• GHDR 2021 April Report: Fog of Time Tunnel Vision

    April 4, 2021

    "Hainanese Chicken Rice"
    random pic of the month: Hainanese Chicken Rice is a popular street food in Southeast Asia that I have never tasted before. I tried to make it anyway.

    Happy Groundhog Day Resolutions Report Day! The theme for progress this year is Transition, but I have been having difficulty describing what that means. Today I came up with a working definition of what transition means to me:

    • Identifying where I want to go / what I want to be
    • Identifying where I am now / what I can do to effect change
    • Identifying personal blocks and discomforts that hold me back
    • Feeling my way through through the fog and anxiety that arises fear, uncertainty, and doubt

    In hindsight, I can see that Groundhog Day Resolutions has ALWAYS been about transition, trying to create a better version of myself. However, I have mostly looked at personal productivity metrics and process as an individual as I pursued some form of “happiness” that I could measure. I’ve figured out a lot of stuff, but it has been my discomfort with gender identity that has made me aware that there are social expression barriers that have always held me back. I have already spent as much time hiding in the theory of working with my strengths instead of dwelling on what I can’t do, and this has helped me become a more positive and creative person. However, I also have not progressed beyond the essential social discomforts I have with myself as I exist in physical world. I live a lot in my own head, and this year I’m trying to put what’s inside me out for everyone to plainly see.

    I don’t think I’ve made much progress with regards to getting past my social discomforts, and I had the above insight just today. Perhaps I’ll see a pattern while reviewing what DID happen, so let’s have a look. --more-->

    Insight: The Fog of Time Tunnel Vision

    The past month I have been preoccupied with finishing a critical module for a programming project I’m working on. It’s taken me longer than I thought it would, and as a result my quality of life has been diminished considerably as I try to push myself to do something that is not only new to me but also rather difficult. Once the module is done, though, I think I can breathe a little easier. Until then, though, I am very much feeling trapped in a cage of work while also be highly aware of just how lucky I am to have the work situation that I have. The only way out is to finish the work, despite how burned-out I’m feeling. One good insight has come out of this, though, which is that I have difficulty visualizing time after any kind of event. When there is a meeting or future delivery, I can not imagine what I could do afterwards in any way that is motivating. It’s a kind of tunnel vision but also a kind of blindness to future possibility. It’s like I’m behind a giant boulder that I’m responsible for, and it’s so big I can’t see around it.

    Problems like this are one of the reasons I have started to see Lisa, the PMHNP-BC that’s evaluating me for ADHD. We have a theory that rather than presenting as the kind of ADHD that is based on a lack of brain stimulation, there are other possibilities like being on the autistic spectrum combined with some kind of mood/anxiety factor. I also started to wonder just how impaired I really am in executive function, working memory, and so on. I have been preoccupied for years by these perceived shortcomings…but what if I’m just deluding myself? Lisa floated the possibility of taking something called neuropsychological testing to get a baseline of where I am relative to the general population. With these metrics, the diagnosis can be more accurate. After I get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 I’ll consider looking into it.

    What I Did Last Month

    I had about two weeks of productive project work, but these were interrupted by disruptive scheduling that impacted my sleep cycle. I’ve been trying to wake up at the same time every morning to help establish a working rhythm with other people, but all it seems to really do is destroy my productivity on my projects. As I mentioned above, the mere presence of a scheduled interaction creates an unpleasant tension on my ability to focus, and having daily scheduled meetings really is bad for this. I will have to protect myself further against this, as much as I don’t want to.

    I also had a dental emergency that has knocked me off balance after the 21st of March. An old filling had been giving me trouble for years, but the dentists at the practice I go to just said they’d “keep an eye on it” and I believed them. I finally brought it up again on my most recent cleaning, and they finally noticed that bad stuff was happening and I’d have to get a crown. Before I was able to schedule it, an infection set in and kept me awake for DAYS until I was able to schedule a dentist appointment. The tooth, it turned out, had a crack all the way down to the root and could not be saved, so it was extracted a few days later. Although the pain has been gone for a week, the days of sleeplessness and followup extraction care have knocked me on my ass. I’m just now starting to get back on my feet…but I have not been able to do any focused sustained work for about 10 days. Ugh. The moral of the story, I guess, is that doctors are not really paying attention to me unless it’s an emergency. I would prefer to avoid emergencies, so I have to remember to advocate for my own care and keep good records because they certainly don’t have the time or attention to do that. Doctors were one of the few professions that I still believed without questioning their process, but I think for the future I really do need to take control and not let my respect for their training get in the way of what I am experiencing. It’s better to assume that they are not all diagnosticians looking for a root cause, but are practicing what their education has trained via pattern recognition and memorized response.

