Monthly Archives: April 2009

Tough self love

I am starting to get despondent about certain things. I must say I am glad it’s not quite yet at the level of seeing everything as a tick box. It’s almost there though. I have all these plans of things I want to do but don’t do them. Instead I sit around doing literally nothing. I suppose as an aside I need to realise that I can’t be productive and perfect 100% of the time. But having said that I feel shit for not doing anything towards what I apparently want to do. I say apparently because I read that it’s possible that you don’t achieve goals because secretly your subconscious can work against you. Be it either because of the sacrifice required to get it is too high or the goal itself does not agree with who you see yourself as. I don’t really like this, because it means that it’s possible you are not in control of what you do. Sure subconscious desires probably can play a role, but if it’s stopping you from doing what you want to do, you obviously don’t want it enough. In which case you should probably re-asses why you are doing it. But another reason I don’t like it is because, it’s quite easy to use this subconscious desire theory as a bullshit excuse not to put in hours, a form of procrastination.

The way I see, it you should be able to work towards your goals easily. And if you are faltering, take a break. A proper break. If that does not work, re-asses and decide if you want to carry on. And you should only stop doing it until you make a conscious decision that you don’t want to do it anymore. Don’t waste time thinking about doing and not actually doing it, in my case that wastes energy, breeds guilt and prevents me from relaxing when it is time to relax. And one of the things I believe is that relaxation is as important as working towards your goals.

Yeah, don’t feel you have to do something because you have to. Especially if it’s activities you do with your free time. That’s just bullshit. You don’t HAVE to do anything, you have a choice. So if you’ve made your choice, do it. You might be saying, “Oh! But my work, I don’t enjoy my work, I don’t want to work.” Yeah sure, maybe. But what do you get out of work? Money? What do you with that money? You live under a roof, you go out, buy drinks, food, clothes, etc. Surely you want those things? I am pretty sure you do. So if that’s the case, you want to work. So just fucking do it, and enjoy it. Be happy that you are working, others are not so fortunate.

Get it? Good.

I am going to bed. Good night.

Plug and play code

I am a PHP programmer. Quite a seasoned developer if I say so myself. I have a background in computer science and have been doing commercial programming for almost 5 years now. So I have learnt a lot about programming and programming for the web. One of the things I love in an application is clean data. So that means trying to make sure no garbage data gets into your database. To do there are a lot of things you can do.

One example of this is email validation. On the surface email validation a simple task. Take the email address your user has typed in, apply some tests to it and make sure it’s valid. One of the ways to do this is with regular expressions. As with any data filtering or data filtering task, you can do something basic or you can try to cater for all cases. To give you an example of the complexity of email filtering, lets break down the parts of an email address. An email address consists of 3 parts: the user name, the @ symbol and the domain name. Simple enough. But to what extent do you want to make sure it’s clean? The most basic option is to check that it has those parts in the correct order. A level up from that is to do the previous check and then check that the user name contains only valid email address characters. From that you could also check that that the domain name is made up of two or more part separated by a dot. A step up from that is to do the previous three checks and check that domain has a valid domain extension. One up from that is to do all previous checks and then also check that the domain actually exists and resolves. This is all I am aware of but there might be additional checks you can do.

So anyways for simplicity sake lets just say you want to check the format is correct, the user name has valid characters and the domain name is made up of two or more parts. All of this could be achieved with a regular expression.

If you use PHP as I do, you could easily find a bit of code for this on the internet, hundreds maybe thousands of different iterations of code all claiming to do the same thing: Validate an email address.

The only problem is, I don’t trust source code found on individual’s pages on the web. I don’t know that user’s credentials. I don’t know what he knows, I don’t know what sources he used to build that code. Or if he used sources at all. And because it’s something that is seemingly so simple, it’s easy to not do it correctly. Unless it is a trusted library or comes from a person who I know to be of a specific standard, I won’t use that code. Otherwise, I want to be able to see the references used so that if it comes to it I can check that it claims to do what it says it does. If those references are there my test need to be even more rigorous than I would need for trusted components, meaning that I might as well have written it myself.

I noticed myself doing this the other day. Just a little tech… sigh… Tired of writing now. Guess I won’t be doing what little spell /  sanity check I usually do.

