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Experience Walkthough: Reading a New Programming Book
Friday January 27, 2023
I had an interesting experience in buying & reading the book Learn Scala 3 The Fast Way and thought I’d share it here.
The experience relates to the relatively different way in which I read books these days.
This is not a review, just an experience. Part of my purpose here is to cover some dumb mistakes I made in the experience, and share the way I thought through those, or around those, too.
Quick Book Review Though: It’s a good book. I like the book, and will come back to it for sure. If the book looks interesting to you, I think you should buy it, probably from the author’s Gumroad page.
How It Started
So for starters: I find myself book shopping.
And I remember: Amazon can be a nice way to browse for new programming books.
(Amazon book-shopping replacement wanted!)
I add about ten books to my wish list.
I recognize that I’m not buying all ten of these books. Maybe just one. A couple. OK, three? Well, ideally one. So there’s a first problem.
I wait a day to let any temporary emotional waves settle. This is a reliable method for me, since sometimes archetypes of interest can pass by really fast and then a book just sits around, having been paid for but never opened!
As an example of that: I’ve identified programming-books-interest as a flag for “Marc needs a schedule” in my internal mental archetype/symbol library.
(So if I put a schedule together, and am from that point no longer as interested in programming books, the money could have been a tiny bit of a waste, right?)
Anyway, programming becomes REALLY interesting when I don’t have a schedule for my day, which is always kind of funny to think about.
And Scala is like that, plus I’d add the flag “would probably benefit from a unique scheduling system” due to the unique nature of the language compared to say Python, C, BASIC, etc. Which probably is good to learn in general. I like unique systems, and generally find that building more unique schedule / get-with-the-program systems is a big benefit for me.
Revisit the Wish List
I review again.
Cover art. This is strangely reliable for me in picking books. The cover art doesn’t tell the whole story, but my theory is that I’ll naturally come back to it again and again if I like the art. This “reliable intersectionality” is good juju for learning purposes.
This book is a total win in the cover art area. I love pulp-style art, movie poster art, vintage stuff—this is great just to look at.
The topic: Scala sounds fun and I’ve been interested in it for a while. Yeah, go Scala!
I scan the Table of Contents…
OK, first big issue. The book seems written in the Ti-dom teaching style, front-to-back, everything builds on everything else. The author must have put a lot of thought into the organization of the book.
But…I can’t learn this way. I’m the opposite and I learn best by tearing into and modifying finished, working examples. If a book starts with “Beginning” lessons, I’m usually in trouble and need to try the exact opposite.
I learned this from college by getting E’s in classes taught by Ti-dom professors, usually INTP. Because I couldn’t even bear to read the books, and didn’t understand why, at the time. Damn it.
So anyway, I need to see if I can learn from the book by working backwards.
I scroll to the bottom of the TOC. I see that a “timer” example program is listed toward end of TOC. BOOM.
I can work with that. I have a timer-preferring personality in EVERY way possible, being completely up front here. The book appears to provide code for a working timer. I use timers all the time. Let’s go.
A Plan Is Formulated
My plan: Buy the book, install Scala, rip out the timer code, get it working, modify it, break it, learn it, page backward through the book to understand the code, try some add-ons to the timer maybe, and then I will have learned some Scala.
Then I’ll look at the other examples too.
Later, I’ll polish my Scala and learn better Scala, maybe, but that can wait.
This should be opposite-enough to fit my learning style.
Kindle? Wonderful…but wait!
I buy the Kindle version of book at Amazon for $10. I quickly click “Read in Kindle Cloud Reader” …let’s go!
Nope. You can’t read that here, the book doesn’t work in Kindle Cloud reader. You need to use the Kindle app.
I cringe. F*CKKK. I wanted to read it nice and big on my desktop linux monitor, with a text editor open next to it.
My tablet’s broken, so now you’re telling me I gotta read this on my phone?
UGHHHHhhh. I deflate considerably. (I should have saved today’s weigh-in for this moment.)
I search up the book title, hoping there’s a publisher website and some other way to read this that’s not hyper-expensive.
I find the author’s Gumroad copy. OK this is a good sign! I sell on Gumroad too. But OK, it’s still another $10, turning this into a $20 book.
UGHHHhhhh!!!! Ugh. Kindle hatred intensifies. Still liking the book, but also hating Kindle now, along with that.
I buy the Gumroad version anyway, as I already have a plan of attack and it’s still cheaper than going out to lunch these days.
I download and file the PDF.
(Note to self, this Gumroad bonus method isn’t always possible—in a lot of cases the Kindle version is also significantly discounted vs. publisher’s mega-expensive version, but in the future I should really start at the publisher and end at Kindle if necessary)
I Have Made a Mistake. But How Huge?
And now for another mistake.
An absolute doozy of a mistake, as grandma would say.
I pause and reflect on the title. Scala…Scala…something’s off.
Realize it’s a book about Scala, but I was interested in…
I thought I was buying a Scheme book and it turns out got the names mixed up. Well isn’t this just dandy, as grandma would say!
LOL. F*CK. (Scala is expressive? That’s great, I’m expressive too. Just look at all my expressive language! I love being expressive!)
OK, but Scala was still on my list of interesting languages. I’m just not sure—it was a Java ecosystem language right? I don’t remember much about it.
I visit the (pretty) Scala website & confirm. It’s related to Java.
And Java was related to some of my most intense academic frustrations. It also seemed to be the working force behind the most mundane-yet-opaque software I ever used.
I still get the shivers just thinking about LaFs, too. “Stick with Metal, the others are buggy!” Brrr.
Plus, Java is a huge group of things. There are all these bulky classes, and you have to get the JVM and stuff.
I generally prefer lightweight-everything, due to the “enterprise software maintenance lessons” I learned while building stuff for clients back in the 2010s. Seeing that Disney and other huge orgs “use” Scala is a red flag for me. A simple guy like me could easily capsize in the metaphorical wake of commits from programmers at orgs like those.
So: If Scala is related to Java, is there TONS of infrastructure baggage that comes with it? I liked the Scheme idea because some of the distributions seem so lightweight. Well, I’ll see how the book goes, maybe the book covers this aspect.
Still, there are things about Java that I really like. For example, all the included batteries.
