tcepsa: (PyrateSmirk)
I've figured out at least one reason why my postings here have become severely curtailed: I have too much other stuff going on. I have so much other stuff going on that even when I have a few free minutes to work on some of the more optional free stuff, I can't decide what to spend those precious free moments on, and so I end up reading Hacker News or playing a videogame that I've already beaten half a dozen times. Those things are fun and all, but they're generally not what I'd consider the top of my priorities list.

And maybe it's just that sometimes when those moments show up it turns out that I've just plain run out of gumption, and I can mostly live with that. It happens. I just wish it was easier to tell when I was already out of gumption versus having my gumption sapped by having to choose just one thing to work on (and, by extension, pay the opportunity cost of not working on ALL THE OTHER THINGS).

Okay, now that I've established that, I'm going to go do SOMETHING on my mental to-do list.

Have a great weekend ^_^
tcepsa: (Default)
Well, 2011, you were a pretty good year for me. Some rough spots, but also some great spots. Still working on sorting some of that out. Already in over my head for projects for the new year, but I like the look of them. They're almost entirely things that I either want to do or desire the immediate consequences of having done them. Maybe this could be characterized as moving into the realm of "intermediate" with a number of my skills. Maybe it's a further mental shift away from my perfectionism. Not taking any more classes also will definitely help also. Okay, time to get started!
tcepsa: (Cake)
I am thankful for [livejournal.com profile] gipsieee. For her support of my hobbies, and my geekiness, and my wackiness. It makes me incredibly happy to know that she's looking forward to our next camping adventure, and that we have Bromptons, and that we're seriously looking at making or buying a tiny house in the soon-enough-that-I-can-keep-being-excited-about-it-rather-than-tell-myself-no-you-have-to-wait-it's-too-far-away-to-really-think-about-yet timeframe ^_^ I'm also thankful that she's been encouraging and helping me learn how to cook since we started dating; I think dinner yesterday has been our biggest triumph so far. We're going to be eating well for quite some time!

I'm thankful for my job and my coworkers. Last year was not so great as I spent most of it working on things that I'd really rather not have been working on (realistically, the tasks themselves were fine; it's the codebase that I really wish I hadn't had to deal or interface with). This year is shaping up to be a lot more fun and more interesting and less wondering "what am I going to break with this?" and I'm really looking forward to it. I'm also really glad that they're putting me through a Master's degree; I'm loving the classes that I've been taking so far, and I think they've helped me develop as a, um, developer. So that's good. ^_^

I'm thankful for my family, both sides, who called me up to wish me a happy birthday even though Thanksgiving was the next day, and who did so much towards helping our wedding be the wonderful occasion that it was.
tcepsa: (Computation Suspended)
A little gem that [livejournal.com profile] gipsieee pointed me to earlier this afternoon.

Don't Wake The Programmer

I never thought of programming like this before, but after thinking about it, and about how it works for me, holy crap he's exactly right! No wonder I get so irritable when I'm interrupted abruptly--or why I can handle little interruptions reasonably well, but as soon as it goes for more than a few minutes or takes a higher level of concentration, the dream falls apart.

It also explains why thinking about a problem that I'm trying to write code for and daydreaming feel so similar ^_^
tcepsa: (Default)
I've never been able to address it because the entire tangled mess of trying to deconstruct their prejudice, societal stereotypes, and my own ignorance would tangle in my throat and render me mute.
--[livejournal.com profile] dolphin__girl, A moment of contemplation


I've been reading the entry and it has been good and raised several important points for me to think about this, but that's the first thing that has made me go "whoa, I need to stop and write this down." And I'm a little bit unsettled that it's about communication in general rather than the specific topics of racism and privilege and stereotyping and privilege that she is talking about. At the same time, though, I think a huge number of the challenges that we face in these areas are deeply rooted in communication and difficulties therewith.

