I Lack Dedication

  • I can write software.
  • I can do 18 pushups.
  • I can run a mile.
  • I can juggle.

Writing is tough, it takes some serious dedication not a lot of people seem to have anymore. What I mean is, it’s easy to write words onto a piece of paper or type them onto a computer screen, but it’s hard to feel comfortable letting other people see what you’ve written. Reviewing, Editing, and Revising is the difficult part of writing, and I struggle with it all the time. I would probably be called a perfectionist, and I guess I would be lieing if I claimed otherwise. I wonder if I’ll even have the grit to finish this blog post, not that I’m rooting against myself; I’m just guessing I won’t finish. It seems like I enjoy torturing myself by adding more projects than I can ever scratch off to my personal todo list. Not your average weekend projects either, more like Elon Musk change the world projects. Example: I am dead set on building a nuclear reactor out of junkyard parts that can hit breakeven, we’ll see how that one goes.

I joined NaNoWriMo last November in attempt to write a novel in a month. This was during enrollment in a creative writing class at my high school. I figured it would be neat if I could turn in a published book as a homework assignment, but I didn’t write all 50k words. For anyone interested NaNoWriMo novel pages include a synopsis and an excerpt. Looking back at the excerpt even just 7 months later I’m surprised at how rough it seems. I’ve since taken a course on British Literature and I imagine that has something to do with it. I don’t know if this blog post will speak for me, but I feel like my writing has since improved. It definitely shows in my current revision of the book at least. I’m also quite a bit further than the current 3170 word count shown on NaNoWriMo, but lack the spirit to update my account. I likely would have kept updating it if I had won and written all 50k words. I mean if you make the numbers you’re finished, but after writing so fast I feel like copious editing is necessary. Winning is just writing all 50k words, so you get to decide. It’s rather disheartening not to achieve your goals, but that appears to be what this post is about. I still haven’t managed to complete the book yet, but it will in fact happen, you can count on it. Soon I will graduate high school and I hope to still not have a lot of free time on my hands, considering I ought to start being profitable. At least, if I want to pay for college, and the rest of life, otherwise I can just go live in a hole or something.

How about a success story, when I was 13 years old I learned to juggle, quick cash was my inspiration. Someone was looking to hire entertainment for a party, and they wanted to spend $100 on a juggler. I know now that $100 is chump change for a job like that, but being a broke dependant teenager made it seem like a lot more than it was. Immediately I began to practice, using the equipment from the game of bean bag toss I was playing moments before. I spent around three hours that night figuring out the basics of the cascade. By the end of the week I had it perfected and I was ready for work, but the promised role of party entertainer was already filled. I didn’t get my $100, but I learned a valuable life lesson. The journey is often more important than where you wind up in the end. Of course it would have been nice to earn the $100, but I kept juggling after that. It’s now five years later and I’m still juggling. I can juggle 4 objects of varying weights and shapes in several patterns. I don’t keep up a regimen of juggling practice, but whenever I’m struggling with a difficult problem, it’s a nice way to unwind.

Through my life I’ve learned it’s important to sticking with what you set out to do, it will make you a much happier person. Changing what you want to do is definitely alright, but failing yourself feels worse than failing anyone else. The negative effects aren’t immediately observable but over time they add up and you start to feel like garbage. It’s taken a lot to realize I shouldn’t be living for others, I should be living for me. Something much different than living for personal gain, I also think you should give back what you can. It’s also more not caring what people think of you, which has little to do with your personal goals. I’ve spent significant amounts of time on projects that stop feeling personal after a while, and grow stagnant. Starting with only myself in mind I end up giving expectations to others that are difficult to live up to. It’s hard to clean your plate when it’s got food for everyone on it. I’d much rather swipe the feast into a bin than eat it because someone is watching.

I recently tried an exercise program called hundredpushups. If followed correctly it should bring you up to doing 100 pushups after just 6 weeks. Starting out I followed it to the letter for a few weeks, only recording the first week on their logger though. Updating it every time I exercised was far too distracting so I just started keeping track in my head. I didn’t manage to complete the full six weeks, and now I can only do 18 pushups in a row. About three weeks into the program, I gave up. I made improvements that are noticeable in a mirror, but that’s not even what I was after. I just wanted to be stronger than I already was, I have no appearance issues at all. I’m not 100% sure why I stopped, but I’m suspicious it was out of boredom. Exercise is one of the most boring activities unless you are in fact scaling a mountain, in which case it’s quite exhilarating. But on your bedroom floor doing set after set of pushups can grow old. After halting the program my max exhaustion test was 18 pushups, which is up 150% from my original 12. I’m comfortable with being able to do only 18 pushups, but failing to complete even just a six week program upsets me. I would much rather have finished the program than gained any muscle. I have read some interesting studies on how our brains interpret success. It’s the ability to remain dedicated to a task rather than its actual completion. This explains why I feel the way I do about all my projects, because I just bounce around between them instead of focusing my efforts.

Just about every activity feels to me like a double edged sword. On one hand I’m being productive and getting things done, but on the other I could spend my time in so many other ways. Exercise especially makes me feel this way, I know it’s saving my life, but it’s not helping me finish immediate tasks. I imagine it’s a bad way of looking at life, “Everything I could be doing is just a waste of time!”. I should maybe make better efforts to fix my outlook, but it’s rather difficult a thing to do. Even right now I could be reading and finishing my first novel. Obligations are the primary driving factor in my life, the only way I ever manage getting anything done is if I feel obliged to do it. So I only get things done when they are for other people, which is good and it does make me happy. But I feel like I would be even happier if I could start getting things done for just me.

