Author Archives: oldbyte10

The human limit

The one thing that college has caused (or, perhaps, forced) me to discover is the human limit. I am not referring to how fast I can run, or other purely physical characteristics. Rather, I am referring to the fact that there are 24 hours in a day, and we must sleep for one third of that time to remain sane, leaving us with a great multitude of things we can do in one day.

But not really, because for the past half-semester, I have found myself mostly slaving away at the same things over and over, things that do not really stimulate me, things that don’t seem to move me forward. And then I don’t have time to pursue the things I really do want to pursue and have desired to pursue since the summer.

I read somewhere, probably some Academia.SE question about authorship and credit of some PhD thesis, that ideas a really worth a dime a dozen and only gain exorbitant value when they are worked, realized, and made into physical form. You know and have read far too closely about the insane ideas I have; and by this argument, they are utterly worthless, and I thus deserve no credit for them, because while I may show all of the intention in the world to make these things, I do not actually do them, nor do I find time or people or resources or money to do them.

It sucks to know that I’m stuck taking theatre class for an hour and thirty, getting a 6/10 on a quiz because the wording of the questions they ask just sucks, and they ignore almost all questions asked. The professors are untouchable and most content questions from students are answered by the TAs, or fall outside the scope of the class so they are given the most ambiguous answer possible and then forgotten about. For instance, regarding contemporary examples of romanticism, is dystopia the ultimate evolution of romanticism? Again, another question spurned. Basically, why don’t you write a 300-page dissertation on it and we’ll be the judge of how well the idea holds.

Is this what I’m here for? I spend money just to pretend I’m learning “useful things” so I can get a degree and pretend I “learned” something useful or fun or convenient. Am I just not there yet? And at any rate, my mother just gives me the old “c’est la vide” spiel while she gives me a haircut and points out all of my dandruff. I don’t want to wash my hair because of all of the hair I lose during the process.

Oh yeah, and I also borked the Raspberry Pi. I think it kernel panicked when I restarted it after it lost connection momentarily and got “stuck” on installing a new version of libc. So now I can’t do anything with it for two weeks until I go home and figure out what the heck the problem is.

And all that information I do learn, all that concrete poured into the so-called “liberal arts foundation” of the student, the American populace absolutely does not give a crap about. They don’t care if A Tempest ended with the island being overtaken with rats or possums. They don’t care if romanticism is the root of most melodrama we see so commonly today. Heck, when was the last time I was presented with an everyday problem and had to use calculus to solve it? When did I ever have to do anything except rot my sorry little brain during a plane trip watching a Hollywood film, the epitome of anti-culture that is now coming crashing down in the face of indie film and intellectualism? An intellectualism that seems to be buried beneath the social interactions of every day, perhaps?

Maybe I’m just arrogant and incompetent and can’t see through myself. Trolls and political pundits love to tell people, “Oh, but you don’t have to go to college!” But I do because it is tradition, and probably the safest shot to actually doing what I want to do in the future. Don’t look at Zuckerberg, look at Page whose thesis came to be the basis of Google.

And I don’t want to converse with intelligent people because like me, they love to debate and tell people they’re wrong and tell people something new so they feel dumber. And I don’t want to converse with unintelligent people, either, because they’re a burden to explain things to. I guess I just want to converse with sympathetic, supportive people. That is, the kind of people I don’t have in my life because I haven’t found them.

I just mope around college, not really sure what to do. And the things I committed to doing on the first week or two, I don’t know if I want to keep doing them. My brain feels like it is about to shut down again. I want to eat something, but my hunger is so minuscule, my brain simply does not feel inclined to go and get something.

Gah! I’m just so frustrated with myself! How long do I have to wait before I start enjoying college? I feel like I’m just burning time writing this crap, and burning time looking at what junk people say on Discord, and burning time trying to meet deadlines, and then at the end there is no time to hunker down and actually have fun doing something lasting.

I’m back where I was the second week of class. It’s October now. Little has changed, I just know a little bit more of how to interact with people, but the core of the problem is still not resolved: how do I actually find people and approach them? Maybe it is my sex hormones screwing with me, and this is just yet another contorted version of “I want a girlfriend,” but I can’t have one because I can’t find one.

When will this madness stop?

Finding balance

Due to the hurricane, the welcoming event for my college was postponed until today. Everything seemed to be “reset” after all of the exams: no discussion sessions today, little homework to do, and so on. And heck, I got a 94 on one midterm, a 95 on the other one, and the last one was so easy that I couldn’t even predict anything less than an 85. So, stress is taken care of, since I’m doing well in grades, and the homework load seems plausible as of current.

But as I walked around during the welcome event, I felt almost the same way I did in my first days of class; maybe my days of orientation, even. I felt restrained once again from society and meeting new people. I talked to an old friend a few minutes after I arrived, but that was pretty much it in terms of interactions. When everyone clamored for T-shirt giveaways, I stood fairly still, munching away at the pizza I was somewhat grateful to receive, since I anticipated that they would have run out by the time I navigated the line of 700 people or so. I knew there was something wrong with me, so after the formalities were said and done and the sky was beginning to darken, I decided to just walk away.

I realized, then, that my problems had not been resolved. I can certainly strive to keep homework at bay, yes; I can learn how to sympathize and empathize, indeed; but this social phobia strikes at the heart of who I really am. I can’t meet and talk to people because I am too polite to actually introduce myself to a random stranger. I’m afraid that I will forget who they are the next day, and then when I find them again and they say hello, I will be forced to ask, “Who are you again?”