Also, it's something that I often find myself stymied by--admittedly not in the areas that she is talking about, but in general. Very frequently, when I'm trying to talk about something that is important to me, I get a sense that there is a very vast context needed to make that thing's importance apparent, and I have no idea how to convey even a part of that context. And then I start to wonder how anybody manages to talk about anything! Do most people have a greater shared context with each other than I seem to have with them, thus negating the need to transmit such a large chunk of it when they want to talk about something? Or do they just not care? Do they even realize it (and to the cynics out there, I urge you to think hard about this one before choosing to believe they do not)? Have they come up with some other strategy for dealing with it that I haven't hit upon (or at least realized)? Is this why it seems like so many people's conversations are about the most banal of things--they realize they can't talk about anything significant, but they still want to pretend like they're communicating? Or am I in a minority thinking that those things are banal, and they really are communicating?

If you were here in my head, what I am about to say would make perfect sense to you. But you're not in my head. I know this, and I despair.
tcepsa: (Computation Suspended)
Disclaimer: There are assumptions in here that I do not explicitly state as such. If any of my assertions are incorrect, please let me know.

I've heard the term "justice" used in conjunction with the current financial situation quite a bit lately, especially with the recent revelation of the AIG bonuses. It's been along the lines that people want to make sure that "justice is served" and that the people who created this mess are "brought to justice."

I was about to write, "that's a noble sentiment, but..." but I'm not sure that I actually feel that way; I'm not sure I can even get that far without tripping myself up on my own point that I want to make here. It seems to me that people are being careless with a very important word, and I always get upset when that happens. Justice is one of our dearest tenets; it's so important to us that we have dedicated one of our government's three branches to it.

Or perhaps I misunderstand the word. I thought that justice was, by definition, relevant to law. If the law is broken, justice is served by attempting to undo, minimize, or repair the effects of the transgression. Those who break the law are brought to justice by being forced to contribute, often heavily, to that reparation. Sometimes they are also incarcerated, to protect the general populace from them until it can be ascertained whether they present any further threat to their fellow humans. At least that's how I understand it is ideally supposed to work. My understanding is that the contracts granting the bonuses were all done on the up and up, completely within the boundaries of the relevant laws; no law has been broken by giving these people these bonuses. To say that they must be brought to justice for receiving their rightful bonuses is grossly unfair, for they have broken no laws and therefore committed no injustice and yet it as much as calls them criminals.

... or perhaps things are more deeply broken than I originally suspected. Perhaps justice means something else to most people these days. What that something else is, I am not sure. The best thing I can think of is that it means the fulfillment of their own moral expectations. But this is treacherous ground to tread. One of the reasons we have the legal system that we have is because of that tremendous range of moral expectations. It's supposed to provide something that, while it does not completely satisfy anyone's moral expectations, neither does it completely ignore anyone's moral expectations; a massive compromise. It seems, however, that more and more people are looking to the Executive and Legislative branches for justice than they are looking to the Judicial branch, and that worries me. I say that it is treacherous ground, and that it worries me, because it seems to me that it is a departure from the principles on which this country was intended to be run. We seem to be making this change blindly, without consideration of the consequences. Perhaps the current system is not working. Perhaps this is the best thing to do in the long run. But I cannot believe that it will lead to a more healthy or fulfilled country if we do it in a headlong rush.

Bah. I was all set to try to make some grand point about how, if you want to see people brought to justice, you have to change the laws so that they actually match up with your idea of what justice would look like, but then I got all sidetracked. Much like if you want a computer program to perform a certain operation for you then you must make sure that it is designed to correctly perform that operation, if you want to see justice served then you must have in place a legal system and laws that are capable of producing your idea of justice.