Also, because I can’t stop myself from piling more work up, I’m thinking of doing a redesign of this blog. It once looked fine to my eyes, which I’ll blame on it being “good enough”, but my eyes since learned. I’ve always wanted to see a site detect system time and make adjustments to foreground and background colors. Something like using a Solarized Light theme during the day, and a Solarized Dark theme at night. Not that it would be a Solarized theme, just something light, dark, and with near even contrast either way. I’m not sure I can do such fancy things as time based template injection with Jekyll, but it would be pretty neat if I could. If yes there will be a future post about it, if no I will give passing mention to it in a future post.

I’m also currently writing several drafts of posts yet to come, and maybe I’ll finish a few after this one to build a content buffer. That would be a huge relief and let me spend time on other things. Otherwise I think it could be difficult to keep up with my own ambition. I plan to be writing at least once a day, and while currently that doesn’t mean blog posts in the future it might.

TLDR; In short, I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while, I am weak, I will try harder. I need to learn how to stop spreading myself so thin, because juggling balls is a lot easier than juggling books. I give myself huge projects and don’t go through with them. It’s something I’m working on and maybe something that other people should be working on too. The perfectionist in me has revised this for days in a row and realizes it will never be ready, so I’m finally giving in and posting it anyways.

Also I did some things with Disqus, and now there are comments, I will post about it in the future. When I searched the topic there were many posts on setting it up and I think it’s important to share information everyone can use. I felt dumb after reading the articles, most of the content was obvious. I was most unfamiliar with the Liquid Templating Engine, and YAML-Front Matter. So the primary content will be about Jekyll rather than Disqus, but whatever, I can do what I want.

Writing a Novel

So I’ve decided to participate in this thing called NaNoWriMo. November is national novel writing month and I get to write 50,000 words in 30 days, I’m at day four and haven’t gotten anything down but some of it is part of a homework assignment due Friday, so I know I’ll at least be forced to start. It’s just been a challenge to motivate myself to write because I feel that anything I do has the potential to completely ruin the story. I think however that once I have actually begun writing I can crank out 10,000 words or so in a weekend, and then I won’t feel so bad. Why oh why do I torture myself so. So I’m well past the end of November and I’m still not finished with my novel, but I’m not too upset since I really chose an awful time to start participating in something like that what with everything else on my plate, I’ll finish in my own time and definitely try again with a new novel next year.

No Internet for half a month!

TL;DR I was stuck without an internet connection for a while and it taught me a valuable lesson, web browsers are the cause for most (if not all) timesuck.

Here I am living my life without any internet right now, so this post will go up whenever that happens. (dear god please soon) I have learned that anyone could still be productive easily without a reliable internet connection and that is one of the great benefits of distributed version control. Personally I’ve managed to patch up and document a large amount of code for a system I contribute to. I also haven’t had any problems working on homework that require an internet connection to be turned in. Waiting for the disparate angels of connection has been working out fine when I want to push commits or submit an essay I’ve written.

It is a bit difficult though but getting used to little or no internet really made me a lot more productive, I think the trick was the fact that I stayed out of the web browser. I mean sure there are all sorts of tools to help you be productive within it for example a document editor, google drive (a personal favorite) or an email client, gmail I would use those both in a web browser, but also have several other less necessary tabs open at all times just begging for my attention so that I could be distracted from whatever it is I’m about to do.

First Github Pages Generated Jekyll Post!

This is actually a rather interesting way to run things and since I’m familiar with most of the tools (except important ones like ruby), it should be a fun toy to play around with. Plus since I apparently think it’s a great idea to overwhelm myself with writing lately, (creative writing short story, dialog, writing two novels, an incredibly long math essay, critical analysis of Dracula, etc) I figured that it would be a good idea to start a blog. I heard I liked writing (so I put writing in my writing so I could write while I write) so much that I would make incredibly lame jokes to keep doing it (and talk to myself, I mean this is like sidenotes but somehow I feel as though it’s directed at me and not you, even though that would make you me but… whatever, I’m going to throw in a quote)

“If I knew what you’d do, exactly when you knew what you’d do, then I’d either be you or I’d be God. And we both know I’m not you.” - Jarod Kintz

The example post I’m using as a template also had something here about code highlighting (so I’m going to showcase a gist of mine): (You know this is goign to be a private gist so I’m not 100% sure it’s going to even work, I guess we’ll find out together.)

I’m probably one of the few people who enjoys code golfing (oh sorry for using a competing language for my first highlight test), I also have a problem with premature optimization, but I’m finally starting to profile for bottlenecks more often, and it makes life so much easier. (also I was kidding, I’m not sorry, why would I be sorry, you’re ridiculous)

(This just needs to be left here because I feel like it’s useful information, and why not backlink Jekyll, I’m so happy I didn’t have to write a CMS right now I don’t even care, I’d give away so many backlinks) Check out the Jekyll docs for more info on how to get the most out of Jekyll. File all bugs/feature requests at Jekyll’s GitHub repo.