xurnami: (Default)
We are about three months from the end of the year and I'm not doing well. I decided I'd write some stuff here and maybe I'd get some advice or help or something. Let's start by going over my goals that I set out on at the beginning of the year:

Survive one more year at my job
I'm barely doing this. Every day is just even more struggle. I got sent into a depressive spiral today just from someone close to me mentioning their job was doing better and the sort of things I wanted out of my job they were getting. This is an endurance task but I still feel like a failure.

Attend one year of Magic: the Gathering tournaments
I started strong on this but the issues of travel, depression from the job, and other things like that has made this go poorly. I still enjoy playing Magic but I'm not sure I can really do the grinder lifestyle. This I'm already counting as a failure.

Start brainstorming what to do next.
It is three months before I'm leaving and the realization of that has not fully broke to me. I'm still pondering this out but as of now still a failure.

Create a better online presence for myself
My lack of design skills is killing me on this. I attempted to contract some people for this near the beginning of the year but that completely fell through and I didn't pick it up again. Counting this as another failure.

Expand social circle
It is three months before the end of the year and I'm feeling more isolated than when I started. I have met exactly one person outside of my normal social circle and I'm feeling even more isolated and locked out from the social circle I though I had through various things that have happened. Counting this as a failure as well.

2015 has continued to be a shit year for me. I write this after attending Rainfurrest where I feel I was ignored and passed over by people who I thought were my friends.

About the only thing I can even consider having done this entire year is decide what I'm going to change my name to on government paperwork at some point. I've spent the entire year just running in place. I'm not the better person I wanted to be at the beginning of the year. Oh, and you might note this has the Xurnami icon and OOC, I've decided to get rid of Darash as a character. Still not sure how to move around Twitter accounts yet but that will happen at some point.

I'm not happy and I'm not sure what to do. I wasn't going to come to this to try and cry for help but I didn't have anywhere else to run.
xurnami: (darash)
I disappeared for a bit after my most recent post and I figured that people deserved an update on that front.

I basically realized, with some help from people, that I was driving myself insane from staying at home all the time after work. Along with that, my therapist had suggested that I'm building a skillset for attracting attention to my depression in social media environments but that doing that is not the greatest use of my time either.

I spent the majority of this week getting out of the house and visiting other people instead. It was pretty great and I think I could stand to do even more than I did last week. I also re-re-re-started an exercise program and shifting my schedule around working with that which has also been helpful for dealing with my depression.

I'm going to be shifting downwards a bit just how much I am writing here except when I really have something to say that makes sense to this medium. I'm also going to move some posts to my website I'm working on to give them a more permanant location along with updates related to my recent realizations about asexuality.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me talk these things out and had me over in the past week. I hope to keep this up into the weeks, months, and years to come.
xurnami: (darash)
I sent out a cry for help this morning on Twitter about how I was close to a mental breakdown and requested hugs. Thank you to everyone who responded yet again. Rather than spamming Twitter more, I decided to write a longer post containing everything on my mind at the moment.

Near term difficulties:
Lack of sleep in Denver culminating in probably 3-4 hours of sleep this morning.
Some elements of Seasonal Affective Disorder and general holiday stress.
Missing one and a half holiday parties due to travel requirements for the Grand Prix.
Today's travel being hellish and being stuck in airports all day.

Short term difficulties:
Still dealing with my break up with Krinn.
Dealing with having hurt someone else close to me due to my own realizations about my sexuality and a lack of compatability around what was desired in a relationship.
Deciding if my goals were misbuilt, especially the one about trying to get better at Magic: the Gathering.

Long term difficulties:
Feeling like the only thing I offer the community around me is my checkbook and the occasional conversation.
Having 20-30 unique people responding to my cry this morning and yet getting next to no response on any of the above posts or many of the other longer things I post.
Fear around trying to be more social and being a bother to the people around me locally or online.

For those wondering, yes, I am in therapy and have been discussing these things with her. They still weigh quite heavily upon me and I had a culmination of things which led to the cry this morning.

