2021-05-08 No programming

It’s weird. Right now I don’t feel much like programming in my free time. None of my projects feel too exciting, nothing seems to need my immediate attention. I don’t feel like working on C code because it’s hard. I don’t feel like working on Perl code for my wikis (Oddmuse and Phoebe) because there are no feature I feel I need right now. I don’t feel like writing random tables for my Hex Decribe random generator, and I don’t feel like tinkering with the map generation algorithms of Text Mapper. My heart’s not into drawing more elements for the Face Generator.

Today we tried to make a backup and pluged the laptop power supply (19V, 3.42A) into the external backup disk (12V, 2A), and now it no longer works. I took it out of the enclosure but I have no other enclosure, so I can’t tell if there’s a way to keep using it. I tried an old disc I still have with the enclosure and that didn’t work so perhaps it’s just the enclosure that’s fried. The drive in question is a Samsung HD154UI disk (1.5TB), apparently from 2010. When I got new backup disks for my wife, I kept these for myself, as a replacement for the old pair of Western Digital MyBook Essential disks (1TB), apparently from 2009. Well, so what was I going to do? I dug up one of those old WD disks and used it instead. After a few hours the backup was made and both my external backup and my wife’s external backup are ready to be taken to the office, where we’ll pick up the other set of external backups to bring back home. That felt like enough computering for the whole weekend, to be honest.

I’m not sure why I’m somewhat disinterested in programming right now. My hands need more rest, I think. Less typing. When I get up in the morning, I often feel like somebody stepped on them. It takes a minute or two for me to get full motor control back. That’s not good. It’s also why I’m going to keep the update short.

If you’re looking for short updates, you can always check my fediverse account, @kensanata. I sometimes post pictures there, too. There’s a feed, too.

We recently went out and bought a staff and now I’m teaching her the “20 Jo Suburi by Morihiro Saito Sensei” (you’ll find them on YouTube and elsewhere, I’m sure). And we’re also practicing the “Tada Sensei jo exercises”, a video by Video Aikikai Italia (La Spezia 2006). I’m trying hard to spend a few minutes doing them every day, believing that if you do something every day (or at least: very often!), no matter for how much time you spend on it, a habit starts forming.

This is how I learned to run. Start running, for ten minutes, a quarter of an hour, twenty minutes, half an hour, keep at it. Go even if the weather is a bit colder than you’d like, or a bit windier than you’d like, or a bit rainier than you’d like. Just focus on “I have to run every opportunity I get”. Do it two or three times a week. And in a year, you’ll get nervous when the sun is shining and you’re sitting inside, thinking: I was born to run – I really need to get out, right now! And when you do, it’s a glorious thing.

In that year, your body will have changed. There are now muscles, and tendons, and lung volume, and reserves, that you did not have when you started. Slowly, bit by bit, you rebuilt your body. It is now fit for what you are doing.

Sure, you probably won’t be running a marathon. But when my wife started running, she could barely go those 10 minutes around the block, huffing and puffing, red in the face. And two years later she was going to races for 10km, and a year or two later, she was going for the half-marathon. It takes time, and dedication, no doubt. But it also starts in very small steps. Steps that are easy to do. Steps that help you build a habit. Steps that allow you to change yourself. Bit by bit.

Anyway, we also got our first COVID-19 shots yesterday (Moderna) and now our left shoulders hurt and we can’t run and we can’t lift the jō above our heads, and that already makes us sad. But I still take the staff every day and practice just a few swings, and I’m telling myself: it doesn’t matter if my training looks like I’m 80 years old. If I’m lucky I will be doing this when I’m 80 years old! You can do this, even if you’re 80 years old. And thus, you can do it now, even if you feel like your left arm is 80 years old.

And with that, I have to go. My hands hurt.


I’m glad to hear you got your vaccines!

I’ve found that when I lose interest in a hobby or habit or anything else, it helps to do just a tiny bit every day, kind of like what you said about building a habit. It won’t get you out of the funk any faster, but it lets you know exactly when you start regaining interest, and helps to keep momentum for when you return to it. (Of course, that’s easier said than done. My desktop, both physical and virtual, is cluttered with abandoned projects - but almost all the ones I have finished faced a period of disinterest and survived, so I guess the rule works when I manage to follow it.)

– Malcolm 2021-05-09 07:56 UTC

Interesting corollary, haha!

A related post: Momentum Has a Quality All of Its Own where noism argues for “weekly sessions that you run come hell or high water”.

– Alex 2021-05-10 07:44 UTC

How about a village generator? With everyone in it? Some inspiration:

– Björn Buckwalter 2021-05-14 16:50 UTC

It’s an interesting idea. At the same time, however, how would that ever be relevant at the table? I don’t think I hardly ever need four or five non-player characters per settlement. It’s a bit like a movie: sure, there are a ton of nameless faces in the background, but how many of them have a name the protagonists remember, a face the protagonists can recall? A handful, I’d wager. And I’m suspecting that this might be true for settlements as well.

To put it another way: if the players need a blacksmith, and it isn’t important, then there is one, nameless, and the interaction is quick, pay the money, get the goods, done. If there is dramatic tension to be had, then it’s different, of course. I’d say this should be rare: does the blacksmith guild hate you? Are orcs the best blacksmiths there are? If so, perhaps the scene can be tense, and perhaps the blacksmith needs a name after all.

I fear my own generator doesn’t live up to these principles, unfortunately. If you check out the village generator, it generates:

  • a number of people in case there’s mass combat
  • some guard animals in case there’s a smaller fight
  • some powerful people with levels (in the one I’m looking at: a level 10 warrior, a level 8 sorcerer, a level 2 wizard
  • a dragon hunter who happens to be a level 8 warrior who wants the party to come slay a dragon with him

All non-player characters generated with levels have names, a portrait, treasure, sometimes with a mission.

The generator can also produce the leaders of the local branches of secret societies, the members of a travelling circus, war veterans, and so on.

Sometimes, I think it’s a bit much. It’s so long! Then again, I often thing: every one of these villages could be a starting village. To be really good starting villages, however, there should be more missions. I’m not sure whether adding a named blacksmith, a named rope maker, a named baker, or any of the other jobs would help.

Perhaps I need to see or hear of an example of play where all the data actually made the game better. If I as the referee have to sit down and prep the town for half an hour with a highlighter, then I’d say I’d rather spend that half an hour adding the two or three people I know my players will look for by myself. At least that seems like a more enjoyable way to spend my time.

As an example, I offer the town table. The town generator generates two kinds of towns. The one I’m referring to contains the phrase “protected by a large keep”. It’s modelled after the classic keep on the borderlands. I think looking at the ten towns it produces per page is an interesting exercise: what do you like about it, and why? Right now, I think I like the village generator above the best: it’s limited in scope. What do you think?

– Alex 2021-05-14 18:16 UTC

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