01 March 2011

First activity: Wii Fit 0:21
In Bully, I tend to look at the map too much. I'd like to really get to know the area a little bit better. I'd also like to get back to my characters in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, who I've neglected for too long. And I'd like to get in shape a bit with Punch-Out's motion controls.
Time allocation: Games night 4:40
Mundane activities 3:56
Bully 2:52
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance 2:11
Punch-Out! 0:27
Wii Fit 0:21
I got to know the world of Bully a bit better, and I've certainly been getting more comfortable in it, but it's going to take a more subversive attitude to make the most of the game. There aren't enough recognizable landmarks, and there are too many occasions where it's really demanded of you to be watching the map continually. It feels like it's really a 2D world, and it's just presented in 3D to look modern. And that's a problem, because in 2D the game world doesn't have much going for it. So I resent the constant attempts to draw my attention to the map.

I'm sure that Path of Radiance is as good as all the Fire Emblem games, but I really didn't get a sense of that today. The trouble is that it's been months since I last played (A very common situation for gamers.), and the game doesn't seem to know what to do with me. There's no way to review the plot so far, or reread the dialogues I've unlocked between the characters. That is to say, usually there is, but at the section of a chapter that I'd saved at there's no introduction at all. Thankfully I have a little piece of paper where I wrote down which relationships between characters I was interested in developing. Most of these characters I have dim memories of, and in two hours I didn't come across any clear indication of their personalities (Again, because it's the middle of a chapter.), but I made an effort to keep the characters in the groups I'd marked down. It all feels overly mechanical. (It's a very good series, but it's never come close to living up to its potential.)

Punch-Out! is a good work-out, but the motion controls don't feel right. To dodge to the side, it's much more effective to just put more pressure on that foot than it is to actually move my body. (When I try to actually dodge, it's as likely to go to the wrong side as the right one. Or to do nothing at all.) And there must have been a more satisfying way to do an uppercut than holding the analog stick up while doing a normal punch. Another week or two of development was needed for this feature.
Performance review: I like the general approach here. The one big misstep was to stay up an hour after stopping the games.
Score: 8/10

02 March 2011

First activity: The puzzle platformer Donkey Kong 0:23
I learned how to use multithreading, using semaphores to prevent two threads from accessing the same objects in memory. But for some reason it doesn't quite work. At random points it crashes, apparently because the semaphores aren't doing their job. First I'd like to see if I can fix the crash with minimal changes to the code, so I'll try to figure out exactly when it's happening and see what I can do. Failing that, I'll try switching from semaphores to mutexes.
Time allocation: Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance 5:22
BlitzMax programming 4:31
Mundane activities 3:06
Wii Fit 0:27
Donkey Kong 0:23
There were a lot of fallacies in the way I was thinking about semaphores. I figured them out and fixed them, and it'll be fairly trivial now to get this code going underneath Angles & Circles. On my computer (which is not so powerful) it runs very smoothly and no longer has a risk of crashing. It's good code.

On an unrelated note, it turns out I've been playing Fire Emblem wrong. (This is especially frustrating because I'm halfway through the game!) In the previous games in the series, you built a relationship between characters by having them stand next to each other a lot. In this game they only need to be on the same battlefield, but it takes many more levels to spark a conversation. (It's not clear at all from the way the mechanic is presented that there's that change.) So the entire way I've been thinking about the game, for dozens of hours of gameplay, has been fallacious. I was always dividing the group into little cliques, and all my strategies were built around those formations. Now that I understand what's been going on, I'm tempted to start the game over.
Performance review: This is excellent progress. Now I can get back to the explorer! I like that all the activities today have a similar personality to them.
Score: 9/10

03 March 2011

First activity: Reading e-mails 0:29
A guy from games night lent me a book called Otherland months ago, and I've been reading it slowly but I feel like I should finish it up and give it back already. I'm also going to get Angles & Circles working with multithreading, and maybe do some online shopping.
Time allocation: TV 2:41
Mundane activities 2:34
Reading 2:32
Recording 1:55
Angles and Circles 1:51
E-mail 1:29
Comics 1:29
I read three chapters of Otherland; clearly I'm not going to finish it in a matter of hours. Angles & Circles now runs with multithreaded image-loading. And while my parents were out of the house, I recorded some audio files for a blog post.
Notes: I also played the game One Chance, which has been included in mundane activities because it was a waste of time and I should have already been in bed.
Performance review: The activities are good, but the order is all wrong. When indulging in TV it is absolutely necessary to keep track of time throughout the day. Another ten minutes with the book, and this would be a fine time allocation table. (And if I'd gone to bed an hour earlier, this would be a downright awesome day!) But these little mistakes late in the day (after I already thought I'd done well, and so got complacent) led to a list with TV at the top and mundane activities right under it, and that's just ugly.
Score: 6/10

