Thursday, May 5, 2011

Beating the Flinch

I think it's either a testament to human ability to relate disparate things or just a sign that I'm going crazy, but I find that oftentimes, it's fighting advice that gets right to the center of a problem and helps me with solutions to much more complicated situations.  This might make a good structure for a tv show!

Tonight my mma teacher, Raymond, gave me this assignment for improving: in the shower, stare into the oncoming water -- it'll reduce your "flinch reflex".  Right now I start off sparring sessions pretty well.  But after taking a few hits, I start to unravel. I start to look away and my form goes to shit.  In other words, I flinch when I get hit enough, and then I get owned.

As often happens this got me thinking -- is that the only time I flinch? What other ways am I getting beat up because I'm "flinching"? In a broader sense, I think flinching is the act of withdrawing when things suddenly get tougher.  You might hesitate and look away, but things aren't less tough.  I think I'm flinching when I'm working on a problem at work, hit a minor setback or lose focus, then suddenly find myself surfing the web.  Heck I've done that at least once while writing this post.  I flinch if I'm nervous about talking to someone, and find something to distract myself so I don't have to potentially walk into a bunch of blows.  There are doubtless other ways. 

My new goal? Focus and don't flinch.  Meet the goal head on and fight back or you're going to get destroyed.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

City of Least Resistance pt II

It's Pleasant Here

LA is renowned for sunny pleasant weather.  People claim they really did move here for the weather, with its sparse cloudy days and general sunny disposition.  Here in the San Fernando valley it can get pretty hot in the late summer, but that's really only as unpleasant as your electricity bill.  This means that no matter what else is going on in your life, the weather isn't too bad.  If you have no idea where your life is going, you might as well have no idea where your life is going in a sunny place.

I'm going to confusingly juxtapose this with the concept of entropy to propose what I see as a problem with pleasantness.  Entropy is the hypothesis that any system will, without any external energy, devolve into an average, chaotic state.  For the universe, this means heat death, where the universe's temperate averages out and all energy has dissipated since there's no external energy to be had.  For your bedroom, this means that without any effort, it will get messy because there are far more ways for it to be messy than there are to be clean.

I'm from a place equally renowned for unpleasant weather, steely gray days, long stretches of sub temperate temperatures and above all, rain (though as I frequently tell people the average annual rainfall in Seattle is less than that of New York City.  It's just that the annual number of rainy days is much higher).  As a result, and I kid you not, what's frequently posed as a question here is "aren't there a lot of suicides in Seattle?" and "wow if I had that kind of weather I'd kill myself".  But we don't kill ourselves. In fact the Seattle yearly suicide rate is slightly below average for a major city, and certainly well below sunny Las Vegas.  I can only assume that's because we had to get up everyday and realize that our entropic state sucked.  So to counteract the steely grayness, we had to pump energy back into the system and try a little harder to live our lives.

So what relevance does this have in a pleasant place? If the average state is pleasant, then things will be pleasant without much need for energy to go into the system.  So it's possible to just sit back and let the days run by, where your external circumstances will allow you to live in relative comfort.  It's possible to live in a City of Least Resistance.

Is there anything to this supposition? Who knows.  but I believe a lot of attitudes and complacencies stem from it here.  To be continued!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

City of Least Resistance?

I don't make it much of a secret that I'm on the fence about Los Angeles.  At different times I've complained ad nauseum about how many people there are, how much driving is involved, air quality, etc.  But I've been thinking about what it might be that really bothers me about this place, and I think I've come to a conclusion: Los Angeles  may very well be the City of Least Resistance.
Even as I wrote the above complaints, the biggest compliment I usually deliver to LA is that it's comfortable.  But that's damning with faint praise, as it's that very comfortability that I've come at odds with.  But what do I mean by this? I'm heading out the door to some harmless but not enriching activities, so I must continue later

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Facebook API calls with Javascript : Revisited

It turns out I wasn't quite right in my previous post when I said that there is no error given: it turns out that with judicious use of Firebug, you can examine incoming / outgoing http requests.  The request for the login token with the Javascript API quite clearly states

Given URL is not allowed by the Application configuration.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Facebook API calls with Javascript

The social networking app I'm writing with my would be mentor requires integration with facebook.  Given the ubiquity of javascript, I decided, what better way to integrate with facebook than through their Javascript SDK?


While testing a simple case I encountered a frustrating error where facebook api calls seemed to simply stop functioning -- no init's, login information, graph api calls, no nothing.  There wasn't even an unsuccessful login session object returned.  And it seemed as though nothing had changed.  I was ready to blame facebook, but after a little bit more debugging I discovered the cause:

<pic to come>

All facebook javascript sdk calls with a specific app ID must be made from the same domain as the canvas url.  This is very possibly a manifestation of the same origin policy, a rather stringent security necessity for Javascript.  In any event, with that discovery, I was able to continue testing.  However finding the cause of the bug was quite difficult, since facebook's own error response for the issue was virtually nonexistent, and many forums confused the cause of the lack of function with erratic facebook code state.  Ultimately nothing beats personal debugging

Finest Beating of My Life .. So far

You seen his portrait downstairs?  

Yesterday I took my green belt test for Krav Maga.  It was grueling through techniques encompassing kick defenses, punch defenses, reactions to hair grabs, bear hugs, reverse headlocks.  I had already gone through two and a half hours and 2 t shirts ... and then we got to the sparring portion and things just got sadistic.

The dreaded sparring portion of the green belt test is infamous for absolutely beating the crap out of everyone who takes it, and I can personally attest to this.  I'd been supplementing my usual krav maga classes with fight classes for a few months and luckily that kept me from being reduced to pure pulp. For an hour and what seemed like forever, I was rotated in and out of a shark tank and had to stand and fight people well past the point of my endurance.  I think I literally collapsed after my turn in the shark tank, but then had to pull myself together for the rest of the test.  More than once I thought of how obscene it was that I was paying for this abuse.  But now that I've had a little bit of time to think about it, I think I see the value of such abuse: if you can make it through something that tough, then a lot of things in life are that much easier.  Toughness in people is a quality I really respect and so if I can summon it in myself, it boosts my self respect as well.

At the very least, the next time I get hit, instead of thinking 'ow', I can think 'oh heck, this isn't as bad as my green belt test'

oh yeah, and hopefully I passed.  I still haven't found out