Haven’t had much time to sit around lately and just blog, but here’s what’s worth mentioning to those who are curious.
I took a couple of days off last week and went to Mont Tremblant (Tremblant Mountain), up northwest of Montreal. I went with [Supergirl]. It’s the first “vacation” we’ve ever done together, if you consider a 4-day weekend a vacation. I do, considering it’s the first couple of vacation days since I came back from Korea.
It’s reminded me how much it’s really nice to sometimes get out of the city and do something out of the ordinary. I mean, really, go somewhere where you don’t know anybody, go somewhere where you’ve basically just earmarked yourself to have fun and to hell with the budget, to hell with a schedule, to hell with anyone trying to ask you for this or that– just, really, a tactical retreat. Go out, have some crazy crepes for a meal, stay at a spa, make love all evening, talk, whatever… just, it’s nice to slow down and not feel that the day after the next is going to be a work day.
It’s nice to decompress.
I’m a workaholic. And like all -holics, the real dastardlyness of the addiction is that it is passive– you don’t have to be feeling the stress of it directly compromising your happiness, you don’t have to be in direct confrontation with it– it can be working on you even when you feel you’re in a normal mood. It’s always there, passive, like a dark passenger. Sure, our addictions take a back seat every now and then because of the normal on-off cycle of activities throughout or workdays so sometimes we feel they’re not there, but our routine brings them back constantly so that those cravings are satisfied. Usually our routines are setup in such a way that we reach a comfortable balance with our addictions, so we never even know we have them, we don’t even understand how they affect us.
I like to go cold turkey on something every now and then.
I think that after working here in the Operating department for about two months, I’ve sort of adjusted to ‘normal’ life. No more moonlighting or graveyard shifting. The psychological time dillation effect is finally gone, and I sort of have a better grasp of what’s going on with my surroundings now. I’m sleeping more consistently (getting tired and waking up at the right times) even if I still tend to sleep in three or four hour chunks.
It’s the second time I’ve ever gone skiing in my life– the first time was over ten years ago. I was so nervous even on the Green descents (easiest of the easy, next to the Bunny Hills apparently) that I was falling back on oldschool martial arts training– if you don’t want to fall, widen your base, keep your knees bent. Overdid it, I think, so I was ‘pizza plowing’ my way down the hill with my skiis pointed almost perpendicular to eachother, with my knees so bent I was almost in a seated position. That was the first run. By the time I got to the bottom of the hill, I was thinking to myself: “Holy shit. And Supergirl wants to ski for two days? That was just one run and I’m so fucking exhausted!” And I was! You should understand that I, by no means, have weak legs. When I used to do jiu jitsu, it was very uncommmon for anyone to ever get me in any leg locks, and throughout over 10 years of kickboxing, I’ve always been more of a kicker than a puncher. I also bike and run.
But to ski in a near seated position for half a trail? God, that was like murder. At the end of the first run I was so exhausted that my knee was starting to hurt from the strain and I was thinking, in my head, of how I was going to break it to Supergirl that maybe it’d be best if she went skiing on her own and that I waited for her down here at the base?
But you know what, I toughed it out. Tried the same route a second time. Tried to loosen up. Tried to see what a 5 year old, 50 pound kid had that I didn’t. It turned out to mostly be moxy and fearlessness, but lacking that I persisted with simple stubborness and masochism. Maybe add in a few parts machismo, because I didn’t want to let Supergirl down.
On the skii lift up for our second run, and upon closer observation, so many people were either a fifth of my age or 5 times my age, and I thought to myself– what the hell is this! Why is it so easy for them!
I should point out that I’m embarassingly acrophobic, so seeing sheer 50 foot drops off the sides of skii trails only separated from my possible trajectory by a few lines of flimsy 2X4s isn’t very reasurring. So I probably noticed early on that nobody else seems to be so scared that they’re skiing down in a horse stance.
And you know what? I’m glad I did. Because it got better, my technique improoved, and by the time we were on our fourth run, it was actually really fun.
I’ve started playing the newest Street Fighter game (Street Fighter IV, PS3 edition). Expect a post on that soon.
Speaking of things that I’m getting better at, I used my straight edge razor for the second time this week. I’ve gotten better. The first I used it, I butchered my chin a fair amount with a buncha papercuts and a couple of bloody cuts, but this time around I’m down to just 3 papercuts with almost no blood.
I’m not sure why I’m so fascinated with it– people have pointed out that if something happens, I might just slash out my jugular. Maybe it’s because I work in the surgery department now? Who knows! But it is fun, and though I really didn’t think it would turn out well at first, persistence is paying off.
I was complaining about a month ago about how Rogers Wireless (the telecom company I have my cellphone services with) was being really stupid about their Android phone service, but I’m glad to report that that’s actually going better. I’m not sure if it’s Rogers or Google who made the changes, but the Android Marketplace is finally starting to show some real promise.
