Stressed And Overwhelmed

I’ve been a bit overwhelmed these days, mainly with work and taxes, but when I get overwhelmed and stressed my brain becomes completely stupid and kicks up my perfectionist tendencies even more — which of course just makes everything all the worse.

I was trying to do a write-up of sorts and just kept revising the same paragraph like a hundred times. And it started driving me crazy because I was spending hours on it even though I knew in my head — even as I was doing it — that I was past the point of it making it worth the effort. But once I get in a loop like that it’s just hard to break free — I don’t know why. Just one of many affiliations I haven’t found a good way to get over yet.

Actually that’s not true. There is one method that I have found that helps: I highlight all the text in red and go through it sentence at a time turning it black, and refuse to let myself go back and read the sentences I’ve blackened. It’s a bit of a brain trick but it does help sometimes. It’s what helped this time anyway.

So, I was playing around with my cube again tonight and picked up a new shortcut. Every now and again I run into the case on the 2nd layer where I get a corner reversed:

This kind of sucks because I have to push an irrelevant corner in, and then go back and put the proper one in. In my current way of doing things, that’s eight moves for the replace, and eight more for the correct. There is a better shortcut for this that lets you do it in nine total as opposed to sixteen. As this scenario always occurs for the last corner of the second layer for me, I took the shortcut and reversed it so that I can flip the cube upside-down, fix it in nine, and then keep holding the cube as is to solve the last layer. It’s pretty cool — but I’m pretty positive I will forget it a hundred times before it finally sticks in my head.

Speaking of cube solving, I got it down to just over 2 min now:

And on a completely unrelated note, I’m reading “Time and Again” by Jack Finney and rather liking it!

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Productive Day

Went to the gym for 2 hrs. Played Chess with Ren. Started teaching the princess how to do the first layer cross on a Rubik’s cube. Picked up the dry cleaning. Put in a good half day of work for the upcoming exchange merger. Put the kids in the shower. Reviewed the third layer corner placement strategy for my Rubik’s cube. Helped Ren with his piano practice. Finished coding my Japan Interest Tax Calculator. Reversed calculated taxes and pre-tax interest amounts for my US taxes. Wrote this blog. Drank lots of beer. The end?

Rubik’s Cube

I bought an imitation Rubik’s Cube at the 100 yen store the other day on a bit of a whim and for some reason got all addicted to it. I managed to solve it once and then today when taking the kids to Yamada Denki to play some games, I ended up buying myself a proper one. It cost about 1500 yen which is actually pretty high, but it is nice. The cheap one was feeling like it would fall apart already and it was an utter pain to spin.

Anyhow, I was messing around with my new cube while the kids were playing and ended up solving it a couple more times. The first time it took me about an hour, the next about ten minuets. Last time I did it I was down to about three and a half.

Note by the way the fastest guys in the world can do it in under six seconds!

Ski in GALA Yuzawa

Took the kids out skiing for the first time this past weekend:

It’s been close to ten years since the last time I went snowboarding and even longer for the wifey, so needless to say, neither of us were feeling the confidence to teach a four and six year. We ended up getting them a beginners lesson, and the wifey and took that time to do some rehabilitation of our own together.

We both ended up recalling it pretty quickly and really had a good time. I have only been snowboarding a handful of times in my life anyway so i’m nowhere close to being that good, but it kind of surprised me how well my body remembered it. The ski resort was rather nice as well — very convenient. The snow was good given the season, it was decently close to Tokyo, and you walk right out of the station directly into the rental hall and locker area. You really can’t beat that. Trying to carry two kids worth of stuff absolutely sucked of course, but we managed somehow.

2014030904The kids did really well by the way. Even Ren was able to get up and glide well but Anna was even getting her stopping down by the end. And they absolutely loved it, which was most important. We’ll definitely have to go back for another round.

