Saturday, January 28, 2012


My boss described me as having "that ambivalent Nick look" the other day. This was a little bit of a new one for me, sort of like the time one of my students wrote that I was "aloof" on their end of semester evaluations. I don't know that I'd ever heard myself described in either of those ways, prior, though both are probably apt descriptions.

While I have some vague sense of both words, I wouldn't have been able to particularly correctly define either, if you'd asked me to (luckily, you didn't). I tried to piece together "ambivalent" for myself before looking it up. "ambi"... Well, ambidextrous... so... some sort of plural. "valent"... The valence of a node in a graph is the number of edges hitting it (or so). So... I'm going in many directions? Hit from all sides? Nope. According to, which I enjoy, ambi means both and valent is along the lines of valor, strength, for thoughts in this context (I guess the "strength" of a node in the graph makes sense). So, I'm of a divided mind. Somewhat along the lines of cognitive dissonance, though not exactly, I suppose. Glad I looked it up, because I'd have guessed it meant something more like uncaring. It's not that I don't care, I just can't make up my mind, then. I see many options, but have no way to distinguish them by rank.

Aloof's an interesting one, too. Coming from "windward direction" or "the weather side of a ship" to mean "at a distance." Just as a combination of letters, it's also reminiscent of alot.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Write More

A friend recently told me I should write more. I had just used the phrase "peddle my wares" reasonably naturally in conversation, and I think it caught her off guard. Of course, I wouldn't be particularly surprised to find that she's stopped talking to me, so perhaps I shouldn't use her comment as any sort of motivation... But that's a story for another day, perhaps.

I've sorta been thinking about writing more here anyway. I mean, I've got this space, I'd like to try to use it. Since I basically don't have anything worth saying, though, I've refrained. Apparently some sort of bridge has been crossed, and I'm prepared to babble to you, internet (at least this once, we'll see if I actually keep it up). Lucky you. I think it may be that I think writing helps me organize my thoughts or something (I'm so unique!). While I could certainly just write on localhost and leave you all alone, apparently I'm not going to do that. Maybe the public-ness will help motivate me to keep writing, or to work on my arguments. Or maybe it's a desperate plea for attention. Maybe I don't want to talk directly to any of the people I personally know (due to lack of comfort (why? so I don't have to continue this/a conversation?)), but want to talk anyway.

What will I write about? "They" say to write what you know. Unfortunately, I think that puts me at writing about being confused, with fluctuating levels of depression, and generally not feeling like you know anything or will contribute much. I don't understand much about the world or my place in it. Some online comics, if nothing else, I've seen suggest that maybe this is something that basically everybody goes through, and that maybe I'm just "at that age" (or does it spans ages?).

I suppose an argument could be made that I know about running. Of the last few posts I've had here, several were about running. However, I seem to have found some sort of a place among the Charlottesville Area Trail Runners (thanks, all), and might use space there for whatever running-related things I have to say. (On a side note, if you're in the Charlottesville Area, and looking for a Trail Run, you really should check us out).

Aside from running, I hold a paying job as a computer programmer (technically my title is "Systems Engineer", but most of the best parts of that, which I'm fortunate to spend most of my time doing, are programming). So perhaps I know something which could usefully be shared about... R, or Javascript, or the practice of programming in general. Except I've already got a (also pretty quiet) blog I'd rather use for technical things and, really, I don't even know that much about any of this. I've only got a little experience at this point, and rarely feel that anything I do know isn't already online.

It doesn't seem that that leaves much for me to talk about here. I'm in a mood, at the moment anyway, where I'm maybe inclined to try to talk through some of my general confusion (probably to myself in the open, though you're certainly welcome to comment) (it occurs to me that if I were saying all of these things to myself on a bus, say, people would be giving me all sorts of funny looks). So probably if I actually do end up continuing to write more, here, it'll be very... well, confused. Incomplete. Self-contradictory. Personal? Self-centered. Rambling and pointless.

A wiser fella than myself once said that the unexamined life is not worth living, or so. Of course, other wiser-than-myself fellas have said that life's a piece of s*, when you look at it (this reminds me of the disparity between "the road to hell is paved with good intentions" and "it's the thought that counts"). I guess I'm looking. I may try sharing. Forgive me.