The Average Contrarian.. plagiarized
The Nomadic Engineer... meh
Hacking the World... maybe later
Eternal Voyage of the USS Fury... too long
Tern would have been my "hacker" alias if I hadn't found out that I was being a silly goose. I recently got this idea that I wanted to be an active member of the future, not just another consumer. To me that means speaking the language of computers, the Internet, maybe even robots and AI. I couldn't think of anything else that could multiply a single person's efforts the way a few lines of code can. No matter how long I live, I am limited in how much I can accomplish with my hands. Fingers on a keyboard, however, are limitless.
One of my projects is to become a competent hacker before I'm 37. I start practically at square one, and I've read that worthwhile ventures take at least a decade of steady effort. There are more than enough blogs out there about self-improvement, philosophy, traveling, etc. It's mostly noise as far as I can tell. The few that stand out typically chronicle unusual journeys into uncharted space. People tune in because they can observe the writer exploring and learning about a topic of mutual interest. Maybe this thing I'm doing will be useful to some nub in the future who will be curious about starting a similar journey.
I'm thinking of running several threads about my projects in order to observe my own progress over time. These currently include learning programming (starting with Python), becoming nomadic, capoeira, automating my job, learning Portuguese, and hopefully improving my health. For the dead time, I'll spam personal musings, because everyone loves to hear themselves talk amiright? Today I jotted down about two hundred random blog topics full of 27-year-old wisdom, and I can't wait to burden the internets with them. Let's see if I can keep up a page a day.
I would like to try following a few recommendations from a recent TED talk.
The goal is to achieve sustainable happiness by rewiring the brain through a few new daily habits.
I will append my posts with numbers 1 and 2 for the next month to see how it goes.
move along. nothing to see here yet
I like to think that I have tons of great ideas even though I don't actually know much about anything, so I tend to give lots of unsolicited advice. This is annoying and often hypocritical, because I rarely follow my own sweet sweet recommendations. I recently suggested SETT to a friend as a way to obtain a following, which may help him launch his creative projects in the future. The carrot was that I would make a blog if he did. Thus, I now have a blog on a dare.
Ok, so the first couple were easy, but now I've skipped a day. My only dedicated reader let me know of her disappointment. Not having anything of substance to write today led to another dare. I must write about my pickup skillz. So...
I would characterize myself as guy with below average looks and above average eyebrows. Nonetheless, I have been graced with what seems like a jihadist's bounty of sexy virgins in my young life. How do you do it Mr. K? Please teach us! Fine... I'll tell you, but only because I'm delusional and talking to myself.
The short answer is karma. I was clearly a saint in my past life. This is absolutely unfair and I am sorry that not everyone is as lucky as I.
I spoke, today, with a lady of great esteem who was very upset about being paid less than a man. Being a white male in the U.S. has given me the advantage of never having to worry about discrimination except once during soccer team tryouts in high school. I felt bad about her plight, but having no skin in this game allowed me an objective thought process. How much should anyone's time really be worth when monetized?
The concept of trading time, effort, talent, etc. for coins has always been pretty vague to me. I understand converting my skilled labor into abstract, universal currency, because the farmer growing my future calories doesn't have any need for my drawings. Fine. I can also get behind the idea that there is variation in people's skills and abilities, so some dude's fastball is clearly worth more apples than another's. My meager understanding of why communism didn't work out tells me that we need an incentive to work harder or better than the next guy, hence variation in pay is good.
What boggles my mind is the wildly unrealistic and inconsistent magnitude of this variation. How many more loaves of bread could a man's time be worth versus that of a woman. One, two at most per week? Never mind that they are not even partaking in manual labor where you could maybe make an argument for a difference in valuation. How much do two loaves cost? It silly; there is no way to hand waive economics past this disconnect from reality. Our notes are legal tender... sure. We all believe they are worth some random amount of brownies, but I fail to understand how an hour of my life costs ten times as many grapes as some kid making my shoes in Asia. That's a lot of grapes.
