Space Game

I’m still knee-deep in computer-programming activities. My latest experiment/release is an Astroids-like Space Game. It’s using Javascript to draw on a Canvas element by utilizing a bunch of trigonometry. Because I like using vanilla Javascript and a raw Canvas element, I had roll my own collision-detection mechanism.

I’ve also been watching Star Trek: The Next Generation on Netflix (I’m currently up to the middle of season 3). That particular series is chock-full of competency by the way. If you want to bathe yourself in the concept of people performing their jobs exceptionally, that’s the one to watch. Picard is professionalism personified — and of course the entire crew steps up whenever duty calls.

I think the show has been keeping me from getting road-blocked by problems that spring-up along the way. In the past, I’d often quit when the going got too tough. But now, if something isn’t functioning properly, it means I need more research or perhaps a different approach. With enough perseverance, there’s always a solution. Quitting is not an option: there is only the performance of one’s duty till the end.

It’s dedication to the craft. In Star Trek, that craft was an actual craft, the starship Enterprise. In my case, the craft is the art of programming. It’s authoring and organizing sets of complex instructions. It’s coercing pixels to dance across the screen in predictable as well as unpredictable paths. It’s seeking out new ways and unique solutions, boldly coding where no developer has gone before.

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Perpetual Politics

“The problem with the other side, is that they’re a bunch of know-nothing morons that try to impose their stupidity onto everyone else! They simply don’t understand the world we’re living in! Well, I guess now that we’re in charge, we can try to work with them, but you know they’ll constantly fight against us. But for the sake of the country, we’ll try to get along.”

I use to follow politics because I thought it made me smarter. To be smart is to be well-informed. And since politics plays a prominent role in shaping the world, I had to know about politics in order to truly understand what’s going on here. WRONG.

Examining politics as a means of understanding the world, is like staring at the contents of a used toilet in order to understand people. Politics is not the start of the cycle, it’s the end product — the stinky, nasty turd in the toilet.

If you take a step back and really look at politics from a wider perspective, the repetition is obvious. It’s the same situations over and over, rinse and repeat ad nauseum — oftentimes the names don’t even change. And just like the digestive cycle, if you feed it crap then even worse crap comes out the other end.

If you want to understand what’s going on here, the WORST place to start is the toilet bowl. From there you’d surmise that people produce nothing but foul odors — they’re gross, disgusting creatures that smear feces wherever they go. Yuck!

Politics will always engage your outrage, that’s its nature. Don’t get involved with potty-talk, speak to people when they’re outside the stalls. Rise above the revulsion. Focus on what you’re feeding yourself and what you’re offering to others.

Search for Success

Did you ever try searching for the thing you’re good at? Like when you see an interview with a super-successful person, and they mention how well-suited they were for the particular path they took. And so you start thinking, “Hmm, maybe I have an obvious talent within a specific domain as well!” So you run down a checklist of traits and abilities trying to ascertain where you fit within the catalog of available professions.

Psh. After several decades, I’ve yet to come up with anything conclusive. The areas which I’ve explored most are: exercise/nutrition, computer-programming, writing. Yet nothing has yet to snowball into a viable long-term career. In each of those domains, I invested YEARS of practice. The most financially successful was programming, but for some reason it just kinda stalled.

Recently, I procured a Windows-based laptop and installed a bunch of programming-related stuff on it. I’ve been browsing around for the most suitable programming paradigm — one that matches my temperament and skill-set. So far I’ve installed Python, Python with Qt, C# and .NET, Roblox Studio, Godot, and Android Studio with Kotlin. I also looked at a few others but passed them by.

I don’t have anything particular I want to make, I just want to “program” and have fun while doing so. Therefore I’m attempting to find an appropriate medium with which to express myself — something that’s powerful but not too complex. So far Godot seems the most promising, it’s a blank canvas backed by a physics engine — but of course its feature-rich flexibility comes with a learning curve. I’d actually like to get into robotics programming, but I haven’t found an entry-point yet.

But anyway, that’s where I’m at right now: trying to find something I’m good at. Of course I was very good at being negative and complaining and scaring myself, but now I’m looking for an activity on the fun-side of life. Something I can invest myself into and experience a return of appreciation. “Wow Rich, great job! Thank goodness you’re around to do what you do!” That kinda thing.

Compass of Consciousness

An observer sits within the avatar as an audience to what’s happening. One thing that this consciousness notices is the thought-stream, an incessant flow of ideas and opinions and internal-debates that cascade through the mind. Yet this stream is only a single aspect of existence — and if the observer stops and stares too long, he can become mesmerized by it — frozen in time, just looking at thoughts as if they are life itself.

