Monthly Archives: April 2017

Disconnection

You know what? Just… stop. Look. Listen.

There are Catholics, feminists, relativists, hippies, homosexuals, rebels, criminals, pedophiles, sick people, and good people in the world.

The game of so-called “love” at school is coming to a close for our class. I guess I’m lucky to have avoided that drama.

There’s things happening everywhere. Back in 2009, my young mind could simply freeze time and absorb all of the information it was taking in – the lessons in the realm of school, the interesting magazine articles in the realm of computing, goings-on in the realm of family – and retain it. For this reason, I believe 2009 to be one of the most vividly recalled years of my life, along with 2012. New technology, new changes in my life, were recorded well.

Such is no longer the case. Time is somehow accelerating, information now requires constant studying for retention, and there are too many things in the world that are interesting and relevant to me that it it now futile to attempt to isolate any of them.

Yet I continue to scout for new information, something that I can use to my own advantage and benefit, to no avail. Hence is my protracted waste of time checking forums and chats that I participate in.

I’m not confident enough in my own abilities, so I look to the accomplishments of others. Yet my confidence regains in the wrong times; many of those times are when I am far from the computer. (When I get on, of course, I don’t want to do anything.)

What I need to do is stop using other people as sounding boards to test new ideas. Just screw it, I don’t care what they….

…oh, dang it! I have to care about their opinion!

Quality

I got rejected from the Google high school summer program. I thought I had good chances, since it didn’t seem too popular, but yesterday they rejected me, yet again placing the blame on the fact that “there were too many strong applicants” blah blah blah. I’m tired of hearing those canned rejection letters. Stop lying to me. Just tell me that I wasn’t good enough and get on with it.

Anyway, (train of thought interrupted by my brother placing blood pressure monitor on my desk to screw with me and stigmatize me. I wonder when he’ll stop making my crap everyone’s business) they decided to put me instead in this “Google CodeU” program which is basically a virtual program where you make a project with Gayva Java (almost banned from a forum for saying that; apparently homophobia is taken very seriously these days) with “real” Google engineers who consult with you on the project.

Yet people who write really poorly formatted papers somehow get accepted to things. So it’s not about the professionalism at all; it’s about the content. And I was excellent with professionalism, but it didn’t make my ideas appear innovative enough. I recently witnessed this phenomenon in graduation speaker auditions: one student whom I saw with a speech written in a single paragraph, using single-spaced Arial (the Google Docs default, which I believe to be ugly by design) was accepted to be the commencement speaker. I was, on the other hand, accepted to another position that was not originally open, but by drawing rather than by performance. I was chosen, in essence, because the numbers at school are always on my side. Quality, but not on my part.


My parents are encroaching upon me, slowly but surely. After telling my father I have high blood pressure, sure enough, very quickly it has become everyone’s business. Thanks, Dad, for being unable to keep confidence. Now my mother pesters me about it regularly and my brother jokes about it. It has now become something people can dangle in front of me to justify self-restraint, a stigma of sorts.

Now there is more pressure than ever for me to do things “correctly,” except I am short on time to perform such a feat. I have a certification exam in the middle of May, eight AP exams, three of which require at least a small degree of self-study, my housing application for college, another research program application that I need to finish, scholarship applications still pending, my daily homework, all the projects I want to finish (good thing I don’t make promises, right?), and now “exercise” and “meditation time,” neither of which I have time for and both of which sound coercive and cliché.

I want privacy and neither of my parents give it to me. The only privacy I get is when I’m on the computer, and even then I must be vigilant for anyone who is entering the room, in which case I must quickly switch out of my blog and into a more innocuous-looking tab. Doing anything else is silent judgment imparted on me. They don’t say anything, but they know there is something wrong with me when I eat at half the speed of everyone else and have lost a considerable amount of hair from stress.

The answer is never “calm down.” The answer from my mother is, “You know the answer to those problems yourself. You just don’t do them. You need to do exercises for your tongue and you haven’t been doing them. You need to exercise if you want to lower your pressure. Do you pray? Do you meditate? Do you have quiet time? Spend fifteen minutes quiet time. That’s fine, you don’t have to listen to my advice. Do whatever you want.”

