Play it again, Sam

22 July 2017

I’m probaly repeating myself. But, this time, there’s a sliver of a chance I’m not repeating myself. As you’ll see, very much in the theme of it :)

The most important thing I’ve learned over the years, is to iterate. Not only when writing creatively, but it’s the one I’ve seen the most dramatic bump in quality. If you’re going to write a thousand words, delete 800 and publish 200. At the very, very least reread your text once. As tempting as the myth of “straight from the heart” sounds, it simply ain’t true. For sure, get it out there. Dump it in .txt. But owe it to yourself to regurgitate, iterate, get it to the state where you’re not sure if any change is for the better. It will be a couple of times before you hit that. That’s the productive part. Try to divorce your reading from your writing. Try to become your own worst audience. But also judge how good your piece is. I really think your ability to write is corralated to your ability to judge your writing. Even if you’re naturally talented, you can benefit from craft. And I’m talking to you, me!

Screw the dailies

21 July 2017

I’m going to pull the plug on the dailies. I’ve been writing sloppily just to try and hit them. The more I’ve churned out some evenings, the more I’ve avoided sitting down and actual doing it in a way I get any satisfaction out of it. In short: kudos to those who can, I couldn’t, I shouldn’t, back to the regular programming.

The best thing about it is that I can continue this train of thought, rather then cutting to another post for metric’s sake. Hence, long form:

It’s been a very… eventful? interesting? couple of months. And I mean interesting in the “may you live in interesting times” way. I’ve taken quite a few thing on the chin. I’ve been confronted with some major demons in the first person, ones I have dealt with in the second person a while back. Being really pissed to have go through that twice when most people get to be blissfully ignorant of.

Getting rejected from job interviews. Not the ones I got rejected out of hand for, I usually had those coming. Fair enough, don’t care, move on. But about two or three times it really came down to the wire. Where a single person could flip the verdict either way. And, every time, it flipped the wrong way. For which I have strong reasons to believe are arbitrary reasons. It sounds self indulgent, but in each instance I’ve had people in the process reach out to me privately (which is very unorthodox) to tell me how unfair/random my rejection was. And, once again, I could probably take one or two of those on stride. Not all of them.

Last week, it came down to the wire yet again. Once again the anxiety. Refreshing inboxes. Sitting on decisions, kicking it a million ways in search of solutions, chewing over those solutions tens of times. Smooth sailing until a part of the process I didn’t know mattered. Overanalyzing every word of every sentence of every email. A very tense week or two, especially with the previous experiences, wondering if 10 years of experience were arbitrary, or actually amount to a directed progression. As a good friend of mine said: “It’s not always impostor syndrome. Sometimes they’re genuinely terrible”.

The wire. Once again. And, somehow, it worked. There was a hard blocker that threatened to throw everything in jeopardy. I’m not sure yet why, and I’m definitely going to confirm if my hypothesis is right. But they had a demand I couldn’t fulfill in any satisfactory form. In the moment I came up with a solution that I think payed off, a very honest one. I counted on some previous relations, and made with tentative confidence of good will on both sides.

It worked. I have a job offer, and I’m going to take it. It’s professionally very interesting, and my gut feeling is that the atmosphere in the office will be pleasant. I’m moving to a new country (that I’m a bit unsure of). I’ll have to become a lot more advanced on a lot of skills that are either dusty, or even rudimentary. I have been procrastinating a lot of personal development by conveniently classifying the last couple of years as temporary. And that might very well be a bigger challenge than the professional ones.

I really f****ng hope that it doesn’t come down to the wire. So sick and tired of that thing. I’m hoping to to build a sandbox. Someplace where I can experiment, and can fail without feeling it might jeopardize my entire future. I don’t want to feel it can go either way. I really hope I can start building, rather that shoring up what I have. Throwing dice and curing another one. There’s no real reason for me to have a lot of disparate positive things (I have a great group of friends, a lot of positive memories to offset the negatives, a good amount of raw talent for some pursuits). I want to have it all connected, to not have to wonder which way I should, or it will, end up going.

