One of the promises that I gave to myself just following the turn of the year was to try to write more.
No… Really to write anything.
I love words; sometimes I forget that, but when I’m writing I love to explore how things can be expressed. It’s just another aspect of my weird personality that loves to twist, distort, examine, confuse, amuse, poke and prod until I learn something — if only that I learn either not to do that again, or that there was nothing to learn, or that I just saw a side of something I shouldn’t have bothered with.
A well-crafted paragraph is a marvel to me. The elegant turn of phrase, the well-placed and pithy pun, the vivid description, the clever imagery, these things delight me.
Apparently, I also like lists.. I’ve noticed that recently, that lists of things are something I’m either good at or enthusiastic about. Perhaps even both.
So, I’m going to try to write more frequently. When originally conceived, this idea was some sort of “blog-a-day” or “thing-a-day” type resolution, but that seems far too fragile to me, and I’m not that productive. On the other hand, once a week is technically what I do now, even if it is in the more regular format of show notes for Cappacino! or the WEIRD Show.
So, somewhere in between those two, I guess. Hopefully it is interesting to those who might read it, but I’m not entirely concerned with that. It is as much an exercise for me as it is intended to have an audience.
So, what should my first post be on? What, for that matter, will be the content of these missives?
I don’t know.
I’m a fairly private person. Not because I have anything particularly profound to hide, but rather because I don’t think anything of my own personal life is particularly interesting. I am, by most counts, ordinary.
Well, at least to myself I am.
I’m in my 30s, although I could swear that’s a misprint somewhere. If anything, I think I’ve lived my life off by a decade: in my teens I was a more serious student (at least, my rosy memory tells me so), quiet and a reader; in my 20s, I was working as a programmer, well on my way to really earning the “senior” title I felt lay around my burdened shoulders. In my 30s, however, I’ve gone back to school, and have been living what would normally be the life of a 20-year old.
Temporarily, I’m fairly messed up, I suppose.
I’m a gamer, too, and fascinated by all sorts of odd things. I suppose the two audiences who might read this would know this, either from the WEIRD Show or friends of mine.
I am now a voice actor. I suppose I technically was a few years ago, back when we recorded Wasted Tape, but one completed episode of a show with my voice front and center (and a bit off to one side, with a bad Quebec accent) will be coming out fairly soon, and I’ve been asked to audition for a bit role in an episode of another series (one I’m enjoyed very much, as a matter of fact). Another bit role audition came a month ago, and I’m expecting to hear back soon on whether lines are required. More will follow, perhaps with me finally writing something..
Ah, and of course, I’m a radio… er.. a radio “something”. “Performer” is valid, because I’ve been behind the mike nearly every week for about a decade; “DJ” might be valid, considering I’ve done a music show practically since I started; “organizer” is another role that might fit, given that I’m on the programming and executive committees of CHSR, and that I have also been thrust into this position of “Spoken Word Coordinator”. Although, “thrust” is a bit of throwing the blame, given that I also volunteered, but the position has not been one I could grant much time to. That will change with this new year, I hope — no, I plan.
But none of this is what has driven me to start posting. No, in part it is insomnia, created from a random sleeping schedule and a tendency to be a night owl that is sometimes tamed but often not. The insomnia is also partially brought on by my heart which, having caused me some concern in June, has become somewhat more intent on having attention paid to it.
I tried just laying there. Well, after reading a couple of chapters of my current book-du-nuit (China Meiville’s Perdido Street Station). I’m developing a more strict code of “read before going to bed”, which is another resolution I have thus far kept (when I remember not to work directly until bedtime, which is less frequently that I care to recall).
My heart has a nasty habit of beating too hard. It probably isn’t, but paying more attention means I notice it, and can’t forget it. It’s like when you notice your breathing, and suddenly you are forced to consciously breathe; a similar thing happens when walking.
It’s annoying, but frustratingly hard to dismiss. You must perform the Zen act of not thinking about it, which is made harder by the fact that you are motivated to not think about by the very fact that you are thinking about it.
Sometimes, I seek distraction in music, but that can backfire. If the music is interesting enough, I become conscious of that instead, and when it stops, I notice.
