Laying here

I’m laying in bed, typing on my phone. My girlfriend is out at bars, clubs, dancing with her friends.

“I’m sorry sweetie,” I say. “I have a meeting at 7am tomorrow and I need to prepare tonight.”

“Itz okay” she says in her chirping Hispanic accent, as if she knew better. She struts around the apartment, heels clacking against the wood floors, spinning and examining her outfit. Her long lean legs fill dark blue jeans and tall heeled boots, while a sheer black crop top hugs her slender torso.

Now, I stare at the ceiling. Cars pass here and there. A beeping whirring hum builds and echos in the distance. A street cleaner.

I can’t sleep, how convenient. I think about smoking, and peek over the side of the bed where my girlfriend keeps her vape. My eyes dart to the night stand and floor as I slowly reconsider what smoking would mean for a lethargic morning meeting.

I think of better days, younger days, with instantaneous freedom, with no planning, no organizing. Perhaps check my schedule to verify when I need to show up at my restaurant job. Just beach days, party days, bar days, long days in the sun, in my Jeep, driving aimlessly, wherever the day may lead.

Now meaning is work, is trivial yearning for more of the abyss to swallow me whole as it eternally recedes, just out of reach, but consumes everything.

I am nothing.

I will look back, and these will be better days.

Working for this great company. Living with my exotic ballerina girlfriend in downtown San Francisco.

I will not remember how disconnected I felt from it all. No. I’m sure, as most memories happen to be, I will remember these days quixotically, fondly, as if it was all down hill every passing year.

Growing up always seems a bit downhill.

And to think, I thought I was progressing toward something. When in reality, I am rolling away from something: namely, life. And death waits for me at the bottom, when I eventually come to a slow roll.

I want to be my best, feel my best. But the best feels arbitrary, and impossible.

The hum penetrates my concentration. Whizzing. A machine creeps on Market St below.

I do not like typing, journaling, diary-ing on my phone. Too many mistakes, too much angst having to interrupt my flowing thoughts to correct them.

It’s 1:46am. I must sleep. My eyes grow heavy. A gentle burn. Give me more. More life. More dreams. Something for me to grab hold of, to lift me up, and elevate my sad spirit.

Girl, soul, where are you? Find me please. I need you. I wait for you. Be with me. I don’t want to be alone any longer. See me, know me. Embrace me. Penetrate my void, fill my abyss with your presence.

Girl. Hold my hand.

Goodnight.

Thinking and Writing

Most thinking is passive.

Productive thinking is active.

Active thinking requires instantiating the idea. Taking the abstract contents of a thought and breathing it into the world, and onto the logical order that sensibilities require.

Before writing was economical, before paper and ink was commonly used and accessible and mass produced, memory palaces provided a temporal spatial realm to exercise ideas and hang them on the scaffolding of the mind. (Roman Lull; Cicero)

Conversing out loud is great, but you can’t go back and refer to those thoughts in the future.

Writing thoughts down is best. It creates a static permanency that can be eternally revisited. Thoughts embedded in symbols and signs, imbued with meaning and association,

O'vr Whelm'd

I’ve been in a trance.

My mind is gripped in a vice of self-induced stress.

I have nothing to say, and everything to say. I need to organize my thoughts, that’s what I need to do. This past week I’ve been working from 7am and getting home around 8 or 9 or 10pm. I began this new position as Group Sales Manager, and it’s truly overwhelming.

My main contention is the lack of organization. Where do I start? Do I maintain excel spreadsheet hell? Or do I create my own custom relational database, and rack untold hours of mental torture and toil into creating something that at best will marginally improve my productivity?

Or do I just sketch out a process and build small steps?

Do I even have a process? I believe I do. I believe there is a process, a strategy, for effective technical sales. It involves understanding three things: 1.) Customer Needs 2.) My Value Proposition 3.) Customer Organization

I feel like I need to create a checklist that answers this question: what information do I need from or about the customer to transact a sale?

The next question is, is there common information across all customers that needs to be collected to transact a sale? The answer is yes. Formulating the process for that collection is how we get efficient at qualifying and selling and growing business.

I’m just overwhelmed. SO much on my mind. Spent last weekend developing an “access database”. What a joke. So overwhelmed. Data is a shit show. But what can I do to create a process for myself?

My creative drive has been reduced to a pathetic whimper.

No, my drive is there. It’s more like my… time? I’ve strangled my creative, imaginative side by not leaving any time for play, for exploration. I am too intense, too much business. It’s killing me, physically, spiritually and emotionally. I’m probably a miserable, uninteresting person and I probably and completely unaware and clueless!

What the fuck am I doing with my life?

I work 12 hour days. Come home to a girlfriend that I know I’m not going to marry. Live in a downtown apartment that I can’t afford. I don’t have a social life. And I’m not even sure why. I blamed my job, the industry, the travel. The nature of work. But maybe I’m just an intolerable asshole. Maybe I’m boring. Maybe I’m too cerebral. Maybe I just don’t like people as much as I want to believe I do. Maybe I’m depressed.

I feel like there’s some truth to the last point. I may very well be depressed. Exogenous testosterone has ceased about six months ago, and though I feel the worse is over, I’m living in this purgatory hell. Which is probably how I always felt, and which is probably why I chose to self medicate with testosterone in the first place. I work out to feel good. Testosterone feels good. More testosterone feels better. But that’s just not sustainable. Too harsh on the body, and I have only one. So now I’m inhabiting not a youthful corpse, but a used one. Without the testosterone pulsing through my veins, which inspired invigorating daily physical training to jettison feelings of euphoria throughout the day, I am left feeling more empty, more drained, more gray, more lazy, more used. This, I hope, will not continue forever. I feel like I need to move again. But I’m also “happy” at my current corporate job. Which feels like enslavement. But I also do enjoy it. But only because it’s a coping mechanism for the other sad realities characterizing my existence.

Why Trump is Bad for Humanity.

I have many friends and family that support Trump.

Some I can have great conversations with, but most I cannot.

The ones I can have great conversations with really aren’t that emotionally invested in the politics. To them, Trump speaks to a few core values that they believe he will protect and deliver on, and that’s it.

