Push to walled gardens, but publish in the open.
This is an important text for teachers who wish to cultivate mindfulness in the classroom. It is a uniquely Plum Village approach and provides concrete examples from hundreds of teachers from around the world. I am honored to have had a very small part in the manifestation of this book through offering feedback along the way as well as a couple of antidotes.
The book is released in June 6, 2017 and you can preorder now from Parallax Press.
It took me 29-hours to order the iPhone 7 Plus.
I had decided well before the Apple keynote earlier this week, thanks to solid internet rumors, that a new iPhone 7 Plus would be in the cards for me. In fact, I went so far as to put my current iPhone in the Gazelle queue. Why the 7? I want the dual camera capabilities. The Apple event did not disappoint and I was easily sold on the Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus with 128mb even though I am still a little concerned about adjusting to the larger phone.
But it almost didn’t happen!
For for first time, I did the midnight purchase (I’m in California). It took until 12:05am before the order page loaded on the iPhone app. I was simultaneously refreshing on my laptop. By the time the order page loaded, the shipment date for the jet black was 2-3 weeks out. Wow, that’s one hot item!
Then the order itself didn’t process correctly due to a reported issue with AT&T but I was given a confirmed “reservation” indicating my spot in line and that I’d receive an email from Apple to finish the transaction later. No payment made at this point. I went to bed and come morning there was the email from Apple with the link to complete the transaction.
It didn’t work.
The first issue was a custom Apple 404 error page during the third step of ordering. That continued until late morning. Once that started working, I got to the checkout screen only to be stopped by a requirement that I make a deposit with AT&T and that I’d have to do an in-store pickup rather than shipment. Alas, no in store pickups available because the phone isn’t out yet. Catch-22.
Throughout the day, with numerous tries and calls (and disconnections) to Apple then AT&T and then Apple again, I still was not able to complete the purchase. The timer was ticking as the reservation as it was only good until noon on Saturday. The phone queues were getting longer. Finally, at 6pm an AT&T representative went the extra step to test my account and write up extensive notes on the shared AT&T/Apple system. I was totally in the clear with AT&T. What made sense being I was buying the phone outright, was not leasing, using payment plans, or renewing a contract. So bizarre this was even happening.
Time to call Apple again.
This time the Apple representative said this was a known bug in the order system and they’d been working on it all afternoon. It should be fixed within an hour. This was 7pm on Friday night. When I went to bed a few hours later, it still wasn’t working. Letting go. It seemed that on every turn I made that this phone was not in the cards for me. That’s okay. It’s only a phone.
5am. Saturday. One more try. Success!
And so, I have the Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus ordered and expected delivery the first week of October. In all, I probably spent 3-hours in hold queues and about an hour on the phone with different representatives explaining the situation. Way too much time, but I was committed (or maybe should be committed?). My mental attitude was pretty good throughout the process. I didn’t get angry, raise my voice, or regret anything I said to Apple or AT&T. That is a good sign of my mindfulness practice. It all worked out in the end, and I’m happy. And even if it hadn’t worked out, that too would have been fine.
App costs are out of control – they usually don’t charge enough for what they offer. Lately, we are seeing a trend toward increased costs and Software as a Service (SaaS) models for supporting software development. In general, this is a good trend because we should be paying for the real cost of development.
I am a firm believer in paying a fair price for a service or product, especially if it brings value to my daily workflow. And not just paying some minimal amount, such as $1 in the App Store, but truly paying developers for the work they do to create something useful. Most recently, a piece of software I use daily switched to a SaaS model rather than an outright purchase. I had to give TextExpander a good long reconsideration because the increase in cost was significant. It wasn’t until they lowered it, based on consumer feedback, that I decided to go with the annual payment plan at a slightly higher cost. Though other options for this exist, I do use TextExpander daily on my laptop and iPhone so it was mostly a no-brainer.
Now another piece of software that I use daily has increased their annual subscription plan by 35% – from $45/year to $70/year. That’s a big jump!
I’ve happily been using Evernote since 2008 (though it took a couple years to get it into my workflow) and began paying for a Premium Plan in 2012. I loved the tool so much, I offered workshops at Santa Barbara City College. Back in 2013, I had the good fortune to meet Phil Liben, co-founder of Evernote (and current Chairman) only to discover a person who is kind and passionate about being human and developing great software. So, it’s not just another software company.
Earlier this month I was at a conference and Evernote became super handy. I could snap a photo of a business card, have it recognize the contact fields, populate to LinkedIn, and let me send my contact information right back to the person’s card I just received. Super Awesome! The fact I can dump pretty much anything into the app and it can read, index, and make it searchable is of immense value. Every tweet I favorite gets dumped into Evernote. Entire webpages and articles can be added to Evernote with the web clipper – no more bookmarking needed. And did I mention that it’s all searchable? Immediate and consistent syncing between my iPhone, iPad, desktop, and laptop.
What to do? I use Evernote everyday and I would definitely miss it. Of course, there are several other options in this market space that could meet the same needs for a much lower cost – including free. My subscription isn’t up for renewal until December, so I have some time to decide.
Are you a paying Evernote customer? What are your plans for the future with this type of software?
Appreciating a cup of coffee from Burundi and roasted by Blue Bottle – they call the roast Burundi Kayanza Mpanga. What do I know if where my coffee comes? Not much! It is quite amazing that I can sit here on a bright and sunny morning in the Ojai Valley drinking a cup of coffee from across the planet and not even know exactly where Burundi is located.
Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 80% living in poverty and a majority of the children malnourished. I can’t even begin to understand this statement. It’s a tiny country in east Africa with coffee being its main export – though exports aren’t even a large part of their GDP. Agriculture and rural living dominates.
