Saturday, July 8, 2017

A letter to the past

Dear 18 year old Sam,

This is a letter I've thought about writing for a while, and now I'm awake with at 1:30 am in a foreign country with some insomnia. It's as good as a time as any.

What have I been up to since I saw you last? It's been a while, so there's a lot to say. Of course, you'll do it all of it as well, but it will be nice to give you a highlight real. Let you know what you have to look forward to, because if I remember correctly you're going through some rough times.

Do you even think you're going through a rough patch? From some of your journal entries you wrote, it seems that you are having a tough time dealing with Steph. And more importantly to me, you're about 5 years away from being diagnosed with adult ADHD. As it turns out, these things are connected. In the next couple of years you might see that you're not the only person your age that is dealing with the end of relationship badly, but from what I remember, your case comes from a combination of not knowing what that relationship was and having a huge obsession with her. The latter is due to ADHD, apparently. It will make sense in 5 years, but for now all I can say is that you have trouble with hyperfocus, something where you can focus too much on something and it causes you to lose focus on some finer details. It's really hard for me to explain in a few short sentences, and you'll have a therapist that can do it so much better in 5 years. It's something to look forward to.

On the one hand, I'm excited for you. In the next 5 years you'll gain most of you're wildest stories. You'll go to college for a year and half, you'll live in a tent for 3 months, and during these points you will see and do some crazy and wild things. Now, some of it comes from a place of being young and wild, some of it comes from not knowing better, but most of it will come from drugs. I'm writing to you and not my 20 year old self because you're still at a transitional place where you're trying to figure things out, if I'm remembering correctly right now in July you're probably still doing haying. So even in this year, you'll work at the chocolate factory for 2 weeks before getting fired, you'll work at the Pepsi plant for a few months before deciding to go to college because you don't like the Pepsi plant, shit will hit the fan with Steph a couple weeks after you turn 19, and then there's a whole crazy experience when you're 19. The 20 year old version of us is kind of a mess, I don't think he'll listen to me because he still thinks that he "just likes having fun" and it's not a problem. He's not happy with himself, between you and me.

In 5 years, you're going to hit a huge new milestone. There's the therapy, like I mentioned before, but what is more important I feel is that for 3 year you were able to come up with a plan, set a goal, and stick with it and it pays off in a huge way. You get to go to New Zealand! That is a two month period jammed with a ton of new, exciting things to do. Hitchhiking, farming, seeing a new culture and at the same time seeing America through new eyes. Again, how does one begin to talk about 2 months worth of experience in just a few words? You'll see it. The bigger take away is a feeling of accomplishment. You've worked hard with a goal in mind for 3 years, the idea that you'll build 3 years of experience and that will give you the experience to go anywhere you want. And it was something you didn't think you would be able to do, because of the small failures and aforementioned drug problem. And this feeling is something you build on. You'll get a small research job for 5 years in the mushroom field and while there begin to try and learn Russian. Which brings me to now. I just skipped over a lot of things, like all the small success you had. You get to be on an album cover for a very small cd release, you get into a music video. At work there's a lot of small things that are great. You get an office, you get your name on a small research piece, you help build and design a brochure, you do get to help with some breeding and you pay off all your debt which gives you more freedom to do things. There's failure in that time too, like you get into an accident and lose your car which forces you to take on a lot of debt and struggle. You'll live in a low cost apartment in a rough neighborhood and deal with a rotating cast of roommates, some of who are cool but others that are batshit insane. It's the nature of the place.There's a lot of frustration in trying to get out and meet and date women, but really everyone finds it hard. In your case, it's money, the place you're living and still learning all of it. I think it evens itself out, the success and failure, or at least you finally gain the maturity to see it that way.

