What is success?

The unwritten goal of this blog is to succeed.  But in order to do that, I need to first define success.  Mary Jaksch over at Goodlife Zen has an interesting post about achieving success while maintaing a person’s integrity.

I think success has two aspects to it, an internal aspect and an external aspect.  The external aspect is what others see.  These are the outward signs of success: fame, wealth, power.  The internal aspect, however, can only be sensed by the individual.  I call it their spirituality.  This spirituality can manifest itself in many ways, but some examples of the signs of this “success”, are serenity, peace, humility, and love.

I think of the tabloids and the gossip that the media continually reports.  Report after report of tragic stories about people that, by all accounts of what society considers as successful, should be happy and enjoying life.  Instead they reveal how hollow their lives are, how little satisfaction they have with what they have attained, and how lonely they are.

For all their wealth, power, and fame they seem to lack spirituality.

Spirituality and the external aspect of success are not mutually exclusive.  But I don’t think a person will ever consider themselves a success, regardless of how great their external achievements are, without attaining some measure of internal success.

My goal become more spiritual.  That, to me, is success.

The “Zen Den” is finished. Sort of.

I have been working for several weeks to empty a room to allow me to have some space to practice guitar and mediate.  The original name of the room was going to be “the man cave.”  But for some reason that name was not appriciated in the house as they did not see the humor in it.  (Living with three ladies I should not have been surprised at this…)  So the name was changed to the more fitting “Zen Den.”

The purpose of the room is to provide an empty space that was free of clutter.  I felt it was important to have one space that would allow me to practice my Zen activities without worrying about the rest of the family and getting in their way.  Additionally it will provide me a space to practice my guitar and a place to keep them (versus the dining room where they were being stored.)

The one big item that has been a stumbling block (both literally and figuratively) was the desk.  The desk took up a good 80% of the space in the room.  It was enormous.  We have a neighbor that has just moved in.  They are a young couple just starting out.  I asked if they would like the desk and they gratefully accepted.  I helped them move it into their house today.

I stood in my room and enoyed the space.

But the room is more than than simply a room to participate in these activities.  It is an ongoing testiment of my progress towards a more Zen way of living.  It is not finished yet.  I still have a way to go with getting rid of stuff.  But Zen is a practice, not necessarily a goal to be obtained in the normal sense of the word.

Progress report time!!!

My initial goals were set over a month ago, and I think now would be a good time to evaluate how things are going with them.  The original “mini-goals” were as follows:

  1. Read Zen Habits (http://zenhabits.net/) daily
  2. Read Four Hour Work Week Blog (http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/) daily
  3. Do 1/2 hour daily research on how to improve this blog.
  4. Do 1/2 hour daily learning Apple development
  5. Blog on this blog daily.

#1 I have done fairly well.  The others, well, not so much.  My work on this blog has been sporadic at best.  But at least I have not given up. 

I have also added a few things to the “goal list” silently.  These I have been making good progress on these.  Better progress, in fact, than my original list.  These items are as follows:

6. Practice Guitar

7. Read Zen literature.

8.  Mediate

I have been fairly consistent in working on these items and have been pleased by my progress on these items.  So overall, while my progress in not what I would have hoped in some regards, on the newer additions I have been doing pretty well on.

I have also made some significant progress in working on the “Zen Den” and, while there is always room for improvement, simplifying my life of clutter.  And my rampant materialism still needs work.  But it is the journey that is important here.

So with that in mind, it is time  to rededicate myself to the goals I have initially set and peruse them with renewed vigor.  Hopefully in a month or so I can report back with a little better progress that I have today.


One think I have always aspired to do, other than learn to play guitar, is to learn to meditate.  I tried to mediate when I was a teenager.  My interest at that tie was probably due to the Beatles, with John Lennon being a key figure in my life at that time (for good or bad.)  However my interest waned in my 20s and 30s being less interested or less focused on spiritual things.  In the last couple of years, however, my interest has been renewed.

However I still had an issue of basically being without guidance on how to mediate.  I had a basic idea about what I was supposed to do, but there was always a sense of doubt that I was doing it correctly.  My attempts to find someone in the local area that was versed in traditional (eastern) mediation always came up empty.  

Recently I have come across a book by Jon Kabat-Zinn entitles “Wherever You Go, There You Are.”  I am only a few chapters into it as this time, as I am taking it slowly and deliberately (mindfully?) to work on each point as a develop my mediation style.  But so far I have greatly appreciated his insights and found his advise very useful in helping build my mediation skill.

I have also been focusing more on stopping throughout the day to take stock of where I am.  Today was a particularly nasty day, but stopping throughout the day to refocus and be more mindful of what was going on has been helpful in taking what would have been an over-the-top nightmarish day, in to one that was annoying, but still tolerable.  Perhaps, with continual practice, a day like today could someday just be another day.