I am not sure what I need at this point. But I'd appreciate any advice people have.
xurnami: (darash)
I decided that this year I am going to write down some goals for the upcoming year along with some basic tasks that I need to accomplish about them for people to see. If you have thoughts, comments, concerns, or otherwise, I am interested in hearing them.

Survive one more year at my job

Due to circumstances not fully under my control, my job has put me in a position where I can no longer get any advancement at all in it. However, if I stick around one more full year (quitting date of at least January 1st 2016), I end up with a huge payout. I have some frustration in my job due to the the lack of ability to advance which feeds some depression. The goal here is to just make it through this last year of work.

Attend one year of Magic: the Gathering tournaments

Due to some difficulties and frustrations around attending furry conventions, I am using the PTO time I have this year from my job to attend MtG tournaments around the country. I even start January 1st by attending Grand Prix Denver. I will be taking some weekends off to travel different places in the US and Canada along with attending some larger local tournaments to qualify for the big stage. My goal here is to either qualify for the Pro Tour once or at least figure out if I want to do another year of it.

Start brainstorming what is next and how to do that.

I have a few ideas for what I want to work on once I am no longer employed. I figure this next year is the time to figure that all out. My goal is to have at least have a few design documents/business plans written out and have had others look at them before I quit my job. As well, I need to figure out how I am going to manage myself without a job. Time management and other things will be important so figuring out a good toolset to use for that.

Create a better online presence for myself

I have been working off and on for a website to represent that Xurnami as a CEO of a corporation role. My goal is to roll this out with my commissioned artwork as well as move some blogging onto there. There is also work on resetting how I connect to different messaging systems to work better and maintain my various servers. This is stuff that will be useful for when I strike out on my own. I also plan to use this work to build a presence for my government alias. The goal here is to have a well managed collection of servers and online presences not connected as much to the big systems.

Expand social circle

From various things that happened over the past year, my social circle shifted severely and not always in the most pleasant ways. I want to try and open up more and have more people around me in the next year. Both adding people online and off though with some bias towards offline. One thing you might notice about these goals, except for the one about my online presence, do not involve side project programming. Even then, the side project programming is a means not an end (Reminder to self: stop bikeshedding!). I am going to spend that time I would have spent writing a compiler or other things like that working on doing more socially focused activities instead.

Five large overarching goals for 2015. My 2014 was kind of shit and so here is hoping that 2015 goes much better and I make forward progress somewhere on all of it.
xurnami: (darash)
The following entry might be quite controversial but I've been doing lots of thinking from a number of articles. If my argument doesn't make complete sense, I will be linking to the sources I am working from too which are even longer and more nuanced than this summary. I do hope that people I know read this and give their thoughts on it. This is going be long. )
xurnami: (darash)
Recently, I've been working on trying to figure out how to expand my social circle. Due to events of the last year, my social circle has collapsed significantly. I reacted to certain badness by becoming more insular and removing myself from a number of spaces that I used to inhabit.

I have a good sized social circle now, even if I am still experiencing some social anxiety about actually getting together with them. I would like to get to know more people but there are a couple of difficulties I'm experiencing about the directions I am trying to head out in.

I spend a large portion of my time and energy working at being a better programmer. A large amount of the news and other things that I consume are in some way related to this particular goal. I get off my job programming to proceed to do additional programming off the clock for my own projects.

I would very much enjoy being able to spend more time talking and working with people with interests along these lines. However, a vast majority of the spaces for discussing these topics are well known cesspools where people are harassed for being out of line of the "normal" cis white male. While I can present as such, it is getting increasingly uncomfortable for me to do so. Furry conventions have had codes of conduct as long as I can remember, there are still tech conferences which are arguing if they should have them or not. This makes me extremely uncomfortable about attending many of these events. There also appears to be an extinction burst going on in the community around these behaviors which is not the best to be involved in either.

If people know if spaces where this is less of a problem, I would be quite interested to learn about them. Virtual or real space would both be great for me.

