Trying to weekend

I’ve not been good at weekending recently. I don’t do day job work on the weekends (unless a client has an urgent job for which they’re willing to pay express rate), but over the last couple of months I have been working on my games at weekends, which means I’ve not really been giving my brain a break. I hit all my game-making goals this week and am well on target, so I’m taking a break from that over the weekend. I’m quite looking forward to some downtime.

I’m in two minds about parkrunning tomorrow. Geth is having a week off from volunteering so if I did go, it’d just be me. It might be nice to have a Saturday lie-in for once. I’ll make a decision about that tomorrow morning.

Then I’ve got an actual concert in the evening! First of the year (but not the last as I have several originally-2020 gigs coming up this summer). Again, it’s just me as Geth chose not to come to this one, but I’m looking forward to it – it’ll be great to tick Paul Young off my Band Aid Baby bucket list (which I still need to update following a Duran Duran gig last year) and I enjoyed Go West last time I saw them.

Sunday will be really quiet and thus brilliant in a different way.

And relax

A bit of peace and quiet for a few days now. Other than work I am looking forward to playing some games (and getting back to polishing the one I was making in March). I’ll be doing a nice gentle six-mile run on Thursday but other than that it’s all short streak savers this week.

I’m also looking forward to eating a bit better now that I’ve got more time to cook. The last couple of weeks have been slightly lacking in vital nutrients.

Back to normal

Back to work today, though still with chocolate for lunch. Shaping up to be a good week – still got that semi-holiday feeling.

I’m still buzzing after being able to do my slightly longer run on Sunday, and today I did a short run without any background aches and pains at all (not even the usual ones caused by chronic stuff). Feeling good and hoping for some more improvement at the physio later this week.

Appreciating the quiet

It’s been quiet work-wise the last couple of weeks, which has been well-timed for once as I have really appreciated having the opportunity to relax with creative projects after finishing TechUP. Gradually getting back to normal now, and looking forward to a few excursions during the rest of the month.

Another nice quiet weekend just now though. I’ll be parkrunning tomorrow but otherwise staying in.

Stepping up and stepping down

I was awake early this morning, which is annoying, as it means the same thing probably won’t happen tomorrow – and I could do with being awake early tomorrow as Thursdays are long run days for me. Ten miles this week. I always feel a little bit anxious when stepping up the distance – which is daft when you step back and look at the big picture, as I ran a marathon in October, but I always have the slight fear that it’ll be a nightmare. Eight miles was absolutely fine last week, so I shouldn’t worry.

I’ve done the last few major TechUP assignments now and just have a few bits and pieces to finish off by Friday – plus the project presentation next Wednesday. After that I really will be done! It’s a step-down ‘rest’ week on the marathon training plan next week with an eight-miler on the Thursday morning, so once I’m back from that I will start an early weekend (work permitting) and celebrate properly.

The course wasn’t meant to last this long – we were meant to finish the first week of February but there have been various extensions and so on – and so I didn’t expect to be getting into the middle stages of marathon training while still studying. It’s fairly manageable though, especially as (whisper it) work has been quiet for the last couple of weeks. Still looking forward to having one less big thing to juggle.

Planning out a buffer…

…and hoping that there are minimal or preferably zero spanners thrown into the works.

As mentioned in recent posts, I’m in the final fortnight of my course now, and there’s still a lot to do. On my current diary, it’s all looking very doable, but the nature of my work (which usually comes in on very short notice) means that this could change at any time! As such, I’ve scheduled the bulk of the remaining coursework for the first week out of the two. This will hopefully provide me with enough of a buffer that I can also fit in any client work that arrives in my inbox.

It really feels like I’m in the thick of it at the moment, but hopefully by the end of the month I will have a big achievement to celebrate.

Suddenly on top of things!

I’ve spent pretty much the last month chasing my tail, so I was a bit surprised to realise upon finishing work today that the rest of the week (whisper it) doesn’t have much booked in yet. I really hope it stays that way as it’d be great to be able to crack on with my remaining course modules!

