Studying (a little) Spanish

In an ironic twist, I often fantasize about spending my days writing, yet I have a hard time doing this blog on a regular basis.  That often helps abate my fomo and gets me back to my main objectives for the year.  I’m still focused on my health and building up my trading operation, even though I forget and have to rewire my brain on occasion.

I started learning Spanish again for my impending trip to Mexico City, but at a very slow and relaxed pace.  I’m doing a Skype lesson one hour each week with someone in Colombia (they have really good pronunciation and their speed is reasonable, especially compared to the other extreme here in Puerto Rico), and doing a lesson on Duolingo most days.  When I get to Mexico in three weeks I’m planning to bump it up to twice a week on the lessons, and I imagine I’ll be getting a lot more practice during normal daily interactions.  If I allow myself to speak like a 3-year-old mumbling something I think is approximately correct, I’m often surprised that people understand what I’m trying to say.  After having what feels like a conversation, I tend to want to start expressing more advanced things, and fail so miserably that I find it difficult and embarrassing to even revert to my infantile speech.  I’ve lived in Puerto Rico for three years, and although I do order my coffee, groceries, etc. in Spanish, I’m usually replied to in English, and the extent of my formal education is about 5 weeks, so I remind myself that I came from virtually zero Spanish and to reset my expectations. 

I’m currently in the middle of one of the longest stretches of extreme healthy eating that I can remember.  No sugar, no alcohol, and virtually 0 carbs for about two weeks now.  I’ve had many “majority healthy” eating periods, but I often had a drink on the weekend and a cheat meal(s).  A lot of credit goes to my friend Jeff who listened to my excuses and dumb reasons for having occasional binges, but kindly asked me “why” I was doing that and if I was willing to give it up.  I also have been listening to an audiobook he recommended, “This Naked Mind” about the reality of what alcohol does to our body.  I’ve never felt like I had issues with drinking, especially in the past few years, but what the book had to say about alcohol applies to sugar and other addictive drugs.  I realized I’ve been relying on willpower too much while craving sugary things, and that’s hard for me to overcome.  It’s like knowing you shouldn’t smoke, but you still have 1-2 a day.  At some point you have to mentally become a “non-smoker” instead of a smoker who is trying to not smoke.  The combo of the book plus Jeff’s guidance has somehow made me not care about “treating” myself to a bowl of ice cream on Friday (so I can have a massive insulin spike, crave more sugar, and feel sluggish for the rest of the night/next morning).  I hate bragging when I know I could backslide again, but I’ve had no cravings, and feeling incredible everyday.  The best part is not waking up on the weekends or Monday feeling bloated and tired.  I can continue to have 100% of my brainpower and mental well-being everyday of the week.  Instead of using alcohol to shut my brain down to relax, I’ve restarted a small 10 minute meditation practice, and/or I also do mini meditations if I’m laying in bed in the morning/night and not sleeping.  I’ll just meditate laying down, and if I fall asleep that’s good, and if I get a little extra time observing reality that’s good too. 

Trading has been going really well.  It’s been kind of surreal because I’ve tried so many things with stock trading that didn’t turn out as well as I hoped, not to mention the hundreds of hours of maxing out my brain trying to make it happen, but now I’m consistently making money.  In this case it’s nothing simple, but a combaination of my maximum abilities in computer science, machine learning, trading, and games.  I’ve made money every week and the majority of days using fully automated machine learning programs that I coded.  I spent a few weeks being grateful for the money and that my efforts actually amounted to something, but I knew that what I have running still has major potential improvements.  Friday I actually even replaced my algorithm that was doing so well with a clunky one that I knew was worse, but can be far superior if I can figure out a few small details.  I reluctantly realized I was burnt out on hardcore trading research, and spent a lot of time reading and walking the past few weeks, but my motivation and enjoyment of the game has fortunately come back. 

I’m reading several books at the same time as per usual, but one that I inch through, perhaps only 1% a day, is “The Beginning of Infinity” by David Deutsch.  It’s a science/philosophy book, and not one I would necessarily recommend for enjoyment.  Definitely a book that people (myself included, I found it sitting unread on my Kindle from years ago) buy but don’t finish.  Something about it though is inspiring for me, and it comes with the highest recommendations from some smart people.  The main thesis (as I understand so far) is the humanity quest is a goal towards explanations for everything, and that we are only in the beginning stages of a continuous stage of progress/understanding that can go to essentially “infinity”.  The book is also “pro human” unlike many other physics books that treat humans as just another random bacteria.  It’s a positive outlook on the future of our civilization, and helps counterbalance the dumbing down/negative outlook effects of our current media.  

Leaving you with a pic of Caramelo, our neighbor’s cat who likes to sneak into our apartment and play.  If I didn’t travel so much it would be fun to have a pet(s), but in the meantime I get a healthy dose of interaction with the local ones here.  

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