    As an escape from work, I’ve been allowing myself a little more time on the ecommerce side hustle with Emergent Task Planners. I’ve been thinking of a new brand name that could be made into a US-registered trademark; the term “Emergent Task Planner” is apparently not unique enough according to the IP lawyers I’ve informally consulted with. I’ve been also trying to keep the 5885 Half Notebooks in stock; during the beginning of the pandemic getting them printed was a bit of a hassle, but I reconnected with my printers and we’re making them again. I wish I could spend more time on this, but in the meantime the project work is the major responsibility.

    The Month in Asian Stuff

    Hainanese Chicken RiceChinese CleaverChinese-style coins

    I stumbled upon an unfamiliar dish called Hainanese Chicken Rice in the South China Morning Post, and this reminded me how much I liked this kind of chicken. The rice preparation, however, was novel to me; my Taiwanese extended family has never served or ordered this dish, which maybe isn’t surprising because it’s a Singaporean dish. The poached chicken, though, was much more familiar to me as it was similar to Cantonese-style poultry dishes that I also love.

    I used the recipe from The Woks of Life, and the results came out…OK? (ABOVE LEFT). Instead of a whole chicken I used two split chicken breasts instead of a whole organic chicken so the taste wasn’t as nice, but it was good enough for my first trial.

    I purchased a $13 Chinese cleaver (ABOVE MIDDLE) so I carve the chicken Chinese-style; I’d wanted a big knife like this for a while because I thought it would be great for scooping up stuff from the cutting board better than my regular 8″ chef’s knife or 6″ nakiri. The cleaver is like a PLATE you can cut with, and it’s pretty awesome though it is also kind of scary :-)

    Lastly, I was thinking of filling a jar with cool coins, so I looked online to see if there were any Chinese-style replica coins (ABOVE RIGHT) that I could buy cheaply. The ones I got here are not too bad, but they’re kind of thin. Learning to make coins like this would be cool. I don’t know why. I just like coins. I’m thinking of ordering a bunch of replica Continental coins as shown in the John Wick movie; while you can get these on Amazon, they can be had much cheaper on AliExpress. I’ve never ordered from AliExpress, but I figure I’ll try this in the future. My sister and I were saying how it would be cool to have a bunch of to exchange for fun.

    The Month in Gaming

    I’ve been playing the Steam Early Access game Valheim with my cousins. It’s an open world survival game where you start with nothing and eventually build yourself up into powerful warriors to take on bosses. But the great part about it is that you don’t really have to do any of that stuff and can instead spend your time exploring the world and building cool houses. In its first month it’s sold 6 million copies at $20 a pop. For a game made by just 5 Swedes and isn’t even finished yet, Valheim is remarkably polished and has done away with a lot of the annoyances of the survival games genre, making it an easy game to jump into and just putter around.

    Valheim Place for Sri

    I love building stuff in games that resemble hotels or other infrastructure businesses, and after getting the hang of Valheim’s gameplay I sailed a boat around the nearby islands to see what was out there. I stumbled upon this lovely shore in the Meadows biome that was teaming with wildlife and resources, and set about building a place patterned on New England whaling towns.

    SriportPier to Death and GloryBoarish Bounty I declared my new town Sriport (ABOVE LEFT), starting out by building a small pier and outfitter on the shore, provisioning it with workbenches, forges, and stonecutters so I could eventually build the rest of the town behind it organically.

