Pranksters Pounding on My Door?

I just watched the taped delay broadcast of Roger Federer vs. Andy Murray in the Australian Open. Unfortunately for Murray he played quite poorly up until the very end of the match. Federer won. I learned recently that Andy Murray does yoga and he believes it helps his game a lot. I was wondering how much more improved Federer’s game would be if he also did yoga.

Anyway, the live broadcast of the match aired at 2am here. In hindsight I realized I could have watched most of the match live this morning but I was busy with something else and didn’t think of it.

At 2:30 am I was awakened from a very restful sleep by pounding on my door. BAM! BAM! BAM! I came fully awake in literally three seconds and immediately entered the middle of a scary movie.

I have seen so many scary movies where I think to myself, “Why do they do that? I would never do that! I would hide right away and call 9-1-1.”  For me the scariest movie of all time is “The Strangers” (2008). Based on a true story it’s about a young couple who stays at somebody’s house overnight and for some unknown reason they get seriously harassed by three unknown strangers. It does not end well.

In the movie the strangers pound on the door, peer in the windows, stare at them from the yard, eventually break into the house… for me it’s seriously horrifying because of the similarity to recurring scary dreams I had when I was young. The movie still scares me but over the years I worked through the dreams and don’t get them anymore.

So anyway, I hear the three BAM! BAM! BAM!’s on the door at 2:30am and in three seconds I’m wide awake standing in the hallway that connects the front and back doors and from which you can see most of the windows of the downstairs part of the house.

It was very bright full moon night, and even though cloudy I could still see quite well through the cracks in the blinds to outside the house. I stood there holding my breath, looking for movement and listening for sounds.

Nothing.

Then I made the rounds of all the doors and windows, peeking through the blinds to see if I could see anybody.

Nothing.

After a few minutes I realized, as one naturally realizes first thing every morning, that nature called and I had to go to the bathroom. Bad timing! I abandoned my searching and walked back to the bathroom. Just as I got there BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!

This time five pounding fists and I realized it had to be coming from the front door. So I ran to the front door and peeking through the blinds again I saw nothing.

Maybe it’s a blessing to see nothing, but I can tell you I was really scared.

I formulated a plan at this point. Get the phone in my hand. Make rounds of the doors and windows. Wait to wake the kids and call 9-1-1 unless it happens again. Listen to see if they enter the gate to the backyard. How can the dog be sleeping through this?

I kept up my rounds for 30 minutes. Complete adrenaline rush. Trying to forget the movie. Eventually as I had time to think I realized whoever it was must have gone because the temperature was in the low 30’s last night and very very cold – no one would just stand out there in the cold. If they wanted in, they’d come in or do something else.

I also began to think of who, and why. It also occurred to me that some classmates of my younger daughter have harassed us before (although at reasonable hours) playing ding-dong-ditch with the doorbell, and other stupid things. Think of 6 year olds in mens’ bodies. I thought it was a good chance it could be them although I had no way of knowing for sure.

Finally I went back to bed. It took a long time to fall asleep.

Eventually this morning I woke up and started my usual routine. While I was doing asanas I reflected on the whole situation. I was thinking it’s kind of normal to be afraid and have the adrenaline rush if someone bangs on your door at 2:30am. However, I wondered why is this? Why is fear the first feeling?

I had the power position – I was inside behind locked doors, I had 6 phone/handsets to call for help, I could see outside much better than they could ever have seen inside, I had a dog (not sure how much help that would have been :-)…

But still the first thing you feel is fear. I guess fear of ultimately losing your life.

In yoga they call this feeling of clinging to life Abhinivesa. Like all things there’s tons of details to define it all, and I forget exactly everything, but they break these fears down into things like fear of: wild animals, insects, disease, losing loved ones, losing things, getting your body maimed, losing your life, etc.

One time Swami Sivananda was sitting in a satsang in Rishikesh and somebody who didn’t like him came in and axed him in the head. The ax bounced off and nothing happened to Swami Sivananda. I think the story goes that he then treated the man as his best friend with total forgiveness and the man eventually repented because of how well he was treated even though he tried to kill Swami Sivananda. Throughout the whole thing Swami Sivananda never flinched. He had total belief that the body is transient and unreal, and therefore, there’s nothing to lose if you die.

Lots to think about.

The Cove

One of my favorite TV shows when I was little was Flipper. It was about a wild dolphin who befriended this family and did amazing dolphin stunts for them while enforcing the law, rescuing people at sea and taking care of Sandy and Bud, the two main characters in the show.

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Here’s Flipper, actually Flipper was played by 5 different dolphins,
most of the time by a dolphin named Cathy

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Sandy and Bud

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Ric O’Barry, the trainer who personally caught all the dolphins in the show

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The TV-show house which in real life was Ric O’Barry’s house located at Miami Seaquarium

I liked the show so much I wanted to be a marine biologist for awhile. So many people liked the show so much that it started the whole industry of Seaworld and all the other sea aquariums where dolphins and whales put on shows for the public.

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The show ran for 3 years and during this time Ric O’Barry got really rich. He was considered the top dolphin trainer in the world.

He said about the show:

I captured the five dolphins that collectively played the part of Flipper. I trained all of them, from the very beginning of the first show to the last show. I lived with all five of them in the Seaquarium. And on Friday nights, at 7:30, I would take the TV set, with a long extension cord, out to the end of the dock, so Flipper could watch Flipper on television. And that’s when I knew they were self-aware. I could tell when the dolphins recognized themselves and each other. Cathy, for example, would recognize the shots she was in, Suzy would recognize her shots, and so on. Dolphins are hard to read, because you have to look at body language. Almost all other animals you can read by looking at their faces. But dolphins have this built-in “smile” that makes it look like they’re always happy.