04-05 March 2011

First activity (Fri.): Wii Fit 0:13
First activity (Sat.): Bully 0:18
The obstacles to my path have been removed.
Time allocation: Mundane activities 3:52
Angles and Circles 2:35
Going to hear a barbershop quartet 1:55
Bully 1:51
Watching a movie 1:41
Wii Fit 0:13
Notes: I watched the movie Robocop. I worked on the game, switching back and forth between editing the image and wandering around in it. A family in the neighborhood hosted an amusing little barbershop quartet concert.
This is a disturbing world I've fallen into. I decided to go against my instincts and delve head-first into the chaos of the angles. The farther I go, the less strictly I can hold on to that big piece of paper, because the proportions aren't right there. There was a calm where there needed to be a suppressed fear. So I tightened the distances, and the more I brought it in line with what it needed to be the more I wanted to get out, get back to circles and symmetry and things that make sense. In Bully I'm gradually starting to accept this environment of violence and hatred, where I can't wander around because there are always bigger and tougher people who will interrupt my wandering. And meanwhile I'm hearing songs which sing of simple times that never really were. I got away from those angles, and went back to the circles I'd wanted to progress with, and there's no question it's more calm. But there's always this undercurrent of inadequacy and intimidation. The patterns are not perfect. They seemed perfect on the paper, but now I see that it's flawed and I can take refuge in these particular flaws but I'll always remember the angles are right outside. I stopped drawing because I couldn't handle any more. I want someone to tell me it's all just a game, that there are people and stories and I don't need to go back into the angles. The more I filled the emptiness in, the more I felt compelled to go down, down, down. I could go in any direction; nothing was stopping me from continuing the image in any direction I wanted. But I'm being drawn down, straight through all the angles. Down at the very bottom, if I can find my way there without my map, there is a very big circle. But it's not actually possible to get in to that circle from this side; the angles will block the way.
Performance review: Interesting. This person is not capable of finishing Angles & Circles, because of these emotional difficulties. But I believe this person could become capable of finishing Angles & Circles. How to do that... perhaps movies can be selected which balance out my emotional state from drawing? But then I might take too much pleasure in the passiveness and I won't be able to get back to the game. This is going to require much more planning and calculation. But for now, stay the course.
Score: 9/10

06 March 2011

First activity: Reading about Bit.Trip: Flux 0:49
I've invited Moshe over. He's wanted to come over for a while, but I was in too passive a state of mind to call him so he assumed I was too busy. Hopefully the neighbors will have stopped playing loud thumping music by the time he gets here.
Time allocation: Mundane activities 4:33
Hanging out with Moshe 3:29
TV 2:50
Composing 1:42
Playing "Keep Walking, Kid" on the piano 0:33
Helping my father out 0:09
He came late, and had to leave early. Blah.
Performance review: This is not good. Clearly there was no plan beyond "invite Moshe over", and that didn't work out. He's a busy guy these days; I can't expect him to be here for so long. There's some musical stuff here that isn't bad, but none of it fit together to make the day worth living through.
Score: 2/10

07 March 2011

First activity: Wasting time on the web 0:40
I don't know if anyone's noticed, but I've been following the shape-shifting principle (introduced in "I Am...") much more systematically this month. It's not so much "What do I feel like doing today?", but rather "Who is the person that can make the most out of this particular moment in my life?". For a particular character, Angles & Circles is extremely meaningful, and that character will ensure that it will get done. But that character wasn't able to move forward until certain programming challenges were passed. I played two characters who together would get rid of those obstacles, and then on Friday/Saturday I got to work. The results were promising but slight, bringing world design in line with the sort of progress I made on music yesterday. I consider this a validation of my multiple personalities, given the prominence that music has had in my life for years and the fact that this is my very first foray into world design.
Time allocation: Mundane activities 3:53
Reading Otherland 2:07
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance 1:51
The blog 1:12
Practicing the megillah 1:08
Wii Fit 0:28
I'm two chapters closer to returning Otherland. I restarted Fire Emblem, writing down more long-term planning this time. I continued a blog post. I practiced for Purim, which is next Saturday night.
Performance review: This is the wrong character, for where I am now and the problems I've been having. The most important thing was to figure out more nuances of the characters, and how I'd work it into blog posts. With the minimal time spent on the blog, that didn't happen. An hour less of web browsing, an hour more of bloggish-type thoughts, and this could have been a different class of day. But I lost right at the beginning, when I meandered around for a while rather than making an effort to get in character. It's all about attitude, and this workman-like attitude isn't what was called for.
Score: 5/10

