01-03 April 2011

First activity (Fri.): The blog 0:45
First activity (Sat.): Angles and Circles 0:05
First activity (Sun.): Reading 1:02
Enough rules. Let's get back to making things.
Time allocation: Angles and Circles 4:14
Mundane activities 4:09
Reading 3:31
A movie 2:07
Comics 1:44
The blog 0:51
The farther into Angles & Circles I go, the less closely I can follow the original sketch. Tiny little mistakes in copying the proportions make huge differences, and suddenly I have something which is quite different than what I intended. Sometimes it's worth fixing the mistakes and getting back to what I put on paper. But more often I like the accidents. There was a section which was supposed to be cramped, and instead it's wide open and it gives a nice contrast from the areas surrounding it. So I'm working with the new size, redesigning the ways in and out to accommodate the change. There's a lot I can do with this big/little dichotomy, and I've already added in some things along those lines which are pretty cool.
Notes: I watched The King's Speech, and read assorted things that struck my fancy.
Performance review: A general tiredness prevented me from getting too attached to anything. But strategically, this is well-played. Angles & Circles is on top, I followed a bunch of whims, and I extended the day into Sunday so that the mundane activities wouldn't exceed a quarter of the day. (By my final calculations, mundane activities ended up being precisely a quarter of the day.) It's a perfectly competent portrayal of the explorer; all it needed was a little more energy.
Score: 8/10

03 April 2011

First activity: The blog 1:05
Yesterday I described my multiple personality system to a couple I know, and listening to myself I had to acknowledge that I might be insane. Depending on how this month goes, I will either accept the insanity of the system and abandon it, or (and this is my preferred option) demonstrate that it is a reasonable life choice. I don't feel like I've quite gotten a handle on the characters yet, so I am continually consulting the blog for insights into their personalities.
Time allocation: The blog 2:49
Reading 1:52
Mundane activities 1:40
Watching videos of The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks 1:37
Composing 1:06
Trying to emulate The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks 1:00
Comics 0:45
I didn't buy the last Zelda game because its immediate predecessor was awful. It turns out, that was a mistake. I watched a walkthrough of the first hour of the game, and it seems to be brilliant. But it's brilliant while wholeheartedly embracing the direction the series has been going in since the 90s, a direction which I consider to be a mistake. The beginning of the game is totally linear and restrictive and is covered in endless cutscenes; what makes it great is that the linearity is utilized properly and the cutscenes and dialogue are cleverly scripted. But together with my eagerness to play this game (which will not be any time soon, since I'll need to order the cartridge), I am frustrated because I know that this is only half of what the series is capable of. What happened to the series' spirit of dangerous exploration? Spirit Tracks actually has a riff on the "It's dangerous to go alone." line (which may have been unintentional, come to think of it) that the series started with, and I was thinking "Who are they kidding? They're going to hold your hand at every moment, throw cutscenes at you to keep reassuring you that you're on the right track, and then pull you to the next place.". There's no danger anymore. And it'll be brilliant -of course it'll be brilliant -if it weren't brilliant half the time, I wouldn't always be waiting around for the next one. And I am. But this is one possible direction for the series, and not the best direction, and I'll never get to play any other version of the Zelda experience because they're all made by the same team.
Notes: From all the thinking about Zelda I came up with a concept for the next blog post, a short story called "The Blighted Copyrighted". Writing it in less than a month will be very difficult. In addition to reading a lot of Zelda-related things, I read just one chapter of Otherland. I threw out everything I'd developed for my latest piano piece, and started over in a new and more promising direction.
Performance review: There's a lot to work with here. First off there are a lot of new thoughts about Zelda, which will help in writing "Living in Hyrule". Then there's the new blog post idea, and a lot of inspiring game design stuff, and to cap it all off these ideas about limited identities in fiction are helping me see the value in multiple personalities in life. Overall, I've gotten back into a Palatino kind of mindspace and that's useful this month.
Score: 9/10

04 April 2011

First activity: Wandering around in the rain 0:02
It's raining outside.
Time allocation: Mundane activities 4:48
Watching a movie 2:16
Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland 2:04
Rewatching TV 2:02
Piano 1:27
Trying out a different BitTorrent client 0:27
Wandering around in the rain 0:22
Reading 0:20
I had totally different plans for today, but I decided to be the explorer when I saw that it was raining. The rain stopped a half hour after I woke up. (I should have gone to bed earlier yesterday, instead of reading Otherland.) So I enjoyed three pieces of entertainment: one new to me, one sort-of new, and one I know.

