Occasional normality

It’s been another busy week at work and I’m really glad it’s the weekend. Geth and I are going to parkrun tomorrow morning! It’s finally back in England for the first time since that strange weekend in March 2020, and I’m very excited to return. Our home parkrun has a new name (formerly Newcastle, now Town Moor due to several other parkruns now existing in Newcastle) and a new course and a mostly-new core team running it, so it’s a bit of a new era all round. It feels very strange that we can finally parkrun again after so many false starts, but it feels like the right time. I hope Scotland and Wales aren’t too far behind.

Other than that I’m going to be chilling out with videogames this weekend, both creating and playing. I have returned to Final Fantasy I this week so I’ll be spending some time with that! I’ve also still got a lot of ParserComp entries to get through before the voting deadline next weekend, and I’m really excited to get some coding done as well.

The weather is still hot and not conducive to long runs. I’ve moved my long run day to Thursday, both because of events happening later in the training programme (to be precise, due to COVID-induced race lag, the rescheduled GNR falls precisely three weeks before the rescheduled-rescheduled London Marathon, and in a marathon training programme you’re supposed to do your 22-miler three weeks before marathon day, and I’m not doing an extra nine miles before or after the GNR! …so I’ll do it on the Thursday and have a gentle plod round the dodgily-rerouted ‘GNR’ three days later, no racing it) and because mental health wise I need FULL WEEKENDS at the moment that are not completely taken up with running, so it’s best to squeeze the long run in on a weekday instead. My last two long runs have ended up being cut short due to heatwave collapse, so next week I’m going to grit my teeth and attempt an out-and-back in the hope that, by the time I’m struggling, I’ll already be ‘on my way home’ and so it’ll be mentally easier.

Lots of groups and classes from pre-pandemic life now inviting me back, but as I’ve always said, these things will need to happen very gradually for me as I don’t want to jump straight back into Constantly Doing Stuff. Ignoring the FOMO and doing my own thing for a while longer.

Weeping willow
My favourite tree in the garden. It looks great in the summer.

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Nobuo Uematsu – ‘Yuna’s Theme’
Crowded House – ‘Weather With You’
Don Henley – ‘Boys Of Summer’
Duran Duran – ‘Give It All Up’

Sunday

Nobuo Uematsu – ‘Cosmo Canyon’

Monday

Paul Weller – ‘You Do Something To Me’

Tuesday

Calvin Harris – ‘Summer’

And a bonus track Geth was humming that day:

Nobuo Uematsu – ‘To Zanarkand’

Wednesday

Therion – ‘Summer Night City’
Duran Duran – ‘To The Shore’

Thursday

Boston – ‘More Than A Feeling’
Levellers – ‘The Fear’
Duran Duran – ‘Shadows On Your Side’

Friday

Nobuo Uematsu – ‘Airship Theme’
John Waite – ‘Missing You’
Manami Kiyota – ‘Satorl Marsh (Night)’

Trying not to burn out

I didn’t have much of a weekend last week because I was too busy with work, and I’ve been working every evening till late this week as well. As such, I have zero brainspace left and I need some time off. Part of the reason I worked evenings this week was because I wanted today off so that I could have a three-day weekend, as I knew that the first day would just be a ‘staring into space’ recovery day after the last few weeks. I also aimed to do my weekend long run today in order to get it out of the way early. However it’s been really, really hot today – too hot for running comfortably – and I ended up cutting the run short after halfway, as the heat was making it unsafe. Next week I’ll get up really early so I can get out and back in before the heat gets too bad.

I’m really looking forward to the rest of the weekend now. Brain rest will be amazing.

Sofa
Laptop, loungewear, sofa. It’s been that way for weeks, but this weekend it will be that way in a non-work way.

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Koichi Sugiyama – ‘Dragon Quest Town Theme’
Duran Duran – ‘Invisible’

Sunday

Nobuo Uematsu – ‘Chocobo Jam’
Paula Abdul – ‘Straight Up’

Monday

Nobuo Uematsu – ‘Yuna’s Theme’
Duran Duran – ‘Give It All Up’
Simply Red – ‘Something Got Me Started’

Tuesday

Nobuo Uematsu – ‘To Zanarkand’
Cast of The Sound Of Music – ‘Edelweiss’

Wednesday

Duran Duran – ‘Pressure Off’

Thursday

Robbie Williams – ‘Time For Change’
Duran Duran – ‘Winter Marches On’
Duran Duran – ‘My Antarctica’

Friday

Nobuo Uematsu – ‘Yuna’s Theme’

Flying Monday post

No adventures in coding to report this week. I would like to have been playing with a few experimental games I want to make and working on my ongoing projects, but I’ve been snowed under with day job work and haven’t had the time or energy. Hoping for a light at the end of the tunnel by the end of the week!

