“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” – Ernest Hemingway
Another repost from my Quora answers, this time some info for anyone looking to move into programming. How much of what we learn in school helps us in real life? The stuff school teaches you - literature, mathematics, art, history, science, and so on - are intended to give you a broad enough base from which you can freely choose the direction you want to go in life. This means that as you specialize, many of these subjects may become “irrelevant” to you, but having this broad base of knowledge gives you a better foundation in life.
“If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” - E.B. White I am fortunate that with my flexible working schedule I get to choose whether to derp around or to be productive every day.
I read this tweet from @GaryGulman, a standup comic who gives out tips for comedy writers: 70) Today, put together a list of the most embarrassing moments in your life. Take one or two and write them out in detail. Next time you’re in front of a warm crowd, work on telling the story. #GulManTip #WriteNow — (((GARY GULMAN))) (@GaryGulman) March 11, 2019 Today, put together a list of the most embarrassing moments in your life.
I posted the other day about trying to get back into the habit of early morning walks. Unfortunately, I failed to continue that habit the very next day (hopefully I’m able to succeed on upcoming days). The main reason I failed is that I was unable to sleep early on the preceeding night. My sleep cycle is horribly irregular, given my flexible working hours. I tend to be easily tempted to take naps at odd hours.
Our instinct tells us to fear the unknowns, especially the ones that loom large in our imagination. The bigger the unknown, the more fear and uncertainty it generates, and in some cases it can lead us to paralysis and inability to move forward. Most often, the only way to conquer these unknown obstacles is to face them head on. Study them, attack them, break them apart, until you understand what they are.
Image source: r/GetMotivated It’s fun to think about what might have been, but often regret is tinged with optimism - the optimism that given another chance, we might have made different decisions and obtained better outcomes. But different doesn’t always mean better, so such visualizations are often pointless speculation.
Sometimes you just come up short. You try to work your brain but it always comes up dry. It happens, even to the best of us. There’s no shame in failure or in defeat. It’s only human. We can’t be at our best all the time, otherwise it’s not our best. What’s important is you pick yourself up and try again the next day. Tomorrow, we can do better.
“Whatever doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger.” Nietzche I liked this quote a lot when I was younger and more gung-ho, especially about things like work. In fact, I may have considered it as a bit of a defining quote back then. I guess the idea was ‘ok, we’ll rush in and try anything, at worst we learn a lesson and be better for next time’.
The popular adage is that on your deathbed, you would not be regretting not having worked more. I think about this often, especially when there are people trying to convince me that I should do this work or that, because they have no one else to turn to or something or the work desperately needs to be done. It seems that there’s always work that desperately needs to be done, but if you look at it closely the consequences are rarely that life-altering.
I have my share of sleeping problems, but it gets slightly worse when I’m sleeping on a new, strange, unfamiliar bed. It always takes me some time to adjust to any new trappings, and I almost always expect on my first few nights at a new place that I won’t get the correct amount of sleep or be awake at the proper times. I wonder if there is some primordial instinct that causes us to be wary of unfamiliar sleeping arrangements, granting (against our will) heightened awareness in case of predators.
“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.” ― John Greenleaf Whittier, Maud Muller - Pamphlet It is human nature perhaps, to think about those alternate realities that might have come from different decisions or different dispositions. If only I was braver. If only I was more decisive. If only I didn’t have something holding me back. If only I knew what I knew now.
“None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an after-thought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There’s no time for anything else.” — Keanu Reeves via swissmiss
For my first few years in elementary school, I didn’t get any pocket money. Instead I’d have a couple of sandwiches and a thermos of water. So I wasn’t used to handling money. One time while waiting for the school bus, I was a bit thirsty but my thermos was already out. For some reason, I decided to borrow five pesos from a classmate to buy a coke from the canteen.
It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: And this, too, shall pass away. How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride!how consoling in the depth of affliction! - Abraham Lincoln More quotes! I like ones that have a level of ambiguity, a meaning that changes depending on situation.
I love sleeping. And taking naps. But I’m not very good at doing it at night. Insomnia is a common problem for me. I often find it difficult to go to sleep at night, taking upwards of 1-2 hours in bed before I can manage to fall asleep. Of course all that time lying there feels unproductive, so I’ll often be tempted to to grab a nearby screen and read something online or such, which makes it even harder to get to sleep.
