un invincible été

au milieu de l’hiver, j’ai découvert en moi un invincible été.
in the depths of winter, I discovered within myself an invincible summer.

— albert camus from return to tipasa

in general, 2013 was a great year of sporadic bouts of madness. reading the rum diary again in january properly set the tone for much of the year. I had several stretches in boston with fantastic co-workers, a few stints in portland, a great many in DC and of course an epically bad visit to vegas. outwardly, 2013 was about stumbling into random situations with varying degrees of sobriety and sorting things out on the fly. careening through life and trusting that things would sort themselves out if you did your best to be good. to be sure, sometimes things didn't sort themselves out completely and needed a little help, sometimes we needed a little help ourselves.

in the first third of the year, another great relationship gradually came apart. it's worth mentioning because this one highlighted a lot of aspects of my personality I tended to dismiss or disregard as insignificant. I can be critical and unfair, unnecessarily snappy and sarcastic, generally moody and hard to please. I can also be optimistic, hopeful and extremely supportive. I learned that sometimes I need to consciously choose who I want to be to people I love instead of letting temporary stresses, frustrations or agitations choose who I'm going to be. I learned a lot about what I'm like in a relationship and began to discover more about what I'm like outside of one as well. I'm thankful that we still remain very good friends.

the second half of 2013 became more about self-discovery and internal development. I think I became a bit more scattered than usual. travel (and probably endless drinking) began to take its toll. without a significant other to anchor me in place, I think I mentally and existentially drifted much more. I read a lot about work, programming and social subjects I'm interested in. I wrote in private journals and blogs. I was surprised by the fact that it was the first time in 16 years that I was single on my birthday. the realization made me think a lot about how I've changed my trajectory for various people in my life and made me wonder more about what I'd like it to be in the coming few years. I still don't really know, but my resolutions are adjustments to habits that will hopefully push me in the right direction:

create: the same woman who had that camus quote asked me what I created. I think I replied with some platitudes about writing and code as art, but the more I thought about it, the real answer should've been "not enough of anything in particular." this year I want to make more public posts (of varying lengths), take more pictures, code more random projects, learn a few more recipes and maybe even play more music. more tinkering and more noodling in general.

consume: I find when I revisit places that I have a tendency to resettle into previous routines. the same set of bars and noodle joints, the same hotels, the same places to get food. to be sure, I think repeated visits let me savor things in different ways and I think periodically resting in habit--especially given so much travel--is necessary. but, I also think I can rest somewhat less than what I've been doing. I can explore more, eat more (maybe eat healthier too), read more and listen to more music.

connect: I've started doing this already and want to continue it in 2014. I love connecting-- moving past the standard social barriers and formalities and being close. this isn't to say that I don't have or don't believe in boundaries and privacy. I mean that my favorite moments are ones of "resonating" with another. being. evoking emotion. it can be a great word jam, jazz session of a conversation, it can be a shared excitement over a miraculous meal or it can be simply (silently) absorbing incredible piece of art together. I love talking to cab drivers and bartenders, acquaintances and close friends. I like meeting new people and hearing random life stories. I think I can feel even less hindered to do so moving forward.

privately or publicly. in person, online, with many, few or every solitary, whatever the case may be, I think 2014 will be about finding that indomitable warmth and spirit within myself and others. cheers to discovering an invincible summer.

2013Q1 - on becoming new

I recently finished re-reading On the Road, I'm a little wired on coffee and a lot of out of practice with writing. in short, this mess will be a word jam of tenuous ideas and unfinished thoughts-- all seeming full of fleeting, and terrible import in these moments, but acknowledged to be merely a stretch and light jog for an old tired mind looking to get back into fighting shape for more aggressive sport later.

as more time passes, the patterns of my life become much more apparent. I've always oscillated between hammering down on the gas and coasting along in neutral. sometimes I push, struggle and clutch for control of my life and other times I'm content to ease off and drift. the times of hyperfocus and aggressive productivity have been rare, but I am ever coming terms with myself and learning to loosen my grip during these times of teeth-grinding strain. more often I've been too lax and then become frustrated with my laxness which leads to paralysis and more laxity. these last years, I've learned to more gently nudge myself forward when my impulse is to melt into a luscious couch.

and so I spin along as a narrowing, but still scattered constellation of impulses and interests-- various fascinations coming into momentary focus as sometimes I flail and flounder, and as sometimes I flow and touch the miraculous, ecstatic lightning rod of joyous existence.

