Sunday, December 20, 2009


Olten, Switzerland

Olten is not a famous town in Switzerland, except that it lies strategically at the crossways between Bern/Berne and Basel, Zurich and Lausanne or Geneva. And then, while the offshore accounts in Switzerland are all stored in mainframes in and around Zurich (and some bits in Geneva, Basel, or Lugano), the physical stock certificates of all Swiss bank clients safe keeping accounts are actually held in a vault in Olten some meters underground surrounded by the ground water of the river Aare.

So as a train hub many travelers go through or change tracks in Olten every day, yet few make a stop to have a look at the lovely old town and formerly strategic bridge above the Aare river.

From 2009-12-19:

 1. 2.
 3. 4.
 5. 6.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Think And Grow Rich

Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill in its original edition (1937) is actually in the public domain.

Here is an HTML and an ASCI text version. Either one might be handy if you want to quote something or make some notes. Here is the google book version.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Soon Gone

The end of building is ruin. (Ken McLeod)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Bill Russell stories about Red Auerbach and Bill Bradley in "Red and Me", p. 114 ff.:
He was an extraordinarily intuitive psychologist and motivator, and every now and then he made a move on me. I always saw it coming, and I'd let him know it. But I knew it was always in the team's best interests, so I accepted it. Sometimes it even worked on me. For example, my second year I came out like a wild beast and we ate up every opponent, one after another, By the All-Star break, we had a twelve-game lead, and nobody had a prayer of catching us. Maybe that seeped into my psyche because, just after the All-Star game, Red called me into his office. I didn't know it, but I was about to get my first Red Auerbach pep talk. He lit a cigar and said, "I'm so mad, I could bite the head off a ten-penny nail."

"Red. What are you mad about?"

"We got the division sewed up already and we both know that."

I thought that was a good thing. "That's why you're mad?"

He said, "You're coasting! We got the big lead, so I can understand why you're letting up. But all you're doing is coasting just enough to get ready for the playoffs. Even you ain't that good. You can't turn it on and off in this league. You have to go hard all the time, Russ. Christ, you got these guys so terrorized, they can't play against you. But if you let up on them, and they start believing they can play against you, then the can play against you." He puffed at his cigar. "You know, at the end of the year, you should be the MVP in this league. But if you let up, and there's another player on the same page, he'll get it. So you have to take it off the table. Leave no doubt at all."

It was a masterful performance. Half scold, half flattering pep talk, in a soft, calm tone. He knew I was a very proud man. He was punching me to make me play with more pride, and tougher and meaner. He might as well have said, "Remember Kenny Sears!" He left something unsaid on the table, too. He was hinting subtly that the NBA was over 90 percent white, which we both knew was a factor in MVP selections. That night, I went out and broke the league record for rebounds in a game with thirty-nine.


Red worked me over this way all season, sparking me here and there, trying to keep me ferocious to win, just like he was. As always, his real target was implied rather than overt. One time, he casually remarked that an opposing player had been on a run against me lately, playing great. I barely heard it, yet it marinated until I wondered, "Now, when did that guy ever play me good?" Bang! I couldn't wait to get to that guy the next time we played. But if you let up on them , and they start believing they can play against you, then they can play against you.

In one game in the mid-1960s, Bill Bradley, the gifted small forward on the New York Knicks, was having a particularly good night against my teammate Satch Sanders. Satch was a very good player, but on this night, Bradley kept finding ways around him to make all these open shots. Now, I was on the floor trying to help my teammates. But, just like Red on the bench, I couldn't help Satch physically, so I decided to try my own psychology. I always strived to play what I called The Perfect Game. My perception of The Perfect Game involved a whole bunch of criteria: shooting percentage, free throw percentage, total rebounds, total blocked shots, assists, screens - and conversations. Why conversations? The power of language.

I took Satch aside and said, "You know, Satch, on the uniforms there's a big number and a small number. The big number's on the back. The small number's on the front. I know you haven't seen that small one yet, but trust me, it's there." Translation: "That's Bradley's back you're seeing as he goes by you. Front him more, so he can't get past."

It didn't help. In the last quarter, one of the Knicks was at the free throw line, ready to shoot a foul shot. I was standing on one side of the foul lane and Satch was on the other side, right next to his friend, Mr. Bradley. I saw these two guys standing together and I thought, "Something's wrong with this picture." I was team captain then, so when the guy prepared to shoot the foul, I called to the referee, "Hold it up." The referee took the ball back, and I stepped slowly across the lane to Satch and looked him in the eyes, hard. Then I talked just loud enough for him and Bradley to hear. "Satch, can you guard this motherfucker?" I rarely used that word. I was telling Satch, without saying it, "This guy you're guarding isn't just another ballplayer. He's a motherfucker! He has no respect for you! He thinks you can't guard him!"

