Sunday, 15 January 2017

Worth, Warmth, Wakfu and Weird Wakeups

The word of the week is ponderous.

Jan 9 – Something I Ate?

It seems the last month or so I can't go a week without something odd going on health-wise, and today was no different: I woke early this morning feeling like I'd swallowed a tennis ball whole instead of chewing and it was working its way through - ouch.

That was a new sensation for me... let's not do it again.

However, I have a feeling it was just me eating a little too much in a shorter period of time at the restaurant yesterday. Due to my less-than-stellar digestive powers( no gall bladder )I'm usually careful about having smaller meals during the day, especially now that I worked a desk job and don't cycle to work daily, so I don't need to have larger meals to support a bigger energy output.

It also might have something to do with gluten or dairy, so I'll be exploring those possibilities in the next few weeks. I'm already off dairy in terms of cheese( and boy, do I miss my cheese! )so reducing that along with gluten will hopefully let me figure things out - I'm getting really tired of waking up at 3 AM to discover something new has gone wacko with my body through no intention of my own.

While not a great way to start the week, if an achy gut is all that I have to deal with, I'll count my blessings and move on. It could also be that I've not been sitting properly at work: I do have a tendency to 'washboard' when I sit, perched on the edge of my chair and leaning against the backrest, instead of upright - I'll be sure to catch myself doing that from now on, even if I have to tie myself into my chair to ensure I don't slip( literally )into bad habits when it gets busy...

Hopefully the rest of you out there continue to sleep soundly and wake up in good health each day!

Jan 10 – Blade Runner VR!

You see, I talk about virtual reality like I'm going to dive in headfirst, but quite honestly( apart from the sheer steep initial cost of the hardware )there's not been much that I really see as being 'must-haves' that will have you scrambling to get a VR rig enabled at home as quickly as possible.

Then something like this comes along:

One the of major reasons why I love videogames is that I can explore realities that don't exist, visually: I don't have to imagine them me in my head, but can wander around and in this simulations, poke a few buttons to see what happens.

It takes time and great effort to greet a simulation this impressive, and the folks over at have outdone themselves in the details they lavished on the simulation of Decker's apartment from Blade Runner. Until now, videogame simulations of fictional locations have been somewhat disappointing, in that your sense of immersion is limited by the fact that you're looking at things on the screen instead of actually being inside the simulation.

I can't wait to see what else people come up with in the next five years, when VR hopefully hits the mainstream and we see many more interactive fictional realities take shape.

Jan 11 – Financial Ice Cream

What's your time worth?

I often ask myself this when I consider the time I spend the day job and compare it to the time I spend writing: what's worth more to me, and how do I qualify the difference?

It's not easy, but this author managed to sum it up in two words: ice cream.

The full article is worth a read, but I'll give you an overview of what the author is trying to convey: you can spend time doing anything, but you should think about what the return on that time is really worth to you. Saving 10% on all your purchases is only worth doing if the total time you spend hunting 'the best' deals online and clipping coupons is less than the time it takes to actually go just purchase the items at a decent price and use the 'saved time' elsewhere.

The example the author gives is making gourmet ice cream, which is normally marked up quite a bit more than standard ice cream. If you don't care about the difference, this won't apply: simply buy the cheap ice cream and move on with your time. However, if you regularly enjoy gourmet ice cream, it may be worthwhile for you to spend half an hour a week making it, as it can save you about as much money as the difference between basic and gourmet would cost.

For myself, I really have to look at my free time this year and make some hard choices, more so even than in 2016: if I'm not working, I'm writing, or sleeping, or doing household tasks... I can't afford not to find the time to write daily, as I'm not significantly closer to my Publishing Goals now that I have been at the start of 2016.

Jan 12 – Wonderful Wakfu

I'm rarely surprised, but this animated Netflix show has snuck into my brain this month.

Called Wakfu, it was suggested to me by my girlfriend and while I was initially skeptical due to its simplest stick appearance, the show quickly grew on me. The characters are all memorable( which is a must for me ) and the storyline went from what I thought would be predictable to encompassing world-changing events brought about by a complex villain who defied conventional bad-guy tropes. All most surprising for a show based on a videogame tie-in...