I walked away, thinking to myself a good excuse for my antisocial behavior today. It could be, “It’s fine, I just didn’t take my antidepressant today,” except I don’t take antidepressants.

This shows my fundamental flaw: I could have absolutely no stress for classes or grades and still feel lonely and try to punish myself for not interacting with other people.

When I walk around, I wish people could actually see that there is something wrong with me. Sometimes, my eyes appear bloodshot and tired, but many times this is not the case, and all they see instead is just a blank expression emanating from my face.

These days, I dream of being with someone. A face of someone familiar often appears in my daydreams, but it is not the same personality. It is some invented personality, and almost always a girl. And I imagine telling them that I have no interest in sex: in some outcomes they turn away in disgust, while in other outcomes they get close to me talk to me more. In some scenarios, they somehow end up finding my room and we talk to each other for a long while about honest things, and we cry and hug each other and maybe lie down for a while.

But it never happens. The dream stays a dream, and I cannot seem to find a way to bring it to fruition in any way. The girls I meet always have a boyfriend or some other person or thing already to tend to. And the counselor lacks the resources to help people like me, who want to know people but can’t seem to find a way to tap into society who also have the same troubles. I’m in a certain group session, but the rule is that we cannot make relationships outside of the session until it has ended for good – and besides, everyone else is many years older than me.

In a way, I’m desperate to find someone whom I can find comfort talking to. I don’t even care if I have something in common with them. Girls are so much easier to sympathize with than men. Sometimes, I wished I had that kind of ability to emotionally express myself, without being so preoccupied and influenced by my dumb sex hormones that only serve to make my oh-so-intelligent species grow and multiply until they hate each other, break into war and shoot and stab each other with swords and guns until they realize what horrible mistake they have done.

My parents and my brother know too much about me, and, as a result, are prejudiced against me.

And at this point everyone is probably like “Jesus!!” but He can only do so much without literally materializing and putting His hand on my shoulder.

I need an actual, living, touchable, and huggable, human being.

Migration event soon

I tried to connect to my own website on Friday, but the connection kept timing out. My mind raced with all of these awful thoughts: maybe some script kiddie finally breached the PHP process and decided to bring everything down. Or perhaps a disk failed on the old SCSI RAID array, and now the server is just waiting for me to connect a keyboard and press Enter all the way back at home to start the server in degraded mode.

But alas, the reality was none of it. Upon returning home on Saturday, I entered the attic and saw that the server was off, fans spinning at idle. I impatiently turn it on, the machine roaring to life once again. I supervise the whole process: everything good. Maybe there was a power outage?

Yet more wrong guesses. The culprit was my father, who decided to turn the server off (God knows in what way – did he really push the power button until it turned off?) without any express notice. Later he made an off-hand remark about how he had turned the server off, not knowing that I turned it back on again.

I want – well, now need – to migrate the server. It’s old, it’s heavy, it’s loud, and it’s expensive in power costs (costs about as much as the pool filter in kilowatt-hours per month). It’s pointless to keep it around, and probably embarrassing to explain why I still use it.

My main choices are to throw the site into my Digital Ocean droplet. I could use a Docker container but then I would have to learn how to deal with volatility and general maintenance.

There is also the option to convert everything into Jekyll; the main problem with this is that I am very unfamiliar with Ruby, and I would lose the markup characteristics of HTML (at least that’s the impression they give me). On top of that, I don’t know how to transplant my blog template into a Jekyll template (it’s not my template!) and I don’t want to give into the overused templates they offer. And then after that, where will I host the site? GitHub? There’s no reason for me to push my rants into GitHub, so the world can see what kinds of “contributions” I make every couple of weeks.

Finally, there is the option to move into a Raspberry Pi, which would grant me the benefit of continuing access to my home network, zero maintenance costs (my parents pay for power), and minimal changes to the web stack I currently use.

So immediately before leaving off for college again, at the cost of probably arriving late, I fumbled around for my Raspberry Pi and connected it to the Ethernet port in my room. I guessed the password a couple of times via SSH and then just decided to pull out the keyboard and break into it locally, so that I could remember what the password was. Oh, right, it’s those credentials. I shove the keyboard and dongle back into my duffel bag, gather my other things, and finally set out.

Now, it is my responsibility to get the RPi up to speed, as the new successor of the PowerEdge 2600.

Stabilization

When I woke up this morning, I realized that my hair has thinned to a point that it is difficult to hide it. It has been happening for a few years now, from one too many stressful days of school, homework, and the “lack” of free time.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to get a leg back up on social interactions and learning how to empathize with people through weekly group and individual sessions. On the receiving end, I listen to how others relate to my constant regrets over lost opportunities in making friendships and meeting people. On the giving end, I talk with the most emotional, yet most recent, event I could possibly recall: my trip to Japan. Needless to say, the strong emotions I expressed at the conclusion of the trip and during surreal moments (such as the first morning in Kyoto, during that shocking, first-hand realization that that the sun rises at 4:45 am; or perhaps the dramatic entry into Tokyo through Rainbow Bridge) seemed to have been expressed genuinely, and were thus understood by the counselor.