I can sit here and talk about all the lessons learned like maturity, or responsibility, or what not, but a small truth is that I write this in an apartment in Moscow after 5 weeks of studying and to a degree partying. It's a part of being able to be free of responsibility for the first time in 5 years. I wouldn't out it in the same category as what we go through in our college years. There was a darker undertone to that that comes out more fully 21 to 23, where this is more of a celebration. For example, for the first time in 29 years, I haven't chewed on my fingers for 2 months. I've never seen my fingers look this smooth! And I'm writing to you because I want to put things in perspective. I want to start thinking about the goals I have over the next few years, how they line up with what I wanted in the past, and what I have to look forward to. I think the thing is, we are both looking forward and wondering what's next, but I get the added benefit of having 11 years of really cool adventures and experiences to look back on. You do have some fun things to think about from your time in school, but you want a life of adventure after the feeling of being in school. It's the reason why you've been planning a cross country trip in your mind for a while now. By the way that trip happens, but it doesn't happen the way you plan. That doesn't mean it's a failure though, but I don't think that's something we realize until much later. It's so easy to go into things with a certain expectation of how it will turn out, but it's what we take away from the whole experience is what ends up being important.

Wow, that's a wall of text. To wrap things up a little: so when you're 22 you come with a 10 plan, and the end of that plan is to start your own business. The mushroom farm ended up being longer than I expected, but now I want to begin to move forward with it. I feel like I have the experience, and being in Moscow gives me some opportunity. Oh boy, and the next 3 years will be a rollercoaster. Here's something funny too. For the last few years, I set goals in my professional life, because it was easy to set and reach. I'm feeling like setting some goals in my love life is something I can actually do now. I remember you spent the last few years setting goals like "By next year I'll get girlfriend" or "I'm going to lose my virginity!" You, my friend, strike me as being a little unsure of yourself. So it goes. Everybody around is unsure of themselves, and it only gets slightly better in 11 years, honestly. Hot damn though, I need to come with those actual goals though. Next time I write, I'll send them your way.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Friday post on failure

Life is for the living. It's cliché to say, but it still has some truth after all these years. After years of being told this by some party animal after 10 vodka shots, sometimes this and other sayings like it echo in my head but its lost it meaning. Right now to me it means to go out and fail.

The hardest part of getting out and doing anything is the failure part. It feels so hard because there's always this idea that I've blown my chance, and it won't come around again. But then I wake up again the next morning.

Failure is not a force that stop me, because failure does not stop the world from moving. As long as the sun rises, I will wake up and move on. There's enough in my way to stop me from failure, from lack of focus to procastination to a simple chaotic world that doesn't care. If anything, failure is a time to stop and reflect.

The hardest part of failure is not having the answer to why it happened, and that answer isn't always there. Many times though it's not an obvious answer, at least not to me. From simply saying the wrong thing in a job interview, not knowing proper etiquette during a date, and sometimes just having a bad day. Or maybe I made a promise to post everyday, then fell behind.

And depression just sucks the big one, doesn't it? It just becomes so easy to get sucked in and dragged down. Obsessing over the details, letting the anxiety take hold.

I'm writing about this because I need the pick-me up. So often, I'll look at a task and think "Oh, this will be simple." And it never has been simple. Ever. If I wanted to lay back and just let life pass, then it would be simple. I guess in that instead, I would the type of person who blamed every problem on outside forces, feeling completely without control of my own life. Seeing how I make my own luck, I guess that's not the life for me.

I am hard pressed to think of getting second chances. There has been at least one, funny enough. I remember taking an AP writing class years ago in high school. I needed the English, but had no desire to take an AP class. It was the only available, and I had the grades and GPA to do it. We were supposed to write 3 papers before the class start. Me being the procrastinator I am, I never wrote the first paper. So I bullshitted it, wrote the other papers on time, and told the teacher that since I was a late comer to the class, I didn't have the time to write the first one. It worked, and I got a second chance to write the paper. Fuck me running, there is something to say for tenacity, right?

Ha, I just realized the last job I had was a second chance. This one was coming home after the first farm job I had completely imploded. I was looking for jobs, and I actually put an application in at Lambert Spawn. But I was deemed untrustworthy and unexperienced. 3 years later, I was passing through without a job again and was able to land the job for 5 years.


In the first instance, I had enough of a smooth tounge to talk my way into it, I guess. I probably had some decent written papers and the teacher had a soft spot. In the second instance, I had to go away, get more experience, and come back to prove myself. So try, try, try try again.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Small post

Finding the perfect work/life balance is the American dream, and even more of a dream if someone comes to you and diagnoses you with ADHD. I'm still getting used to it, and that's my excuse for why getting back to blogging everyday is taking some time getting used to. But here's the thing I'm finding here in Moscow: I'm not having a hard time finding the balance, just getting used to it is what is taking me some time.

