Free App: f.lux aka Fix Your Computer Light

For anyone else forced to sit in front of a computer most of the day, F.lux is a free, great addition to install immediately.

What is F.lux? It’s a tiny program that automatically “makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day…f.lux makes your computer screen look like the room you’re in, all the time…Tell f.lux what kind of lighting you have, and where you live. Then forget about it. F.lux will do the rest, automatically.”

I’ve been using it for a week now. I can’t prove it, but I would say it’s helped me sleep easier, and the screen looks better. It does take a little initial getting used to, but it’s awesome seeing the screen adjust during sunset towards a warmer, orange glow.

F.lux

Coming Home? The Last Three Weeks

I feel weird like I’m homeless.

Three weeks ago, I left Orlando, my home for three months (mid Aug-mid Nov).

I’ve stopped and slept in many places:

  • Gainesville: Zen Center (1 day)
  • Tallahassee: RV by train tracks (1 day)
  • Birmingham: Friend’s bachelor pad (7 days)
  • Atlanta: Friend’s family home (2 days)
  • Washington DC: Friend’s living room couch (4-5 days)
  • Delaware: My family home (5 days)
  • Suffolk, VA:  Friend’s family home (2 days)

The experience has been exciting but also disorienting. An ever changing mix of different places, beds, homes, and friends. The only common factor being my laptop and my job.

It gets me wondering where is my home? Do I even have one?

My parents live in Delaware, but my brother lives in Korea.

I have a bedroom at my parent’s house, but I also have a RV.

My friends are scattered across the globe.

Perhaps, my home is digital. I read ebooks now. I work from “home” which can be a friend’s couch in Florida to a coffee shop in Philadelphia. The only physical possessions I “need” are my laptop and my clothes.

Actually, I know where my home is; it’s wherever my tooth brush is.

I’m uncertain about a lot of things and taking time at home to just finish some old projects and wait for some inspiration. My future is still open in terms of where I’ll be living or what work I’ll be doing. I do know a few things I want to do in the next year though.

  • An extended RV trip to the West
  • Extended meditation intensive retreats
  • Choosing web development, counseling, or other as my next career

I could plant some roots in a city and just stay for a while. Form my own niche, create my own field. I have some great friends in Boston, Philly, DC, and Orlando. But travel is still attractive to me. I want to become even more of a minimalist with just a backpack as my sole, necessary luggage traveling around the US or the world. But, for this winter, I’ll be hibernating in the north east. Trying to strengthen good habits and prepare for the next stage.

—-

Inspired partly by this post: http://www.sebastianmarshall.com/the-schematic-view-of-home

Orlando to Birmingham : On the Road Again

Last night, I slept in the RV. Railroad Square. Tallahassee. Near Amtrak station.

Daytime, constantly falling asleep. Nighttime, trouble sleeping. Fear of criminals, police, or property owners. Loud rain noise. Trains passing by.

Woke up at 7am this morning, property manager spots me, and we chat pleasantly.

Financially, this RV makes no sense. I’ve barely used the refrigerator, stove, or bathroom. Just driving and sleeping. My Nissan would of worked. The gas savings could have covered hotels. But no RV, no trip. I only went because I planned to live in the RV. It’s funny, I ended up renting the most expensive housing instead. Nevertheless, I likely would never have done this if I didn’t buy the RV.

I got this RV without ever seeing one before. I thought within 6 months, I’d be hitting the road full time. But I’m still edging into it. How far I will go is hard to see.

My mind’s a blank slate. Life is very simple when constantly moving. Only concern is food, parking, and working. No expectations, everything is new. I’ve also been meditating with a Zen school the last four days across three cities. They are all different yet all the same.

Tonight, I’ll drive six hours to Birmingham to stay with my friend Frankie for Thanksgiving. Then, onward to Atlanta. Eventually back to Washington DC and home to Delaware.

Leaving Orlando after 3 Months

My house(s)

Big expectations are always a disappointment. Surprises are always a great joy.

Tomorrow, I leave Orlando. Why did I come here? What did I learn?

Three months ago, mid-August, I was depressed. A year had passed since leaving Washington DC and graduating with my Masters. All my grand plans had fallen.

At the time, I was intentionally living at home with my parents to save money after having spent my life savings on a RV which was constantly breaking down. I was fighting bitterly with my parents. Many of my friends were starting their graduate programs. I felt stagnant.

An opportunity appeared. An expert, physical trainer was offering free training for three months in Orlando. It could be a life changing moment to work one on one with him. I shot him an email and was approved. Less than a week later, I hit the road.

I knew no one in Orlando. I didn’t know where I would sleep. The weather back in Delaware was just cooling off while Orlando would be in the 90s for several weeks or months. Living in the RV would be suicide.

