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 stream of conscious, I have my Notes section. They have lots of colors to match how across the board they get.
Keep scrolling to read my notes in order. Or surprise yourself with a random note.
A recent Existential Comic about stoic dating made me ponder a stoic way to be thankful. Having read plenty of stoic philosophy before, I figure it’d go like this:
- Take the top five things in life you’re grateful for.
- Imagine life without each of them, one at a time, and all the stress and misery that’d cause you.
- Stop imagining these scenarios with a blend of gratefulness for still having them, and misery for realizing how they’ll eventually leave your life.
- Continue after Thanksgiving with a fresh perspective on the fragility of everything we love in life.
I think if we’re going to practice thankfulness, we should take it seriously!
When I want to be creative but can’t get the words going, drawing is always a good backup activity.
Now I just need time to get good at it again.
“Death Stalks Kettle Street” is one of my favorite novels for many reasons. Chief among them is an idea captured in this quote:
There were lots of so-called able-bodied people who were more ‘disabled’ than she was simply because they chose to sit around, letting their health suffer, watching television or playing videogames twelve hours out of every twenty-four. How many people couldn’t write a coherent sentence, not because they had learning difficulties, but because they just couldn’t be bothered to learn, and were content to have the only book they owned be the Argos catalogue?
~ Death Stalks Kettle Street, 211
I remember this on days I’m being too lazy. Not making proper use of my time to do something meaningful is wasteful, bordering on cruel to myself.
I have an idea of the stereotypical Saturday night, likely from media I’ve seen and anecdotes I’ve heard. The night where friends get together for drinks and laughter while they can.
On a saturday night, some have nights just like this. Some get drunk at bars and eat pizza. Some go to wild warehouse parties and stay up well past midnight. Some have private fun with friends. Some chat with far-away lovers.
On a saturday night, some stay inside and enjoy their solitude. Some are content to read or play video games. Some take walks outside alone. Some have wine for the taste, not to cover up any loneliness.
On a saturday night, some are stuck working. Some catch up on overdue paperwork. Some are stuck in a busy food line. Some serve drinks to patrons they nervously watch drive home. Some have peaceful shifts where families dine together, or horrible ones where fights tear them apart.
On a saturday night, some are withering away. Some are suffering heartbreak. Some are mangled in freak accidents. Some look in a mirror silently before shattering it with their fist. Some are watching their loved ones die in a hospital. Some are dying in that same hospital.
On a saturday night, every conceivable good or bad event is happening.
On a saturday night, it’s like every other day and night. Some nights it’s both harder to, and more important to, remember that.
I got a surprising tweet in my mentions recently.
It’s surprising for two reasons:
- A major front-end blog, CSS Tricks, found my accessibility article worth sharing.
- A university professor whose class I took as a sophomore still remembers me over three years after graduation. My graphic design skills then (and likely now) weren’t getting into any galleries.
But I do remember Professor Davis from my time in Newhouse. Mostly from a Newhouse event where someone mistook her for a student.
As great as the conversation at #TechCurve has been, the best moment so far was Deb Davis's beautiful reaction to being called a student— Tom Charles (@tcharles411) March 27, 2014
I recently spoke to someone who, even though they’re an atheist, is unsure about their beliefs about reincarnation. After the death of a loved family member, this person took their lessons and ideas to heart. In a weird way, they felt like a reincarnation of their loved one. Other family members even commented on how their actions, ideas, and even mannerisms are similar. Was it reincarnation or just their memories?
I don’t believe in literal reincarnation myself, and told them so. But I believe their actions are a way to keep their family member alive. Remembering this person’s positive influence means, even indirectly, they’re still affecting the world like before. Their family member still exists, even if it’s limited to their memories of them.
Isn’t that, in its own way, a form of reincarnation and immortality? Carrying a loved one with you instead of waiting for them to reappear?
One of my worst habits (other than trying to make soup in an Instant Pot) is making side remarks just to get a laugh. Funny comments themselves aren’t bad - but doing it mostly to get a laugh is.
Why, you supposedly ask? It’s bad since it needlessly gives power to others. People can (and usually do) ignore my remarks or say they were annoying. Sometimes they’re just being honest, other times they’re jerks. The result is the same either way - The more validation I want, the more it stings after.
The lesson is it’s better to listen, rather than pepper discussions with needless snark. Plus if I’m putting that much importance on snarky remarks, I have bigger problems. Problems with my self-esteem and the amount of TV I’m watching.
When I’m feeling aimless, this poster always nudges be back on track.
The common themes I see for successful people I see? Flexibility and gratitude.
I’ve always wanted to be more like, and had a mild man-crush on, Miles Edgeworth.
What can I say, cravats are sexy. ❤️
You don’t need to know who he is. Just that I’ve idealized Edgeworth, and others like him, for their eccentric level of intelligence. They effortlessly see the truth and stay two steps ahead of enemies. That’s why people need them, and how they do so much good. He’s like Dr. House, except working in law, is a more charming kind of jerk, and asexual.
I’ve always wanted to be dangerously brilliant like him. But as you may know, I’m just a young front-end coder. It’s safe to say I’m not like smart and never will be. I doubt CSS will help solve murders, except for when it makes back-end coders kill someone.
Trying to be like him anyway has been like forcing a square peg in a round hole - pointless, frustrating, and breaks my fingernails. Much as I admire Edgeworth, and similar far-off personalities, trying to be him isn’t what’s best for me.
