Sunday, September 25, 2016

Short bursts of motivation

I start missing my moments of hobby programming again. Since my last job/relocation/new job I haven't even coded for a hobby while I was dreaming of things to start and ideas I want to experiment with. Of course it was a hard period, when you have to take care other more important things like being unemployed, moving house and generally feeling depressed. So, I was like fuck it, I am gonna relax for few months.

But now I settled in, the little sparkles of motivation have started again. But they are short. That's one thing I notice now. At least I manage to tackle them and also my lack of will by coding little random here and there. And I felt it works and maybe I'll keep it. If you can't think of working on a big project because of the dread you feel, just open the compiler and try something small for half an hour. Maybe test an algorithm, an optimization, try a new system, commit a bit of code in old abandoned repos, etc. It sort of works.

And now I am thinking it, a lot of my coding activity was fragmented. Unless it's a full time job or collaboration with people where you can't just fool around, doing some hobby stuff for the kicks or internet recognition or whatever, either it's indie or demoscene or any other thing, I never manage to focus and work steadily on something for few months. Even if I could say to myself "Work on this one project 1-2 hours per day every day and then do whatever you want" I can still not put myself on it. It's always a sudden inspiration where I am at the right place and time with a compiler and there is a spark of "I want to try this". And if I get this sudden inspiration and don't follow it, like let's cook something first and watch youtube before I start this, or even something happens or someone calls me, then I lose it, I come back later and it's a bit late and I am like "Fuck it! It's 9pm, I want to rest the last two hours before going to bed".

It might work for demoscene, sort of. Produces many mediocre demos. I must have never worked steadily on a demo for more than a month and usually it's even 2 weeks before the deadline where 90% of the work falls. There is never a constant flow of motivation where I work even for 1 hour every day on one project. And sometimes I might code something small on a Saturday and then not touch any code for two weeks or a month, then come back to it for 3-5 random days in 2 weeks, then leave it again and then there are a lot of repos with stuff and bigger things I wanted to start but never did. Yes, I love now to create repos, I also love to make lists of what crazy dreams I'd like to start working on, tell my friends about them, give weird amazing names to demos and projects but never even start. Few of them do get started and they end up mediocre.

But I am thinking I wish to move in new territories. One of them is games. I adore some indie games, I think indie development is the way to fulfil your game ideas without anyone having control on the creative process. I find myself imagining some game ideas that would be cool to create, or for example lamenting the lack of proper retro FPS games and thinking "Hmm,. if I argue so much, maybe I should make a retro FPS game of my liking". I would really like to get into hobby indie gamedev at some point.

Another territory I am thinking about for over a year is creating specific series of youtube videos. Sometimes I watch some gaming videos where they try to explain graphics in shallow ways and it makes me mad and I thought I could explain it better. Or I want to make some critic on video games like a comparison of oldschool and newschool FPS maps, or imagining ways I could render some animations to explain specific concept in a visual way that is both appealing and not shallow, so anyway I was playing with this idea and what tools to use or maybe start a codebase to render the little minimalistic animations I want with code, bought a better microphone for this which I never used, and I know youtube business needs to be very focused like a job and I am not even thinking of it as a business rather that I'd love to explain some concepts from graphics, demoscene, retro machines or oldschool gaming in a proper way, discuss the things that are never discussed but not in ways that make them shallow nor hard to get into. Big dreams. I can't even spend time to make a let's play youtube video sound alright. I understand now how much work is behind regular youtube channels.

So, I have these two areas which I realise need a different strategy. These cannot function (especially the youtube thing) by sporadically working on stuff whenever motivated. Maybe the gamedev can in a sense, if I promise to myself that whenever I code something it will be one single project, stop making demos, not jumping from platform to platform, and this could take some more time and maybe there will be moments of laziness or when I am in holidays and I can't work, that's ok. But it has to be one project for a long and never abandon, even if some days you don't code. Youtube is harder and easier. Harder because you might have to provide (although you could say one good quality video per month) and easier because each video is a small release, unlike a game where it's a big project for many months if not years.

And that's the issue. I can't imagine those successful indie developers working like me. I imagine them in a constant flow of motivation for months, building and growing, and yes maybe there are moments of burnout, where a developer doesn't want to code anything for a week, but then he comes back and works from where he left it, not grab a new project.

My problem is, if I am motivated at all (and I do question why am I motivated for hobby programming at all) I start with something and then abandon it, maybe few of the code is eventually used in a semi-finished demo (like an abandoned repo that I found after a year and finalized it under pressure in a compo deadline).

But the problem is not just lack of focus, it's a general dread I feel whenever I am excited about starting something creative. Maybe the fact that I know I have to encounter this procrastination, the uneasy feelings that if I start this I might fail to continue again, or unless it grows into a big release it's meaningless, so if I am at 5% of the code I am afraid it will be for nothing if not finishing it, which I know takes time. And also a dread of one part of myself which says enough, creativity shouldn't be like this.

Now, since I tested this other method, of never thinking about the above, never thinking about the final product, just code some semi-random stuff to keep you working. That works better when you have more unique things to work for. I was working on 256tros (saved them in big repo among with older code for futrure reference), then switched to some experimental DOS coding, then one day I wanted to check SNES coding which is exciting and new (now I left it), then went back to DOS coding, then dreamed of some other new stuff and old stuff, made lists, planned to make my Procrastinopolis platform which is nonsense and fun :)

It's ok, I code more than the last 3 months. But these days I was feeling whoozy again, because the feeling of never actually finishing something, which I shouldn't think. And then I thought that at one point I want to take the opportunity to focus on one big project. When this happens it will be established motivation which might not last but I would have to strategically prepare and think of a way to keep this in focus even if the development is slow (but if it's slow, I get the feeling this will never be released, but do I want this to be released just to get rid of the development?)

