Saturday, March 29, 2008

Snowfall

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It is snowing now (and for quite a while, actually) in Seattle/Redmond. Second day in a row, after a long break without snow - probably like two months or so. And unexpected for me because it is spring time. But good view for a Saturday night. :-)

Testing after Unit Tests and the Myth of Code Coverage

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See podcast by Quetzal Bradley here.

Visual Studio 2008: imports and namespaces organization

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One of the things I really miss in Visual Studio with my experience with it so far is a feature similar to "organize imports". Even in the 2008 version, there no such feature built-in, but we need to install an add-in, like ReSharper or C# Refactory.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Two-Pizza team rule

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Amazon.com has a rule for project teams called two-pizza team rule

If a project team can eat more than two pizzas, it's too large.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Antitrust (the movie)

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I just watched Antitrust and, although I had watched it a few years ago, being at Microsoft made me see it from another perspective.

It is amazing the similarities between Nurv and Microsoft, like: the Nurv CEO (Bill Gates), the headquarters being north of California, signs mentioning Olympia (capital of Washington state), roads surrounded by trees, campus with scenic mountain views, department of justice involvement, one character named "Redmond", Synapse being an Operating System that is closed source and finally a company accused of being monopolist.

One of the things that is interesting and is almost unnoticeable happens when the Milo (main role played by Ryan Phillipe) accesses all the videos of programmers in their home/garage. A number is displayed and it looks like the process ID. Guess what's the number related to this surveillance? 1984.

And, at the end of movie, two programmers are found distributing the source code in a garage in Palo Alto, as the beginning of a new era, where the knowledge belongs to the humanity (ie, open source code). Maybe allusive to a new Hewlett-Packard starting in Palo Alto? (One could even think that two graduates of Stanford in a garage could remind us of Google founders, but their story started in their dorm if I recall correctly)

There is a lot more that could be said about this movie, like how it resembles technology companies (taking care of everyhing for its smart employees to focus on work), or how the script could have been improved and more insteresting, but I found the movie amusing and don't want to criticize it too badly. Probably the only problem I actually noticed is that, in the video broadcasted to the entire world, Milo includes his colleague Lisa among the criminals - what he had only figured out a few minutes before broadcasting it. But ok, I am being too picky. :-)

Do not speak English!

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"We all know that Heart Disease is the #1 cause of death in the U.S. But think hard about this: In Japan, they’ve got a diet that is low in fat and they have less heart disease than the US. While in France, the diet is very high in fat, and they also have less heart disease than in the US. In India, almost nobody drinks red wine and the heart disease rate is lower than in the US. But in Spain, everybody drinks too much red wine and sure enough they have less heart disease than the US. Algeria has the lowest sexual activity rate, and they’ve got less heart disease than in the US. But Brazil has the highest sexual activity rate and sure enough…the heart disease ratio is lower than in the US. Drink, eat and make merry all you want. It’s speaking English that kills you."

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Carlo Bergonzi: one of the best voices for "Una Furtiva Lagrima"

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I watched a DVD recorded in the 60's where he plays Nemorino in "L'Elisir D'Amore" by Gaetano Donizetti, and he is still brilliant in a more recent recording, as you can see here on YouTube. In my opinion, it is hard to find a voice as good as his to perform this aria. I watched a bunch of them (including Pavarotti, Vilázon, Alagna, Lanza, and even Caruso, whose recording was used by Woody Allen in his "Matchpoint" movie) and they don't top him.

Rejoice getting the libretto for this aria and listening, with all your attention, to this more than amazing performance. I would also suggest to listen to the "Quanta è bella, quanta è cara!" too.

Now I understand the reason why one of my high school Portuguese teachers started to sing one aria of Bachiana Brasileiras (I think number 5) in front of the whole class. His excitment was noticeable. And so was mine listening to these aforementioned arias. Of course all my colleagues mocked that teacher because they couldn't see the beauty in it, but now I can value a teacher that tries to shows that to his/her students.

