Blog Feed

Featured

How did you manage to end up here?

No matter it’s ultimately not important. Welcome traveler! Roamer of the world wide web. There isn’t much here for now and that’s alright. This is the beginning of whatever this will become. It might be the end as well if I don’t manage to stick with it. That is part of why I am writing this blog though. Public accountability. If all I ever do is write entries in a little book that I carry around with me, then I have no way to determine if the ideas that get recorded are sound. I can tell myself anything I want and there is ultimately no one to tell me that I’m wrong because in this life we are able to create whatever image of ourselves in other people’s minds that we want. At least right up until the part where they catch you in that act and reconcile that you don’t really know what you are up to.

I for the life of me can’t manage to teach myself code. There’s also a stubborn bitter entity taking up residence in my head that isn’t ready to just throw in the towel and go back to school. So along the way this will serve as a record of what I hope is growth and skill and determination. In my current job, I feel stagnant, a lot of that is on me. Recognizing it is the first important step. Or at least that’s what some would lead me to believe. We’ll see though.

There is nothing that I would call myself an expert in, but that certainly won’t prevent me from rambling. In between drab explanations of what I taught myself in coding camp will be a litany of random discussions ranging from local politics to free-will. And neurosis, but that’s something you’ll just get accustomed to as I dart around from topic to topic. Life has handed me quite the laundry list of experiences, and those experiences have in turned provided me with pretty half-decent insight.

So, let this serve as an introduction to the Public Records Department. Over the course of these first few posts, you’ll start to get an introduction to the lunatic behind this. And assuming you get that far we might get to have some cool conversations.

At some point I will get around to adding a contact form. It will probably be listed under something like send me hate mail, though comments are readily available for that. If at any point, any of you decide that you want my advice, go ahead and ask me anything and I’ll give you a response. No guarantees that any of the advice will be sound nor should it be followed, but who knows, could be a fun time for everyone. I’ll trade mediocre life advice for advice on how to be better at coding. Coding, which as stated, is the primary purpose of this blog. Of course is it.

How research prevents you from working for shady people

In the midst of the pandemic it has probably occurred to a number of us to take a step back and re-evaluate our situations. Complicating day-to-day life has provided a chance to actively look at our day to day routines in a way that we normally just autopilot our way through. We’ve seen the same people that claim that we all need to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps whine at the notion that they might have to go a little while without a haircut. A country that can bail out multinational corporations but can’t be bothered to worry about the little guy. That same little guy that folks are demanding cut their hair without concern for the health of the barber. The barber serves a purpose. They are a transfixed figure that exists only in the context of cutting the individuals hair.

But that isn’t how life goes. We are all undeniably part of something bigger. That the barber has a building and a chair and people can find it and pass through is just one facet of the larger community. We all see the day to day as existing around us. We see from our center and look out. Cars on the road aren’t full of people with day to day lives and families they are just traffic. Everyone wants to be the priority because we think with our priorities first. It can’t be said for certain whether people are better off on their own or in a group. My opinion is that when we are able to work together toward common goals because we understand the situation and can make accurately informed choices that we reach greater heights than we are able to achieve through individualistic thinking. The buck stops with the individual, but the individual choice to work cooperatively is powerful.

Currently, that individual choice to work together is being spread through whispers and discordant bird song. Disaster provides us with an exposure of some of the facades. A boiler plate where we can reduce things to their core values. We’ve discovered that a remarkable number of us are completely unprepared for something like this. Some companies are bragging about their ability to scramble together a response and a react to the situation as it arises but moments like this require forethought and mitigation. People have been told for years that their work is unskilled labor that can be replaced by anyone able to walk in off the streets and are now being told that their jobs are essential to the function of society. If they are so essential then why are they making so much less? Shouldn’t essential status be increasing the demand and therefore the cost should rise. We should be providing the gratitude that capitalism allows in the form of compensation. Instead we give money to companies that lost their cash on stock buy backs. In response to people making this demand the company shows their hand when they let the organizers go. They aren’t interested in having the workers united under any flag other than their own.

So some of those workers might turn to other work. Find some roots in their community and decide that type of work might be more in line with their values. They find an entrepreneur that recently purchased a favorite roadside hot dog stand and is trying to start a new concept in a local dying mall. They also have two lawsuits open against them, (this next part is speculation because I’m not a lawyer and only kind of understand law dockets). One of which appears to be a partner suing for fraud and the second is a labor action by employees who are filed as managers to avoid paying overtime. It took me 15 minutes of googling to go from hopeful to dismayed about this individual doing business in town. There is a news article about him working with the mayor to distribute lunch to children who might have relied on the school for providing lunch. Publicly this individual may be viewed as a local hero for his efforts, but that heroism is hiding the darker elements of where his ambitions lead him. What do we do when the monsters can all hide their true nature so effectively? Is it even fair to call them monsters? The values we praise as a society are decided by a few and then declared to be arbitrary. We internalize these notions the same way that victims of bullying grow to think that the taunts are the truth. Are the viciously ambitious monsters or misguided? Or right? The world doesn’t seem to have an answer, but that seems to be the way of the world itself.

