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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Programmer Part II

I am going to reattach the label of “programmer” to myself. The last time I was serious about programming was approximately eight years ago when I was selling desktop-apps on the Mac App Store. Nothing fancy, just little programs I whipped up.

On one hand, I’ve always been fascinated by programming. But on the other hand, I was never able to create something significant enough to manifest a satisfying career. So after a bunch of years going nowhere, I got fed-up and quit.

As an idealist, I imagined creating the most awesome-est software possible that generated tons of passive-income as I sat there raking-in all the profits and praise. When that didn’t happen, I said “Gah, what’s the use!” and gave-up.

Now I’m setting my sights a LOT lower. My current definition of programmer is: someone that writes and runs code — that’s it. And that’s all I plan to do for now: write and run code. Sure, anyone can type in some pseudo-code, but not everyone can get code to compile.

As I was recently reacquainting myself with programming, it was just sooo familiar. With such an intimate knowledge, how can I not have programming in my life? It’s like family. “Hello C#! So good to see you and .NET again! We should totally reminisce later! Oh hey PHP, ha yeah… you look just like I remember you… ooh who’s that over there!? Hey Godot! Wow, haven’t seen you around, but it seems like I know you already. Hello WebGL, wow you seem like a powerful backend for browsers!”

To me, programming is mostly a means to paint pixels on a screen. Even the text I’m typing is just painted-on pixels — a series of ever-changing specks with varying hues. So my task is to make those little dots dance — and by the power of programming, I shall.

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.

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!

Checking Boxes

The game-of-life has several categories we must attend to. If any are neglected, we’ll feel a lack of satisfaction — as if we’re not living a “full life”. But the way in which we attend to each category is highly subjective — only our personal character can determine the specifics. In other words, activities performed must be meaningful to the individual.

Body. You must engage in activity that utilizes the body in a way that feels significant to you. This activity does not have to be strenuous in any way, it’s simply taking your body out for a spin and enjoying it. To some, that might be running a marathon, but to others it might be a walk in the park — or it could be more artistic endeavors such as playing the piano or folding some paper (origami).

Busywork. You must engage in activity that fills-up time and accomplishes something you’re proud of. It could be an actual career or it could be a hobby like woodworking. It could be cooking or daily fitness training. Whatever it is, at the end of the day you should feel as though you accomplished something.

Relationship. You must engage in a relationship with some other entity. Whether it be romantic or parental or fraternal or friendship or a partnership — you have to significantly bond with another being. It should be a connection that makes you feel like you’re not alone OR that you’re a vital part of their existence.

Diet. You must find a way of eating that works for you. This is a personal selection of food that fits only your palate. It should make you feel well-nourished and never lacking. Diets change throughout time and culture, there’s nothing set in stone — so you’ll need to discover and experiment, finding the foods that leave you feeling satisfied.

Impact. You must feel as though you’ve influenced your world in some way. Whether it’s simply your immediate surroundings, your family, or even society itself — you’ll need to feel like you left some footprints. This might include having children, or passing on a legacy of some sort, or simply winning “Yard of the Month” and helping your neighborhood look nice.

Appreciation. You must develop an appreciation for life. You must constantly strive to find the good in the gifts you’ve been given. This is the very opposite of complaining about everything. Instead of picking out what’s wrong in the world, you must pick out what’s right.

Home. You must feel as though you’ve found a place in the world, a home. Somewhere, somehow, you fit like a puzzle piece into this world. Find that spot. For some this means a move, but for others it means recognizing the home they’ve already got. Hint: you might be in the correct physical location, but require an attitude adjustment.

Understanding. You must develop a comforting understanding of existence. You don’t have to figure everything out, you just need to develop a perspective that allows you to feel comfortable in the world. This could take the form of a religious or spiritual belief or some other form of philosophical interpretation. At the end of the day, you have to feel good about what’s going on here.

Role. You must feel as though you’re performing your role. You have a particular character with a certain set of preferences and abilities. Experiment, see what your strengths are and what activities you enjoy. This role might tie into your relationships, or how you influence your surroundings, or even your physical activity.

Adventure. You must feel as though you’re wandering through an exciting realm of wonder. Some aspect of life should cause you to feel like you’re discovering a whole new world. If your attention isn’t captured by something, you’re likely barking up the wrong tree — try another path.

Depending on one’s age, many of these items will be incomplete. THAT’S THE POINT. These boxes start out unchecked and you have an entire lifetime to work on them. And it’s not likely you’ll do them all at once — that’s ludicrous.

Also specific to the individual, is the priority we place on each category. For example, some people might spend hours everyday training their body whereas others barely use theirs. Or one person might spend years cultivating a deep personal relationship with a life-partner whereas another person might have a guinea-pig he cares for — both perfectly satisfied.

These categories simply serve as a guideline to the question: What am I supposed to do here on Earth? If you’re not sure, there you go. Work on fulfilling these categories — they’re the roadmap to what’s going on here — you’ll want to visit each of them in some way. Good luck, Earthling!

