327. Dilemmas and the Dalai Lama

Dilemmas are difficult double bind situations in life. The classic line “Damned if I do but damned if I don’t” sums up the word.

noun: dilemma; plural noun: dilemmas
a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, especially equally undesirable ones. For example,
“the people often face the dilemma of feeding themselves or their cattle”.
The official word origin says dilemma comes from “Di (two) Lemma (premises)” but it could come from two lemurs, muttered by a drunken Austrian dude, “der lemurs”, as he exits a petting zoo in Munich.
 We all face them, dilemmas (not der lemurs) in life. I recall when I got a loan for the house we built in 1985. Interest rates were ridiculous at the time. Oh how the Reagan love slaves forget. It was not unusual to get a fixed rate of 15% on a twenty year loan. Great for the banks but untenable for regular slobs who bought their own lunches.  We took a gamble and risked a three year variable loan at 11.5%. It was dicey because we feared the rates would go up again like a drawbridge after three fixed years and we’d be stuck forever on the wrong side as the Trump Yacht sailed through the bridge’s gap. Fortunately the market corrected in that time and we refinanced at 9% and then a few years later at 7%.  Nice returns for the banks but a bloody mess for the average working family. Bankers butcher their customers and leave blood and oxtails on the floor when they are done “helping” their customers… in my overly dramatic slightly eccentric opinion.
 Image result for banker pictures
The dilemma part was that paying rent went nowhere while real estate prices were only going up and up. So if you rented cheap places you could live on the meager wages you earned but never acquire any long term assets. On the other hand, if you bit the bullet and bought overvalued real estate at historically inflated interest rates, you were skating on thin ice in April. No wonder that dilemmas are often compared to the horns of a bull. Either option will gore you to death.
 That’s got to hurt. Oddly, hard charging hot growth economies are called Bull Markets, butt as you can see, (or, as you can see the butt) timing is everything.  This matador should have cashed out five seconds earlier. He may be singing “Der Lemurs” with the drunk guy at the zoo in his newly acquired soprano register. Not Tony Soprano either. To the tune of Edelweiss,
“Der lemurs
Der lemurs
Every morning you greet me
Black and white, clean and bright
You look maniacally happy to greet me…”
Clink! goes the tequila bottle against the St. Pauli Girl growler as the new friends stroll along the wide streets of Montevideo.
“You are alright, Pedro, but why do you walk so funny?”
“My butt cheek got gored by an angry two thousand pound bull at 8 miles per hour, Claude.”
“You don’t say.”
“No, I just did say.”
“Did you know Al Gore invented climate change?”
“Claude, you’re drunk if you believe that.”
“But I’m drunk if I don’t….”
Sure, it’s all good and funny until some poor matador gets gored in his back door. I mean, how would the attending surgeon go about that procedure? Now I get the example given above, “do you feed the people or feed the cattle?” Neither the bull nor the matador is going to want to eat after this chance meeting. “Just ice water with lemon for me, thanks.”  Me, I’d slaughter the bull, cut the horn off, and send the matador to the ER on a cart with a hole in it for his shamed face to hide in while checking his Facebook page.
“Holy Guacamole!  I went viral for all the wrong reasons. My nameless faceless butt is famous. Oh the humanity!”
Now here is my dilemma:  at 500 plus words into a frothy no calorie word shake, I must develop the other horn, as promised by my title–> His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Other authors who possess self respect, common decency and solid boundaries would stop here and delete the previous 500 words. But not a man named for an oversized Mexican flour tortilla. Burrito, you will be amazed to learn, means “little donkey” in Spanish or Mexican, as you wish. Sometimes also affectionately called jackass. I am not avoiding the Dalai Lama discussion with my trail of embedded footnotes. No, I’m just a curious guy.
 I do wonder what happened to the previous 13 Dalai Lamas, however. So I went in search of the truth at Google. In moments I was surrounded by more Tibetan Buddhist words than Madonna has stiletto heels. I had a hunch there might me a llama loose in the woodpile, if you know what I mean. And if you do, please tell me because I don’t know what I mean. Like a goat I pick all low hanging humor fruit, rotted or otherwise.  It’s delicious.
So, the Dalai Lama is the counterpoint to my first point, which I can’t recall making. In a nutshell it was about the dangers of drunk guys going to bull fights and singing songs from The Sound of Music. There was also something about interest rates and bull markets and bull crap. Let me cut to the quick–  the  man we have come to know as the Dalai Lama was a burned out accountant from San Francisco who moved to Montana, determined to start over again. He traded in his suits and lap top for a flowing robe collection, mostly saffron and scarlet. He looked like a college dean from Holy Cross on graduation day as he wandered about the hills and dales of Montana, looking for new meaning and purpose in his life. He took on a cowboy name, Dale, and began to raise and shepherd homeless llamas.

After several years, locals called him Dale the Llama Guy. It stuck. His flocks grew and his wisdom found a big enough sky to flourish beneath. Old Dale just spread out like smiling wildflowers, possibly edelweiss, blown along the foothills. One day, however, two slightly drunk guys came by singing “Der Lemurs”, and Dale knew what he needed to do… get to Tibet as fast as he could go, to save humanity from itself. And that, my children, is the whole truth about dilemmas and the Dalai Lama. Maybe.

