Category: Signs

You Are What You Eat

Fancy feast
Fancy feast

Ernest Becker, the quintessential optimist and sometimes life of the party had a thing about worms. It’s possible that he was also an avid fisherman or gardener, although there was no mention of that in his biography.

One of my favorite of his worm quotes is from a book he wrote that won the Pulitzer Prize back in 1974:

“What does it mean to be a self-conscious animal? The idea is ludicrous, if it is not monstrous. It means to know that one is food for worms. This is the terror: to have emerged from nothing, to have a name, consciousness of self, deep inner feelings, an excruciating inner yearning for life and self-expression and with all this yet to die. It seems like a hoax, which is why one type of cultural man rebels openly against the idea of God. What kind of deity would create such a complex and fancy worm food?”

Reflecting on this has got me through many hours at the lake when the trout weren’t biting. But I think David Gerrold said the same thing in a better way: “Life is hard. Then you die. Then they throw dirt in your face. Then the worms eat you. Be grateful it happens in that order.”

Food for thought.

Signs That Horses are Intelligent

Give them a sign
Give them a sign

Back in 1966 Mister Ed went to college to become a veterinarian so he could help his friends beat the high cost of medical care. 50 years later here in Lancaster, Pennsylvania most horses are home schooled, which is more convenient and much less expensive.

Although not all horses are taught to read at a college level, the ones that pull the buggies are encouraged to develop basic skills including the ability to read signs. This is almost a necessity these days with all the confusing traffic rules like turning right on red.

You can lead a horse to water but if he finds it himself he has a sense of accomplishment and self-reliance. Note: we don’t know if horses are color blind but for the ones reading this I felt it was better in black and white.

Unconditional Friendliness

Unconditional Unfriendliness
Unconditional Unfriendliness

Maitri is translated in a lot of ways, maybe most commonly as love, but the way Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche translated it was unconditional friendliness, and in particular unconditional friendliness to oneself.

I passed this sign today on the window of a store in downtown Lancaster city. As far as I can tell it’s a normal store selling cigarettes and Snapple among other things. But for some reason they do not want people to sit or stand.

Could their very unconditional unfriendliness be because in order to buy something people have to stand in the store, or do they make an exception for that? I wonder if their customers have a time limit, or do they run the place like the Soup Nazi where you go in, state your order and leave?

I was taking a photo and asked a man walking by if he would stand in front of the sign that said no standing. Maybe it was the police car a hundred yards away or maybe it was the bad karma of the place, but he said: “I ain’t standing nowhere for nobody.” Alrighty then.

Suzy Kassem, author of Rise Up and Salute the Sun once said: “To really change the world, we have to help people change the way they see things.” And as Trungpa Rinpoche always said, “Good luck, sweetheart.”

Gimme a Sign

Weaver's Bike Shop
Weaver’s Bike Shop

Adrienne Posey, an author born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania once wrote that signs don’t shout; they whisper. I didn’t know that when I took this photo but it makes a lot of sense now.

This is a sign for Weaver’s Bike Shop in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, a family operated business that has been serving customers since 1958. I found an interesting review about it on Yelp from a Lancaster man named George:

“I tried to find this place and I’m still not sure that I did. I think it’s an Amish guy who fixes bikes for other Amish kids. It’s not really a shop, just a garage near a barn with some bikes outside. There is no sign out front, only one at each end of the street pointing in opposite directions.”

Well George, there are two red bicycles mounted on a post pointing in the direction of the shop with the name on an arrow. Apparently he never heard that signs don’t shout; they whisper.

I learned several things that day, first, if you don’t look for signs you can easily miss them. I also learned that rather than driving around winding back roads for 30 minutes, you can find the address and directions online in 30 seconds.

But the main thing I learned is that everything that has been said about selective coloring is true. It’s a blatant attempt to make a boring photo interesting and should only be used in very specific circumstances, like photographing a woman wearing a red bikini and red lipstick.

But I was in the heart of Amish country; where the women don’t wear lipstick and most don’t even own a bikini. And even if by some chance I found one that did, they usually don’t want their photo taken.

Although most Amish refuse to allow themselves to be photographed, some make a distinction between a photograph taken in a natural setting versus posing for one.

So if one day I happen to see an Amish woman in a red bikini, I will politely ask her if I can take her photo, but I won’t ask her to pose, and more important, all she has to do is act naturally. As for post processing with selective coloring, I’ll cross that covered bridge when I come to it.