< prev 20 Dec 2017 to 2 Mar 2015 next >
  • Website configuration
    • Easy deployment
    • Backups, in transferable format, of post content
    • Total ownership of content
    • Post by email
    • Post by web
    • Formatting for short posts, versus long form writing
    • Easy configuration/additions without scp (e.g. git push/commit hooks)
    • Low server overhead—it's a damned static site 99% of the time; it shouldn't require an m4.large
    • Article permalinks regardless of underlying categorization/content changes
    • Presentation of heterogeneous data
    • A way to share more than just text (e.g. images)
    • Maintain pagination without incurring excessive backend load
    • Portfolio elements—running/presenting arbitrary code, separate from blog content/formatting (e.g. cssris)
    • Extensibility
    • Easy import/export
  • Short posts

    I've achieved the goal of having something I control, but there's a weakness here: I haven't found an easy workflow that lets me get short thoughts out quickly and painlessly. Yesterday I wanted to write about a half dozen topics that didn't merit a full journal entry, but didn't have an easy way to do it. I ended up just opening a new note on my phone and brain dumping, which isn't the worst thing ever.

    I'm trying to avoid using a database, but a lot of the stuff I want to do is most easily solved with access to a database. A forum of this scale doesn't merit a backend, or at least strongly benefits from being statically generated. On my feature list, however, are a lot of things that become easier if I'm running a real server, or at least building the site off something that has a database available.

    … Hmm, now that I think of it, that's not a bad solution. The ideal admin tooling suggests the need for a first class backend, but I can easily use that to generate a static site that gets the benefits of both worlds.

    Spitballing here, there are a couple decent ways to get a simple, high speed personal website running in the hosting environment I have available.

    • Run a tiny app for one user that has reasonable login protections. When I hit a button, dump some form of the content into a format that a static site generator understands, and have that generator deploy the content to my preferred host (could be S3, could be similar to the current configuration).
    • Wire up a tiny blog app that caches aggressively when not signed in. I've seen some of this magic in a previous life; the nginx config used would serve assets directly from nginx instead of routing through rails, boosting app speed. If there's a clean way to have rails do that automatically, I might go that route.
    • Use normal app-level caching and hope for the best. I don't much like this one because I would have to do a lot of testing ahead of time to ensure that I could serve hundreds or thousands of requests for the same page without hitting server bottlenecks.

    Taking a step in any of these directions will change the calculus I've been using so far. Notably, it's been easy (or, relatively easy) to bulk import/edit preexisting posts to work with this tech stack, but having a database at a distance will make it harder. Since I should be doing more original writing and less migrations as time goes on, the balance of burden will shift.

    Looking back at my decisions up to this point, the following facts are true:

    • I'm happy that I've kept data, configuration, and code separate so far; it will make any migration to a different platform easy. Many existing frameworks for producing static sites encourage too much commingling of these things.
    • The mere existence of this blog has been a great boon, in the sense that I'm writing at all.
    • The current form of this site is essentially an MVP: I've got posts on a screen that can be viewed on the internet. In that sense, it's a win so far. It looks like any path forward will demand more backend work and server orchestration, which was half the purpose of this exercise in the first place. I can't say, then, that I'm upset with this state of affairs.

    I can't overstate how much having this bootstrapped site up and running has been for my mental well being. I feel lately like I'm overflowing with ideas.

  • Organization, Part 2

    We came back from a brief trip to Orlando with over 700 new photos in tow. I dutifully uploaded them to Photos.app1, and realized that it's almost impossible to find anything.

    In fairness, Apple does have some automated tooling to make looking for specific photos easier. Faces, events, and upload groups make finding a specific event and flipping through photos for projects or just recollection simple, but there are some flaws. It's not clear to me if they got rid of the feature to flip through all unnamed faces or if I just can't find it—either way, it reflects poorly on Apple2, and is just another marker of their trend toward entropy.

