Weekly status update [0012/????]

It was a very split week, with Saturday and Sunday in Arkansas, Monday a grueling haul across a third of the continental United States, and most of the rest of the week recovering from said haul back in the comfort of my home.  That said, there’s some things worth bulletizing, so let’s do that.

  • The writeup on all the major writing I’ve done hasn’t had any responses, which is sad, but it refreshed my knowledge on all of that stuff, which was nice.  Still a lot of garbage, though.
  • I’ve watched a lot of Brooklyn Nine-Nine this week.  Too much, to be honest; I binged it for a couple of days, a thing I’m trying not to do any more with TV.  But the show has a lot of episodes, and they’re so popcorn-y, that it’s hard to resist.  I’ve slowed down my consumption rate to just a couple a day now.
  • I finally caught back up on GameNight!, unquestionably my favorite YouTube show about board games.  I’m actually bringing CrossTalk to a thing tomorrow, along with a deck of 11 nimmt! cards we can use to play The Mind, which looks absurd and amazing.
  • I haven’t talked about Colemak in a while.  I’m still using it exclusively, except for once a week or so when a password gets dangerously close to failing out due to my typos.  I haven’t cracked much more than 65wpm, but I also haven’t been pushing myself to type faster, either, thanks to the whole Wrist Situation.  I should work on it more, though.
  • Speaking of which, my wrists are much better behaved than they have been in ages.  I actually spent most of today without them on, even typing some, with no discomfort.  I wear the braces a lot now, and I think they’ve helped a ton.  I may be able to roll back down to just wearing them to sleep.
  • Did lots of puzzles, mostly sudoku, as I’m getting near the end of another book I’ve been working on for years.
  • Not a lot of reading, though.  I haven’t picked my Kindle back up since the end of the trip.  I need to keep on with The Wheel of Time before it all slips out of my head.  The size of that series is intimidating as hell, though.

The long trip was the perfect combination of “great to go, great to come back,” and I suspect I won’t be doing any serious travel again until the holidays, although you never know.  Nice thing about retirement: if I decide to head off and drive around for a week or two, I can do that.  Nice.

Weekly status update [0008/????]

I’m writing this right before crashing out early for tomorrow’s trip; I plan on getting up at 5:30am and hitting the road by 6am so that I can get into Baton Rouge at something resembling a reasonable hour.  We’ll see how well I manage.

  • In preparation for the aforementioned trip, I picked up a Samsung Chromebook 3 from Amazon this week.  My full assessment will have to wait until I’m back, but so far I’m pretty impressed.  It even natively supports Colemak, which came as a pleasant surprise.
  • Speaking of which, my wrists are behaving quite a bit better… or, at least, they were, until I was lazy last night and didn’t put them on before going to bed.  Sigh.  I plan on wearing them for at least most of the day tomorrow, which should help some, but I’ve got to stop doing that.  It’s not doing me any favors.
  • Not a lot of gaming this week, other than the usual little stabs at the various free-to-play games you’ve gotta do every day to keep up with the grind.
  • Well, that’s not entirely true.  I had a couple of old coworkers/friends over on a whim yesterday afternoon, and we had a blast playing video pinball (both Pinball FX 3 and The Pinball Arcade) along with the perennial Towerfall Ascension.
  • I went to a farewell dinner for one of my old teammates; they’re moving to Raleigh, which makes me sad to see them go, but I suspect they’re going to be a lot happier there from a social perspective.  It’s rather too quiet here for most people.
  • (Re)read some more of the Culture series, watched a few more episodes of The Punisher, solved more puzzles.  Steady state, in other words.

Now to try and get some sleep.  I usually have a lot of trouble sleeping the night before traveling, but I hope that won’t be the case this evening, particularly given how much less stressed I am about this trip than, uh, any other one in living memory.  I guess it’s time to find out!

Weekly status update [0006/????]

Weekly adulting level: High.

End-of-week energy level: So low.  So, so low.

  • I spent most of the week avoiding full day binges at the computer and PS4 in an attempt to baby my wrists given my long-running issues; it’s helped quite a bit, but I’m going to keep it up for another week at least.
  • Because of that, I haven’t been typing very much.  I’m still in the low 60s typing speed wise, which is simultaneously more than fast enough for… anything, really… and still so much slower than my traditional typing speed that it’s driving me nutso.  I wanted to start properly drilling this week with the help of gtypist, but I’ve only done a bit of that thanks to the whole wrist thing.  In a couple of weeks, though… yeah.
  • The visit to the ENT went really well, and I recommend seeing Dr. de Neef at Carolina Ear, Nose, and Throat if you need to see someone and don’t have a regular.
  • The other big bit of adulting was me getting all of my stuff together and bringing it (digitally) to H&R Block for that most dreaded of American traditions: taxes.  I did that yesterday, and found out today that I owe… a lot.  Nearly forty grand a lot.  The raw number was a bit shocking, but I knew it was going to be a huge tax bill, since I sold almost all of my tech company equity at the end of last year.  Still, ouch.
  • That said, with all three of those essentially done, I can now start planning for a multi-week road trip to Arkansas and Louisiana to visit friends and family.  I’m actually pretty excited about this!  Which is rare for me, because as I’ve mentioned before travel is most definitely not My Thing.  I’m looking forward to the languid “go whenever, leave whenever” possibilities for visits that being retired affords me, though.
  • I finished the second season of The Expanse, which was even better than the first.  Still working on Transparent, although I’m close to the end there too.  I really want to start on the second season of Jessica Jones next, but my completionist tendencies mean that I have to watch Punisher first.
  • My other big “not gaming, not computing” time sink has been a reread of Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels.  I made it through the first two this week, and am already about 20% of the way into Use of Weapons, which remains the hardest one to reread.  (I’ve done this “read them all” thing a few times already.)  After Weapons, though, the rest of the series is smooth sailing.

