Hinduism

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I was a few days late getting this podcast out, though not for a lack of production activity on my part. Our Android app came out not too long ago, and I wanted to go back and retroactively add a bunch of extra content to each episode. This way if you feel like shelling out $1.99 for the app then you would at least get something for your money. And please believe me when I say I had absolutely no control over the price, other than to make it more expensive. If you are unhappy with the price go bitch to Libsyn, not me. So anyways I was back-logging the app with a ton of extra content, but this had the negative effect of filling up my monthly allotment of mp3 storage space on their server, so I had to wait until Libsyn freed up some extra space for this episode. Edit (2/15/2012): I have moved all the audio to archive.org and cancelled the Libsyn hosting for this show so any Libsyn links will henceforth no longer work. However, (assuming archive.org does not go belly-up) the mp3s should be available indefinitely.

Jeff and I sat down this week with a couple of Hindu friends I recently made, Sridhar and Gaurav. Sridhar is a PhD student studying nutritional biochemistry. Gaurav recently received his Master’s degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition (specializing in functional foods) and is about to move to New Jersey and begin developing new food products at Kraft. I worked with both of them for about six months in a lab at CSU where I was planning on attending grad school, but UW was too strong of a pull.

Early on we would talk about religion and geopolitics when our equipment would break down, and that’s how I found out that they were both Hindus. So before I moved to Seattle I practically begged them to come on the podcast and talk about their religion, of which I knew almost nothing. They agreed and this show is the result.


Sridhar is one badass motherfucker.


Gaurav

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Shambhala Buddhism

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"The Great Stupa"

Hi everybody! I know I’ve been delinquent in my posting duties. This Shambhala post is coming more than two weeks after the episode was actually released. I was hoping Jeff could get around to doing it at some point, since he’s a more engaging writer than me, but alas he has found a job and now has limited time to devote to blogs. Strangely enough I have now been unemployed for nearly a month and I am still too busy to post on time. Job hunting and despair are sucking up quite a bit of my free time.

So let’s get down to business… Some months ago Jeff had the idea of heading up to Shambhala Mountain Buddhist Center – a kind of Buddhist retreat in the gorgeous and moderately remote area of Red Feather Lakes, Colorado. It’s about an hour northwest of Fort Collins.

It actually took quite a while to get permission to do any kind of recording up there, because whoever was in charge of media relations was quite reluctant to agree to anything, fearing we would do some sort of ambush interview and edit the show in such a way as to make the center in particular or Buddhism in general look bad. Seriously. I was accidentally CC’d an internal email to this effect. But once we convinced the gatekeeper that we had no agenda and that this episode is essentially for our own edification on Shambhala Buddhism (and an excuse just to go into that beautiful area) then everyone involved was beyond accommodating and generous with their time.

Michael Gayner, director of Guest Services of the center, and Joshua Mulder, stupa architect, gave us a bit of a private tour from “basecamp” to the center’s stupa, a few hundred feet higher up in elevation. As we walked they explained to us about Shambhala Buddhism and their experiences with it.

By the way, this is going to be a picture-heavy post. Deal with it.

Michael and Jeff walking up to the Stupa.

The fountain of junk we mention toward the end of show.

The plastic card in the foreground might be the Blockbuster card that Jeff was taken with.

Apparently I have reached my limit regarding pics I am allowed to upload to WordPress without paying a fee, so instead I will link to them from now on. Hopefully it turns out okay.

These are from my Picasa album

Jeff and Michael recording in from of the “junk” structure

A view from the stupa looking toward the rockies

Views of the beautiful and intricate design from the outside

Views from the inside

Upon arriving at the stupa I went inside and sat crossed-legged on those cushions they have on the floor and closed my eyes and for a few moments. It was pure bliss. It may have been that I was tired of walking and out of breath, but whatever, it was nice.

I would like to give a special thanks to Joshua and Michael for being so generous with their time and expertise to a couple of strange atheists from the city.

Joshua

Joshua and Michael

Here’s a link to the whole Picasa album if you would like to browse

Science Communication

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Today’s podcast is all about how to bring science to the masses. Jeff and I attended a mixer following a two-day long workshop at CSU.  We basically grabbed some random people there and started chatting them up, starting with two working scientists fresh out of the workshop telling us what they learned. Then we were fortunate enough to talk to Nancy Baron, Director of Science Outreach at COMPASS and author of Escaping the Ivory Tower, and she told us why it is important for scientists to get their research into the public sphere. Finally we speak to Susan Moran about her experiences as a science journalist in both print media and as the host of a local radio show.