    So I'm sitting at my computer, looking at over 16,000 photos, trying to make sense of them. What ends up working, and what I spent Sunday evening doing, is making a smart album that only selects files that don't belong to an album, then triaging. As I observe natural collections of files, a taxonomy emerges: some things are vacations or events (happening in a constrained time and place), some are of people (e.g. my wife, or the cat), and the remainder have conceptual boundaries, for the most part.

    Beyond normal tourism, the way I use my camera is to capture moments of interest ("memories"), interesting locations ("explorations"), or to record information where writing would be too slow (e.g. snapping a photo of a serial number, recording damage to the apartment). Triaging gave me the opportunity to filter some obvious duds/outdated information (I don't need to know the model number of my refrigerator two apartments ago), and to realize that this specific taxonomy predates this current push.

    Notably, when I would upload photos to Facebook in the past, the only way I could get a handle on them (and find them in the future) is to split along similar axes.

    I'm going to have some trouble making sure I'm not repeating myself here, but the broad purposes of organization are as follows:

    1. Finding trends in existing material
    2. Relocating specific material later on
    3. Reminding yourself what exists
    4. Extracting specific information (e.g. the date an event happened)
    5. Finding a general case of a specific collection

    The overall goal, of course, is to do productive work, so we need to impose just enough order on the system to allow it to work for us.

    Contrast a search engine. You might search for some restaurant in general (general case), or a particular restaurant (specific information). You might want to look for where restaurants cluster so you can go to an area with a lot of options, where you can search in person (finding trends). You might want to recall the name of that little place you visited two years ago (relocating information), or you might want to find that area you used to go all the time (reminding yourself what exists).

    I've noticed that Google has become good at a subset of these and bad at the rest. Notably, Google is pretty good at finding general information, but if you're looking for something you know exists and the information is a bit stale (e.g. hasn't been reposted or updated in a couple years), or if the search term you're using is specific but close enough to a more common term that it auto-corrects to something else, you might struggle to find "your thing." I just experienced this situation when looking for a specific comic that used to appear on reddit all the time3.

    This is where local caches come into play. I have layers and layers of data that I've been trying to keep organized; photos are just one. The app-centered model is a bit odd for some of the uses I have in mind. Case in point: sometimes (as mentioned above) the easiest way to quickly record something for later consumption/digestion is to take a screenshot of text. But this ends with a nightmare taxonomy, as follows.

    • When I just take a screenshot, that ends up in my photo stream and can be triaged quickly (it's hard to mistake a page of text for a photo of a person, even at thumbnail level). I have both a phone and a tablet, so I have to keep track of two separate streams.
    • Further, I have computers, and those screenshots go straight to desktop, so I have to deliberately aggregate them somewhere so that I can find what I'm looking for quickly.
    • Sometimes I use the "highlight" function in my eReader4, and those notes are stored… in my eReader, I guess? There's probably some way to setup a workflow to move those notes somewhere useful, but keep in mind the ultimate goal is to have stuff available for later use, so too much overhead defeats the purpose5.
    • Sometimes I copy relevant text to a note, or one of several note taking apps, and if the text becomes unsearchable some day (altogether too many pages go missing, either taken down, lost, or changed beyond recognition), then the source won't be available for contextualization.
    • And, most pathologically of all, sometimes I hand-write notes.

    So, sorting through fodder is a matter of paging through screenshots, photos in my library, text files, and scraps of paper, trying to find some specific thing.

    I don't think there's a need to solve this case in particular, but it's worth highlighting what a struggle it can be, and which has relevance to real-world scenarios6. It's not worth solving fully, but I want to have at least a first-pass handle on it so that I have a chance of finding something that I at one time thought worth remembering.

    Remember, the purpose of all this is to make things do work for you. If you spend so much time organizing that you never address any projects, you haven't won.

    A final note, and justification for the "victory" tag: a bunch of files that I thought I'd misplaced, containing a lot of business ideas and so forth, were actually filed away on my NAS.

