Time for a Time Sink

I love video games.  And it’s a great time to love video games. There are games that are light-years beyond anything I used to play as a kid available all over the web for free. It’s freaking awesome.

Today I thought I’d share some of the ways I choose to derail my productivity (some I’ve mentioned before).

First is something called Pangya, which is a game in which you apparently play a Japanese school girl in a mystical world where you fight dragons by playing golf.

pangya

I don’t even…I can’t…what?

I should point out that I haven’t actually played this game I just keep watching the trailer. It’s like someone fed me Nyquil, stole my dreams, then made a video game out of them while on acid.

Okay, so that one is a bit of a joke.

This one is not. In fact, this one is probably the most engaging set of puzzles I’ve ever played. We’re talking multiple roommates in separate rooms swearing at their computers at two in the morning back when this was discovered. Hapland. So simple, so easy, just click on the stuff and stuff happens. The goal is to make the little men light the torches. Back when this game broke my spirit there were three puzzles, now I think there are four. If you Google “Hapland” then a number they’ll pop up.  Here’s the first one. Be afraid:

hapland

If you played that and it stressed you out, or if you’re just stressed out for other reasons, this next one will be a welcome change.  Locoroco is a wildly popular game for the PSP or something but I don’t care because I just go here and play the free sample. I love it. I love it and it soothes me. You move these little singing blobs around and make them touch the flower that’s their color and then they sing. And as you move through the board and get more flowers the singing changes. And it is wonderful. I seriously play the first board of this game when I’m stressed. It’s a great use of sound in a video game. Damn those blobs can sing. Needless to say you sort of need your sound on to get this one.

locoroco1

Now back to maddening. For our final choice we have GROW. You drag the things from the side into the center and try to make the thing in the middle…you know…grow. This one is all about the order that you use the items in. Use them in the right order and they all work in sync and everything…grows…before the addition of each new item and you achieve maximum growth. It’s hard to explain but if you start clicking you’ll get it and then before you know it you’ll be sitting at your computer, bedraggled and starving, muttering to yourself: “But if I use the tornado the ball grows except I need the water to make the egg.” And off to the left there are like eight more GROW games.

Which is fun.

grow

There you go.

That should kill the better part of your day.

Trust me, just say it runs using elves

My computer is dying.  It takes forever to load certain programs and I’ll sit and watch my browser window open for like a minute sometimes before it comes to life, and even then it’s all slow and clunky.

Basically after four or five years these things just start to wither and need to be replaced. Which, in absolutely no way, makes the slightest bit of sense to me. It’s a microchip, what the hell is going on in there? Is sludge accumulating? Would that even matter? Isn’t it just a logic circuit at the heart of this thing? What’s slowing down? The logic?

Please don’t answer that. Computers exist as one of many things in this world that I take great delight in knowing absolutely nothing about. In my mind you have a hard drive:

computer-drive-thumb

And then you have some bugs or something:

computer-chips-thumb

And sometimes, when a computer and a bug love each other very much, they decide to lie down together and give each other special adult hugs and this is where computer errors come from.

Seriously. I don’t want to know more.

Oh, yeah, sure, I know what you’re thinking.  “Well, sheesh, I know a lot more than that. There’s the CPU which tells the monitor what to do and RAM, that’s like working memory, and then the hard drive stores blah blah blah.”

Trust me. You have no idea what you’re talking about. See this thing?

Photo of difference engine at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California by Allan J. Cronin

Photo of difference engine at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California by Allan J. Cronin

That thing adds and subtracts numbers. That’s it. All that crap is required to make a non-thinking piece of machinery work out the logic required to add and subtract.

Want to know what’s going on at the heart of your computer? For things like multiplication and playing music and drawing lines and stuff? Go here.  This is a logic gate and is the bottom line use of all those ones and zeros.

If you’re the compulsive type I’d stay away.  I once tried to think through some of the simpler logic gates and it made my brain hot.  And if you’re one of those people who just “gets” this stuff then my hat is off to you.

But my main point here is that I need a new computer and I’m scared to buy one because I’ll have to use either Vista or Windows 7.

Why Chipotle Drives Me Insane

burritoI love Chipotle and all, their burritos are a staple of my diet, but every freaking time I order I get fouled up and wind up utterly baffled and mystified.

It starts off fine. On the first half of their little show you choose what item you want, they steam your tortillas, you pick your bean and meat. Fine. Great.

Then we move over to the second half of things and the whole system goes to hell.

First there are tomatoes. Tomatoes chopped up with some onions. Which is salsa. But they don’t call it salsa. They ask if you want tomatoes and then move on to the salsas. The salsas come in medium or hot versions. Hmm…what’s missing? Why, mild is missing. Which would really be a bunch of tomatoes chopped up with some onions. Which we already covered only they won’t call it salsa they call it tomatoes and whatever I get medium anyway and we move on to corn.

Just corn. That’s the next step. I say no to corn and then it’s cheesesourcreamguacamolelettuce. And they have never, ever, over the course of the eight bajillion burittos I’ve ordered there, made it through the cheesesourcreamguacamolelettuce part of the fixins bar with any semblance of what I wanted intact. I always have to back up, say things twice, usually yell at one point as they grab something I don’t want and prepare to put in on my burrito or skip over something I did want and move in to wrap my burrito.

And forget about the “The Guac Costs Extra” hurdle. There’s no telling at what point that information is getting transmitted. They tend to inform me of that at the worst possible moment so as to ensure that I don’t get lettuce.

corn cob

I molest children!

There has to be a better system. Why are the last four items all lumped together? Why does corn go alone? Is it unstable? Why are tomatoes by themselves way at the beginning? Why not move down the line item by item? Or, and I know this sounds crazy, allow corn to be mixed in with some other fixins during the ordering process? Maybe do three at a time there at the end instead of pretending that my yesnoyesyes response to cheesesourcreamguacamolelettuce is getting us anywhere?