Funny that I say this, because my mother now arrives home and asks me how my day was, etc, and now she suggests that I do volunteering in the summer for the church. And to be honest, I’d rather do a paid internship. I have zero professional experience in software development and it’ll probably stay like that for another year until I look old enough on paper to actually get a job. I don’t want to be a cashier. I don’t want to work in food service. No grandpa IT either (you know, where you have to walk through little grandpa on how to turn on the Wi-Fi in the new little Windows 10 that plopped in his laptop… No, just get an iPad, those are idiotproof. Not that you’ll be doing anything other than reading the news anyway).

I turned off that Yoast SEO crap on the blog. Now it doesn’t grill me every time more than 10% of my sentences are “passive voice” or when my paragraphs are “too long.” I don’t care. I write however I want to. Good riddance.

Anyway, soon I will trip up and they will end up forcing me into doing everything they say. They will force me to eat more food so that my ribs do not show anymore. My brother will force me to shave my chest hair and play with him “at least an hour a day.” Add “outside” to that because why not, “you have high blood pressure and we need to do something about that” right? “It’s our problem now”? I wish my father had kept that in confidence like I intended him to. Now it’s too late.

I’m tired of being too overwhelmed to do anything. All these deadlocks.

Catholic

Many people think I’m Catholic simply because the rest of my family is, and that I only practice Catholic beliefs because my the rest of my family does as well. They force me to set my tone to a cynical one, as if it was because I was being obligated to go by my family, not because I was doing this by my own free will. In a way, they (those who are not Catholic) sympathize with me because I “had to” keep being Catholic, as if keeping up appearances was an obligation that I could soon get rid of.

The problem is that I have come to age, and thus this attitude no longer holds sway: if I present this attitude in college, I’ll simply be told, “Hey, you don’t have to go to church anymore. Your parents aren’t here to punish you if you don’t.” And the problem is, I do want to keep being Catholic, by my own free will. But how do I firmly state this while avoiding a confrontation?

This is such a tangle. The problem is not believing – the faith is so rich in detail, rationale, and leadership that it’s difficult to stray away – the problem is defending it in front of others, and talking about it without provoking people.

People will say, “But don’t you know everyone is a pedophile?” “Do you know how much money the Pope takes for himself every year?” “Do you still have to pay for indulgences?” “So how much of it isn’t made up?” And the truth is that I don’t know the answers to all of these questions, and perhaps I shouldn’t be around these people, the people who don’t respect belief or tradition in the first place. The people who ask where it is in the Bible don’t seem to the ones who actually read it or ask profound question, after all.

Case in point: my uncle, who bashed on the Church in my own house in front of my mother and grandmother because he believed that it’s “all just made up”, goes to a non-denominational church and has made no remark about studying the Bible on his own time, nor has he asked any specific question about why are things done as they are in the Church. He doesn’t fire questions at me, perhaps because of the attitude I often make above, or perhaps because he just doesn’t think I am ready enough to answer all of the questions. Or maybe he knows that if he starts talking me out of the Church, he will look like a threat on my parents’ radar. I hope he can talk reasonably one day; so far, he’s only remarked about all the money he’s “voluntarily” donated straight to his pastor.

I went to Houston and celebrated Mass three times this weekend. To be frank, the experience around Houston was not that pleasant: almost everywhere we went, road construction was underway, there was enough smog to shroud the stars at night, and people spent more time switching lanes than actually driving straight. Not to mention, of course, that half of the people looked overweight or downright obese, and their actions did not seem too intelligent. I do suppose this kind of bustling city is where you would find the “average American” factoids to be true.

Anyway, after so much participation in the Triduum, I’m genuinely touched. But people still don’t understand, and they only celebrate the “easter” part, the part where you rejoice and celebrate, not the “lent” part, where you sacrifice and meditate.

I don’t know. Maybe there really is no problem, and the problem is just the worries within me.

Struggle

My struggle continues. School is a waste of time. For most of the day I just play the waiting game, and there is little organization. Two of my periods are outright “nothing,” two days a week there’s another 30-minute gap of “nothing,” and the last period of the day is a teacher who lets everyone slack off and leave early if they do their work and ask nicely, because seniors don’t actually care about English class that much.

After the bell rings, it’s impossible to leave by car due to traffic, so I wait thirty more minutes in the library, standing around, waiting for something to happen. I don’t want to do homework because I’m done with looking close. I want to look far, at the sky, at the people playing frisbee outside, not at the endless day-to-day homework always to be done.

