Monthly Archives: July 2016

Popularity contest

All right, it’s 12 AM and it looks like I have something to talk about. This time it’s the popularity contest otherwise known as the human race. Yeah that big ball we live on.

It wouldn’t make sense to call the human race a “contest” except when survival is literally a contest. Nowadays everyone is a winner but back then it was not so.

I saw a lot of people with big inflated egos, and people who hold big sticks for little reason. They are developers and moderators and event staff. Pokemon Go subreddit moderator applications are literally one giant catch-22. To get experience you need experience. And then they’re free to do whatever the heck they want with the subreddit.

Once more I thought of failure. What if I didn’t make it to the college of my choice, the one I am most passionate about? That would be almost an entire future, gone. 55% of my life would just vanish from a rejection letter. And if I don’t get help, I can raise that up to 100%.

The truth is that I have an inflated ego too. I do it to protect myself from ideas that I do not believe.

There are many things I do not have and many things I do not hold in common with my family. I will not share them.

There’s something that people don’t like about me. I don’t know what it is. Do I try too hard? Is it my raspy voice? The stubble on my face? All of the above?

People

I vowed to stop doing these rants, but I can’t. There is nobody or nothing to vent to. My brother doesn’t care. No punching bag in my room. Nothing worth destroying.

I wanted to be independent, so I felt the full force of what it means to be “independent.” And quite frankly, I feel lonely.

Today, I had to present my zero-gravity soccer project to a bunch of people at the “#1 managed cloud company” here in the city. It was going to be great. Everything was going for me. The people were intrigued, the crowd energetic, my classmates supportive. I needed water from talking so much about how I did all this in three weeks. It took about an hour and a half for the “judges” to gather info from each of the 17 presenting groups.

But then came “what we were all waiting for”: the awards. And so they were running out of time, so the lady that wasn’t even part of Rackspace came and spoke quickly. Third came and claimed their certificates; I was jubilant because it meant 2nd or 1st for me. Second came and claimed their certificates likewise. My heart was pounding. First was called…. a group of about 8 or so. And so each one claimed their certificates. No special prize. Nothing. A few minutes later, we were all quickly ushered back on the buses and back to our campuses.

I had just wasted my time. I didn’t gain anything from talking a lot. I didn’t get an internship offering. I didn’t get cool hardware. I just got some hip glasses and a USB flash drive bracelet which they were handing out to everyone anyway.

Back on the bus, exhausted, I sat down staring into blank space. I felt the ambience around me; classmates were still laughing it off, while I was listless and unenthusiastic. Why so? They were friends with each other. But as for me, I struggle with relationships that aren’t for a specific purpose. I don’t understand people’s general boundaries when it comes to intimacy and especially with the other gender. Some girls are intrepid enough to touch my hair without me minding; but I am too afraid to do the same in fear of punishment.

If I know everything, how the heck is that supposed to make a relationship mutual?

Now you’re calling me spoiled, that I expected more than I was told. But the truth is that I was informed of the stakes. I was told it was going to be a very cool experience, and that we were going to be given a tour around the Rackspace campus. That tour did not happen. Instead we got a tour around our university campus.

On my way back, I had a sudden longing for someone comfortable. Not something comfortable; someone. But I don’t have someone comfortable. So I began to feel lonely.

When I arrived home, the chat rooms were deserted as well. The matches with my friends in Guns of Icarus were abysmal; I only got one win. Nobody wanted to be on my crew, and the AI is moronic. I’m told F1-F3 is supposed to do something but it actually doesn’t; so much for that.

This is why I don’t compete for anything, because people are afraid of me. The judges are afraid of me, because I am an anathema to the definition of “team effort” and they obviously don’t want to credit me for that. In other words, I’m not recognized because I’m naturally introverted. Or I could play the racist card and claim that because I’m Hispanic, they expected much less of me.

Zero-gravity soccer – part 1

A few weeks ago I was assigned a final project. The final project could be anything as long as it’s written in Python. So I chose to make a game.

And so the mad scramble began. Actually, it wasn’t really a mad scramble at all. I took my time with the code, working on it only when I was able to do so. And so without the distractions of my brother, I was able to knock out 8 hours of coding today, which equates to 570 lines to check into source control.