…that’s a lot of text, and my arm is tweaking a bit, so I’ll stop there and settle back down with my book.  But, hey: progress on actual life things!

Slow moves day

I’ve had problems with my wrists for years.  A lot of it comes from bad keyboard hygiene in my youth, and, well, all the way into adulthood; switching to Colemak is mostly an attempt to stave off those problems as long as I can.  There’s no question that it’s helping, but there’s also no question that I’m playing more games, and typing more, than I did when I was still working.  (Turns out workdays have lots of interruptions–meetings, lunches followed by board games, hallway chats–that you just don’t have when you’re home alone all day.  Who knew.) And that additional wear-and-tear is causing issues.

I’m wearing my wrist braces every night now, a habit I used to follow religiously and then gave up for the most part during my most recent job tenure.  My wrist problems are definitely exacerbated by the fact that I’m also a hand-curler in my sleep; I often wake up in strange positions, limbs twisted unnaturally and with various extremities going bzzzzzzzz from a lack of blood flow.  I’m also wearing them a lot during the day too, particularly when I’m doing a marathon game session.  They help, but still.

I think I’m going to have to simply start going easier on all the tech.  More reading, which is good; probably a bit more passive television watching, which is less good, but it’s not like there isn’t a ton of stuff for me to catch up on.  It’s frustrating, of course.  Having your body fail you slowly but surely is part of growing old, but I can’t imagine what I’d do if I could no longer use my hands.  So I’ve got to be careful, play it safe, and listen to when my body is telling me it’s time to quit.

Speaking of which: enough typing for now.  More later this week.

 

Weekly status update [0005/????]

Hey, I adulted this week!  Just a bit, but still.

Things:

  • Nearly a thousand dollars of work on my car–four new tires, new front brakes, further brake work–but hopefully that’s all it’ll need for the next couple of years.  I’ve been driving my Scion xD now for a decade and it’s never had a single actual mechanical problem, knock on wood.  Let’s keep that trend going.
  • More Transparent and The Expanse, although I’m almost done with the latter.  I’m delighted that they finished the adaptation of the first book halfway through the second season; they let the material breathe more with those extra episodes, and it paid off.
  • Still playing way, way too much Let It Die.  I need to beat it so I can put it aside.
  • I’m over 60wpm with Colemak.  Improvements are much slower now, but I’m already a faster typist than the majority of the world, so I’ll take it.
  • Turns out that montelukast (brand name Singulair) actually works when Claritin doesn’t, so I have a sense of taste again.  That’s nice.
  • Watching a lot of Twitch.  Mostly Landail and catsonurhead still, but also one of my old coworkers who streams Spelunky on Thursday nights, and…
  • …various folks streaming Prismata.  I backed it on Kickstarter years ago, and it finally hit Steam Early Access yesterday.  Several biggish streamers have been sponsored to play it; those streams are generally awful, with lots of people whining about the streamer not playing Gwent or Hearthstone or whatever.  What’s been much better are the random small streamers jumping in and having fun.  It’s been neat to see this from the side of someone already very familiar with the game.

I’m overdue for a longer form retrospective, given that I’m five weeks in.  I’ll try to write one this coming week, along with a bit more besides.  I still haven’t figured out a review-discuss format I’m happy with, which is stymieing my writing some, and as I’ve mentioned before my life isn’t exactly action-packed, so it’s hard to come up with topics that won’t bore most of you out of your skull.  I’ll work on it, though.

Weekly status update [0004/????]

Adulting: Minimal.

Videogaming: Maximal.

Able to breathe like a normal human being? Nah.  Apparently that’s not in the cards.

Bored? Never.  Never!