Switch Lite
I also need to switch this thing on tonight and check it’s still okay, as I haven’t had time to use it for a few months now. Maybe I’ll actually have chance to play games on it one of these days!

Muggy days and nights

There’s been a lot of rain this week, but the temperature has not lowered and sleep has been difficult due to the muggy night-time atmosphere. I’ve also had so much day job work I’ve not had time for anything else. I’m obviously thrilled that business has been booming recently, but I’m looking forward to a bit of downtime soon!

Not much else to report this week as a result. Hoping to be able to squeeze in some game creation as well next week.

South Shields
Another nice memory of last weekend’s visit to South Shields. Possibly the only visit I’ll have this year now that they’ve announced we all have to turn around and go back at the halfway point of the GNR!

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Liam Payne and Quavo – ‘Strip That Down’
Duran Duran – ‘Five Years’
2 Unlimited – ‘Get Ready For This’
Technotronic – ‘Pump Up The Jam’

Sunday

Jason Derulo – ‘Want To Want Me’
The House Of Love – ‘Shine On’

Monday

Arctic Monkeys – ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’
Don Henley – ‘Boys Of Summer’
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – ‘Locomotion’

Tuesday

Koichi Sugiyama – ‘Dragon Quest Town Theme’
Cast of Peter Pan – ‘A Pirate’s Life (Is a Wonderful Life)’

Wednesday

Koichi Sugiyama – ‘Dragon Quest Town Theme’
Cast of Peter Pan – ‘You Can Fly’

Thursday

Keala Settle – ‘This Is Me’

Friday

Nobuo Uematsu – ‘Let The Battles Begin!’
Alannah Myles – ‘Black Velvet’
Nobuo Uematsu – ‘The Trials’
Tracy Chapman – ‘Fast Car’

Aestivation

(It’s hibernation except in the summer rather than winter, and is how I would quite like to spend my July.)

As mentioned yesterday, I released a new game this week: Waiting for the Day Train, a submission to ParserComp. I’ve got all sorts of feelings about releasing this game. As I’ve discussed over the last few weeks, the plan was to submit my work-in-progress Marie to the competition, but I’ve realised it will need a lot more development (to the tune of the better part of a year), and so Waiting for the Day Train, which I had vaguely conceived in my head while visiting Causey Arch when Mum and Dad were visiting a few weeks ago, became my last-minute replacement for this particular competition. It’s shorter and simpler than a lot of games I’ve made recently, but that meant I was able to have it tested properly and polish it up quite nicely, and I’ve become very attached to it over the last couple of weeks. I’ve also realised the importance of having short, fun game projects on the go as well as big ones. Big games are important to make as I’ve got big stories to tell, but it can be hard to keep the momentum going over the course of a project that takes a couple of years. Short games always feel fresh. I’ve got a lot of them I want to make now.

I’ve also been very busy with day job work over the last few weeks. This is great, as it’s a continuation of business really picking up this year after last year’s pandemic-induced slump, but during busy times it can be a lot of work for one person to do.

I’m still going to be working on the aforementioned short game projects during July, but I’ve done some careful scheduling to make sure that, like day job work, it all gets done during the week. I need to start switching off my brain at weekends again, as I feel like I’m burning out a bit.

Package
Today’s postal arrival. Not books. T-shirts 🙂 A present to myself for releasing another game.

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Duran Duran – ‘Violence Of Summer (Love’s Taking Over)’
Shaggy and RikRok – ‘It Wasn’t Me’*

Sunday

Dee Cooke – ‘Waiting For The Train’**

Monday

Dee Cooke – ‘Credits’**
Elton John – ‘Crocodile Rock’

Tuesday

Lucy Spraggan – ‘Lighthouse’
Koichi Sugiyama – ‘Dragon Quest Main Theme’
Dee Cooke – ‘Credits’**
Dee Cooke – ‘Waiting For The Train’**

Wednesday

Koichi Sugiyama – ‘Dragon Quest Main Theme’
Arctic Monkeys – ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’
Dee Cooke – ‘Credits’**

Thursday

Koichi Sugiyama – ‘The Observatory’

Friday

David Guetta, Nicki Minaj and Flo Rida – ‘Where Them Girls At’
Queen – ‘Too Much Love Will Kill You’

*A result of this stellar parody in response to the Matt Hancock incident.

