This Is Me

Some things gather under my skin, and no matter how much I wish to let them go it’s hard. They come from my culture that I have come from and exist in. I do not respond well to being demeaned and I do not respond well to being boxed into absolutist opinions that I do not hold. I don’t like being pushed into generalized areas, just because I hold a particular view. I do not like being told how I should feel, it is personal.

I have been called privileged, this is something I do not deny; I am privileged in many ways:

I am white.
I have a family that cares.
I was born in the first world, America, in a decent age (though, maybe not the best.).
I am healthier than many.
I know the value of a dollar.
I know the value of honest (and dishonest) work.

And many others.

What bugs me with this is that people will try to demean me because of one of these privileges, often the color of my skin, while I sit there aghast at their hypocrisy and ignorance as they hold privileges that I do envy. They have had opportunities from that privilege than I have never had, and will never have (at least in similar manner). It is something that agravates me.

I hold many views, and I am flexible to change in many, though maybe not entirely. I do not look up to any large entities; I find the government to suck and I find corporations to suck. I often will side with one of them over the other, that would be corporations over government; the reason for that is that corporations often have an alternative to choose from.

I do not deny the fact that corporations can do many bad things, anyone who says otherwise or feels me a corporatist knows nothing of me and the cultural history I have grown up in. I was born and raised in WV, it is a place I love, but this place holds some very gruesome stories that are no less than usurious. In the late-19th and early-20th centuries, there was a culture of financiers and corporations abusing the people of Appalachia. In the many coal-towns created on land purchased by these outsiders, often essentially stolen via mineral right sales, they would pay with company vouchers, instead of true monetary funds, that could only be used at a company store. These companies had a lock on these persons, and their families, livelihoods; the companies had enslaved these men and done so legally.

I will not deny the capacity of increased rights granted by government or clawed back by unions in these and other circumstance. Yes, I stand critical of unions in this day and age, they have become in many ways a hindrance to necessary change. I do not feel they are bad in and of themselves, but they tend not to work in an effective manner, they have become an unnecessary bureaucratic layer.

I also do not deny that there are corporations who do some despicable things, e.g. Wal*Mart (which has a voucher system like that of the coal-towns, in Mexico), Monsanto, News Corp.; yet, I will often stand up to protect or support a corporate entity, its employees, or its actions, as I find reactions to vilify them often without proper consideration. This is often a source of strife for me, as people try to ascribe me to an absolute position of corporate privileges, something I would never do. I support corporations, as I said above, because they often offer a choice and the freedom to leave, while government actions I am beholden to as a citizen.

Growing up in small town America, that holds members at both ends of the income spectrum in a quite polarized fashion, and yet seeing them get along. I have grown to know many wealthy people, and respect them for their accomplishments; I know many hard-working people in the middle that will struggle to get by week-to-week, month-to-month; and I know many people that will struggle, sometimes not due to their own causes; Most of all I know that people in each of those groups will help each other out,  under just about any circumstance. There may be some animosity between the groups, but we are still friends and family, everyone is connected, and willing to offer help if you just ask.

I often think this might just be small-town culture, rural vs. urban living, but I don’t know for sure. All I know is that looking at it there seems to be more apathy, wanting, and strife that seems to come from urban areas. Maybe it’s because of sheer numbers, or the lack of capacity to fend for oneself in earnest due to the packing of so many in such a small space, or maybe people have had to shed their ability to care on a personal level about those they pass on the street because of frequency. I don’t know for sure, but it seems like such a dichotomy.

I also do not respect people who try to tell me what, how, or should I feel. They do not share my experience, so they do not know how I will or should react. They do not know what will hurt me, nor do they know what will make me laugh. I am often within my head thinking, trying to piece everything together into a logical expression of what I believe the world to be. If you try to tell me how to feel about something, you might be wrong; you likely will be wrong. My emotion can change with the area, with the persons, with the events before, during, and after; my emotion is up for interpretation by only one individual: me.

So this was just me blowing off some steam, maybe it makes sense, maybe it doesn’t. This is my life, though not all of my opinions, welcome too it. Oddly, a lot of the things that aggravate me are very similar to things that you hear of racism, but that doesn’t exist for white people, does it. Maybe it’s not racism, but it attacks the same places, they go for my sense of being, my sense of freedom, and try to control my personal emotions in an effort to dehumanize me, because I am not their ideal.

FUCK THEM. I AM ME. I WILL ALWAYS BE ME. THE VIEWS I HOLD ARE NOT ME. THE VIEWS I HOLD HAVE CHANGED BEFORE AND THEY WILL CONTINUE TO SHIFT UNTIL THE DAY I DIE. I WILL TELL YOU FREELY WHAT I BELIEVE, IF YOU THEN TRY TO CHAIN MY OPINION TO A LOGICAL EXPECTATION YOU HAVE OF THAT OPINION I WILL LIKELY RALLY AGAINST THAT. I DO NOT RESPECT SUCH EFFORTS.

