Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Guilty Pleasures

Heavy Weights

This movie, with Ben Stiller, is one of my guilty pleasures.  I love watching Ben Stiller, as the psychotic fitness entrepreneur, versus the misfit kids at Camp Hope Fat Camp.

Christopher Moore

With this author, nothing is sacred, even angels. I have read most of his books, from Practical Demonkeeping to Sacre Bleu with enjoyment, but also a little embarrassment, because wouldn't want to read any of these books aloud in front of nuns. I especially enjoyed the latest, Sacre Bleu, which will show you some of the great painters like Toulouse Lautrec in an entirely new (blue) light.

Second Life

My entry on Second Life has been moved over to "Warty Bliggens"

Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service

This is a Japanese manga translated by Toshifumi Yoshida and published in America by Dark Horse comics. The manga is about young students at a Buddhist university whose skills - channeling, dowsing, ESP, etc...are not in great demand among the living, so they make a living carrying out the wishes of the dead.  Not for the squeamish, but not just a blood-and-guts bash, either. Volume 13, for example, includes translations from the poet Rimbaud, and information about ancient fertility goddesses, and about the Japanese jury system. Great endnotes with information that makes the manga more accessible to western readers.

downloaded from online manga site

Saturday, December 22, 2012

My Review of the New Hobbit Movie (Spoiler Alert)

We saw the new "Hobbit" movie yesterday, and I wanted to make some comments. I haven't read any other reviews yet, and I suggest that you see the movie before you read my review so as not to be prejudiced in any way.

(Scroll down to read review)

My one word review would be "Bloated".  I had wondered how they could make a one-volume book into three movies. Now I know. Perhaps they listened to the people who complained "They left out Tom Bombadil" in the first Lord of the Rings movie and decided nothing should be left out. Then they added dialogue and actions and whole new sub-plots until what could have been a nice hour-long movie became over two-hours long and was not necessarily better. In fact, I predict that at some future point someone will edit this and the next two movies so that they become one movie and it will be much more entertaining.

I especially disliked all the added violence and the "should have been fatal" collisions and falls and near-escapes that kept happening until I came to the conclusion that the dwarves and Gandalf must have been made of titanium. My Mom's one comment after seeing the movie was "I thought The Hobbit was a children's book".

And did they need to change the plot? My husband says that Steven Colbert explained that this was the way Tolkien would have changed it after he wrote the LOTR trilogy. Hogwash.  The book The Hobbit is the story of Bilbo, his adventures, and how he got the ring. If there are contradictions in Middle Earth as depicted in the book The Hobbit and the books The Lord of the Rings, so be it. We are humans, we are very good at having contradictory opinions.

Perhaps the producers/writers/directors/financiers (I wasn't sure who to blame) thought that they could improve on Tolkien? If so, why not make an entirely new movie, perhaps "Further Tales of Middle Earth" to include the scenes with Saruman and Radagast and the high elves?

I also noticed at least one scene where the dialog didn't seem to synch to the actors' lips. Were these scenes left over from the LOTR movies that were repurposed by adding voice-overs?

I do not know why the original book was expanded into three long movies. My husband's guess is that the financiers realized there would be greater profit in putting out three movies, rather than one. I am thinking that perhaps someone kept saying "Wouldn't this scene look great in 3-D!" I also suspect there is a component of "I am too great a genius to be edited" involved.

Random thoughts: Gollum has the greatest range of emotion of all the characters. The dwarf king is much too young.  The orcs and the goblins could use a good dermatologist.

And who am I to curmudgeon about what has the core of a great movie? No one - just a Tolkien fan who is hoping that some day they make a movie of the book The Hobbit.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Recommended Read

I would like to recommend the book Building My Zen Garden by Kieran Egan. The author was born in Ireland, schooled in the U.S., and was teaching in Vancouver when he wrote it. He had already published 15 academic texts, but the zen garden project started out as a hobby. The book was published after recommendations from blog readers. I got the book from the library, but you can read the original at In some ways I prefer the blog, because it has color pictures.

This is not a 'how to' book, rather it is an exploration of how you can turn an idea into reality, and is full of humor, philosophy, poetry, and observations on everyday life.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Democracy of the Roads

Earlier this year I was driving along a Southern California freeway when a small red roadster with two passengers passed right in front of me, left to right, and proceeded to cut across lanes and traffic until it got to the diverging route on the left. In a brief flash of concentrated attention - the "life passes before your eyes" moment - I saw the passengers' identical platinum manes blowing in the wind, their mouths open in laughter, and the too-smooth-to-be-natural skin of the passenger's face and neck.

