Category Archives: General

My Experience with Vipassana Meditation

I did 10-day Vipassana meditation course in July 2012. Meditation centre was located in Woori Yallock – small town near Melbourne.

First of all, my notion of meditation was shattered there. In my mind, meditation was sitting quietly and relaxing, something like this:

Meditation

Well you do sit quietly but it is not relaxing at all, at least not in Vipassana meditation. It is hard work. It is simple but not easy at all.

What helped me is that I decided to allow myself to be a newbie. I said to myself: “It’s OK to do it poorly it the beginning”.

There were about 40 students total. Men and women were living in separate areas.

Talking to each other was not allowed. Many people told me that this would be very hard for them. However I didn’t find it difficult at all. Maybe this is because I was not a very sociable person.

Also there was no Internet, no TV, no radio, no phones, no visitors. I handed in my mobile phone in the beginning of the course for safe keeping. There was no communication with outside world at all.

We didn’t read anything. There were no writing materials. Actually I missed pen and paper during the first half of the course. I was getting so many excellent ideas during meditation and I wanted to write them down so that I don’t forget them.

We were spending a lot of time meditating. Here is typical timetable:

4:00 Morning wake-up bell
4:30-6:30 Meditate in the hall or in your room
6:30-8:00 Breakfast break
8:00-9:00 Group meditation in the hall
9:00-11:00 Meditate in the hall or in your room according to the teacher’s instructions
11:00-12:00 Lunch break
12:00-13:00 Rest and interviews with the teacher
13:00-14:30 Meditate in the hall or in your room
14:30-15:30 Group meditation in the hall
15:30-17:00 Meditate in the hall or in your own room according to the teacher’s instructions
17:00-18:00 Tea break
18:00-19:00 Group meditation in the hall
19:00-20:15 Teacher’s Discourse in the hall
20:15-21:00 Group meditation in the hall
21:00-21:30 Question time in the hall
21:30 Retire to your own room – Lights out

Getting up at 4 am in the morning was hard for me. In the beginning I was walking during rest times but later on I was trying to get as much sleep as possible. Walking, by the way, is the only form of exercising allowed.

We had breakfast and lunch but no dinner. Instead of dinner we had two pieces of fruit and tea. Somehow I didn’t miss dinners and wasn’t particularly hungry in evenings. The food was delicious, I liked it very much. Oh, and it was all vegetarian.

Meditating itself wasn’t in complete silence. In the beginning and the end of each session there was chanting played as recording. I found it strange at first but with time grew to almost like it.

I would never associate meditation with pain. Yet initially I experienced a lot of pain and discomfort. Sitting without moving for long time becomes painful. Later on I found out that in fact you can change posture from time to time. So I didn’t have to go through all this suffering. Oh well, I still think it was beneficial for me.

The main idea of Vipassana meditation is observe different sensation on your body while maintaining “perfect equanimity”. You try to be aware of your body.

In the evening the teacher discourse was given. This was recordings of S.N. Goenka, a leading teacher of Vipassana meditation. This is where theory behind the meditation was given.
At the start of the course management strongly recommended me to listen to discourse in my first language (Russian). I was glad I agreed because the material was quite thick. It was hard for me to follow it even in Russian. My English was definitely not good enough to follow discourse in English.

The theory included subatomic parts, vibrations and future lives which was hard to swallow for me raised in atheistic Soviet Union.

On day 8 I finally became aware of my leg. It was fascinating – it felt like my leg lit up with sensations like a Christmas tree. Immediately after that I was able to get a flow of subtle sensations which felt incredible. I can compare it to the opening sequence from Universal Studios logo:

I felt ecstatic after that and couldn’t stop smiling 🙂 I must admit that I couldn’t get that flow again since then.

Surprisingly I got many revelations about my life during last days of the course. I realized how misguided I was in many aspects of my life. I understood why I behaved in certain ways.

On the last day I felt very happy and was eager to talk to fellow students. I think everybody else felt blissful.

Overall the course was great. I strongly recommend it to everyone. What I like about Vipassana meditation is that it helps everyone, regardless of their religion, race, age and background.

It is hard, sometimes even gruelling but it is very beneficial. I think it’s like a boot camp for your mind. You can find more about it at Vipassana website.

Far Manager and Console Output

One of the strongest features of Far Manager is the ability to start any program or script from command prompt. You can type anything there, just like in standard command prompt. Ctrl+Enter shortcut greatly helps here – it inserts selected file name to command prompt (Ctrl+F inserts full path).

If you launch a console program all program output will be displayed in Far window. Terrific! After program finishes you can view console output by pressing Ctrl+O.

There is a problem however: you can’t scroll up if program output is long. Only last 25 or so lines of text are visible. Anything before that is lost forever.

Far has a clever little known trick to view all program output. Add view:< before the command and all console output will be intercepted and redirected to internal viewer. For example:

view:<ipconfig /all

You can even redirect output to Far editor by using

edit:<ipconfig /all

This is nice but not ideal. You have to remember to add view:< before starting a console program or script. If a program takes long time to execute you won’t see any progress until it finishes. Also any interactive prompt in program screws the whole process.

ConEmu to the Rescue

ConEmu is a console emulator. It has lots of great enhancements to standard Windows command prompt. It works by intercepting all console output and displaying it in its own window.