AutoIt

I have somewhat of an addiction for collecting points on various internet sites. It’s become a bit of a ritual for me to spend about 5-10 min clicking in the morning while I have my coffee. I probably only make a few yen a day off it but it’s fun for some reason — I don’t know. I think it’s just a simple mindless task that helps wake me up and get my hands moving.

Anyway, a lot of these sites reset themselves every hour but lucky I’m not so addicted to sit there and try to click them all day. But just for fun, I wrote a script in AutoIt to launch one of these sites, login, click five times, and then close it out. The script just loops and runs every hour. And it works rather good!

It’s a bit fragile I think because it depends on timings but I think there is definitely some useful stuff you can do with it if you add in proper validation. I’m considering trying to put it to use at work but figure I will play around with the language a bit more. I have been rather impressed though — it’s pretty powerful. You can even write GUI’s in it.

PHP KB

I have a lot of notes I keep in text files on my PC, but I tend to want to access these from multiple locations and have never found a decent way to do it. The immediate thought that came to mind was to setup a wiki site of sorts, but that got me thinking: wouldn’t it be interesting to have a self-organizing wiki of sorts that takes random notes as input and intelligently creates it’s own indexes, formats your crap, and produces output intelligently based on various search methods? I’ve been kind of on a tear-it-down-to-basics mentality kick these days so I took my initial thought and stripped it down to “post shit online and have it saved somewhere.” So I slammed together something tonight in php that essentially does this.

Basically, I put together a simple html text area that does a html post to itself:

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This executes a php script in the same file to write the data down to a file on the server with a name in the format of yyyymmddhhss[microsec]:

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The whole thing is under 20 lines of code.

I’ve been kind of enjoying these micro projects lately — I’m not sure why.

Hip Hop and Drums

I think I’ve always been drawn to hip hop because I play drums. Not because of the beats or anything (because they are normally not that exciting). More because of the percussive nature of the vocals and the songs in general. In a lot of ways it’s like a drum line. Rhythm main. Whatever.

One thing I learned from listening to a lot of rap (especially freestyle) is that the technicalities (like rhyme for example) are actually secondary to flow. But still a lot of drummers (including myself) approach drumming technically — which is kind of a shame in a lot of ways. It’s funny when I think about it: some of the most interesting stuff I have played has been the most simple and subtle, and was usually a result of forming the songs from jams in the studio as opposed to thinking it up. But when I am trying to consciously form new beats for whatever reason, I also do so from the technicalities, and I can’t help but feel I’m really tying myself down that way. Maybe what would be better would be to mold the flow, and then let my hands and feet catch up. I get the feeling if I did so it could produce some interesting results.

Anyways, just random pondering at the studio as I wait for the guys to come. The other random pondering is I could use some beer. Badly.

Sichuan Style Tofu with Mushrooms

Been trying to find some new healthy recipes and gave this one a shot:

It’s pretty easy: stir-fry garlic and scallions quickly in canola oil, add mushrooms and continue for a min. Then put that aside, cook tofu cubes in another pan for about three mins, and then pour in the vegetables, add a scoop of Sichuan Sauce (I used ten men jyan) stir-fry for another minute, and voila.

The taste is… well, it’s decent and I would eat it myself but it’s probably nothing I would set out to impress my friends with for example. “Not bad,” is probably the best way to put it.

As for calories and portion size:

Using a 300g block of tofu, 100g of mushrooms, and about 8 scallions, it came out to be around 2 decent sized servings at around 520 calories — which means about 260 calories a serving which is very low! It’s also vegetarian I guess if you’re into that sort of thing.

2014

It’s New Year’s Day and I’m in the US with my family. We have been here since Christmas and will be heading back to Tokyo in about a week. It’s a nice long vacation — and rather needed to be honest.

I’ve never really been one for New Years resolutions but I do have a lot of things I would like to work on this year: music, programming projects, etc. it’s just a matter of getting them out of my head and into action I suppose, which is always the hard part.

Anyways, hope everyone is having a happy new year and here is wishing everyone a prosperous 2014!