Diary week c/ 22 November 2015

This post was written 3 years ago.
Fri, 27 Nov 2015
It is half past two on a Friday - that is, already Saturday - as I start writing. This will be short although I would have lots to write. But what I'd have to write is often difficult to express too. Mmh, why should I not, for a change, write about coding? Yes! So, two weeks ago we had our JavaScript workshop. I think it went quite well except for one quite annoying technical detail. The projector we were given had a lot of speckles on the lens which made the screen either look like a starry sky or splattered with dirt, depending on the background. It was really quite astounding. What had happened to it? Luckily it did not faze the speakers too much and they made sure that people were able to read by increasing the font-size etc. At least the wifi worked, apart from a brief glitch. The speakers and talks were amazing, and I enjoyed the whole thing even though I was the main organiser and always a bit on egde.

So now I am in the process of editing videos - that is, adding some screens at the beginning, which was fun to do in kdenlive. I am currently uploading the first one to Youtube, I am curious if it will work out well. Then I also want to do a writeup of the whole thing, as I have done the previous two years.

And then there is the biggie, I want to plan an exit strategy. I do not want to be the 'leader' of our CodeHub meetup any more. The funny thing is, I enjoyed being in the driving seat more than I'd have thought. It is just that I find certain aspects of this particular role really exhausting and emotionally draining. Part of the reason is that this whole thing is so personal. It really is a bit like a child to me, my baby, and I sometimes don't know where I end and CodeHub starts. There have been things that in themselves would not be more than annoying or stressful, but have triggered a total meltdown in my case (not in public, luckily). And it has taken up so much space in my mind that I don't actually get to the whole objective of why we founded this anymore: Learning new things and improving my programming. My mind was mostly so preoccupied with organisation (even when not actively organising a workshop) that I did not find the peace and quiet to just - code.

Another reason is that I honestly think I am not the best person to take it forward. I've since the beginning felt a bit out of my depth, especially when I realised that a lot of eperienced programmers, and also CompSci students signed up to the Meetup group. So I am neither particularly qualified on a technical level, nor do I command extraordinary social or marketing skills which could make up for that.

The question is just, will anybody want to do that? What do people see in CodeHub anyway? A lot of people must have been interested in the concept at some point because they signed up, but is that still the case? I myself totally believe in it anyway. Hands-on learning through your peers..

It is getting late.. to be continued..

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tags: weekly_diary, codehub

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Diary week c/ 15 November 2015

This post was written 3 years ago.
Mon, 16 Nov 2015
I still have not quite learned to jot down my thoughts in a notebook when they come. I have these whole narratives in my head sometimes, I decide to hang on to them and write them down later, but by the time I get to do that they are gone, of course. This one thing I remember though. I've been thinking to devide my entries into two halves. One dealing with what is going on around me - politics (global, national, local), communities, social life. The other one: things that go on in my head. As I can never become a fully factual (let alone, technical) writer, I might just as well embrace my focus on emotions, psychology, philosophy. The desperate attempt to lead a 'good' life in the double sense: To serve others and bring out the best in them as far as one can do that from the outside. And to live well, and this explicitly means experiencing both pleasurable as well as painful emotions - sometimes very painful ones. The whole range, but with a commitment to oneself, acceptance and compassion. I want to write more about that below. But as I decided to start with external events, I will begin with what has been on the news for days, the attacks in Paris.


Darkness and light

I never read up very much about the details. By now I have heard: One attack happened outside the football stadium, the suicide bombers did not manage to get inside, the bloodshed would have been much worse, had they managed. There was a friendly going on between France and Germany. The players heard the explosions outside, but kept focusing on the game. It turned out two of the French players would be affected. One lost a cousin, another one did not know for a while what had happened to his sister, in the end it turned out she managed to escape unscathed. The German team decided to stay in the stadion overnight and the French players out of solidarity stayed with them. I first heard this from my mum, and then again on the radio. It makes you feel so European. The French, our neighbours, not much different from us at all. Standing together, shoulder to shoulder. Even the English anti-French sentiment (as a German you sometimes hear "the ones that we really hate.."; are the French told the same thing I wonder?) will be nullified for now I reckon, when the French and English team play against each other in Wembley tomorrow.

