I spend a (worrying) amount of time reflecting on past choices and mistakes. It's a good way to avoid boredom since I'll always have more material. The most common thought I have while doing this is "how would my life have changed if things were different?"
It's a painful feeling to know so many other life paths are now closed off. Would they have been better or worse? Would they have been almost identical or wildly different? I will never know these answers until I get my multi-dimensional telescope patented and working.
But this image always makes me feel better.
It's never too late to prepare myself for better life paths ahead. No matter where I am now, things can get better. Especially once that telescope is ready.
I've been thinking about an old blog post, Individuality is a Job. The main idea is how individual identity takes work, and we should base it on actions instead of only ideas. After all, if ideas don't inspire new action, how much value do they have for us?
But also, viewing individuality as a job could be counter-productive. It's more likely to become a chore we put off, not invest enough in, or give up on. Taking it too seriously may keep someone from treating it seriously enough. The innate irony of the human mind always amuses me.
It could be better to see individuality as a hobby or a side project. Something we work on without the pressure of deadlines, constant maintenance, or paycheck anxiety. It makes us more likely to experiment or have fun with who we are. In the process, we can find better versions of ourselves.
A good New Year's Resolution could be to take ourselves less seriously (but not too much).
Here's a simple way to tell if you're doing the holidays right. It's measured by the less sleep you get, regardless of how much you plan, intents, or desire to get more sleep.
Bonus points if your sleeplessness gets fueled by gift wrappings, panicked unwrappings with gift checks and rewrapping, clothing plannings, memorizing lists of "do's and don'ts," and hearing screams no one else can. You can spend those points on melatonin, weighted blankets, and knockout gas.
One would guess one of my all-time favorite soundtracks would be in a language I understand. Whoever this "One" is would be wrong. I at last found the original "The World Ends With You" soundtrack on Spotify and it still impresses.
I don't know at least half the words to "Ooparts" and "Hybrid" but I still want them for most of my workouts.
I saw a dog sticking its head out a car window in New Haven, and for the first time, I asked myself "why do dogs do that?" A quick search brought me to an ABC news article that asked a zoologist this same question. Their answer was:
"Their head is jam-packed full of sensors, so when they stick their head out the window, they've got this great pressure of air moving at great speed over them, and it's a sensory overload."
So this is their version of us walking into a candle store and smelling everything we can. But it's even better since dogs can smell it all at once. I don't know if dogs can distinguish each smell, but do they need to?
Imagine smelling every single scented candle in a store at the same time. You couldn't pick out each candle's scent, but the total sum of scents you get...that would be an experience. It'd likely be overwhelming for some people and they'd have to stop smelling it. I'd likely get a headache and have to step outside.
Not dogs, though. They get a collective scent like that pushed in their face, they love it and keep smelling as long as possible. Even knowing there are likely some bad scents mixed in, like cigarettes or folks leaving the gym.
That is hardcore smelling skill and passion on display there. Dogs poking their heads our car windows aren't only cute, they're olfactory badasses.
I find it dark yet funny when someone's response to "life in America is so expensive/stressful/unequal" is "move somewhere else." It implies there's no possible way for America to NOT be expensive/stressful/unequal. It will forever be terrible for its citizens. You're better off leaving than trying to improve things.
Bonus points if this response comes from an "America is amazing and free and you should love it" person. Put those two thoughts together and there's some amazing cognitive dissonance.
"America is great, it's the greatest country in the world! But if you don't want a burnt-out life hanging by a thread, give up and move somewhere capable of doing better."
If there is a God, I’ll have many angry questions.
The first one would be "why the fuck are seeded grapes a thing?! Are they only there to punish distracted grocery shoppers? Because if not, they're pure blasphemy."
It wouldn't be my most important question. It would only be my first one.
"Men Explain Things To Me" is a book full of great ideas and research, but one quote stuck out to me more than others.
...the ideas that a husband has the right to beat his wife and that it’s a private matter are not returning anytime soon. The genies are not going back into their bottles. And this is, really, how revolution works. Revolutions are first of all of ideas.
Revolutions start as ideas against a status quo, and we can't stop them afterward. That may be why those in power put so much focus on how America's revolution against the British monarchy. Citizens won't revolt if they believe their country's existence is still a "revolution." Even if the revolution is long over and there are now other things they may want to push back against. You won't look for a new partner if you've deluded yourself into thinking you're still with your first one.
It's so ironic, the idea of past and present revolutions keeping future revolutions at bay.
I've been on a forever search for a certain webcomic. In it, a struggling writer enters a kind of hotel and meets three alternate versions of herself. They include:
- One that did jail time, went blonde and is a published non-fiction writer.
- One that fell in love in college, does indie film work but is a loud, bitter cynic.
- One in the corporate world that's professional and more "in tune" with societal norms.