Satch grunted, "Yeah, I can guard him."

I said, "Well, goddamn it, do it!" I turned around and stepped back to my side of the lane. That performance was for Bill Bradley's benefit - it had nothing to do with Satch. In fact, Satch didn't do anything differently after that. But Bradley did: he had a lousy final quarter, and that was a big reason we won the game. Years later, when Bill Bradley ran for president, I went around the country with him. In Iowa one night, he reminded me about that incident - it still bothered him! He said, "Russ, what the hell was that?" I told him it was designed to get inside his head. He said, "It did. It threw off my concentration and I couldn't do anything right the rest of the game." I said, "Courtesy William F. Russell, Doctor of Psychological Warfare!" And we shared a good laugh

Monday, June 01, 2009


JavaNCSS is a little Java source measurement tool and open source project that I started some 12 years ago. It's the personal software project of mine that got the most traction and is still in some use, even thought I stopped developing in Java myself and had very little time to keep up with the support and development work that was neccessary.

With lot's of effort did move the programm to support the new Java 1.4 grammar back then, but still, some esoteric open bugs with new grammar features like annotations remained.

Then some people using the tool in their project (Sonar) and a vivid maintainer of the popular Maven build tool showed up, wanting to move things forward. With the help of Simon Brandhof and Hervé Boutemy the project got opened up, first Simon helped giving JavaNCSS an all around infrastructure (at, which also hosts the JRuby, Jetty, and Groovy projects), with mailing lists, a public bug tracking system, and a source code repository that allows multiple people to work in parallel on the software. Then Hervé worked on the code to bring it into the Maven world, allowing other people and projects to include and invoke JavaNCSS easily through this popular build infrastructure.

Both changes had the effect that we got a lot more input from the user community with explicit error reports AND contributed code solutions! Over the years I had always gotten individual error reports and particular fixes, but this had all been hidden for the other users before a release and notably a bottleneck had been that changes to the Java grammars are very very tricky and time consuming without the experience. Now we got important and difficult grammar fixes contributed by Sébastien Reynaud. Freddy Mallet even made a prototype of a whole new architecture and grammar system based on the visitor pattern.

Yesterday we released the third version since these changes took place, but it has been the first one where all code changes have been done by Hervé (including test cases) with major bug fixes supplied by Sébastien!

Happy to see JavaNCSS opening up and to get a life of its own, thanks to all the people now and over the years who have given it their support...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Steph Davis

Impressive and versatile woman... Steph Davis on Freerider
I started learning yoga about two years ago. At about the same time, I became a vegan (don't eat any animal products, or refined sugar). Physically and spiritually, these two practices have changed my life, and brought my climbing and running to another level.
And: She Rocks
Snaking past buttresses and long cracks, Freerider rises 38 pitches to the summit of El Cap. Davis's training program was part masochism, all discipline: Two or three times a week, she'd hike ten miles to the summit, self-belay a thousand feet down to the lower pitches, and climb up alone. "Most people don't just walk up to El Cap and say, ‘Oh, I'm going to free it,' " she says. "It's like playing piano: taking something big and breaking it down and then trying to achieve a perfect performance."
As it turned out, Freerider was a turning point in her relationship with Dean: The couple finally accepted that their marriage, weird though it was, actually worked. "Our roles started to materialize," says Davis. "We agreed that there are some things we'll do together and some things we'll do apart. The reality is, I wouldn't really want someone following me around, bearing my rock shoes on a pillow and saying, ‘Rah-rah, Steph!' That would get on my nerves!"
"To be a professional climber, you have to sell yourself and convince everybody you're the best," Davis says. "But I don't think there is a 'best.' The minute you say you want to be better than someone else, you've immediately put a limit on yourself, and you're a fool!"
Here is her blog.
And book: High Infatuation: A Climber's Guide to Love and Gravity

Sunday, May 24, 2009

New F200EXR

Thursday was a day off and used it to spent the first day (almost) with the new Fujifilm F200EXR camera. I was lured into this camera because of its new suposedly superior sensor, which should handle low light situations better than any other digital compact camera. Also, as I started to make more and more pictures with my Panasonic (have a look at my first impression back then) in ISO 400 mode to get faster shutter speed even under normal light conditions, I was also interested to use a higher sensitivity for normal light conditions. Now it is to early to confirm that I like this Fujifilm's handling of colors and special light situations better than the Panasonic DMC-TZ5's, but the 28mm wide angle has been an immediate disappointment with quite strong barrel distortions. After all in comparison it looks like the Panasonic's Leitz (Leica) lens is quite special! Same can be said to my old Kodak's Schneider Kreuzach lens!

Anyway, here are a few first shots from Lucerne on 2009-05-22.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Joe Hisaishi: Summer

Not so long ago (2009-02-27) heard this piece played live by Kamura Kizilboga in the Storchen Bar in Zurich and it was fantastic!