Then, after the time has elapsed and I drive home, it is the same tedious routine. I’m exhausted, but I don’t want to lie down, so I turn on the computer. 10 minutes have passed since arriving somehow. I decide to get a snack. 15 more minutes have elapsed. It’s 5:00 now. I’ll start the forum run now. Check GitHub, Discord, Reddit, the blog, Cemetech, and perhaps Slack and some other forums. (Hah, imagine if I had Twitter or Snapchat. It would be torture managing all of that.)

It’s 5:25 now, I should start on the homework. Let’s check what homework I have. Uh, a little sidetracked finishing tasks from the forum run. It’s somewhere between 5:35 and 5:45 now. Let’s take out what I need to finish the homework. It’s 5:50 now.

Okay, so I’m done with the homework. It’s 7:00 now. I’m tired, don’t want to think, and there’s not much time until dinner, so I’m not inclined to work on a project. I go on YouTube instead and see if there’s anything new. Eh, this video is 20 minutes, so I scrub around and skip to what seem to be the important parts. It’s 7:25 now, and my parents have arrived. In order to not have to explain a great deal of things to my parents, I keep a high privacy barrier, so I limit what I do around them. (Despite me working from my room, you can see my monitor from the living room at the correct angle, and sound often escapes easily when the door is wide open.)

It’s 7:35 and my parents are now bugging me on what to eat. If it’s my dad asking, he usually will take words from me or cook something himself, but if it’s my mother, she will force me to get off the computer (she absolutely loves doing that, because she believes the computer is the root of all of the problems in the family), open the freezer, and rummage through the “large variety of options” while implicitly scolding me for not using my head (obviously because of the computer). If I make any retort at all, she asks, “Why are you angry at me? I’ve done nothing wrong to you.” and demands an explanation. If I do not provide any explanation, she will answer the question for me, often giving an explanation revolving around “the computer” (while seldom mentioning that trigger word).

It’s around 7:55 and I am five minutes late for dinner, because when my dad yells “time to eat,” it is almost never clear whether the food is actually ready or if it is only “a few seconds” to finish.

The next few parts depend on the day of the week. My father is extremely traditional, so if my brother is present or by coincidence everyone is about to begin eating, he will ask me or my brother to pray. Fine. On Fridays, my mother does not eat anything. At all. She justifies it as “fasting,” but I have not seen anything gained from such persistent fasting. Another justification is, “many of my clothes do not fit me anymore,” which probably means her frame is changing from age given how little she eats at the moment, not that she needs to take extreme measure to eat even less. (Solution: Spend money and buy clothes that fit.)

For the next 30 minutes, we watch a Catholic-related program or documentary. Sometimes the content is boring and cursory; other times, it is relatively interesting. Nevertheless, the most irritating part is the fact that my parents do this without warning. I have not watched a secular TV show or movie with my mom in years. She spends the majority of her time in seclusion, reading Catholic books, accounts, and meditations, often in a bathroom with the lights off.

It is now 8:40. My choices are limited. I end up staying on the computer until 9:40, until which I get around to gathering clothes to shower. It’s 9:50 now and too close to 10:00. Oops. (I had agreed not to shower after ten.)

At 10:00, I am too exhausted to work efficiently, so things are slow. At 10:30, I brush my teeth, go over the Anki deck, and say my prayers. By 11, I’m in bed and trying to sleep.

The next day starts a few minutes before 7:00 (either woken up by parents or by alarm clock). I am again encumbered by my cat, who wants to be touched everywhere in exchange for licking my hands. I leave for school at 8:00, and the torture begins once more.

My classmates ignore me. I act like a ghost, moping around everywhere. The only times they don’t ignore me are when I get a test or quiz back and they want to see my grade, when they need tech support, when they want to make a point against someone else by sampling my opinion, or if something serious happens to me (like an injury, which has never occurred).

There’s nothing important here. AP exams are coming in three weeks and I’m not ready for them at all. I’ll be lucky to get a 3 on the Japanese exam, I haven’t started reviewing for AP Gov (which I took last semester), and I haven’t studied crap for the CompTIA Security+ exam in 6 weeks. Too much dead time everywhere.

