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We had a seder for the immediate polycule. Ghoti was amazing at producing food (including little jelly israelites crossing a jelly sea parted to reveal a seabed of matza), and plagues (including the utahraptor (?) who was the firstborn of its family). And everyone including the children was amazing at asking questions.

We played a long-delayed sequel to our first roleplaying session. I feel a lot more confident I get most of the 5e rules now (for lower levels) and could GM for other people. Thank you ever so much to liv, ghoti, colin, B and J for playing!

March goals

Apr. 5th, 2017 09:57 am
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Goal #1 was to be on time for things. I certainly didn't *succeed* at this, but I think I got a lot better. Not being early, but giving myself enough slack, and leaving when the slack had been somewhat eaten into, and much less often being already late and thinking "I can't face deciding to leave, I'll procrastinate some more".

Goal #2 was to do a tech project. But March was busier than I'd realised, mostly with thronescamp and with seeing lovely people. So I managed to install Android Studio and run the default "Hello World" program (yay, it was really easy), but not add any of my own code to it.

I also had a lot of overdue logistics and chores, which I did *some* of, but some is still hanging over me and I want out of the way.

But I feel better for tracking how well I did, instead of just knowing I need to do all these things at some point. On the one hand, it's depressing to realise how few months I have, and how little time I'm managing to make. On the other hand, I'm clearly making MORE time than when I didn't really plan it.


Feb. 16th, 2017 09:46 pm
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Went to the gym attached to the hotel and spa in bar hill.

It's small, but fairly nice and has a swimming pool with jacuzzi and sauna because spa.

It was busy at 5:30, but fairly quiet by the time I left.

Of course, it's a bit ridiculous starting to go to the gym instead of running outside just when the evenings are getting lighter. But I felt that if I was driving to work, it would be easier to arrange than jogging (and useful because I'm not doing cycling about).

And in fact, I felt like the treadmill and weights both worked my muscles harder than I'd been managing without equipment. Which is good, because hopefully I will start improving again. But bad, because I'd hoped I'd have figured out how to improve without them by now.

They rent towels for 50p. I'm trying to decide if it's more efficient to bring one or rent one. I like the no-hassle of picking one up, and not having several towels drying at home and trying to decide if I can reuse them or if they need to be in the washing. And not to add several towels to the washing load. But if I'm driving, the overhead of bringing a towel as well as gym things is a lot lower. And even if I needed to buy a couple of extra bath towels they would probably pay for themselves. Any thoughts?
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Last year, I decided to try having month-by-month goals instead of trying to do new years resolutions.

Nov was NaNoWriMo which was what gave me the idea. That was a big commitment, which I think averaged out to about 2h per day, with some "thinking time" on top. Dec was to recover. Feb will be "start new job".

Jan was "learn some rust, if possible contribute to rust compiler". That was a bit speculative, I wasn't sure how big a goal was reasonable. But it turned out fairly well. I think I got a reasonable handle on the basic syntax, and the borrow checker concepts which most people find a hurdle to getting to know it. I build a couple of "hello world" programs to be sure I understood the building and packaging system.

And I built the compiler from source, and submitted a pull request to fix one of the "easy" documentation issues from the issue tracker, and learned how the project was organised. Which is now accepted!

So I think on balance that was about the right amount and specificity of goal. And I count it as mostly a success.

I reckoned the time spent stacked up something like 1 week of work, minus overhead faff, was about the equivalent of an intense weekend hackathon, or a not-very-intense project over a month. Nanowrimo was about twice that (more on some days likely). And some projects lend themselves to a brief burst of activity and others to a longer steady progress.

I'm simultaneously pleased that I *can* expect to focus energy on some projects and actually get somewhere with them. But also depressed that there's only so many months and each lets me achieve comparatively little.

I have lots of ideas of what I might do, but not sure what is most worthwhile to spend that effort on. Some coding projects. Some self-improvement projects. Some social things.

Daily todos

I shifted my daily todos a bit incorporating some ideas from bullet journals (as linked by ghoti).

I started keeping my daily todo-list IN my diary, and when I've done an item, changing the "-" bullet point to an "x" and moving it down to the bottom of the list. So what I'm GOING to do naturally becomes a diary.

