Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

Monthly Archives: January 2009

Things in life you can absolutely rely on:  §

1. Your own quixotic determination and infuriating bloody-mindedness

2. Endless trouble that tests #1 to the limit

I do not feel better.

It’s all(ways) so tricky,  §

the facile conceit of attempting to remain on an even-keeled ascent. How did one get from there to here? And how can one get from here back to there once again?

I secretly believe that the more transparent user interfaces get, the less conducive to work they actually are. I was a much better writer in the days of hardware fonts and hardware text displays than I am in the post-WYSIWYG epoch.

It wasn’t so long ago that the blue LED was invented. I remember reading the news on Slashdot or somewhere like that. Now they’re everywhere. This has nothing to do with my success or failure, but it’s much nicer to have blue LEDs glowing at you than yellow, red, or green ones.

Potential is discovered in fits and starts, and it is “fulfilled” the same way. Over twenty years now I have alternated between playing “king” and playing “fool” on my own little stage. Right now I am trying to stave off a transition once again, because I have very much enjoyed “king” as of late.

The longer I blog and the older I get, the more impenetrable my own thoughts become. A very long time ago, I could write honestly. Honesty, however, is a luxury for the unambitious. I have been ambitious for too long to be honest, but not long enough to enjoy any of the effects that (had damn well better be ready soon to) result from ambition.

Light and shadow and aesthetics still thrill me. If I could have made a life as a typographer or a designer or a photographer, I would have. These are incredibly fulfilling, sensual, expressive ways of being, I imagine. Maybe I’m wrong.

I’ve been wrong about things before.

I also have been thinking about fiction and poetry lately. I used to write a great deal. People who knew me as a kid no doubt recall the stacks and stacks of scribbling that littered my living spaces, and of course I have a smattering of computer files stored here as well with aborted or partial novels and a few short stories in them.

I wonder where that’s gone? I don’t seem to have that bug any longer. It’s a definite regret; one goes from renaissance man to ready-made ala Duchamp.


Foucault death wish  §

They call it depression, but what it really is is “your society hates you, wants to hurt you, wants to exploit you, doesn’t want to offer you a good life, and wants you separated from your loved ones in every way possible.”

“Depression” is the disease of modernity. “Depression” is another word for “capitalist exploitation crossed with bureaucratic domination crossed with distance from the social center.”

Depression is what you feel when you are at war with the world but you have no power or weapons with which to fight it.

Depression is ruthless. I am trying to fight it off but I feel often these days as if I am staring into a giant black empty with no way out, just everything that I know is impending, a silent maelstrom hurtling toward me from the edges of time, set to annihilate everything I care about and am without a word or thought, in passing.

The old fight has been beaten out of me by those I care most about. But when you lose the fight, you have nothing left to fight with. At least attacking windmills feels like an attempt at self-preservation, rather than concession.

I hate humanity with a certain dangerous passion.

In particular right now, I hate America, since it is America and her horde of blundering, subhuman “citizens” that violate me, their own child—that are licking their lips in anticipation of destroying me and my family in an act of narcissistic triumphal, nihilistic vengeance, simply for being better in every way than they are.

Sometimes what you want most  §

is to pass out and stay passed out for a while, until the weather patterns have changed.

Change is always,  §

always sad in its marking of the passage of time and the loss of all things, including those that are most precious.

Change is one of my least favorite things, all these years later, as it turns out—a sharp departure from the way that I felt as a young person.

I had gone to bed  §

and dreamed without thinking it was odd that I was observing the days and weeks of mundane preparation before my own birth. My mother was working long hours in anticipation of my arrival and the needs that I (and, in turn, my parents) would soon have. Times were tough and she and my father were worried. He worked outside the neighborhood until late every night; she worked inside it afternoons and evenings. She would leave me at home in a locked house by myself each night (I was just getting old enough) while she went to another house in the neighborhood to work. I would shut myself nervously in a closet with a candle and a book and wait with a kind of creeping worry for her to come back, scared to be young and alone on the one hand, aware that she was too pregnant to be working on the other.

One night, she came home suddenly, alone, and it was time. She bundled me in layers of clothing, took my hand, and we set out on food to the local doctor, who lived in a long, low one-story house with a bay window and a wrought iron fence out front, once of two on its street—a street that ended in empty fields on one side and in a major surface road on the other.

I was born quickly and uneventfully despite her exhaustion while I watched, and afterward the baby was laid beside her on the bed; she turned over and fell immediately into a long, deep sleep. I watched her for hours, satisfied but somehow still deeply if vaguely troubled. I never got a good look at the doctor. My father, making an attempt to rush home (I somehow knew), sat waiting in traffic, unable to reach us in time.

I, surprised that such circumstances marked my own birth, vowed to remember it always and to tell the tale someday to my own children while making clear the tirelessness and dedication of my fatigued mother.

