Where I am at with blogging or near year end post

The Three Stooges?

My mother, dear sweet mum, has pointed out that I don’t blog anywhere as often as I once did. Yes, this is one of those perennial “I haven’t been blogging much posts.”

As long time followers know, I had a serious illness about a year ago. I picked up a virus (they guess) in Egypt or England during our trip in the fall of 2008. When I came back, I was sick for three months, barely able to work, with hypertension and tachycardia (along with fever) during the illness. I didn’t really begin to recover until sometime in January and it is clear, in retrospect, that I wasn’t very well recovered until the summer. In the course of the illness, I developed a sleep apnea-like problem in which my breathing doesn’t stop during sleep but slows down, causing my body to freak out and try to arouse me. This is probably a latent issue that I had for years but which the illness brought to the forefront. As a result of this, ever since the illness, I’ve been unable to fall asleep very easily and wake, often, ten or fifteen times a night, resulting in fatigue and headaches daily. This has gradually gotten somewhat better to the extent that it isn’t completely destroying me anymore but it is still quite bad. They had me start sleeping with a CPAP machine in the last couple of weeks to see if that will help things since medication and a mouthpiece (to help my breathing be smoother) has not.

Needless to say, no one wants to read about this all of the time so I haven’t said as much about it since spring. The problem is, as my mom pointed out, that I used to do much of my blog posting late at night, when I am no longer up. I’ve switched my schedule around because sleep issues require you to give yourself a predictable and solid sleep schedule. Between that and often feeling just worn out due to lack of sleep and headaches, I just haven’t felt as compelled to write much this last year or had the energy to do so when I have felt the urge.

I am hoping that this will change now in the next couple of months since things seem a bit better but we shall see.

I was also ordained as a priest in my Zen lineage earlier this year during the spring retreat. I haven’t quite figured out what, if anything, this pulls me towards doing beyond a dedication to the study and practice of Buddhism in my own life. I continue to participate in the Five Mountain Buddhist Seminary. I have been and am teaching a few of the classes there and am taking courses this next term, including one on how to write and give Dharma talks. It should continue to be interesting and I’m looking forward to continuing to contribute to the seminary. Over time, the seminary continues to improve and evolve as we learn more about what we are doing there.

Also, on the spiritual front, I joined the Grand Tsubaki Shrine when visiting it earlier this year. Beyond joining and receiving the newsletter, I have not really participated in it, not being local, but I continue to find Shinto fascinating though odd given my general stance of non-theism or friendly agnosticism on spiritual matters these days.

On other fronts, I started and abandoned a doctoral program this fall as well. I decided that the return on the massive amounts of time and money involved were not really worth it. Getting a doctorate in the humanities just wasn’t worth it compared to continuing my Silicon Valley technology career at Mozilla (or otherwise). Frankly, putting myself in debt and working my butt off for six or so years in order to get a job paying half as much (if I’m lucky) in the middle of nowhere (if I’m really lucky and actually can find a job) just isn’t worth it to me. I’m refocusing on my career but I need to make some changes there. Much of my current work, while interesting enough, is a bit of a dead end. I’ve been doing much of the same work in QA for the past few years. Briefly, at Microsoft, I’d managed to transition out of QA for a new career path but I had to return to QA when we moved to California. I need to either improve my coding skills, to open up more options in QA, or do something else within technology or I feel that I am just going to stagnate. (If anyone has any feelings on the Python 2.6 versus 3.0 debate, let me know!)

I am also working on improving some of my real world skills related to technology of the non-computer sort. I took a class in basic welding this last year. I have signed up for a multi-month class on metal milling and lathing at The Crucible and I plan on taking some of the computer-controlled milling classes at the TechShop. I want to be able to work with and fabricate metal components or otherwise create physical objects. I should also have a MakerBot within the next few weeks, which is a 3D printer for making parts out of plastic. My goal is to eventually have a CNC mill as well so I will be able to fabricate metal and plastic components for things as needed. The area of 3D printing has a lot of promise but we are at the very beginning of the mass adoption of the technology. It’s only gotten “cheap” recently (as opposed to being tens of thousands of dollars). I’ve attached a recent video below about the MakerBot:

Beyond all of this, at the union of the technological and the spiritual, I still want to develop more Buddhist resources online. The Zen Community aggregation blog is still going strong, though it takes little work. The One Sangha group blog was effectively stillborn. My attempts to get four to ten bloggers who want to write, at minimum, a single post a week has gotten nowhere. I’d still like to do the group blog but cannot really do it alone. On the “Open Source Buddhism” front, I’d really like to get more resources for sutras, liturgy and other material online but it feels likely to be an uphill struggle on my own. Anyone interested in such projects should e-mail me as “albill” at this domain.

This is my year end update.