Funny enough, the trainer had sent an email saying the program was postponed/cancelled indefinitely the day I left, but I missed it. I thought about leaving but decided to stay on the chance that he would resume the program.

Now, I had no reason for even being here too.

I’ve had a new roommate every three weeks. A total of 7-8 people in 4 different sets and two houses. One of whom may of robbed me of over $1,000 of my material possessions. With the exception of one roommate, I’ve been stressed out with the rest.

But, I learned important lessons. If I’m going to live with a stranger, choose an older guy at least in his late 20’s so the weekday partying is out of him and has a stable job. I also learned the worse part of getting robbed isn’t the lost of money, but the resulting fear of living in your own house. The first few nights, I had difficulty sleeping and kept a hammer by my bed. The fear has subsided now, but I still double check my windows and locks.

Yet, I am happy I stayed here as long as I did.

My first two weeks here, I made half a dozen, solid friends that I’ve hung out with every week since. I meditated with a local vipassana and Zen group twice a week. I did koan practice for the first time. I did a weekend retreat in Gainesville. I meet a new person every week. The diversity of people I’ve meet here trumps my past six years. I developed deeper connections here in three months than I did living two years in DC. Although, one of my best friends lived in DC so I had less incentive to meet new people.

A big part of the success was the mindset of, “I don’t know what I am doing, but I got nothing to lose, and everything to gain.” Initially, I went to the bars thinking, I have to at least make the effort of being there. My biggest fear coming here was that I wouldn’t make any lasting friends, but that quickly dispelled the first week. I went to these meditation circles not expecting anything but ending up meeting some wonderful people and possible future mentors.

I lived more in these three months than the seven months I lived at home with my parents.

But I am exhausted. I’m tired of constantly having a new roommate or house to move. I ended up losing over $1k of electronics in addition to having to buy a new laptop. I need to save some money. Well, I want to save more money really. While I do really like the people I meet, I don’t really like the city of Orlando itself. It’s not an ambitious city nor a densely populated one.  I walk down streets wondering where is everyone? There’s no real public transit except the bus. Most of my friends live far away and/or can’t drive. Also, there are some new people closer to home now that I want to see. Friends in Phila, DC, and Delaware that won’t be so close again.

However, the thought of coming back to Florida in January has crossed my mind. Many times.

Right now, my priorities are on two things.

First, what my future career be? I can only work my current job so long before it’s sold or I’m exhausted. I’ve worked my current job for almost seven years now. I have several, possible career paths, and I’m just working down the list until I find the right one. I’m blessed to have that luxury. But I also have spent a lot of time and preparation to have that flexibility.

Second, what am I doing with this RV? I’ve owned this RV for almost a year now. I’ve slept less than 7 days in it. Logged less than 4,000 miles in a year. I still am a bit wary of living in it and uncertain how I would work while on the road. Taking calls in a coffee shop is surprisingly very stressful. Why do they play such loud music and why is everyone so loud? There’s a lot of different options here too to figure out.

“Everything I am not made me everything I am.”

Everyone has this self-story about who they are. Their interpretation of their life. For a long time, I saw myself as an outsider and basically a loser. My parents were poor immigrants. I didn’t have the opportunities and experiences most of my peers had. After school, I was working for free at my parents store. (Funny, I got my current job from talking to one of the customers who is now my boss). The only good thing I had were my computer skills and my high grades. Neither of which I considered great accomplishments. Over the years, starting in college, it seems I’ve been expanding myself. Pushing my comfort zone with new people, new experiences, new talents.

Exercise, diet, cooking, public speaking, writing, meditation, drugs, relationships, installing solar panels on RV, music, dance, money, business, living with 20+ people, and so on. Some of them were failures and deadends. Some of them went well.

Now, I’m pretty well off. I got a great education for free. I got a good job. My health is at its best. I have lifelong friends. I’m not enamored by lust, power, fame, or greed. By most respects, I’m doing more than well. By world standards, I’m like the top 5%.

But there are still several things on my list to cross off though. That’s my karma. Weaknesses I still want to make into strengths. Experiences I still haven’t encountered. Lives I still want to live. Sometimes, it seems the list only keeps growing. Other times, it seems rather small.

This November month I’ve been stagnant. No gym. No projects. Falling into old patterns of television, video games, and what not. The only positive has been the amount of meditation I’ve put in. Processing the robbery and preparing to let go of Orlando. Also, along with my self-story, I have a constant question that defines me which is, “what’s wrong? how do I fix it?” Meditation helps calm my mind and quiet this constant question away to remember that life in the present moment is always perfect just a it is.