Or I feel I will never get into the big things. It's a misconception that it takes genius to create great stuff, all it takes is a great deal of perseverance. I am only wondering if most of us are naturally lacking this and that's why we never reach our dreams.

p.s. I keep thinking of this problem again, if you can call it a problem. Procrastination. From what? Responsibilities? No,. right now I don't have any responsibilities. I mean besides work and basic stuff. Free time. How to motivate myself to use it for creative purposes. And the question is why? Why do I want this? Why not just finish my day by relaxing activities? So many questions and so many misconceptions about what I really want and whether I am procrastinating or that is normal.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Boredom and Intelligence

I am a bit struck by what constitutes boredom, especially people who get depressed because they are bored all day. I feel like I can never feel that particular feeling, like I lost all meaning because nothing is interesting anymore. That kind of boredom.

If you leave me alone in an empty room, yes maybe I will want to get out and do stuff, but I won't feel I can get bored in life. I could phase out and think about philosophical ideas or the next creative things I want to do. I feel I will never be bored, even with a sole hobby like programming, because there are so much things one can do just with a computer. And if they took away computers, I would still think I might never get bored in life, because there are so much mysteries in life and so much scientific questions to answer or so many other creative pursuits to do. They do ask me what I would do if I was in the past where computers never exist. I would be a philosopher or explorer, I would pursue a creative hobby or job, there would be always something to do that inspires me. Thus I cannot relate to people who are alone in an evening after work and feel like they are bored with life.

But these people exist. I can think of some people who cannot be alone, maybe they are somewhere where they have no friends and can't do something on their own but if there were some people around they would do social activities together and stop being bored. And maybe, maybe, there are some other people who are not extrovert, don't need other people around them, yet they kinda get bored and loose meaning in life, like nothing meaningful is left to do anymore. I can't relate since I don't feel the same thing, I feel there are always interesting things to do, but I can imagine there are such people. Maybe this is one indication of real depression.

There is also another discussion all around, whether intelligent people are the ones who get bored with life. And there are some discussion boards where people disagree with that notion and things are very polarized.

Of course, I do understand, the cliche says that intelligent people are bored in school. Well, I think everybody is bored in school, extroverts will throw paper to other students, some introverts might phase out, unless you somehow are hooked by the teacher and the subject. School wants you to be there paying attention for 6 hours whether you like or not. Everybody would get bored if they don't like to be there at the particular time. And of course some asocial or introvert people will get bored of social situations where you only have to do smalltalk for 4 hours or stand still in a bar with loud music where you can't talk. I could get bored in that sense in social situations (until the alcohol hits or I phase out absent minded). I do get this feeling, but I don't call it "Bored of Life", I can never get bored of life, so many interesting things to do and sometimes I feel I will never have the time to complete all of them.

But there were some discussions where the poster said "Intelligent People != Get Bored" and many people said "Intelligent People == Get Bored" and blamed the OP of not being a true intelligent person. Because there is this myth that the second exists, because of the myth of intelligent people getting bored of school (but everyone gets bored of school eventually, forced education). There is also the myth of intelligent people == drop outs but there are some brilliant minds which were not drop outs and some of them getting great marks (for myself, I got good marks and then deteriorated during university to average and base marks).

And maybe there are different kinds of intelligence and it's too simplistic to say "If person has this == he/she is intelligent". We all want to feel intelligent, we all want to feel special and we internalize this with specific characteristic. And then we read somewhere, that a specific celebrity/scientific person/great thinker had this disorder or acted like this, and we like to see our self in it.

There is something I have hard time to put into words because the more I think of these things the more it gets complicated, because I don't want to fall into the trap saying that "THIS == THAT" and that's it, I feel like if we dig deeper and we don't make fast assumptions, we can get more to the truth, but then I will question this truth and go to step zero. And this sort of fascinates me. Maybe all about introversion/extroversion/adhd/autism/aspergers/our need to feel intelligent compared to other people is another construction upon constructions upon constructions and we are missing some big ideas or we are deluded with wrong assumptions that sound nice of course because we can attribute it to ourselves.

I am so overwhelmed by pushing myself, pushing my thoughts, discovering flaws in certainties or cliche believes, things generally accepted, but some hidden truth or counter-intuitive fact lying beyond, trying to be discovered (that's why I can never be truly bored). That I lose track. One answer creates multiple questions like multiple paths of a hydra and I wonder confused. While most people just need social connections, repeating shallow facts commonly accepted. And that's fine. I am fascinated by ideas and discovering the hidden truth behind things, they are fascinated by social give and take.

I diverged though. How can I focus this intuition into really setting some facts? Instead of endlessly taking jumps from ideas to ideas to ideas. There is always an alternative, a counter-intuitive arguments to something I thought. I lost it now. I lost my thought process. So many things are connected. And I am dizzy,

My gin&tonic is finished.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

You have so much potential BS

Sometimes I am lost, having conflicting thoughts or rather trying to discover the essence of things, like some thoughts bothering me but trying to ask the proper questions, why do we even do the things we do, why do we even feel like this, not being able to put even the effort to understand what's hidden behind all these and how can that help me. And I search almost random keywords in google, I want to search counter intuitive things like celebration of laziness or fuck it.

It's funny when you try to search a counter argument to the most cliche nice sounding things (find your potential, follow your path, love what you do), when you want to search for example things like nice sounding new age cliche phrases near the words bullshit, lies, wrong and sometimes it doesn't work and you get more bullshit nice sounding articles on how to unlock your potential, find your love, be more productive. I do want to find some counter culture books, counter to the whole societal idea that you must always be productive, you are a diamond that shines and you will be successful and such BS.

I search again and I find some random blog at reddit of depressed or adhd people. In fact, that's more real than all my other results, telling me more about these issues than any shiny happy advice. There is a whole generation of people being depressed of not fulfilling their own potential, or actually arguing that's what their parents or teachers told them and that put a lot of pressure on them, never being content with themselves, because they can always do more.

I am looking a lot at counter-sayings towards this culture of human potential tapping, our insistence of only glorifying productivity, because yes who would praise laziness? (although some of you will see that's the problem of society today, but does that mean people react to the norms that makes it unbearable?).