I also started, instead of having subheadings, having a few different types. "=" bullet point for largish task. "-" for anything small but needs to be today. "s" for social-type task. (todo and social get postponed in different circumstances and consume energy in different ways.)

It feels easier to plan what I WANT to do, without feeling like I've failed if I don't do all of it.

I also started keeping my actual diary in multiple bullet points with a different bullet, instead of strung together. I'll see how that goes.

I feel like I'm slowly re-evolving a system lots of people already recommended to me. But I couldn't just *do* it, it depends on having confidence that putting things in a list actually works, and I've only slowly acquired that.

Likewise, maybe I don't need to record so much. But doing so was a step in the process of not worrying about it so much. And what's useful I keep, and what I don't need I've got better at just deleting, and not thinking "but I might need that one day".

Similarly, I keep a parallel diary I call my therapy diary for rants where I know they won't seem as persuasive in future but I have to make them. "WHY WHY WHY can't I just do X without screwing it up" "why does y keep going wrong". "this happened and now I feel really bad about it". The idea was, I'd think through the things later and come to terms with them. But actually just writing them down helped a lot. Now I've ranted in it much less often that I did to start with.
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I went jogging at lunchtime. It was much more useful than last year when I tried that, because I've already got the habit of particular targets. And it was so much nicer running in the light (even in the rain). But I still need to get on with it, not let myself dither before actually leaving.


The last couple of days I've been hitting my nano word targets ok. Once I got a good idea of the characters and situation I was able to plough ahead and just write for an hour or two and get an appropriate number of words. But it's hard to keep that going without being hung up on "I need to figure out what happens in this bit" (I'm trying to avoid perfectionism, and just saying, "I need some plot here, this is plot, it's good enough for now", but even so, sometimes I have inconsistent needs and need to resolve them).

However it goes, I think it's a useful metric for how much time I can plough into a project if I'm determined, and how much it drains me for the rest of my activities.


Did I remember to say? Everything got fixed. We'd accidentally turned the gas cut-off handle (what's its real name?) putting something in the cupboard. After some fiddling, I turned it on again, and got the pilot light lit. And now I know where they are when I need them in a real emergency.


I don't really have anything more to say, except, my thoughts are with anyone who needs them :(
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At the poly meet, they asked for volunteers to do a short presentation -- now it's a bit larger, the equivalent of Amy's prior "I brought a few q as a discussion topic" when there was often only half a dozen or so.

Except most people weren't sure what to present, so I volunteered to lead a little discussion instead. I started with something simple but interesting, what different sorts of poly are there. I wasn't sure how it would go, but I was sure it would be ok for five minutes. And it actually lasted about 45 minutes of clearly being interesting to everyone, before it reached a natural stopping point and I broke the group up to chat individually again.

Actually, it worked really, really well. Just defining things was interesting to experienced people and newbies both. And there was some productive discussion that I, and the admins, managed to avoid spinning off into long digressions.

I've done very little public speaking of any sort, but it worked really well when I tried it.
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Poly speed dating again tomorrow! In 3s. I managed to escape doing the programming for the matching algorithm this time :)

What should I tell people about why they should like me?
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See http://ghoti.livejournal.com/798337.html

For the cotton anniversary of our first date, we went to the Anchor Sutton Gault and it was really nice and we did good communication about things.

But also, I made a thing! In honour of the Parasol Protectorate books ghoti introduced me to, or maybe Firefly, I made a steampunk parasol. I bought a folding lace parasol, and took some cogs, and attached some to the spokes, and some round each panel of the parasol. And used a picture hook pin to attach one to the top and bottom of the shaft, sized at just narrower than the diameter, and loosened just enough they don't feel loose but do spin.

Having entirely cogs that are fixed without spinning seemed sad, these were great.

And I was really pleased, because I'm rarely able to actually *make* something.
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OK, Jehova's Witnesses. NOW we're fully moved in.