    1. One day I'll need to talk about how hard Apple's app naming conventions have made googling for tech support… 

    2. I checked some help docs; seems it was possibly an inadvertent removal in High Sierra. 

    3. In fact, for reasons I can't quite determine, Google has gotten much worse at finding all comics, even when I would have sworn that the same search terms would yield the results I seek not even a year ago. I'm not sure if this is a result of a change in Google or the pages themselves. 

    4. Marvin, an iOS app that allows you to make clippings of text without any of the asinine copyright hurdles that the kindle inflicts on you. 

    5. Spending a day figuring this workflow out when I only read at most a book a week, and can easily recall that the thing I saw was in a book, seems rather pointless. On the other hand… for the sake of just having fodder available to inspire writing, it might be in my interest. 

    6. Off the top of my head, legal discovery. 

  • The Purpose of Journaling - Artifacts of existence

    No matter how good my memory is, I forget things.

    The things I forget tend to fit into two categories: that which I need an artifact to recall, and that which sounds foreign, even when I see evidence of it.

    Dresden Codak addressed one face of this in a poignant comic, about future memories. The upshot of it, though, is that I think I have a good memory mostly because I've forgotten things I forgot… my bias is showing.

    Some things I recall better than others, but perhaps because I obsess over them—reading and re-reading stuff from my Facebook timeline or what have you—but there's clear evidence that without pictures, documents, objects, souvenirs, and so forth, my brain prunes out or otherwise makes inaccessible whole portions of my life.

    For instance: I can recall, broadly, what I was doing in 2011 only by remembering where I lived at that time, and then thinking of the sorts of things I did in that place. But otherwise the entire year is blur.

    I don't think this problem is going to get less acute over time. Journaling is a way, then, to mitigate some of these effects.

    Bruno laughed around the stem of his pipe. “Yes, make it work. Clever lad. Alas, I fear I'm not up to the task. These old chalkboards are getting white.”


    “Chalkboards. Blackboards. Ah, what do you children know?” The cloud around him thickened with his huffing, and he waved it away. “In the tradition-heavy wilds of Catalonia, where I cut my first set of teeth, the last vestiges of the stone age lingered very nearly until the rise of the Queendom. A chalkboard was a slab of hard, dark slate onto which you would scribble with little cylinders of soft, white chalk. Really! We had one in every classroom, every kitchen. You'd erase the board with a rag, you see, and write in a new batch of lessons or chores or ingredients. But sometimes you'd misplace the rag, and you'd have to scribble around the margins of what you'd already written. If you let this go on long enough, eventually the board would get so white with scribbles that you couldn't read it anymore. And so we learned: too much knowledge is as bad as none at all. We forget how to forget."

    –Wil McCarthy, To Crush the Moon

  • Organizing thoughts and data

    Phase 1: Deleting/archiving presence elsewhere

    A big part of this thrust to centralize … myself, for lack of a better word—is getting all the bits and pieces together in one place.

    There have been a variety of platforms over the years. Some have died—I don't think I stored anything important on orkut—but on those that still exist, you can see the entropy.

    I've been convinced of the value of holding onto your data in formats that will resist the test of time for years. Nevertheless, it's amazing to me how much entropy has struck in places where there has been platform continuity for over ten years. Embedded tags (nominally HTML, but obviously parsed somehow by the internal tooling) and other metadata has bit-rotted until everything is nearly unreadable.

    After some effort, I have archives in local storage of almost everything I've ever posted online, and the old versions are "deleted"1 off those platforms.

    With some exceptions. Facebook is a tough nut to crack; I needed to register as a developer to even begin to download my post graph entries, and after toying with it for a bit I'm not sure that I'm ready to go all the way down that rabbit-hole. It looks like I'd have to run a local server in order to scrape an effective copy of my data from them, since their "archive" tool is god-awful for someone who shared as many links as me.

    Phase 2: Triage

    A lot of the stuff I've written down can go back up in due time. A lot of it should never see the light of day.