I have also realized that most of my emotional state pivots around grades and homework: good grades means less self-regret and self-deprecation, while less homework means less anxiety and burden imposed on my self. It doesn’t help, though, that scholarships seem to be paramount if I don’t want to myself to a middle-class life of work – yet only the top-notch, stellar students get the scholarships, regardless of national origin. Just because I lived for an important part of my life in a Spanish-speaking island that is now physically and politically devastated doesn’t entitle me to anything, nor does it seem to give me a leg up on any admission. I want to find a way to decouple my emotions from my grades, because the notion of a class rank still haunts me from high school, and I will break myself if this continues.

I have already taken two midterms, and I have two more tomorrow. I have little concern for midterms. Studying for a midterm implies that one is trying to compensate for a failure to learn something in the past, and thus partly defeats the purpose of a midterm. The mastery part should occur during the homework and after the homework is reviewed in class (or answers are revealed). The midterm is simply an assertion to the professor or teacher that you really know the material you claim to have learned. Yet I seem to be erring on the side of Bs when I take these midterms: my first one was an 88%, and that was a 50-question multiple-choice test. My second one was somewhere around an 83%, and that’s only because I missed one multiple-choice question out of seven, and then failed to compute the correct answer on the free response even though I followed and communicated all of the steps correctly. My target is “please, just anything above a B.” If I get Bs on all my exams and 100% on all of my homework, I would still end up with an A- in my classes, which is not great if I want a scholarship.

The bottom line is that I don’t want to bind myself to endless work because I owe money to someone.

The suck-it-up culture

I’m stressed about what my grades will be, stressed about the assignments I have to do, burned out from the assignments I have done, and now I can’t see the end anymore.

The physical pattern recurs weekly, and the emotional pattern cycles perhaps once every two weeks.

Monday is already a stressful day. From 7am to 6pm, I’m doing something every other hour:

  1. Calculus at 9 am. The class is fine, but sometimes the professor talks about something particularly irrelevant, such as when he was talking about computing a Fourier series (never appeared on any test or homework), or when he goes over an example that takes half the class time and an entire page of my notes. It’s often burdening to think about what the next homework might be, since he always pulls the material from the week’s lectures.
  2. Wait an hour. I usually go to the computer science building.
  3. A discussion session with the discrete math TA. It’s a little difficult to understand his relatively thick accent, and he can often be very direct, saying “this is wrong” and putting an “X” on whatever we commanded for him to write on the board as an answer to a problem.
  4. Wait an hour. Run for lunch if the situation does not seem too grim.
  5. Computer science/data structures. This is probably my favorite class; the lecturer is very energetic. Time goes very fast.
  6. Wait an hour.
  7. A discussion session with the computer science TA. We take a short quiz, and then he goes over it and I must watch myself painfully get humiliated if his answer didn’t look like mine. When this happens, I often get stressed for the rest of the day and think about how I’m paying money to humiliate myself.
  8. Wait an hour.
  9. Bible study with three other people. The only reason I signed up for this is because they happened to ask me upfront if I wanted to do a bible study, as I was passing through a specific area of the campus at a specific time on the first week of class. Had I not passed through this area on the first week, I’d probably never have signed up.
  10. Wait an hour.
  11. Eat dinner.
  12. Do homework for an hour.
  13. Shower.
  14. Do more homework for an hour or two.
  15. Rush to complete my pre-sleep schedule, and sleep.

Tuesday and Thursday are not supposed to be very stressful, but there are certain caveats:

  1. Calculus discussion session at 8:30 am, in an administrative building on the far end of campus. On Thursday, there is a quiz, but it’s only graded every other week. The quiz is also easy if the homework was done correctly, and only sometimes does the TA go over the quiz (sparing me from any immediate regret).
  2. Immediately once the session is done, go to the bench outside the room, open my laptop, hope it has battery, and load the online theater class’s video stream. There is a quiz every single day, but it is only five questions. However, I dislike the class for other reasons: first, people keep asking dumb questions whose answers they could so easily find on the syllabus; and second, there is absolutely no time to go anywhere else to listen to the class. There is some kind of TA-led lab that wheels in, and around ten minutes before the end of my online class, they first make a hydrogen explosion, and then they try to do some kind of hydrogen bonding experiment that makes water.
  3. Eat lunch. I only have an hour.
  4. Go to the discrete math class. There is always a danger present of the professor not coming in, and instead the TAs taking over and giving us a pop quiz projected on-screen. They always go over this quiz; they have not even graded the previous one, but I’m sure I did terribly.
  5. If it’s a Tuesday:
    1. Do homework for two and a half hours.
    2. Go to the supplemental instruction session for the data structures class. Only four or five people go, and of them, usually only I am the one who speaks up.
  6. If it’s a Thursday:
    1. Do homework for an hour or so.
    2. Go to a certain required meeting. It’s basically a small group of CS freshmen led by an upperclassman who is not only in honors, but also seems to excel in many different ways, such as the sheer number of internships and prominent places he’s worked at, the fact that he belongs to not one, but two honors organizations, and the fact that he has been double-majoring.
  7. Do homework for an hour.
  8. Eat dinner.
  9. If it’s a Tuesday:
    1. Do homework for an hour.
    2. Shower.
    3. Do more homework for an hour or two.
  10. If it’s a Thursday:
    1. Go to a meeting for a working group.
  11. Rush to complete my pre-sleep schedule, and sleep.

