Friday, April 23, 2010

The Devil's Got A Gun To My Head
and he really wants me dead
but just forget it.

Burning lanterns cast out the shadows
Light dances in dark corners
The firefly with clipped wings still flutters

You can put me in a jar
fill it with milk and honey
make me sweet and fat and full

But the Lord has his hand on my head
he'll protect me from the dead
so just remember.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Templates for Mindfulness

Life is a constant stream of new challenges and pitfalls. Around every corner, something pops up to snag us and pull us down, just as other things come into view that lead to greater clarity and joy in life. A book I've been reading recently ("In This Very Life", Sayadaw U Pandita), reminds us to 're-apply helpful conditions from the past', a practice which I have found very rewarding.

The key is simply to notice what sorts of events in your life lead to a state of flow. If you're not paying attention, the up and down swings may seem arbitrary or completely random, but if you look a little closer, it's pretty easy to see that's not the case. Sure, life will throw us a curve ball, but there are certain conditions that help tow the bottom line. These are probably different for everyone, but what follows are some of mine.

Keeping Things Neat

I work from home. That means that if I want to, I can really live in a giant, nasty mess, and the worst that might happen is my girlfriend might nag me from time to time. But when my place is clean, I work better. What's more, the act of cleaning and keeping things tidy feels refreshing in and of itself. It's hard to remember this when I'm stressed, or miserable, or bored, but in the end, less clutter in my room means less clutter in my mind.

Staying Productive

I'm generally happier when I'm getting stuff done. I'm lucky enough to say that pretty much all of the projects I work on, even my commercial work, is stuff that I value and want to see move forward. It's easy to flow when I'm working on something I'm passionate about. Day to day, the hardest thing for me is getting started, and the second hardest thing is to avoid getting distracted. Lately, I've been using the Pomodoro method, which has been working quite well when I use it, and in the past, I've used minimal ZTD and enjoyed it. The particular system doesn't matter so much as it does to have one and actually use it. Without that, I'm way too busy watching slap chop.



Keeping my Mind Sharp and my Heart Open

Though it's usually the first good habit that I break whenever I start feeling at ends with life, there are few things that come close to the transformative power that insight meditation has on my life. As it turns out, more and more geeks are getting into this stuff, so just like when people ask me how to install Ruby on OS X, I can tell you to go over to HiveLogic to get the lowdown on Mindfulness practice.

Lots of people value this sort of meditation as a form of effective mind hacking, and it's great for that. However, as a practicing Buddhist, I look at it as a vehicle to give me greater insights into deeper spiritual questions. What I do know is that when I pay attention to my actions, I'm more aware of the impact they have on others, and that in turn, changes the way that I look at things as well as the way I live my life.

I am happier when my stress doesn't pour out on other people in arguments, when I am not quick to judge or condemn, and when the spirit of generosity comes from within rather than via some ulterior motive. Mindfulness meditation, along with some studying of contemporary and classic Buddhist texts, helps me do those things.

Taking Care of my Body

Staying clean. Eating well. Getting up and moving about. Paying attention to posture. Not sleeping too much or too little. Taking breaks from work to make sure I'm well hydrated, and that I'm stretching whatever limbs have been falling asleep while I type. All these things sound simple, and are simple, but are easy to forget if your mind is elsewhere. I find if I listen to the physical signals my body sends me, and heed its advice, I'm rarely regretful.

I guess that pretty much sums it up. Just a few reminders to myself, and a call to anyone who might come across this to sit down for a few minutes and think about the things that improve their conditions in life. You can't control what happens day to day, but you can set the stage, and that is deeply tied to what will ultimately play out.



Thursday, October 2, 2008

The other 338 pages of a 451 page "Emergency Rescue Bill"

I'm pretty sure that between cheap Puerto Rican Rum (sec 308, DIV C) and protections from terrorists (sec 402, DIV C) will fix our mortgage problems right away!

