Beginner's Mind

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few." - Shunryu Suzuki-Roshi

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

I had my graduation for my Master's Degree over the weekend. I now have an M.S. in computer science. There were two ceremonies.
Now, normally I'm not too much on ritual. I loved reading mysteries as a kid, especially the adventures of Hercule Poirot. What happened a lot of the time was the victim was killed by someone who knew the victim's habits (rituals). I decided at a young age that I wouldn't be murdered as long as I didn't do anything the same way twice. Big ceremonies are also a potential danger, as your would-be assasin would know where to find you at a certain time. So, I avoided ritual and ceremony, and it kinda became a habit to not do things habitually.
But I guess I've mellowed a bit, because, for reasons I can't explain (even to myself), I wanted to participate in graduation ceremonies.
The first ceremony was the Hooding Ceremony. People who will be awarded Master's and Ph.D's wear a "hood" (which is more like a cape than a hood) with the usual black robe. In this ceremony, each graduate was told to have the hood/cape folded over the left arm, and a card with his name in the right hand, to hand to the announcer. Once your name is boomed in the cavernous gym, you walk across the stage and hand your cape to some school official you've never met before and he reaches over your head and installs the hood/cape. (I think the requirement for being a hooder is that you are the tallest person on the payroll). All this was preceded by a short speech. Then, the reception follows, in which all the people who filled out the gym now go recept in the significantly smaller foyer.
That wasn't too bad, so I decided to go to the College of Engineering and Mathematics Diploma ceremony. Wouldn't you know, that's where the long speeches were delivered. Basically, each department took its turn, starting with long monologs praising some fortunate scholar for retiring before he lost his tenure, then continued by mentioning each student with something unique about them from their studies. Then the students were finally lined up to get diplomas, which would take about two minutes. Then the next department (in some indiscernible order) would start the process over again. Total time for the ceremony: 90 minutes; time spent awarding diplomas: about 12 minutes.
By some fluke, I happened to be the last person, so I couldn't duck out early.
But it's over now, some six years in the making. It feels weird not having any classes to look forward to. I did it!

Monday, May 12, 2003

Rain back again, Mother Nature's way to extend mud season. Right now walking anywhere in my backyard is like walking on a saturated sponge. What a mess.
I like to lurk in a Buddhist chat room; looking for online wisdom, I suppose. The room gets a steady stream of intruders trying to convert the chatters to Christianity. In most cases these evangelists use foul and insulting language, and ridiculously large fonts. They confuse Hotei and the Buddha (a common American mistake), and in fact know very little about Buddhism.
Before too long, the Buddhists hit the ignore button, but the crusaders keep chugging along.
Now I know that the majority of Christians are not slobber-and-snot weirdos who need the rest of the world to convert before they feel comfortable. In the same sense, the majority of Muslims are not suicide bombers and terrorists. But, geeze, these clowns make the religion pretty sad. Oh well, the cross they must bear, I suppose.

Friday, May 09, 2003

Well, due to insistant, if not popular, demand, I've started a web log. I've just finished a clever paragraph (with a great sex reference) but went to look at the Template code and when I came back my wodrous words were gone. I think the official term to describe this is "aaarrrrggghhh". I hope I spelled that right.