If you truly examine the totality of life, you’ll notice there’s two distinct aspects of a person. The character he’s playing as and the audience-member within him. In other words: inside each persona, there resides an observer that’s simply watching it all.

But so what? Why care about our composition? Because, it helps in developing a broader perspective of existence. If you’re completely lost and having a bad time here on Earth, this type of perspective can become like a compass helping you ascertain a definitive direction.

So much goes wrong when you’re lost. When you can’t find your way, you tend towards negativity — focusing on what’s wrong then becomes a way of life. And once you become a pessimist, there’s no obvious way out — EVERYTHING looks wrong. Everything’s a trick or a trap meant to deceive or destroy you.

The only way out is to look within and see that things aren’t what they appear to be — things are what you project them to be. You begin to realize that your negativity was painting a dark hue upon the world. And by ceasing to spray your pessimistically-laced graffiti all over the place, the world brightens up. And by this enlightenment, you find your way home.

End of Spring 2019

Big things happened in the last twelve months.

For the seven years prior to that, I sat on a big green bean-bag chair located in the corner of our mobile-home’s second-bedroom. It was there where I earnestly confronted my inability to extract enjoyment from life (this blog stems from that). But of course, this is life, and life is meant to be lived — you can’t sit in quiet contemplation forever.

So about eleven months ago, we moved. We sold our mobile-home (for about the cost of a low-end luxury vehicle) and left for a completely different climate. By that point, my wife despised cold, snowy, desolate winters. We moved back to the hot, humid, and happening place we had once lived. Although it was super-hot, it felt good to be back.

The first order of business was finding a place to live. We tried a realtor in town, but nothing suited us. We almost rented an apartment in a far-off area, but my wife wanted something near the school. Being a magician, she found an obscure listing for a condo located exactly where she wanted. We barely met the requirements for renters — but here we are.

On my son’s first ever day of school, and every subsequent day, we were able to walk him across the street to his school. Prior to that, I had homeschooled him for Pre-K and Kindergarten. So now he got to experience a classroom full of kids and field-trips and all that stuff. He even tested into the gifted-program — such a bright little guy.

My personal goal for these twelve months was to actually appreciate and enjoy the experiences I was having. Like I mentioned, we had lived here once before, about a decade ago. And although I recognized how nice things were, I simply couldn’t appreciate my surroundings. Looming-doom and the feeling of inevitable loss were too much in my mind.

This couldn’t be real, and if it was, it couldn’t last. There I was, a software-developer working from my home-office inside of a luxurious top-floor condo, mere minutes away from my childhood happy-place, with a beautiful wife that cooked the most delicious meals I ever tasted. I did it: Success! But as I “predicted”, it crumbled. Or more likely, it was self-sabotaged.

So this second-time around, I was determined to enjoy my surroundings. We picked a nice place to live, we got furniture, we watched fireworks from our balcony, we got annual passes to the amusement park, we walked our son to and from school, we ate at restaurants, we went for leisurely walks, we went trick-or-treating, we got a Costco membership — the suburban dream.

And honestly, yes, I’ve been able to enjoy and appreciate it. BUT, this has literally been my full-time job. I’m such a misanthropic naysaying pessimist, that it took my full concentration and efforts to enjoy myself. Overall I’m pleased with the results, but it leaves me in an awkward position at the end of these twelve months. And that is: can I stay here?

Once the lease is up, I’m not sure what’s going to happen. Although it could’ve caused me worry, I never felt it. In a lot of ways I’ve passed the test. Whereas last time I strained to get here and stressed-out once I arrived, it ultimately didn’t work-out because of my bad attitude — so I’m not going to repeat that mistake. I’m not going to stress and strain because it only leads to a bad-time.

I literally did nothing to get here the second-time around — I simply went along for the ride. It was my wife’s idea and she handled everything. She did most of the realtor stuff, planned our road-trip down, procured our dwelling, and got all the school stuff set. I mainly did the heavy lifting when it came to packing. Last time, I handled everything and made a mess of things.

The less I attempt to impose my will, the better things get. And so, as the twelve months come to a close at the end of next month, I will continue to have an attitude of hopefulness for what’s to come. I spent this year appreciating and developing an ability to enjoy experiences while not countering them with constant criticism — and I believe I succeeded in that endeavor.

Here’s to whatever comes next! Cheers!

Aware Avatar

An avatar is born into this world, it’s a part of it, perfectly formed to fit like a puzzle-piece. The piece is unique, containing attributes that allow it to fit within one particular spot. And like a puzzle, a greater picture is revealed when all the pieces assemble together. But what use is a creative process, especially the final product, when no one is around to appreciate it? And so consciousness comes in to observe the events taking place — from beginning to end, a watcher-within witnesses the existence of the avatar.