**From the soundtrack of my new game, linked above. I’m still learning when it comes to making soundtracks but they certainly get stuck in my head.

The point at which it starts to wear

It’s not been the most straightforward of weeks. I’ve had a uveitis attack for the first time in two years, so I spent half of Wednesday in the hospital waiting to be seen. I’m on the usual course of eye drops, which as usual provided almost instant relief when I started using them, but they are making my vision very blurry so I’m having to take a lot of screen breaks.

There have been good things happening this week as well, though. I’m still buzzing from the big PB I got at the Sunderland 10k on Sunday, even though it really took it out of me and I’m still not fully recovered yet! I’m also in a really good place with the short game I’ve made for the current competition after putting my big work-in-progress on hold for now. I’ve just prepped it for testing and am hoping to hear back from some potential playtesters soon. My chief playtester (Geth) has promised to have a good go over the weekend as well!

Summer, such as it is, is starting to wear on me now. I always feel really uncomfortable at this time of year. The endless daylight makes me feel a bit ill, and the whole season feels a bit strange and otherworldly to me. We get (occasional) hot weather! That’s not supposed to happen in this part of the world! Also, I sort of feel like the season lacks a focused celebration. Autumn has Hallowe’en, winter has Christmas, spring has Easter, summer has… your summer holiday? Which I haven’t felt I’m in a position to take properly for well over a decade, as it’s a busy time for my business, so even when I do travel in the summer I’m usually still working from wherever I am in the world. It’s a bit of a dragging time of year, and I generally spend most of it trying not to wish time away and get too excited about the autumn. Especially when they keep releasing news about the upcoming series of Strictly!

On the whole, then, it’s probably for the best that this is an especially busy summer (well, by pandemic standards), meaning I’ve got lots of things to keep me occupied. I’ve got quite a few ongoing clients booked for over the next month, and I expect the Masters dissertations will start to arrive in August, so there’ll be no shortage of day job work. I’ve also got a lot of games to make, and a lot of games to play… and a marathon to train for!

In short, the summer might not feel as long as it usually does…

Wagons
Another picture from the Causey Arch trip a couple of weeks ago. I took a lot and have used some of them for graphics in my new game!

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Eric Hammond – ‘Berlin (Königgrätzer Marsch)’

Sunday

Michael Land and Clint Bajakian – ‘The Crab Raft’

Monday

Dee Cooke – ‘Outside Building’
Duran Duran – ‘Ordinary World’
VNV Nation – ‘Genesis’

Tuesday

Koichi Sugiyama – ‘Dragon Quest Town Theme’
Andy Taylor – ‘Night Train’

Wednesday

Roxette – ‘Fading Like A Flower’
Laura Branigan – ‘Self Control’
Alice Cooper – ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’

Thursday

Michael Land – ‘DeSinge’s Theme’
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – ‘Locomotion’

Friday

Koichi Sugiyama – ‘Dragon Quest Town Theme’

Adapting

There’s been a lot to adapt to over the last few weeks. This weekend will be the fifth in a row where Geth and I have something on, which after a year of nothing at all has been a bit overwhelming at times. I’m going to enjoy my race on Sunday (it is really nice to be racing again!), but I’m already looking forward to next weekend, which is nice and empty now that the parkrun return date has been delayed by another month due to the government roadmap.

I made the decision this week to delay the release of the big game I’ve been working on for the last three months. I wanted to put it into the currently-running competition, but it would be a rush job to get it finished in time for the deadline and I’ve worked so hard on it that I don’t want to put out a rushed, substandard, buggy release. Delaying it to the next big competition gives me an extra three months to get it perfect. In the meantime, I’m having a great time making a fun little game for the current competition instead – I coded the entire game in a few hours yesterday, and now have another twelve days for bells and whistles, polish and playtesting! It is really nice to feel ahead of the game rather than stressfully behind.

Work is still fairly busy too, so life is a bit of a balancing act at the moment.

Sunny garden
The weather has been fairly glorious recently so it’s been nice to enjoy the garden. Geth has worked hard on it recently and it’s a lovely place to sit.

