I was asked by a friend to host an episode of Living Vietnam in a Day, a show where they take a foreigner and have them experience a job that will probably be unusual for them. For me it meant working as a porter at BÌNH ĐIỀN MARKET in District 8.
In celebration of May 4th (may the “fourth/force” be with you) I present you with a documentary that I made 15 years ago with one of my closest friends while a student in film school.
On the surface it is a story about fans who are prepared to wait in line for four days to score tickets to the Chicago premier of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. But underlying this context are precious childhood memories of the original Star Wars film and family.
I’m proud to announce that I’ve launched an online magazine about design. It has a strong focus on design in Saigon, Vietnam as that’s where I have been living for the past three years, but it also has articles from around the world.
It is an extension of the Design Exchange series of events that I’ve produced. The high concept is cross training, to learn more about the craft of design by exploring other disciplines and industries. It’s also about exchanging ideas between Saigon and the rest of the world.
I’m have a personal goal to publish an article per week on dxMag so I expect that my personal blog (you are here) will not be updated very frequently.
One of the zen stories most often cited by my Zen Master was “Vastness, Not Holiness”. He would often speak of his experiences back country skiing as an activity that drives this story home. It was standing in the midst of the vast mountains that he experienced kensho.
In the story, Bodhidharma (the barbarian monk from the West who brought Zen to China) met with Emperor Wu. Their exchange went something like this:
Wu: I’ve built hundreds of Buddhist temples and made Buddhism the official religion. What merit have I accumulated?
Bodhidharma: No merit.
Wu: What then is the holy buddhist teaching?
Bodhidharma: Vastness, not holiness.
Wu: Who are you to be saying such things?
Bodhidharma: I don’t know.
And with that Bodhidharma left the capital and went to Shaolin temple to sit in a cave for nine years.
This story encapsulates the difference between Buddhism as a religion versus Buddhism as a practice. There are a lot of people who go to the temple to pray, they make donations, and live according to lay or monk precepts — and they have no realization, no liberation. They are running around in hopes of accumulating merits, in hopes of burning off bad karma. They think that enlightenment is somehow a real thing that can be grabbed in their hands instead of the hands themselves.
“If a Zen student is sufficiently alive, he can practice the Way in the simplest activities of daily life.”
– A First Zen Reader
My dad uncovered a video that I made for a school assignment when I was 15 years old. It’s an embarrassing if not wonderful time capsule of sorts. I still enjoy kung fu, rock climbing, and film making all these years later. It was edited linearly with two VCRs and a Videonics Thumbs Up Home Video Editor.
A year ago I brought new life to my 2009 Mac Book Pro by doubling the RAM, installing OS X Mountain Lion, and replacing the internal HDD with a SSD (Solid State Drive) by Crucial.
Everything was just – faster – it felt like the future was now, it truly was a new lease on life for my aging laptop.
But, after installing Mavericks my system’s performance plummeted. I waiting patiently for the first update, installed it, no change. It became increasingly frustrating to use my system as any task related to the hard disk (opening an application, saving a document) now took up to minutes to happen whereas it was nearly instantaneous before the “upgrade”.
I was lamenting my situation to some friends at the cafe serving as my office today and then was hit by the realization that all of the performance loss seemed to involve hard drive read/write speed. I did a quick search for “Crucial SSD Performance Mavericks” and saw a thread comment mentioning the “Put hard disks to sleep when possible” option… of course! A SSD has no moving parts so there’s not much point to putting it to sleep and further more, since this was an aftermarket part there’s is a good chance that sleep mode isn’t implemented properly.
So I went into the System Preferences / Energy Saver options and changed three check boxes in the hopes of an improvement.
I set the “Graphics” setting from the default “Better battery life” to “Higher performance”
I unchecked the “Put hard disks to sleep when possible” option under the Power Adapter tab
I unchecked the “Put hard disks to sleep when possible” option under the Battery tab
I then logged out and experienced the fastest log-in that I’ve had in the past two months! We’re back on track! Applications are opening nearly instantly once again and I’m feeling a little less jaded as I was starting to suspect that this whole free Mavericks upgrade was just a trick to get people to buy the latest hardware.