Friday, July 25

in office again

Well ... I'm in office again, on antibiotics. The day before yesterday I started getting a fever, and I left for home around three o'clock.

I ended up sleeping the day away (well ... that and drinking water, sweating and doing Reiki on myself), then S came, saw me, became very worried (sorry about that) and took me to a doctor.

I got shots with antibiotics and some anti-inflammatory serum (which didn't hurt, but I still dislike syringes) and by the time I got home, my fever was down, along with my shivers.

I spent yesterday at home, taking it easy (that is, I slept some, rested a lot, took pills and sweated some more) then went to W in the late evening to talk about Saturday.

Now, I'm in the office again, compiling stuff.

Monday, July 21

Eventfull Saturday :(

Ogün and Abdullah died on our dive, on Saturday.

For me and S, it had started as a normal weekend; we had driven to the northern part of Cyprus, looking forward to a weekend in camping, some diving, and maybe a bit of sunbathing.

We arrived on the beach around eleven after hooking up with A, in a small village West of Kyrenia, waiting to get in the water.

An hour or so later, we had gotten our gear set up and were getting our gear on the boat, all eight of us. We were diving 'The Paradise', a dive-site for Advanced Open Water divers; The plan was to stay around 25 meters until we got to a pressure of minimum 100bars, then turn back, and go back to the starting point, on the current.

As I would find out later, fifteen minutes into the dive or so, one of the guys panicked and bolted to the surface, with the instructor and his diving buddy going after him.

I'm not sure what happened next; A. said that, by the time he got to the surface, the instructor was doing CPR on the guy and that at some point, he saw the other guy, dropping like a stone, towards the bottom. I understand the group leader went to the deep after him, with no bottom time left on his side (he ended up in the hyperbaric chamber for this, but I understand that he fully recovered).

On our side, at some point I noticed that there were only four of us left; I was completely narked, as were the other guys, so nothing seemed strange to me about it (I was watching S' depth control at the time :( ).

I made sure we started ascending properly, checked the safety-stop counter so we made our ascent by the book, then broke surface, to find that no-one was waiting for us at the exit point.

The guys' English was a bit broken, and I was still in the dive's afterglow, so it was some good minutes in the water until I understood that something bad had actually happened.

At first, I understood that someone had panicked and the instructor took him to the surface; then, I heard A. saying telling about two dead divers, and I thought he was telling us a story (it was too surreal to even understand that he was talking about the current dive).

Some minutes later, our dive leader surfaced; it turns out he went back down to finish his decompression -- I think. We started going towards the shore in a subdued mood.

As we neared the shore, I expected to see some guys asking questions, and maybe an ambulance or two.
Instead, we got on the shore to find the two bodies on the sand, covered in dark-blue towels, and people moving all around them.

We went on the shore, carried the equipment to the dive centre, thrn stood there an hour or so, not knowing what to do or say.

After that, we went with A on the harbor, walking and chatting this and that. My guess is, that we were trying to put some distance between what happened and us.

Ogün and Abdullah died on our dive, on Saturday.

I feel like writing something else, but nothing comes to mind :(

Thursday, July 17

Windows doesn't suck; it lies!

So, yesterday I got myself a new HDD, for extra storage space, at home. I installed it with no problems, then booted Vista (for the more familiar interface) and attempted to format it using FAT32.

Apparently though, 150Gb is way too much for a FAT32 partition and Vista only allowed me to format using NTFS.

I would respect that it didn't allow me to perform an invalid formatting, that would have ruined my new hard-drive, except it isn't so: I booted under Linux and was able to format the partitions with no problems whatsoever.

It turns out that windows is simply lying to you, so that you'd be forced to use a proprietary partition format (leading to platform lock-in) :(
At least, that's the only conclusion I could come up with.

In this case however, all they managed was make me give another vote to Linux.

Friday, July 11

disadvantages of an elite education

The essay is about how elite schools, subtly sacrifice an elite education, in the name of "success at all costs" (among other things).

