Question Time!

I’m a bit drained right now, and don’t want to think up a topic for a completely new blog post. However, a couple weeks back, I compiled a list of interesting questions and conversation starters with Sarah Z during some late night chats that we were playing around with, in order to fight small talk. Here is my response on one of them!

“If life is so short, why do we do so many things that we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?”

First of all, major props for this question. It’s worded so nicely and such a nice question to ponder! It reminds me of a zenpencils comic, “What if money was no object?”

While I agree that money is a key part to it, my belief is that at the heart of the matter, people are afraid to take that leap. Not just because of financial reasons, but because of their own egos.

Generally, I’ve found myself to work amazingly hard on stuff that has a definite goal, such as WebAssign, an online homework service. No matter how tough the job would be, I could always squeeze out those little green check marks in the end. As long as there was a concrete thing waiting for me, the task seemed finite, seemed approachable.

But I fare much less well in open ended projects. Although I truly do love my extended essay on astrophysics, I’m constantly struggling with how to work through it and how to properly express myself. Sometimes, to my own chagrin, I find myself wishing that I had more WebAssign to do just to distract myself!

We humans love it when there are set, bound goals in front of us. Jumping through hoops isn’t always a mandate, but sometimes a life choice. We might hate what we have to do to jump through those hoops, but man do those hoops feel good.

So even when we say we love something and wish we could work on it all out lives, do we really mean that? Or is that just a little idealized fantasy we’ve dreamed up for ourselves?

Hopefully the former is true, but to achieve that, we need to break out of our own mind sets that we belong in a cage.

A cage of our own minds.

Maxed Out

My trusty iPhone has served me exceptionally well over the past few years. It’s my goto place for music, easily accessible information, for capturing memories and writing blog posts late into the night.

But recently, a shocking thing happened.

I got the notification that, sorry, you don’t have enough memory to take another picture.

And suddenly, EVERYTHING slowed down.

Sometimes my brain feels like that. Usually it will be chugging along perfectly fine, but once in a while, I start to feel maxed out for some reason. While the logical thing to do at that point would be to take things a bit slower, one at a time, I am not a logical person.

Once my brain maxed out, everything stops.

I remember an anecdote by Richard Feynman about computing powers during the manhattan project. His team was able to produce almost three times he number of calculations as anyone else, almost 8 calculations per month! [obviously these are hard calculations and they had crappy computers]. But when he was asked to perform 2 calculations in a week, he couldn’t. His computers were not pumping out solutions one after another, in series, but were instead working on different parts of the solution at different times, working in parallel to be most efficient.

My brain works in parallel. It’s the reason why I can be extremely effective with anywhere from a little work to a limit of work, and the suddenly seem to snap with the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It’s why suddenly, wen the simplest tasks become Herculean, and how interacting with other people is suddenly like breathing in a solid whiff of gaseous hydrochloric acid.

So I suppose this is an apology of sorts, not in particular towards others but to myself for my own behavior. I’ll be back to my usual self soon enough!