I used to be super easy to goad into a debate. It’s a clear weakness to my projected DGAF attitude actually. Well, the main thing is that I enjoy lively discussion, even though it can often lead into chaos. I soured a bit on online debate during the 2016 election season though. Too many people I knew getting butthurt or reacting poorly. Someone I knew since high school unfriended me over some imagined slight even.
Today is Chinese New Year. It’s something my family celebrates. I am of course, ethnically Chinese, but I don’t talk about it much. When asked, I will often reply that I identify as a Filipino, not as Chinese (maybe slightly more relevant these days given our disagreement with our largely populated neighboring country). I don’t reject the heritage or anything - but I’m not particularly steeped in it either. I don’t speak the language (beyond a few token phrases).
I saw the following question on Twitter: People who write a lot of blogposts… How do you know a post is done? — Andreas Klinger ✌️ (@andreasklinger) February 2, 2019 “People who write a lot of blogposts… How do you know when a post is done?” Having written daily posts since October, I feel like I already qualify for “People who write a lot of blogposts”, but I realized I don’t have a straight answer aside from “When I run out of things to say”.
Sometimes I stop and think and I’m amazed at how much trust we place in our fellow human beings, many of them strangers, enough so that society is able to function. Some examples of what I mean: My mom pays for thousands of pesos worth of groceries and doesn’t bother going through the receipt to make sure the cashier punched in the right items We order food in restaurants that is cooked and prepared outside of our view and trust that they are prepared appropriately and with proper regard for health standards I take naps in a taxi cab assuming the driver won’t take me to a secluded location and try to rob me We cross the street trusting that drivers are sensible people who won’t blow past traffic lights and suddenly careen towards us We go to work and trust that our coworkers will do their thing and our work will get done and the company is going to pay us We order stuff online and assume that the order will be fulfilled All of this, in spite of the fact that we know there are humans who exist who are incompetent, unreliable, or even downright malicious or sociopathic.
Quote 1: “The world isn’t fair Calvin” “I know Dad, but why isn’t it ever unfair in my favor?” – Bill Watterson, “Calvin and Hobbes” Quote 2: “If you expect the world to be fair with you because you’re fair to them, its like asking a lion not to eat you because you don’t eat lions.” (Unknown source) We accept that the natural order of the world is inherently unfair.
Sometimes I see posts like this: and I can’t help but feel like it’s at least a little bit applicable to me. And I start to wonder whether maybe I’m suffering depression? Or maybe just a little depressed? The question only lasts in my head for a moment. Despite my sometimes bleak outlook for humanity, I still consider myself a largely optimistic person and I understand life is generally good for me at least (at the moment).
One of my pet peeves is people coming up to me cold/unsolicited and trying to sell me things: People who try to grab your attention or hand you fliers in a mall are the popup ads of real life — Roy Tang (@roytang) January 16, 2019 Like my tweet above says, it’s like advertising spam in real life. I’m sure it bothers other people too, but it annoys me a bit disproportionately.
Last week I was able to tick an item off my bucket list: I played chess in the park with strangers! (Yes, my bucket list items are that level lol) Achievement unlocked: play chess in the park with strangers (and lose badly) — Roy Tang (@roytang) January 15, 2019 When watching TV/movies, I was always fascinated by those scenes where people are in the park playing chess and I wanted to play chess in the park with strangers too.
Sipunin, from the root word “sipon”, referring to the common cold. It refers to someone who is susceptible to and often has the common cold. Certainly applicable to me. For as long as I can remember I’ve always had the cold all the time, especially during the earlier and later months of the year. (I’m sure selective memory lets me forget all those days that my nose was actually not clogged…)
Gift giving is something I’m quite bad at. Okay wait, that’s not accurate. I’m fine with the gift giving. The real problem I have with is gift-buying. I’m not good at buying gifts for other people. The main problem I guess is that I’m not good at buying things in general, unless those are things that are of particular interest to me. And since my interests are a bit niche, there tends to be not much overlap with what gifts I think other people will appreciate.
A Nobel Prize-winning psychologist says most people don’t really want to be happy Interesting article, a quote: Kahneman argues that satisfaction is based mostly on comparisons. “Life satisfaction is connected to a large degree to social yardsticks–achieving goals, meeting expectations.” While I guess this is largely true for society as a whole, it’s something I try to avoid for myself, since comparison is the thief of joy. The article argues that satisfaction is different from happiness, which is fleeting.