Adding to the engaging story are lovely flash-based animation, excellent voice acting, solid accompanying musical scores, all of which serve to make the show an enjoyable experience in every episode without doing more than scratching the surface of the world that's being depicted. It's been entertaining me for weeks on my breaks at work and I've been doling out episodes to myself as treats, since there's only two seasons( albeit each is packed with 26 half-hour episodes )in total.

I'm really looking forward to the next few weeks, as I start Season Two!

Jan 13 – Take Two Asprin...

Such a productive visit!

I had an early morning doctor’s appointment today and it turned out to be the most productive one I've had in many years. I have an excellent relationship with my family doctor, as I go into each appointment fully prepared with the idea of wasting little of our mutual time as possible. Instead of vaguely describing symptoms and hoping that the doctor can figure out what's going on, I do is much prep as possible to whittle down possibilities so that we can look at avenues of treatment to explore rather than beat about the bush for months on end.

Today we covered half a dozen things that bother me, including my recent trip to the hospital, among other things. To my great relief, my doctor listened closely to each of my concerns and we put most of them to rest, so that I left today feeling much better prepared to getting back into being a healthy person who can avoid the majority of possible health problems( like I used to when I was younger and fitter )in the first place.

"I pity the fool who wastes my time!'

I do have an appointment later this month see a rheumatologist, to explore whatever's going on with my tendons and so to hopefully help me avoid a repeat of my exercise-induced injury from this past summer. She's apparently one of the best in BC, so I'm excited to be able to get some real answers, or even solid avenues of inquiry to find out whatever's going on inside my skin.

Definitely a positive and forward-looking day all-around!

Jan 14 – Keeping Warm

It looks like the cold spell will finally break here in Victoria next week.

While I won't miss the cold, I will welcome the return of humidity: last week I had to purchase an ultrasonic humidifier to reliably stabilize my apartment's humidity. Our windows are basically flat panels of single-pane glass: they act like refrigerator units when cold breezes blow outside, sucking the humidity out as effectively as any mechanical unit I've seen, which is terrible for living in.

Not to mention just get darn cold, despite the free baseboard water heaters. I can always tell when I'm not feeling well or not in great physical shape: my hands get cold easily, and that's been a problem for the last month around here.

Fortunately, I managed to snag a wonderful little device on super sale online last week, and it arrived today:

It fits in the palm of your hand, if not inside your glove!

I tried it out yesterday on my trip to the doctors and it worked like a charm, toasting up my chilled fingers on the bus in mere minutes, even outside my insulated gloves. I like that it's reusable, unlike chemical hand warmers which, apart from being bad for the environment, are a recurring expense that I can do without - indeed, I've never bothered with them because of those factors.

As a bonus, there's a USB port on the unit, which can be used to charge a cell phone in a pinch from its generous 4400mAh battery. I tested it out today and it does work, though not nearly as well as a dedicated battery pack would.

Here's to having warm hands from now on - yay!

Jan 15 – Taking Some Time

Surprisingly, I didn't play any video games today.

In years past, Sundays always saw me playing a few hours of whatever game caught my fancy, which were usually online cooperative games with my friends. Although I don't play those kinds of games any more, I usually still have enough of my Sunday time free to enjoy relaxing with a videogame session or two.

Yet instead, today I took advantage of the sun pouring through the windows to finish editing chapters for my critique group this week, as well as reading some of the books that have been accumulating in my room for many months. I've actually finished a few in the last 30 days, which is a great feeling considering I've been quite remiss in actually reading things alongside and writing my own stories.

I do miss the years of watching The Simpsons Sunday nights at 8 PM, and it's sad to see that show has become a redundant mess compared to its best seasons of years past( generally considered to be the first dozen years )which is a shame. I can't think of another show with in the last five years that could be considered as much a cultural touchstone has The Simpsons was in its best years, but then again social media has taken over television, so who's to know what's going to be on all our minds soon, beyond the next Pokémon craze?

Which is why I'm writing stories and not watching television anymore.

I'm honestly not looking to turn this blog into a litany of complaints: stuff just happens to me, and I write about it afterwards... That's where stories come from, after all: writing about what you know. I wish I could write about being narrowly missed by bags of money falling from the sky, but let's not push things, shall we? This week coming up looks to be fairly light in goings-on, as most of my weeks in 2017 look to be - and I'm good with that, all things considering.