Too bad, so sad, I didn't finish anything interesting yet for a blog post for November. I have an in-progress video about something previewed in post 1146, but other than that and some regular musical doodlings, this month has been pretty light on the creative projects. Exacerbating factors include: (1) "Super Mario Odyssey," a real nightmare for completionists like me with its apparently ~1000 stars to collect. Have about 800. (2) The fine-as-in China game "Cuphead" which I am really enjoying. Aside from one flameball sprite that is really bothering me, it has one of the most incredible visual styles of any game in recent memory, and I personally think the difficulty is spot on. Almost done with this one. (3) Traveled and read some books, finishing "Station 11" (★★★☆☆) and almost finishing "Inadequate Equilibria" which has some flaws but is overall very interesting. (4) The busy time of year at work. (5) Continued my now pretty long-running streak of running every single day no matter what. Due to poor record-keeping at the beginning (not knowing that it would become a streak), I'm not completely confident what date I actually started on, but by now I've worked out that it's at least 137 days, so we're calling it a 137-day streak. I have some software to process the run data, which could produce graphics for a future blog post, but right now it's just some squiggly lines that don't make that much sense, like so:
Squiggly lines that don't make that much sense
The running is hard and saps the creative energy but it's good for me. I'm pretty invested in the streak now, thinking about the endgame, but it's a bit tricky since I don't want to encourage myself to do something stupid (e.g., get to the point where I dangerously run through an injury to unlock some achievement).
I have a bunch of old, almost-finished projects kicking around on my hard drive, including a number of recordings of Sick Ridiculous and the Sick Ridiculous tracks that we wisely recorded sloppy versions of just before Nels moved to Belgium (and then elsewhere). Since I haven't plugged in my Roland SC-880 and something changed about the sample rates my sound card is willing to play (?), it's been a bit of a pain to mix and master these, but today I figured out a workaround for one of those problems. So I finished off this old track "Why can't the band skate?"
We made this track for dwrensha's (and his twin brother's) birthday on 11/11/2011, making it our third or fourth birthday song. That was six years ago (in fact I was reminded by the sequel of this birthday party coming up shortly) but the thing about Sick Ridiculous is The Band is Still Active and Never Forget and A Watched Pot Never Boils! So, Solicit MP3 from emporium.
Oops, I accidentally played Zelda: Breath of the Wild until after midnight and missed my reserved time to post a September update. Part of the update is that I played this game a whole lot, and it's really great for someone of my sensibilities (like once you get past the first part of the game it tells you to go to some town, but you can just do anything you want, so I went in the other direction. The game is excellent at creating these little puzzles and stories from the way you choose to play it. I spent two hours trying to climb up the side of some cliff face, finding the little polygons where I could just glitch it enough to regain my stamina, and when I got to the top I froze to death right away. It was awesome). Coincidentally, the last PC game I played was "Just Cause 3", which is kind of the same idea except with God Mode enabled by default and guns. Anyway, sorry for another lamez post!
I've continued the running project that I remarked on in #1147, making something like 90 days of consecutive runs now; no exceptions. (I don't actually know when it started because I don't have records of days that I used the treadmill or elliptical, so I'm not sure if some of the old gaps were filled or not, I mean before I decided that I was doing this.) I've definitely gotten in better shape, although I think I'm feeling signs of plateauing at this point. Goal is at least to make it to the marathon that I'm running in Lausanne at the end of October. Similar to something that happens every September—but with a new, larger number—I turned 38 and ran the Great Race 10k. I'm definitely nowhere near as fast as I was nine years ago, but I had a basically reasonable finish of 47m07s, for an average pace of 7m35s/mile. I also even did some Pac Tom runs this month; you can see some updated maps on the Pac Tom ultimate website.
Since there are a few hills and laps that I run every day, but Garmin's site is kind of garbage for keeping track of my times, I've been developing some software for parsing the GPS trails and doing Tom 7-approved careful maths to calculate the times and various other statistics. Mostly it gives me something to think about when I'm running, but I should also be able to share some interesting graphs and conclusions (e.g. is it better to rest thoroughly before running up a big hill) as I accumulate more data.
I like the four-song format, since I tend to collect songs throughout the year and it's a pretty efficient way to discharge some #1 club hits while forcing myself to finish some stinkers to pad the discography. The songs:
1. ceors' - This is the only one I'm sure I like. I came home after having a discussion or argument with my friend William about jazz, feeling nonspecifically mad about his formalist approach, and hate-wrote this "jazz" song which is weird and which I quite like. for #1 club hit.
I did do a pretty slapdash job on the mastering (not to mention the cover art, though do you see my typographic joke? this album is twice foreshadowing an upcoming project, in fact), so I reserve the right to upload new versions of these if I listen to them tomorrow and can't stand some mistake. When I link them up from the t7es homepage or new bandcamp page, you'll know that they're certified fresh on the tom7atom7eter.
This month I tried a thing, which was to run every single day, no exceptions. Running of course isn't that new for me, but I haven't done it this way before, where I was keeping up a lengthy streak rather than working on a number of miles a week or something like that. And it's probably not actually good for my bones and leg-strings to do it every day, but the idea of keeping up the streak has been motivating, sort of like posting a blog post every month, but without the forgetting. I usually run a 3 mile route or a 7.5 mile route. I got a new watch with a wrist-side heart rate sensor that actually works, and also discovered that Garmin has a Strava-like "segments" feature that you don't need to pay for and that isn't as competitive because cheapskates like me use it, which is good because it means I have some chance to win the segments. Segments is like some stretch of road or trail that has been designated by the community, and then you can see who's run it the fastest. I was fastest for a few days on Negley, a stupidly steep hill in my neighborhood in Pittsburgh, for example. The segment stuff and the heart rate monitor have both reminded me of the importance and pain of running fast, too; over the last decade I've really gotten in the habit of going for fairly leisurely runs without really noticing! So now pretty much every time I go out there's a part where I run as fast as I can, and almost puke my guts, and I think this has been helping significantly with fitness. We're going to try a half marathon in September, and although I don't think I'll be able to beat my twenty-something record, I think I'm on track to put in a good showing for my age group (i.e., OLD).
I know running training is boring, but another side-effect of this project is that although I feel generally good and sleep better, after I run I feel basically drained of creative energy and don't get "anything" done. I'm sitting on an almost-complete project that I just need to turn into a video from last month's post, and just haven't gotten the activation energy for it. I made (but didn't complete) some electron songs, and played through some hard video games, but the brain sugars to get through some of the slog and finish open-ended projects are a precious resource, and yet are consumed so readily by my day job and exercise. A better routine is probably to reserve the weekend mornings, at least, for a long stretch of uninterrupted project time.
I did one project, which was to build way of mounting my TV to this wooden pole in my living room without damaging it or other downsides, a project that had been simmering so long that it spanned a TV replacement and then the subsequent deprecation of the mounting bracket for that new TV, which meant that to even begin this absurdly involved project I had to drop unreasonable coin on hard-to-find new-old-stock non-VESA metal mounting thing on eBay, at which point I could start drafting in CAD:
Then you just build it:
Real reality is of course harder because you have to deal with tolerances and bolts don't come in that length and Not Actually Flat and That Operation Seems Dangerous on the table saw, but this one came out rather close to the specifications. I used the approach of printing out 1:1 plans and pasting them to the boards (solid oak boards for extreme! unnecessary! strength!), which I then could use as templates for shaping on the table saw, mostly by eyeballing the lines.
The only major downside of this is that it was hard to get the templates off the nice wood faces at the end—harder than it looks when the YouTube geniuses do it. Would try this again, though.