First of all, the Rogers Android App was finally released. It allows me to manage several of my Rogers account settings from an App instead of having to browse sub-optimally through the website, or having to call tech support. This app has been advertised as “coming soon” for months and I’m glad to see it’s finally out there, although Rogers could do a better job of promoting it. It’s kinda buried among a gajillion apps out there.
Secondly, for the first time I’m starting to see pay-for apps on the Marketplace. I haven’t tried many of them because, frankly, I think that the freeware out there does a lot of excellent stuff already (althoug most apps seldom cost more than a couple of bucks, I guess you can call me cheap). But at least we’re seeing those paid apps now because it tells me that some people are trying to make money off of developing projects. And where there is money to be made, there will also be increasing freebies of increasing quality. At least, that’s the freeware model I’ve traditionally liked to subscribe to.
Marketplace apps are also suddenly being flooded with updated versions– it used to be, I’d install an app and there’d be a revision coming out once every month or so. Now, I install an app and there are revisions within a week for all of my popular ones. While I don’t want this to turn into some Microsoft style update-trigger-happy frenzy, I do like the idea of updates pending because it tells me, again, that someone’s working on this stuff. Especially since Android is off to a rough start in Canada from what I’ve heard.
The one thing that would make me very happy is if Rogers finally rolled out Android 2.0, because they’re still limiting the HTC Dreams to 1.5. Which, mind you, isn’t bad, but….
I’ve started playing this smartphone game called “Foursquare” which is sorta a GPS acheivements based game. (www.foursquare.com) Basically, you wander around in meatspace, and everytime you find yourself at a venue listed on Foursquare, you can ‘check-in.’ You get points by checking-in at a venue. Do it enough times and you can become the mayor of the place. Check-in with special patterns and you can earn yourself several acheivements.
Playing this game has revealed two things. Firstly, I’m an acheivement whore. I just can’t get enough of the mentality of setting my brain on some stupid obscure goal and working my ass of in stupid ways until I get that. It’s like a combination of ADD and OCD. More on this when the Street Fighter post comes. Not that this is bad… in fact, I think this is largely part of my charm. It’s not that this behavior is new to me, but what Foursquare reiterates is what Xbox 360 started for me– little pats on the back for going out of my way to master some strange practice that seems trivial in the big picture of things is something I really go out of my way for.
Secondly, more of my friends need to get good cellphones. Foursquare is available on several OSes, but the fact of the matter is, not only aren’t my friends playing it but many of them can’t. Of those who can’t, some are because their phones are simply too outdated (don’t have internet capabilities or GPS) or don’t know how (have a perfectly capable iPhone, but don’t know how to do anything with it except play Labyrinth.)
For all you iPhone users out there: aren’t you embarassed? You went through all that trouble to be part of the pack by getting a cutting edge piece of hardware, when the only thing that makes you part of the pack is that you’re holding effectively the same piece of black plastic and metal as everyone else. You might as well be using a rotary dial phone for all the good it’s doing you, because you are still using it just for calls, and maybe for SMS. Maybe you browse a few websites or use it as a calculator.
My problem with the fashion trends of technology is that they’re so disfunctional– iPhones and pretty much anything Apple is in fashion, to be sure. But how many people out there actually need the hardware that they’re using?
I think people mistake my feelings towards Apple products. It’s not that I don’t like apple products– in truth, I think they’re pretty marvelous. They bring to the table a lot of ‘gamebreaking’ changes, with an all-inclusive sort of immersive experience that you can’t help but feel is complete.
My beef is one of efficiency. The technology should meet the need and the want. Of course people want more than they can use, but that’s ugly. Elegance is in the form fit customization of the tool to the user… it’s in scnchronization and comfort, not in excess!
But I guess that explains also why many people don’t play games like Foursquare– they just don’t know how, and it’s outside of their circles.
I started playing Army of Two: 40th Day with Supergirl, and we were talking about it later that night. I love how with her, we can try something new every now and then we just never really run into a situation where we’re like “God! I have to endure this to be with him/her?” It seems like not only do we get along well with what we know about eachother, but things we don’t know about tend to go just fine as we learn them too.
She’s of a hardcore MMORPG background (WoW, Diablo II, FFXI, Ragnarok Online, etc) that doesn’t necessarily develop the first person (or third person) shooter stomach. She gets a bit queasy. Army of Two might be one of the better games to try this on because, compared to a Bioshock or Halo game, it’s a relatively slower FPS, more in a realistic category.
Regardless of the technical bits, it was a lot of fun to play AoT2 with her. AoT2 is one of those games where communication and teamwork is essential. Like in Gears of War, levels are designed specifically so that two players can work together to distract, outposition, and enfilade the computer opponents. Real life communication is necessary because you’re always shouting something out like “By the railing on the right!” or “I’m running low on ammo!” It’s equally important for situations like “Oh shit! I just dropped a grenade by accident!”
We’re going to be playing AoT2 again tonight at my place, so we’ll have some fun with that.
This friday (tomorrow) we’ll be at Supergirl’s place, and [SiB] will be our guest for some Street Fighter IV. I’m really looking forward to that!