Divided, we are falling. Now, I think, it is a matter of whether we fall together... or fall apart.
tcepsa: (PoiArcBlue)
When I grow up, I shall be able to play videogames or read past my bedtime
And my parents will not tell me that I have to go to sleep
When I grow up, I shall be able to go in the hot tub at the YMCA
And stay there until closing
When I grow up, I shall be able to have peanut butter and jelly for every meal
And ice cream whenever I want
When I grow up, I shall be able to skip my shower or bath
Unless I want one
When I grow up, I shall be able to leave my things lying wherever I want
And nobody will tell me to pick them up
When I grow up, I shall be able to have my own house
And rooms for all my toys
When I grow up, I shall be able to write many wonderful books
And people will love my stories
When I grow up, I shall be able to use a snowblower
To spend less time shoveling and more time playing in the snow piles
When I grow up, I shall be able to wear whatever clothes I want
And nobody will tell me that they're not nice enough or cool enough
When I grow up, I shall be able to make a huge blanket fort
And nobody will tell me to take it down
When I grow up, I shall be able to have a job in a research lab
And do awesome science experiments all day

Are we there yet?
tcepsa: (Computation Suspended)
I'm currently enjoying The Little Schemer as a way to attempt to learn more of the Lisp/Scheme programming paradigm. It's been a useful book for me so far, in that I'm 30 pages in and haven't yet had to stop and go, "Wait, WTF?!"*

Cut for rambling )

*Actually, looking at it that way, I should try to pick it up and read a single page each day. I'd be farther along now if I had done it that way... ~wry grin~

**Obligatory reference to Plato's Allegory of the Cave. It's been awhile since I read it, but I think that he was trying to take it one step further: that the physical world we observe is due to something else, like the two-dimensional shadows cast on a cave wall by three-dimensional objects with a light behind them. Whether he explicitly said so or not, the physical world that we perceive might well be such a shadow of what we call mathematics.

***L-mode is what I'm using to refer to the more logical/linguistic operations of the brain (also known as "left brained", though my understanding is that term contains implications that aren't entirely accurate).

****~blink~ I think I just reduced Understanding to Graph Theory. Or at least I made a claim of some kind of analog between the two.
tcepsa: (Computation Suspended)
[livejournal.com profile] gipsieee and I recently downloaded the Toki Tori game for the Wii. It's a lot of fun--some really great puzzles in there--but as we were discussing one of the levels that we had gotten to, I was joking about the level design and said, "Why is there lava in a castle?"

Beat.

"Wait, why is there always lava in castles?!"

When I stop and think about it, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Except it makes perfect sense and it is sheer genius (or at least sheer dumb luck that in hindsight turns out to have been a really winning combination, but the makers of the Super Mario Bros. series have had too many hits for me to think that they're continuously getting that ridiculously lucky.) It's one of those things that, as a kid in the early days of video games, I got to the first castle at the end of the first world and went, "Holy crap! Those are spinning bars of fire! And that's a giant pit of lava with fireballs shooting out of it!!! Oh my god this is the coolest thing EVER!!!"

I didn't question it, I didn't have to question it; it was a videogame! And as Nintendo had just proven to my young mind, anything was possible--because if you can put lava in a castle, there is clearly absolutely nothing that you can't do.

Now I know I'm kind of out there with some things, but this is one thing about which I am sure I was not alone. And that, of course, is what sells videogames. After that, a bar had been set. You want to do better than Mario? You're going to have to top spinning firebars, lakes of lava with globs of burning lava shooting out of them, and, oh yeah, a fire breathing dragon at the end that will kill you if you so much as touch him. (Sometimes you just had to get close enough without even touching him, and his sheer ferocity would overwhelm the poor plumber...*)

So yeah, nowhere in this world's history will you actually find a castle that had lava as either part of its temperature control system or its invader control system, but that's part of what makes it so awesome as a component of a video game; it's a bending of reality in a way that lots of people think is fun to imagine and that lots of people love pretending to experience. And that's what videogames are all about. (At least the good ones ^_^)

*Stupid bounding box errors...
tcepsa: (PoiArcBlue)
Semi-random thoughts on our political process. Many of our politicians seem to like trying to convince people of a certain thing (often that something-or-other unpleasant was because of someone other than them).