After regaining my composure my first thought was "Those people must have either fame, influence, or money to drive so recklessly. " That led me to think about how one of the very few places where "a cat can look at a king" are our public freeways.  Jaguars share the space with hippy vans, but I have noticed that the less pretentious cars tend to make way for the more expensive ones - you wouldn't want to ding those Mercedes - their owners probably have lawyers. I also suspect that the owners of the luxury vehicles probably don't get ticketed as often - otherwise why would "Famous Person X was given a traffic ticket." be newsworthy.

And I have also wondered about what happens to those cops who have ticketed or even arrested governors and other influential people.  Do they ever get promoted or do they find themselves in some dead-end job somewhere?  In fiction the maverick who upholds the law is often made the hero, but I suspect not so much in real life.

Watch out for small red roadsters.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Why I Don't Watch A Lot of Television

I don't watch a lot of television. It is not just that I know that real-life problems can't be resolved in the space of a half-hour, hour, or mini-series. It just seemed that I had seen it all before. While I was net-stalking Torley I found a wiki called T.V. Tropes. It explained a lot. See if you can find the elements that make up your favorite programs.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Another Diet Fail

I read a recent article in WIRED magazine about the changes in the Weight Watcher's program and decided to try it again, online.  I only lasted eight days*. While the new points system is designed to steer you towards more healthy and more filling foods, their online food tracking program is clunky and difficult to navigate. I was spending over an hour a day using their online points calculator, and a lot of the food I eat regularly is not on their lists and I had to calculate the points from the sum of the ingredients.
I tried to simplify the counting by trying some of their frozen meals.  Their food products are marked with the points value and this made counting points easier, but the meals did not taste as good as similar frozen meals that (according to their labels) seemed to have almost the identical nutritional value but cost a lot less because they didn't have the Weight Watcher's label on them.
I met some nice people in some of their forums, but overall, I did not find the support or ease of use I expected. Weight Watchers is one of the biggest commercial weight loss companies in the world. Their income is in the trillions, and they spend millions in advertising. They should have spent more money improving their online site.
For me, a good diet program needs to be one I can use without thinking a lot about it, and it needs to be accessible when you do not have a computer or other electronic gadget.
I know that the Weight Watchers program has helped many people, but I cannot recommend signing up for their online program.

*because some of these days were in March, and some in April, they charged me for two months when I cancelled. According to complaints I've read on line, it could have been worse.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Two Kinds of Blue

Cotton t-shirt, still wet
The first kind of blue: Indigo. Indigo is a dye taken from the fiber of the indigo plant.  I am taking an on-line class from Shibori Girl. The class covers different ways of setting up dye vats, and then various dyeing techniques.

 The t-shirt was done in the "sky fabric" technique: basically this involves wetting the fabric, scrunching the fabric into a ball and wrapping it with rubber bands or string, then immersing it in your dye vat for a while. After you take the fabric ball out you unroll it, rinse the fabric and start over again until you like the pattern or get tired. I have two indigo vats now: one full-strength and one half-strength. The
 t-shirt got two dips in the full-strength vat, and two dips in the half-strength vat, over a period of several days.

I'm using the beginner Indigo Dye Kit from Jacquard, but many class members are making vats from much more exotic materials. To my mind, the results from the full-strength vat are too dark. I think it is better to use a weaker dye vat and vary the colors by doing successive dips.

The scarf is done in itajime shibori, where blocks or shapes are clamped to form a resist to the dye.  First I clamped popsicle sticks on both sides of pleated fabric.  The stripes did not come out as clearly as I wanted.   For the second dip I folded the scarf in squares and then triangles.  Then I clamped wooden blocks over part of the triangles. That result was a little better than I got with the popsicle sticks, but I still have a lot of room for improvement. See Shibori Girl for more information.
Silk scarf with itajimi pattern
The second blue was my feelings about missing out, for the second time, on getting Comic-Con tickets online.  Analyzing my feelings, I realized I was feeling as if I had been betrayed. I realized that was silly.   An event or an experience is not a thing that can betray you, and going for twenty years doesn't give you any kind of priority in the ticket process. Comparing notes with those who got tickets and those who did not, it looks as if my using an older computer with an older browser may have held me back. So be it. Time to move on.

