I am kaitco

a writer's log

Thankful Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Filed under: Gaming — kaitco @ 10:27 pm
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I’m so very thankful for today!

I’ve been in such a slump for so many weeks it got difficult to sort out the good days from the bad, but today, I am uplifted for the first time in a long while.

I got a promotion at first-job, but that’s not what actually pulled me from the slump. This started yesterday as I finally took to heart the saying “If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.” and made a change. I cleaned the house and resolved to be patient because whatever God had cooking for was only going to materialize on His time and never mine.

I was already feeling good about what I’d just come through when I got the call offering my promotion, so that was just the proverbial icing on the cake. I even got some writing done today!

I’m just so thankful that God breaks me down to build me back up even stronger, since that’s always been His way. It’s not until the sky looks darkest that the light starts to shine. Even though all my friends and family have been saying how they’ve prayed for this promotion for me, I remind myself that the promotion in itself is not really what makes today so special. Today was special because I was happy with my lot in life; happy to be patient, happy to recognize that limits aren’t necessarily bad and happy to know that I struggle for God’s greater glory in the end.

Today, I’m very, very thankful.

 

Ten days into this… Friday, August 10, 2012

Filed under: Dorienne,Gaming — kaitco @ 10:58 pm
Tags: , , ,

So, ten days into this fast tells me how spoiled my mind and body have become. The urge to do what I’ve always done is so great, but I’m still holding on.

I didn’t actually load Minecraft today. I checked the forums and wiki to see what had become of the 1.3 update and to see if my mods had updated. I learned that I’m actually better off waiting to play since I would have had to go without my favorite mods for this long anyway, but the itch to play is so great that I’ve been getting headaches.

I haven’t gone out to get fast food, but I’m in the mood for a treat, so I’m about to go out and buy some cookies to bake. I was $17.00 under my shopping budget on Monday, so this is just a little bit extra, while remaining in that limit.

When I have a day at first-job where I have to remind myself that I accepted a position that was 30% management and 70% social work, I know I need a (non-alcoholic) treat. I accepted it, so I’ve only done this to myself. I just really wish I’d majored in social work (or even better, psychology) to prepare me for the career into which I’ve fallen.

It’s not likely I’ll be writing tonight, but with this coming Tuesday as a day off and a 3-day weekend for myself ahead of me, I think I’ll still be all right and I may even bring the book down to the 150Ks.

 

My personal fast Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Many of the cleaning staff in my building at first-job are Somalian and I often take the time to speak to least the woman who comes by my area each day. Sometimes it is difficult to speak to her since, even though she’s lived in the US for at least the 5 years I’ve been working there, her English is still lacking, but she told me the other day how much she appreciated how I spoke to her (slow and clear) since it helped her improve upon her English. This of course made me beam from ear to ear.

In one of our daily chats, she shared with me her efforts for Ramadan. Previous to this conversation, I knew that the Muslim holiday involved fasting of some kind, but I was relatively ignorant of anything more. I still am, to some degree, but I was intrigued when she discussed how she had to fast throughout each day. And not just abstain from a certain food or certain type of food, but denying all food and all water from sun up til sun down, every day. I admired her devotion and shook my head since I doubt I’d ever have the resolve to do the same…at least not while I knew I could convert to a religion that didn’t require so much…

Like I said, however, I was still intrigued by the concept of the fast and wondered whether there was anything I could just give up, for even a month. Internet? Not a chance; when the power is out, I start to get the shakes. Reading? Probably, but why would I ever want to fast from reading? Writing? I’ve done this many times earlier in its more commonly known form called procrastination and I don’t think it wise to take that up again. So, from what shall I fast as I move into a new month?

As I looked over this month of July, I find myself sorely disappointed with the lack of progress on my novel and my spending habits, but resolving to do something every day, can work for a month or so, as I saw in June, but once the month is over, I can’t help by slack off whatever I was doing every day. In order to make a real change to myself as the result of some kind of fast or resolve, it has to be something that I would not want to go back to doing every day. While reducing my idleness would be an admirable fast, I’ve done this only to fail in the very next month when the pressure is gone. So, again, I’m left to wonder what shall I do with myself in the month of August.