But there is a problem you know. I like one example I am constantly thinking. Some people are successful and some are less and less. And one could blame the ones that are more of a failure, like "You didn't try enough!", "You were lazy!!!". That's a hard accusation isn't it? But it WILL happen, Always. Because this is a race. And in a race, someone is gonna fail. If everyone was 100% successful, then 100% success would mean nothing, it would be just the norm. Someone would have to break that and become 150% successful to differentiate from the rest. And then everyone would try to reach 150% as the new norm for success. And then it will be common. And people will want to exceed other people and reach 200%. It just goes on and on and it's kinda unsustainable for the human psyche. I think we are missing something here. There is a problem here but I don't know what the solution is.

One way to think it is to ponder, why do we want to be successful in the first place? Is it something on the human psyche, in the way the brain works, in the biology, in our tendency to compete? Trying to focus on this thought, what makes me want to be productive (with my demoscene hobby or other things with potential for success and recognition), almost struggling, one part of myself telling me "let it go" and another part arguing it is important to not feel insignificant, being approved (another primary part of the human psyche). It's like I want to solve the puzzle of human existence, realize the human condition, what makes a lot of us people depressed, feeling we are wasting our potential, or rebel against all these notions at the same time, find more counter-literature against the improve yourself culture.

It's funny when there are some shy articles, trying to say all these mainstream and new age culture are counterproductive, which makes sense, but then try to say "You can escape from all these BS so that you can finally achieve your true potential" in one sense. Nobody says "Fuck it", it's a taboo to say here are some good ideas to make you happy and a failure. Noone is accepting that maybe most of us will never reach that "true potential". We will have normal lifes and most of our dreams will never be accomplished. We only look at highly successful persons and motivational quotes, forgetting the 99.999% of the people who are invisible because they never made it high to be relevant even if they were told they are special.

p.s. In fact there are some amusing literature, like "Fuck it" or psychology books criticizing positive thinking (search The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman), or counter psychologists (like David Smail), or the philosophy of stoicism which seems rather relevant. They are good ways to get you out of the feedback loop for a while, but then somehow you expect they will magically change your life, which is a trap. Is like you try to find counter-ways to avoid the positive/productive/nice thoughts/motivational quotes trap so that you end up being productive/happier/positive. Sort of. It's like avoiding obsessing of positive thinking/human potential but at the end in order to verify that this worked you have to see positive changes which makes you go back in the negative loop. Or maybe do we never want to be happy else we would just stop improving? What if happiness is not a natural state? All about struggling in life being something to be fixed is a lie? What if life is a constant struggle in a depressive state and that's normal?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Freedom and procrastination

Some random thoughts I just wrote.

I thought about freedom. Freedom is a bitch. It's in everything and really a double edged sword if you think about it. The idea that freedom is a sacred good like "love" is flawed. You get more freedom, you lose some other stuff.

Simple mental experiment:
Everyday you wake up and you want to use your time productively. But there are distractions. Gaming, internet, masturbation, excuses. And you don't just wanna be a robot. You don't just wanna be a nofap (I don't believe in that shit anyway), never play games again, stop looking at youtube, stop entertaining yourself. You believe that you can have entertainment and still be productive. And that's fine. I don't want to be a robot. But you have to balance.

But what happens? You kinda start your day, check something on the internet, start playing a game while yourself says:
"No, don't start this! You know where it leads. Do work first and then play!"
And your other self says: "It will be just for few minutes, I am gonna play a smal session of Spelunky, Borderlands, Doom, whatever.. I will be working before lunch"
And then there is lunch and you are like, ok I am gonna cook something and then work, and you cook but if you eat you wanna do something while eating, like watching youtube. Just for the duration of the lunch, isn't it? Not replying to comments, checking more recommended videos, etc. Well, wrong.

And so you realize. What if I said NO sometimes?
But you can't. Habits. Of course. The monkey kicks.

And then you ponder. Imagine there was an entity that could kinda possess me. Nothing scary, just an hypothetical motivator.
And it will tell me "Hey, you. Please stop it now! Do it a bit later. Focus for just an hour in the work. I am begging just for an hour, then do anything you want!"
And it's just an hour. And I would be doing something, say playing Doom, or watching youtube after youtube, or reading about something on the internet.
And I will be like, wait just a bit more. Yes, we know this. It's the monkey that procrastinates.

But say you had this entity. And it really nagged you. It destroyed your game session. It abruptly cut your internet. But not you, because you, you can't control it. Something preprogrammed that can control you out of you.

Say you had the entity. And then you feel the dread. You realize. You realize, that you wouldn't like to have an entity dictating what you do when at that point for some fucking reason you just want to play Doom for 5 fucking straight hours. You don't want to have some entity in your head that magically sometimes cuts your entertainment even if you know it's the right thing to do but something you just don't want right now to stop it.

Yes, you say that might be discipline, although I don't know what it is and how people say it's like a muscle and how they define willpower. It's the abstract new buzzword that nobody defines precisely, it's just what makes the difference between productive and not productive people.

But I diverted. These thoughts made me think of freedom. If you had an entity that sometimes controlled you, you would lose some of your freedom for the sake of productivity. And it's not necessary bad because freedom must be sacred they say. Maybe we need a bit of that entity. You'd say you would be a fool if you needed this control system to manage yourself. You'd rather be totally free and manage your life creatively.

But you might be lying. From the moment you enforce this kind of discipline, you are not free. You put restrictions on yourself. Can you play 24 hours videogames and somehow still be creative?
The difference is, you do it yourself, not some hypothetical entity. It's harder because it's still me who can turn off the internet. But it's like your productive self restricted your entertaining self. Just thinking you had the choice.

And no, I don't consider that someone unable to be disciplined on his own a fool. It's easy to say if you are outside of this (are you really? maybe I am also more productive than I think, just being harsh at myself). You are not the hero who can be both 100% free and disciplned. Everybody procrastinates and it's a natural state.

I am not sure about this, but I have some nice interesting feeling with this thought experiment. It's like telling to myself "If you want to be creatively sucesful you kinda have to restrict your freedom". It's like telling to myself to simply realize it. And maybe I would want a second voice sometime screaming at me to fucking be productive at least for an hour. How hard can it be?

p.s. Also just devising ideas for habit breaker/avoider strategies but I know I tried before and failed.
p.p.s. Think that we live in societies where we are more free than ever. And some of us are still depressed. Like something is missing. Maybe if we struggled for survival we wouldn't need anything else. We wouldn't want to create mediocre demos, write a novel that you never start or participate in tumblr politics.
p.p.p.s. Strange modern psychopathology of modern societies, I'd say. We have it all and then wonder why we are not verified special snowflakes?