One bright spot in the day was when my daughter called.  She is eleven and just wanted to ask me a question about a video game she was playing.  This was the bright spot of my day.

In other fronts, the “Zen Den” or “man cave” continues to progress.  This weekend I hope to empty it of furniture so I can move my guitars in there and have a decent place to meditate.

Ya say ya want to upgrade, well you know, we all want iOS4…

So I went to upgrade my iPhone 3G to the new iOS4.  My experience with Apple upgrades have always been pretty smooth sailing.  This one was to prove to be the exception.  But still it wasn’t all that difficult.  Just a bit nerve-wracking.

The problem first apeared when I went to the normal OS upgrade like I’ve done several times before.  I selected the “update” button.  ios4

And waited.  And waited.  And waited.  I took note of the small print that says “which may take an hour or longer to complete.”  I waited some more.  Practicing my Zen, I saw this as an opportunity to practice patience.

Four and half hours later it is still upgrading.  The backup was excruciatingly slow, and it had to actually to a restore during the upgrade process.  At one point, it had to do a firmware update (that took about 45 minutes)  and then after the backup, the restore, the firmware upgrade, only then could it go back and reinstall the applications.

Whew!  Surely that’s the last step, right?

Not a chance sunshine.  The we need to reload all the music and videos.  Then it’s time to reactivate the sim card and update the music library.

Which is where I now sit.  Five plus hours.

Yet, it is all part of the process.  There are two silver lining here.  The first is there was no cost for this upgrade (unlike some of Apple’s pervious offerings.)

The second is I should be getting my new iPhone tomorrow.

Serenity is a journey, not a place. And the blessing of worn shoes.



 Yesterday I had a good day.  I was quite calm and in control.  I was more like the person I want to be.  I wasn’t perfect.  Far from it.  But I felt I was making progress.

Today, not so much. I feed like all my foes are aligned against me.  There is some grand conspiracy to make me angry and destroy all the progress I felt I was making yesterday.  What happened?  Why was yesterday a good day and today is so horrible?  And more importantly what can I do to change it?

In many ways I think I need to just accept that some days will be good and I’ll feel like I am making some progress.  Other days will be like today.  I need to accept the good with the bad.  They are part of me.

As I was driving home, angry at the world for making my life miserable, I noticed I was writing speeches in my head.  What I was going to tell these people and let them know just who the heck they were dealing with!  I noticed, though, that my basic premise was an imagined one.  The basic reason I was angry was all created in my mind and never truly existed.  At least not in any real sense that mattered.  I was spinning myself up like a top.

So I turned on the radio and tried to empty my mind.  I was mostly successful, even relaxing to the point of spacing out at a stop light.  A moment of serenity!  Maybe I am making some progress….

Later I was at my daughter’s baseball game.  I noticed a family that had a child about my youngest daughter’s age.  He had a mild case of what I am assuming is cerebral palsy.  I noticed how his parents lovingly payed attention to him and it was moving to watch.  Then I noticed his shoes.  They were new.  No dirt.  No scuffs.  Laces were pristine.  They likely would remain that way until the young boy out grew them.  They would then be replaced by another pair of shoes that would also be outgrown and disposed of still in near pristine state.

I thought of how many times we have yelled at our children for getting their new shoes dirty or playing in the grass or running through puddles with their new shoes.

Until today I never considered what a blessing worn and dirty shoes represented.  Today I am thankful for those worn shoes.

The Snowballing Mind-set of negative thinking.

I have a few end users that, to put it bluntly, irritate the heck out of me.  It seems that some people go out of their way to make life a little less pleasant than it needs to be.

For example, today I was setting up a new user and the user needs a Blackberry and to be activated on Blackberry Enterprise server.  I just received the information yesterday (when I was out for the day) and the first thing this morning the people are clamoring to get this stuff done.  By and large the process, once initiated, is out of my hands and up to the replication between servers, the MS Exchange creation policy, etc.  It usually takes several hours, especially if the network is busy, for this to occur.  At lunch I get a message “reminding me” that they need this guys Blackberry activated, how important it is, how soon they need it, what is riding on this happening.

Now, in my “un-zen” mind set, I am thinking they are badgering me.  Don’t they think I know how to do my job?  Don’t they know this stuff takes time?  That is mostly out of my control?  That I have many other responsibilities as well?  Do they think I am not responsible enough to handle setting up a new user after doing this for 20+ years?

In Richard Carlson’s book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff he discusses the “snowball effect of your thinking.”  He discusses it in the context of being busy at work and how much there is do and getting yourself all tied up in knots about it.  But personally I have noticed how I do it with perceived slights with other people.

In reality, there are likely are no slights or digs.  Or any other ill will of any type.  Or if there is, it is probably out of frustration that the other person feels they have over being out of control of the situation or not getting the response they feel they need. 

