Category: Rants

Employment

This entire blog is the reason I’m not going to get a job in the future.

And if you keep thinking like this, you really won’t.

This website is so heavy in material that I deemed it dangerous to put on GitHub, so I removed it from there. My GitHub profile comes in contact with way too many people now, and one day they might be recruiters. They will not necessarily be recruiters of reputable companies, but they will take notice of my problems anyway. On the surface, I know my stuff. Good poise, eloquent diction. Very technical. Splendid work ethic. On the deep end: contrived, arrogant, anxious, troubled, and terribly unpredictable.

When it comes for resume time, mine looks weak.

  • No formal job experience in a technology company (this man has no ability to interact in a diverse workplace environment).
  • No formal education in computer science, except the classes he took in high school (this man knows nothing and should wait until his junior year of college).
  • No outstanding computer-related awards, despite this candidate’s purported devotion to computer science. (If this guy is a genius, where’s his award from USACO and TopCoder?)
  • No continuing hobbies (this man is single-minded and is going to burn himself out).

Every contest I am eligible for, I compete against college students in their junior and senior years, doing algorithms and some wondrous magic I have absolutely no training in. Do I care about writing hacky code on B-trees to earn some points I use to hype my professional self? NO! I care about writing actual code, used in actual applications. The problem is that nobody wants to use your code. That’s right, no one. They’ll -2 your code on Gerrit, ask you to send your CLA via fax to some random toll-free number and wait 5 business days for processing, and do everything they can to block your pull requests. When it’s your application, the investors and the judges will question every decision you have made up to that point in time, unless you use media buzzwords that inaccurately represent your super-simple program yet make them warm and fuzzy on the inside.

The question is, has this ever happened to you? How do you know they’ll do this to you? Looks like you really have no experience. Clearly, your blank resume represents you very accurately indeed.

Most problems you have encountered and written about on your blog have been caused by you, and only you. The distinguishing factor is that you put the blame on other people and fail to accept responsibility for your own problems. Own up to your mistakes like the man you are going to become. Remember your bad experience in the Japan trip from not going to Akihabara? That was all YOU. YOU were the one who decided to go with the wrong group, YOU were the one who decided to spend time in places that weren’t worth a visit, YOU were the one who decided to go to Harajuku instead of Akihabara. No, it wasn’t the tour’s fault, so you should change your review to four stars. And you enjoyed it right? So change it to five. It’s rude behavior in the travel industry to give bad reviews. If you had a good time, then give a good review. Don’t nit-pick the small stuff, think about the larger picture.

If you continue like this, you’re never going to make it through college, so you better delete everything in this blog and hope it hasn’t already damaged you. Yes, that’s right, DELETE ALL OF IT and consult a mental health professional right away.

Where did you get this quote from? Did you write this yourself? Why do you make things up and condemn yourself for things that you can’t even control? Just chill out, man.

I can’t chill out. There is no sense of progress in the office. My dad doesn’t even pay me, even for the time I work. But if I haggle, then he’ll give me looks and might scold me for asking for money.

Orientation

Look, I’m sorry I couldn’t get to the travel account. I’ll finish it over the weekend or something, and in return I will make this one concise.

The people of orientation were very friendly and thoughtful, almost to a Japan level of thoughtfulness and convenience. Even the food service people were competent in their jobs, in contrast to my horrible experience with lunch ladies in high school, where they just yell at you something and you don’t quite know what they said, but you say “Yes” anyway.

But when it was time to register, I thought it was going to be all right. I had planned to make a script to register all of my classes the moment that the registration opened, but I didn’t think the interface would prevent you from even getting to that menu before it was time, so I was unable to capture the HTTP requests for replaying. The infrastructure held together at the last moment from all of that incessant refreshing for the opening, but a few seconds before, the gates of hell opened once more to my mortal eyes. The servers slowed to a grinding halt during the redirects.

Once I confirmed my email and clicked a tiny little checkbox, I was then able to access the registration page, in which I entered the five-digit “nuclear codes” which I had determined after many hours of advising. Some of them gave me red error text; I read it quickly and moved on to the next numbers.

The casualties were my first-year “signature” course, which filled up 100% within 120 seconds of registration opening, and second-semester Japanese, which was on waitlist, but I was not allowed to enter the waitlist because prerequisites were being enforced.

I thought “quick, let me register for Government” which is another class I’ll eventually have to take, but alas, the ones available conflict with my schedule.

I wish I could just leave and admit defeat, but I couldn’t because I was missing three credit hours to deem me a full-time student. I kept browsing around, finding ways to prove to myself that every single course was full. When everyone was gone from the room, one of the advisors told me some course numbers that had not been taken yet that could be used to fulfill a requirement, and then drop once I could take Japanese. I don’t even think I’ll be able to take Japanese this semester, to be honest. It’s waitlisted, and sticking to a crappy class and crappy dorm seem to be the status quo.

