Saturday, November 03, 2012

Recent Victories

I urge this as an exercise, to review recent victories, you might think "to build self esteem?" but not so much, more it's about seeing yourself honestly for what you consider "a victory".  Was there someone to defeat?  Or was it some personal goal attained i.e. were you defeating your own lethargy?

One of mine was getting the Raspberry Pi to talk to my HDMI monitor in the office.  The solution was quite trivial and amounted to tweaking some settings in a text file, config.txt, already well commented.  But there's a sense of pride in doing, called positive reinforcement, that is it's own reward.  I remember when I bought an inexpensive capacitor and Bill Sheppard (a Wanderer) welded it on for me, replacing another on my DVD player's circuit board.  An investment was saved from the trash.  Skills had been well used.

Here's another.  My housemate is a lifestyle sculptress, herself the prime subject, meaning strict rules and attention to consumption and waste patterns.  All the glass bottles piling up from my six-packs were not helping her keep six-pack abs (a result of eating vegan + plenty of exercise), plus that's a lot of recycling.  Solution:  buying growlers instead, where the same bottle is reused, and filled from a keg. A higher grade, fresher beer is procured at a bulk price, and given constraints on transportation, it's gotten less often and in a healthier way.  I can bike a few miles for my 64 oz. container of Hub IPA.

Next:  I'm getting more into Haskell.  John T. at work had gone through a number of math languages, looking for innocence and purity, something aesthetic.  He felt his quest had come to a worthy terminus in Haskell.  A lot of thinking had already gone into Lambda Calculus when these functional languages were spawned, so they inherit that layer.  It's like an oil or natural gas field.  Once you start fracking in Haskellville, you get a quick infusion of gas, where gas is a good thing.

Does chronicling victories mean one should not also chronicle defeats?  "Defeat" is the grammatical opposite of "victory", not "failure", not "loss" (although "loss" is closer, since to lose is to be non-victorious).  I'd say your objective, in this mindfulness training, is to strive to report evenly.  Focusing on losses may be a way of avoiding responsibility whereas capitalizing on victories, even small ones, is building up your hand and thereby staying in the game, whatever game.  "I'm still a player" is the battle cry of the undefeated (those still willing to experience victories).

A next step with this practice is to tease victory stories out of others, get them to focus on wins in your presence, and then celebrate those victories with them.  This has a lot to do with friendship and being affirming.

At SMAD the other day we talked about "shame" and the bias of our group and group leader was definitely against it, i.e. shame was cast is an unhealthy substitute for other states that would improve the world more effectively.

One tends to self-divide into a self-teacher within, and one's admonishments to oneself are like that of a coach to a team, but in what sport and what kind of team?  We differ a lot in that dimension and when we attempt to teach others in ways we teach ourselves (often quite effectively I might add) we may encounter types of resistance that are to us unfamiliar because lo, personalities differ (duh).

Some people inwardly curse themselves out when they drop the ball in some way, but their flip side self, who takes the heat, is not overly discomfited because there's a bond of trust with this particular coach.  "She berates me in just the way I need" says the grateful trainee.  Note the rise of "nagware as a service" i.e. people use cyber-tools to goad them to run more, swim more or achieve whatever goals (sometimes with gifts to "anti-charities" used as penalties).  Other people need to be very diplomatic with themselves and only sound affirming, because any self-cursing triggers a spiral into self-hate that leads to poor team performance on no real sense of a pro coach.  There's only despair and losing.

When you meet a new person, one thing to discover is their "coach me" API.  However some may runaway scared before you get that far.  They hear you cursing yourself out, see the flame-thrower you use on yourself routinely and pretty much seem to laugh off, as you like having a dragon for a coach, consider it a privilege.

However, your onlooker just worries that dragon will flame at him and he's just not ready to be on such a team.  That's really understandable.  Or replace "dragon" (handsome and romantic) with "ogre".  "I just couldn't live around that ogre" is a common statement in divorce courts, if translated honestly.  Yes, Shrek has done much to improve the ogre image / PR, but I'm still more of a dragon fan myself (which sounds easy to say I suppose).

While on this topic:  I remember the Scandinavian fascination with "trolls" as relatively cute and cuddly.  Internet culture seems to have singled out "troll" and "trolling" as fair game for banishment and/or flames.  The question is where does honest and open agitation and debate cross the line?  Some groups just don't like to be challenged.

For example, if you speak up amidst Quakers, saying that holding nuclear weapons was like spitting on Jesus while he dragged his cross through Jerusalem, are you written off as "a troll"?

The abomination some Quakers trolled about, pre Civil War, was the holding of slaves, still considered perfectly legal and Biblical in those days (today it's more underground, a target of FBI and Homeland Security investigations).  To this day, many Christians say "they hold slaves in the Bible so it must be fine and dandy with God, so shut up and leave us alone already!".  And indeed God and the apostles say things about how how the relationship of master / slave should be conducted (respectfully), which implies an acceptance.  Many Biblical authorities have said Jesus never said anything against slavery, but I'd say the derivation of the word "Friend" (as in not-servant, not-slave -- a free and willing agent) traces to John 15:15 wherein Jesus says he's fed up with slave-minded sycophants who just wanna get to heaven, over his dead body if necessary (paraphrasing). He was lonely for real friends, who can blame him?

Quakers were less into aping the Biblical cultures (various brand of Holy Lander), as if the point of that book were to stage theater (re-enactments) -- though sure, it's full of good stories, worthy of cinematic treatment (not to worry, more to come I'm sure).

Nukes likewise enslave, by holding a sword of Damocles over vast populations, but some "Saved Christians" defend this grave sin on Manifest Destiny grounds ("if God didn't mean us to hold nukes, then we wouldn't have nukes already" -- the same demented argument used to keep slaves ("using the existence of a state or condition, as a justification for its continuance" -- there must be some Latin name for that fallacy; "status quo ad absurdum"?)).

Scandinavians think trolls are adorable, and Scandinavians don't have nukes.  I'm thinking more pro-troll PR may be in order, to balance what the oafish ghouls and ogres have been up to.  We're not just pro-elvyn around here, we're pro-troll (traditionally they fight each other, so heyoka (and watch out!)).

Sometimes the same story may be told as a defeat or a victory.  If the premise is "loser" then I couldn't even keep track of the 2011 tax statement and so I haven't done the FASFA yet, egad.  However, having filed through H&R Block I was able to have my Razr / M talk me through an interesting set of turns and I didn't even have an accident while admiring the pretty GPS map. Victorious outcome:  I now have a copy of said statement and a better relationship with my smartphone (we're spending more time together).

The Raspberry Pi is a small computer.  Steve Holden not only gave me a unit, in my capacity as PSF member, after watching him set up a few, but lent me the book.  Sliding the SD card from the unit to the Mac Air allowed me to tweak config.txt on a different machine, and after awhile I just used on-board vi to tweak the settings and reboot.  I have an aspect ratio I can live with.  The unit is also connected by Ethernet to the office router and is happy to browse the Web.