Resolution: cloudy

December 22nd 2015 · Read More · Comments(2)

I hereby resolve that although allocating time in half-hours is a good thing and helpful in avoiding procrastination, the additional sneaky requirement that I start these half-hour tasks on a half-hour boundary is both unnecessary and procrastination’s way of ensuring I don’t get things done.

Today’s half hour tasks: guitar, CV, Silent Shinobi Rules, chores, exercise.


October 28th 2015 · Read More · Comments(5)

I was made redundant yesterday. I was somewhat expecting it (I put the odds at 50%, which was probably about right at the time), and the fact I’ve been at CiSRA since 2002 gives me a nice payout. So I’m not too sad, except that I’ll miss seeing my work friends every day.

Also, it’ll make finishing Darths & Droids just that little bit more annoying.


October 26th 2015 · Read More · No Comments

Good practice session today (I did practice every weekday last week, but didn’t record it).

I suddenly remembered there was a piece I haven’t practiced in almost a year – Piero Umiliani’s “Crepuscolo Sul Mare” (the theme to Ocean’s Twelve), so I lead with that. Fortunately my hands knew what to do so I didn’t have to hunt down the sheet music.

Then: Villa Lobos’s Prelude #3, Turina’s Homenaje A Tarrega at 120bpm, and finally Albeniz’s Asturias at 135bpm.

Today’s guitar practice

October 20th 2015 · Read More · No Comments

Don’t mind me. I’m going to (sporadically) log the pieces I practice on guitar.

Today’s practice session:

Jorge Morel, Danza Brasilera (learning)

J.S. Bach, Prelude in D minor, BWV999 (metronome at 140bpm, trying to get smooth)

Francisco Tarrega, Marieta (play through, practice hammer-on/pull-off sequences)

Stanley Myers, Cavatina (play through to make sure I don’t forget it)

Jumping coin, guitar, double-blind taste test

October 8th 2015 · Read More · No Comments

For some reason my “jumping coin” magic trick is working extra well today. The coin hasn’t jumped more than 20cm in months, and today it’s suddenly going 30cm high. No idea what’s changed.

Also! I’m working on a new guitar piece. I’m very excited about it.

Oh, and I’ve started doing double-blind taste tests at work. Last week was camembert/brie (turns out I like camembert more than I thought and brie less than I thought); today is dark chocolate.

Also I’ve juuuuust gotten over a hacking cough that’s knocked me about for a few weeks. And Clara had gastro this week and it was utterly revolting.

And work continues apace on Silent Shinobi. I’m writing up the rules in my many spare moments.

Oh yeah! I’ve been reading about new features in javascript and python and there’s some cool stuff. Generators aren’t new (but I finally yielded to learning about them) but => notation in javascript is pretty new, as are Promises.


July 16th 2015 · Read More · No Comments

120bpm on Homage a Tarrega. Still pretty steady. Failures are an even split between left hand finger preparation (i.e. not being able to mentally keep up with what my fingers should be doing next) and physically doing the left hand chord stretches. Some of them are hard. Notably missing from the aforementioned failures: right hand technique. That requires discipline to even acknowledge, let alone address.

I started practicing an adaptation of June (Barcarolle), by Tchaikovsky. Lovely piece. I definitely need a new piece in my practice buffer, I’m getting a little weary of the current set.

Out of the habit

July 14th 2015 · Read More · Comments(8)

I am most definitely out of the habit of typing out my thoughts. It’s easy to write about guitar – that’s relatively non-confrontational (COME AT ME GUYS) but the current state of Australian politics seems so insane it’s hard to even read about. There’s a part of me that’s itching for a fight with someone other than the straw men in my head, and there’s another, much saner part that knows this is an abyss from which nothing useful will emerge.

So, guitar is going well. I moved up my default tempo from 100bpm to 110bpm, and it still feels pretty good. I’m making actual progress on the complicated passages. There’s an interesting contrast with jogging. When I jog, I absolutely cannot set myself goals. Goals lead to increased expectations, pushing myself harder, trying to go further and faster, more pain (and satisfaction of course when I meet these goals). And inevitably: excuses, procrastination, disappointment, less actual jogging. If my goal is maximising my exercise gained from jogging, it is much simpler to not push myself, to allow myself to walk if I feel like it (which I never do, but it’s nice to have the option), to view the jog as thinking time. And it’s good thinking time. Much of “Rime Royale” was designed while jogging. Most of Silent Shinobi theory-crafting was done while jogging.

But with guitar, I do want to push myself a little, towards greater mastery. I know when I’m playing “for pleasure” it isn’t quite as good as it should be. I’ve definitely erred too far towards discipline in the past which has lead to less playing, but it’s also possible to err on the side of not enough practice and getting bored (particularly if I don’t have new pieces to learn).

Which is to say, thanks to the metronome I’m enjoying playing Homage a Tarrega quite a lot at the moment.

Day off work

July 7th 2015 · Read More · No Comments

Von is sick today, so I’ve taken the day off to look after the girls while Von sleeps it off. I am rather tired. The girls have drifted off to sleep in front of the TV (I’m not proud) and I finally have a little time to work on Silent Shinobi.

Okay, yes, I may be procrastinating a little.


July 1st 2015 · Read More · Comment(1)

I’ve been playing rather than practicing for months and months now, and I finally got out the metronome yesterday, set it at 100bpm, and had at Turina’s Homage a Tarrega. It’s a very tough piece, lots of different techniques (fast arpeggiation, big stretches, lots of hammer-on and pull-off ornaments, all over the neck, forced harmonics) and actually quite a bit of fun, and very revealing, to play with a metronome to keep me honest. It made me realise that there are some passages where I have *absolutely no idea* what the rhythm is supposed to be (strictly speaking) because every version I hear has different rubato. Back to the score!

I am designing

June 30th 2015 · Read More · No Comments

I’ve been working for over a year now on my board game “Silent Shinobi”, playtesting every week at lunchtimes with the Irregulars, then reworking the design ready for the next playtest. I’ve never gotten to this point before (the game is playable and fun) so it’s quite exciting, but it’s also daunting as the next question “what next?” keeps popping up.

We had a particularly good playtest yesterday. I had reworked the rules to make them more elegant, but the result (while extremely clean and simple) was confusing.
The idea “take these elements of the game and make them work the same” was good in theory but lacked thematic flavour, and it’s simplicity didn’t make up for that. This is why we play test!

More importantly, a new mechanic that I introduced to add more awesomeness to the game did indeed add more awesomeness to the game at the expense of board complexity and time blowout (the game took 90 mins, and my target is one hour at most). Also, this was supposed to be the introductory scenario, and it did not feel introductory. I love the idea and flavour of the new mechanic, but I think it will have to be radically reworked.

My current big worries about the game are:
– low variance: you never win or lose by much. This can result in reduced replayability as the game always plays out in a similar way.
– catch-up features: sometimes a player watches as the other Ninjas do awesome stuff while they don’t make any progress. It’s a cooperative game, but this is still a feel-bad moment.

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