08 March 2011

First activity: Wii Fit 0:19
I've got two hours or so of work in Jerusalem, and then I'll come home and keep practicing the Megillah.
Time allocation: Games night 3:52
Mundane activities 3:35
Data entry in Jerusalem 3:09
TV 2:44
Trying to install games on my computer 1:11
Comics 1:11
Practicing the megillah 1:10
Gemini Rue 0:44
The blog 0:39
IM chat 0:38
Wii Fit 0:19
The data entry, disappointingly, took only an hour and a half. The megillah still needs a lot of work. I tried installing a bunch of games to see if my computer could handle it, and the answer was no. The only game (of the ones I tried) that ran was Gemini Rue, and that turned out to be somewhat unpleasant.
Performance review: I wish I'd done some Angles & Circles. But otherwise this is a fine, varied list of activities.
Score: 8/10

09 March 2011

First activity: Bit.Trip Flux 1:27
At last I have the final Bit.Trip game, and I'm not going to wait one more day to start playing it. I've been thinking that Bully would be a better game if I covered up the map part of the screen with a physical object. It's worth trying.
Time allocation: Hanging out with Tamir 4:32
Bit.Trip Flux 4:28
Mundane activities 2:29
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance 1:06
An idea for a scene 0:50
Bully 0:42
Wii Fit 0:20
After lunch, an idea occurred to me for a scene in the Legend of Zelda game which I dream of making someday, and I couldn't do anything else until I refined that idea and wrote it down in my big Zelda document. (This is not uncommon.) The scene involved a dancing minigame set to a theoretical arrangement of Ocarina of Time's "Market" tune, and it was so perfect for the needs of the plot and the characters that I was afraid to forget any part of it. But it did raise a bunch of concerns, when I realized how tightly my plan would restrict the player's choices for the entirety of Act 1. (This wasn't specifically because of the idea; it was more at seeing how the idea fit in with everything else.)

Though I arrived at the idea as the result of a logical process, I'm sure the dancing occurred to me partly because I'd been playing Bit.Trip Flux. The last four Bit.Trip games each invented new kinds of gameplay for themselves, with varied but always interesting results. For this sixth and final game, the series has finally returned to the Pong-as-dance gameplay that it started with. And, you know, the whole time I was playing I was thinking "My god, this is difficult.", but I finished the game in this one day and that's faster than any of the others. I suppose that's because of the eight checkpoints in each level. (In the first game, you'd need to beat a whole 15-minute level in one go, or start over.) And that's a useful feature, to be sure. Without them it would have taken weeks to reach the end of the game. But it's funny- I've finished the game, and I don't feel like I've finished the game. I feel like I've barely scratched the surface. Most people will probably stop as soon as they reach the end screen.

I didn't actually reach the end screen. Brilliantly, the screen that tells you the series is over only comes when you put down the controller to stop playing. I mean literally - the game uses motion controls. But I didn't put down the controller. I kept moving it waiting for a continuation, and when after a minute or two none came, I despaired and quit from the menu. In a sense, that's exactly the same as putting down the controller in terms of where I was emotionally. But if you'd told me there was another level after that, I would have believed you. It's not like it had been subtle about ending: the final boss was the definitive representation of persistence, being a solid wall that you just need to keep hitting until it breaks. And then you get to a sort-of-level going back to the menu of the first game. It makes sense in an artsy way -you'll just have to trust me on this. But to me, it was an unsatisfying end. The game seemed to be the best of the series. The music is fantastic, the challenge is formidable, and it does seem to tie all these abstract ideas together from the six games in a way that makes sense. But it doesn't ever repeat any dance moves, it just keeps running forward and experimenting and trying (often with success) to blow the player's mind. So even though I played the whole thing, I don't feel like I know the game at all yet.

As I was searching the web for confrimations that there wasn't any more, Tamir showed up. We played the first level of Bit.Trip Flux, and I showed him what I've been doing in A&C and on the piano, and then he played The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I'm still reeling in shock from the fact that Tamir not only came over without being asked, but then let me show him all these things and didn't run screaming. In my very limited experience, this sort of thing doesn't happen.

