Archive for June, 2013

NHL Playoff Predictions: Summary

June 25, 2013

So, I guessed wrong in the finals, taking Boston over Chicago. I’m relatively happy either way; the only team in the final four that I had a problem with was Pittsburgh. So, my overall total this year was an amazingly good 11 -4. I’ll take that. Although, as pointed out before, this left me with a very interesting pattern: I got exactly one series prediction wrong in every round. So if you bet the farm on Chicago assuming the trend would continue, congratulations!

So, that’s it for hockey this year. See you next season!

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Projects and motivational failures …

June 19, 2013

I was reading through some of the “Personal” category over at TwentySidedTale, and tthis article really speaks to me … except that for me that seems to be my natural state instead of something that occurs periodically. Right now, I have a long list of games to finish, a full reading list, a number of blog posts that I want to write and projects around that that I’d like to start, commenting to do on the books that I am reading, work around the house to do, exercise to do, decisions about taking classes and/or degrees to settle, and even some programming projects that I’d like to poke around with (like learning Flash). And when I get the time or even schedule in the time to do them, I don’t feel like doing them. Instead, I tend to surf the web a bit, read Star Wars books, and watch DVDs.

The really bad part of this, though, is that I read more where Shamus was pointing out all the things he was doing — and managed to finish — and compared to what I do and what I’ve done what I do is, well, somewhat pathetic. Okay, sure, there’s that Master’s degree in Philosophy that I got, and the courses I’ve taken in Cognitive Science and at the PhD level in Philosophy, but when he was working he did the webcomic, kept up on his blog far more than I do, managed to do programming projects, and a number of other things, like spend time with family. And it can’t be explained by that extra 1.5 hours in a day that he managed to get back from working from home, because that’s only about an hour a day for me and I still don’t come close.

The time from January to the end of May doesn’t count that much, because I was generally working every day because work was in a massive crunch. But even since things have slowed down I haven’t even started the things that I was supposed to be well into by now. Sure, things messed around with my schedule, but why is it that I’m so bad at working on my projects? Where can I get the extra time to actually do some of them?

Well, a big part of it is motivational, and what I posted about before: I’m much more interested in the outcome than in the process. When trying to lose weight, I’m interested in losing weight … not in exercising to lose weight. Which is one reason why taking long walks to get somewhere and get something — like my long downtown trips or walking to class — works so much better than scheduling Wii Fit time or walks. The problem with this is that there are things where I enjoy the process and don’t care as much about the finished product, like writing on the blog, reading philosophy, or playing games (unlike Shamus, I don’t seem to like programming enough to do it just for fun, so the process isn’t as interesting to me as the final product). And yet, I haven’t played ME2 in over a week, and the last game I played was TOR. So, even in these cases, why can’t I do it?

A big part of that, I think, is that most of the things I want to do take dedicated time to do … or, at least, I want to dedicate time to doing it. To play TOR, I like to have about a 3 hour block. The same thing would apply to programming or writing in general. For ME2, I want more than an hour. Exercising would take about an hour. But I don’t always have such nice, convenient time blocks. There are other things I have to do that I have more commitment to that also take up time. By the time I work through those, my scheduled time block is a lot shorter and so I tend to decide that it isn’t worth it, and decide to do it later. Any delay either in starting some of these tasks or completing other ones also turns that on its head. Be even a little tired and decide to rest first and I almost always end up dropping it for the day.

Even the blog hits this. Because I have small blocks of time available at work, I tend to read blog posts and the like at work. But since I don’t switch between tasks all that well — hence the requirement for larger blocks of time — writing comments and posts tends to take too long to do in those small periods of time. So, instead, I end up watching videos on SF Debris in my spare time, figuring that I’ll write it all up at home. Except when I get home, I’d have to find the articles and then take the time to write about them, making it a longer time investment. Which I also have to do while doing everything else. Which shortens the time block and makes me decide that I can do it another day, because I’d like some time to rest in the evening. Which puts it off further. Which makes the time to find the articles and start writing even longer. Rinse, repeat.

For me, sleeping and eating is also a problem. I tend to get pretty much exactly the amount of sleep I need overnight … if I sleep from the time I go to bed to the time I wake up. If I don’t do that, then I can’t catch up on that, which makes me more tired and want to nap more … which takes time out of my spare time, which leaves less for my projects. Eating, in theory, isn’t a big deal … except that on weekends I tend to eat one big meal a day, and after a big meal the last thing I want to do is jump up and do something else. I used to take about 3 hours to eat (ie one full DVD), which would almost always include at least one nap. But I don’t think that I can afford to lose that much time anymore, but when I’m really tired I can nap for that entire time and longer, and I probably shouldn’t skimp on my catching up sleep.

Ultimately, a lot of this comes down to motivational failures, and my not really considering these things important enough to take the time to do them. But my time management and my discipline also need work; I’d be able to do more of these things if, in fact, I’d just set out a better schedule and then actually follow that. I got through ME doing that, and Dark Shadows, so I can do it … for things like that, at least. I just need to do it for other things as well, and more consistently.