During the day, I felt all right, but at night I kind of realized how antisocial I am, and how there are simply an excess number of people for me to ever correct that without professional help. I thus considered professional help, but sadly didn’t think that there would be any time for me to make any sort of consultation with anyone. I also didn’t know if they would notify my parents. I don’t want my parents to be notified. I already told you: because that makes the whole family in need of professional help, and then we all get thrown into group therapy, which sucks. And then to make me guilty, my parents will repeatedly suggest me to see a “spiritual director” which does not solve problems caused by chemical imbalances and is still unable to make a diagnosis. If I think I have anxiety, which I do, and need a beta blocker or something, well a spiritual director is probably going to tell me “it’s just some bad things and you just pray and meditate and relax and it’ll go away.” Really? It will go away? I am not criticizing the spiritual director’s job; they help people who just need to talk to someone about life problems; I am criticizing my parents who think that a spiritual director is just a throw-in, cheapo equivalent to a psychologist. After ranting for almost two years now, with the tendency of subordinating myself toward others and practically asking for the bottom of the barrel since I was twelve or so, is this really a temporary problem? But somehow, I have to explain to them this, but I don’t even know how.

It’s college and everything is supposed to change, but really I’m just whining at a higher level, and still not getting what I’m paying a good sum of money for.

Ugh.

Change

Now that I’ve graduated and my trip to Japan is over (still working on that memoir/account), it’s time for me to bring my brain back to rewind mode.

The good news is that I haven’t killed myself from stress yet, and the Japan trip was actually enjoyable, rather than some horrible disappointment.

The bad news is that I feel like I fit in less into the world now.

Back then, I was just a kid and I let my dad take care of all of the important work. I knew my role: I was a kid, and my dad was the guardian. Now, my dad passes on an unknown quantity of responsibilities back onto me, and now it’s not clear what he wants of me. I still need his signature for many documents, but it is still my responsibility to keep the submission of such documents within deadlines, which is difficult given my dad doesn’t care about my deadlines. I tell him that he needs to sign something and he never does it, or maybe I find him sleeping on the couch. My prayerful mother is oblivious to paperwork and requires me to answer many questions and wait for her to put on her glasses and carefully read what she is about to sign, before she even attempts to ask for a pen. This is, of course, assuming she isn’t still at work or praying quietly somewhere.

  • Code Lyoko, my favorite franchise, is dead.
  • Garry’s Mod, my favorite sandbox game of all time, is on the way to the grave now.
  • I don’t even play Team Fortress 2 anymore, or even any video game in particular now.
  • School is over.
  • Young people in their twenties or thirties are filling in menial labor positions. This somewhat concerns me because it feels as if there is some kind of upsurge in unemployment or oversupply of skilled labor, or perhaps high demand for unskilled labor as people retire. For example, my last bus driver looked like he was in his twenties.
  • My house is not surrounded by a forest anymore, but rather more houses.
  • Parents of newer generations are being trained to be more paranoid about the Internet, that everyone is a stalker and everyone is out to get you and find your house and kidnap you.
  • Companies are being overrun with young programmers a little older than me, kids who think that ambition is easy and that every idea should be supported.

I only listed this because after a week of not being at home and not touching a computer, I realized everything in my life has changed yet remained the same, like the dust that constantly rests on furniture yet is quick to leave when blown lightly. The dust is simply replaced with new dust.

Even the local horse racing park is shown to have a changing demographic. I don’t see as many smokers anymore blowing all their retirement money betting their butts off all day, because they’re dead or they’re out of money and they want to retire for good. Now I see parents being followed by kids and employees who appear slightly friendlier to newcomers. Sometimes I’m even concerned about the future of horse racing as a whole: maybe in forty years it’ll be long gone. People won’t think racing horses is humane anymore.

And now what? The burden of the future is shifting onto my shoulders now. They say it is sinful to dwell on anything except the present. It would be nice if I could stop deadlocking myself with posts about nostalgia. I have things to do, you know.

I must finish the account. The memories are fading quickly from my mind…

Reality

After spending what has pretty much been one solid week sitting in front of my monitor, I haven’t accomplished as much as I wanted. My imagination is abuzz, but where is the action?

Instead of doing productive things for the world, I’m stuck here racking my brains for an asset download protocol rejected by a developer, adding features to a poorly-designed Java application for a summer project (I mean, it could have been worse), and comparing Qt and wxWidgets despite not really knowing C++.