New to me was Jacques Tati's 1967 movie Play Time, which I watched because it was recommended by Ignatiy Vishnevetsky on the At The Movies TV show. This is a movie I'm going to need to watch many more times, so I've started the tedious process of downloading the full DVD in 40 parts from Rapidshare. (I'm not going to buy it because they're charging $35 dollars. That's more than seeing a play here!) I feel like I did it a disservice by watching it on a computer screen (rather than a movie theater), but I was certainly entertained. The movie has no plot, but just brings you through a silly modernist world where everyone is efficient and everything is standardized. But it's not a depressing movie by any means, because there are two joys in watching it: First, it's very funny, and it relies on situations rather than dialogue to generate its humor (which is good, because the English subtitles I was using were poorly-written, and would have done a disservice to the French lines). Secondly, every frame of the movie is packed full of things going on. The camera is really far back most of the time, so that you can see lots of different actors doing lots of different things at the same time. It's a lot like what you can do on stage, and I imagine it's not done much in film because it's so much work both to fill the frame at all points and then to dub in all the dialogue later because there was no room in the shot for a microphone! I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the rigidity of the movie's world break down toward the end, and I look forward to seeing the movie again and maybe get to know some of the peripheral characters better. (By the way, this movie absolutely supports my view of movies as the precursors to exploration games.)

The sort-of new activity was the DS game Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland, because it's a spinoff of the Zelda series starring recurring character Tingle. Tingle is widely reviled by American fans (Not sure how they think of him in Japan.), but I think he's got an underrated charm. He is defined by his insanity and capitalist greed, and I was happy to find that the world of his game reflects both these qualities. Every single person in the game demands money. They won't even talk to you without money. But they won't tell you how much money they want -or even if they do, that's just a negotiating tactic. If you give them less than they actually want, they'll laugh at you and slam the door in your face -but they'll take your money anyway. A large portion of the game is about guessing how much money is the absolute minimum you can get away with spending. Money is everything - it's the long-term goal, it's the short-term goal, it's hit points. You make rupees by fighting monsters, but you lose rupees by fighting monsters, so you hire a bodyguard for as little as you can get away with and have him fight your enemies, then run in and grab the rupees they leave behind before the bodyguard can get them. It's quite amusing.

And finally, I started rewatching season 5 of Doctor Who, which I do think is one of the best seasons of TV I've ever seen. (Because I've seen it before, I'm allowed to watch it today.) I'd forgotten just how dense it is. The first episode is over an hour long, and yet it's so stuffed with ideas that there are puzzles solved offscreen and plans within plans and each time I watch it I feel like I'm processing a few things which previously just flew over my head.
Performance review: There's more passivity than creativity, so I can't get more than 7/10. I got to know a few worlds better, so the minimum is 3/10. So on a scale from 0 to 4, how much do I care? Well, I certainly care about the movie, and I certainly care about Doctor Who, and Tingle's not half-bad. I'll say 3, and I'll deduct two points for going way over the limit with mundane activities.
Score: 4/10

05-06 April 2011

First activity (Tue.): Data entry 1:18
First activity (Wed.): Aimlessly browsing the web 0:23
I'm starting really late. (If things are done unacknowledged between days, who gets punished? I should have the thinker sort it out.) Anyway, I'm starting late so let's get right into it. Data entry until 7:45, with a break for supper. Then games night, followed by TV. What I watch depends on how late games night goes. If there's time for everything, I'll watch everything. If it's before 12:30 I'll watch Stargate, if not I'll watch At The Movies. Around 1:00 I'd like to start the pilot for The Killing (the new AMC show), and as soon as I'm done with that I go to bed. I'll continue the day at 11:45, which should give me enough time to exercise. Then data entry until 2:15, a short break for lunch, and the rest of the TV shows. After that I'll take however long it takes to find a recipe that'll use our fresh lemons (My mother's been telling me to get on that.), and do the server-related chore that I've been putting off.
Time allocation: Games night 4:09
Mundane activities 4:02
Data entry 3:11
Watching TV 2:53
Copying DVDs 1:11
Reading comics 0:37
Dealing with the server 0:22
Looking for a recipe 0:05
I'm just a few hours' work away from having all available games night data in a searchable database. I did what needed to be done with the blog's server. And I recorded copies of the Ruddigore DVD to send out.

There were many deviations from the schedule, even after three changes. Due to a miscalculation I watched all TV shows on Tuesday night, even though I didn't have enough time. I did not go to bed immediately after finishing the last of the shows. When I woke up (and did not exercise), I took a shower and browsed the web and only started data entry at 12:44. I took a break between 1:01 to 2:26, in which I browsed the web. After finishing the days' activities, rather than scoring I read comics.
Performance review: No time for a thorough analysis, because my mismanaging of the second half of the day has left me in a rush. But the lack of self-control here is not good.
Score: 5/10