Watching him play the first few hours of Ocarina of Time was eye-opening. I've played it so many times that it all seems small and straightforward. But it's really not straightforward at all. The starting area had Tamir very lost, because the way forward requires the player of his own initiative to see a hole in the middle of nowhere and wonder if he can crawl through it. I imagine that if Tamir were playing alone, he'd either:
  1. Find the beginning after leaving the game and coming back a few times, after many hours of gameplay and after getting to know every inconsequential nook and cranny of the area
  2. Consult a walkthrough, or:
  3. Stop playing.
The first approach is likely how I first played. The second is how I dealt with a similar beginning in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and the third is how I dealt with Gemini Rue yesterday when it expected me to wander around aimlessly for a bit. But there's something to be said for making the player repeat parts over and over. When you finally figure out how to win, it's not just another step along a forced path, it's a major event taking place in an area you thought you knew well. Wandering into a cave and finding a sword should be a big deal. If you've been living in a little village for your whole life and suddenly you find something there, that's huge.

Tamir kept refusing to accept the rules of the world, and each time I had to admit he had a point, though in most cases I'd never seriously thought about it. Wherever he was asked to "save the world", he wanted to say "No.", and the game handled that very clumsily. Tamir wanted to go do his own thing; sometimes the game let him, and sometimes it restricted him to what he was "supposed" to be doing. The player should feel like he's in control of what's going on.

(Act 2 of my theoretical Zelda game needs to be wide open, providing a release from the forced progress of Act 1.)

I played Bully with the top-right of the screen blocked by the piece of paper I've been writing Fire Emblem notes on. (I've been waiting for hours of gameplay for those notes to be allowed relevancy.) Without the map I couldn't find my way to something that turned out to be on the same block I started from. That's how little I know this world, because I've let myself be herded around from mission to mission.
Notes: When Tamir came over, at first I thought he'd come to deliver a message (about D&D, I was guessing) and leave, so -expecting to return to what I was doing- I didn't mark down the time. I later wrote down Tamir's estimation of when he came over, which may be a few minutes off. So it's possible that Bit.Trip Flux actually exceeded the time I spent with Tamir.
Performance review: This is utterly fantastic. I held an interesting character from the beginning of the day to the end. Plus, I got another person to play Ocarina of Time!
Score: 10/10

10 March 2011

First activity: Blog music, on the piano 0:58
Time allocation: Playing music for the blog 6:59
Mundane activities 2:22
Bit.Trip Flux 2:06
Listening to a podcast 1:54
I didn't do anything fancy- just the most obvious renditions of these songs. My voice really isn't very good; I could use a voice training lesson or two thousand. And my piano playing is even worse. So I guess the question is whether I care enough to do anything about it. Probably not.

Bit.Trip Flux is incredibly deep. There are lots of repeated patterns, but it doesn't look like it unless you really pay attention closely. I've gotten pretty good at the first level, and have made it to the top mode several times in the second level. I never move on to a new section until I'm certain that I can consistently do the last section flawlessly (or close to it).
Performance review: I don't get it. There are no intentions declared, and at the end of the day I seem to be saying that the activity that was dwarfed by music is more important than music. And then there's the podcast, which actually was about Doctor Who so that really didn't have any connection to anything. What I can say for the day is that I made a lot of progress on a strange blog-related activity, but here's a tip: I'm only going to prolong my run of blog posts I'm not proud of by doing something I don't really care about.
Score: 6/10

11-12 March 2011

First activity (Fri.): Gamer Mom 0:48
First activity (Sat.): Endless Ocean 0:14
Time allocation: The blog 3:52
Mundane activities 2:58
TV 2:44
Endless Ocean 1:07
Angles and Circles 0:48
Gamer Mom 0:48
This isn't my destination, just a point along the way.
Notes: These numbers don't add up. I watched five episodes of Community, and no other TV. Each episode is 22 minutes or so, so if you do the math it should have been under 2 hours. I don't know where this other hour is coming from, but these are the numbers I have and I can't find an error. Maybe I paused a lot. I didn't finish the blog project (It's not really a "post".), but I made significant progress. I discovered the horrific pelican eel in Endless Ocean, among other fish and treasures. Kyler got back in touch with me about Gamer Mom, and I did some unremarkable programming for Angles & Circles.
Performance review: This doesn't hold together. Based on the way the day began -forgetting yet again to type an opening statement- I can't say I'm surprised. I should have done more with world design and blogging, instead of watching TV. But I must have known that when I started watching TV.
Score: 6/10