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Zen Cafe and Procrastination

I haven't solved the problem of procrastination and I never will. And that might be because I believe procrastination to be a natural state. It's like energy. There will be always some loss. I sometimes imagine a very workaholic person who really uses every minute of his day to produce creative work. What if I could sit down 8 hours per day, even after my daily work and just code? Use every moment of time, optimize all processes, cut all distracting habits, eliminate the useless. That person who did that would not be human. Everybody procrastinates. Maybe the point is how much he/she does it and how they feel about it. Maybe you are wasting 60% of the time and believe this is not procrastination but normal. Maybe you worry about few hours of entertainment where you could do something more creative and forget all the time you really did work. Maybe you have so many dreams and projects in your head but spend most time fantasizing about them. And you either think you have a problem with procrastination or not. Or think that in order to convert some of your creative vision to reality something has to change.

But if productivity is like energy, every form of energy sources from petroleum to renewable energy will have loss, then there might be methods to reduce this. Also, we'll have to think again why is it happening in the first place? You could say it's everyday distractions, since I am working in the computer for creative coding, youtube or steam are one click away. Uninstall the games you'd say. I have many good reasons to not (all my saves and such) and I don't think it would work in such way. It's more psychological. Even if I uninstall the games, I would want to do anything else than the work itself. I would click here and there, check a new game that I just downloaded, try to avoid the task at hand even by walking away from my computer, so I go out for a walk, everyone says that yes that's good because you move away from the computer, I pat myself in the back but I am not even close to the computer so I avoided the place of the task.

The place of the task. I realized that I feel a little bit of dread as I come back home, while before I decided that it would be a good idea to write the code for that demo or start a new project or anything that needs to put my ass down. When I am outside I dream of projects I would like to start, I am very enthusiastic and feel very lightly about them, like I could just go back home and start them. But as I approach home I feel a dread. It's a dread that I will finally have to work, test myself and find out it scares me. Maybe it scares me to see myself failing again. Maybe this loop of "wanna make demos - must do - deadline - always must prove myself - or make sense of my time - or I don't know" became such a chore through the years that it stuck forever and makes it impossible to be as creative as the very first year I found the demoscene and was more young and enthusiastic about creating stuff in a computer.

It's not internet or games. It's this dread for me. If I cut internet or games then I would find something else to make me avoid the task at hand. I would still feel the dread and struggling to keep me creative and not find any other excuse to not do the task right now. Of course, one thing would be to somehow find myself in an unconscious creative flow where I haven't felt the dread and just code for the sake of it. Rarely it happens when I don't have a planned demo in a deadline, but one day I decided I want to try something in code, like coding for a new device or trying an algorithm I just thought. And when this happens I have to be there, so that in an instance I jump into it without second thought. Before it goes away. Because sometimes I am outside and have this idea of trying something, and think that when I go back at home it's the first thing I will try, but then when I come back home I feel the dread because I have planned to code this thing and I will encounter again my procrastinating self. So, I could think at first that maybe coding random things for fun and not for a deadline would work out, but then I start planning again and being afraid of failing to do what I planned.

For example, in another sense and according to the title of this post (I kept writing things without getting into point) I discovered something else recently. Another thing I had is buying books (either real or digital in my tablet) but never really sitting down to read them. I might have read a minority because it happened to be absorbed at the time by a book and somehow I was in a period without other things in my head and just sat there and read in one night. But usually I only read at night when I am in my bed, and maybe after half an hour and four pages (I keep getting distracted sometimes in the same sentence) I get to sleep. So, many books I might have started reading the first chapter and then never read again. I haven't read many books in my life even if there are many interesting things to read.

But recently I somehow had a new habit in the weekends, when I was trying to avoid work, I went to a nearest cafeteria with my tablet, at first just to escape from all this dread. It was just a zen choice, sit in a nice place for few hours, drink your coffee, check stuff in your tablet. Then I decided to have a look at one of my books from kindle. And I started being absorbed and reading. Soon enough I finished 2-3 chapters. It was also a nice moment without that dread, without that obligation to do creative work or push myself to finish a book. I was just going through an easy flow that worked. Then this visit in my local cafeteria happened few more times in the weekend and managed to finish a book and start two more. Wow, that's how I can finally read all the books I got and never started!

Today I went to that cafeteria but it was late. Most cafeterias close at seven here. I know another one which doesn't but there is more noisy atmosphere there (more like a bar/cafeteria). I had less than an hour for a coffee. I needed it because recently it became a habit also at my work and I think I got headache because of this but not sure. I also needed to get out and relax a bit. Playing all day Brutal Doom and then watched a movie but didn't work on my DOS demo and that created a dread because now I had to and I would have to test myself again and fail. I needed to control this dread. So I went out. And thought it was a good opportunity to read my book even for half an hour. But then do you know what I thought? I thought, Fuck It! It's only half an hour and I want to press me into being productive? I realized that this is how this cafeteria could become a chore, by finding this out and making it work like a new productive method. That could destroy the zen of it, thus making it not work the next time.

I pondered for a while whether I could use the same method for programming. Bring my laptop, sit in the cafeteria and code. Not enough space in the table for both laptop and coffee maybe. Only two places have plug and my battery needs change. Maybe I should get a smaller and lighter laptop too. Usually at several hours it's almost full and it's even hard to find a place (I really need to observe all hours and find the best, I like it when it's less crowded and quiet). The alternative would be a public library, but I like the atmosphere of a cafeteria. Library would remind me of stuyding. Maybe I don't want that, but I could try once. But number one reason, what if this become more like a productivity trick and make me connect this zen cafeteria moment with opportunistic use of my time to break procrastination, but start creating the dread that the next time I go to the cafeteria to work but I end up not working?

I don't know, I still like the idea (also you do avoid gaming and most internet distractions, not easy to play brutal doom or youtube in front of people, I'd rather do that at home). At least with books it is more zen because they are books and reading is straight forward and some times I don't care about finishing a book, I avoid this being my goal.