ConEmu is also a close friend with Far Manager. After installing ConEmu you can open Far Manager inside ConEmu window:

Far Manager in ConEmu

Once Far Manager is inside ConEmu tab you can scroll console output by switching to so called alternative mode.

This mode hides Far panels and ‘freezes’ console. Ctrl+Up scrolls up, Ctrl+Down scrolls down. Scrolling with a mouse wheel also works.

But that’s not all. You can also assign Ctrl+O to view console output in Far viewer. To do this locate CtrlO_View.reg in ConEmu folder and execute it.

Link

Scott Hanselman on ConEmu

Far Manager and Quotes

Far Manager has two keyboard shortcuts to copy file name to clipboard:

  • Ctrl+Ins copies selected file name
  • Alt+Shift+Ins copies full path to selected file

These shortcuts also work if multiple files are selected which is great for creating batch renames.

Let’s say file name contains spaces. In this case Far Manager adds quotes around file name. Supposedly this saves time if you construct some command line somewhere. Personally I find this totally unnecessary. I can add quotes myself, thank you very much.

Here’s how to disable this behaviour:

  1. Open HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Far2\System
  2. Create QuotedName as DWORD value
  3. Set it to 1

Official documentation for this feature is a bit obscure:

File or folder names, containing characters specified in rule  34,  will
be quoted when inserted into the editor/command line or the clipboard.
The key "System/QuotedName" of DWORD type controls this behaviour.
Bits:
  0 - if set then file or folder names will be quoted inserted into
      the editor/command line.
  1 - if set then file or folder names will be quoted inserted into
      the clipboard.
The default value = 0xFFFFFFFF (quote file or folders names).

I think you need to be a developer to understand this.

Note two similar shortcuts:

  • Ctrl+Enter copies selected file name to command line
  • Ctrl+F copies full path

For this auto-quoting is actually useful, therefore I set QuotedName to 1, not 0.

Solyanka Recipe

Solyanka is a traditional Russian soup, very tasty. This recipe is from cooking site say7.info, translated from Russian.

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 700 g beef
  • 6-10 types of ham, smoked ribs, sausages, salami, hot dogs, small sausages etc. Total weight 1 kg.
  • 150 g carrot
  • 150 g onion
  • 200 g pickled cucumbers
  • 5 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons capers
  • black pepper
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 lemon
  • olives to taste
  • dill or parsley

Method


Place beef in a pan. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for one and half hour (on medium, skim off the scum).


Take the meat out, let it cool, chop into small pieces.


Chop onion.


Grate carrot on medium grater.


Dice cucumbers.


Dice or julienne meat items (cervelat, ham, smoked ribs, sausages, salami, hot dogs, small sausages, bacon etc).


Fry meat items slightly on vegetable oil.


Fry onion slightly on vegetable oil.


Add carrot, fry a bit.


Add cucumbers, fry for 2-3 minutes.


Add tomato paste, simmer for 5-7 minutes on low.

If tomato paste is too thick you can add some water.


Add meat items to the boiling stock.


Then add beef. Simmer for 5-7 minutes.


Add few capers to taste.


Add fried onion, carrot and cucumbers.


Add half of cup of cucumber or olive pickle. Simmer for 5-7 minutes more.


Add bay leaves, pepper, dill, parsley.

Add salt if needed. Leave it covered for 15-20 minutes. Remove bay leaves.

Pour soup into bowls. Put lemon and olives into each bowl.

Enjoy!

How to find address in Melway quickly

Sometimes I need find address on Melway site. Most of the time, I already have address in electronic form. I don’t need to type, just copy and paste.

The problem is I need to enter address parts separately on Melways site: street number, street name and suburb:

melway.gif

For example, if I have 235 Russell St Melbourne I need to copy and paste 235 first (click-Ctrl+C-switch-click-Ctrl+V), then Russell St (switch-click-Ctrl+C-switch-click-Ctrl+V) and finally Melbourne (switch-click-Ctrl+C-switch-click-Ctrl+V-down-down-Enter).

If I can save 30 seconds of my time why not to do it? Introducing:

Melway address lookup

It has just one field for address. Now all I need to do is to copy address (click-Ctrl+C), paste it (switch-click-Ctrl+V) and press Ctrl+Enter. Done.

March 2008 AusPost rates

New Post Charges Booklet is online on Australia Post web site.

Oddly enough, postage rates for parcels inside Australia didn’t change at all.

International rates have increased by about 3%. It used to cost you $58.50 to send 2 kg parcel to United Kingdom by Air Mail before. Now it costs $60.35.

Summary

Local rates didn’t change. International rates increased insignificantly.

September 2007 rates increase

Australia Post has increased its rates in September 2007. If you open Post Charges Booklet (pdf) you can see these changes:

  Previous rate New rate
Regular post    
Small parcels up to 250 g $3.85 $4.00
Over 250g up to 500g $5.00 $5.20
Basic charge for destinations in the same state $6.70 $6.95
Basic charge for interstate destination $8.45 $8.75
Express post    
Parcels up to 500g $7.20 $7.40
Registered Post $2.60 $2.70

Distance charge has increased for most destinations by 5 or 10 cents per kilogram. International rates for parcels didn’t change.

Summary: rates have increased slightly. Next rate increase will be in March 2008.