My hands may be blue from dyeing, but I won't let it get to my heart.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Alas, Even Gurus are Gullible

I was saddened to read, in a magazine called "Spirituality & Health" an interview with Dr. Wayne Dyer in which he describes having remote surgery done by entities sent by John of God. Dr. Wayne Dyer said he had been diagnosed with leukemia.

John of God was in Brazil, Wayne Dyer was in Maui. Dr. Dyer had planned to go visit John of God in spring of 2011 with his eye surgeon friend Dr. Rayna Perscova. He decided to stay in Maui and finish his most recent book, so Dr. Perscova took photos of him to show John of God.  After consultation, Dr. Perscova told Dr. Dyer that "the surgery will be Thursday morning, the 21st of April." Before the surgery, Dr. Dyer was to take the herbs and holy water FedExed from John of God in Brazil.  Dr. Dyer says that he was told he would have to sleep for 24 hours after the surgery but he dismissed this and went for his regular walk. After walking 100 yards he collapsed and had to stay in his room for a week.

Later he was told to go to bed at 11 o'clock, because "they" would be removing the sutures. "I don't have any sutures" he said, and Dr. Percova replied "No, it's just the term -- and it will be done by these entities who actually did the surgery."

Now Dr. Dyer states that while he does not know if he still has leukemia he feels more healthy and active than ever and concludes "Ultimately , I just believe that at this time in my life. as a spokesperson, a person who has a big audience around the planet, that I have a mission to teach something called Divine Love." In an interview with Lililou on YouTube he states "I am prepared for my ascension."

Up to this moment I have always thought of Wayne Dyer as an inspirational speaker but relatively benign. Now I am afraid that he, by example, might encourage people seeking healing to visit this "John of God" and thus lose valuable time that might have been used for traditional medical treatment.

Since Dr. Dyer says that we should not criticize, condemn, or judge I will merely point you to some negative opinions about John of God.

Analysis of the Infomercial for John of God
The Skeptic's Dictionary
are just a few of many sites that question John of God's "miracles."

Additional information: According to the John of God website the "herb" used is Passionflower. This is no longer used as a drug in the United States, and it may cause interactions with prescribed medication.  No knowing what dosage was sent, and the article doesn't say how the herbs were ingested. The holy water may be from The Sacred Waterfall listed on one of the tour sites.

Many tour operators offer guided tours to visit John of God. One, Traveling to the Casa, has this advice:

"If you are very ill and/or in a near terminal condition, it is best to have a picture of yourself presented to the Entity before proceeding to Abadiania. It is expensive and causes a lot of problems for the Casa and your family should you expire while in Abadiania."

Another site suggests that if you are planning on visiting John of God to seek healing, do not tell the Brazilian government the purpose of your visit when you apply for a visa.

Come to your own conclusions, just don't send me a postcard (or astral vision) from Brazil. My aura may be purple, but I concur with Emily Dickinson:

"Faith is a fine invention
For gentlement who see,
But microscopes are prudent
In an emergency.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

When Easter Bunnies Go Bad

I was strolling through my local Big Lots* store recently when I happened to look up and found myself being glared at by shelves of monster bunnies. They had been priced at 25 cents each for quick sale for some reason. I bought three of them.

I call this rogue's gallery "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" although, if you look closely you can see that even the "Good" bunny is a little cracked.

What happened to these pitiful creatures? Truck refrigeration unit failed?  Someone thinking "Heck, it is February, we don't need refrigeration." not realizing they were in Southern California.  I'll never know.

I like to imagine that perhaps these were Nazi Bunnies Who Saw Something They Were Not Meant To See a la that horrific scene in "Raiders of the Lost Ark".

Not wanting to put them in a basket on Easter morning for fear they might terrify small children, I guess I will have to eat them. They may be ugly, but I bet they have good personalities.


*Big Lots may also be known to you as "Mac Frugal's Bargains" or "Pic 'n' Save".

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I Was Wrong

In an earlier post I stated that it seemed as if some Big Name Gurus' teachings could only be accessed after paying a fee. I was wrong.

Athough my initial web searches led me only to the "pay me and I'll talk" sites,  further investigation showed that both Eckhardt Tolle and Deepak Chopra have some free programs.

Eckhart Tolle's website offers the "uncourse" - a non-linear collection of videos and other resources. I finished one segment, on grieving, and found it interesting. I can now understand why he is such a popular teacher.

Deepak Chopra's website is offering a 21-day Meditation Challenge. Although it started February 20th you can still sign up, and it looks as if it will be repeated periodically. I am on Day Three and although it is rather light I would consider it a good starting point if you wanted to learn more about meditation.

