Oct 13, 2018

dream log

lazer walker and i were at a party and we decided to take a day trip to see the Presidio, which ended up being a ruin on a hill.

we didn't end up making it there, instead we huffy puffied our way up and up. i did the thing i do best, which is figuring out which way to go to keep moving forward. we hunted the top through buildings and schools, and long staircases and steep upward slopes. in a way, it was like finding your way to the Acropolis in Athens.

there were others on the way up, but none were as good at getting up as me.

at one point the trail led through a school that had been shut down for an event and we rang the bell anyway. we wandered around the corner to try to find another in, but eventually the doir opened and we were in a high school gym dance party. everyone was wearing Halloween costumes and damn they could boogie. but so could i! we danced our way out the other end of the school, through hallways of revelry.

we didn't make it to the top before the sunset, which was game over.

Oct 4, 2018

the worst part

the worst part is watching them disappear you. seeing them slowly back away from the you and yourself, mentally parking themselves into some strange reality that where the you that is you doesn't exist. it's like watching someone choose to live in a different reality. it's painful, because it's a reality that you don't exist in, one that is defined by the static, bad copy of you that they've chosen to live with. or erase entirely.

it's a process of universe selection that you can't change. or at least, one that i haven't figure out how to arrest, not yet anyway.  even if i could stop it or offer some kind of course correction,  i'm not sure that i would want to. what universe you choose to live in is just that: your choice. i can't imagine taking that away from you.

it makes me sad, to know that i'm not cut out for working at big companies. literally cannot do it, am not built for it. it kills me, a piece of me. i hate knowing how much i hate it. i hate knowing that it's not my thing, because i think i've always in some small way wanted it to be a thing i was good at, that i felt comfortable doing. maybe age changes it. i hope age changes it, but also, i think the reality is that i know that i've wasted too much time there already.


Sep 21, 2018

it's taken me a long time

It always feels like it's taken me a long time. But!

I realized that you don't mind it when I'm myself. Fully and happy and myself. You don't mind when I ask silly questions or make particularly feminine exclamations. I hid them, you know. Not very well mind you because that's not the kind of person that I am, I am.

Or maybe I was right to hide them the whole time until I could get to a place where I feel safe. Maybe this is the place where I can do and be the thing.

Is this the place? Maybe this is the place.

Sep 4, 2018

rethinking

I've had the opportunity to really rethink some things this weekend and I honestly couldn't have thought of a better way to spend the time. I also read a metric shitton and it was the best thing I could have imagined doing with my time. I feel like I'm finally getting over some really big hang ups with algorithmic thinking and computational problem understanding. It's huge in a way I can't describe, really. The ease with which I can flip through a textbook on programming topics and really grok what they're talking about is mind-bendingly new and radical. I mean, I've had this happen to me before in other domains, but this honestly feels like a new kind of superpower. It's not just a problem domain, it's a way of understanding problem domains.

Honestly, what's helped the most is all of the difficult, non-fiction book reading I've been doing lately. I've really dug in, in the last year, to reading dense, long form non-fiction books. It felt really crazy to be devoting so much time and energy to reading such difficult stuff in my free time, but man has it paid off in spades. What really helped me get through them was picking stuff that I find genuinely interesting and that's just blow-your-socks off amazing. Which is to say, authors that sincerely reward the effort. Ok ok, it's mostly just Hannah Arendt. Her stuff is so good though. Finding someone that can really reshape the way that you see the world is intensely powerful. I made it through Origins of Totalitarianism, The Human Condition, and Eichmann in Jerusalem. I'm really glad I started with Condition, it was by far the most difficult of the three, but incredibly worthwhile. I've got her short book On Violence floating around somewhere -- I seem to have lost track of it but I'm super keen to get to it, if and when it ever shows up.

I took my personal vanity, which has always given me much personal grief in the form of guilt, and put it in this new, intelligent, true context. I look at myself because I want to know what I look like. It's a curiosity. The real negativity comes from feeling like I shouldn't want to look, and really, who needs that kind of negativity weighing down their features.