Wednesday is a royal pain in the butt:

  1. Calculus at 9 AM.
  2. Run over to a certain kind of group about improving social interactions. It’s annoying because I don’t want to monopolize the conversation, but no one seems to speak up so easily.
  3. Eat lunch. Wait an hour.
  4. Data structures class.
  5. Counseling session to address my horrid life.
  6. Homework for a few hours.
  7. Dinner.
  8. Retreat group meeting. Technically I can’t volunteer in the retreats themselves because I’m not eighteen yet, but the let me in the meetings anyway because they are nice people.
  9. Do last-minute homework.
  10. Rush to complete my pre-sleep schedule, and sleep.

Counseling doesn’t really help with my social and academic anxiety. Many times, it’s just many “mmm”s in agreement with my sentiments, but little advice is given.

Sometimes, he suggests me to exercise, but there’s something tangled in my brain when it comes to exercise:
I don’t want to go to a gym because there are people more masculine than me who go into the weight rooms and lift a hundred pounds. I would be humiliated if I was next to these people: “Oh, I just want to take two 15 lb weights.” “That’s it?! You go to this big gym just to lift 30 pounds? Man up, man! I’m giving you 50 on bench press!”
In terms of running, I don’t have actual running shoes, and my legs already hurt from walking around everywhere all day, every day.
In terms of cycling, I kind of want to do it, but I have no usable bicycle, and it wouldn’t be possible for me to get one without plunging further into debt. (There is an official bike auction on Wednesday evening, but I have an exam at that time!) And then after I buy the bike, how do I know I even like riding a bike, or that it was actually a good fit for me or not? Once I put money in, I can’t back out.
And there is something more about this masculine expectation. I’ve tried getting it off my head for years, but it is futile. I abhor gym shorts and wish I could wear those temptingly comfortable leggings. It is such an embarrassing topic that I don’t ever discuss it with anyone. If I could just go into a store, yes, the part they designate the “women’s section,” at the least popular time of the store, and buy a pair or two of size-11 leggings and wear them in my room, maybe I could feel better about my body. I also would be able to flex and cross my legs very easily. I have also considered buying online, but the order would be easily traceable by my parents if it happened to come from Amazon.

My parents also don’t give many suggestions either. My father thinks it is easy and says, “Just talk to people!” But I can’t! I’m scared of initiating a conversation with random strangers!

The Web doesn’t give many concrete answers either. If anything, I’m scared of failing my classes. My worst nightmare is doing everything in the world to complete an assignment to perfection, then a tiny yet fatal mistake after submission bringing it all crashing down. The people who bother answering the questions only say, “Oh, it’s okay to fail; in fact, failing is often the best route,” and talk about how they failed a number of classes, dropped out of college and came back, or took six years to complete college. No, it’s not okay to fail. What about the people who don’t complete college in 6 years and instead complete it in three? What did they do to accomplish that? Did they murder themselves in study to accomplish that, or were they just naturally smart and talented people? Of course GPA matters, don’t downplay its importance.

The entire attitude of everything in college boils down to “suck it up.”
You get a bad grade, don’t even bother asking it for it to be changed. Suck it up and do better next time.
You fail a class, suck it up and take it again.
You get a loud, disorganized roommate who sleeps for more than twelve hours and breaths obnoxiously through his mouth, suck it up and live through it the whole year.
You don’t have enough money on your meal plan to make it through the year, suck it up, get a job, buy groceries, or go to more club meetings.
Your laptop sucks, suck it up and get another one.
You’re sad, suck it up, keep on living, and do your homework.
You have no free time, suck it up and work harder.
You have no friends, suck it up and talk to people.
You fail, suck it up and keep failing harder.

In high school, I felt stable because it was fairly obvious when people consciously ignored me. In college, I feel unstable because the root cause for not having any social relations is none other than myself. It’s all my fault.

As for sex drive, it is almost completely gone. Sex and kissing look to be gross activities, even if I imagine doing them myself. Yes, I’d be very interested in a relationship with someone of the other gender, but not for sex. And just because I’m already in that rabbit hole, I have absolutely no interest in drugs, either, because I have read that they give a euphoria that cannot be matched by anything in life; essentially, they are not for mortal human beings. Besides, I want a happiness, satisfaction, and grace that I actually deserve. And alcohol seems like an absolutely pointless social ritual, designed to intoxicate the brain into trying to arouse “fun times” out of the person, despite the humdrum daily life of endless work.

At this point, I feel incarcerated by a cruel world, with the key to the cell held by none other than my clever self on the other side.

EDIT: This is not to say that I do not have happy moments in my life. Indeed, I do, and often I deceive myself through omission in order to try to bring a story of problems that makes more sense to people. On discussing paying for counseling visits, my father admitted to me that neglecting to nurture our social lives as we grew up was a parenting failure on his part. I also still play with my brother, and he still coerces me into doing things with him. However, the number of flashbacks that I get daily has been increasing. It is not so common during classes, but it is very common around meal times and during free time.

Constrained

As I play the Turnabout Sisters 2005 theme from Ace Attorney and listen to the upbeat tune, I try to recall the easy times of my life – the time where I didn’t have to worry about anything, I didn’t have to worry about the next day.

There is really one memorable moment in my life where I can recall being truly free. It was not in Japan, for I was constrained by time and equipment then. (Having to carry a passport and money pouch inside my clothes, along with a flimsy blue backpack, I would consider to be rather constraining.) It was not any time during high school, for I was constrained and controlled by the rigid bell schedule that killed many opportunities for me.