Sometimes, I don’t feel like being a programmer anymore. My programming is doing little to help people directly: there are people somewhere in the world starving, while I’m trying to figure out how to transfer files from a server to a client in the most efficient manner to save players a few clicks. The contrast simply taints my conscience.

On one side, I know far more about programming than most people my age – many can code, but can they critically analyze others’ code? Can they say, “oh, you should not use a singleton here”? I can take a college computer science class and probably be able to skim through most of the details and have to hunker down only on the absolute specifics of the curriculum.

On the other side, there are professionals on the Web who puff their chests at anyone who dares to be wrong: “Arrays are pointers? Blasphemy! Go back to reading your textbook!” They’re the people who say “C++ is for Real Men” yet when it comes time to make some Real Men, they say, “No, you won’t ever be a Real Man!” And to be frank, associating an intricate programming language with testosterone seems pretty sexist to me, on top of the elitist overtones this message already portrays.

But what is reality? Well, this is reality when I turn off the monitor: It’s 9:15 am, and there is no breakfast on the table, so I toast some pieces of bread that have conveniently already been placed in the oven. Now it is 9:30 am, and I have the rest of the day to myself, so I check the usual feeds to see any messages I have missed overnight. I play Nuclear Throne with my brother to agitate myself for the day, but when it comes to work, nothing comes to mind. Nay, there is no impetus for learning C++, no sense in implementing a protocol no one will use, no reason in working on a UI for a game I do not play anymore (with a programming language I do not know), no team members ready to continue working on that theoretical chat program. My parents are hard at work; I have the house to myself and my brother.

I look at the sun and it is quickly ascending: a while looking at my brother play Starbound, and it is already lunchtime. I get my act together and start working on a small fix for that game client, and once the fix is done, it’s 2 pm, so I take a break. Some browsing and it’s 3 pm. I don’t know what to do. 4 pm. My brother asks me to play with him; all right. 6 pm. I’ll screw around a little bit more; 7 pm, and time for dinner. 8 pm; I should shower, but too concentrated on my current task: updating WordPress. 10 pm: apparently my busiest time of the day. 11 pm: time to wrap it up. 12 am: asleep. The day repeats.

I hate being on the computer all day. It’s unproductive and distracting. If I leave home, though, I have to put up with traffic constraints (best leave after X am and return before Y pm), time overhead (at least 40 min for driving to and from), and costs (on average, I find someone will spend $40 on something). I don’t want to spend money, so I want to stay inside.

No, I don’t want imagination to get the best of me. People see lucrative virtual universes on their computer monitors, but I see the flesh and blood of their eyes and the liquid crystal components the monitor is comprised of. The little creatures of Starbound, who colonize your base within seconds of your query for colonists, walk around aimlessly asking your character to send a secret message to their closest neighbor. Anything that looks remotely hostile in Starbound – well, just a slash will kill it, no matter how many words come out of its mouth or how humanoid it appears. Like any video game or action movie, there is no dignity in killing the thugs – when they are all dead, everything surrounding their lives are simply disregarded: their possessions, their memories, their ancestry.

Aliens, Pokemon, zombies – none of it exists. They are all works of fiction created by humans for entertainment, to distract oneself from the depressing realities of greed, corruption, egocentrism, and poverty. It would be very nice indeed to visit one of these “perfect worlds” where anyone can build anything and go to war on a whim, but these worlds are not compatible with ours. As such, until I die, the only world I wish to interact with is this one.

Innovation has always come one step at a time. How do I go from sitting, doing nothing at my desk, to working together with competent people to actually make real things with a real demand? I wish I could answer that question, for I have been seeking an answer for years now. Nobody can seem to procure an answer, either. And once this is done, what idea is the world ready to receive, and what ideas are red herrings whose trajectory merely falls in the trash can? I don’t want to simply volunteer doing some menial task. I want to innovate and work on new tasks. But no one gives me this opportunity yet. How long more must I wait?

Ideas

Descartes says, “I think, therefore I am.” Cogito ergo sum.

So I think and I think and I think. I think about and dwell upon the the same idea for weeks. The organization is coming together. Yes, a few problems here and there, but I think I can begin. But first, perhaps there is anyone who can help me?

All right, so let’s verbalize my ideas. Oh, but where to start…? The ideas are ideas, not pictures or words. They are in their abstract form, tethered perhaps by a word or two. But all right, I’ll do my best.

So I try structuring my main idea into question-answer form, to try to address any common questions people might have about the idea. I think about what I am writing for maybe half an hour or so, analyzing any hole or implication that may be in the writing, for any of that can jeopardize my entire idea and argument. Finally, after thorough consideration, it looks like the writing can be published and it is open for comment now.