I’m a fan of unpredictability and randomness, and I easily get bored with regularity, repetitiveness or consistency. I once articulated this as a life philosophy to a friend - that I preferred a life with periods of highs and lows, like a sine wave, instead of a simple and boring flat line. This is why I often enjoy games like Scrabble or MTG. Basically competitive skill-intensive games that still have a significant element of random chance, so that the games while interesting, almost never play out the same way.
It can be easy to get overwhelmed by all the stimuli that the modern world provides us. There’s a seemingly endless stream of problems to be overcome, bad news to be angry about, movies to watch, tv shows to binge, games to play, books to read, pictures to share, gossip to be had, new things to learn, challenges to be faced, and so on. And with all of these comes the pressure to make the most of your time, to make sure it isn’t “wasted”.
When another person expects something from you by a certain date, be it a meeting, or a debt to repay, or a work-related submission or something else, and you are unable to provide it by the agreed upon time, you owe it to that person to tell him you can’t make it, explain why, and provide a plan for moving forward. It’s a basic courtesy. If you made an appointment to meet at a certain time and place, and it looks you’re not going to be able to go, message the other party and tell them.
Last week I looked into sentiment analysis, basically it means analyzing text to find out whether it’s “feel good” or “feel bad”. My idea was to use this to analyze my public posts (specifically, on Twitter), to see whether I was trending towards being more positive or more negative. Unfortunately, when I tabulated the data, it was unexciting. No discernable trend of any kind, no plateaus signalling times of stability. Just wild swinging ups and downs as you’d expect from a normal, well-adjusted person.
The other day I wrote about how I’ve been walking on a regular basis recently. While the regularity and the tracking are fairly recent, I’m actually not that much of a stranger to walking as an activity. Even back when I was in high school I would often walk all the way home instead of taking the bus-and-jeep commute route I was supposed to take. It didn’t take that much longer, and I often enjoyed the solace (and I got to save a bit of money, even as a child I was quite frugal~).
It’s December the 1st, there’s this image I often share on this day: It’s a really stupid pun that I won’t explain (but it maybe only works in a Filipino accent.) I love puns! The best puns are so terrible and so great at the same time. Puns are like a tiny puzzle that your brain has to solve and when you do solve them, your brain has that tiny flash of “A-ha!
These days the only real exercise I get comes in the form of daily walks. When I took a work hiatus in 2016, it was one of the daily habits I promised myself I would pick up. During that time, I wanted to hit the often-recommended daily target of 10,000 steps per day. (Tangent: I found out while writing this post that this number may have no scientific basis after all)
With the rise of social media, we get to see a lot of things our friends are doing or buying or places they’re going to, and this has led to the rise of the phenomenon called FOMO or Fear of Missing Out. It’s a type of envy of other people’s lives and as a type of envy it’s also a form of regret for our own life choices. FOMO is rightly called a fear, and like all irrational fears, it should be dismissed as soon as one recognizes it.
The most efficient way to find something you like is to identify it, figure out where to find it, then go find it. This is why we have search engines and indexes and maps. This is why bookstores and groceries and department stores try to sort their wares into logical arrangements, to facilitate this efficient search. Not everything needs to be efficient however. There’s something to be said for exploration - browsing, meandering, walking down new paths, and so on.
It’s been a while since I took one of those internet quizzes that categorize you and try to describe your personality. I ran into this one called Sparketypes recently. Here’s my result: Your Primary Sparketype reveals the essential nature or “driver” of the work you’re here to do (whether it’s the work you get paid to do, or not). When you do the work of your Primary Sparketype, you come alive with purpose and, fully-expressed in a healthy way, deepen into meaning, flow, connection and joy.
The larger the audience, the more careful you have to be with your words. When you’re hanging out with a small group of close friends, you can say anything ridiculous and irresponsible and it’s fine, your friends can call you out on it. When you’re a commencement speaker you need to be more careful with what you say, even jokingly. Since you’re talking to a large number of impressionable youths, there’s a good chance someone will misinterpret what you say.