Wish me luck!

Passive knowledge

6 July 2017

Describing a location on a street is a bit weird. Nobody uses address numbers. I barely know my own. We say “Down”, “Up”, “At the end of”, “At the beginning”. Up and down can make sense if a street is not flat, but we still use it when it it isn’t. And end? Both the beginning and the end are pretty much the same thing.

The weird thing is, we usually know what is meant. Down usually means central, or away from where we currently are. Up usually means away, less central. The beginning and end is probably similar, where beginning is the end (!) closest to a central feature.

This sorta breaks down in my town, as we have the train station and the literal center of town as reference points. The avenue running between both is a place where this terminology breaks completely.

The funny thing is, we are never explicitly told this. We just pick it up without thinking about it. Probably like a lot of stuff we don’t even realize. What if we mostly learn subconsciously?


I think about this every day

6 July 2017

At the exact moment you’re reading this, at least a million fucking.

That means at least a thousand are engaged in something nasty.

That means at least one couple….


Only the best, artisan oil

2 July 2017

It’s pretty late as I’m writing this, and I’ll definately not hit my 8 hour’s worth by tomorrow. Not just today, every day. If I need to be up at 7, I’ll sleep at midnight. Up by 10, sleep at 3 in the morning. I know this is a terrible habit, and I’m sure that for every hour I sleep to little, I lose two in productivity during the day.

Not sure why I do it. Not wanting to sleep is not part of it, I love sleeping. Part of it is not wanting to call it a day, and having to “tally the resuls” of that day. Part of it is not wanting to wake up, starting obligations. Many of them due to my procrastination today.

Secretely I do know what it is. After about 10pm, I live in the moment. Everything is quiet. There is no sunlight to distract me with the notion that there is a place outside my direct experience. No sms, whatsapp, viber, email, phone, etc… No food to prepare, nothing on my calendar. Just time to do whatever I feel like. It’s in these hours that I read, write, study, play games, etc…

Sometimes I think it might be more productive than office hours!


The Wire 201

29 June 2017

If you haven’t watched the wire, skip this post.

Obviously, I like the wire a whole lot. I love the wire a whole lot. If you don’t, you probably won’t get a lot out of this post. Best to leave. Everyone who loves (or even watches?) the Wire cannot shut up about it, and neither can I. Hence, one big post to get it out of my system once and for all.

I don’t particularly care for Stringer Bell. He doesn’t change during the entire saga. He’s smart, he’s an asshole, and he only seems to cares for Avon. He has his place, but I imagine he could have been written a lot better. The actor, Idris Elba, definitely has the range to pull off a much more sophisticated character. The educated gangster from the project is also a very lazy stereotype to use. Even his betrayal of Avon feels lazy.

Avon doesn’t seem to evolve either, but somehow his character works. And I think it’s because you gradually get to know his character. He starts out as a typical drug kingpin, in it for the money. But, after a while, he turns into a very sensual character. He doesn’t care about the money at all. He cares about the “game”: winning in a competition, defending his reputation. Adhering to a very strict code of conduct. Tis gradual reveal that keeps his character interesting. There is some danger that was actually a too simple, dangerous stereotype, but it has some real hart in it. Perhaps could use some more Marc Anthonyesque

Omar is a very specific case. My take on it is that he shouldn’t have been in it, even though he might be the most popular in it. He doesn’t evolve at all, even though he might doubt himself. If you try to imagine him in a revenge flick, it would be a bad one. Unlike all the other characters, he’s not part of an institution, and that sort of lobotomizes him. He’s 100% in control of his own actions. He’s affable, he’s fun, but ultimately uninteresting.

Brother Mozone is the logical extreme of this. He’s unbelievable, one-dimensional, and a very bad blow against the suspension of belief. Even in a Marvel superhero Netflick, he would be a terrible villain. I really would like to know the motivation for including him (just as Omar). Audience testing?