I patiently wait. The hours pass. Sometimes, the days pass. And sometimes even, no one ever replies. Until, of course, someone responds.

The first post, naturally, is critical. I don’t know how it happens, but I’m a magnet for “rational thinkers.” Perhaps too rational, because there is no nodding; they go right ahead and begin the step of critical analysis. The answer often begins with the fatal argument, or the sentence, “I don’t see your point,” and then followed with the fatal argument.

It’s the blow to the stomach, the painful blow I always dreaded, that makes me feel horrible for a long time. My logic is flawed. I don’t think the same way as other people, and my blind spot was revealed. There goes my idea and hours of thinking about it, because it was flawed in the very end. The way it is done now, of course, turns out to be the most logical way of doing it, devised so easily and elegantly. He gets the reputation. He gets the privileges, especially the privilege of carrying out subsequent ideas without further scrutiny, except if it is blatantly wrong.

Make an electric bike? No, because you’re basically making a moped. Just buy a kit, you lazy bum.

Zero-gravity soccer? What an astoundingly dumb idea. You’re putting in so many hours on something nobody’s ever going to play.

Python on a calculator? Do you really know how bloated Python is? It takes MEGABYTES of memory just to run a simple program! Just use the scripting languages our people have already made! Oh, you don’t want to learn a new language? What a lazy inconsiderate fool.

Learn Japanese? Why, you’re never going to live in Japan! Why couldn’t you just learn some European language or continue improving your Spanish?

VCR on a tape drive? Don’t you know how much a VCR can really hold? Look, the Shannon-Hartley theorem says that even with the most optimal modulation technique, you can only hold up to about 35 GB of space on a 180-minute VCR! What a useless idea. Go take your insanity somewhere else.

Ace Attorney Online on web? It’s already being worked on! Do something else.

Steam friends crawler? Don’t you know it will take months to gather the data you need and greatly strain the Steam servers and your quota while you do so? Also that it’s a terms-of-service violation for crawling a user’s profile without their consent? With those constraints, your project is basically impossible! Sorry, all that code is for naught. Tough luck kid.

A larger E-Ink tablet? Do you know anything, anything at all about manufacturing or making hardware? Exactly! Just wait for someone else to do it for you, or you can dish out a low, low $750 compared to the amount of money it took to make this product, you inconsiderate butt.

You want to make a hex-based language? What is this stupid idea, something from a movie? Do you know anything about linguistics? I thought not. Go back to high school and play basketball or something. Go enjoy your life and get off the computer.

Er… a combat flight simulator. Look, the whole reason a good combat flight simulator hasn’t been made is because it’s really hard to make one already. Have you even made one? I thought so! Hey, maybe you should look at Unity? You what? But you haven’t even tried it! Why are you criticizing a software you haven’t even tried? No. You don’t know anything about making games. Just, no. Get off. Your opinion is completely baseless and false. Shut up. No.

CUDA parallelization for Powder Toy, huh? Have you ever used CUDA in your life? You know, we’ve tried this before. If we had succeeded, your game would be faster by now. Just get a better CPU, cheapskate.

A Yu-Gi-Oh card database? Don’t we already have one? Oh, but with more features? Eh, nobody really plays Yu-Gi-Oh anymore. Even if you made it, I wouldn’t start playing again.

A water-condensing windmill? I’m not going to even start trying to point out the flaws on that. I know you’re trying to help people, but you’re no expert. Here are some helpful textbooks to prime you on the subject.

A calculator with an E-Ink display on every button? But what’s the point?!

Another competition system for the UIL Computer Science hands-on rounds? But our system already works. And besides, what if this new one breaks or the power goes out? We’re just going to keep this old system, we’ve been using it for 10 years now and we’ve had no problems with it. Wasting paper is better than being short of it.

A meme stock market game? It’s already been done before.


There is nowhere for me to contribute. The best coders are already on the best projects. I’m stuck in school where people are dumb and yell around and have a dozen girlfriends and generally don’t give a crap about me. They just adore me because I make a good comeback and “roast” people even though it is never my intention of doing that.

Then when I go to college, it will be all backwards: everyone will be better than me and I’ll just percolate to the bottom. I’ll think I can come out on top, but I can’t. I’ll just sink, whatever was left of the support network assembled by my parents will crack like tempered glass.

The only contributive thing I’ve been doing are the tasks no one wants to do because it takes a mind-numbing amount of time; the menial stuff. Stuff like entering data into tables, sorting records, counting money, transcribing scans, tagging issues, backing things up, setting up computers.