Philosophy of correk thinking

I started a site called correk thinking. You can find it in the links on the right. The site displays a single message for 24 hours. At 12 o’clock each night, a new message is displayed. That’s it. That’s the whole site, just a single message on a single page. I attempt to make the message a positive one.

This site really resonates with me. I started the site hoping that someday someone will happen to come across it, and hopefully on that day the site will be displaying the message that this person needs to hear. Hopefully it will give them the push needed for them to improve their life. It might not happen, it might never happen. I know that what I am hoping for is pure coincidental. You may think I am being silly but I had an experience where this exact thing happened to me. I had been thinking and introspecting on a problem for almost a month. And if I had not been in the exact place at the exact time, I may never have found the answer. And because I knew that finding the solution was pure chance, it really enforced the solution. So, what I am hoping to achieve is improbable but not impossible. I think the idea of it unlikely makes it even more appealing to me.

The site embodies a so much of what I believe in:

Done things for the sake of doing them. One thing I really love about the site is that if it does help someone, there’s an equal chance that I’ll never know that I’ve helped anyone. The site provides no contact details and no way to contact the owner/author. Due to the anonymity of the site (from both my side and the user’s side), it means helping people just for the sake of helping people, nothing else, no thanks, no recognition, nothing.

Secondly, positive thinking. At the core of the site, it provides a positive thought a day. I believe they way you think and talk to yourself in your head, determines a large part of your success (whatever success may mean to you). Also an added benefit, because I am trying to think of positive thoughts for the site it forces me to think positively at least once a day.

Thirdly, another philosophy I live by and also incorporated into the site is the Buddhist philosophy of the impermanence of all things. Nothing lasts forever. So every message is shown once and never again.

And fourthly, it’s just a little bit a day, just one line of text. This is my newest philosophy that I have adopted and it has made me a much happier person. For a large part of my life I wanted to be exceptional (hidden under the guise of appearing normal) but I wanted to be exceptional immediately. I wanted results now. This latest philosophy I adopted has taught me patience. Just a little a day.

And that’s it. http://correkthinking.com

On expectation, but not really

I am trying to figure out if having expectations of something is a good thing. Doing something and having an expectation of how it is going to be can really detract from the enjoyment of the experience. For me the most common form of this is watching movies trailers. A lot of trailers have spoiled movies for me. They either hype the movie up into something it’s not, or they show all the good bits making you expect more good bits when you do actually watch it, only to find you’ve seen them all.

Heh… the word trailers made me think back to my youth when I first used that word. I remember back in the day my family used to call them shorts. The shorts. “Do you want to fast forward past the shorts?”, I would ask. It’s interesting to notice how and why vocabularies change. I have lived a life where I frequently needed to cross the boundaries of vocabularies. By vocabularies I mean slang, colloquialisms or more generally a subset of words. I stayed in a coloured area and probably had only coloured friends at the time. At about 9 years of age I went to a white school. Not sure if “white school” was the correct terminology for it at the time. I don’t really know what the history of the school was up till that point. Perhaps private school is better. A private school with 99.9% of the children being white. A boarding school. Myself and the kids there pretty much got on like a house on fire. So as one does when one becomes part of any group, I picked up a lot of terminology, or slang. I also picked up some nuances of pronunciation as well as an accent.

I find it interesting that the words I picked up and used was conscious process. It’s also interesting to note that I could have attempted to introduce the other kids to the words I grew up with but rather chose to replace those words for their local counterparts or even omit them from interactions altogether. Right at the beginning when all these colloquialisms were new to me, I would incorporate words that would ease communication or prevent me from having to explain what I meant if I had used my own word.

The other interesting thing was that I found nuances of pronunciation and the accent I picked up were not a conscious process. I only noticed I had one when I visited my grandmother on a holiday a year or two later. My grandmother asked me, I can’t remember the exact words but it was something like: “Why do you talk like you are white?”. As I said in the last sentence, I don’t remember the words exactly but I do remember disgust in her voice. I was taken aback. From the tone of her voice I could tell my accent displeased her and in that one comment made me feel as though there was a chance I could no longer be trusted because I no longer speak like her people. My response was, “I don’t talk like I am white?” and immediately forced myself back into rolling my Rs.