Timing and Circumstance

Timing can make or break a song. Timing is the difference between being stuck in traffic and ensnared by the accident. Timing happens on its own. We plan for so much in the understanding that the factors we have to account for become so numerous we couldn’t hope to reach what we thought was the final consideration without losing the first. You leave work one day to go to a concert. You leave early but not as early as you would have liked because earlier that morning you felt a little under the weather and therefore were slow getting to the building. You curse your hours younger self for being lazy and causing you such delays. The delays themselves continue to stack up and you begin to feel anxious and start apologizing to your wife who by this point in the relationship is very aware of your inability to be on time (which is ironically coupled to a reasonably sharp ability to guess the time). She is patient though and assures you that no one else is sweating it. You take a shower and get ready as the anticipation of the event starts to build against the flu that has been trying to beat you down all day. Chills and sweats and aches make lifting boxes that much harder, but the hot water and the extra steam from the cooler air help to relieve some of the congestion. Menthol and camphor paste with its minty scent and color tackle the rest on the way out of the bathroom. A quick run to the bank for parking money and then a dash across the street for dinner before we venture out onto the longest least exciting straight road ever engineered. A mix up at the bank causes another delay. Credit cards all look the same when you use the same bank and what do you mean my pin is wrong? Dash back outside to swap cards, withdrawal the requisite funds, acquire the aforementioned dinner and we find ourselves well on the Way.

Looking out the windows that you haven’t used in years you see sights from your childhood that have grown right along side you. Age paints the landscape more vibrantly as the clusters of warehouses and airports and towns start to come together in the complex systems they compose. The airport comes out further than you realized, but it makes sense in proximity to the large rail yard below the highway overpass. We change the radio and it seems to be aware of the extra passenger present. Odd things sometimes, but all ultimately just coincidence of various degrees. Songs and talks of the hubris of man to lay out these stone canals when water failed to keep up with our ambitions. As the meeting is crossed we are joined on the stone river by more colorful characters in twin-seat highway race cars and ponder if we saw a glimpse of the act or a fellow member of the crowd. These musings go forever unanswered, but enjoyably pass the time as we travel. The organism of societal movings is becoming whipped into a frenzy as we approach the local epicenter of activity. In this opportunity for human to shine as a cooperative species we are reminded of our selfish and distracted natures at every turn. The cell directions service warns us of approaching congestion which has managed to work its way out of your nose and into the system at large. In a city you realize that engineers don’t look at a landscape the same way. The highways ignore what we see as slopes and curve through the air like intricate flight paths to guide the swirling masses of people around and through the spaces where we congregate. A separate roadway exists behind a fence along the waterway and we jest that the locals must have a secret access point to avoid the mess we find ourselves in. A building in the distance displays a familiar scene of a flowing river and your mind wanders back to the radio’s playful sentience. The lights show fades from the building and for a moment you await it’s return. A new pattern is displayed and the coincidence is enjoyable. The highway drops into a low trench as you slowly round a bend and witness some incredible displays of assertion as the wielders of steel bricks swerve to cross the road in the deadliest version of frogger. Traffic slows to a crawl and flashing lights can be seen in the distance. A sign indicates that an accident has occurred. Not all of the players were able to maneuver safely through the flow. Glass and fluid remain to be ground into the pavement by the unyielding river of vehicles. Briefly you wonder how far back in time the accident happened and when you might have been crossing the path of that collision if you had been more on time.

Parking in a city designed for horses is an adventure in alertness. A location is selected based on convenience and we enter the car dungeon through a bizarrely reminiscent concrete ramp. This is likely not the first time you’ve ever parked in this garage and you dismiss the thought. Signs and arrows lead us astray but a hipster with a hybrid advises us to be more perceptive and check the middles rather than the edge. This labyrinth provides a transformative mindset. You enter and in losing your car decide to loosen up and embrace a more present aesthetic. Bicycles and cars compete for space with the former slipping into equal balance. She calls you a nerd and you agree. Shown all the sights to see and a metal frame is what catches your eye, she’s not wrong. The energy and the crowd along the street are refreshing after so many walks along comparatively dim and abandoned sidewalks. The people are as varied as the storefronts and though there was tension most of it seemed positive. Seekers of joys and of love laughed amongst themselves and for a moment it seems like the area has forgotten the surrounding storms building around the world. This amnesia is comforting for a while.

We arrive at the venue and you discover another small joy as she has a keychain confiscated for the safety of the other attendees. A silly pride warms a small part of your chest as you laugh and await her by the door. Light ribbings about our mutual bad influence distract us from the building nerves in the changed scenery. We find a corner and proceed toward a flight of stairs. Lead astray by a desire to escape the crowd we originally sought to join. Guided by a sweet voice to an overpriced can and a woman could could provide us with exclusively roped off stools or chairs we eventually seek an exit. Forces of odor and a ginger with something on his mind drive us toward the front of the show. The first act of hypnosis is completed and the crowd buzzes with excitement and what can be assumed to be various intoxicants. The floor grabs as your feet and attempts to trap you here for ever. The main act prepares their stage. A father and son join our space and we rearrange to accomodate the shorter. Comfort is found in relatable conversation and a tingle works its way through you. The King of Sludge arranges a tall sleek metal stand and we are left in wonder as to its function. Jazz musicians always dress so sleek. As with everything else, all convention seems to be cast aside and the end result remains complementary and pleasing.

We are told later that the first portion of the performance is a gift. We are all drawn in by the trios ability to dance along it and bring us along with them. The lights covering their armor flash in rhythm to the sound. To close one’s eyes is to miss the flash but it remains easier to follow without the distraction. We are told we are all just one thing in a bigger thing. All just one part, our rhythms following the flow cast out by their signal. A local solar system guided by the gravity of the bass and the balanced chaos of the horns. The frequency rises and falls and then breaks to silence. We exit into a frozen night, now colder than before in our sweat soaked outfits as the heat and people swarm away from the scene. Our evening folds itself up neatly into the next adventure.

Cut where the knife goes through, forcing it will dull the blade. Just go with it.

