22 May 2007

22 May--A Good Night Out

It became clear to Jamie very early in the morning that he should have had more to eat the night before--more than onion baji, anyway. For the uninitiated, onion baji is an Indian delicacy whereby one dips strips of onion in a batter spiced with cumin, curry, taragon, and chilis, and then chucks the pieces in the deep fryer. It should not, therefore, be eaten when a) one wishes to meet a girl, or b) when one plans on spending the rest of the evening drinking beer. Jamie was on course for the latter.

The night began--as many nights do--with an innocent drink after work. Jamie was celebrating a successful presentation on workplace sustainability (recycling, energy reduction, etc.), and decided he needed a drink. Just one, of course--just one.

Twenty minutes later he's downed two pitchers of pilsner and is walking around Mighty Mighty pretending to be a member of the wait staff. He, and two of his friends from work, Hannah and Liam, soon discovered that the world is a more fascinating place when you have a camera. Please take a moment to witness our night of self destruction.

17 May 2007

17 May--A Good Pace

It has been 9 days since Jamie last posted. In fact, the time between posts has become longer with each passing week. It appears Jamie did not pace himself very well at the start. He should have begun more relaxed, found his pace about 1/4 of the way through, then kicked out a fast finish--a little like what he's hoping to do for the Wellington Half Marathon.

While it won't be the first half marathon Jamie's run--it will, in fact, be his second--he hopes to better his time. Unfortunately, this means running. A lot. Continuously. And if he runs with the same consistency with which he blogs, the whole event might take awhile.

08 May 2007

08 May--Meditation

Yesterday evening, Jamie was invited to attend a meeting introducing people to meditation. While not one who regularly meditates--read: ever meditates--Jamie was still interested to participate in a discussion on the topic. As an academic, he had studied Psychology (along with other disciplines in the Arts) and Religion. He was also a Catholic until the age of 17, at which time he decided this whole religion thing just didn't really have a leg to stand on (Jamie spent much of his late teens and early 20s a very angry atheist, but has recently calmed down). So he regarded the evening as a chance to learn more about a subject he often dismissed.

However, as the evening unfolded, Jamie found himself listening to people talk on a subject matter he ended up being very familiar with. He has read books on Taoism and enjoys the idea that the only thing that exists is the current moment. He's read Lao Tzu (on whose teachings Taoism is founded), and smiles when the philosopher reminds t that everything has a use--even a pile of rubbish. Among other philosophies, theosophies, and thinkers, Jamie is familiar with the Gnostic Gospels, the Old and New Testaments, William James, Carl Jung, the Koran, and the Bhagavad Gita--all of which comment at least briefly on the idea of cognitive peace. And while he is not well-versed in some tomes (except perhaps the biblical ones, for which he blames his parents), he is all the while informed.

The speaker's name, to begin with, was Saronya (a name Jamie had to fight not to mispronounce as "Sayonara"), which is a Sanskrit word. Fair enough. Sanskrit is one of the many official languages of India, not to mention very, very old. It made sense that topics as ancient as meditation would have some affiliation with their linguistic counterparts. Yet some things didn't quite fit--there was misinformation afoot.

Saronya, who dressed only in white, explained that this particular discipline of meditation (Ishaya's Ascension) was focused on "quieting the mind's chatter and employing the attitudes of praise, gratitude, love, and compassion." No surprise there. However, when she mentioned that the founder "invented" this technique in 1988, Jamie's mind began to chatter. And when she further explained that the founder was compelled to invent this technique because, in an epiphany, it "was time for these attitudes to be in the world," Jamie's mind got a little louder. But when she said "the great thinker Alfred Maslow said we have a right to be 'whole' beings," Jamie's mind could not keep to itself.

"Um, yeah. Sorry to interrupt," Jamie said politely, "But Maslow also said that you can't get to the self-enlightenment stage without first fulfilling basic needs. His philosophy was based on a hierarchy of principles and actions, not mere thoughts."

To his surprised, Saronya gently side-stepped Jamie's comment, quickly turning back to the attitudes of ascension. But for Jamie, the rest of the talk fell apart. He could not help but draw correlations between her points and other religions and philosophies: how we need praise as children (Freud), using love and compassion to quell frustration (gnostics, Buddhism), and quieting the mind for mental clarity (Taoism, Buddhism). While putting them all together was neat, it was not worth the $500 she was asking for further sessions.

At the end of the discussion, Saronya turned to Jamie and asked, "So what do you think? Will you be joining us?"

Jamie replied, "No, I'm fine actually. I'm just fine."

02 May 2007

2 May -- An Average Day

Today is an average work day: Jamie has spent a total of 40 minutes on the train. He took 30 minutes to enjoy a cup of coffee at the French bakery across the road before walking into the office. He read the news--for 30 minutes. He has since spent a grand total of 1 hour doing actual work (writing code, Photoshopping and uploading images, amending PDFs, tracking changes). Between work, he has spent 3 hours in meetings. Between work and meetings, he has spent 45 minutes waiting for meetings to begin (he is waiting for one now). He ate lunch for 15 minutes (he used what was left of his lunch hour strolling Wellington's freshly dampened footpaths). He used the toilet for 8 minutes (aggregated, not all at once). He is 29. The average life span of a Western male is 75 years. If, for the next 46 years (taking into account weekends and a much-deserved 2-week holiday per year) Jamie worked an average day he would have: wasted 34,500 hours in meetings, worked on something interesting for 11,500 hours, twiddled his thumbs for 8,625 hours waiting for a meeting to start, ridden 7,666 hours on the train, and enjoyed only 2,875 precious hours eating soup. He would have spent 1,533 hours in the toilet.

However depressing these figures might seem, Jamie is not fazed. He is, instead, preparing the invoice.