My favorite "free" resources are still the offerings at Sounds True. I am currently working through their free course on energy healing, and have found it excellent. Unfortunately, they have changed the programs that they give you if you sign up for their newsletters, so I can't speak to the current free programs. They also send out a newsletter with free information.

Namaste, Dudes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

By Any Other Name...

Sunday Flowers
On an "almost-raining" Sunday I was hurrying through a nondescript parking lot when suddenly the sun came out for just a minute. It highlighted the flowers growing next to a wall and I took a quick shot. There is so much beauty around but sometimes we hurry past too fast to see it.

Right now I am stalled in the slow lane and I've suddenly found myself unable to do things I used to take for granted, like climbing a stepladder or going up the back steps. Even things on my "don't want to do" list, like mowing the lawn, now seem appealing.

But I have been defining myself by what I do, and now that I can't do them I feel as if I am losing part of my identity. For years I have been annoyed when people ask me if i am "the Stephanie Meyer" and I have to say "No, I'm afraid not.". I guess part of my annoyance is because after I say "no, I'm afraid not" most people don't ask anything else - as if who "not the famous" Stephanie Meyer was was not important.
I'm Nobody! Who are you?
 by Emily Dickinson

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you - Nobody - too?
Then there's a pair of us!
Don't tell! they'd advertise - you know!

How dreary - to be - Somebody!
How public - like a Frog -
To tell one's name - the livelong June -
To an admiring Bog!
My healthcare provider didn't help. When I went to be fitted for the Herman Munster boot I handed the receptionist my healthcare card, my photo I.D., and my debit card. When it was fifteen minutes past my scheduled appointment time I went up to the desk and was told "Well, you never checked in..." It eventually turned out that they had checked me in as someone else entirely, who wasn't scheduled to be there for another three hours and who had an entirely different kind of problem*.  If I had read all of the paperwork they handed me I would have caught it, but I didn't. I found it particularly ironic because when I had gone to have my foot x-rayed earlier they had put a patient wristband on me while I limped six feet down the corridor for an x-ray, and then put on a second band when I went to get an x-ray at a different location, as if I would forget who I was.

Then today I got a text message "Dad and Cody just left but there going back way with top down just cruising in sun probably 3 hours." Don't know who these people are, but it sounds like they are having fun....

But enough whining. I'm getting used to the Herman Munster boot.  I enjoyed Jellyjumbles post about wearing one. She brings up a good point about "getting the story" right because everyone asks you "how did it happen" and I get tired of saying "falling off a bar stool" (not far from the truth). My comic book dealer pointed out that that answer doesn't get much sympathy because "you were having fun" so maybe the next time I get asked I'll answer "I was saving kittens from a burning building..." Nah.
Prayer to Persephone
 by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Be to her, Persephone,
All the things I might not be;
Take her head upon your knee.
She that was so proud and wild,
Flippant, arrogant and free,
She that had no need of me,
Is a little lonely child
Lost in Hell, -- Persephone,
Take her head upon your knee;
Say to her, "My dear, my dear
It is not so dreadful here."
*The person they signed me as at Orthopedics had a higher co-pay, so I got a rebate.... 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Stumbling Towards Enlightenment

Belief systems are like languages. If you grow up learning only one language it is not until you start to learn another language that you realize that your original language is not "the one true way of communicating." If you were raised in some religions you may never see people who practice other religions as anything but "heathens".  Religions which do not accept a variety of beliefs may splinter into sub-groups (for example, the many varieties of Christianity and Buddhism).

My parents did not attend church.  When I was sent to stay with my paternal Grandmother for a few weeks one summer she tried to remedy my lack of religious upbringing by enrolling me in two Vacation Bible Schools - one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  I really wanted to participate in one activity, but I was told that I was not qualified because "you haven't been baptized." This was one of the first times I came to realize that, innocent as I was, I could be considered a heathen because I had not participated in a particular religious ceremony.

Since then I have continued to seek a faith I could believe in. I read religious documents, attended a variety of religious services, and even sang in a church choir for a while.  I always got turned off when I heard the inevitable sermon "You who are here will be saved - those others are godless heathens and will go to Hell." I disagreed and continue to disagree. Surely God wouldn't punish someone because they had been raised in a different religion and didn't know any better?

