Blog

Japanese ambient music

Takashi Kokubo (小久保隆) – Loire’s Castles ~ Medieval Dreams ~ (ロアールの古城~中世の夢~) (1993) [Full Album]

I’ve really been enjoying stuff like this lately. I didn’t realize it was available on YouTube. Or anything like it, I mean. You really can find almost anything online now. Sometimes, I wonder what sort of interests I would have developed if I’d been born a decade later.

A kid who grew up with the internet and everything it has to offer had so many more opportunities for growth and personal development than someone born in the 80s, even if they’re from a small town. When I was a kid, you couldn’t get hold of anything if local stores didn’t order and stock the item. If you had non-mainstream interests, then you were just out of luck, especially if you were interested in other cultures.

Anyway, this type of music is almost like a video game soundtrack. It reminds me of when I would leave my game character idling in the housing areas of Final Fantasy XIV while I did other things, just to hear the music playing from the speakers. It’s really relaxing and makes me feel like I’m somewhere else when I listen to it.

The True Self

Photo by Jay Castor on Unsplash

…the True Self is the self that existed before the division of heaven and earth and before one’s father and mother were born. This self is the self within me, the birds and the beasts, the grasses and the trees and all phenomena. It is exactly what is called the Buddha-nature. This self has no shape or form, has no birth, and has no death. It is not a self that can be seen with the aid of your present physical eye. Only the man who has received enlightenment is able to see this. The man who does see this is said to have seen into his own nature and become a Buddha.

The Unfettered Mind: Writings from a Zen Master to a Master Swordsman by Takuan Soho

Goodbye, Citizen

Citizen is an app that bills itself as:

The most powerful safety app for today’s world. Download Citizen to feel safer at home or out, get real-time safety alerts and live video of incidents happening near you, updates on natural disasters or protests, and know if your loved ones are near a dangerous incident.

Google Play Store Description

And that all sounds great, right? Who doesn’t want to feel safe and informed? When I first downloaded the app a few years ago, it was pretty neat being able to see where crimes were taking place at the street level. It gave me a better idea of what areas to avoid and what time to avoid them. The data wasn’t complete, it wasn’t always accurate, and the user videos were usually pretty bad, but it felt more genuine than what I would see on the news. It added value to my day-to-day.

Then, Citizen tried to be more than I needed or wanted it to be. And it got invasive. During the pandemic, I started to get really wary of the Citizen app. It started adding a lot of features that went beyond its original purpose, like prompting for always on location tracking for friends and family members, COVID-19 symptom tracking, and background contact tracing. All of that sounds cute and useful on the surface, but who is Citizen and why should they be trusted with that much of my personal data? And even more important, does giving them that information add real value to my life?

Ultimately, the answer to that question was no. I thought about it for a while and realized that after an initial period of usefulness, my most common interaction with the Citizen app was swiping away notifications. Sometimes not even notifications about crimes, but notifications about the weather, protests, politics, and so much other random nonsense that I stopped even paying attention to them. I also realized that knowing about the crimes in my area with immediate notifications and spending a lot of time looking at and thinking about them wasn’t improving my mood or making me a better person. Instead, it was cultivating an atmosphere of fear.

I’m apparently not the only one that feels this way, though I took it further.

So, I deleted the app a few weeks ago. I realized today that I haven’t missed it at all. If I need to know what’s going on, I can check the news when I want to check the news, so that my mood and my day aren’t dictated by the notifications coming from an app.

I’ve been going through a process of decluttering and minimizing, and I’m adding apps and other digital clutter to the list. I’m getting rid of unused email addresses, deleting duplicate or old backups, consolidating where my data is stored, and moving anything I can to simpler hosting solutions so that I can free up my headspace for other things that are more important to me.

So far, it has been a worthwhile journey.

Hidden Catholic prayer beads in Walmart products

“Pray for Us St. Peregrine” prayer beads that were hidden in a heavy-duty drain snake box purchased at Walmart.

A few weeks ago, I picked up a drain snake from Walmart. We prefer using them to dumping harsh chemicals down the drain. We’re trying to be more environmentally conscious, and we figure it’s probably better for our health and the health of our pets than Drano fumes.

Yesterday, I finally opened the box. I had some trouble getting the cardboard slide that the snakes were attached to out because they were hung up on something. Turns out it was a set of Catholic prayer beads that had been tucked into the back of the box.

A close-up of the Pray for Us St. Peregrine prayer beads.

I imagine some enterprising individual went around Walmart and stashed these prayer beads in random products to get them into people’s homes and hands. It’s a clever idea. They reach people that otherwise would never think to take one when offered. It was thoughtful, and their heart was in the right place.

However, it’s also a little annoying, because now I have the burden of trying to figure out what to do with them in a way that’s respectful. We’re not Catholic, but I don’t want to dump them in the trash either. I figure I’ll check with coworkers and neighbors and if that’s a bust, then I’ll drop them off at the nearest Catholic Church.

But, maybe that’s part of the plan too! To create opportunities for dialogue between non-Catholics and Catholics.