Up, with which, one should not put   Leave a comment

I should probably be suspicious of these questions. Who’s asking, and why do they want to know?

Wednesday was one of those days when I panic around desperately trying to do work by the deadline I’ve set myself, that would have been quite easy if only I’d not frittered away the previous day(s), because I’m a bloody idiot. Fortunately in this case it was only a two-day job, so I’d finished by midnight.

At lunchtime I was surprised by a friend calling around. I was expecting his arrival, but not until the evening (in his defence, the time wasn’t mentioned; it was an assumption on my part), so I hadn’t got dressed or anything yet as I was planning on doing that at lunchtime. Look, the computer doesn’t care what I’m wearing. It doesn’t judge me on my appearance, unlike you fashion-Nazi peacocks.
This is one reason that I don’t like unannounced visitors, and why those of a sensitive disposition shouldn’t knock on the door if the blinds are drawn.

He did, however, provide a welcome distraction for an hour in the form of an introduction to Aeronautica Imperialis, a tactical aerial combat game, with quite straightforward rules that still (from a 2-on-2 dogfight game) allow it to seem a convincing interpretation of the subject matter. Unfortunately, it’s a Games Workshop game, and they’re not getting any more money from me until they stop being cocks. Anyway, I’ve been thinking about space combat strategy games this week (and about designing the mechanics for one), and AI might be an inspiration, so I’ll talk about it more if I ever write that up.

After work I wrote some blog posts, I think, because I’ve made a note of more questions asked by WordPress:

If you suddenly ran into your most recent ex, what would your first response be?
“I didn’t know you could drive!”
“Ambulance please, there’s been an accident…”
Um. Well, it’d be a bit odd to meet each other unexpectedly, as we live a couple of hundred miles apart. So it’d be something like “What’re you doing up here?”. But we get on well, so it – like meeting up at social gatherings or whatever – would be absolutely fine.

Who’s the first person you turn to when in doubt?
When in deadly danger,
When beset by doubt,
Run in little circles,
Wave your arms and shout.

Hmm. Wikipedia, generally. OK, it’s not a person, but to whom would I turn? Why would they know more about whatever’s causing me trouble than I do? Why would they want to be pestered with my prattling prognostication about my personal problems? I’m sure they have better things to do.

Also, it appears to be begging the question that doubt must be bad. Considering how much of life is uncertain, indeterminate, unforseeable or simply uncontrollable, absolute certainty on any subject must be viewed with a measure of suspicion, must it not?

Do you feel obligated to finish all books you start reading?
I don’t like the word “obligate”. Apparently it’s still in use in American English, but in Proper English it’s out of favour. It looks like one of those management-bollocks words where they cram extra syllables into a sentence to obfuscate it, trying to make themselves look clever.
“One feels obligated to action irregardless of the zeitgeist!”*
My boss enjoys using that kind of language, and I enjoy excising the nonsense and condensing it down to English. Sometimes it requires considerable effort and a dictionary.
It is claimed that there are, in fact, subtle distinctions between “obliged” and “obligated”, but as I can’t see any agreement on what they are it’s not very useful. This is the kind of nonsense that you have to put up with when people are allowed to make up their language as they go along.

Anyway, no. I got bored and gave up about halfway through both Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver’s Travels when I was a teenager, and very quickly lost interest in Don Quixote a few years ago. Probably others too, but those are the sacred cows that spring to slaughter.

Can you get work done while music is playing?
Sometimes I find it hard to work without upbeat pop or rock blasting out of my headphones slightly too loudly. Combined with excessive caffeine it seems to beat my brain into submission, giving it something else to concentrate on whilst I actually get on with things.

It mustn’t, however, be anything too lyrics-based. I can’t do anything involving language when I’m listening to the words, and being a programmer that’s rather a problem. And so I cannot listen to podcasts when working; they’re reserved to amuse me when performing more practical labours, such as washing up, cookery, decorating or going to the gym (look, it could happen).

* Does that even mean anything? Answers on a postcard to the usual address**.
** The postcard thing always seemed odd when I was a child. Boring industrial towns in the Midlands don’t have much in the way of postcards; Going Live and Blue Peter were clearly biased in favour of children from seaside towns and other popular tourist destinations. As if kids who LIVED AT THE SEASIDE didn’t already have absolutely everything going for them. They probably even had ice cream for lunch and fish and chips for dinner EVERY DAY.

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