And time, too, also constrains the writing of this post, so I must make this rather short. It was in 2006. I was very tired and I was watching my brother play Tekken against the computer, in training mode, trying to learn the combos. He was playing on my uncle’s projector, while I remained cognitively incapable, it seems, to actually remember any combos for anything longer than a few seconds. But it didn’t matter: dazedly watching my brother play was fun enough for me

I remember few moments of true timelessness. I probably experienced this same feeling a few times at the end of a retreat, but usually it would be for a few seconds, too short for me to grasp the emotion and hold it in my hand for me to examine and reproduce.

And the truth is that college is nowhere near heaven. I thought to myself that everything would magically improve when I started a college life. Indeed, things changed – but within the status quo, and perhaps not for the better.

I’m not having fun. It’s overwhelmingly large. If I meet someone, chances are very low I’ll find the person again the next day, or the day after that. But the size is at a sweet spot where coincidences do tend to occur interestingly frequently. Yet, my pessimistic mind does not work on coincidences, so they serve merely to annoy me.

Now it’s 10:56 and I’m out of time. I have to finish writing and I’m not done. Now it will be 11:00 and I will be back on the cycle of rigid 7.5-hour sleep. I do homework whenever I’m not at some random club meeting, leaving absolutely no time to do any real projects at any given day.

I wish I could just ease the load on myself. I feel like I lose hair every time I lose a point on a homework problem. I calculated that there is not enough money in my meal plan to make it through the whole year, so I’m conserving as much money as possible, you guessed it, by eating as little as possible. My dad will probably say something like “but don’t worry about the money!” even though it does matter.

Friends have screwed me over; I screwed myself over. Heck, today I really screwed myself over by forgetting to go to an important meeting for my department-assigned small-group. The penalty for not doing so is losing the opportunity to hear whatever important thing the mentor wishes to say, which is often very useful because it is geared specifically toward us freshmen and relates to mistakes the mentor has done himself.

After all of these times of being screwed over, my mind doesn’t think forgiveness, it thinks “trust no one.” If I never give anyone an opportunity to fail, then I will never give myself an opportunity to further disappoint myself. Don’t trust people with money. Don’t trust people to give me a ride. Don’t trust people to write good, clean code. Don’t trust people to do a good job making anything. Don’t trust people to care about me. Don’t trust people to come to anything. Don’t trust people to try to have a relationship with me. Don’t trust people to be near me, lest I snap back at them and hurt them.

The facets of my life I literally dream I had never materialize. “The right person” never comes to assist me. No one really cares enough to help me solve my problems. Those counselor appointments, are they helping? – no they’re not, these people are bogged down listening to people’s problems daily. They are nothing more than mere sounding boards at this point. I just talk and talk to him and he just nods his head and sometimes gives a little frown or a “Hmm.” as if some unfortunate event was so painful for me. But it is not painful for me, because I have at this point just conditioned myself to take a pessimistic attitude to most things. And his lines of dialogue are basically grouping events up or drawing parallels as if my life were some big book. I tell him that I’m antisocial and I really don’t know why. There is some repulsive force that I don’t understand, a force that repulses me from society, and that seems to be the root cause of everything.

I’m just waiting for the stars to align at this point…

Self-humiliation

Last week, I was feeling all right. Very stressed, but all right nonetheless. But today, I feel terrible again. After a weekend of not doing anything other than spending my time with my family, I return to college thinking about nothing except the homework that has mounted on my shoulders once again.

And then last night, my computer science TA/grader just realizes my worst nightmares: 13/20 for my first programming assignment. Furious, frustrated, and helpless, I just tumbled into bed at 11 pm, head hurting thinking of ways to get back at him, on the verge of crying, off to a sound sleep. My roommate was not helping, as he plays games during the day and then sometime during the night hits the books – but I never get to see that side of him (he gets all As); all I see him do is play some game on his laptop, yelling some things in Korean and clicking hard and fast.

And then I talk to him, and I take the quiz during his discussion session. Out of nervousness, I botch the time complexity proportionality questions, bringing me down to an 8/10 for my second quiz: exactly where I was on my first quiz.

After a while, he ends up giving back one point for finally seeing the instructor’s logic for allowing the use of a constant from an external class. But he seems adamant on not giving me back any of the points he stacked on one single method. I kept asking him why he deducted this or that, and why I’m penalized more points than if I had not written the method at all. I broke him; he can’t give an explanation for everything. Eventually, he tells me for why he deducted points on a nested class, even though there is absolutely no place on the rubric he is allowed to deduct points for that, nor any rule on the assignment stating that I can’t use nested classes within a method, “I don’t know… it just doesn’t… feel right.” So, it seems fairly clear my grader does not really know how to grade correctly.

Also, for my discrete math course, I botched two questions and another one is at the mercy of the grader, which probably brings me to an 85%. I probably failed that homework in a similar dramatic fashion.

This is extremely demoralizing: I am now scared of going to class. I’m scared of continuously failing, of continuously receiving homework, of never getting time for myself, of having to fulfill obligations and commitments I have regrettably decided to place myself in. And now, my anger and frustration is causing me to forget things so that I do not have to think about their implications for me.