The most common issues are guns, abortion, immigration, healthcare, tax policy, labor economics, or welfare.

Other common are criminal justice, education, military, trade, religion, terrorism, human rights.

Everything else they don’t care about really.

What I find puzzling about everyone who supports Trump, is that they all acknowledge his character failings, but they don’t seem to mind. They acknowledge he has defects, but they don’t seem to pay them much attention.

In fact, they usually minimize those defects by saying something like “no ones perfect”. This is a convenient way to dismiss or justify inconvenient truths, without requiring additional scrutiny which would inevitably disqualify him as a viable president/candidate.

There are two topics I really enjoy conversing about:

1.) The policies mentioned above, and the philosophical discussions about society and government and the roles and relationships between them. Defining the “common good”, and discussing policies to encourage the common good.

2.) What makes a good leader, or political candidate?

These are two separate philosophical discussions, but often the 1st gets all the attention.

I feel that at this moment in history, the most pressing question is #2: what makes a good leader, or political candidate.

What I observe is that most people have their minds made up about #1. Most political preferences are not even chosen; you are born into them. Statistically, you will possess the same values and voting preferences as your parents, or the community you were born and raised into. It’s very rare for someone to change political values.

#1 is a debate that’s ongoing. It won’t be settled.

#2 is a conversation that historically, for the USA, hasn’t been a huge talking point. I think, fortunately for the USA, we’ve had political candidates on both sides of the isle with strong leadership, and good character, with a universal sense of justice and convicted moral compass. I believe this was because the United States has strong moral values, and the citizens within it knew how to identify good character, and those people rose to leadership positions.

But nowadays, that isn’t the case.

Citizens don’t know what good character looks like, because they don’t have good models for it. We don’t teach virtues in schools or our communities anymore. Most people don’t know what virtue is, or what it means to embody virtues that comprise a good character.

And so, they don’t know a good leader when they see it, and they don’t know the risk of bad character.

In a country with as much prosperity as ours, with as many resources as ours, there have been ample opportunities for good men to rise to the top through sheer will and leadership.

As resources become concentrated in the hands of a few, access to those resources becomes more difficult to acquire, and inequality grows. Those with resources create barriers of entry to reduce competition. They do this a variety of ways, but the most common is through the legal system and property rights.

Those with resources lobby for laws and policies which reduce competition, by making the cost to compete too unbearable. They can introduce complex policies or laws, such as paperwork, or licensing, or permits, or schooling requirements, or certification requirements, or long tedious applications with trivially complex hoops and requirements.

In the end, those with the resources to compete have the resources to navigate these barriers. Those that do not cannot compete, and will not gain access to new resources.

This is not a free market economy. It is a rigged economy.

This is the situation that gives rise to corruption.

In the United States, there are three stakeholders in this game: the capitalists (wealthy), the elected politicians, and the government officials.

1.) The capitalists possess the resources.

2.) The elected politicians design the barriers to protect those resources.

3.) The government officials are the gatekeepers to ensure that those barriers are working as designed.

If you have enough capital resources, you can not only fund a political candidate to designs barriers to protect your resources, you can pay off the government gatekeepers.

A major difference between the policies between republicans and democrats is in which form of capital they prioritize and protect with their policies.

Republicans prioritize material asset capital.

Democrats prioritize human capital.

Republicans believe that by protecting and prioritizing material asset capital, human capital will be improved.

Democrats believe that by protecting and prioritizing human capital, material asset capital will increase.

Corruption is using money or status to create unfair outcomes.

When members of society, and those participating in the justice system, are largely equal in terms of resources and status, justice is fair.

The more inequality within a society, the more corruption. The grater the inequality, the greater the power imbalances, and those with resources that leverage the legal system for gain are participating in corruption, because justice favors those with resources and influence.

It is a fact that Donald Trump did not earn his wealth; this was given to him. Any wealth he did earn was a function of the wealth and resources he already had to leverage in various forms of corruption. This is evident by this incredibly long list of legal proceedings, lawsuits, bankruptcies, criminal complaints, and a litany of court related events.

Back to the original point.

Assuming a good character makes a good leader:

1.) What makes a good character?

2.) How is a good character developed?

3.) What is the value of a good character?

This is a deeply philosophical question with a lengthy discussion, but for our purposes, let’s distill a few key attributes and virtues:

1.) Honesty, Compassion, Work Ethic, Conscientiousness, Good Judgement, Consistency, Dependability, Frugality, Punctuality, Responsibility

2.) Character is developed through challenges, through trials, through struggle, and with personal reflection and contemplation, with a loving and encouraging support system.

3.) It models and encourages behaviors that allow humanity to productively work together as one to achieve common goals, and to persevere through and overcome existential challenges threatening society at large and the individual members comprising society.

In a free market society with healthy competition, only those that embody the highest attributes of character rise to the top. These are the laws of nature.

For example, dishonesty does not encourage trust, which is fundamental for collaboration. If people do not trust each other, they cannot work together, and if we cannot work together, we cannot organize to overcome complex problems that require organizations of humans coordinating together. Each character virtue can be understood on this way.

Only those that possess these virtues are able to participate in organized society in a meaningful way that contributes value. Those who have learned virtue and earned the character are the most productive members of society, and contribute the most value. Society rewards those individuals with resources and status.

Leaders are those who possess the greatest example that people, due to the character they developed and employed.

What happens when society does not know what a good character is, or the value of a good character, is they equate resources and status with good character.

Corruption is when resources and status have not been earned through working through challenges to develop the necessary character to overcome them, but acquired through unjust means.

There are a variety of ways this happens. Manipulation, deception, and other anti-social behaviors. Inheriting wealth provides access to resources, which can then be used to buy status. Keeping wealth that was not earned through working through challenges that develop necessary good character only happens through corruption.

In the end, Trump did not earn his wealth or his status. He has managed to keep wealth through corrupt means.

The leadership status he has managed to achieve through deception and manipulation is reinforced by a defective character which is positioned in the highest seat of authority and power in the world.

This defective character is now a standard of excellence.

