I’d like to visit Hallstatt someday

Per Wikipedia, Hallstatt, is a village of 946 people located in the Salzkammergut region in Austria.  It contains the world’s first known salt mine that dates before the Roman Empire.  It’s also the site of the world’s oldest pipeline which was constructed 400 years ago out of 13,000 hollowed out trees.  There’s no room for cemeteries to speak of, so every ten years, bones used to be exhumed and removed to an ossuary to make room for new burials.  Elaborately decorated skulls with the owners’ names, professions, death dates, etc., are inscribed on them and displayed at the local chapter.

I’d like to visit this town some day.  I watched an OETA travel show about it the other day and it looks like a really cool place to visit.

What’s in a name

I’ve had some pretty interesting conversations with a couple of atheists through the years.  Personally, I believe their beliefs are often, but not always, a reactionary counter to religious extremism, and the only way they’ve found to reject religions they consider oppressive and often hateful, is to simply (and wrong-headedly) stake their claim to the belief that there is no god at all.

But, I believe, and have had the opportunity to share with some of them, that there is a middle path, an acknowledgment of an Eternal Ground which, to me, is the initiation and flow of everything that is, the source of all universal energy, but is beyond all human words, concepts, or understanding.  The trouble comes when humans attempt to use their language and their limited concepts to describe the indescribable.

When we tag something as awkward and inefficient as words and mental concepts to something that is totally outside the realm of words and mental concepts, it causes problems.  There have been a few times I’ve made some progress in getting atheists to admit there could be something such as the Eternal Ground.  Once I was even able to get one guy to agree that if he just didn’t have to put a name on the concept I suggested, that requires all the ritual and dogma that comes along with most major religions, he would be good with that.  It would be something he could work with.

I remember smiling at him and saying, “…me too…I just think the word God is more compact and easier to say than Eternal Ground.”  🙂

Oh, and I’ve always thought that people who spend time in big city traffic jams probably question the existence of God more than others.

Living off the grid has another meaning

I used to associate “living off the grid” with something to do with electricity and then the Internet.  Obviously, it’s much more than that, but I bet most people think the same way.  It’s now relatively impossible to live off the grid.  The whole world is on the grid.  Even the few indigenous people currently living in jungles are on someone else’s grid.  And, in their plans.

But, we can keep one very important thing off the grid — our minds.  In addition to the power, transportation, and financial grids, there’s also a food grid, social grid, and information grid.  These existing grids or systems are actually easier to move away from or at least modify.  I believe our physical, mental and spiritual health depends on us seeking diversification within these systems as often as possible.

It’s about seeking alternatives to the norm.  If there was ever a need for alternatives and diversity it is in where and what we eat, where we gather our information, and with whom we interact.

And, it’s so dirt simple to do.  Go to a small, ethnic grocery store and look around and study the food and fix something different and healthy to eat.  Seek out and find a small, privately owned book store.  You’ll find used books about subjects which are almost forgotten, written by genius-humans who didn’t have access to the Internet and maintained vocabularies in their heads that match those of 1,000 of today’s undereducated,  famous pundits – combined.

And, hang out with a different crowd.  Visit a retirement center and volunteer to read to someone.  Learn about history from someone who was there.  Go watch a sporting event on the other side of town.  Visit a Hindu worship service on Saturday night with your kids.

Maybe your body can no longer live off the grid.  But, YOU can.  Your mind and spirit can.  You can change the things that really matter.

Prison rodeos

Angola RodeoToday a co-worker told me about her trip to Louisiana where she attended a prison rodeo.  It sounded like something from another era.  Monkeys riding dogs, groups of inmates sitting in the middle of the arena inside hula-hoops seeing who could sit still the longest before a bull gored them.

Prisoners were paid $15 and got out of their cell for the day if they participated.  One contest paid $500 if they could grab some item that was tied to the head of a full-horned bull.  They were getting knocked out left-and-right, then pulled out and taken away in ambulances.


I guess those inmates figured if they got hurt, a few weeks or months in the prison hospital would be like a wonderful vacation.

At one point someone announced over the loud speaker that a child had lost her parents.  Can you imagine losing your kid at a Louisiana prison rodeo?