But you get what's the problem here. There might be an optimum creative flow in whatever we do. It's when you are absorbed on something (either it's studying, reading a book or coding) and all your negative emotions are invisible at that point, you forget that dread you felt about finding yourself procrastinating, that feeling of "I would rather do anything else now". It's usually hard to avoid the dread. Maybe it is connected with when I am going back home, because I know this is the time I could be creative, and it's forgotten when I go outside for a walk (or to the cafeteria) because normally I say "I went out of home to relax, not work again and afterall I am not near my desktop PC anymore so I couldn't work even if I wanted. I literally take the time and relax and I feel better. And because I feel better I can easily imagine myself working on my creative projects when I go back at home. Till I reach home, the proximity to it increase my dread, because I am not out anymore and free of all that, but I have to test myself now, to see whether I finally start with a work or procrastinate again.

If I could find a way to fight this. Then I would be more productive? But the will to be productive is my struggle, an oppressive self which always wants me to be productive, make more demos or other stuff that gives a sense to my life. A strange coder's block in an infinite loop.

Or I could just forget everything and enjoy my Zen Cafe.

Monday, September 28, 2015

People you never meet..

..but feel like your true friends.

It could be just a feeling. Maybe you would meet them and don't like them that much anymore. Maybe I could have met a clone of myself and not liking him at first sight.

I remember when I was reading a computer magazine in the 90s and someone complained how people focus more on computers and have no life, then mentioned his co-student who in his own words "had the dare" to say this "Who needs girls? You should focus on your Pascal!" (Turbo Pascal, that old programming language I never used much, but was high during the 90s). I don't know the guy who wrote this letter and even worse so the second dude who he mentions. If there is an opposite of six degrees of separation, here is a guy I never met who mentioned a second guy I never met and I always thought about that second person who I never met, what is he doing now? Where is he? What is his current view? Did he switched 180 degrees into "normality" (most of them can't take the social pressure and they do) or is he still fanatic about coding?

It's not like I want him to be what he was. If he is happier after switching to "normal" then I am fine. But it's so rare that someone says something that is so counterintuitive in the face, has the balls to say it, also reveals a personality I would like to meet, we might have similar problems or wishes. I instantly feel like a friend to this person.

And that's what happens when you meet a girl who is not only into computers but is into coding or demoscene. Or a girl who has a monologue with me and says things I wouldn't expect based on our culture doctrines. And I am like wow, she is like "I know I am crazy, I talk too much without letting you speak" and I am like "No, no, I truly enjoy this, continue!". Or that girl which was looking quite autistic and was bullied at school. Where is she now?

And the lesson here is not whether being "normal" is good or bad, whether focusing on special activities or seeking for your soulmate is better for you. I don't want to have an opinion on this, actually it doesn't make sense since for some people the opposite than "normal" makes sense (and people will disagree, because it's supposed to be by cultural standards that everyone wants the girls at the end, even if he codes). I just want to focus on how sometimes an unknown person who expresses ideas that are unpopular and happen to match your own revolving ideas suddenly feel like he has more common with you than the persons you meet everyday.

I was reading into a different philosophy in psychology from an author called David Smail. His ideas are counterintuitive to the regular methods of psychology about how we are trying to help/fix patients with common assumptions and if our methods fail, it's their fault, they didn't try enough. He has the view that we always blame the patients but never the environment, which seems very counterintuitive to what we as a culture believe, because you'd rather believe everyone has his own responsibility rather than it's the environment that's faulty. Nevertheless, there are some more ideas which I learned.

The primary idea is that "Absolutely everyone wants to be liked".And yes, I am reading this from the wiki page about him, not sure I read about this idea much in one of his older books. But it stayed on me because at first it was the only idea I couldn't figure out (Yeah, another new-ageish sounding like the universe is love, or everyone wants to be liked). But it makes totally sense about our psychology and the forces that drive us. It's both what motivates us and what makes us crash at the end. I am content with how everything is explained in my mind with this idea. And I think it's like a double edged sword, the bringer of happiness and despair in human lives.

When someone tells me the cliche "Hey, you all do that for the chicks. Even democoding, psychologically you are doing it for the chicks. Every creative thing happens to secretly (unconsciously) impress the girls, even though you know you would just look more geeky and unsexy to them". I'd like to add something else in the equation, it's not the girls, it's the need to be liked, to be accepted, for people to notice you. It makes more sense that even creative hobbies are happening for this. Of course you also end up liking the hobby yourself and acquire some useful skills, or get positive feedback about how proficient you have become with it (although that's like unconsciously telling to yourself, hey look how good I become every other day, I am wondering how adorable people will think I am when they see me coding like this). The girls are not the end (Then, what is the end for the girls themselves, the guys? What about people who cannot hook anymore?). The girls is just another means to feel significant, to feel like people like you. If you know that someone of the other sex loves you, then you elevate your feeling from that of the average loner to someone for whom another beautiful existence cares, thus making you believe you are special and so more likeable. Love is another way to feel like you are very likeable and not a common Joe who nobody cares about.

I would like to write about these things in another post, since I diverted. But here is where I am going with it. There was a specific text in the first book I am reading "Illusion and Reality" that hit me. He said something along the lines that you don't have enough mental energy to go against the cultural core beliefs. Maybe it isn't exactly what he said but what I understood out of it. He said that no matter how strong you think you are, it's very hard, almost impossible to believe in some ideas that are contrary or taboo compared to the common beliefs and strongly feel confident about these ideas. I would digress at first, I would say "No, there are strong thinkers that went against the established status quo!". But it's the idea that matters here. This is all because we want to be liked! Most of us are afraid to say something unpopular because we feel we will be frowned upon. Some of us do, we fill strong at the time, but then this is what happens. We have our doubts. Anyone can come and debunk any idea anyway. Especially in the subjective realm of human experience. But if 99% or even 30% of the population believes specific ideas and talks about them, then you have a lot of "friends" to hold upon, feeling that you are not just the only "crazy" who believes that, but many feel like this.

