Category: Uncategorized

Final report

I have a sore throat right now, so I don’t feel completely great. But the fact that high school is over has failed to sink into my brain. It feels like the chaos will continue next week, but it won’t. It’s over. College will not be like high school, but my brain predicts that it will be a greater burden, a tougher threat, that necessitates mental preparation.

I hardly felt emotional. It’s not the end of the world; it’s not like those people instantly disappear or something once the ceremony is over. Yet I am somewhat concerned: will I ever see them again, or care about them again? Something tells me that it doesn’t matter anymore, that the ultimate answer is no. We spent time with them because they were our classmates, but now they are classmates no more. They are a distant speck now, with their personality assimilating to new, unanticipated branches and derivatives which appear unbeknownst to the old friends. Eventually, the old friends have lost their commonality, and their sole connection is that they once knew each other and laughed together a long time ago.

Of course, there were few other ways to complete my schooling. My greatest disappointment, aside from my dad taking a total of nine photos during the ceremony on my DSLR (and no videos!), was the tendency for teachers to pull me into only what was required to be known and nothing else: “You don’t need to know that (yet).” Is life to be imparted from a textbook? Hence, I’m grateful that this phase is over, that now there is no institution locking me into a fixed eight-hour schedule dictated by an electronic bell system that sounds in 45- or 50- minute intervals to indicate a forced transition between entire subjects. No, enough of that.

I have a retinue large enough to find whoever I want from my class, so the problem of friendships does not concern me after graduation. If I want friends, I’ll get them.


The sore throat is gone now, and my greatest fear is that the memories of school will fade away so quickly. I know it is not possible, but the mere thought that disuse can cause thoughts to simply fade from the brain is simply startling.

School really was just a chapter of my life. I figured the only reason I didn’t get to MIT was because I didn’t apply myself enough. I just took orders and that’s it. I didn’t live a life of excellence like I should have. I’m not talking about “rugged individualism” or any of that “patriotic” idealism; I’m referring to the concept that when you do something, you do it excellently. But by the end, my perfectionism had to be degraded to stave off my recurring depression.

I see companies of people pouring money into ideas and making great things, things that could never be accomplished alone in one’s spare time. Do you really think I love being here on the computer doing nothing, repeatedly checking forums and Discord for any new stimulus that might need my attention? No.

I wait for the day I’m talking to the psychologist and he tells me, “Well, you spend too much time on the computer. Get off and stop using the computer,” and I’ll answer back, “What will I do instead, then?” and he will tell me, “Read books. Play board games. Go outside.” But I will tell him this: “I do not want to consume anymore. We consume, consume, and consume. I want to create.” And, of course, with the limited mindset of a simple member of society, he will suggest me to paint, or draw, or write, or build with blocks. But I want to do no such thing; these are simply small enjoyments, little capsules that release brief pangs of satisfaction.

Let’s get down to it. I want to create things that actually help people. I want to design and build real contraptions with a functional purpose. Heck, I’ll start a company if I have to, but I want people who can, will, and are inclined to help me reach these goals. Screw individualism. It took Adobe a decade to build and perfect a full-fledged image editor that open-source devs still haven’t even finished. I guess David Capello was right to charge for Aseprite: there was no way to accelerate production without dedicating yourself to it. (Heck, he had been working on that for more than a decade.)

I’m not a kid anymore. I want to make dreams realities, but I can’t do it alone, much less in front of a big blasting array of pixels. All my life I wanted to build things and I was never given the opportunity to truly apply myself in that field. The NXT was an opportunity seized from me; the FPV project, my father found no purpose in; the water-condensing windmill – well, let’s just say I never even got a chance at that; the electric bike, my family dismissed as some kind of glorified moped. I don’t know how to read or understand circuit diagrams well. I have no mechanical intuition or background.

I don’t want to take an ordinary job, either. Even the prospect of “coding till I drop” seems rather dull. I want my job description to be “teaching an AI how to automatically correct common programmers’ mistakes,” or “provisioning AI VMs with calculus, English, and Google.” I know my college professors won’t help me in that, either.

Exam hell

AP testing began rather turbulently. Starting with two exams back-to-back on Wednesday and another exam on Thursday and Friday, there was nothing I could do beside hit the ground running, fast and hard.

Despite any lack of confidence I might have over my performance on the exams, I ran through the score calculators and the standards for obtaining a 5 have been on the decline. I can safely conclude, then, that College Board really has been dumbing down their tests for the sake of increasing their numbers – indeed, collectivism hinders originality and creativity. I didn’t say getting a 5 was easy, but it has become significantly easier over time. For instance, you only need ~65% correct to get a 5 on the Japanese AP exam, and around 55% for Physics C (mechanics). That’s it! Anything below that, and colleges will know you screwed up big time.

