Archive for the ‘Stuff’ Category

Thoughts on my recent vacation …

July 13, 2018

So, I recently took a week’s vacation. Now, the interesting thing about this is that I took off one week in the summer. Why is that interesting? Because I don’t like to take only a week’s vacation, because I always feel like I’m just getting used to the fact that I’m on vacation when it’s time to go back. Moreover, I don’t like taking vacation in the summer. Additionally, the reason that I don’t like to take vacation in the summer is that I find that the heat of summer is at least if not more limiting than the cold of winter, but in summer I never get that feeling of looking out the window at the weather and thinking “Well, at least I don’t have to go to work today!”. I first time I took vacation in the summer from work — rather than from school — it was the hottest week of the year, and I didn’t have air conditioning at the time, and I mused about going back to work.

The week I took off was the hottest week of the year so far and broke heat records. At least I had air conditioning this time.

So why did I take the week off? Because it was convenient. I needed to burn a week to ensure that I didn’t leave too much for the last half of the year, and I needed an extra day to fill in around Christmas, and the week started with a holiday so it made it convenient. The last release had gone out and my manager didn’t have a new feature for me, and my few bugs weren’t due any time soon, so I was in a slow time anyway. Thus, from a logistics standpoint it was the perfect time to go, and of course there were a number of things that I wanted to catch up on if it wasn’t too hot.

As it turns out, I’d say that I had a productive vacation, if not necessarily a relaxing one (it was a bit too hot to really relax, even with the air conditioning). I made up a list of things that I wanted to do and didn’t expect to get through half of it. I probably got through over three quarters of it. The big things that I didn’t get done were little programming projects and those sorts of projects in general and a few small outdoor things that it was just too hot to get around to. I also learned that Persona is, in fact, a really annoying game, but I’m now on the last dungeon and almost past it, but a random encounter gave me a TPK and I quit out of frustration and haven’t gotten back to it yet. But I made really good progress on it nonetheless, and so will soon be moving on to another game, Persona 2. I got a number of errands done that I needed or wanted to do, including making a batch of spaghetti sauce. So that’s good.

Still, I think I’m less tired this week after working all week than I was after being off the previous week [grin].

So, a useful vacation. Now that I’m back to work and have a feature I’ll have to make sure I build out my schedule to get the things I need to get done done.

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Accomplished …

July 4, 2018

So, I think the best way to describe the mode I’m in right now is that my main push is to “accomplish” things. In short, to get the things done or do the things that I’ve wanted to do for ages and so now I’m deliberately planning for that, with my revamped reading list, my list of video games, and even my list of dvds to watch. I’m not merely trying to finish things that I’ve been wanting to finish — which is what I did before — but instead have been listing all of the things that I want to do, even if that’s to re-read, re-watch, or replay something that I’ve been looking to experience again for a long time. That’s even what drove my trying to slot hour long shows into my gaming time, and now to carve out an hour or so out of my evenings to watch Dynasty there, just so that I have a chance to watch it and get it done.

The problem is that, well, these sorts of things are really supposed to be in my leisure time, and sometimes doing that isn’t all that much fun. Or, rather, it’s not as much fun as the many, many other things that I could do in that time.

For example, right now I’m reading the abridged version of “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”. The book is, well, not terrible, but not terribly fun. But I’m soldering through it because I’ve owned it for years and never really go all that far in it, and I want to finally finish it and put it behind me. But I can look at the stack of books to follow it, and know that at least the next two are going to be far more interesting than it is right now, and so can’t help but think that there are much better books that I could be reading right now. This is not helped by the fact that the previous two books that were on the list were not as good as I remembered. Oh, and I also went through my collection of books and gathered six boxes of fiction books that I want to read at some point once I get off this non-fiction run, which doesn’t even include the old favourites like the X-Wing books and the Wing Commander books that I will indeed read likely at some point this year. So every time I pick up that book, I can’t help but be reminded of all of the other books I have available that I could be reading instead. This does not make me more favourably inclined towards that book [grin].