August is usually a stressful month for me. In the countdown to aging another year, August is like the month of December for most folks bent on doing better with themselves. I look at this entire year from last September til now and take a critical eye at where I was this year versus last and as we end July, I can’t help my yearly ritual. The novel is written, but has yet to be reduced to a publishable form. I still have the same first-job, the same debt, the same weight, the same mild service in my church, etc….With this August, however, and since I’ve got fasting on the mind, rather than just sigh over my lack of progress in this adventure in adulthood, I’ve decided to strengthen my resolve and fast against things that have been destroying any hope of success that I’ve got: fast food and Minecraft.

As far as the fast food is concerned, I’m sure anyone can determine the issues there. It’s mostly bad for me, especially since I’m a vegetarian and can only resolve to order some French fries when I’m forced out to eat, but the monetary hit is what really bites the most. Is it possible to spend more than $1000 in a single month on just fast food meals? Previous to this month’s AMEX bill I would have said “Not a chance.” but now, I’m forced to change my tune. That said, I’ve “given up” fast food dozens of times in the past and, as I’ve before explained, once the month is over (if I even last that long), I’m right back to where I started, so the task here is not about just giving up fast food. To get to the heart of the issue, I’ve got to give up something better, which is my spending money like I actually had it. In order to do this, I have to actually place myself on a budget and thus a “money fast” which will require a fast food fast as well. I’ll have just $20 in cash that I can spend each week if I forget my lunch, etc., but that’s it. There’ll be no swiping my AMEX as if I’d forgot what that swipe meant and since no one can eat out every day with just $20, I’ll have to cook and plan meals each week which sounds simple, but when the mind and body are so accustomed to just going out to get food someone else had already prepared for me, the idea of it is very novel. The ultimate goal is to curb my spending and the way to get there is to almost entirely abstain from eating out.

Likewise, my fast from Minecraft, while very specific and sounding more traditional, has a separate goal.

Sandbox video games where the player can do anything and create anything he or she wishes to do have always been my downfall. The games in which I’ve wasted the most time include The Sims, Rock Band and Minecraft. Rock Band has no real goal other than to just get better and better at each instrument, so I can play just because I want to play and have a lot of fun doing it. The Sims 2 allows me to make any person I choose, dress them up, build them a house and play their lives for as many hours as I choose and even if I were to get tired of that, I can make mods for the game or other downloadables such as hairstyles or furniture. Minecraft plops the player into a space of land and it is up to the player to survive in this wilderness, finding food, fending off monsters, building houses or roller coasters or whatever one could wish to build. All three allow me to do whatever I want to do without any real goals in place and allowing me to play forever if I so chose, so the reason why Minecraft would be the chosen fasted game may not seem apparent at first.

Unlike The Sims or Rock Band, Minecraft takes virtually no effort from me to start and costs me nothing as well. With The Sims, despite having a brand new laptop, the game still takes about 10 minutes to load between the first EA Games screen until the moment I’m in a family’s house. The loading time allows me opportunity to focus on other things, sometimes things that may even pull me away from the game before I’ve had to time start playing. The Sims also requires loading in between different houses or even different places as my sims go on dates or on vacation, so it’s easy for me to get distracted from the game and even easier for me to not want to play because I only have a half-hour to do something and I don’t want to waste it on loading screens.

Rock Band is only a bit better since I mostly like to play the guitar and sing simultaneously. This requires turning on the Xbox and getting the TV to right input, bring out and plugging in the mic and mic stand, finding my guitar, letting the game load and finally deciding on a song or setlist to play. Since I love the game so much, this passes relatively quickly for me, but unlike The Sims where I am sitting for hours on end as I play pixelated characters and their stories, for Rock Band, I am standing and singing for the duration of my play and so again, unlike The Sims, I can’t physically play forever; eventually I’ll get exhausted and will have to pass out on the sofa. The good thing about this is that after a day of being sedentary, just standing (and dancing a little depending on the song) and singing gets in a little more activity in my day. Even with all this said, the setup time frame doesn’t allow me to play just whenever I feel like it and the desire to be lazy also drowns out my love for the game.