My Life Spendings

I’ve been thinking about where I’ve spent my time in life. It’s something I do every year during the summer. I think about recent stuff, and sometimes look further back. I had never tried to do a full accounting of where my life was spent, and still don’t have one that is 100% complete or accurate. But just looking at the numbers is kind of amazing.

I’ve been alive 8400 days, roughly. And of those days I’ve spent quite a few doing just normal daily functions.

Normal Daily Functions

  • 2450 days sleeping (~7 hours a day)
  • 600 days eating (~100 minutes a day)
  • 650 in transit (~110 minutes a day)
  • 400 in the bathroom (showering, bio, etc.)

Work & Education

  • 750 days spent in the public education system (K-6, 10-12)
  • 135 as a home-school student (7-9)
  • 25 as a college student
  • 150 days spent doing development
  • 125 working normal paying jobs

entertainment

  • 275 days playing videogames (30 days of WoW, 20 on Final Fantasy 7-10, 12 on Pokemon) Most of it came on the weekends and summers between the age of 12-15.
  • 175 watching movies that I can account for in iTunes
  • 50 days of just watching Chuck, most of which is accounted for in iTunes.
  • 40 days of poker on sites like www.partypoker.fr, I used to spend quite a long time playing multiple tables simultaneously.

Social Media Stats

  • 200 days on Friendfeed (~4hr/day over the past 3.5 years. ~15k posts, 46k comments, 46k likes)
  • 90 days reading in Google Reader (267k items @ half-minute each)
  • 70 days on StumbleUpon sites (14k thumbs, 55k sites seen. 5k+11k not accounted for from a cleanup in July ’09)
  • 45 days spent sending instant messages
  • 30 days sending/reading email.
  • 20 days on Twitter (~20 minutes / day since August 2008, 7k tweets, 1.4k faves)

That adds up to quite a large portion of my life. I’ve spent 4100 days on every day functions, nearly half my life; nearly 1200 on work and education; about 550 days wasted on entertainment — countless more dollars. And on social media and communication, a little more than 450 days. That leaves roughly 2000 days of my life unaccounted for and not all of these numbers are mutually exclusive.

I’m not sure I would like a full break-down, even if I could get it. I have a good feeling about where I’ve spent those 2000 days, and I know I wouldn’t trade them. Those things unnaccounted, a quarter of my life, are most likely the times spent with family and friends, reading books, or just embracing the stillness of my surroundings. Life is short, but I’m glad that the time I’ve spent with the people I care about is such a large portion of it.

Here’s to a future of the same, and much more.

23 Years And Some Good Will

So another year has slipped past, not so uneventfully, as other recent ones. The past year, and particularly the past six months, I have been a bit more proactive than before. I haven’t seen too much from these efforts. Still, I apparently managed to pop up on a few radars and have become involved with several people and companies. This hasn’t been that bad, at all in many ways.

Ultimately, my life has become more hectic but also somewhat more enjoyable. Not always, but often enough. From my anecdotal experience, one thing is most apparent to me, you are rewarded for the good you do, but only when you least expect it. Take everything in stride; losses and sacrifice today does not always mean more loss tomorrow. With that in mind I decided a few days ago to work on projects that foster good will.

My idea of good will projects was to create experiences, relationships, and opportunities through helping others. I have a few deep observations/recommendations that I plan on writing up for some companies that I use frequently, but are lacking in more ways than one. I also wanted to work on a few small open-source projects, and get them out.

My first act of good will, and one that will continue, is to help with the development of Geochat. I have spent quite a bit of time on the site over the past few weeks, even though the activity on it has only been in short bursts and with only a few people. Hopefully that will change as Jorge and, occasionally, I add features and fix bugs. Everyone is welcome to come check it out.

After 23 years of life, here I am, not where I thought I’d be, but also content. I will continue doing what I do, and continue to expand my experiences and horizons. I’m not the best, probably never will be, but I can try to be my best. Good will projects and more openness are my plans for now on how to do that. So to those who are reading this, have a wonderful day, it’s my, and Holden‘s, birthday. Happy Birthday, Holden!

The site may go down temporarily, as I transferred the domain, and it hasn’t fully propagated.

What Is Your Narrative

I’ve long held a set of narratives, stories that I tell. I sometimes feel bad about using specific ones, and have admitted previously to the fraud that I am. It’s by lies of omission or using a selective narrative, always honest. Here are all the major narratives that I tell regarding college.