They were really polite so I didn't have any desire or energy to get into an argument. Although I wish I'd pushed back on what I think are of the risks of harm from actively proselytising, and the things that I think may be harmful in JW generally (without getting into a big theological debate, or criticising these two ladies).
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I googled to find the website that calculates kevin bacon numbers from IMBD. I googled for "kevin bacon number". Above the top hits, Google gave the answer "Kevin Smith's Bacon Number is 2". Yes, full marks for initiative, but, you know, minus several million for context awareness.

But what I wanted to know was, what counts as film for kevin bacon counting? A feature film? Anything released at a cinema? Anything released at a film festival? Anything on IMDB?

Several years ago, a friend of the family, an aspiring film-maker, made a short documentary film about my brother-in-law. I think it showed at some festival and mostly disappeared after that. But we all featured in it, as did the director in a voice-over (I think?) And at some point since, it appeared on IMDB.

If that counts, she has a bacon number of 3, giving my BiL and I a bacon number of 4, fulfilling a minor life ambition. My competitive brain latches onto anything quantifiable as something to achieve :)

But I really, really want to contribute to a scientific paper at some point in my life :)
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Next week is the PCC election. I'm not convinced that's a good idea, but if we have one at all, better to have a good one. This time there seems to be less of a broad choice, there are four candidates who are endorsed by parties, even if that was not what was supposed to happen.


My non-impartial summary follows


* "Tough on crime, tough on the causes on crime".
* Moar war on drugs
* Moar police, less back-office expenses


* The same, but more so
* Rah police! Down with political correctness!
* Anti-speeding (as was Con), also pro-resources-for-non-emergency-101


* Some platitudes, more police
* Ex-fireman, ex-Anglia-public-service-lecturer
* Sounds committed to actually going things, in getting involved with communities and bridging them to police


* Positive manifesto steps for preventing crime, preventing re-offending, not just being "tough"
* But via friends-of-friends have heard bad things about him personally

To me, Labour guy sounds best, unless anyone has any other rec?
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Bought online a cheap pack of 100 plastic key fobs. If you want a spare key ring, there's plenty, and if you want to label some keys (a rarely used key, a spare for a friend, a spare key you're giving TO a friend) it's so much less likely to be lost if you can write a short name on the key fob, or just recognise the plastic fob.

Putting contact details (my email address and liv's phone number) on my mobile's lock screen. Not paid off yet, but a good idea.

Make sure you have SOME spare key nearby, at work, or at a friend's house. It's true, that can fail to save you if you can't access it, but 90% of the time, it will reduce a minor crisis to insignificance.

If you temporarily box up some stuff, or shovel some unsorted post into a bag to deal with later, or put some clothes aside to give-away/grow-into/shrink-into, put in a piece of A4 saying what it is. When you find it again, that will usually let you know whether you want to use it, keep it, or throw it out, immediately without needing to sort through it.

Tie one of your corkscrew/bottle-opener to something fixed so it doesn't wander off round the living room in a party -- having one you can always find is really handy.
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I did so many things yesterday! I followed up on missing books I ordered. I got a replacement bank card. I checked my car's tyre pressures. I drew a thing. I went shopping. I read about quantum mechanics. I bought some replacement baking dishes.

And I did some work, although not as much as I'd hoped.

And I cooked something from a recipe by myself! For about the first time ever. A saag aloo variant, spinich and potato curry, which I just happened to feel like. It definitely wasn't perfect, but it was quite enjoyable. There's a picture on twitter/fb in just a mo. I was really excited that it worked, and I made the time to try.
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I got my robot-programming game to run on Android! I knew it shouldn't be *that* difficult, but it's really magical seeing something I wrote running on a platform I never expected to run on.

I haven't done any more to the game since last year, so it's not really *playable*, but it runs and you can interact with it.

I used kivy as the UI framework for a python game, because it advertised being able to compile to android, and I wanted to learn more python more than I wanted to learn java. So I developed the program on the PC, using kivy for graphics and mouse events (which later become touch/drag events on a touchscreen).

And then after several false starts, I downloaded a VM set up to the do the "build to android" step with buildozer, updated buildozer to the latest version, copied my source to the VM, I already had generated a buildozer.spec file, and it all just worked -- I got an apk, I opened it from dropbox on android, and there was my game running.