06-07 April 2011

First activity (Wed.): Going to see a lousy production of The Mousetrap 3:59
First activity (Thu.): Reading 1:33
My plan for the month is proving to be inadequate. Some of the goals I set are more imposing than they first seemed- especially the blog posts, since I've reached a point where each one is very labor-intensive. I'm not sorry I planned ahead, but I'm going to need to improvise a lot. I think it'll always be this way.
Time allocation: Comics (reading and editing) 5:03
The Mousetrap 3:59
Mundane activities 3:37
Rewatching Doctor Who episodes 3:26
The blog 2:35
Reading 2:08
Running errands 1:22
Listening to and considering a piece of music Moshe composed 0:22
One of the two blog posts I'd planned was based on a fundamentalist attitude against copyright laws. I've spent much of the day considering the topic from various angles, researching on websites and having debates and reading related stories. And I feel like I have a more complicated view of the matter now, which does not allow me to write the story I was thinking of. It is good and healthy for stories to have one canonical interpretation. Democratizing culture allows the lightest version to rise to the top, keeping the actually good material hidden beneath where few will find it. (Let's not forget how terrible "Bar Karma" was!) There's something incredible about Stephen Moffat turning the 31st season of a TV show into his own personal vision (and what a vision it is!), and then having all of England hanging on every plot point because "This counts.". And there's something so fantastic about reading the first issue of a Marvel event (Fear Itself, in today's case), not having any idea where it's going, but knowing that whatever happens will be so huge, comics will still be dealing with the aftermath five years from now. If I really wanted to see every random version of stories that anyone had an idea for, I'd read fan fiction. But I don't read fan fiction, because I only care about the canon. My problem with Zelda isn't that there's only one canon, it's that that canon isn't going where I'd like. I spoke to someone a little while back who said he enjoyed all of Doctor Who up until Stephen Moffat took over and now he hates it. There will always be fans (like me, often) who aren't happy with where their entertainment ends up. But that doesn't negate the philosophy that the creator should be the ultimate authority in deciding how their creation should be used. It's not a matter of feeling entitled, it really is in the best interest of culture as a whole.

I have no blog post in mind to replace the one I can't write now.
Notes: The errands were looking into (and quickly deciding against) changing banks and sending out the Ruddigore DVDs.
Performance review: A very long day, in which a lot of ideas were gathered and sorted and rejected. I'm sorry there's no blog post at the end of it, but I'm glad I didn't write an entire short story just to find that I didn't actually believe what it was saying.
Score: 9/10

08-09 April 2011

First activity (Fri.): Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland 0:43
First activity (Sat.): Composing 0:43
I'm going to get to the next area in Freshly Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland. I'm going to continue Twilight Princess, and play the first dungeon. And I'm going to put some more passageways on A&C.
Time allocation: Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland 3:46
Mundane activities 2:59
Professor Layton and the Curious Village 2:47
...But That Was [Yesterday] 0:49
Composing 0:43
A long time back, I started and never finished playing Professor Layton, a puzzle game which is closer in spirit to the books of puzzles I enjoyed as a kid than to any digital games. It has pretentions toward having a story, and some unwelcome minigames are tacked on, but for the most part it's just a collection of classic puzzles. You've heard all these before: there's the wolves-and-sheep-on-boat one, there are trick questions which try to get you to read the question wrong, there are the pitchers-of-the-wrong-sizes ones... there's even one which is based on Rush Hour. None of this is original, but it's engaging enough. Or rather, it was engaging enough the first time I played. This time I'm trying to quickly get back to where I left off, so that I can have some puzzles whose solutions I don't remember.

I played a little game I found on the internet, which thinks it's a lot more profound than it is. There are two stories about lost friends, whose actual emotional content is mostly given in cutscenes. The interactivity is limited to moving forward slowly, clichéd platforming on rooftops, and a swing. The swing bit is actually inspired, but it's very short and leads immediately into a cutscene that tells you what it means. I can't overlook the game's strengths: in terms of animation and framing and music, it's gorgeous. This game is relying very heavily on the language of the animated short. It's paced like an animated short, it's conceived like an animated short, it feels like an animated short. I played through the game admiring the presentation but baffled by its design choices. I tried to play it as though I were trying to avoid any heartbreak, and the game didn't make any sense when viewed from that angle. I got to the end and was very confused about the whole thing, and it's not a complicated story so there really shouldn't be confusion. I tried playing a second time, playing the game straight. Absolutely nothing played out differently, and it didn't make any more sense. I searched the web and found out that there are two other endings, which you get by playing the game at different times of day. I don't understand how that makes any sense. But then, there's a lot about this game which doesn't seem to make any sense. I don't care enough to wait for the other endings.
Notes: I got to the next area in Tingle, and then the next area after that.
Performance review: I made significant progress in both Tingle and my composition. I'll give a 6/10 for progress, and then a point needs to be taken off because mundane activities went 13 minutes over.
Score: 5/10

10 April 2011

First activity: Angles and Circles 0:02
Angles and Circles is potentially an important game. People need to understand that you don't need any of what is generally considered necessary in order to make a game engaging. That it's fun to work on the game is just a bonus.
Time allocation: Angles and Circles 7:33
Mundane activities 1:29
Inside the circles, safety is assured. On the edges of the circles, the angles are trying to push in. Circles are comforting, angles are chaotic -but it really isn't so clear-cut. The circles are repressive and dull. Without the angles breaking the circles apart, you'd be trapped in a circle as soon as you entered the program and there would be no game.
Performance review: This month is going very well! Every day has its own flavor, things are getting done, and I'm enjoying myself. I think I might be on to something.
Score: 8/10