Eclipse and Tag Libraries

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In Eclipse (Europa Winter), I upgraded a project on which I last worked in 2006. It was a WTP project, and after a few small issues I had to fix, I was annoyed with many error messages concerning my TLDs:

"Cannot find the tag library descriptor for xyz"

My solution was to create a new project, with a WTP facet upgraded to the latest version. I had my web contents under the "web" folder, instead of the default "WebContent", and my theory is that the previous version (2.4) didn't work fine with non-standard directories. With the current 2.5, it worked fine and I got rid of all errors.

MySQL and Service Control Manager

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If you are on Windows Vista and unable to install MySQL as a service with the following error message:

"Could not connect to the Service Control Manager"

it's because you are not running the "MySQL System Tray Monitor" as a administrator. I am too lazy to wipe up the Windows Vista Home Premium and install a more complete Vista version, and sometimes I spend time with these problems that happen due to the User Access Control.

By the way, the "Service Control Manager" is the Windows Manager for all OS services, it is not something that is part of MySQL as one may think.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Searching a few minutes ago on Google and Live...

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About Arthur C. Clark death. Live Search does not show anything in the news, while Google is updated.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

And Apple is still much more virtuous...

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iPhone SDK Rules Block Skype, Firefox, Java

An anonymous reader writes "Apple's iPhone software development kit is already drawing complaints due to the strict terms of service. Voice over IP apps like Skype that attempt to use the cellular data connection will be blocked. Competing web browsers Firefox and Opera are forbidden. Even Sun is now backpedaling on its recent announcement of a java port, noting that there are some legal issues. Critics are already comparing Apple's methods to Comcast's anti-net neutrality filtering, and Microsoft's Netscape-killing antitrust tactics. Could Apple face government regulators?"

Basic web security flaw

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I started receiving lots of email from a site called singlesnet because someone decided or made a mistake to sign up with my email address. The curious is that they do not confirm the address, so any random address used starts to receive notifications of other people that match or want to talk to you. Annoying to the owner of the address used, and bad for the user that might have mispelled the address, because he'll never use the service or will recreate his/her account.

The worst, though, is that you can retrieve and do anything having access to the used email address. I can gain access to the account, and the account password is sent to me. And I am not even sure if the password is actually regenerated or something.

Can you believe that we still have sites with this level of security?

I have Jew blood!

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After finding out Italian roots from Northern Italy, and Portuguese and Spanish descend (although without any details on this), I find out on Wikipedia that my family name has origins in Jewish families from Portugal. Of course, Castro is not a Jewish name, but it was the name adopted after the Inquisition. I am stunned.

The source for this information is the Jewish Encyclopedia, what gives credibility to it. See more in the text below copied from Wikipedia:

The De Castro family is a Sephardi Jewish family of Portuguese-Jewish origin. Soon after the establishment of the Portuguese Inquisition, members of the family emigrated to Bordeaux, Bayonne, Hamburg, and various cities in The Netherlands. Their descendants were later to be found scattered throughout The Netherlands, Turkey, Egypt, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Some branches of the family have continued to bear the simple name of "De Castro", others are known by De Castro-Osorio, De Castro Sarmento, De Castro-Castello-Osorio, Pereira de Castro, De Castro Vieira de Pinto, Rodriguez de Castro, Orobio de Castro, De Castro de Paz, Henriquez de Castro, etc. The name often appears as "de Crasto". Notice that Castro is not in origin a Jewish but an Iberian Christian name, adopted by Portuguese and Spanish Jews after the forced conversions of the late 15th and early 16th centuries.

Apache on Windows? Doesn't it start?

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Maybe you got a new version and have this error message:
The application has failed to start because its side-by-side configuration is in correct. Please see the application event log for more detail.

You forgot to install the Visual Studio 2008 redistributable package. Get it here.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Dr. Strangelove

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Just watched this excellent movie and got say that definitely some quotes are memorable:

General Jack D. Ripper:
Women uh... women sense my power and they seek the life essence. I, uh... I do not avoid women, Mandrake. [...] But I... I do deny them my essence.

Fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous communist plot we have ever had to face.

And this long but very funny phone conversation between the President of the US and the Premier of the Soviet Union.

President Merkin Muffley:
[to Kissoff] Hello?... Uh... Hello D- uh hello Dmitri? Listen uh uh I can't hear too well. Do you suppose you could turn the music down just a little?... Oh-ho, that's much better... yeah... huh... yes... Fine, I can hear you now, Dmitri... Clear and plain and coming through fine... I'm coming through fine, too, eh?... Good, then... well, then, as you say, we're both coming through fine... Good... Well, it's good that you're fine and... and I'm fine... I agree with you, it's great to be fine... a-ha-ha-ha-ha... Now then, Dmitri, you know how we've always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the Bomb... The *Bomb*, Dmitri... The *hydrogen* bomb!... Well now, what happened is... ahm... one of our base commanders, he had a sort of... well, he went a little funny in the head... you know... just a little... funny. And, ah... he went and did a silly thing... Well, I'll tell you what he did. He ordered his planes... to attack your country... Ah... Well, let me finish, Dmitri... Let me finish, Dmitri... Well listen, how do you think I feel about it?... Can you *imagine* how I feel about it, Dmitri?... Why do you think I'm calling you? Just to say hello?... *Of course* I like to speak to you!... *Of course* I like to say hello!... Not now, but anytime, Dmitri. I'm just calling up to tell you something terrible has happened... It's a *friendly* call. Of course it's a friendly call... Listen, if it wasn't friendly... you probably wouldn't have even got it... They will *not* reach their targets for at least another hour... I am... I am positive, Dmitri... Listen, I've been all over this with your ambassador. It is not a trick... Well, I'll tell you. We'd like to give your air staff a complete run-down on the targets, the flight plans, and the defensive systems of the planes... Yes! I mean i-i-i-if we're unable to recall the planes, then... I'd say that, ah... well, ah... we're just gonna have to help you destroy them, Dmitri... I know they're our boys... All right, well listen now. Who should we call?... *Who* should we call, Dmitri? The... wha-whe, the People... you, sorry, you faded away there... The People's Central Air Defense Headquarters... Where is that, Dmitri?... In Omsk... Right... Yes... Oh, you'll call them first, will you?... Uh-huh... Listen, do you happen to have the phone number on you, Dmitri?... Whe-ah, what? I see, just ask for Omsk information... Ah-ah-eh-uhm-hm... I'm sorry, too, Dmitri... I'm very sorry... *All right*, you're sorrier than I am, but I am as sorry as well... I am as sorry as you are, Dmitri! Don't say that you're more sorry than I am, because I'm capable of being just as sorry as you are... So we're both sorry, all right?... All right.

Serial Thinking

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High recommended: a very interesting article written by my friend Renato Golin about serial thinking and holographic machines.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Google Analytics experience

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I added Google Analytics to this blog. I've used it for a long time with other site, but never actually thought of trying to see how many people were accessing this blog. With roughly 3 days worth of data, it amazed me to know that many more people read this blog (than I actually thought). However, they read it less to know my opinion than for the technical posts I wrote sometime ago with new findings and suggestions (notably the mysql and jasper reports). I will eventually post more of technical suggestions as soon as I start doing something of interest to most of the public. Sometimes you don't have lots of interesting things to share (or cannot share) when working for a big software company. At the time I worked almost exclusively with open source I had so much material to talk about, that was impressive. Maybe I just must get adapted to this new world and try to extract what could be interesting to write here.

One interesting data: where do the accesses to this blog come from?
1. United States
2. India
3. Germany
4. France
5. Italy
6. Spain

Stravinsky quotes

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Some quotes by Igor Stravinsky, Russian composer:

The trouble with music appreciation in general is that people are taught to have too much respect for music they should be taught to love it instead.

