August 2013

Me at work in 091 Labs Me on the roof of a car park I have been slacking a little in manifest textual updates on the blog; Facebook currently has the audience of friends who care about my existence, and it is easy to just dump an update onto my wall and forget about it. Generally, I’m in good form. I’ve started to change my food intake, reduce my dependence on sweet things, and exercise more. I have had great advice on this from friends such as Nicole and Ciaran from the hackerspace, and I’ve had it beat into me that I shouldn’t look at this as some kind of dieting fad with set goals. Rather, I should just make those changes I want to that will improve my health, and everything else will come in time. I already feel better, just by walking by someone lugging a pizza and bottle of soda from the supermarket.

I’ve started to cultivate a taste for beer, if only to get myself away from chugging Coca Cola and Red Bull around the clock. It’s 4am and my current sidebar beverage is a glass of low-fat milk.

The biggest bind on me right now is college. To cut a long story short, this is my situation:

  • I cannot apply for a grant renewal with the Galway V.E.C. until I have a letter from I.T. Sligo saying I will be accepted back as a repeat student for the academic year 2013-2014.
  • The staff of I.T. Sligo are on holidays or otherwise unavailable until mid-September 2013.
  • I would like to make plans for either Galway or Sligo now, and not in five weeks.
  • If I cannot return to college this year, then I’d like to plan for it now. I’ll add my relevant Facebook update here, verbatim:

August 5:

A big question in my life recently has been whether I go back to Sligo and repeat second year, or do something else, whatever that something else might be. I had a breakdown that started at the end of last September, dropped out of college, life, sight, and sound for more than six months. I tried to hang myself. I self-harmed, and I subjected myself to ever flavour and form of self-hatred that you can conceive.

I’ve improved since then. It isn’t noticeable day-to-day, but I can look back at the month before and say that I’ve changed, but I’m still not healed. My temper is as bad: I was assaulted in Galway during the week gone, I snapped, and I left the idiot who attacked me in a heap on the ground; there are still days when I hate myself to the point that all I want to do is take a long walk off a high bridge; I’ve had to walk away from sharp implements more than once in the recent past; and, you know, the rule of thumb is that my self-esteem is nonexistent.

Don’t get me wrong! I’m better than I used to be. Having spoken to Caira, and that she forgave me, was one of the balms I needed, and it’s helped me let go of a lot of the crap I was carrying.

But, Sligo. I’ve cleared hurdles with the Galway VEC about my grant, although I need paperwork from I.T. Sligo for them (who in turn have been like a black hole that swallows all emails and phone calls). Despite this, I simply do not relish going back in September. I know how fragile things are, and I suspect that with a lack of activities in Sligo to catch my interest, I’d just wind back at square one and waste another year staring at a wall.

All this said, I’m going to settle my outstanding debts (~€360), find somewhere to live in the city or county, look for web/programming work, and see if I can get into NUIG or GMIT for September 2014. TL;DR: Galway, not Sligo.


I can’t really put serious pressure on the admissions department of I.T. Sligo, or anyone else, because I’m one student of (I’m sure) several who are in the same boat, but that hasn’t stopped me from giving them puppy eyes over the weekend.

Garrett in a chest of drawers Caira eating a loaf of bread

Things have really warmed with Mariah, although there are moments where I feel struck through with the pain of how far we’ve come and how much we’ve separated. Honestly? I’m jealous of the fact that she has her own life with friends, where she can meet strangers, while I still hide in out of sight and sound, bury my nose in work (or play) and avoid everyone. Yeah, go me, that’s crazy cat fella Mark for you.

I am proud of the children Garrett and Caira have become. Garrett’s turned into this wonderful little clone of his mum and I. He’s full of energy, picks up everything, is (like his sister) scarily intelligent, and he’s hugely social. He remembers Ireland, remembers me, and still talks about it non-stop. Caira is…Caira; a bastard hybrid of Billy, Mariah, and I, a little girl full of energy and fun, and intelligence, even if she’s troubled. She has to repeat the first grade at school, and a recluse who wants to do her own thing at all times. Caira has amazing perception, even if you practically have to pull out her fingernails will a pliers before she will demonstrate it.