I’m just saying is all…

One Year of The Mall in Central Park

I finished up my photo project over the weekend.  I have no idea how it turned out.  More on that in a bit. For now I will simply direct your eyes to where they have already most likely turned, the collage (montage?) below.

oneyearhireswebjp

This is, oddly, not the finished product.  The finished product exists as ones and zeroes on my computer and has never been seen by anyone.  What you see above is a drastically shrunken down version of the final product.  In fact, if you click on the picture you should get taken to a larger version.  But that still isn’t the real version.  The real version is forty-two inches by twenty-eight inches (though I think the size that helps put it in proportion is that each individual photo is six inches by four), and, as I keep mentioning, I’ve never seen it. That in no way fits on my screen so either I view it life-sized and see a tiny chunk of it or I view it in a reduced size which, considering the content, very much alters things.

A lot changes when each of those pictures is the size of a snapshot.  For example, some of the shots look sort of blurry in the small scale, but blown up that blurriness reveals itself as plain old weather. Some fog or snow or sun dappled leaves look wonderful in the large scale but it kind of looks mushy in the small scale.

And that’s to say nothing of what possibly gets lost due to your internet browser and my publishing platform not shaking hands properly, or the file size I have to save it in to upload it to this site a sane amount of time affecting things.

This is all very confusing and I can’t decide if I should print up a large scale version.  Mainly because I don’t know what I’d do with it…look at it once and then put it in my closet, most likely, which seems silly.

I don’t know.

Sharing work on the internet has tons of pluses but it does create weird moments like this.

Sprawl

social-networkThe new book has begun to scare me recently with the number of new characters it continues to spawn.  Linus, Lun-Yi, Fatboy, Memphis, Gary, Madeline, Janice, Filip, Pintar, David, Calliope…the list goes on.

But I can’t figure out how to cut any of them and it’s not like they all have massive roles.  They’re kind of the undercurrent that the main characters are all floating along.  So then I get a little less worried.

Yet, that is a lot and the plot is rather involved and I’m folding a lot of different locales and social groups into the story and…well it’s starting to feel like I’m writing the freaking Godfather saga with zombies.

Just so you know.

Also I kind of want to just hurry up and finish this thing.

Side Project Redux

lensthumbA few weeks ago I mentioned a side project I was working on involving a lot of of the same pictures of the mall here in Central Park. It’s been going oddly.  Trying to shrink down 52 photos into a collage is tricky and there’s a lot lost when you make them small enough so the entire collage is manageable.   It doesn’t look like I thought it would, which I guess is normal.  One of the reasons for this is that I expected a nice pastiche of colors as the leaves turned, but those damned elms are sneaky and they moved from clothed to naked freakishly fast.

Another reason for it not looking the way it did in my mind is that I have no idea what I’m doing. Which I like.  Photography is a hobby of mine and I want to keep it that way. I’m happy to learn things if I happen to bump into them tangentially but I’m not looking to think about it in the same way I think about writing.  I like being stupid at it. So my photoshopping skills are less than extraordinary and I think maybe someone who had a clue could make the colors pop a bit more.

I’m muddling my way along, though, which leads me to the third reason it isn’t looking the way I thought it would, which is that I’m wondering if I still want it to be what I wanted it to be. I have an awful lot of these pictures and putting them together in various ways is producing unexpectedly pleasant results.

For example, here’s a nice quartet of shots from the different seasons:

spring

summer

winter

fall

On Scintillation

hotnandcoldthumbI think my apartment exists on top of some sort of thermodynamic black hole, akin to a Bermuda Triangle of hots and colds.  It’ll be seventy degrees out in the morning and freezing in here, then it’ll dip into the fifties over the course of the day and I’ll start sweltering

It’s very odd.

Yeah.

Part 3 isn’t exactly going well.

These People Are Crazy

penandpaperthumbNaNoWriMo is starting to gain momentum. That’s National Novel Writing Month to the layman. It starts November 1st.

Once a year there is a large push amongst the population to write an entire novel in one month.  I always find this beyond impressive and always think about doing it but then never do. This year in particular wouldn’t work as I’d have to either finish Persistent Illusions this month and then write a new novel during November, or put Persistent Illusions on hold and write an entire other novel over the course of November and then switch back to Persistent Illusions, which is beyond crazy.

The mix of people who participate ranges from first time authors to a few established names who want to join in the fun to masochists to a fair amount of people who have “Write a novel” on their list of things to accomplish at some point in their life.  Also I’d imagine a lot of these people are drunk.  Writing a book in a month is out of hand bonkers.

I do enjoy it when this rolls around, though, despite never having participated because it does provide a nice kick in the ass. These people are writing an entire novel in a month while I sit here sweating my lowly, by comparison, daily word count.

Plus, for me a lot of writing consists of getting the hell out of my own way and just writing the stupid book, so this time of year always helps me find an extra gear.

I will continue to watch as this gathers steam over October and am very much looking forward to the November launch.

They should sell tickets or something.

October’s Contest is Open: The Guest Quiz

lifelinethumbOctober’s contest launched last night at midnight-ish.

We have another quiz, this one centered on Probability Angels, and for an added twist…I didn’t write it.

I was complaining to friend and fan Tomi (@twiley1012) on Twitter about having a hard time coming up with questions and, throwing me a lifeline, she started firing ideas at me.  Eventually I just stepped aside and decided to let her guest-pilot this one.

So if you like the quiz I’ll take all the credit for my amazing delegating, and if you don’t then blame her.

No, in all seriousness she’s a big fan and dove in with a lot of gusto and came up with some very fun questions.

So go check it out and enjoy yourself.

It’s all right here.