Weeknotes 2023 W15:

April 10​–​16, 2023
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I got an iPhone 14 Pro, to replace my aging Huawei P20. Oof, is this device expensive. It better have been worth it.

My approach to budget for replacing past purchases helped in making this purchase, as I’ve been saving up for it for quite a while — though not in full.

I’m already liking the integration with macOS. For instance, my notes (including week­notes) used to live only on my laptop, but now I can access them from my phone as well. It’s great! The Android device I had previously just really felt clunky, and did not integrate well at all with my laptop.

I now have a lavalier (or lapel) microphone, which means that going forward, I myself can record every talk I give. I’ll have no more excuses!

I’ve been continuing my thought around the fixed mindset versus the growth mindset.

Too often growing up, I heard statements (directed towards me and others) such as “you’re not an X” — substitute X for any profession: you’re not a writer; you’re not a dancer; you’re not a programmer. Statements like that are harmful: the underlying message is that you’ll never be good enough, so trying to become a X is futile and a waste of time. The exact phrasing can be different, but the message remains.

I know of a few statements like those that have been said to me. It’s interesting to now explore those options — the Xes — that I have never considered before.

The urge to pick up new things that are outside of my comfort zone has been growing steadily over the past few months. Earlier this week, I committed to taking acting classes, running from late April to mid June.

On one hand, this is quite exciting. There is a great deal of opportunity for discovery, imagination, and creativity. It’s something that will take me quite a ways away from my comfort zone, but there will be other newcomers, which will create a beginner-friendly atmosphere where we’ll all grow and learn, and have fun as well.

On the other hand, the thought of picking up acting is absolutely terrifying. My brain regularly tells me that there is no need for me to pick up acting, and things would be so much easier if I dropped the idea entirely and went on with my life without it. Even worse: I have had some sleepless nights where my brain has emphatically asked me what the hell I am doing. My brain has tried to tell me that it’s not worth it and that I might as well give up right now.

This is why I already paid for the classes (after budgeting for them properly), and there are no refunds. I’ve not given myself a way out. Well, I suppose I could still chicken out and not attend the classes despite having paid for them, but that seems unlikely. You lot can hold me accountable.

What is the worst that could happen? I lose some time and money, that is what. I’ll move on.

Most of the side activities I’ve picked up in the past were things where I knew ahead of time that I would be somewhat good at them from the get go. I knew that creative writing would be worth doing because I’ve enjoyed it in the past, and been fairly good at it too — consistent top marks for my fiction writing in high school, for instance.

For acting, the story is different. There’s a bit of overlap with writing and public speaking: both are storytelling in their own way, so I suspect I wouldn’t be terrible at acting. But acting is still very, very different.

I still don’t have a clear idea of where I’m going with this interest. What do I do after I finish the course? Will I just be stuck? Do I take more courses? Do I start doing job interviews auditions? Do I muddle along in mediocrity with no way forward?

Those questions are valid, I think, but not relevant just yet. Right now, I am way overthinking this.

My goal is an internal one: to get a better idea of what it is like, to get a feeling of what the people are is like, to figure out what I would need to do to progress. All of those goals are almost entirely in my control.

I was thinking back the other day about a technique for mentoring software developers that I would like to use more: give the mentee the task of explaining a concept.1 (1 Follow-up note: Let mentees explain concepts )

For example: What is a Set in Ruby and what is it for?

Mentees would have time to prepare properly: I imagine a week would be appropriate. I imagine giving some guidance is useful (for example: how does a Set compare to an Array, and when would you use one or the other).

I’d need to try this out more in practice, but I imagine it’s a useful approach for two reasons: it forces the mentee to fundamentally understand the concept, and secondly, it exercises and improves communication skills. I think the latter is important enough to highlight early on.

The motivation for continuing to work on Gex, my programming language, continues to be flaky.

A programming language is a tool, and it is not useful if it does not have a purpose. Gex is a tool that could be useful — once finished — to a larger audience. But I have no real intention of publishing it: published software needs continued maintenance, and from my experience as a maintainer of open-source software, the maintenance is not fun.

I could keep Gex to myself, but then I’d only use it for other software that I write for myself. Is it worth creating an entire programming language so that I can write software just for myself? The answer is probably no.

The third and last choice is to see Gex purely as an intellectual endeavor with no expectation of a working end result. The journey is the goal. That is likely how I’m approaching it at the moment, but the motivation that this approach generates is not very high at all.