2090 words
@aftergibson

The vagueness of Secular Buddhism

I’m looking for a path to atheist spirituality and I’ve looking more into Secular Buddhism. I have to admit, the results aren’t so promising, many are so vague as to be almost completely useless.

I’m looking for Buddhism minus beliefs, what I keeping seeing is much more content on beliefs in general, references to Buddhism material but very little meat. No answers to:

  • What can I explore as something spiritual?
  • What ceremonies can I lean on to support this?
  • What new ways could I reframe my view off the world?

I’ll continue to explore and see what I can find to help answer these, but so far(in the past) I’ve found Stoicism a much more concrete approach to these questions.

Make the smartphone dumb again

I have terrible, terrible impulse control. I cannot stop using my phone as a distraction tool. I simply cannot. We can discuss willpower, or being a better person, but they don’t work. I have no willpower and remain a terrible person despite how hard I try. If my phone can do something to distract me, I will use it, a lot. Then the loathing sets in.

So I needed to turn my super sweet iPhone into something entirely distractionless and boring, it’s that or I throw my phone away(which I’ve seriously considered but without Whatsapp I just cannot communicate easily with my family and that is not something I want to add friction to).

So here’s my approach to blocking the noise. (Note: This if for iPhone, I’m sure Android can do something similar, it’s not like the bulk of Google’s revenue is tied to you constantly engaging with their services).

What has been disabled/uninstalled from my Phone?

  • Safari/Browsers
  • App Store
  • Email
  • Games
  • Social Networks
  • Todo Apps
  • Habit Apps
  • Reading Apps
  • Colors
  • Any app that nags me for anything that isn’t very important.

All noise that just does not add value to my life.

What remains on my Phone?

  • Maps
  • Camera
  • Podcasts(limit of 3 for now)
  • Journal(Day One)
  • Banking Apps
  • Apple Health
  • Notes
  • Whatsapp

So basically boring tools and Whatsapp. Nothing here would particularly compel me to check my phone every ten minutes for any sort of update.

How do I disable stuff and keep them disabled?

This is all great but I’m a terrible person and once I’ve uninstalled all of that stuff, I’m basically going to re-installed it all in 5 minutes when terrible me reappears. My solution is lock myself out of my own phone. Find someone you trust (or if you want these restrictions for life, someone who hates you) for this process. Here’s how.

  1. Uninstall all of the distracting, time-wasting apps you want to remove.
  2. Under Settings, in “Content and Privacy Restrictions”, enable it.
  3. Get your friend/enemy to set a password that you don’t know but that they will remember.
  4. Under “Allowed Apps”, disable Safari.
  5. Under “Content Restrictions”, disable installing apps.
  6. Search “Color Filters” in Settings and turn on “Greyscale”

Woo! We have a drab boring soulless rectangle that gives me exciting access to my…. bank.

Replacements

So we can talk about getting rid of all of this stuff, but in the end, if you don’t come up with replacements to that pull for distraction you’re likely going to crack, beg your friend for the password and reinstall again. I did, many times. What I needed was replacements and these seem to have tenuously worked pretty well so far for me.

My replacements are mostly a kindle and a notebook. Kindle to keep me entertained when my brain, you know, starts to contemplate things like life and its lack of meaning or cancer or why good things happen to bad people. The notebook is for habit reminders, todos and when I get that pull towards the rectangle to search for a thing. When I’m drawn to research something, instead of the usual reinstall-fest, I write it down what I want in my notebook and look it up later on a laptop if it still matters(it often doesn’t).

TIL - AWS Lambda

In AWS Lambda, if you use ENVIRONMENT VARS they are tied to the lambda version, so a new deploy is required to update that config change.

Please, PLEASE make a domain for your own email address.

Don’t have a [email protected] or [email protected], have a [email protected] instead! Google locks people out of their accounts, to me loss of my email address would be a total disaster. This is the problem with monopolies and something everyone needs to think more about. Imagine a world where a comment somewhere on an unrelated social network wipes out 15 years of email and communication as well as ongoing access to that email address. That’s today and if you don’t look out for these things you can be locked out of incredibly important parts of your own digital world.