Because defective character only survives through corruption, our society will model behaviors that erode the fabric of a healthy community. Trust, compassion, good judgement, compassion, etc, will no longer be modeled. People will no longer work together, but fight. No longer trust, but lie. They will not take responsibility. And they will all Justify these behaviors because the highest position of leadership embodies these defective behaviors.

In addition, of the two discussion I enjoy having with people, #2 is what guarantees #1 gets executed.

When voters elect a candidate strictly on what they want to hear, rather than evaluating the character and qualifications of who is telling them what they want to hear, they are inviting the possibility of deception, by electing a candidate of bad character, who does not represent their values, who will only deliver on values as a means of securing their position of power and influence.

So that’s my problem with Trump.

How to Influence Others

6 principles of persuasion from Pre-Suasion

Reciprocity: people give what they get. If you smile at me, I’ll smile at you. Works for everything.

Scarcity: people want what they can’t have.

Authority: people follow and listen to credible experts. Appeal to authority or be the authority.

Consistency: people like to be consistent with how they’ve acted in the past. Small yes’s/commitments lead to big yes’s/commitments.

Liking: people say yes to those people they like

Consensus: when people are uncertain, they look to others behavior to determine their own

Graph Theory and Intelligent Systems

Graph Theory = Network Theory = the essence of all systems, all networks, artificial networks, articulations intelligence, machine learning, neural nets, etc etc etc.

Every node is a sensor, is an input, that is defined by the edges associating it to other nodes, and so on.

Networks are matrices. Matrices are compositions of two sets of objects, of nodes and edges, revealing where they intersect.

I feel if we understand Graph Theory, we will better understand information, and how it is encoded and processed.

Intelligence is nothing more than the an expression of engrams, of memory traces, of a system of networks, adapting to new inputs.

How do I stay motivated to learn?

Plato said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

The etymology of invention is “to find out, discovery”.

There is your answer.

When your life must necessarily depend on learning the thing, you will learn it.

Convince yourself that your life depends upon it.

Don’t treat it as a trivial thing.

Fully integrate the goal of learning with survival, with maintaining your well being.

Whenever I feel that my life depends on knowing and understanding a thing, I am fully absorbed, engaged, consumed with focused attention.

This takes some psychological work. It requires imagining your death, physical or ego death, imagining the shame, imagining the failure of embarrassment of not knowing this thing.

It takes practice, but once you learn to integrate the goal of learning with this feeling of existential annihilation, you can tap into endless sustained energy for motivated focus.

See Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s work on learning, specifically flow states.

With the right resistance, with the right existential threat, the right challenge, your entire faculties will rise to the occasion and learn the thing.

Do something.

Because something is better than nothing.

And something constructive is better than something non-constructive.

Active rather than passive.

You don’t have to “achieve” anything. It’s great if you can.

But focused activity that’s coupled with resistance of any kind, especially if it’s in a creative vein, if it’s activity that’s unique to your existence, an expression of your being, no matter how trivial it seems, is satisfying on an existential level.

More satisfying than passively existing. Passively being. Going with the flow. No resistance. No focus.

You don’t have to “achieve” anything other than doing the thing.

This can be learning.
It can be creating.
It can be yearning, pushing, striving.

I just think that resistance is critical. Some existential tension must exist.

That’s what makes it engaging.

That’s what makes it worthwhile.

Poverty and Obesity

Poverty and obesity are strongly linked. For the poor, accessing calories has never been easier, but accessing nutrition has never been harder.

And education attainment and health outcomes are also strongly associated.

Just because you’re obese doesn’t mean you’re not starving.

Consuming excess macronutrients while failing to consume vital micronutrients is starvation. I view poverty obesity as a form of starvation. When you fail to get adequate nutrition, you’re not satiated, and you’ll continue eating, even if it’s empty calories

Likewise, just because you’re breathing doesn’t mean you’re respirating. If you’re breathing oxygen depleted air, you’re starving for it, no matter how much you breath. Likewise with calories and nutrition. You can eat pure sugar everyday, but without additional nutrients, you’ll die

Freedom is Illusion

Freedom?

What is freedom?

This word gets thrown around a lot,

Is freedom simply the ability to choose?

Is it the ability to choose among some things, or many things?

Do we have a choice in the options we are choosing from?

The word freedom is a grand illusion

Here Friend, take this one option.

That’s not free.

Here Friend, choose between these two options.

Ah, a little more freedom.

But still, you want more.

Here Friend, choose between these 100 options.

Surely, this feels like freedom.

100 options, 1 million options.

You can spend your life evaluating the options you are being presented.

But, what of the options you are not being presented?

Do you realize that there are options that you do not know about?

Does knowing they exist change how free you feel?

I feel the task of philosophy is identifying these possibilities, the possibilities inaccessible to our conscious awareness, the possibilities that exist to empower us.

Capitalism, or whatever our consumer culture is today, gives us a lot of what we want but don’t need, and tells us that we’re selfish and bad people for not being grateful for what choices we’ve been given

We’re all in the arena, playing some game, following some rules.

Like little mice scurrying for their breadcrumb or cheese morsel.

I laugh at sub-cultures rebelling against mainstream culture.

It’s still just a parody of the larger theatrics they rebel against. Just a different flavor. Though, it could be.

The point is,

Confidence is critical.

Self doubt is repressive.

I feel like our society, the social system as it’s currently operating, as I and many others are currently experiencing it, is broken.

It is fundamentally broken.

I just cannot for the life of me figure out why.

There are several perverse indicators of this brokenness: gross debt, gross material consumption, gross poor health outcomes, gross criminal justice and gross incarceration, gross poor wage growth, gross inequality, gross mental illness/suicide/depression/drug use, gross loneliness, gross pharmaceutical drug use, gross police force.

These are issues that characterize the state of our society at large.

But they also impact each individuals experience.

Maybe some of these more than others.

Or maybe all these things are par for the course in life.

After all, we could be living in 15th century feudal society, with no potable water, where 90% of my income goes toward eating bread, where hygiene doesn’t exist, where a functional class caste system dictates access to any mobility or professional flexibility, where 85% of the population toils in fields, and lives stone homes with thatched roofs with no air conditioning, with child mortality over 50%.