Here the composer Joe Hisaishi plays it himself:

Joe Hisaishi Live - Summer ( from Kikujiro )

Here is the sheet music, if you like to play and practice it yourself.

Very sweet:
Ethel Poh (6-year-old) - "Summer" composed by Joe Hisaishi

Thanks to Xin.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Crazy Stuff

Must see: an old mankind dream come true (literally)...

wingsuit base jumping

wingsuit base jumping from Ali on Vimeo.

Via thedanzatap (where else).


In comparison, this is only moderately crazy, but certainly skillful:

Inspired Bicycles - Danny MacAskill April 2009

Thanks Aldo for the pointer.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Raw Food

Interesting and motivating report by Steve Pavlina on going on a 100% raw food (vegan) diet: Raw Food Diet and Energy Gains

Here are his thoughts before he started his 100% raw food trial.

In this update he recommends a book by David Wolfe:
I recently read an awesome book about raw food nutrition called The Sunfood Diet Success System by David Wolfe. I met David briefly in Sedona last year. His book is very long and detailed (almost 500 pages), and it filled in many of the gaps for me. Many of the tweaks I’m making to my diet this year are based on recommendations from his book, which is an outstanding guide for long-term success on the raw diet. Practically every question you may have about raw food nutrition is thoroughly addressed. There are whole chapters on specific foods like avocados and olives. I especially liked the menu plans in the appendix. There are week-long sample menus for transitioning to raw, 80% raw, and 100% raw.

I don’t recommend David’s book for raw food beginners unless you’re really committed because I think the complexity would overwhelm most people. It’s too much information to assimilate unless you already have a strong background in raw nutrition.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Mrs. Mississauga for President

While Mr. Obama is all talks as far as I can see, this lady seems to have a track record.

Welcome to Mississauga
‘Hurricane’ Hazel McCallion, who has won every mayoral election contested since 1978. Even at 84 years old she shows little sign of withdrawing from Canadian politics, gaining re-election in 2003 and receiving the Order of Canada in 2005... She is the longest serving mayor in Canada and has kept the city debt-free since her first term of office.
Via Jesse's Cafe Americain.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Meditating on Sound

My recommendation, go and sit in a life performance of a Bruckner Symphony or some big choire piece and just listen to the sound sensations...

Yongey Minyur Rinpoche: The Joy of Living

P. 151
Meditating on Sound

Meditating on sound is very similar to meditating on form, except that now you're engaging the faculty of hearing. Start by just allowing your mind to rest for a few moments in a relaxed state, and then gradually allow yourself to become aware of the things you hear close to your ear, such as your heartbeat or your breath, or sounds that occur naturally in your immediate surroundings. Some people find it helpful to play a recording of natural sounds or pleasant music. There's no need to try to identify these sounds, nor is it necessary to focus on a specific sound. In fact, it's easier to let yourself be aware of everything you hear. The point is to cultivate a simple, bare awareness of sound as it strikes your ear.
pp. 152
One of the great benefits of meditation on sound is that it gradually teaches you to detach from assigning meaning to the various sounds you hear. You learn to listen to what you hear without necessary responding emotionally to the content. As you grow accustomed to giving bare attention to sound simply as sound, you'll find yourself able to listen to criticism without becoming angry or defensive and able to listen to praise without becoming overly proud or excited. You can simply listen to what other people say with a much more relaxed and balanced attitude, without being carried away by an emotional response.

I once hear a wonderful story about a famous sitar player in India who learned to use the sounds of his instrument as a support for his meditation practice. If you're not familiar with Indian instruments, a sitar is a very long-necked instrument, usually constructed with seventeen strings, plucked like a guitar to produce a wonderful variety of tones. This particular sitar player was so gifted that he was always in demand and spent much of his time traveling around India, in much the way some modern rock bands are often away from home on tour.

After one particularly long tour, he returned home to discover that his wife had been having an affair with another man. He was extraodrinarily reasonable when he discovered the situation. Perhaps the concentration he'd learned over the years of constant practice and performance, combined with the sounds of this lovely instrument, had calmed and focused his mind. In any case, he didn't argue with his wife or lash out in anger. Instead he sat down and had a long conversation with her, during which he realized that his wife's affair and his own pride at being asked to perform across the country were symptoms of attachment - one of the three mental poisons that keep us addicted to the cycle of samsara. There was very little difference between his attachent to being famous and his wife's attachment to another man. The recognition hit him like a thunderbolt, and he realized that in order to become free of his own addiction, he had to let go of his attachment to being famous. The only way for him to do so was to seek out a meditation master and learn how to recognize his attachment as simply a manifestation of his mental habits.