The same thing can be said for video games right now. I’m playing Persona right now, which is a game that I really wanted to finish at some point, and is one of the games that I was annoyed over losing access to when the battery on my PSP died and I was having a hard time finding a replacement. But I don’t like Persona, as a game, anywhere near as much as the other Persona games, which are right now sitting at the end of my current queue. I also recently went through my other games and, again, found a long list of games that I want to play at some point. So, again, every time I sit down to play it I can’t help but be reminded of all of the other games I could be playing instead.

For both of them, the only thing that’s keeping me going with them is the fact that they’re on the top of the list and so are in a great position for me to actually finish them, and I really want to finish them. I’m also not likely to get anything new any time soon to distract me from them. So I’m not going to get any better chance to finish them than I have right now. So, I’m hoping that that sense of accomplishment at the end will outweigh the mild annoyance I’m experiencing right now.

Amazingly, DVDs don’t have this issue. I’m enjoying He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, even if it’s been a bit displaced by Dynasty, which I’m also enjoying. Knight Rider has been pushed aside for now, but that’s mostly because I don’t play Persona as long as I had thought I would and since my play was to watch an entire disk while playing and since one disk is closer to 4 hours than to 3 it doesn’t fit in that time slot anymore. Moreover, there’s always baseball and now soccer to watch while playing games so it doesn’t even support that as well as it did originally. But there is no doubt in my mind that I’ll find the time to watch it at some point when I finish Dynasty, even if I watch something else first.

Hopefully, I can slog through these to get to something more fun. The last thing I want is to put this much effort in and end up bailing on them at the end anyway.

Lists …

June 1, 2018

So, I’ve been recently redoing my schedule to try to fit more things into it. I’ve also been trying to plan out things so that, eventually, I can talk about them on the blog. And I’ve started to get onto a kick of either finishing things or, at least, trying to make sure that I get things finished that I’ve wanted to get finished for quite some time. Long-time readers of the blog will remember the various pages that I made to list these things out, and so I’ve decided to update those lists with an organized set of things that I want to do. This will help me keep track of what I want to do next — so no hemming and hawing over what I’m going to do next when I finish something –, give the people reading the blog an idea of what I’m going to talk about at some point, and in some sense have this out in public which then gives me some incentive to actually finish it.

So, first, let’s talk about books. I’ve been on a non-fiction kick lately, reading through a ton of non-fiction books and, in particular, a number of Pierre Berton books. I plan on commenting on them at some point when I get a chance — although the stack is getting larger and larger — but for now I’ve added a bunch of historical books to the list, which tracks non-fiction books. I think there are three books there that I haven’t read — “History’s Greatest Battles”, “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” and “Guns, Germs and Steel” — but I’ve been wanting to re-read “The Holy Kingdom” and “The Last Knight” for a while and I re-read “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” pretty regularly, and “The Storm of War” fits nicely into the WWII mindset. After that, I have to catch up on my philosophical reading, but I haven’t made that list yet because these books will take me a few months to read — non-fiction takes longer to read than fiction — and after that I’ll have to see if I’m ready to pick up more non-fiction or if I want to read some fiction at that point.

Next are TV shows. I only have time to watch half hour long shows in the evenings, which is why I’ve been commenting on cartoons a lot right now (also why I did comedies like Wings, Cheers and Frasier). So I’ve listed the last set of cartoons for now: “The Real Ghostbusters”, “He-Man” (all of the series), and “She-Ra”. After that, it’s “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”, which I’ve watched but never talked about. After that … I don’t know.

I’ve also wanted to watch or re-watch some hour long shows, and I’ve carved out some time to watch them … while playing games on the weekend, which gives me about two disks a week. Right now, “Knight Rider” and “Airwolf” are going in that slot, and when they’re finished I don’t know what I’ll do yet. But at that pace it will take me months to get there, so I have time.

For both of these, once I finish off the current lists I might well go back and re-watch things that I just want to watch but either have already commented on or don’t want to comment on, so I may not use the next things to generate content for the blog. But, for now, I will comment in some way on all of these shows.

And speaking of video games, I’ve created a new list for my planned video games. Right now, it’s all of the Persona games except for Persona 5. I have a lot of candidates to play after that — including Persona 5 — but at six hours a week I estimate that just playing those four will take me until about Christmas. Let’s see how I feel at that point.

