Zachary Pitcher


HackLodge Log 5

January 8, 2020

I tried to work on the backend for my webapp today, mainly using the OptionsCalc backend as a base. This gave me an opportunity to try to understand what Catherine did for the month or so that we were working on OptionsCalc, because I never really did any part of the backend during that time. I struggled to add a field to the database, and have it update using Redux/React, but Catherine helped me through it and I think I understand the general structure of Redux now. We didn’t quite get the next step working, which was to write to that field, because now it just runs the function everytime and clears out my profile at the same time, but this seems like a mix between a frontend problem for the former and a backend problem for the latter, so I should be able to break it down and work it out.

I took a two-hour nap after breakfast, and then went for a two-hour walk with Catherine, which together took up most of the working day but ultimately was a pretty fun time. On the walk, we saw a bunch of random colleges in the Roxbury area of Boston that I’d never heard of before, and went through some food courts, a library, and a children’s hospital along the way. Oh yeah, apparently Roxbury is the hospital capitol of Boston, because on just about every corner that we traveled through there was a cancer ward or other type of hospital and it didn’t make for the greatest scenery.

We discussed what kind of place we would want to live in in the future, basically deciding that we wouldn’t want to live in a place like this because it’s kind of in the middle of nowhere and you can’t walk around and see fun stuff. This made me really appreciate the area of Boston that MIT is located in, as well as the areas that I’ve lived in during the summers, i.e. places along the Charles, which are generally bustling and have interesting shops and restaurants everywhere.

The other thing we basically said was that we would want to own a place eventually, and that it should have designated spaces for us to concentrate on our hobbies. Catherine said that she would want a decked-out recording studio, and I would want a workshop / design studio. I said that they would have to be on opposite sides of the house though, because I wouldn’t want to be sawing something and have it mess up any recordings in the studio.

We ended up winding back towards the house somewhat by accident and found ourselves on the same street as the AirBnB before too long. I was hungry and thirsty so we stopped in at J.P. Licks, where I got an Affogato with vanilla and caramel ice cream. I thought that the espresso was going to be hot but the ice cream cooled it off way too quickly so it kind of just ended up being a tasty sludge, which was okay but probably not worth the $8 I paid for it.

We talked for a long time about motivation, success, and internal struggles about those things. I think the general outcome of the conversation was that we were going to try to do / create more things that make us happy rather than just trying to create things for the sake of creating things. For Catherine, I think that would be learning more about physics and making more music. For me, I want to try more creative projects like expanding on my comic book superhero idea, possibly in the form of a motion graphics novel or something (a medium I haven’t seen a lot of but could be interesting to try).

Catherine decided that she wasn’t getting as much out of hacklodge as she thought she would and she would rather cut it short to go home and be with friends. So she packed up her stuff and went back to East Campus.

I watched a tech talk by Ankit from ReverieLabs, which is a former YC company that uses computation to generate compounds to patent and sell to pharma companies. He had an interesting story because that wasn’t really the original goal, but by just going for the idea that he was passionate about it eventually turned into something. Similarly, today I was listening to a lot of Will and David’s covers and I was thinking about how cool it is that they are doing something that they really enjoy.

I think these two examples are different because one is a professional interest that changed enough to become a successful business, and one is a hobby that is becoming profitable due to an increased following rather than a modification of the art itself. This and my conversation with Catherine today have made me realize that there are two styles at play: a business side where you change what you’re doing to fit the desires of your audience, and a hobby side where you do what you want long enough that the people that like it will come to you.

There’s a pretty fine line between them, which is why it’s pretty hard to distinguish between them when I’m working on something and I’m not sure if it belongs to the former or latter paradigm. But if I can distinguish between them, I could more easily focus on the needs of the audience if it’s a business situation, and focus more on what I want if it’s a hobby pursuit. I think this will also help me prevent lapses in motivation and decrease my stress related to work.