My freedom will be so much the greater and more meaningful the more narrowly I limit my field of action and the more I surround myself with obstacles. Whatever diminishes constraint diminishes strength. The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one's self of the chains that shackle the spirit.

The past slips from our grasp. It leaves us only scattered things. The bond that united them eludes us. Our imagination usually fills in the void by making use of preconceived theories...Archaeology, then, does not supply us with certitudes, but rather with vague hypotheses. And in the shade of these hypotheses some artists are content to dream, considering them less as scientific facts than as sources of inspiration.

¿Por qué nos tratan como a perros?

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TH was kind to send me a link to an article in El País that is worth mentioning.

Trying to display a sense of nationalism and defending stupid retaliation against Spanish people stand out in all comments I've read about this case, inflated of course by the Brazilian media. Having it as a basis of comparison, I thought the article was quite sensible, and even much more impartial than I would expect from a Spanish newspaper.

However, El País avoided going further deep into the subject and did not address problems like prostitution, illegal immigration, or what exactly are the criteria for denying the entrance - that seemed unlikely to be objective at all. One could go deeper and say their opinion about Brazilian retaliation, but that would be more appropriate for an editorial.

Definitely what should never happen in a civilized world is to treat people like dogs, like a sociologist told one of the immigration officers in Madrid. That is outrageous and unacceptable disregard. And no officer that deals with people on daily basis could be allowed to keep working if proved that he replied to the question in the title of this post saying that retained people wait for the flight back were no more than dogs ("Porque ustedes no son más que perros"). For writing about this in El País, the author of this article deserves my compliments.

Office 2007: The Story of the Ribbon

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I just watched almost 1h30 of one of the most interesting presentations I've ever seen. It is about Microsoft Office 2007 user interface. And it is not because it is about Microsoft or Office, but it is very interesting to see how an innovative process can happen within a company. I've always been curious about what had driven this UI decision change and how process took place.

You can watch this presentation here. There is even an iPod version that you can watch on the go.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Carbonite downtime

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After two posts about Carbonite, some comments about its downtime last week (and in general) were posted. I never noticed any downtime, and maybe that is because they are on the west coast too (and maybe even here in the Seattle area) and the downtime happened during the night time (like after midnight). Anyway, Dave Friend wrote again to clarify the total downtime, and I think his comment should be quoted here to be fair with Carbonite efforts:

Carbonite was never down for 24 hrs. Here is the actual report from Webpulse, a 3rd party company that monitors our system availability:
websitepulse@websitepulse.net
Recovered Carbonite.com
protocol HTTP full-page,
time 03/10/2008 08:45:37,
estimated downtime 5h 38min.
Location: Seattle, WA

This was a planned system upgrade early Sunday morning when it would not affect many users. It is the first time we have brought our systems down since November 2006. I wish people would get their facts straight before spreading malicious rumors. If someone is upset that they could not access their backups early last Sunday morning, they could write to me rather than spreading false information on the Internet. My email is david.friend@carbonite.com

Monday, March 10, 2008

I am not spanish, I am catalan!

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Brazil government has never been known as one of the most diplomatic governments in the world, but it still manages to amaze me. First, it was with Americans - which now choose to visit other South American countries like Chile or Argentina, where visa or fingerprinting are not required. Now with Europeans, mostly Spanish people. When is that going to end?

All the facts make me believe that the Spanish government has been rude and using inappropriate criteria when denying entrance of people that are there to catch a connection flight to other places or even those that are simply going to visit Spain and Europe. However, acting by the same standards is something that is completely stupid to me, because it does not help and, worse, it harms Brazil's image and its turism.

Illegal immigration is something that must be fought and people arrested in this situation must pay for their crime (yes, it is a crime) and get deported. No excuses, no privileges. It is inconceivable that any country accept illegal immigrants and make their taxpayers to pay for people that were not allowed to live in the country. That happens with some poor countries, like I just read today about Bolivians trying to immigrate illegaly to Brazil, but the vast majority of the destinations are richer countries, like North America or Europe. I can't think of people from these countries planning to immigrate illegaly to Brazil. It does not make any sense, while the contrary does.