Last year, I came back home from a similar situation. I was living in a great house with two good friends. It was the ultimate young man’s lair. Arcade machine, pool table, bar, parties, big screen tv, and so on. But I wanted to go home to save money and establish productive habits. I wanted to be better. And once again, almost a year later, I’m doing the same trip back home. Except, I don’t plan on staying home too long because I already know how toxic an environment that is for me. I’ll make my next big decision in January.

I always planned on leaving around November and then December with the possibility of staying longer. I didn’t think I could get attached to a place so quickly in just three months. But, then again, I clearly forgot about my experiences in New Orleans (1 week) and China (1 month).

There’s at least ten people I’m seriously going to miss here in Orlando. If one or two things were different, I might of stayed here for the long run. But, it is fruitless to think ifs and buts. And I never did the big tourist stuff. National forests. Countless Beaches. Space shuttle launch. Fishing. Amusement parks. Miami. I guess save some for next time.

Everything changes. Everything stays the same.

Life is “I don’t know” and that’s okay.

This post is a story I tell myself to make sense of don’t know.

Everything in life is a lesson and a gift, but when you have trouble digesting, you call it a burden.

*—-
hmm i guess there are bad surprises actually….like getting robbed or getting a new roommate. still, i’d take the surprise over the expectation.

What do you do when things go bad?

I did a Saturday Zen retreat. I’ll write more on that later. Tonight, I also went to the regular Sunday sitting. They mentioned that meditation training is building up a capacity now so that when things go wrong, you can handle it and not lose your mind.

At the time, I thought this idea seems kind of bleak. Meditation just so when things inevitably go bad you can handle it? This both assumes your current abilities are bad and that bad things will indeed happen. I usually like to stress that meditation makes me able to also enjoy life better.

But tonight, while I was sitting there thinking this, something bad was indeed happening which I will also get into the details maybe later. I’m typing this on my phone though at a friend’s place 2am on a Monday.

And oddly enough, it’s not too distressing. In fact, the suffering I think my friends go through upon hearing the news is almost as bad. Zen says a good situation is a bad situation. A bad situation is a good situation.

I don’t know. The saddest part right now is just not knowing and being unable to know the why and how this occurred. And because of that, I don’t doubt god or life or whatever like I would when I was younger. Instead, I have doubts about my fellow man and woman. Am I too trusting?

I always believed respect given is returned. And for the most part, I’ve been able to get along with almost everyone I meet. But, now, I wonder maybe it’s this was done by one or two people I do know and even helped. And that really hurts. But I probably won’t ever know. And that causes my doubts to be even worse.

See, I believe God, Dao, the universe, or whatever you call it is not fair or unfair. It just follows laws. So my faith in that isn’t shaken. My faith in Man though is.

Money lost can always be made again. But can I continue my RV journey without having to start constantly watch my back? Can I ever so easily trust a stranger?

The statistics of this happening are quite low so I know rationally this is just an emotional reaction. A fear, a defense to make sure this never ever happens again.

But it’s difficult to live that. Like going skydiving and actually getting injuried and then convincing yourself to go again. What’s the chances of it happening twice right?

I don’t know. Zen encourages this natural I don’t know because really that’s the basis of almost everything. But when times are bad…well I don’t know feels kind of bad.

I’m grateful though. The friends I made here the very first weekend in Orlando have helped me out generously. I talked to some of my old friends back home. And my boss was good about things.

I just got to live with it and move on.

It’s really not that bad if it sounds that way. I’m perfectly still in good health, and this shouldn’t have to effect me negatively in the longrun or even right now.

I can say I’m likely leaving Orlando early December. I’d go even sooner, but I already paid rent for Nov. I may return to visit for a while because I did genuinely have a great time again this weekend up to now. And I have meet some great people here in such a short amount of time. But I’ve also had to deal with more stressful situations and people here than anywhere else.

How do you deal with a bad crisis?
Figure out what can recovered.
Do what’s necessary to minimize damage.
Call upon family and friends for support.
Live in the feeliing. Let it air its grievences. But don’t let it become and stay the master.
Remember everything changes, nothing is forever. I’m going to die one day. And this is never that large as it seems.
Do what you can to prevent this. Learn any lessons if they are there.
Move on.

Sign. High peak of weekend of Zen and friends. Low point Sunday night. Maybe, maybe things will pick up when I visit home Wednesday. I feel like the universe owes me.

The first Friday night I was in Orlando was when my car’s ac pressure switch blew up. That was a bad point too because I didn’t know what that was and worried my entire engine might of just gotten seriously damaged. But I went out anyway with this, “i don’t give a shit about anything. This is too ridiculous of a situation. I’m going to enjoy myself.” And that was the night I meet the good friends whom I’m staying with now. Hopefully like that pressure switch, the only real damage will be inconvience and money. I’m really praying this doesn’t become a long term problem I have to constantly address.