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Happiest Memory

July 15th, 2018 | Posted by pftq in Essays | #
     The happiest memory in my life is not one I could ever share with anyone else.  Because it isn't a moment from within my real life but instead one from within a dream, a dream that occurred almost ten years ago.

     In that dream, I spent my childhood alongside someone who I seemingly knew all my life.  We would race neck-to-neck as we leapt from rooftop to rooftop, laughing maniacally as we tried to one-up each other, reaching higher and higher into the skies before eventually just taking flight altogether.  If it seemed we flew too high and one of us began to fall, we would catch each other and throw ourselves even higher than before, until we finally made it above the clouds.  At the end of it all, we'd sit atop the remains of an old wooden post so high up that we could watch the sun set, not against the land or water but against the sky itself, the ocean of clouds below reflecting its descent like a mirror facing up against the...[More]
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The Lies We Tell Ourselves

June 2nd, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Essays | #
     Most people struggle to see past their own actions.  The world is dark, the light at the end of the tunnel dim.  I spent my life being told to doubt my intuition, to be more modest, humble, more open-minded, less naïve, to let go of what I think I know, only to realize later that was always the opposite of what I needed to do.  Others lie to themselves to grapple with what they don't know.  They convince themselves they are more knowledgeable than they really are and seek structure to shield themselves from the unexpected, to give themselves a false sense of control and certainty in their lives.  But my lie is to myself when I do know.  I close my eyes, purposely forget things, throw myself into the wind, whatever it takes in hopes that something might surprise me for once, to give myself a false sense of hope, the false hope that there might be more to the world than what I see before me, the mystery and excitement, the possibility of...[More]
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The Power of Fate and Irony

August 26th, 2015 | Posted by pftq in Essays | #
     With the advent of my newest project Autodidactic I, which premises itself on harnessing the power of "fate and irony," I thought it'd be timely to explain just what that means and how it is actually more literal than one might think.  At its core, it's about setting up the least likely situations to always be in your favor, what others perceive to be your worst case scenarios to actually be your best case.  You set yourself up such that the most ironic thing that can happen to you is the best thing that could happen to you, and everything else falls in line behind that.  This is a lot of the thinking that bleeds into most of my endeavors, whether it be in my trading, planning my life, or even just making sure I get from point A to point B on time.

     It sounds a bit like superstitution or voodoo, but it really is more about planning, psychology, and just staying ahead of the game.  When planning any sort of event or organization, for example, the biggest mistake one often makes is leaving open that 0.0001% chance that things go terribly wrong.  Instead take that and flip it on its head.  Make the 0.0001% case the case where everything goes terribly right.  In practice, I often *seem* like the more conservative risk taker on any team (despite my super left-field ideas and approaches to things),  but when the unthinkable happens, it's to my favor.  What better irony than the safest plans thriving in absolute chaos? And there's nothing to say you can't simply be so in control (or so impervious to a lack of control) that it just looks like you're passive when you've actually already set plans in motion to take over the world.  It's about always knowing your edge cases and putting them in alignment with your goals.  It's about eliminating chance from the equation and only leaving open possibilities that help your cause.  When the unthinkable happens, you win, and when it doesn't, life just continues as usual.

     The other aspect is just mental, when you declare the most absurd things with no expectation they happen, when you jinx or counter-jinx things, when people give up at the exact moment they should have doubled down, etc.  This definitely sounds much more like superstition now, but think of all the situations in the past where you or your friends jinxed things and how often these ironic situations actually came true.  Words have meaning, whether they leave a guilt chip in the back of someone's mind or make yourself doubt your best judgement (too good to be true, unwillingness to go against what you just said, etc).  The key again is to let the things you think most absurd always be in your favor but also in a psychological aspect.  If someone else is doubting something (often you), let them be on the losing side of the ironic outcome and not yourself.  If someone is about to give up but thinks something will work out right as they quit, be on the receiving side of that luck.  Sometimes, it's almost like witchcraft, where in order to ensure my success, I purposely make sure there are enough people thinking or making a claim they'll regret, where they unintentionally jinx themselves such that, in the (misleadingly) remote chance they're wrong, it leads an outcome most extremely in my favor.  Think of famous last words; often times I purposely get someone to declare verbally the opposite of what I want just to jinx him.  This extends to all other activities mental and psychological - trading, poker, etc. If someone is about to exit a trade they think they'll regret doing so, take that as a sign that trade will probably work.  If someone thinks they'll fold a good hand, let that be in your favor if it comes true.  Often times, my reputation in poker is that of a blind better with beginner's luck, when in actuality I'm letting my opponents self destruct against themselves.  It's letting people's own irrationality and biases get the better of them... at least, that's the politically correct way of putting it.

