Rise & Shine

Long ago, in a fertile and prosperous land, the inhabitants knew of and utilized a simple cleansing solution. Yet when their mighty library burned in Alexandria, so too did this knowledge get lost in time. Those people were the Ancient Egyptians. That cleanser was Sodium Bicarbonate — baking soda.

Yes, there are those that stumble upon baking soda as a cleaning-agent, but it’s merely used as an additive — its pure power is not fully appreciated today. Friends, I’m here to reveal to you that simple basic power. Baking soda is a base, a foundation of cleanliness that you should not live without.

Why just mixing a teaspoon in a few ounces of water creates a deodorant that deactivates the malodorous — whether funk resides on the feet or the pit of an arm, it’s a miracle smell stopper. Sprinkle some raw powder in shoes and they’re good as new! White dishes a little discolored and need some scrubbing? Why just pour some powder on a damp rag and rub. Presto!

The best thing about it: you get all this for pennies on the pound. A powder so cheap, it’s virtually free! Yet this is no poor-man’s poultice, it’s a remedy fit for regality. And if you act now, I’ll even include a bonus. From an oasis surrounded by sand to one surrounded by ocean, let me present to you a gift from the tropics: coconut oil.

Yes that’s right friends, pure unprocessed coconut oil. Flakes on the scalp resulting in an early winter’s snow fall? Not anymore with a few drops of oil gently massaged into the follicles. And this is no greasy cover-up folks, it’s the real-deal — your ordinary oils won’t do this. But that’s not all….

Powerful on their own, no doubt. But imagine if that potency could be combined. Well now it can. With a two-step process, the mighty duo becomes Clean & Coat. Got a scrape or cut? Why just spritz a solution of sodium-bicarbonate dissolved in water, pat dry, and salve with coconut oil — Voila!

You can even mix a bit of sea-salt with baking soda and gargle it — or even rub raw baking soda on your teeth and gums. Afterwards coat with coconut oil to seal the deal. Folks, it’s the miracle cure of the ages. Now for the first time in the modern-age, you too can unlock the ancient powers provided by Mother Nature herself. Be sure to pick yours up today!


* Field-notes & Disclaimer:

This product (baking soda) is provided as-is and comes without warranty, yet it has been tested by yours truly over the course of multiple years as a hand-soap replacement, hand-washed-dish detergent, underarm deodorant, and shoe/foot deodorant.

It should be noted that baking soda may be too harsh a cleanser for bath-soap replacement and it may cause dark fabrics to lighten.

And just some tidbits about coconut oil: it remains a solid below 78F and a liquid above that, it’s typically applied after bathing although pre-shower may work if not thoroughly washed out, it’s also effective as an underarm deodorant, and it can be safely applied to the mouth even after brushing.

Fundamentals of Programming

A programmer compiles a set of instructions into a program. So at its essence, a program is simply a bunch of instructions that perform a given task. Those instructions use branching and repetition to form a kind of narrative.

For instance, imagine you need to go shopping for groceries. First, add items to the shopping-list. While scanning kitchen, if milk is less than half full, add to shopping-list; if container of popcorn is empty, add to shopping-list. Now goto the store. While not at store, drive – if impeded, press brake, else press accelerator. Now enter the store. For each item on shopping-list, add to cart.

function scanKitchen():
  if(milk < milk.contents / 2)
    list.add(milk)
  if(popcorn == empty)
    list.add(popcorn)
  return list    

function drive():
  while(!atStore)
    if(isBlocked)
      pressBrake()
    else
      pressAccelerator()        

function shop(list):
  for each item in list
    cart.add(item)
    
//call these three functions in the appropriate order:   
list = scanKitchen()
drive()
shop(list)

if statements take the program on different paths depending on whether a condition is true or false. Whereas while / for statements create loops that keep certain commands repeating.

Putting objects in groups, such as the shopping-list, is another fundamental concept. An array of items is easier to keep track of as a whole, and such a list can be quickly scanned and processed.

To tell the story, you’re going to need some action commands. For instance scanKitchen is a function you call upon to look through the pantry and fridge. You simply invoke it, and it returns a list of needed items. You can then print those items onto paper — or order them online — the list is yours to do as you wish.

Different programming platforms provide various built-in commands to play with. Some programming environments offer minimal pre-made functions and some offer extensive libraries of functionality to call upon. The work that goes into a program comes from assembling the provided building-blocks. This includes finding the appropriate commands and properly invoking them, as well as placing those instructions in the right order — and of course you can adjust this order by using conditions and repetition.

Wacky World

I wanted to take this life seriously,
believing in the integrity of solidity,
honoring its physical majesty,
but the world has shown itself a joke.

And so I recommend to myself and all,
to treat it as such: a lighthearted affair.
For there is no other recourse,
if we are to keep our sanity.

This is not a cruel joke mind you,
not a trick meant to humiliate.
Just a funhouse built for surprise,
merely a stage to entice the senses.

Wishes – Summer 2017

So as to fully program my mind with only the most delightful daydreams, I’ll be detailing my current crop of wishes (in no particular order):

I wish to fill my evenings with meaningful activity. Instead of just recuperating from the day, I wish to have a task that enlivens and fulfills, leaving me satisfied and ready for sleep.

I wish to sleep through the night and wake-up well-rested. Bed should be a sanctuary I embrace yet happily depart when the new day dawns.

I wish for my work to find its appreciative audience. That which I craft should be a delight to others who subtly display their thanks.

I wish for a healthy, well-functioning digestive process from end to end. Well-prepared food is a delight, and its enjoyment is supported by the smooth action of consumption, absorption, and elimination.

I wish to remain calm, composed, and collected at all times. Feeling startled is a thing of the past, my reactions should be measured and reassuring to others.

