Diary - mid May

This post was written 2 years ago.
Sun, 19 May 2019
A week since my last entry, and so much seems to have changed, again. Not outwardly so much. All in the mind.

A couple of hours ago, I received an email newsletter. It is written by Zeynep Tufekci. She says of it "It's an experiment: longer writing that is not public writing." It can be found here: https://tinyletter.com/zeynepnotes. This new editon, not added to the archive yet, quite threw me. It clarified something for me. Recently, I had been thinking this: We are determined by so much more than our genes and our environment. We are a continuation of all our ancestors' lives. They play out through us, and it can be surprising. This is not what Zeynep Tufekci wrote about, but the common thread is this: Genes and personality is not enough to explain why people act in the ways they do.

In her newsletter, Zeynep pointed to this article she wrote for Scientific American: The Real Reason Fans Hate the Last Season of Game of Thrones. I think it is brilliant. — I have not watched GOT, though it has always intrigued me. I have read up on the story and characters, watched a summary, and then watched this current season's first episode. But it seemed a bit boring to me, and some of the acting wooden. I then heard from my colleague Alex that in seasons 7 and 8 it had got a lot worse. Zeynep thinks that too, and her analysis of why it happened, is compelling and fascinating (despite my not having watched the series). Sociological storytelling has been replaced by psychological narrative. Previously, you could understand why under certain circumstances, characters acted the way they did, even the bad ones. There were outside pressures and incentives. Now things are explained from individual predispositions, which is what Hollywood commonly does. The hero/antihero narrative whith good and evil characters. And when you do that, you cannot kill off your main characters because you rely on them to carry the psychologically motivated story. Zeynep then compares this to our current times. Much is pinned on individual people: Zuckerberg, Sandberg, Bezos, Dorsey etc. But the resulting society is not so much shaped by individuals, but by what is punished and incentivised. The structures determine much more than individual people do.

Taking it into another direction, on a personal level, I find it more comforting. There is a reason for the ways I act, the things I do. Not that I want to use that as an excuse! Things that make absolutely no sense on one level, have an explanation. I can trace back and understand the steps that got me there. But it can still be a mess, and I guess the challenge is then to find ways to resolve it.

I'd have liked to write so much more. I wanted to make so many plans. But really they are all in my head and I just need to write them down. I hope!

Tags: diary /

Diary - Spring to Summer

This post was written 2 years ago.
Sun, 12 May 2019
This is going to be a short entry. I am mainly writing it so as to start this blog again at all. I like the idea to have a diary with frequent entries again for a while, as I have done a few times before.

There is a lot going on, in so many departments. I mostly feel fine, even elated. The past year has been exciting, often quite challenging, sometimes frightening, but also rewarding. In short, it felt like an adventure. Just occasionally, like today, something else is mixed in, some kind of weariness.

My main challenge is, always, that I am interested in so many things. With regards to programming, but also beyond that. Sometimes I start reading a lot, and all over the place. On Saturday I went into town around 3pm, I wanted to buy some presents for my daughter whose birthday was today. In Waterstones, I saw a pyramid of copies of a book on display. The book was called "Moneyland". I could not help but enter the store. I picked up the said Moneyland, but then also "Maintains Pereira" by Antonio Tabucchi, and a book called "Awakening" (from 1899) by Kate Chopin. I settled at a little table with the three books and got so sucked into all three of them in turn, that I forgot everything around me. In the end I bought Maintains Pereira.

I thought I had forgotten my phone, and actually liked being blissfully unaware of the time. When I emerged I found the phone in my coat pocket, and was a bit shocked to realise it was 5 past 6. I had just sat there for three hours flat, no break, no drinks, just reading. Luckily a lot of the shops were still open and I got the presents I wanted in the end.

The night before, I had equally been drawn into reading a lot online, this time about programming and in particular functional programming, but also one post with guidelines about learning to program that had lots of useful links: https://medium.com/zerotomastery/learn-to-code-in-2019-get-hired-and-have-fun-along-the-way-d4197f96be27.

There is a balance to strike between being pulled in many directions — explore —, and more systematic approaches to spending your time; to read and to learn. I sometimes wonder if I spend too much on the first!

There's lots of things I wanted to post about Codehub, to various Slack channels, and in direct messages. There's new things we are planning to do, and if I don't post about them soon it will become more and more difficult.

And also, I need to put something together for tomorrow, documenting how I deploy to a dev site with Ansistrano, so I can show somebody else.

Today was completely dedicated to my daughter, we went down to the harbour and later to Brendan Hill, where I had a go on the swing, something I haven't done for ages! In the evening we went out eating and afterwards played a game of Catan. This again had not been planned, and I'd thought I might spend some time on the computer despite the birthday. But it was good that way, and I have no regrets.

Just now, of course, there is a bit of pressure. Sticking to something I committed to.

So, this is a snapshot of my life right now. There is much more though, and some I might write about. Most will be about programming, CodeHub, ideas and things I read, and how to balance everything :)

For now, good night.