Everything seems slower. When I was in high school, everything was simple and easy. Now there are so many points of failure that I can overlook so easily. Did I put my pajamas in the duffel bag for when I go home? Did I lock the door on my way out? Is there a flaw in my calculation or proof? Does it really work out?

When I search online, all the fault points to me, that I don’t study enough, that I need to talk to the professor more, that I need to just fail because I deserve to fail and failing is fine and it’s also totally fine to be stuck in college for five or six years. No, it’s not totally fine to be stuck in college for so long. I have a goal and I will get there. I had an A in each and every one of my classes in high school, and failing a class is absolutely unacceptable.

And here, it’s worse: if I fail a class, not only would I have wasted my parents’ money on the class, but I would also have wasted it on humiliating myself and pulling my hair out.

I hardly eat anymore, and my scalp is beginning to show. I don’t sleep enough because I worry too much about what will happen the next day and the day after that. I sweat uncontrollably from my hands.

As always, my mother tells me to pray, but I can’t pray when my mind is clouded with frustration. I need medical help, and I have been waiting for two weeks now. “Help” will finally “arrive” later this week for a short appointment. And if this does not lead me to the right path… then I’ll be on my last leg.

Making an e-bike with display

This is an explanation of another one of those ambitious projects which I really want to do, but I have neither the experience nor the people to actually do it with.

I hate rough inclines: they kill my legs. The number one detractor to riding a bike in my childhood was that in my neighborhood, there are some very steep inclines. It made riding a bicycle not a very pleasant experience, and my father never wanted to bring me to a park for me to ride my bike on, so in the end, I never really used my bike.

However, given the fact that using a bicycle is the only practical mode of rapid transit in the city where I attend college, I want to actually start riding a bike again. And after a year or so of riding that bike, I want to make the riding experience cooler.

First, I want to retrofit a brushless DC motor to the drive shaft; something rated for around 600 W of power output. If it is not possible to attach it directly to the hub, I’ll attach it to the shaft with a belt; ideally, a belt with the quality of a timing belt. But I hope I don’t have to do this, because if so, I’d have to play with the tension, pitch, and so on of the belt, which would be problematic.

Next would be the electronic speed controller and charge controller. I want the controllers to automatically switch to a regenerative mode for slight brakes by bypassing the ESC, inverting the poles of the motor, and taking the current straight to the charge controller. Then, on pedaling, the controllers should switch back to drive mode. This behavior would be directed by the main controller, since regenerative braking is a non-essential feature.

Speaking of a main controller, what exactly is it? The main controller is the Arduino or whatever microcontroller I decide to use that is wired to the ESC and charge controller, but is not required to be run in order to operate the bike in case of a fatal error or low battery charge. It would run a real-time operating system with prioritized continuous tasks and many, many interrupt routines. These would be its high-level tasks, in order of descending priority:

  1. Emergency brake applicator. Continuously checks “emergency stop” button, dead man’s switch (clipped to clothes, but the clamp is limited enough such that it cannot be clipped to the handlebars or other part of bike; then the other end of the clamp is magnetically attached to a port on the control box), or >95% application of brakes while moving at a formidable speed.
  2. 10 Hz alternating pulse. This signal is generated and passes through some kind of failsafe circuit, which then determines whether or not the ESC should be enabled. The alternating pulse ensures that the main controller is not “frozen” on an operation that could prevent it from stopping the motor. This assumes that as long as the pulse is alternating, the controller is working as intended.
  3. Speedometer. It simply samples the speed at which the back wheel is spinning and determines the current speed.
  4. Speed regulator. This task scales back the output DC current based on how close the bike is to the speed limit. This task can be overridden, but it’s not a good idea to do so.
  5. Brake detector. This task detects the brake application percent. The actuation of the brakes is completely analog, but if it is significant, the main controller can signal to go to regenerative mode.
  6. Pedal detector. This task simply detects how much positive force is being applied on the pedal and sets the target DC current proportional to this force (clamped, of course).
  7. Odometer. It uses the same sampling metric as the speed counter, but it increments the distance by the circumference of the wheel. After around .2 miles, it writes to the EEPROM. I suppose I could use a pointer to level the wear on the flash, or I could use a preexisting file system designed specifically for microcontrollers.
  8. Display driver. This assumes that there exists a layer of abstraction between the UI and the display itself.
  9. Sound driver. Just for basic beeps and boops.
  10. Main UI. This handles button interrupts (the calls of which are passed to the foreground user task), the failsafe UI (if all user-mode UI tasks are dead), and the UI toolkit itself.
  11. Foreground user task. Dashboard, options, etc. Must not directly control motor operation.
  12. Background user tasks. Battery icon, clock, etc. Must be non-critical.

The e-bike’s main controller would require a key for operation and then a simple on/off SPST switch located in front of the handlebars. The display would ideally be a Hitachi HD44780-esque LCD, but it could also be the Nokia-style LCDs, although these might be a little too small. There will be six buttons: on the left below the display, there will be four directional buttons laid horizontally (in a style familiar to Vim users or Dance Dance Revolution/StepMania players), and on the right, a back button and an enter button. The display and controls need to be water-proofed.

Instead of using heavy deep-cycle lead-acid batteries, I’d just opt for using LiPo cells, which are ubiquitous in hobby usage for high-performance electronics. Industry professionals are not fond of LiPo cells because they are comparatively more dangerous and volatile than other types of cells, and this increased risk cannot be tolerated in mass production. However, since I am not mass-producing e-bikes, it should be OK to accept the risks and enjoy the power of lightweight LiPos, as long as their charging is supervised closely.