So, that’s it so far. There may be other lists coming if I think them useful, but these are the ones that I already had and did find useful at some point, so I figured it made sense to use them. You can watch the lists to see what gets added, what gets removed, and what gets completed.

Thoughts on my recent vacation …

March 2, 2018

So, I recently had a couple of weeks off, where I essentially took off the Olympics. That was less because I really wanted to watch the Olympics — although I had some interest in it — and more because it meant that there was something on TV in the mornings when I was puttering around. Anyway, here are some thoughts on my vacation that are small enough to not be worth their own post.

I set out this time to get some things done instead of just starting some things. When it came to things around the house, I did pretty well. There were a couple of things that I didn’t get done because I didn’t have the stuff to do it, but many of the big things got done. So that was good.

I also set out to finish another run of Persona 5, and I did that. This time my waifu was Futaba, but I found myself missing Makoto in that role. Futaba, however, is awfully sweet at times, and in that path, although how upset she gets at Christmas ruined that event for me, since it didn’t end in any way happily and she seemed very hurt. I think Makoto is aware that you’re hiding something but gets less upset by it, whereas Futaba seems to feel betrayed by you keeping secrets from her. But, overall, the arc was still interesting.

The interesting thing was that I finished Persona 5 during the first week and then — despite having planned to play games every single morning — I didn’t play a game again for the rest of the week. I let it drift into the weekend and then never picked anything else up. I planned to play Trails of Cold Steel and finish both the first and second games, and never even loaded them up. Right now, I was planning on playing the Star Trek adventure games from GOG, but now find myself watching SF Debris’ playthrough of Dargon Age and reading Shamus Young’s Mass Effect series and being tempted to play them instead. I actually have two unfinished Dragon Age games to play if I want to, but I’m tempted to start a new one anyway. Of course, both series have third games that I don’t want to play, which counts against them, so I’ll have to see …

I did nothing on my own personal projects. At all. This isn’t a big disappointment because I didn’t put a high priority on doing anything with them, and so only had a couple of minor things that I handwaved at but never got around to in any significant way. I’ll have to start doing something now that I’m back.

So, overall, it was a pretty good vacation. Time didn’t pass as quickly as it normally did, probably because I had an incredibly set routine that I definitely followed (since it was based on watching the Olympics in the morning, which ended early leaving me time to do lots of other things). And I did get caught up on some important things. It would have been nice to play more games and do more on personal projects, but it’s not a big deal that I didn’t do that. I’m definitely content with how things worked out.

The downside of Amazon …

February 21, 2018

So, if you’re a regular reader of this blog — and if you are, thank you! — you’ll recall that I started doing Not-So-Casual Commentary on shows as a semi-regular feature, and that right now I can only do half-hour shows due to my time constraints. I also used to do a lot of shopping, especially around Christmas, at HMV, which usually had some really great deals on some box sets which let me pick up shows like WKRP in Cincinnati and Charmed, and a number of others over the years. It was a pretty good place to browse for things, although for me that was mostly TV shows and sometimes music CDs (especially Christmas CDs).

And, as I discovered this year it closed.

Now, the big reason given for stuff like this is the growth of digital distribution and on-line shopping. Since I buy a lot of things directly from Amazon, this seems not unreasonable. But in looking for either a new store — which is hard to find outside of Walmart, that doesn’t have as good a selection — or a new way to buy these sorts of things, I’ve discovered a major issue with Amazon, at least for me: browsing on Amazon really, really sucks.

If I know what I want to look for, Amazon is usually … well, not great, but generally quite serviceable. I type in what I want to look for into the search engine, select the department to search in, and let it go. Yes, there are often duplicates and it doesn’t always get what I want, but it’s usually pretty good, if they stock it. However, what I really liked with HMV was the browsing, which let me find things that I didn’t even know existed … and didn’t remember that I wanted. And if they were on sale, the sale prices were listed on the box, letting me do a quick calculation of whether or not it was worth it. This is why I could justify wandering into there (or, at times, Best Buy) every six months or so and see what I wanted, often coming out with a lot of things (and sometimes coming out with nothing).