Had a slightly confusing conversation a couple of weeks ago with my mom which went something like: Me: “Oh, the bar exam starts next weekend, <my cousin> is in Manila a week early.” Ma: “No, it’s this weekend.” Me: “That’s what I said, next weekend.” Ma: “No, this weekend, on the 4th.” Me: “That’s what next weekend means!” Ma: “No, next weekend is the 11th.” “Next weekend” is definitely confusing, so I should avoid using it in the future for the much clearer and more definitive “this weekend” which is unambiguous when used on a weekday.
There’s a lot of doom and gloom and bad news in the world these days, giving us ordinary folk little reason to be optimistic. Examples include: we are almost certainly too late to prevent climate change at all and social collapse is now an actual possibility Trump has begun taking steps to walk back a nuclear arms control treaty increasing trends of nationalism and populism threatening to walk back the gains of globalisation (i.
I’ll probably never be an entrepreneur. It’s funny. There’s a lot of these “Anyone can be an entrepreneur!” “You too can be an entrepreneur!” articles that go around. But I don’t think it’s true. I don’t think entrepreneurship is for everybody. Laziness is probably the main factor. Becoming an entrepreneur is hard work. That’s something all the entrepreneurship articles aren’t shy about telling you. “Anyone can do it, as long as you are willing to work hard!
Webcomic PVP Online recently did a short series on the character Cole suffering anxiety. I generally consider myself to be a well-adjusted and functioning adult (more or less), but I did grow up as a socially anxious introvert, so I still find myself suffering mild anxiety from time to time. The most common scenario is when someone messages you like “Hey, can we talk later?” with no additional context whatsoever.
I’ve been re-watching The Office (US) lately (it’s a good show to leave running in the background while you’re doing other stuff), and I just find the character of Michael Scott fascinating. He’s funny and well-written and basically just a big bag of human flaws that somehow bumbles his way into managing an office. He’s self-centered, attention-hungry, easily distracted, and refuses to acknowledge any bad news, yet despite all of that he loves his workmates like a family.
Reminders: You don’t have to be on all the time. You don’t have to optimize everything all the time You don’t have to be at maximum productivity all the time You don’t have to be the best at everything you do all the time You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room all the time You don’t have to worry about everything all the time You don’t have to be strong enough for everyone all the time You don’t have to solve everyone’s problems all the time There had been some suggestion that people with the above traits (hypercompetitive, always wanting to optimize everything, manage their time, be productive etc) have a higher tendency for heart disease or cardiovascular problems, although that theory is in question.
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Roy Tang (@roytang0400) on Oct 16, 2018 at 2:24am PDT I took a quick walk around the QC memorial circle the other day. There was some kind of event going on in the main plaza for the Department of Agriculture; Secretary Pinol was there giving a speech. I walked a couple of rounds around the park so I could meet my daily steps target.
For the past few weeks or so, many in the country were consumed by a sort of lotto fever. The PCSO 6/58 Ultra Lotto had gotten up to a record high jackpot prize of more than 1 billion PHP (roughly 20M USD – I know some lotteries in the US have prizes way higher than that, but hey, we’re not the US.) Many people who normally don’t play the Lotto were participating due to the sheer size of the pot.
I’ve noticed that when I dream I live in a different house. In the dreams, “home” is not the home that I live in now. Instead it’s the “home” I grew up in. It’s my grandparents’ house, where we lived until the right after the turn of the millenium. That house is no longer there; I’ve mentioned it before. But when I manage to remember my dreams it seems like it’s still “home” for me.
I found an old document I had written around 2012, six years ago, I’ll quote it in full here: I remember when I was in high school, I made a bet with a classmate that I would be able to become president of the country before he could. Our wager was worth one cubic meter of solid gold. A few years back, I made a wager with an officemate who was about to leave my company to go independent; I bet that I would become famous before he would.
For years now, I’ve had numerous discussions with friends and family about the possibility of setting up my own business, no matter how small. Prospects have ranged from my own software consulting firm to a food stall in an MRT station. None of these ideas never push through. Aside from general risk-aversion and not being confident in the ideas, there’s a few factors that in my mind are significant obstacles towards starting a new business for me.
"Let go or be dragged" Zen proverb A few days back I read something on a Hacker News thread that kind of resonated with me: I’m not going to claim to be the most workaholic person ever – I’ve certainly known a lot of people who work far harder than me. But I do recognize that I have this problem of emotional attachment to a project, especially if I’m the main person responsible for it.