Monthly Archives: March 2017

High school

All right, I’ve sorted it out now. I think I get it. I know why I like staying on the Internet for so long. But first, I have to explain how I reached the conclusion.

You see, when I’m thrown in a situation where I’m with people around the same age as I am or just a year older, I get shy and don’t want to do anything. I just sit far off and watch them enjoy their own company. It’s what happens at school and sometimes at church. People nowadays know me well enough to cut back on the social stuff and just go right into talking about schoolwork and such. I truly abhor that, because they don’t admit that they know that that’s not how I want to be. Schoolwork isn’t my life and I never wanted it to be.

Today, due to testing on campus, there wasn’t really anything for us seniors to do; a large part of the day was just socializing. Many kids just pulled out their phones for Snapchat and were on group chats (pretty much all of them have iPhones) and had a good laugh recording the talent show. I sat alone; nobody offered me a seat. I chuckled here and there but had no opportunity for commentary since there was nobody to my side. The usual temptations had also taken their seats. If you’ve been reading this for a while now, there is no need for me to explain what I am referring to when I say “temptations.”

The situation overall has associated itself with depression, since I am socially awkward and everyone knows it. Worse, no one cares to tell me anything about it.

Yet, on the Internet, I get the opposite feeling. I’m lauded for my competence and people look up to me for advice or help sometimes. I’m a member of a couple forums, and even though I lack the time to announce or publish a significant effort, people still respect my efforts to help them and consult with them.

When I go on Reddit, a similar thing: there are long advice threads on “where to go to college” and basically things that essentially tell me “well you’re doing very well at this stage in life, much better than the vast majority of people.” Their thinking is characterized by holism and the insignificant impact of one action in the “grand scheme of things,” presumably because almost all of them have underwent the same trials and tribulations and later learned from their mistakes. My parents do the same thing: they say, “you’re doing great in school, you’re already way ahead of the game, just relax and stay afloat for the time being.” It’s why I feel better talking to adults than kids my age. Adults are more mature and can give more confident responses, laugh easier, and aren’t concerned with the minutia of social circles.

There’s a clash. Family and Internet congratulate and motivate, while at school I struggle in social situations and is essentially a de-motivator. Yeah, I know I’m “succeeding” well in life, but I don’t know why or how, if I feel disappointed almost daily anyway. Yeah, I just won a competition four days ago, and I feel lonely and depressed again. An insane mood swing like that shouldn’t even be possible and I should really seek help.

I have five months until college begins. What am I supposed to do? Dating is infeasible. Friends remain limited and “occupied.” I need a job (that is actually a decent internship and isn’t some dumb cashier job).

This is why I’m stuck in the Internet. I’m an antisocial workaholic.

Oh, I said it again. Sorry.

Another waste of time

It’s quite clear my contrived attempts to set myself up for failure are getting increasingly more subtle.

Yesterday and today, I had to go to a hotel in downtown for a state competition. This is for that zero-gravity soccer game I’ve been talking a little bit about. At first I felt a little clueless for not knowing the goings-on of the convention, and of course I felt like I was doing everything wrong. For starters, I hadn’t eaten dinner before arriving, so I was on my own. Thankfully by 8:30, someone else ordered pizza and invited me to eat with them. Before then, however, I was panicking as to how I should approach the situation: should I keep sending messages in the group chat frantically asking for someone who could accompany me to a place to eat something simple? Or, should I just lay low and hope my hunger doesn’t lose its control? When I came over to the room where everyone was at, their behavior seemed pretty scandalous to me – then again, it may be perfectly normal for them. I don’t really know how to justify why I felt the situation felt “scandalous” – it had to do with the fact that there there were a number of us in a hotel room, playing loud-ish music, with some girls on the bed looking through their phones with incredibly short shorts, as they intended to go to the pool, except it was closed for renovation and they needed to go to another hotel around five blocks away.