Beyond that group, the other group I'd like to get more involved in involves content creators of different strokes, especially among transformation content. I am feeling awkward around approaching these people into more social interactions as I've been mostly in the position of commissioner to content creator. The content I create is most often not along the lines of tech which is awkward to even bring up, I feel, among these other content creation groups.

I have some plans over the next week to build a website for storing my commissions along with some microfiction to go along with them to show some other forms of creativity. I have some skill at fiction writing but it is not a skill which I have spent as much time working on. I am very appreciative of these artists who have practiced thier art and understand the amount of time and energy they have to put in to become good at these things. This is why I spend quite a bit of money commissioning these people to create art. However, I have no clue how to move beyond being a large pocketbook either.

If anyone has done such things and has any advice, I'd be very interested to hear about that.
xurnami: (darash)
While this post is mostly directed at those local to me, there are bits at here for those I know online too.

I would like to talk or visit with many more of you much more often than I am. However, I have some social anxiety issues about being a bother to people. I don't know what mediums people feel are interruptive or they are most comfortable communicating with me over. I also have difficulty breaching the topic of inviting myself into other spaces in reality or virtually.

Here is a summary of my current schedule for people to work from:

Monday through Friday I am at my job. I work from home so my commute is zero time. I usually start around 9 am PST and am at work for 8 hours after. This means I am off work between 5pm and 6pm PST. On Mondays, I have a therapy appointment in the evening and am usually not up for socializing afterwards. Every other day of the week I am usually open for socializing. Due to my schedule, I usually eat immediately after work so if you want to do food, let me know before the end of my work day so I can take that into account and not do that.

For those not local to me, I am completely open to be interrupted during my work day. I might have a remote meeting or something which I have to focus on every so often but these are few and far between. I'll try my best to let you know before I have them and not leave you hanging.

I currently have no regular weekend plans so most weekends I am completely free from whenever I get up to when I get to sleep. I keep a schedule fairly close to my weekday schedule during the weekend where I get up and can start chatting around 9 am PST to make plans.

For locals, I live very close to Wayward Coffee. I would love to meet there for chatting, games, or working on projects. I can bring pretty much any game from my collection over as it is so close. I am also able to invite people back to my place now as I am now mostly moved in. I have to check with my roommate (Verdauga) but it can definitely be done.

If people want to share with me thier availablity schedules so I can figure out who I can bother safely when I would like to socialize, that would be great. I will be reaching out to some people directly to ask for that information myself. If you want a more private way to communicate this to me, there should be plenty of options on my profile page here.
xurnami: (darash)
It was made more public today that [personal profile] krinndnz and I broke up over Twitter. Those who have following me here and are behind the friends lock have known about this for a while from both sides.

The short of it is that Krinn and I had been in a relationship for about five years. We met originally in the comments to mutual friend's Livejournal. One of my reasons for moving to Seattle involved trying to be closer to her. More recently, there had been some stresses on our relationship and we were trying to work them out. Krinn decided to break it off instead about a month ago. This hurt me pretty deeply. Those who were close to me during the initial part would have seen that.

I was luckily in therapy already and was able to discuss some of it there. Krinn and I are also remaining friends after the breakup and are working on negotiating boundaries to keep both of us happy with our new relationship state.

When the United State of Pop 2014 came out, I ended up doing some research into the various songs in it. When I hit Say Something (Lyrics), it touched a number of nerves.

"Say something, I'm giving up on you/I'll be the one, if you want me to/Anywhere, I would've followed you" is a good representation of what I felt in that relationship. It was at the time the only relationship I was in after another one of mine finally failed at the beginning of the year. It was, even while I was in my other relationship, a much healthier one too.

"And I am feeling so small/It was over my head/I know nothing at all/And I will stumble and fall/I'm still learning to love/Just starting to crawl" is definitely a great representation of myself. I have not had many relationships and most all of them have been awful in various ways. Failures to communicate wants and needs. I've failed out of most of them.

"You're the one that I love/And I'm saying goodbye" is what I'm having to do now. I still care deeply for Krinn but I need to say goodbye to what I had there. This is and continues to be quite rough for me.

