We Said Hello, Goodbye (Don’t Look Back) alvin March 22, 2019 - 6:42pm

Sorry I haven’t written much this week, I’ve been working on designs for the cover of a new book. But I can share one thing, my favorite song of the week, We Said Hello, Goodbye (Don’t Look Back), by Phil Collins. Some of the lyrics:

Well it really don’t matter much where you are
’cause home is in your heart
It’s a feeling that you wake with one day
Some people keep running all of their life
And still find they haven’t gone too far
They don’t see it's the feeling inside
The feeling inside.

In regards to “Workplace Compliance Services” letters/forms

In November, 2018, I received a letter from an entity named Workplace Compliance Services, and the letter was in regards to filing a Colorado “Periodic Report” form. I initially thought the letter was from a government agency, but after research that ended up spanning many days, I learned that Workplace Compliance Services is a private business entity (not a government agency). After that, in an effort to save other people from having to spend the same time and energy to perform that research, I wrote about what I learned on the previous version of this web page.

The long road back

I’m glad to say that I’ll be going back to regular consulting work again very soon. If you’re interested in the gory medical details that led me to quit consulting work (and write five computer programming books and a couple thousand blog posts), here you go:

Talking to nurses about pain

While laying in the hospital bed after my recent surgery, a young nurse came into my room and asked what my pain level was, on a range from zero to ten.

I replied that it wasn’t bad at all, maybe a one or two at most, and I didn’t need any pain medicine.

She said that was great. She said that a lot of people immediately say they’re at a nine or ten.

I replied that I’d never say anything that high, I always thought a nine or ten should be saved for something really bad, like if you were just stabbed or shot.

She said, “I know, right. Or maybe broken bones ... or a heart attack.” She paused and then said, “Lately I’ve been wondering if giving birth is a 9 or 10.”

Meet The Teenage Girl Who Is Allergic to Almost Everything (MCAS)

Meet The Teenage Girl Who Is Allergic to Almost Everything is a good story about the blood disease I have (MCAS, or Mast Cell Activation Syndrome). I’m very fortunate that I didn’t have bad symptoms until the last 7-10 years or so, and removing part of my colon recently has also helped reduced the symptoms. It would major-league suck to have this disease when you’re 15 years old.

How to convert HTML to AsciiDoc with Pandoc

If you ever need to convert HTML to AsciiDoc, I just used this Pandoc command and it seems to work well:

pandoc --wrap=none -f html -t asciidoc myfile.html > myfile.adoc

The wrapping part of that command isn’t 100% necessary, but if you don’t use it, Pandoc will wrap the plain paragraph text, which I don’t like because I’ll be editing the resulting AsciiDoc text.

Here’s some of the AsciiDoc text that this command generated:

Shinzen Young and meditating in the freezing cold alvin December 22, 2018 - 12:43pm

Introduction: After reading the following text in the book, The Science of Enlightenment, I decided to try meditating outside in sweatpants and a hoodie in the freezing cold in the evenings. It’s now my favorite form of meditation because you either do it right, or suffer the consequences.


Several months later, as winter approached and it was getting cold and uncomfortable, the Abbot told me that if I wanted to be trained in traditional Shingon practice he would allow it — but I would have to do with the old-fashioned way. I would have to do a solo retreat for one hundred days in winter, most of the time with no source of heat, in complete silence other than occasional instruction from him, and with no meal after noon.

My training began on December 22, the day of the winter solstice. The Abbot had warned me that part of the old-fashioned way involved certain ascetic practices derived not from Buddhism, but from the shamanic tradition of Shinto, Japan’s pre-Buddhist tribal religion. One of the most common methods that tribal cultures use to obtain visions of gods or spirits is through prolonged exposure to extreme hot or cold. In India, Hindus have the five fires practice; in North America, Native Americans have the sweat lodge and the sun dance. These involve heat. The traditional Shinto shamanic practice goes in the other direction. It involves cold — squatting under freezing waterfalls in winter, standing in cold springs, dousing your body with ice water, and so forth.

As an investor the only thing that matters is ROI after taxes

An investing company just sent me a very long email filled with hundreds of words and a dozen or more shiny pictures to show how successful they are. Not once did they mention what their return on investment (ROI) was for their investors — which is the only thing that matters.

As an investor, the only thing that matters to you is ROI after taxes; keep your eye on that ball, not the shiny pictures or fancy words.

Don’t be afraid to hire people that are smarter than you

I’m reminded of the time right before an interview for a contracting position that a tech recruiter called and told me, “Don’t appear to be too smart. Pretend that you can’t answer some of his questions if you have to. He won’t hire people he thinks are smarter than he is.” I answered every question he asked because if that’s the way he was, I didn’t want to work there.

As a manager or business owner — any kind of leader — always hire people that are smarter than you in one or more ways.