I’d try to reward myself for doing it to add motivation, but it’s hard to see what I could do that for except for exercising, where I can use a food treat but make myself walk out there to get it … but that probably wouldn’t help the diet thing. For everything else, anything I would reward myself with is actually on the list already …

Out with the old …

June 17, 2013

So, I’ve finished The Old Republic … or, at least, I’ve finished it once as far as I can consider it finished, by finishing the personal story of my Sith Warrior, Ji’ark. I had been stuck on one of the missions, unable to kill the final boss, but with the level cap set at 50 I couldn’t even gain a level to make it easier. I could, of course, have asked for others to come and help me with it, but that would mean playing with people and, really, that’s just not something you should be expected to do in an MMO. So I waited until the expansion came out, figuring that it would let me gain another level and maybe, with difficulty, finish off the boss. When I logged in, I tried playing it again and kept getting curb-stomped by street thugs. This did not seem promising. But then with Quinn at my side and with my re-learning how things worked — and re-applying my skills — I managed to start doing okay again, and headed out to the mission to gain XP quickly, figuring that I could just keep running that mission and street-sweeping until I hit a new level and managed to kill that final boss. I went through the mission fairly easily — better than I was used to, actually — and decided to try the boss again … and face-planted him pretty easily. Darth Barris wasn’t much harder — his one-shot kill got me once — and I was, effectively, done.

I haven’t finished Ilum or Markab yet, but I’m planning on getting other characters through their personal stories and then taking those one with one specific character on each side.

So, I enjoy this game and still do want to run through all of the personal stories, assuming I have the time.

NHL Playoff Predictions: Stanley Cup Finals.

June 9, 2013

So, I continued my pattern of getting exactly one series wrong in every round, going 1 – 1 for an 11 – 3 record overall. Which means that what everyone should do is take my prediction and then go and bet the farm against it [grin].

Chicago vs Boston Incorrect

Ah, the great coin toss. It’s really hard to decide between these two teams, which is really how it should be when you’re at the Stanley Cup finals. Both have really strong offenses, defenses, and goaltending. Both seem to be coached well. Both have overcome adversity. Both seem to be playing at the top of their games right now. Neither have played each other this season, so we can’t see how their styles match up against each other in any way. This is one of those series that’ll likely be far easier to predict after a game or two, but until then no one knows what’ll happen.

Despite the West generally being considered the stronger of the two conferences, and the Black Hawks having had an amazing season … I’m going to go with Boston. Mostly because I think that Rask is lights out right now and Chicago doesn’t have a Chara to shut down the Boston offense. After Boston shut down the incredibly potent Pittsburgh offense, it’s hard to imagine that they won’t do something similar to Chicago’s, and if it comes down to last shot wins Rask’s last series was far better than Crawford’s against a much better offense.

Overall record: 11 – 4

What is a miracle?

June 2, 2013

So, the topic of what it means to be a miracle has come up again (and it has come up in Kaufmann as well, which I’m reading). A number of scientists — Sean Carroll seems to be one, and I’ve heard of others — are claiming that with what we discovered with the Higgs Boson there is no possible mechanism for anything that is not natural to interact with the natural, and so that therefore there cannot be supernatural mechanisms that can interact with this world, and that therefore — and this is important — by the laws of nature we cannot have anything like miracles or many entities or mechanisms that are claimed to be supernatural.

I think that these arguments rely on a confused notion of miracle, one that simply defined it as being supernatural without thinking about what that really meant. From the beginning, supernatural has meant that it violated natural laws, but the argument was made that in order to have an impact on “natural” things there needed to be a mechanism from the “supernatural” things to the “natural” things to provide that. But they say that there’s no room for mechanisms, and so such things simply cannot exist. But let me define a miracle thusly:

A miracle is an intentional, local, temporary suspension of the laws of nature to produce a result that one could not achieve if those laws of nature were in place.

Now, no one would deny that the instances of miracles that we’d care about meet that criteria. I also think that it would be clear that any god that we would consider able to perform miracles could, in fact, do them. But if we follow this definition, we can see that the criticisms leveled against miracles don’t work for two reasons:

1) No interaction is required according to the laws of nature; all that’s needed is a way to suspend the normal rules somehow.

2) There is no possible law of nature that could rule out these sorts of interactions, because if an entity had the ability to suspend all natural laws then they could suspend that one as well.

Now, you could claim that I’m treating the laws of nature as “real” things instead of just as descriptions, but that isn’t really the case. All there needs to be are natural mechanisms that work a certain way, and the entity has the ability to change, locally and temporarily, how they work to bring about abnormal results, without following an existing mechanism in the universe. A god that created all the mechanisms or that maintains all of the mechanisms could certainly do that, locally and temporarily, at will.

Note that we can also use this as a general definition of “supernatural”, but if we do that we’d have to reintroduce the notion of divinity to deal with miracles.