Two weeks’ worth of earworm playlists:

Saturday 5th

Liam Payne and Quavo – ‘Strip That Down’
Mark Knopfler – ‘Local Hero’

Sunday 6th

Howard Jones – ‘Like To Get To Know You Well’

Monday 7th

Duran Duran – ‘The Seventh Stranger’

Tuesday 8th

Duran Duran – ‘The Seventh Stranger’
Duran Duran – ‘Violence Of Summer (Love’s Taking Over)’

Wednesday 9th

September ’87 – ‘Bad Dream Baby’
Koichi Sugiyama – ‘Dragon Quest Main Theme’
Duran Duran – ‘New Moon On Monday’
Duran Duran – ‘Too Late Marlene’
David Guetta, Nicki Minaj and Flo Rida – ‘Where Them Girls At’

And a bonus track Geth was humming that day:

VNV Nation – ‘Genesis’

Thursday 10th

Duran Duran – ‘New Moon On Monday’

Friday 11th

Apoptygma Berzerk – ‘Eclipse’
Alexandra Burke – ‘Broken Heels’
Duran Duran – ‘Save A Prayer’
Duran Duran – ‘New Moon On Monday’

Saturday 12th

The Wonder Stuff – ‘Welcome To The Cheap Seats’
VNV Nation – ‘Beloved’

Sunday 13th

Mabel and Notes – ‘Fine Line’
VNV Nation – ‘Fearless’

Monday 14th

Koichi Sugiyama – ‘Dragon Quest Main Theme’
ATB – ‘9pm Till I Come’
Duran Duran – ‘Invisible’

Tuesday 15th

Duran Duran – ‘Violence Of Summer (Love’s Taking Over)’
Duran Duran – ‘Girls On Film’
Metallica – ‘Enter Sandman’

Wednesday 16th

Duran Duran – ‘New Moon On Monday’
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – ‘Locomotion’
Duran Duran – ‘Come Undone’
Andy Taylor – ‘Night Train’

Thursday 17th

Koichi Sugiyama – ‘Dragon Quest Town Theme’
Duran Duran – ‘Violence Of Summer (Love’s Taking Over)’
Kuana Torres Kahele, James Ford Murphy and Napua Greig-Nakasone – ‘Someone To Lava’

Friday 18th

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – ‘Locomotion’

Seeds of normality

I have a race tomorrow. An actual real race, not a virtual. There will be COVID-secure measures (we are starting in waves and have to wear face coverings at the start and finish), but it’s an actual race with other people, and I’m really excited. It’s a trail race with lots of hills, and it’s going to be hot, so I will be taking it very slowly and walking a lot. In some ways it should be easier than last week’s virtual half. I hope! I’m also going to be getting on public transport for the first time in fifteen months, which will be interesting.

This last week has been very busy between coding and day job work. It’s going to be like this for the rest of June while I finish my game. I’m doing really well with it on the whole, but I am looking forward to a bit of a break in July!

Summer has hit now, and it just doesn’t seem to get dark at the moment… especially seeing as I’m falling asleep so early. I always feel a bit out of sorts at this time of year as I’m not really built for it. Autumn is my time.

Excited that I’ll have another medal for my collection this time tomorrow. They’re coming thick and fast at the moment!

Whitley Bay
Geth took this photo of a very muggy and foggy Whitley Bay for me earlier this week.

This week’s earworm playlists (still very Duran-heavy):

Saturday

Duran Duran – ‘American Science’
Duran Duran – ‘Invisible’

Sunday

Harry Belafonte – ‘Jump in the Line (Shake, Señora)’
Pitbull and Christina Aguilera – ‘Feel This Moment’

Monday

Duran Duran – ‘I Take The Dice’
Traditional – ‘Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gum Tree’

Tuesday

Dee Cooke – ‘Outside Building’
Duran Duran – ‘Secret Oktober’
Pointer Sisters – ‘Automatic’

Wednesday

Duran Duran – ‘Secret Oktober’
The Midnight – ‘Endless Summer’
Cornershop – ‘Brimful Of Asha [Norman Cook Mix]’
Stephen Duffy – ‘Kiss Me’
Duran Duran – ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’

Thursday

David Guetta and Sia – ‘Flames’
Duran Duran – ‘Five Years’

Friday

Duran Duran – ‘I Take The Dice’
The Wonder Stuff – ‘Golden Green’

No room at the inn

My week has been very busy, in the way that a lot of my weeks have been very busy during lockdown. Lots of day job work, lots of working on my own creative projects (writing and coding), a bit of running but not as much as is ideal due to a bad hip, quite a lot of strength training to try and fix said hip, and a lot of playtesting and competition-judging other people’s text adventures (the most fun part of my day and a good way to give back to a community that is giving me so much joy at the moment).