But what if your idea was very unpopular? Certainly there might be few people in the world who believe your idea but they are very much rare. So, suddenly you glimpse someone saying something totally counterintuitive like "Forget about girls, Pascal is the future!" and you think "Wow, I wanna meet this guy!". And it's not like I think Pascal is the future or I don't care about girls. But that guy farted in the face of "normality"! That guy said something so against the regular notion of "normality" as taken from granted by our modern culture, that I suddenly felt less alone. I felt that there was another guy struggling with all these ideas about not being normal and about our programming hobby being frowned upon at the times, which isn't much anymore since everyone is onto computers, everyone thinks he is a geek, even if very few still code, but at the time when you felt alone and there was no internet and everyone told you to get a life and nobody understood what you did, that was a glimpse of happiness that somewhere there is another person who believes what you believe. Isn't that what makes a friend? The "Other me" as some greek philosopher put it (I don't remember where I read this). Of course, it's not that I want all my friends to be like me, most of them are quite different in many aspects, I only want to preserve this magical idea of someone feeling truly alone even among people he knows because his views on life are "invalid" to the common sense of his era, then suddenly another unknown person supports his views of life and he doesn't feel lonely anymore for a glimpse.

As a final example, imagine if you were gay in the 50s. You would struggle with the idea and everybody would frown upon. You wouldn't even mention it, maybe even "agree" to people who were against it, in order to hide it. At that era, everyone who would say bad things about gays would be tapped in the back in the friendly manner, he would feel connected and not lonely, because he agrees with the majority. But imagine what would happen today if you where against gays. You would be frowned upon totally, and you would be a loner in your opinions, knowing that everywhere you talk about your beliefs, nobody will take you seriously and even if someone believed something similar, he would keep silently in fear of others. And then you found another person supporting these unpopular ideas (which changed 180 degrees from the past to the present) and you don't feel alone. Suddenly you feel slightly more confident about your ideas because you are not the only one supporting them.

Btw,. I am not against gay, I am just siting the first example that comes into mind. To be honest, I don't care about gays, they don't make me sad or happy and I can hapily live with them among us in society, and I believe many people who are today pro-gay, they really are "Look at me, I am a progressive thinker!" or "I don't want you to think I am against gays, so that I must claim I am not, but I don't really care at the end, I only care that people doesn't misunderstand me (dislike me)" , because today you must be progressive so that people will like you, but in the past you could be against gays and most people would like you too. We are all doing it for the likes, and the only people who care are gays themselves who struggled with this. In the 50s a more conservative mind would be adored, nowadays you must be leftist or something to be liked, and sometimes people want to be considered openminded but then they are closeminded with other matters, when not many people support these other matters. We are doing it for the likes, not because we really believe. Unless we have a special reason to believe in the unpopular, like when we struggle with issues ourselves that are currently frowned upon but we can't help it, like being introverted or autistic or overly sensitive or fat or asexual or whatever. Just think about it!

I think I diverted, but look how the liking theory goes into that stuff. Behind all the "look I am progressive" or "I care about you" or "The universe is love" or whatever rocks your boat, there is this primary human need to be liked, to be accepted in the community, to be special. It's not love or sex! Those are subparts of this need. And this need is like a double edged sword, because sometimes we are needy of it, we are jealous, we fight with each other, we are like "Look at me, why don't you look at me?" and we are desperate with life because of it. At least that's my current view now, maybe many people feel different about what drives us and I am ok. But I think this realization helped me understand more about myself and the world. It's even like a meditation exercise where you have to be more aware of this force and look beyond it. And it explains a lot about everything.

It also explains how you feel more friends with people who share similar unpopular ideas as you but you have never met them.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Some things about weight loss I learned so far.

Some of them will be like quotes and small explanations, something to focus your thinking into, mantras. Let's get over with these first.

  • What is weight loss? It sounds naturally good because it's all about what you do to go from the obese/overweight state to natural. But it's not natural to your body. Your body will resist to the weight loss. We are not meant to lose weight as we weren't meant to gain it in the first place. I guess, you need unnatural means to correct the unnatural causes that brought you here in the first place. So, merely eating healthy food might not always work. That would be the thing you should have done in order to not reach the unhealthy state you are now. So, you may need to do a little more, something which will make your body scream "unnatural". Or is it?
  • Health freaks and gym goers are not the first people you should listen to if you are obese. Many people would say that these guys are the good examples, so they might know better. Many of them never had a tendency for metabolic syndrome, diabetes 2. Also, they are health freaks. Their personality says "My body is the most important thing and I want to show it off!". Your personality might say "Mind over body" or "Gym is boring like hell". Better seek for obese/diabetic people who somehow managed to get over their condition.

Some of the facts I learned, some are untested or I am not sure about, some I believe and make sense, some I want to research more.