This e-bike also needs a brake light, signal lights, and an LED headlight with a white color temperature rather than blue.

That’s all I want the bike to do. All of this, but I want to keep it street-legal and be able to prove that it can be safely ridden in busy streets under the consideration of various fail-safe mechanisms, including a speed regulator that requires manual override.

Sadly, I don’t know if I will ever be able to make this contraption.

Crushed

I don’t want to do anything anymore. I thought I would feel better in college now that I’m supposed to be doing things, but I actually feel significantly worse.

I hate myself again. Over and over and over. I try so hard to shield myself from it, but it comes from all angles now. The thing called “diversity” has a hidden face to it, and it is that which oppresses me.

I failed a code interview with a professor who wanted to give me an honors class. He spoke so quickly and efficiently, I was simply left without words and felt too intimidated to describe the solutions to the questions he asked me. There was no certainty at all to my answers. My brain melted down in doubt, and there was nothing in my scratch paper but circles with lines attached to each other. Why couldn’t I find a solution to this easy problem?

I feel like an idiot. I know so much, I have so much experience, I can sniff code, but guess what – none of it matters because I was not able to answer a simple question. No one can recognize me for what I have done. Look at all of the people who were so, so accomplished. They interned at Intel, oh look at them. There’s no need to test them on anything at all. They’re scholars now, the cream of the crop. And I just tried getting to the top, but the way up is impossible now.

As for Japanese, it’s a lost cause – I’m not getting into that class by the end of the day, I assure you that. And I’m probably not going to study Japanese for 4 MORE MONTHS because I entered the waitlist a little too late, again, because I am an idiot.

Nobody gives a crap about me. My dad doesn’t give a crap. He just says, “Okay, son, good luck, bye.” He only cares about me not depending on them anymore but that I don’t turn against the family. My mom says, “What are your weapons? The Bible, the Rosary, …yes, so where are they? Do you have them packed?” She only cares about me preserving my faith and that I read whatever I give her, because if I don’t read it then I go to hell (“oh, no, I never said that!”). My friends/acquaintances don’t give a crap, because I don’t talk to them and they have other circles of friends stronger than my own.

It has come to the point where I have to pay people for them to listen to me for a little while and give me advice – those would be counselors. And even then, I can’t verbalize my problems, but they listen, not read. And this is the point where my mom would say, “Then go to a spiritual director! You don’t have to give them any money!” She also told me that more and more people take anxiety medication because less and less of them pray. It was just moot to argue anything against it, because I knew I could not win any theological debate against her. I’m still Catholic and I still believe in a merciful God. But she bends words to her own will in a manipulative way that only serves to further deprecate me and mark me as a candidate for hell “if I don’t take action.” But no, she “never said that.” She denies everything that is implied by her words and says, “they’re just for you to meditate in your own time.”

And the Internet doesn’t help, either. They don’t offer solutions. They just throw more trash into the fire. They just condemn more parents, condemn any sort of organized religion, condemn university, condemn government, condemn science, condemn politics, condemn everything, and they just throw their hands up and say, “Life is pointless.” And as much as their claims are so radical, so too would it be incorrect to say that any of them seem to make any logical sense against the realities of the world and the realities of human phenomena.

On top of this, I have even failed to impress my referrer for a decently timed counseling appointment, so I now must wait two entire weeks to have less than an hour’s time speaking with a perhaps more professional individual. I wish someone could just help me. I deserve the help.

I want to stop pacing around and feeling like nothing. I can’t even get myself to work on assignments. I feel worthless, like I don’t deserve anything. I will never be one of the greats. There are too many people in the world to stand out.

Most people’s advice is just to think of people who are worse off than me. Basically, they’re asking me to benefit and smile off other people, which is an idea I am not fond of. Professionals would perhaps go right ahead and prescribe me medication. But I don’t want medication because it’s not a logical solution to a problem. I’m just drugging myself with less logic and more illusion, because again, nobody gives a crap about fixing problems. Just listen to problems, make a diagnosis, prescribe medication, repeat. Rinse and repeat until you can pay rent and food with the money you make from it.

I hate today. I hate today so much I just want to tear it off the wall, crumple it up, and throw it in the trash. I feel like a moron, like I wasted someone’s time today (even though the professor knew very well that I would fail!), like my friends don’t give a crap about me, like I’m about to have a stroke and it could happen at any time – hence why I periodically test both sides of my body, scared sick of having a stroke if it looks like I am disusing either side of my body.

It’s already the second week of college, and I wish I could just reset it back to day one.

College and other controversial opinions

After protracted debate over when we should go to move to college due to the hurricane, my father finally said to just go on Sunday morning. With rain and strong winds, we proceeded in two cars carefully across the sixty-mile stretch. My mother prayed the Rosary for around three quarters of the trip.

I thought it would be chaos, but it was not; after all, by the time I arrived, already 90% of students had successfully moved in. We did the whole unpacking thing, and my parents invited me to a final lunch with them. We ate some good food, but my mother evidently had her reservations about the people around her and their boastful tattoos. Two hundred dollars for a tattoo, two thousand dollars for a removal.

