Starting something anew, it’s easy to get entirely too concerned with making the “first” instance somehow special. This often means that I don’t actually start, since I keep waiting for a sufficiently special [thing] to serve as my first [thing]. So it is with rebooting this blog: I’ve been putting it off for awhile via this specific process.
Of course, valuing a first is just as arbitrary as valuing a second, third, or three hundred and fifty-ninth. This is especially true when my whole goal with restarting this blog is to make things more casual, and to put less pressure on myself in terms of demanding some level of Big Thoughts. I also tend to over-compartmentalize in terms of online content; I have multiple blogs under this write.as account, created with the idea of talking about one thing in one, another thing in another, etc. This ended up not working very well, unsurprisingly, as I wasted a significant amount of time trying to figure out which blog/identity a given idea fit with rather than just writing the thing.
There is also the anonymity question. When I first encountered blogging a little more than 20 years ago, I was young enough (17-18) that the idea of sharing anything and everything didn’t really concern me. After all, anyone who would read my blog and connect it to me was someone I’d be telling this stuff to anyway. (I was fortunate to have a very emotionally open friends circle back then.) As I’ve gotten older this has become somewhat less of the case, although it’s less about me and more about not wanting to share other people’s lives. Meanwhile, getting married and starting a family has, of course, meant that others’ lives are much more deeply intertwined with my own.
However, I think most of my hesitation actually comes from the permanence of my decision: once a username is no longer anonymous, there’s no way to change that. I can always disclose my real identity later, but can’t undisclose it once it’s done. At the same time, there’s something to be said for the balance between quasi-anonymity and no anonymity. Still, I basically have to assume that anyone who knows me in real life can/will find this username eventually. Hell, that may not be a bad thing ultimately, and I think putting myself out there a little more will be good for me. My art teacher has encouraged me to start posting to DeviantArt, and while I have an account (same name as this one, and I’ll eventually have a “links” page pinned), I haven’t really felt up to posting anything yet. There’s some self-consciousness, sure, but I’m finding it’s more not wanting to “let go” of anything I’ve drawn so far, since once it’s out there, it’s out there, and no longer fully yours. In his forward to Don Quijote, Miguel de Cervantes talks about his title character as a child of [his] mind, and I think there’s a similar anxiety in terms of the vulnerability one feels on behalf of an artistic creation compared to one’s actual child(ren).
Going forward, I am going to try not to categorize this blog in general. In other words, it’s not a devlog, it’s not a discussion of my drawing progression, it’s not a theology blog. Instead, it’ll be all of those things at various times, plus plenty of other stuff that happens to come into my head. I’m going to shoot for regularity over having some specific focus or even having some super well-developed post. When I first started this blog, my plan was to read through the New Testament and talk about it. I haven’t abandoned this idea, but did go off on another path, as I so often do. The extent to which I stick with any one thing being what it is (or isn’t), trying to narrow my focus leads, as we’ve seen, to less productivity rather than more.
I have a few projects going on right now that I may talk about from time to time. Some will be finished, some won’t, and doubtless more will be added. But every once in awhile, a “status update” will be nice, even if it’s just as a reminder for myself.
Actively Working On
A way to simulate a book (visually) in a web-based context. I’m going to first try to avoid having to do it all via , but that may not be feasible. Still, I like finding new things that can be pulled off via pure CSS.
Some kind of chemistry…thing. My original plan was to have a way to show chemical reactions, but even then I’m not sure if it’s going to be purely a simulator of sorts or if I’m going to try to game-ify it or what. So far, I have the ability to add atoms to a blank page and drag them around. I need to do some bug fixing on that, as there’s a stacking problem if two atoms end up in exactly the same place, and I’m occasionally getting some weird collision detection issues.
A “concentration” game (in a browser). Rote memorization is really difficult for me, which makes some of my long-term goals (especially in language learning) a problem. Someone on Discord suggested that concentration rather than just going through flashcards is a good method for those of us with ADHD. For reference, concentration (and it may have other names) is a memory game where you have an arrangement of cards face down in front of you. You flip over one card and try to find its match. If you don’t, you flip over both cards (face down) and keep going. The idea is that by having to remember the placement of a card too, this can “trick” your brain into remembering the information on the card.
Drawing. I have two things I want to work on, one a digital painting for my daughter and the other what I hope to be a Christmas present for my mom done in some combination of graphite and charcoal (and/or colored pencil). Despite my love of technology, I’m definitely finding that I get better results with traditional media.
Work toolkit. My day job involves a fair amount of boilerplate writing (with some variations from one situation to the next), and I’m trying to find ways to automate those. I have a lot of small but not trivial tasks that are ripe for this kind of thing, but I have a hard time sticking with one visual language. I’m not the biggest fan of the flat, modern look that’s so in vogue among web designers these days, but it’s so omnipresent that it’s hard to escape while still making something easily usable. I’m also limited by the fact that I can’t use anything (whether IDE or programming language) that isn’t already built into Windows. So I’m basically stuck with vanilla web tech and/or PowerShell. I’m going to check some tutorials on the latter to see if it may actually be better for my purposes.
To Start Eventually
Language learning. I don’t know if I want to do another ancient one or something spoken, and even within those categories I have more than a few that I’d like to pursue. In addition to wanting to get the concentration game working, I also need to actually decide which one to do. They all have reasons of one sort or another, as well as varying levels of usefulness and potential for practice (i.e. knowing people who speak them/use them). Right now my top contenders (in no particular order) are:
Ancient: Coptic, Biblical Hebrew, or Classical Chinese
Spoken/Modern: Russian (had some in college), Mandarin (ditto), KiSwahili, Arabic, French, Esperanto (refresh)
An idle game. I’ve wanted to create a game of some kind for awhile, and I think some twist on an idle game is a good place to start. I’d like to do something more story-oriented rather than purely idle. Spaceplan is a good idea of the balance I have in mind, if not the tone or setting.
More drawing. There’s no substitute for practice.
Streamline a legal document process. I’ve been working with a local legal aid organization on some simple cases, one of which would lend itself very well to automation (it involves lots of just filling stuff out and making sure you send the correct paperwork to the correct person). I’m just waiting to hear back from my contact
More translating. I really enjoy translation, and would like to find something else to work on here. I have a copy of a big work on the effects of modern agricultural methods throughout Latin America, which I found really interesting, so that may be a good candidate. I need to track down a couple smaller translations that I’ve done in the past and make sure they’re up on my site.
I’m sure I’ll come up with plenty of other things too, which will end up in varying stages of “done” over time.
One thing I haven’t mentioned is theology/religion. This is still something that’s important to me and is a big part of my approach to life just in general. But I’m also trying not to think of it as simply one discrete “piece” of my life, rather as something that infuses and underlies my life as a whole. As Khalil Gibran put it in The Prophet:
Is not religion all deeds and all reflection,
And that which is neither deed nor reflection, but a wonder and a surprise ever springing in the soul, even while the hands hew the stone or tend the loom?
Who can separate his faith from his actions, or his belief from his occupations?
Who can spread his hours before him, saving, “This for God and this for myself; This for my soul, and this other for my body?”
P.S. If you’ve read this far, thank you! Please drop me a line if you should feel so inclined. I also welcome feedback on my blog design, as it’s a new template that hasn’t been thoroughly tested yet.