Thursday, August 31, 2006

How did you get here? Help me figure this one out.

It appears that I'm getting a lot of traffic to this page (I'm writing this on Jan 11, 2010), but I can't figure out why. Could you please leave a comment below indicating what search brought you here? It's really a puzzle to me.


Monday, August 28, 2006

SNRE Orientation

Leaving tomorrow to help with the SNRE Orientation. Happily, the Biostation has been reinstated as the destination, and (happily) I've been asked to help out again. Strangely, I find myself the "old hand" for going up to the Biostation, as the staff going up are newer than my stay with SNRE. (Maybe this is Fate's way of making me realize that I must accept the nice little cardigan she has already knitted for me.) Anyway, look for photos from that here (or other places where I post these things).

I really hope that people actually read the e-mails that Karen sent out vis-a-vis what to bring/not to bring. It always seemed that there were a number of people who got to the Biostation and thought, "Holy CR@P!!! This is not what I expected from my concept of Michigan!" (Since many people seem to equate Michigan with the auto industry; Robocop; or Eight Mile. All of which are actually just "Detroit" which is the same as equating Japan exclusively with Tokyo; California exclusively with LA; New York exclusively with NYC; you get the idea.)

As Michigan's tourism board is trying to get people to realize: Michigan is much, much more than Detroit. Okay, I don't know why I generally end up with a rant when writing in my blog, but maybe it's not such a BAD thing... (Or maybe I just am settling down from drinking up a large cuppa joe.) Writing about such banal things in a blog makes me think about a specific Girls with Slingshots webcomic. (It's not mine to distribute, so just click on the link and find it - and many other funny strips.)

Writing about webcomics, I am further reminded of what reminds me of my current daily grind of modeling. (Thank you PHD comics.) This comic and this comic also remind me of what I sometimes find myself doing (thanks to Commissioned Comic). Okay, enough with the procrastination from work... Back to modeling in [Awww...] HEC[k]-RAS.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Siddartha Gautama ≠ Hotei

On the left is a picture depicting the Buddha, Siddartha Gautama, during his time of fasting. As you can imagine, the depiction of an emaciated spiritual leader would not have had as much of a "draw" to potential supplicants who habitually suffer from starvation, and may be looking for a benevolent spiritual savior. Still, if you want to learn more about the history of Siddhattha Gotama (aka Buddha), then I would suggest that you check out Osamu Tezuka's 8-part graphic novel of the Buddha's life.

It is just a little pet peeve of mine that people in the US and Europe all associate the Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) with the recharacterization of the Chinese Bo Dai Luohan/Shinto god Hotei (shown on the right), which - except for tertiary characteristics - are not very similar at all.

To many Americans (and possibly Westerners in general), there is little to no understanding of who the Buddha was, to such an extent that many equate a Chinese Taoism-derived deity with an historical person from northern India. To put this in analogous terms, this would be like saying that the Christian God (the Father, as depicted famously on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel) was interchangeable with the Greek god Zeus.

Admittedly, the depiction of God in the Sistine Chapel is based on a Classical patriarchal figure, most commonly characterized by Zeus, however, most people would be able to say that the old man painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is not Zeus.

To complicate things just a little, though, in East Asian Buddhism (i.e., in China and Japan), many Taoism-derived deities, including Hotei, were folded into the Buddhism of those regions as Bodhisattvas. However Bodhisattvas are not the same as the Buddha, and Hotei was and remains a completely separate individual from the Siddhartha Gautama. This really shouldn't be too difficult to understand, especially given the ways in which characters found in Western mythos are derived from different roots. Good examples are the names of the archangels (whose names and features were derived from Babylonian mythos) and the Norse mythology, which is an amalgamation of two different Germanic pantheons, named the Aesir (with the famous gods Thor, Odin, and Baldr) and Vanir (with the less-famous gods Freyr and Freya).

But all you have to do is just look at the statues depicting the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, with one deity-cum-Bodhisatttva (Hotei). They are different entities.

Rant over.