Tag Archives: progress

I didn’t get much programming done in November or December. I did pick up a copy of The Land of Lisp, which was awesome. I’m not quite sure it was ideal for a beginner such as myself, seeing as I used nothing but the REPL for two weeks not knowing I had other options and found myself bogged down about 40% of the way through. The author’s enthusiasm and ability to make interesting exercises out of so many otherwise dry activities was great. I may return to the book later.

One reason I didn’t do so much coding was the fact that all of my acquaintances here in the Beijing hostels seem to have social lives that revolve around drinking at bars. Some of them are great people… but you really don’t have much to show for a late night at a bar the next day, except maybe some good memories. For that reason I think it’s much better as an occasional event than a regular way of life. Tons of my buddies in Taiwan loved to drink, but the two groups I regularly met up with were centered around either strategy board gaming or outdoor endurance sports. Surprisingly both groups included a lot of computer people and some artistic people as well. Beijing is a big city, though, and I’m sure those people have to be around, with the possible exception of the distance runners.

Another thing that slowed me down is that my Chinese classes got way tougher than they had been before. Our teacher is great, and she’s willing to regularly correct our essays, but that means we regularly have to write essays. Even now, I’ve got all kinds of non-standard Taiwanese phrases and the occasional traditional character popping up in my writing. I guess it’s a good thing to have a teacher tell me though. I must have said 綁鞋帶 a five or six times since getting to the mainland instead of 系鞋带, but nobody pointed it out to me since they could all understand me… and that’s just one of hundreds if not thousands of phrases I’ve got a little bit off.

One area in which I made a great deal of progress was drawing. Somehow, and I don’t even understand how myself, I went from barely being able to do anything realistic to being able to draw a decent portrait given enough time, or a potted plant in 15 minutes or so. The aspect of this that surprises me most is that absolutely nobody helped me at all with it. I literally just got on google, searched “learn to draw” and took it from there.

Right now, I’m feeling energized. I’ve had time off from exercising the coding part of my brain and now I’ve got the desire to go at it again. I’m going to start working on that game like Tetris with a shop.

It’s a little startling to notice that a month has gone since my last entry here and I haven’t made any real progress on my quest to become the programmer I could have been a decade ago. Naturally this less than thrilling progress assessment leads to introspection. Here are some of why I haven’t done any programming:

I’ve been spending time studying Chinese in the mornings — I don’t want to solve this… not now. Due to the massive Taiwan/Beijing regional differences, I’m learning more words faster than ever before and I’m actually getting to where I can almost write normally in simplified. Getting used to reading it was a pain, but writing is a joy.

I’ve been working out 3 afternoons a week — Taking at least some care of myself is important. I’ve started taking an iPod to get some learning done while I’m at it, though.

I’ve been trying to teach myself to draw. It was flash games that drew me to it, and it’s also a really cool life skill I’m determined to have eventually. It’s really slow going, though and maybe I should put it on the back burner until I’m actually making money from something (my last few projects have died down).

It’s hard to program in this little Beijing hutong hostel where I’m living. There’s no desk in my room and it’s cold enough in the courtyard that I have to wear gloves and type slowly. I could move. I’m planning on it actually, but most landlordspeople in Beijing really want to rip off non-Chinese. As a result, it’s a long complicated bargaining process that often ends in me walking away from a bad deal. I’ve found a good-enough place, but the guy living there won’t be out for another month or two.

Random other stuff keeps drawing my attention away. For example, I’ve started learning Swedish. I’m not sure why, but I felt supremely motivated to give it a wing a couple of days ago. This will probably pass within a week, but then it will be Chinese ktv or dancing or some other thing thing I’ve long been drawn to. Those kinds of things are great for the social life, but they don’t exactly lead to prosperity. The world, especially the modern world, rewards specialization and I have to concentrate my efforts to some extent… somehow.

Related thoughts:

Rapid Improvement


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