My parents don’t care that I have possible hypertension and need to go to a doctor to determine a solution, or that I need to go to the orthodontist to fix my open bite, or that I need to go to a psychologist to sort this mess out, stop my anxiety, and make me stop writing rants about how I don’t like life how it is right now and how I think it’s not going to change at all in the future. No, they don’t care. They’d rather have me set up the appointments and then make me suffer as I look at my dad wipe sweat from his forehead and adjust his glasses as he examines the tall, tall bills and contemplates what exactly he can cut this month so it can fit the budget. Then he sets it aside, dismisses me, and starts watching Battlefield videos again or goes upstairs.

“Honor your father and your mother.” Because complaining is a mortal sin. My life is just one big sin. Why should I study AI: so that I can build a sentient machine that I can just send my brain and consciousness over to and become the next GLaDOS, enslave the human race and rule the universe? As much as I want to do that, it’s likely someone will beat me to it. After all, someone already did beat me to being better than me, using the exact same time and resources as me.

The whole notion of being “better” than someone is bunk anyway. We all just want to feel good about ourselves in spite of not succeeding as much as others, so we try to soften up words and phrases so we still feel good when we don’t succeed. “Oh, that college is missing out on you.” “Don’t worry, it’s just the beginning. You’ll have more chances later.” “That person had X, Y, and Z. You couldn’t compete anyway.” “So what?” “At least you tried.”

The storm is going to blow over soon, and I know someone will find out about what I’ve been writing here very, very soon. For this reason, I am keeping backups in case someone asks me to delete everything on the spot. Not on my watch, no sir, you’re not going to delete 60,000 words with a few strong ones of your own.

Signals

I found out that the previous post was my 100th post. I never thought I would make it this far, although it’s not exactly the kind of accomplishment you would congratulate someone over.

Today, I did the absolute minimum required to stay afloat in school. It’s not because of senioritis or anything, it’s just because I don’t feel like I have anything to do with those people anymore. They venerate me because I’m the “hackerman” and number one in my class, but I don’t feel like I’ve really helped anyone in a meaningful way. I also missed the early deadline for the research program in my college, which means that my last opportunity to do early research in college is about to disappear.

There’s only one kid at school who really cares about me, and I know him well. But he is always occupied with the band, so it’s difficult to do anything at all with him. Nobody else really gives a crap about me, or at least they don’t show it. It’s how I pulled off sitting in the big corner of the physics classroom with a frustrated face and nobody questioning anything, much less actually noticing me sitting in a corner.

Every time I think of the mere idea of having fun with friends, I want to cry. The notion of “having fun” feels remote and unattainable. Worse, I feel as if I do not deserve to have fun. The last time I had a birthday party was when I was twelve, and I didn’t like how it turned out, as only one friend came out of four or five. I pretended I was satisfied, but I was not; they could never reach the level of spectacle as my brother’s birthday parties, where often six or seven other people came and really enjoyed. So I stopped doing them. There is no point in trying to get attention anyway, as there is practically nothing important about me.

I realize that for most of my life, I’ve felt left out. Sometimes I go and do something great and I think, “Indeed, these are the words I needed to do something new and great.” But at the end of the day, when I sit down and check my email, nothing has changed. I’m still deadlocked thinking about the things I already have to do, but don’t want to do because my mind isn’t set on doing them. Meanwhile, I have good ideas that I want to work on but don’t have time for. There’s also daily homework and the load is hardly predictable for any given day. (Actually, I’m lying, it’s very predictable.)

What do signals have to with anything? It was a title for a draft which I never even started on. It is supposed to connect with a small theory I have, which I like to call resistance theory – in essence, all behaviors have a specific resistance that quantifies how much each behavior is impeded. For instance, because I am currently sitting in my room typing away here, it would not be convenient for me to walk all the way to the pantry for another water bottle; thus, the resistance value is very high. However, if I was very thirsty, my thirst would increase the threshold of resistance; that is to say, I would be willing to do things that have more resistance. The same goes for, well, trying on leggings, which has an extremely high resistance value, unless I happened to be alone in a large store, in which case the action would be very tempting.

By extension, it’s easier for me to keep writing rants than working on projects. I complain more and express more of my suffering, rather than waste 2 hours working on the very early stages of some dumb project I don’t even have time to finish.

I’m not saying your support isn’t worth anything. I’m saying that I need real support from people I can actually look at in the face and cry to.

