I really want to do some programming... I want to work on some stuff in perl and maybe tackle c again for the first time in years. It's always bothered me not knowing c, and having spent a little while looking at some code Brad posted to lj_dev, I suddenly realized that it's not that tough. c always scared me for some reason, I don't know why. I thought I was too stupid to understand it or something.
I've never been very good with languages in general; the subtleties of any foreign language, whether Spanish, or Chinese, or Latin, or perl, or c, or Pascal... they intimidate me. I'm not sure why, but they really do intimidate me, and I've always had a lot of problems with them because of that.
For those of you that didn't know, I was an art major. Yes. I studied studio art at NYU, my goal was to be an oil painter and/or a photographer. I was very visual in a lot of ways. I switched to computers, specifically system administration, because I was also good at that, and to be utterly blunt, a sys admin job pays a shitload more than any art job I've ever seen. My talents, however, have been in 'visual' areas. Even technically, I'm much better at visualizing problems and understanding concepts than I am at executing the details of the concept. I can understand things and pick up new concepts easily, but sometimes the application of those concepts can be challenging and frustrating to me.
One thing I liked about my artwork was that it was artistic - while you might not like my style, as long as I didn't let myself get lost in the details the stuff I did had a very artistic quality to it. Some artists are technically very brilliant but their stuff just doesn't have any soul to it. It's got no passion, no real beauty, nothing like that. It might capture the look of something, but it never captured its spirit.
Some of my paintings were almost abstract - I really loved slapping down the colors and forms. Up close they look like nothing... but step back... and that's a different story.
Take a look at my paintings here: http://www.nachtwache.org/~ntang/gallery/art/paintings/ . They're immediately recognizable, as far as subject matter, I think, from the thumbnails. Click on the link to the medium-sized version of each. Then back out and look at the large version of each. The large versions (slightly larger than life-size) of each are close to unrecognizable - they look almost like random sets of brushstrokes. But when you step back a little (the medium size, or the thumbnails) you can tell what they are. You can tell _exactly_ what they are, I think. You can feel what they are. Now, those aren't perfect by any means - hell, I painted them in high school, without much experience with oil paints, and each is a somewhat different style from the others. But I think you get my point, if I still have one by now.
The interesting thing is that I get lost in the details. Not in those, obviously, as I was successful in making myself step back and paint what I felt instead of what I saw. Some of my other paintings, though, I lost myself in trying to capture all of the details, and they came out as horrendous messes. I really hated them. They were utterly terrible.
My drawing teacher at NYU told me I needed to loosen up and worry about the details less. Apparently I did the same thing there, although not as much as in some of those paintings in high school.
And that, in a nutshell, seems to be my "problem". If I can pull back to a bird's eye view, I'm good at what I do. When I try to narrow down to the nitty gritties, though, I get lost in the details and end up confusing myself. It happened with my art, it happened with foreign languages, and it happens when I try to code. I'm not useless with details, mind you, but my strength is not at the low-level stuff. It's really disappointing, because in order to become an uber-geek hacker legend, you have to be good at the low-level shit. No one seems to respect a geek who can't manage more than a passable level of proficiency in perl or even worse struggles with c (although, again, that might not be true nowadays). I've always been relegated to the back ends of any group of geeks, as I just am not good hacker material.
But that's the other funny thing. My strengths mean that I tend to be very good at some things, like technical design and architecture, and at understanding systems, at troubleshooting problems, at figuring things out. Things that trip up some really bright people are simple for me. The problem is, they aren't the sort of strengths that are valued in the community that I seem to fit into best, namely the geek/hacker/open-source community that has sprung up all of a sudden recently.
So I stay on the sidelines, never really diving in. Sigh. And that's the story of my life. I've never quite seemed to fit into any group, in part because I've never let myself be defined by the group, and that's not generally appreciated. I value my individual nature and I value my strengths and I try to compensate for my weaknesses, but I'm not good at denying any of them. Hell, sometimes I emphasize them. I'm stubborn, too, and if I feel pressure from a group to fit in or leave, I tend to leave. I'm not good at fitting in, I don't know how to do it. I'm almost proud of it, sometimes, but it makes for a lonely existence.
Ah well. Anyway, enough rambling. I need to get ready for bed soon.