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Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Hiking up mountains always has a nice clear goal.

Over the last few years I have found myself acquiring new hobbies and activities, however my free time has oddly gone down in the same time period. I run into the problem where I have a lot of different things I want to do but only time for one or two, this creates a sort of activity paralysis where I then want to do none of them and just play a computer game instead.

I asked the question, why does a computer game have a much greater appeal then all of the other activities? Achievements and clearly tenable goals. When faced with practicing piano for an indeterminate amount of time versus unlocking a single achievement on Steam it is easy to get motivated for the achievement.

So I developed my own achievement system for my hobbies and activities.

As I am currently playing Neverwinter Nights 2, I modeled it off of the skill and feat system (nerdy, I kn0w). Where every hobby is given a category such as Fencing, Piano, and Reading. Under each category is a list of ways to “level up” that particular skill. In a separate list are a list of feats, or achievements, that I have not yet unlocked. Here are some of the skills of achievements for my life:

Skills

Fencing (++)

  • + Fencing Practice
  • ++ Equipment upgrade
  • +++ Fencing Tournament

Piano (+++)

  • + Complete lesson
  • + Practice sheet music
  • + New sheet music
  • ++ Memorize Song
  • +++ Perform to an audience

Writing (+)

  • + Post a blog entry
  • + Write a journal entry
  • + Record a dream
  • ++ Fictional writing

Achievements

Sport of Kings – Place in fencing tournament

On the Road – Odometer reacher 100,000

Trekkie – Watch The Original Series

Stickshifts and Safetybelts – Drive over 10 hours in one day

I made the rule that I cannot add any achievements or skills retroactively from before I started, however I can add if I come up with something new. If I do something I deem as awesome, interesting or noteworthy I will create a new achievement. Likewise if I do something that adds to a skill, I may either add an appropriate skill or new way to skill up. Once I reach ten “+” in a single skill I will mark it as leveled up to be “Level 1 Writing ()”, with all skills starting at level 0.

One category I may add is Programming with an achievement to write a program to keep track of everything. Currently I am using text files.

Now I get to skill up my writing.

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A Single Left Turn

Giant TCR2

A life changing bicycle.

It began on a sunny summer day in Santa Barbara. October had just begun, not a cloud flew free in the skies, a light breeze from the ocean blew down the street as I walked into the bicycle shop. I was nervous, this was the first time I was doing this on my own.

The weeks leading up to this day I had gone out a few times with the university cycling team. I felt I had found a sport that I could thoroughly, going around on my mountain bike, struggling to keep up, I knew I just needed a good road bike to make it all come together.

In the store I had a list of several potential bike my Dad, who had owned a bike store for eleven year, had given me. I told the sales guy that I was looking to buy a new road bike and that I was joining the UCSB cycling team (there was a discount), I also said that I was thinking of these bikes. He assumed that since I was thinking of joining the cycling team that I needed a really fast competition level bike, I of course did not know this at the time.

Instead of getting a more entry level road bike I wound up with a more serious bike. I was also sold some accessories that I probably did not need. I put on my freshly purchase cycling gear, cinched down my backpack and took off back towards campus on my shiny red bike.

I was still nervous and a touch shaken up by making such a big purchase, the biggest I have ever made up to that point in fact. But I rode on, enjoying the lovely fall day, using the dedicated bike paths, this just felt right.

For the next few weeks I took care of my bike, keeping it clean, taking it out and biking around. I fell down a few times as I adjusted to clip in pedals. One time I came to a stop at a stop sign and could not unclip my shoes, I slowly tipped over onto the concrete. No one was around to see me.

Halloween weekend rolled around and the club had an outing. It was a morning ride that was to last into early afternoon. In the afternoon I had a study session planned for an upcoming paper that was due in my comparative literature class.

Halfway through the bike ride we came to a T intersection. Right took us back to campus and left onward to Hope Ranch. I felt that it was getting late and I should head back to campus for my study session. But I thought that might be rude, leaving mid-ride. I was not yet confident enough in myself to be that independent. I went left with everyone else.

It was a steady climb up to the top of the small sea-side cliff, I was getting pretty winded as I fell behind. I realized I should have turned back. But then we started going downhill, downhill? Easy. Trying to catch up I sped up down the big hill, a gentle turn was coming up. I checked my speedometer, 32 MPH, pretty fast. On my right the ocean spread out under a blue sky, just beautiful.

It was not a gentle turn. It was a hairpin turn that I did not know about. I tried to break and make the turn. I could not make. Some unconscious part of my mind must have realized the options: slide out or hit the railing and plunge a hundred feet into the sea. I started to slide out. I just remember that moment of tilting downward.

Next thing I knew I was on my back with people over me. They said an ambulance had been called. I wiggled my toes and fingers, all working, good. Next I asked if my glasses and bike were okay, they said they were. Someone had my glasses and they took my bike as an ambulance arrived.

In the ambulance they asked what hurt the most. I managed to reply “My pride”. They did not laugh, I thought it was funny. In the hospital they cleaned a gash on my leg, from the bike spokes as the bike flipped over me. The only other injury was my front teeth, it seems I used them to break.

A little lost without my glasses (someone had them) I called my roommate asking for help. He found someone in the hall with a car and picked me up.

The next day I got my glasses and bike back from a cycling club member. I was heartbroken at seeing my bike scratched up.

I spent the next few weeks recovering, not really biking anywhere. I went to the doctors and started a long procedure to get crown’s made to replace my lost teeth.