a little history

I first came across the term "blinking twelve problem" in stephenson's remarkable essay "in the beginning was the command line." there was a time when power outages would create houseful of blinking twelves-- VCR, microwave and alarm clocks would all complain about no longer knowing the time. in my parents' house, this blinking could go on for several days until my siblings or I got annoyed enough to fix them. my dad tended to ignore the clocks because he was usually wearing a watch. my mom, on the other hand, couldn't figure out all the different interfaces. stephenson mentioned the blinking twelve problem as a gap between a technological solution (e.g. a device can tell time if set properly) and the user's ability to make use of it.

because the VCR was invented when it was--during a sort of awkward transitional period between the era of mechanical interfaces and GUIs--it just had a bunch of pushbuttons on the front, and in order to set the time you had to push the buttons in just the right way. This must have seemed reasonable enough to the engineers responsible for it, but to many users it was simply impossible. Thus the famous blinking 12:00 that appears on so many VCRs. Computer people call this "the blinking twelve problem". When they talk about it, though, they usually aren't talking about VCRs.

in my mind, the essay highlighted gaps-- for instance between problems and solutions and between implemented solutions and the knowledge and ability to use these solutions. stephenson primarily focused on GUI's and operating systems as means of bridging technological gaps. I saw applications of the idea beyond human-computer interfaces. the term resonated enough with me (or I was impulsive enough) that I ended up registering the domain name in 2001 with no particular purpose in mind.

I began with using the site as a medium to catch my miscellanous, snobby nerd rants. though my internship the summer before had taught me to use dreamweaver, I was lazy enough that I couldn't be bothered to create an entirely new page for each passing quip. my moments of cleverness tended to quickly fade amid random frustrations generated by cleaning up random code. so, paradoxically, I coded more so I could code less. with the finest balsa wood and elmer's glue I could find (read: learned perl), I pieced together a rudimentary content management system (read: blogging progam) which could support the rants and ramblings of me and a few of my angry and weird friends.

create love, meaning and motivation

“The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation. For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others. You'd be surprised how far that gets you. " -Neil deGrasse Tyson

actual letter of resignation

this was meant to be a joke.

From: B
To: R
CC: N, E

Hi Raymond,

Can you please send your letter of resignation to E and include N and myself. I really appreciate you giving us multiple week’s notice. Note in your letter that your last working day at ASU is [redacted].

Thanks,
[B]

[redacted title]
University Technology Office
Arizona State University
[redacted phone]

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From: R
To: B
CC: N, E

Hi E,

I forgot to ask what form these letters usually take. What information should be included? Is there a standard length? (Will 4-5 pages be enough?) Do you prefer MLA or APA style citations? Do I get bonus points for including video / audio?

I just want to make sure I do a good job,
Thanks!

--R

------------------------------------------------------------
From: E
To: R
CC: B, N

Ray,
You’re so thorough! The minimum is one or two sentences stating that you are leaving the University and when your last day of employment will be. Here’s an example :


I am writing to inform you of my decision to resign from ASU. effective (insert date). I have greatly enjoyed working for you for the past years. I feel that I have learned a lot, and grown professionally during my time in your employ.
Thank you for your understanding of my decision to leave the company, and all your support over the years. I wish you all the best for your continued success.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions about the projects I have been working on.
Respectfully,

Once your supervisor accepts your resignation, I receive a copy (email) and I’ll respond by sending you, and your supervisor, information for separating employees.

[E]

------------------------------------------------------------

From: R
To: E
CC: B, N

[E]!
Sorry for the delay! I just filtered your example through my Google translator (I think the language was set for "Teenager".) I hope it works!

OMG, this got totally buried! I'm so seriously bummed to let y'all know that I'm bouncing out of this joint, effective [redacted date]. It's been rad working with and for you, I seriously feel like my face is going to melt from all your awesome. I appreciate your help in growing my fantasticality so much, I don't have words, only smileycons :-) :-D :-) :-D :-) :-D :-) Thanks a ton for putting up with me and my antics over these years. I wish you all the best growing in your eminent badassedness(es).

KIT, BFF, Have a great summer!
--Ray-Ray

------------------------------------------------------------

From: N
To: R

Wow.

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From: B
To: R
CC: N

Hope the new job brings some professionalism in your communications. :0

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