All this may not be helped by the physical reality of the crookedness of my bed, caused by an aging coaster wheel finally deciding that the stresses of everyday life (and my body) are no longer worth bearing, and it has committed some form of material seppuku.
But this isn’t what this post is about either.
This post is about solitaire.
Not in the metaphorical sense of my brooding loneliness for the companionship of an intelligent, witty, ravishing woman (although applications are welcome!), or the actuality of my limited exposure to the world by my hermit-like tendancies.
No, I mean spider solitaire.
The damn game.
I cannot explain my fascination with it. It draws me like some form of mental crack cocaine.
I like the challenge, and often win. I have strategies, plans, theories, speculations. I often win, but I don’t always win.
It tweaks my personality, pushes all my buttons.
The puzzle-loving side likes the challenge to getting some ultimate strategy. I sometimes play the game at rapid speeds, just to give myself more difficulty.
The information-loving, OCD side can’t help but examine every possibility, often backing up numerous steps just so I can fully examine all possible paths of execution.
The chess-player that I used to be sometimes causes me to stop — as I used to do when I played chess regularly — and I enter that defocussed trance of mental planning. No cards are played during this time, except in my head. Then, an idea forms, and I rapidly move a whole lot of cards.
I used to be a good chess player. No, putting modesty aside for only a moment, I was a really good chess player. I used to dominate my opponents, play multiple simultaneous games, play lightning-fast blitz chess or play long-thought matches where a single move might come after a half-hour’s speculation.
I miss that.
I played chess online recently against a friend, and I was terrible.
I will say, however, that there has always been a block for me and computer-based chess. I could beat every human around me, but the simplest of computer chess programs would swat me away like a beginner. I used to think that it was based on the fact that computers don’t make mistakes — at least, not really. In terms of chess they have more incomplete information, but they can fully map out a decent set of possible responses. They don’t make stupid moves, however, that leave a queen completely exposed, or just simply “miss” an immediate threat.
I thought that was the problem; my play style depended on mistakes. Or rather, on my not making any long enough to pounce upon an opponent who made one.
I’m not so sure anymore, and that is both a good thing and a bad thing.
It’s good, because that strategy isn’t really a strategy. It’s not a winning pursuit, rather it’s avoiding losing, which isn’t the same thing. It’s a simple kind of approach, valid in things like gunfighting or poker or chicken or cliff-driving (don’t blink until your opponent does, don’t be the first to turn, etc.) but not for a “thinking” game like chess. Chess is war, a long-term strategy game. It’s not a battle. (Well, except for battle chess, but that was it’s own beast.)
The unsureness is bad because it means that the interface somehow screws me up. I’m a computer professional: programmer for quite a while, a degreed and proper scholar in the field. Why should a computer screen be bothering me? Why does that disturb the ability to play chess?
I don’t know. (If I knew that, I could probably get a degree out of it, or at least a decent publishable paper.)
It may have something to do with visualizing the game. I solve things visually. When I program, I have a visual design in my head. It’s hard to describe, exactly, but until that visual “thing” is fixed in my head, I cannot write a good line of code. Afterwards, I tend to write like blazes.
When I play chess with actual, physical pieces, the visualization comes easier. Sometimes it is associated with Ron, the wonderful friend who taught me how to play (and who I later came to beat often). Those were good times, and they were good games. It might just be the thing in my brain that needs to be acknowledge, and why I keep a pad of paper around me when programming to jot down diagrams and other strange structures that are perfectly clear to me, but which I cannot seem to present sensibly to others..
So, being trounced by someone really sent me in a tailspin.. I think I’ve landed this plane successfully, however; next time I’ll play along with a real board at hand, and see if it matters.
It does bother me, however, that I cannot digitize that part of my life. I’ve worked at digitizing my music, my research, my podcast. I want to live the paperless life, if possible.
And yet.. I have a bit of a paper fetish. I buy nice little notepads for scribbling on, and journals that never get written in. I was going to start a journal again this year, but my digital conscience suggested that I should blog it, instead.
Ah, but that will have to be another topic, for another time… I hope I can keep this up, it clears things out of my head.. And hopefully will let me sleep..