Monthly Archives: January 2014

“Better” != “100%”

So whatever I had this past week (my girlfriend suspects the flu) really kicked my butt. It started about 5pm Monday, with a sore throat and just a general “under the weather” feeling. By 11am on Tuesday I was so achy and feverish I could barely stand long enough to be of any use at work. At its worst, I spiked a 102° fever and apparently slept like the dead. But about as abruptly as it came on, it went away by about noon yesterday, and I started feeling human again. The cough is still with me, but that’s not unusual. I can go outside without getting (too) racked by full-body chills. I can sleep through the night without being plagued by restless fever dreams. I can even hold a conversation and be properly responsive on something other than autopilot!

But of course, I have to remember that “feeling better” is not the same as “back to 100%.” While it’s true I feeling much more coherent and capable, I’m still a bit off in some places. My mind is still a bit foggy and easily distracted. Even if abrupt temperature shifts don’t cascade into a fever anymore, I still occasionally get chilled for no apparent reason. Going too fast up and down the stairs can take a lot out of me.

So I’ve been trying to be good, taking things slowly and not committing myself to too much today. I had the day off work, which probably helped. And like I said, for the most part I feel pretty darn good. Especially by comparison! But then some little thing will pop up to remind me, as if to say “Hey youse, youse was just sick heres!”

I’m not sure why the thing has a stereotypical New York accent, but it makes as much sense as anything has to me the past few days.

Overall, I’m lucky that I don’t get really sick that often. But the flipside of that is I don’t always remember that it is necessary to take time off, to finish healing even after you start to feel “better.”
*insert witty closing statement here*

SPAMSPLOSION

While I’m feeling (much) better, my wetware is still a little fried from overheating.  But not one to deprive you of entertainment (or myself of meeting an arbitrary posting goal), I thought I’d share a recent spam comment I received on this blog.  I get some interesting stuff, sometimes in Russian, but this one really stood out for how generic it was:

{I have|I’ve} been {surfing|browsing} online more than {three|3|2|4} hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.
{It’s|It is} pretty worth enough for me. {In my opinion|Personally|In my view}, if all {webmasters|site owners|website owners|web owners} and bloggers made good content as you did, the {internet|net|web} will be {much more|a lot more} useful than ever before.|
I {couldn’t|could not} {resist|refrain from} commenting.
{Very well|Perfectly|Well|Exceptionally well} written!|
{I will|I’ll} {right away|immediately} {take hold of|grab|clutch|grasp|seize|snatch} your {rss|rss feed} as I {can not|can’t} {in finding|find|to find} your {email|e-mail}
subscription {link|hyperlink} or {newsletter|e-newsletter} service.
Do {you have|you’ve} any? {Please|Kindly} {allow|permit|let} me {realize|recognize|understand|recognise|know} {so that|in order that} I
{may just|may|could} subscribe. Thanks.|
{It is|It’s} {appropriate|perfect|the best} time to make some plans for the future and {it is|it’s} time too
bbe happy. {I have|I’ve} read this post and if I
could I {want to|wish to|desire to} suggest you {few|some}
interesting things or {advice|suggestions|tips}.
{Perhaps|Maybe} you {could|can} write next articles referring to this article.
I {want to|wish to|desire to} read {more|even more} things
about it!|
{It is|It’s} {appropriate|perfect|the best} time to make {a few|some} plans for {the future|the longer term|the long run} and {it is|it’s} time
to be happy. {I have|I’ve} {read|learn} this {post|submit|publish|put up}
and if I {may just|may|could} I {want to|wish to|desire to} {suggest|recommend|counsel} you {few|some} {interesting|fascinating|attention-grabbing} {things|issues} or {advice|suggestions|tips}.
{Perhaps|Maybe} you {could|can} write {next|subsequent}
artiles {relating to|referring to|regarding} this article.
I {want to|wish to|desire to} {read|learn} {more|even more}
{things|issues} {approximately|about} it!|
{I have|I’ve} been {surfing|browsing} {online|on-line}
{more than|greater than} {three|3} hours {these days|nowadays|today|lately|as
of late}, {yet|but} I {never|by no means} {found|discovered} any {interesting|fascinating|attention-grabbing} artile like yours.