Here's the table of contents for what starts on page 113 of 451:


DIVISION B


TITLE I—ENERGY PRODUCTION INCENTIVES

Subtitle A—Renewable Energy Incentives
Sec. 101. Renewable energy credit.
Sec. 102. Production credit for electricity produced from marine renewables.
Sec. 103. Energy credit.
Sec. 104. Energy credit for small wind property.
Sec. 105. Energy credit for geothermal heat pump systems.
Sec. 106. Credit for residential energy efficient property.
Sec. 107. New clean renewable energy bonds.
Sec. 108. Credit for steel industry fuel.
Sec. 109. Special rule to implement FERC and State electric restructuring pol-
icy.
Subtitle B—Carbon Mitigation and Coal Provisions
Sec. 111. Expansion and modification of advanced coal project investment cred-
it.
Sec. 112. Expansion and modification of coal gasification investment credit.
Sec. 113. Temporary increase in coal excise tax; funding of Black Lung Dis-
ability Trust Fund.
Sec. 114. Special rules for refund of the coal excise tax to certain coal pro-
ducers and exporters.
Sec. 115. Tax credit for carbon dioxide sequestration.
Sec. 116. Certain income and gains relating to industrial source carbon dioxide
treated as qualifying income for publicly traded partnerships.
Sec. 117. Carbon audit of the tax code.
TITLE II—TRANSPORTATION AND DOMESTIC FUEL SECURITY
PROVISIONS
Sec. 201. Inclusion of cellulosic biofuel in bonus depreciation for biomass eth-
anol plant property.
Sec. 202. Credits for biodiesel and renewable diesel.
Sec. 203. Clarification that credits for fuel are designed to provide an incentive
for United States production.
Sec. 204. Extension and modification of alternative fuel credit.
Sec. 205. Credit for new qualified plug-in electric drive motor vehicles.
Sec. 206. Exclusion from heavy truck tax for idling reduction units and ad-
vanced insulation.
Sec. 207. Alternative fuel vehicle refueling property credit.
Sec. 208. Certain income and gains relating to alcohol fuels and mixtures, bio-
diesel fuels and mixtures, and alternative fuels and mixtures
treated as qualifying income for publicly traded partnerships.
Sec. 209. Extension and modification of election to expense certain refineries.
Sec. 210. Extension of suspension of taxable income limit on percentage deple-
tion for oil and natural gas produced from marginal properties.
Sec. 211. Transportation fringe benefit to bicycle commuters.
TITLE III—ENERGY CONSERVATION AND EFFICIENCY
PROVISIONS
Sec. 301. Qualified energy conservation bonds.
Sec. 302. Credit for nonbusiness energy property.
Sec. 303. Energy efficient commercial buildings deduction.
Sec. 304. New energy efficient home credit.
Sec. 305. Modifications of energy efficient appliance credit for appliances pro-
duced after 2007.
Sec. 306. Accelerated recovery period for depreciation of smart meters and
smart grid systems.
Sec. 307. Qualified green building and sustainable design projects.
Sec. 308. Special depreciation allowance for certain reuse and recycling prop-
erty.
TITLE IV—REVENUE PROVISIONS
Sec. 401. Limitation of deduction for income attributable to domestic produc-
tion of oil, gas, or primary products thereof.
Sec. 402. Elimination of the different treatment of foreign oil and gas extrac-
tion income and foreign oil related income for purposes of the
foreign tax credit.
Sec. 403. Broker reporting of customer’s basis in securities transactions.
Sec. 404. 0.2 percent FUTA surtax.
Sec. 405. Increase and extension of Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund tax.


