Saturday, June 28, 2014

St Louis Dragon Boat Festival

St Louis has a Dragon Boat Festival every year, but Steve just noticed this event from his colleagues forum this year. 
This morning, we went to see the race and found that Boeing also has a team competing. We might be joining the team if they have one again next year.  It's just for fun, not the serious competition like the Dragon Boat race in Penang, Malaysia. They train very hard if you join a team in Penang.
Here, the festival raises money for charity and is a family fun event.

This group cheers on friends & family as they get ready to race. 

One race is going on in the background, while teams on the beach prepare to launch their boats for the next race.  The first round had 10 races, each with 3 or 4 boats competing, so, with 20 people per boat, there were over 600 people racing!

This team's drummer has a funny Dragon costume. 

Row, row, row! Almost to the finish line.  The race is 400m (about 1/4 mile.)

At the same time, there are some things to see.

Zoo, baby animals.

Kids' playgrounds.

Face painting.

Sand volleyball and live band music.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Enchanting Thailand performances

We went to see a Thai Classical dance and Music performance - 'Enchanting Thailand', organized by the Thailand Embassy/Consul General.
They presented a short video about 'Amazing Thailand' by the Tourism Authority of Thailand before the performances started.

短片播完後。我很困惑了,因為有兩次的伊斯兰教人的景,但就是完全沒有佛教的影像色彩,沒有佛寺,沒有佛像,沒有憎人。。。 我出生成長在馬來西亞,那些泰國特殊的佛教影像那麼深刻在我腦海,我一直以為泰國是佛教國。也許我錯了。
I was confused when the video ended, because twice it had Muslim scenes but no Buddhist related images at all.  No Buddhist temples, no Buddha statues, no monks...  Their outstanding Buddhist images are deep inside my mind as I was born and grew up in Malaysia. I thought Thailand is a Buddhist country, but maybe I am wrong. 
I suspect someone in high authority must be a Muslim. I am disappointed, they didn't show their equivalence.  

Anyway, basically I like their culture. Let's see the performances.
How beautiful this Thai DJ with her costume.

Cymbal Dance

These are scenes from the Thai version of the famous Indian story 'Ramayana'.

Rama and Thotskan in Combat

The Pursuit of Supanna Matcha

'Hanuman' (Monkey) interacts with audience.

Kingkara Bird Dance

The Fan Dance
One of the Southern Region Dances, similar to Malaysia.

Cock Fighting Dance
This one very interesting.

Vipassana meditation

I have three friends who have attended Vipassana meditation retreats several times. This time was just the right timing, I signed up too when they told me. 
I am passive and grateful my friends invited me.  If not, I don't have motivation to do things mostly.

Their organisation is, and they have many centers all over the world. If you are a new student, you need to attend the 10 days silent retreat first.
We went to the center in Illinois, about a 5 hours drive from St. Louis. 

This center has dormitories where you have your own sleeping room, and two rooms share a bathroom.

I learned a meditation technique which is counting and observe breath 20 years ago, and have been practicing it, but I didn't feel improvement, and I don't know why. 
In this retreat, the first 4 days we learned Anapana (no counting, but just observe a small area of breathing point.) Days 5-10, we learned the methods to observe the sensations of body, and about five minutes of compassion meditation at the end.    
We can practice at home, one hour sitting meditation to settle and focus our mind by Anapana, then move to observe the sensations of body by Vipassana and compassion.

I found this stool is good for sitting meditation retreat.  With a cushion on it, the legs are bent at 90 degrees, which is good for sitting for long periods.

I thought to retain the clearness after getting back from the retreat. Even not writing for this, but once I went to internet and interacted with people, my mind went back again.
Ah, I am coming again!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Body's nature

One day, we went out to yoga and we saw a squirrel laying on our driveway. We could tell, he/she was dead. I sent a thought, may he/she would go to a good new life.

我們回來時,牠還是在哪。Steve 有些不悦,因為須處理這死去的松鼠裝進垃圾袋,三天後垃圾車才來,天氣熱,一定將會發臭得很。他很不願即刻行動去做。
He/She was still there when we got back home. Steve was a bit frustrated about putting the dead squirrel in a trash bag, because the trash pick up was 3 days later, it was hot out, and would start to smell very bad by then. He hesitated to do it immediately.

We went into the house and had our light dinner. Later, Steve looked at the driveway through the window, and the dead squirrel was gone. We felt a little 'surprised' - someone must have gotten it?
We guessed it might be a hawk.
我們進屋吃簡便的晚餐。過後,Steve 向窗外看,車道上沒見那死去的松鼠了。我們覺得有些‘意外’ ~會是誰?

At the end, something, either a hawk or the worms will get the body when it is dead. Human bodies too. Is it cruel?
No, it is the truth.

Have you decided how you want your body to contribute and what kind of funeral you prefer?
Let your closest family know while you still can.