A Sterling Example of Meta-cognition (Maybe Not)
I stop and think about myself and my emotional state. This is an important part of any new undertaking.
I realize I’m a very cranky person right now.
This may not be the best time to be installing new-to-me software, especially if any dependencies are involved. There’s always some catch…
Getting Down to Business Anyway
I review the timer example by scrolling to that part of the PDF. It’s simple. But it’s where my laser-focus is at this moment. I am putting ALL of my bets on being able to get that working and work with it.
OK, so maybe I was imagining some ascii-art-style digits in the terminal, maybe some Casio-like functionality. Milliseconds flashing by. A bit of fun animation along with the basics. But it’s a very simple example.
I like that the script is using /usr/bin/env and it’s already looking like a scripting language I would use on the daily. I LOVE scripting in general.
I need the code though, like I need the raw text, not this PDF code. Where’s the code?
Found it. It’s not on the Gumroad page, but rather on the author’s blog page for the book. (Later I discover it’s linked in the beginning of the book—missing something like this is a known liability of my learning style, but I can deal). I browse the code on GitHub and find what I need.
Also, it’s time to install Scala CLI, the book says. I click the link in the PDF. “Invalid hostname”
It seems the link is not working but I can see a probable URL in the error message. Let’s try some of the options it brings to mind.
- cli.virtuslab.org NOPE
- scalacli.virtuslab.org NOPE
- scala-cli.virtuslab.org YEP
Is it Okular that can’t do dashes in URLs? Surely not? Some other issue? Not sure.
Hahaha they use a curl installer for the CLI. I’m so conflicted about these.
curl -sSLf https://virtuslab.github.io/scala-cli-packages/scala-setup.sh | sh
The install seems to go well. That’s always nice to see. But I still can’t run the timer script. Oh, the installer says to log out and log back in, or source ~/.profile.
I restart the terminal. Nothing.
source ~/.profile and it works now. Huh. I guess it just LOOKED like my terminal was doing that, due to its normal startup routine, but it wasn’t.
I run the timer script. WHAM. Downloading JVM temurin:17 … LMAO what is all this furious, animated action!?
Compiling project (Scala 3.2.2, JVM) Warning: there was 1 deprecation warning; re-run with -deprecation for details Compiled project (Scala 3.2.2, JVM) Usage: timer.sc minutes-before-alarm <gain-control> Ex: timer.sc 10 Ex: timer.sc 10 -20 'gain-control' should be something like -10 or -20
With tons of strange terminal action out of the way, I run the script.
But wait, there’s more!
Timer started. Wait time is 1 minutes. time remaining: 0 ... Exception in thread "main" java.lang.ExceptionInInitializerError at scalatimer_sc$.main(scalatimer.sc:98) at scalatimer_sc.main(scalatimer.sc) Caused by: java.io.FileNotFoundException: ./gong.wav (No such file or directory) at java.base/java.io.FileInputStream.open0(Native Method) at java.base/java.io.FileInputStream.open(FileInputStream.java:219) at java.base/java.io.FileInputStream.<init>(FileInputStream.java:157) at java.desktop/com.sun.media.sound.SunFileReader.getAudioInputStream(SunFileReader.java:117) at java.desktop/javax.sound.sampled.AudioSystem.getAudioInputStream(AudioSystem.java:1062) at scalatimer$.playSoundfile(scalatimer.sc:70) at scalatimer$.$init$$$anonfun$2(scalatimer.sc:50) at scala.runtime.java8.JFunction1$mcVI$sp.apply(JFunction1$mcVI$sp.scala:18) at scala.collection.immutable.Range.foreach(Range.scala:190) at scalatimer$.<clinit>(scalatimer.sc:51) ... 2 more
I look at the exception/error. Yeah, I remember these things. They need syntax highlighting for these, seriously. It’s 2022 and we deserve it.
Then I happen to see right into the matrix, through all the java noise.
Oh! It couldn’t find gong.wav. I don’t have the sound file. I’m good at searching up random .wav files since about 1996 though, so that’s easy.
"parent directory" "gong.wav" site:.org …and, nothing in the .org domain space, my little barebones security measure.
OK, so I back off the paranoia a bit.
"parent directory" "gong.wav" site:.net — There we go.
It still says something is deprecated and to run with -deprecation. I do that:
timer.sc -deprecation, and get nothing I can understand. But then I re-run the script, and the deprecation notice is gone now. ??? To-learn-about, definitely later.
After a very long 1 minute, I hear the alarm sound! It repeats. OK, that was nice. I change the sound file, change the script name—little changes are working OK.
OK. Let’s wrap this up for now. What have I learned?
- I learned I can read most of the Scala code in the script pretty easily.
- I learned that I can script with it. It can be called a scripting language.
- I’m pretty much all set to script with it, with the CLI installed. I know how to install it on other systems. <— About HERE is where I start to figure that my $20 has absolutely been worth it.
- I have a bunch of questions. Yay! I love having questions.
- How do I update Scala-CLI in the future?
- How do I make the timer do seconds somehow? Or at least make it print “Wait time is 1 minute” instead of “Wait time is 1 minutes”?
- What would I like about Scala? I’m a programming generalist. So what specifics here do I like vs. the lightweight ABS for scripting, Object Pascal for retro-programming, Nim for casual learning-programming, PHP for web projects? Is there anything really hyper-differentiating or do I mainly get to learn some fancy stuff—FP, a new language, maybe some new style of expressiveness I hadn’t encountered before?
- Are there some cool Java batteries/classes I can start using in Scala scripts? Might as well take advantage of the full ecosystem which I’m pretty sure I just downloaded for this timer script.
- How are other people using Scala? What do they like? (This is DEFINITELY in the book, I’m thinking)
- What are some common mistakes beginners make? Anti-patterns and anti-performant warnings are one of my best learning methods. I may not be able to learn so great from others’ organization of info, but I can definitely learn from a list of their mistakes…
- Could I make a graphics demo with this? Draw some text, some lines, maybe a simple fractal?
That’ll do for now. I’m curious! Good.
I move this experience into my programming log, under Scala. (I do notice that if I ctrl-f for quick access to “scala”, I get all my notes on Perl scalars in the results, dammit.)
I will take a break, rest the nerves, and maybe see how things go from here. I’m looking forward though.