How funny is that?  I’m guessing someone’s “natural” language parser had the equivalent of explosive diarrhea (ew), because there’s over 2700 more words like that.  I won’t subject you to the rest, but hopefully this brightens your day a bit.

Blargh

Not much of a post today.  I finally came down with the “2-week cold in two days” my girlfriend was oh-so-nice in bringing back from her recent train trip.  I even had to (finally) call in sick to work for the first time since I started. But the fevers seem to be mostly gone now; I’m feeling better, but am still a bit out of it.  So I’m gonna just spend the day recuperating by surfing the Internet and watching Netflix.

Detached

I’m going to try to write about something I don’t talk about very much. I mentioned it briefly yesterday, but I’d like to go into how it feels to go through the world from inside my head. I’m not sure if this will make sense, since I haven’t really articulated my thoughts on the matter before. Do me a favor and don’t panic.

How can I put this? I generally go through life feeling like I’m at least one step removed from things. It often feels like things happen around me, and I’m just watching from a chair somewhere in my psyche rather than inhabiting my body. It’s like the difference between walking or skating (where your body is directly involved in your locomotion) and driving a car with cruise control on a straight highway. In the latter case, you are still involved, but you will continue to move without any direct input.

For me, this even holds true when it comes to emotions. I often feel like I’m “feeling” something because I’m supposed to feel it, almost like it’s a role being played. I go through the motions, but there’s still a slight sense of detachment.

This detachment can often be a source of angst: it’s hard to get worked up to do something, even if it’s something you’ve had fun with in the past, if all you can dredge up from inside is a resounding “meh.” And I’ve had moments (like I mentioned yesterday) where that detachment collapses and I feel extremely engaged in my life. But that feeling never lasts; inevitably, I slip away behind the walls of logic and overthinking.

I don’t know if this state, however common it might be for me, is in any way “normal.” In fact, I’ve somehow become convinced that it is not “normal,” and that other people tend to be more engaged and involved with their own lives. This may be an irrational belief, since there’s not really a way to feel what others feel (outside of talking about it, but that’s scary), but it’s one I hold, for better or worse.

And I don’t know what causes this state of mind, either. Is it a result of depressive tendencies? Can I blame it on my ADD? Is it even a problem at all?

This isn’t a cry for help. This is just a statement of the facts, a small glimpse of what it’s like to be me. I like to think that I “fake it” pretty well, but after a while it rings hollow. And somehow along the way I picked up the idea that that’s a bad thing.

So I don’t know. These few words still feel like they fall short of communicating what I’m trying to say. If you’ve felt this way too, then you can probably fill in the blanks yourself. If not, then I’m not sure. Like a fish describing what it’s like to be wet, it’s hard to put things into words when you don’t have much of a contrasting frame of reference. It doesn’t help that, by definition, writing about one’s internal worldviews changes depending on how one feels. But I’ve tried.

Back to Earth

I’ve had a really hard time figuring out what to write about lately. The motivation just hasn’t been there, and when I finally do sit down at the keyboard my mind just comes up blank. But I haven’t wanted to give up completely, hence the shorter posts towards the end of last week.

One interesting thing that happened after this post is that I found myself in a surprisingly good mood. I was awake. I felt extremely lucid and engaged in my activities and surroundings. I was even extremely motivated to do things, like work on projects, look for a job, and just generally enjoy life. It was a great feeling.