I’m tired of this and I’m tired of that but most of all I’m tired of you

I’m tired of being told that we must all race to the bottom and figure out who’s burden is the greatest in order to determine our worth in a given situation. As though some how modern society had been replaced by ancient models of human sacrifice to appease the gods and in doing so you were only worth how much you were personally giving up or suffering. Except we aren’t ascetics as a result of this. We don’t sacrifice and give things up for True GreatnessTM, we do it for greatness in the social rigamarole. We gain materially and dopamine-ally through these “Sacrifices.” We turn down help and discredit what we get while claiming that we single-handedly overcame every adversity thrown at us. We spit at the open hands reaching for compassion and help and we applaud those that overburden themselves when there are plenty to share the load while standing idly on the side grinning at our own fortunes. We stick the pipe in the spoke and blame the bike for falling over.

I’m tired of having who I was held against me. If in some ways that are negative anyone finds me to still be that person, please, let me know. Perhaps it’s a blind spot. I’ve spent nearly 5 years working with someone to find as many of them as could be rooted out and I’m about to possibly graduate from that process. Go me. I’ve made mistakes, some of which I can only see in retrospect. I had to make them to be able to recognize them. I recognize that I am critical in the now. Maybe that makes me hypocritical somehow, but the now is supposed to be the result of all of the thens. We have to be worse to get better. That said, don’t take credit for who I am unless you deserve it. Some people do, I’ve had lots of help. And to those people, there are some of you that I will never really be able to repay. I hope I have thanked you enough so far. But to those who in this dense field of perceptions of centrality, don’t flatter yourselves. We all think we are the central architect of the things that happen around us. Wait, you don’t? Maybe we’re born with it because it’s genetic narcissism.

And you, prick.

You, are whom I am the most sick of. You reactive, self-interested, conniving, paranoid, self-exiled outcast. You thought you were taking care of yourself and keeping yourself safe and that didn’t fucking work out did it. Like, pretty much ever, asshole. Thank you for not dying, and thank you for showing us all so many of things it turns out that you decide that you want are actually set out to destroy yourself. At least you are a complete failure in the right regards. If it’s alright though, I think I’ll try to run things from here.

“How do we know if famines killed millions when the Bolsheviks took over Russia?” Or discerning wheat from chaff in a digital world.

I have a friend with whom I frequently debate social theories and political ideas. We entertain the notion that what we are practicing is philosophy and we are sticking to it. Often our ideas lay in opposite camps. That’s putting it mildly at times. Our conversations have changed both of our opinions about certain matters and caused us, I believe, to deepen our search for an agreement if nothing else. This agreement is crucial to the success of any group, be it a family or a town or a federally led nation. The debates get heated sometimes and that’s important too. Partially so that I can practice restraint and learn to focus my passion into well formed argument without all the yelling and carrying on.

He has these conversations with lots of people and I give him credit for that, one person recently hit him with the idea that everything commonly expressed about the repressive nature of the communist governments of the world is vastly exaggerated and mostly exists as propaganda. It occurred to him that this would be difficult to truly personally verify even with usage of the internet. There exists so much misinformation that to really get a quality first hand source that can be verified as authentic would be a seemingly impossible task and that by simply accepting on face value the notion of Stalin’s communist atrocities he himself was doing what he accuses people who accept the reported news of climate science. The lesson here being that without realizing it, we can all be hypocrites. Our opinions are formed by the information we experience in life and they can be changed and influenced all the time. It’s important to challenge your own beliefs every now and then. If they hold water then it should be a reaffirming experience, but we shouldn’t be afraid to discover that we have new values or beliefs. That’s growth, and that things that exhibit life on Earth also exhibit signs of growth is a fairly undeniable fact. Don’t let that say too much about life though. You don’t want to get me started on my opinions about free-will.

Try to count every success

This one should be a little bit more straight forward. In discussing distraction, it’s important to understand focus. Short term focus is easy to lose. Long term focus is difficult to recognize. Both of these statements feel discouraging. It is definitely in vogue to talk about distractability. Everything is a distraction on so many levels that to really dive into that would take away from the point I’m attempting to wrangle together here. Seriously though, at some point even trying to pay attention to everything that is going on just starts to feel like a distraction. The other option is blissful unawareness of anything happening on a global scale. Imagine not knowing that Australia is on fire. Imagine having no knowledge of the current goings on in the middle east. Imagine having no real concept of where the middle east is or why there would even be conflict there. I don’t think John Lennon had sticking our head in the sand in mind when he wrote his version of that day dream. The world keeps turning though, and all we can hope is that we are here to see that continue to happen. How much of knowing about it is useful though? At the same time it feels very privaleged to be handed a live stream to an amount of human thought and be like, “nah.” Proponents would make points about how the connectiveness has helped and it definitely has. We now more than ever can understand how similar the world has become. We can gain an overview understanding of nearly anything we can think up keywords to. And it gets updated recklessly fast. But then feeling connected makes you feel isolated because you are just sitting there soaking in it and letting the currents of human consciousness and tensions flow from your glowing palm directly into your eyeballs. But then you’ve lost an hour or three and you haven’t accomplished anything you set out to do. At some point it’s just discipline, but that requires something to stick to.

Which finally brings us full circle to my original point about getting distracted and how to count successes in the long term. The term that really counts because it generates the factor known as consistency. Stoics would probably tell you that focusing on one thing is just the most you should aim for. I say that’s great if you can, but good luck. I’d say recognize how much you can actually maintain. Some things take only certain amounts of time and some end up being complimentary. Anything that contributes to the things you have determined to be your long term goals counts as a success. Period. Screw anyone that says other wise. As long as you actually did something as opposed to just thinking about doing it. If the goal is to ride your bike more, anything you get in terms of saddle time counts. Just enjoy it and be in it. And sometimes go for a spin around the block even if it’s a weird hour. Sometimes you might still fail to check every box, but don’t discount the ones you have checked off. Perfection doesn’t exist. Perfection exists only in your mind and even then is constantly shifting. Lost as soon as you found it.

