Tag Archives: life

Reflection on Reflections from Damaged Life

Final Serenity

A newspaper obituary for a businessman once contained the words: “The breadth of his conscience vied with the kindness of his heart.” The blunder committed by the bereaved in the elevated language reserved for such purposes, the inadvertent admission that the kind-hearted deceased had lacked a conscience, expedites the funeral procession by the shortest route to the land of truth. If a man of of advanced years is praised for his exceptional serenity, his life can be assumed to comprise a succession of infamies. He has rid himself of the habit of getting excited. Breadth of conscience is passed off as magnanimity, all-forgiving because all-too-understanding. The quid pro quo between one’s own guilt and that of others, is resolved in favor of whoever has come off best. After so long a life one quite loses the capacity to distinguish who has done what harm to whom. In the abstract conception of universal wrong, all concrete responsibility vanishes. The blackguard presents himself as a victim of injustice: if only you knew, young man, what life is like. But those conspicuous midway through life by an exceptional kindness are usually drawing advances on such serenity. He who is not malign does not live serenely but with a peculiarly chaste hardness and intolerance. Lacking appropriate objects, his love can scarcely express itself except by hatred for the inappropriate, in which admittedly he comes to resemble what he hates. The bourgeois, however, is tolerant. His love of people as they are stems from his hatred of what they might be.




Friggin everyone loves to laugh. Even observatory domes.

Friggin everyone loves to laugh. Even observatory domes.

Dear readers, you all know I love to laugh. Almost as much as “hanging out with friends.” I’m fascinated by comedians; they occupy an extra special place in my heart of hearts. Let me share a thought I had about them.


There are virtually no good comedians under the age of 35.

I can’t find a single widely-known comedian whom I admire that is not 12 years older than I. I was in first grade, they were in their senior year of high school, if not already graduated. A sample (this also serves as an abridged list of my comedy heroes):

I could go on. Notice that even the “young” comedians — comedians whose primary audience tends to be young — are at the very least entering middle age.


What gives with the 19-year-old doctors, CEOs, and pop stars? The media love these wunderkind and dangle their success before us like we should have worked harder in school. But there is a difference. I think there is something intrinsic to comedy that is much more resistant to this kind of fluke. In no way, shape, or form can the media make a comedian. Enough plays on the radio will make any song with a beat catchy. But a joke just gets older and more stale. Something about humor demands perception and experience. Practice and study of the mechanics of the craft can only augment talent and exposure to life.

What really strikes me about these specialists who have been writing and thinking for years, is the material that actually makes it to our ears is relatively very limited. As if all those years attempting original, humorous thought netted only a few hours of stories worthy of public presentation. Presented and appreciated so casually! A joke, a laff. No wonder comedians are so humble; some part of them is aware of this brutal inefficiency.

And so I think it must go with any experience-driven occupation. Building on this post, youth does not favor the designer, the producer, the director.


As with all claims, there are exceptions. Dave Chappelle had an early break with Half Baked. Tim and Eric are 34. Aziz Ansari is only 27 and he is a little past up-and-coming. Maybe it’s just a matter of getting discovered. Maybe it’s because the comedian stands alone, whereas the pop star is almost always backed by a team of producers and creative staff. Or maybe it’s because there’s just no rushing a good joke.

Creativity and motivation

Imagination is a blight to those who seek to create. The propensity to readily imagine sets up the creative individual for the most frustrating of failures. Here is how it usually goes:

  1. Inspiration strikes. A miraculously useful, unique, and feasible idea is born.
  2. Excitement grows, the floodgates of enthusiasm open, the idea is developed completely.
  3. The thinker awakes from a trance, looks at his finished work, and finds it beyond his resources to realize it.

Count yourself among the lucky if this hasn’t happened to you.

As for me, I’m all too experienced in this cycle. However, it’s only recently that I have had to bear the full force of it; in the past, there was always an excuse to justify lack of proper execution: school. Now that I’m out and the world is my oyster, I’ve had to come to terms with the ease at which I produce sheer genius and find myself inexcusably challenged. So far, I haven’t encountered an elegant solution, but I have discovered some truth that I can humbly share.

A state of humility is key. A humble person is always pleasantly reassured by their abilities. There are geniuses out there, with pride and a certain zest for what they do. I respect these individuals, and find myself occasionally envying their seemingly boundless capabilities. I remind myself that jealousy and competitiveness preclude the mind from the free state that is required for fulfilling success.

There is no substitute for discipline. Provided one can imagine, motivation and enthusiasm about one’s own ideas are ever-flowing. Resist the urge to fantasize; execute instead of indulging in intellectual escapism. As one forces this discipline into place, the skill grows stronger. Until you’re out of ideas, persistence outweighs innovation.