I managed to passionately barrel through the experience this far (just my style in these situations sometimes!), I’ve got my first promising results under my belt, and have avoided some personal learning style pitfalls that could set me back years.
Great! I’m done for now.
Later: Session 2
(I thought I’d include a bit of the follow-up, too.)
(I might have had a stiff drink between the two sessions)
I go back to the beginning of the book, since it felt 150% appropriate to do so for context at this point.
I learn that, experience- and background-wise, I’m totally part of the target audience. Feels reassuring.
I try the online exercises. Haven’t really done this kind of thing before with a book on programming. But OK, great, these are useful and interesting to work through.
However, I don’t really know where to go for enlightenment when I get something wrong. I guess maybe try five problems, get some questions from working on them, then dive into the book to find the answers?
Oh, some of the questions clearly require specific book-contents knowledge, like valid “Kirn family” names? This is not what I was expecting as compared to the typical syntax-pattern questions to which I could at least try to intuit an answer, but I’ll look into why this might be important to know.
Yeah, after trying exercises for a bit, I think about 3 of these incorrect answers is my working-memory limit before I need to go to the book. Page number references would be nice but they might also drive an author crazy.
Also, I visited awesome-scala and didn’t find e.g. SDL 2, which I was hoping for. Not much there for graphics. Maybe I’ll stick with the typical password-generation-type scripts for now.
That’ll do it for this post! Again, if you’re interested in the topic, I can certainly recommend the book. It’s priced very well and the coverage has been very helpful.
A Request of the Author
The above has been an account of my experience. I wouldn’t say I’m making any requests up there, really. It might sound complainy but it’s more of a relating of issues I had, and not at all a “please change your book” or anything of the sort.
With that said, I did have one request / wish:
- In case you’re reading this, Alvin: I’d love to see an all-inclusive list of your books in the sidebar of your website. Like, “My Books”. A formal list of published books, with links to the accompanying multiple-source-purchases pages, like Gumroad, Amazon, etc. would be very helpful. There’s already a sidebar highlighting another book, and I can see lots of publishing projects going on. There’s even a “books I’ve written” footer, but it could use an update maybe.
A big thanks to Alvin for writing the book, and I look forward to learning more about Scala 3! (I can’t find Alvin’s email address to reach out, so I’ll see if I can DM him on Twitter or something, but I doubt it’ll work)
The 2022 Wrap-up & 2023 Energy Post
Tuesday December 13, 2022
Above: One of my EDC photos from 2022
OK, so in retrospect, 2022 was a HELL of a year here. I hope it’s treated everyone ELSE pretty well though!
Here are my highlights of 2022:
- I wrote a lot, like a lot a lot. At least 4-5x more than what you can find on this website, which is also a lot, at somewhere around 65 new blog posts & articles just from 2022.
- I did a high number of push-ups, more than any other exercise, thousands of really weak ones as I focused on shoulder strength rehab. (Don’t worry, I also did dips and other push-up-balancing exercises!)
- I published a bunch of new laws which hopefully you took seriously
- I told you how to avoid limited, uncreative thinking through application of the cognitive functions
- I warned you that Zuckerberg was getting even more Ni-dom even as I stopped dedicating as much time to writing about Jungian Cognitive Functions, functional models, temperament, etc.
- I warned you that accepting yourself means changing who you are and told you that you will essentially have to change so you might as well embrace it
- Summarizing sucks, and I wrote a lot more about how to work with summaries
- I did a lot of home & yard work, more than any other type of physical activity. Among other things I installed an under-counter dishwasher, which I’d never done before. I cleaned gutters, pruned trees, and swept a LOT because I love to sweep.
- Yep, I changed the title of this blog in 2022. How’s it been for you under the new title regime so far?
- Speaking of regimes, the government of Russia did a stupid, so I shared a bunch of helpful resources and shared my resources with the people of Ukraine.
- I did a TON of thinking about the critic archetype, and shared how you can be a better critic through crosstraining.
- Research is cool, so I shared a little research trail I followed as I looked into the name Quintana Roo
- I shared some thoughts on systems and the unknown.
- I read a ton of books and a bunch of tarot cards. (The latter for a variety of ways of having fun and gaining insight, not really the predictive stuff.)
- I shared what not to do when keeping a journal.
- I wrote about accountability as a process that the world, as an organism, is learning to reckon with.
- I published some manual-type material for a ham radio device and got the I wrote my own manual bonus.
- I shared some powerful journaling snippets for you.
- I got even more into EDC (Everyday Carry) and had fun posting photos (you’ll probably see one in the sidebar here).
- I started the FS Daily to provide automatic, daily reading material in the form of exerpts from classic texts.
- I got out and did some fun exploring.
- I lived even more like a kid, to balance all of my adulting. So I ate a TON of candy and enjoyed T everliving F out of it. While also paying reasonable attention to dental hygiene.
- Sci-fi had my attention as usual, so I shared my favorite Sci-Fi movies.
- I told you how you cannot be yourself among other be-yourself thoughts.
- I shared lessons learned & thoughts on what it’s like to maintain a list of 1K+ personal interests.
- Emotional eating is many things, but it’s also FUN, so I shared thoughts on getting good at emotional eating
- I volunteered as an emergency communications radio operator, during the 2022 Great Shakeout Exercise. I helped operate the radio at the local hospital. This was my third time doing this sort of thing, but it was nice to be involved again.
- I published Ward Flen for fun.
- I published BREES which is aimed at helping you sharpen your pocketknife.
Good lord, is that enough bullet points? Have I DONE enough in 2022? Phew.
Things That Sucked
Here are some things that sucked about 2022:
- Finally getting COVID was not too bad, but the circumstances were annoying AF. I had COVID on the hottest day in my city in recorded history: 117F / 47.2C. lmao + wtf.
- The economy, the markets, the world, all of it had some significant impact on my life. At times it really sucked.
- I watched a bunch of dreams not take off, and I watched a bunch of goals go un-met.
- For good reason, but still—this is not fun to watch.
Here’s the energy I’m bringing into 2023:
- I have a lot of fresh-starts, new-approaches energy. I am really excited to start on some new projects. Many of them involve updating old stuff, which I’m learning is a LOT of fun in ways I didn’t understand before.
- I have a lot of new systems, and systems insights, to share.