I suppose it could be worse.

And I’m just bein a bitch.
Everything is relative
What’s life look like in the end?
What’s the end game?
What is the utopian society?
Totally Automated?
Brains in vats?
Simulations of fantasies for all?

I feel that every time we gain one thing, we give up another.

So we are not moving forward toward better necessarily, we are just changing into something different

There is a natural tendency to think things are better, getting better.

I often think about technology’s impact on population growth.

Let’s say the population is 1 billion. Say we use poverty as a measure of well being. Poverty is at 90%.

900 million people suffer to survive daily.

Technological innovations reduce poverty but increase population.

We now have 10 billion people. Poverty is at 20%.

2 billion people are suffering to survive daily.

We have more than doubled the suffering in the world.
The question is, can we ever eliminate suffering?

And say we do reduce human poverty to a crazy ratio, thanks to automation and AI and robotics.

What of the environment?
I feel like that’s literally the most impossible goal tho lol

Like, impossibly out of reach.

Paradoxically so.

Politics

I feel like Democrats/progressive and Republicans/conservatives essential represent two groups of beliefs.

One group believes humans are born inherently good.

The other group believes are born inherently bad.

Based on this most fundamental assumption about human nature does each justify their policies.

These two fundamental assumptions are so divergent, it is merely accidental or coincidental that the policies align, if and when they do.

The Most Important Question

At the end of the day, I think the most important question anyone can ask themselves, no matter who they are is:

What can we I do about it right now?

Or

What behaviors are within my power to influence a desirable outcome?

The conclusion is: you can only control or change yourself. That’s it. Everything else is beyond your control.

When you realize that your momentary decisions are literally only aspect of your reality within your power, you figure out ways to take more responsibility over these decisions.

Decisions are the only thing within our power.

Decide to think this. Decide to act. Decide to act over and over again.

We can’t control anything else.

Once we realize we can control our decisions, we realize the power of personal responsibility for changing outcomes.

When the man is right, his world will be right.

Most people want to change the world, but few think of changing themselves.

Thing is, once we begin taking responsibility to change ourselves, the world begins to change.

Apart of this acknowledgement is knowing what you can change and what you can’t change about yourself.

That is precisely what learning coping skills and personal development is about.

Always assume you can improve.

Is ADHD real?

I’ve wrestled my whole life with the question of “is ADHD a thing”, is it a product of the psychiatric and pharma world.

Some observations and conclusions:

1. Every country has different rates of ADHD— which means one of two things: 1) it doesn’t exist in those countries 2) its diagnosed less in those countries.

The question is, why would it be diagnosed less?

ADHD is classified as a “disorder”. This diagnoses is applied when psychological factors inhibit the ability to function within typical situations: problems learning, working, relationships. What our society or the DSM classify as normal or appropriate is entirely dictated by normative values: this is good, this is bad.

Every society has different values, etiquette, normative behaviors that it expects from its citizens. Some societies are more accommodating to differences in thinking, others want strong conformation.

You are only diagnosed if you have problems and go to the doctor. If you don’t have problems, you don’t get diagnosed.

That being said, the USA has a corrupt pharmaceutical industry. Over prescribing people with drugs for profit dilutes the diagnoses. A Dr can diagnose ADHD by identifying behaviors outlined in the DSM handbook, or by administering an IQ test. You must pay for an IQ test. Barely anyone does this. Most people just report generic symptoms and the Dr prescribes.

This over diagnose does a terrible service to those who genuinely struggle. It creates a general social skepticism of ADHD in general.

2. IQ testing is one quantitative measure that reveals cognitive mechanisms that explain attention related problems. World wide the IQ markers of ADHD are consistent across country populations.

3. I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t think Dyslexia is real. Or Autism. It’s just the symptoms and problems are much more measurable and obvious when you’re mixing up letters, words, etc. Or completely socially inept.

Attention seems so much more within our control. The bottom line is that, these layers of complex cognitive mechanisms exist to various degrees whether we are conscious of them or not, and the severity of deficits exist on a spectrum that can be hard to select for. Plus, some people are fortunate to learn coping mechanisms early on, and some are not. So while the severity may be equal, the life challenges two people have due to ADHD may differ dramatically.

Often cognitive deficits are only obvious when it’s a severe divergence. Switching letters around is a hard, tangible symptom. May happen to anyone from time to time. But for dyslexics, it’s most of the time.

Similarly, paying attention for anyone may be influenced by zillions of environmental reasons. Some situations may be easier than others.

For most typical people, attention is a reflection of interest. Not interested, not paying attention.

For ADHD, interest and attention may or may not be related. I may really be interested, and really want to pay attention. But I can’t. It’s not as simple as just focusing. It’s almost beyond control. Peripheral noise just creates chaotic fireworks of thoughts, completely obscuring the focal point of the intended attention. Yes, you can learn coping mechanisms. But it isn’t as easy as “tuning in”.

The reality is, for some individuals, the brain may be wired differently, so that attention regulation is inherently inhibited, on a physical or chemical level.

4. Yes— We get what we give. Sometimes we choose our environment, and sometimes we don’t.

Sometimes we choose the games we play, and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes environments are conducive to ADHD or Dyslexia, and some are not. I know for a fact that I would not do well in some occupations. Maybe I could get by, but I’d struggle. That’s the case for anyone. Some people are fluid in math, some in verbal. Is this genetic or environmental? It seems obviously genetic when you have a mathematical savant, or a prolific artist who pens or paints divine works as if the gods were minding their hands.

There’s obviously environmental factors that help or exacerbate our otherwise genetic disposition.

But that psychological genetic disposition exists nonetheless, and it is to a large extent, beyond our control. Just like the physical.

5 . ADHD is a feature, not a bug. Some people are short, some are tall, some are fast, some are slow, some are strong, some are weak. Some areas you can improve, some you can’t.

I don’t think it’s helpful to feel helpless or complain about the cards you’re dealt. It’s not helpful to identify with your strengths or weaknesses in general.

