A magnifying glass around the world

A magnifying glass around the world

So this past weekend I was visiting longtime friends. At one point,  the husband and I had a good hour or so to ourselves and we picked up chicken wings. 

 Car rides often come with philosophical talk, in my experience.   My friends shared with me something he says often, both at work and in his life.

“When in doubt, pan out.” 

  That is, step back from yourself,  from your immediate prospective.  Seek the wider viewpoint. 

 This is really smart stuff.   And for several reasons, and several ways:

  •  There’s this thing I’m always saying how there’s only hear, only now.  Zooming out in that way helps me see so  zooming out in that way helps me see that.  Whatever amazing thing’s going on, it’s a nanosecond event in a very long life.  That’s also true if something terrible is happening.
  •  It’s not all about me. I’m just one among many.  Often what works out well for me isn’t so hard for others around me.
  •  Furthermore, we’re all in this together. So it’s often helpful to consider how something that affects me positively might affect others in a profoundly negative way.

 There’s more to this, lots more. I’m pretty sure this is going to be part of my meditation and contemplation for several days if not weeks or months in the future.   Just this morning, I saw this Boudin Doodle cartoon that touches on and aspect of this paradigm. 

The Buddha doodle monk and his elephant buddy, in spacesuits observing the earth. “Grateful for the gift of life” 

The Buddha doodle monk and his elephant buddy, in spacesuits observing the earth. “Grateful for the gift of life” 

  The thing about perspective is that as a means of observations it’s controllable, blinking your eyes, are we going your ears maybe.   I know I can make the conscious effort to shift my perspective.   When I’m considering the moment I can choose the context buy which I am considering it  

Here’s a simple example.

 It’s Monday, October 29 as I write this, around 8:25 AM.   It’s simultaneously  early in the week,  not particularly early in the morning,  and rather late in the year. 

 None of these perspectives or wrong, they all matter.   By changing which one I musing, I can wrap my head around different truths about my life.

 For one thing, shortly I need to get on the road and get to my job because it’s waiting for me and I have things to do there.  

Simultaneously, the midterm elections are a scant number of days away, and it’s very important that I vote.  

At the exact same time, it’s valuable and worthwhile for me to take the 10 minutes or so to stop and write this post. I feel a profound sense of peace and strength from doing this sort of introspection, and sharing it with you.

 During the conversation with my friend, I was trying to explain this very difficult concept related to non-duality, that of satori. Satori is, sort of, the realization that you as a separate entity do not, have never, and will never exist.  We’re just the totality of existence expressing itself in this place, at this time, through this body.  As I told my friend, this isn’t terrifying, it’s actually quite soothing.  Through what he shared with me about panning out, I think I’m beginning to understand why somewhat. 

AuthorMako Allen

So, it’s about 4:30 this morning. I’m lying in bed, drowsing, about ready to get up.

The past several days I’ve been really hard at work on Project Drummond, my side software gig.

There’s this thing I have to do in the software, come up with cumulative durations for time spent working various tasks.

Let’s use the example of taking care of an adult baby. Let’s say from 10:00am to 10:45 you spend time reading them a story, then put them down for a nap, only to find out they’ve horribly misbehaved earlier that day, so when you wake them up at 1pm, you spend a good forty five minutes scolding and spanking them.

I want to add up that time doing both activities, and lots more.

I realized that in the groovy programming language I use, there is already some awesome functionality almost baked into the language to do this.

import groovy.time.*; 
dateStoryStarted = new Date().parse('hh:mm a', '10:15 am')
dateStoryEnded = new Date().parse('hh:mm a', '10:45 am')
TimeDuration durationStory = TimeCategory.minus(dateStoryEnded,dateStoryStarted)
datePunishmentStarted = new Date().parse('HH:mm a', '01:00 pm')
datePunishmentEnded = new Date().parse('HH:mm a', '01:45 pm')
TimeDuration durationPunishment = TimeCategory.minus(datePunishmentEnded, datePunishmentStarted)
TimeDuration CareTotal = durationStory + durationPunishment

All told, that’s 75 minutes of care, by the way.

So, I realize I can do this, while I’m laying in bed, and when the alarm goes off, I just pop right up out of bed, excited. Time duration and time category are the total boss.

I run some initial experiments with it, and it looks like it’s going to be just what I need.

Now I feel energized to go to work, rocket through my whole day, then come home and finish this thing in my own project.

Awesome. That my friends, is a code green moment.

AuthorMako Allen

There’s this thing that gives me great comfort, that comes with a degree of irony. I’m a fan of clarity. I intensely dislike vagueness in certain contexts.

I love it when in my writing, my personal coding projects, my work-at-work I have a strong sense for what I’m doing next. I often refer to this as having “marching orders.” That is, I know what the task is, and I have definite, discrete points by which to measure success over the task. I often say to my boss that I dislike uncertainty.

Which is ridiculous. Because certainty is an illusion except in certain very specific instances. Yes, π is 3.14. Yes, a day is 86,400 seconds long. But when I really turn and look at it, I know that here is the only place, and now the only time. I know that success is measured in travel, not destination.

But it doesn’t stop me from enjoying the creature comfort of some “fabricated certainty.”

Just this morning, I was looking at the work I’ve been doing in Project Drummond, my software side-project. I scoped out 8 next actions I need to do on this feature I’m coding. There’s javascript functions to write, a GSP to modify, possibly some service methods to write, and I have to teach myself how to use a certain javascript charting library, something I’m very excited about.

I’m excited to have this set of marching orders to follow to get to a place I want to go. It doesn’t really matter that the orders came from me.

AuthorMako Allen

Every so often,  I have these moments where I see so very plainly how much my wife Missy understands me, how I tick, what matters to me.

It could be something little (pun intended) or some big life changing moment. Over the more than a decade we’ve been together, it’s happened many, many times. 

But each time it happens, it takes my breath away in the best way.  

AuthorMako Allen

Te is a major concept in Taoism. It means about 20 different things (see the wikipedia article), but most often is translated as “virtue.” Not so much virtue like exceptional moral fiber, but more like “the virtues of a cold glass of water on a hot day.” Still, it’s a maddeningly difficult concept to grasp, never mind practice.


Having te means using the power and nature of what’s in front of you, to the best of your ability. Every so often I have a really goofy, stupid experience that helps me remember what it is, and how to use it. Take this mustard packet.

 I got it when I bought my lunch today, at a little deli near my office. (Baked fish and a side of steamed broccoli.) I picked up several packets of this and mayo, with the intention of pouring them out and mixing them up into a sauce to dip my kinda boring lunch into.

The first couple of packets opened up super easy. I got ‘em all emptied out and stirred together, it was a party. But THIS bugger, I just couldn’t get it to tear. So I put it aside.

Eventually, I ate up all my yummy sauce, and wanted more. So I picked up the troublemaker and tried again. It just kept slipping from my fingers, and wouldn’t tear.

Then I realized I’d been trying to tear it at the wrong end, the one without the little arrow.


Or, more appropriately, te!

I turned that sucker around, laughed at myself, and tore it open.

It’s amazing how much easier things get when you’re paying attention to how you do them.

AuthorMako Allen