Over the past 5 years, I have been able to develop the habits to be organized. This organization came from work: Today I do this, tomorrow, that, and the next day. Today I'll break my work into these categories, this paper work goes in this folder, and so on. Being able to have a life beyond work was a struggle, and I'm honestly thinking that work was stressful because there was no life outside of work on a regular basis. Nothing beyond watching TV, at least. Going back further to school, my brain let do school or have a social life, but not both.

Of course, having a work/life balance tips the other way when you don't have a job. There are still things that I can do to be productive though. Writing, programming, job hunting, and studying are all things that I can now find time to beyond just going out every night and drinking. At first, I could feel the divide still exist - My first full week, I focused on going out and seeing the city and getting dates. The productive parts feel to the side. My second full week, I was productive, but getting out stopped becoming a regular thing. I'm writing this now, because in my third full week I can say that I've been productive AND still have been able to get out. And it makes my brain feel elevated to know that.

I don't have to be out feeling guilty that I didn't get all my responsibilities done for the day, and I don't feel cooped up and crazy after spending several hours inside working on various projects. I can bask in this peaceful feeling of knowing that things are done, and are in place. Maybe my brain is a OCD brain trapped in an ADHD body, it starts to stress when things aren't in the proper place but nothing can ever be in it's proper place because ADHD doesn't let it. Maybe disorder is chaos and chaos is the cause of insanity. Maybe old granny was right and cleanliness is next to godliness. Maybe I'll never try to approach in a scientific fashion and won't try to figure out if organization makes others feel at peace.

Excitement over a peaceful feeling is a good excitement to have.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Excitement over learning Russian

I have class today, so getting excited about studying a foreign language is the best idea in order to get me ready for the coming week.

When I was traveling around New Zealand and talking to many people from different countries and reading every book I could get my hands on, I started to realize that while the world speaks English at this point, only speaking English cuts me off from a huge source of information. As I started to get further in the science world, I started to see that while scientists publish the work they want to share in English, that doesn't stop them from publishing their work in their own language. That was my reasoning for attempting to understanding a new language, in order to read more books.

Now it's 5 years later, and the desire to push myself to new limits has kicked in. After trying to study Russian on my own for 5 years, I find myself in Russia studying the language. My first draft of this was digging online for resources to better master a language, comment on techniques and to come up with new strategies to master Russian. But that's not why I'm excited about learning a language. I'm pushing myself to those limits because I'm excited.

As an American, Russian and Soviet history seemed so new, foreign, and slightly edgy to a degree. I had friends studying it, but it's an interest that confused people older than me, and that's what's really important. Someday, I will be one of the oldest people, and who will I have to piss off and confuse then? As I dug deeper into the language, then I started finding it was hard to find Soviet books translated into English. I get that Russia is proud of Lolita, but not every book we read needs to be an intense artistic work. Sometimes I want to read a James Bond novel that just reads like some middle-age man trying to work out his mid-life crisis. A forty year old spy is a respected, dangerous cool guy who bangs 20 year olds in exotic locations. Just pure excitement and coolness.

Anyways, this is a reminder to myself why I'm here. Read books, and chase after exotic women. After all, isn't that what life is all about? Books and tail?

Sunday, June 25, 2017

OMG, this is so fucking cool: Ancient engineering and Mayan counting

This week, I want to let the hyper-focus part of my ADHD run wild and each day write about something that is interesting to me. I don't know at the moment how this will turn out. I don't know if I'll write about something different every day, or write about the same topic each day this week, or even a combination of the two. It's just fells like it's been a few years since I've let this hyper-focus part of me go wild, and the blog posts I loved writing are the ones I could get super excited for.

I mentioned yesterday that I was made aware of a Mayan Culture lecture coming up near me in Moscow, and now when I start to think about it I want to talk about Mayans to anyone who will listen. Then I realized, I can just write it here! I get the possibility of an audience that might listen to me, and the sweet release of talking about something instead of leaving it bottled up inside.