So I was thinking about this silliness while my colleague vented. There's not much I can do to rectify this injustice, let alone the whole world economy, so I am thinking about my personal economy. How much is my own time worth to me? All of a sudden, things become much more clear. Money is freedom for me. I am willing to trade some of my time in order to gain a quantum of freedom of choice, travel, food,and interesting experiences. Suddenly I don't care how much I make relative to the next guy. If I don't earn enough for my goals, it's time to change my situation. If I make too much at the cost of my goals, lets shake it up until things are aligned. Easy. I'm going to sleep well despite our failing human condition.
First of all, I have reconsidered how I want to write this thing. My posts have been increasingly verbose and pointless, which takes too long to write and makes them boring to read. A book recently gave me good advice:
On the snake thing... I'm attempting to learn Python on the recommendations of XKCD and "How to become a hacker" by Eric Steven Raymond. The former is a web cartoon, which has given me more laughs than anything else in my life so far. The later is a fairly legit starting point for anyone looking to get into the culture.
I come from a C background, so the first contact with Python was jarring. The syntax is straightforward, so I skipped a few pages of the tutorial. I then wasted the next few hours trying to figure out how to compile my 'Hello World!' into an executable. If all this is Greek to you, I attempted the equivalent of trying to buy a free cookie. My first lesson was that I should go slow and complete the entire tutorial. Python is much more user-friendly than C, so I will have to unlearn many things.
The end. I have many things to say and, hopefully, many days to say them, so I will attempt to make my posts bite-sized.
I have purchased the Pythonista app for my [tablet device] recently. There are several benefits, so far, to being able to program on a mobile device.
Python has become a toy. Whenever I get bored, I take the tablet out of my backpack and play with a few scripts. This time would usually be spent on mastering Angry Birds or consuming Netflix content.
The app comes with the official Python tutorial and library reference. This means I don't have to be online or buy a separate book to study. It also means I can try out something I learned immediately using the interactive promt.
Lastly, I don't even have to own a 'real' computer to start the process of learning. I don't have a desktop or laptop. I can code during lunch breaks, in bed, and on the John.
ok I had a nightmare. A while back I woke up in cold sweat, because I felt insignificant and useless after an encounter with Tynan and his friends. In this dream, I came to a hangout looking to meet interesting people. I thought that I inherently belonged in such a crowd and figured that it would be easy to jump right in. When I got there, however, Tynan asked me for vitamins. Weird right?
This stopped me cold. In dream logic, he was asking me if I had anything new to contribute. I either brought fresh ideas and energy into the group, or I was just another dead-weight groupie. I panicked. Up until that point, I was confident in myself even in my dreams. I woke up wondering if I have anything original or interesting to add to a conversation in a group of creators and innovators. Many of the things that come to mind are derivatives of the ideas I read from books and blogs of those same people.
Luckily, I snapped out of it when the fears and insecurities of dream-brain seeped away. I remembered the many personal breakthroughs and interesting experiences that I've had in my life. This is when I realized that it is important to me to be a creator and not a mere consumer. I am a peer, not a fan. It seems that my dream of inadequacy was spurring me to catch up.
Next time: the first original thought that I recalled after my dream.
I had an original thought about a year ago. It was wonderful.
Back then I was reading everything I could find on nomads. Something about that approach to life sounded right to me. One day on Wikipedia, I ran across the term "existential migration" (a term coined by Greg Madison, PhD), and my world instantly started making sense for the first time. I'm what you would call an "outsider". No matter what is going on in my life, I always feel like I don't/shouldn't belong. I have done my best to attempt to fit my square peg into regular round society, but it always felt uncomfortable. My urge is to go against the grain, do new and unexpected things. I want to experience all of the atypical in this world.
Now I find out about this entire group of people who share my point of view. It was a huge relief. Now I know that I belong and am not alone. This group consists of people who chose to be nomadic for no other reason than to not belong. They thrive by voluntarily leaving their homelands in order to become out-of-place in their environment. Madison's research found that "among this population, there is a marked preference for the strange and foreign over the familiar or conventional routines."
They leave in order to escape the ordinary. Great. I started to understand myself a little better now that I finally had a social mirror to look into. Later I would read this book called The Power Of A Habit, and an explosion occurred in my brain.
I'll get to that next time...