Part of the massive amounts of publishing I've been doing is due to this breakup. Trying to explain myself to others and work through my thoughts through writing, which is something Krinn taught me and has continued to encourage. I have some real difficulty reaching out to people and publishing is something I am much more comfortable with.

This really brings me back to the dawn of my serious internet life, Livejournal lyrics posts. Will they ever grow old? Thank you to anyone who listened to me.
xurnami: (darash)
In a recent post, I discussed that I wanted to start doing some stuff with makeup. Shortly after that post, I ended up purchasing things from Amazon.

I could have gone down the street to the drug store to get nail polish but still being somewhat nervous about gender presentation stuff I ended up ordering it online. It took about a week for everything to show up but now I have it. Also, I feel much more confident ordering such things through that medium. I feel once I have the first coat on, I'll be more comfortable going into a store for it instead. I also had heard from some friends that it is great for stopping nail biting which is an awful habit of mine I'd like to stop.

It was also brought to my attention during the past week about Enter Pronoun concealer. I ended up ordering that from Amazon as well since shipping was cheaper through them.

There are two goals for this. The primary goal is queering my gender presentation. I would like to present to people a much less cismale identity in most circumstances. These feel like subtle things I can do to push a stranger's impression of me away from that.

Secondly, I am in the future interested in exploring other ways of experiencing anything close to transformation. Using makeup to achieve that effect is something I'd be interested in exploring and jumping right into the deep end seems like it'll lead to difficulty. Taking some smaller steps through concealer seems like it would be helpful in that direction.

Tonight, I'm going to try painting my nails for the first time. Wish me luck. Pictures to come soon too.
xurnami: (darash)
While my boss got introduced quite a while ago, details about myself have been a little more scarce. This is a new identity and people might be unfamiliar with how I got here.

Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop. )
xurnami: (darash)
I really should get a "professional" blog for some of this commentary. [personal profile] brushwolf asked me about this and it is a large part of my identity so I figured it might be helpful for other people in my circle.

Programming is a relatively new career and what people believe it to be is very different from what it actually is. Popular depictions of it focus almost exclusively on the typing words at a computer for the computer to understand. However, this is not what programming is in the real world.

By far, the largest amount of programming is done in the service of another business. From intranets to scientific programming, this is the goal of programming. It is only a relatively small portion, the Google, Twitter, and Facebook level companies, which the product is almost exclusively the programming part. Even a large number of what are considered "tech startups" like Uber or Airbnb, the technology is a means but not an end.

What this means is that, in the large, code written is a liability, not an asset. Also, most code is code which has lasted for a while and needs to be modified, updated, or new functionality added.

If this is the case, why do these companies hire huge numbers of employees for thier technical staff? Mainly because of a tradeoff made in the 80s called Worse is better. The approach that won computing says that we should make designs easy for people to initially understand at the expense of things like consistency and correctness. However, when you layer enough inconsistent and incorrect designs on top of one another, you need huge teams of people to stand around it to hold it all upright.

In large part, this means that the modern programmer's job is trying to find the least bad combination of inconsistent and incorrect designs and telling a computer to use them. The actual programming part is translating that understanding to something the computer can understand. In fact, what is more important is communcating along side that code what combination was picked, why it was picked, and what issues you will have in the future. You might be communicating that to yourself in the future.

This is one of the reasons I describe my job as being clever in close proximity to computers. I personally spend most of my day trying to figure out what would be ideal interface for some problem in the future and then figure out the steps we can take towards that interface. The actual part where I type words for a computer to understand is much smaller than the part where I type words for other beings to understand.

The actual coding part, I feel, just about anyone can learn. Code.org is a relatively gentle introduction to the concepts behind programming. RailsBridge is a course which shows you how to make website on top of a modern stack. Stacks are exactly these sets of inconsistent and incorrect designs that people have curated to solve a problem and enough people use them that there is constantly work to make sure they stay upright for the most part.

Reading the Installation documentation will show you how to install exactly one stack and they are highly opinionated in order for people who are new to get to an end place where they can do something useful. If you look on the internet, you will find people arguing over literally every piece of that stack from operating system to text editor.