Further details:

  • After speeding up roughly 2wpm a day since I started learning Colemak, I’ve hit something of a plateau over the last couple of days in the mid-50s.  I’ve spiked to 58wpm a couple of times, but never over.  My low accuracy rate is killing my momentum; I haven’t internalized the new keyboard layout anywhere near the level of QWERTY, and that lack is finally showing through.  I’m trying to force myself to not hit keys until I’m sure they’re the right ones, but the back of my mind is all GOTTA GO FAST, and so I typo all over the place.  Only having Backspace on Caps Lock is keeping me from still being in the low 30s.  I realize that 58wpm is well above average, but it’s roughly half of my old typing speed, which is just. too. slow.  And “a word a second” is so tantalizingly close…
  • I continue to work through Transparent and The Expanse, albeit at a slower rate than I would normally go.  I’m not even managing an episode a day.  That’s because of…
  • Videogames.  Mostly Let It Die.  So much Let It Die.  But also quite a bit of Gems of War, which is a free-to-play match-3 game made by the people who made Puzzle Quest back in the day.  It’s definitely the sleaziest of the four F2P games I’ve played heavily (the other two are Spelunker World and Warframe, if you’re curious), but the match-3 gameplay is just so good that I’m willing to overlook its flaws.  I actually put small sums of money this week into all of them other than Spelunker World.  Unsurprisingly, the best dollar-to-value deal was Let It Die.  If you own a PS4, you owe it to yourself to check it out.
  • I read my first novel of retirement, Version Control by Dexter Palmer.  I recommend it.  More here.
  • I should probably do something about the car before the wheels all fall off at the same time, like in a cartoon.
  • Can’t write.  Gotta learn how to type first!  (Are they buying it?)

Weekly status update [0003/????]

I continued to make a good go of minimizing the amount of adulting this week.  In fact, I was rewarded for doing so; I got the notice in for getting my car inspected so that I can update its registration. This means that the maintenance procrastination I’ve engaged in for the last month and a half retroactively became time-saving genius.  Good job, me!

I’m up to 42 words per minute of typing with Colemak.  Median typing speed according to Google is 41, so in less than a week of using a completely new keyboard layout I’m already at a functional level.  It’s a painfully slow and error-ridden functional level, mind.  I’m actually at an ugly point where I’m still not great at all with the New Thing, and my ability to do the Old Thing is much worse due to overwriting those synapses in my brain.  I’ve taken to doing a few QWERTY typing tests every day just to make sure I don’t become a hunt-and-peck typist when I sit down at any keyboard that isn’t mine.  Thankfully the keyboard that is mine supports changing layouts on the fly in the hardware, so I don’t have to mess with operating system jankiness when I bounce back and forth.  I haven’t had to do that much either; it’s just long passwords that are more muscle memory of patterns than actual characters I remember that send me scurrying back to QWERTY.

Other than that, I’ve:

  • taken to watching both catsonurhead and Landail on the regular on Twitch; the former is a super-friendly speedrunner and the latter is on an insane quest to play through every console RPG ever;
  • started streaming on Twitch myself at http://twitch.tv/sunfalltoennien, mostly Let It Die but also some random other stuff that no one watches;
  • finished the fifth season of The Americans and the second season of Transparent, both of which were amazing;
  • gone to dinner twice with old coworkers at the same restaurant, because it has bacon wrapped cheese stuffed jalapeños and is therefore automatically the best restaurant in town;
  • used the whole slow typing thing to push off coding and writing yet another week.

I also played some board games early in the week, which I already wrote about here.  I both do and don’t look forward to giving gaming in a public space another try.

Lastly, bored status: still definitely no.

Colemolasses

Apparently I really hate myself, because late last night I switched my keyboard to Colemak.

For those of you who are not keyboard layout nerds, first: how dare you? Second, it’s a remapping of the standard QWERTY layout to this:

Same same, but different, but still same.

I taught myself to type when I was six, with the help of MasterType; I didn’t take a formal typing class until middle school, on old electric Smith Coronas.  The teacher promised me I would type faster “home row” style by the end of the semester than I did my own way at the start.  She was right, but I incorporated a lot of the lessons from the class into my own idiosyncratic style, and I typed even faster that way.

Nowadays I manage somewhere around 120 words per minute on a good keyboard.  By comparison, what I’ve written here so far has taken me roughly 30 minutes, for a blazing rate of 5 words per minute.  That’s a dramatic improvement over the 2-3 I managed last night.

So: why?

I have bad wrists, and extended typing sessions can become genuinely painful for me.  Colemak dramatically reduces the amount your hands need to move for the vast majority of words; I feel my large movements on the keyboard have been reduced by upwards of 90%.  (Also, they now more resemble a sloth in molasses rather than the previous hummingbird on speed.)

Colemak is also much better for programming than the more common and more famous Dvorak; as someone who at least aspires to get back to leisure coding, that’s pretty vital.

And if I’m going to do this, I need to start now; NaNoWriMo is only eight and a half months away.  I’ve got to be able to actually fit 1667 words into 24 hours by then or it will be literally impossible.

And thus.  I have a mechanical keyboard but I’m intentionally not switching the keys; I haven’t needed to look at them since I was six and I’m not starting now.  I have the image above permanently on my desktop but I haven’t looked at it once while typing this.  I’m doing this for real.  The hard way.

(And I managed to type this last half in 20 minutes, for a rate of 9wpm.  Slow, steady, oh my Deity so slow progress.)

Sunday edit: I’m up to about 15wpm now.  Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge Cats of twitch.tv/catsonurhead as the key catalyst on finally committing to switching to Colemak, something I’ve been waffling on for years.  Check out her stream if you’re into old video games played well in a friendly atmosphere.  Thanks, Cats!