I’m worried about her performance at school. If you do anything with her, you have to do it on her schedule, in her time, or you may as well go and bang your head off the wall. This isn’t compatible with standardized testing, standardized schedules, and standardized school. I’m hopeful that either the counsellors at school or someone in her family will find the key that unlocks her mystery.

I spoke to Caira on Friday gone, and she seemed pretty happy when she finally stood still and said hey. She wants a photograph of me, and Garrett wants a toy robot.

Ella making faces at the camera Ella and I making faces at the camera

I’ve finally started to give coding serious attention for the sake of experience, learning, work, and eventually money too. I find coding is 20% cool brainstorming, 50% writing, 15% debugging, and 15% crying into my beer because the fucking thing doesn’t work. I’ve moved from C# into PHP, (better formatted) CSS and HTML, a brush of JavaScript, and a lot more shell scripting. Self-directed learning without peer review is awful-and it’s a good deal of why I want to return to college-because I don’t know if my work is good or bad, if it is good but I have bad habits, or actually, genuinely not-bad.

I think I’ve picked up a few valuable lessons to date (that the available documentation will always be awful is a good one), and struggled through a lot of self-dissuasion about handling larger projects. I’ve already had one offer for effectively an internship with a developer in Galway that I want to pursue if I stay here for the winter.

I am also in the final stages of wrapping up a large project for a group at NUIG-the final handoff is this week, and I will hopefully share screenshots, and thoughts on the project after that point.

That’s it for now. For the lack of anything else to close on, here is Killer:

Killer on her back

Not self-hatred

Well my twenty-two month stint in Sligo is over and done with, and I can’t say for sure whether or not I miss it. On one hand, the city is tiny, completely lacks any amenities after six o’clock, can be compared to a ghost-filled wasteland, and is a three hour bus ride from anywhere with light, noise, and excitement.

On the other hand, Sligo is almost far enough away from everyone that I can start to relax.

The college year is ended, I’ve failed every single subject (not that I ever turned up for class), and I have no idea what to do with my future. Mariah wants me to get hit by a bus and brutally crushed (I’ve been told this in as many words, lolbitch), my mum wants me to give up this silliness about being depressed and get a job, my niece wants to play with me, Frank wants me to continue, and my friends have offered a vague “do whatever makes you happy, Mark.”

Vague isn’t good. The plan now is:

  1. Cut all remaining ties with Caira and Garrett’s American relatives. They don’t give me any information on either, and it honestly just plain hurts to have that reminder shoved in my face. Sad as I am to say it, I need to let go and move on.
  2. Verbally abuse anyone who says “YOLO,” “swag,” or “bro” without any hint of amused irony.
  3. Study. Learn JS, C#, HTML, and CSS over the summer months, and go back in not totally at a loss.
  4. Socialize. I’m fucked if the last year wasn’t lonely and horrible.

School update

I wrote code for the first time since last summer, and with coding, comes some fairly hard choices what to do with myself after the summer. I’ve burned a lot of bridges over the last year, burned them very well indeed. College, over the past year, has been a complete loss.

I’ve been on time and in class for less than ten days out of ~130 of the two semesters gone, and I have zero idea of what the content of the year gone has been, although from those days that I have been in, it doesn’t seem ridiculous advanced; call any difficulty to be that of quantity, not quality.

Now, the choices:

  1. Write the last year off as a loss to depression, scrape up ~€1300 between now and Hallowe’en. I have some web work to finish, and could probably canvas more, so this isn’t as ridiculous as proposition as it seems.
  2. Cut my loss, admit academic defeat, and seek work in Galway. I’m passably good at Adobe Photoshop, HTML, CSS, and design, and I plan to move back to Galway for the summer anyway come May.

There isn’t an easy choice either way. Sligo is soul-crushingly boring, completely lacks in any social outlet for an introvert who doesn’t like pubs, and has marginally fewer amenities than, say, an arbitrary square kilometre of the Mojave Desert; the course material at college is shallow, full of gaping holes (see: my rants about the math from last September) and irrelevant crud, but it is a foundation I still absolutely need if I am going to do any work with code.

On the other hand, Sligo is a ridiculously beautiful county with plenty of outdoor activities.