- I have a lot of creativity & open-mindedness energy.
- I have a lot of gentleness-energy.
Here are my 2023 stretch-goals:
- I want to identify more things I am not enjoying, and stop more of those things.
- I want to be even more adventurous in every conceivable way.
- I have a lot of positivity that is untapped, because I keep getting grumpy at the wrong times. So I want to borrow a trading term and reach MOOD LIQUIDITY ZEN in 2023.
- I want to watch markets, wars, and things in general get BETTER.
(Eh. Maybe none of that happens—OK. They are systemless goals, just things to hope for right now.)
Extra: Movies I Liked in 2022
Some movies I enjoyed in 2022 include: (In no particular order)
- Charlie Wilson’s War (2007)
- Sniper: The White Raven (Ukraine, 2022)
- R.O.T.O.R. (1987) both normal & RiffTrax versions
- Road Games (1981)
- The Disappearance (1977)
- Z Channel (2004)
- A Shock to the System (1990)
- Radio Days (1987)
- The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001)
- Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) (“How can one man be so square and so delicious?” —Lacy Warfield)
- The Cassandra Crossing (1977) (“This always happens in Europe, for christ’s sake!” —A passenger on the train learning about the supposed bomb threat)
- The War of the Worlds: Next Century (Poland, 1981)
- A Very Brady Sequel (1996) (Unexpected personal favorite, watched at least 5x)
- The Exception (2016)
- Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
- Death Race 2000 (1975)
- Stillwater (2021)
- Message from Space: Galactic Wars (TV, 1978)
- The Late Show (1977)
- Dead of Night (1945)
- The Invaders (TV, 1967)
I’m SUPER excited for Indiana Jones 5, the new Transformers, Guardians, Ant Man and cannot wait to get to the movies in 2023.
In closing, it’s been a wonderful year and I learned a lot of helpful lessons & stuff.
Happy Holidays & Enjoy the New Year! —Marc
Filed in: Movies & Films /1/ | Blog Updates /2/ | Energy /118/ | Global Issues /2/ | Interests /108/
Introduction to than Ward Flen, lang whem
Monday November 21, 2022
WARD FLEN,. (Meaning: “With that” in the language of, P’rune)
Ward Flen is a mostly-spoken language meant for having fun, by being only slightly decipherable. Moggs skim below.
(This is my holiday gift to you all for 2022, I think! Just in case I forgot whem blogenter more’anthis)
Ward Flen is composed of words with classes, numbered flen 1-5.
Class 1 words are the GLUE for this special language. These words don’t mean anything but they sound like they do. Examples: tum, tups, misk, natt, ward, worth, enz, flen, oip, thuz/ofv/whem, k’aif, moggs skim, welks, thann, zep. You should add at least 1-2 of these words in most sentences. “Hey oip, then laptop keys?” You can make these up but I got you started up here with some perfectly useful worth glue Flen.
Class 2 is normal things like: laptop, desk, chair, pencil, hat, floor. Also general words like “thinking” or “better”, but basically these words should just sound normal and boring. You should use them to help people feel vaguely comfortable with what you’re saying, just sprinkle them in, it’s how wards can flen better. Tups haven’t natt, much anyway…
Class 3 is words you are talking about that are specific to your situation or place, like if you are at a store maybe the word “aisle” is a class 3, or if you are at a farm then “pumpkins” is a class 3. Or if you are in church maybe “salvation” is a class 3 or something. Class 3 words make people feel SURE that you are not talking nonsense. Class 3 words can therefore & thisway bring you back down to earth if you are talking and someone doubts how serious you are! Like, “Hello, I’m serious as worth the CHRISTMAS SHOPPING! Enz!”
Class 4 is a word that could mean several things depending on how you would write it, but you are saying it, so like “clothes” could be “close” or “close (nearby)” and so on. When you write it you could write c’loes or something. These words are cool because they are like a class 2 or class 3 even, but they also sneaky! Boring but what is saying…?!
Class 5 is a special hybrid made-up word that is special and sounds really fancy, like laptoprimes or iphoneheim or candybarwark. It gets people thinking they KNOW that word but what’s the extra bit—? There’s the fun, that’s class 5 fun right there. Did they hear that right? These are also fun because they are RISKY words if somebody stops and thinks through what they are hearing, they might catch on that you are a War’d Flen Fren.
For written Ward Flen, use ‘ apostrophes everywhere and end sentences in places, like then. Or start a sentence, with comma, also filteringsome! When you write it down it’s not meant to look confusing, it does look kind of different. So you’d write like this to someone who already knows ward flen, and thinks its f’unny situationmind.
1. Use enunciation and emphasis slightly differently. Let some of your sentences get quiet at the end, or trail off, or trail on (quiet at beginning, gets louder). Or trail sideways, which is where your eyes get big and you just stop mid-sentence and sigh, saying something like “whew” or gulping loudly and then look away awkwardly.
2. If somebody asks what you mean, but you want to prolong the fun, it can help to look away and wince and go “ahhh,” or “yahhh” like you are confused about why they don’t join in the conversation.
It can also help to draw in some breath quickly through your closed teeth, like you are wincing a bit. Then change the subject if you want.
Some of the best places & times to use ward flen are when:
- You want to laugh together with friends or family, and see who says what nonsense
- It’s way too loud to have a conversation, but somebody comes up and talks to you anyway (???)
- It’s kind of too loud to hear you, and you feel like saying something
- You want to interject in an ongoing group conversation, and see how long it takes anyone to notice your Ward Flen
- Another person is intensely focused on doing something ELSE besides talking to you, and you feel like sayin’ something to them
- Somebody is ignoring you and you wish to lodge a casual protest by busting their brain
- Somebody is paying attention to you, and you wish to be casually ignored
- Somebody is prying or listening in on your conversation, and you want to watch their CPU really heat up, see how an overloaded human CPU behaves. Work for it, deciphering always UTILIZEARNS EXTRA cycles w’ard Flen tum!
- You are bored and want to talk to yourself (or a pet) & see if you can make yourself laugh (tip, sing along to a song you don’t know with Ward Flen Karao’kke)
Good luck out t’here everybody with skim & enjoy Ward Flen zep! —Marc
Filed in: Publications /44/ | Interests /108/ | Energy /118/
Blog Updates, 2022-10
Tuesday October 25, 2022
Some recent updates around here:
Fediverse Feed Cleanup
The RSS feed format from Mastodon changed a while back, so things looked a bit broken in the sidebar here for a while. I made some changes that seemed to fix the appearance.