Tags: diary /

Diary 6 and 7 November

This post was written 2 years ago.
Wed, 07 Nov 2018

Tuesday 6 November

I just enabled web monetization on two Codehub sites.

Wednesday 7 November

The above was all I wrote in the end for yesterday :) It again got really late, and it is late now, too! Today I spent about two hours this morning in a chat about a book and related topics. I am grateful that I have the freedom to do that.

Tomorrow we will have a TDD workshop with Codehub, and after that I hope I will be able to write a lot about plans and ideas for Codehub. I had been wanting to do that for a long time. I think this might be a good moment.

And, good night.

Tags: diary / november /

November diary

This post was written 2 years ago.
Mon, 05 Nov 2018
So I have just about managed to keep my resolution to write every day, but at the moment it is not more than a personal diary.

Friday 2 November

A book called Emergent Strategy, written by Adrienne Maree Brown, arrived today and I started reading it in the evening. It is very powerful and different from anything else I've read this year. And there's so much which I've always felt and known to be right.

It is happening a lot to me these days, reading things that somewhere deep down I knew to be true, but did not dare to believe when the competitive overzealous and violent spirit of our times tried to fuck with my brain over and over again.

Our only chance as humanity is the positive sum game instead of zero sum. Collaboration over competition.

Also, harm reduction versus Doing Good on your own privileged terms.

And as I'm at it, stop co-opting feminism and other activism for your elitist means and to make you feel better. Sometimes when I see 'for good' in an initiative's name, I want to run a mile, though I think I am wrong, I am sure they really do good things.

Saturday 3 November

It became late night again. I worked on a Haskell exercise that was not that complicated, and still it took me ages. But I don't mind so much. Each time certain pathways are made deeper and stronger in my brain.

The day before — with some help from Eleni — I dockerized my hatchling Django up which made me happy.

Sunday 4 November

It got so late again.

Of today I know exactly what I did. In the morning I drove my son and two mates from his football team to Bristol Manor Farm, then watched them play (a defeat unfortunately).

Then I spent about three hours (not exaggerating) in the bath tub reading Emergent Strategy.

Then I continued reading the book outside the bath, only interrupted by dinner, an episode of Dr Who and later reading from Harry Potter, which my daughter has returned to recently.

I have now finished Emergent Strategy. It is an extraordinary book. There is so much to take from it, and so much where I feel reaffirmed, but then it goes much further, into territory I had not even considered.

Something that has happened a lot in the past two years: Scales falling from my eyes. Again and again. Or I could say. I've got red-pilled, though that would happen only once :) maybe I got red-pilled and I'm just recognising more and more. Or do I? There must be so much more. In any case this book has further contributed to it.

Monday 5 November

It was bonfire night today, and also my 16th anniversary of moving to this country, and to Bristol.

We saw beautiful fireworks at Abbots Leigh. I had two cups of mulled cider.

Later I learned that my grand-uncle had died. He was 96. I had briefly visited him in the summer, on my way down to Munich. I am glad I saw him. I could hardly understand him when he talked, but I knew he recognised me and before I left he squeezed my hands and wished me all the best. 96 years. He has been there all my life, not always in my life so much, but this is another person from my past gone, and especially my mum's. And so many memories, there are people that nobody will remember anymore now, because he is gone. He could talk so lively about our ancestors, he was a keen researcher of our family history as well. I wish now I had recorded what he told us a few years ago when we all visited and he was still in good health.

Otherwise, I am still thinking a lot about Codehub and I want to write more about it.

Not tonight though.. Past 3 am AGAIN!

Tags: diary / november /

2018 is here

This post was written 3 years ago.
Tue, 16 Jan 2018
It's two weeks into the new year, and I did not write a review or plans, but I didn't really need to. Somehow it is as if what I'm meant to do is just bubbeling up by itself.

I anyway vow to make my blog a bit different. And I hope there will be more technical posts on it, though not only! In any case it looks like this year I might do more coding than ever before. After again having serious doubts I am now back in the swing and ready to learn a lot new stuff. In fact I want to make this a year where I immerse myself, to then ease off a bit again.

At work I do a lot of CSS at the moment, I learn Haskell with the study group, then I want to pick up the JS101 app and start by writing some more tests for it, and on Thursdays I teach a woman at BRR Python. Full on really. And all the CodeHub organising stuff on top. - Today we started a new study group that looks like it will work well. It is not me running it really but I still feel kind of responsible. And hack night next week. Tomorrow I want to ask my boss if he can sponsor us. Will I manage? I will report back. [edit May 2018 - I did ask, but nothing materialised]

Dolores O'Riordan from the Cranberries has died. That made me quite sad.

Tags: new_year / diary / coding /

September, where did you go?

This post was written 3 years ago.
Sun, 01 Oct 2017
Each year at the start of September, I've got Frank Sinatra's voice in my head, "and these few precious days.. I'll spend with you.. September, November". This year, it seemed that a few days after hearing it, September was already gone. And everybody is talking about Christmas. I remember a time when I used to be outraged when any reference to Christmas was made in September!