"He drew a circle that shut me out -
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in.

     by Emily Dickinson

Looking beyond traditional, established religion to see what "New Age" spirituality offered led me to further discoveries. Thence to the discovery of the growing commodification of religion and spirituality. Here, Michael York explains it much better than I can. I was especially struck by his phrase "The New Age is modified upon, and is an outgrowth of, liberal Western capitalism." That is, the fact that Hollywood is marketing New Age spirituality is not an accident.  The New Age movement is "a blend of pagan religions, Eastern philosophies, and occult-psychic phenomena" {York, 1995:34}. The accusation of liberal Western capitalism comes because New Age "borrows" or "steals" ideas and practices from many religions and then capitalizes on this borrowed product. Eckhardt Tolle, for example, mixes taoism with some Buddhist beliefs and practices (see this article in Psychology Today), "New Age Shamans" appropriate Amerindian and other indigenous' practices such as sweat lodges and dream catchers. (Lynn Andrews is a particularly bad example of someone who has stolen Amerindian ideas for her own gain.  I am not linking to her website. I shredded her first book after reading it, it was so dishonest. This fraud offers a four-year course in how to be a shaman for only $4,120 per year.). "New Age" energy healers use the concepts of "chakras" and "meridians" from other cultures.

So are we getting the best of all religions by this cutting and pasting, or will we just end up with a mishmash?

Meanwhile, the search continues. My favorite t-shirt says "Seeking Enlightenment".

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Transformational Entertainment? - Thinking Out Loud - Nothing to Read Here

I am temporarily grounded* so I've been spending more time on line.Since I have enjoyed reading and listening to Geneen Roth, Gangaji, and Jack Kornfield, when I found Sounds True was hosting a Conference that included all three as teachers I really wanted to go, but realized it would not be practical.

But distance and expense shouldn't be obstacles to enlightenment, so I looked for similar events in my own neighborhood.  In the process I found that GATE: Global Alliance for Transformational Entertainment will be hosting an event in February which will include Eckhart TolleJim Carrey and John Raatz.  According to the GATE Mission Statement, this group "is an evolving community of creative, business and technical professionals in entertainment, media, and the arts, who realize the vital and expanding role media and entertainment play in creating our lives, and who aspire to consciously transform those domains for the benefit of all."

Further, GATE is a " association providing valuable and relevant knowledge, resources and services to a wide range of professionals in the media, entertainment, and arts industries, to aid in their personal transformation and to help them create and distribute content that expresses their transformational worldview."

If I'm reading this correctly, this Global Alliance hopes to transform professionals in the media, entertainment and arts industries and, in turn, help them create and distribute content that expresses their transformation and which, in turn, will transform others.  I am a bit puzzled by what this means in practical terms.  Media, entertainment, and art industry professionals have been "going to see the Maharishi" for some time now, and (if they are not dissuaded by business types) often seem to produce entertainment which includes some kind of message.

 I am both cynical and hopeful. Is this just a money-making project or a sincere effort to change the world?  If you look at the web pages of the three founders of GATE you will find that  **Eckhart Tolle's is selling online access to his wisdom and you might think he was in it for the money (on the other hand, perhaps he needs business types as a shield to his privacy). Jim Carrey's pages are so over-the-top they seem to imply an over-large ego; however, perhaps that is just an expression of his art. Only after reading an interview in Vision Magazine with John Raatz did I come to the conclusion that he at least does not seem to be looking for money or fame.

While I wonder if "the truth" really needs help being marketed, I realize I never would have found out about Roth, Kornfield, or Gangaji if I hadn't heard about them somewhere.  There are many gurus out there, but few attain any kind of fame and maybe it would be a good idea if the right ones went to the GATE seminar and learned how to get more name recognition.  I know that Oprah has helped rescue a few self-help gurus and authors from obscurity.  Publishing Companies like Sounds True and Hay House help spread the word by offering "in person" appearances from some of their authors. Geneen Roth and Deepak Chopra both seem to have very lucrative marketing systems set up. But, on the other hand, I am wondering if Hollywood has just realized that "the Cultural Creative" and other members of "The Herbal Tea Party"*** are a growing portion of the viewing audience to which the genre of "transformational entertainment" can be targeted.    It will be interesting to see what comes out of the GATE sessions.

Now - back to the original objective - to find sources of enlightenment close to hand. Even if I am not able to go to a far away conference it turns out that Sounds True offers a number of free downloads on different subjects.  When I'm able to drive myself places again there are a number of local groups that offer all kinds of courses. In short, I don't need to take a long pilgrimage to find transformational resources.

