Two Related Emotions

I had a breakdown yesterday — it was the last hours of a long day, that long day being the last day of a long month. So as I descended into a ball of snot and tears, two primary emotions came to the forefront.

I am dumb

I can’t measure up to the company I keep. The gap between them and me is too great — there’s no way I can catch up. They’re all doing amazing things and I struggle with the most basic. That includes this mental illness. Why can’t I be smart enough to beat this? Why is it so irrational, but I still can’t outthink it?

I am a burden

I should remove myself from the company I keep. I’m only holding them back — they give me their precious time out of charity or pity, and I don’t know which is worse. Imagine the mental gymnastics they must do to call me their friend! I’ll be doing the world a service if I just go away.

Neither of those are true

I talked to my mom for an hour and a half last night. She really likes to talk — a trait I didn’t always appreciate growing up, but now it is exactly what I need for times like this. We talked about growing up as an immigrant, how my sister and I are similar and different, about what Mom went through when Dad passed away, cartoons. My mom likes her goofy metaphors, something I now understand I got from her — she likened my current situation to being flattened by an anvil. And even though I’m flattened, I’m just popping my feet back out and waddling around. My goal is to become 3D again.

Raspberry Pi — I remember you!

Before we begin, fun fact: Middleman doesn’t like generating articles with exclamation points in the title. I’m guessing it has a problem stripping them out when generating the filename. Maybe this is a good opportunity for a pull request!

I’m following Gordon Turner’s Raspberry Pi guide to start step one of putting an information radiator in my home.


I’m using an old monitor and an old Raspberry Pi 1. 8 GB memory card from who knows when. Nothing fancy here; why invest in hardware when I haven’t written any software yet?

Turning It On

I guess there’s one piece of hardware I invested in that was a nice-to-have — a Wemo Mini Smart Plug. Right now I have it hooked up to an IFTTT recipe that lets me press a button on my iPad to toggle the Pi on and off. Eventually I’ll have it hooked up to Alexa or put on a schedule so I can see it in the morning and otherwise have the whole thing turned off.

Setting Up the Pi

I followed the Raspberry Pi setup steps to get Raspbian Stretch flashed onto the memory card. (Etcher Pro looks _so_ cool btw) Next was to follow the directions as they were written out! I especially liked the instructions to SSH into the Pi, since that lets me copypasta the scripts easily from my MacBook Pro. After following those instructions, everything worked out!

Next Steps

Next I’ll want to design a website — it’ll have to be pretty lightweight so the Pi can easily render it. I think that’ll be a fun challenge! I also want to get my domains in order: I’ve been having trouble with GitHub Pages and custom domains, so I’ll probably bite the bullet and host on AWS or something. We’ll see what kind of architecture I need.

That’s it for now! This is the first day of a week long “sabbatical” for me. I’m using the time to get caught up on grad work, relax from burnout, and innovate. So far so good!

Cleaning Up Dropbox

One of the unexpected side-effects of owning a dog is how many pictures I now take on a daily basis. I use Dropbox’s Camera Upload feature, so — as you might expect — I quickly ran out of space. Right now there’s a queue of a few hundred photos on my phone waiting to be uploaded to the cloud.

Rather than pony up some money to buy space and prolong the problem, I decided to dive in and start categorizing photos. I basically treat my Camera Upload folder like an inbox and move photos from there into other folders to be processed at a later point (assuming I can’t decide to delete a photo right then
and there).

Another one of my holdups for processing all of this data was that I wanted to write an app to make it easier to sort photos. But ultimately I just need to go through the data — the tools I have are sufficient to make good progress. I need to work on not getting hung up on doing something optimally if I want to make immediate progress. Discerning between immediate gains and long-term gains is a useful skill worth honing — I use it every day in software development and it’s applicable in many other areas too.

Be Still

I wrote a Firefox extension called Be Still that blocks traffic from social media websites I need to get myself off of. Right now it’s not published (you can still check it out on GitHub) and it only shows an image, but I’d like to make it more mental health focused going forward. I’d also like to support Chrome, Safari and Edge too.

But right now it’s something. Ironically enough, it was difficult to develop extension because my mind was on fire the whole time. I still don’t have a great system for planning out work — sometimes I cope fine and my brain can keep everything organized, other times it can barely focus on one thing. I’m hoping this extension is a step in a direction that supports people like me, and maybe it can give me ideas for building other tools I might need.

I haven’t written in this blog recently — was a bit held up trying to get my Ghost blog ported. Instead I think I should just keep writing these posts and not worry about importing the past. If there’s ever a time for me to need writing, it’s now.

A New Start

It’s time I start this blog again, and make a committed effort to it. I think it’ll be useful to have a platform to write down my thoughts both professionally and personally.

Scott Hutchison — frontman of Frightened Rabbit — took his own life this past week, and it’s been on my mind. As I near my birthday and older by another year, I can’t help but think about my own mental illnesses and how my life changes as those illnesses change.

I don’t know what my future holds for me. Yes, it’s kinda scary. I didn’t really want to say anything in particular, just to acknowledge the fear that’s real and present.