13 March 2011

First activity: Watching a short film 0:12
Part 2.
Time allocation: TV 5:00
The blog 4:28
Mundane activities 3:45
Bully 1:43
Watching a short film 0:12
Piano 0:09
Well, I did finish setting up the treasure hunt, so that's something. Plus, I'm caught up on Community now, so there won't be anything like this again until... um, the next time I discover a good show.
Notes: I watched 11 episodes of Community, uninterrupted.
Performance review: Okay, that's it. From now on, any day with TV at the top is an automatic zero, even if the activities under it are falling in love, starting a social revolution and time travel. Also: any day with any TV shows at all means the highest score I'm allowed is a 3, unless I've deliberately been playing the practical sort of character who legitimately has nothing better to do with his time. Don't even think of arguing with me. This is a dangerous, destructive addiction and it needs to be compartmentalized.
Score: 3/10

14 March 2011

First activity: Lunch 0:22
It's 4:00 PM already and I'm just beginning my day. That's a sign of how late I stayed up yesterday watching TV. This month has been better than last month so far, but that's not saying much and it's not enough. I'm not happy, and I'm not being productive, and neither of those statements are going to hold true today. Today I start a new blog post, continue my world design, and enjoy every moment.
Time allocation: Hanging out with Moshe 6:15
Reading comics 1:29
Mundane activities 1:25
Angles and Circles 1:12
Thinking about a story idea 1:00
The blog 0:39
Moshe coming over pushed the day in an unexpected but very welcome direction. We're almost at the end of Metroid Prime together. I made a small amount of progress on my own game, and as for the blog... well, that's complicated, isn't it. I've got the beginnings of a very complex idea for a post. It's not fully-formed in my head yet, and even when it is it'll still be a huge challenge to make a coherent blog post out of it. It's not the sort of idea you'd expect for a blog to hold. This has been a thoroughly enjoyable day, and so I've technically met all my promises. But there's so much more to do, so much more to figure out.
Notes: The idea was for the story "Wake", which I've mentioned once before.
Performance review: Eh. The proportions are all off, with both Metroid Prime and comics lasting around an hour too long and both the blog and the game poorly represented. It's not enough to fulfill plans; I need to be the sort of person who'd get cool things done whether or not he'd planned to. With that in mind, the best part of this day is the brainstorming, because that came from out of nowhere and made this exactly the sort of character I needed. But I needed to be that character all day long, and instead only the bottom two activities really fit. I'm going to bed just as confused as ever. And now I understand the nature of my confusion slightly better, which is good, but today could have been a pivotal moment in the month and I missed the opportunity because I didn't manage my hours well enough. Understand, I'm only talking about an hour here, an hour there. But this day doesn't exist in a vacuum- there were certain emotional and intellectual needs I had which weren't met. We can repeat this character in a few days, hopefully.
Score: 7/10

15 March 2011

First activity: Wii Fit 0:31
Nothing exists but science-fiction chemistry. Nothing exists but the war against Daein. Nothing exists but the opportunity for self-improvement. Nothing exists but world design.
Time allocation: Games night 4:23
SpaceChem 3:22
Mundane activities 2:56
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance 1:00
Angles and Circles 0:56
Wii Fit 0:31
I passed a very tricky level, using a very awkward approach: I included my own inputs as part of the machine's workings. I had no idea how long I'd be expected to keep going, without ever making a single mistake. I should have been more clever, and automated everything somehow. But I'm past that now, and ready for new challenges.

I played a very easy battle against the forces of Daein, coordinating my movements carefully to keep the weaker members of my team out of reach of my enemies. These early stages are beneath my skill level, but I stand by my decision to restart the game. From the next level on, I have access once again to the depth of customization and character interaction that I've been missing, and now I'll understand how to use it all properly. I understand the plot and the characters a lot better this time. There's a character named Soren who particularly appeals to me: he's cold and calculating but always trustworthy. It's made clear that he has an inferiority complex, which prevents him from recognizing his own substantial contributions to the team. Naturally I want to team him up with some wide-eyed idealist, but there are unfortunately only two characters in the game he's willing to get close to. I've decided to change my approach to the game to allow the more interesting of the two relationships to develop.