On a windless day the flapping wings of thousands of birds pass between Lake Tanganyika and Lake Victoria. Fed by the same waters and agile as a feather, the Mpanga also takes flight.
This poetic digression from Blue Bottle also helps me touch the beauty and majesty of this tiny country. Burundi is the source of the Nile and they also have the 2nd largest freshwater lake in the world – Lake Tanganyika. I can see the natural beauty and the people living to take care of their daily needs where they make crafts, drum, play soccer, and drink beer by the side of the road.
The planet is small and yet a life experience in Southern California compared to a life in Burundi could be another planet.
Thank you for my coffee today. I hope it lends some support to the people of Burundi in a fair and supportive manner. Appreciating the apricot and cane sugar flavored of Burundi.
This year is turning out to be a decent year for new music. I’ve got so many new releases in my playlist and I’m happily making my way through the material. Here’s a few tracks that I’ve been particularly enjoying in the last week.
Frightened Rabbit – Get Out
The Field – Pink Sun
Sinead O’Connor – Trouble Soon Be Over
Underworld – I Exhale
Yeasayer – I Am Chemistry
Courtney Barnett – Pedestrian at Best
I’ve been experimenting with writing over on Medium the last year or so because it has the capacity to reach a different and broader audience.
If you haven’t checked it out, head over and see my profile (much of the current posts were crossposted here, except for the last one).
Not sure how much longer I’ll keep an active blog here on my domain, but one never knows. Thanks for being a reader.
One of the deepest and most difficult teachings of the Buddha is no-self. In fact, we are warned that it can be dangerous if we don’t understand clearly this concept. Furthering my study and reflection on this teaching, I read The Sutra on Knowing the Better Way to Catch a Snake. In this sutra, we can learn to let go of and not cling to or identify with anything. This is Right View. Let’s look at this together and share our collective insight and understanding.
From the teaching of no-self, we can learn to respond with compassion and see false accusations, slander, and reprimands as having an interdependence with all other things. Each of us are products of our family, society, and culture. Seeing this we can have more compassion. To help someone change, we can work to change her family, society, and culture. We don’t need to feel anger or blame.
The same can be said about praise, adoration; and respect. To receive these and not make us proud or arrogant.
In my practice, I am learning how to be in touch with this teaching for myself and also to help transform the consciousness of my society and culture. Just by keeping aware of the teaching of no-self, I can have more compassion for myself and for those who think and believe differently than I do.
Through meditation, conscious breathing, and deep looking I can open my heart to for a deeper understanding. It takes time, silence and presence to move in this direction. And in doing so, I cultivate the heart of love and will not feel anger, hatred, or vengeance.
To help further apply these teachings, we also have the first two Mindfulness Trainings of the Order of Interbeing.
The First Mindfulness Training: Openness
Aware of the suffering created by fanaticism and intolerance, we are determined not to be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. We are committed to seeing the Buddhist teachings as guiding means that help us learn to look deeply and develop our understanding and compassion. They are not doctrines to fight, kill, or die for. We understand that fanaticism in its many forms is the result of perceiving things in a dualistic and discriminative manner. We will train ourselves to look at everything with openness and the insight of interbeing in order to transform dogmatism and violence in ourselves and in the world.
The Second Mindfulness Training: Non- Attachment to Views
Aware of the suffering created by attachment to views and wrong perceptions, we are determined to avoid being narrow minded and bound to present views. We are committed to learning and practicing nonattachment from views and being open to others’ insights and experiences in order to benefit from the collective wisdom. Insight is revealed through the practice of compassionate listening, deep looking, and letting go of notions rather than through the accumulation of intellectual knowledge. We are aware that the knowledge we presently possess is not changeless, absolute truth. Truth is found in life, and we will observe life within and around us in every moment, ready to learn throughout our lives.
How are you understanding, practicing, and experiencing these teachings?
At twenty-six years old, rocketing out of Silicon Valley at the dawn of the graphical web browser, I went to work as Electronic Media Librarian at University High School in San Francisco. It’s been twenty years since that day, and I have had a very rich and satisfying career serving students and faculty in four institutions. Twelve of those years were in the role of Library Director – four years at Notre Dame High School, Belmont and eight years at a Santa Barbara City College (SBCC). I have always had an outward facing attitude and spent significant time working outside the library. In all those years, my office has always been located in the library. That’s about to change.
Today I have accepted the position of Dean, Educational Programs at Santa Barbara City College. This is a good day! I feel excited, confident, honored, and ready for the challenge of my new role and new responsibilities.
What does this Dean, Educational Programs actually mean at Santa Barbara City College? I will be responsible to the Executive Vice President for Educational Programs and will serve as the academic and administrative leader for English as Second Language, School of Modern Languages, Physical Education/Health Education/Dance, Library, Faculty Resource Center, Student Learning Outcomes Coordination, Faculty Professional Development, Distance Education Lead, Liaison with the Information Technology Division, Grant Development and Administration, and New Program Development.
It’s a big job, but that’s how we roll at community colleges.
My office will move from the library to the administration building. That will certainly be strange for me, but I can still visit the library anytime (maybe even take some adjunct hours at the reference desk) and will continue to provide administrative leadership for the library. In this new role, I will have the opportunity to meet and work with so many more faculty, staff, and administrators across the campus. I will have the opportunity to learn more about these programs, departments, and services and bring my library experiences as an interdisciplinary academic leader. It’s a real opportunity to impact change, provide leadership, and facilitate community in the best community college environment in the country.
I have much gratitude for the confidence, trust, and respect from the colleagues I’ve worked with over the past nine years at SBCC and look forward to many more years to come. The position will begin in July.