Work can become play. I’m still subscribed to the idea focus is a positive feedback reaction: Focus hard, work hard, get better. As you get better, the frustrating incidents are fewer, the work is more enjoyable, and focus comes naturally. There are those out there who lucked out at being good before work was distinguished from play. My lucky heroes.

Simplicity is golden. Less is not just more; it is the only way to keep the goal in sight.

Don’t share any idea you truly plan to implement. It will invariably cause the idea to snowball. It leads to a sense of guilt at the lack of results as opposed to a sense of pride in results that are actually achieved. Let the process of creation be the mother of invention. I’ve been very pleased with the suggestions offered by my own implementations.

Yes, this is all based on my experience in these short 9 months since graduation. If I were a little less wracked with inspiration, I would probably write more about these observations. Part of me is glad I kept it brief. And if you haven’t guessed yet, I’ve been busy with something.

Hit and Run: Windows Mobile Emergency

I had to call the police recently. A combination of laziness and problem urgency led to me dialing 911 on my Windows Mobile-powered cell phone.

When you dial 911, Windows mobile flips the FUCK out. Despite the Vibrate setting, my phone begins a very loud and very noticeable series of beeps as it enters “Emergency Mode”. In this mode, you cannot dial any numbers that are not emergency numbers, apparently. What programmer was sitting in front of Visual Studio, mashing away, thinking, “I’m saving lives here guys, with these beeps, these loud beeps.” Woe to the bank teller or kidnappee who tries to get wise. Here’s some wisdom: anything not Microsoft.

Sent from my iPhone

^ not really; do you think I’m made of money and data plans? Also, the thing that pushed me over the edge in writing this post is the fact that my phone has not rung since this. I just miss the call. Yes, I restarted it several times.

Geek Code

Remember this old bit? Well, I figured it was about time to generate my own. Gentoo users just emerge app-misc/geekcode and run geekcode. There’s also an online generator you can google for. It takes around 15 minutes, and transports you about 15 years into the past.

Here’s me:
Version: 3.12
GAT d- s+: a-- C++ UL++ P- L++ E W+++ N o- K w
O-- M-- V-- PS PE- Y PGP t++ 5 X- R !tv b+++ DI+++ D+
G e++ h* r y?

Here’s a geek code interpreter.

Happy Birthday, Superdrivel!

The G20 hits 50,000 miles

Speaking of birthdays, the van turned over its 50,000th mile recently. It's doing great, though we both almost died while I took this picture.

Celebrations all around! Superdrivel turned 1 on October 24th.  Of course, I didn’t really start bloggin’ on it till January, and even then it was just to whine about blogging.


  • 33 posts (prior to this one) – that’s 25% more than every other week!
  • 64 non-spam comments (almost 2 per post!)
  • 69 spam comments, all but one of them blocked automatically by Akismet.
  • Top post (by pageviews) – the iron gym is great (~1200 views)
  • Top post (by comments) – Is Gentoo dying? (14 comments)
  • Top search topics (paraphrased) – “iron gym”, “the a-team van“, “gentoo”, and “benjamins
  • 28 Google Reader subscribers – I missed the FeedBurner boat, so it might be even more.
    • I ❤ all of you. I would feel pretty silly if no one read this stuff.

Lately, I’ve also been averaging around 20 hits per day to the blog in general. Not that traffic is important, just wanted to let you know you’re not completely alone in this remote corner of the intermist.

PARTY IN THE COMMENTS! Now’s your chance to tell me how to be a better blogger/friend/person!

SILT: Stuff I Learned Today

This is my dad wearing a pair of shades I found.

This is my dad wearing a pair of shades I found.

This is the first in an indefinite series of catch-all blogposts. Now that school is up and my schedule is more regular I think I can make a few more minutes a day to log some findings and post some links. Also, I’m thinking that by presenting a more innocuous task (a short, general post, as opposed to a long, targeted one), I might find myself sowing the seeds of expanded posts.

Also, sometimes I feel silly calling up friends and telling them each individually about cool junk when I know they’re all subscribed to this baby right here. Content will range from factoids to news to mini-rants to Linux and beyond. So:

  • Peep Show Season 6 has started. I might need to cache up the whole season before I start, it’s such dark goodness. 9.5/10 on imdb with 5,200+ votes? Intense.
  • I found out a way for a Linux machine to dynamically get a hostname on a Microsoft Active Directory network that isn’t set up to update hostnames via DHCP. This was ridiculously hard and I strongly suggest you contact me if you ever run into this issue. It involves kerberos and this one-off script.
  • I’m watching Kate Humble’s 4-part series of Middle Eastern travel, The Frankincense Trail. It’s from the BBC and it’s not too bad. It probably is a bit too frankincense-centric to be honest, what with her hauling her own little load of frankincense everywhere and asking everyone whether their people use or used frankincense. The most interesting tidbit I picked up is that apparently some parts if not all of Israel enforce some crazy Shabbat rules. For instance, you can’t use (technically be directly involved in the use of) anything electrical. You can ride an elevator, but you can’t press the buttons (it stops on all floors). You can open a fridge and grab something, but you have to tape the light sensor down beforehand. All this because it’s the ‘day of rest’. I’m wondering how universally this stuff is implemented.
  • Last, but certainly not least, Oyama is back up at the makuro.org address. My $30 Time Warner lets me upload at like 300kb/s so please be courteous and only max out my connection at night or during the workday. Also, I’ll know who my true friends are based on who logs in first (only my true friends use RSS and FTP).

Well, here’s hoping that wasn’t too painful, because I’m planning on learning a lot of stuff and posting about it. And then, this series of blog posts, like its namesake (silt), will provide me and my offspring a fertile farmland on which to raise agricultural goods.

What I learned from the gym

You walk into your local fitness center, what do you see? Provided it’s been long enough since the New Year, you’re probably going to see predominantly fit people. And even before you pick up those relatively puny dumbells for the first time, you’ve started to second guess yourself. Maybe the gym is only meant for the strapping Gastons of the world, and you just aren’t cut out for it.

Of course, here’s where the lesson comes into play. If you take a look around and you notice a noticeable lack of people like you, then over time there are two basic scenarios that can unfold:

  1. You leave and the population becomes a little less heterogenous
  2. You become like them and the population becomes a little more homogenous

Pretty sweet setup, eh? All you’ve got to do is stick around and do your thing, and in a matter of time I’m sure you’ll be sporting all manner of muscle.

So here I am, at PayPal, surrounded by people who are, on average, around 7 years my senior, and seemingly 7 times my skill level in programming. At first I was a bit daunted, troubled by the mad skillz of my coworkers. Then I realized that the same people who hired them hired me, and if I just do what I do, I shouldn’t be too much longer than it took them.

In fact, the reason I was daunted was because I am able to appreciate their skill. And that appreciation serves as motivation to keep improving myself and to stay humble, yet confident, along the way.
Ira Glass, host of This American Life on NPR, describes the process for working in the creative field, to which software engineering is no exception. In fact, thanks to benchmarks, easy comparison of solutions, and overall high competitiveness in the field, it might even be a little tougher to be a coder.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, it’s been a while since I’ve been to the gym. But my CSS is getting crazy ripped.

New House

A snazzy floorplan I whipped up

A snazzy floorplan I whipped up

Finally. It took a month to find it and move in, but here I am. Posting pictures of my new house.


  • 2 bed/1 bath
  • 2 blocks from Japantown
  • 2 blocks from the light rail
  • Work and downtown both bikable
  • Front yard/deck/white picket fence/American dream
  • $1450/month
  • ~920 sq. ft.
  • 1 year lease

Review so far

The place is nice. You couldn’t tell that the house is a hundred plus years old from looking at it (except for the eye-level front door knob). New paint, water heater, carpet, fixtures, everything. I’m not huge into hardwood floors, but these are definitely high quality. The default lighting is pleasant and even without A/C the place keeps almost the perfect temperature. It also seems larger than some 1000 sq ft apartments I visited. There may be too many windows, from a noise perspective, but the blinds are not the cheap kind by a long shot.

I’ve got to say, there are at least 2 noticeable shortcomings. For one, there is no peephole in my door. This is strange. And, secondly, most unfortunately, I regret to report that: the thick, sturdy, turn-of-the-century doorframes do not support Iron Gyms. Not a one of the twelve. I guess I will never get strong or ripped as advertised.


Click the house for a flickr set.

My house(a lot more work went into the floor plan than the photography, mostly so I could calculate what furniture to craigslist.)

A Fifth of Beethoven, outside my window

Quit makin sweet music to me, bird.

Quit makin sweet music to me, bird.

For those of you not on the up and up, I’ve finally got my own digs in San Jose. A little cottage (bungalow, if you will), up in stately Japantown. Anyway, I’ll post pictures and details later.

For now, there is a bird in my neighborhood that is down with it, fosho. Its call is strikingly similar to the hallmark string stab of Walter Murphy’s disco instrumental classic, A Fifth of Beethoven. You’ll know it when you hear it. Listen for the staccato strings (I took the liberty of skipping pretty much right to the part at hand): link.

So, now I have this song stuck in my head a lot more often than I used to. If someone knows what bird this is, that’d be a pretty sweet comment to get.