Throughout that year I tried several times to get back into cycling but I could not enjoy it. I still rode my mountain bike around campus but the road bike became a source of regret. I could not get back on.

This all happened within the first few months of my freshman year.

Sophomore year I brought my bike back to school and tried riding it again to no avail. I could not ride it but I could not sell it, I felt I had invested too much into the whole enterprise.

Junior year I spent in Scotland while my bike rested in my parents garage.
Senior year it remained in the garage while I found a more appropriate physical pursuit in fencing.

Then I moved to Seattle for graduate school. Okay, alright, now was the time for me to dust off this bike and get back into the cycling game. I could even use it to commute to campus now that I lived a few miles away, Seattle is bike friendly this is perfect!I rode it a few times around Greenlake before realizing it was not to be. I considered converting it into a commuter bike, I even went into a local bike shop to check out panniers. Then winter came and my ideas of commuting to work fell to the wayside.

I knew what I had to do.

I had to sell the bike.

I pulled it out of storage, cleaned it off and looked at it. I replaced it all back to stock parts, removed the speedometer that fatefully read that final speed, made sure the scratches were at least cleaned up, took a few photos and posted to craigslist.

I started posting four weeks ago.

I sold it this weekend.

I now feel a bike shaped hole in my life. When I had someone coming by to look at it.

I felt all of the potential that it represented, an entire new aspect of myself unexplored, lost, gone.

A UCSB alumni ended up buying the bike from me, that helped make the loss a little bit easier.

Making that single left turn drastically altered the course of my life. I have always wondered what would have happened if I turned right.

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On Writing

I love to write. Writing has so many uses and applications, it is truly an amazing thing. I find that I write for several different reasons that, in a way, add up to a image of myself.

First there is Walk the Grass. This is mainly where I stand on a given soapbox (sometimes shoebox) and talk about what I want to say on a particular subject (like writing) or when I desire to share information (reviews or help). It is not the greatest writing or even great content, however it is an outlet for a particular type of writing. Unless I wanted to start a newsletter.

Second there are social networks such as Facebook. In this small details of my life are recorded. Things like what interesting thing I did (donate blood followed by five hours of physics homework), how I am feeling or maybe an interesting link. It also has a profile (sadly not up to date) where I try to define myself in list form, what do my favorite books say about me?

Third are personal communications such as e-mails, instant messages, texts and Facebook comments. Some of these I save such as e-mails and IMs, others are temporary and fleeting words. These may end up on a server somewhere but nowhere I could quickly access them.

Fourth is a weekly e-mail I write. Ever since I started college I wrote an e-mail every week to my family and family friends about what I have been up too. Things like how classes are doing, special things I have done, my general well being and general statements about things like parties. In a way it is a replacement for calling home. These I have saved from the beginning in several places.

Fifth are a host of journals both physical and electronic. I have a few personal journals in compound notebooks and journal notebooks, a couple travelogues and a dream journal (short lived) all in paper form. Recently I transitioned over to an electronic journal under a password where I write without reservation. I tend to write this as a form of catharsis and I average about one entry about every two months. I don’t know who I am writing too but writing for an unknown future audience lets me write whatever I want.

When all five of these are combined together I would like to think that they give an idea of who I am at the time of writing. I can already look back at my weekly e-mails (they have been around the longest) and see how I have changed since I was a college freshman. While what I write may not be interesting now, or in five years I may find that chat logs from IM conversations are fascinating when I am seventy.

Everyone writes for their own reasons, hopefully something interesting will come of my personal writings.

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Vote Darwin

”]There is a cutest dog competition out there and my roommate has entered his dog Darwin (pictured above) into the contest.

Everyone should go to the website and vote for Darwin.

If we win we are going spend a significant amount of the winnings on scotch and postage to send out the winning Darwin Hallmark cards.

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Is it still holy if it is in a museum?

Since coming to Seattle and meeting people from Portland I have heard nothing by praise for Voodoo Donuts, in particular the bacon maple bar. I will admit that this sounds like a wonderful idea but the hype surrounding this mythical donut and bakery was getting to be a bit much.

Today another first year came back from Portland for Thanksgiving and brought a box of Voodoo donuts with him. He sent out an e-mail to all the grad students saying free donuts. After braving the stampede and pushing a few people down the stairs I got one of the fabled bacon maple bar.

It was good. It was not legendary or life changing, it was good. I am now told that part of it is the Voodoo Donut Experience.

I will stick with freshly made donuts from street carts as my donuts of choice.

 

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Thanksgiving

 

Be thankful you don't live here.

Hooray for Thanksgiving!

 

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Flu

 

I feel like this bike looks.

Sometime on Friday I came down with the flu. I have been in bed for the past forty hours and just now am I feeling well enough to sit at my desk.

It is a bit ironic that I came down with the flu the day that I found out I could get a H1N1 vaccine if I was healthy. Looks like there is no vaccine in my future.

I have come to realize, or at least remember, that I truly hate being sick. A combination of the weakness and inability to do anything. It is just a huge waste of time. And I was plagued (I use the past tense hopefully) with extreme tiredness to the point where I could not keep my eyes open for longer then twenty minutes. There was also headaches, body aches, slightly runny nose and chills.

Luckily my roommates have all been very understanding and have helped me where I needed it, mostly in buying my some sprite and providing some herbal tea. Mostly they have been out of the house though to avoid getting sick. And I don’t blame them, for my part I have been restricting myself to my room so I don’t spread anything.

Hopefully I am over the worst of it now and this is not a temporary lull in symptoms.

 

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