11 April 2011

First activity: Relearning my composition from five years ago, "Call of the Morning" 0:20
It must have been incredible for an explorer a hundred years ago to travel from region to region and encounter vastly different cultures. But for the people living in those regions, it was just what they were stuck with. They would have enjoyed exposure to other things.
Time allocation: Music 13:57
Mundane activities 1:23
I did all sorts of music-related things throughout the day, and I was entertained enough by all of it but not excited by any of it. I kept trying to get my newest composition to move forward, which it stubbornly refuses to do. I replayed a bunch of my old themes, and was disappointed to note that there was a spark of invention in those early pieces that's missing in my more recent work. Music has become a habit. I always know exactly what I'll hear when I press the notes, and it never seems interesting enough.

So I browsed through modern classical music on YouTube, trying to figure out what I was missing. There were a lot of videos where I admired the complexities of harmony or the distinctiveness of a particular sound. But there were none that truly pulled me in. It seems a lost art to present a good theme, develop it gradually, see where it goes, and end up somewhere interesting. Or was music ever like that?- maybe it's just a potential I once imagined. All the musicians I heard were selling an attitude of some sort, and that's fine but it wasn't what I was looking for. I gravitated toward the videos with string ensembles, but couldn't sit through most of them. (They ranged from avant-garde to postromantic to cello rock to minimalism.) None of it was exactly what I was looking for, and I had no idea what I was looking for.

Then, as I was in the middle of listening to Arvo Pärt's fourth symphony, a large bug scared me out of the room. And suddenly I remembered an old theme of mine from many years back. When I first came up with it I thought it was the prettiest theme I'd ever composed, and that it had lots of potential to move forward and be incredible, but then whenever I played it on the piano I had to keep telling myself that there was value to it. After all the many times I pulled it out, shrugged and put it back, it had become just another of the many many themes I've come up with that never went anywhere and might as well be forgotten. I hadn't thought about this particular theme in several years, I'd say. But suddenly I realized what the problem had been: I'd been playing it on a piano. How could I have been so stupid? It was for strings! I downloaded a cheap-sounding violin voice for my MIDI keyboard, and as artificial as it sounded it also somehow sounded magnificent. That theme is what I'd been waiting for all day, and as I played through one variation after another I fell in love with music again.
Performance review: A dramatic introduction for this character. I look forward to seeing more of him.
Score: 10/10

12-14 April 2011

First activity (Tue.): E-mail 0:09
First activity (Wed.): TV 1:41
First activity (Thu.): Comics 1:20
Start cleaning the house by 3:00. I figure that'll last until 4:30. Then data entry until 7:45, with a break for dinner. Games night. (The worker seems to always come out on Tuesday! ) Resume data entry until 2:00, then go to sleep. When the day is continued, start by installing that alternate screensaver system, to see if it works. Don't spend more than an hour on that, however it goes. Then all the TV shows and comics.
Time allocation: TV 12:53
Mundane activities 12:36
Comics 10:04
Games night 4:14
Data entry 2:46
Cleaning 2:01
E-mail 0:09
I started cleaning late. It took a bit longer than I expected. And then I said, "Why not watch a TV show now?", and I answered "Because it will lose me a point" and I decided that I could spare the point. And then when I was done, I said "Well, the plan's already messed up. So why not another TV show?" without even attempting to redo the schedule. And so it went. I never got back to the schedule, but just dragged the day on and on and on so that I could keep watching TV shows. After all, you can't get any lower than a zero, right?
Notes: I finished the games night database (though there's more data I don't have yet), and did three bits of house-cleaning. I organized quite a few comics, but was unable to complete a CD yet. I finished rewatching the fifth season of Doctor Who.
Performance review: Oh my. The basic concept of the character was completely lost! If I'd followed the schedule precisely, this could easily have been a 10 at a third of the length. Instead this is hindering the rest of the month, not only because the next few days need to make up for this but also because I've wasted the time I'd planned to play other characters in. I suppose I can continue with the plan, but I'm going to need to pull out the addict a few more times if I want to meet all my goals. The real problem here is, I'm not comfortable playing the worker yet. It's more of a stretch for me than any of the others, to care about practicality. And I find myself doing lots of things that don't fit the worker, knowing full well that they don't fit, but saying "I'll just write it up as a mundane activity, so I don't have to deal with the ramifications.". I need to play the worker again, and really push myself to get it right. But not this month, because this month can't take any more terrible acting.
Score: 0/10

