Jul 24, 2016

Metal meets the rubber; where's the road?

Having a crises about things that can mostly be defined as too much dreaming not enough doing. Sort of. Not enough doing in the right direction.

The rubber has met the metal but it's still a long way off from the road.

What's the problem?  Where's the sticking point? Why are you procrastinating on this thing that you said that you wanted to do, like actually do?

Is it the task or the totality of the thing that's holding you back?  What about this spoken for future are you having trouble coming to grips with?  You said you wanted this thing but now you're not doing the thing. You're not doing the thing.  That's the problem, with everything.  That you're not *doing* the thing.

Bah.

Do you ever think that maybe the time has come for you to stop being uncomfortable.  If discomfort is the only thing that you know, maybe finding a comfortable place to be, like chilling in the what is instead of the what could be, would be a beneficial thing to do with life and time.

What do you say, dog?  Do you?

Dog says it's hot as balls in here and I couldn't disagree.

Jul 21, 2016

Wherein I confess my deep and true love for pop

I've been having a lot of good dreams lately. I've also been on what feels like an insane schedule.  In bed after midnight, still wired.  Up before 7am to let the dog out, to go on a walk, to make breakfast, to sit and to write.

I'm tired in the afternoons but I love it.  The dreams come, the mornings come, the evenings... they come.  But they don't go.  They aren't leaving me, I am here and I am awake.

You left Austin months ago. We last spent time together over Thanksgiving, when I was in town for a few hot moments. You gave me some books, and told me about how you were leaving. For real, for good. I wondered what it meant.  You, who had weirdly and yet emptily been there for everything.  Parts of London, Brasil, Atlanta, strange cities, and Austin, always Austin.  But you were packing, you were giving out books, belongings, aprons. You who I joked were my constant, my LOSTiean time-stable person who, if I ever got lost in time, would be the person that I would go to find.

You were leaving. It felt like the end of something.  Like a final goodbye. Like I was shut of all the places that I had encountered you.  Like there was no going backward, not now.  All hopes of being lost in time and then found again, left. Evaporated.

I don't know where you are now.  I don't know that I want to.

Your apron was destroyed by a potty training puppy a few months ago.  The book you gave me, I got halfway through before desisting, as I do most times when confronted with anything that even vaguely resembles deep self-inspection.  It wasn't as good as I wanted it to be, this therapist's idea of a book form of things.

I thought that you leaving meant that I was done with the places that you had found me.  That would be here. That would be there. That would be almost everywhere.

I was wrong.  It just meant that you were done.  You were gone. You were leaving.  You were moving on, and I was just doing what I do -- observing. Seeing, watching you get the fuck out.

That did mean something, but as is with most things, it meant less than I thought it did.

There is love in the tiniest breath of the universe.

I came here because I have a confession.  I love pop. I love country. I love the latino channel. I don't really like electronica, or house, or non-nostalgic rock.  These tastes are strong and have endured.

They will not change, they are as fixed as the stars under which we born.

Jul 20, 2016

How about some conspiracy?

Here's some conspiracy for you, brought to you by me, yours truly.[1]

Martha Nussbaum was born May 6th. She is a Taurus. She is a prolific writer, and well-regarded intellectual.  Her first and only husband was a Sagittarius (December 17).

Jane Jacobs is another prolific writer and brilliant observer.  She was born on May 4th.  Her largest foe in the field was Robert Moses (December 18), a Sagittarius.

None of this means anything, but it's kind of fun to have a way to sketch people's lives out on a template that somewhat maps onto something within reach of my own.

I understand people and birthdays and celebrations and what it means for someone to "act like a Taurus".  I don't understand brilliant authors and philosophers and what it was like to be a smart strong academic woman in the 20th century.  But I can understand their birthdays.

Tauruses all remind my of a friend that is no longer a friend, because I did not know how to not let her go.

I spent most of today waiting in line for confession, only to discover that the priest had turned his light off a few hours ago.  I'm not sure why no one passed the message back, down to the rest of the parishioners that had been forced to wait outside, in the muggy heat, but they didn't pass it back or down and there we were, stuck outside.

Oh well.

I'm 98% certain that nothing will have changed by Friday, and that we'll be yet again stuck outside in the heat.



People talk a lot about how writing is cathartic.  It is, but not in the way that other people find it, I don't think.  Certainly, it is an outlet, but for what I'm not exactly sure.  Words that are easy to type are often not easy to say, or even would be or could be said, even if I wanted them to.