But at the end of the day, none of that actually matters for the product being made. It is a side effect of a large number of decisions by a large number of people, written down, and realized digitally. This sounds quite a bit like engineering. But it isn't. Estimating how long a task will take is a joke. The majority of software projects never actually complete. How often does a building start getting built and then abandoned half way through? Usually that only happens with major economic downturns, not constantly as it happens in software.

Most people think of programming as a task that is solitary but most modern work requires a team with different skillsets. One skillset which I don't even mention here but is extremely important is that of the User Experience designer. This is a skillset I have next to no knowledge of but is extremely important. This is figuring out how exactly other beings are going to interact with this software. The very best ones understand not just that but also the inconsistent and incorrect behaviors of HTML, CSS, and Javascript to then build these interfaces and make them work.

This is what I feel my job as a programmer is. I'd be very interested in feedback from other people in the field if they feel the same way or parallels to other fields of work.
xurnami: (darash)
I've been thinking a bit about the different ways I like to communicate with people. This is somewhat related to the "How to invite me out" post.

When it comes to communication, my comfort level varies depending upon the medium and how many people are involved. Quite a large amount of this comes from upbringing and I recognize that my interaction patterns are not all that great in a number of situations. Part me me writing this down is recognizing those patterns so that people can work with me while I work on fixing those patterns myself.

Really long post follows )
xurnami: (darash)
Today I saw a tweet talking about media and it reminded me that I wanted to talk about my own personal media consumption habits especially with respect to my friend's circle. (Thank you to [personal profile] krinndnz for sharing this particular tweet.)

When it comes to me consuming media, the hierarchy is very tilted in the direction of text and static images. I spend most of my day consuming those via Twitter and other news sites. I have a very good mental filter on those mediums so that I can follow a larger amount of stuff than I can comfortably actually consume and instead just filter away most of it without tools. I also have a collection of podcasts which I listen to on walks when I take typing breaks. Occasionally, I will find a technical talk through this and watch it during my work hours as I feel it is helping improve my skills. Once I'm off work, video content that I consume is mostly in the form of Magic: the Gathering related material as that is now a very common way that is transmitted now. I have a big plan to get better at that game and attending lots of tournaments for that over the next year so that's something I'd like to continue doing.

Edit: I consume music content quite constantly, usually during work hours as it blocks out other noise and gives me something to focus on to help me focus on work. I mostly listen to electronic leaning music, mashups, pop, and then an ecclectic collections of other stuff. I used to avoid the stereotypical "country and rap" but then found quite a number of those things which I enjoyed too.

I cannot process during my work hours most video content as it takes too much bandwidth for me to program during it. Also, one of the other things I enjoy doing while off work is also programming. This means that most other content that requires video is very rarely consumed by me. The list of TV series which I have consumed in their entirety is relative small: 30 Rock, Arrested Development, Fawlty Towers, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I've watched large portions of MLP:FiM but not even that I'm fully caught up on.

I have watched more movies but not a number of recent ones like Guardians of the Galaxy. Last movie I saw in a theater was Avatar. I was even relatively recently introduced to the Back to the Future trilogy. Most of the more artistic short films which interest me I've also just not had a good source on either.

When it comes to Anime, that is even further down the list. I don't believe I've ever even watched a full series though I have seen some of the classic films like Princess Mononoke and Ghost in the Shell but nothing beyond that.

And beyond that when it comes to video games, I have consumed even less. I've watched more hours of other people playing video games than I've played them myself. I think the only two games which have a complete plot which I've played myself to completion are Portal 1 and 2.

The reason I bring all of this up is that a large number of my friends are much heavier consumers of all this media than myself. And from that comes an assumption that there is lots of shared memes and references among that collected group of media. This sometimes leave me feeling a bit cold in conversations because something will happen and I'll be pulled in media res to a deep reference to some media and everyone around me will get it and I'll just laugh nervously as the conversation slips to that direction for a while. Sometimes I get the courage to try and ask "What this this a reference to?" but sometimes the conversation moves too fast and my social anxiety tells me to just sink back.