    When I’m not working on Sriport, I go on adventures with my friends on a private server I’ve rented. During one of my last explorations, I sailed too close to a high-level biome called The Plains, and a large mosquito flew out and killed me instantly. After you die, you can recover your gear so you don’t start from nothing again. As gear in Valheim is crafted from raw ore collected and smelted into metal and combined with other ingredients, it’s pretty important to get your gear back because it’s really expensive in terms of the time it takes to make it. I needed help from my friends, so Jason and Nick agreed to help me recover my body on their boat…waaaay out in the far northern oceans. It took over an hour just to make it back to the boathouse, as I had to run naked through the woods filled with skeletons, elemental shambling creatures, and humongous ogres and died a couple times. Recovering the body was relatively easy, working with the wind and navigating based on my map marking the best route to avoid dangerous rocks. We were attacked by a sea serpent along the way, but with the three of us we were able to take it down with arrows. Upon recovering my body, though, we drifted too close to another biome called The Swamp and were wiped out by a combination of giant leeches, undead warriors, jumping poisonous blobs, and angry ghosts. Fortunately, I was in my own little boat and was able to escape, and already had the materials to build a PORTAL that would teleport me to and from Sriport on a nearby safe island. For the next several hours we tried to reclaim our big boat and bodies, but the bodies were in water that was too close to land but also not shallow enough to fight in. We were sitting ducks. Nick had the impossible idea of maybe building a bridge (ABOVE MIDDLE) from our safe island across the ocean to The Swamp…and amazingly it worked.

    When I returned to Sriport, I saw that Jason had built an infernal boar breeding corral (ABOVE RIGHT) to provide aa steady supply of meat. I felt bad for the boars and tried to let one or two of them out, but then they ALL came out and flooded the land. Fortunately the corral still was breeding boars so it wasn’t a terrible loss, but dozens and dozens of boars now are cluttering up the land and the framerate has dropped to 10fps. In hindsight it’s pretty amusing.

    The Month in Tomes

    I didn’t add very much to the various Tomes where I’m tracking my demons, habits, and so forth. I think the important role that these tomes will play is related to making a refined model of “How Sri Works” and “What Sri Is” and “What Sri wants to Be”…but I really am not sure. I’ve made links to all the tomes available on the GHDR 2021 Challenge Page and also in the link block at the end of these reports.

    The Month Ahead

    It’s been hard for me to form a focus that can be reduced to an action item. I am mostly preoccupied with finishing my project work so I can relax a bit; right now I’m too stressed out to really focus on anything other than getting through this. After that, we’ll see…hopefully I’ll be done with the absolute minimum working build in a week, so the rest of the team can start pushing on the research trial with actual code.

    Till May 5, stay safe!

    About this Article Series

    For year 15 of Groundhog Day Resolutions, I am writing about TRANSITIONS. All related posts on this subject are posted on the  2021 Groundhog Day Resolutions page. You can also find the link under the INVESTIGATIONS menu item on my website.

    Shortcuts to 2021 Tomes

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    DSri Seah
  • GHDR 2021 March Report: Defining Transition

    March 3, 2021

    "Pork with 5-Spice Tofu with Doubanjian"
    random pic of the month: I have been learning to cook this pork w/ 5-spice tofu and doubanjiang

    It’s been a month since I declared TRANSITIONS as this year’s GHDR theme. Looking back at the [February kickoff post][0202], I feel I didn’t describe the essence of this theme very well. Let me take another stab at it before getting into the actual report! (more…)

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    DSri Seah
  • GHDR Update 0222 – Adderall-inspired Alternate Thoughts

    February 22, 2021

    "Rx for generic adderall" Hello! Here’s a follow up on this year’s Groundhog Day Resolutions, which I started this year by picking TRANSITIONS as this year’s theme. Briefly, the three areas of transition I am thinking of are:
    • Gender Identity and Expression
    • Deciding on where I want to fit culturally, socially, and professionally
    • Balancing my tendency stay hidden in my inner world of thoughts with the outside world of the senses and social interaction

    Last week I finally had a formal evaluation for ADHD with a Board-Certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP-BC) referred to me by my gender therapist of four years. I’ve been told several times over the years that the productivity tools I design AND the subjects I write about resonate with people who have ADHD, and I’ve suspected I might have the Inattentive form.