Throughout the convention, I fully emitted my antisocial nature. I spoke when I needed to speak, but otherwise kept my mouth shut with nothing to say. I subordinated myself to my best: when the elevator was full, I just waited another 5 minutes for the next one, and repeated until I found one that was relatively vacant. I didn’t really want to talk to my group, as I was out of touch with their friendships and “scandalous” behavior. They seemed to thrive on drama, so I stayed away from it, but I am sure they speak of me and my uselessness behind my back. (my impression: “Oh yeah, he’s kind of a weird guy, he talks like he’s some guy in his sixties for some reason.”)

I didn’t even know how to tie a tie, so my father did me a favor and tied one for me, and made it easy to put on and tighten. Wow look, another millennial who doesn’t even know essential skills for any job or job interview.

After missing a workshop time block, I decided to go to a later one instead; by this time my left shoe felt like it was stabbing me in my pinky toe. (I can still feel the pain.) The workshop was bleak and generic – but it came from the national president of the organization, who was a high school student who had missed 2 months of high school going around the country doing talks, all while acquiring college credit doing assignments online. Other than that, however, his presentation was nothing new.

Then came my event time, so I arrived there early ready to go with my laptop. I was enjoying my time with the other teams who were talking about their worst night ever (poor pizza delivery guy who had delivered to the wrong hotel!) and other fun stuff like fighting games. The dopamine surged and I felt no stress. Then roll call came, and all teams/schools said here. Except, of course, my team. I ask the lady that I wasn’t called on, and she plainly states that those on the list are those that will present, and it’s final. Very confused, I go up to my advisor (teacher/sponsor of my school’s chapter). There were about ten teams that were present for the event.

The teacher was willing to help me, but did not seem very enthusiastic. She informed me that, contrary to my knowledge, there was a preliminary round. I triple-check the program. No preliminaries. However, I discover that the preliminaries were actually the pre-judging – i.e. if the game doesn’t run or score high points, then it doesn’t even merit a presentation. It was clear that the judges most likely were not able to open my game. But how? It’s because nobody knows the little protip that you should extract a zip file before running its contents, and I didn’t include any directions on how to extract a zip file on my readme!

Oops! It’s my fault for pouring my time and energy (probably around 60 man-hours) working on a game that doesn’t even get considered, because the judges aren’t competent enough to extract a zip file before its contents are run. Oh yeah, it’s my fault for not including “Step 1. Extract the archive by right clicking an empty space in the window and clicking Extract All…” No! If they aren’t competent enough to run a game, how exactly would they be competent enough to even play and win my game, so that they can say “the game is beatable?”

After confirming with my teacher that there was nothing that could be done, I sighed. How many craps do I really give about anything at this point? Some people invited me to walk around but I decided staying in my room until my father picked me up was the best idea.

Let’s see what my objectives were:

  • Social goals – almost intentionally alienated myself from the rest of the group, refusing opportunities when offered (failed)
  • Secure a position to nationals – did not even get a chance to compete (failed)
  • Do my homework – hardly anything was accomplished (failed)
  • Make something out of the conventions – I only went to one convention and it wasn’t that great (failed)
  • Sleep well – well, okay, I slept better than nothing (success-ish)

This is why I don’t put effort on competitions anymore, because some stupid crap happens and I don’t even stand a chance to compete.

I’m too tired to type anymore. I don’t feel loved. No adult in the competition seemed compassionate at all. It’s all my fault. My fault for being such an idiot, and not having another chance to ever do this again. Screw this.

Yeah I get that I do have people who actually read my blog these days. I don’t give a crap. All I hear are “awws” among other sounds of disappointment, along with the occasional “sorry this happened to you” consolation. Nobody can do anything or fix the problem. I lost for nothing.

On Arduino

This is not intended to be a full explanation of Arduino, but rather an address of some misconceptions of what Arduino is and what it’s supposed to be. I am by no means an expert and I use an Elegoo Uno (which is an Arduino knockoff), because I am a cheap sore loser.

