Sometimes I want to write things that can't work as a blog post, I don't want to lose amid Twitter, or don't make any sense. For all these streams of conscious, I have my Notes. They have lots of colors to match how across the board they can get.

Keep scrolling to read my notes in order.

March 13, 2019

By your very existence, you will anger people who want nothing more but to destroy you. You may never meet them, but there will always be people who loathe one (or more) things you stand for. No matter what you try to do to change them or yourself.

If that's the case, I may as well go down the path that makes me happy and brings me meaning. Whatever it is or whoever it pisses off.

March 10, 2019

Sometimes I look at the sheer amount of programming knowledge I have on my learning list, and get what's basically a panic attack. Shortness of breath, dizziness, anxiety, can't move, even a little tunnel vision.

I think these are caused by a few bad assumptions about how I learn:

  1. I need to learn everything on my list.
  2. Any time not spent learning is wasted.
  3. Any info I don't write down is forgotten.

Some more correct ideas to go by instead would be:

  1. I should focus on learning the resources I judge will help the most. One article on fundamentals is better than several articles on rare, middling specifics.
  2. There's time spent on committed learning, but there's also time spent exploring new information. There's also time to rest and play, because without a work and play balance I can't consistently learn.
  3. Reading info without notes isn't as helpful, but it can still help. Awareness of extra knowledge lets me know where to look when I hit an obstacle. Thinking like a glossary is better, and more realistic, then thinking like an encyclopedia.

Of course, knowing all this is easy. Fully accepting and acting on it is another.

March 4, 2019

What scares me the most is someone who refuses to change their mind.

So much of today's anger, dysfunction, gridlock, violence, and even death can often be traced back to one fundamental flaw in someone. That's being shut off from any new ideas, perspectives, worldviews, compromises, or solutions.

Their mind is shut off like a rock that'll eventually crash into someone.

February 26, 2019

A philosophy comic has reminded me humans probably have no free will.

The comic's example: imagine you travel back in time one year. You secretly watch a copy of yourself relive that entire year. Since you lived it, you can predict your every thought and action.

Now imagine you're playing The Sims, the computer game where you create computerized people and watch them live. You make their personalities and environment, and how they'll make their decisions. You could watch them live for a year and predict virtually their every thought and action.

These two scenarios are ultimately the same thing. It's hard to claim a simple computer program has free will, so how can we claim humans have it?

All humans are basically robots making decisions based on things we can't control: our personalities, environments, and the laws of physics. We're just a lot more complex than Sims and we don't understand the whole decision-making process. Not yet, anyway.

Also sadly, there's no reset buttons or money cheat codes. Not yet, anyway.

February 22, 2019

When bored, I've defaulted to this question: "What interesting thing can I make today with anime images I find online?"

This time around, I answered by laser-cutting one of these images into a woodblock as a gift. It's possible with four easy steps!

First, find a good image with a simple background.

A drawing of a girl smiling while adjusting her glasses.

Second, remove its color and increase the contrast.

The same drawing of the girl with glasses, but without color and with more contrast.

Third, use Inkscape to convert the image into several SVG vector layers. Pick out the best ones, change them to either pure green or yellow, and place them on an image canvas. Add in other elements like a quote or a sun.

A digital canvas with a simplified version of the girl drawn with solid green and yellow color layers, next to a quote and image of a cartoon sun.

Fourth, plug it all into a laser cutter, put in a standing woodblock, hit start, and pray it comes out okay.

The simplified version of the girl, with the quote and sun, carved into a standing wooden block.

Once all the above are done, dance into the night in celebration!

February 18, 2019

Many of my online friends handle intrusive thoughts by letting them flow in and out of their mind without feeding them. Feeding them too much attention or mental energy makes them grow, and they wear away at our emotions and mental energy until...bad things happen.

Yet for the past few days strategies like this have failed me, with intrusive thoughts gnawing away at my self-esteem and sense of security.

Turns out, forcibly rejecting intrusive thoughts counts as feeding them in my case. It's the "say you can't think about elephants, and it's all you can think of" cliche. My extra effort to overlook these thoughts ironically made them stronger.

I got around this by remembering not to judge myself for these thoughts. Everyone has dark or unflattering thoughts each day, but they don't define our character. Those are the thoughts we remember, act on, and base our actions on.

So next time a dark thought pops up as I'm walking down the street, I'll think no more or less of myself for it. It just flows into the void, like so many others.

