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.


  • 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?)

Butterfly in my eye

I just finished reading the first book of my retirement, Version Control by Dexter Palmer.  It was complicated.  Very good, but complicated, a mix of literary and science fiction that took me a while to find the rhythm of; once I did, though, it made me stay up until 2am last night and then power through the rest today.

I don’t read nearly as much as I used to, though.

One reason is that I actually find it physically difficult; since I’ve developed allergies, my eyes water a lot, and extended reading sessions are a sure way to have me weeping constantly.  I put up with it when the reading’s good, but if it’s merely “okay” it’s easy to make excuses and just do something else that won’t entail me wiping my eyes every few minutes.

Another is a sort of cyclical issue that I find myself dealing with at almost all times.  Biorhythms are complete and total nonsense, but I find that my tastes for “things what I do with leisure time” follow these sort of boom-bust cycles that last days, weeks, or months.  I’ll go three months without turning my PS4 on, then (like right now) find myself having to sleep with wrist braces because I’m spending so much time playing vidja.  I won’t touch a puzzle book for a few weeks, then power through half of one in three days.  And I’ve been in a long, long drought of can-be-arsed energy when it comes to reading fiction, particularly novels I haven’t read already.

That distinction is important.  Right now I really, really want to reread the entire Culture series by Iain Banks for the… fourth? fifth? time, even though there’s a stack of unread novels sitting on my kitchen island.  The only reason Version Control happened is because it’s a library book and I already had to renew it once.  Now that I finished it, I may allow myself to dive back into that world of dry wit and unparalleled futuristic utopia as a bit of an escape.  But it’ll only take me a couple of weeks to reread all nine books, and then I’ll be right back where I started.

I wonder if it’s at least partly a move away from passive entertainment.  I don’t watch many movies or TV shows either, and limit myself to a single episode per day even when I’m in the middle of an excellent show, like The Expanse right now or Altered Carbon a couple of weeks ago.  Reading is more pleasurable, the mindscape always more powerful and expressive than a moving picture, but it’s still linear consumption of someone else’s work.

I’m not sure.  What I do know is that I want to write more, and to write well I need to read more, even if that means upsetting my own… mediarhythms, let’s say.  We’ll see if forcibly pushing myself out of that lack of desire works, or if it just makes things worse.

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, 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.

Weekly status update [0002/????]

This week was quite a bit quieter than last week, which was already pretty mellow.  Those of you expecting a ton of slice-of-life updates in this blog’s future are going to be pretty disappointed.  Unless you really want to read about me solving puzzles, playing Let It Die, watching some Netflix and the occasional videogame stream on Twitch, and going to bed.  There, congratulations, that’s the slice-of-life for the past two weeks, all in one paragraph!


I already wrote a post about signing up for COBRA, which was the biggest thing I did all week.  Other than that, I:

  • Opened up Giles’ source code, thinking about doing some leisure coding on it, and went “nope”;
  • Thought about cleaning up one of my old short stories for posting here, and went “nope”;
  • Thought about getting my tires replaced on my car, and went “nope”.

I think I’ll want to do all of those things sooner rather than later, but for the time being I’m honestly loving the low-involvement lifestyle and I’d be lying if I said otherwise.

do sorely miss playing board games every day at lunch.  I love board games and I don’t get to play them anywhere near as frequently now, which makes me sad.  If any of you readers would be up for some Tabletop Simulator, or Giles, just let me know.  I’m available, uh, whenever, I guess.

Still not bored, though, and in no danger of becoming so.  That’s important, because if everything goes according to plan, that week counter is going to go into quadruple digits.

Weekly status update [0001/????]

My first week of retirement draws to a close, and I’ve gotta say: it feels good.  Real good.

Of course I miss the hell out of a lot of people; some have kept in touch, whether via email or Hangouts (and even a few via comments here on the blog–hi, Beth, Chris, and Derrick!), but we all know how much easier it is to just not communicate.  Staying in contact with others is work, real work, and life in the modern era is easy to fill with so much other stuff that unnecessary communication falls by the wayside.  As someone with free time now, it’s incumbent on me to keep those channels open as best I can.  And I’m going to try.

Work, though?  I’d be lying if I said I missed having a job.  Maybe I will, as time goes on.  Right now, not so much.

The only Real Adulting I did this week involved picking up some prescription glasses I procured on the cheap thanks to my ex-employer’s excellent benefits; I now have what amounts to eight different pairs of glasses with the same prescription.  You know, Just In Case.  In life as I did at work, I plan for catastrophic failure.

Definitely Not Adulting things I did this week:

  • Watched a non-trivial amount of serialized stuff via the magic of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.  Strong recommendations: Altered CarbonThe AmericansTransparent.  Less strong, but still enjoyable as a not-quite-as-good Black MirrorPhilip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams.  Altered Carbon is on Netflix and the others are on Prime Video if you want to follow along at home.
  • Played a tremendous amount of Let It Die, Suda51’s most recent weird-ass video game.  It’s free-to-play, but in a way that you could easily never pay a penny and enjoy the game completely.  I’m actually in danger of burning out on it due to putting so many hours in–I’m somewhere north of 70 right now and less than halfway through the game–so I’ve intentionally backed off some in the last few days to give the game some room to breathe.
  • Got back into solving pencil-and-paper puzzles.  I have a Japanese sudoku magazine that has less than ten puzzles left before I’ve completed it from cover to cover.  I can’t remember the last time I completed every single puzzle in a puzzle book.  Of course the ones left are the hardest, but that’s part of the fun.  After I finish it, I plan on moving onto Djape’s first Trigons book.  Trigons are fascinating and pretty brutally hard, so I’m going to have my work cut out for me.
  • Ate a bunch of junk food that I shouldn’t have.  Malt-o-Meal’s Chocolate Marshmallow Mateys are maybe the best sugar cereal I’ve ever had, and my newfound love for them terrifies me.

Things I didn’t do but plan on maybe kinda sorta looking at next week, you know, if I feel up to it or whatever:

  • Getting back into leisure programming.  Probably something simple at first, like some code cleanup on Giles.  Like many things in my life, I have lots of grandiose plans, but now I also have way less in the way of excuses to not actually execute on those.
  • I should probably, like, look at Rewind (AKA the novella I always talk about as being “actually pretty good”) or something?  And, uh, think about how the hell I’m going to expand it to a novel?  Yeah, this almost certainly isn’t happening next week, because it’s big and scary and I need to work up to it.

This entry is already too long, so I’ll leave you with a question: what would you, the reader, like to see here?  I’ve tentatively settled on a few-times-a-week schedule, but I’m open to feedback as to what sorts of things I should be writing.  Personal reviews of games and movies and stuff?  Musings on game design?  More slice-of-life bits?  Feel free to either reply to this blog entry or send me Philback.  There’s no point in writing this stuff if no one wants to read it; I already have entire novels that are never going to see the light of day and I’m not sure I need to add to that volume.