thinking

Quotes about work and Zen (practicing Zen at work)

For many years I struggled with how to combine two of my main interests, Zen and work. I have read that the Zen mind is the mind before thinking, so it seems like Zen and work must be totally unrelated. Over time I came to understand phrases like, “When working, just work.”

This article contains a collection of quotes that have been helpful to me in understanding the relationship between Zen and work. Please note that I don’t wrap each quote in double quotes, and I also try to attribute each quote to the correct author/speaker. If you’re interested in how to combine Zen and work, I hope you’ll find them helpful.

Scaladoc-driven API design

I was working on some new code for my functional programming in Scala book today. At one point I thought everything looked okay, so I decided to generate some Scaladoc to see what certain things looked like. Admittedly I’m a bit tired today, but when I saw that Scaladoc I thought, “Good grief, Al, what sort of ugly API have you created?”

For some reason, seeing the Scaladoc helped me easily see the errors of my way. I’m not sure that I’ll ever be promoting a “Scaladoc-driven API design” process, but seeing the Scaladoc generated from my code sure helped today.

~ a note from August 30, 2017

Good thoughts and bad thoughts are just like clouds in the sky

Just before I woke up Wednesday morning I had a particular thought in my head. As I pondered that thought I heard a feminine voice in my head say that good thoughts and bad thoughts are like clouds in the sky. They come and go, and when they’re gone the sky is blue.

After I heard that I laid in bed (still asleep) and wondered if that would be a helpful thing to tell anyone else.

Wrong Thinking

Here’s a story about what I call “Wrong Thinking.”

Way back in high school when I was playing baseball, a pitcher named Catfish Hunter became the first baseball player to get paid over a million dollars a year. I thought that was crazy, in a bad way. One day I talked to my dad about it, and asked him why people like farmers and engineers who did more important work didn’t get paid like that.

He didn’t have a great answer at the time, and that thought kept on bothering me. These days I think a correct answer he could have given me goes like this: “Baseball is in the entertainment business, just like singers and actors. For whatever reason — some sort of supply and demand, and a need for entertainment — society is willing to pay those people a lot of money. So if the money bothers you, what you can do is make that money just like Catfish Hunter, and then give it away however you see fit.”

Roy Carlson: The sooner you start to code, the longer the program will take

“The sooner you start to code, the longer the program will take.”

~ Roy Carlson (which I saw in this tweet)

In general, I’m a fan of that quote, meaning that the harder the problem is, the more I like to find a whiteboard or some index cards to work through the problem that way before I start coding.

Charlie Munger on having and using multiple mental models

“What are the models? Well, the first rule is that you’ve ot to have multiple models — because if you just have one or two that you’re using, the nature of human psychology is such that you’ll torture reality so that it fits your models.”

“You must know the big ideas in the big disciplines, and use them routinely — all of them, not just a few. Most people are trained in one model — economics, for example — and try to solve all problems in one way. You know the old saying: to the man with a hammer, the world looks like a nail. This is a dumb way of handling problems.”

~ from the book, Charlie Munger, The Complete Investor