I am not sure in what ways I may keep using Mastodon for microblogging. The community aspect is nice, but since I’m already blogging here in different ways, I should probably reevaluate what I’m doing over there for good fit. Anyway for now, the sidebar feed appearance is not broken, at least. (I still need to play a bit with the word-break settings…(done))
The sidebar here at MAYBE also has a new feature where you can see photos of some recent things I’m up to. When you load a page it picks a random recent image.
Right now there are a lot of EDC photos, but I expect this will change over time. Anyway I really like keeping some of my own favorite interest- or hobby-related photos here on the blog, and I noticed that storing photos in other cloud services is great for a lot of things, but it’s really not a great fit for publishing or blogging.
The home page here at FS also has an updated main menu, and some of those pages are also undergoing changes as well.
The same home page also shows a random selection from my entire image highlights gallery.
The About Marc page was additionally updated with some info, based on my conversations with visitors to the site.
It’s been fun to kind of pull things together here and unify various approaches and features as I spend more time on this personal site—it’s a hobby that’s been a lot of fun. Thanks for reading!
Above: MacNeil/Lehrer Variations: Theme: Part III
Filed in: Blog Updates /2/
Keeping a List of Almost 1,100 Personal Interests: Recent Thoughts
Friday October 21, 2022
As I’ve blogged about in the past, I keep a super-long list of personal interests. It’s been a big deal to this guy, who long ago suffered from chronic, severe depression. Being interested in all sorts of things is great and supports an enjoyable life.
Recently the list is nearing 1,100 items as we get into something like its sixth year. And it’s been a huge undertaking—not only in energy spent, but also in energy gained.
It has been so worth it to spend time maintaining this thing. Maybe it’s like my personal bonsai tree, of sorts.
I use my list as a source of random, specific interests, which are dumped into my daily journal, in shuffled sets of about fifteen interests at a time. I do this a few times a day. Then I skim the list and note any items that stand out as fun, or intriguing, or just anything. I’m feeling things out.
I didn’t realize this when I started the list, but doing this is not just about fun stuff. It’s also about where my head is at right now and that’s pretty important to know.
Right now I seem to add 1-2 new specific interests every week, on average. But sometimes I have bursts and discover huge sets of new interests. Or existing interests, which I had forgotten about.
This got me thinking about the various phases I’ve been through.
“It might be helpful to others to read something like that,” I thought. “The phases they should expect. Because if you don’t know about these, you might give up along the way.”
So, here they are.
Key Phases In Making A Huge List of Personal Interests
- There’s a point at the very beginning where you have added some stuff, but your list is still too vague and brief. You skim the list and feel like it’s cool in some ways, but you may still feel dissatisfied, burnt out, or bored.
- There’s a point where you have stuff written down, but it’s too repetitive to browse the list. You need a different list-browsing method maybe. Bottom-up?
- There’s probably a point where you may or may not know it, but the main problem is that you keep reading the list in some order as a habit, and so you keep seeing the same old interests in the same old order. This is why I turned to a shuffling method and randomization.
- There’s a point where your list-shuffling-software randomly spits out some interests, and you feel like there’s a “should,” like “I should do that” even if you don’t want to. Eventually you realize that’s a waste of energy and quickly delete items you don’t like, that were randomly picked from the main list.
- There’s a point where you have lots of stuff in the main list, but you don’t like ALL of it, so you decide what changes to make and where, and whether to delete things that may become interests once again in the future. Part of the problem is a fear that you won’t ever be able to think up or keep around a really nice long list of interests, if you wantonly delete things!
- There’s a point where there’s just way too much of it AND it’s helpful. You’ll be sitting here all day doing fun stuff, so you need to get organized and stop doing your interests. So—how do you get interested in the boring stuff you need to do? A separate issue perhaps, but maybe also linked in some ways…
- At the same time, there’s a point where you realize that your list is insufferable and annoying sometimes. You start to learn that this perception tells you about what you should do, right now—take a break to chill, step away from the computer and lay down, or something else. The list becomes a helpful tool for measuring and noting your current condition. Well, that’s new!
- There’s a point where you feel DUMB because there’s an entire category you forgot to add. Like, how did I miss favorite topic X, for 2 years since I started this list of interests…?
- There’s a point where the interests just gradually trickle in over time, and they’re kinda new, but kinda really old interests in a way. They’re a fresh mix, and discovering them is like you’re deep sea fishing or something. It feels like a game of its own, and so…
- There’s a point where you consider adding maintaining a list of your interests to the list of your interests.
What a journey it’s been.
That’s probably a good place to leave it for now.
But why not offer some random interests of mine to check out? Here’s a random list of ten I have pulled just for you.
- My ’90s TV (Pick a year at the bottom) https://www.my90stv.com
- Film trivia from a favorite film, on e.g. IMDB, IMCarsDB etc.
- Minecraft and minetest (worlds, mods, skins, etc.)
- Virtual travel to wherever sounds interesting (you can build your own method for virtual travel, or use someone else’s)
- Researching helpful supplements / stackadvice on Reddit
- Yamakawa Shuuhou, historic Japanese printmaker
- Stargate Universe and similar prospective sci-fi
- Creating icons (for your own website, software, or just for fun)
- Thinking up code names for new projects and things
- Planning, sizing up, estimating, and testing new computer hardware
Emotional Eating is Yummy, So Why Not Become an Expert?
Friday October 21, 2022
Lately I’ve realized: It totally sucks that there’s this term “Emotional Eating”, which involves being ashamed or unhappy, and not processing one’s emotions, and completely messing up and eating too much.
“Emotional eating” should be a positive term. It should involve eating the stuff you really like to eat.
In other words, it should build on your own personal values system. And we know that your personal values are powerful and healthy when it comes to assisting with life-changing goals.
Signs of a Really Good Emotional Eater?
Maybe this sounds foreign. But I think a truly healthy diet culture should be able to teach people HOW to become Expert Emotional Eaters.
Let’s play with that idea a bit.