This brings us to Minecraft, whose loading times don’t give me enough time to bring my teacup to my mouth and can allow me sit sedentary, though creative, for almost days at a time. This easy access to such a fantastic waste of time has allowed my procrastination to be less of a task and more of an art form. To be honest, other than playing Minecraft and some power outages earlier this month, I’m not entirely sure what else I did in July 2012. This frightens me a bit since I’ve always had at least one or two obstacles in the way of my procrastination, but Minecraft gives me everything that The Sims or Rock Band can with nothing to impede upon my play.

A fast from Minecraft seems like a simple fast from something I really don’t need to be doing every single day of my life, but it’s really far more than that. Before Minecraft (hereafter known as BMC), if I had 30 minutes to kill, I would write or read or makes notes on a new project or even exercise or read webcomics or pack my meals for the day or do some laundry or anything else in the world. BMC I could take that time to do something slightly productive since it would take too long to set up anything that was relatively unproductive, but after Minecraft (which I won’t dignify with its own period), I can kill time more easily than should be allowed. In my fast from Minecraft, I’m essentially resolving to do all things I’ve neglected to do since I’ve been Minecrafting all summer long.

So, here I am. I’m going to fast for the month of August, taking away the simple things that will have the greatest impact on my life. I liken this fast to removing some obstacles that keep a few pebbles from rolling down a mountain. Once those pebbles start rolling, they’ll hit snow and then more snow and then become a snowball so big that my procrastination and wasteful spending will have to run like Indiana Jones being chased by the giant ball out of the temple.

Once again, to keep myself honest, I’ll check in using this blog (hopefully far shorter than I’ve rambled today) and remain accountable to myself since I really dislike interrupting a string of consecutive posts.

 

30-Day 5K – Day Twenty-Five Monday, June 25, 2012

Filed under: Gaming,Writing — kaitco @ 11:50 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Today was a good day. I removed an entire chapter because all 2400+ words of it was just plain dribble and was summarized nicely in the following chapter. I got through a total of 6396 words tonight (sketch after sketch of Brit’s eyes) and have just 7 chapters left in this edit.

I also played around with some Minecraft texture packs and a couple mods and showed some restraint in not starting a brand new project to add a mini-Mincraft image site to kaitco.net since I’ve still got this novel to finish, so it was very good day.

In keeping with this good day, I’m going to do something I’ve not had the resolve to do for most of this month and keep writing after hitting my daily 5K goal. At the start of this month’s quest, I would write for hours, post and then keep writing, but my recent love of Minecraft has had me simply working until I reached 5K, posting and then going right back to my game. Not tonight, however.

With 52 pages and 21K words before I reach the end, I’m going to just push. Minecraft will be there for me when I’m done and I’ve already decided to take a day off from first-job once this edit is done to celebrate with a marathon session of both Minecraft and Downton Abbey. I may even sneak in a fanfiction I’ve been wanting to write since I found the old notes for it a few weeks ago. Either way, I’m going to finish this edit this week.

Since the end of this edit will only mean the beginning of the next edit, I’ll not be as celebratory as I was in March when I actually finished the story, but I’ll take my accomplishments one step at a time.

 

30-Day 5K – Day Eighteen Monday, June 18, 2012

Filed under: Gaming,Writing — kaitco @ 11:40 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Every once in a while, I experience one of these great moments in time where everything seems to sync together. Tonight, this came in the form of music.

While working on a chapter I’ve titled “Foolish Games”, the song of the same name by Jewel began playing from my writing playlist. I’ll not deny that the song is likely where I pulled the chapter title, but I find it so fun when these sorts of things happen.

I’ve decided that I won’t be keeping the chapter titles when I finally start sending this thing, but I like keeping them at this point to keep me focused in each chapter and ensure that everything flows.

Something else interesting I came upon in my writing tonight was some prose and dialogue surrounding March Madness 2008. While I did play basketball for about 7 years and even took a basketball refereeing course to boost my GPA in school, I rarely watch the sport anymore. I suppose this has to do with knowing far too much about the mechanics of the game, so that I spend more time critiquing the follow-through on a player’s shot, rather than enjoy the game. The fact that I’ve not had cable or access to any live television should also be noted, but that’s all for another post.