This all assumes you’ve found something to shoot for. There’s plenty of good reasons to do anything and an equal number of bad reasons. At some point you just have to choose. And if it doesn’t work, then choose something else or pick a different approach. If that still doesn’t work, then consider giving up. Take an inventory of where you are and really think about what you are looking for in the change. Maybe nothing is missing and you just want more from something than it has to give. Sometimes things just are what they are, but our attitudes about that can make them miserable and intolerable. These days almost any shift can be made with consistent effort. It’s often the sticking to it that’s difficult. This isn’t anything new, but maybe the more it gets said the more people will understand the breadth of the issue.

Forget the time, where do I go?

In case you haven’t been clued in by the disjointed style of this blog, I’m a little disorganized. And incredibly easily distracted. Those two things are without a doubt related and several years of therapy have taught me that. I’m also having the rare “really good day” today and I’m trying to pay extra attention to the things that make it one. Sometimes the sky seems like every day is gray, and horrible, and the same. Sometimes my feet fail to hit the ground. Part of me feels like I’m just hiding, but I couldn’t tell you what I’m scared of. Part of me also feels like I don’t know if the way I experience life is valid or if I need to try harder, or find some better strength. My strategies are weak, but I am ambitious.

There are people who have every facet of their life planned out. They do not count me as one of them. This is only advantageous in that I am likely incredibly lucky. There are certain things in my life that cannot be attributed to anything other than luck. Things just happened the way that they have and any other way would have resulted in my not continuing to happen. Several years ago I felt very much like a ship without a rudder, let alone a sail. That’s not an uncommon sentiment these days. A job and some distractions are fine for a while, but what happens when you decide that you want more from life. Hobbies fill the time, but finding out that produces a feeling of growth and reward is often a tradeoff that must be weighed against the tedious repetition of it. Which is really only to be compared to exciting repetition because car soccer and battle royales are pretty repetitive. Knitting doesn’t get the heart pumping.

I sit at a cluttered desk, with a cluttered desktop. My mind is cluttered, but definitely less so recently. The rudder that so many of us lack these days is purpose. We’ve all been told, convinced, or simply came to the conclusion that at some point we mostly exists as wheels in a bigger machine and that everything is meaningless in the sense that it matters on a larger scale. Nihilism runs amok and people fail to achieve the apparent goal of really that nothing matters which is to decide on a couple of things that personally do. How that is actually worked out though varies so much from person to person. And in my case there are a few things that matter. Again, shocking probably nobody. Me, unable to decide on a single directive. I managed to find a level that works though, but my routine still needs work. All any of us can do in that situation is do better from here on. Habits exist as they do until we try to do them differently and then eventually, theoretically, they exist without having to think about them. Finding something to do, some central driving self narrative to serve as a point of magnetism for your attention. Odds are that if you really pay attention you will find something that your attention drifts toward. Follow it. See where it goes. Take action. That’s the really tricky part is shifting from thinking and day dreaming where you can be anything that you tell yourself you are into actually working toward making those day dreams a reality.

What do you want to do that you feel like you aren’t because you can’t? How much of that is just something that you’re telling yourself? What barriers are real and what barriers are just there to protect you from harm that isn’t there? We are what we do and what we do is what we focus on and that all just serves to feedback into itself until we achieve what we set out to do. Getting out of a funk can be as simple as taking a step. No one ever said that simple was easy though.

We have about a buck twenty, but there haven’t been any results

Once upon a time, a small town discovered a social media site. What started out as something that was used exclusively (or at least so we thought) by students in school, had turned into the digital version of community centers. A group online could be started at a moments notice and required no physical location to facilitate the flow of thought among a group of peers. This would not be anything that could be defined as a group of like minded individuals, though a more closed off group could be located without much difficulty. Private groups require membership forms, initial inquiries into one’s commitment to the groups core values. In a town trying to find it’s place in the current century everyone has the perfect plan to solve all of the woes and strife. The area is the most urban city in the county within which it resides. The average citizen has little awareness of the goings-on of the county they live in and the county is aware of this. The story is almost comical in the way that it sounds like a television drama when laid out.

I’ve described the area that I live in previously, but for those that are just following life and jumping in wherever they feel like it here is a small recap. At the confluence of two rivers, a city and a town formed. The town became an industrial and transportation center which developed a sprawling suburb that devoured the surrounding farmland as the population began to concentrate in the town. The town itself was deemed of value because of the narrowness of the river at that specific point. Crossings had been made there by rope guided ferry before the bridges were constructed; bridges for cars, that once carried trollies, and bridges for trains that still run as active freight lines. Before the trains, there were canals powered by the numerous rivers. The area has always served as a facilitator of transportation and commerce, and has always done well for itself. Despite what some would describe as a negatively perceived reputation, the school system provides an excellent education and now modern facilities. There is municipal trash pick up and the option to go with an alternative services provider in most places. The town is divided into more boroughs than necessary and maybe that’s the problem. Like I said, everyone thinks they have a solution, I’m not exempt from that.

