04 Jul 2019, 12:08

Rubber ducking ftw

Recently, I have had a big server upgrade that has been challenging me on how to finish it. Yesterday I asked a friend of mine if he could look over my plan for the upgrade.

He agreed, and I began to write the email that articulated my plan.

Just in writing out the email I recalled the value of rubber ducking.

The idea is that you explain the problem to a rubber duck, giving enough information so that the rubber duck can understand.

(I like to add the idea that rubber duck brains are not very big, so I need to articulate things in bite-sized pieces.)

In doing this process, I noticed a couple of solutions that will help me move forward with my plan. It also helped me get a sense of how big the project is, and where its steps need to be fleshed out.

Thank you, rubber duck!

03 Jul 2019, 18:42

Maintaining state in long projects

As a programmer, I often want things to be just right, finding that balance between maintainability, extensibility, and plain ol’ get-‘er-done. Today, banging my head against unexpected walls while trying to spin up a virtual machine with Vagrant, I had to keep my focus on the goal at hand: Keep the website up while migrating from PHP 5.7 on Ubuntu 14 to PHP 7.2 on Ubuntu 18.

In this case, the task seemed simple. Write an email to Client so they know the status of the project.

The tip for today is to keep a stack of tasks written down so I can recall where I am headed.

  1. Write an email
  2. Estimate price of RDS
  3. Make sure I can test MySQL locally
  4. Spin up local instance of Ubuntu 18
  5. Upgrade Vagrant
  6. Upgrade local copy of Ubuntu 18
  7. Install latest copy of website source
  8. Run tests
  9. Install test framework
  10. Need to install PHP modules

I ran out of time around that point, and still had not done the first item on my list. Fortunately, I still remember what I was trying to do, and can come back to it with fresh eyes tomorrow.

02 Jul 2019, 09:27

Insanity and exponential curves

We’ve all heard the quote something like

Insanity is repeating the same thing
 and expecting a different result.

I just realized that I have been trying to apply that quote too strongly in my life. I have low-key assumed I have to make some huge radical change in my life in order to have anything different.

That belief was blocking my ability to make lasting change. I don’t have to take on a huge change or multiple changes all at once.

I can make a single, manageable, bite-sized change.

The trick is in finding what to change. That’s where I come in. Let’s find your bite-sized change together.

With the power of exponential growth, these small changes accumulate.

Allow your new habits to bring your empowered life.

27 Jun 2019, 11:27

Simple steps for dealing with anger

1) breathe.

Focus on your breathing until the initial wave of anger has passed. It may help to focus on counting the breaths.

Allow your breathing to deepen and slow.

2) label.

Say you yourself, “I feel angry.” Labeling the emotion brings your thoughtful brain back online.

This helps move beyond the Fight or Flight reaction of the reptilian brain

3) acknowledge.

Recognize the steps that brought you into this situation. What part did you play in the buildup to this anger?

Taking responsibility for your part helps point to small changes that you can take to avoid anger next time.

4) plan.

After acknowledging your part in the situation, notice where you can make different choices next time.

Visualize yourself making different choices to help increase the chance of remembering when necessary.

- - - - optional - - - -

5) apologize.

Depending on the situation, it may serve you to apologize. Taking responsibility for your part in the situation can help restore your relationship with the other party.

22 Jun 2019, 14:27

Save Money Through Meditation

My TV says if I buy this or that toothpaste / car / ______ then I will be happy. What TV doesn’t tell me is that happiness is temporary. Instead of buying my way into temporary happiness, I can sit my way into lasting happiness.

Sitting allows me to reset my brain to my center, my spirit, my essence. This is where permanent happiness resides. In this moment, sitting in what I call the Ever Present Present, I can just be, happily.

18 Jun 2019, 21:22

What do emotions tell us

Sticking with the basics, we have joy and fear.


is how I feel when I have what I want, or I don’t want what I don’t have. I am aligned with what is, and have no need or desire to change it.


is the emotion which says I don’t have enough information. This is usually about an unknown future. I come to a proverbial fork in the road and could simply choose arbitrarily, but if there is a part of me that wants to choose the “right” option, I may feel fear about choosing the “wrong” option. This could paralyze me until I cannot choose without more information about what each option entails.

Next, we have sadness.


is how I feel when I recognize I have lost(*) something. I had it, and now I don’t have it. I feel sad. The message here is simply to acknowledge the experience of having, whether it was an object, a pet, or a fellow human. This is what funerals are for: to acknowledge that the person who was with us is no longer here (in the physical sense). We take the chance to experience the loss in its fullness, allowing acknowledgement of the new situation so we can move on.


Anger is a slightly different emotion. There are a few different emotions that we lump together under one label. Generally speaking, anger is an emotion that comes up when boundaries have been crossed. So-called righteous anger could be when personal space or personal property has been encroached or taken.

In general, if emotions are held in the body, they can cause problems, so it’s best to express emotions as soon as possible so our emotional bodies run smoothly.

(*) Loss is something of a false belief in that I never had it in the first place, but this line of inquiry goes beyond the basics outlined here.