Here’s where I think an Expert Emotional Eater (EEE) should be:
- The EEE should be in general control of their health. They are taking care of themselves in a good way.
- They should be happy with their weight, or with the direction their diet & eating is taking.
- They know how to leverage their favorite foods toward weight loss or weight maintenance, not just weight gain.
- They can design a diet with their favorite foods as a foundation, or centering philosophy.
- They find it easier to lose weight on a diet that is calibrated to their favorite foods.
- They should know how often they should eat favorite foods to continue supporting a challenging emotional situation, such as extreme weight loss.
- They should be able to list their favorite foods in any given category.
- When listing favorite foods, they should be able to tell you what portion size they usually like with that.
- Why? Well, partly because they are also looking forward to what they’re eating later, and want to leave room for it.
- They should have a nuanced opinion on “health foods”, rather than simply “this is healthy, and that isn’t”.
- They understand that “healthy eating, for me” may be a different thing from someone else’s healthy eating entirely, and also better and more useful to know about, in many ways.
- They ensure they get enough nutrition, but also know how to be flexible with a pro-nutrient, or even pro-macro approach. They understand that many people get more than enough nutrients, and that nutrients can be measured and managed without changing an entire diet too much.
- They know how to both refine and broaden their tastes. Their idea of good food may have some complex theories inside. Plus, they know what they like, but they also keep an open mind.
- They see the world of emotions as a beautiful place that goes so much deeper than Good vs. Bad emotion.
- They are able to set healthy boundaries with others on the topic of eating, for example in social eating situations.
So, there’s one set of ideas, just to demonstrate more about what this could mean.
There are many ways to lose weight and be healthy. You could say we’re drowning in them. But the one you’re reading here is just a bit higher on the “let’s work with my normal biology, chemistry, and cave-person brain” scale than, say, extreme volume eating combined with strict macros.
Personally, I like to combine this Pro-Emotional Eating perspective with a caloric-deficit model to lose weight, and that becomes something like my Moderated Dirty Cut.
I lost over 35% of my body weight and overcame obesity in this way, and many of my friends didn’t recognize me afterward. I still enjoy working on the Pro-Emotional perspective, learning more about what I like, and when, and why, and so on.
I think this model, the Pro-Emotional Eating Perspective model (PEEP!), let’s call it, is worth considering, if you like the way certain foods taste.
It’s meant for the people out there who know they benefit emotionally from eating good food…and who definitely know they have preferences that they enjoy.
When compared with typical weight loss via numbers only, or nutrients only, I think the theory speaks for itself.
Filed in: Energy /118/ | Interests /108/ | Essays /52/ | Dieting /18/
Do you change your body language, mannerisms, or speech with different people?
Wednesday October 19, 2022
When you interact with other people who are different personality types, do you change the way you act or speak around them?
Quick answer: Absolutely.
And: If you are interested in it, I think you should try it.
I don’t really do this in the mimic-other-people sense that you may have read about. Like if someone folds their arms, I’m not going to fold my arms just because they did!
I don’t find that very interesting or creative, in fact it seems kind of shallow and easy to detect. If I detect someone else doing it, I find myself leaning toward not trusting them.
Most of the time I think you can keep your general style but change the expression on your face, the direction in which you look, and the words you use, here and there.
A little bit goes a long way.
You Can’t Always Be Yourself, Subconscious Edition
The truth is, you cannot always be yourself. As an idea, or model, it certainly works in some ways (do what you want to do in life, generally speaking!) but it is really broken and overused in some other big ways.
For example, reading articles like this one is learning. Learning is growing. Growing is change—everybody does it, all the time. Change is stress. Stress comes and goes. So, know the process and embrace it! And take breaks to enjoy what you’re becoming.
And that’s just the barely-conscious stuff. Your subconscious mind may also have some plans for you—you may suddenly decide you want a bright red sports car for your 50th birthday, even though you just bought a gray economy model!
Well, there’s a change. Surprise!
You Definitely Can’t Be Yourself, Group Edition
The same general idea is true with relationships.
Interpersonal dynamics always change, with each new interaction. The change depends on the personalities and traits of those involved.
Yes, this means that you definitely change, contextually. You may have already realized that in some cases you almost seem to become a completely different person, when you’re around different groups of friends, coworkers, relatives, and so on.
Unless you become aware of the specific dynamic, and know what to do with it, you’ll probably be stuck in whatever the default is for the combination of your personality type and the others who are involved.
You will probably, at some point, find yourself in a frustrating, repetitive loop that may remind you of some painful time in your past, or prevent you from making some kind of breakthrough you desire.
Personally, after studying this stuff for a long time, I do find that I’m usually aware of the dynamic. This means that I have some control over it.
Since I have some control, I tend to make conscious decisions about what to do—like which cognitive processes to favor in conversation, and which to avoid, sometimes—and I refine that initial decision over time.
(I’ve also made some REALLY dumb decisions about this in the past, and I’m glad to have had a lot of practice since then.)
Here’s some important stuff to keep in mind.
- This takes time to learn. In some cases it is REALLY hard and frustrating. You may not be aware of many others who are willing to do it.
- Corollary: In many cases it’s better to disengage, change roles, teams, situations, etc. first.
- Corollary: People who are not willing to engage in this kind of study & change are definitely missing out in a variety of ways.
- You are changing yourself by doing this. And “Don’t change yourself to suit others” is a terrible model here, don’t apply it or you’ll fall into all the old loops and traps. It’s more like, “Change yourself to have more control over your life” IMO.
- By the way, this also involves inviting others to change. For the sake of preserving your own energy and motivation levels, there will be times when you MUST be willing to invite others to responsibly step up to the plate, so to speak. For example, it could be that you MUST be willing to invite the other party to really open their mind in some way, if they are asking you to close yours. Even if they don’t know how hard you’re working behind the scenes, you still must be willing to invite or direct them to use their best effort to work with you, when things aren’t exactly equitable for you.
- If you are taking conscious control of this activity, then you should certainly organize it, log it, and track it. At least at first.
- It can be extremely helpful to think up creative ways to be upbeat and be less of a hardass. There are very few situations where hardassery is the only option.
- You can’t solve a relationship, but you can sure as hell do a lot to make it work way better.