Python is an incredibly addictive language. I thought it was just some simple language for kids; boy, was I wrong. It is a language of elegance, of minimalism. It makes Java look like a rusty pipe under a sink (which it is, for the most part). Say goodbye to curly braces and excess if statements. And bugs are incredibly easy to find, even without an IDE, if there are any in your code.

Python does have its shortcomings, however. Its object-oriented design isn’t exactly something familiar, and the mechanics of it are definitely not explicit. Still, it allows for multiple inheritance along with a degree of control you could never have with Java. In Java, you had to make a rigid model of the class before actually implementing it, and changing constructors around leads to problems down the line fairly quickly. In Python, however, you can build the implementation first, and then make an object encasing that behavior. It is purpose-driven rather than enterprise-driven, and so it works extremely well for small projects.

This is what I’ve been able to accomplish so far. I have until the 20th to “ship” the project, if you will, and I’m quite satisfied with the progress so far. I estimate it will only take 500-750 more lines to bring it to a playable state, but then again, I cannot make a fair estimate of line count because it’s not really what matters. I need to implement network, HUD, and some game-specific behaviors like grabbing the ball and throwing it to the goal.

I shall press forward…

Being myself

I read this post from the MIT admissions website, and I finally was able to feel at ease again. The one true way to get into MIT is not by accomplishing great things, but by being yourself.

The one true characteristic that they want is passion and honesty, both which I have a great deal of. Sometimes I feel smart for being “better” than other people, and other times I feel dumb for not knowing what society expects of me. And in the end, society matters but it’s not everything that matters. I might hear about my friend going to DC for a band trip, an experience I’ll never get myself. Good for him, then. The point is that I ought to be myself.

I never consciously felt that MIT was easy to get in. In fact, I only subconsciously reassure myself that I know exactly how to enter, and that is with an open mind and heart, and with absolute appreciation. I want my career to be in the world-changing business, so people will help me get there. I can change the world right here, and I am doing it right now. If there is anyone out there, they ought to be encouraged.

The second thing I need to know is that I ought to look forward. It is neither the first nor the last time I have failed. I will fail plenty of times. But with failure comes success.

My father has never told me that it is impossible to get into MIT, because it isn’t. It is a very possible and very real goal to get into MIT.

Now, why am I talking to you about MIT again? It’s like I’m mixing happiness with idolatry. Because MIT represents my future. I view my future as something radically different from the present. It is not a future of sulking and groaning. It is a future of enthusiasm, of action, of pushing myself to the limits (in the right direction). Nobody can tell me the chances of my future. The truth is that with enough determination, I can bring myself wherever I want to go. This connects to my previous Great Question: is man powerless or powerful? There is no clear answer that comes to me. Man is powerless in time and circumstance, but he is powerful in action and determination.

More projects to come.

Poverty

I live in spiritual and material poverty. I have just a scrap of a soul, and the money my parents make simply goes right back out. I only really get one new “amenity” every month. Maybe I’m spoiled, or maybe I ask too little.

One thing my parents never taught me is not what is too much, but rather what is too little. How much rice should I put on my plate? How many games should I buy? Is it all right to have a relationship now? What are the rules of engagement?

And so because my father expects me to be very frugal with my money, he seldom factors in any expenditures I might make. But I am not here to beg for money. I am here to beg for mercy.

I have put myself in a situation where I live for numbers. Grades here, grades there. 3 out of 22 friends online, that’s 13.6363636364%. Maybe I can complete 1.5 sections a day in the textbook. 7, 14, 21, 28, that’s just four weeks in July. Four weeks to do something before August.

I don’t feel encouraged anymore, because I live for numbers instead of for people. I can’t find the people I want or need. The only place I can find them is in the Internet, and you know I have a love-hate relationship with the Internet. One day I find great people hanging about in some obscure community; the other, I’m surrounded by adults on the verge of to kicking me because I can’t seem to follow the conversation.

Why can’t I follow the conversation? Because my interests differ by an immense margin. The folks at Internet-land talk about the latest and the greatest, the GTX 10 series. My “acquaintances” at my summer program talk about TV shows and plot holes and weird references, and the “acquaintances” at school talk about Hearthstone or about work, or they’re just busy copying answers from one another. On the other hand, I talk about how crazy it would be making a tape drive out of a VCR.