Gender

Today, I will discuss gender and how exactly this topic matters to me. Today, I will not throw myself in the fray of feminism and trigger a bunch of people. But I’ll end up talking about it anyway.

Let’s start with the facts. I am a straight male. At least I think I’m straight, so I will classify myself as such. Regardless, this means that I am not a female and don’t have the “experience” to discuss the struggles of women. The argument goes, however, that whatever their struggles are, that I ought to understand them, and failure to do so is an offense to all women.

For a long time, I’ve concluded that pretty much all struggles have arisen from men. We’re the patriarchs, we’re the soldiers who kill each other, we’re the assailants, we’re the ones who take advantage of women because we’re hard wired to “bond” with them, we’re the ones who objectify them, we’re the ones who make the laws for them, we’re the ones who cause the crimes, we’re the breadwinners, we’re the bullies, we’re the masculine hulks that go and tear everything up for the sake of masculinity. Society wants me to be a “real man” and go out and play sports, and do manly things that require great physical exertion. Why? So we can show off our big six-packs and gluts and attract women with our strength.

Who am I? I am a straight male. Do I partake in activities that require great physical exertion? No. Do I partake in things that are generally construed as “nerdy” and socially nonstandard, such as being on the computer for prolonged periods of time and creating software? Of course. What does that say about me? That I’m not a real man, and thus signals the other gender through mass media that my kind should not be pursued.

And then I, because I am still a man, am berated because I don’t exactly have the right organs to know what a tampon is used for, or because I don’t have periods, or because I don’t have the “organizational mind of a woman,” and thus I am a dumb brute who shouldn’t exactly be standing on the pedestal of patriarchy right now, even though I’m kind of not really doing that right now.

So the conflict continues. Many clubs at my school have officers who are all girls. What protest do I have against that? None, as long as the primary reason for choice was not “because they are women.” Yet this is, in fact, a critical point of affirmative action. Of course you need qualifications, but it seems that instead of women needing less qualifications, men require more! To get into MIT, what did I need to do? Back then, I just needed to make something cool. Now, you have to start a company, be the top of your class, have a ton of connections, have dinner with the President, perfect 800/800/36, and the qualifications go on ad infinitum.

What am I saying? That I don’t want to be a man anymore, that I want to pretend I’m a woman for the rest of my life because I’m too chicken to be a man? That’s the gist of the problem I have right now. People think I need to act more like a man. While they haven’t explicitly called me a girl, they take note of my increased tediousness and need for privacy compared to most people of my age. I once went to a church retreat and I ended up sleeping with the adults. All of the other boys were obnoxiously loud and exercising their masculinity, while I just wanted to go to sleep.

To this day, people still have this utter respect toward me, as if they didn’t know what offends or doesn’t offend me. But the fact that they treat me so differently, as if some oddball of society, already offends me.

And I’ve already talked about – or exhibited – my violent mood swings that have destabilized me and prevented me from living an effective, enjoyable life, partly as a result of my hormones. I wish I could live a life without an inferiority complex.

Japanese

I got a 77 on a Japanese listening test, because I missed 3 questions out of 13. Many of the lower-level students did not miss anything. Two of those questions were ones that I originally answered correctly but then changed, and one of them I simply guessed against my gut feeling.

That’s after getting a B for my speaking test, which was terrible after having forcibly extracted spoken Japanese for my third take and then be seriously judged based on my “performance” based on my crappy talking. My “a” sound extremely nasal and will never sound like a native speaker. I thought I’d get away with being a non-native speaker and her giving me points for effort, but this time she was disappointed that I didn’t do it “as well as the previous one.” Yeah, the one where I botched 27 takes and was able to cough up three “good” takes, and was able to somehow obtain a 94. But no, this time she gave me an 86 and smiled at me.

How am I supposed to give her the message that an 86 isn’t exactly stellar for me, and that a 77 is worse? She just thinks I’m just another American kid who doesn’t care about grades, or just “takes the L” and moves on. I don’t want to take the L. Ever. Sure, when I fail, I try to preserve my dignity and explain my wrongdoings. But sometimes they cannot be explained, and teachers just assume that I didn’t study enough, or I’m yet another victim of “senioritis”, or whatever they want to believe. She hides comments about me when talking to the Japanese twins, knowing that it’s difficult for me to interpret what she is saying and that I will not ask her what she said about me, because any discussion she does not direct toward me is not my business.