Arduino is intended to be an accessible, ready-to-use microcontroller kit for prototyping. For cost reasons, the designers decided to use an Atmel AVR/ATmega8/168/328(p).

Now that we know this, let’s get into the misconceptions.

“Arduino is Arduino”

Meaning that Arduino is its own thing and you can’t use anything to replace it. No. Arduino is simply a PCB containing:

  • the microcontroller you want to use
  • an accessible way to get to the pins supported by the microcontroller
  • an external clock crystal you can swap out
  • a couple of fuses so you don’t burn your toy out from playing with the leads
  • a USB controller for easy programming (which actually might turn out to be more powerful than your target microcontroller)
  • USB/12V ports
  • Firmware that facilitates easy programming for the target microcontroller

You could rig your own programmer for your target microcontroller, solder everything yourself, but you’re missing the point. It’s for convenience. Any manufacturer can make “Arduino”-like kits and they’d work great anyway.

Arduino IDE is the only way to program the Arduino

Wrong again. This is actually the most rampant misconception out there. Actually, Arduino IDE is a horrible “IDE” if you can even call it that. It is quite literally a Java application with the Processing user interface (because Arduino was taken from Wiring, which in turn was based off Processing). When you compile something, it just executes a preprocessing script that takes your code and slaps on some standard headers, then it invokes the prepackaged gcc that actually does the heavy lifting. When you upload something, it invokes avrdude with the COM port you chose in the context menu and wow, magic!

If you want, you can make your own Makefile or CMake configuration that invokes all of this. I actually recommend this choice, because then you are free to use any text editor of your choice.

Arduino uses its own programming language

“Wow it has classes, it must be Java!” “Hmm, it could be Processing.” Nope, it’s C++. The only thing it doesn’t have are exceptions, and that’s just because the AVR wasn’t designed with any exception handling capabilities at all. So, every time you read an “Arduino Programming Language” tutorial, you’re actually being deceived into writing ugly C++ code. Take a small breath, and realize you’ve been passing your big objects by value instead of by address all along. Use pointers.

ATmega328 is like any other processor, but smaller

Except it’s not. It’s an 8-bit RISC processor with a tiny instruction set with somewhere around 16 MHz of clock speed, which is marginally better than the clock speed on a Zilog Z80. Even with a very powerful language at your disposal, you still have to optimize code.

Anyway, I’m tired and I’m out of ideas for what to write next.

Rejection

The Admissions Committee has completed its review of your application. I am very sorry to tell you that you were not admitted to the MIT Class of 2021.

And that’s all you need to know.

Actually, no, that’s not all you need to know.

In a way, I actually become unencumbered by a decision letter. In another way, I become more of a normal, rational person. But in another way, I just feel more screwed over by everything and myself.

I screwed myself over. I fell in love with something far away, because it was “cool” and “exciting” – and then grew to hate it for what it was worth.

Let’s take a look at the insane political correctness of this “letter.” In reality it is just a big database of Boolean values, and if the accept value is true then you get the accept.html and if it’s false then you get the reject.html.

Please understand that this is in no way a judgment of you as a student or as a person…

Yeah, sorry for making everything look personal. I’m the drama king of the internet.

…, since our decision has more to do with the applicant pool than anything else—

Yeah, I know, they’re better than me. They’re people who actually did pretty good things.

—many of our applicants are not offered admission simply because we don’t have enough space in our entering class.

Well, does the United States have room for everyone?! No, that’s why they have an immigration policy. I got rejected because I wasn’t good enough, and there were a bunch of people better and more successful than me who are obviously going for better things in life. Just make it blunt, thank you very much. It’s population control. I’m just one out of 7 billion humans “striving to make the world a better place to live.” The mission deviates a little but it doesn’t really change much from there. So by claiming this noble mission on paper, I just normalize myself as a value.

This year we had over 20,000 candidates for fewer than 1,500 offers of admission, from which will come our 1,100 freshmen.