15-16 April 2011

First activity (Fri.): The blog 0:20
First activity (Sat.): Reading Otherland 4:48
The worker is a very bad performance. I can't stop wondering and worrying about him. Do I need to be more precise in scheduling? Less precise? Do I need to plan breaks from the schedule? No, that's a slippery slope. Hrmph. I need him, but I feel like I don't understand him enough to know what to do.
Time allocation: Reading 5:11
Comics 3:31
Mundane activities 3:11
The blog 1:08
I've added two details to the worker's rules. First, I've restricted his web access. It's harder to be productive when you're constantly seeing new things to read. Secondly, every opening statement he gives will end with the sentence "I'm not good enough, but today is going to be perfect.". Obviously the worker requires more willpower than most of the others, and I know from Ruddigore that I put in more energy when I feel like I need to prove myself. I've scheduled another worker for Monday, so that I can try again.
Notes: I reread ten issues of Jack of Fables, and I read six chapters of Otherland.
Performance review: I came up with the worker modifications in the first twenty minutes of the day, which shows exactly how much thought went into them. I was hoping that by the end of the day I'd have something more substantial, like for instance a story to string together the rest of the month.
Score: 4/10

17 April 2011

First activity: The blog 0:26
You're reading this? Good. Everyone else has gone, because of the slow pace around here. But at least you're here. The pieces have been falling into place for months. Now's when the blog gets interesting.
Time allocation: The blog 10:16
Composing 3:32
Mundane activities 1:03
Notes: All the composing today was for the musical theme which is the subject of my next blog post, and therefore counts as a related activity.
I don't want to go to sleep! Oh, please let me write for just a few more hours. I'm almost done, honest. This is such a fun post- it needs to be up already. There aren't enough hours in the day.
Performance review: Incredible. I've rarely been this focused in my life. One hour which isn't about the blog post, in a nearly fifteen-hour day?! Interestingly, on June 14, 2010 I had a similarly focused day, and gave myself a 1/10 for it because it didn't fit the well-balanced character I was trying to create. But now I've got a different idea of how I'm going to balance my life, so this gets a 10/10. Just an observation.
Score: 10/10

18-19 April 2011

First activity (Mon.): Lunch 0:19
First activity (Tue.): The blog 0:27
Okay. There's not much time, and there's so much to do. Not only is there a break for the first day of Pessakh, but I also need to go to bed a few hours early to be awake on Wednesday. It's 3:15 now. So we're looking at.. what. Seven hours total. And I've still got a good four hours needed for the blog post, another 18 hours of A&C, four hours of new TV shows to watch. Damn. I'm going to need two more workers this month, but there aren't enough days left. Well, no time to sit around worrying, let's get started.

A&C until 4:55. Then the blog until the holiday starts, which is, let's see... 6:53? Oy. After the holiday, I'll watch just two TV episodes, not a single one more under any circumstances whatsoever, and then comics until 11:00. Then score and bed.

I'm not good enough, but today is going to be perfect.
Time allocation: The blog 3:34
TV 3:24
Mundane activities 2:43
Angles and Circles 1:19
Comics 0:46
A phone call to Moshe 0:05
Notes: During the break for the holiday, I finished the book Otherland. I'm downloading the rest of the series now. One of the TV shows I watched was the incredible first episode of Game of Thrones. I'm going to have to rewatch it at some point, preferably before the next episode.
I finished the blog post, and continued the game.

The first schedule was designed to get as much as possible out of a very short day, because I wanted to wake up early tomorrow to go to a museum with Moshe. As I was working on the blog it occurred to me that I should confirm the plan as early as possible, so I called Moshe to find out he'd like to cancel. It's a good thing I called, or I might have been waiting tomorrow morning at the train station for someone who wouldn't show up! This gave me a few extra hours for the day. I took that time to proofread the blog post and get started on the next one, and then to watch a majority of the TV episodes rather than just one. After watching Game of Thrones, I read an analysis of the episode online and then paced around the room for a while thinking about what I'd watched. Because of this, I started reading comics a half hour later than my revised schedule called for. I stopped reading comics at the correct time, but instead of immediately scoring I browsed the web for 1 hour and 23 minutes.
Performance review: Well, I'll give myself this: it is better than the previous attempts. But there are two missteps. First off, web access. That's supposed to be restricted, and yet I was on the web both after the TV and after the comics. I'm going to have to give a penalty for that. Yes, I know there's no rule allowing penalties. This is a new thing; I'll add it in officially later. But there needs to be a way to make sure I stay in character. In this case, I broke the character. Secondly, I missed an opportunity when the day was lengthened. The original plan could not have yielded a 9-point day, because there were only two things that needed to be done. Three tasks would have been better, but I didn't think I had time. It's good that I got started on the next blog post, and that I didn't leave too much TV for later, but if I'd left the comics for another day I could have included something else - say, learning to mine the data from the database, or writing an e-mail I've been putting off.