Slowly drying you out of my head one table turning conversation at a time. It's a weird thing to evict a tenant of any standing. It's not like it's been long, but I know you're better off elsewhere. It's been nice to have my perspective back though, and to really see instead of watching the picture window my fantasies have been projecting out onto reality. They don't call it a reality distortion field for nothing, sweet jesus. One of the biggest reframing of it though, has been to realize how much having you inhabit my head was, in some ways, not unlike having a muse. I agree, it's a very strange and grandiose comparison, but, in some ways, not totally inaccurate. The real tragedy would be to have been inspired by the experience and not embracing that.  In fact, more people should be upfront about their muses, traditional gender roles be damned.

I looked in the mirror today and the first thought was that I'm turning into a terrible looking middle aged woman. Then I tried looking at myself as if I were a man: was I handsome, how strong is my jaw? and, well fam, I don't look particularly striking as a man either. Some things are just good to see.




Aug 19, 2018

birthdays and such

I'm going to be an aunt (soon!) and I've been getting high a lot more lately and somehow these two things converged on birthdays and family and I realized that birthdays are a celebration of a new person joining the family and

I think to fully appreciate how novel this is you have to understand how much I've always (always!) struggled with what my birthday meant, exactly. I have a weird relationship with birthdays, my own especially. It's never felt entirely healthy. The weirdness isn't necessarily related to aging (though truthfully I do try to hide my age from co-workers and professional people now because other people's ageism isn't something I want to have to deal with).  I am nebulous number of years old!

I mean, you can celebrate a birthday without a number. The number has never been that important to me. I usually tell myself that I'm older than I actually am.  I've done this since I was 8 or 9, at least, if not earlier. This is mostly because I was the second child and there's always your older sibling there, doing the things that you're 'not old enough' for yet. It's so easy to lie to yourself, to say that you're older. When I was 25, I told myself I was 27. At 28 I was already 30.  Now I'm 30 for real, in clock time, and I don't even know what age is any more. I know I'm young, but not as young as I used to be.

No, my problem with birthdays was always with what it meant, exactly. Why it was special. Was I special? Did it make me a special person that day? But why? I knew what time I was born, and one year, in 3rd grade, waited with anticipation for the clock to hit the time (13:13). When the moment arrived, I stood up on my chair and announced it's my birthday!

My teacher told me to sit down.

Some people wear crowns on their birthdays and have whole weeks where they treat themselves to cake and self-indulgence. As I've gotten older, I hide my birthday now. Jealously guarding the actual date and time like a well-kept secret that I secretly wish someone else would also remember.

One year, in college, I opened up a bar tab for a bunch of friends and paid for everyone to get drunk at my expense at a fancy cocktail place in downtown Austin.  Being small-time wealthy for a college student was fun because I could do things like that but in terms of meaning, it didn't mean anything. I haven't done it again.

What is a birthday? Why do we celebrate them? In America, the land of the individual, they seem, at least in the communities I grew up on, focused on the individual. A celebration of their existence. But now, that my sister is pregnant and I'm about to see a birthday happen, in almost real-time, I've realized that birthdays aren't about the individual. They don't make sense as an individual's celebration, because it isn't something for you, personally, to celebrate. It's a celebration of the day that you became family. That you gained a family, that a family welcomed a new member.

Honestly, I'd never really understood wedding celebrations before now either. But it makes sense. There's only a few times that a family gains a new member. Families, for better or worse, really are secret societies with very strict member requirements. Birthdays are your initiation into the clan, so are weddings.  I see people talk a lot about how family is the friends that you make and the community that you build, and I do believe that's true but how do you celebrate 'births' in that family? Do you? You probably do, but just not in a way that any one explicitly recognizes. Do you change your birthdate, when you create a new family?

So why celebrate your birthday with friends, when the real celebration should be with your family? Maybe that's how we bridge the gap between birth family and made family -- we celebrate our birthdate with the people that we see as our present family. And that is special, you know.