I played several games at games night. I enjoy Homesteaders for the simplicity and flexibility of its auction-driven mechanics, but I always end up in last place. The last time I played, I took a turn or two too long to get resources, and for the remainder of the game there was absolutely no way to recover from that. So this time, I was very aggressive in getting resources early, and shifted to getting victory points at what seemed a suitable time, but I still ended up in last place. My mistake this time was to be too determined: there were some auctions I won for one or two dollars too much (I am not exaggerating the slightness of my errors.), which I would have been better off giving up. I imagine with other players Homesteaders would allow for a lot of improvisation and experimenting, but in this group everyone is pushing themselves as hard as they can and any misstep knocks you out of the running.

We also played Lifeboats, which is more my kind of game. The players vote on how the game progresses. The mechanics have a unique feel to them, so it took me a few turns to understand what I was doing. (Everyone else had played before.) But then I started to understand how everyone else was playing and I was able to turn the game to my advantage at certain key moments. I ended third of five, and the points were extremely close.

(We also played Bananagrams. I won that.)

I've moved out into an area of my world which can stay fairly true to the paper. The angles are lined up on one side, the circles on the other. You walk in the tension between the two. I like the intensity of the emotions in this game, but the conflict is getting a bit monotonous. I look forward to spreading out toward the circles and angles on their own, so that I can get to know the feel of each side free of the tension.
Performance review: The order is wrong. This is an improvement in that I am focusing on all these kinds of interactivity, but I've overcompensated. While I was in each activity, I had little conception of the passing of time. And that led to a final order I'm not happy with. If I'm including A&C among my games, I want to suggest that it is more rewarding and engrossing than all the others. Instead I am suggesting that like Wii Fit, it is a game which I force myself to play for my own good. That's way too 2.0. I have a few suggestions of how I could have done better. Firstly, I could have started with A&C. Get it all out there, before I run out of energy or patience. Everything else was less enjoyable, so it should have come later. Secondly, if I saw I didn't have time for all the games and A&C on top, I should have simplified the plan. It's a statement of intent, not a straitjacket. If I see I've miscalulated, I need to correct in the middle. Third, the plan was too ambitious in the first place. There really aren't that many hours in the day.
Score: 8/10

16 March 2011

First activity: TV 1:49
Megillah, A&C.
Time allocation: Mundane activities 4:00
Megillah practice 3:40
TV 3:20
Reading comics 2:20
I'll get to the game tomorrow.
Notes: I practiced the Megillah into a microphone, so that I could see exactly where I was messing up.
Performance review: Absolutely unacceptable. You do not start a day with TV, you do not waste this kind of time in such a short day, and you don't promise to work on a game and then not do that. I need reliability here; it is only because of that expected reliability that I'm allowing for TV shows and comics to be indulged in like this. We're halfway through the month and still I've got so little to show for it. I need to be better than this.
Score: 3/10

17 March 2011

First activity: E-mail 1:12
Time allocation: Megillah practice 4:01
Mundane activities 3:42
TV 2:56
Reading comics 2:17
E-mail 1:12
Listening to music 0:25
Performance review: "Get to the game tomorrow", eh? There is no tomorrow. If you push things off, you keep pushing them off. Also: if you make a mistake, make damned sure not to make the same mistake the next day. Rookie.
Score: 2/10

18-19 March 2011

First activity (Fri.): Reading a blog 0:07
First activity (Sat.): Wii Fit 0:05
I'd like for once, to be able to start a day saying how I've been on a roll lately and I'm just going to keep going. But no. I've fallen into the TV trap again. Not as badly as last month, but only because there's less to watch. I have been making good progress on the megillah, though. I think I'm ready.
Time allocation: Mundane activities 4:21
Sleepily hanging out with Moshe 2:22
The megillah reading! 1:19
Reading 1:01
Composing 0:37
The blog 0:09
Wii Fit 0:05
The megillah reading went very well. Compliments from everyone, people telling me I'm getting better each year, and so on. I'm trying to dwell on that because this was not, in fact, a day I could be proud of.
Notes: 45 minutes with Moshe were watching the latest episode of Fringe. I figured that if I watched a show with Moshe, it would qualify as "hanging out" rather than "TV" and therefore wouldn't affect the review.
Performance review: I thought wrong.
Score: 0/10

