[Under translation] Letters of Hernán Cortés to the King of Spain

AuthorMark MacKay

I’m currently translating Hernán Cortés’ letters to Charles V into modern English. The reason for this is that I would like to re-trace his footsteps through Mexico by foot. I will update this page as time allows.

Sent to your majesty, by the Captain general of the New Spain, don Fernando Cortés, in which he describes the unparalleled lands and provinces that he has rediscovered in Yucatán, year 1519, which have been subjugated to your majesty.

This letter tells about an enormous and rich province called Culúa, in which there are very large cities with marvelous buildings, abundant commerce, and many riches. Among these, Tenochtitlán is the most prosperous. By amazing arts, it is built over a large lake. The ruler of these lands is a great lord called Motecuzoma. In this region horrible things happened to the captain and our Spaniards. The letter also tells about the enormous kingdom of Motecuzoma, of their rites, ceremonies and customs. Oh my king:

Work Journal

2019-10-18 Log: back in college

AuthorMark MacKay

I am sitting at the library of my former university. I came to collect all the required documentation for my degree. Not once I was asked for my degree except at my last job. I couldn’t get a working visa in Spain because I hadn’t done this before.

My Sufi psychologist said that when these sort of “accidents” happen (missing the last little requirement for graduation) we are in conflict with our feelings regarding our parents. On the one side we want to please them with a degree, and at the same time we want to get back at them: look, it wasn’t even necessary. The contradiction plays out in real life, and you “virtually” complete the task, but never undertake the very last effort of seeing it through.

Be it psychological bullshit or not, the task feels monumental, even though it’s simply a matter of gathering documentation and paying the fee. Should I mention all the bureaucratic hoops I must jump? Yeah, I think it’s unnecessary too.

I walked around the campus. I saw it was beautiful. Posters announced various workshops and events I was interested in. I went to the sports area. The gym is massive and has everything I need. The pool looks amazing and has a nice green area where I could have lunch. But this time I had lunch at the cafeteria, it wasn’t all that great but it was cheap. The library is filled with books, and I greatly miss diving into journals. There’s even a bike path to get here, 11.5Km from home.

This campus will become the ideal workplace, in time. Just jump through the hoops for the time being.


Work Journal

2019-10-17 log: Heal or Sacrifice

AuthorMark MacKay

I’ve been ignoring a problem because I have important things to attend at this moment, but I would like to think it out loud. It is an important decision of how to dispose of a living thing.

I live with two roosters.

It’s surprisingly not bad. My mother put a flock in the inner patio, and natural selection narrowed to these two gentlemen. I don’t want to repeat the drama I was told about how it happened. Suffice to say: I’ve been feeding them but they live in an undignified state.

Their feet are infested with mite.


I ponder: these two are impossible to give away. The compassionate thing to do goes in two extremes: either you cure and heal, or you ceremonially sacrifice them (with the help of a veterinary/shaman, hopefully).

Either one is equally instructive. Why should not this apprentice of life learn not only to cure but to kill? Let us see, from experience, what impressions these things cause upon the soul?

I sat down and observed the roosters: one is reddish and has many bald spots. He is the beta and is obviously under a lot of stress.

The alpha one is one majestic black rooster. I was reminded of DH Lawrence’s The Man Who Died. Resurrected Jesus stumbles upon a beautiful rooster.

They both have terrible mite infestations. They peck at their own feet and have lots of dead skin, causing those oversized feet.

What should I do?

What would curing involve?

I searched a bit and doctor internet has two options.

  1. the natural: put an ointment on their feet every day.
  2. the artificial: put pills into their feed for a couple of days.

Unfortunately, I think removal of dead skin must be manual if one wants full healing. Ivermectin is not used in poultry meant for human consumption, so giving them this bars anybody from eating them. Deal.

What should I do?

  1. In the interest of practicality: sacrifice both.
  2. In the interest of learning: sacrifice one, cure one.
  3. In the interest of compassion: cure both.
  4. In the interest of spirituality: cure both, sacrifice one

The higher the number, the more you learn. The astute reader will think: why cure both and then sacrifice one? Indeed, there lies a koan worth months of meditation.

Can I dedicate myself to such a foolish enterprise? If it ain’t now, it’ll be never.

I will cure both and then decide.

Thank you for reasoning with me.

Work Journal

2019-10-15 log: Gym progress explorations

AuthorMark MacKay

Yesterday I worked on an app to keep track of my gym progress. I’ve done it for a couple of years in my notebook, developing a personal syntax along the way.

The first logs are mostly digits + text

IMG_5160.jpg Pretty soon progress slopes begin appearing, but these are for stoking the ego. They don’t register well the progression, you need to register both repetitions and total weight carried.

More slopes

The gym is about progressive resistance training. When you start going to the gym you will gain muscle, no matter what diet and what training method you use. This is because your body has an introductory genetic potential, to call it someway, and our current life is so sedentary that any minimum amount of strength training will yield good results.

But, after the beginner gains comes a tough slope which is training your body to become stronger, and this is done through progressive increasing of weight/resistance in your workouts.




Gym trackers focus on pampering the ego. The most important task is: how much should I lift in the following exercise, and how do register it in the most simple way possible.

Say you want to register you lifted a 120 pound bar for 12 repetitions. A well designed app will be able to register that in seven taps: “1•2•0•↵1•2↵”. I’d like to resolve that in a single press + drag + release. I had already programmed a widget for this.

