Starting over, thoughts on meditation

I’ve been going through some painful self discovery in 2019. A lot of contradictory thoughts and feelings in my head. Anything from simple things at work and home to big things like where I want to live has been unreal this year. For instance, at the start of this year, I felt like I wanted to move away from the city to Southern California. That has changed and I don’t really know where I’d like to live in the coming few years, fortunately, the place I’m in right now I don’t have any complaints about.

This post is about meditation, I recently started getting serious about doing meditation. My earlier attempts at meditation were always driven by incorrect or ill-informed ideas such as “you need an empty mind to meditate” or “be away from everything and in a quiet place”. The latter is pretty bad because at my house, the pets are always around me so I wouldn’t be able to be myself and it’s not often quiet. I got a tip from my therapist that I should just try to meditate in places that are far from quiet, like the bus or at work. So far from what I understand, emptying your mind is not the goal of meditation. Seeing your thoughts and letting the float by is one goal and it has been pretty tough. I’ve been reading Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris which has some good ideas on getting started and it also has convinced me of getting rid of some of my doubts. I highly recommend checking it out.

One of the big things I’ve started learning from meditation is that you are going to be always restarting and there isn’t anything wrong with this. The conventional sense of “failure” is actual a success case in the world of meditation. It will get easier to focus on my breathing as time passes by every time a thought takes over me, it’s not a “failure” but instead a challenge that came up and I need to overcome.

My awareness and mindfulness has become something now but I can’t say it’s much yet. I’m trying to be mindful and mindfulness can be cultivated by meditating but I’m still very early in the process.

Interesting Unicode Symbols

I spend a lot of time looking at Unicode, at work and personally, just because I love finding a shape already available by default through my default system fonts instead of adding an image for it. The basics that everyone has seen are things like ← ↑ ↓ → and © ™ etc.

A couple of months ago, I worked on a page that had some types of dashes that I often confuse myself, check it out here:

I wanted to share some interesting ones I’ve found recently:

☉ Sol, or the Sun. It’s also used for solar mass.

Caduceus and ⚚ Herald’s staff. I can’t believe these are available in Unicode, they’re so detailed! They’re also used for healthcare related signage nowadays.

▧ ▤ ▥ These are some shapes I really like out of the many available geometric shapes: Geometric Shapes – Wikipedia


℻ You read that right, it’s just fax as a symbol in Unicode 🤪. But, while looking this one up, I found out that “fax” is short for facsimile which means to make an exact copy of something.


Turned ampersand. This makes me uncomfortable.

Now all in H1 sizes! (Yes, the alignment of the Caduceus symbols is a bit off…)

☉ ☤ ⚚ ▧ ▤ ▥ ⅋ ℻

I will post more as I find them. 😁

Dull lull in July

I’ve been going through a slow time in July and I haven’t been very active on my computer besides using it for work at work. At home, I’ve just been keeping away from the computer almost full-time. There is some good news because of this, I’ve started to spend more time reading, doodling, eating, and doing anything else away from a computer.

After getting away from my computer in June and ending my work on Bookends, I felt a weird sort of burn out, not exhausted by more like a relief and now I’m looking for a new project and trying small things here and there but nothing sticky yet.

Learning Ruby has been slower and less fun than I thought it would be. When I was messing around with Python on my own time, it was fun to create small projects and build things on top of them but…that’s not the case with Ruby. Javascript was always easier to learn and play around with since it’s one language to write for server side and client side code.

I’m writing this post after attempting to write a couple of other drafts which I just couldn’t get myself to finish and it has become a common case for me that I’ll start something and won’t want to finish it. I believe I’m either attempting harder than achievable projects or not being consistent enough to continue working on them. I learned something from Eric Barker’s Barking up the Wrong Tree recently, if you want to achieve something above your current skill level, make it slightly harder not impossible to achieve which will give your brain enough reassurance that it will continue as small, consistent wins are better than large one-off lottery-like wins.

