“Life is what happens in the space
between”. Indeed, since the last update
a world pandemic has passed, truces have been signed in some countries,
new wars have started in others, climate is going increasingly haywire,
and the global political and economic turmoils have led to protests and
revolts in countless places. The world keeps moving and I’m but a tiny
spec in the grand scheme of things.
Yet, you’re reading this article, so you’re interested about what I’ve been up to!
Life and Work
Explanation: Lockdowns are over, pandemic done. I’ve traveled to quite a few places since then. Indeed, I went back to Paris again for a month in summer 2022, to be present at my SO business school graduation ceremony. This time, I booked a place close to the center to fully embrace the Parisian experience. It was memorable, I spent the days with my SO and brother. From dancing to a live Swing band at Saint-Michel, to kayaking, to a running-in-color for the Curie cancer foundation, and much more. I also took a few days, hopping from Paris to Frankfurt, to visit my best friend which I hadn’t seen in a year.
On my last day in Paris, before going back to Lebanon, my SO moved to
Toulouse for career purposes. Thus, fast forward a few months, I’ve also
been traveling to Toulouse: a month at the end of 2022, in January 2023,
and soon jumping on my next trip in a couple of weeks.
The lifestyle in the mesmerising pink city of Toulouse is radically different than the capital of France. The culture is more laid back and inspired by its neighbor, Spain, than by its colder northern cousins. When there, we unsurprisingly visited the landmarks, but also basked in the unique culture and local traditions. We booked guided tours, all sorts of activities like rock climbing, met so many wonderful people, and visited places in the region of Occitane such as the well-preserved Cité de Carcassone.
At the start of 2023 I’ve put my job hunt in the background,
unsatisfied with how it was going and what it was doing to my mental
health and overall well-being. Instead, and for the moment, I’ll keep
traveling to be with my SO as much and as flexibly as I can. This doesn’t
mean I won’t keep looking for opportunities but the plan has changed,
and with the difficulties and bureaucracies of the French work-life, I’d
rather find another way to make this a reality such as moving whenever my
SO has a more stable condition and gains nationality instead of gambling
away everything we have.
With this refreshed mindset I went back to things that truly enrich my life and that I treasure, the same things I’ve felt I had sacrificed for the single aim of getting better at a useless and flawed interview process. I’ve told myself I’d amply focus on my relationships, cultural activities, and my hobbies such as ASCII art, Unix research, psychology, philosophy, gardening, and others.
With the constant exodus, the drain of people, and never-ending foolish and ignorant economic and political decisions, there aren’t many reasons for me to stay in Lebanon. However, we are almost completely independent from the state, whether it’s electricity, healthcare, schooling, etc. With the few friends I have left, I’m trying to make the best of what we have and create our own uplifting bubble or virtuous circle.
Altogether, I feel like this is a more serene and grounded direction in my life, yet I’m still struggling to find firm footing, weighing my options and exploring new opportunities. I guess that’s okay too, I’ve come to accept this as part of life. “Life is what happens in the space between”. You can’t predict all the twists and turns but should embrace and be open to all the moments.
Psychology, Philosophy & Books
Explanation: My reading and listening playlist the past year had an emphasis on my own cultural ambiguities; being torn between different cultures, finding my place as a “bridge-figure” (see also).
The following list of books is what I went through when it comes to that particular topic:
- The Culture Map by Erin Meyer
A fascinating book about cultural differences and how to make sense of them, especially in a work environment.
- Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari
Harari is a well-known visionary, and in this book he poses a good argument for what thinks are probable factors making up the next steps for humanity. What is nice about the author is that he first covers all the studies objectively, and only then pushes forward novel ideas based on that.
- The Status Game: On Social Position and How We Use It by Will Storr
A revolutionary book, that rotates our focus toward the concept of “status” and how it shapes many of our societies.
I’ve also taken some time to reflect on my interaction with the relationships in my life. The specific books that I’ve read were:
- Plays Well With Others : The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything
You Know About Relationships Is (mostly) Wrong by Eric Barker
A mind-expanding book about research that break our common assumption about the inner-workings of relationships.
- Listen: How To Find The Words For Tender Conversations by Kathryn Mannix
A reading session that left me speechless. I usually have a hard time being a better listener, and still am. But this book did help me proactively make a few steps in the right direction to improve.