    This leads to a question of, what's the point of a blog? I know that a lot of what I write now will seem embarrassing by the standards of future me, but this process seems asymptotic. Meanwhile, angsty blog posts from when I was 15 contain … embarrassing turns of phrase, among other things, that don't shed light on who I am now.

    Broadly speaking, I don't believe in deleting things. On reddit2, if I was blatantly wrong, and someone pointed it out, I'd always leave my posts up as a matter of principle, and to provide context for people who came by after.

    But does that mean I have to put everything back up? I doubt it.

    What's interesting about this place is that (my intent is) it is a place to focus and refine my thoughts. The ideas I've gotten the most mileage out of are the ones I write down in a place I also read. So, some turn of phrase or tiny stub in a page of a notebook I constantly flip through worms its way into memory via spaced repetition, essentially.

    This suggests that the real goal is to find the kernels that reflect deeper truths… and then consolidate them into something wiki-like.

    Further, blog entries outside my journals should be considered transient. This suggests another layer of metadata, for posts that don't hold interest because they've been superseded by something more refined or more correct. Not just for currently outdated posts, but for stuff that's fresh now that'll seem stupid in two or ten years.

    Do I need to own up to everything I've ever said? That way lies madness, surely. But reading and consolidating is probably in the cards, which suggests something wiki-like is on the medium term road map.

    Phase 3: Editing

    For the stuff that's worth posting, editing is necessary. I may end up going through and doing this cleanup on everything, but the first-order changes involve more or less the following:

    • Remove useless metadata (e.g. date_gmt, added by Wordpress)
    • Clean up remaining metadata
    • Change formatting to markdown
    • Resolve obvious typos
    • Add appropriate tags and categories

    The point of this blog, again, is organizing the data, so having effective cross-links is the first part of that. As mentioned before, I'll probably need some sort of "archival" tag, to indicate to readers that what they're reading is historical reference3.

    This is a highly manual task. An automated tool might sound good at first blush, but the data sources are heterogeneous and the sorts of formatting that each demanded differ that re-establishing the correct context in markdown syntax demands I re-read and hand-tweak everything.

    In theory I'm not against this, because I want to re-read and consolidate as many of my old thoughts as I can, but 1) it's a lot of content and 2) it's going to screw up my plan to get permalinks running. I don't think date+slug is an effective permalink schema for content where date might not be the most important aspect of what I'm doing, but without a database there aren't really any unique primary keys to work against. I'll have to chew on this for a while.


    What's the point of all this effort? Well, I have bits and pieces all over, and it's part of a process to more well-define my identity and make my thinking more coherent.

    Journaling is more of a "in the moment" process, that reflects where I am in the day and time. Organizing, as an umbrella, is about finding a kernel of myself, and building on it logically.

    1. Who knows if these platforms actually delete old content, though. 

    2. … speaking of sites I wrote content for but never archived… However, so much of what I wrote on reddit only makes sense in the context of the thread it's in, so maybe it's okay that I don't have that. 

    3. And perhaps add an obvious note, and cross-links to newer versions? 

  • And, we're back


    When I graduated from AppAcademy, I hacked up a stand-in portfolio website using turn-key Wordpress provided by my hosting company and a slightly tweaked version of a theme I kind of liked.

    Well, over time I realized I didn't much like Wordpress. The toolkit seemed robust, but so slow, to the point that I would get frustrated playing with settings. I can sort of tolerate that sort of thing, except for the following:

    1. It's a personal home, not something for work, so comfort and familiarity is supreme.
    2. Comfort, for me, is derived largely from things like responsiveness. If there is every visible lag in typing, I get subtly frustrated and that frustration mounts.
    3. The plugins I most wanted to use were flaky at best, and I was not and am not inclined to learn PHP to get (for instance) an email-to-blog portal working
    4. It was subtly messing up some raw entries when they got written to database, leading to subtle rendering artifacts that were hard to fix due to the slowness mentioned above.
    5. I realized the theme I had landed on was flaky in its own way, and I didn't much want to debug someone else's idea of what a good layout looks like.