Why do I find Mayan culture interesting? The very simple answer is that in the 6th grade, my teacher spent a month or so teaching us about the Mayans. Well, it wasn't as much as "teaching" as much as it was "having us watch 'The Second voyage of the Mimi' on VHS". Fun fact: that show stared a 14 or 15 year old Ben Affleck. And because I love you so much, here is an embed of the first episode on Youtube:

I currently have it on in the background while I work on this. Oh, pure old school PBS TV. I just don't even know how to describe it to people who never watched 80's PBS in person or reruns. It's too easy to pick on old shows though, and it did introduce me to a lot of interesting things. Like their engineering skills. They were able to build these super flat roads through the mountains. And they had  pyramids. These engineering feats are something that become interesting me now after spending sometime learning about Egyptian and Sumerian engineering.  Let me elaborate:

Egyptian architecture is the stuff of legends and is the topic of much discussion and conspiracy theories. Who built these ancient monoliths? A race of creatures from beyond the stars? It couldn't be that these structures stand as a monument to people wanting to push the limits of the world around them. Or it could, I guess. All those boring nerds called "archaeologists" have been taking the fun out of these things for years!

There is evidence of trial and error of pyramid building throughout the ages. The ability to build a pyramid didn't pop up over night, even if that idea sells books and TV shows to a mass audience. The construction of the pyramid of Giza is a wonder though, since they seem to display some understanding of math that was lost until the renaissance. Mainly the sides are slighty concave, said by a couple of people that they follow the curvature of the earth. Citation needed, since I'm finding some rumors of this this, but no actual good articles on it. This probably because of the knowledge we have of their math. . .

We do have some examples of Egyptian mathematics today! Sadly, they seem to be more basic problem sets aimed towards students. It does strike me as funny that homework has been around since the dawn of human history though. Thinking about Egyptian and Sumerian teenagers complain about homework brings a smile to my face. As much as I would love to talk about mathematics in these cultures, this is supposed to be about Mayans. I'll wrap this up by saying that while we have some mathematical texts from these cultures and, in the case of Mesopotamia, we have calculations, receipts, and such. But a study of the math of these cultures comes down to a study of the art and architecture.



Bringing it back to the Mayans, we have the structures, art and architecture to see examples of their knowledge of math. That famous calendar is something fascinating to look at. There is the geometry involved, the number system, and the understanding they had of astronomy. Astronomy and finance seem to be the breeding ground for mathematics. Probably because knowing when to plant crops and how to trade capital is two keys towards having a great civilization.

The first part to understanding the architecture an the calendar is the counting system. The Mayan counting system has a special place in my heart because it was the system that helped me understand how counting systems work. All of us know how to count in base 10. Start at 0, count until 9, then at ten we add a new place. 1st grade math gives us the places - 10, 100, 1000, 100,000, 1,000,000 and so on. Add a new zero after 1 to get a new place. Some of us can count in binary, where 1 = 1, 10 =2, 100 = 4, 1000 = 8, 10000 = 16, and 100000 = 32. And some of us that can count in binary, can also understand hexadecimal. How do any of these work, and what do they have to do with the Mayan counting system? Well, in binary, or base 2, each new place has a value of 2^x, starting at the first place of 2^0. The first slot is the 1's place, and any number placed there can be multiplied by 1. Since we start counting at 0, and in base 2 we have only 2 numbers, we only have 2 numbers to put in the one's place - 0 or 1. 000001 = 1 * 1. The next number after 1 overflows into the next place, becoming 10. This next place is 2^1, or 2, and a number in that place can be multiplied  by 2^1 to find it's value. 000010 is 1 * 2^1, or 2 and for 000011 we get (1 * 2^1) + (1 * 2^0) to get three. I'll skip over hexadecimal for the moment, and talk about the Mayans. They have a base 20 system, which is easier to grasp than a base 16 system. In the one's place we have 20^0, then 20^1, 20^2, 20^3, and so on. To those of us not interested in figuring this out ourselves, that's 1, 400, 8000, then 160000 and up and up and up. Of course, they used their own number system as well, since the Arabic numbers never made it there. They had a place holder for the number zero, which is very impressive given the time period, and it's what allowed them to do place notation for their numbers. That's really impressive, but might be something to talk about later because talking about how hard it is to try and do calculations with roman numerals is whole discussion in itself.  As a take away from this: in 900 AD, the Mayans were using a number notation that wouldn't be used in Europe for another 600 years. With this system, they had ways of doing calculations beyond the algorithms of the Ancient Greeks. By which I mean that European mathematical texts were descriptions on how to use geometry in order to calculate things.