20 March 2011

First activity: Shul, and my megillah reading 1:51
So much of self-control is physical: having enough sleep, having enough to eat, having enough exercise. If you control the body, you control what it does.
Time allocation: Purim festivities 5:19
Mundane activities 3:27
Listening to the "YouTube Symphony Orchestra" concert 2:48
Shul, and my megillah reading 1:51
Piano 1:39
I've been playing around with my Impromptu, trying to get it to move forward, but nothing feels quite right. It needs to be emphatically anti-structure, but without structure I feel like everything I'm playing is pointless. And maybe that's fine, maybe it'll work if it doesn't work because that'll give something to think about. But maybe I can prevent it from being bad somehow, and I'm not seeing it. Anything I play feels either too close to being sensible, or not nearly sensible enough. This is good, me struggling through this. It forces me to confront my conflicting feelings about rules. I don't need to solve this puzzle this week; I just need to try to capture my current confusion in an audio file.
Notes: I woke up early to read the megillah a second time. It went well enough, though I think the evening reading was stronger. (Naturally.) Until 5:13 I was half-asleep, with all the passivity that implies. But then I took a nap for an hour and a half, and the rest of the day was much better. We had a bunch of guests over, including friends of my parents and Moshe. Moshe seemed content to play Phoenix Wright on his own, so I joined my parents' friends as they sang songs, by accompanying them on the piano. The later it got, the older the popular songs they were singing were -so eventually I gave up trying to accompany, and hung out with Moshe for a short time.
Performance review: This is good, very focused on music.
Score: 9/10

21 March 2011

First activity: Wii Fit 0:13
Aviella invited me to join her and her friends for her Shushan Purim meal. I'm going to go with Moshe. It should be a fun day.
Time allocation: Going to Jerusalem with Moshe 8:48
Composing 3:35
Mundane activities 3:28
Reading comics 0:42
Wii Fit 0:13
I didn't eat, but the company was nice. Lots of people who were willing to talk to me.
Performance review: It's different, and different is good. Also, the composing is part of my plan for the new blog post, so that's giving me something I can use over the next few days.
Score: 8/10

22 March 2011

First activity: SpaceChem 1:02
Today, I fix my life through a blog post. There have been so many unspoken rules, and when I disobey one I just say that they weren't official or anything so what's the difference? Today, I make the rules official. I plan for all the ways I might cheat, and try to get around them. It's the only way to make my life not broken.
Time allocation: Games night 4:38
Mundane activities 3:59
The blog 2:39
SpaceChem 1:02
I did not write my part of the post, because I was designing it I noticed that it wasn't displaying right in Google Chrome. Apparently, ever since I switched fonts to Antique Olive, Firefox has been the only browser to show italics and boldness in my posts/PRs. I should have noticed that way back when, but as soon as I noticed it became my top priority. I found out that I should have included a separate font file for each state of the text (bold, italic, bold and italic), and then the problem became that I've been using the "light" version of the font, and there's no italicized light version. So I found a font editor and made the file I needed, and it works now. I'd like to get back to the original challenge, but for some reason I genuinely do not feel well. So staying up any later, even for the best of reasons, is not a good idea. I'm going to call it an early night.
Performance review: It's a shame I've got to stop, but if I'd spent an hour or two less aimlessly wandering around the web, I might have been able to do both things in one day.
Score: 7/10

23 March 2011

First activity: The blog 0:57
This blog post is tremendously important for my ongoing character development.
Time allocation: Going to Jerusalem to get the Ruddigore DVD and watch a production of Grease 6:09
Watching the Ruddigore DVD 2:37
The blog 2:26
Mundane activities 2:18
E-mail 0:36
Yet again, I failed to make adequate progress on the blog. I should have been working on it with all the time I spent waiting around in and on the way to Jerusalem.
Notes: Grease was shallow. Ruddigore was awesome.
Performance review: This doesn't quite fit with what I need, but taken on its own it's a fun and cohesive day. I like it.
Score: 9/10

24 March 2011

First activity: The blog 0:43
Time allocation: The blog 5:15
Mundane activities 2:51
TV 2:19
Comics 2:01
Helping my father run a DVD 0:27
Performance review: Hrmph. I'm deducing points for forgetting the opening and closing lines. I would assume that I was aiming for a practical person, but there's a problem with that: the blog is not especially practical. A practical person doesn't spend so much time thinking about things.
Score: 6/10

25-26 March 2011

First activity (Fri.): SpaceChem 0:55
First activity (Sat.): Eating dinner 0:21
Same challenge as before. I need to write a blog post that will fix my life. I'd like to finish it by Sunday.
Time allocation: Mundane activities 4:20
TV 3:45
A local concert 1:58
Comics 1:29
SpaceChem 0:55
I was sick!
Performance review: I don't want to hear it. Incidentally, it's no longer possible to win the month. Don't act too surprised.
Score: 0/10

