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.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Grocrey shopping on budget and in another language.

Well, I was going to write something about financial organization and meal prep, but I was struggling with it and realized that instead writing advice for others it would be easier to organize my own thoughts and post that instead.

Part of this comes from a revelation of the struggles I'm having within the first few days of adapting to a new environment. Learning where to shop, what to buy, and what items are worth my money is something I should be reflecting on. Not having tools to make cooking more convenient and less wasteful. In that case, not knowing the words of said products (I spent a good 30 minutes trying to figure out the Russian word for Plastic Wrap yesterday. Of course I just gave up and tried to find it at the store. Bought a strange form of ziploc bags instead.) Budgeting is always important, but being in a place for a few years it's natural to learn the place to get the best deals. In a new city that speaks a different language however? It's time to reflect and optimize the life lessons learned.

Luckily, certain types of food look the same no matter what.
Chicken picture from Wikipedia

For example, that's a chicken. Thankfully, if your in the middle of bum-fuck nowhere Mongolia, that is still a chicken. The way it's served might be different, but that is a chicken. It might have a Mogolian name, but we all know that it will taste like chicken. The first step to surviving is learning what the natives call food, then. In the US, this was a simple as learning to ask for a "hoagie" instead of "grinder" when relocating from Vermont to Pennsylvania. Ask for a grinder either got me a toasted hoagie at best, and blank stares at worst. In Russia, it's learning to call chicken Курятина. Kur-yeah-tina, perhaps? Whatever, it took me three years to pronounce Lancaster like someone from Pennsylvania.

The next thing that I have to keep in mind is how to take basic steps to budget. As much as cards are awesome and convient and everyone and their mother uses them, cash is better for budgeting. As my mom used to say, you can't spend money that's not in your pocket, and when cash runs out, then I am no longer able to spend money.

My challenge this week is to build a grocery list with some Russian words, and set a simple spending limit for it. Short, sweet, and hopefully efficient. From there I can begin to decide what can made and how long it lasts me for. Any other shopping tips out there?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

New Chapter in life

I decided to start a new journey based on the crazy wild idea of "Quit my job to study Russian in Russia." Well, the "quit my job" part had to happen because I couldn't take a sabbatical or at least get 6 weeks off.

Man, getting back into the concept of this blogging thing is hard. Of course, I've never stopped writing for the past few years, just nothing seemed to be worth more than a journal entry. Of course, I've read other's blogs, and they seem like journal entries so how hard can it be. Starting now, for the next few weeks the only things that can distract me are my thoughts. This isn't Pulitzer prize winning stuff, mostly just a return to filling up this website with something for the time being. It's also an attempt to tell myself that I do know how to organize myself and my thoughts.

That right there. This is the thing that bothers me sometimes, am I organized but distractions at work keep me from realizing my potential, or am I still just struggling with this concept of organization because I have ADHD and am genetically flawed? The evidence to the first is that this was similar to a worry I had about finances and money years ago when I was dealing with a mountain of bills. In that case I worried that I knew nothing of keeping my finances straight and that I was just another spoiled millennial that mooched off an older generation of dedicated go-getters. To put my mind at ease, I read every book and article I could get my hands on, and it dawned on me that my parents had taught me all the basics of finances. The problem became apparent that even though I knew how to make a budget, and save, and make a grocery list, and do all the things covered in the literature, the problem was that I didn't make enough of an income in order to afford rent, a prepaid phone, food and bills. Once I got the income straightened out, I soon had enough saved in order to quit my job and go to school to Russia. To anyone wanting to mimic this success, it's easy: Don't date, don't leave the house, and only eat homemade bread, pancakes and rice for three years. It's simple!

Also in my favor, when my manager would leave for a month to help with the overseas business, I kept track of how productive I was with her and without her. I felt I was more productive, but now I have a slighty different hypothesis, and here is my reasoning. What the difference between setting my own goals and having someone set them for me, is that by setting my own goals, I also create my own metrics to gauge myself on how well I'm doing. Recently I've read "Is it You, Me, or ADHD" by Gina Pera which inspired me to read more about organization in ADHD in general. In her book, she spends a lot of time explaining how ADHD craves stimulation because the ADHD brain lacks the same pathways as "normal brains". And this craving leads to many classic ADHD behaviors, like impulsiveness, tendency to argue, and the drug abuse that tends to affect adults with ADHD. In a few of these cases, there's a chemical release that's happening, from testosterone to dopamine to adrenaline. What I'm getting at is that there are suggestions out there for getting a dopamine fix other than an 8-ball of coke. Making a list and crossing things off it gives a small fix. And looking at that completed list later is a small hit. And all these small hits make up a nice self-esteem boost when you've quit your job to live as writer in Jamaica after saving up the capital to do it. I've gone off track, but my point is that maybe I was just as productive working for other people rather than managing myself, but managing myself felt better because I was able to keep track of how well I was doing.

Look at this! I start writing and I just keep going! Nobody calling every few minutes about needless things. Before I go, I do want to think about goals I have this week, or at least the ones I can write here. I want to keep up on writing here, even if it's just small things about how my attempts at organization are going. I want to get some art worked on and I want to have some math stuff worked out. Maybe a paetreon for set up? Maybe that's further down the line. I need to think about the goals I have for this Russian course. And I addicted to setting goals for myself. I am a very goal orientated person because goals are my drug! Better for me in longrun compared to acid, at least. Any thoughts out there about organization or self esteem?