Spain is totally right to protect itself against illegal immigration, it is right to protect their borders, but it is wrong to have different criteria depending on the nationality. Why would someone with an US passport or even European passport have different treatment by immigration offices? Definitely they are way more unlikely to be in the group of people that would immigrate illegaly, but also part of this group are lots of Brazilian and people from all over the world, no matter where they are from. And judging all by the behavior of some is wrong.

Anyway, although I expect some improvement, it is hard to believe that people won't have some preconceived ideas whenever someone from South America shows up his/her passport to immigration officers from richer countries. Unfortunately it is very natural to be associated with the society where you come from. Everybody does that to some extent, consciously or not, that is why racism still exists and may take a while to be extinguished - if it will be ever extinguished.

If you also take into account the political scenario in Latin America, with the conflicts between Colombia and Ecuador and relationship with Venezuela and Cuba, one can see how amateur politicians can be.

The interesting phrase above I read in a post of a Catalan defending Spain regarding this issue. And he mentions the problem with illegal immigration as being the justification for this behavior.

More about Carbonite: application installation

16 comments
Dave Friend, Carbonite CEO, posted a comment on my previous post about Carbonite. It was very nice of him and, as I mentioned in another comment on that post, shows respect for the user and that they are striving to make Carbonite a great backup solution.

These issues with Carbonite, including the one mentioned by an anonymous user, reminded me of a major issue I had a few months ago but that I think I never written about. It all started when I tried to install Office 2007 and everytime it failed. Yes, from its original DVD media. It always complained about not being able to write or read from C:\Config.Msi directory (something like "Error writing to C:\Config.Msi"). Sometimes retrying would make it move on a bit, until the next error.

After searching on the web, I found out that Carbonite is related to this problem. I can't tell why exactly that happens or it is some sort of incompability with Windows Vista, but it is annoying. I have to remember that whenever I am installing something, I have to disable Carbonite, otherwise applications that use msi files are likely to fail. Something that the Carbonite folks should try to fix (if it hadn't got fixed in the latest February release).

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Carbonite not so good restore experience

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Sometime ago I restored my Carbonite backup. I was sure that it had backed up all my contents and, when restoring, I had a relly bad experience. The first thing I missed was my Photoshop Elements album that, for some reason, Carbonite decided not to back up. It has a bunch of rules to decide what files to back up or not, but that is simply stupid for cases like where you want all your "My Documents" backed up. You don't want to check that all files are being backed up, because if you have a service that has unlimited storage, it should do be able to do it. Or, it should warn the user that files were not being backed up.

Today I found out something else it didn't back up: all my .jar files. Yes, really. Opening my Java project in Eclipse makes me realize that my restored project has a wiped up WEB-INF/lib folder. Fortunately I had these jars on the server where the project is deployed, otherwise I would have to spend a long time finding these jars and restoring to their locations. Well, pretty much like I had to redo all my Photoshop Elements album.

Along with inability to back up removable storage, I am considering moving to another backup service when my subscription with Carbonite expires.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Do you have your measure of success?

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How do you measure success in your life? One could say it is money, it is position within a company or in society, maybe having and raising your children, helping other people, knowing a lot about things (or about many things), and so on. For many people probably it is not straightforward to know how successful they are. When you reach a certain age, what are your accountabilities to measure your success? Or maybe, if you are to make a decision about your next stpes, very likely the best one should be the one that maximizes your change to achieve success, ie the best way is the way to increase your rate of success.

It's been always very clear to me, at school, that I should learn and prepare myself to be a successful adult. My accountability was to have the best possible grade. It was quite clear and I successfull at that. I had no doubt about it, and that's been always my focus. That was generally acceptable in society, approved by all parents (include mine), and I had been educated (and accepted) that way.