However, it was different enough from my normal day-to-day mindset that it game me some pause. Usually, I go through life with some low-grade level of detachment, where things seem to happen, but not necessarily to me. The whole “me” thing can get fuzzy too: I often feel like I’m playing a role, going through the motions, rather than actually “living” (whatever that means, but that’s a philosophical conundrum for another time). So my hyper-aware and hyper-attached state struck me as unusual, and thus not likely to last.

But I wanted it to last as long as possible, hence why I drew back from writing about it. I was worried that taking a mental step or two away would cause it to end that much quicker. I’m not sure if that was an actual risk, but it sure felt that way at the time. So I decided to enjoy it, riding the slightly-manic wave as long as I could.

Is that what “normal” people feel like? That constant level of attachment and engagement, of agency and motivation? Even now, as it winds down, the memory of it starts to fade. I enjoyed the feeling, but it was so different from my usual state that I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. I have no good idea what caused it, outside a chance comment inspiring a disproportionate amount of hope. And because I don’t know what caused it, I’m unsure of how to get it to return.

Analyzing yourself is hard, since by definition you are not objective. I have no idea if what I think of as “normal” (i.e., other people) is in anyway more common than what I think of as “habitual” (i.e., myself). I imagine that not everyone wanders through life as disaffected as I can get, otherwise there probably wouldn’t be anything getting accomplished. So is “normal” common? Am I missing out on something that everyone else gets to enjoy? I don’t know.

It was great for the few days it lasted, though.

Things to Remember

It’s gonna be another short post today; I’m still cogitating on things. I’ve had the day off, and even managed to have a productive morning. Even better, I stayed largely on task until lunchtime! Of course, for every lurch forward there’s a shuffle back. My afternoon has largely been lost to internet surfing and games (not even the one I want to be playing, but that’s a different issue). But hey, progress is progress. I did recently read an article on Cracked that seemed relevant: “5 Things That Have to Happen Before You Fix Your Crappy Life.” For those of you who don’t read Cracked, I think it’s a great website. It seems to set itself apart from the myriad other “listicle” sites by actually taking the time to occasionally say something profound and useful. All with a dash of humor and self-deprecation, of course. But this article was quite timely for me, since I am feeling the need and motivation to “fix [my] crappy life” right now. It reminded me that, if nothing else, it’s necessary to remember that there is no set end point to self-improvement. Change comes slowly and incrementally, such that you often can’t see how far you’ve come (or if you’ve moved at all) until quite a ways down the line when you can look back properly. In addition to being slow, none of these steps are easy. I’m trying to accept that, while at the same time not getting discouraged. I’ll probably fail and backslide more than once, but hopefully my overall progress will be forward. In other words, you should read the article.

Buffering… Buffering…

There’s not going to be much of a post today. Don’t worry, it’s for what I hope are good reasons. I’m in a surprisingly good mood, and I’m trying to hold on to that, since it seems to be motivating me to actually do stuff. But it’s taking a lot of effort, and it’s making me think quite a bit. I’m not ready to share those thoughts yet, but let’s just say I seem to have managed to at least temporarily the soul-sucking apathy that comes with working retail.

So I’m going to try to milk this motivation for all it’s worth, while at the same time trying to get it to stay around. Oh, all while trying to get my thoughts in order. Hopefully that wasn’t too vague to be encouraging. I’ll keep you posted.

Bittersweet

I haven’t really thought about my architecture degree in quite a while. It’s been at least a year since I’ve actively looked for a job in the field, and even longer since I’ve brushed up on any of the design skills I developed. My professional credentials have expired, and whatever vestigial internship documentation file I started is likely scrapped. I’ve even made the reluctant admission (at least to myself) that I’ve pretty much given up on my chances of working as an architect. I’ve been so caught up in the day-to-day chore of living and paying bills that I haven’t really had time to do much else other than survive, let alone dream.

But today I noticed a message from one of my grad school friends, one who is working in the industry. He had forwarded me a few job listings related to architecture. A quick glance made them appear similar to so many other dead ends, that I was prepared to let them slide into obscurity.

