Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Towers Of Hanoi 3D

An update of The Towers Of Hanoi, this time in full 3D. Requires Windows with .NET Framework 3.5.

I updated this yet again on 12/19 to include collision detection during the drag and drop part, and to include the source, if developers would like to review it. It should be fairly instructive for some.

(Note: I used Charles Petzold's libraries to generate the disks and pegs, and I didn't include his source code, but it's available for download on Mr. Petzold's site, at

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Towers Of Hanoi

I'm still trying to recover from my father's passing. If this kind of thing has never happened to you, be warned that it isn't going to be easy.

I've been brushing up on my coding skills to help pass the time and get my mind off things, and I've made a version of the old Towers of Hanoi puzzle using Microsoft's Windows Presentation Foundation libraries. I'm linking to a copy of it here at the bottom of this post so you can try it out, and let me know if you see any bugs (break it to me gently). Be aware that the sample requires at least .NET Framework 3.5, and I haven't provided any of the .NET support files, so the compatibility of your system is up to you.

Towers of Hanoi

Sunday, October 4, 2009

All I Have Are Questions

I watched my father die last Friday. I am in terrible pain right now. I wish my Zen was strong enough to help me roll with this brutal punch to the gut, but maybe it's not supposed to be. I'm an orphan now. I'm very, very lucky to have had him for so long. I wasn't as good to him as I should have been. He was so sick this past week, and not actually conscious. But Wednesday evening I was standing over him telling him how very much I loved him, and with great, great effort he opened his eyes, looked right at me, and squeezed my hand very, very hard. I will always be so grateful to him for that if I live to be 100, which I very much doubt. He always gave, always gave, even when he had nothing to give. What did I do to deserve him?

Death is so terrifying and so much more horrible than we allow ourselves to be aware of most of the time. We keep it at arms' length as much as we can, even though it's happening all around us, and in so many parts of the world, and even this great nation, it so imposes its presence that there's no keeping your distance from it. How are we to find the strength to go on?

To all of you going through some similar pain right now, I am praying for you, in my own poor way. If you do find the strength to continue, and you find even the tiniest bit extra you can spare, please send just a little bit of it to me.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Beyond Good and Evil

What have you, my good friends, deserved at the hands of
Fortune, that she sends you to prison thither?

Prison, my lord?

Denmark's a prison.

Then is the world one.

A goodly one, in which there are many confines, wards and dungeons,
Demark being one o' th' worst.

We think not so, my lord.

Why then 'tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or
Bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison.
-- Hamlet, Act II, Scene ii

This thing that we call 'I' is nothing but a construct, a figment of our imaginative brains. This is the conclusion of much of the profoundest knowledge we have, yet it is practically unimaginable to our everyday minds. We interact on a personal basis, we experience things that register as good or bad for our very personal well-being, we live our lives each as unique and special creatures, and we revel in and cherish that uniqueness against all challengers, including the wisdom of the ages. We are all, like Hamlet, enclosed within the private prisons of our selves, and we like it that way, myself included. I am unique.

Things have become even more complicated since Shakespeare's time. We live in a mechanized, semi-sterile world too often disconnected from nature and the earth, and it's easy to lose our way. Our thinking has created many developments in the world, but we're out of balance with the simplicity of just being in the world. I have been faithfully continuing my meditations although mostly it's been just that, blind faith. Most of the time I've had no idea what I was doing, and was probably just making things worse. Maybe I'll look back on what I'm writing today and conclude that I'm still just making things worse, but I'm hoping not. I've gained some appreciation for the Zen predilection for paradox. If I can fully appreciate the sound of one hand clapping, I think I will have regained a level of comfort with that ever-elusive true self, and the simple pleasure of just taking in each moment one at a time without having to think about everything. There is so much we all share that is beyond words, before words, and outside of the limitations of intellection that give rise to paradox, good and bad, one and many, self and other. Life is more than these words. We have to stop and breathe it in.

Einstein proved that time and space are relative, but we persist in conceptualizing that they are not. The closer we look at these assumptions that define our everyday lives, the less solid they all appear. If it's more useful for us to persist in these assumptions, it's no less useful to also try and keep things in perspective and remain open to all the possibilities instead of clinging to fixed ideas. We need to stay flexible. As long as we keep trying to retain this image or that, we blur our picture of the world and reveal it only peeking through a maze of preconceptions and predispositions. Sometimes we don't even see it at all.

I don't think there's anything overly esoteric about what I'm trying to do. Quite the contrary, in fact. I'm just trying to follow the psalm that contained my grandmother's favorite verse. She quoted it so many times: "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." It's from Psalm 46, reprinted below:

1: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

2: Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

3: Though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah.

4: There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.

5: God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.

6: Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

7: The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah.

8: Come and see the works of the Lord, the desolation he has brought on the earth.

9: He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire.

10: Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

11: The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah.

-- Psalm 46

I'm just trying to be still. It hasn't been easy. I keep learning more about what "being still" is. It's an acquired taste. I'm feeling my way as I go, and no one can help me. I can only do this myself. We really are unique -- whatever that means.

Survival is the second law of humanity.
The first is that we are all one.
-- Joseph Campbell

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Context: The United States and Iran

A segment on Keith Olbermann's Countdown yesterday encapsulated the history of U.S./Iran interaction over the last hundred years very nicely. The better you understand the context of the situation, the more likely you are to make good decisions going forward. We've all heard what happens when we don't learn from history.