Which brings me back to the social media network communities that had started to form. During the last election cycle I became even more politically involved that I had before. To lay out roughly what I mean by that I would start by saying I have for most of my late teenage to current adult years been interested enough in politics to read news articles, research topics in encyclopedias, read through textbooks, pay attention in social studies, and once wrote a paper criticizing the very education that I praised in the previous paragraph rather than write a paper about James Joyce or bother to develop a quality educational work ethic. Someone offered to publish that in two local papers and I turned them down because I was already worried about the repercussions just of turning that in rather than turning in my turn paper. But I had things to say. or, I guess I have things to say. That hasn’t faded much. Deciding then to not publish is why now I have made the choice to do the opposite. One of the social media groups that I found was announced as leaning to one direction. I joined this group because of my personal affiliation with them. The town had previous held a meeting where they invited the denizens to discuss what they thought should be done to improve the town itself. There were engineers and project managers and local business owners and plenty of regular townsfolk who had gathered because they wanted to try to make the area better. Apparently, leveling the waterfront to make it more appealing to people from out of town would do that. That design forum served as my introduction to community politics. Working for the town during the summer when I was in school and simply participating in public school introduced me to community involvement. Crowdsourcing feedback isn’t new. This town is in danger of falling behind the curve and being taken advantage of forever. And that’s why I joined a group on a social media network.

As a bubble does, the group itself tended to be rather focused. Everyone had their suggestions or their gripes and the various members would send praise or commiserate in scorn. One gentleman in particular was full of ideas that the town could do to improve. He had a tagline with each idea that implied his ideas only cost a couple of pennies. Idea after idea flowed in the group and a lengthy chat and chatter would commence and then people would move onto the next thought completely failing to realize that simply discussing the idea on the internet doesn’t actually bring it to life in the real world. The mayor wasn’t sitting there reading the page taking notes other than to get a little boost of dopamine for whatever praise the group decided to shower upon him. Or if they rose to his often unearned defense. One day, an idea was proposed that landed near to my interests and background and so decided enough was enough. There has to come a time where we stop suggesting and start doing and down with the idea that we have to wait for the government to get around to keeping up. You want to do this community group in real life, then let’s go do it. We don’t have to do much, but we should meet in person because in person is where the interactions that will affect our day to day lives will likely occur. And so they and several other people agreed to meet in the back of a bar to discuss what we would want from a specifically oriented community group. I brought a white board and markers and we brainstormed. We discussed the difference between actionable ideas and delusions of grandeur which we decided to refer to as step one and step two. You can’t get anywhere without figuring out if what you are trying to do is step one or step two and it’s amazing how many are the latter. Everyone wants a building, no one wants to pay a guild fee. Our meeting was visited by town council who offered us business cards and open assistance, and a phone call that offered us sand castle promises and wanted to lead us toward their vision for our group.

We continued to meet several times to discuss how to spread the word of our group and what we could do in the area to make genuine improvements and impacts. What we wanted to offer was an inclusive space for people of like-minded output based interest and to offer an open opportunity for people unfamiliar to the practices to give them a shot. The town exists next to a city with a similar thriving community, but it seems to serve as a larger draw. No one is looking at the town partially because the town doesn’t seem very open to people from outside of it. Our group flourished to the point that I had to question what I was getting myself involved in. There are already so many draws that require the time that I have available that I was starting to feel as though I needed to choose between a few of them and decide what was really important. My goal had ultimately been realized. Point proven, build it and they will come turned out to be the nonsense that happened. One meeting in bar turned into another in a restaurant where people who knew what they were doing showed up and managed to turn the group into a functioning entity. Perfect. That was my primary intent. Just to make it happen, I don’t even really care about the credit. The area now has a specific output based community group which is supposed to improve the area through the invitation of inspired minds, but making crafts that cheer people up is also dope.

Most of us feel some compulsion at some point to try to make a change even on the smallest scale. Sometimes when trying to do this we get so caught up in the end result that we forget to figure out what action we have to take to earn the dream we thought up. So much can feel so far out of our reach simply because so much of what we think we are pursuing as action amounts to no more than pure thought and fantasy. We had so many ideas for what to do with that group that eventually panned out well. A building was located for the purposed of hosting collective output creation events and participation in town events was coordinated. The idea of starting with step one isn’t exactly ground breaking, but sometimes I have to remind myself to take those first steps. We all get a little lost in our ideas and forget to actually pursue them from time to time.

Don’t do it that way, you’ll never make a dime.

This one can also be called, how to make the transition from saying that you are starting a blog into actually trying to run one. I started this one with the idea to write as often as possible. Offline there are numerous hardcover, leather (or pleather) wrapped notebooks and journals that I use to document various musings, dilemmas, and ideas for general improvements. Some of the time, I brought that into my computer and started just typing 3-5 page papers to nobody in particular. As most people brought up these days, my thoughts can be translated into readable forms much quicker with a keyboard than a pen and paper. At the insistence of a few people and my own self-nudging, I decided to take the first step and make a free website. The domain was free, as was access to the tools needed to blast my obscure thoughts out into the internet.

Mind you that jump from people insisting that I should do this, and my actually doing so was not an immediate process. As with any project, research must be done to understand what is it that needs to be done. There’s also a fair bit of dilly-dallying, getting distracted, deciding that maybe a podcast would be a better format, more rambling into my voice memos, and typing more letters to myself that would all probably make decent blog posts but they remain locked away on my computer. Mind you, this isn’t my sole career function. I work in a warehouse for my primary income, and believe me I have plenty to say about that experience. This is something new for me. And some of the things that I have to say might cut across the grain for some people in person, but in person that doesn’t typically hold me back. There’s something about branching out into this vast cyberspace that both excites and frightens me. This is coming from someone who grew up with it as it developed into what we see now. At some point though, as I have said, I’ve got things to say. The graphic artist who married me would say that is an understatement. So here we are, typing away and just hoping that someone will stick around through all these meandering trails. I swear, it all leads somewhere.