I give up. I don’t know where to find people like me. I was supposed to find them a long long time ago, but I missed some bridge between them and me, and I will never find them again.

I feel lonely. Every time I think I find somebody as competent as me, I back away from him and never talk to him again because it seems tall white kids with glasses wearing shirts about their high schools’ CS programs intimidate me. Instead of thinking about striking up conversation, I look at the competitive side and think about how he’s better than me and how I’m not even worth his time.

I have lost so many opportunities simply because of my erratic personality; my thought process is so sporadic that most people cannot follow it. In fact, I often seem to overpower them, as I consider a rebuttal far ahead of the other person’s train of thought, and then the other person sometimes seems surprised as to how I was able to precisely address a rebuttal before it even crossed his mind.

My mood swings too severely at times. The day can begin horrible getting off the bed, plateauing to a tentative hopefulness, and then upon looking at the clock in the afternoon, swinging back to helpless regret following yet another unproductive day.

Video games don’t really work anymore for me. My brain recognizes video games to simply further the cause of time-wasting, and so it prevents me from playing games in order to try to coax me to do more productive things. And when I do play video games, I eventually quit the game and the joy of playing suddenly subsides. I’m back to where I was before I played the game.

Case in point, Altitude. I played that game because first, it’s a good way to kill time, and second, it’s a tiny download. But I gain nothing from it once I come back to real life.

Another case in point, GMod. I played that game last week because I thought I could find the “old timers” again, the people who could teach me ZCPU, see what they made with E2, and so on. But instead, I do the same thing over again: try to make a little car, show people the old advanced dupes (including the pod racer, and the vast majority that weren’t even made by me), anything except making something cool and something new. And the little minges come in and ram down their giant cubes against our contraptions. It’s why I quit playing GMod such a long time ago.

And now for the five million time, I scare my father just by opening my mouth to say something because he’s too deaf to hear my footsteps. I am just a ghost in this house. I might as well be a ghost in this world.

I don’t know how to seek help. Nobody will do it for me. My parents are horrible sources of counsel, because they are biased and do not offer fresh perspectives. My teachers and “trusted adults” do not really care, because it is not their business to hear about my problems or do anything about them unless they are legally or morally obligated to do so.

In my mind I picture misery. I don’t picture it as me burning in hell, I picture it as the absolute worst of anything happening to me; my worst dream, as influenced by any surrounding events. Somebody breaking a window in the house, the alarm tripping on an “open” window again, the hard drive failing suddenly one day… anything at all. I don’t want any of that to happen. Ever.

Hopes and dreams

Today we were given an opportunity to disassemble a computer before it made its way to the garbage. I got my group a rack-mounted server. By the time I finished verifying that its RAM was compatible with this server, the sticks had already disappeared. Nobody took them; they simply were thrown away while I wasn’t looking. So, forever stuck at 1 GB.

Then there is the computer I am currently using, which is also past due for an upgrade. For about $1000 I could build a brand new tower, perfect for 2016 gaming.

Dissecting a computer made me geek out so much. I haven’t felt that sensation in months, with the hope that one could possibly find some useful parts to take home.

The disappointment after the RAM went missing triggered my depressive state once again. On top of that, no guest visited; instead, we watched two TED talks, one about bionic leg research at MIT Media Lab and the other about screwing around with quadcopters that have perfect balance. And on top of that, our group leader continued to scold the group about our “disrespectful behavior.” I do believe the leader is overreacting to the situation.

Nevertheless, there are conflicting messages: one says, “you can do anything you want,” and the other says, “stop acting like kids.” One sets us high and the other sets us low.

Now Marvel is marketing some young genius girl who is apparently going to be the new Iron Man. And guess where she is from? MIT. As MIT ascends into legendary status due to excessive prestige by marketing, it will become impossible for me to enter. No matter how much innovation I have envisioned, I must essentially be an olympic champion to get in.

I have not been formally rejected yet. The calculator tells me chances are astronomically slim. So, when I get rejected, I’ll probably lose my purpose in life. What is my challenge now, my goal? Everything will suddenly become dull and boring. Then I won’t ever be expected to change the world. I’ll just be expected to have some mediocre job and raise second-generation Latinos. Yuck.

Listlessness

For the next ten minutes I will speak my mind. I am very tired and this day has not been very productive. In fact, this year has not been very productive. Why? Because I simply gave out.