Right now, I’m struggling with increasing secularism. It’s not that people “hate” God per se, it’s that people are simply afraid of talking about God and getting something wrong or offending someone, so it effectively never gets mentioned. They never hear about God, so they just put it away in a corner of their life. And when family is gone and college is in, God is effectively gone. It doesn’t cross their mind anymore. They say, “oh, I do believe in a higher power”… but then when I asked this girl why doesn’t she explore faith a little further, she simply gave me this face of, “why?” Yes, why does tradition exist? Times are changing so why should we go and listen to our thousand-year-old ancestors, because they’re obviously wrong in everything and science is giving us far more results than ever?

Tradition exists because the search for maximum productivity did not. Life was not about squeezing the last minute of your life out of you. It was about sitting outside and trying to piece together a quantitative, metaphysical understanding of the world, knowing that we did not yet have the necessary tools to attain a formal, physical understanding. And indeed, we did the best we could.

Yet now, the idea of tradition is laden with individualistic idea of “you ought to just figure life out by yourself”; that life is, in essence, a unique experience unmatched by that of anyone from any generation or time period. I do agree that life is a “unique experience,” but do we not follow similar basic phases of development and progress: the innocence of childhood, the blind love of youth, the hardening of the middle-aged man, the futility of the retired and ill, the untimely ultimacy of death, the unknown events of the afterlife? We are just specks. Why should we care how many universes encase this one?

Well, what can I do. All I can really do is prepare for this E&M exam that is on Monday, and I only have 3 days to learn the material and minimize damage.

High school research competitions

I have a big problem with high school research competitions, and I’ll tell you why. It’s not that there aren’t too few of them, but that they only promote research in specific fields.

A staggering number of these competitions, stereotypically speaking, have winners with Asian or Indian sounding names, often with an project aptly titled “A Novel [Approach|Solution] to [cancer|rescue|babies|water filtering-related problem] [using|via|through] [some chemical process] of [insert very technical subject here]…”

Basically, this isn’t a research competition. This is just telling kids, “Hey, solve world problems, cure cancer, right here right now.” And they’ll get sponsors or their schools to pay for extremely expensive equipment for what is just a chemistry project that they want to get published.

That’s it. It’s all just chemistry and biology. The point is that there is not enough value placed in programming. Who wrote the software you used to analyze the concentration of that gas? Who wrote your phone’s operating system? Who wrote the library you used to make that one-liner in Python so you could say “Hey, I made a program, all by myself”?

We work in the backstage, and our software does not solve world problems in one step. But we give others the tools they need to do it, and sometimes we try to use them ourselves to solve our own problems, and often to help others.

Just because I’m a programmer doesn’t mean I want to work for Apple, or Google, or Microsoft. I don’t want to become an indie game developer, nor do I want to make websites for a living. I have aspirations. Aspirations like getting ahold of a quantum computer and using that to accelerate artificial intelligence, or using parallel computing to speed up simulations sure sound like something I want to do.

And the problem is there aren’t enough of me. What I want to do still doesn’t exist. This branch of knowledge is almost, but not quite, ripe for the picking. This is why nobody has the understanding to support or assist me in what I want to do. The problem extends further: because not enough people understand the branch, judges cannot endorse it because they don’t understand enough of it to determine how sound a hypothesis is.

In short, trying to enter an AI- or CS-related project into one of the multitude of high-stakes research competitions is almost like going against the current, because not only do not many people understand the topic, but not many people can support me for it, either, and the judges do not understand how significant the findings in the field would be due to its highly theoretical nature.

When people ask why I never entered a project into a national competition, this is what I try to tell them. But they shake their head saying, “No, you can do anything you want.” The truth is that this is not completely accurate. Almost all winning entries are chemistry and biology projects.

Now two strata come into mind: one, the highly capable, diligent, loyal, photogenic, superhuman minorities who cram band, service projects, Habitat for Humanity, orchestra, quintuple 800s, 36 on ACT, service projects, and apparently research projects too; and the highly capable, but apparently perceived to be lazy, highly knowledgeable hackers who waste their time playing video games.

Let’s return to reality.

Forming identity

Dreams are far from reality; and the conversion process can take an unprecedented effort. My thought process around sleep hours is very distinct from that during the daytime, which makes it easy to identify when I am tired, because a part of my subconscious seems to be exposed to the remaining part of my conscious. Thus, during the night, what I hope to achieve is very far from what I truly achieve (a regrettable characteristic of myself).

The truth is that putting dream and reality together in fact seems to deepen understanding and identity.

I’m a hacker. That doesn’t mean I’m a criminal, or that I rob banks every other week, or that I break into the Pentagon when WikiLeaks demands new content. Absolutely not. A hacker is a lifestyle; a culture; perhaps a discipline. It is characterized by a unique angle taken when solving problems, one that does not incline itself to simply tackle the problem, but rather places into scrutiny the existence of the problem itself. And for those problems deemed “impossible,” are they really?