I also made an illegal U-turn on a very busy road attempting to determine what I can turn right on, and what I cannot, on the route to the long-term parking garage. I felt immense pressure from my father in the other car, maybe just poised to scold me for being a moronic driver once I arrive to the garage. After all, I missed the street I needed to take, made a bad turn (hoping there wasn’t a police car on my side to ticket me), drove into the wrong garage, took too long to make a three-point turn and then decided to just go straight, all the while my dad looking from his car in front of me helplessly, and parked just a little off. In the end, however, he said little.

And indeed, little they said when they dropped me off at my dorm, other than a simple “bye,” as if I was just going to see them tomorrow or something. I simply said my goodbye as well, closed the door, and walked away, knowing that this would mark the beginning of my new life.

Yet some things are not changing in me, and they are restraining me as a result. In this overwhelmingly large campus, my social phobia and want for individuality are amplified.

And what are we all here for? To study. And I haven’t even seen the first of it. I haven’t seen any of my professors in person or taken a legitimate university class yet. I want to put my current knowledge to the test, learn more about what I want to do, talk to people who share my interests, and such and such. Yet, I’m deathly afraid that professors will bite my head off clean at the first opportunity, that they will find every way to weed out and fail students until only the cream of the crop is left standing. And I’m not sure I’m the cream of the crop. I’m working hard simply to stabilize my new life here.

At the end of Monday, I decided to go to the fourteenth floor to view the sunset; otherwise, I’d go insane not having a panoramic view of the cityscape and the sky. I awkwardly made my way up and finally enjoyed the view. The Mirror’s Edge theme started playing in my head again, like it did when I was traveling through Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo. I peered from multiple corners of the building and finally looked down at the activity below. There were people talking to each other, people cycling as a pair, people running on the track of the gym beside the dorm. People looked like they were generally having fun.

And then I thought about myself. Was I really enjoying myself, in solitude? I mean, I had walked around for three hours with an old friend, but to be honest, it felt somewhat burdening. I don’t know. It gave me something to do, as I ran around doing some things, like buying a clicker, but the walk was rather exhausting at the end of the day.

In the end, I just went online and found a self-test for mental health. It said I show signs of social anxiety and things so terrible that if I write them here, I am sure to never get a job.

There is one more thing I must make a remark that simply broke me yesterday. Someone on a community I am a member of made a thread about “how do you feel about [nonbinary gender]?”. The first response from a moderator was, “everyone is awesome.” I responded that the matter could be intensely debated, and one should find opinions elsewhere. He responded that there is no debate, and that if I wanted to keep talking, I could, but the discussion was pretty much closed. The next response from someone else was a YouTube embed for “Everything is Awesome” from, you know, The Lego Movie. At that point, I couldn’t take it anymore. My roommate was here and I could not show tears in front of him, so I took a shower. Upon taking the shower, I simply imploded.

NOT EVERYTHING IS AWESOME. Are murderers, rapists, thieves, serial killers, malnourished children, rebels, white supremacists, and drug addicts awesome? If everything in the world was awesome, there would be no conflict in the world. Stop being socially insular and historically irresponsible.

Evidently, no one even cares about these bad people; do you notice how they have even been entirely removed from this kind of social thinking? They’re not members of society anymore, they’re just bad guys trapped in birdcages for the rest of their lives, because they’re bad and they always will be. Let me tell you that if people actually began to care about the rights of individuals in prisons and made a conscientious attempt to reform prisons to fit the post-industrial European model of rehabilitation instead of mere condemnation (as we have been doing for hundreds of years; practically only the sentences dealt by the judges and amenities offered by these prisons have changed), we would not have a prison population exceeding the population of a major city.

And what about the oppressed and the malnourished? Are you telling me that they do not exist? Stop brainwashing yourself with the sentiment of a world peace that does not exist yet, because the song was psychologically engineered to satirize a fictional society of a likewise blissful, pacifist, brainwashed population of Lego minifigures.

To return to the original question, I will make my own opinion clear without necessarily luring debate. I am all right if someone has made a consultation with a professional and verified themselves to not conform to either male or female, because it was never their choice to feel so wrong in their own bodies; I respect that entirely. However, I am not all right if someone just picks and chooses whatever gender they “want” to be and then asks me to address them in a very specific manner. I have not experienced this personally, nor have I read into the intricacies of the material; hence why there is an entire field called “gender studies” devoted to questions such as, “how did people come to identify themselves in such a specific manner.” If the situation happens, I’ll respect the individual for something else (i.e. their work, their participation in a discussion), but I will certainly feel disdain inside because the situation this person has placed themselves in simply does not feel natural nor correct.

Meanwhile, it seems ironic that in the fight for diversity, I feel persecuted. I don’t go to Reddit anymore, because most news articles relating to Catholics or Catholicism that appear in my front page relate to overblown news articles of corruption or abuse by the clergy, or jokes about the Eucharist or sexual harassment made at the expense of Catholics, regardless of any factual accuracy at all. For instance, the BBC reported an article about the Pope “banning gluten-free Eucharist.” He didn’t ban it, he reiterated that the bread must be unleavened and naturally grown. You can have a 0.0001% gluten bread, but you cannot have 0%, because usually the gluten is replaced with artificial ingredients that contradict the tradition of making bread for consecration. Bread with minimal gluten may be necessary for people with specific conditions, but for the vast majority of people, it’s just a fad.

Anyway, I am scared of classes.

I will shut up before I accidentally “trigger” someone and then said person starts harassing and doxxing me for having openly shared my personal opinions.