“Hey, I don’t like working in a super duper prestigious institution where admissions decisions are super duper tough! Sorry!!”

Since all of our decisions are made at one time and all available spaces have been committed, all decisions are final.

malloc_but_with_a_heap(&applicant, sizeof(applicant), howGoodWeThinkYouAre); /* throws TooBadSoSadException when memory is full */

We truly appreciate your interest in MIT, and wish you the best in all of your future endeavors.

Yeah, okay, it’s not the end of the world. It’s really “just the beginning.” But nothing has changed. In fact I’ll keep being the antisocial jerk that I’ve always been, and I’ll keep being shy and cynical to my family, and my dad will still fail to find any problem in me. He refuses to take me to the orthodontist, despite being unable to touch frontal teeth on bite, because he doesn’t want to pay for my braces because I don’t have dental insurance. He refuses to take me to a psychologist because the logistics are admittedly difficult – I’d had to go all the way to the office after school, against the flow of traffic during peak period, then come back after an hour, enduring traffic that is so terrible that my mother stays at work until 7 pm waiting for it to subside.

I don’t know what to do anymore. I don’t want to work on the zero-gravity soccer game, I’m burned out from it; I’m reluctant to start on SteamSteps because I don’t think Valve will let me go over the 100k request limit (which I need to crawl everything in a reasonable time); I don’t even want to think about my homework anymore.

You know that little stylistic rainbow at the top of their admissions page? It used to mean how open and creative they were to new ideas and new people. It doesn’t mean anything to me anymore. It’s just a little symbol of elitism now. They have money to make themselves look this way to people, and to scoop money from investors and companies who just want to throw money at something they know will always improve society, so they chunk their money to MIT because they know well good things come out of there all the time.

That is to say, I don’t give a crap anymore. I don’t give a crap about what the other colleges have to say anymore. They will all reject me, and that’s a given. The only reason I’m going to UT is because I am legally entitled to go there. Oh wow, I sound like a millennial don’t I, acting entitled to having things? “Oh you special snowflake come here for a little award! you tried! have a little trophy, everyone wins something!” And if I don’t sound like a millennial, then I sound like some alpha male. I don’t want to be an alpha male. I don’t even think I can take on the role of a man anyway. What a burden this big package is, it pressurizes me (yes, that’s supposed to be the verb “pressurize” not “pressure”) into a balloon about to pop. I don’t have a relationship. I don’t have any sort of person of the opposite gender I can take these hormones out on. So they stay inside of me, a sort of potential energy.

This is what the status quo is. Everyone got rejected – which is my outcome #3. Why, did you think a miracle was going to happen? No of course not. I won my own bet, and I don’t win anything. What, did you expect me to win anything?

No this doesn’t have anything to do with MIT anymore. It has to do with my inferiority complex and what led me to acting like I don’t deserve anything in life, restraining myself in moments that are intended to be happy, and not completing my projects. Forget the big-name colleges, what do they care about why I didn’t accomplish something. What do kids like C. Huang (BFDI, now a college sophomore at Stanford) et al think about kids like me? Nothing, because they are too busy being productive and accomplishing meaningful things in their lives, along with making cool Flash animations people actually enjoy and praise. People look up to kids like him. Do people look up to me? No. That is the real metric of progress. People don’t look up to me for anything, except maybe that I’ll be better than them someday.

And to people who expected a big tirade on life, the universe and everything in between, sorry for not delivering well enough, with this 1,752-word piece of crap kind of a blog post. Yeah, I’m still Catholic and I still pray. But my carelessness about anything “better” than the status quo is now confirmed. I’m set to lose all of the competitions and throw away the next three months of my life in the trash knowing that I don’t have time to do anything except drill through school and pass exams and that’s it. Yeah, this really made my spring break didn’t it.

As long as I don’t look visibly upset as I mope around the house and around campus knowing how much of a reject I feel and the aspirations I sought so dearly, I won’t be expecting any type of “corrective action” from my parents, because doing so would be deviating from the status quo.