But in the end, I have to end the snowballing effect in my own mind.  As in the example, certainly they are concerned with getting it done so the new guy can get to work on his first day Monday morning.  There is no slam on my ability.  He did not call in to question my technical prowess.  He is not chastising me or being critical of me.  He is just a concerned he does the best job he can.

The only one, in this case, being critical of me is me.

I tend to read stuff into the actions and words of others that aren’t there.  I need to work on being less critical of myself and transposing that criticism of myself onto other people.

Grrrr….Blog posts, iPhone 4, and being an early adapter

You know what I enjoy?  Writing the same post twice.  Grrrr….iphone

It seems like my computer doesn’t like the spell check of squarespace from within IE8.  Bleh.  So I get to write the same post twice.  Note to self:  Save and save often.  Especially before spell check.  I should know this….My iPhoneHome Page

Anyway, in the way-cool post that is now lost to the void I was describing how I am forcing myself to be more of an early adapter.  To those outside the techie world, I may seem quite current, but the truth is that, within the realm of IT, I am a late adapter.

But I am trying to change that.  I am working to be a little more “cutting edge” in adapting to  newer things.  The one thing that always seems to hold me back though is justifying the cost of some of these new technologies and balancing them with the whole concept of doing with less material goods.  How does one stay on the cutting edge of all sorts of gadgets and such while trying to refrain from being materialistic?

Which leads me to the other part of the “re-creation.”  I am still working on creating the man-cave/John Lennon room/Zen den.  It is going, but slowly.  I am trying to focus on getting rid of things and reduce the amount of material I have, but it is a difficult hurdle to get over.  I have read that when Gandhi died he owned a total of five material items.  While I don’t think I could ever get to that level, I am trying to simplify and get down to, well, a more reasonable level of “stuff.”

And I am still avoiding the entire “Apple development” thing.  I can’t seem to find the time to sit down, focus, and really start learning it.  Most of my spare time lately has been spend with my daughters and their softball games and practice, so that is taking up significant amounts of free time.  And really that is the most important thing right now.

To come full circle with this post, I am scheduled to get the new iPhone when it first ships.  I am looking forward to it and all the new features.  I am espcially excited about being able to do video and the higher res camera.  I have been locked into my 3G for the past xx months while the 3GS is out and naturally there have been several time I had wished I had the video capabilities of the 3Gs.  It’s funny because I never needed that feature before the 3Gs came out. 😉

I am also trying to do is get someone to try the android phone at work.  (Of couse getting that expense past the boss is kind of hard these days.)  An I think I can safely be considered an “early adapter” with the iPad.  So while I’m not on the “bleeding edge” of what’s hot in technology, I’m getting better.  This can only help me towards the overall goal.


Props to Squarespace!

I was watching the CNET Buzz Out Loud Podcast from June 2nd(I’m a bit behind) and they gave props to Squarespace.  Granted they are an advertiser of BOL, but the BOL crew has never been shy about letting out their feelings or opinions of different services.  If they don’t like an advertisers product, they simply won’t discuss the product and/or service.

However they all had glowing reviews for Squarespace.  As I am currently demoing the service I would have to say that, thus far at least, I would tend to agree with them.  The interface is clean and simple yet still remaining highly functional and customizable.  ON oddity I have found is that the spell-check feature doesn’t like certain parts of words.  For example, almost every time I type the word “and” it highlights the “nd” as being spelled wrong.  Spell check is just fine with the “a”, just not the “nd.”

Go figure.

Anyway, I think the next thing to do is plan out a web optimization strategy to get search engine spiders to find this site.  the only one that has found it thus far is Google.  Again, go figure.  I might actually, counter to conventional wisdom, opt out of actively trying to get on Google.  Perhaps that is idealistic, but I have to say that Google scares me a little.  And having dealt with their enterprise customer service and support with Postini, I am distinctly not impressed.

Sorry, Google.

Microsoft: 0; Me: 1

So over the past few days I have been fighting this issue with installing Microsoft Office 2010.  We have the SLA version and we haven’t been able to get it to install on any Windows 7 machines.  The SLA version is the corporate edition that requires downloading an ISO disc image from the Microsoft licensing site and burning the image to CD.  The problem, it turns out was a bad desktop.ini file in the CD image that is created.  Well, sort of.

How I fixed it was to copy all the files from the CD image I created into a folder on my hard drive.  When I did that, an error came up saying the location of the desktop.ini files is bad.  I chose to “skip the file” (thus not copying it to the folder on my hard drive and the burned a new image from the newly created files.  The CD now works great.

For reference, the desktop.ini was referenceing a subdiectory in the windows directory that is used as a temp folder for the burning process.

Once that was eliminated, the cd worked normally.

Well, the cd worked normally.  The program is was installing…not so much.    It took over a hour, let me repeat that, over an hour to install MS Office 2010.  Even then it didn’t do so without glitches. On a new PC with only Adobe Acrobat and MS Office 2007 installed.