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It's my birthday

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Mar. 17th, 2006 | 03:02 am
mood: contemplativecontemplative
music: AfterHoursDJs.org

Today (Friday March 17 St. Patrick's Day) is my birthday, and that means I am contemplative about many things.  The same way that many people make resolutions on New Years Eve I think about stuff on my birthday. 

It has been a remarkable year for me.  I got past a lot of my fears.  My Linux/Unix skills got to the point that I got a job offer because of them.  My programming skills may be at that level too, but I need to have something to show off to prove they are at that level.  On Monday brad asked me if I wanted a job.  That wasn't an offer, but encouragement to apply.  Last year at about this time I was working on a program.  I think I had it was very close to working, if it wasn't already working when I abandoned it.  I picked up working on it recently, and to my surprise it has been fun.  I think a lot of things are more enjoyable to me than they used to be.  I think that perhaps the most important thing I have learned in the last year is that I have difficulty letting myself have fun.  That if I am having fun, I either don't deserve it, or it means I am slacking off, and need to work harder.  I even had some fun collecting electronics from my stash to donate to Free Geek.  Something that would have been painful not long ago. 

Back to that little program I started working on again.  I am in the process of cleaning it up.  I didn't understand what would be needed to make it work when I started, and changed it only as much as I needed to to get the next critical component in.  Overall I think it is a good design, but it would be hard for another programmer to follow how it works.  I think a little more work, and I can distribute it, and use it in my resume. 

Besides brad, I also met lisa, and daveman692 at the damnportlanders LJ meetup.  I found out about it via IRC from someone working with them on OpenID.  There are pictures http://community.livejournal.com/damnportlanders/7129856.html#cutid1

They all seem to be pretty cool in person, as did the damnportlanders crowd.  I was I think the odd man out, neither one of regular LJ meetup, nor a member of the LiveJournal staff.  I talked to Brad, and Lisa more than anyone else.  I learned quite a bit.  I found out that Lisa is into roller derby, and when I mentioned that I had a local LJ pal that I had never met in person who was into roller derby she asked what their skating name was, and I said "fire crotch".  Turns out that lisa knows her IRL, and says she is totally cool.  She seemed surprised when I got her autograph for the LJ poster I am giving to my girlfriend snarble

I don't have any birthday plans.  I hope this doesn't turn into a sad lonely birthday.  Four people have told me that they would like to do stuff on Saturday with me, but none of them because of my birthday.  At least one of them is for fun.  I don't know what I am going to end up doing Saturday. 

Oh one more thing.  Two actually.  I got a post card informing me of my upcoming highschool reunion, and I'm worried about if I will seem like a success, or a failure to the people I used to go to school with. 

I think I should revise my info page.  I'm not quite the same person I was when I wrote it.
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Comments {12}

Jerry Federspiel

Success or not, are you on the right track?

from: jpfed
date: Mar. 17th, 2006 04:28 pm (UTC)
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I'm worried about if I will seem like a success, or a failure to the people I used to go to school with.

I like to look at people as if they were control systems. They evaluate where they are with respect to their desires (like a robot's camera, evaluating the distance between two parts to be aligned) and act to minimize that distance (like the robot's motor that moves the robot opposite the difference detected by camera). This control system answers the question, "What should I do?"

But the weird thing about people attempting to control the difference between reality and their desires is, that the mapping between where we are and what we should do (unlike the robot's case) is not at all straightforward.

So we have another control system that watches the first one. It evaluates how things are changing with respect to their desires, and outputs changes that should be made to the first control system. That way, if (because of how complicated the world is) the first control system is not inducing the right changes to be made to reality given what it senses about reality, that first control system will be nudged in an attempt to better its mapping between sensation and action. This second-order control system answers the question "Are my actions improving the situation (how should I change what I'm doing)?"

Are you a success? Whether or not there is a "true answer" governed by the physical phenomena that drive the universe, our "observed answer" is governed by our standards. Our "observed answer" is usually done in terms of expectations, milestones to be passed, etc.- discrete thresholds applied to continuous phenomena. These continuous phenomena are 1) your initial conditions, and 2) how your actions have improved the situation. You can't do anything about your initial conditions, but you can modify how you go about things. Therefore, I think the question of "am I a success?" is related to, but less productive a way to frame the situation than, "are my actions improving the situation (how should I change what I'm doing)?"

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Daniel Patrick Johnson

Re: Success or not, are you on the right track?

from: teknotus
date: Mar. 17th, 2006 08:35 pm (UTC)
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I think in many ways I am a success, but I haven't "made it" yet. I doubt many people will have gotten to that point at the reunion. What I think I am worrying about is the appearance that I am not on the right track to get there, like I haven't significantly progressed in that direction. I remember being thought of as the smart kid even in the talented, and gifted class. Potential can be one of the most terrible kinds of burden. I feel like I have always been taught that ordinary goals are insufficient. In a game theory sense this is more a concern about how they perceive me than whether, or not I am actually successful.

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Brittyn

(no subject)

from: brittyn
date: Mar. 17th, 2006 04:30 pm (UTC)
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happy birthday!!!

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Daniel Patrick Johnson

(no subject)

from: teknotus
date: Mar. 17th, 2006 08:38 pm (UTC)
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Thanks!

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(no subject)

from: puncher
date: Mar. 17th, 2006 04:32 pm (UTC)
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I certainly respect you as knowledgeable about Linux. You're the first person I'd turn to if I needed cutting-edge Linux information; you seem to usually have a good answer.

As for high school reunions, I think that basically no matter who you are and what you've done, people feel like both successes and failures. You'll always be better off than somebody, and you'll always be not as successful as somebody.

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Daniel Patrick Johnson

Success

from: teknotus
date: Mar. 17th, 2006 08:46 pm (UTC)
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For example someone could have a career that brings them happiness, and another could find it with family. Some forms of success may be mutually exclusive.

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ashen

(no subject)

from: karrlii
date: Mar. 17th, 2006 05:36 pm (UTC)
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Happy birthday Daniel!

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ashen

(no subject)

from: karrlii
date: Mar. 17th, 2006 05:55 pm (UTC)
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Coming from someone who at times has the same concerns as you do, this is the only advice I can offer. The only thing that matters is what you really are. You're either a failure or you're not. If you are a failure and people think you aren't it doesn't make you a success. If you're successful and they think you aren't it doesn't make you a failure.

But things get interesting here because in order to be a failure or a success you have to be it relative to something. Don't you? Who judges that? I guess to answer that question you have to first answer the question of whose rules you'd like to play by?

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Daniel Patrick Johnson

(no subject)

from: teknotus
date: Mar. 17th, 2006 08:48 pm (UTC)
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Clearly I would play by my rules because everyone else is playing the game wrong :-)

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ashen

(no subject)

from: karrlii
date: Mar. 17th, 2006 09:02 pm (UTC)
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Then you have no cause to worry about what other people think. Yay!

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Nattie

(no subject)

from: nattiecakes
date: Mar. 17th, 2006 11:04 pm (UTC)
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Happy birthday! :D

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Daniel Patrick Johnson

(no subject)

from: teknotus
date: Mar. 17th, 2006 11:46 pm (UTC)
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Thanks!!!

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