I'm stopping here, mainly because there's so much more to talk about and get excited about, but it's already long and dense. I want to get excited about the art and architecture of the civilization, and I want to spend a ton of time talking about the math of these people. If I don't stop myself now, then it will become a long rambling unfocused text. That's never good. So I'll put it out to anyone there to leave a comment about their thoughts, because there are a few things I didn't elaborate on, or didn't talk about, or maybe their's something you know that I don't. I would love to here your feed back.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Week 3 end, Week 4 start

Week 3. Ok, well, I seem to have trapped myself into some negativity over the past couple of days. After going over my journal, notes, and things I've said to other people there is this frustration creeping in. The intial glamour has worn off a little, and I'm starting to feel frustrated at school, feeling like people don't want to see me, and the like. I have gotten out this week, and I have begun to accomplish things I can be proud of. Let's start with what I have done.

I got out mushroom hunting this week. The rain has finally begun to clear up a bit, the weather is warmer, and in it all I got to go explore the woods a bit. I didn't find much, but with this weather I was only expecting spring mushrooms. On top of that, I finally got to work on some math problems in a book I've had for 2 years now. It has some great stuff in it, and could be a great meetup. I've worked on the description and the idea I've wanted to do for the meetup for a couple of days now. It would work well as an online math group, I feel, because it's math, it's programming, and it is something that could be screen captured. And my Russian has kept improving. It's why I'm here. I knew it would be hard and I knew week three would be the week where I might get my programming done but the excitement of a new place would wear off. I would get programming done BECAUSE the excitement would wear off. Also, I have gotten word on a way to make a little money, which will be nice.

Today, I've trapped myself in the mind set of "getting the excitement back". That might not happen, not by force at least. Instead, it's time to look ahead at the week, and all the things I want to do, see and experience while I'm here. It's great, because I'm in a big city with lots to do and see and experience, it has a big nightlife, and if I want to be a different person, then doing so requires stepping outside of my comfort zone more.

Let's start with the knowns: tonight is a linux meetup. I'm nervous about this, because I'm wondering how much English I need to speak. In fact, where I am starting on week 4 is that my tendency to keep myself at home combined with a lack of confidence about speaking a new language has kept me from going some places. In an attempt to ease my concerns, I've sent a message to the co-organizer about what to expect. The excitement and the nervousness is the same thing, hopefully it's something I can enjoy. Cool. Feeling a little better.

There's an English language class I'm getting paid to go to. Nice thing about being an native English speaker here, there are a few events that incintives me to come with money or free food. What I'm hopping for is for this to help build steam in order to find more things. This is my dream, to be able to work in another country. So I've been trying to go out and see things, but again, having a huge language barrier stops me. This is why I want to improve my Russian.This is the reason I want to go into class on Monday and knock it out of the park.

Oh my god, have you ever had something coming up that you want to get really excited about, and all you want to do is talk to everyone about it? Mayan culture lecture. I learned about the mayan culture years ago when I was 11 or 12, and since then if I find something on them I go. I can't even begin to express everything I find interesting about them. I guess first the math. Learning about their counting system was huge step forward for me in my mathematic development. I guess because base 20 is easier to grasp then something like hexadecimal, the system was able to make various concepts about counting systems obvious to me. I remember learning that they new how to find pi, but they didn't have decimals. Now that I'm older and have seen a bit of Euclid's methods of calculations, along with other other classic geometry calculation systems, I'm begining to realize that these geometric proofs are in their art and architecture. Sort of like classic Islamic art and math. There's the fact they had an advanced knowledge of astronomy, and from everything left over there is proof that they were quite advanced in engineering. What I would love to know is more about their stories, and if anything else has been found on their math. They could build flat straight roads, so did they have algorithms and homework for students, like we've found in Sumeria? Oh my god I'm so excited for this and I want to talk about it to anyone who will listen.