  • High fat/low carb is the most trendy diet/eating philosophy nowadays. I do generally believe in it because there are a lot of scientific papers showing better diet success rates than traditional low fat/high carb diets. Could I test it truly? I never did fully low carb (like 20g or less) because I found this excessive. Even if I avoid the many carb/sugar foods and do fat-centric diet, it didn't seemed to work much. Maybe I didn't stick to it or eat some more hidden carbs? I became a maniac of reading labels about carbs and preferring fat and protein though. I am still doing it sometimes. My diet is fat-centric but not so carb restricting. And yet I always went yo-yo no matter if it was traditional diet or fat-centric diet.
  • They say that if you eat carb foods like for example bread, prefer high fibre stuff. The logic behind it is that fibre slows down the sudden increase of insulin or sugar levels from carb eating. I can't test this but many doctors say that and I believe it. Preferring fibre foods during my fat-centric diet was fine (My taste is fine with black bread) but still didn't produce miracles in my diet, still yo-yo.
  • There is also protein in salads and chicken or fish. Something I learned recently is that even protein can rise your insulin levels enough. Even fat minimally rises insulin. Protein may rise half the level than carbs, which are the worse offenders. Which makes sense, in fact we need insulin to convert food into energy, so why is this bad. Because there is a catch with diabetics type 2 (also you might not be officially diabetic yet, but start developing metabolic syndrome which might lead there if you don't learn to control your insulin with what you eat naturally).
  • Insulin is not bad. It's the hormone that naturally rises when you eat food, so that it can help in the production of energy from it. But there is a developed problem in people with diabetes type 2 called insulin resistance. It means that insulin has a bad time converting the food you are sending into energy, thus driving away more of the glucose that accumulates as fat, while still producing more insulin than the body needs. It's a vicious cycle. The result is high blood sugar but one should think of it as the after-effect of the problem. The real culprit is the high produce of insulin.
  • That's where fasting comes in. There is this theory (I will post video links at the end) from few doctors that in order to treat the diabetes you have to lower your insulin by letting it dive down during a bigger fasting window. 12-14 hours can still be considered "fasting", so if you don't want to go extreme at first, you can try to not eat anything after 6pm so it's 14 hours till breakfast at 8am in the morning. Alternatively, some days you can try to skip breakfast (I know that some of these are considered big no-no's by conventional dieting, but why not try something alternative if nothing worked for you before?). At more advanced levels you can try 20-24 hours fasting. Or maybe if you had a day with friend where everyone ordered a big pizza, just think that you just ate more than 2000 calories (I checked the numbers on the internet for large Domino pizza) so even if your body says it's hungry in the morning, just visualize that and try to keep the fuck you (that's a phrase I tell to myself, originally from Pouet :)
  • Maybe my persistence kept me focused on this finally (while I failed to stick to any other diet after 2 weeks) but also the very relevant science to my diabetes type 2 case might fit and helped see results so far, both in my lower blood sugar levels and steady 0.5kg per week weight loss for about 7 weeks so far. And I am happy with it. The only peculiar thing is that my fat-counter doesn't show any drop in my fat levels for all this period, something that worries me a bit (Could it be liquids or muscle loss? Usually liquids is when you suddenly loose 1-2kg in 2-3 days that doesn't make sense, while here the loss is steady and gradual, so maybe it could be muscle loss or maybe my fat-counter is not accurate. But as I have big success with blood sugar and confidence in this diet, I will keep on and see)
  • Also, if you have a big feast in the evening (like our pizza nights) and the insulin raises fast, somehow the next day you might feel hungry. And I've heard this is not a proper hunger signal. Since you are aware you had the 2400 calories meal, you know what you have to do. Fast for a big period of time and ignore this hunger. There is although another kind of hunger I found out, when there is a daily calorie restriction (traditional diets) and you start having headaches. Maybe that's a sign that you are eating less than you should. I don't get these much in a fasting diet.
  • Someone would argue, isn't then fasting a calorie restriction diet? And I would argue too because I sometimes am confused. But in the same videos I'll post link about, I read about some studies of conventional restricting diets (like everyday the same amount of 1600 cals for example) after a while don't work well, since the body knows that you give it less energy for every day passing, then it drops the metabolic rate thus making you very tired, burning less, also trapping you into gaining weight at the end if you are fed up with it and eat a bigger meal next day. I know about this, I have been there, counting calories, eating about 1600 cals and even trying to do it with every day salads and some chicken, healthy stuff. Sometimes, I felt like I had less success with these restricting diets than the days where I was fed up with diets and eat normally. The difference with fasting diet is that it comes into cycles of eating normally and then restricting the eating window (not necessary the calories) the next day. I mean, normally a 5:2 fad diet tells you to eat normally at 5 days and then eat 600 cals in 2 other days. I haven't even gone there and still have success! I did my 24 hours fasting after I eat a big fast food meal ffs! Then be careful to not overeat later. And sometimes just skipped breakfast randomly. But no controls or awareness of calories except of visualizing of my head what I ate today to know if I accidentally overeat. It's still unplanned and it works, just because of creating some smaller eating windows!

So, there has to be something about it in my own case. And maybe obese or diabetic people or people with evolving metabolic syndrome who are currently overweight but it might get worse. It's good to know and consider learning more if you are into that category.

Now, random facts about psychology:

  • Rule number 1, your whole weight loss attempts are very much entangled to your personality and emotions about it. You can be very demotivated if your ego tells you "I must do this. I must prove them that I am not a fat idiot. If I fail, I must prove I am not lazy!" and that hurts you and makes you quit and/or overeat. A friend told me that I should see the weight loss diet as a game, but I digressed because if I saw it as a game I wouldn't take it seriously and then fail. Meanwhile, diets are not my thing and I love food and I still believe it's natural to love food. Anyway, one day when I decided to try the fasting diet, since it was my n-th attempt, I kinda had this not-caring attitude like saying to myself " Just do it so that you try another thing. Don't expect results immediately. And even if you fail, you tried another experiment. Afterall it seems more enjoyful to eat normally, then test yourself by skipping a meal, then eat again rather than traditional calorie restriction diets. Or allowing yourself to eat something big so that you fast for 24 hours.". And thus I took it non-seriously.
  • Rule number 2, because of your seriousness and your ego hurt, you get angry about every random thing you hear. And nowadays everyone is a "health expert" and "diet specialist", everyone has strong opinions and there are even confusing pro-vegan VS traditional diet VS low-carb VS other nutrional dogmas. You might read about something that tells you not to eat your favorite food and thus you are doing it wrong, you might discuss it on youtube or a message board and someone is gonna tell you that you are wrong or even worse that it's all about calories in-calories out and how fat ass lazy you are. You might even engage in such discussions and lose a day and not feel good later on. I've done it and I do it. But it's all bullshit. At least I feel like this because now I've found my way, so I can just ignore them. And that's the hardest part, I can only say that I don't respond anymore because I think I solved it with fasting, so no more need to feel bad with my failures anymore. But few months ago when I was beating myself about this, I would read a comment at youtube about lazy fat obese people and it would drive me mad (it still does, with their insensitivity, but now I can prove them whatever I want).
  • So again, what are the motivation forces here? First you need the initial start. You already had some initial starts. That moment/day when you say "This is it! I am starting from today with this new diet plan and I will win this time!". We all had these. And the problem is that when another attempt fails (after 2 weeks or you get bored after a month) you decide to forget about it for few more months. So there are very few "motivation spike windows" where you can retry something different that might work this time. I think now, that this has to sync with a better strategic diet that somehow is more easy to follow and leads to more predictable results, giving you the feeling that you can finally control your weight or sugar level or fat percentage, any of these, and this will lead yourself to believe in this new attempt/maybe the new diet strategy, creating a positive motivation/feedback loop that gives you courage to continue for more weeks. This is what happened to me with the fasting strategy (and I wasn't even doing a precise diet then, I was almost randomly fasting and not fasting, depending on how I feel the particular day, testing myself). One thing to be careful off. Maybe what you are attempting is a good thing, but you need to try it for at least 3-4 weeks to be sure. And that's the hard part, to not stop after 2 weeks. Basically, I think I had some results even in the first 2 weeks, I even had a bump in the 3rd week, but then I thought that maybe for 1-2 weeks it's a false alarm, so if I don't see what happens for after 4 weeks I can't start believing it much, which I do, which feeds the positive motivation/feedback cycle.