There are many things that I want to talk about, but most of all I think that typing is just a way of getting exercise for my fingers.  At times I wonder if this is the sole reason that I do alright as a software programmer -- it's because at the end of the day I so love the small, minute movements that are required to produces, to execute, to make and get paid.  I'm admittedly not very accurate but that's not nearly so important as the need to type to move to put fingers to keys and to feel my thoughts become physical in the depressive act of keystrokes.

Perhaps I would make a great piano player. Perhaps this is why I was good at the bassoon.

But what are perhaps? Perhaps it's time to stop asking.  There is such a thing as being scattered about, but I'm not sure what the answer is to not being so scattered.

The dog is sleeping.  It is also time for me to sleep, poor thing. She waits so long for me to move, to do, to go.

I will be tired again tomorrow, but there is no relief from the ever pounding need to know, to do to execute.

If there is no pride in doing, why do?  If there is no utter joy in the extension of the will into reality, into the physical being, why produce?  If the perhaps have been investigated and fully found out, then why continue asking?  What new novelties await a thing already known?

What questions are these?

There is an excellent profile of Martha Nussbaum in this week's edition of the New Yorker.  It's what started off the thoughts of conspiracy (a deep curiosity to understand more about what her world view might have encompassed), and a deep sense of kinship.

I found it marvelous that one could go into a field that is so welcoming to autobiography as the field of philosophy.  The whole field feels appears to be a large group of people, sitting around pondering how other's autobiographies reflect, guide and shape their own.

How lovely, don't you think?


[1] The best thing to do, in the face of impending doom and destruction is to really dig into what ever it is that you find interesting and delightful and zany about the world.

Jul 11, 2016

The Jams

The only limit on yourself is joy.

I did a lot of things today.
- another blog post.
- PR for a new interview prep question.
- Debugged and merged a tricky PR.
- Talked to some new people, about APIs and chess and application architecture.
- Talked to other people about dogs and music recommendations.
- Went on a run.

- Listened to some Jams.
- Worked on some Yams.


Joy is out there, some where, waiting for us.

Hi Joy. 👋

Jul 10, 2016

an endless tunnel

"What is your life like?"

"An endless tunnel of wind"

I picked up the phone from the table and pressed a button.  The voice that had been on the other side went silent.  Ginger looked up at me from cushions where she was reposing, her gaze an open question; she had felt the static in the room, so ever present, suddenly go out.

Where were we then?  I'm not really sure.  I never much felt bad about hanging up on people, it felt like ripping off a bandaid, a release of tension you didn't know you had been holding suddenly, painfully free of.

I walked into the kitchen and squeezed the avocado.  It had been ready to eat ripe for a day already. I knew this because I had been squeezing it nonstop for the past three.  I enjoyed squeezing it more than the prospect of slicing it open, so I let it ripen.  The day for eating it was not yet.  Not today.  Or, not now, anyway.

I glanced at the time.  The clock on the microwave read 0:43.  Forty-three seconds left until...?  Hard to say.  My roommates have a habit of leaving seconds there, suspended motion.  There were only forty three of them, but it was hard to say how long that they had been stuck there for.  I hit Cancel, erased the promised future of an impending beep.

I whistled for the dog and grabbed her leash and began the long hike down to the outside.  It was probably time for her to pee, again.  She's like clockwork, but not the microwave kind.  Not the kind that you can just hit Cancel and make it forget, make it go back to how it was, but the real, solid tick-tock kind of time keeping that doesn't depend on anyone to expire.

It just does.

Jul 9, 2016

journeys

i've been on a lot of journeys, over the years.  one involved learning how to run. one involved learning portuguese. one involved learning to program, android specifically[1].  the journey i'm sort of on now is vocal -- i'm learning how to sing.

there was a point in the portuguese journey, and in the programming journey where i got to where i am now with singing.  that is, where you see that you're not as far along as you would like to get, where you're not sure what the end game is.  all you feel is that you're not where you want to be yet.  there is a moment that i remember well, when I was on a training run along the East River Park, rounding the eastern most point of Manhattan.  There's a building that stands at this point, just a further bit north of the amphitheater.  i had the thought that i didn't really know how to do a certain, fundamental thing in Android programming.[2]

this realization called into question two things.  one, why would anyone employ me to be an android developer since i didn't know this very basic thing.  and two, why i didn't spend more of my free time trying to get better at this thing.  i knew what i was afraid of, and what it would take (sort of) to get better at it.  why didn't i try to do this thing?  i didn't try to get better on my own.  and eventually, i did figure it out.