And then I’m told to watch movies that are supposed to make me feel good – oh yeah, watch Hidden Figures, look at the depiction of people who were considered inferior simply by the color of their skin and still ended up learning Fortran and contributing to the space program. Oh yeah, watch that one other movie where that teacher gets a heart attack but still ends up teaching calculus to this class of poorly-educated kids and having them all pass. Oh, look at the realism. Look at how God makes anything possible through the vision and money of Hollywood directors.

Yeah, take pleasure by the fact that there is someone in the world who is still worse off than you are, and that you aren’t that person. Take pleasure in that you’re still not the worst of the worst, even if you are pretty down there right now.

No, stop taking everything personally. This doesn’t have anything to do with you. Maybe if you stopped taking everything personally, your blood pressure wouldn’t be so high. Why don’t you take a walk? Why don’t you meditate? Why don’t you turn off the computer for once? Why don’t you play with your brother?

Do you pray? Huh? Just like your dad. None of you do what you have to do. You know what you have to do… you just don’t do it from sheer laziness. Because of the computer. Get off the computer. Actually, you know what, don’t get off the computer. Just do whatever you want. Do whatever you want. I don’t even care anymore. Your body, your consequences. Don’t ask me for help.

Don’t you know how much money it takes to build a robot? Millions of dollars! It’s not like anyone can build a robot in their garage.

So what if I did want to make a robot? Huh? Who would help me?

No one!

That’s right, no one. They’re too busy with band or being someone else’s friend. Awww look, the poor kid is crying because he doesn’t have friends. You do have friends, it’s just that you don’t invite them or do anything with them. It’s your fault, not theirs.

 

Disconnection

You know what? Just… stop. Look. Listen.

There are Catholics, feminists, relativists, hippies, homosexuals, rebels, criminals, pedophiles, sick people, and good people in the world.

The game of so-called “love” at school is coming to a close for our class. I guess I’m lucky to have avoided that drama.

There’s things happening everywhere. Back in 2009, my young mind could simply freeze time and absorb all of the information it was taking in – the lessons in the realm of school, the interesting magazine articles in the realm of computing, goings-on in the realm of family – and retain it. For this reason, I believe 2009 to be one of the most vividly recalled years of my life, along with 2012. New technology, new changes in my life, were recorded well.

Such is no longer the case. Time is somehow accelerating, information now requires constant studying for retention, and there are too many things in the world that are interesting and relevant to me that it it now futile to attempt to isolate any of them.

Yet I continue to scout for new information, something that I can use to my own advantage and benefit, to no avail. Hence is my protracted waste of time checking forums and chats that I participate in.

I’m not confident enough in my own abilities, so I look to the accomplishments of others. Yet my confidence regains in the wrong times; many of those times are when I am far from the computer. (When I get on, of course, I don’t want to do anything.)

What I need to do is stop using other people as sounding boards to test new ideas. Just screw it, I don’t care what they….

…oh, dang it! I have to care about their opinion!

Quality

I got rejected from the Google high school summer program. I thought I had good chances, since it didn’t seem too popular, but yesterday they rejected me, yet again placing the blame on the fact that “there were too many strong applicants” blah blah blah. I’m tired of hearing those canned rejection letters. Stop lying to me. Just tell me that I wasn’t good enough and get on with it.

Anyway, (train of thought interrupted by my brother placing blood pressure monitor on my desk to screw with me and stigmatize me. I wonder when he’ll stop making my crap everyone’s business) they decided to put me instead in this “Google CodeU” program which is basically a virtual program where you make a project with Gayva Java (almost banned from a forum for saying that; apparently homophobia is taken very seriously these days) with “real” Google engineers who consult with you on the project.

Yet people who write really poorly formatted papers somehow get accepted to things. So it’s not about the professionalism at all; it’s about the content. And I was excellent with professionalism, but it didn’t make my ideas appear innovative enough. I recently witnessed this phenomenon in graduation speaker auditions: one student whom I saw with a speech written in a single paragraph, using single-spaced Arial (the Google Docs default, which I believe to be ugly by design) was accepted to be the commencement speaker. I was, on the other hand, accepted to another position that was not originally open, but by drawing rather than by performance. I was chosen, in essence, because the numbers at school are always on my side. Quality, but not on my part.


My parents are encroaching upon me, slowly but surely. After telling my father I have high blood pressure, sure enough, very quickly it has become everyone’s business. Thanks, Dad, for being unable to keep confidence. Now my mother pesters me about it regularly and my brother jokes about it. It has now become something people can dangle in front of me to justify self-restraint, a stigma of sorts.