I’ve been out of school for 4 years now, and the question that often comes up is what happened. This here is where the story starts. Depending on who it is that I am speaking, and other context. There are several reasons, each with their own story to detail. I could discuss all of them, but it’s often in idle banter, so it would be overkill. In the end, I normally resort to only one or two.

The most common story is that my back went out the night before finals. While it’s the truth, and it’s the simplest to discuss, I don’t prefer it. I don’t like it because it generates sympathy, which is nice, but it always makes me feel like I’m lying.

Another story, that is common is that I decided the system is broken. This one obviously isn’t simple to explain, but I can just spit out a line or two about the system, as almost everyone agrees it’s broken. This is also the honest truth, I had saw the precursors of the 2008 financial collapse and wanted to get a job as soon as possible to shelter myself and family.

The reason I wanted to help my family is the 3rd story, that I rarely discuss. I’ve mentioned it only once or twice. My mom had quit her job so that she could help in taking care of my great-grandparents, and after their passing at the beginning of 2006, had struggled to find another position for 2 years. This weighed on my mind heavily, and is partially the reason I had such a negative reaction to the ridiculousness of the academic system.

Another story is that I had a hard time adapting, because I was tossed into the deep end, even after trying to explain this would be negative. During course registration, they placed me in Calculus, and I had asked for remediation in Trig, as I had 0 experience with Trigonometric identities after being fucked around with in high school. Upon my asking, I was told that my standardized test scores in mathematics were too high for me to be placed in remediation. Of course, that wasn’t their last blunder, they stuck me in a general Calculus program, that moved more slowly than that of my college and with a professor outside of my college. So any discussions I had with my academic adviser resulted in confusion.

All the while I was dealing with a rather inept teacher, in a course without recitation and lacking the same pace as the engineering program. My first 4 weeks I spent 60+ hours a week trying to brute force my way through that one course. The last time I went to a scheduled course, was during the second semester, when I asked a Trig question to the professor of the remedial Calculus teacher and he responded, “You don’t know Trig, then why are you here?” I don’t blame him, and explained the registration situation, but didn’t like being attacked for something I knew was wrong but couldn’t get changed. I still respect him, and he was one of the best professors I had while in school. After that interaction I stopped attending my courses. I started dropping in freely to other courses that seemed more interesting or that my friends were attending so that we had something else to discuss outside our general topics.

Lastly, and another one that I rarely mention, definitely not outside of family and friends. I partied a bit too much to try and help cope with all the other stress I was dealing with. It helped me feel better, but it didn’t help in the long run, there was at least a few times where I was too hungover at exams in the middle of the week. There are plenty of individual stories I have that I could share, but in general this is it.

While each story is true, they also each evoke different responses. Some result in sympathy, others questions, and some with just a shrug and now you know better. It’s up to you to choose. Ultimately, I’m responsible for every choice I made, but not all of them were by choice or even mine.

Every event has more than one perspective, and sometimes an individual has more than one thread that they can weave their cloth. The narrative of our fate is presented in whatever way that we choose to narrate it. Stories abound, but it’s up to you to choose which you want to tell.

Paring Back

I’ve found that I lose focus too often over the years; actually, to say I’ve lost focus would be the wrong term, instead I should say, “I’ve misplaced my focus.” I never stopped focusing, but my focus shifted so rapidly I failed to accomplish anything. I don’t feel too bad about it, it sucks, but it has already happened and I can’t change the past.

Over the past month, or so, I’ve managed to focus on learning Ruby and Rails, but I’ve also realized that I was spending time on things that no longer mattered. I was wasting my life on things that don’t amount to much. It was inevitable, eventually something would have to give, and with waning interest the choices were made much simpler.

I’ve cut what I read daily on Google Reader by 60%, by cutting out things I should have cut much sooner like TechCrunch and Mashable; I can still do more here, but paring back things with less volume doesn’t feel like a necessity. For the past several months, I had been getting overwhelmed by the end of the week, and would spend 4-5 hours on Sunday crunching through 1000+ items.  

Also, I’ve also all but fully retracted from Friendfeed. I still post stuff via the bookmarklet and a rare sarcastic comment or two a week, but I don’t visit the site more than once or twice a week. When I visit it just reminds me that “It’s dead, Jim.” There are dozens of people I love and care about there, but I’ve lost interest in the shell of a dream we shared. Hey, we had a good solid run with it though, nearly 3 years without any active development and it’s only just beginning to collapse.

Where will I expand and go from here. I don’t really know. I guess I’ll probably start using the time to chew through my backlog of ideas. Here I am, nowhere near where I had expected 5 years ago, when I left high school. I don’t know if I’ve grown that much, since then, but my appetite surely has. It’s time for me to enjoy the journey and let go of the scars of the past.