in my portuguese journey, it was when i went to talk to a portuguese professor, in my sophomore year of college, about what level portuguese she thought that i should take.  i had spent 3 months the previous summer in brazil, and felt that the experience had at least earned me some amount of ability to skip forward, to be in some higher level class than my course work, on paper, put me in.

the conversation did not go well. she could barely understand my portuguese, and i could barely understand what she was telling me.  she switched back to english and finally just said: look, i think you had better take the beginning grammar class with everyone else.

i took the beginning grammar class.  and then i took classes on portuguese literature. and i went back to brazil, and learned how to actually speak.

i am telling myself these stories to remind myself that learning, exploring, growing has never been easy.  that the process is never linear, that jumps in understanding and elucidation comes from hard work, and practice and immersion and continuing to show up.  to taking risks and trying new-ish things.

why did i do this to myself?  why did i push forward to find things out?  because i was curious.  what would it be like to be fluent in a foreign language?  what would it be like to be able to run fast? what would it be like if i could make software applications?  what would it be like if i could sing?


i still don't think i know.  i do know that
i am not where i want to be,
not yet.


[1] i've been delighted to discover that some computer skills, however, are universal
[2] i realized i didn't know how to make a custom view on Android, or even how to make a Java class from scratch (not over-ridding a super class)

Jul 8, 2016

Collection of morning thoughts

Here, I present you with a collection of thoughts, made in the morning:

--------
I think about advice a lot.  In my job, I give a decent amount of it and I've been on the receiving end of a lot of it.

As a child I got a lot of advice from my parents, more of the admonishment sort than the genuine heart to heart sort.  I'd classify them more as 'warnings' and they were never particularly sought after.  I never felt like I did a good job of taking their advice, or even giving much thought to it.  Years later, this morning for example, I'll find myself suddenly re-evaluating it in a way that I hadn't in a very long time.  Suddenly, it seems very useful and wise, but at the time of receiving it, it had very little to almost adverse impact.

Is that the only function of advice though, to act as an echo chamber that can help to second and solidify life observations?  Or perhaps am I an outlier, in that most people tend to take the advice that they are given without much time spent experimenting to see if the advice works or not.

Being that advice tends to be ignored in the short term, and perhaps marginally useful later, is it worth the effort to give it to people?  Giving advice has a cost.  It changes your relationship with the person -- it can either make you into a trusted advisor *or* make you out to be a pompous fool.

------

As an aside, this piece of writing strikes me as exceedingly dull and poorly done.  There's not a lot interesting in it, it feels like a continual rehashing.  I am genuinely curious how much of this is an elucidation of my own general thinking patterns, like am I this dry and unbearable most of the time when I try to explain things?  More interestingly, are there other patterns of description that can help make this kind of exposition more interesting?

Further, I had a depressing thought about conversations that I tend to get into, and realized that most of the things that I want to say in a conversation are along the lines of blog post type expositions. Perhaps someday I will lean towards turning them more into actual blog posts instead of flattening conversations with them. As a conversationalist, how do you respond to a barrage of words, that someone has clearly thought through quite deeply?  More introspectively, what am I hoping to get out of this sort of interaction?

Update:
I went back and revised the 'above the line' short essay on the value of giving advice, cutting out a lot of the self-explanatory words and refining it down to just the bare minimum.  Perhaps the most important thing with writing is not worrying about whether a first draft says what you want it to say, and that the revision process is far more important and elucidating for actual meaning than the original process of putting a few words down on paper.

Why does this kind of writing feel so jagged and difficult?  Even the revised version strikes me as being boring and rather flat.  And god, the things I had to cut out in order to make it feel less stilted.  Writing is hard, perhaps because we are forced to confront the actual sound of our voice or our own stilted logic, written down and encoded and present for you to go back and read and see what it was that you actually said, as opposed to what you wanted and thought and imagined that you said.

Imagination is a difficult thing, particularly if it heavily outweighs reality.


sound reflecions: observations from SF MOMA's Soundtracks exhibit

karthik and i went to the SF MOMA today to check out the last few bits of the soundtracks exhibit. we saw this great video work that i can&...