However, it’s important to acknowledge what they are. Otherwise, you’ll become frustrated. You won’t learn how to work around them, you won’t learn ways to improve them.

I think it’s important to acknowledge where you excel and where you don’t. I just don’t think it’s helpful to make it apart of your identity. That’s what leads to learned helplessness. I do think we can always improve.

ADHD and IQ

I honestly don’t like identifying with ADHD. I don’t like talking about it or complaining about it, because honestly I can’t change it. I can only work around it. But there are many misconceptions about it. And my self worth suffered a lot due to those misconceptions. I was told I was “lazy” a lot, I was a “slacker”, I didn’t “care enough”, didn’t try or put the effort in.

The reality is, I did. And often it was just the opposite. I tried my best, cared a lot, and put all my effort in.

It just didn’t seem to make a difference if I tried or didn’t try.

I felt like the ability to control my attention was beyond my control. I felt helpless.

The reality was, I never learned how to cope with ADHD. I never learned the habits and skills and disciplines to work around it. As a result, no matter how hard I worked, it was never enough. This was debilitating, and destroyed my confidence and self worth.

So….

I took an IQ test as part of an ADHD diagnosis when I was 19.

I dropped out of high school at this point. Didn’t know what the hell was wrong with me. Was in AP classes while also repeating grades. Felt smart, but formal education felt intolerable and oppressive. Mostly felt like a loser. Was always doing something wrong, was always stepping out of line, not following the rules, not doing things right. Felt like there was something wrong with me. I faked fitting in. And I did it well. Got away with a lot.

Granted, I had moved a ton and attended 12 times throughout my schooling. Lots of schools with mismatched curriculums, friends dying, learning to make new friends. This inevitably has an impact on my learning development, to some degree.

However, if I was challenged correctly, and stimulated appropriately, achievement of any task, no matter the difficulty, felt natural and easy.

When there were endless tasks that seemed insignificant, no matter how easy they were, completing them became impossible.

I wanted to go to college, but didn’t know if i was “smart enough”.

So I went to a professional clinical psychologist and they gave me several IQ tests and achievements tests with various batteries for specific assessments.

The results were vindicating. I was “smart”. But I CLEARLY had some attention/ processing/ working memory issues. Scores typically are consistent across measures— meaning your standard scores are usually are consistent or similar across testing clusters. If there is a dramatic divergence in clusters, it indicates something is abnormal. For better or worse.

The core clusters in my IQ test revealed a significant divergence in cluster scores, with areas associated with ADHD, such as working memory and processing fluency, being very average. Other clusters were very elevated.

This explained my general schizophrenic state of feeling both capable, yet incapable.

The good thing was that I learned these could be improved through learning coping skills. Basically, learning to compensate for these deficits by strengthening certain thinking habits.

That is why I applied and attended Landmark College.

They’re one of the few colleges on earth that specializes in teaching these skills. They provided an environment to gain the confidence and skills to improve these deficits, or taught me ways to work around them.

These deficits never go away, but you can improve them.

ADHD or Dyslexia will always be a point of struggle, but you can learn to work around them.

You can understand your strengths and weaknesses. You can learn to choose the best environments that align with these. You can learn how to function in environments that don’t.

The IQ test also gave me confidence that I could succeed in academia so long as I pursued my strengths, learned to cope with my weaknesses.

Despite floundering throughout school, reading and writing had long been a personal passion of mine that I enjoyed in my personal time, but I avoided math, which I learned requires working memory and cognitive efficiency. Despite failing classes, and eventually dropping out of high school, I had potential for higher education.

I have no idea why some people develop the way they do, why we have strengths and weaknesses.

But I do know that, more than anything else, having the right attitude is everything.

Where there is a will, there is a way.

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how. —Nietzsche

No matter what the personal difficulty, you must believe in yourself. You must believe things will improve in time with faith in and effort towards worthwhile goals.

What’s is like to have ADHD?

ADHD is an attention disorder. Which means that there is an extremely low threshold for stimulation. The mind does not filter extraneous stimulation.

This has pros and cons.

Imagine, you have something important to do. That something generates a palpable feeling of stimulation. It pokes you. It guides your attention. Your thoughts are oriented toward it. It is a priority in your cognitive processing.

Imagine you are going about your day, and suddenly there is an extraneous, insignificant piece of stimulation that generates the same exact palpable feeling.

Imagine you are working to accomplish this important thing. Maybe a report. Maybe a project. You are sitting at your desk. You pause to think and gaze into space deep in thought.

Suddenly, you notice a piece of dust floating through the air. It stimulates you with equal intensity as the very important task at hand.

Now you are engaged with the floating dust. You notice more dust floating through a beam of light.

Now you notice the beam of light, and it stimulates your attention. You trace it’s origins to the sun outside the window.

You perceive dead flies on the widow sill. That’s odd. Now your mind is filled with flies. You walk over to brush them into the trash.

You notice the blue sky and lush trees swaying in the breeze. This hijacks your senses. You decide to open the window to get some fresh air. You unlock the window, slide it open, and fiddle and jiggle up and down to try and delicately balance it from sliding shut. The window won’t stay open however. You’ll need to find something to hold it open. You walk to the desk but find nothing. You’ll need to head to the garage.

You walk to the garage to look for a block to hold open the window. You sift through boxes. Finding anything in this mess is impossible. It’d be better if this was organized.

I’ll organize real quick.

So you sit down and organize.

Etc.

Hours pass. Finally the flies are gone, the window is open, and you’re breathing fresh air.

You then turn and see your desk, your laptop, your project.

Damn.

You get back to work.

Repeat this more or less all the time.

This distraction gets more or less complex depending on your focus.

You can get bogged down in minute details related to the task at hand, or completely irrelevant details that have nothing to do with anything

It can be extremely frustrating, but coping mechanisms help. (Reviewing coping mechanisms is another blog post, perhaps a whole book)

Drudgery isn’t problematic if the task at hand manages to consume every aspect of your being and imagination. (Coping mechanisms facilitate this total engagement of attention, which allays distractions)

I’d say the lack of “persistence” of thoughts, or “inertia” of thoughts is apart this whole ADHD thing. (This is measured as Executive Functioning and Working Memory within IQ scores.)