Compelling Purpose

If you’re spending a significant portion of your time simply reconciling with life, perhaps you’re barking up the wrong tree? In other words, maybe you’re out-of-step with life because you’re trying to do the wrong thing — like a dog jumping from tree branches trying to be a bird instead of chasing, biting, and barking.

Of course, that puts you right into the “finding your purpose” dilemma. But perhaps that’s the problem — maybe you really have to take that step more seriously?

The thing about that though, is that I see so many people compelled into a certain path by internal or external forces — they have no choice, they’re simply directed down a path and they readily follow it. I’ve been around for several decades already and I’m not sensing any push one way or another.

And the inklings I do get, just kinda fizzle-out over time. For instance, when I was a teen I was an avid weight-lifter, so much so that I went to college and studied Exercise Science. But as it turned out, I stopped growing taller and could only get mildly muscular — in other words, I wasn’t going to look like a heavyweight pro-bodybuilder. I wanted to be big and strong but it seemed like genetics wouldn’t let me.

I guess I picked the wrong path on that one. Oops. Okay so then I got into computers. I even started programming and went into software development. But oh boy, was that a struggle all throughout. I quit that stuff several times for various reasons. I go back once in awhile but eventually I get so frustrated over something that I quit again. It seems like another dead-end.

After all that, I started writing — it’s been about seven years of tippity-typing away and posting entries on this blog. But it never manifested into a career, not even close. Can you imagine doing something for seven years with ZERO return on investment? No money, no praise, no nothing — I just write for the heck of it. And whenever I try to quit, I come right back to it. Oh. Hm, so I guess I am compelled to write. My bad.

Well there you go, I suppose internal and external forces are actually forcing me down a particular path. Huh, well go figure. No offense though, but this blog is just a collection of thoughts that no one but me cares about. Shouldn’t writing be a career in which I make significant amounts of money and receive lots of praise? Something that makes my family proud to be related to me and a means for me to shower them with lavish gifts?

Yes that’s right, now having realized my purpose, I’m going to complain about it! I enjoy writing too. I like sitting in my office, occasionally glancing out the window while typing on my Apple keyboard as it wirelessly transmits characters onto my iPad. I have no complaints about the writing process — and I always feel like I’ve accomplished something for the day when I press “Publish”. But why so sparse when it comes to external gratification?

You’ve forced me down a path that I’m okay with — got it, that’s fine. But I’m still on the outside looking in — I’m not integrated into the career aspect of life. And that lack-of-career thing has been vexing me my entire life. “So what do you do, Rich?” Uhh…. But whatever, I guess I’ll keep writing and posting since that’s what I’m compelled to do. But just know that my shopping-budget is severely limited and I don’t appreciate it!

I’m sick of getting my friend “virtual presents” in which I pick out something nice, and send her a picture of it. Yes this post is actually about Mother’s Day, which is today. I have to sit there as she prepares breakfast-as-usual with no significant gift to brighten her day. Pitiful. At the very least I had wanted to get her some potted Gardena flowers and a latest generation iPad-mini — but nooo… she just gets a picture and an idiot for a husband. Psh.

At least she had a nice walk around town with her son. They also went over to buy some local honey at the farmer’s market. And like usual, she found what she was looking for — her ability to manifest the mundane is uncanny. Well that’s all for now dear diary, thanks for listening as usual. Signing-off… Rich.

Upgrading Narratives

By its nature, invincibility doesn’t need to be tested, there’s nothing to prove. For the invincible, the outcome is certain: I win every time. Therefore, invincibility doesn’t result in a desire for conquest — if anything, invincibility breeds patience and compassion. “These poor little people, what hope can they have against my might, I could squash them as insects — yet I won’t, I will show them my benevolent nature instead, for I am a kindhearted god amongst mere mortals.”

Perhaps invincibility isn’t for everyone, but for those that are always anxious, it’s simply a different story you can tell yourself. Is it any less of a lie than telling yourself: “I’m a worthless wretch that’s subject to the whims and ways of an uncaring world”? No, and in fact it’s a better story, a story in which you feel good about yourself instead of like a fragile creature struggling for survival amidst a harsh and brutal landscape.

If you sit in fear, afraid to venture out, now sit in superiority with no need to prove what you already know. The outcome’s the same, yet in the second scenario you feel like a magnanimous ruler. But I’ll tell you this: with the feeling of invincibility flowing through your thoughts, you’ll become energized — oh yes! You’ll start moving around. And wandering through the world won’t feel dangerous anymore, it’ll seem as a mild stroll through a comfortably familiar place.

This superpower already exists within you, you simply need to release it. All you have to do is trade the scary stories you keep telling yourself for stories of invincibility. You’ve already proven that you’re an effective storyteller: you’re scared shitless — that’s all the proof you need. Now let the narrative of an invincible-you begin. See yourself as the indomitable-being that NOTHING can overcome. Feel the power surging, the pure energy flowing, witness yourself emerging, reborn to a new narrative in which YOU are the very definition of supremacy. Repeat after me: “I am invincible.”