The dream was put to an end when our pooch woke me up suddenly, though not intentionally. He had come to check on us and see if we were awake and turned away thinking that we weren’t. By the time I had indeed come fully awake and went to check on him, he was laying on his side trying to go to sleep again, but it wasn’t working. He looked uncomfortable and was licking his chops excessively as though he felt ill. He’s been on medication lately from the vet as the result of a paw injury, so I suspected that he might need to go out.

I asked him and he said yes by wagging. We went out.

The dream, of course, does not resemble what I know of my own birth in any way, nor does it resemble the neighborhood that I grew up in, nor would my mother have left me home alone as a child to go work, nor—of course—is it possible that I could have observed my own birth, not least because of the bounded orbits of the western metaphysics with which most of us (my parents and myself included) are lumbered.

Standing outside on the lonely streets of Queens at 1:30 in the morning, however, in slip-on shoes and an absence of socks, being interrogated by 18-degree-cold, blustery winds, it occurred to me with startling certainty though without explanation that I had just dreamed in some imponderable way about the trajectory of my own death.

No clear questions such as when it is to occur, how it is to be imagined, and the circumstances that threaten to encompass, surround, and found it were addressed or even conceived of with any acuity, yet the dream was nonetheless about all of these things.

It doesn’t frighten me, but it makes me sad, full of regret somehow.

I think things need to change in my life. It is time to be 33, time to know where I stand and what I am about. There is no time to lose.

Most important for all involved is that we not lose sight of ourselves, of our actual circumstances, or of the big picture, no matter how bad things get or how much frustration or injury seem to taunt us.

To lose perspective, even in the little nooks and crannies, is to tear the big picture to utter shreds and court an insistent sadness, if not shattering tragedy.

The floor has gone from underneath me, and the ether now tells me that this is henceforth to be the way of things, make of it what I will.

I hope I can do well by myself and those that I love, and I hope things will, in the end, be okay.




Ignorance is bliss  §

and once you care you don’t have it. I wish I was more selfish. Selfish people have all the money and much of the carefree. Carefree is a good thing. It makes life longer, both metaphysically and objectively.

If I was younger, I would still be older.

There is room in the world for all of the things we say we don’t have room in the world for. In fact, some of them are the most useful things humanity has to offer. One thinks of “being loved” or “being hated” as a property intrinsic to a person, because so often we traffic colloquially in “the historical” in that vein. Of course, these aren’t properties at all, but responses. If one does the things that lead one to “be loved,” one misses doing the things that lead one to “be hated.” If one does the things that lead one to “be hated,” one misses simply being loved.

I suppose it’s that way for everybody. Dammit.

Empathy is beyond emasculating.

Only in late modernity is it a foregone conclusion that caring about someone else is the most selfish and narcissistic thing you can possibly do. We should all be less selfish and give less of a damn about everyone but ourselves.

What’s funny is the way one keeps creating the same context no matter how one thinks one has changed oneself.

You are who and what you are.

The rest is the stuff of pointless dreams.

Hard times all around  §

So we started the semester with ample courses between us, but by the time the first week of class at the first institution is over, three of them have been canceled due to low enrollment.

Not cool. I guess the students’ families are experiencing tough times, which means the students are experiencing tough times, which means the schools are experiencing tough times, which in turn means that we’re next in line for tough times if we’re not careful.

It’s not becoming to talk publicly about figures in our silly culture, but the loss of three courses between us represents a lot of missing dough from this year.

It would be nice if after all of these eleventy seven not-so-amazingly-cool things that have recently happened, some amazingly cool thing could also happen and actually stay happened. It would make things oh-so-much brighter.

There is a lot to be done in a very short amount of time.

Technology, after all of this time, still makes me feel better. Some people have food addiction. I have technology addiction. As silly as this seems, looking at this new instance of the blog as I simultaneously appreciate the beauty of light-hinted subpixel rendering on a very high density LCD as I also simultaneously remember the days when color LCDs were “things of the future” and a long way off… is raising my spirits.

HTML and CSS that validates raises my spirits.

Reading LKML raises my spirits.

Running a second monitor on the left in Xinerama mode raises my spirits.

But there’s no time for that.

I wonder if I’d be much more productive if every type of work and application in the world—paper writing, photo processing, grading, teaching—had a blog form interface.


Some people are so happy about things  §

that they forget that there are many real problems out there amongst real people, all of them critical to their owners. Yes, a new regime is nice after the beyond-disastrous old one, but very few problems have actually gone away, and no one person can turn an entire bureaucracy around, from top to bottom, in days, weeks, months, or even years. Nothing but the leadership has changed; the problems a certainly still there and many won’t make it to see them solved, even if they are—eventually—solved. The damage, in other words, has already been done and continues to be done.

Hope is a restorative for the hopeless, but it does absolutely nothing to feed the starving.

Gotta reimagine my imagination  §

I’ve got to do something to get my head together. Things are tight. You don’t realize what a luxury it is to feel in total control of your life until you start to feel as though you’re fully subject to the whim(s) of fate.