One of tasks of an adult person is to leave the school and face life from another standpoint, because school, and especially the university, is kind of a Neverland for so many Peter Pan studying there that are either not willing to grow up or do not have the skills and the courage for that. Leaving school, especially for these Peter Pan's, is not easy after you got used to the routine, to the accountabilities, and where you developed all the skills you needed to succeed in that environment. That is particularly difficult for people that didn't face the outer world before graduation. By doing so, they might have developed and/or trained their adaptability skills - what tends to be much easier when younger. With the argument in mind that not working will allow their children to focus and better succeed at school, parents don't envision they may be depriving their children the opportunity to face other challenges and have a broader view of the world. Especially what may lie in their foreseeable future.

Some people still end up staying in the university world because they found what they really love. That is absolutely acceptable and I own my due respect to those that choose this option. Many others, nonetheless, sometimes consciously, but mostly unconsciously, find themselves incapable of adapting to different lifestyles - and their inherent challenges - and stay in the world they already know, in the confort zone. And they not only stay, but they find justification for what they decided to do. And I bet that many of them are not happy and know, deep down, that they failed in understanding other options in life. Fortunately, though harder than it should be had it be done in other more appropriate manner, a substantial portion make through the transition. Then the actual challenge begins.

At this point, one finds so many measure of success that it is hard to distinguish what is the most suitable for his/her life. Usually society/friends/family plays a major role to define this at first - and sometimes that lasts the entire life. But for some people, now the reality really strikes them up and the pursuit of happiness and success start. Depending on the experience and how one gathers and analyzes the information, it is quite possible that nothing will be ever questioned throughout their lives. Others will even focus on something else, on a hobby, on a dream, on other aspect of their lifes and the career will be put aside, leading to long (tedious?) hours at a job or at whatever one decided to do. We are not talking about these people here, but rather those who are persistent and explore many different possibilities in the - maybe endless - task of understanding themselves and what is actually important to them.

After an experience where you see that your initial success measurement is not consistent, you get disappointed. If you believed that always merit wins, you will find out that many times politics will make you more money and climb the career ladder within a corporation more rapidly than merit alone. We also find out that the smartest or hard-working guy is not necessarily the richest one. And many of the rich people are not actually people that live by the same moral standards that you may do. Living by what other people think of your career will not bring satisfaction in the long term either. Plus, depending on other people's opinion or on being flattered to make you feel good about what you do is not sustainable either.

Being brave and being in a position where you can do it, you will initially move to other experiences where you will be able to exercise other success measurements that makes sense to you. And then the circle starts, until you finally realize that all these perceptions boil down to the fact that you must follow your personal criteria to your own success and, although not a sure way to your succes, that is the best you can do. Having criteria that pass part of your happiness responsibility on to other people or criteria that depend fundamentally on them is fragile and, therefore, wrong.

In my opinion, find the criteria within yourself is the best strategy. Dive deep into youself to reflect on your current criteria. If you were to get disconnected from all the reality that surrounds you at any given time, especially from other people, does your life or your career bring the rewards that you are seeking?

Maybe then, after this stage of reflection and change what will indicate your success, the next time you stop and reflect if you have success in your life and how much progress you've been doing, it will be unlikely that you will end up disappointed.

International Women's Day

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March 8th? International Women's Day? Not here in the United States. If I hadn't run into this on Brazilian web sites, I wouldn't even remember that today is Women's Day. Nothing in the paper, nothing on websites, no special email or celebrations. This day never made much difference to me anyway, but it is curious to see the cultural differences.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Spiritual Sloth

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"The next affliction, called lelo in Tibetan, is often translated as 'laziness', but it is much more specific. If a person is working sixteen hours a day, hellbent on earning a whole lot of money with absolutely no concern for virtue, from a Buddhist perspective you could say that person is subject to lelo. A workaholic is clearly not lazy, but such a person is seen as lelo in the sense of being completely lethargic and slothful with regard to the cultivation of virtue and purification of the mind. Our translation of this term is 'spiritual sloth," which we have taken from the Christian tradition, where it is very comparable to the Buddhist notion."

Destructive Emotions, by Daniel Goleman
Pages 107