But reading them struck a note, inciting a pang of emotion. A bittersweet feeling, of missed opportunity and what-could-have-been. It’s like when you see an ex somewhere, completely out of the blue. If you had known they were going to be there, you could have mentally prepared yourself. But instead you’re found with your defenses down and sent reeling. Even if it was a relationship that needed to end, it still hurts.

Is that what architecture is for me now? A path that has slipped wholly out of my grasp? If not, dare I reopen old wounds of rejection and failure? Would it be better to just move on?

Or is this the first stirring of new possibility, of something that could actually change my life for the better?

I honestly don’t know. There’s a lot of feels to work through, something I was not prepared to do today. It is true that I want to find a new job, get out of the early-mornings-and-weekends retail rut I’ve resigned myself to. I’m just not sure how best to go about that. Maybe this is the catalyst that can get me moving again. Or maybe it’s the salt that gets rubbed into an almost-healed wound. Or maybe I’m reading too much into this.

Yeah, probably that last one.

The Responsibility Rant

Being an adult sucks.

No, that’s not quite right. Being an adult is awesome. You have tons of freedom. You can spend money on all sorts of cool toys and games. You can do pretty much whatever you want with whomever you what. You get to make your own schedule. You get to eat whatever you want (ice cream!) whenever you want (breakfast!). And (if you’re lucky) homework is a thing of the past.

Being a responsible adult sucks.

Continue reading

Escher, Eat Your Heart Out

I picked up more games than I meant to during the recent Steam Sale. That is to say, any. But the combination of deep discounts with recently-acquired (or soon-to-be-acquired) holiday cash proved too powerful. If it’s any consolation, most of the games I picked up were ones I was thinking about buying for a while; that is to say, there were very few pure impulse buys. I’ve talked about some of the other games I picked up recently, and I’d like to continue to do so today. Today, I’d like to talk about Antichamber.

Antichamber, in what is apt for the newly “Mile High” state (topical reference!), is quite trippy. It’s difficult to describe, but I guess I would start by saying it’s a first-person puzzler similar to the Portal games. You are thrown into a sparse environment with practically no preamble, having to find your way through the world while at the same time coming to grips with its rules.

Rules? Yes; the world of Antichamber doesn’t work like you would think. For you see, it is non-Euclidean.

Walls shift. Doors lead different ways depending on which side you enter. Things are bigger on the inside, or exist only when observed (or not observed). Basically, the world is a maze where the normal rules apply only when they feel like it.

This mindbender is shepherded by a very distinctive, stark art style. Almost everything is rendered in pure white, with crisp black edges. There are occasional splashes of color, sometimes used to differentiate paths, other times to make them blend together. But everything is bright and simple. Deceptively simple.

The single purpose of the game is to make it through to the end, conquering obstacles by breaking your brain ever so slightly. Eventually you acquire a device that lets you manipulate colored cubes you come across. These cubes can be used to open doors, access unreachable areas, and solver a myriad of puzzles. As you progress the manipulator gains more functions (and colors), making more complicated puzzles solvable.

I just finished the game after 8 hours, and really enjoyed it. A lot of the puzzles had me stumped for quite a while, and there were a few places where the solutions seemed unnecessarily obtuse or random. But I managed to get through the game without consulting a guide or wiki even once, and for that I am proud of myself. The rules of the world even began to make sense, and I was able to use them to my advantage more often than they hindered me.

One notable feature is the ability to warp from your starting room to any previously-visited location. This is useful, since it is usually infeasible to retrace your footsteps to get to where you just were. It makes solving puzzles a thing you can do as you want to, rather than banging your head repeatedly against the same stretch of sterile white wall. The feeling of elation when you return to a room and solve the puzzle with ease is unparalleled.

So if you want to kill several hours (and brain cells), and cerebral puzzles are your kind of thing, I can heartily recommend giving Antichamber a whirl. You have been warned.