The two goals were in the service of other characters, which is almost as good as being in the service of other people. I'll give 3/5 for the final schedule (for a maximum score of 8/10). I followed the schedule very faithfully except for not ending the day when I was supposed to, so I'll give 7/8, and I'm going to take off one more point for browsing the web without benefit.
Score: 6/10

20 April 2011

First activity: Composing 4:03
There aren't enough days in a month.
Time allocation: Music 5:57
Hanging out with Moshe 5:11
Mundane activities 2:58
I was woken early by angry yelling in the house, as the rest of my family got ready to leave for something-or-other. I should have gone back to sleep, but instead I sleepwalked over to the piano and figured out the solution to the problems I've been having with my latest piece (as described in my last blog post). Then I started a new composition, a four-part choral piece, and as I was recording the voices for that to see how it would sound Moshe came over and surprised me. We played Phoenix Wright, which is to say that he played and then when he got stuck I'd grab the DS from him and try to solve it myself. I also showed him the pilot of Game of Thrones, and he was really annoyed that there weren't any more episodes yet (as am I). I showed Moshe how to fix the compositions he's been doing. And at the end I played piano for him for a while. It's good to have an audience, and a friend. Tomorrow we go to a museum together.
Notes: I watched two TV shows and read three comic books; I'm counting these as mundane activities, but it doesn't really matter one way or the other because I'm scoring as a person and not a musician.
Performance review: It's hard to find meaning in a day where I've only had five hours of sleep, but I suppose it's impressive that the tiredness didn't slow me down. Would I have appreciated this more if I were wide awake? Yes, undoubtedly. But there's still a lot here that I like. Moshe's a dear friend, and it's always good to spend time with him. Maybe I should have paid more attention to him, and less to myself.
Score: 6/10

21 April 2011

First activity: Going to Tel Aviv with Moshe 6:03
Moshe's been trying to get me to go with him to the science museum in Tel Aviv for months. Today we do. I hope he has fun.
Time allocation: Playing Phoenix Wright with Moshe 7:17
Going to a museum 6:03
Comics 2:53
TV 1:41
Mundane activities 1:10
The museum wasn't what Moshe thought. It wasn't a science museum, and it wasn't any good. The most fun we had there was in wandering through an old train car they'd dumped off at the side. When we came home, we had a lot more fun playing (and finishing!) the second Phoenix Wright game on DS. Often he'd be stumped, and I'd look through all the pieces of evidence until finding the answer. But the very last decision of the game, which had me totally stumped when I played it (I only finished the game with a walkthrough.) - that he breezed through on the first try! Evidently our minds don't work the same way.
Notes: There was a disc of Fables comic I had with a lot of mistakes on it. Some of the mistakes were mine, some were the creators'. I fixed them, which in the case of one issue involved manually editing three pages to change the coloring of one character. (Babe the blue ox had mistakenly been colored like a normal ox, even though there's reference in the dialogue to the actual color being blue.) I watched two episodes of the old Doctor Who from 1968, and one episode of Stargate: Universe from last week. The old show was more fun to watch.
Performance review: The museum was never the point- it was just an excuse to spend more time with Moshe.
Score: 8/10

22-23 April 2011

First activity (Fri.): Writing a shell script for DS emulation 1:13
First activity (Sat.): Checking if the extracted video played 0:07
Cool, it works. I just programmed a shell script to manage the DS games I emulate, because the emulator does a terrible job of it. With this script, I'm prompted for which game I want to play and it sets the emulator up to play that game correctly. It also makes a backup of the save file in case something goes wrong.

The computer challenges have been piling up this month, without a programmer to deal with them. I'm not going to tackle all of it now, but I'll see what I can get to. I need to figure out how to do the next blog post on the technical side. I'm thinking the iFrame should resize itself through Javascript, but I also want to be able to use this post as a standalone page, so it'll need to know whether or not it's been loaded from the blog. I'm sure that's not complicated. I might also take into account the size of the window, though I'm not sure whether or not that's a good idea.

There is a little bit of rotation in A&C. I need to figure out how the rotating shapes push the player. I'm thinking I should look not at the shape itself but at the circle around it, and move the player based on where he's standing relative to the center of that circle. That might work, or it might be ridiculous. Only testing will tell.

I need a new rename function to use for organizing comics. I am sick of using PERL regular expressions, and renaming the files one by one feels clumsy (even if it's actually more efficient than using PERL regular expressions! ). I can't actually program the thing today, but I should at least figure out what sort of syntax it should use on the user's side. When I'm renaming comics I tend to always do the same sorts of things: set a sequence of numbers, add a title for the arc; or add something to the end of a filename. I need some sort of syntax that'll let me do these things without even thinking about it.