From then on I became conscious of how I spoke. It carried on this way for a long time. I’d have a different accent for school and a different accent at home. To this day actually… I still do it. Around my family I can have a different accent than what I normally do. And what’s worse is that often around coloured people, I force my coloured accent. The problem is that this isn’t how I talk anymore so I don’t get practice using the accent anymore also I never really had the opportunity to study it so I can’t even mimic it that well. If that was not bad enough I also find myself using a half forgotten, dated version of the coloured slang I knew when I was 9. So interactions in this mode feel so fake for me. I feel like every word I say is a lie. Which it is. Even though I am telling the truth, the sounds the words make when they reach my ears feel to me as if they are a lie. Anyways I am in the process of fixing this. I am in the process of merging my accents into one.

So yeah, as you can see, I got horribly distracted. My original article was meant to be on expectations. I wanted to talk about expectations because of the hot-cross buns you get in the shop. Eating them (the experience) is never as good as they smell, or half as good I remember them (the expectation). So, I may start a new quest. I may just take up baking to create a hot cross bun to rival the flavour of the ones in my memory – the perfect hot cross bun.

Happy Easter.

Different

I’m a strange person. I believe in fate but I also believe that there’s no such thing as fate. I believe that some people are lucky but I also believe people make their own luck. As far as I can tell, I modify my beliefs so that they benefit me. As an example the number 13, widely believe by the superstitious to be unlucky, just so happens to be my lucky number. In this case I modified the superstitious belief to work in my favour. It’s actually just one of my lucky numbers. I have a few: 7, 11, 13, 27, 121. I am not sure why 13 got into that list, possibly to tempt fate, or maybe just to be different.

Different. This brings me to my core topic. For a long time I was obsessed with normality and trying to be normal. At some point in my life at least 80% of the people I know have told me I am either weird, crazy or insane. I made up the 80% figure, but enough people have made mention for me to take notice. For me, the strange thing is that this usually happens when I am doing or saying something that I think to be completely ordinary. I would then ask: “What makes you say that?“. I would probably ask this so that I may learn to fit in better. To be honest, I’m not 100% sure of my motivation. I know that at times I do like it when I appear eccentric to others, so another reason could probably be the desire to be able to control my ability.

Anyways, the answer to my question: “What makes you say that?“, would normally be: “No reason, you just are.” or “… in a good way” or a combination: “No reason, you just are… in a good way“. Generally an answer is not gathered. There was the time about 2 years ago, when actually listening to what I had just said, I didn’t need an answer. In that case I had said: “Do you ever look at your hands and think: ‘Are these my hands?‘?“. In my defence, that day I looked at my hands and noticed they had aged a lot since the last time I actually last looked at my hands. They had looked like my older brothers hands. His hands are 4 years older than mine and his skin is a lighter complexion. So too was the complexion of my skin because at the time because I had been living in sunless London for a year already.

Anyhow, these experiences have shaped my personality to a large extent. Well, not my personality, just how talk to people I don’t yet know. I am very restrained. Often I will not say anything for fear of what I might say and how it will be recieved. Also it’s probably affected what and how I say things to the people I do know. But I know that everyone says different things to different people, so that’s nothing to be concerned about. So yeah, it’s made me not say or not do things I might normally have said or done. But, the thing is… how do I know what the normal way to behave is? How does anyone? Yes, there are societal norms. For example not flinging your shit at people. This societal boundary that most people know it exists. And I, like most people, am aware of it. It’s also worth noting that I have no conscious desire to cross this boundary.

The same goes for other societal norms. I know my eccentricities are well within the societal boundaries I know to exist, so what do I have to fear? Surely the concept of normal is not only a societal one but also an individual one? How would anyone know what they would normally do if I they have not previously behaved in that way? Surely the way they are at that point is their normal state? Surely this is the individual normality I mentioned.

Anyhow, from this I’ve learned that there is probably no such thing normality with reference to living your life. I’ve given up on this quest. This is probably a good thing if only to conserve future wasted effort. Rather I have embraced the eccentricities I may have and now relish in the fact that I see things differently to other people. I’m at the stage where I accept that and am now learning to use it to my advantage.

The ideas of eccentricity and using it to my advantage could potentially lead me to another post I want to write entitled: Delusions of Grandeur. However it is almost 23:00 and nearly time for me to go to bed.

Good night.