This is harder than I thought

Okay so I admit, I failed at the habitual blogging faster than I thought. I was being a little too facetious when I originally said I would be able to write one piece a day.

Anyways in terms of musings for the past few days, there’s actually been a few interesting things! For the first time ever, I took a step out of my comfort zone and emailed somebody I extremely admire. She’s one of my favorite writers and actually sent me back a heartfelt and descriptive email with a long list of book recommendations.

Frankly that made my whole week. On top of that, I’ve been dedicating myself to a more rigorous reading / writing schedule. I’ve enrolled in a few classes online that are going to be starting soon and want to take it upon myself to improve my understanding of the humanities.

As of lately – I’ve found myself questioning the state of the world, how it became to be, and how we can take a step forward.

So along with my reading of Hamilton, I’ve found it quite topical to read a book on capitalism. It’s an interesting piece and has definitely changed my perspective on the labor, financial, and economical conundrums that our country is currently in.

I’ll summarize a little bit of my understanding of Alexander Hamilton thus far. I honestly don’t know if he’s the founding father of capitalism, however he definitely was a large driving factor in the early start of it within the United States. Admittingly it was probably the right decision at the time, given the state of the country’s economy post-war. Additionally Hamilton carried a biased view of the world – with a strong and firm belief in meritocracy considering his rough childhood. Consequently he may have not foreseen the unexpected problems of capitalism, mainly rooted in its nature of privilege.

So… I’ll admit, I’m a little frustrated that he may have created capitalism, but I have to sympathize with the situation of the times and try my best to frame the problem properly.

Also it’s Friday. Cheers to the weekend y’all!

Habitual blogging

Dictionary.com defines atrophy as a verb – gradually decline in effectiveness or vigor due to underuse or neglect.

All things atrophy, it’s a fact of nature coupled with time. That being said, communication is a skill of mine that has been deteroriating slowly. It’s been years since I’ve consistently wrote essays or blogs. Originally this blog was an attempt to address that issue.

So unfortunately as life events came and went, I’ve been lackluster in keeping my zero followers updated. Thus to hone in on my lack of activity, I’ve decided to try to write for 30 days consistently! I’ll admit to you, my life is somewhat dull and placid. However this is an experiment for myself too, to see how much I can change within a month.

With that being said, today is September 5th. I’ve recently arrived back from Vancouver / Seattle. Along that vacation, I did some self-reflection and learned some new things about myself this past year!

I’ve become more inquisitive. Whether or not that trait was something I had before I’m unaware of, but I’ve definitely started to question the world, the people around me, and random problems I run into at work more often than before.

To be there for others empathetically. Sympathy means to feel in contrast to empathy, which is to understand. I’ll admit that I was more judgemental, cynical, and facetious towards peoples’ problems before. It’s not the case that I am cheerful, accepting, and all-around loving now. In fact, it’s still the opposite – however I’m learning to become more accepting, caring, and empathetic.

That society needs to change, and so do I. As a faithful citizen of the United States, Donald Trump has challeneged everything I believed in. Whether or not many Republicans charter the belief that there may be logical policies for placing him in office, I cannot and will not support a platform which stands on hate, racism, and bigotry. This does not mean I will despise anybody who voted for him, however I will place it upon myself to sufficiently educate myself with texts / literatures on capitalism, government, and economy. This epiphany came very recently that I lack general knowledge on how the world operates. Unfortunately that gap in knowledge is causing me to lose time in which I can effectively make a voice. If you have any political books, I would love suggestions!

Anyways – that’s all. Hopefully I can keep up with this routine, and come out a better writer and make the best of your / my time.

Here’s a relevant quote that pushed me to write again:

“We live on the future: “tomorrow,” “later on,” “when you have made your way,” “you will understand when you are old enough.” Such irrelevancies are wonderful, for, after all, it’s a matter of dying. Yet a day comes when a man notices or says that he is thirty. Thus he asserts his youth. But simultaneously he situates himself in relation to time. He takes his place in it. He admits that he stands at a certain point on a curve that he acknowledges having to travel to its end. He belongs to time, and by the horror that seizes him, he recognizes his worst enemy. Tomorrow, he was longing for tomorrow, whereas everything in him ought to reject it. That revolt of the flesh is the absurd.” – Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus: And Other Essays

Books

One of my biggest regrets I had in college, was not being able to read as much as I did in high school. I was swamped with school work, and knowing who I am, committed myself to it recklessly. Regardless, it was a good lesson learned; considering I know now, that reading is a huge necessity in my life.