But there’s lots of things I can be. I can be curious. I can explain tough info clearly. I can get engrossed in solving complex coding puzzles. I can isolate myself indoors with books and games amid mild social anxiety and loneliness.
The takeaway from most of those strengths is it’s important to be who I am and do what I can. Max is all I’ll ever be, and no one else can be that. Might as well do some good that way instead of wasting weekends trying on cravats.
A common criticism I’ve heard of Christine Blasey Ford amid the Kavanaugh hearings, as well as other women speaking about their sexual assaults, is they’re “doing it for attention.” It’s not the most common dismissal, but is the most idiotic.
If these women just “wanted attention,” the easier choice is being the simple sex object many men want them to be.
- They’d dress themselves up for men they don’t know.
- They’d avoid saying anything too intelligent or opinionated to offend men with fragile egos.
- They’d put up with men catcalling her to humiliate her and exert power, doing nothing but smiling and waving.
- They’d prioritize a man’s pleasure over her own, even men she barely knows. Even, and especially, men who’d get physically violent without the pleasure they felt entitled too.
This is the way much of society wants women to act, and would gladly give women attention for it. Attention without the public shaming, personal attacks, and death threats. Attention met with that condescending “thank God you’re not like those other women” sneers and a pat on the head.
The fact that women like Professor Ford have known this all their lives, yet speak up against their assaulters, shows their bravery. It’s easier to fit into the silent, sex object role American society carved out for them. But it damn sure won’t lead to change.
Cartoonist and web developer Rachel Nabors once drew a comic about something she called the “Self-Doubt Fairy.” I’ve found I have a similar voice in my head I call the “Passive-Aggressive Perfectionist Fairy,” or PAP Fairy, and is just as bad for my mental health.
The PAP Fairy says many things that pull me toward self-doubt and depression. It picks apart every little thing I didn’t do perfectly. It blames me for not trying to improve enough. When I feel defensive, the PAP Fairy claims it only wants what’s best for me. It says if I’m fine with being imperfect and undeserving, that’s my problem.
For the longest time, I couldn’t argue against all that well enough. But lately I’ve realized how its arguments are total bullshit by remembering a few fundamental truths:
- Perfection is pointless to strive for. The best I can do is be a bit better each day, a respectable goal for an imperfect human.
- I can want to be better while knowing my limits and priorities. I can accept the tradeoff of working harder in my career than my boxing workouts.
- What’s “best for me” isn’t relentless pressure for impossible perfection. What’s best for me is self-compassion, accepting my ups and downs as they are and as they change.
So you, PAP Fairy, are a stupid liar and not worth listening to. But you’re not universally bad - you also make me work harder and think critically. So despite being a stupid liar and all, I accept you as part of me with compassion. Maybe someday we can truly coexist.
But if we can’t, I’ll squish you with a sketchpad. It worked for Rachel and her Self-Doubt Fairy, so it’s a solid backup plan.
In all definitions of God I’ve heard, they’re all-good, all-powerful, and all-knowing. I assume a God would need at least that much going for it to be worth worshipping.
But this same God also falls apart with the classic “Problem of Evil.”
- An all-knowing God would know how much evil would be in their world, and how to create a world without evil
- An all-good God would want to remove as much evil as possible
- An all-powerful God could create this world without evil
- Despite the above, evil still exists in the form of poverty, crime, murder, inequality, and flat-out misery happening to good people
A common response I’ve heard is it’s all part of “God’s Plan.” Human’s can’t understand this great design, so we must trust it’s for the greater good.
First off, I’m worried that someone’s willing to swallow a design where they’ll never know the reason for so much suffering. Plus no one could understand if a design “beyond human understanding” was for the greater good. By definition, no one could know if this plan of God’s is good or bad.
Even worse is how someone could accept these evil designs in the name of “faith in those with power.” That’s the kind of belief those in power are happy for people to have. The same leaders who, coincidentally, preach religion as a source of morals and inspiration. Makes me wonder if this answer to the “Problem of Evil” is how humans do so many evil things.
Instead of justifying evil to protect beliefs, people may be better off trying to understand the world’s evil more, decrease it, and build their beliefs from there. Then would it really matter how much of a role “God” played?
No matter how good something seems, I always find something better shortly after. A book that looks immersing later looks boring compared to another. Coding tools or frameworks I see one day soon becomes obsolete next to others.
It’s an endless cycle of want disguised as need. Ending that cycle means truly appreciating what I already have. Never forgetting the value I saw in it from the start.
For new things, if I only feel a “need” something once I learn about it, chances are I don’t really need it. The things I actually need, I probably already have and just need to remember.
This note brought to you by an hour after work wasted browsing Nintendo Switch before realizing it was an idiotic waste of time.
Whenever life is going well, I’ll ask myself one thing: do I deserve any of this?
The most likely answer I can think of is, I probably don’t. Maybe I never will. But the bigger point is that regardless, I have what I have. I better make good use of it. In some way.
Because if I don’t, these feelings of guilt and undeservedness won’t just get worse. They’ll be justified.
When your main thing is writing, it’s easy to get too caught up in reading and neglect the actual writing. It’s true whether one wants to write code, blogs, or stories. Reading examples helps, but my best progress comes from actually writing.
It doesn’t matter that writing’s for a detailed post, or random thoughts in my pocket notebook. Writing is a muscle to use each day. It’s is a habit I use to get through each day. It’s not something to turn on-and-off when I think enough people are looking.