Mental fat, part 2

When i was in high school, I remember a weekend when I solved 300 physics problems to study for the university entrance examination. In the first presentation of my master degree, I had a thick stack of papers that I had referenced in a few weeks in order to prepare for it.

Somehow, I feel like I cant find this flame anymore. I try to tackle project upon project, each more interesting than the previous ones. Earthquakes, cancer, geology, game making. All of this has passed, is passing through my desk, and I am feeling to sluggish to tackle any of these. I feel like Im hiding behind a huge pile and of tasks, and using this tasklist as an excuse to suck at everything.

Today I found this extremely cool blog from a guy who is doing a dozen of programming projects at the same time, and it made me feel extremely inadequate. I am not putting in the effort, and it is starting to show.

Realizing all of this this morning, I promised myself that, starting now, things would change. I would start putting the effort. I managed to break that promise within 2 hours. Must be some sort of world record.

Recurring characters

Every morning I meet the talky guy. He is a young man who talks to himself while riding on the train. Sometimes he sings. Today he asked a lady with a baby to remove a string from his shoe. Unfortunately, she did not have a scissors, but she was nice to him.

Sometimes I also meet two girl pals. They must be in Junior High. They are almost never in school uniform, but always talking about school. They meet at an intermediate station and ride the rest of the line together. Last time I met them they were discussing their English tests.

The last NPC I always meet is the english toddler. She is a cute kid who always talks to her dad in English. As far as I can tell, her father is Japanese, but of course I have no way of knowing for sure. One day a friend of hers got in the train as well.

Two things come to my mind about these characters.

On one hand, it is surprising that after riding every day on this line at the same time every day, these are the only people thatt I can clearly recognize. I should spend less time on the cellphone.

I also remember how I sometimes feel like an NPC tomy students, and I wonder how do they observe me as an NPC. I also think about how my perception of the characters above differs from their everyday perceptions of themselves. Empathy is really really important.

Finally, I wonder if blogging on the train can become a thing for me.

Proceed! Proceed?

I have moved to a new apartment in Japan. The name of the apartment is プロシード TX, which would be equivalent to “Proceed TX”. TX is the Tsukuba Express line, which I use to go to work every day.

I think this is probably the weirdest piece of “Engrish” that I have ever seen. Japan is famous for some using English words in unique ways, such as “Salaryman” for office worker, or “Mansion” for apartment complex (maybe that one is a French borrowed word?). But as much as I try to think about it, I can’t figure out what “Proceed” is supposed to mean.

Google was no help, I couldn’t find any relationship between “Proceed” and architecture.

It is a mistery!

Bad weekend

I have two papers that I am preparing for the CEC2015 conference. The deadline is on the 18th (two weeks from now). While (most of) the experiments are all done, the writing of the papers is pretty much in the beginning.

Because of my current “publish or perish” situation, I decided that this weekend I would finally forego my first Ludum Dare . I have participated in every LD since LD23, but I couldn’t really find the energy to do this one, and I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that I should be writing my papers instead.

In the end, though, I did neither. I did not join LD, and I didn’t do any significant progress with paper writing. And I was left feeling terrible about it. To make up a tiny bit for it, I managed to at least cobble together an outline for one of the papers, and I updated my blog.

Keep trucking on.

Burning Blood, and passion for making things.

This weekend, I went to a live house in Roppongi to see “Burning Blood” play. BB is a cover band composed by Ayako’s friends.

Burning Blood!

If you ask me what songs they played, I kinda remember one which I think was called “bad medicine”. I suck at music. But I loved the performance. I suck at music.

Back in undergrad, I would often go to theater and a capella live performances. When I worked in Rio de Janeiro, my supervisor invited me almost every month to a local Jazz show. My favorite games nowadays are indie titles.

There is something about watching live performances that fills me with energy. When I was at that rock show last weekend, I couldn’t recognize any of the songs, but a flood of ideas would come to my head as I watched these people play. I felt like I wanted to sit down there and then, and start making games.

I feel very guilty saying that by the time I got home, that fire had died down to an ember. I need to make a bigger effort…

5th Edition game, Game Report II!

Last week our RPG group played the third session on our DnD 5th edition campain. You can see the previous Game Report here.

Our first two sessions were an “introductory” adventure in a small hand-made dungeon. Now that the characters have survived their baptism by fire by undeads, we have decided to move on to the published adventures “Lost Mines of Phandelver” and “Hoard of the Dragon Queen”.

Goblin art from the DnD Starter Set. Linked from http://dnd.wizards.com

Since both modules start the characters from level one, I’ve decided to make some changes in order to be able to play them in sequence. Most of these ideas I took from reading the DnDNext subreddit and the “Hack & Slash” blog. I’ll post these changes as they show up in the game to avoid spoilers, but for now it is enough to say that Phandelin was moved south of Baldur’s gate, and much closer to Greenest.

The group was travelling down the trade route south of Baldurs Gate. They heard reports of many caravans being assaulted by goblins, and a few sightings of a strange new cult, and wanted to investigate first hand by themselves. They come across the remains of a recent attack – dead horses and humans in an ambush site just under a small hill.

This was the opening scene of LMoP. I have replaced the dwarf NPC (who has been kidnapped already for a few weeks in my game), with a PC who was joining the party that night. This PC happened to be a Human thief with Alertness and expertise in Perception, giving her a whooping 20 passive perception at first level! I’ll make sure to take note of that build when making NPCs in the future (Of course, a master human scout is still shut down by a dark room).

The group stormed through the Cragmaw hideout – clever use of darkness alongside with good perceptions and sneaking rolls meant that the goblins never saw what hit them. By the end of the adventure they handly defeated Klaargh the Bugbear and his cronies — but hadn’t found Sildar Hallwinter yet (who in this game was a mentor for the thief character).

I’m realling liking this 5th edition sessions – combat is streamlined and run as a breeze. I need to play my opponents a bit more intelligently — I completely forgot about Klaargs escape route in the heat of battle. But maybe it is a good idea to roleplay the goblins as dumb creatures, in order to make the contrast with human enemies more stark.

Next game: finishing cleaning up cragmaw hideout, and then doing the Pandelin Missions.

Culinary Experiments: Chahan!

Chahan (or fried rice), is a simple and filling chinese dish which is quite popular in Japan. It looks kinda like this:

chahan

So today I tried preparing some, following this recipe from the internets (google chahan recipe). I prepared about half the suggested amount in the recipe (keeping the proportions for the dressing), and replaced honey, which I didn’t have in hand, for sugar — turned out pretty neat.

Game of Life on Google

So I spent almost all of my weekend preparing my intensive lecture for tomorrow (and playing some minecraft >_>). The lecture is about artificial life and artificial intelligence, and I decided to find a link for an online version of Conway’s Game of Life.

So, I go to Google’s homepage, write “Conway’s Game of Life”, and suddenly on the corner of the screen a mini version of the game of life started animating. Google, oh you!

If you are too lazy to type “Conway’s Game of Life” on google, you can probably see the easter egg in this link.