Today’s blog centers on the halfway point of this year. I made it a goal of mine to try to finish a book or so a month this year, which admittedly, is pretty low. I can happily say though that I’m actually at eight books this year, finishing up my ninth one right now! It’s certainly been an interesting time period for me, considering that I have a lot of catching up to do in regards to literature. Despite that, I want to take a moment and reflect on some of my favorite books I’ve read thus far, ranging from nonfiction to poetry.

I’ll also try my best not to introduce any spoilers.:

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

I have to admit, the initial kickoff of committing myself to reading this year was partially due to this autobiography. I’m a little biased, due to always having an affinity for hospital-esque stories, but Dr. Kalanithi’s life can be applied to any domain from my experiences.

His eloquent tale of courage, sacrifice, and love pushes through so many different levels, that it’s left a truly lasting effect on me. I grew to love my work even more, and at the same time, push myself harder in ways that I never knew was possible. I owe my thanks to Dr. Kalanithi, for helping me grow so much more emotionally this year than I have ever before, and for challenging myself constantly. I highly recommend this book to anyone, and possibly put it at the top of my list so far.

Some of my favorite quotes:

  • “You can’t ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving.”

  • “I had met her in a space where she was a person, not a problem to be solved.”

  • “Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from relationships we create between each other and the world, and still is never complete.”

Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

It was just by chance that I figured I’d read Hemingway. My dad’s an English major, so of course he always recommends me books to read. Hemingway is at the top of his list, and eventually I caved, buying Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls at a local Half Price Books. Needless to say, Farewell to Arms is such a poignant novel that describes the world during WWI from a different point of view.

Society tends to glorify war, making it an act of bravery, courage, and heroism. Little do they acknowledge the deserters, the people who struggle with their own desires / beliefs that are counter to the majority. Farewell to Arms depicts such a tale, and along with it, tells of a love story many of us have probably seen in movies / television.

Unsurpriingly enough, Hemingway is a brilliant writer. He uses words in such a succinct and poignant manner. His descriptions of nature are more picturesque than anything I’ve ever read, and at the same time, the many words he also uses to describe the feeling of love is so accurate.

Some of my favorite quotes:

  • ‘“Maybe…you’ll fall in love with me all over again.” “Hell,” I said, “I love you enough now. What do you want to do? Ruin me?” “Yes. I want to ruin you.” “Good,” I said. “That’s what I want too.”‘

  • “If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”

  • “I know the night is not the same as the day: that all things are different, that the things of the night cannot be explained in the day, because they do not then exist, and the night can be a dreadful time for lonely people once their loneliness has started.”

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn Ishmael is one of those novels you read, and have a life-changing experience when finished. I can truly admit that was somewhat the case for me. However, I can agree to a lot of the comments in the story, and there’s a lot of knowledge to be taken from it. Daniel Quinn does make a lot of interesting points, and exceedingly enough, has predicted the current state of the world, many years ago when he released Ishmael.

Ishmael has definitely left an impact on me, which can be explained only through a single quote:

  • “You’re captives of a civilization system that more or less compels to go on destroying the world to live.”

Our Numbered Days by Neil Hilborn

Poetry is definitely one of my favorite parts of literature, and Our Numbered Days is one that I’ve fully finished so far this year. Hilborn’s writing is refreshing, charming, and witty. It breathes a sigh of relief into you, and then takes your world and crushes it into pieces. Hilborn is a fantastic writer, and his poetry is wonderful. Each word carries its own weight, compiling into deeply emotional tales that reflect on love, tragedy, and mental illness.

Some of my favorite quotes / poems:

  • Things that I Hope Are True about Heaven

    That the radio always plays

    what would ahve been your favorite

    songs. That there’s always coffee

    if you want it. That you’re

    there. That it’s real.