But mostly the issue is a certain dark cloud that keeps following me around, threatening to rain on me. I need to fix that.

Things need to change. First amongst them is discipline and initiative. There were 24,000 things I was supposed to get done over break. I finished about four of them. I’d feel on top of the world if I’d done even half of them.

There is a lot of time in my life spent not working. When things are tight, this makes me feel as glum as hell. Now I know why people become workaholics… because then they feel (a) justified and (b) as though they’ve got some control over what goes on.

It isn’t enough to work “enough.” I begin to want to work so much that I can’t be accused of anything—by myself.

It’s about time  §

we stopped our headlong march into fascism.

I have mixed feelings about today. I’m hopeful, but I also realize that there is zero chance (less than zero chance, in fact) that any policy solution I’d embrace for any problem will end up as law in this country.

While the right is busy calling the man a socialist, the socialists know that the guy is center-right at his farthest left. We won’t see anything really progressive out of the man, but hopefully we also won’t see rape, torture, corruption, war, and unapologetic class warfare.

What is nice to see is the change in race relations and the emergence of a post-“culture war” America. This has happened seemingly overnight with Obama’s candidacy and election as a kind of threshold or tipping point and it is beyond welcome.

My generation has come of age.

Good enough for now  §

Okay, so I’ve “officially” transitioned the site to load 2010. It’s not entirely together yet in the way that it should be—most notably, there’s a dirty, ugly hack to make IE6/7 work. I haven’t tried IE5 or FF2. I won’t ever try either, in all likelihood. We’re rendering more-or-less the same way now in IE6, IE7, FF3, Opera 9, and Safari/Konqueror. That’s good enough for me. I’m not a technology guy anymore, so I don’t have to care quite so much about things like standards compliance.

Next up: the paper.

It’s a white, snowy day here. There was a time not so many years ago (okay, more years ago than I like to admit) when a white, snowy day woke me up, brought me to life, made me powerful and productive.

This is not so much the case anymore. In my growing old age it would appear that white days full of snow just put me to sleep, make me lose track of time and have fuzzy thoughts. I feel as though I could just lay down and nap for hours.

It’s not a bad feeling, or at least it wouldn’t be if I didn’t have work looming today and the start of a new teaching semester looming tomorrow and no time nor strong motivation to get busy doing either.

If you let your guard down and relax, snow can make time stop and traffic disappear. Magic stuff.

Of course, if you try or even just think about it a little, both time and traffic come rushing back despite the falling snow. But who wants time and traffic in life?

Transition time and semester approaching  §

So I’ve spent altogether too much time on this recently, a few hours here and a few hours there starting to add up into something that can’t quite be justified this week, but we now have a website.

I said it already, but I may as well say it again: welcome to Leapdragon 2010.

This edition will likely be more fluid than the others. Since I’m now using Drupal to do what I’m doing, there will be more room for experimentation without the worry of breaking things, and also many more modules to play with. There are some things that I’d like to do or add that aren’t here yet, and a few things to be fleshed out and/or cleaned up, but basically…

…this is it.

Meanwhile, Tuesday launches the semester for me. So tomorrow is to prepare and to really haul ass trying to make some more progress on a paper—the last piece of work I still owe—that I have been trying to complete for altogether too long now, a truly embarassing amount of time, in fact.

Speaking of, school is in a strange state right now. We were in an uncomfortable limbo not so long ago over the holiday break. Now we’re in a very comfortable limbo. I’m not sure which one is worse.

Thought for the day: this thing is more interesting when I write in such a way (honestly and naming names, basically) that it tends to get me in trouble. When I water it down to the point that nobody can possibly be offended about anything, it starts to sound like a trite pile of words about nothing in particular apart from the color of my navel.

I miss the way my posts “sounded” a few years ago—more offensive or more risky maybe, but also more insightful and more useful to me.

Gotta run.

Marching along  §

Creating this new little corner of the universe it becomes clearer to me than ever just how powerful Drupal is, and at the same time, just how ragged it is in some ways, a wild mix of frustration and exhilaration.

In any case, things are coming along. I think it may be time to bring commenting back as well. We’ll see if I live to regret that; the previous incarnation also allowed commenting at first, but people began to use it as a space to take out their personal frustrations with me on the one hand or to advertise random products on the other, so I killed commenting after only a few months.

I don’t really expect to get rid of the advertising, but I can deal with that. It’s the other nonsense that is make or break once again for comments.

Tomorrow is the last day of the last weekend before the new semester officially begins for me and I’ll be teaching three courses once again while also continuing to work at my other gigs.

We did some financial battle planning today. There’s more to be done. Suffice it to say, this amount of work is not too much at all; in fact, it is not nearly so much as we’d love to have.

I both like this new edition very much already (there’s still a lot of work to do) and also really don’t like it in a lot of subtle ways. I want a different, more readable typeface. I’d like it to be more personalized, less off-the-shelf. I’d like it to actually serve a function for once.

I guess that’s hoping for too much.