I apologize if I got any of these details wrong. It's been so long since I read it last, I want to read it again, but I cannot find it online!
But it also gets me thinking about some alternate versions of me that may be out there.
- One that stuck to journalism, works at a newspaper and is being broken down by stress and roommates.
- One that also started a lifelong relationship early and had kids. Their career never quite took off but still enjoys their family.
- One that moved across the country and went a bit "crazy." Each day I live out loud but struggle to get any long-term plans together.
- One that didn't turn down that CIA referral from my sophomore year. I'm spying on/impersonating/poisoning Russian operatives throughout Europe. Plus I have an earring and tattoo, although I'm not sure what it's a tattoo of.
- One that can fly around and shoot lasers from my eyes. I hide from society outside of an occasional explosive attack to stir things up.
I hope I can meet my own alternative selves in a hotel like that someday.
I believe each person has many things that, if someone does it, that person get crossed off their list. You can tell a lot about someone's personality, values, and even past trauma by their list. For example, someone physically bullied may cross off someone the second they get violent.
I have many of my own reasons to cross someone off my list. But the most frequent one? Someone being a mix of dismissive, condescending, and smug towards me. I can handle one, two if I'm in a good mood or they're an authority figure.
But all three? Good luck recovering from that. If I don't get basic respect, you don't get my time.
My endless struggle to be an adult has hit a new obstacle: hacked, customized Pokemon games. They are the perfect distraction for someone in my niche group:
- Loves Pokemon
- Hates the formula in
mostall Pokemon games
- Wants Rare Candy cheat codes to avoid level grinding
- Enjoys being able to speed up the boring parts, like random encounters and routine dialogue
- Doesn't want to spend $60 on an old game but with shinier graphics
- Likes turning on emulator filters so it looks like I'm playing an oil painting
Bizarre names aside, I am both excited to play and hopeful I don't get too sucked into them. I have a plane trip approaching, and "I was hunting a Ralts at double speed" isn't the best excuse for not preparing.
Are you still struggling to think of scary Halloween costumes for this year, and need fast ideas? I have some suggestions.
- An unexpected $250 medical bill you got after a routine blood test.
- A long CVS receipt.
- Any phone call you need to do for making an appointment or canceling a membership.
- Senator Joe Manchin or Senator Kyrsten Sinema. Bonus points if you trick or treat with someone raising a newborn.
- A shipment of COVID vaccines from a southern state that's unused.
- A library book that's two years overdue.
- A young person with no teeth and wrinkled skin. It's a reminder of both our fragile youth and unavoidable mortality.
- The grim reaper. It's a similar kind of reminder above, but it lets people unable to cope with these truths stay in denial.
- A giant Almond Joy candy bar.
- For couples, dress as newlyweds that passive-aggressively bicker the whole night. For bonus points, act out the dawning terror of being in a horrible marriage for your friends later in the night.
- Same as the above, but also covered in cat hair that won't come out. The cat hair is scarier since deciding the custody of pets makes the escape of divorce feel farther away.
- A giant banana with two maracas.
Have a happy Halloween, everyone!
When it comes to my "read later" list or coding articles, it's always in one of two states.
- I have so many articles saved, I'm scared to start reading them and keep procrastinating.
- After a marathon reading session, my list is empty and I don't want to look at it again until it again feels too long.
I've heard "a good routine is important to have but hard to build" so often, it feels like a productivity cliche. But I'm realizing it's a cliche for a reason. Going between these two extremes is not sustainable, enjoyable, or cholesterol-free.
You don't eat a whale all at once, or by ignoring it and hope it eats itself. You go one bite at a time.
You also wonder why you're eating a whale in the first place. Are whales particularly tasty? Do they have essential vitamins and nutrients? Could they be a solution to ending world hunger? Is this the secret reason why Florence, Oregon blew up a whale with dynamite in the 1970s?
The point is, a slow and steady article reading routine is important for my work future. For my knowledge, skillset, digestive tract, and for all the whales that wash ashore.
I saw this yard sign in New Haven and felt some relief. I don't need to be scared of this dog. I only need to know it's there.
I am aware of you, doggo. And like all doggos, I respect you. I love you.
The tech industry has many problems. Too many to list here. The big ones are diversity, bro culture, burnout, and people catching on to how we microchip them. But I'll focus on the diversity one here.
Maybe you're like me, a cisgender person that has never been personally affected by all this. If so, then you, like me, have a lot of research to do. I'd recommend these three resources:
- A comic comparing gender and gender identity to ice cream
- Documentation on gender non-conformity, written by an amazing non-binary front-end developer
- A massive collection of resources to educate yourself on diversity issues in the tech industry
As an added bonus, check out this cutesy romantic-comedy manga about high school students with various gender identities at a cross-dressing maid cafe. It's adorable and educational!
Also, when in doubt: stop talking, start listening.