*In short, I fell leaving a table at The Hopping Pig after having a beer with my meal.  Hurry, the fact the tables were on an elevated island, and the glass of  Lost Abbey beer I drank before the food finally arrived were probably all factors.  The beer wasn't that great, but I drank it because I had paid for it, and now I am hopping around wearing an appliance called an "equalizer".  The Hopping Pig slogan should be "At happy hour you can get enough beer for $4.50 to make you fall flat on your face..."

**If you visit this website don't be surprised if you start getting pop-ups that say "What if Eckhart Tolle was available right now to support your spiritual awakening? Sign up for a free trial...."

***"The Cultural Creative" and "The Herbal Tea Party" were both terms used in the Vision Interview with John Raatz.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Myth of the Hand-Made Christmas?

In Terry Pratchett's novel Hogfather there is a conversation between Death and Albert:

ALBERT: "I Hogswatch I had my heart set on this huge model horse they had in the shop..."
[then he explains how poor his family was]
 "...I still hung my stocking on Hogswatch Eve, and in the morning....Our dad had put in this little horse he'd carved his very own self..."


ALBERT: "No!" "It weren't. All I could think of was it wasn't the big horse in the window."


ALBERT: "No. Only grown-ups think like that....You're a selfish little bugger when you're seven."


Nevertheless, I still persist in making at least a few handmade gifts every Christmas in spite of the fact that some of my relatives persist in sending me detailed lists of what they would really like - (the lists seem to come earlier each year) - but it is all stuff anyone could buy at a store, and what's the magic in that?

One niece emailed what she wanted and I replied "I'm sorry, I already bought you a stuffed armadillo with wings." I hope she wasn't disappointed when what she got was actually a pillow with a picture of Wonder Woman on it.

Reversible artist smock
Pokemon fabric on one side
Some of the things I made:

Hello Kitty necklace from Perler beads modified from a pattern on the web

Frog Prince pincushion modified from a free pattern

My son got an "Anti-Harry & David" gift which included turkey spam, Jelly Bellies*, Haggis, Vegemite, and spotted dick pudding.

 I still haven't finished crocheting some gopher golf club covers for one nephew.

After that maybe it would be a good time to start on crafts for next Christmas. Maybe I should try to make one of the things on their lists. Does anyone know how to crochet a Wii?

*including some Jelly Flops.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Melvan Is Now In Europe

For a brief and glorious time I was the owner of a 60's VW named "Melvan".  In my younger years I had read Travels With Charley and dreamed of traveling around the country in some kind of camper. When I saw Melvan on Ebay I fell in love with him.

I returned to the Ebay page over and over. The seller had taken pictures from every angle, interior and exterior. The inside was set up with a bed, cabinets, and a small sink. There was even a painting of the Madonna on the roof. I talked to my husband about it, and while we were sitting in the living room at our respective computers he said "If you want it, go ahead and buy it."(He now claims to have no memory of this.). So I clicked on "Buy".

There were complications. My bank was slow in approving a loan to cover the whole amount, and Melvan was in New Mexico and so my husband needed to take time off from work so he could go with me when I picked up Melvan and follow me in another vehicle when I drove Melvan home.  While we waited I re-read HOW TO KEEP YOUR VW ALIVE  and inquired about classes in auto mechanics for dummies.

Finally, we took the scenic route to New Mexico, through Taos, and picked up Melvan. I drove him all the way home. I enjoyed starting up in the morning, giving the engine time, putting him in gear. I was happy.
Melvan at home (usually he lived in our garage)
Melvan, side view
Unfortunately, after we got home I found I had made the erroneous assumption that "all men like cars" and that my husband would be interested in working on the van and going camping in it .  Unfortunately my husband did not share my enthusiasm. Later he confessed that he had been worried that I had lost my mind. After a while I realized we were not going anywhere and I re-sold Melvan to a young man named Ed. After he had driven Melvan to a few meets he got a great offer from a buyer in Europe and re-sold him. Melvan looks like he is in good hands. I still dream about traveling around the country, though.

In retrospect, this may be seen as the classic "mid life crisis" (or "Mid-Life Chrysler"?). I read once that if you want to get a good deal on a motorcycle look for middle-aged men who bought one and took it home and had their wives say "You bought WHAT".  

We all have "bucket lists" but I guess we need to check to make sure there aren't any piranhas in there. I asked my husband if he wanted to go to Burning Man next year and he said "I don't think I could handle the dust of the playa." At least he was listening.

You can read more about Melvan on the Samba forums. Looks like he has had some body work and gotten a few new stickers.