don’t ask me what it means, exactly. A prose paraphrase: about fish chowder, then, [I] dreamed without wanting to. Upon waking up, I shivered – how could I know?
This is actually a dream I woke up from this morning: nothing complicated or surreal – I was just eating Peruvian style chupe de pescado at a certain Peruvian restaurant in Newport Beach, down the road from where I used to work in 2005-2006. I used to go there for lunch with coworkers fairly often. That fish soup is some of the most memorable food in my life, for some reason. I’m sure if I had it now, it would seem a poor shadow of its former glory – but that would be because of the changes to my own physiology of taste, post cancer.

Caveat: The cow’s opinion

Scene: My "Davinci1-M" cohort, low-intermediate Elementary English, grades 3-6 mixed. 

Topic: A cartoon picture in our textbook of a farmer milking a cow

Teacher: "What's happening in the picture?"

Katie: "The farmer is making milk."

Teacher: "I don't think the farmer is making milk."

Amy: "The cow is making milk. The farmer is taking milk."

Teacher: "Excellent, Amy. That's very good. I think that's right."

Scott: "I think the cow's feeling is, 'Please don't touch my body!'" 

Point taken, Scott.

[daily log: walking, 6.5km]

Caveat: リンダリンダ

What I'm listening to right now.

Paranmaum, "Linda Linda." This is a cover of a song originally by the Japanese band Blue Hearts. The group singing, Paranmaum, is a kind of "in character" band created specifically for a Japanese movie, Linda Linda Linda (note that the title of the song and movie are, uh, different). Nevertheless, the band members aren't lip-syncing – they're really performing and their music had some success outside of the movie context. Also worth noting, the lead singer of the band is Korean. The role was an early one played by the prodigious and talented actress 배두나 [Bae Doona]. I guess "in character," Bae here is playing a Korean exchange student at a Japanese high school, where she forms a band. Hence the band's name is Korean, too (Paranmaum [파란마음] = "Blue Heart").

가사 (Lyrics – Japanese with transcription and translation in Korean).

도부네즈미미타이니 우츠시쿠나리타이
생쥐처럼 멋져지고 싶어-

샤신니와우츠라나이 우츠쿠시사가아루카라
사진에는 없는 멋이 있으니까-

リンダリンダ リンダリンダリンダ
린다린다- 린다린다린다-

リンダリンダ リンダリンダリンダ
린다린다- 린다린다린다-

모시모보쿠가이츠카 키미토데아이하나시아우나라
만약 내가 언젠가 너와 만나서 이야기하게 되면-

손나도키와 도우카아이노이미오 싯테쿠다사이
그럴 때는 부디 사랑의 의미를 알아줬으면 해-

リンダリンダ リンダリンダリンダ
린다린다- 린다린다린다-

リンダリンダ リンダリンダリンダ
린다린다- 린다린다린다-

도부네즈미미타이니 다레요리모야사시이
생쥐처럼 누구보다도 상냥하게-

도부네즈미미타이니 나니요리모아타타카쿠
생쥐처럼 무엇보다도 따뜻하게-

아이쟈나쿠테모 코이쟈나쿠테모 키미오하나시와시나이
애정이 아니더라도 연애가 아니더라도 너와 이야기하고 싶어-

켓시테마케나이 츠요이치카라오 보쿠와 히토츠아케모츠
절대 지지않는 강한 힘을 나는 유일하게 가지고 있어-

リンダリンダ リンダリンダリンダ
린다린다- 린다린다린다-

リンダリンダ リンダリンダリンダ
린다린다- 린다린다린다-

リンダリンダ リンダリンダリンダ
린다린다- 린다린다린다-

リンダリンダ リンダリンダリンダ
린다린다- 린다린다린다-

[daily log: walking, 1km]

Caveat: Don’t hope for too much

I have a certain student, whom I've written about many times before. She's been at Karma for a long time – I think at least 3 years now. She goes by Sophia. She is a very voluble girl, and talks with me, in English, almost continuously whenever she's around me. Also, she's the only student I've ever had who ever had any kind of interaction with any members of my family – she bonded to my niece Sarah when my sister Brenda and her kids visited a few years back (I have no idea if that bonding was mutual, but anyway, she still mentions that visit). For these reasons, I've perhaps come to think of her like she was a bit of a surrogate child in a way I don't typically feel for students.