In Undertale, humans have a determination in their souls that transcends anything that a monster could possibly have. In doing this, Toby gives a sense of pride and dignity to humanity.

Where is our humanity? There are no monsters to fight except ourselves; no dragons to slay; no aliens to defend from. My greatest enemy, then, is myself. The sword was not invented to slay dragons or defeat mythical creatures. It was created to kill people. The entire point of dueling is to bring the act of killing to an artistic flow rather than a brutal, savage sport. And even that is deprecated.

Then what is humanity? Then humanity is not something physical but rather intellectual. Paradoxically, by this definition, humanity isn’t.

I didn’t really do anything today, much less this week. It is now 12 AM and a new week has begun. I bet it will be just as unproductive as the last one.

And there is a rationale behind this listlessness. Or is there? No, there is not much of one. It is that I can do anything in the world, but where will I decide to spend my energy? Is it even worth spending at all? I am simply overwhelmed at my options. It’s simple game theory: nobody will win.

My eyes feel like they are bleeding tar again. My life mistakes look to be poised to fall on my head again. Since the beginning of this year it seems the odds are against me. Nobody wants to play GMod anymore. Nobody wants to teach me ZCPU. Nobody wants to look at what I made. No. Everyone wants me to consume, to consume, to consume!

When will it end? When will my agony end?

Nostalgia

I entered this supposedly peaceful GMod build server after many months of inactivity, and as I am learning Precision Alignment, some kid drops a bomb on my simple car and breaks all the constraints along with my temper. Almost immediately after, a feeling of resentment and nostalgia set in.

gm_wireconstruct_rc0004These were the old times. This screenshot was taken in September of 2010, back when nice people were around and Unsmart’s server was a thing. I have hundreds of screenshots more.

But by being mindless, immature, and enjoying by feeling rather than thinking, I helped kill the intelligent GMod sandbox community. In a less blunt manner, I simply did not gain the knowledge early enough to propagate information to the next generation of players.

Today I wanted to return to GMod, because I realized that it was the most comfortable game I have ever played. But too late I realized that Wiremod was simply an underrated addon because nobody understood it; that GMod could actually serve as a rather rudimentary CAD tool because nobody really used it that way, except the people who knew.

But where are the people who know? Long gone are they, already seeking careers and higher education in excellent colleges. I am too late.

Fortunately, the core Wiremod developers remain intact and poised to contribute code to one of GMod’s oldest, most sophisticated addons ever devised. But where is everyone else; the class of loyal users immediately below them? Gone. Where is the coherence of Wiremod’s user base, once propped up by the loyal users? Degraded. Where is the activity of the forums? Falling off to zilch, as the forums themselves are bound to be archived in the not-so-distant future.

I bought GMod on December 12, 2009. Since then, not much in the sandbox portion has changed. In fact, there are less tools now than there were back then. GMod 13 broke practically everything, destroyed Toybox, and later shut down garrysmod.org (which was a pretty terrible enough site already).

Nowadays, people play GMod not for the sandbox anymore, but rather for the sensational (mini)games such as TTT, Flood, DarkRP, Prop Hunt, Murder, and whatever else there is nowadays. And if people touch Sandbox, it is to screw around with the thousands of weapons, cars, tanks, anime ragdolls, bombs, and random stuff at their disposal. The point of Sandbox is not to build anymore. It’s to screw around, to consume, with what other people dedicated themselves to making.

I am sorry to admit that people have moved on now. Even I am a senior now. In these six years I never bothered to learn Wiremod well, and now look where I am. I enjoyed but accomplished nothing. Lately I posted a thread on the Wiremod forums about how I’m looking for people who still want to seriously learn and use Wiremod. So far, zero replies. A while ago I would have been noticed, but I have not. Wiremod isn’t dead, but it’s in the process. It’s “winding down” as they say.

My future is unknown to me. I wish I could celebrate the present, but I do not enjoy it. I am stressed out about my present obligations, which I am supposed to be able to tolerate.

I grew up crammed between two age groups, one of them one or two years older than me, and the other with about equal age as me. I ended up meeting and knowing more of the older group than the equal-age group, and now as that older group leaves for college, who do I have left?

Oh God, college is coming. Everything will change.