- Set boundaries with yourself. If you’re an introvert, don’t overexpose yourself to people, or to constantly-changing groups of people. If you’re an extrovert, be really careful not to sum everybody up, or tell yourself “I know people”. That’s a good way to lose control fast, when the dynamic isn’t going in your favor. Gentle, thoughtful moves are often best.
- A personality type system can be described as a model that helps to develop fairly-safe assumptions about a group of people. This description bundles two important aspects: First, the word is “assumption”, not “fact”. Second, an individual is not a group! Be careful and watch the individuals’ responses to what you are doing.
- If you know what cognitive processes or functions a person prefers, congrats—you also know what to avoid, if you want to work with them productively. That’s huge sometimes!
- There are some pretty safe general rules you can pick up fast. If somebody’s being an untrustworthy rogue, it’s generally not a good idea to act like a clueless tourist around them, unless you have a specific idea in mind!
- Another simple one: Introverts often don’t understand how important attention is, to extroverts. If you are not giving an extrovert (or a person acting extroverted) some attention, you are withholding or reserving some control for yourself. End of story. If you need control, the attention dynamic is one of the first areas to review.
- If the situation seems difficult, make simple, reliable decisions early & fast, and commit. If it’s an important, ongoing situation, always buy yourself time and know how you’ll use the time with respect to that situation.
- Don’t be mean or cruel to people. It’s not worth it. You want revenge? Dumb idea! Get something else, like at least get satisfaction first, and see if that’s enough for you.
- Corollary: Communicate with people early and directly so you don’t have to be sneaky.
- Use these tools to make the world better. Watch for others gifts, as an expression of their cognitive preferences.
As a result of this kind of work:
- You should feel more capable of setting gentle boundaries with other people.
- You should feel more comfortable in your long-term relationships.
- You should feel like you can make smarter decisions about when you want to have some other people around, and when you don’t. You may even learn how to decide what kind of setting that will need to be, to support you best.
- You should feel ready to grow into a more circumspect, healthy version of yourself, using a gentle approach that works better than obsolete models like “don’t change who you are”.
- You should feel more unlocked in life, more generally capable, and definitely more skilled with people.
I hope that helps, Amber!
Filed in: Control /109/ | Relationships /77/ | Parenting /5/
My Top 20 Science Fiction Movies, And Some Extras
Monday October 17, 2022
I came across somebody’s Reddit thread asking users to post their top 10 sci-fi movies, and ended up looking through my master list to find just the sci-fi ones.
By the time I was done reviewing mine, I had a list of 20, so I thought I’d go from that because there’s more which is great in a favorite topic. So I’ll list them here then break things down further a little bit.
- Contact – 1997 (Some of you personality type otaku out there want to know who the INTJ character is in this film, and I will just say I think he mostly works in the background in the story, but damn if he doesn’t make HUGE contingency plans.)
- The Quiet Earth – 1985
- Back to the Future – 1985
- WarGames – 1983
- Matinee – 1993
- Close Encounters of the Third Kind – 1977
- Star Trek: The Motion Picture – 1979
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – 1982
- Somewhere in Time – 1980
- Blade Runner 2049 – 2017
- Blade Runner – 1982
- Inception – 2010
- Tenet – 2020
- 2001: A Space Odyssey – 1968
- Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back – 1980
- 2010: The Year We Make Contact – 1984
- When Worlds Collide – 1951
- Meteor – 1979
- Westworld – 1973
- The Day the Earth Stood Still – 1951
Those aren’t all super rewatchable to me, and the most-rewatchable list changes more frequently over time. But here’s my current most-rewatchable sub-list:
- The Quiet Earth
- Back to the Future
- Star Trek: The Motion Picture
- 2010: The Year We Make Contact
Points of Hesitation, Pain, Frustration, or Pause
Here are some weird points that stood out to me while I reviewed the list.
- I really, really wish I could watch The Quiet Earth again for the first time. I caught it on PBS one night and only saw part of it at the time, but it blew my mind. I remember wondering if I’d ever be able to finish watching it someday.
- Back to the Future stood out by comparison as a kind of bland pop culture title as I scanned my list at first, but thinking on it further, it’s a really damn good film. It gets better the longer it runs, with the beginning maybe the hardest part for me to sit through, in a way.
- I hesitated on WarGames, like “is this a science fiction movie?” for some reason. But damn if it didn’t really pick up the Colossus: The Forbin Project torch and run with that thing. Plus really quality hacking history in there, and adolescent love, and a radio-controlled flying dinosaur flown by a mysterious wizard…oh and MISTAH POTATAH HEAD!!!
- Matinee was similarly a strange fit in some ways but I’m not trying to be hyper-exact here. I really enjoy it. Similar with Somewhere in Time as well. I absolutely love the idea of actual, this-is-really-happening time travel via gettin’ dressed up and being authentic, and meditating a bit, and well, it just seems like the sort of thing the ideal universe really ought to reward with the gift of time travel. Even if you do wake up completely exhausted afterward, or worse!
- Meteor was kind of a sleeper WTF for me. Examples WTFs, “Why The Frick haven’t I heard of this film” and “Why The Flip do I like it?” come to mind. But it’s like comfort food for my mind. There are parts that make me laugh out of corniness, there are parts that make me roll my eyes. But overall it’s fun to watch. I like the score, and I like the look of the titles for some reason. Oh, and I do happen to like Henry Fonda, Brian Keith (god would he read a good bedtime story!), and Karl Malden.
Extra Content! Indie and Low-budget Titles, and Other Points of Interest
- The Impossible Planet by Dave Herring is one of my favorite indie, home-animated sci-fi films. It’s very low-dopamine. Easy to watch, and yet I found the mysterious vibes compelling and the story works well. Dave also created some other likeable titles, such as The Subway Shining. I think you do have to approach these from a home-crafted point of view, though.
- I also liked the low-budget The Clones from 1973. The story was solid and it was fun to watch in the procedural sense.
- More recently, Lavalantula (2015) was entertaining to watch with the family, and I found myself wanting to watch it again, which I didn’t expect.
- On seemingly different sides of specific political lines, Moscow to Cassiopeia (1974) and The War of the Worlds: Next Century (1981) (free to watch online) are a couple of Cold War favorites out of Eastern Europe.