Anyway, I have been feeling singularly depressed about Sophia, lately. She's in the sixth grade, now, and if she's always been a bit emotionally immature and academically unmotivated, recently she's become gloomily but quite declaratively unambitious, too. With alarming regularity, these days, she says things like, "I don't want to learn anything," and "I'm going to get married and only be a mom."

I don't really want to begrudge anyone their passion or heart's desire – and there's a place in the world for "just gettting married and being a mom" – it's not like that isn't a really important role for society.

The problem is that Sophia is possibly one of the smartest students I have ever taught. I would expect that if she took an IQ test, she'd be a genius. At the least, she's without a doubt some kind of savant in the realm of language: without ever having lived or studied abroad, her spoken English is better than most other students'. She's been entirely autodidact in this – she actively resists formal instruction of any kind, and always has. But she soaks up vocabulary and grammar effortlessly. I think she mostly learned English by watching TV shows and movies in English.

She will correctly use a new word that I have used in class in front of her, after hearing it just one time. She has a stunning memory. She can memorize the words (English-Korean translation lists of 20 words) for her in-class vocabulary quizzes in the 3-4 minutes right before the quiz. She can memorize songs in Korean and English flawlessly, and has a huge repertoire of song lyrics floating around her head. She even memorized a fairly passable rendition of a stanza of a song in Spanish, which she sang for me one time simply to impress me. She said she had no idea what it meant – she found it on youtube.

I would be so happy to see her show some intellectual ambition about life. I have tried to encourage various pursuits that match her expressed interests, including suggesting things like acting, linguistics and recently, songwriting or just writing. But my seeing her only 1-2 hours a week really isn't going to give me much influence over the choices she makes.

I suspect these loud declarations of anti-intellectualism are rooted in some kind of rebellion against parental pressure – I sense her mom pushes hard. There's nothing I can do about that. But I feel sad. Hopefully she'll find a different way to rebel against mom that is less self-defeating for the long term.

What I'm listening to right now.

U2, "Numb."


Don't move
Don't talk out of time
Don't think
Don't worry
Everything's just fine
Just fine

Don't grab
Don't clutch
Don't hope for too much
Don't breathe
Don't achieve
Or grieve without leave

Don't check
Just balance on the fence
Don't answer
Don't ask
Don't try and make sense

Don't whisper
Don't talk
Don't run if you can walk
Don't cheat, compete
Don't miss the one beat

Don't travel by train
Don't eat
Don't spill
Don't piss in the drain
Don't make a will

Don't fill out any forms
Don't compensate
Don't cower
Don't crawl
Don't come around late
Don't hover at the gate

Don't take it on board
Don't fall on your sword
Just play another chord
If you feel you're getting bored

I feel numb
I feel numb
Too much is not enough
I feel numb

Don't change your brand
Don't listen to the band
Don't gape
Don't ape
Don't change your shape
Have another grape

Too much is not enough
I feel numb
I feel numb

Don't plead
Don't bridle
Don't shackle
Don't grind
Don't curve
Don't swerve
Lie, die, serve
Don't theorize, realize, polarize
Chance, dance, dismiss, apologize

Too much is not enough
I feel numb

Don't spy
Don't lie
Don't try
Start again

I feel numb

Don't triumph
Don't coax
Don't cling
Don't hoax
Don't freak
Don't leak
Don't speak

I feel numb

Don't project
Don't connect
Don't expect
I feel numb
Don't project
Don't connect
Don't expect
I feel numb

Don't struggle
Don't jerk
Don't collar
Don't work
Don't wish
Don't fish
Don't teach
Don't reach

Too much is not enough

Don't borrow
Don't break
Don't fence
Don't steal
Don't pass
Don't press
Don't try
Don't feel

I feel numb

Don't touch
Don't dive
Don't suffer
Don't rhyme
Don't fantasize
Don't rise
Don't lie
Don't project
Don't connect
Don't expect

Don't project
Don't connect
Don't expect

I feel numb

[daily log: walking, 7km]

Caveat: Culture, Delusion, Equilibria

The following is my own thought, but the idea was initially prompted by some points made by Robin Hanson (economist) on an old post at his blog.

Wealth leads to delusional behavior, because the wealth "cushions" us from the consequences of behavior that runs counter to reality. Thus the best cure for a delusional culture is to try to impoverish it. Arguably, if the culture is sufficiently delusional, it will probably end up impoverishing itself. Thus the whole seems to be a kind of self-correcting equilibrium. But a helluva ride for the people involved. Roman Empire, anyone?

[daily log; walking, 6.5km]

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