February 15, 2019

I look back on history and wonder what it like to live in different times. Times without:

  • Internet
  • Modern medical care
  • Video games
  • Books

I could research what those times were like forever. But I can never experience them the same way. I can't walk down a road from the past, living in an society untouched by today's technology. It makes the past seem archaic, and the present feel futuristic.

On the flipside, people centuries in the future will think the same about today. The future could be radically different in any way, like:

  • Colonization of other planets
  • Global devastation through nuclear war
  • Enslavement via autonomous, power-mad AIs

People in the future could be looking back on the present, wishing they could find the experiences we take for granted each day. They could long to know what it's like walking down a street of planet Earth without fear of radiation or robots looking to enslave them.

We are living the history people will someday wish they could go back and experience, even for a moment. How incredible is that?

February 10, 2019

It's easy for me to look at large-scale horrible news (repeating government shutdown, anyone?), and get so cynical I shut myself away with video games.

Those big problems will always be there. But it's more pragmatic to focus on the smaller, local things that are actually productive or can make a difference to someone.

Maybe not everyone, but someone. That's better than no one.

Cynicism is another bad feeling pulling our minds like gravity. But it pulls us away from things that can alleviate that cyncism - meaningful activity, other people, and the liquor store. So pulling away is a daily fight.

January 26, 2019

With programming, there are times when I'm balancing time between two side projects. For example, these side projects could be:

  • A Pokemon personality quiz on which Eevee evolution someone is, built on Ember to practice more complex services, writing all an app's tests on my own, and with touches of the Pokemon API.
  • Building another Pokedex from the ground up with the Pokemon API, but this time with React as my first experience with a fuller React application and (hopefully) testing it.

When I'm torn between two weird Pokemon code projects, I know I'm in the right field.

January 20, 2019

Good creativity doesn't occur in a vacuum from the "creative mind," whatever that means. It's not from a simple desire to make something flashy and get attention, since there's simple (and often annoying) ways to do that. Just look online.

Creativity is rooted in problem-solving. Solving interesting problems leads to creativty, since they demand interesting solutions. Which is more work than simply "thinking up something new." It's thinking up something new that gets a new job done.

I should ask myself a different question when bored. It shouldn't be "how can I be creative?" It's "what problem can I try to solve?" It can be big or small, as long as I find it just challenging enough.

January 12, 2019

I was recently asked "where do you want to be in ten years?"

I had no real answer. I still don't.

But I don't think I need to yet. It's still early enough in my life. I can go in the right direction without knowing my specific goals.

Someone can know they need to head north, but not know exactly where for a while. But I need to get an answer ready when just "north" isn't enough.

January 7, 2019

As a front-end developer, I think Ruby may be my favorite programming language I've used the least in my career.

I've fiddled with Ruby before, but I reached the point of using it to pull off all my once far-reaching ideas. It's easy to take a goal like "scraping the web for my favorite anime artwork" and break it down into several classes. Each ones is easy to manage, fun to optimize, is a great cook, and will automatically email me great images like this each day.

A large anime drawing of someone eating a sandwich while reading at a cafe outside.

I don't think this means I'll go full-stack, or someday move entirely to the back-end. But having another tool to play with, expand my thinking, and have some cheap thrills with on the side never hurt. It's not like my repos of CSS and JavaScript will find out, right?

But every day can't be like today, where I stay at work thirty minutes too late, lost in the eyes of a Ruby module. There's a thin line between love and a crazy code obsession, Ruby. Let's not let things get so off the rails that we find ourselves lost and full of regret inside a Rails app.

At least not right away.

January 4, 2019

Which came first, the decrease in writing or the decrease in self-esteem?

I'd argue it doesn't matter, since regardless of order, the result is a downward spiral of both.

The best way to break this cycle is writing anything, even if it hurts. As long as it build momentum and carries the self-esteem up with it.

I wrote before about good writing being a habit. I didn't write about how if I let my guard down at all, those habits will shrivel up and die off.

December 26, 2018

Vacation time is all about relaxing. But what makes a good relaxing activity?

During my own vacation to New Orleans, my favorite ways to relax are:

  • Twiddling with new Ruby ideas
  • Starting to write Sonic Pi notes
  • Bringing my personal site back to Jekyll (ugh...)
  • Reading old and new books
  • Walking in Audobon Park until my legs scream

My favorite ways to relax here are (mostly) simple things that keep my mind at a gentle hum instead of at full throttle. I'll indulge in an episode or two of Bones, but eventually my brain gets antsy. A life without thought, however small, feels like a wasted one.