I tried doing some browsing on Amazon. I browsed in the DVD category, and in box sets specifically. And found that it often considered full season sets to be box sets, which is not what I wanted. I also thus got a lot of repeats if there were multiple offers for the same series, including different types of box sets. And that made it difficult to simply quickly skim the shelves looking for something that stood out. At the end of the day, it seemed that Amazon’s browsing worked better the more I knew what I was looking for, which is precisely what I didn’t want.

Is this generally the case? Are we going to sacrifice easy browsing for extra convenience when we know what we want to buy? Are we going to get browsing improvements that end up proving that the business heads here were right, but way too early? Or am I just missing the wonderful options out there that already exist? I have yet to see any online shopping system that had any stock where browsing wasn’t a pain, if for no other reason than that there was always too much stock to look at to make sure that you found everything you might want without using specific search terms that leave things out.

If this can’t be done online, and more and more stores move away from stocking these things because of online competition, then I have to say that I’m gonna miss browsing.

Off For the Olympics

February 7, 2018

So, as I’ve already said, my work schedule shifted, which allowed me — and pretty much made it mandatory, or at least a really, really good idea — to burn off some of my vacation time in February. Last year, I took off two weeks to watch the Scotties and then do other things in the second week, while this year I’m taking off the entire two weeks of the Winter Olympics. Mostly because I like to take vacation in the winter and at least there’ll be something to watch in the mornings.

Now, the last time I took vacation I made an explicit plan to not have any goals and just have things that I wanted to get started. As noted, that … didn’t work so well. This time, I’m doing the exact opposite: I have goals set out for things to finish and don’t really have any things that I just want to “start”. This includes finishing my third playthrough of Persona 5 and a number of other household errands.

No, this isn’t a reaction to what happened during my last vacation, where I think “That didn’t work, so let me do the exact opposite and see if that works”. No, the reason for this is that I’m trying to get some of the inside stuff done so that when the weather turns and I have outside work to do I won’t have to worry about it so much, and also because the dedicated time for gaming makes it a perfect time to play some games. Also, the schedule works out really well for this: play games in the morning while the Olympics are on, do things in the afternoon when it isn’t. So the timing of the vacation and the timing of my vacation schedule just works really well for this sort of plan.

Now all that’s left to see if it will work …

1337

January 31, 2018

When my post “The Cost of Games …” went up, WordPress reminded me that I had published 1337 posts on this blog since I started. That makes it my 1337 post.

I don’t think it’s that good …

Gaming again …

January 16, 2018

So, due to shifting schedules, I’m going to be taking more vacation in February. I am, in fact, going to take it right when the Olympics are on, because at least there’ll be something on TV to watch or listen to during the day (last year, I took off during the Scotties). And since it’s the Olympics, it’s the perfect time for me to play some games because I don’t like all winter sports equally and so having those sports on in the background while playing is quite appealing (I tended to want to watch the Scotties more closely than I’ll generally want to watch the Olympics). And to top it all off, I don’t seem to be having all that much success at starting my personal projects, and so think that until after that point it might be best for me to, at least, put things off until I can get back into a normal routine.

All of this means that it looks like I have a significant amount of time to play some games, that I should really take advantage of. But then the question arises: what should I try to play?

There are, as always, some restrictions. Or, I suppose, one big one: it has to be a console game, because I will want to watch some of the Olympics and trying to do that while playing PC games is generally difficult (I’ve tried, and in general I have absolutely no clue what’s happening and even if the game ends. That happens far less for console games because I’m generally in the same room as the TV for those). Since the Olympics are in South Korea which means that they’ll be getting into re-runs in the afternoon, in theory I could play PC games then, but right now my plan is to fill afternoons with various things (which could include PC games) so I’m leaving that all open for now. But in the mornings I’m planning on having dedicated gaming time, and console or Vita games fit there and PC games don’t.

Now, since I have a significant amount of time available, this looks like a good time to play a game that I wouldn’t normally have the time to play, at least not for the next year or so. And the top game on that list is a third play of Persona 5, because at 80 hours it would take me about five months to finish given my normal schedule, but I’d be able to finish it between now and the end of February if it fit into this slot. But then there are other games that I might like to replay, like Persona 3 and Persona 4, which I haven’t played in a longer time. There’s also Suikoden III that I was reminded of recently and might like to replay. And all of these are games that I might not have the time to play if I don’t do it now.