There’s an excellent resource in Galway in the form of 091 Labs and its eclectic cadre of unwashed nerds, but that isn’t a substitute for Real Learning™.

In short, Sligo doesn’t have a lot that I want, but it has everything I need.

And now, back to my study.

[Mark][~] # rm -Rv /cygdrive/c/World\ of\ Warcraft/
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/.agent.db’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/.curseclient’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Cache/ADB/enUS/BattlePetAbility.adb’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Cache/ADB/enUS/BattlePetAbilityEffect.adb’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Cache/ADB/enUS/BattlePetAbilityState.adb’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Cache/ADB/enUS/BattlePetAbilityTurn.adb’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Cache/ADB/enUS/BattlePetBreedQuality.adb’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Cache/ADB/enUS/BattlePetBreedState.adb’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Cache/ADB/enUS/BattlePetEffectProperties.adb’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Cache/ADB/enUS/BattlePetNPCTeamMember.adb’
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removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Cache/ADB/enUS/BattlePetSpeciesXAbility.adb’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Cache/ADB/enUS/BattlePetState.adb’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Cache/ADB/enUS/BattlePetVisual.adb’
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removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Cache/ADB/enUS/Creature.adb’
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removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Cache/ADB/enUS/SceneScriptPackageMember.adb’
removed directory: `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Cache/ADB/enUS’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Cache/ADB/Hotfix.tbl’
removed directory: `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Cache/ADB’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Cache/WDB/enUS/creaturecache.wdb’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Cache/WDB/enUS/gameobjectcache.wdb’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Cache/WDB/enUS/itemtextcache.wdb’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Cache/WDB/enUS/npccache.wdb’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Cache/WDB/enUS/pagetextcache.wdb’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Cache/WDB/enUS/questcache.wdb’
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removed directory: `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Cache/WDB’
removed directory: `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Cache’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data/alternate.MPQ’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data/base-Win.MPQ’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data/Cache/enUS/patch-enUS-16016.MPQ’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data/Cache/enUS/patch-enUS-16048.MPQ’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data/Cache/enUS/patch-enUS-16057.MPQ’
removed directory: `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data/Cache/enUS’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data/Cache/patch-base-16016.MPQ’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data/Cache/patch-base-16048.MPQ’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data/Cache/patch-base-16057.MPQ’
removed directory: `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data/Cache’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data/enUS/AccountBilling.url’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data/enUS/eula.html’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data/enUS/expansion1-speech-enUS.MPQ’
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removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data/enUS/expansion4-speech-enUS.MPQ’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data/enUS/locale-enUS.MPQ’
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removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data/enUS/wow-update-enUS-16057.MPQ’
removed directory: `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data/enUS’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data/expansion1.MPQ’
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removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data/expansion3.MPQ’
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removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data/interface.MPQ’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data/itemtexture.MPQ’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data/misc.MPQ’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data/model.MPQ’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data/sound.MPQ’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data/texture.MPQ’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data/world.MPQ’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data/wow-update-base-16016.MPQ’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data/wow-update-base-16048.MPQ’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data/wow-update-base-16057.MPQ’
removed directory: `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Data’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/dbghelp.dll’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/DivxDecoder.dll’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Errors/2012-09-26 23.56.24 Crash – 752.dmp’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Errors/2012-09-26 23.56.24 Crash – 752.txt’
removed directory: `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Errors’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Launcher.db’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Logs/Blizzard Updater Log.html’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Logs/connection.log’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Logs/cpu.log’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Logs/FrameXML.log’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Logs/gx.log’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Logs/PatchOnDemand.log’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Logs/Sound.log’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Logs/World of Warcraft Install Log.html’
removed directory: `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Logs’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Microsoft.VC80.CRT.manifest’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/MovieProxy.exe’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/msvcr80.dll’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Scan-64.dll’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/SetupWin.mpq’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Updates/wow-0-16057-Win-final.MPQ’
removed directory: `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Updates’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/World of Warcraft Launcher.exe’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Wow-64.exe’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/Wow.exe’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/WoW.mfil’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/WoW.pfil’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/WoW.tfil’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/WowError-64.exe’
removed `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft/WowError.exe’
removed directory: `/cygdrive/c/World of Warcraft’