    All credit to the authors of WP, and free WP themes, but they're just not for me, not for this.

    So I had been vowing to re-write my blog to something I would enjoy, and fiddled around with a couple things over the years. It never was a priority, so I tinkered back and forth between rails and static site generators, like Jekyll.

    I'm going to elide a huge amount of history and research, but basically I realized a hand-written rails CMS was a total waste of time, and the half-measures—existing rails CMS apps and engines—were inappropriate for my goals. I made a fair shot at using Jekyll, too, but liquid is way too constraining1 for a personal site where I have total control over the build process.

    Meanwhile, I'd gotten sick of Facebook et al's controls. I pay for hosting, I pay for registration, and I know how to manage my own content—I don't need to be someone else's revenue source. So I downloaded as much of my own content from other sites as possible and archived it locally, and I'm in the process of shutting down my social media presence. This is my home now.

    This, then, is my blog. I have a backlog of topics and to-dos I want to address, so there should be a real burst of new topics as I have time to put things down. I'm not entirely sure what this is going to become, but it's lightweight (static site generated using Middleman), and it's mine.

    1. As I understand it, liquid is intended for things like storefronts where you don't want the store owners having the ability to break things or to access a full interpreter via templates. I don't care, so it's not right for my needs. 

  • Argumentation

    Internet commenters are among the most informed yet overwhelmed members of modern society. There's a commonly repeated idea among social media companies that engagement drops off at each level—if a site allows consumption without having an account, then consumers will outweigh account holders by some factor (often 80/20 or 90/10); a similar proportion of all account holders actually vote/like/favorite, and a similar proportion of all participants actually create content.

    For a concrete example, think of a major publication like a newspaper. Most people who find their way to news content don't have any personal investment in the source. Most of those who have an account or subscription will never hit an on-site share button. And the people who leave comments and get into polemic arguments are rarer still; often something like one tenth of one percent of all site users.

    So the largest voices online aren't representative of the attitudes of all internet users. Most people are more moderate on most issues, especially ones that don't affect them directly.

    Moderate views don't get much play. Extremists sell more airtime, get more ads, get more shares (especially from people who disagree with them; there is no bad publicity), and often shift the Overton window overall if not counteracted by voices from opposing directions. So a small minority of voices with a large enough soapbox, saying crazy enough things, can often seem to signify a much larger movement than actually exists.

    Arguing against extremes is probably futile. Anyone who watches extreme (left or right) mainstream media can recognize the trope of the moderate seeming to waffle against fringe claims that are "not even wrong," that is, based on misunderstanding or misrepresenting the truth, or otherwise missing the point, such that creating a logical response takes more time than the audience has patience. The counter to this approach, if there is one, is to strike at targets in the same general area as those sought by the media source itself. Viewers are driven by bursts of dopamine: from having insanity re-affirmed, or from gaining a little bit of superiority, for example by feeling like you know something others don't or are participating in something that others aren't. Lifehacks, "what you know is wrong," and feel-good feature stories are examples of this latter.

    No matter how much people rail against clickbait, it's phenomenally successful. The same story presented with an accurate, but urbane headline will never gain the traction that a story with a click-bait headline will, even if the headline is a gross misrepresentation of the facts. Again, most readers of headlines don't read stories; most readers of stories don't read comments. It's a simple fact that most everything that makes it onto your radar from anything other than specialized sources is flat-out wrong, and in most subject areas you're woefully incapable of recognizing the truth.

    What is everyone actually arguing about? The mockery and derision leveled at those outside one's philosophical bubble: what is it actually aimed at, what is it seeking to accomplish?