So a few quick tips:

  • Use a personal domain for email, don’t rely on any one service ever. With a personal domain you can keep your email address and swap to different suppliers whenever. You could try Fastmail with your [email protected] address, and if you don’t like it swap back to Gmail if you want, try Protonmail maybe. Either way, your email address never needs to change.
  • Always backup your current email, use a client(like Mail or Thunderbird), and always download your mail.
  • Don’t use Google Sign-In/Up process ever. Don’t use any companies single sign on. With your Google Account gone, those logins are totally doomed. It’s far too risky.

Bonus tip! Take a look at nomoregoogle.com and try distribute some of your life away from one company.

Atheist Religion

It’s 5am and I can’t sleep. I haven’t slept well in weeks. I’ve tried everything that’s recommended. Nothing works.

I remember when I was a kid and still believed in God. I’d say my nightly prayers and then straight to sleep. I’m not sure if it was the innocence of childhood or my faith that made it so easy but I’d try anything right now.

Maybe I could cobble together some personal spirituality, a mix of Alan Watts, meditation, maybe some Sam Harris and yoga. Maybe a sprinkle Krishnamurti. Has anyone out there put this together?

I could really do with the sleep.

TIL - What is CFN-Hup

CFN-Hup is a cloudformation daemon that detects and applies changes to the EC2 instance it's running on.

TIL - Python quick way to generate a bunch of strings from lists

Tidy way of generating a bunch of strings

    expected = [
        f'{region}:{account}:stack/system-stack-{stack}'
        for region in ['eu-west-1', 'eu-west-2']
        for account in ['1234', '5678']
        for stack in ['TestStack1', 'TestStack2']
    ]

Til - Python Mirrors Strip Metadata

A very annoying discovery today. Some pypi mirrors strip out python_requires metadata. This means that you may install a version of a package that isn't supported by your local version of python.

A fix is to edit the mirror in /etc/pip.conf but this admittedly very annoying.

TIL - Named Git Stash

You can name a git stash like so:

git stash push -m "message"

Thwn find it like so:

git stash list

And apply the specific stash like so:

git stash apply [email protected]{1}

However git diff may be a better solution

git diff > some.patch

And to apply

git apply some.patch

So I've added these to my shell aliases .

# Store patch
function gdsp() {
    git diff > ~/.stashes/$1.patch
    gdlp
}

# Apply patch
function gdap() {
    git apply ~/.stashes/$1.patch
    rm ~/.stashes/$1.patch
    gdlp
}

# List patches
function gdlp() {
    ls ~/.stashes/
}

TIL - How to match python regex groups

Use (.*) for matching groups in Python regexes

TIL - Git Rebase

In git, during rebase, ours and theirs are reversed. theirs is actually the current branch in the case of rebase.

TIL - Bash Shift

In bash, use shift to reassign positional arguments.

For example:

$1 $2 $3

Would become

$1 matches old $2
$2 matches old $3

TIL - AWS Summit - Spot Instances

Currently, ~5% of spot instances are getting taken out, but their pricing is 1/3 of an On-Demand instance.

TIL - AWS Summit - Latency

P99 and P95 latency refer to the percentage of requests should be faster than given latency.

Lazy Mindfuless

Recently I've been thinking a lot about being present, and how difficult I've found it to be present in the past, I tried so hard and could never crack it. My mind always going in any direction it wanted. Since my son arrived, I figured this quest would be impossible, I have no time to put the effort in. I'm present for my son where I can be but any free time, my mind is going everywhere.

Lately however, I'm noticing that something has started to shift in my mind. With work, chores, goals and my son I have very little time, but now when thoughts appear, there's a sort of effortless sluggishness that appears. When the thought appears my mind is beginning to lazily response with, "Nah, I can't be bothered" and it passes. I listen to Pzizz often at night to get to sleep, there's a sentence that the audio suggests to get to sleep which goes something like "Thoughts will arrive but you're not obligated to think them". Which sums it up perfectly.

I think I'm going to try cultivate this more, but it's made me realise that, effort isn't everything. There are aspects of life that just require patience. So if things don't stick right now, that's fine, maybe all you need is time.