- Closer to a romcom sci-fi mix, 2001’s Kate & Leopold is another one I watch at least every year or so.
- The Black Hole from 1979 is probably my favorite sci-fi crossover with the haunted house genre.
- I thought about this one very intensely: 1981’s Scanners features my favorite head explosion, by a long shot.
- 1962’s La Jette is the shortest film on my main list, and also the most slide show-like, of course.
It was fun to take some time and think about all these. I’m already mentally highlighting some favorites to re-watch this week at work!
Filed in: Interests /108/
A Metaphorical Vampire Model
Saturday October 15, 2022
A Happy Halloween Season to you all!
I present a simple model, and may it lead you to your own spooky conclusions…
Blood is vitality, life.
Vampires need blood. Metaphorical vampires need vitality. Without it? They will appear almost frozen in expression. Cold.
If they wait too long to provide themselves with their own sources of vitality, they may become compulsive, and must use…
Vampires are terribly good at being cutting. Demonstrating decisive actions, delivering cutting remarks, and relying on sharp wits.
When vampires must use the teeth, the best objects are soft, warm, squishy, alive. Metaphorically, that is…
Vampires don’t just consciously think about business.
Vampires are business.
If you look at someone with deep, long-lasting, sustainable talent, you’ll see—they don’t really think about it much. They do it. They are it.
Vampires find themselves turning all sorts of transactions into business transactions. Even a supposedly personal relationship can take on strange businesslike characteristics. Silly sometimes, but it happens.
(Does this surprise you, Jonathan Harker? With little more than a hand wave, the business portion is completed! Now: Fulfill your duty to meet my desire.)
At a young age they begin to think about the “big picture” business moves. They seem to know that they belong in a castle or similarly regal dwelling of some kind. Know it or not, however, they often find themselves in such a state—it happens to them very often.
Vampires do often wish they could turn their desire into business, and vice-versa. But that’s too often a trap of the obsessive variety, it doesn’t easily work, and it brings mainly loneliness. Such puzzles can make life seem to drag on forever…
Vampires may be immortal; humans may not.
Still, some humans can think well in past, present, and future timelines. Linda Berens teaches this about one temperament in particular: The NT Theorist temperament.
You may expect such humans to seem wise, stoic, even naturally hardened, in some ways. They have already been through a lot of things that they didn’t really have time to go through.
How does that work?
Vampires don’t appear in mirrors, because they are mirrors. Vampires naturally show people what they fear about themselves.
So, when someone looks in a mirror for a scary beast and doesn’t see the vampire, and they only see themselves?
That’s the lesson.
Some humans (who may not think of themselves as vampiric) are said to be mirrors, like this. When they open their mouths, others wish to shut them, because painful truths may be revealed.
Vampires must work in the dark because their symbolic message is very potent, and their own weaknesses may become immediately apparent with a little sunlight. It’s true; this can lead to a dangerous situation for a vampire.
But also, Vampires are naturally comfortable sensing in the dark, i.e. perceiving meaning in chaos.
For this gift to work properly, a little bit of light may be far too much.
Evil? Good? What is goodness?
Finally, vampires think a lot about value. Very deeply, too.
For this reason, they don’t really know what’s universal good, or what’s always bad. To many non-vampiric people, this is frightening—terrifying.
Still, vampires are part of who we all are.
Everyone has a little vampire inside them. Bad and good, running together. A need to find their own bite, when the vitality has left and the mortality may even soon be in question.
Filed in: Essays /52/ | Relationships /77/
An Intuitive Growth Aspect: Precise Body Studies?
Friday October 14, 2022
What is something you learned lately that you didn’t know when you were younger? As an intuitive personality, if you can give an example of a sensory skill it would be helpful.
Sensory skill! That’s a good q. There’s probably a lot of that, much of which wasn’t so clear or interesting when I was younger. Here’s one thing that comes to mind.
It’s been very fun and helpful to figure out just the right way to move my body to do things I couldn’t do before, or solve problems.
Here are some examples:
Example 1. Precision Study for Pain Management
For example, when my shoulder was injured recently, I couldn’t move my hand from the keyboard to the mouse without extreme pain.
So normally I’d move the mouse, or buy a trackpad keyboard or something.
But I decided to try different body positions and movements.
I figured out that I could invert my palm, turning the thumb down and to the outside, and there was no pain at all while doing this movement! Weird.
Then I kept trying that with other painful situations, and found even more of those. In one case I could wiggle my finger tips a bit and completely unlock my shoulder.
Example 2: Tricks and Techniques
Just today, I spent a half hour writing down just the right finger and hand motions and angles for opening, lighting, and closing my Zippo lighter.
I mostly use this lighter for 1) fidget toy and 2) sealing frayed ends of paracord lanyards or rope.
And really, if I’m fidgeting with this in the first place, I also want to learn some cool ways to use it. So that was a lot of fun.
Example 3: Fixes to Other Problems
Finally, I was pruning a tree with this interchangeable saw I have. But it kept dropping blades. I’d start to saw, and then the blade would pull right out of the handle.
My first reaction: I got a piece of junk of course, I hate this saw, UGH, probably better to get ONE saw that does ONE job!!!
But then I thought about it and decided: I’ll watch myself using it, lightly at first.
So I get a kind of comfortable setting for my hand going, it’s feeling nice. THEN I notice…
My thumb rests on the side screw while I’m sawing…then gradually loosens the blade-tightening screw by slowly turning it to the left!
These are the types of things that I frankly ignored or didn’t care about when I heard them from others, in the past.
But these days they are a lot of fun and they build confidence.
I also used to google this kind of thing a lot. Why solve it yourself when others already have? The problem with that is, if you find a fitting answer, you still get others’ techniques, others’ ideas, and you aren’t able to build up or strengthen your access to introverted perception & judgement functionality, for example. It’s also a risk to your creativity, to say nothing of your access to your sensory side. (As an introvert, it’s very helpful to pretty much own and fully-leverage your introverted side, to the extent you can)
In most cases it helps me to plan for some extra patience—at least multiple sessions—and space out the learning a bit. In other cases it helps to write things down and save notes for later.
I hope that helps, Jacob—and anyone else out there who might find some extra-precise body studies helpful.
Filed in: Se /25/ | Si /18/ | Control /109/ | Sensation /40/