They come and go too fast, even if you want them to stay .

Job Hunting

Regarding the job hunt, I don’t know how it works for other people. I do know how I approach it.

I don’t feel entitled to have a job. Even if I have a degree from a good school and relevant experience. I feel like I don’t deserve anything honestly. If someone wants to hire me, it’s a privilege and a blessing. There are countless other qualified people they could give the job too.

When I have to look for a job, it’s a full time job.

I’ve met people looking for a job. “I can’t find anyone that will hire me!”

How many jobs have you applied to the past 3 months? 5.

It’s like. Really?

How bad do you really want a job?

“Well I really just want the perfect job— this position, pay, industry, location, etc”

Doesn’t exist.

Some people look for the “perfect” job, and when they find it, they get so emotionally invested. They do lots of preparation, and are optimistic— then they don’t get the job. Then they get sad.

Then they give up. Blame the market, HR, recruiters, etc. and stop looking.

I think being picky only works for those with exceptional skills or experiences. Even then there’s no guarantee.

If I gave advice to someone looking for work: apply to any job at any company that’s remotely interesting.

Apply often.

Customize every application.

Prepare for every interview.

Apply to 1-5 jobs a day.

Write custom cover letters for every application.

Every call back or interview you get, ask questions. Lots of questions. About the job. Responsibility. The market. The pay. The culture. Etc. learn.

Figure out what companies want, and what they want to hear.

The more applications and cover letters and interviews you do, the more prepared and polished you become.

Soon, you’ll notice that instead of getting a 10% response rate, you’ll get a 20% and it’ll grow as you get better.

You’ll find yourself scheduling more and more interviews.

You’ll find yourself more and more confident.

In time you’ll have offers, and you’ll be the one saying no, because there are other offers on the table.

Apply to jobs you don’t want, and try to get an offer. It’s all practice.

The more you do it, the better you’ll become.

When the right opportunity presents itself, you’ll be so sharp, so polished, so prepared, that you can even negotiate your pay.

And after dozens and dozens of interviews, you’ll know when it’s a good opportunity. You’ll have surveyed the market and know when to take it, because you’ve done your research.

And never take rejection personally.

No means next.

No means the right opportunity is still to come.

No means there’s more work to do.

No doesn’t reflect your value, your worth, your capability.

Never let rejection influence how you perceive your worth.

No should have zero impact your your performance or activity.

No should motivate you.

Rejection should inspire you.

Every “no”, every “rejection”, every “failure” is a step closer.

That’s exciting.

On to the next.

The next opportunity, the next sale, the next offer, the next girl, the next whatever.

Life goes on. The NO’s are the way. It is the path. You must pass through the no’s.

Once you accept that, no’s become exciting.

Every NO is just a step closer. It means your time is coming.

Avoiding no’s, avoiding rejection, avoiding failure…. delays your success. It pushes the opportunities further out, and makes them occur less often.

The mindset is to find the no’s and plow through them.

The obstacle is the way.

If No’s or rejection or failure hurt… remember: this is the ego.

The ego is the enemy.

Lose it quick. It will sabotage everything it touches.

Neuro-atypical Difficulty and Life

Regarding ADHD and Dyslexia and all that.

It’s a complex issue.

I think that any “handicap” can create learned helplessness.

Overcoming this requires learning to assume 1000% responsibility for outcomes, whether it’s fair or not fair.

Learning coping mechanisms doesn’t make life easier.

If you were born without hands, but everyone treated you as if you had hands, but you couldn’t do the same things that others did with hands, it’d be frustrating as hell. You might get depressed and just not try. Learned helplessness.

But say you just accept the fact that you don’t have hands, and find ways to do things that others do with hands.

Maybe it’s a lot different. Maybe it’s more effort. But it allows you to participate and get things done.

Being cognitively “atypical” or whatever has pros and cons. It can be difficult working with people who expect you to operate as they do. When you don’t operate the same, you’re either special or stupid.

It’s hard to relate to these cognitive differences. Hard to have patience with them. “Just pay attention!” Seems so easy. “Why do you keep making the same mistakes over and over again!” The brain is just wired differently.

For all the con’s, there are pro’s. Divergent thinking is easy when the brain jumps all over, or switches things up with counter intuition.

I think being atypical is completely great if you find unique ways to contribute to the world that align with how you operate.

It’s not great if you try to fit in, and operate as everyone else. Basic ways of operating are difficult. Which may lead to repeated failure. Which degrades self esteem and self worth.

But at the end of the day, you just take 1000% responsibility. Life is not fair. I’d rather have ADHD than be born without limbs.

Life is difficult. Full stop. Get over it. Figure out a way to overcome. You can only do your best and keep learning from experience and refine and repeat. Failure is expected. Embrace it, learn from it, and be better.

Suicide and Life

There is an undulating whooshing beyond my hotel window, almost like ocean waves churning on the beach, with the occasional purring and brap of motors beelining down the dark highway.

I lay awake, and take in the sounds. They wash over me, through me. The digital screen illuminates my torso. I can see the glowing outline of my nose as I type these words.

My uncle Joe shot himself in the head last year, when I was 32.

My close childhood friend Todd hung himself in his basement 16 years before that, when we were 17.

My best friend Joe hung himself in his bedroom four years before that, when we were 13.

I was institutionalized at Arthur Brisbane Child Treatment Center in 2004.

Dropped out of high school in 2005.

Enrolled in college in 2007. Transferred to Vanderbilt University in 2009.

I’m morbidly depressed. My thoughts are generally incoherent. It occurred to me that I have no dreams, no aspirations, no goals…. in short: no hope.

Where there is no hope, there is no life. This is the source of all angst.

Where do we find hope? How can we create hope?

First, we need to conceive of something worth hoping in, then we need to believe that with enough effort, patience, persistence, faith: we can achieve.

Life is pale. There are no colors running through my eyes. All is gray, shades and shadows.

I am happy, said the bird. His song dances, like a butterfly dances over a field of flowers.