What happens when busyness and sociability leave no room for solitude? The ability to engage in introspection, I put it to my students that day, is the essential precondition for living an intellectual life, and the essential precondition for introspection is solitude. They took this in for a second, and then one of them said, with a dawning sense of self-awareness, “So are you saying that we’re all just, like, really excellent sheep?” Well, I don’t know. But I do know that the life of the mind is lived one mind at a time: one solitary, skeptical, resistant mind at a time. The best place to cultivate it is not within an educational system whose real purpose is to reproduce the class system.

The essay, written by William Deresiewicz is hosted on The American Scholar. It's an interesting read, to say the least.

Hyakujo's Fox

Once when Hyakujo delivered some Zen lectures an old man attended them, unseen by the monks. At the end of each talk when the monks left so did he. But one day he remained after the had gone, and Hyakujo asked him: `Who are you?'

The old man replied: `I am not a human being, but I was a human being when the Kashapa Buddha preached in this world. I was a Zen master and lived on this mountain. At that time one of my students asked me whether the enlightened man is subject to the law of causation. I answered him: "The enlightened man is not subject to the law of causation." For this answer evidencing a clinging to absoluteness I became a fox for five hundred rebirths, and I am still a fox. Will you save me from this condition with your Zen words and let me get out of a fox's body? Now may I ask you: Is the enlightened man subject to the law of causation?'

Hyakujo said: `The enlightened man is one with the law of causation.'

At the words of Hyakujo the old man was enlightened. `I am emancipated,' he said, paying homage with a deep bow. `I am no more a fox, but I have to leave my body in my dwelling place behind this mountain. Please perform my funeral as a monk.' The he disappeared.

The next day Hyakujo gave an order through the chief monk to prepare to attend the funeral of a monk. `No one was sick in the infirmary,' wondered the monks. `What does our teacher mean?'

After dinner Hyakujo led the monks out and around the mountain. In a cave, with his staff he poked out the corpse of an old fox and then performed the ceremony of cremation.

That evening Hyakujo gave a talk to the monks and told this story about the law of causation.

Obaku, upon hearing this story, asked Hyakujo: `I understand that a long time ago because a certain person gave a wrong Zen answer he became a fox for five hundred rebirths. Now I was to ask: If some modern master is asked many questions, and he always gives the right answer, what will become of him?'

Hyakujo said: `You come here near me and I will tell you.'

Obaku went near Hyakujo and slapped the teacher's face with this hand, for he knew this was the answer his teacher intended to give him.

Hyakujo clapped his hands and laughed at the discernment. `I thought a Persian had a red beard,' he said, `and now I know a Persian who has a red beard.'

Mumon's comment: `The enlightened man is not subject.' How can this answer make the monk a fox?

`The enlightened man is at one with the law of causation.' How can this answer make the fox emancipated?

To understand clearly one has to have just one eye.

Controlled or not controlled?
The same dice shows two faces.
Not controlled or controlled,
Both are a grievous error.

(Koan from The Gateless Gate, by Mumon)

My comment: Close one eye, you still have two. Remove one eye, and you have a functional eye and a missing one. You still have two.

Mumon is playing a dangerous game.

on self-respect

You can search the whole universe and not find a single being more worthy of love than yourself. Since each and every person is so precious to themselves,

Let the self-respecting harm no other being.

Thanks, D.

Monday, July 7


Perhaps one of the reasons for this silence is that you have to know how to read the music. For instance, the scientific article may say, "The radioactive phosphorus content of the cerebrum of the rat decreases to one-half in a period of two weeks." Now what does that mean?

It means that phosphorus that is in the brain of a rat -- and also in mine, and yours -- is not the same phosphorus as it was two weeks ago. It means the atoms that are in the brain are being replaced: the ones that were there before have gone away.

So what is this mind of ours: what are these atoms with consciousness? Last week's potatoes! They now can remember what was going on in my mind a year ago -- a mind which has long ago been replaced.

To note that the thing I call my individuality is only a pattern or dance, that is what it means when one discovers how long it takes for the atoms of the brain to be replaced by other atoms. The atoms come into my brain, dance a dance, and then go out -- there are always new atoms, but always doing the same dance, remembering what the dance was yesterday.

Richard Feynman, The Value of Science

So then, Who are you?

Buddhist proverb

To every man is given the key to the gates of heaven; the same key opens the gates of hell.

Unfortunately, it comes with no instructions.