Bubbles is obviously the main character of the show, no debate. He goes through multiple arcs. I cried through most of them. Others, laughed. He is profoundly tragic, as even as tragedy happens to him, his reaction to it only deepens the hole. Apparently, he was so good at his role, that during a break in shooting a junky gave him some free heroin because he was looking so bad.

I think Bodie is a slightly different take on Bubbles. He’s empathic, he cares. He’s smart, protective. He didn’t even set the first step on the path of his life, but he follows his destiny with a fatalistic determination. This is very evident from his final scene, where he fully comes to terms with the destiny life has forced upon him. Without even a single complaint.

Season 2? We don’t talk about season 2.

So that’s about 10% of what I wanted to say about the wire. I guess more posts could be incoming…


The Wire

29 June 2017

If you’ve watched the wire, please feel free to skip this post.

It was always heading to this direction. Anyone who likes, or perhaps has simply seen The wire, can’t help evangelizing it to everyone at every (in)opportune moment. So here goes.

You really, really need to watch the wire. For me, it’s the show where characters are flawed, and evolve. Good characters get punished for it. Bad people sometimes prosper. Drug dealers can be good people, victims of circumstances. Some fight to become something better, some rush towards their unwelcome destiny out of a sense of duty. People shape institutions, institutions shape people. No one is one thing (with some very notable exceptions). In short, it’s a show about a lot of very different people, and how they, and their relationships evolve.

Which doesn’t mean there isn’t some bullshit going on. Some of the characters seem written in for popular appeal. Others are too one-dimensional. Some of the episodes go nowhere, and are irrelevant for all future ones.

But watch it. You’ll probably know after the first scene of the pilot. It’s amazing.


Great words

29 June 2017

Sisyphusian is one of them


You thought we'd forget

29 June 2017

Have you watched the TV show “The Wire”? You really should if you haven’t, but it’s not the time for me to convince you of that fact. There’s a beautiful, tragic character that accidentally is directly responsible for the death of his best friend. He immediately confesses his crime to the police. He even tries to commit suicide right there and then, in the police station. The policeman in charge releases him right there and then. Something to the effect of “The memory alone is punishment enough”.

On the other hand, the ancient Eghyptians had an entirely different way to punish unpopular pharaos. They would literally erase him from history, with hammer and chisel if need be. This is the approach advocated in relation to the current president, even in the current digital age where such a feat would be Sisyphusian.

Dear reader, which one are you most afraid of?


You don't want to be my kid

27 June 2017

Imagine you would like to build something with your kids, as a learning experience. For example, a bike. No gears, simple brakes, simple frame. You can probably fit everything you have to make in your head. But you still need to build it…

You’d probably have to have some sort of rule, so you don’t cop out. For example, are external tools bought, or also made? Are big tools (eg professional lathe, or an oven) allowed? If you need steel, do you just buy steel, or do you try to make it from ore? Some of this might sound completely over the top, but imagine you have 10 years or more to do it. Because it’s a lot more complicated then it sounds. You’d probably skip gears, but you would need breaks. Lights would be a nice side project as as well. But what would be the rules?

My kneejerk would be this: you have to do everything once. Then you get to do the shortcut. For example: you need some steel. Do it once. This is already huge, as you need to build a forge, etc… But if you have a single lump, you get to simply order it every time you need it. If you need a gear, you make a single one that fits badly (but still works), and then order what you need.

I know how crazy this sounds, but I think such a thing would be extremely educational. I actually lack a lot of formal education in computer science, and I would love to build a machine from scratch. I have no idea of anything beneath the lowest forms of programming. Of course, you would have to settle with an extremely basic machine, something not unlike the earliest “build it yourself” computers, eg the gorgeous (Altair 8800)[]. Once you manage the most meagre of chips, it would even be an idea to find one of the “golden oldies”, such as the 8080.