But we need not only think of ourselves as Europeans but citizens of the world. What happened in France happens in other countries on a (almost?) daily basis. Some have pointed out - and I think it's a valid point - that Beirut a few days earlier, after a relatively stable period, saw similar attacks, and no sights around the world were illuminated in the colours of Lebanon. Nobody would expect that, but I can see how the outpouring of grief over French victims can leave a Lebanese person with the question: are our dead less worthy to be mourned? Are we worth less? Which might be exactly at the core of the problem, one of the reasons, why some people become radicalised.

Also, all this does not come out of the blue. We have for years lived very well, in part due to our weapons exports (at least Germany is pretty good at that, as the super exporting nation), benefitting from other countries being at war with each other, or engaged in civil war. We do not want to see our shadow sides anymore, the target is to be productive, and if we have too many negative feelings, we frantically look for a way out, we want to get rid of them, we numb them or medicate them away. I am generalising of course, but I do think there is a tendency to do that. The shadow sides exist elsewhere, in other countries, we project it all out there. We can give those people weapons, they are not us. Or we even fight a war against them, because they are evil and we are the shining light. We are the countries where the enlightenment happened, brighter, more cultural and civilised. Really?

I wish there could be a worldwide commitment to do away with weapons, and to become more aware. To not act on first emotions, not reason by emotion ("because I feel so intensely that things are this way, it must be true"), instead become aware of emotions, go through them and eventually let them go by. This is more difficult of course then just to continue hating somebody, for example. But I feel if we don't collectively learn to do that, all our weaponry will just get deadlier and deadlier and we might in the end very well just destroy ourselves. Our shadow, the monster we've helped to create, is coming back to haunt us already. How to deal with that monster, who knows what the best strategy is. In any case, we can't pretend it has nothing to do with us.

Sugar-coated pills

Somewhat related to the above, but more to the beginning of the post, some random thoughts on psychopharmaca I recently had:

I have often thought that too many people are prescribed antidepressants as a chronic treatment. I used to be a total believer in "you have to take them for at least half a year". Until somebody I know came off them much quicker.

It is a difficult path to walk. If medication can help somebody feel better, be more in charge, more functional and productive, should one deny that medication to them? Maybe not. Perhaps it is more important what choice that person themselves make. Because with milder forms of depression, I believe that it is a perfectly good choice to not take anything against it. And people should not be punished if they make that choice. If they are less successful, less productive, more tearful for a while, would that be so bad? The thing is, a state of relative unhappiness might be telling you something. If you elevate your mood artificially and become really productive, you might be missing a message.

I have not had a major depression for 18 years now. What I do have though is an often 'dysthymic' disposition. Low moods, low confidence, many tears. I feel ocasionally de-pressed, you could perhaps even call it depressive; but this depressive means 'like in a depression' and not actually in a depression. I also find myself tense and stressed quite frequently, and sometimes my body seems to turn into a Cortisol factory. I can feel it. If you believe this book, if I took Prozac or any other SSRI, there's a good chance I'd become much more stable and confident. I could very likely achieve more, be more productive. But I'd not choose to do that.

I wanted to write more about this, but it is simply getting to late now! Good-bye and good night.

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Diary week c/ 02 November 2015

This post was written 3 years ago.
Sat, 07 Nov 2015
A lot going on at the moment. One good thing: After an absolute low-point in the middle of the week, my outlook is a lot more positive now. I have also decided to not be as self-indulgent to mention any potential newly-arrising crises too much anymore, unless I see in them a pattern that might apply to people in general. There's simply no point otherwise. No lamenting!


Goals

  • After having convinced myself I should 'resign' from running CodeHub before the end of the year, I think now I want to give it a go a bit longer. I'd like to take the bull by the horns and deal with what I find most difficult. Asking people for help by sponsoring us with a venue and/or food. Or we really go to a fuction room in a pub again. People used to do that all the time.
  • Run a marathon end of May next year
  • Revamp my little advent calendar

Not that much for now, will have to revisit that. I am just so tired!

The thwarted contribution

I mainly put this here, because I had this heading in the draft.. Talking of generally applicable patterns, this is something I was reminded of recently. I had seen it mentioned in Barbara Oakley's book. One of the most hurtful things in life is when you actually want to contribute something, but your contribution is not accepted, is not deemed worthy. OR you set youself some strange barriers, prohibitions, or keep self-sabotaging yourself into not achieving anything of worth to others. The latter often follows the first, I reckon.

Tags: weekly_diary /
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