I’ve been fantasising a bit about what I’m going to do in March once the course is over. So far it includes super exciting things such as:

  • Get a haircut
  • Play some videogames, maybe? If I have the energy
  • Try to avoid starting any new creative projects and probably fail
  • Find some way of conducting a mildly celebratory eating occasion that doesn’t blow my weight loss efforts

On the whole, though, I’m not planning much. Just having a bit of time to myself again will be enough.

Juggling!

It’s been a bit of a struggle to balance work and studying ever since I started the TechUP course back in October, but this coming week is really going to be a challenge. Lots of clients with deadlines, and lots of stuff going on with the course. It’s also week four of the marathon training plan… all of this will be a real balancing act!

Marathon training is still going well with no major aches or pains – I think the mileage buildup must be going at the right pace. Podcasts are really helping still.

I’ve enjoyed the course but I’m really looking forward to having some downtime in March, especially with the long training runs getting longer.

…and hello 2022!

Geth and I did do a New Year’s Day parkrun this morning but I’ll save my regularly scheduled parkrunday post for tomorrow. Lots of 2022 stuff to discuss today!

This year’s non-binding New Year Resolutions:

  • Sort out the house. It didn’t happen last year and it may not happen this year, but I would at least like to get some more stuff up on the walls (including that spice rack I bought a year ago) and work out a more manageable cleaning schedule.
  • Don’t book any midweek trips away and assume I can just ‘squeeze any work in’. I’m far too busy to be away during the week. Trips will be weekend-only with very rare exceptions.
  • Get one or two of my years-in-the-making longer game projects published by focusing on those rather than short things for jams and competitions.
  • Use the skills from my TechUP course to build at least two fairly complex websites.
  • Create some games using Python!
  • Take another big chunk off my marathon PB at the Edinburgh Marathon in May.
  • Get back to the fitness level I was when everything screeched to a grinding halt in March 2020.
  • Get my parkrun ‘different events’ total up to at least 30, continue to volunteer once a month, get my Wilson index to 15 (geeky – don’t worry if you don’t know what that is) and take part in parkrun every possible parkrunday!
  • Listen to more music and keep a closer eye on what’s going on with synthwave, industrial and heritage artists.
  • Actually leave the UK for the first time in four years (Ireland is the plan… not going far but it’ll be something!).
  • Catch up with what’s been happening with Doctor Who. It’s my favourite TV series but I’ve drifted away from the fandom over the last few years as I’ve been busy with other things and haven’t been hugely fond of the Whittaker/Chibnall era. I’m about two and a half series behind!
  • Finish all the books I’m reading. I’ve got into an awful habit over the last year where I start a book, read it for a week or so (last thing at night in bed is my reading time), neglect reading for the following week or so (because I’m anxious about not getting enough sleep if I read… even though I know I sleep better if I do), then abandon it and start a different book. This year, I’m going to concentrate on one at a time and read them right to the end. 20 books in 2022 seems like a good target!
  • Make a LOT more time for videogaming by keeping my evenings and weekends free. My game backlog is probably 1,000+ now and it’s time to start whittling that down. It’s my favourite way to relax and I most definitely have not been doing enough relaxing in 2021, so this has to be a real priority over the next year.

It’ll be interesting, as ever, to come back to this post in a year’s time! I didn’t make any resolutions last year except the house-sorting one, which was kind of a fail… let’s hope there’ll be more hits than misses in 2022.

P.S. Happy birthday blog! Four years today since I started my daily rambles.

Shin Megami Tensei V
Geth’s current videogame (which he has been playing nonstop since Christmas Day) is Shin Megami Tensei V, which I got him for Christmas. I would love to spend as much time videogaming as Geth does, and in order to do so I am planning to reorganise a few things this year.

Goodbye 2021…

I always intend to post lots of blogs at the end of the year with lots of big lists of all the things I did and the media I consumed and my highlights… but December is always so insanely busy I never get round to it. Maybe in 2022 I will write them as I go along haha! It’ll just have to be one megapost this year…

This year’s big resolution was to sort the house out. I did not do that and now it is one of 2022’s big resolutions. Other things have just taken more priority.