I’ve been working really hard recently and it’s been paying off. There have been a few developments in my editing business that I’ll talk about later in the year, I’m starting to get bits and bobs of writing published, and my text adventures are doing well and getting a good reception. I hit RED day 500 this morning – my 500th day running in a row – which is enabling me to feel like I’m still achieving things with my running even though I’m having a bad time of it with my hip and a general lack of energy at the moment.

All of this has been made possible by the pandemic allowing me to sit on my sofa all day long and get things done. I am one of the people for whom lockdown has, on the whole, been beneficial – of course I’ve had my anxious moments like everyone else, as I really don’t deal well with uncertainty, but in general I have been really, really happy having an excuse to stay home. I’ve realised more than ever that I don’t actually like leaving my house, and that it’s okay not to like leaving your house. The real anxiety I have now is adapting to the world going back to normal again. I’ve said for probably a year now that I won’t just be able to jump back into my life as it was pre-pandemic; there were a lot of things I used to do that, I have realised, caused a lot of unnecessary stress. Constantly going out to group activities and classes, gigs and races every week, travelling every other weekend… I can’t go back to all that. My personal return to normality is going to have to be very gradual, and there are a lot of things I probably never will do again.

Learning to say ‘no’, to myself as much as to anyone else, is probably going to be my biggest challenge this year. I’ve found out how important it is to feel in control of my own time. It’s a precious thing, and I’m not going to give it up.

Lego USB stick
Life is starting to fit into place, gradually.

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Michael Land and Clint Bajakian – ‘Opening Credits Part #1’
Whitesnake – ‘Here I Go Again ’87’*

Sunday

Patti Smith – ‘Because The Night’
Dee Cooke – ‘Control Room’

Monday

Dee Cooke – ‘Outside Building’
Fisherman’s Friends – ‘Sailor Ain’t A Sailor’

Tuesday

Whitesnake – ‘Here I Go Again ’87’

Wednesday

Fisherman’s Friends – ‘Haul Away Joe’

Thursday

Pet Shop Boys – ‘Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money)’
Duran Duran – ‘Tel Aviv’

Friday

Michael Land and Clint Bajakian – ‘Crete’
Duran Duran – ‘Save A Prayer’
Talking Heads – ‘Once In A Lifetime’
Ed Sheeran – ‘Lego House’

*RIP Tawny Kitaen.

A long week

I can’t believe this working week has only been four days! It’s felt like forever. Geth and I have both been really busy and the weekend is very welcome right now.

I’ve had a bad hip all week and so have only been doing short runs. I’ve done a lot of yoga to try and sort it out, and it is getting better, but only gradually. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do my planned weekend running and walking but we’ll see.

I’m thoroughly ensconced in the coding for my next game, which is really, really enjoyable. It’s a fairly big project though and I’m already looking forward to going back to experimenting with smaller games over the summer.

Still doing a fair amount of day job work too. Lots going on at the moment!

Local elections 2021
COVID-secure polling station selfie! It had just started to hail…

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Michael Land – ‘Upstairs At The Hotel’
Fisherman’s Friends – ‘Haul Away Joe’
Bee Gees – ‘First Of May’
Duran Duran – ‘Burning The Ground’

Sunday

Michael Land – ‘On The Hill’
Men Without Hats – ‘Safety Dance’
Michael Land – ‘The Brimstone Beach Club’

Monday

Fisherman’s Friends – ‘Sailor Ain’t A Sailor’
Aloe Blacc – ‘I Need A Dollar’
The Running Channel – ‘Run With Me’
Fisherman’s Friends – ‘Haul Away Joe’

Tuesday

Michael Land – ‘On The Hill’
The Undertones – ‘My Perfect Cousin’
Fisherman’s Friends – ‘Sailor Ain’t A Sailor’
Michael Land and Clint Bajakian – ‘Monte Carlo Hotel Entrance’

Wednesday

Levellers – ‘Julie’
Eric Hammond – ‘Into The Catacombs’

Thursday

Michael Land and Clint Bajakian – ‘Barnett College’
Lisa Lougheed – ‘Run With Us’
Eric Hammond – ‘Berlin (Königgrätzer Marsch)’

Friday

Fisherman’s Friends – ‘Bully In The Alley’
Michael Land and Clint Bajakian – ‘Opening Credits Part #1’