So, research. There are definitely times were just looking stuff up is way more entertaining than actually doing anything. There’s so much redundant information available that you can spend weeks looking through other blogs trying to find out what exactly you should do to start one and always feel like you are finding some new twist along the way that keeps you from taking any definitive action. At the same time, discerning helpful information from advertisements disguised as help articles becomes a challenge. Which, to be fair, if the intent of the author is to create useful information to direct people towards a website-based income stream dependent on people who visit the site or click on through links then ultimately they can’t be faulted. I’d be a hypocrite to do so. The difference comes in the content itself. Most of the websites about trying to start a blog that one encounters are just an instruction manual for navigating the wordpress.com site with a casual suggestion to use one of about 4 hosting services. All of the time I spent looking up how to start a blog just put off the actual doing so. Every time I got into the math of trying to put thoughts on a website so that people could read it, I eventually lost interest and just moved on to something more rewarding than trying to figure out whether you really need domain information privacy or why someone would pay for that when others are just including it.

Eventually, I took a step. That’s the key point in anything. Once you have information, make an action. You can’t really have too much information, but you can also simply have enough. I had fallen into a loop of thinking there was something I was missing, some secret that hadn’t been uncovered, and the secret was that I was telling myself that looking all of that up was doing what I needed to do. And so I figured out the common first step and I downloaded wordpress. And then I found out that I misunderstood how that worked, and I went to the .com and started a free blog. And now I’m telling you this without being paid for it. I just wanted a thing to type out thoughts and hit enter and make them appear on a screen that wasn’t my own. All that was required was a typing interface, and a url of my choosing. Simple and straight forward. And it helps to have something to write about which all of the how to start a blog websites did not have much to say about other than “Use your imagination!” The first blog was launched under a URL that I did not look up as to whether anyone had the .com for it. In all my due diligence, actual research was overlooked. This is the danger of searching for the wrong information when starting a project. Lost in the process of just getting the website established, the idea of the website itself was left to atrophy. My lens had gone stray and for a brief period it caused me to just give up on this entirely while I was left trying to rename the website.

That held up my progress here because it happened at a critical step. After the first few posts, the lack of control over the site itself had become irksome. When the blog was first published, an email was sent that suggested not to delay a proper subscription because statistically people that waited simply never would. Marketing tactic that it was, there was no reason to take the step. Free access afforded me the trial needed to determine if this was something worth pursuing. Would it be something that I could routinely stick to? Or would I find myself drifting away from it and begrudging the notion of sitting down to write something? That happens when I write code. I tell myself and others that I’m learning to write code. And I am. I’m just learning code really, really slowly. And most of that is discipline, which is something that I am working on. That’s part of why I’ve tasked myself with learning code. It’s something I want to do, but don’t possess the drive to commitment required. All that can be overcome it is just a matter of my holding myself to it. Fortunately, blogging doesn’t seem to require that dogged forced behavioral adjustment process. This is just something that I do, maybe that means it plays to a strength of mine. Finding out that my url was taken threw a wrench in the works and really forced me to decide if this was something I wanted to keep doing. And it was. Everyone emphasized how crucial it is to have a good name. There’s probably more wisdom in that camp than the newly established, just get a url and start writing because otherwise you are wasting time camp, but really. If you are trying to figure out how to game traffic onto the site then you should revisit your intent. Unless that’s your thing. I’m not here to kink-shame.

At the end of the day most of the options were comparable within a few bucks, and rather than learn how to migrate my site, I just decided to proceed with the .com I started with. The interface is clean and usable for as much as I know what I’m doing. I didn’t need to back anything up or transfer anything. And I got my own .com url which is now my primary domain name. Faced with roadblocks I find myself taking the time to overcome them without having to force it. Things like this aren’t always easy to see, especially when you aren’t looking for them. This entry at least mentioned code, so I’m on topic as well, but I did say it was mostly about nothing. I guess I meant nothing in particular. Now that I have some more options available the look of this site might change, so if any of you are really committed to this aesthetic I apologize out of formality. Anyone new joining will have no idea what they were missing out on, enjoy being part of an incredibly exclusive club.

Maybe the blog is more about bicycles for now

Walk the walk if one feels the need to run their mouth about how people should get around right? Well maybe some people just have an easier time telling everyone else what to do. Maybe sometimes we make excuses for why we can’t keep up with our responsibilities. Maybe we have to leave at between 5:30 and 6 to get to work on time and are just bad at prioritizing. Or, perhaps, the light we needed to leave at the time was broken. That was all rhetorical and mostly truth. All of that can be solved through the application of non delayed action. That’s what I mean when I say that motivation is crap. I am really motivated to do all of this. Right now. But it’s freakin’ 10:41. What good is this?? Still though. We gotta work with that we get handed and the the ability to do that is way more broadly applicable than fickle motivation. Broken lights though? That’s easy. And recycling in this instance. So, double-whammy at minimum.

This is my second headlamp from the internet bazaar. The first died and to this day I don’t know if the battery itself gave out, or if the lamp quit. It had three lamps and was incredibly bright, which is good because my ride into work is incredibly dark. Municipalities seem to be under the impression that the responsibility of lighting falls solely on the individual that has decided to embark upon their journey like a cave person. You want to ride around exposed on a steel horse, better bring a torch because the bike paths around here are not lit. At all. Now, I haven’t raised the money to do this and I can’t imagine anyone else has bothered to either. There is no estimate I could provide for the cost of those lights, but they stick them on roads and it would certainly encourage people to jump on bicycles. At least enough to alleviate some of the traffic around here. Not everyone is going to bike, and it would be unreasonable to demand that everyone does. More of us can than are though. I certainly can so long as I have a light to get me to work. Whereas my first light gave out in a manner rendering it unusable, the second failed only to remain attached to my cranium. Plastic products on the internet bazaar are not always of the highest durability. A plastic clip that connected the strap that formed the headband snapped, leaving me with a lamp wired to a battery pack and two-thirds of the elastic I needed to wrap those around my helmet.