217. Confusion: Rains or Reigns or Reins

English is a funny language, don’t you think so?  We have all these sound alike words, homonyms, that mean vastly different things even before you allow for Australian accents, and British, and South African, and U.S. regions, and English as a second language yuk ups. Why just today I heard the joke about the guy whose plane crashed in Australia. In the hospital during surgery he cried out in pain to the Aussie nurse, “Did I just come here to die?”  Coolly, she replied, “No, you came here yesterday, mate.”  This word play is the source of endless puns and bad jokes, double entendres, innuendos and so forth. It’s just so funny if you are on the same page at the same speed… and so stupid if you are not.

Earlier this afternoon my wife and I met with our financial planner, Rich. He threw in a joke without fluctuating his voice or face–
“If you work till you’re 62, then you’ll draw this much pension from the state. If you work till you are 72, they’ll name a building after you.” I caught it before my wife, about an hour before as it turns out, and said, “Yeah, I’d like a brick  building to remember her by”, when Rich chimed in “Like a Brick….HOUSE” from the Commodores with Lionel Richie and full on upper body dance funk. We laughed and tried to get back on track as my wife wondered how the train of thought had become so derailed and deranged. It’s fun until it’s not. Caution: do not attempt word play with foreigners who are struggling to learn English or folks who have language impairments or people in crisis. Bad things could happen.

My youngest daughter had some language delays when she was 5 years old. She managed to cope by talking endlessly, thereby eliminating the need to listen. Each morning as I drove her and her older sister to school, Jess would prattle on and on about anything and nothing. Grace would shift in her seat, unable to get a word in edgewise. One day, attempting to insert a pause, I said, “Thanks for that update, Jess. Now let’s give Grace a turn.” That’s when Jess screamed out, “It’s not a cupcake, Dad!” That was the beginning of speech pherapy and auditory processing appointments. What a difference!! Now when she yells at me, her content matches the context and I deserve it. These days it’s my turn for pherapy.  Repeat after me, “Take the ambulance to the funeral.” “Take the ambliance to the fewhnyerral.”

“Just ’cause I said it don’t mean I meant it, just ’cause you heard it,” sings Adele. This reminds me of another favorite of mine– the double or triple negative. My wife uttered two good ones that I can recall. Once she called me from work to remind me to put dinner together for that night.

“Don’t forget to unthaw the beef”, she told me.

I paused. “You want me to freeze the meat?”


“Well, if you thaw something, it melts…so if you un-thaw something, you freeze it, right?”

“Don’t be difficult.”

“Or what?”

“Or I’ll beat you with frozen meat.”

“Thufferin’ thuckatash, I  didn’t thee that comin’ !”


The other utterance was the directive to unloosen my belt, which I believe appeared to be too tight. Again, let’s review:  if you loosen something, you let out length. If you unloosen something, you draw in length or tighten the thing in question. I inquired, “So you want me to tighten my belt?”

“You know what I mean”, she responded, which was true but I was being difficult, which she already knew from previous experience.

“Get a new belt or go on a diet. Okay, Fatboy?”

“Okay!  I didn’t theee that comin’ either.”

I am not a language Nazi, far from it. I am someone who loves words and language and fun. I recall a long, long set up to a really bad homonym pun. We were at the beach and I was trying to explain to some poor unfortunate soul how the fish were jumping beyond the waves.

“They are silver sea trout”, I asserted falsely.

“Oh, really. Why are they jumping like that?”

“To escape being eaten by the porpoises.”

“No kidding?”

“Yeah, there’s a best selling book about this fish.”

“I’ve never heard of it. What’s the title?”

“The Porpoise Driven Life by Rick Warren. It’s a big seller.”

“I’m going to beat you!!”

“You know, I get that a lot.”

“That’s because you weren’t beaten enough as a child.”

“I get that a lot too. It seems to be a universal assessment of my character.  Now, nah, ppput the frozen meat down… and the belt. We can talk this out without resorting to violence, can’t we Darlin? God help me. Did I just come here to die?”

I never learned to quit while I was behind. Not even when I was a little behind, maybe four or five years old. Now I’m a big behind and I need to unloosen my belt while thawing frozen beef.

Anyway, did you hear about the Arabic woman who got pregnant with twins before she was married? Shocking, so it was. Her family insisted on adopting out the identical twin boys. One to a family in Spain, who named him Juan; and the other to a family in Algeria, who named him Amal. Years went by. This woman eventually married a good man and started a family. Twenty years later a letter arrived from Spain with a photo of Juan. The letter said, “Mother, I  have tracked you down and want you to know that I am fine. Thank you for loving me enough to do what was best for me.”  The woman sobbed uncontrollably. When her husband came home she was still crying. She told him about the letter from Juan. He said, “My dear, this is a joyous thing. Be happy.” To which the woman replied, “But I will never see my Amal. Booooohhoooooo!” But her clever husband pointed out, “Dearest,  don’t you remember? They are identical boys:  once you’ve seen Juan, you’ve seen Amal.”

Put the frying pan down, Honey. This does not have to end in violence.