This is the David Mintz who was born in 1958; grew up in Maryland and spent his teenage years in Chile; studied classical guitar at the Hartt School of Music and the University of Arizona; became a Spanish<>English court interpreter after about ten years as a capable but chronically underemployed guitarist; is a staff interpreter for the US District Court in Manhattan; lives in a state of near-continuous bliss in South Orange, New Jersey, with his incomparably lovely wife Amy Hartford, and our ever-fascinating kids Evan, Mylie, Josie, Gabriela, and our stupendously warm and furry cats Jack, Kiki, Vernon T. Bludgeon the Cat, the Master Lin-chi, and Lily. Alas, Lily (2011-2016) is no longer with us.
Shall we talk about the weather? As of 26-May-2016 at 1:51 pm at Newark Airport in New Jersey it was mostly cloudy and 91.0°F/32.8°C with relative humidity at 19% and winds southwest at 9.2 mph (8 kt).
Let's not talk about politics because good judiciary employees don't do that in public. If I did, I would openly declare that my politics are Marxist-Trotskyist, and I wholeheartedly support the Socialist Equality Party. There is a great deal more to say, but for now suffice it to say that I have lived in the world long enough to understand that capitalism is a system under which the social needs of the many are subordinated for the sake of the enrichment of a few at the top; inequality is an essential feature. The capitalist profit system is a disaster for the great majority of the world's population. The only rational, viable alternative is socialism. I recommend the World Socialist Web Site (wsws.org) for further reading; it offers singularly honest and clear-minded reporting and commentary.
Ok, let's change the subject. Tell me about you... Really? My that's so interesting! All right then, more about me. My other interests, aside from raising my family and being political, include distance running, Zen practice, and Web development.
Running is about as natural a human activity as can be -- so we're told by modern research. The researchers don't need to tell us that children spontaneously run from place to place, and sometimes stage impromptu races to see who can run faster from here to that tree. We adult distance runners are a bit more methodical and formal about it, but I think the fundamental reason we run is essentially the same: it comes naturally, and we like it. Training and racing is a game we like to play, with the simple objective of running as fast as possible.
There's probably an element of addictive defense in there too. Be that as it may, South Mountain Runners is our highly informal local club. Those of us who train seriously place high in our age/gender group when we race, or otherwise achieve our objectives. In my case, I don't expect to set any more PRs in road races -- that's behind me. But I still manage to sneak off with age group awards in your small and sometimes not-so-small 5K races, and I get immense satisfaction from running with my crew, be it on the roads or on the trails in our our lovely South Mountain Reservation. I've also had the pleasure of a couple of 50K trail races in 2015, most recently the Mountain Madness 50K.
We South Mountain Runners welcome not just fanatics and rock stars, but anyone who shares our interest in running, regardless of speed.
As for Zen practice, for true practitioners it's rather like Fight Club in that you should just do it rather than talk about it overly much. So please indulge me in this transgression.
The very word Zen is much abused by Madison Avenue and misunderstood as a synonym for bliss and relaxation. You can look up the term on wikipedia and read a responsible, informative article. Then you can still ask, what is Zen?
I was a student at a zendo for a few years, then left and have since carried on in my own informal minimalist fashion (I sit every day, albeit for not as long as I might prefer). After this admittedly modest experience, I have absorbed a few essential teachings, none of which are rocket science.
- You are already complete and whole, and in possession of all the wisdom you will ever need.
- Although you already are what you seek to become, it takes ceaseless effort and practice to realize this. (Paradoxical? In one of my first encounters with a teacher I said that something seemed paradoxical, and he said: welcome to Zen.)
- The heart of this practice is meditation. Sit up straight, don't move, stare at the wall, inhale and exhale. Repeat every day. Don't worry if your wandering mind keeps flying off as though it had... a mind of its own! Keep returning and paying attention. Scheduling difficulties? Do as much as you can. Ten minutes is more than zero minutes -- quite a lot more.
- Important benefits flow from this meditation practice. You will be a more equanimous and happy person than you would otherwise be. That is not as self-centered as it may sound. When individuals are happier, the whole world benefits. Regime change truly does begin at home. You will be easier to get along with and have an easier time coping with life's burdens, which by the way will not disappear.
- "Benefits" notwithstanding, as the days and years of practice pile up, you find that you're not sitting for any purpose at all, with no expectation of reward, and this in itself is liberating. At the same time, you're not sitting out of mindless habit, or performing a duty. You just sit.
Life is not a controlled experiment and we can rarely say what would have happened if we had done x instead of y. I am still prone to getting angry and agitated, perhaps even act like an insufferable dick once in a while. Nevertheless I am convinced that the practice has made me a kinder, happier and more clear-minded person than would otherwise be the case.
I enjoy making web applications, such as the court interpreter management system I wrote for my workplace with MySQL/PHP. I'm not the most accomplished of front-end dudes but at least I finally cleaned up this page you're now looking at, so that it would be mobile-responsive. (Our gratitude goes out to the Bootstrap framework for that.) The search engines will now knock you down for not being responsive and we can't have that.
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I could cheerfully continue ad nauseum, but instead I will refer you to my dear friend Professor B, whose mordant wit and perspicacity are unsurpassed: http://vernontbludgeon.com/blog/
If you would like to contact me, the domain is davidmintz.org. Prepend to it the username david followed by @. Sorry for the circumlocution, it's designed to confound spambots.