27 March 2011

First activity: Browsing the web aimlessly 1:41
I'll spend all day on the blog post. No more distractions.
Time allocation: Mundane activities 9:02
The blog 3:09
Rewatching the movie Tangled 1:57
TV 0:41
Thinking about a game idea 0:41
Performance review: I'm not going to even ask what happened here.
Score: 1/10

28 March 2011

First activity: The blog 0:03
I need to get out.
Time allocation: Mundane activities 4:47
Watching a movie 1:57
Piano 1:36
Angles and Circles 1:26
Wandering around outside 1:17
Comics 1:10
The blog 0:03
I'm capable of better. I know I am. If anyone but me cared about my progress, it might be easier to remember that from day to day.
Performance review: Well, finally Angles & Circles shows up. (About time.) Lots of weirdness, not too thrilled about the order or the presentation. Or the massive amounts of wasted time.
Score: 6/10

29 March 2011

First activity: Bit.Trip Flux 1:14
I'm going to play Wii Fit more seriously today, because I have no energy lately. In between rounds of that, I'm going to tackle the second level of Bit.Trip Flux.
Time allocation: Mundane activities 4:19
Games night 3:53
Bit.Trip Flux 2:04
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess 1:31
Watching a movie 1:28
Wii Fit 0:43
Blecch. Bit.Trip needs a practice button; I'm getting better, but I don't know if I'll ever feel like I'm actually in control. With Wii Fit I was struggling just to keep myself upright, because I've left my computer so little in the past few weeks. I thought maybe a Zelda game would make me feel better, but I'd forgotten just how tedious the first few hours of Twilight Princess are. An hour and a half and I didn't feel like I was having a "Zelda experience" once! It's not just that it's repressively linear and rigid and filled with cutscenes and so on. It's also filled with really crappy world design. Why did such brilliant dungeons have to be hidden in such a poorly-considered experience? And as for the games night, well, I'm really not a good enough player to win at most things. The other players are still helping me out because I make such stupid moves all the time. The point of all this was to cheer me up a bit, but it turns out virtual worlds are no relief. The problem isn't the world. The problem is me.
Performance review: I really don't know how to judge this. I wasn't able to get myself into a better state of mind, but I don't know what would have worked. Let's call it a 5 for effort.
Score: 5/10

30 March 2011

First activity: The blog 1:11
It's been a cornerstone of my worldview for years that the right ideas can fix anything. My multiple-personality experiment (And yes, it is an experiment. I'm open to the option of rejecting them if this doesn't work out.) has not been going well. So the logical next move is to formulate ideas which will increase the experiment's value. I have been writing a blog post of rules, which will force me to play my characters more faithfully. In a sense, this is shifting the balance of power in my life, where up until now I said I trusted myself and now I don't trust myself but I do trust my characters to push me in the right direction. The imaginary girlfriend character would have approved.
Time allocation: The blog 7:52
Mundane activities 4:45
TV 1:06
Wii Fit 0:08
One of the things I like about this post is that it's been a collaborative work between all the characters involved. They're all here, so none of them can argue later.
Performance review: There should not be TV here. I needed a break, but it could just as easily have been anything other than TV. Comics, reading, Zelda, piano. Any one of these would have been fine. But I had to go and watch TV, even though I'd said TV was off limits. Between that and the time wasting, I don't feel too bad about honoring what I said I'd do if I watched TV.
Score: 3/10

31 March 2011

First activity: The blog 0:55
This blog post has taken longer than I thought. But I still believe in it.
Time allocation: The blog 8:32
Mundane activities 3:15
Comics 2:08
Composing 0:26
My god that was a lot of work. But in another sense, the work only begins now.
Performance review: Following the scoring rules in the post I just wrote, I deserve only 5/10. I was playing the addict, but I spent lots of time on things other than the blog. I'll need to be more focused in whoever I'm playing from now on, because these character-specific scoring rules are harsh! (Actually, by the rules I shouldn't have been allowed to play the addict because I also played him yesterday.)
Score: 5/10

March 2011

Average score: 5.59/10
The month in review: This month was supposed to demonstrate that with my multiple-personality system, I could get things done. It did not show that. Instead, it showed that I only knew what I was doing half the time. There wasn't nearly enough planning. When there was, there were interesting days. But more frequently I just let everything fall where it may and didn't focus on character.
Verdict: TRY AGAIN