Things and stuff and stuff and things

It’s the last day of summer before the kid starts middle school, and I haven’t had much time to post. Here’s a brief rundown of the latest life news.


Tricking the Brother printer into thinking it has enough toner

Here’s a public service announcement for anyone who uses a Brother printer. These printers tend to give you a message about the toner being low long before the toner cartridge is really empty. Just cover the sensors on both sides of the toner cartridge housing with a piece of black electrical tape, and you will be able to print freely until you decide when the toner truly needs replacing. Which will probably be when your prints start looking faded, not when the company decides it can’t wait to sell you a new toner cartridge. Pictured here is the TN360 toner cartridge. My DCP-7040 can also use the TN330 cartridge.

Cover the sensor (there's one on each size of the toner cartridge) with a piece of electrical tape.

Cover the sensor (there’s one on each size of the toner cartridge housing) with a piece of electrical tape.

Steering Wheel Sadness

This a petty, First World Problems, grumbling kind of post. I’ve been looking at new SUVs and vans on the internet, fantasizing about the day when we might be able to afford to replace our 2003 Honda Element, and what I’m seeing with new steering wheel designs makes me very sad.

Last year I had occasion to drive a Hyundai Accent rental car, and that is when I first noticed The Problem. You see, I like to rest one of my hands at 6 o’clock on the steering wheel, but the Accent wouldn’t let me…it put some plastic in my hand’s way. Not only is it hard to break a 16 year driving habit, but I have shoulder problems and my shoulder hates me if I have to put my hands at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock on the wheel, which is what new designs appear to be trying to get us to do.

This may actually be a dealbreaker for me. So far I can pretty much disqualify all new models from Ford, Subaru, Kia, Mazda and Toyota:

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There are two brands that I am holding out hope for: Honda and Dodge. I can’t tell 100% from the photos, but it looks like there may possibly be enough space for my hand at 6 o’clock. Will have to see them in person.

Do you know of any cars that meet my steering wheel design preferences?

Ants help clean my floor

For years, spring means the start of ant season. In the old days I used to kill them. But since becoming a Buddhist, I just think of them as pets. Sure I occasionally scoop them up with a bug vac and take them outside when things get bad, but in the meantime, I have collected a number of media examples of ant industry. There’s something really satisfying about seeing the ants reduce a piece of popcorn to a skeleton or shlep a big piece of something across the floor. If you agree, I hope you find this collection inspiring.

Ants converge on a piece of Pirate Booty

Ants converge on a piece of Pirate Booty

I may add more videos as I get them, so bookmark this page and visit again some time, ant lovers.🙂

His Holiness Jigdal Dachen Sakya Rinpoche

The first time I ever encountered His Holiness Jigdal Dachen Sakya Rinpoche was on the staircase of the Sakya Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism. I had followed some other newcomers to the temple up the wrong set of stairs and we encountered him as he was coming down. Instinctively I put my hands in the prayer position and bowed to him, even though I had no clue who he was. Later I learned he was not only a founder of the temple there, but also a Tibetan Buddhist master of high rank, one of the few aside from the Dalai Lama who could be called “His Holiness.”

Less than a year later, in July 2014, he led the refuge ceremony that ushered myself and a handful of others into the Buddhist community there. During that ceremony, he broke from speaking from Tibetan to say clearly in English, “no meat for a year.” The translator sought clarification, as Rinpoche had led many refuge ceremonies before and had never made this request. Being vegetarian is not a requirement for a Buddhist, but in this case, Rinpoche was recommending we be vegetarian for a year. I figured he must have a reason for saying this, perhaps a certain clairvoyance. One of us must need this commandment, and perhaps that someone was me.

So I started off the next day trying earnestly to be a vegetarian, which is challenging when you also eat gluten-free. I succeeded for four or five months, with only a few slips that were not really my fault as I recall. My resolve slipped around the holiday season, partly because I didn’t want to burden my mother-in-law again with trying to figure out what to feed me. But a change had occurred: I was eating more soy products, possibly more dairy. I believe this is why in March 2015, something shifted in my digestion and I began to have gall bladder issues. For months I struggled with gall bladder disease and had the little squeezer removed in June 2015. But not before things got really interesting.

Along with the health challenge of having gall bladder disease but not gallstones comes lots and lots of tests. And one of the tests I had was a colonoscopy, which revealed precancerous polyps, which were then removed. This is what I believe: if I hadn’t attempted vegetarianism through Rinpoche’s suggestion, I would not have had the gall bladder trouble which led to the removal of precancerous material in my colon. It likely would have been three more years before I learned about the polyps and by then it might have been too late. So I am grateful to my gall bladder — and to Rinpoche — for possibly saving my life.

Yesterday I learned that Rinpoche has passed into parinirvana, like Shakyamuni Buddha before him. Like many others in the sangha, I will be remembering this great master for what I hope will be many years to come. Thank you, Rinpoche, for all you have done.