For the day I was happy to view my progress in my homegrown syntax, but in pixels:


I shall improve it in the upcoming weeks.

Work Journal

2019-10-14 Log: without electricity

AuthorMark MacKay

I come home to find my home without electricity, in complete darkness. Fortunately I find some candles.

I took a picture of my current setting, but it looks miserable. A picture would make no justice anyways. It’s simply a forced moment of relaxation.

What can I do to relax myself? I now have two candles, one on each side of the bed. It could be improved with:

  1. Music
  2. Tea
  3. Incense

For 1, crickets are singing rythmically:

For 2, I would really like to begin writing, I’ll give it to myself when I need a break.

For 3, let me get up and put some incense.

It is done.

The purpose of this session is to accomplish relaxation while doing creative writing. If you are following along, lay in bed with numerous pillows, and find a posture which would allow you to both relax and remain alert. Our physiognomies are very varied but in general terms: find a position in which you would be able to remain for a long time, and then settle down into it.

Let us gently come into a state of rest, and then begin dumping consciousness as it comes. I will begin in ten minutes.

The mind warned: do not write work logs in an altered states of mind! For in the quest for relaxation some weed was smoked.

But aren’t rules made to be broken? It’s early and if it’s not writing this experience then it will tossing in bed.

So today is an exception to the rule, but it is pleasure consciousness dumping.

Is it pleasant to be alive? I mean, feel yourself. Is there more pleasure or there’s more suffering? It is often the case that there’s suffering without a biological cause. You suffer, yet you are healthy. It’s like the background noise of existence caused stress, alienation, defensiveness, bubbling up.

The deeper you go into meditation, the more you realise that the suffering is self-inflicted. Once known from personal experience, the correct answer is silence.

Can we become more silent?

By giving that chattering mind a seat, sit down, relax, there’s nothing to defend at this time. Nothing has been stated.

Think “I’m not in my skull, I’m in my entire being”. and feel the entire body. Oh, there’s pain, but there’s nobody to relieve us from it! Should we try by the power of attention?

I observe energy running through my body, it feels kinda cool, the entire body is alive. What a nice place to be: in bed, without electricty, writing down my thoughts and yada yada, let us come back to experience.

Is there still pain? Nah, not now, but there used to be pain! It is horrible, that existential pain, just being alive hurts. I used to look out the window of every flight and think “Oh god if you want to take me out right now, I wouldn’t mind”. Not suicidial but let’s say “not attached to life”.

How does one heal from a damaged existential wound? It is the most difficult thing to do, but the healing process, if done correctly, will take you down the mother of all rabbit holes, and inside the rabbit hole imagine thousands of rabbit holes, jump into a couple of them as your curiosity finds them.

Coming back to relaxation. I’m now debating the wisdom of smoking another joint, it’s 10:10 exactly, surely means “yes” in binary or something. I’ll be back. Oh, the tea, now is the moment!

The tea pot was occupied by the coffee of the morning and I didn’t venture to wash in darkness. It’ll be fine without tea.

I come to write on my side. I will try a different kind of writing. Let us make up a story. A story about what? About something that happened today.

Come back to today, what is the most salient fact? I found the perfect place to work, it’s a… I will share it in time. What I liked most about it was that it’s next’s to an arts center where I could study at my own leisure.

This is the ego talking, existence happens through action. What did I do today? Oh yes, I shall describe:

As I’ve been exploring the areas surrounding the house I think it’s absolutely the best place to make a halloween party. My friends used to nickname this house The Blair Witch house, because it’s always been overgrown and quite unkempt. But it has it’s charm. So I thought a good idea would be to make a Día de Muertos party, but to make it truly special I would need help from some people.

True, this task I shall do right now: plead help from my cousins.

Queridos primos, les escribo porque voy a organizar una fiesta para niños en la Casa del Río con ocasión de día de los muertos. Mi mamá reunió muchos huevos rellenos de harina y los quería aprovechar, una cosa llevó a otra y se nos fue de las manos. Pero creo que hay mucho potencial y podemos hacer cosas muy padres si apuntan a participar.

La idea es tener un recorrido por el bosque de atrás, ya lo he explorado y lo pueden hacer niños y adultos sin problemas. Está lleno de árboles y maleza pero limpiaré bastante. Aquí se pueden hacer muchísimas cosas, dependiendo de la cantidad de gente dispuesta a participar.

Versión sencilla y fácil: una batalla campal de huevos de harina y luego comida.

Versión con tu ayuda: lo anterior + concurso de disfraces, piñata, premios, fogata, taller de arte, lounge de adultos, etc. lo que se te ocurra. Puedes ser un hombre lobo suelto en el bosque de atrás, escucho cualquier idea y sugerencia de participación.

La cita sería el sábado 26 de octubre.

Dime si te late participar, y cómo te gustaría hacerlo.


Finished 12:11, time to blow out the candles.

Plants in my garden

Lime tree

AuthorMark MacKay

There are several species of citrus trees whose fruits are called limes, including the Key lime (Citrus aurantifolia), Persian lime, kaffir lime, and desert lime. Limes are a rich source of vitamin C, are sour, and are often used to accent the flavours of foods and beverages. They are grown year-round.[3] Plants with fruit called “limes” have diverse genetic origins; limes do not form a monophyletic group.