I wish to have replenishing resources for spending adventures. From tech-gadgets to trips, cars and clothes, food and funding (creators), gifts and giving, houses and helping — copious cash is there as fuel for the creative process.

I wish my days to contain many moments of levity with my family. I wish to be building bonds of companionship as we lightheartedly ride this spaceship, Earth.

I wish to serve as teacher, a trainer of sorts. Those that cross my path should gain an understanding previously unrealized.

First Steps

An excerpt from the fictional tales of Way of the Wizard: Modern Magic

But Rich, where do I find introductory material on magic? It doesn’t seem readily available.

You’re right, just searching for “magic” will get you nowhere. But if you look past the surface, you’ll see there’s tons of material about magic. For instance, a lot of popular “success” books are straight-up magic. They don’t claim to be such, yet they’re essentially telling you to wish your way to prosperity and fulfillment. They’ll often talk about affirmations and repeatedly writing your wishes down. Or they’ll mention visualization: vividly imagining the outcomes you desire. And of course the “Law of Attraction” a.k.a The Secret is pure sorcery — it’s all about manifesting your materialistic wants.

For many years I was skeptical of such claims, and dismissed followers as fools and proponents as snake-oil salesmen. But eventually I realized that my pessimism was not proof. These people wholeheartedly believed in magic and I was needlessly dismissive of their lifestyle. And here’s the thing, they were living an enjoyable life filled with hopefulness and cheer whereas I was sitting in squalor endlessly complaining about how horrible the world was. Who’s the fool?

So what does one do upon learning the error of his ways? That’s right, take two giant steps in the opposite direction. I’m in full-on magic-mode now. And I’ve read the common success books, I’ve seen The Secret, I’ve watched adherents relate their stories on YouTube — I’d consider myself versed in the techniques of the trade. Therefore, I’ve completed the first three steps: I believe magic exists, I believe it’s something I can practice, and I’ve gone through the introductory material. Currently I’m in the solo-project stage, attempting to self-solve a particular problem.

Using what I’ve learned, I must make something manifest. The biggest hurdle to practicing magic is remembering to practice. My attention is so often focused on the mundane: all the unpleasantries I encounter, the foul odors, the bad attitudes — I’m so easily distracted by the worst life has to offer. Yet I’ve been diligent enough to use these negativities in my favor, using them as triggers, reminders to think magically — believing I must have inadvertently summoned the bitter into being. We must be careful what we wish, because we might just get it — and so I’m careful to keep only what delights in mind.

Even if magic wasn’t real, I’ve become a much happier person simply by weeding out the pessimism. That vacancy has been conscientiously filled with pleasant fantasies instead. And it is magic’s job to bring these particular fantasies into being. In one sense, I’ve really no more to do than wish and wait. But of course, keeping my garden free of dream-choking weeds is a chore in itself. Thankfully it’s a chore that becomes more automatic with practice. So dear reader, there is your answer, the introductory material is where it’s always been: right in your face. Pick it up.

Intro To Magic

An excerpt from the fictional tales of Way of the Wizard: Modern Magic

So the question becomes, how do we program our world? There are those among us that claim such alteration is possible and we have no cause to doubt them. Skepticism is certainly not reason enough, as that’s merely a form of stodgy conservatism. To make any change, great or small, we must believe in its possibility.

Typically, when we start using computers, we’re not even aware that computer-programming is a thing. The operating system, and the applications running on top, just exist. And when we learn that actual people wrote said software, we believe it to be a feat apart from ourselves, a task undertaken by geniuses tucked away in a laboratory. We could never do that, it’s simply not possible.

We wouldn’t even know where to begin. What do we write, where do we write it? And if we dare look it up, we’re deluged by complexity. What if we look for a book? Which book do we pick? And once we start, how do we keep our head above the sea of uncertainty? Plus, a simplistic step-by-step guide is one thing, an unguided project is a far different beast.

It turns out that software development is more art than math. It is not so much completing equations, but a constant treadmill of trial-and-error. We should therefore expect world-level programming to be quite the same. For instance, let’s examine a realistic scene from the desk of a software developer:

“Will it work? Let’s see. Nope. Okay try something else. Nope. Wait, why’s it doing that now!? Okay how about this. Hmm. Okay let me look something up. Ah, okay, I’ll try this. Ooh better. Ahh, nope, now the other part doesn’t work. Okay let me take a break and see if inspiration strikes. [Later that day…] Aha, that’s it! [Fervent typing ensues…] It works! Now onto the next problem….”

This common scenario plays itself out again and again. The solution so often comes from outside the programmer. Either it comes from an actual archive of answers (a forum for programmers), or from some mystical source of inspiration that’s accessed by the programmer’s subconscious once he engages in another task.

Let’s not gloss over this point, that the key to a programmer’s code comes from external sources. One source is a repository of discussion compiled by programmers over the years. And another source is some other-worldly well-of-knowledge that provides solutions for problems posed to it while the mind is no longer actively searching.

So a wizard should expect much of the same. First, he needs to grasp that magic exists. Second, he must believe it’s a process he can proficiently navigate. Third, he must dive into some introductory materials that provide a cryptic set of rules and steps for completing basic but essentially useless projects. Then as aspirations expand, on comes a contentious time of attempting to self-solve a particular problem. This is accompanied by research into the ways of others who solved similar issues, alongside bouts of inspiration from one’s own imagination. Voila! A wizard is born.

In programming, there is no set canon of introductory materials. Programmers learn their craft by various means. There are a myriad of languages and techniques and styles of programming. There’s countless sources of introductions. The common theme though, is the intent and determination of the practitioner. And there is one other commonality: every programmer begins by writing a small program that prints a simple phrase, a very telling phrase: hello, world