Month of Mecember

An experiment in changing myself.

The original post is here:

I’ve been feeling pretty insecure about a lot of things lately: my appearance, my skills, my intelligence, my judgment, my goals. I’ve felt distant from friends, angry with myself, unsure about my decisions. Rather than give up and let myself drown in my inexhaustible well of self-pity, I’ve decided to give the ol’ game one last hurrah. So, I’m going to swap places temporarily with a Me in another dimension (one of the infinite available Mes that forked off from my dimension sometime earlier in my life, or more likely, one of the Mes that came about by pure chance in a completely different world). The me I’m switching places with lives in a universe where today is Mecember 1st, 2003.

Mecember is a month like any other month, except for its name, but the me that I’m switching places with is different from me in a couple distinct ways:

  • The other me thinks differently than I do. He doesn’t see black and white, all or nothing, certain or random. He sees ranges of probabilities, delights in fuzziness and ambiguity. This will come in very handy as you will see.
  • The other me isn’t insecure, even though he knows what it means to be insecure. In fact, he went through something much like what I’m going through now, but that was over 10 years ago. He still knows the lessons he learned from those dark times.
  • The other me drinks 80% less coffee than I do.
  • He is 80% closer to weighing 160 lbs than I am.
  • He knows Perl and Java 80% better than I do (because he has taken an extra 20% more time focusing on work-related stuff).

I realized that I’m good at doing things all the way or not at all. That’s why I like explicit goals like Nanowrimo. Another thing I realized is that some of my goals fail because I don’t have a good understanding of the cost associated with my goal. For example, I’ve been trying to lose 6 lbs for over a year. But since I’ve always been a relatively skinny person, I have no idea what it means to even lose a single pound. So, by the end of Mecember, I’m going to try to be 80% of the way to 160 lbs. Then, I can see how much that costs, and see if the value is greater than that. Then I can make another longer-term goal.

I’ve stopped drinking coffee a couple times. Once for Lent. It didn’t really seem to make that much of a difference, but if that’s the case, why am I drinking so much coffee again. I’m going to drink 80% less coffee during the month of Mecember and see how much that costs, and whether or not there’s any value in return.

I learned both HTML and Perl in strange challenge-like ways. Fresh out of college, I bet someone that I could get a job at Amazon (and since it was an Internet company I assumed that I would have to know HTML). So I learned it on my vacation in Japan that summer. Then, a few years later, at work, I told someone that I knew Perl and they signed me up to work on a Perl project the following Monday. I crammed all weekend learning Perl so I wouldn’t be caught in my lie. Since then I’ve always told people that both of those languages are easy, because I saw how quickly they could be learned (of course, I still had a lot more to learn in both areas, but at least it got me over that initial hump of uncertainty). I believe Java is the same, even though many people say that it’s a lot more difficult than Perl. So, I’m going to spend an extra 2 hours at work each day for the next 30 days learning Java. I’m also taking a class at UW’s extension program.

Three simple goals, and I’ve wrapped a bit of pseudo string theory, probability games, and word-play into it just to cement it in my mind (which only accepts things that appear somewhat official and challenging). I’m not going to talk about it anywhere except on this blog so if you see me in real life I’m going to deny it. That was one of the agreements in the universe swap… I can’t go around blabbing about it to everyone.

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