At the end of the conversation, he gave up everything to his wife except his sitar, toward which he still felt a strong attachment that no amount of rational analysis could dissolve, and went in search of a teacher. Eventually he arrived at a charnel ground, the ancient equivalent of a cemetery, in which corpses are more or less deposited without being buried or cremated. Charnel grounds were scary places, covered with human bones, partial skeletons, and rotting corpses. But they were the most likely environments in which to find a great master, who had overcome his or her fear of death and impermanence - two of the fearful conditions that keep most people locked in the samsaric conditions of attachment to what is and aversion to what might occur.

In this particular charnel ground, the sitar player found a mahasiddha - a person who had passed through extraordinary trials to achieve profound understanding. The mahasiddha was living in a ragged hut that barely provided him protection against wind and weather. In the way that some of us feel a strong connection with people we meet during ordinary course of our lives, the sitar player felt a deep bond with this particular mahasiddha and asked him if he would accept him as a student. The mahasiddha agreed, and the sitar player used branches and mud to build his own hut nearby, where he could practice the basic instructions on shinay meditation that the mahasiddha had given him.

Like many people who begin meditation practice, the sitar player found it very difficult to follow the instructions of his teacher. Even spending a few minutes following his teacher0s instructions seemed like an eternity; every time he sat to meditate, he found himself drawn to his old habit of playing his sitar, and he gave up his practice and started to play. He began to feel horribly guilty, neglecting his meditation practice in favor of simply strumming his sitar. Finally he went to his teacher's hut and confessed that he just couldn't meditate.

"What's the problem?" the mahasiddha asked.

The sitar player replied, "I'm just too attached to my sitar. I'd rather play it than meditate."

The mahasiddha told him, "That's not a big problem. I can give you an exercise in sitar meditation."

The sitar player, who'd been expecting criticism - as most of us do from our teachers - was quite surprised.

The mahasiddha continued, "Go back to your hut, play your sitar, and just listen to the sound of your instrument with bare awareness. Forget about trying to play perfectly. Just listen to the sounds."

Relieved, the sitar player returned to his hut and started playing, just listening to the sounds without trying to be perfect, without focusing on either the results of his playing or the results of his practice. Because he'd learned to practice simply without concern for the results, after a few years he became a mahasiddha himself.
And just a good advise to practice on your instrument as well: "play your sitar, and just listen to the sound of your instrument with bare awareness. Forget about trying to play perfectly. Just listen to the sounds."

Meditate on sound and the music will follow...

Monday, March 16, 2009

You & Me

The Headless Way
Science’s Answer
What you are depends on the range of the observer. At several metres, more or less, you are human, but at closer ranges you are cells, molecules, atoms, particles… Viewed from further away your body becomes absorbed into the rest of society, life, the planet, the star, the galaxy… Science’s objective view of you – zooming towards and away from you - reveals a hierarchically organized system of layers that is alive at every level, intelligent and beautiful. Thus you have many layers, like an onion. You need every one of these layers to exist. Your human identity, vital and important as it is, is just one of these layers. You are also sub-human and supra-human. (See interactive panel on the left. See also: The Hierarchy of Heaven & Earth.)

What are you at the Centre of your many layers? The scientist cannot say because she can only observe you from a distance. However close she gets to you, she remains outside you. What or Who you really are, the Ground of your Being, remains a mystery.

Other People’s Answer
Other people are like the scientist because they cannot see what you are at Centre either, only what you are peripherally. Reflecting back to you what they make of you, their feedback is about you as a person.

Your Answer
You are not distant from yourself, not outside yourself. You – and you alone - are therefore perfectly placed to see what you are at Centre. All you have to do is look.
Well, while I think that indeed You alone are able to have the inside view, that doesn't mean You are perfectly placed without any blind spots or system immanent - because self-referential - limitations (Gödel anyone;).
Nevertheless, while You have this privileged position, why not have a closer look!

Via Unfettered Mind.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Arnold Toynbee

Via Unfettered Mind:
When historians look back at the 20th century, they won't have much interest in things like communism or capitalism: those will be ripples in the great historical picture. What will really be significant is the impact of Buddhism as it enters the West
—ARNOLD TOYNBEE, historian (1889-1975)
Don't know if he is any good, but this sounds like a smart statement. Communism has been knocked out already for a while, now capitalism is bringing itself down as well. We will see what remains after the current crisis. In both cases corruption fuled by reckless greed has brought the systems out of balance.

Talking of balance and the West, the other significant development of the 20th century, science and technology, has been transforming the East in return.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Intention In Practice

Early podcast by Ken McLeod about the importance of your intention in buddhist meditation practice:

Learning from the Lives of Lineage Holders - Lives 03: Khyungpo Naljor

The gist of the message is from 00:17:58 to 00:20:05 and from 00:22:46 to 00:26:27 (so less than 6 min).

Always the same old question: What do you want?

Few people actually know (and those who know have a big advantage).