I downloaded an entire DVD (or is it a Blu-Ray? I'm not sure.) in 40 parts from Rapidshare, and now it turns out the CRC is bad for the RAR file. I don't even know what that means. So I'll need to find out, and hopefully all that downloading wasn't for nothing.
Time allocation: Figuring out how my rename function should work 2:18
The blog 1:47
Mundane activities 1:34
Writing a shell script for DS emulation 1:13
Professor Layton and the Curious Village 0:30
Getting the DVD that I downloaded to open 0:15
Haven't gotten around to the Angles & Circles issue, but I've figured out the others. Well, mostly. The rename function is going to take a lot of work- likely more than an entire addict-day. The script won't be useful enough to be worth that, but I'll do it anyway at some point because it's a good challenge. I found a solution to the blog problem. I know how to check if it has a parent, and if it does it'll run a function in the parent that resizes the iFrame to fit however much text is in it. The size of the font will also be based on your screen resolution, so as not to take up a ridiculous amount of space on the blog when one of the chapters (rather than the menu) is open. There's still lots of CSS work, in addition of course to the writing (though the introduction has been written for months), but I don't foresee any more technical hurdles. The DVD I downloaded was no trouble at all; I just needed to unzip the file from the command line rather than going through one of the inferior GUIs available. It's not the edition of the DVD I was hoping for, but it does have a commentary track and that ought to be interesting.
Performance review: Of the four challenges mentioned in the opening statement, three were tackled and three were solved. I know what syntax I'd like for renaming files, and to get to that point I needed to understand what was and wasn't possible, which led me to a crude understanding of how arguments are parsed. (This is something I previously knew little about.) There was certainly some mind-bending to get to this point, though I could have gone much further with a few more hours. I'm going to take off one point (off the 8/10 owed) for web browsing.
Score: 7/10

23-25 April 2011

First activity (Sat.): Listening to an interview with Steven Moffat 0:26
First activity (Sun.): Reading blog posts about Doctor Who 1:08
First activity (Mon.): Reading 0:47
There are only five or six days left to the month, and I seem to be just a tiny bit behind schedule. Honestly, the hardest part will be the 7/10. What I need is for each of these five or six short days to be fantastic. That's doable.
Time allocation: Watching, rewatching and thinking about Doctor Who 5:44
Mundane activities 3:34
Comics 2:50
Reading 2:43
The latest episode of Game of Thrones 1:51
Watching a talk about game journalism 0:57
I jotted down this note:
In the popular religion of Present-Self Defense, which Michael will inevitably convert to, any person who declares himself to be a god is considered greater than any person who denies his own godliness. The "gods" may use the nonbelievers as playthings, but are expected to treat each other with respect. (A disrespected person who thinks he's a god is not a pretty sight.) The villain of the story believes himself entitled to enslave nonbelievers, though anyone who rejects his rule may earn freedom. A surprising number are content to worship him, both because it's easier and because he can keep them safe.
It's a simple idea, but it only came to me after reading a criticism of the latest (incredible) episode of Doctor Who and following that with a blog post about the Twilight series and gay marriage, while keeping in mind all my thoughts about whether or not the shocking twists in Doctor Who will be binding. The idea refers to a game I would like to make some day, so the end result of focusing so much on what I'm thinking in the present is something that will be useful in the distant future.
Notes: If you are not watching the current run on Doctor Who, start from season 5. You have no excuse to not watch a show this good.
Performance review: It's a very small idea, as noted. And its value will not properly be seen for years. I can imagine a lot of ways this could make that game more interesting, though.
Score: 8/10

26-27 April 2011

First activity (Tue.): Angles and Circles 0:01
First activity (Wed.): Browsing the web 0:34
Let's have some fun.
Time allocation: Mundane activities 8:07
The blog 7:32
Games night 4:07
Watching a movie 2:17
Trying to mine data from the database 1:39
Comics 1:29
Piano 1:27
E-mail 0:51
Angles and Circles 0:01
I rewatched Play Time, this time with a commentary track. (I'll watch it again at some point.) The commentary brought my attention to a lot of things I hadn't noticed, but it also explained the context behind the movie, which is a very sad story. This movie was an expensive flop, not appreciated until decades later, it didn't get a release in America, and basically it just sunk Jacques Tati's career. The commentary also spoke of how frustrated people were working with him, since he would have them wait around all day for the light to be just so and then when the sun was in the right place he'd get distracted by something else that wasn't perfect and by the time he'd fixed that there would be a cloud so they wouldn't film anything. He tried to manage absolutely everything himself, had no business sense... I'm actually more interested in seeing Jacques Tati's work now that I know how hopeless a director he was. It's strange, to think that something as awesome as Play Time was made by someone so human.
Notes: I did not succeed in mining the data. I only read three issues of Jack of Fables. I came up with a new musical theme. I posted the first part of "Living in Hyrule", and came up with the general idea for the next part. (This is going to be a very long-running project.)
Performance review: What the hell. No exploring? And that minute of Angles & Circles is just an insult! I get that this was supposed to be the explorer, but it doesn't feel much like it. It's more like I'm trying to go in every direction at once: Thinker! Musician! Programmer! -and getting nowhere. But it was meant as the explorer, so we'll score as the explorer. The only thing I had anything to talk about in the closing statement was the movie. That's two hours out of a 27 hour day! Nothing to say about the blog? Nothing to say about games night? Nothing to say about the database? Sounds like I don't actually care very much, and I've wasted the better part of 48 hours. Additionally, mundane activities went an hour over the limit.
Score: 4/10