  • “If a tree falls in the forest

    and no one’s around to hear it, it does

    make a sound, but then that sound is gone.

    I am not saying you will find the meaning

    in other people. I am saying that other people

    are the life to which you provide the meaning.”

  • “I will whisper your name

    from the cracks in the canyon rocks

    and you will know that this is heaven,

    knowing that someone will always remember

    your irises and where you hid your love

    letters and why you could never speak

    in anything but short sentences.

    It’s not a golden escalator

    or a glowing choir conveying you into the sky.”

Unfortunately, that about sums it up for this small review. I would write more, but I’m hesitant to spam with more content. If you’re actually curious, or are willing to recommend me books, please don’t hesitate to contact me, or maybe I’ll write a second part when I finish this next book!

Teaching Update

The frustrating part of teaching, is that you get mad at yourself and your students for so many different reasons. One of the hardest things I’ve had to do this semester is take a step back, breathe, and look at myself and ask, “Am I really helping this person out? Am I really taking them further than where they currently are?”

I question the decisions I make, especially when I’m teaching the students. It’s so easy to accidentally take a wrong turn and keep going for such a long time. When I get frustrated with a student, the biggest reason is usually myself. I’ve come to accept / believe that a lot of the fault belongs to me. Sometimes I take my explanations too far, I speak too abstractly, or I just misinterpret the question they’re asking. It’s extremely frustrating and results in me getting impatient with a student. Eventually I realize that it’s actually not their fault.

Of course, there are situations where the students truly don’t care. And when that happens, I tend to have a habit of shouldering the blame. I feel that it’s my job as someone who’s in an educator position, to motivate them. And sometimes, I manage to do it! Students hopefully see the beauty in the code they write, and they can see the utility of it. And other times, it doesn’t. I fail miserably. Students get frustrated, and they just push me away.

So it’s definitely been a long semester. I’ve had racial slurs thrown at me, students giving up on me, and students not caring at all. I’ve had my patience tested and worn down, to the point where I just want to yell at the top of my lungs and roll into bed.

But overall… I’m so glad. I’m teaching still; I know there are days where I’m definitely wondering if this is really something that I like. But at night, when I sit down and think / write about what I did during the day, I know I tried my best to make a difference in someone’s life. It’s rare to be in a position where I’m able to help students indirectly and directly. It’s definitely been a humbling experience from both ends. I’ve seen how frustrating the education industry is, as I’ve been able to experience a lot of the problems firsthand.

My future goal is to be able to do more to further computer science education. I want more students to understand that coding is not a scary thing, and that it’s something we use in our every day lives / take for granted.

However as for now, I’m happy. I’m happy that I’m trying my best, and I will push myself to do as much as I can for them. I hope that I can achieve at least one student wanting to pursue computer science. Thanks for taking in another sappy post, teaching has definitely been an interesting experience, and I hope to finish this semester strong.

Blessings in Disguise

When I started volunteering for TEALs, the last thing I thought I would gain was a deeper appreciation of where society currently stands. I figured that I would understand some of the flaws of our education system, and at the same time, gain an intrinstic/extrinstic satisfaction from helping students learn Computer Science.

Instead, I was surprised with a question that started off with “Are you __?” in regards to my ethnicity. Sigh, I thought to myself. Another one of these questions… Rather, I answered the question as I usually do, with my elongated and flustered “No…”, and was countered back by a stream of apologetic statements. These statements, was the student trying to talk about their curiousity. In addition, the student talked about how he didn’t want to assume I was any sort of ethnicity, because “that’s messed up.” Really, it seems childlike, but there’s so much to be drawn from that.

I’m only 22, but when I was a student, my classmates were so ignorant. They weren’t necessarily racist, they just didn’t know what was right or wrong. In an attempt to justify his own behavior, the student showed me that society is still making leaps forward. Regardless of what many people think, as to whether or not we are going to the ways of our past, I’m confident to say a lot has changed.

And moments like these solidify my thought process. It helps me take a step back, and appreciate where are, rather than criticize.

Happy Halloween!