There was a picture of a bicycle on another website that had a remote battery pack attached to the side of the bicycle. This battery pack connected to at least the front light. Going into that search, in the back of my mind, was the idea that I needed to fix the light on my own bicycle. When I got out to the garage, my plan was to recreate the first assembly (which is a really loose use of that term) that was slapped together when the lamp originally broke. With a bungee cord that did pretty much nothing and the broken straps wrapped around the handlebars and then layered again with most of a roll of electrical tape, the light stayed attached where needed and aimed slightly to the left. Mostly optimal! However, the tape covered a bolt that allowed the handlebars to be adjusted and given that the fit on this bike is being tweaked on an entirely whimsy-based process the need to remove the light became inevitable. The reattachment of the light was not immediately subsequent and thus my morning rides and commitment to something resembling values was cast aside. Until tonight that is. Subconsciously inspired by that picture perhaps, or just presented with an opportunity to really look at a problem and let a solution come to me I realized that I was in possession of everything I needed. First, the straps needed to be slipped from the surviving plastic clips. The light itself is mounted to a hinge with a flat plate. The wire to the battery pack runs out of the right hand side and through a loop for flexibility. After reaching for the ever handy electrical tape, the thought occurred to me that having to cut the tape off every time the power cells needed swapping seemed impractical and counter to the ecological and economic purpose of the bicycle.

The bicycle was sold to me with a small black bag with a busted zipper that once pulled most of the way closed refused to open again without a spritz of penetrating lubricant and creative use of a hook on the end of the bungee cord used in the prototype attempt the first time round. That bag was located, zipper surgery performed, and with some extra looping of the primary strap and a sturdy self looping elastic bungee with a ball on the end of it for good measure, a battery pouch was fabricated.

The light itself sits perched center and pointed low on the handlebars. The lights are supposed to be angled down because as squishy cyclists its in our best interest not to blind drivers so they don’t feel the urge to run us over. They should never feel bothered to switch away from their high beams or make sure that that the buy it now halogen LED turbo lazer beam headlights are adjusted to point at the correct road angle and not straight at my clearly able to adapt to sudden light changes pupils. The hinge was a little floppy and since the town can’t be bothered to fix every single pothole simultaneously it would bob around and be less than useful overall. Electric tape wrapped around the hinge seems to have rectified that issue.

I think I just accidentally lived out that trope of the engineer’s flowchart (does it move, should it?). The graphic designer that agreed to marry me says that it looks retro. That’s pretty much all the praise I’ll ever need.

Now all that stands in my way is laziness. And a lack of sleep. At least I wrote this blog post though. Do you give yourself credit for the little battles when the little battles seem like pyrrhic victories? Might as well, right? Right. Just keep telling them it’s about code. Coding. Coding what though?

Coding, Bicycles, and how Motivation is a load of Crap.

Today while riding through the main street of my town there was an older couple riding in the opposite direction. They were dressed in the trappings of a well sold cyclist, brightly colored clothing, mirror strapped to the helmet, a posture so upright the Queen would be very proud. They were not however equipped with a well versed knowledge of how to ride a bicycle in a road. To that point, the drivers whizzing by are not themselves subject matter experts. The town itself was built up in the late 1800s. it started as a large tract of farmland and a river crossing. The city across the river has some historical significance, but it doesn’t contribute largely to the existence of this particular town other than that it was there and the river is easier to cross here and in several other places. As a result a rail line was constructed parallel to river and it tied in by crossing the river and connecting the two towns by a series of bridges. During the course of development, the largest plot of farmland was sold to a land real estate company that sliced everything up and started to expand the number of buildings that existed. With the buildings came people and roads and they managed to expand their town up the side of the hill that the aforementioned river contributed towards carving. In order to ease the journey from the residential hill to the lower downtown, a trolley was built. That trolley ran across the river into the historical city and connected the two even further. People walked, or took the trolley. One could imagine a few more adventurous types using a bicycle. The surrounding countryside has been there forever and the town was largely built up around industry because of the ease of crossing the river nearby. Then people started buying cars. And then people started packing more than one family into the homes. And all of those families also had cars. Sometimes more than one. Then everyone decided to complain about the traffic but also not pay any attention when they drive and sit at a redlight staring at their phone while complaining that the youth are the problem but at least one of us is managed to have some proper signal lights and is trying to follow the prescribing procedure for operation of a vehicle.

It seems like at some point we just give up on learning anything new. And by that point we are also really susceptible to outside influence. Maybe there is a correlation between actively learning and directing your thought in that manner and simply going through the motions of modern suburban life. Although, even that has a bunch of different meanings even just within the 15 odd mile (or 24.14 km if that’s your thing. Do you have a thing about distance measurements?) radius that surrounds makes up the larger connected economic block of several towns arranged around an industrial and commerce park. Interestingly, my brief attempts at finding a definition of suburban were not grandly fruitful. The direct search term results in advertisement for a truck. Suburban life directed me to a page with a headline about someone being charged with assault for battering a child. Wasn’t suburban life supposed to be the idea of the American Dream brought into civic planning? Violence and battery certainly don’t seem like the white picket fence utopia. A slightly deeper dive brings us to the civic design center. Where upon there is a lovely presentation of a single photo and a small digital booklet, which to my surprise was about exactly the types of ideas that I advocate for locally. Which is incredibly pleasant to happen across, especially from a state backed presentation. The initial skim provided the Urban Dictionary definition of suburban and it seemed as though it was going to be a very different sort of pamphlet. Definitely worth a look for any one interested in how to make suburban life less of a drag on health and heavily dependent on cars.

