There's this Facebook virus going around: "Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged."
Effective? Yes. Everybody loves an opportunity to write a long post about themselves! I had fun reading a couple instances of the meme by some friends, so here ya go. I'm not going to "tag" anyone except for the people who tag me, because I still ethically refuse to spread the virus. If you wish to be tagged, let me know (though if you're reading this, I don't know why you need that...)
- The number one thing that makes me happy is interacting with friends. Laughter, helping someone out, cooperating to do something amazing, and falling in love have undoubtedly been the most satisfying experiences in my life, and I never expect this to change. People are the entire meaning of life to me.
- Secondarily, what makes me happy is learning (through games, computer programming, reading, etc.) I have high expectations for myself being able to learn things quickly and well, and I wish to keep it up. When I stop learning in a game, I stop enjoying it. Same for programming projects. My enjoyment in classes tended to be proportional to the rate I was learning from them (of course, there were variations, but I think this is a generally true trend). It explains why I hated long homework assignments: I never felt like the learning to work ratio was high enough for it to be fun. But I usually enjoyed the genuinely difficult homeworks.
- I have dreams of making a difference to lots of people. I don't know whether I can do this directly through starting a company, but it is always one of my goals when I start one. If not, I want to become independently wealthy and use my money to allow me to work on projects which can make a difference to people. I guess I will admit I also want to be remembered, although if I made a difference and nobody knew it but me, I would be satisfied.
- I ski. Fast. Straight down.
- I strive to have more self control. My friends criticize me for not knowing what the hell is going on with myself and I think they're right. I have bad habits that I can't quit. I am easily distracted from work (even important, satisfying work) by short-term desires which won't make me a better person. My goals in this are to give myself a little negative feedback when I notice I'm out of control, by writing them down.
- Tom Mendoza, the president of NetApp, came to speak to the interns a few times when I worked there. He always gave the same speech: improve yourself and you can achieve great things. Small steps are the key to success; you need to set goals for yourself, but not abstract ones -- they must be concrete. "Time- bound and measurable" was the phrase he drummed into us. And I would say he is a great man. So I'm setting myself time-bound and measurable goals.
- OK, onto less weighty matters. I have an interesting relationship with music. I took violin lessons at my mother's insistence from when I was two until when I was eighteen (!!). (Technically I switched to viola for the last two or three years of lessons, but that was barely different.) I never really liked it, but it was always part of my life. Went off to college and, because of momentum, joined a chamber group first semester. It was pretty good; I always like playing in groups. Of course, I stopped after that because my momentum ran out and I never really felt like I wanted to practice. (Unlike programming or gaming, I don't feel like I learn very quickly, so it's not as fun.) I recently got ahold of a very cheap electric violin and I've been practicing again! I'm much more satisfied playing it than classical violin, and I'm also less self-conscious (especially in an apartment where my roommates and neighbors hear me much less with a quiet instrument).
- Maybe it's that I feel better about playing music I like to listen to on violin. I listen to a good amount of electronic music -- good for programming -- as well as some rock, with the occasional pop thrown in. Video game music is often electronic or classical sounding, and I know a lot of it by heart (and it can be fun to play too!) Yasunori Mitsuda is my favorite video game music composer.
- I notice that music can affect my mood a lot. When a movie has good music, it tremendously amplifies the experience; Slumdog Millionare was a recent movie which had really excellent music. It's so rare to find good movies with good music. Another recent one was Kill Bill. I also put on music when I'm doing a depressing task, like cleaning the kitchen by myself, and it can often pick me up and make me excited to do it.
- I have glasses and I am quite happy about that. I felt like they were part of my identity before I actually had them, so it was basically a relief in 8th grade when I got them. For some reason, glasses connote a certain personality type that I want to be (and incidentally one I tend to be attracted to as well).
- Memorizing lyrics to songs is really entertaining, especially if you actually perform the song for people. I can do "Star Wars Gangsta Rap" and "It's All About the Pentiums" (both are rap, which is even more hilarious) by heart. In high school, my friends and I used to do the Gangsta Rap for nerds in Magic card shops, who always looked at us funny. But we didn't care what anybody else thought, even other nerds.
- Richard Feynman is my hero. Based on his autobiography ("Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman"), he thinks about the world similarly to how I do. His thought processes seem to be based on strong, intuitive mental models, which is exactly how I understand everything. Also, one of my favorite lines from one of his stories was "What do YOU care what other people think?" It became my personal motto.
- I accidentally the whole number thirteen. Is that bad?
- I don't use Gmail. Almost all my friends use it as their main email account. I'm successfully resisting it though!
- I bake bread. You can read about it elsewhere on my blog. It's an instance of bounded creativity -- you can go crazy and try changing the recipe all around, but it won't work if constraints aren't met and it's quite delicate, so there's always some risk and learning. It also has some aesthetic aspects -- getting it cooked an attractive color, getting a nice grigne and so on. And it's one of my favorite things to eat. Always nice when you can cook and make yourself the happiest.
- Things I hate: driving cars, unfair assumptions. For different reasons. And there are probably other things too, but that's as far as I got before I decided to go onto the next question.
- When I was younger, I hated rice, pasta, and anything spicy. My brother hated tomatoes, mushrooms, and milk. At the time I thought he was the crazy one but I am now pretty sure I was crazier. Now I pretty much just hate cilantro. (It's genetic, so I have an excuse.) There are other foods I don't like very much because they're boring, but I've been hungry enough to gain an appreciation for many foods I didn't used to like. (Is that legitimate grammar?)
- I have an active profile on a dating site. Mostly it sucks. I've talked to several girls who were attractive, and met a couple of them in real life, but one or both of us always lost interest. It can be quite addictive to browse people's profiles on the site (maybe the NEXT one will be perfect!) But it's really hard for me to be attracted to someone I haven't met, so the most initially interesting profiles are ones who share my interests, and profiles that don't give a good first impression (all capital letters anyone?) are right out -- it's a bad first impression and that's really all you get. I feel a bit bad profiling like that, but it's to be expected I think. Meh.
- I've never smoked pot or used any other drug illegally (except for alcohol before I was 21). I don't intend to. This is an interesting part of my value system because I don't really understand it. I do think marijuana should be legalized. I might even try it then; we'll see.
- I've had good luck with backpacks. I've had the same backpack for five years (all through college). The one before that, I had only for a year or so, but the one before THAT I had for another four years or something. Different brands, too; I don't know why they are so good for me. I don't treat them especially well (or poorly, for that matter), but I use them a lot.
- Computer Science was easy for me. I had the "computer science is hard" complex while I was in school, because everyone else in the department had that sense of elitism, but when I look back at it, it was a pretty easy major. I'm not saying this to brag but just to think "maybe I didn't get the most out of my college experience?" It's a bit unfortunate. I'm still thinking of going to grad school. Hopefully it'll be hard then.
- I have a beard, for the first time in my life. It's not a part of my identity, although sometimes when I look in the mirror I see a different person with that beard and think "Oh, I could be him". Weird.
- I admire persistence. I don't think of it as a trait I normally have, although I can sometimes dredge up a good reserve of persistence for weird shit (like doing stuff I'm not supposed to be able to do -- there's a certain room in Metroid Prime that you need like two or three items to climb and I didn't have either one and I figured out how to climb it, but it took me a couple hours and a LOT of tries.)
- I'm usually optimistic. Sometimes it gets on people's nerves. But it makes me happier overall, because I have less sadness being disappointed than being worried.
- I think of the daily shower as one of the greater pleasures in the modern lifestyle. It's warm, comfortable, nobody can bother you and I occasionally even solve an interesting problem. I always look forward to showers.