There is darkness here. Corners and crevasses, where darkness hides, burrows.

My life is routine.

My girlfriend went out last night. After a lengthy back and forth, ultimately I declined to go with her, citing finances, citing lack of energy, citing it’s a Sunday night and I work the following morning, while she has off. I didn’t tell her that she’s mostly a disagreeable person, and after her general disposition the last 48 hours, I have no desire to go with her, except to stave off additional conflict. But I eventually just didn’t give a fuck, so I declined, and she went out. And came home drunk as fuck at 3am. She climbed into bed and I woke to her naked body slithering against mine, her hands stroking the length of my cock as she gyrated against me. I didn’t want to have sex, but I realized she wasn’t taking no for an answer, so I eventually mounted her from behind and just fucked her as hard as possible and as long as possible, until I was out of breath and delirious. Between her moans she gently cried out, “I just want you to love me”. This kind of thing breaks my heart, but it also melts my brain, since I can’t figure out how she wants to be loved while retaining my own wellness and sanity, the crux of our relationship problems, if you were to define them.

In the swirling memory of the night I recall how detached I felt groping her tiny lean body, cupping her breasts, stroking her back and butt, and how utterly empty I felt pounding her into submission. Giving her exactly what she wanted. The dark silent emptiness of our bedroom, interrupted only by the sound of beating flesh and heavy breathing, reflected the dark silent emptiness of my soul.

I am empty.

Tomorrow I give a controls training to about 75 plant engineers at the Gigafactory. Should be interesting.

I also received a promotion a week ago, as Group Sales Manager. Haven’t discussed pay raise, but I hope to god I get one. No idea how I’ll negotiate even though I already agreed to the position. I expect a salary of $150k minimum, with 35% OTE bonus potential. I’ll be managing roughly $6 million in personal account business, and a team of two direct reports totaling roughly the same. I currently manage $3 million in sales. The official transition of responsibilities will occur on the 10th of February.

People ask me why I’m not excited about the promotion. I tell them I am excited. More responsibility is always good. More challenge is always good. Right?

I just know, wherever you go, there you are. Life never changes. I’m growing all the time, but I’m still always me. A title or additional responsibilities won’t change my default state of being. So, a promotion is good. But it’s whatever.

We all die in the end. Everything is temporary.

The most comical thing that I carry within myself, is my conviction that I was destined for greatness. This bizarre programming I’ve internalized is increasingly at odds with the reality I find myself in every day. I am mostly ashamed of my performance and abilities, with my current state of being. I feel stuck, stagnant. Embarrassed.

Vision is lacking.

I need vision.

If I don’t have a vision, if I can’t conjure a dream worth believing in, I have nothing left to live for.

I should figure this out sooner than later.

Intelligent Men

The most intelligent men, like the strongest, find their happiness where others would find only disaster: in the labyrinth, in being hard with themselves and with others, in effort; their delight is in self-mastery; in them asceticism becomes second nature, a necessity, an instinct. They regard a difficult task as a privilege; it is to them a recreation to play with burdens that would crush all others.

—Friedrich Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ

Sleep

I go to bed with my mind racing (unless I drink alcohol, which I’m in the habit of doing) which helps me get to sleep, but leaves me with poorer quality of sleep.

Reading before bed is the best for sleep.

Every morning I wake up with my mind racing. Mostly bullshit. Existential stuff. Random thoughts on stuff. This morning it was thermal energy as a function of metabolism, and the various ways exercise, geography, fiber, sauna’s, clothing, lifestyle impact thermal radiation/expenditures, and how this impacts metabolism, circulation, fat deposition, etc etc

I think it’s stress.

But it may just be my default mode.

Work is always on my mind. Like a never ending puzzle, within a puzzle, within a puzzle, like a Matryoshka or nesting doll. Every day is a puzzle within a larger puzzle etc.

So many puzzles. So little time.

Thoughts on Automation

I follow some economists on twitter. Some of these academics and researchers explore the effects of automation.

One particular researcher consistently points out that automation is decreasing
I’ve pointed out that such claims are strange for several reasons:

How are you defining automation?

There are two main types of automation: 1) physical control automation and 2) data processing automation

Continue reading “Thoughts on Automation”

Psychedelic Experience

I feel like lsd and psilocybin etc allow the brain to literally re-wire itself.

There’s a de-conditioning that occurs.

Call it the “default mode network”. But it’s the habituated “mindset” that pervades conscious, phenomenal experience.

The brain subconsciously projects a “sensible” or coherent experience onto our present. It’s like a crystalline structure of thoughts.

This structure is the result of habituated actions learned from trial and error, or society, or whatever.

What supports this structure are primal emotions and instincts and values.

Psychedelics just totally melt this structure away, and reveal the primal source of being.

They provide a space to tear away the “facade” of coping mechanisms. These mechanisms aren’t good or bad, but they can obscure the “truth”, whatever that means for you.

I feel like a psychedelic trip is a process of tearing down or washing away or clearing, and rebuilding, reconstructing, readjusting.

It’s like the windows are wiped clean again, and your eyes adjusting to the scenery for the first time in a long time. The doors of perception.

Read to Become

The act of reading is often seen as an activity of acquisition, of acquiring knowledge or information or whatever meaning reveals itself through text.

This is not correct.

Reading is not an activity of “filling up”.

Reading is a process of change. Reading is the process of being transformed.

When you read, you become.

It matters less the contents you collect on this journey. Whether the exact facts stick with you matters less than the impressions they leave you with, and mold you to be.

Reading changes you. It changes your mind, the way you think, the way you process the experiential world. A book of any kind imports a narrative structure for filtering and perceiving the world. It literally molds the internal precepts which govern experience, by imposing a narrative, by infusing the psychic framework with new or updated assumptions, connected and associated with existing assumptions, acting as nodes in the artifice that regulates being, complete with constellations of unconscious beliefs, programmed into our being to allow us to adapt to present experience, and make sense of the world.

Reading is not collecting.

Reading is becoming.

Reading should change you. Change your mind, your thoughts, your feelings, your perception.

Every book should change the way you look at the world.

