Another First Post

Yeah Sure Whatever and TLDR

So this was the last section but I figured it would be better as the first.

My vision for this space is to use it to give voice to the kinds of advice I would like to leave for my teens and go back to an exploration of ideas from the good ole days about the self, the mind, intuition, first principles and the like.

Or even combine the two. I am really inspired by Ross Laird’s blog posts about Mezzanine - one of the many platforms I hopped on. Check out this gem from the above post:

…it’s important to reinforce that these tutorials are intended to be exercises in intentional, self-reflective web development. These days most of us spend a great deal of time participating in online distractions and digital meandering. We have become less focused and mindful than we might be, and we have surrendered much of our attentional autonomy to the persistent keening of technology.

Ross Laird

And it just keeps going with some fantastically delicious prose. That post is most definitely worth your time.

A reflection, my own reflection, of that post is what I would love to make this blog into.

Not A Second Post

No this is not referring to the ‘other’ first post a few weeks ago. This is probably my tenth or more first post to yet another blog platform.

My name is Donald, and I am addicted to Distro and Platform hopping.

Well not so much distro hopping any more. I’m pretty stuck on debian now as a base for my all my servers - docker, virtual, and home.

And I’m trying to do the same with my platform hopping. Generally I start a blog with the intent of doing more writing, putting down advice I would like to give my kids or bringing ideas into a more fleshed out form. And then…

The Usual Pattern

Software and programming are of an immense interest to me and have been for a decade or so. Before that I was really into the ‘soft’ side of things - my head filled with ideas relating to philosophy and religion and anthropology, relating principles of movement found in my martial art and massage practice to more general principles of thought and feeling.

But somewhere I discovered the wonders of programming - I think it was in the era of MySpace when one could put HTML tags in your feed. The pure amazement of pasting these arcane letters and symbols into a browser and then having them transformed into a picture was really fascinating to me.

I started with learning about Linux and virtual machines and portable apps. Eventually I moved on to more complex tools and then the languages that made them.

So generally I would find an interest in a language like Python or PHP and then search for a platform that used that to start a blog with the same intent I have now of spending time on ‘soft’ ideas and then I would get lost in the intricacies of trying to make the platform do something it wasn’t intended to do or just picking it apart.

My current platform started with reading about functional programming, looking into Elm, being reminded of and reigniting an interest in tiddlywiki, which uses javascript and nodejs, and then looking for a blog platform utilizing nodejs and discovering hexo.

The Side Track is Always Greener

The last few days are a great example. I finally got around to giving the game Dwarf Fortress a try. I enjoyed it and wanted to play more. I was playing on an external HDD that I plugged into a computer at work and I wanted to make the game portable so I could play it on different computers.

2 days later I’m playing with different Ubuntu distros and desktop managers booted from an sd card on my chromebook and VirtualBox on my gaming laptop, having left behind a broken Ubuntu install trying to install drivers to play the game and a whole series of steps I don’t even remember.

With the blog I usually decide I want to do something with the theme and suddenly I’m neck deep in learning a new computer language.

These forays into the side track aren’t necessarily bad things because I inevitably use and produce something useful but they keep me within the same general area of ‘hard’ thinking which is very specific and problem oriented without reflecting on general principles.

A Beautiful Puzzle

Again there is nothing negative about this type of ‘hard’ thinking as I call it. I find that learning and working with computer languages and software tools is much like solving puzzles. They keep my mind fresh and work it in creative and demanding ways that are very different than my normal work doing bedside care.

But I find myself also being overly obsessive with the problems that I am working on as well. A problem like trying to understand and find the right syntax for an nginx proxy server configuration file will literally keep my up and wake me up and keep me from going back to sleep.

I’m sure there is some element of avoidance when this happens - there is some important decision I should me making or problem I am avoiding. For others the behavior probably manifests as playing video games, which I also fall into, or binge watching Netflix. The new buzz word for the negative effects of the kind of work I do is moral injury, and I’m sure if I looked more closely I would see some of those obsessive times are centered around those types of events, or the ones that affect me more than just the run of the mill stuff I experience daily.

So one reason to move back towards ‘soft’ thinking is to break that loop. To spend more time in a reflective thought space. Or it could be that I’m turning 50 and this is some kind of mid-life thing. Whatever the case - Wish me luck!