DIVISION C


Sec. 1. Short title; amendment of 1986 Code; table of contents.
TITLE I—ALTERNATIVE MINIMUM TAX RELIEF
Sec. 101. Extension of alternative minimum tax relief for nonrefundable per-
sonal credits.
Sec. 102. Extension of increased alternative minimum tax exemption amount.
Sec. 103. Increase of AMT refundable credit amount for individuals with long-
term unused credits for prior year minimum tax liability, etc.
TITLE II—EXTENSION OF INDIVIDUAL TAX PROVISIONS
Sec. 201. Deduction for State and local sales taxes.
Sec. 202. Deduction of qualified tuition and related expenses.
262
Sec. 203. Deduction for certain expenses of elementary and secondary school
teachers.
Sec. 204. Additional standard deduction for real property taxes for non-
itemizers.
Sec. 205. Tax-free distributions from individual retirement plans for charitable
purposes.
Sec. 206. Treatment of certain dividends of regulated investment companies.
Sec. 207. Stock in RIC for purposes of determining estates of nonresidents not
citizens.
Sec. 208. Qualified investment entities.
TITLE III—EXTENSION OF BUSINESS TAX PROVISIONS
Sec. 301. Extension and modification of research credit.
Sec. 302. New markets tax credit.
Sec. 303. Subpart F exception for active financing income.
Sec. 304. Extension of look-thru rule for related controlled foreign corporations.
Sec. 305. Extension of 15-year straight-line cost recovery for qualified leasehold
improvements and qualified restaurant improvements; 15-year
straight-line cost recovery for certain improvements to retail
space.
Sec. 306. Modification of tax treatment of certain payments to controlling ex-
empt organizations.
Sec. 307. Basis adjustment to stock of S corporations making charitable con-
tributions of property.
Sec. 308. Increase in limit on cover over of rum excise tax to Puerto Rico and
the Virgin Islands.
Sec. 309. Extension of economic development credit for American Samoa.
Sec. 310. Extension of mine rescue team training credit.
Sec. 311. Extension of election to expense advanced mine safety equipment.
Sec. 312. Deduction allowable with respect to income attributable to domestic
production activities in Puerto Rico.
Sec. 313. Qualified zone academy bonds.
Sec. 314. Indian employment credit.
Sec. 315. Accelerated depreciation for business property on Indian reservations.
Sec. 316. Railroad track maintenance.
Sec. 317. Seven-year cost recovery period for motorsports racing track facility.
Sec. 318. Expensing of environmental remediation costs.
Sec. 319. Extension of work opportunity tax credit for Hurricane Katrina em-
ployees.
Sec. 320. Extension of increased rehabilitation credit for structures in the Gulf
Opportunity Zone.
Sec. 321. Enhanced deduction for qualified computer contributions.
Sec. 322. Tax incentives for investment in the District of Columbia.
Sec. 323. Enhanced charitable deductions for contributions of food inventory.
Sec. 324. Extension of enhanced charitable deduction for contributions of book
inventory.
Sec. 325. Extension and modification of duty suspension on wool products; wool
research fund; wool duty refunds.
TITLE IV—EXTENSION OF TAX ADMINISTRATION PROVISIONS
Sec. 401. Permanent authority for undercover operations.
Sec. 402. Permanent authority for disclosure of information relating to terrorist
activities.
TITLE V—ADDITIONAL TAX RELIEF AND OTHER TAX
PROVISIONS
Subtitle A—General Provisions
Sec. 501. $8,500 income threshold used to calculate refundable portion of child
tax credit.
Sec. 502. Provisions related to film and television productions.
Sec. 503. Exemption from excise tax for certain wooden arrows designed for
use by children.
Sec. 504. Income averaging for amounts received in connection with the Exxon
Valdez litigation.
Sec. 505. Certain farming business machinery and equipment treated as 5-year
property.
Sec. 506. Modification of penalty on understatement of taxpayer’s liability by
tax return preparer.
Subtitle B—Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and
Addiction Equity Act of 2008
Sec. 511. Short title.
Sec. 512. Mental health parity.
TITLE VI—OTHER PROVISIONS
Sec. 601. Secure rural schools and community self-determination program.
Sec. 602. Transfer to abandoned mine reclamation fund.
TITLE VII—DISASTER RELIEF
Subtitle A—Heartland and Hurricane Ike Disaster Relief
Sec. 701. Short title.
Sec. 702. Temporary tax relief for areas damaged by 2008 Midwestern severe
storms, tornados, and flooding.
Sec. 703. Reporting requirements relating to disaster relief contributions.
Sec. 704. Temporary tax-exempt bond financing and low-income housing tax re-
lief for areas damaged by Hurricane Ike.
Subtitle B—National Disaster Relief
Sec. 706. Losses attributable to federally declared disasters.
Sec. 707. Expensing of Qualified Disaster Expenses.
Sec. 708. Net operating losses attributable to federally declared disasters.
Sec. 709. Waiver of certain mortgage revenue bond requirements following fed-
erally declared disasters.
Sec. 710. Special depreciation allowance for qualified disaster property.
Sec. 711. Increased expensing for qualified disaster assistance property.
Sec. 712. Coordination with Heartland disaster relief.
TITLE VIII—SPENDING REDUCTIONS AND APPROPRIATE
REVENUE RAISERS FOR NEW TAX RELIEF POLICY
Sec. 801. Nonqualified deferred compensation from certain tax indifferent par-
ties.