Apart from these, the nixers bookclub is still on a hiatus since none of the members seem interested in relauching it. Additionally, when it comes to technical books, I’ve bought a classic “Computer Networking — A Top-Down Approach 8th Edition by James F.Kurose, Keith W.Ross”, which should help me get better in the domain of computer networking, something I often left on the side. Furthermore, when I still was in the mood for algorithms, I’ve finished reading “Algorithms for Modern Hardware” by Sergey Slotin, a book that turns upside down how to optimize software. Instead of emphasizing complexity notation, it instead uses hardware optimizations.
Unix, Nixers, Programming & Articles & Writing
Explanation: Over the past year, I’ve gone through two distinct personal tech phases. The first phase involved immersing myself in studying all the latest “hype” stuff and algorithms, while the second phase focused on rediscovering my true passions. Apart from the above networking book that I’ve recently started, let’s go over the rest.
Here’s a list of the “cool” tech I’ve read and dived into:
I’ve also been trying, despite my best efforts, to learn Rust. I’ve read the official book and pored over documentation. Did multiple tutorials. And now going over yet another one, without getting the true hang of it, yet still being fascinated by the concepts in it. As soon as I reach more advanced topics, everything becomes blurry and the complex syntax makes it even more confusing. I hope that with the emergence of LLM (large-language-models), I’ll be more lucky.
The reigniting of my passion first started with the ten years anniversary of this blog, which I celebrated in an article, coming back to my roots to create educative content that interconnects ideas. Afterward, someone sparked the flame in me to reboot the nixers newsletter simply by letting me know that they missed it. This would have been exactly one year ago by the time this article will be released.
Lastly, this all took shape in my latest Unix research article about
access control on Unix-like systems: “Secure the Border and Build the
Wall — A Compendium of Access Control on Unix-Like OSes”. I’ve taken
pleasure in my really deep dive into the topic, learning so much as I did
so. Furthermore, I even had to modify the blog to be able to accommodate
it, adding subtitles to blog titles, adding a table of content, and
much more small fixes.
The title of the article did spark an uproar among readers from the USA because it apparently has inner political double-entendre there. However, I’m not a USA citizens, nor will change the title just because it means something in some particular country. Instead, I find it more interesting and curious to see this type of cultural bubble behavior pop up on an international medium such as the internet. It’s yet another topic that I’ve already written about so much before, and this is a fantastic example of that.
Ascii Art & Art
Explanation: As usual, I’ve used the ASCII medium of art as a justification to delve into cultural research. I’ve compiled a series of 6 beautiful birds. At the moment, I’m starting another series on mythical creatures and already drew a Wendigo and a pair of Chinese guardian lions.
Regarding showcasing my work online, I haven’t been updating my RedBubble account for a long while, but it’s mostly because nobody takes a look at it anyway. Nevertheless, I spent some time improving how my pieces appear on my profile on 16colors.
On a broader note, the past year I’ve been enjoying so many art-related activities, such as visiting art galleries, museums, theatres, the indie movie scene, and much more.
There have been a variety of other activities and interests occupying
my days recently.
I’m still learning Chinese on Duolingo, it’s been more than a year now. A friend of mine registered themselves to a course, and I wanted to do the same, however, with all the traveling I couldn’t keep up with it.
Similarly, I’m still doing daily Elevate brain teaser exercises, having fun dancing latin, and exercising at home. It’s always refreshing to do.
Furthermore, I’ve been pickling cabbage for sauerkraut, so back to the fermentation hobby too, at least partially! Additionally, I’ve been experimenting with different new recipes (but haven’t updated the related page on my blog).
All and all, I think I’ll now focus more on my personal well-being and
a new balance in my life, leading me back to what I love. I’ll continue
writing on this blog, playing with thought experiments in philosophy and
psychology, along with topics surrounding Unix-like systems. The past
year I’ve realized the importance of paying closer attention to what I
do and how I do it.
The world is constantly trying to sway us in different directions, promoting unhealthy habits and narratives that can be difficult to resist if we’re not mindful. There are also incentives that can easily take over and thwart our personality, pushing it to the background.
It’s hard but I’m trying my best.
Undeniably, I’ll try to deepen my relationship with my SO. Also I’ll try to include more physical activities in my routine, be more mindful of my overall health, spend more time with friends, and explore novel ideas.
Thus, let’s end on the same positive note that these articles I post have:
This is it!
As usual… If you want something done, no one’s gonna do it for you,
use your own hands, even if it’s not much.
And let’s go for a beer together sometime, or just chill.
Johanna Helena Herolt, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Fitch, W. H.; Hooker, Joseph Dalton; Hooker, William Jackson; Reeve, Benham, and Reeve, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
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