I'm pretty sure that we don't have a good enough grasp of the principles of causality to actually say how much impact any one factor has, and so pretty much anyone can spin an event to support their position. See, for example, "The economy is collapsing because we didn't have enough government regulation" vs. "The economy is collapsing because we had too much government regulation"

So I suspect that it is less about how many people they can convince to come over to their position as it is about how many people they can find who want to believe the same thing and are looking for facts to support those beliefs.

Wanting to believe (or believing) something is an incredibly powerful thing. It's also a dangerous thing, I think, because it seems that people are often willing to suspend their powers of critical thinking when offered some bit of evidence--either for or against--whatever thing they want to believe. If offered something flimsy that supports their belief, they won't poke at it too hard for fear of causing it to fall down and their beliefs to be dashed. If offered something sturdy that undermines their belief, they won't poke at it too hard for fear of discovering how sturdy it really is, and instead look for ways to denounce it as fraud, phony, untrue--again, because they want so badly for their beliefs not to be dashed.

This is certainly not true for all people all of the time. I suspect it is not even true for any person all of the time. But at the same time, I also suspect that it is true for most people most of the time, and also that it is true for all people at least now and then.

... This has the potential to be a very twisty road to pursue.

Mmmm...

Feb. 13th, 2008 11:05 am
tcepsa: (PoiArcBlue)
I love weather like this! The trees and grass and other plants covered in a sheath of frosty ice... everything swathed in a fuzzy, misty grey glow, rain falling gently making that distinctive pitter-patter sound (my rosebush vines look awesome! I wish I'd had time to take more pictures!)

Of course, I'd really love to spend today wrapped up in blankets with someone close to me and sipping hot chocolate and maybe baking cookies or something and playing with my computer or studying something that I want to learn more about... but that's true about pretty much every day ^_^ I'm primarily glad that my mental state is currently such that thinking about things like that make me feel happy and glowy, instead of sad and lonely and yearning and wistful. (okay, so maybe I'm a little bit yearning still, but it's the kind of yearning that knows it'll get what it wants fairly soon, it just wants it now; it's the kind that makes birthdays and Christmas and other things much-looked-forward-to that much more enjoyable once they have arrived. A good kind of yearning ^_^)

In the meantime, I take today carefully, one cautious step at a time (a gash in my thumb from a fall on the backdoor stairs last night before I went to bed acting as a reminder), savoring the reminder to slow down and enjoy what I can.
tcepsa: (Computation Suspended)
Brief thoughts here, possibly elaborated later or in response to comments if they jar something loose in my mind...

The feeling that I am understood doesn't happen as a direct result of me talking.

It happens as a direct result of someone else talking.

Their talking can be in response to something that I've just said or done, or it can be from someone that I've never met before in my life. It can be from someone that I still haven't met, for example someone on TV or the radio.

Essentially, I feel like someone understands me (or would understand me, which currently seems like a very fine hair to split) when they say the same thing about something that I would say about that something.

If this is how it works for most people, then I think I may have just grokked an important chunk of persuasive speaking, one with vaguely disturbing implications that I'll hopefully poke more at later.
tcepsa: (I'll fix it!)
Dar Williams continues to rampage through my head, but fortunately this is apparently one of those rare brainworms that actually has something useful to say. (I suspect that it doesn't help that I finally hooked up the remaining 2 of my surround sound speakers for my computer last night just so that I could get the full-immersion effect, but there are some songs where I just want to soak in them like that...)

And then I got a link to [livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna's post here and [livejournal.com profile] matociquala's post here and [livejournal.com profile] geekchick's post here from my fiancee, [livejournal.com profile] gipsieee, and that thread all clicked together with the switch in Are You Out There from the fragment that I posted yesterday:
And when I turned your station on
You sounded more familiar than that party was
You were more familiar than that party
and this subsequent chunk of the song:
So tonight I turned your station on
Just so I'd be understood
Instead another voice said I was just too late
And just no good....
It feels incredibly relevant to what all three of those other entries talk about, with wanting something but being afraid to ask for it, or being afraid to even admit to wanting it, and developing coping strategies to protect ourselves from the pain that we perceive as accompanying those things. Those two song fragments are a perfect example of the sort of thing that causes us to build those walls: we find something that we can identify with, a source of support and familiarity, and all we have to do is reach out and ask for it... and then one day we reach out and it's gone, with no explanation, no forwarding address, replaced by a chastising reprimand. Faced with that, it is no surprise to me that we rapidly learn not to ask for things unless we absolutely desperately have to...