I’ve got my characters discussing March Madness with a fervour I can barely remember sharing, but I do remember spending hours researching brackets and teams from that year through Wikipedia. What’s sad is that, not only have I got to cut the majority of this from the book now, I can’t even remember half of what I researched. Oh well…I suppose it’s better for my mind to push out the useless information to leave room for all these characters and stories.

I wrote 6005 words tonight (and offered to keep score) despite putting several hours towards Minecraft, Super Mario World and Chrono Trigger on SNES and then Grand Theft Auto IV today and I’m just happy to still have the inspiration keep writing in a world of so man, many distractions.

 

Drumming Monday, October 31, 2011

Filed under: Gaming — kaitco @ 12:01 am
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It’s frightening to think how “good” I am getting at Rock Band. With just three songs remaining of the “Expert” tour in RB1, I’m now able to play most songs on Expert and sometimes sing and play on Expert as well. Just a few months ago, I thought I’d never get past the Hard tour, let alone be able to start playing songs often on Expert.

All this notwithstanding, I feel a very powerful stress reliever starting to lose some of its hold. While I’ve still got RB2, RB3 and Guitar Hero 2 and World Tour to complete, the “art” of playing the guitar and singing is starting to lose its edge the better I become at the game, so I’ve decided to increase the challenges to myself by moving my focus onto the other instruments in the game.

I’ve played through the Easy and Medium tours in RB1, but I think it’s time to start really start to play the drums. It’s so easy to just literally throw the drumsticks in the air and say “I can’t do it! I’ve got no rhythm!” but in my zeal to retain the perfect stress reliever in my life, I must give it a try.

I’m not sure why or even how I’ve come to really depend on this game so much, but few things can help me clear my mind and remove all the stress and ills of the first-job and the rest of the world.

 

Autosave! Why hast thou forsaken me?!? Friday, September 2, 2011

Last night around midnight, I decided to keep writing and finish Chapter 21. I was in the midst of a zone and in mid-word when the screen suddenly turned blue and said something about an error. Long story short, my laptop crashed in the middle of everything I was writing and I sat worried about the blue screen of death facing me. I hadn’t written a lot after I’d last saved, but I had some notes written in a Notepad doc that I really wanted to keep and I liked the little bit that I had been writing.

While I completed two hard restarts and allowed some random Windows repair screen to do its thing, two thoughts rushed through my mind: Did my novel autosave? and Was my Sims 2 game at risk? Now, the former was more of a wishful thought than anything else because autosave has failed me in the past and I did not expect much from it, but the latter was really a surprise.

I guess knowing that I had saved at least the bit that I’d included at my last word count and also knowing that the novel is not only saved on a separate shared drive between all three PCs in my house, but also backed up to my DorienneSmith.com server eased any real concern about the safety of my work, but my Sims 2 game was not so well-guarded and all I could think of as I waited for the autofails autosave’s inevitable failure was whether I’d lost some eight years worth of gaming with just one crash.

I instantly Googled how to make a laptop hard drive into an external hard drive in case the laptop couldn’t be started again and eventually I considered all the pain of not having this particular laptop when I traveled later in the month and then again about that autosave, but a real fear and this amazing sense of loss started to overcome me when I thought about my little game.

I don’t get to play the game as much as I used to play, but Jill is a story born directly out of my Sims’ game and I consider each sim and each family a potential character or set of characters. If it wasn’t for Beau and Alexander Goth and their adopted sim children, I would have never looked at Jill and said, “Hm…there’s a story in this.”

I’ve spent a long time playing this game and, as odd as it sounds, I’ve been playing some of these characters longer than I’ve known some of my friends…my good friends. So, it’s not so much the loss of the game that troubled me, but the loss of so many characters, all at once, with no hope of recovery that caused an ache in my chest and probably reduced some of my life expectancy.

Even though my amygdala started sending out all sorts of irrational thoughts, I did not completely freak out and I found that my fears were, more or less, groundless. The autosave did, indeed, fail to live up to its name, but my game and all its characters were safe. That said, I immediately created a back of my game just in case another random crash comes in the future.

I wrote 614 words today (before she sat across from him) and after each and every pause in writing, I took a minute to Ctrl+S my work to avoid another incident. I’m also going to attempt to upload the 12+ GB file that is my Sims 2 game folder…I’m sure my webhost will shut me down long before I succeed, but it’s worth try.

 

 
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