Random last things I don't know about:

  • I am not really sure at the end if carb-centric or fat-centric or caloric restriction or full vegan is better for you. I sort of tried every one of them through the years, maybe some will accuse me I wasn't precise in my attempts, maybe I ate more carbs or I cheated on counting the calories, etc, etc. According to their healthy eating religion of course, if your results deny their philosophy on this, they will think your data is wrong. But if it's supporting their beliefs they won't even question my results. My new fasting attempt also suffers from not precise planning, not strictly counting what I eat, and making a lot of no-no decision and eating fast food during 1/3rd of the full fasting Saturdays. I had made a lot of mistakes (like eating the candy in the office the way I used to overeat such treats before even starting) but of course also some good choices and slight policing but not obsessively, and definitely my eating is still very random with only some fasting strategy for few of the days. So, my new attempt is as sloppy and unscientific than all my old attempts in different schools of thought. And it fucking works even in this form! That surprises me. When one of the old attempts failed, I was telling to myself "Maybe you ate more calories than you counted" or "Most probably even restricting to 50gr of carbs is not enough and you have to do the 0-20gr people propose" or "Maybe you also need to hit the gym at the same time" (which I did, even during my many salads and some protein meat plus calorie counting days). Now I don't even visit the gym and I am the same sloppy as all these other diet strategies, but it shows promise! 
  • Although I want to make an experiment now that I have control. My fasting strategy is currently close to my last habits, more fat-centric. What if one or two of my next weeks where carb-centric fasting weeks. Or vegan-centric fasting weeks. Or even fastfood-centric fasting weeks. How would that affect? Would the carb-centric somehow help me lose the fat which is the only thing stuck? Would it reverse the diet and suddenly carb-centric fasting techniques will make me not lose weight or even gain? Or would it make me lose weight faster? How about the other ones? A week of fast-food everyday might be bad for health regardless success (I will wait to drop a lot of weight before I try this one, just to not destroy what I have gained so far) but I want to see as an experiment how the same fasting strategy (which clearly controls my weight/sugar well) will change things. I could have done such experiments without fasting, one would say, but technically I might have done them in traditional ways, but couldn't clearly notice changes, only yo-yo dieting (and calorie restriction was the worse, dropping my metabolism, not loosing weight and being pissed about and then gaining it). It always seemed random to me, nothing made sense. But since I now have some initial conditions (fasting with fat-centric) with clear observable non-random results and I can make some conclusions, what if I tried in the same framework the other schools of thought? Maybe what I find says some things about me, maybe it's not the truth for everyone and every diet works different for each person. But the framework is also something I can follow so that I don't think my experiment didn't worked because I failed to follow.
  • I really don't about gym. I do walk sometimes. I don't feel like running or going to the gym and it's hard to do it if you don't like it. I'd rather find some other activities that I want to do. Or maybe at this current time I don't need to, because I am happy with something that is working. Unless I realize that lack of fat-dropping means my muscles are dropping, so maybe I'll have to do something about this soon. But there is this theory from some doctors discussing obesity that gym doesn't make you burn much calories. The body, just by existing, burns the majority of calories. I think for the internal organs to work and to maintain body temperature. Other say that if you spend too much energy on the gym, the body will say "Hey, you are not feeding me enough" and get you again into lower metabolic rate (or maybe you just want to either eat more food or go to sleep after coming back from gym). I don't know enough about it and many people will disagree and be angry about these (ahh these lazy obese people, our society gets worse). But it didn't worked with me so far and I quit (if something doesn't work, no positive motivation/feedback cycle). In case you say that I didn't go to the gym very frequently or I preferred cardio to weights or the opposite, there was a time where I went for at least two months in the gym with my brother, almost daily, doing one and a half hour program of both cardio and weights (I did hurt my muscles the first days) and all I was thinking at the time was "Fuck! If I am doing it so heavy for such a long time, I must finally see results, even if they come after the first few weeks". And it fucking didn't work! Maybe I yo-yo'ed a bit but no steady results. I don't remember my eating habits at the time, but I don't think they changed much (so I wasn't overeating as an excuse because of the gym). Of course one would think I should do both diet and gym, but that hits me already in the willpower balls, I usually have the problem to motivate me start with one of the too, how about both? And since I believe more on solving the problem with changing eating habits rather than gym, and it starts to be proven with fasting, I just quit with the gym again (I was paying empty months for nothing). Although even doctors who are not supporting gym for weight loss, say it will be fine for you but don't expect weight loss, I am not saying it's a bad thing but all I am saying is I stopped doing something when I don't feel like, even if people would argue I am not gonna lose any weight if I also don't go to the gym (or do other activities).

And thus, those are the "little" things I had to say. Of course my adventure into this new fasting strategy continues and I just need few more weeks to continue observing how it goes and hopefully everytime hoping it's not a false alarm (but I went beyond that I think). Maybe I'll do the carb-centric / scared of fat switch after my 8th week. Or maybe a bit later to keep a safe distance (I don't want changes to my plan destroy the good things I achieved here, although even if I gained weight with carb-centric, I would still learn something at least). I will keep you informed if I find something.

p.s. Forgot the links. These rather lengthy series of videos where my induction on what makes the insulin spike, how important a fasting window is to reduce the excessive insulin and how this really works with his diabetes patients.
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