    • The preliminary verdict: I do match the pattern of having the inattentive type of ADHD.
    • The surprise bonus: I also match the pattern of being on the autistic spectrum, but not a form that is readily detected.

    Being on the autistic spectrum was a new possibility that I’d never considered, but let’s roll with it and see where this goes!

    Also, I received a trial prescription for Adderall, a drug that boosts levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.


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    DSri Seah
  • Groundhog Day Resolutions Kickoff 2021!

    February 2, 2021

    "Snow on the Ground"
    random pic of the month: we got a big fluffy heap of snow on groundhog day!

    Ah, February 2nd! This is the day I declare my resolutions for the year in an ongoing attempt to find a sustainable path to creative independence. I’m still not very good at finding this path, as this is the fifteenth year I am trying to find answers to the complicated questions of What am I doing with my life? and How will I find fulfillment, meaning, and purpose in what I am doing? earts.

    After 14 years of looking, I am starting to question whether such gratification exists at all. I used to think that the solutions would be in the form of a tidy bulleted list that helped me understand my value to the world so I could make a living of some kind:

    • What am I really good at?
    • What really makes me happy?
    • What do I offer the world?
    • What does the world offer me in exchange?

    In subsequent years I came to think of the search as the pursuit of a particular state of being:

    • How can I create financial stability by pursuing creative activities? I call this creative independence
    • How can I find a community of like-minded folks to create a positive interdependence?

    More recently, I’ve looked critically at the hypothetical character flaws that stops follow-through on the actions that I want to take. What the heck is wrong with me? I’ve been asking myself:

    • Why is it so hard for me to start projects?
    • Why do I seem to lack intrinsic motivation, discipline, and sustained follow through?
    • Why am I so easily bored?
    • Why is my sense of timeliness, responsibility, and competence a source of stress?

    In 2020 I was so exasperated that I didn’t even do Groundhog Day Resolutions. No tracking of tasks and time. No weekly reports. Not even any goal setting. Instead, I just said I’d focus on just one thing, and let everything else “just happen”:

    • I focused on getting better at software development because I was doing a lot of it. While it’s not what I ultimately want to do, it does pay the bills.
    • I backburnered all other projects related to creative independence. This pained me, ,but I had to admit that I really wasn’t able to do more than one things at a time.
    • I tried to be more relaxed about the work instead of stressed out with thoughts of not being “enough” to do everything instantly.

    The end result was that I DID get better at software development, and felt pretty good about it. And it turned out that having that “singular focus” didn’t stop me from doing other things. They tended to happen organically! The major takeaways:

    • I got better at allocating my limited disciplined energy toward a singular goal. That meant I worked more hours and made more money, which has put me in a better position for 2021.
    • My fear feeling trapped by singular focus didn’t come to pass. Since my disciplined energy was limited, afterwards I would naturally indulge my curiosity and I would feel fine.

    This was very surprising to me, and it worked well enough last year that I’m officially doing it again for the 2021 Groundhog Day Resolutions.

    So here is my preliminary plan. (more…)

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    DSri Seah
  • 2021 Word Counting Calendar

    December 31, 2020

    2021 Word Counting Calendar

    It’s finally done. This always take a long time to update, but this year was particularly bad because of crash issues with InDesign and Acrobat’s tendency to not load the latest files. The editing capability in Acrobat, which I use to remove unused rows in the template as a final step, seems to be broken. It’s never been GREAT, but this year I had so much difficulty with it that I used Affinity Designer to load it and boy…it was a much better experience! 2021 might be the year I try to break away from Adobe at least in the key illustration, layout, and photo editing categories.

    Overall, this took 9 eye-destroying hours to do, squinting at the screen (below) and checking and double-checking and pentuple-checking that the data was entered correctly. If I make this calendar for 2022, it will only be if I completely automate the calendar generation with the same level of visual quality. That’s a tall order, but I think it’s worth doing.

    Some of the programs used to update the calendar

    You can find the Word Counting Calendar at alongside the ETP Almanac. If you’re supporting me on Patreon you have received both these digital downloads as part of your perk package.

    Now, it’s time to make some dinner and ring-in the new year!

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    DSri Seah