In the description of the town and surrounding area, it was mentioned that there was a diversity of constructions in the suburbs. The oldest models in the area are tightly packed, the houses themselves about 20-25 feet wide on average and standing about 30 or so feet tall. They run very long, although after having looked through several of them its clear that at least a few were much, much smaller and that leaves me curious as to what the houses would have been built like originally. All-in-all, the building provides about 1600 square feet, plus a yard large enough for a moderate sized garden, and space for activities. And a garage. The dream right? Well, close enough to mine anyway. This is the general layout of the town built up on a hill with the rest of the farmland slowly being carved into rectangles as people decide it’s a nice area near the country but they don’t want to live in a box that other people have already lived in. When I was in elementary school, I was assigned to a group that got to do a historical project specifically about the area that we lived in. It never occurred to me that not everyone was given this glimpse into the local area. We may know some of the history if our parents were from the area and felt so inclined to share but ultimately even that was probably spotty. American history, and civics, and social studies (which freakin’ comma should I use? Or would it drive you nuts if I just went back and forth and never made a decision? Only worth it if it doesn’t drive you away.) was the majority of what people were taught. I learned that the school we were in was originally part of an airport. There was a whole timeline for me to forget. The neighboring township was a branch off further from the housing constructed for the management of a large industrial firm that set up shop in the middle of the area. Spiraling clockwise, starting at 3 o’clock, the population is thickest there by the river and the hill across from the historical city and decreases in density as you continue along the clock. As you cross into the early expansions the houses are more unique. The lots are all of a moderate size but your neighbor is still 15-20 feet away. If there were trees, planted along the roadside they have all grown to maturity. Most of this land was forested or farmed so many of the trees are native and old. There are still a handful of businesses clustered into the neighborhood and the roads are quiet enough to ride a bicycle through or walk, but realistically there is nothing useful within most people’s idea of walkable. Is that a failure of design or human motivation? We know that sitting still too much kills us. Right? Probably not as many of us as one would hope. There is a strip mall nearby, but a bargain store, a few restaurants, and doctors offices make for slim pickings.

This portion of town is connected to the rest of the commercial and residential area by way of major highway. Backroads exist and it is possible to get to the shopping centers by way of bicycle, but I ride frequently and still want a motor. The area is full of rolling hills and everything is just that little bit too far away. So far no one has managed to look at the area and figure out where a good bike path can be carved out. At least then the hills wouldn’t be as daunting because there wouldn’t be cars threatening to flatten you. Which finally brings me around to the point that I had started with, which is to say that no body wants to learn anything. And towns are designed badly. Unless you run a gas station. This little side track took me all of like 20 minutes of clicking around and I found something interesting and worthwhile to learn about that expanded upon a thing that I was already interested in. Maybe that’s a key point, there has to be an interest. Interest results in that kind of spontaneous “hmm?” that results in finding a handy pamphlet to share with whomever manages to get this far.

Maybe learning how to drive in a way that maximizes cooperation and the fact that we are all traffic and in traffic isn’t interesting. Driving itself barely seems interesting given the number of people barely paying attention to it even when that means that no one can figure out whether they are going to go or continue to wait or let anyone else go or just randomly step on the gas and decide to go because they were ready but that they hadn’t really looked to see if anyone was in front of them before doing so. Maybe, given the fact that we can barely manage to pay attention to the road without also checking a message at minimum, we should think about lowering the speed limits in area where people are known to be pedestrians. Or just lower them anyway. That little booklet pointed out that 85% of deaths in accidents where an automobile strikes a person occur when the vehicle is traveling 40 miles per hour (64.37 km, metric system would probably have a speed limit of 60 KM no? or maybe they would round up and just slightly out pace us everywhere). If we lowered residential speed limits to 20 mph, then most electric bicycles would have no difficulty keeping pace with the flow of traffic. Most regular bicycles wouldn’t be going much slower, even at a more gentle 10 mph for it to matter. We’re all in too much of a hurry to begin with, but that’s another hour of rambling that I’ll save for another time.

Moral of the Story. Pay more attention and learn something. Today I made another venture into learning How to Automate the Boring Stuff. I have tried so many different ways to learn code and none of them have really held my attention. Maybe you have to be guilty of a thing to really understand it. Without name dropping because I think they are losers that don’t deserve your attention more than that free to access link up there, I tried a few of the guided tours and just felt that it wasn’t sticking. To be fair what wasn’t sticking was me. There needed to be a reason to sit down on a daily basis and learn the thing. With a car the reason is just to avoid killing people. Programming, or code whichever is the more accurate vernacular, just wasn’t something I saw a reasonable way forward in. Making my websites wasn’t going to make boxes lift themselves more safely or motivate my co-workers to try harder. And money alone or the prospect of a career change weren’t motivating either. So what changed this time? The goal is just the doing of it. There was a model kit that let a kid build a robot and then program the robot with blocks that had simple to change parameters. That kit provided results that encouraged further exploration. And that’s what Python and automating boring stuff does for me. Making simple things happen, like an entry form that can round my answer triggers the same little button as pushing pedals or adjusting gears and cables. One of these entries will be a small summary of what I’ve learned so far. That will provide a good recap to make sure that I’m actually grasping what I’m trying to learn. Because that’s what this blog is about. Coding.

Addendum: I didn’t explain why motivation is crap, I just said that I wasn’t motivated by anything. That might just be depression, but it’s still crap. You need gumption because otherwise just waiting around for motivation will leave you sitting around a lot. Disagree, fight me, but not really because maybe I’m just missing something, so rather than fighting me, clue me in. And then when you recognize the difference between the two go and apply that to other situations so we can start having peaceful disagreeing dialogues. Unless that’s an oxymoron. Code, the blog is about code.