Meditation: Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes

Two lessons learned yesterday:

  1. It’s hard to express super-crunkedness about meditation, and
  2. it’s hard to meditate for an hour.

I went to this group meditation thing last night, and holy crap. I’m a novice (again) at meditation, so I’m normally working in, like, 10 minute stints. How about 25 minutes sitting, 10 minutes walking, then 25 more minutes sitting?

Three years ago, I could almost do that.

I knew enough this time to get a chair. I have subpar leg circulation, so sitting cross-legged–even on a cushion with butt elevation–would end in tears and a desire for leg amputation.

I’d like to want to keep my legs, thanks.

So, sitting in a chair. Should be better, should be easy.

Except that the chair was just a smidge too tall in the seat, so my feet weren’t resting easy on the floor. That put pressure on my thighs, which were like, “Um, can you, like, sit any more uncomfortably for us?” (My legs are, like, totally girly girls.)

I was like, “Sure! I could get a cushion and sit on the wooden floor!”

They shut up after that.

And then I was sleepy. I’m working longer hours this week (hourly contractor + MLK day), so I was up about 05:00, and the meditation was at 19:00. Nap time! The problem with accidentally napping while in a chair is that I inevitably end up doing The Jerk. You know what I mean.

Relax… r’lax… re… *snap awake, barely avoiding a snort*

Good thing was that I wasn’t the only one doing it.

Last and–surprisingly–most pressing were my shoulders. A combination of generally lousy posture, old shoulder damage, and a lack of arm rests on the chair meant that by the end of the first 25 minutes, my shoulders were making tracks on separating themselves from my body.

…In about three different directions. Not quite sure how that worked, but it was happening.

The walk made it worse! Hands clasped behind, clasped in front, hanging down by my sides, didn’t matter. I wanted to raise them over my head, but thought that’d be a little too weird even for a meditation group.

The last 35 minutes of meditation were an exercise in pain management: deep breathing, no squirming, using the pain as a focus. I’ve had messed up shoulders for a few years now, but have continued to slack off on shoulder-strengthening work since my broken wrist last summer.

Notice that none of these issues have anything to do with actually meditating? Yeah. Let us not discuss how flighty my thoughts were.

I’m totally going back to the meditation group next week, but I’m not sure how to resolve all of these without moving in with my own desk chair, some caffeine, and my favorite guided meditation MP3.

What Is This Thing Made of Paper and Glue?

All the reading I need to do can happen in Google Reader, right?

I read a lot of books last year. Like, maybe 50. I didn’t post or write about many of them, because plenty were über-pulpy and just time-killers. All but the couple of technical books were electronic. Being unaware of what I was reading made it pointless. Why’d I pick those books? What’d I learn from them? Meh.

Continue reading What Is This Thing Made of Paper and Glue?

Weekly Linkage: the TSA, Microwaves, and “Dot Dot Dot”

This week’s internet cruising:

Untenable Workplace Hotshots

When Smart People are Bad Employees” offers up three types of hotshots in the workplace:

The Heretic:
“However, sometimes really smart employees develop agendas other than improving the company. Rather than identifying weaknesses, so that he can fix them, he looks for faults to build his case. Specifically, he builds his case that the company is hopeless and run by a bunch of morons.”
The Flake:
“Then Roger changed. He would miss days of work without calling in. Then he would miss weeks of work. When he finally showed up, he apologized profusely, but the behavior didn’t stop. His work product also degraded. He became sloppy and unfocused.”
The Jerk:
“When used consistently, asinine behavior can be crippling. As a company grows, its biggest challenge always becomes communication. Keeping a huge number of people on the same page executing the same goals is never easy. If a member of your staff is a raging jerk, it may be impossible. Some people are so belligerent in their communication style that people just stop talking when they are in the room.”

I’ve seen these, if we’re to buy Horowitz’s trichotomy of troubled genius employees. According to his take, the person really has to be a genius for any of this to be applicable.

Ben Horowitz writes in the article, “You may decide that you will personally mitigate the employee’s negative attributes and keep them from polluting the overall company culture.” I don’t think that lasts long. So far, I’ve always seen there be a turning point with folks that fit the Heretic and Flake labels: there’s a point where even a stretched thin manager will realize that the impact on the culture has become greater than the value of the contributions.

Continue reading Untenable Workplace Hotshots

Weekly Linkage: Google, Politics, and Bees’ Knees

This week’s internet cruising:

  • Coding Horror: Trouble In the House of Google – Jeff isn't the first to point out the problems with Google's search results lately (the content mills are clearly winning, and I swim through a lot of mess to get good results anymore), but he's done a lot of due diligence to try to improve Stack Exchange's rankings over the content scrapers, with mixed results. Excellent post.
  • Sphinx – A better way to write your docs – This looks like an awesome doc writing/management system–I struggle with how much documentation to produce for the internals of a system (i.e. not a publicly exposed API), but I'd definitely play around with a system like Sphinx.
  • Buttersafe – Flowers – Bees’ knees!
  • Baptist Press – N.C. court voids same-sex adoption – What? What?! (Warning: Christian news source)

    "'Many homosexuals and their sex partners may sincerely believe they can be good parents. But children are not guinea pigs for grand social experiments in redefining marriage, and should not be placed in settings that are unsuitable for raising children,' Dailey noted in the article. He cited a study in the Netherlands that found the average duration of a homosexual relationship to be 18 months and that 'committed' homosexual couples have an average of eight other sexual partners each year."

  • Gay former service members praise Senate vote on ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ – latimes.com – "Carpenter, who comes from a family with a tradition of military service dating back to the Revolutionary War, thought that he would make a career in the Marine Corps. But when he fell in love with another Marine pilot, he decided he "couldn't continue living a lie" and left the military as a captain."
  • Hawaii-bound, Obama signals his opposition to gay marriage ‘evolving’ – Key quotes:

    "I still believe that it doesn’t make sense for us to provide tax cuts to people like myself who don’t need them when our deficit and debts are growing."

    "With respect to the issue of whether gays and lesbians should be able to get married, […] my feelings about this are constantly evolving. […] At this point, what I’ve said is, is that my baseline is a strong civil union that provides them the protections and the legal rights that married couples have. And I think — and I think that’s the right thing to do."

    "And that's going to require us cutting programs that don't work, but it also requires us to be honest about paying for the things that we think are important. If we think it’s important to make sure that our veterans are getting care that they need when they come back home from fighting in Afghanistan or Iraq, we can’t just salute and wish them well and have a Veterans Day Parade."

  • How to Take Control of Your Finances in 2011 – A solid recap of financial reminders for the new year.