The truth was, and still is, that dolphins in captivity are miserable. They spike their fish with Tagamet and Maalox to help relieve the pain of their ulcers from the stressful conditions they live under.

Anyway, the turning point for Ric O’Barry came when his favorite “Flipper” dolphin Cathy died. He explains this in the movie The Cove, and here is an excerpt from an interview in New York Entertainment where he explains how.

How did your ideas about captivity turn around?
Cathy died in my arms, of suicide. It was just before Earth Day, 1970. The next day, I found myself in a Bimini jail, trying to free a dolphin for the first time. I completely lost it.

How do you know it was suicide?
You have to understand, dolphins are not automatic air breathers like we are. Every breath for them is a conscious effort. She looked me right in the eye, took a breath, held it — and she didn’t take another one. She just sank to the bottom of the water. That had a profound effect on me.

And now, for the last 30 years, O’Barry has been trying to undo what he basically started. He goes around the world trying to free as many dolphins as he can in as many places as he can and tries to bring as much awareness as possible to the horrors that lie behind these businesses.

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Photo from The Cove, produced by the Oceanic Preservation Society

The movie The Cove talks about all of this in general, but focuses mostly on the Japanese city of Taiji, where dolphins are rounded up between September and March in huge numbers.

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In these fishing boats they round up the dolphins by putting long metal pipes into the water and banging on the pipes with hammers – because dolphins are hyper-sensitive to sound, and because it is their primary sense, it is easy to herd them in the direction they want

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No doubt they want to keep everyone away from the area

The first day the dolphins are caught they are sold to sea aquariums. Trainers and buyers come from all over the world to select the animals they want, usually young females, and pay $150,000 apiece for them.

The Cove in Taiji, Japan tucked away in a National Park and is a

On the second day, the dolphins who are not sold are rounded up into this cove

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Under the cover of darkness they begin to kill EVERY SINGLE DOLPHIN

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It’s sick and disgusting. Seriously, what is wrong with humans? To get these photos the team of people working on the movie had to cross over rows of razor wire using night vision goggles and hide cameras in fake rocks so as not to be discovered. Literally they made this movie at risk to their lives.

They kill 23,000 dolphins every year in Taiji, Japan.

After this, the nightmare continues as the dolphin meat is unknowingly sold to the Japanese as whale meat. The allowable level for mercury in fish is .4 parts per million. Dolphin meat from Taiji has a 2000 ppm contamination level of mercury. One of their government plans to get rid of the meat was to give the food to their school children as part of their compulsory school lunch program. In interviews the Japanese public were unaware all this was going on.

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Toward the end of the movie O’Barry walked into an International Whaling Commission meeting with a TV strapped to his chest playing a loop of the carnage that goes on in Taiji. A really brave way to stage a peaceful protest.

Anyway, this movie deserves support and the word needs to get out about this. To find out more about what you can do go to takepart.com/thecove .

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Ric O’Barry today, who said if he had really been aware of what was going on at the time during the TV show Flipper and where it was all headed, he would have not looked away but would have, and should have, set all the dolphins free

Food, Inc.

Yesterday we went to see the movie Food, Inc. It’s not exactly a fun light-hearted movie, but on the other hand, if you eat food and live in America you should try to see this movie as soon as possible.

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The movie exposes the industrialized food system in America and the effect it has on the environment, our health, the economy and worker’s rights. It ain’t a pretty picture, as they say.

You’ll never look at dinner the same way.

If you don’t know what industrialized food is, it’s mostly everything sold in the middle part of a grocery store that comes in a box. Estimates are there are 47,000 food products in the average supermarket. Most of it is industrialized food that is created in a chemical laboratory and is designed to have long shelf life and never rot. While normal food spoils in a few hours or days if left on a shelf,  industrial food can sit in your pantry for months virtually unchanged and show almost no signs of degradation.

All the following pictures are from the movie.

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This is the owner of Polyface Farms, where cows live in and eat grass like they were designed to do.

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These are feedlot cows standing in piles of manure. This is where US beef comes from. (Not sure why I could only find a picture like this with the lines across.)

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This lady was a Perdue Farms chicken grower. Perdue wanted her to change her barn with the windows to the new type where the chickens live in complete darkness their whole lives. She didn’t want to and ended up losing her contract after allowing the film crews into her chicken barn.

The movie talks about a lot of different topics including high fructose corn syrup, treating chickens, cows and pigs as commodities instead of living, breathing animals, the growing prevalence of E Coli 0157 and it’s relationship to cows eating corn instead of grass, Monsanto, federal farm subsidies, how the ability to buy healthy food in America (ie. not industrialized or fast food) has more to do with economic status than anything else, how all this affects the environment, etc. It’s a pretty bleak picture.

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Chickens as commodities: in 1950 it took 68 days to grow a chicken, in 2008 it takes 47 days to grow one that is really huge thanks to hormones and antibiotics. The 2008 chickens can’t stand up because their bones are too weak from growing so fast and having to support so much unnatural weight.

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Inside a processing plant.

Then at the end the movie leaves you on a positive note by giving you 10 things you can do to help change this. Some of the most important ones are to buy local, in-season, organic food and reduce your intake of animal flesh.

As they say in the movie, you vote 3 times a day by the food you eat, and consumer choice is the biggest factor by far to make changes in the US food system.

They also provide a web page where you can find out more information about the issues on these and related topics.

A good, thought-provoking movie.