I don’t want to keep waiting all my life, praying until “something good happens.” That’s what my mother wants me to do and it doesn’t work. You want something to happen, make it happen yourself. “Pray, hope, and don’t worry” but after you have exhausted your own opportunities of action.

I don’t even know why I have Yoast SEO installed. I guess SEO is important for outreach right? Except it tells me “readability: needs improvement” almost every single time and I don’t even bother adding a focus word anymore, which you need to activate the SEO features.

And if you’re a first time reader, why don’t you read all of the previous posts? Yeah, all of them, before you go in and fight back and call me salty and that I need to git gud. Not like you want to lash out, because I’ll immediately concede and slap myself over the internet, and then throw you in my spam folder when you start harassing me. (Sorry, I couldn’t capitalize the “i” over there because the cat has her head on my right wrist right now.) And if you think this is worth sharing on Reddit, think again before you make my server explode and someone ends up hacking it and deleting all my crap. There was more to this paragraph but I was suddenly and inexplicably logged out of WordPress, and it was lost.

I feel powerless, almost even defrauded. Why do people put all this pressure on me so that they can just get disappointed when I get rejected from everything?

My parents will be home soon. I ought to finish this post before they arrive and interrupt my train of thought (if I even had one in the first place).

There is nothing I can do anymore. I hate College Confidential; they make everything look like a breeze. I hate bureaucracy, because it amplifies uncertainty. What else can I hate? Life? No, I can’t hate life. I can’t hate myself anymore; even that power has been conceded from me because I have already tried to do so.

“Keep doing whatever it is you’re doing.” I’m not doing anything right now and I don’t want to anymore. If I wasn’t shy then, I am now. I don’t want to tell anyone what is going on with me or what colleges think of me, because then their perception of me will shatter and I will be nothing to them. Nothing. I will not have friends anymore. The friends I make in college will be just the same. They’ll have their circles and I’ll just be a member of them. I don’t lead any social circles, hmm I wonder why because I spend so much time on the computer, hmm I wonder why because I don’t have any good friends, hmm I wonder why maybe school is too small? people don’t offer me opportunities to join them in their awesome adventures?

I’m all out of moves. I’m exhausted. And it’s not even the end.

Deliberating judges

I was finally chosen to speak at graduation. That’s great, after I thought I’d be rejected once and for all.

In two days I will receive my decisions letter from MIT and I will be rejected. I do not even have faith anymore. I can bet my entire bank account on knowing that I’ll be rejected, because I am an idiot. If I wasn’t an idiot, I would have figured out a way to work my way up and get to where I want to be. But I didn’t, and here I am, setting myself up for failure over and over.


That was yesterday, but a fellow reader who has spoken out has really turned me around. I have a manifest hope now. I really think I have a chance. Or perhaps, it is an illusion of the mind, and I am deceiving myself again…?

Well, at least someone out there really does care about me (save for the usual suspects: God, my family, and a small handful of my classmates).

So, before I post the ultimate “Rejection” post I have been waiting to do for fourteen months now (in which I go on a tirade about literally everything and how my life is just going downhill now yadda yadda), I do have to say this: Why did I put myself in this position? I could have done the right things, but noo. Now I am flying by the seat of my pants with only a little contingency table of what could possibly happen in 24 hours from this oh-so-life-changing decision (or rather, rejection): my female classmate gets in (possible affirmative-action-driven outcome #1), my classmate whose dad is an MIT alumnus gets in (just plain evil and weird outcome #2), I get in (“a dream that probably will never, ever come true” outcome #3), or nobody gets in (status quo outcome #4).

Well, what can I say? We just have to wait and see, and pray a little bit. and STOP SHAKING. and SLEEP WELL. Gosh darn it, I have that zero-gravity soccer I still don’t know if the judges have graded or not yet. At least the game works, looks pretty decent, and is fairly hard to crash. But that is another group of judges for another day…

Note to self

As I listen to the “Undertale” track from Undertale, I induce myself a wave of nostalgia. Ah, yes, 2015, when things could be done and time was to be spent…

This, too, shall pass.