I'm single in Moscow, and I'm interesting because of various things. This is the part where I plan on stepping out of my comfort zone. Usually when I go out, I go to places where there's mostly guys, things like tech meetings and math and science stuff. It's interesting, but everything here about trying new things and working towards being a person I want to be. Being single is a part that gets me, because yes, I am one of those people who don't know what I want. Well, sort of. For the last 5 years, I wanted money and to get myself out of the hole I was in, so I could begin to enjoy life again. Now that I'm in this situation, I'm working on doing the things I want to do again. I am rediscovering a passion for my interests outside of work, math and music. I want to get out and explore books, art, and the like. It's time to do stuff where I can meet other single people.

Have I've begun to pull myself out of the crap that I felt at work for the last few years? Yeah, it's slow going, but yes. Feeling trapped sucks, and depression happens. When the two combine, it becomes this whole mindset just focused on getting out of it. I did cool things while there, but it's just been the last few years at work that had me lethargic. The drive and the passion for life was gone. That's what I'm here for, to find that lust for life once again.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Week 2 reflections

I've been in Moscow for 2 weeks now, and am starting on week 3. When I first starting planning this trip, I wondered how I would "act" when I'm able to be my own manager boss.

For context, I always felt that setting my own goals, metrics, and such at my own job was hard, and I was always distracted from various projects. I based this idea off of when my higher-ups left for a month and I was allowed to have more control over my own schedule. Being the scientific and analytical mind I am, during these points I would start journaling my schedule, pay attention to my actions, find patterns, and act on them.

When the higher-ups left, my first week was spent in a re-adjustment phase. I still spent a ton of time on youtube, I stuck close to the scheduled tasks, but I started to think about what I wanted to accomplish. Looking back on it, I wonder if I did start to try new things during things during this point. Here in Russia, without a job, the first week spent re-adjusting. There was a literal physical readjustment to deal with; in the first few days I had to get used to where things were, take stock of what I have now, and getting over jet-lag. Mentally there is a readjustment as well, as I was spending time being excited about my new surrondings, seeing the work I would be doing over the next few weeks, and what there is to offer, I still spent my time by myself sitting around watching videos. I did start trying new things though. It's more like a horse or an animal testing the boundaries of its living space, but it's an attempt to see what is around. Things like trying to blog again, or testing the dating scene, or trying to leave the house. During this time period, I begin to think about WHAT I want out of the experience.

When people were gone for 2 weeks, at this point I began to see myself put more time into my own projects. In the past, this was things that were already my responsibility but became neglected. Neglected for various reason, due to "feeling busy" or "being busy" or simply being distracted and ruining the "work flow". When allowed to work on my own projects, go figure I did them in the space of a few days. This begins to lead into the next week, because the analytical part of my brain began to examine the projects and figure out how to make them more efficient. Translated to now in Russia, this becomes learning the goals of class, and obsessing over my thoughts on dates.

Now I'm starting on week 3, and I've a week to adjust and a week to test my boundaries. The natural thing to do at this point is to look at what I have accomplished, what I want to accomplish, and how to organize myself for 'longer' term success.

What have I accomplished? Well, I'm not broke. Cooking has become easier here because I know where to go to buy food and what to buy. I already have some tools for cooking, mostly just storage bags. Being able to keep leftovers is cheaper than buying food every fucking night, right? I'm actually finding myself working on my hobbies this week, I found some time to do Math, do some programming, and do some graphic design. Now, the results aren't much to brag about: I spent a couple hours on each but didn't get to a point of feeling completed. In the case of the graphic design, I deleted the file. In the case of the math and programming, I can continue to work on what I have. I went on dates. This is special to a workaholic nerd with trust issues. I started working on the initial steps of building a new resume.

Let's build off of this by beginning to plan the week out. Overall, what do I want out my experience here, and what are my personal longterm goals? Knowing these now will help me communicate to others. Of course, I'm here to learn Russian. At the moment, my original plan of getting an official certification from the Government has been sidetracked due to the testing center being closed until September. There is another testing institute however, and I need to contact them to see if they are open and able to take people. I want to keep the financial independence I have at the moment. No major bills beyond rent and groceries since last year, but without a source of income I'll be broke. So, it's time to move forward on finding income. Dating wise, I seem to have the pick here for the first time in my life. So let's fall in love and have fun. By just dating I can figure out what I want. The thing is, I still need to find my own identity here and my own activities.

Well, this a start to the week, at least. I guess next I need to start setting goals.