Now there is more pressure than ever for me to do things “correctly,” except I am short on time to perform such a feat. I have a certification exam in the middle of May, eight AP exams, three of which require at least a small degree of self-study, my housing application for college, another research program application that I need to finish, scholarship applications still pending, my daily homework, all the projects I want to finish (good thing I don’t make promises, right?), and now “exercise” and “meditation time,” neither of which I have time for and both of which sound coercive and cliché.

I want privacy and neither of my parents give it to me. The only privacy I get is when I’m on the computer, and even then I must be vigilant for anyone who is entering the room, in which case I must quickly switch out of my blog and into a more innocuous-looking tab. Doing anything else is silent judgment imparted on me. They don’t say anything, but they know there is something wrong with me when I eat at half the speed of everyone else and have lost a considerable amount of hair from stress.

The answer is never “calm down.” The answer from my mother is, “You know the answer to those problems yourself. You just don’t do them. You need to do exercises for your tongue and you haven’t been doing them. You need to exercise if you want to lower your pressure. Do you pray? Do you meditate? Do you have quiet time? Spend fifteen minutes quiet time. That’s fine, you don’t have to listen to my advice. Do whatever you want.”

Funny that I say this, because my mother now arrives home and asks me how my day was, etc, and now she suggests that I do volunteering in the summer for the church. And to be honest, I’d rather do a paid internship. I have zero professional experience in software development and it’ll probably stay like that for another year until I look old enough on paper to actually get a job. I don’t want to be a cashier. I don’t want to work in food service. No grandpa IT either (you know, where you have to walk through little grandpa on how to turn on the Wi-Fi in the new little Windows 10 that plopped in his laptop… No, just get an iPad, those are idiotproof. Not that you’ll be doing anything other than reading the news anyway).

I turned off that Yoast SEO crap on the blog. Now it doesn’t grill me every time more than 10% of my sentences are “passive voice” or when my paragraphs are “too long.” I don’t care. I write however I want to. Good riddance.

Anyway, soon I will trip up and they will end up forcing me into doing everything they say. They will force me to eat more food so that my ribs do not show anymore. My brother will force me to shave my chest hair and play with him “at least an hour a day.” Add “outside” to that because why not, “you have high blood pressure and we need to do something about that” right? “It’s our problem now”? I wish my father had kept that in confidence like I intended him to. Now it’s too late.

I’m tired of being too overwhelmed to do anything. All these deadlocks.

Catholic

Many people think I’m Catholic simply because the rest of my family is, and that I only practice Catholic beliefs because my the rest of my family does as well. They force me to set my tone to a cynical one, as if it was because I was being obligated to go by my family, not because I was doing this by my own free will. In a way, they (those who are not Catholic) sympathize with me because I “had to” keep being Catholic, as if keeping up appearances was an obligation that I could soon get rid of.

The problem is that I have come to age, and thus this attitude no longer holds sway: if I present this attitude in college, I’ll simply be told, “Hey, you don’t have to go to church anymore. Your parents aren’t here to punish you if you don’t.” And the problem is, I do want to keep being Catholic, by my own free will. But how do I firmly state this while avoiding a confrontation?

This is such a tangle. The problem is not believing – the faith is so rich in detail, rationale, and leadership that it’s difficult to stray away – the problem is defending it in front of others, and talking about it without provoking people.

People will say, “But don’t you know everyone is a pedophile?” “Do you know how much money the Pope takes for himself every year?” “Do you still have to pay for indulgences?” “So how much of it isn’t made up?” And the truth is that I don’t know the answers to all of these questions, and perhaps I shouldn’t be around these people, the people who don’t respect belief or tradition in the first place. The people who ask where it is in the Bible don’t seem to the ones who actually read it or ask profound question, after all.

Case in point: my uncle, who bashed on the Church in my own house in front of my mother and grandmother because he believed that it’s “all just made up”, goes to a non-denominational church and has made no remark about studying the Bible on his own time, nor has he asked any specific question about why are things done as they are in the Church. He doesn’t fire questions at me, perhaps because of the attitude I often make above, or perhaps because he just doesn’t think I am ready enough to answer all of the questions. Or maybe he knows that if he starts talking me out of the Church, he will look like a threat on my parents’ radar. I hope he can talk reasonably one day; so far, he’s only remarked about all the money he’s “voluntarily” donated straight to his pastor.

I went to Houston and celebrated Mass three times this weekend. To be frank, the experience around Houston was not that pleasant: almost everywhere we went, road construction was underway, there was enough smog to shroud the stars at night, and people spent more time switching lanes than actually driving straight. Not to mention, of course, that half of the people looked overweight or downright obese, and their actions did not seem too intelligent. I do suppose this kind of bustling city is where you would find the “average American” factoids to be true.

Anyway, after so much participation in the Triduum, I’m genuinely touched. But people still don’t understand, and they only celebrate the “easter” part, the part where you rejoice and celebrate, not the “lent” part, where you sacrifice and meditate.