Today passed the first day of spring break. It was very productive as I had expected it to be. The car battery had died, exactly the day after I had told my father that it was getting difficult to start the car. The car is officially more than 10 years old now – I still remember the day the first day my father took me home in it. I was in second grade and didn’t know anything at all about my dad’s intentions. The notion nowadays is interesting – back then life was simple, and memories and reasoning surrounding memories seemed simple too, but as my parents explain more and more about the past, the dots are connected between my experiences and those of my parents. I remember the stormy days of elementary school, the day I didn’t join the recorder “karate club” (you get tiny colored ribbons based on your skill level playing songs on your recorder), the day a loud band played in first grade and I covered my ears, the day I made a figure-eight with a handkerchief in preschool, the day I tried to run from the blue screen on the computer when I was three but I had snagged my shirt on the seat, the day I tried to apply for an officer position for a club I wasn’t even a member of, the day I learned the past-tense verb “saw”, the day I was a high school freshman for the first time ever and I was calling my brother on the phone in the crowded bus dock, the last day of every single year of my summer engineering program waiting for my dad to pick me up from colleges I will never attend, the day I got this big hulking server, put it in my room and began setting it up right away, the day I played “BS” with some people I will never see again on the last day of my freshman year, the day I discovered Anki,

but never the day I made this post.

This is my note to self, whenever this might be read – in a year, in five years, ten, twenty, whatever – I knew exactly how to succeed and I didn’t execute. The circumstances of this time could not be controlled. I screwed up here, but the outcome would be the same even if you took a time machine. I knew I had to make the windmill and the e-bike if I wanted to entitle myself to the “elite” education I wanted – but I didn’t.

There is nothing I can do to influence you in the future. Time is the ultimate killer; it is one of the most feared forces of the universe. Such is why we keep pictures and try to hold on to memories as close as possible.

In the present, my capabilities are very limited right now. I don’t know a lot about calculus or physics, and I have almost forgotten everything about statistics and chemistry. I’m very socially inept. But I know you are much more capable than I am and have a much greater retinue of people, knowledge, and prowess.

To you, I cede my future.

On bullying-related news articles

I dislike how the press strives for the most sympathetic coverage when it’s the anniversary of a kid’s (less than 18 years old) suicide from bullying, etc. and they take the opportunity to publicize the campaign their parents started to raise money for “suicide prevention organizations” and other stuff.

Let’s see what these kinds of articles include:

  • The name of the kid who died
  • The last “good” picture of the kid who died (smiling, of course, to suggest they were “perfectly fine and had no reason to die”)
  • Their age now if they were still alive
  • Their choice of death
  • Their gender
  • Why the parents think the kid died
  • What the parents did after the kid died
  • The name of the campaign the parents set up for the kid
  • The number of things laid on the kid’s grave
  • A link to a bazillion suicide hotline numbers

Let’s see what these kinds of articles don’t include:

  • An established, specific cause of death
  • Any mention of a thorough investigation that can explain influences surrounding the death
  • Any mention of a suicide note, its length or its contents
  • How the kid was discovered after the attempt
  • Unbiased remarks from friends, teachers, or acquaintances (hindsight bias causes them to give the kid more praise than was evident at the time)
  • How the media took note of this incident at all
  • A mention of statistics and where the kid fits into the statistics

So people keep wondering and scratching their heads why this stuff keeps happening. Maybe they ought to take a lesson from Japan, where seeking psychiatric help seems socially stigmatic and dishonorable.

Even in my own family, I have told my father repeatedly that I need psychiatric help, but he thinks I’m “fine.” He thinks I am incompetent and that I don’t know what an alternator is or that cars from different years have differences in design. My brother talks about me all the time and it seems as if my family is silently judging me. My ideas sound ridiculous to them, and my friends are indifferent about my ideas.