This morning I went out of bed with a sense of dread for work, which means I'm not enjoying the work I'm doing. I've been pondering the meaning of this, for there are multiple tensions inside which are pulling in different directions; and coming to no solid conclusion I write this down as to stabilize the tension. From experience, I've observed that inner conflict is a handicap to work, and the conflict can come from any source. At this time there is little else than work going on in my life, and so the source of conflict is easy to pinpoint.

As I work on the Bézier Game, I see that it's not as engaging as I thought it would be. It feels like a chore to complete stages. Perhaps it's the structure that I thought out, introducing concept by concept and building upon those concepts at--I must interrupt my train of thought. The purpose of becoming adept at using the pen tool is to be able to draw, if I restate the purpose of the game "A game to help you learn the pen tool" into "A game to help you learn how to draw vector images", perhaps the sense of chore is diminished, because the creative aspect of the game is highlighted.

Anything I commit to must not extend the length of this cycle, I can intuit a possible direction where these conditions are met, but I will need to invest the day in completing this. Yes, the inner conflict is diminished when I project this possibility. It will be worth exploring.

Conflict diminished, I'll think out loud about (yesterday's work log)[]. I did not enjoy it as much as I enjoy writing--No, actually I did not enjoy it at all. My idea in trying new things is that something new must be learned, and I learned from producing the videos, but the photos are simply not a source of learning. As it's technically illegal to take pictures in libraries, I snapped the pictures surreptitiously. Now, I care very little wether it's illegal or not, but there is a double concern in the fact that people did not consent to appear in my pictures, and that I cannot put the effort towards improving those pictures. So, from experience it felt clearly that this will bring nothing good should I persist in this task.

Well, I've tried to work, but nothing seems to be able to catch my attention. Some days this happens to me. I then meditate for a long while, and I try to come back to work. Sometimes it does the trick, other times it doesn't, and this time it didn't. The good thing about meditation is that it allows you to observe without judgement. Shrug of the shoulders: today I can't work. Perhaps tomorrow I'll be able to do so. I don't think any less of myself because of this.

I do find an inclination to keep on writing, as it seems to act as a kind of self-therapy, but I'm afraid that if I propose to myself any kind of work the interest will wane. So I'll just write notes on my latest reading: Goethe's Theory of Colors.

Notes on personality

It is useless to attempt to express the nature of a thing abstractedly. Effects we can perceive, and a complete history of those effects would, in fact, sufficiently define the nature of the thing itself. We should try in vain to describe a man's character, but let his acts be collected and an idea of the character will be presented to us.

--Goethe's Theory of Colors

I found Goethe's idea of describing a man's character by his actions thought provoking. Lately I've become interested in the measurement of personality traits, and I've become skeptical about the way research is done.

Personality testing is performed by asking participants to self-report agreement on a variety of statements, such as "I don't mind being the center of attention" (for extraversion) or "I make a mess of things" for conscientiousness. If you've answered one of these tests, a question that often arises is in what context?, because, unsurprisingly, we seem to behave differently depending on the situation. The subject is expected to balance the assessment, so, if he is neat at work but messy at home, then he'd score himself somewhere between two and four in a five point scale.

Many problems arise from self-assessment. Consider an undeniably conscientious student at height academic activity: he may leave clothes and dishes unwashed in order to squeeze more time for finals. The same conscientiousness which allows him to focus on what's important bites back in the form of guilt, he is keenly aware that he's a mess, so his self-assessment will be biased.

Or an example that I recently encountered: a subtly neurotic woman arrived to an event with 30 minutes to spare (or so she said), but couldn't find the exact location of the event. She walked around the venue asking everyone about the event, nobody knew about it (we were a small crowd). Finally, somebody attending the event who arrived late overheard her, and told her it was in the cafeteria. Both "conscientious" and unconscientious people arrived at the same time.

Furthermore, you've surely encountered the fact that exceptional people often make less of their talent, and people who lack talent make more of it. Some months ago I encountered an endearing lady who expressed guilt that she had attended a free impro session and liked it, but then she discovered she had a class just minutes away from her home instead of a 45 minute drive. She didn't want to "betray" the person who gave her the free class. This is an example of a person high on Agreeableness, and I pointed this out to her. "Oh, for sure I'm not an agreeable person, I disappoint people so much". She wouldn't care about the disappointment if she weren't agreeable!

All these problems of self-reporting personality are related to the ego. The ego, in the broadest terms, is the person who you think you are. To see your ego, you can describe yourself in three phrases, each phrase with an adjective and a noun. Example: I'm a caring father. I'm a diligent engineer. I'm an enthusiastic runner. We tend to protect this self image, so when a personality test says "I'm careful about not making mistakes at work" we tend to agree not based on factual premises but on the self-image we have created for ourselves. If we were truly honest with ourselves, we'd leave the test shaking, for very few are truly aware of the dissonance between the way they think and the way they act.

In Goethe's Theory of Colors the author proposes a series of experiments to verify his subjective observations about color. Here, I propose the same with personality: choose a person whom you know well, and first answer these questions for them. Then ask them to complete them themselves.

Note the difference between your assessment and your subjects own assessment. Note too, that nobody holds the upper hand in the objective assessment. You have a more objective perspective, but you also don't have access to the entire life of that person. It is not a matter of finding who is more accurate, it is a matter of finding if there is a substantial difference in the assessment.

Rate from 1 to 5 how much you agree on the following statements:

  1. I am the life of the party.
  2. I feel little concern for others.
  3. I am always prepared.
  4. I get stressed out easily.
  5. I have a rich vocabulary.
  6. I don't talk a lot.
  7. I am interested in people.
  8. I leave my belongings around.
  9. I am relaxed most of the time.
  10. I have difficulty understanding abstract ideas.
  11. I feel comfortable around people.
  12. I insult people.
  13. I pay attention to details.
  14. I worry about things.
  15. I have a vivid imagination.
  16. I keep in the background.
  17. I sympathize with others' feelings.
  18. I make a mess of things.
  19. I seldom feel blue.
  20. I am not interested in abstract ideas.
  21. I start conversations.
  22. I am not interested in other people's problems.
  23. I get chores done right away.
  24. I am easily disturbed.
  25. I have excellent ideas.
  26. I have little to say.
  27. I have a soft heart.
  28. I often forget to put things back in their proper place.
  29. I get upset easily.
  30. I do not have a good imagination.
  31. I talk to a lot of different people at parties.
  32. I am not really interested in others.
  33. I like order.
  34. I change my mood a lot.
  35. I am quick to understand things.
  36. I don't like to draw attention to myself.
  37. I take time out for others.
  38. I shirk my duties.
  39. I have frequent mood swings.
  40. I use difficult words.
  41. I don't mind being the center of attention.
  42. I feel others' emotions.
  43. I follow a schedule.
  44. I get irritated easily.
  45. I spend time reflecting on things.
  46. I am quiet around strangers.
  47. I make people feel at ease.
  48. I am exacting in my work.
  49. I often feel blue.
  50. I am full of ideas.

Well, that was written mostly stream-of-thought style with light editing. It's not worthy of publishing as an article, but it felt very reinvigorating to flow a pair of hours. I'll leave the workday here and hope to find a better disposition tomorrow.