Nothing is as interesting and stimulating for us as a good challenge. We loathe school because it is often not a challenge; and we do not want to be weighed down and repressed by the ordinary. The ordinary is what has repressed me and prevented me from thriving; it has led me to fear it.

School is upon me once again in less than two weeks. I will not enter the same way that I left; nobody ever does. In a sea of ordinary, how exactly does one become extraordinary? In a sense, it is easier; but in another, it seems much more difficult since not many will encourage one to become extraordinary.

What is my future? Fear is fear of the unknown. What do people care about hackers? I don’t know until I find out.

I expect to change the world one day. In a way, I have already fulfilled my goal. But if it is at a global scale, I do not expect that to happen today, or tomorrow, or by the end of high school.

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.

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.

Alone

People think that I choose to be isolated, that there’s no problem with me, that I just like being alone. I hate being alone, but being alone is better than being with people who don’t understand me.

Anyway, I was rejected for that second officer position. I didn’t really care much about it; I was feeling terrible anyway and might as well have rescinded my position if I was accepted.

Nothing interesting happened today. No exams for me today or tomorrow but I still have to go to school. In eighth period half the class, who are the people I actually know, simply left since nothing was happening in the class. Off to the theater hall or another teacher’s room or wherever. What’s better than spending an hour and a half with no one to talk to.

I’ve been having this cough for a long while now. I don’t like it. And now I have a sore throat for absolutely no reason. Given the roulette of symptoms to come, I’ll assume it’s a cold.

Then my perverted mind keeps distracting me by looking back at sensual details, like girls’ fat shiny legs. Thankfully nobody’s caught me in all these years.

The rumors are true: my CS teacher is leaving with no known replacement. If he’s not lenient, it’ll be hell. Otherwise, happy times. I guess a little faith is required.

The city-wide hackathon has finally been announced. That’s great but I think I’ll have to miss it, again, for a trip…

I truly feel alone. I’m not doing so great at small talk either. Most people only ask me things about homework and other general school stuff, or “what’s your opinion on this video?” I just feel out of the loop all the time. I’m like my friend, but 95% less social.

Pressure

Based on my previous track record, people see me as particularly successful, I think. I get all high As; I like something that’s rather unappreciated; I have my own club at school. It’s all good.

But the problem is that there’s a point when they start expecting you to be good, and I seem to have reached this point. Instead of saying, “Eh, I think I’ll take this AP test, see if I get a 5 or not,” now it’s like “Everyone knows I’ll get a 6 on it.” (Advanced Placement exams are on a scale of 1 to 5, to give you some context. They also happen only once a year.) The feeling sucks, because when you get the “perfect” 5, you stay the same; but when you don’t get a 5, you feel disappointed and so do other people. In essence, you’ve hit the top of the scale. There is no way to be happier without moving on to other things. Same with money; same with world population; same with diets.

I don’t consider myself a greedy person at all. I can sometimes be demanding of people, because that’s just who I am. I am often times perfectionist.

But you have to remember, the human factor… the hormones… they control our emotions, they shape our flow of thoughts… I cannot stop it. I hate talking about this, it sounds odd and funny, but I must because this is my blog. There is not just a mental pressure from school, from family, but I believe there is also something else at play: a pressure from society. Sex. There, I said it. Nobody is comfortable talking about it. But I see it every day, when the girls put on their form-hugging black leggings, their tiny two-inch-seam shorts smaller than my boxers that let you see their plump shiny legs, their shirts that are longer than their Nike shorts… am I not telling you the truth? What is the point of this? Am I supposed to stare at them and prod at their rotund build that is publicly expressed thanks to their highly revealing clothing? No! Huh, I wonder why sexual assault cases are on the increase? Because women let themselves be exposed. They do not understand.

I was told to just ignore it. But I cannot ignore it. I have only explored sexuality – that taboo word again – from a distance. In catechism, I am taught I need only love God; at school, I am told I need to start dating. I would talk about my opinion of dating, but this blog post has gotten spicy enough already. It’s making me consider just making this entire blog private. But I decide to keep it because it shows that I’m willing to talk about my problems and how I overcome them.

All is not lost

If anyone is reading, I have not fallen completely into the abyss of depression. I say hopeless things like “I hate my life” because it takes ahold of me, and it is true that I am dissatisfied with my life, and that I do live practically in solitude because the people who are most similar to me, I can only find here on the Internet. Positive things do happen in my life, I just decide to not cover them in this blog because they’re the “small things.” For example, I did not get to state UIL, but I got pretty dang close given the number of people taking the test. (I took seventh place in regionals.)

If you are shocked because I’m all happy and stuff and then you read this and suddenly you’re like “you need help,” by all means help me. But please do not talk about my problems in public forums, although it has not happened yet.

Just keep it personal.