I cannot write very much now, as it is already so late - that's unfortunately almost always the case, when I get to write.

This entry is a desparate attempt to start off something like a diary again, some kind of record-keeping. Today I realised that I would much rather start a writing habit than a running habit. I mean, not in terms of comfort though to be honest I really don't like the idea of running in this cold and wet season. But I mean writing is more important to me. Also, I started to walk to and from work instead of cycle, which means 40 min exercise each way which is not bad! No need to go running.

So much is going on these days. In my personal life, things have been going quite well. I almost don't dare to write that. In my job I am happy. Gone the feeling that I am just given the unimportant little tasks. It's true the little tasks rather end up with me, but neither are they unimportant nor am I doing only those - but funnily prefer those now, certainly to building the layout for a new site.

CodeHub would be a whole topic of its own. There things have changed in astounding ways as well. I still feel slightly overwhelmed at times, but for better reasons now.

The thing that still is of concern is the world at large. I keep making up theories about society and the human mind, and how one could overcome the huge violent waves resulting from so much irrationality. - And there was the German election. One week later, a lingering blunt pain. Xenophobia, like here, riding high in those regions that hardly have any immigrants. But people in poorer regions feel left behind and think that too much money and care was given to refugees. But even if you feel that way, to be okay with the nastiness of this party is beyond me. It is just ugly. There was a campaign poster showing a pregnant woman, saying "New Germans? We make them ourselves" Ughhh.

But then, I still have a certain trust that the other parties will keep nasty party in check. In a way, I guess it puts the established parties on their toes, and they'd better come up with some things that really make people's lives better.

That's it for now, I really hope I can write again soon. This week have got JS101 on Tuesday morning, hack night in the evening, and on Wednesday evening I am attending a PHP training event. Busy!

Tags: diary / germany /

Mini post on Monday morning, before work

This post was written 4 years ago.
Mon, 15 May 2017
So, my diary came to a halt again. What happened in the one and a half months since my last post? On a personal level, I managed to run myself into the ground energy-wise, and that is part of the reason I didn't write anymore. On the political stage, a snap election was called that previously had been ruled out. France elected Emmanuel Macron. A feeling of uncertainty persists. Somehow at the moment, I am focusing more on my own personal situation, but that includes how I can find a way to consistently contribute. There would be so much more to write, but I am writing again in the morning, the alarm clocks are going to go off soon. The important thing for me was to write something, to pick up writing again. I would have liked to write a post yesterday that had to do with motherhood (fitting as it was international Mother's Day - that means in Germany, too, unlike here, where it is celebrated in March), but also other things. Another time!

Tags: diary /

Starting the diary again

This post was written 5 years ago.
Sun, 10 Apr 2016
With this post, I will finally give up any ambition to turn this into a technical blog. - I do write about technical things, but elsewhere; currently mostly in form of discussion posts on github

I will pick up from where I left it, just before the end of 2015, and simply write about what occupies my mind. Mostly in the form of observations, ideas and questions. It won't be anything refined, more a scrapbook of ideas, and well, a diary.

I feel very ambivalent about the news, or rather newspapers and their websites. There is so much manipulation going on. I'd never claim I'm immune to it because I see through it. I know they will manipulate me and that's why I hesitate to expose myself to the news. I'd still like to know what is going on though. At the moment I learn about most news through Twitter. But there's of course a lot of filtering going on. I read this book 'The information diet' which points out ways how to counteract the bias, I think I should have a look at it again. It involves effort though to have a balanced intake, of course - just as with food.

So when I mention headlines, it will often be with some kind of irony and sense of absurdness.

For today, I'll just summarise our Easter holidays. They seemed very long somehow, and pretty active compared to other holidays. The kids spent loads of time outside playing with their friends. And I, I finally picked up my running again and I registered for the Rock'n Roll Liverpool marathon on 29 May.

My mum and sister were here for 5 days. We went to the Cheddar Gorge one day which was great. I also during that visit managed to see "Anomalisa" (with my sister) at the Watershed and, in the Bristol Old Vic theatre, "A long day's journey into Night" (with mum, sister and Matin). Both were strikingly little cheerful, but also brilliant, while I felt Anomalisa had some sexist overtones.

Especially Long day's journey made a huge impression on me. So much to relate to, so well observed. It also gave you some insight into American society in the early 20th century.

It seems like I have become vegetarian. My daughter had suggested going veggie for lent, and we both did, but I want to keep it up. I was astounded that I don't miss meat at all, and I really see no reason why I should go back then (I might still eat meat on occasions though, for example when invited somewhere, but will otherwise completely avoid it).

Also, I've set myself some challenges, which I might write more about some other time. Especially becoming a bit more organised. We will see how that goes..

I just wrote this whole post on my phone with the Jota text editor, then saved it to Dropbox. It worked so well. Regular posts might really be a possibility then!

This post was written 5 years ago, which in internet time is really, really old. This means that what is written above, and the links contained within, may now be obsolete, inaccurate or wildly out of context, so please bear that in mind :)
Tags: diary /