    I suspect, from listening to aunts gossip at family gatherings and so forth, that people primarily use discussion to establish in- and out-group membership. If you'll tolerate a little bit of evopsych, there has probably been some historical value to making sure that there is a coherent consensus within groups, if only for the sake of creating tribal bonds. You say one thing, and I don't have a particularly strong opinion, so I let you talk and present signs of agreement—head nods, engaged body language, "yeahs" and "uh-huhs"—and that signifies to you that we are part of a group. In times of strife, we will form a defensive unit more naturally and effortlessly by virtue of our pre-developed group bonds.

    I, personally, have seen this play out in person: sports affiliations, nationalities, minor friendships, memberships in similar organizations, all leading to spontaneous group organization in "throw down" situations.

    So far, though, I've only described what is. What should be is a different, more elusive, subject.

    The primary value I place in friendships is the ability to overcome one's own nature. In the past, I've called this "the ability to change your mind," but it's more than this: it's about overcoming prejudice, bias; privilege and oppression, and being better than you're supposed to be. If a person can do that, regardless of their other beliefs or circumstances, I'm likely to care more for who they are. Contrast this with dogmatics: if I ask you, "what would have to happen for you to change your mind," and you're not able to come up with an answer in a matter of seconds, I'm mentally marking you as suspect.

    Further, just as most people don't participate in most things (I, myself, don't comment on newspapers; don't contribute on twitter or deviantart; don't participate in most media I consume), most people don't engage with most situations in their life. Stand at the edge of any busy street corner in Manhattan, and walk out into traffic—people will follow you, regardless of whether it's safe for them. Engagement takes effort; tribal bonding is practically effortless. Habits, too, tend to be effortless. I had to force myself to smoke cigarettes for the first few days; now I have to force myself to try not to.

    Humans excel at doing what they've already done. The brain is plastic, but overcoming a thought pattern strengthened through repetition is one of the hardest things to do. Dopamine-generating click-bait is among the most popular content on the web today; you get much of the same mental reward from reading about how to get your life in order as from actually doing so.

    This is where being overwelmed comes into play. The generation and demographic group I most closely belong to spends countless hours reading about how to be better, watching videos and consuming media presenting repetitions of the same themes and tropes over and over: the bad-ass triumphs, this is how I managed to make an embarrassing amount of money doing what I love, and so forth. We are worn out from countless tiny expenditures of will: today, I will get up early and go to the gym; now I am on the train, and should read something edifying instead of vegging out with bullshit. Every one of these non-habitual choices forms a tiny drain on what will we do have, to the point that by the end of the day there's little left for actual, substantive change.

    Arguing about pointless shit (or arguing pointlessly about shit) is a drain of similar nature to the above, with the added consequence that it solidifies bullshit thought patterns and makes it harder to think critically about circumstances, and put into effect meaningful change. At this point I could allude to hashtag activism or the meandering lack of purpose demonstrated by the Occupy Movements, but it's deeper than this. We're actively ossifying our thought patterns, as a generation and a demographic, and failing to act meaningfully in any direction. As a group, we care X amount about Y number of topics, but we each care the same amount—and X divided by Z, the number of us in the world, is a tiny fraction of what is required to thrust the spearhead of change.

    Further, some number of us care more about some topics, and some negatively: an active point of discussion would be the gender wage gap, which has been said to be either the greatest inequity of our time or a statistical artifact that represents no more than the cumulative sum of the life choices (and lack of social support for said choices) that we make. So we argue and mock and facepalm at the sheer obtuseness of the other side, missing the point that while all this is going on, some small fraction of society is skimming off all of the cream and most of the milk, and maybe there's another fight we should be preparing for?

    So why do I nitpick others' feelings with logic? Why do I mock fringe elements in the media? So much of what I see and take umbrage at are exclusionary ideas which, while they may represent actual frustrations, are pointless and intellectually vapid exercises in onanism. I have made an effort to never hate any person, only the things they do (to others and themselves), the lies they tell themselves, the efforts they make that, while making them feel better, don't have a chance of producing results. You are in charge of yourself and it's your duty to try to overcome your nature (whether that means a history of privilege or oppression), because if it matters and has value to other people, they're never going to give it to you. And if you're ready to fight for something, why not put your effort into fighting for a thing that will actually improve your situation? The effort spent in the fight to have me find you attractive, even though you have 50% body fat, would be better spent at the gym; meanwhile, you would be likely to live longer, spend less on medical care, and actually feel better every day of your life.