I don’t know. Maybe there really is no problem, and the problem is just the worries within me.

Struggle

My struggle continues. School is a waste of time. For most of the day I just play the waiting game, and there is little organization. Two of my periods are outright “nothing,” two days a week there’s another 30-minute gap of “nothing,” and the last period of the day is a teacher who lets everyone slack off and leave early if they do their work and ask nicely, because seniors don’t actually care about English class that much.

After the bell rings, it’s impossible to leave by car due to traffic, so I wait thirty more minutes in the library, standing around, waiting for something to happen. I don’t want to do homework because I’m done with looking close. I want to look far, at the sky, at the people playing frisbee outside, not at the endless day-to-day homework always to be done.

Then, after the time has elapsed and I drive home, it is the same tedious routine. I’m exhausted, but I don’t want to lie down, so I turn on the computer. 10 minutes have passed since arriving somehow. I decide to get a snack. 15 more minutes have elapsed. It’s 5:00 now. I’ll start the forum run now. Check GitHub, Discord, Reddit, the blog, Cemetech, and perhaps Slack and some other forums. (Hah, imagine if I had Twitter or Snapchat. It would be torture managing all of that.)

It’s 5:25 now, I should start on the homework. Let’s check what homework I have. Uh, a little sidetracked finishing tasks from the forum run. It’s somewhere between 5:35 and 5:45 now. Let’s take out what I need to finish the homework. It’s 5:50 now.

Okay, so I’m done with the homework. It’s 7:00 now. I’m tired, don’t want to think, and there’s not much time until dinner, so I’m not inclined to work on a project. I go on YouTube instead and see if there’s anything new. Eh, this video is 20 minutes, so I scrub around and skip to what seem to be the important parts. It’s 7:25 now, and my parents have arrived. In order to not have to explain a great deal of things to my parents, I keep a high privacy barrier, so I limit what I do around them. (Despite me working from my room, you can see my monitor from the living room at the correct angle, and sound often escapes easily when the door is wide open.)

It’s 7:35 and my parents are now bugging me on what to eat. If it’s my dad asking, he usually will take words from me or cook something himself, but if it’s my mother, she will force me to get off the computer (she absolutely loves doing that, because she believes the computer is the root of all of the problems in the family), open the freezer, and rummage through the “large variety of options” while implicitly scolding me for not using my head (obviously because of the computer). If I make any retort at all, she asks, “Why are you angry at me? I’ve done nothing wrong to you.” and demands an explanation. If I do not provide any explanation, she will answer the question for me, often giving an explanation revolving around “the computer” (while seldom mentioning that trigger word).

It’s around 7:55 and I am five minutes late for dinner, because when my dad yells “time to eat,” it is almost never clear whether the food is actually ready or if it is only “a few seconds” to finish.

The next few parts depend on the day of the week. My father is extremely traditional, so if my brother is present or by coincidence everyone is about to begin eating, he will ask me or my brother to pray. Fine. On Fridays, my mother does not eat anything. At all. She justifies it as “fasting,” but I have not seen anything gained from such persistent fasting. Another justification is, “many of my clothes do not fit me anymore,” which probably means her frame is changing from age given how little she eats at the moment, not that she needs to take extreme measure to eat even less. (Solution: Spend money and buy clothes that fit.)

For the next 30 minutes, we watch a Catholic-related program or documentary. Sometimes the content is boring and cursory; other times, it is relatively interesting. Nevertheless, the most irritating part is the fact that my parents do this without warning. I have not watched a secular TV show or movie with my mom in years. She spends the majority of her time in seclusion, reading Catholic books, accounts, and meditations, often in a bathroom with the lights off.

It is now 8:40. My choices are limited. I end up staying on the computer until 9:40, until which I get around to gathering clothes to shower. It’s 9:50 now and too close to 10:00. Oops. (I had agreed not to shower after ten.)

At 10:00, I am too exhausted to work efficiently, so things are slow. At 10:30, I brush my teeth, go over the Anki deck, and say my prayers. By 11, I’m in bed and trying to sleep.

The next day starts a few minutes before 7:00 (either woken up by parents or by alarm clock). I am again encumbered by my cat, who wants to be touched everywhere in exchange for licking my hands. I leave for school at 8:00, and the torture begins once more.

My classmates ignore me. I act like a ghost, moping around everywhere. The only times they don’t ignore me are when I get a test or quiz back and they want to see my grade, when they need tech support, when they want to make a point against someone else by sampling my opinion, or if something serious happens to me (like an injury, which has never occurred).

