July 2005

I came up with a simple idea for timing my meditation. At the beginning I used a stick of incense, but I had to look at it to check whether it is burnt out already or not and I found that distracting. I prefer the way it is done in the zendo, with a bell being struck at the beginning and end of each session. However, at home I don’t have anyone to do this for me and it would be impractical even if I had.

Then I heard of meditation clocks like this one, which I think are a great idea but are not available here and I would like to see and hear it personally before buying. But, I thought, I could use my computer for this, if only I had an appropriate program and upon searching the web I found some. But they were either old or not free or not for my operating system, but I realized I already have the program I need – the mp3 player.

So, I downloaded a recording of a zendo bell, processed it some and created an mp3 with the sound of a bell being struck once and another with the sound of the bell being struck three times. I also generated three mp3 files with just silence – 5, 10 and 15 minutes of it. Now by arranging them in a playlist I can have as long a meditation as I wish. And it works very well for me.

I use my laptop to play it, as the desktop is too noisy. I think I could eliminate the noise altogether if I had a portable mp3 player connected to a pair of speakers. In fact even with headphones it could act effectively as a portable meditation clock.

I decided to share this, maybe you would find it useful too. You can download the set of mp3 files and a sample playlist by clicking here (it’s 7 megs approx). It’s also available in BitTorrent, click here for the torrent file.

It’s 17 km (10.5 miles) from where I live to where 4pi is located. It’s not the farthest stretch across Warsaw, but still it’s through the center and over the river. Since I’ve been doing some projects for them recently I have been there frequently. The most obvious way of getting there is, of course, by car. However, since I sold my car recently and don’t plan to buy a new one for a while I had to consider other methods. Naturally, I ended up using public transport a lot (after at least six years of never boarding a bus).


A few days ago as I was eating breakfast I switched on a news channel and there was a short report from Germany about the state of… petrol stations along their border with Poland. It turns out that due to huge difference in the prices of fuel (both petrol and diesel) and lack of border (and duties) between the two EU members Germans go to Poland to fill up. En masse. The report pointed out that policies of big oil corporations regarding pricing make the situation even worse, since the petrol is cheaper in Berlin than in Frankfurt am Oder which is on the Polish border.


I have a habit o switching off my cellphone once in a while. And I don’t answer it if I don’t feel like talking to anyone. I’m then asked by some why I was not answering the phone or why my phone was switched off. Within just a few years this idea that a fellow human being is only a touch of a button away got so deep into people’s minds that when someone isn’t they get angry.


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