    Meanwhile, if you feel wronged, I can acknowledge your feelings, but if you're important to me as a friend, I want to make sure you are taken care of. Often this means ensuring an actual injustice was done: if someone became your lifelong enemy because of something you did on accident, wouldn't you rather have them know that you were tired that day, or hungry, or just got out of a really painful relationship, than to pretend that their misconception was valid and live life like you are just a terrible person? Turn it around, then. After I acknowledge that what happened was crappy, would you rather believe forever that that person is intrinsically terrible, or would you rather understand why they did that thing, and use that knowledge to help you prevent others from feeling that way in the future?

  • Tilting at Windmills

    My time the past couple days:

    • Writing Project Euler solutions in Ruby, using the "get it done, get it fast, get it good" (alt: make it X) philosophy
    • Realizing that I could no longer write the Python code I wrote less than a year ago
    • Crushing it on phone interviews that I didn't plan on having anyway
    • Faceplanting on an in-person interview that I should have been able to do better on
    • Writing and analyzing algorithms with people at the office
    • Taking on projects that sound interesting until you realize that you're trying to bite off way more than you can chew

    It's important to stay busy with productive work, but it's tempting to think that what you're doing is valuable when in truth the marginal utility is pretty low.

    In other news, it's interesting to see how natural writing Project Euler solutions is in Ruby compared to Python. I have many fewer head-scratching moments when it comes to the natural plan of attack—generally, I can just implement the solution that comes to mind, and it runs well enough. Project Euler is, I think, like Alaska: it's not where you learn, it's where you prove yourself. It just happens to be the biggest name in toy programming problems, and many people assume that it's good at teaching you… something.

    Not sure what else to say. I'm trying to keep at good habits, and I started thinking about what I wanted to write on the train in today, but then I started thinking about how to build an Abstract Syntax Tree in Ruby (and whether I really need to in the first place, to do what I'd like) and lost what I was going to write. Oh well. More practice; back to the grind.

  • Dry Spell

    I don't know why this title made sense to me, except in that I haven't written in a couple days. It's been interesting, for sure—I've had a couple phone screens, which have been all over the map, but tremendously useful for learning how to better present myself—but I haven't felt like doing major work for a while.

    Is this bad? The projects I'd like to do are hard to wrap my mind around at the moment; part of me wants to learn a systems language in more detail, but I know that it's not a close synergy to anything that's going to get me work, now. The only places that want systems languages want Java for the backend (or C#); learning C would definitely be a stretch in terms of immediate utility. Is that so bad?

    Maybe statistical programming would be better. I don't know; there are so many things to learn out there, so many projects that could be useful to someone, and I could devote myself to them, but which? Will doing that make employers look on me more fairly? Do I want to work at a company where a single week of working in Angular would be the difference between me getting the job and not? (Probably not. A competent engineer could figure out what needs learned pretty quickly, and I don't know if I'd want to work for a company that would disagree.)

    I want to have a job, so I can worry about more granular things, instead of whether I'll run out of money before this process finishes. I want to be learning a ton of new things about production code, and making my own projects on the side. I want to write a couple books and learn TeX and not feel guilty that I'm not working on finding work. Soon.

  • A Constant State of Fear

    My mantra-in-testing right now is "Seek Pain." It's a reminder to always try to be doing something that is hard or causes you anxiety or stress, to make you better, so that the next level skills will come sooner and faster. So, do something until it becomes a habit, and then it won't be nearly as scary, and the harder thing won't appear insurmountable anymore.

    Today I realized that I've been living my life in near-constant low-level anxiety for more than a month, and I haven't felt this good in a while.

    So, to the world: You can't do anything to me that I'm not already doing to myself.

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