28 April 2011

First activity: Angles and Circles 1:01
I've been neglecting Angles & Circles for far too long. But that doesn't mean I don't love it. I've been confused, that's all. I'll make up for it today, I promise. I'll work on Angles & Circles like it's the only thing that exists in the world.
Time allocation: Angles and Circles 10:34
Mundane activities 2:20
I always feel like the details aren't good enough. But when I step back and look at the big picture, it works. I can't wait to share this world with other people.
Performance review: This is fine work. But it should be noted that after a while the quality of my work went down. The addict is a last resort, and clearly this month it was needed, but if I'd followed the plan more closely I wouldn't have needed it. I'm going to take off one point for not ending the day immediately when I was done working.
Score: 9/10

29 April-01 May 2011

First activity (Fri.): TV 0:03
First activity (Sat.): Writing a story outline with Coren 1:09
First activity (Sun.): Watching some videos of Kyler's 0:55
Okay, let's approach this last day calmly, and assess what I canand can't do. I need another 6 hours and 20 minutes of A&C, and that can't all be today because I spent all of yesterday on it and I'm close to burning out. I am (by my estimation) 7 hours and 25 minutes behind on my TV shows. In order to finish rereading the comic series "Jack of Fables", I estimate that I'd need around 10 hours. And in order to get 7/10 for the month, I'd need to split this day into three and get a 10/10 on each part. So let's forget the monthly average, and forget Jack of Fables, and try to check off every other box on the list. Technically I could just watch the TV and work on the game, with no scheduling whatsoever, and I'd get a low score for it. But even though I'm not winning the month, I'd still like to get as close as possible to 7/10. So A&C needs to be 7:30, and that's already a full day.
I'll start by watching Community until 1:45. Then I have until 2:25 to take a shower, get dressed and have lunch. A&C until 4:25. The Office until 5:45. Clean the stairs for five minutes, then A&C until Shabbat at 7:01. Let's say I can get going again by 8:00 the next day, so straight away I'll do another 4:15 of A&C (until 12:15), finishing up that commitment. Then all the rest of the TV, which will go until 4:00 AM. Okay, not a minute to waste.

I'm not good enough, but today is going to be perfect.
Time allocation: TV 8:26
Mundane activities 6:52
Angles and Circles 6:31
Comics 1:59
Writing a story outline with Coren 1:09
Watching some videos of Kyler's 0:55
Well, I checked off the little boxes on my plan for the month. Didn't expect to need Sunday, but that's because I was interrupted by three social opportunities: I had a chance to watch a TV show with my sisters (not common), Coren wanted to write up the outline for a series of YouTube videos we'd like to make, and Kyler sent me an animated short he made which got me to watching all his other online work. Well, maybe I could have put off that one for tomorrow. But regardless: after each time I switched to the person, I was less concerned about the schedule afterward. Eventually I stopped scheduling altogether. I could technically treat the three persons like a break in the game, but it wouldn't change anything.
Performance review: Since TV is at the top, it's a zero. But chances are this would be a zero anyway. The plan stunk. There was nothing practical in it, with the exception of the game-work which was nonspecific. And then I couldn't even hold on to this plan, because I didn't keep a constant sense of urgency. This is a terrible worker.
Score: 0/10

April 2011

Average score: 6.22/10
The month in review: This month was a test to see whether the eight characters were an idea worth holding on to. So let's see how we did:
  • I did not succeed in getting an average score of 7/10, demonstrating a still-shaky grasp on the characters (especially the worker). I'm not satisfied with the inconsistent quality of my performances. Still, 6.22 is above average. Most days did have a clear personality, compared to last month.
  • In total, I count 30:11 on Angles & Circles.
  • I put two new blog posts on the blog.
  • I made a lot of progress on the piece I was working on, plus I started a new piece (though I haven't gotten far in it yet).
  • I finished inputting all the data from games nights.
  • I finished the book Otherland and returned it.
  • I am up to date with all the comics and TV series I follow, with the exception of 30 Rock. I am also up to date with new shows Game of Thrones and The Voice, though they haven't done much yet.
  • I finished playing Phoenix Wright: Justice For All with Moshe.
  • I rewatched the fifth season of Doctor Who. I meant to also reread all of Jack of Fables, but I only made it halfway through.
I was hoping to breeze through every one of the goals so easily that it would be clear these eight characters are a valid approach to life. I didn't quite make it, but I came close enough that I feel the test's results are still inconclusive. For now I'll act as though the rules work, and we'll see how it goes.
Verdict: TRY AGAIN