I recently created the following graphic using CSS:

You can see it here: Stop War @ usmanity.com

A big surprise for my birthday this year was that Kristen got me a bike. The bike is great but last weekend, I decided to ride up Bernal Hill which is a pretty steep ride and it hurt my knee. I haven’t been riding my bike as much because of that but I have been very cautious about my knee and I’m looking for ways to improve my knee.

Turning 29 and other things in June

This month has been a quick one, I can’t believe it’s already the 18th as I type this. Below is a short review of the month and my 29th year.

Continuing my habit building for reading, I’ve been making steady progress reading books and listening to audiobooks. This month, I finished up 3 books and one audiobook so far. The books were Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson, and How to Invent Everything by Ryan North. Each of these books is pretty different each other which kept me engaged the whole time. I was reading How to Invent Everything on my iPhone any time I was bored or had a few minutes, in a couple of months, I finished it which actually surprised me how little effort was required to finish it. I wanted to read a fantasy book that’s different than what I was into before (mostly Game of Thrones and Witcher lore) and Guards! Guards! is a good departure from that. I took a trip to Las Vegas and Los Angeles last week and so I read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. My experience in Vegas was pretty tame and wildly different than Thompson’s characters’ but it was still a fun read.

In my last post, I stated that I’m stopping work on Bookends and over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do next with my personal time at home. One of the big goals is to become more aware of myself, meaning more time spent being healthy which includes mental and physical health. I haven’t talked about this before on my blog but around the end of last year, I started seeing a therapist and it has helped my mental health a lot. I’m becoming more aware of myself and others around me. One of my main weaknesses is lack of empathy and I’m trying to hone that part of my brain. I’m also feeling less down all the time and excited (not just motivated in bursts) to work on new things. After I built some parts of Bookends and also my go link shortener, I realized that some things just take time and others will come with time, e.g. building a useful version of the link shortener took a couple of iterations but spending time learning node.js and some javascript concepts I didn’t understand helped me move ahead with confidence.

For learning in programming, I want to start focusing on ruby mainly because I use it at work and secondly because I want to build things using a different technology stack (rails, Sinatra, non-JS tools). The next few months are going to be focused on learning ruby and trying to build some tools with ruby.

In other aspects of my life, nothing major is going on. I am hoping to spend more time become self-aware and introspecting. Thank you for reading!

April showers bring May flowers

This post is just a summary of my month of April. I was in a lull at the beginning of the month but I started to get more aware of myself and started reading, writing, and doing things to get myself out of that initial lull.

Books

I finished listening to At Home by Bill Bryson in April which was a nice listen. It was a good summary of the past 250 years of history about things around the house. Like why we have different rooms like closet, kitchen, and bedroom. Where do we get the concept of having lawns? There were so many interesting facts in this book, I couldn’t keep up!
I also listened to Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson. It was a fun and quick listen, it’s a great intro book for astrophysics and the author makes everything pretty approachable for a non-astrophysicist.
I finished reading Aladdin by Yasmine Seale which I didn’t enjoy as much I was hoping to. It’s too simplistic and that might be because of the original book and not the translation itself.

Health + fitness

I’ve been getting more active recently. I started doing about 10 minutes of yoga every morning and I’m trying to get back to riding the bike about 1-2 times a week.
I’m also trying to be more conscious of what I eat but that hasn’t been a huge concern for me. I try to limit myself to some meat throughout the week and not everyday.

Code + side projects

I worked a bit on Bookends in April but I didn’t make a huge dent in all the things I’d like to get done before I consider the app ready to be used. I am deploying as many small changes as I can. Each time I am adding something new, I’m having to rethink about the models I’ve already set. Once I got search working, things have gotten a bit easier to work with. Next is just getting a nice user flow going and not removing all new user data on each deploy, I am doing this to avoid any unforeseen issues since I’m treating the current version of the app at bookends.app as an alpha release.
I’m hoping to spend more time learning Ruby in May as I’ve gotten super busy at work and haven’t been able to spend any time learning concepts and language specific oddities.