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Friday, July 13th, 2001

Time Event
If any of you has one eye, he will see the failure on the teacher's part
A friend of mine was once surprised to learn that the local Zen Center head did not believe in spirits, magic(k), or rituals. ( Incidentally, magic(k) is like 401(k). )

Seeking an explanation, I went to Högen of the Seiryo monastery. This was in the 12th century, but I own a time machine.

"Standing on a hundred-foot-pole, how does one step forward?" he asked.

"Oh, that's easy. Use a rope apparatus, which snakes down the pole, constantly slowing the fall to a manageable leevl. You could do the same with a thousand-foot pole, too," I replied.
The monk grimaces but accepted the answer. He took to studying ropes and elaborate mechanical devices for a while; meanwhile, I started picking up books on aeronautics.

A few months later, the monk asked me, "Standing on a hundred-foot pole with a complex blade structure around its perimeter, how does one step forward?"

"Hey, no sweat," I answered happily, "I've just recently put together this jet pack. I can just use it to cruise around safely. Incidentally, it's also got a hang-glider attachment and a solar cell, so a thousand-foot pole would be just as easy. Of course, a hundred thousand foot pole would be even easier - if I'm standing there already, then presumably I can survive in space, and gravity's no problem at all. Incidentally, I've also put together a way to heat up and bend glass slowly and reversibly, so I can fix that goose problem of yours, too."

The monk was not delighted.

Over the next few years, the monks studied aeronautics, while I read up on string theory, subatomic physics, and cosmology.

Then the monk asked me, without a trace of patience or impatience in his voice, "Standing upon a hundred foot pole with a complex blade structure, with thick clouds overhead, which furthermore is in the peaceful eye of an electrical storm with extremely swift and terrible winds, how does one step forward?"

I'm sure I looked smug when I answered, "Well, I'd probably use this handy cold fusion device I've got, and use that, plus a chip off the pole as base matter to convert into energy. Then I'd use that to power tis thing, which creates a spatial fold. So my step forward would land me safely in the Zen Center. But I suspect that you're just going to study for a while, and ask me what I'd do if the pole were at the threshold of a black hole. Meanwhile, I'll have come up with a better way to step off the pole. This can go on forever; I have mad skills."

The monk said, "In fact, you are incorrect." He reached forward and slapped the shit out of me. I was laid out in a hospital for days.

So this time I'm studying Kung Fu and heading back there again.

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