I'm definitely interested in consuming more of the good media that my friends recommend but it is not an extremely high priority for me at the moment. If someone wants to arrange some time spent enjoying some good media with me, I'd definitely be interested in that as a social experience. I recently watched Over the Garden Wall with [personal profile] indicoyote, [personal profile] elanna, [personal profile] toyemanate, and others recently and would find that quite enjoyable to do something like that again.

I would like to be able to join in more, so when you have a chance, bring me along for a trip. :)
xurnami: (darash)
Some people might be wondering why I haven't said much about some of these issues of the now. Some of my friends are even attending protests as I write this about one iteration of one of these issues. However, I have stayed silent on most of them. There are two big reasons for that. One of them is that I've just had lots of other stuff going in in my life which does not give me nearly as many spoons to handle such things. However, there is a much bigger reason.

I have a big rule on my list of people who I follow on Twitter. That rule is that if you are an asshole, you leave. I write my Twitter messages for those who I am following. Since the people I am writing for are not assholes, they don't need to be reminded by me that there are shitty things going on. Things like black kids getting murdered by white supremacist cops with grand juries not even allowing the cases to go to trial or neoreactionaries using pissed off gamers to push their agendas and harass female developers. I assume that most of them have their own sources showing them that news in the method they want to see it. They don't need it reiterated by me.

On top of that, Twitter is about the WORST medium for discussing these topics. You get 140 characters with maybe an image attached. Quite often that image is an iPhone screenshot of text in an article that I'd rather read using many other things than that Twitter message. I just saw an amazing thing about how 4chan's culture influences GamerGate but because every line in it was a tweet it was much worse to read, reiterated itself, not edited, and I feel a much better piece of work if it was just put in a pastebin. Not to mention using a service like Medium or any of the other free blogging sites (like this one!).

Edit: Twitter, I feel, encourages lots of this behavior for their own reasons. They have built a system that requires extensive amount of "engagement" to stay alive and so they have encouraged methods of discourse that are instant gratification. Making others aware is one thing. However, Twitter makes it so easy to just share your outrage and they love that since it increases "engagement."

While I understand Twitter is quick and easy, the retweets and everything else lead to people arguing with bumper stickers. All I can do is agree or disagree with whatever bumper stickers you are stapling to your timeline. All of these issues going on right now are infinitely more nuanced than the bumper stickers. In the second paragraph, I attempted to describe the issue with as much more nuance than a reference to the latest iteration of the problem. And still I had to use lots of jargon to make it not take a paragraph on its own. I can't even describe what we need to discuss in 140 characters.

Along with that is a rule that I've seen from lots of people in the sexism/racism discussions is that you should let the people who are affected by this issue do most of the talking. The best role that allies can take is shut up, LISTEN, and let others talk. In this reality, I present as a white mostly cis male. The best thing I personally can do is focus on discussing these issues privately when I see someone is being an asshole. I've found that comes across so much better than adding a slow trickle of outrage to other people.

If you are interested in discussing these topics, I'm more than willing to listen. But let's have a discussion, not bumper stickers. Let those who are being directly affected speak. I feel encouraging people to listen to direct sources instead of filtering it again is better. Maybe you missed some context with that specific RT you picked. I feel a message of "Go read [twitter.com profile] ShaunKing right now." or "Go read [twitter.com profile] Spacekatgal right now" is much more direct, gives people context, and allows them something they can decide how to engage in. Remember that not everyone has the spoons to take in the outrage at the moment.

Thank you for listening.
xurnami: (darash)
I am going to be starting to discuss my work with hypnosis in meatspace. I want to be pretty open about it but hypnosis is something that involves lots of trust and boundaries too it. I am starting a filter which I will be putting all of the discussion about hypnosis behind. If you are interested in being added to that filter, leave a comment or message me on here and I'll add you to it.

Not everyone who asks will get added as you need to cross a certain level of trust with me to get on there. But if you do, I am more than interested in sharing my work on this with you. I also don't want to just throw this in front of people who might not be interested in it.

September 2015

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