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  Winter Waitingness 07:29 PM -- Thu December 29, 2005  

I just got the fixes on the 2nd to last WW world. There's just one more I'm going to give a little more time. I hope it comes in, because I hate having to put parts of it out after the pack happens. So that's the WW status as it stands.

Very close to nothing is getting done this week. And I don't mind. It's vacation, I daresay. Here's something wondrous: I got Guitar Hero for Christmas. If you don't know, it's a game where you play guitar. Simple as that. It's awesome. Imagine Dance Dance Revolution, but instead of stepping on the arrows, you hold down colored fret buttons on a plastic guitar and hit a strum bar. It even has a whammy bar to let you bend the notes. I have now finished Normal difficulty, although two songs in it have yet to be completed - Unsung is LUDICROUS. It's harder than any other song in the list, and it's only in the 3rd set out of 5! I even was able to do Cowboys From Hell, which incidentally is truly impossible (my first five tries, I didn't even get to the lyrics), but Unsung? No sir. It's that horrible lightning fast back and forth between red and yellow notes. It's murderous.

The great thing in Guitar Hero is that you truly experience getting better. I have just gradually gradually gotten better, and I can go back and check out the Easy mode songs I had so much trouble with initially, and just flat out wail on them. Even songs from the beginning of Normal mode, which were rather mind-blowing when I first saw them, are now just plain easy. I'm terrified to think how it can get even harder than it is, but somehow I think I'll actually just keep getting better. It's a magical game.
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  Festivus For The Rest Of Us 11:01 PM -- Fri December 23, 2005  

It's amazing just how much there is to do during the holidays. For example, there's spending days tending to your sick wife instead of working. That, and all the more common holiday madness, really slashed into my work plans. I had a secret project (see the Sneak Peek page!) that I really hoped (but didn't expect) to get done by Christmas as a big surprise. Well, it's not very far along at all. It's got some cool stuff in it though, and it will get done quickly when I finally do have time to do some work again. Then it's back to the usual projects, but I'm glad to do this one anyway. Such a nice feeling diving back into this old stuff. It's great.

Sadly, I am afraid that Winter Wackiness will not come out until at least Tuesday. I will be gone over the weekend, so no work to be done then. They're looking great from what I have played though. So consider the Sneak Peek to be the holiday treat you get. I know it's something many people have been pestering me for a lot. Winter Wackiness is a late Boxing Day present. Or an early New Year's one.

Have a nice time amongst yourselves, and I will plot more ideas for the secret project.
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  Sneak Peek: Guess! 10:53 PM -- Fri December 23, 2005  

Here's a montage of different parts of the big surprise game that was supposed to be out for the holidays and very very much wasn't. It's not very close to done at all, but give me a month or two and it'll be just about there.

So what IS it!? Good question! Feel free to guess. It should be pretty easy to figure out, but you have to guess the entire title, not just the easy part. Let's see if anybody can get it! Happy Holidays to all!
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  Birthday Update 07:04 PM -- Sat December 10, 2005  

To celebrate, I finally finished Sick Classic Mode in THUG2, and then proceeded to get the very last of the gaps (there was a FAQ involved, to be sure)! Hooray!!

There's also a 48-hour contest going on right now, and I have a really intriguing and weird entry partly done, but I think I'm going to drop it. I've done enough of it to see that it's weird and wacky (and I'll put it up sometime so you can see how funky it is), but not really worth pursuing when I have much more important things that NEED to get done. So much to do this holiday season...
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  Winter Fun 05:06 PM -- Wed December 7, 2005  

Work is proceeding at a breakneck pace right now for various super secret reasons. This weekend there's a 48-hour contest again, which I am really looking forward to, but I'm thinking I might not be able to enter, because I do need to keep plowing away at what I'm doing. I don't know, we'll have to see. Either way, I will be immersed in serious work at an intense pace. So that's why I am neglecting this journal now, and will be neglectful in the near future as well. I'll be back in time, with gifts!

Speaking of neglect, I haven't finished my novel, and haven't been writing an hour a day like I should. But this stuff I'm doing is important! On the other hand, I'd hate to lose my inertia and get lost as to what I should be doing. So I need to make time for that too... it might be a draining couple of weeks! Back to the grindstone. I'll try to be less sneaky about my projects in the future, but just let me have this one last shocker. I enjoy surprising people.
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  On Reuse 06:31 PM -- Thu December 1, 2005  

A lot of people think of living with recycling, reuse, simplification, etc, as living in misery. That is, you deny yourself everything fun and good for the sake of the world. And you can definitely do that, and it would be the best for the world, I am sure. But you don't have to do that. People like to think of that kind of misery and go "forget it!" and just continue on throwing trash everywhere.

But the right way to reuse and recycle is not that. Don't beat yourself up, don't go nuts and try to restore the world in one afternoon. It's about changing attitudes. There is no recycling where we live now, and it makes me uncomfortable. I don't feel right throwing away plastic bags and bottles and cans. I've recycled all my life, I was raised doing it. And that's the key. To develop your mindset such that you feel comfortable and happy doing the things that are good for the world. Not to deny yourself what you like, but to learn to appreciate and like things that are good.

The example that made me think of this issue: Today I was thinking about wrapping christmas presents. I thought of doing it in something reusable. In the past, once or twice, I've given things (to my wife) wrapped in a towel. It does the job, and you don't waste anything. I've also used junk mail quite regularly. Of course, I will end up using wrapping paper (maybe junk mail, but if we've already got wrapping paper as I think we do, it would be a waste not to use it!), and that's fine. I'm not denying myself the wonders of wrapping paper. Rather, I have the mindset that appreciates the craftsmanship and fun of wrapping things in junk mail, and feels good about the savings (not the biggest savings ever, more like a matter of principle - I'm lethally cheap).

There's lots of ways this kind of "appreciation of the bad" manifests in every life. My wife drives half an hour each way to get to work. But she appreciates the view (which is quite amazing on that road), and the time to think. Not that she doesn't often wish she could just teleport to work, but the drive is a small sacrifice for the great place to live (sure beats the city!). Another really simple example: I love ramen! It's very good. I eat it like 3 times a week.

So don't pity me and my ramen. I eat it because I like it. If I could, I'd recycle because it doesn't feel wrong like tossing recyclables does. I live my life the way I want to, because if I didn't... well, I'd be really stupid. So when it comes to doing the "right" thing, don't force yourself. Find the good in it, see if you can appreciate it enough to make it worthwhile. If not, I'd say you should find some other right thing to do, because forcing yourself to do things just doesn't work.

But there's so much fun and good feeling that comes from doing things that you know are good. I think most of the time, if you give it a try, you find you like it better than not doing it, even if just because of the feeling of doing good. A lot like exercise. And a lot like exercise, you'll often fall out of the habit and back to your slobbish ways. That happens too. But it doesn't change the fact that you really enjoyed the exercise, recycling, and ramen!

(One last example: I really appreciate my vegetarianism, because it's easier on my semifunctional stomach, cheaper, broadened my food horizons dramatically, stopped me from worrying about what's in my cutting boards, kept me from having to prepare gross raw meat, and it's a healthier diet. I could whine about the meat I miss the flavor of, but I almost never remember it - I'm too busy eating what I do have! Very busy, he said, patting his big belly)
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