My concerns about the Senate financial services bill, without commentary

The news sources I've read seem to be devoid of direct references to parts of this mega-bill the Senate just passed, so I decided to give it a quick skim. The items on the list are the ones that caught my eye as cause for concern.

You can grab the bill via C-SPAN

SEC. 101. PURCHASES OF TROUBLED ASSETS.
(c) Necessary Actions (especially 1 and 3)

SEC 107 CONTRACTING PROCEDURES.
(a) Streamlined Process
(b) Additional Contracting Requirements

SEC. 113. MINIMIZATION OF LONG-TERM COSTS AND MAXIMIZATION OF BENEFITS FOR TAXPAYERS.
(d) CONDITIONS ON PURCHASE AUTHORITY FOR WARRANTS AND DEBT INSTRUMENTS
(3) EXCEPTIONS (especially (A))

SEC. 115. GRADUATED AUTHORIZATION TO PURCHASE.
(a) Authority

SEC. 119. JUDICIAL REVIEW AND RELATED MATTERS.
(a) Judicial Review
(3) LIMITATION ON ACTIONS BY PARTICIPATING COMPANIES

SEC. 122. INCREASE IN STATUTORY LIMIT ON THE PUBLIC DEBT.

SEC. 125. CONGRESSIONAL OVERSIGHT PANEL.
(c) Membership
(2) PAY

SEC. 136. TEMPORARY INCREASE IN DEPOSIT AND SHARE INSURANCE COVERAGE.
(a) Temporary Increase in Deposit Insurance
(1) INCREASED AMOUNT

DIVISION B—ENERGY IMPROVEMENT AND EXTENSION ACT
(all of this division)

DIVISION C—TAX EXTENDERS AND ALTERNATIVE MINIMUM TAX RELIEF
(all of this division)

Please consider taking a look at just the table of contents for Division B and C. Then, decide for yourself (regardless of their relative merit), whether they have anything to do with Division A.


If anyone has any comments or questions about the sections above, or issues of their own with this bill, feel free to post them here for discussion or contact your state representatives.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

旧金山之旅








Celebrating with the groom's dad, who taught me that Chinese drink wine like shots.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Arugula: The Rocket Plant you can cook with!


Sometimes, OS X makes me chuckle.   A simple 'Also know as...' would have made this far less entertaining.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

No more programming here

When I started this blog, I wanted to make it about 'whatever I wanted to talk about'. Despite the enjoyment of writing that way, only a handful of people might enjoy reading that sort of blog, which might explain the lack of comments here.

So, I've decided to start up a new blog that's dedicated to just technical content. Though it makes me a little bit sad that people are often only interested in what you excel at rather than simply what you like to do, I think this approach will be better, allowing me to focus on greater quality on the other blog, and allowing this blog to devolve into a playground for my vaguely artistic interests.

Depending on what you like, you'll be getting more of it either way.