Business exploded in a good way this year, which means that I’m now working a lot more hours. It’s taking a while to adjust my life to this, and I’m beginning to realise that I can no longer just plan a trip away midweek on the assumption that I won’t have much work to squeeze in. 2022 will be a lot stricter in this regard.

I continued writing and coding text adventures and being involved in the wider interactive fiction community, and managed to release four games for various competitions. My highlights were winning the Scott’s Choice Award from legendary text adventure game creator Scott Adams for Barry Basic and the Quick Escape, and winning PunyJam #2 with Morris, my first ever PunyInform release. I also enjoyed making a short game for ParserComp based on photos of the beautiful area around Causey Arch after visiting it with Mum and Dad, and my first ever attempt at speed IF for EctoComp!

Since October I’ve also been very busy with studying for the TechUP Software Development course. I have learnt a lot of Python and other very interesting things that I will be taking forward as my career gradually transitions more towards tech. (The Python knowledge will also enable me to do some very fun stuff with my game development!)

Running has continued on a more positive trajectory this year, with races and parkruns returning. I am nowhere near as fit as I was in March 2020 when everything shut down, but I have still managed two important PBs in 2021 – I took nearly five minutes off my 10k PB at the Sunderland 10k, and more than 45 minutes off my marathon PB at the London Marathon. I have also completed the second year of my daily run streak today and am hugely proud of that, as it’s been very difficult at times. Finally, parkrun-wise I have visited two new-to-me parkruns (Girvan Prom and Southwark) and earned my V25 t-shirt with my 25th volunteer stint!

As usual, I didn’t listen to much new music, but I absolutely loved the long-awaited new Duran Duran album Future Past, and I was over the moon at finally being able to see them live in Birmingham in September. Geth and I then saw Andy Taylor the very next night back home in Newcastle, and we had a great time seeing Soft Cell in Leeds in November. Lots more COVID-postponed gigs to come in 2022 (and some reviews of the ones I’ve recently attended!).

I watched pretty much zero new TV shows and films this year, though there were a few I added to my ‘buy the BluRay at some point’ list. I did record a lot of stuff on my digibox though! Geth has watched thousands of hours of YouTube channels about gaming and running, and I’ve enjoyed those by virtue of being in the same room. I did enjoy the Strictly series in the autumn, as ever.

I didn’t manage to find nearly as much time for videogaming this year as I would have liked, but there have still been a good few games to enjoy. In addition to playing all the other text adventure games in the jams and competitions I entered (see above – and also finishing off the Adventuron Christmas jam games from last year in January!), I finished Bravely Second in time for the much-anticipated Bravely Default II coming out, played Bravely Default II on and off from February but have still not made much headway ten months later, played the interesting demo of Project Triangle Strategy (set for full release on Switch in 2022 as just Triangle Strategy), finished Final Fantasy I (finally! I will be moving onto FFII for 2022), got very freaked out by Return of the Obra Dinn, got most of the way through The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, played about ten minutes of Pikmin Bloom before deciding it wasn’t for me, enjoyed a couple of old ’90s platformers for Christmas that I’ve loved since childhood, started Braid again (will actually finish it this time!), continued enjoying the lovely meditative filler game Link-A-Pix Colour, and COMPLETED EVERY SINGLE DEMO ON THE NINTENDO 3DS ESHOP (a project I’ve been working on for years). Watch out for next year, when I will be putting some serious effort into finding a lot more time for games!

I have lots of plans and resolutions for 2022, but I’ll talk about those tomorrow…

Winter nails
Snowflake leggings and new silver nails – all ready for New Year.

I’ll do a separate earworm playlist post soon…. maybe (I’m considering starting to log that separately from the blog and doing a yearly chart instead). So far it’s three weeks’ worth of Christmas music and Disney/Pixar soundtracks. I must admit I am looking forward to listening to something else in January in order to clear it all from my brain.