Collecting information is not why reading is powerful and valuable. Powerful in that you can alter the contents of your being, and leverage different perceptions and modes of thinking to alter outcomes that align with desires, goals, ideals.

All Alone

We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and—in spite of True Romance magazines—we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely—at least, not all the time—but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.

—Hunter S. Thompson, The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967

Calculating Measurement Accuracy

When you’re evaluating a measurement device for an application, the first rule of thumb is that the device’s accuracy must be 10x better than your maximum tolerance (tolerance being the total allowable error). So if your target accuracy is +- 50µm (100µm), your measurement device should have an accuracy of 10µm or better.

Two terms commonly used interchangeable are accuracy and precision. This image illustrates the difference:

Accuracy is the ability to measure true values. It is a function of a devices resolution, linearity error, and temperature error.

Precision (also used interchangeably with repeatability) is the ability to perform consistent measurements. You can use offset’s to achieve accuracy if the device is highly repeatable.

To calculate a devices accuracy, there are three specifications to first consider:

  • Resolution: the smallest measurement change the device can detect. Typically this is a function of the CMOS sensor pixel density and optics. If you think about a CMOS like a ladder, the spacing between each rung is its resolution. Light will fall in one rung or the other, and you can’t get better than that.
  • Linearity (% F.S.): The consistency of measurements over the entire measurement window range. Linearity is a function of the electronics signal processing. It’s typically presented as a % error of the Full Scale of its measurement range. You can minimize out this error by decreasing the measurement range. You can also use a calibration function to adjust for linearity.
  • Temperature characteristics (% F.S./ᵒC):Represents the maximum measurement error value that occurs when the temperature of the sensor head changes one degree. This is a function of the expansion and contraction of components within the device, such as optics, CMOS, etc.

% of F.S. (full scale) refers to the entire measurement range of the device. If a device has a +-5mm measurement range, it’s full scale is 10mm. The Linearity or Temperature error is a function of the range that’s being measured.

This is an example of the linearity effect demonstrated on a micrometer:

To calculate accuracy, you will add the following: 

Resolution + Linearity error + Temperature error = Accuracy

If a measurement device application has the following specifications:

Measurement Range: +-5mm (10mm)

Resolution: 10 micron

Linearity: 0.1 % F.S. 

Temperature characteristics: 0.01 % F.S./ᵒC

Ambient Operating Temperature Range: 20ᵒC to 30ᵒC (10ᵒC variation)

You can calculate accuracy:

(10µm resolution) + (0.001 linearity error * 10mm measurement range) + (0.0001 temperature characteristics * 10mm measurement range * 10ᵒC variation)=

10 µm + 0.01 µm + 0.01 µm = 10.02 µm

The final common consideration to calculate the controls system accuracy is your analog signal noise. If you’re sending measurement data digitally via serial or TCP, there won’t be any analog signal noise, but your controls response time will be slower since the signal is converted digitally before its sent out. 

The fastest way to capture measurement data is analog signals: Voltage (-10 to 10V, 0 to 5V, 1 to 5V) or Current (4 to 20mA) outputs. The longer your cable from the device to your controller, the more electrical noise you introduce. The shorter the cable, the less noise. 

Calculating this noise error ratio is beyond my expertise, but I do know that Current output is the preferred analog signal for eliminating noise error. However, I believe Current is also a slower response time, since the sensor voltage signal is converted to current in the device, sent to the controller, and converted back into voltage to be processed.

Most of these response time delays will be minimal, and for most applications, not worth the consideration.

I hope this was helpful!

Plane

My soul weeps. The hallow interior echos. White paint flakes on the window sill. I pick nervously and press my nose against the cool window. My small breath clouds the panes. Dark leafy vegetation sprouts beneath. Rain drops fall like meteors. The leaves tremor with every splash. My eyes beam cross the thick lawn, deep into the penetrating forest. Waiting.

I turn and slide down the wall. My laces are in knots. The raw wood floor is bare and nicked all over, with dust and lint hiding in the crevices.

Floral designs repeat on the wavering paper walls, peeling at the edges. I fixate on an vertical schism, observing a mismatch in patterns. Flowering buds split and bulge and warp because of some careless application of wall paper.

My thumb massages the warm buckeye, while my pointer fingers the hole in my pocket.

“Welcome to flight 6749 to San Francisco. Please buckle you seatbelt as we’re preparing to taxi for takeoff. “

“We apologize for the mechanical delays. We’ll make sure to make up for the lost time in the air.”

I cock my head. An obese Native American man with enlarged earlobes and long obsidian hair stares out the small window. Various native jewelry ornament his neck and wrists.

I close my eyes and breath a sigh.

A howling screech and large crash jolt me from sleep. I sit up, with headphones still playing Ludovico Einaudi’s aural dreams. There is visible panic throughout the cabin. I can’t make out what the pilots announce on the intercom, but I somehow don’t seem to mind. Agitation ripples through the rows. A bright yellow light flashes from the right side of the plane, and I close my eyes. There is a roll and a pitch, followed by a sudden feeling of weightlessness. The cabin lights are on, but my eyes are still closed, still being serenaded by the piano music.

My body is thrown violently back and forth, as if caught in the jaws of a vicious animal, flailing in every direction.

Blackness leads to silence and then coldness, and finally wetness. I can hear a crackling echo above and all around me, but I don’t move. I want to dream.

I push my limp body up off the icy ground and find myself in a dark forest, which looks like it’s been shredded with a wood chipper. Glints of flickering light cast shadows all around me. I walked to the fuselage, stepping over soft dark masses blotting the snow. Perhaps soil, perhaps clothing, perhaps something darker. As my eyes peak around the fuselage, I see the inside, with the top cleaved off like a sardine can, and rows of bodies strapped to their seats. There is no movement among the twisted wreckage. Lifeless limp bodies. Only a handful of small fires burn. There is a noxious scent of fumes in the air.

There is no moon, and the full brunt of Arctic like temperatures began to seize my body.

I climb to the top a wing laying against a thicket of felled trees to see above the tops of the tree line. Snow capped mountains extend into endless receding rows as far as my eyes can see.

I am all alone.