Saturday, January 25, 2014

What a year.

2013 hasn't been the easiest. The careful reader may note that I posted a lot less here in 2013 than most years. Work has been difficult: trying to figure out my place and succeed at something here. As it is, I'm kind of starting over now on a new thing. Which is exciting, because I feel like it might kind of work, and I kind of know how to do it.

On the other hand, I think that for each of the last 16 months, I thought "next month will be better". So not getting my hopes up too much yet.

Still, at least it hasn't been boring! At least I'm not under-challenged. I'm probably learning something and exploring and growing and meeting people and so on. It's the sort of thing that's easier to know in retrospect, probably.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Dealing with the way some part of my brain deals with video games

I started playing FTL (warning: takes about an hour to get into but then is very addictive). I've gone through this cycle with other games: addiction followed by quick burnout. I know that I do this; it's fine, I just make sure that I burn out quick and then get back to my regular life. At first I reasoned I just had to beat the end boss, and then I'd be done. And I was, for a few weeks.

But then I picked it up again for some reason, and this time I decided I had to unlock all the ships. This seemed fine, too, because I was unlocking them all pretty steadily, except the Crystal ship. (I used knowledge from the wiki and I figured this was fine because I was still the one playing the game.) But then I looked up how to unlock the Crystal ship, and realized it was orders of magnitude harder than the other ships. It'd be hours of grinding! But I couldn't just put the game down, not with a ship still unlocked.

Then I decided that it doesn't require skill to get the Crystal ship, just luck. You have to get to the right planets in the right order, and sometimes they just don't line up right. So when I found some other post where someone posted his save game file that would allow you to effectively cheat your way into the Crystal ship, I grabbed it and unlocked it.

Somehow, my brain was okay with that, even after it wasn't okay with just cheating from the beginning. And now that I've unlocked all the ships, I'm effectively done with it. (I don't have to, for example, get all the badges.) Good thing that, even though I couldn't rationalize quitting without getting the Crystal ship, I could rationalize cheating for the Crystal ship and then quitting.

What a mess to have a brain!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Bike #2: Frank Black

This is my bad weather bike. Batavus Navajo, classic Dutch style. I found it in my basement when I moved in. Not sure who it used to belong to (none of my roommates, current or recent past), so at this point, adverse possession or something, right?

Plus, it was a mess when I found it. It's not awesome now, but I've done a couple of key things:
- unstuck the seat post (and it was really rusted in there. The fix eventually involved taking the wheels and seat off, attaching a vise to the seat post, and turning the whole frame around it. Thanks to John at Kraynick's for help. If you ever have your seat post out of your bike, take this opportunity to grease the heck out of it!)
- replace the brake pads (these were "cantilever brakes", which are new to me. not too tricky, though.)
- remove a couple of European bike things: a wheel lock and a dynamo/generator/front light thing. The first is neat because you can lock your bike, low-security but quickly and easily. The second is neat because gathers power from the rotation of your front wheel, meaning you are powering your light by yourself! I had both of these on my bike in Maastricht (as did most people), and they were nice. I removed these from this bike here because they were broken. Took a little brute force; thanks to a couple random folks at Kraynick's.
- add one key European bike thing: fenders. It's so much nicer to get where you're going without being covered in rain/snow and ruining your clothes, especially for a bad weather bike. Most people in Maastricht had these too. They should come pre-installed for city/hybrid/commuter bikes. They're so good.

There are minor but important differences between Dutch and US bikes. I mean, this thing was all tricked out for the average person to ride around town. No lycra here. Plus, the handlebars are really high, so you're sitting upright like an average person, not a speed racer. Here, you bike if you're "a biker"; there, you bike if you're a person.

So why's it called Frank Black? Because it's a little grungy, and I ride this bike when (wait for it)... "it is time for stormy weather."