But, then again, maybe I should try to finish some games as well. I have some games left over from my Christmas binge, some of which I haven’t tried yet. And I never have finished the Fatal Frame games, and so this might be a good opportunity to play all three games that I own. Or I could play Persona and Persona 2. Or try to finish Nocturne. Or play other games that I started and ended up dropping like Dungeon Travelers 2 or Trails of Cold Steel (I own both games). Or try to get through the Agarest War games. Or finally play Saint’s Row (I definitely have “The Third”, I think, and might have the fourth game). Or the Overlord games. Or any number of other games that I started, kinda liked, and never finished. I’d have the time to start them over and maybe finish them this time.

But do I want to focus on finishing a game rather than playing or replaying a game that I want to play? I don’t think I want to turn this opportunity into something that feels like work, but the games that I want to finish are fun, too … or, at least, were fun at some points. And in fact the main reason that I never came back to Dungeon Travelers was because I forgot how far I had gotten and so where the secret rooms were. Starting over would fix that.

I’m still pondering which way to go, but I need to decide soon, because to finish a game like Persona 5 I need to start in my regular gaming time this week, which starts on Thursday and will definitely be active on the weekend.

2017 in review

January 1, 2018

So, no report from WordPress again, so just like last year I’ll simply toss out my own observations.

I improved my hits in 2017, getting almost 18,000, which is still pathetic for most blogs but is a big improvement for this one. This past year I posted one more post than in 2016, posting 172 posts to 171. And the number of visitors also increased, to almost 11,000. So the trend seems to be continuing: more people are reading fewer posts at a time.

So the blog can be said to be growing, if only slightly. And like last year, that’s entirely due to the readers, so thanks to everyone for reading.

My latest vacation …

December 25, 2017

So again this year I ended up having a lot of vacation time to take, and so had pretty much all of December off. As usual, I had a long list of things that I wanted to do over that vacation. This time, however, I had less set aside as goals and more set aside as “these are things I want to do at some point”, and so get started on a number of things.

But, as usual, I didn’t get anywhere near as much “started” as I had wanted to.

As usual, curling got in the way. It curtailed my mornings if the early draw was interesting and, worse yet, completely took over the first two weekends of my vacation. Since this was when I was supposed to start writing a long Star Wars fanfic that I had been thinking about for ages, it kinda killed all of those plans. So much so that because of that and because of all my other slippages I ended up punting all of that to January, since the whole point of doing that on the weekends in that time slot was to get into the habit of doing that, which wasn’t actually happening.

The other big casualty of the lost weekends was, surprisingly, The Old Republic. I had planned to play it every weekend morning. I haven’t booted it up once my entire vacation. And with a long list of games that I want to play and with me returning to my limited schedule for gaming, it’s possible that I won’t continue playing it in the New Year.

And there were a number of other things that I didn’t really get around to. I was supposed to start working on small programming projects, and haven’t done that at all. I was supposed to do some reading for work — as I need to learn some stuff about OSGi and Kafka — and that has gone very, very slowly, with me reading only a couple of chapters, spread out as a couple of sessions over the entire month. I was supposed to watch movies every weekend evening, and haven’t really done that (the closest was one time where I watched “Age of Ultron” while playing “Virtue’s Last Reward”). And I’m not as far ahead on the blog as I would have liked.

So what did I do? Well, I did get a number of errands done, cooking homemade spaghetti sauce for myself for the first time, getting the truck completely ready for winter, and getting my eyes tested and new frames ordered. I did some cleaning that I’d been meaning to do for ages. I started a new Arkham Horror game in PBF. I watched a lot of Frasier (I’m almost finished season 8 at the moment). And I did get the chance to play a number of games, as that was the one thing that I did pretty much manage to keep doing on weekday afternoons.

I’ve gotten stuff done, certainly. But between curling and snow and a host of other things, I didn’t do as much as I would have liked, and wonder if I’ll have time to do those things when I go back to work.