There’s nothing important here. AP exams are coming in three weeks and I’m not ready for them at all. I’ll be lucky to get a 3 on the Japanese exam, I haven’t started reviewing for AP Gov (which I took last semester), and I haven’t studied crap for the CompTIA Security+ exam in 6 weeks. Too much dead time everywhere.

My parents don’t care that I have possible hypertension and need to go to a doctor to determine a solution, or that I need to go to the orthodontist to fix my open bite, or that I need to go to a psychologist to sort this mess out, stop my anxiety, and make me stop writing rants about how I don’t like life how it is right now and how I think it’s not going to change at all in the future. No, they don’t care. They’d rather have me set up the appointments and then make me suffer as I look at my dad wipe sweat from his forehead and adjust his glasses as he examines the tall, tall bills and contemplates what exactly he can cut this month so it can fit the budget. Then he sets it aside, dismisses me, and starts watching Battlefield videos again or goes upstairs.

“Honor your father and your mother.” Because complaining is a mortal sin. My life is just one big sin. Why should I study AI: so that I can build a sentient machine that I can just send my brain and consciousness over to and become the next GLaDOS, enslave the human race and rule the universe? As much as I want to do that, it’s likely someone will beat me to it. After all, someone already did beat me to being better than me, using the exact same time and resources as me.

The whole notion of being “better” than someone is bunk anyway. We all just want to feel good about ourselves in spite of not succeeding as much as others, so we try to soften up words and phrases so we still feel good when we don’t succeed. “Oh, that college is missing out on you.” “Don’t worry, it’s just the beginning. You’ll have more chances later.” “That person had X, Y, and Z. You couldn’t compete anyway.” “So what?” “At least you tried.”

The storm is going to blow over soon, and I know someone will find out about what I’ve been writing here very, very soon. For this reason, I am keeping backups in case someone asks me to delete everything on the spot. Not on my watch, no sir, you’re not going to delete 60,000 words with a few strong ones of your own.

Signals

I found out that the previous post was my 100th post. I never thought I would make it this far, although it’s not exactly the kind of accomplishment you would congratulate someone over.

Today, I did the absolute minimum required to stay afloat in school. It’s not because of senioritis or anything, it’s just because I don’t feel like I have anything to do with those people anymore. They venerate me because I’m the “hackerman” and number one in my class, but I don’t feel like I’ve really helped anyone in a meaningful way. I also missed the early deadline for the research program in my college, which means that my last opportunity to do early research in college is about to disappear.

There’s only one kid at school who really cares about me, and I know him well. But he is always occupied with the band, so it’s difficult to do anything at all with him. Nobody else really gives a crap about me, or at least they don’t show it. It’s how I pulled off sitting in the big corner of the physics classroom with a frustrated face and nobody questioning anything, much less actually noticing me sitting in a corner.

Every time I think of the mere idea of having fun with friends, I want to cry. The notion of “having fun” feels remote and unattainable. Worse, I feel as if I do not deserve to have fun. The last time I had a birthday party was when I was twelve, and I didn’t like how it turned out, as only one friend came out of four or five. I pretended I was satisfied, but I was not; they could never reach the level of spectacle as my brother’s birthday parties, where often six or seven other people came and really enjoyed. So I stopped doing them. There is no point in trying to get attention anyway, as there is practically nothing important about me.

I realize that for most of my life, I’ve felt left out. Sometimes I go and do something great and I think, “Indeed, these are the words I needed to do something new and great.” But at the end of the day, when I sit down and check my email, nothing has changed. I’m still deadlocked thinking about the things I already have to do, but don’t want to do because my mind isn’t set on doing them. Meanwhile, I have good ideas that I want to work on but don’t have time for. There’s also daily homework and the load is hardly predictable for any given day. (Actually, I’m lying, it’s very predictable.)

What do signals have to with anything? It was a title for a draft which I never even started on. It is supposed to connect with a small theory I have, which I like to call resistance theory – in essence, all behaviors have a specific resistance that quantifies how much each behavior is impeded. For instance, because I am currently sitting in my room typing away here, it would not be convenient for me to walk all the way to the pantry for another water bottle; thus, the resistance value is very high. However, if I was very thirsty, my thirst would increase the threshold of resistance; that is to say, I would be willing to do things that have more resistance. The same goes for, well, trying on leggings, which has an extremely high resistance value, unless I happened to be alone in a large store, in which case the action would be very tempting.

By extension, it’s easier for me to keep writing rants than working on projects. I complain more and express more of my suffering, rather than waste 2 hours working on the very early stages of some dumb project I don’t even have time to finish.

I’m not saying your support isn’t worth anything. I’m saying that I need real support from people I can actually look at in the face and cry to.