Gotchas, I don't expect anyone to try this with my instructions, but in case you do, things I didn't find obvious: to share a folder with the VM, you need to add your user account to a "can see shared folders" usergroup; buildozer can fail to work on a shared folder, copy the files to a local directory on the VM; you should be able to install the android dev kit etc with or without buildozer, but I couldn't get it to work.
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Last minute suggestions for things to see in Amsterdam?


Jan. 12th, 2016 10:39 am
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I started HabitRPG from where I left off, junking all the nice but overcomplicated tasks and dailies which I think I'd over-done, and starting over with a list of six+ habits, no dailies, all geared to be things I feel good about doing, but often don't get round to.


Todo item (anything on today's todo list, usually quite green or blue)
Admin (Updating todo lists, etc. May combine this with above)
Exercise (Any of my official "jog 2+ times a week", but also any extras)
Hobby (Any of my own projects, not just "anything for fun", but things I need to make time for if I want to do them, like ongoing classes, or programming projects, fiction or game design)
Ongoing Social (Anything that doesn't happen automatically every week, like making plans to see mum or non-cambridge friends)
Self-care/ablutions (Shower, shave, brush teeth, etc. Also remembering to eat when I'm hungry if applicable etc)
Housework (Anything it's useful to do a little bit of every day)
Long-term (Any long-term TODOs)
Medium-term (Anything on my TODO list that doesn't absolutely have to be done today... I'm especially trying to change from doing none of these until they're urgent, to doing some of these...)

What I have always found difficult is that some of these are naturally green, but others are naturally yellow or red, because even an ideal rate of doing them will be slow by comparison. I can't remember if that's adjustable with task difficulty or something? But I'm slowly getting used to the idea that it works ok like that. If I do my day-to-day tasks until they're mostly green, I can leave them and that's usually ok, and work on the longer-term ones. After all, I want to do all of them "sometimes", if I do two long-term tasks in a row, that's probably better, I don't need to be prioritising medium tasks over them especially.
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I went to the readthrough, it was really fun. Thank you Emperor et al!

I cooked pasta bake for 12, with help from two assistants, especially Sebastian who had lots of experience scaling up shopping and cooking for larger numbers. It turned out pretty well.

The A14 has finished some building work, so now a couple of the worst spots have stopped being "two narrow lanes at 50 mph" and started being "two wide lanes with an extra peel-off lane for". But I need to stop pretending there ever won't be traffic.

See Liv's journal for a summary of how I felt about firefly: I love all the awesome bits more, but I've stopped being able to gloss over the problematic bits.
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I wrote up a checklist for a quick-and-dirty way to design an interesting character, something like:

* A code/belief/trait you live by even if it's inconvenient (by choice or inability to resist)
* An aspiration, a dream you want to eventually achieve
* A connection to at least one person in your party
* A connection to at least one person in the world
* Something you've learned how to do well

And then I thought "I shouldn't be applying this to a roleplaying game, I should be applying it to myself" :)
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I fixed our side gate! Well, sort of. I'd always been annoyed the latch didn't quite close, so you had to close the bolt to keep it from blowing open, which made it hard to open from the garden side. And I just couldn't bend it back into place.

But then after some thought, I decided when it was first fitted it must have worked, and I couldn't see how it could have changed much, and realised the answer was: the gate sticks a little, but give it a hard shove when it was closed, it closes completely against the jam, and the latch falls into place perfectly.

Oops :) But progress :)
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Returned from Leipzig WGT music festival

Returned from Leipzig, travelling there on ferry and train and back on train and eurostar, with Liv and ceb and other cambridge friends (who were super helpful in booking accommodation and transport and so on).

I didn't get as into goth music as I hoped, but I enjoyed the experience a lot and I'm glad I went.

Qntal were very fun -- they had a theramin!

New sofa

At the weekend, Liv and I were productive and went to Emmaus and found a new sofa (lots more room and a bit deeper), with a beautiful green and gold fabric. We've kept the old sofa but want to replace it with an armchair or something.

And also a set of four dining chairs. We'd hoped to find a set of six, but we liked the four so we got them anyway.


Work's been going fairly well -- I'm feeling on top of things again, although I need to transition to "making active progress" not just "clearing backlog".