At this point, she most likely believes that I am a tryhard. I asked her for further resources to prepare for the AP exam and she ends up giving me one of her textbooks, so that I can input the words into Anki. Yes, I thank her for that, not that she understands at all what Anki or SRS is exactly. (She believes Quizlet is the best studying tool ever made and virtually the only one… Haha, no.)

Moreover, I don’t want to make her realize that I cannot meet her target. I have one month left until the AP exam, and where is her “boot camp” in which she promised to prepare me for the exam at top speed one month in advance? Nowhere to be found, because this year I’m the only non-native speaker in the class. She’d rather divest more time and effort keeping the rest of the class going with general study and two major units per quarter.

There are “a number” of things I can do to perhaps solve the situation, in utter frustration. Many websites say “oh just sign up for JapanesePod101.com, it’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s free!” which I can’t tell whether it’s supposed to be paid advertising or genuine advice. There’s also Tofugu, Koohii, RTK, WaniKani, yeah pretty much all the “Americans-studying-Japanese” websites and services, none of which I want to pay for because I don’t know whether or not they actually work. Also, I already have a 6000-card Anki deck with over 50k reviews, so not exactly willing to switch study systems right now. I also can’t afford to stay in Japan for a prolonged period of time, nor do I have plans to, nor is there a point in doing so.

I could also watch anime and become a weeb but it’s not something I’d like to do. Given how much anime has changed over the years, it would be difficult for me to resist developing any sort of  obsession with anime once I’m hooked. Materialism is the last thing I want to take over my life. I just want to study Japanese and learn something from the people who live there, their philosophies, traditions, way of thought. That’s it.

Nobody cares

Lately my mood swings have been rather irrational. I can feel it; it truly feels like a chemical in my brain swinging about the whole day, to the point that everything “feels” different from one week to the other, even though things have hardly changed. Weekly tasks and scheduled events feel like longitudinal sine and cosine waves, waves that will perhaps all intersect at once one day…

One morning, I realized I had really nowhere to go. Yet again frustrated at the principal persistent in keeping all the teachers until the very last moment during weekly faculty meetings, I felt like another wandering vagrant roaming the school with my heavy bags (that seem like they are now tearing into my spine). The old group was there in the same old place, playing card games, ignoring me. I had nothing to do, so I settled down somewhere and searched on Google “nobody cares”. I get an entrepreneurship article from Forbes about why it’s good that nobody cares.

Basically it comes down to these pros and cons:

Pros

  • You can be as weird and nerdy as you want and you’re not offending anyone.
  • There are few social obligations that need to be met, like giving someone a birthday card or returning a favor or going somewhere.
  • You spend less energy trying to satisfy other people.
  • People respect your privacy and will let you be in a quiet corner.
  • You have a lot of free time on your hands.
  • There are less limits to what you can do.
  • Nobody hates you.

Cons

  • Nobody likes you.
  • No romantic relationships.
  • Nobody cares about your projects either, so why keep working on them?
  • With no one to talk to, it’s easier to get bored, so you develop a dependency on the Internet.
  • You cause a feedback loop as a result of the previous point.
  • Hard to engage in conversations.
  • Hard to get the support of anyone except adults (in which case it’s really more like scrutiny, not support).

I wanted to port the TI-84+ CE toolchain to CMake, but the maintainer doesn’t understand why CMake is better than Make; i.e. he doesn’t give a crap. Good for me, because if I do pull off the conversion, it’s possible I could convince him to merge it to main. However, because he doesn’t care, it’s not clear whether he really will or not.

There are other projects which nobody cares about but I want to make anyway, like the Steam crawler. Nobody shares my “visionary intellect” so it’s practically impossible to get anyone to support nonsense like this.

I realized I’m old enough to start a relationship now, but dating or having any number of past or current girlfriends greater than one feels wrong. I feel that my maturity has significantly increased in an 8-month span, but I can’t put a finger on how. Yet I still seem like I come off to people at school as naive, rude, arrogant. One side of me wonders what would have happened if I really had started dating in the past; another side says that I didn’t miss anything at all in life from not dating in high school.

So here I am, waiting for college… sulking about until the next opportune moment of free time…