And though the static walls surround me
I am out here, can you find me?
I am out here listening all the time...
tcepsa: (Computation Suspended)
Have been doing a lot of work in the way of attempted brain hacking lately. ~wry~ It is frustrating when it feels like it isn't sticking, but it helps to remind myself that these behaviors and views that I am trying to now change have had years and years of development, cultivation, and reinforcement.

One big realization that I don't think had really sunk in earlier: I've been feeling lonely and disconnected and overwhelmed for the past few months, and it seems to be getting worse. Well, let's see, what changed about the time that this started? Oh! I pulled up and made the biggest move that I have made in the past four years of living on this coast! )
tcepsa: (Computation Suspended)
I've recently been introduced to the concept of Eternal September. Briefly, it refers to the period after September 1993. Prior to that, the main way to connect to Usenet newsgroups was through a college or university. Each year, in September, there was an influx of new freshmen who were just discovering this method of communication and were completely unfamiliar with its etiquette. As a result, correspondingly at that time there would generally be a spike in the level of rudeness, banality, etc. in Usenet posts while the newbies discovered the ropes and either acclimated and adopted the culture or got bored and wandered off or were chased away.

Many people feel that that changed in 1993, when AOL began providing Usenet access to its customers. Now, instead of a spike in September, newbies were joining constantly as they signed up with AOL and/or discovered this new feature being provided. As a result, the overall average etiquette of Usenet dropped and stayed down, instead of recovering as it had in the past. It is as though that September never ended, and that the etiquette of Usenet never really returned to the level at which it had been. The concept has been expanded upon, and also is now sometimes used to refer to the Internet as a whole, with its constant stream of new users as computers and the Internet become more and more accessible to a larger and larger portion of the population. Correspondingly, the overall level of civility has allegedly continued to drop.

Me wondering whether there's anything that can be done, and/or whether there is anything that has already been done )
tcepsa: (PoiArcBlue)
The brainloop tapes are not me.

It would probably serve me best if I did not identify with them (I hereby give myself permission to not do so).

It would also serve me well to be gentle with myself if I don't always catch myself in time to prevent identifying with them.
tcepsa: (Computation Suspended)
Most of the time I am rather happy with the idea of being an eccentric recluse. The problem is that I get lonely. I want to be an eccentric recluse with other eccentric recluses. )
tcepsa: (Inconceivable!)
Had some conversation about community with [livejournal.com profile] gipsieee over the weekend, and came to some conclusions that, while I don't particularly like them, I think I can probably live with them. Conclusions may be too strong a word. Stopping point from which I can look further later might be better ^_^

More behind the cut )
tcepsa: (iSquared)
Was talking with a friend today about language and translation, and the trickiness that comes with it, because you've got both what the individual words mean, and then what the speaker actually means when they say something. For example, I can say that the phrase "chotto mate" in Japanese means "wait a sec" in English. But it doesn't actually mean "wait a sec." What it really means is the same thing that a person means when they say "wait a sec."

Perhaps this is more of an English-specific problem. The problem is that we often don't mean what we say--by which I mean that what we say can have several different meanings, the literal one of which is often not the one that we mean.

~grin~ Or maybe this is just me being mean-spirited...
tcepsa: (PoiArcBlue)
I deserve friends who like me for me.

Seems like it'd be obvious, doesn't it? Regardless, it isn't. Or at least hasn't been; I had it pointed out to me last week by way of an extremely well-placed clue-by-four strike. Along with a few other corollary-type things, which are what really matter. )

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