But this merging procedure can be a bumpy one. At around four years of age, a child goes from pure-automaton to an avatar with a passenger. This passenger, this observer, is oftentimes shaken by his sudden awareness of humanness. He imagines himself as a creature existing within a turbulent world in which he must struggle to survive. He believes that HE is the human. But not being of this world, he’s frightened beyond belief. How can he survive!? He knows absolutely nothing about this place!

If the merger had went well, the consciousness would’ve simply observed the life of the avatar, the character he’s assigned to watch. The avatar knows exactly what to do in this world. But instead, the consciousness mistakenly believes himself to be the human and is scrambling to get a foothold. The avatar simply wants to live out his life, but the observer shuts everything down, too afraid to act while busily fighting against the avatar’s inclination to participate in an active life.

Everyday, the consciousness forbids the avatar from acting. “Are you nuts! I can’t go out there! It’s dangerous!” And so the avatar is hidden away, restricted from fitting into the puzzle he so desperately wants to be a part of. Eventually the avatar gives up. From this perspective, depression is the avatar’s protest against the observer-within. The consciousness is forced to stop and think, forced to consider what’s really going on here.

But oftentimes, the observer doesn’t quite get it and returns to his old habits as soon as possible. The lesson he SHOULD learn, is that the avatar is an autonomous vehicle that’s fully-capable of proceeding through life — all while showing the consciousness a good time. If he’d simply observe, the watcher-within would be whisked around as a spectator to the character’s story. If he’d stop believing that HE is the human, things would go a lot smoother.

And so the two must reconcile, otherwise they remain at odds — a cantankerous pair in constant combat, each with an ability to damage the other. The two reach a harmonic bond when the consciousness realizes his place: to be an appreciative audience to the avatar’s existence, always encouraging the avatar as it travels through a series of entertaining experiences. Under his control, life was boring and unimaginative — but now with the avatar as captain, the consciousness finally enjoys himself as a grand narrative unfolds.

Conscious Example

My character LOVES technology. And I mean loves it. I remember going through a rough-patch about a decade ago, and the imminent release of the 2nd-generation Macbook Air was enough to provide me with the courage to carry on. I’ve had two recent dreams about driving in Teslas on Autopilot. My friend just sent me a picture of a pallet full of Segway ninebot scooters at Costco and I was overcome by the glorious excess. On YouTube today, they suggested a couple videos featuring the DJI RoboMaster S1 programmable robot — I knew instantly that I needed one (okay maybe two).

But my consciousness doesn’t like when my character imagines getting involved with such things. “What?! A Tesla!? You can’t afford that!” or “What!? A $600 scooter!? Are you being serious right now?!!” or “What!? A $500 robotic kid’s toy!? Are you nuts!?!” My consciousness believes only in limitation and lack. If I can’t see a clear path to the goal, then it absolutely can NOT be done. And spoiler alert: I can never see a clear path — the answer is always NO.

Programming has fascinated me since elementary school when they had us type-in some BASIC instructions on Apple IIe computers. But it wasn’t until young-adulthood that I started programming for real. Even then, it was a struggle to overcome the idea that programming was near-impossible — something only well-trained engineers could do. My negativity was persistent. “Program something!? Do you know how hard that is!?? Don’t waste your time!!” and “So you made a little program, so what, you’ll never make anything significant enough to make money!”

Basically, my consciousness has been sabotaging my character’s path through life. I won’t even mention the fact that my consciousness once convinced my character to live in a mobile-home park for seven years simply because it was the simplest option he could imagine. “Cheap and easy? Do THAT!” My character wasn’t happy there, he went into deep soul-searching mode. For these past few years he’s been trying to exorcise the demon that’s been plaguing him his entire life: a relentlessly negative consciousness.

Apparently, the observer-within got a bit too overzealous and believed himself to be the whole kit-and-caboodle. He literally thought we was the beginning, middle, and end of his own existence. In short, the observer thought he was a fragile creature struggling for survival amidst a harsh and brutal world. He assumed that he had to go it alone — and of course FREAKED-OUT since he had no clue what to do. What he should’ve done is sat still and observed i.e. his job. But like a bad middle-manager, he took matters into his own hands and started going around like he was the character. Let’s just say he made a real mess of things.

This poor frightened fellow needs to understand that he’s off the hook. He’s not the guy in charge — just a passenger along for the ride. It’s kinda like that philosophical question: does a tree make a sound if it falls in the woods and no one hears it? Well it turns out, that no, you need an observer — which is why observers and characters are paired up. But sometimes the process doesn’t go so smoothly, obviously. So I’m telling you, dear conscious observer, you can relax now. Simply sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride — that’s your only job. The character, who was born of this world, will gladly do his thing — he’s already wound-up, just let him go.