    ...[More]
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Hear the Pictures and Not the Words

July 4th, 2015 | Posted by pftq in Essays | #
     "What do you see when you hear this music?" I once asked someone.
     To my surprise, he said, "Nothing."
     "Really?" I asked.  "Not even a story or anything?"
     "Nope.  I just like how it sounds.  Why? What do you see?"
     It still surprises me whenever I come across others who can be appreciating the same work before us but seeing nothing at all.  It never really occurred to me until after college that others might only hear the sound or see the word, the notes, or the colors.
     I still remember a conversation several years back where several coworkers were debating whether thought was organized based on what language one spoke.  "Of course not," I wanted to say, "Otherwise what would you be thinking as a child before you knew any language?" But the debate simply moved towards whether children had any real thoughts...[More]
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Threaded Thinking

May 25th, 2015 | Posted by pftq in Essays | #
     One thing I've come to notice is my thinking style tends to be much different than most when it comes to planning or managing how to pursue multiple tasks.  Some have suggested I think very linearly when much of the world is moving towards nonlinear or multitasking, but I'm not exactly the person one would consider tunnel visioned or laser focused nor is it accurate to say I only do one thing at a time.  Instead, it's more like I plant the seeds of each of my tasks in a way that allows me to shift my focus to other things while each continues in the background.  If you're familiar with business terms, it's like balancing lead time, where one does the things that just need to be started but not tended to for a while so they can be returned to later.  If you're more familiar with engineering terms, it is like pipelining to have multiple things done at the same time, not by having multiple processes but by having one process...[More]
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Breaking People to Their Core

March 29th, 2015 | Posted by pftq in Essays | #
     Where do I find people like myself? That question has consumed me for as long as I can remember.  Over the past few years after college, I've managed to only come across maybe a handful of people out of the thousands I met who I can really relate to or consider like-minded.  In the eighteen years of school before that, there were maybe three, each at different times of my life.  What do I consider as being like-minded or similar to myself? For me, understanding a person is all about understanding the person's motivations - seeing through their actions, breaking them down and figuring out what really drives them deep within, what would cause them to crumble if they lost it but what would also make them truly happy.  While I have never considered this a formal skill or talent, I have gotten quite good at seeing into the motivations of those I meet.  This is a hard topic to discuss simply because it can easily be misconstrued as arrogance or...[More]
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Some Inspiration From the Past

July 8th, 2013 | Posted by pftq in Essays | #
     These days I don't know what I'm doing anymore.  It seems completely illogical that I'd be on the path I am now given my history.  What am I doing just making songs or chasing stocks when I used to make games, movies, entire websites, etc?

     Sometimes I forget my frustrations, but every once in a while something like this shows up and just really tests my patience with myself:
     http://all-things-andy-gavin.com/2011/02/10/crash-bandicoot-as-a-startup/

     Besides the fact I use to play those games when I was younger, being able to form a team and produce something on that scale was something I've always dreamed of doing.  It's tough finding finding people of equal or better calibur though and even tougher to find those who share similar ambitions and drive.  Like the author, I also learned most of my programming myself (home-brewed), so it's really hard to relate to colleagues who otherwise...[More]
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Void

May 10th, 2011 | Posted by pftq in Essays | #
     I fear boredom.  I don't know why.  It's just the way it is.  I should be happy that my two hardest classes are now over, but I instead feel empty.  I should look forward to a fun trip I've been planning this month, but I realize that once it passes (or even in the midst of it), there will be nothing but a void.

     I can't help feeling similar to Jonathan Shields in "The Bad and the Beautiful" (1952).  It has haunted me ever since I watched it two years ago for a film class.  Of course, I will never betray anyone for any means, but like Shields, once a project or goal is finished, I don't feel satisfied at all.  Instead, I feel anguish and longing - like I have just lost purpose and have suddenly been reduced to nothing.  I can be anything and do anything, but once I stop, I sink away into the shadows.

     It is not as if I pursue a goal or task because I enjoy it either.  It...[More]
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