Aug 11, 2018

dream log

strangest of strange.

at one point i wrote a note in my dream about how the police had forced me to sign a document giving up some right to a trial when and if they decided to deport me, yet i knew it was a lie and i worried what you would think if you found it, the lies, all.

we had been on a field trip. we went to a dance class, and sang an old song. on the way back, in a 7-person van, we passed carnage. cars were down below us, the river was full of them, chock full of hundreds, if not thousands. i was worried about us, about where they had come from, how they had ended up there, so many but our driver just kept going. we were fine. we came around a bend just in time to see a the last of a fleet of expensive, last minute buggies disappearing into the tail of some large boat. a joyride amidst the destruction. it was impossible to tell if the boat had, in some way, caused the wreckage of all the other cars. impossible to tell.

the next thing i knew i was alone at the strangest subway I've ever been to. it had these tracks that were more like moving in walkways. it was a long but narrow station. everyone spoke Finnish and I couldn't understand a thing. it was late. i took the wrong train, by accident, and ended up at this part of town where the trains only ran one direction. even getting back to the train platform felt impossible -- all the walkways were running in the wrong direction. every time someone new arrived, a crowd would cheer. it was here that i wrote the letter, the fake. as i was writing it i knew it was dramatic storytelling, expressing how trapped I felt, but also wondered what anyone would think if they found it.

so bad.

i eventually went outside and it was quiet except for the roaring of a freeway in the distance. there were no cabs in sight and i couldn't communicate with the lone woman, standing there, not even with a paper map.

i resolved to sleep in the bushes.

Jul 15, 2018

lately

I've been writing a lot more lately, and it feels like it's completely changed my relationship with this blog.  Instead of this being the outlet for the first barage of thoughts, I've only got more distilled information for you.

I find myself wanting to report back from the fields of inquiry, rather than using this as a place for self expression.

Journaling is so wonderful because it really lets me organize my thoughts and gives me this great fodder of jumping off points for inquiry later, when I'm not in a productive or contemplative mood.

Two things have come up lately, both related to works that I'm currently reading.

The first is around investments and returns, precipitated by Benjamin Graham's Intelligent Investor book*. I'm about a quarter of the way through the book (I just finished chapter 4). There's some interesting discussion about T-Bills, municipal bonds, and preferred vs common stock. I spent some time tonight digging into how bonds are valued (what's a discount versus premium bond means, and how to approximately calculate their value to maturity).  I added a couple questions around this to Anki, which feels super good.  I figured out how to search for Houston municipal bonds in EMMA, and even ran a couple of calculations of what the YTM (yield to maturity) would be for a few of them.  It's pretty cool that EMMA will show you the tax-preferred status of bonds in the titles. Some bonds are subject to the AMT. According to the internet, these trade at a bit of a better rate, so if you're not subject to AMT it might be a good deal. (Most salaried people aren't subject to AMT).

I also went through and looked up the current dividend status for all of my current stock holdings. About a quarter of the stocks that I own currently have a dividend. The highest rate was 6.69%, the lowest was 0.23%. Of course, rate is a function of the stock price itself so this fluctuates based on the stock's valuation. A dip in stock price would mean that dividend rate would go up.

The next things I want to look into are: how to invest in bonds using my existing trading account, and what is some currently available corporate paper rates. Write up a small Excel program that can calculate the total return of a stock pick based on both it's stock price gains plus dividends, ideally connected to some data source that can just keep the damn thing updated. Graham's function for how to value a stock was price + dividend return - inflation - tax rate.  I'd love to get a calculator that can handle this for me.

Karthik and I were talking about soccer and I realized that soccer, as a game is still in this really young, malleable state. They update the rules for the game constantly, and no one seems super upset about it. They're really far ahead in terms of understanding how to cut out trolls and protect the game, too. They have this amazing policy of not replaying video of fans that rush the field, so as not to encourage copycats. It's both frustrating and also incredibly amazing. They care about the game, and making it better, and it really shows. I'm sure soccer has other problems, but as a game and community it seems really wholesome.

I want to start an ETF for soccer. It would grow marvelously over the next 30 years.



The second thing I've been thinking a lot about lately is networking. This particular train of thought was mediated by starting another book, Ingrid Burrington's Networks of New York. As a preface to reading it, I tried to write down everything that I already knew about computer networks, specifically the Internet, worked. It turns out that I get lost somewhere between "TCP is a packet formation and call/response protocol" and "RS232 is a way of sending data between two computers". What's missing is all of the routing and packet switching info.

Ingrid's book didn't really answer this for me**, so instead I've started reading RFC 791, which lays out the IP (Internet Protocol).



* It's the updated version that was annotated by Jason Zweig around 2002.
** It really reads like more of a who's who and where's what of NYC internet infrastructure.

dream log

lazer walker and i were at a party and we decided to take a day trip to see the Presidio, which ended up being a ruin on a hill. we didn...