General Update; Pchum Ben

Hello Friends,

Seems about time to make a general update as it has been almost two weeks since my last post.

We are preparing for a five-day stay in St. Louis (courtesy of my sister, Amy, who lives there), among other things. It is very strange for me to travel for more than a day-trip so there is a little anxiety about being away, and there seem to be so many things that need to be done in order to take care of things even just for a few days while we’re gone. Oh, the troubles of being a householder…

As for the trip itself, we’ve decided to rent a car — a first for me. Our cars aren’t anything special, and we’ve looked at the potential risks of driving one of our 10+ year old vehicles and decided that the cost of a rental is probably cheaper overall.

While we are there, in addition to paying respects to my father, I imagine we will spend much of the time visiting family, most of which I haven’t seen in over a decade. In fact, I may have never even met some of them, which should really keep the trip interesting. I think we’ll be taking the kids to a local science museum too, something I’m certain Dalton will enjoy.

We will also be making a stop at the Gateway Arch, which I suppose isn’t going to be as neat now that the government has closed it (shutdown politics) but it’ll be okay.

khmer temple shrineIn other news, I’ve spent the last couple of Sundays visiting the Khmer temple near my home for the observance of Pchum Ben, a series of Cambodian holy days associated with paying homage to relatives who have passed away. Of course, this also means I haven’t been at my usual temple, so I hope nobody there gets the idea that I’ve decided to quit going there! While the Khmer temple is much closer (I could walk there), they don’t hold services with any particular regularity. I’ll admit, though, that it is nice to be a bit more familiar with the “liturgical” language, Pali, which I can, to a certain degree, chant along with and understand even though there are no books provided.

Of course, even Pali sounds incredibly different when comparing chanting by American or English monks to that of Cambodian monks. In any event, it has been very nice to visit another temple, as well as spend some time with my Cambodian coworkers there and learn a little more about how another group observes and practices Buddhism.

colonize1An entertaining side-note before I post this: I’ve recently become re-acquainted with an extremely “old school” game, Sid Meier’s Colonization. For those who aren’t familiar, the game is about the European colonization of the Americas, starting with the first settlements and culminating in the War for Independence.

colonize2The player is responsible for one of the four major European powers’ colonies, building them up, hardening them against attack, and trading with natives and Europe to earn the requisite cash for these endeavors. I find it particularly amusing just how much I can still get sucked in to a game that was released in 1994!

Anyway, I should be off to work. May you be well, friends! I will write again soon.

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