Exercising the logic muscles

There is a path here

I’ve been playing more with level generation in SPADE. I dug up a link to Darius Kazemi’s excellent explanation of how the levels are made in Spelunky and have got the path generation replicated in some rough and tumble pico-8 code.

This took me longer than I would have liked. To be fair on myself I did most of the implementation at my daughter’s dance classes over the weekend, without internet, without a debugger, and with the distractions of a dance studio. Still, my logic muscles are somewhat atrophied.

Last night I finally googled ‘pico-8 debugger’ and found out about the printh() function and how to view the output in DebugView. Thirty minutes of reading my game’s output tonight and things are looking much better.

Debug output showing where I’ve gone wrong

Thirty days of stretching

I injured myself almost a year ago. I used very poor form to lift something heavy. My back was a bit sore the next day and the day after that. I took it easy and went back to my normal routine a few days later. A couple weeks after that I reached down to pick something up and noticed a shooting pain in my leg. Four hours later I could either stand up or lie flat and anything in between was excruciating. My upper right leg was quite numb. The diagnosis was two pinched nerves.

Rest, physio, dry needling, and a regimen of stretching helped me recover. I got back to the point where there was numbness but no pain. I don’t lift heavy things now. The gym is about lots of lighter reps with good form rather than aiming for PRs.

After a while stretching fell by the wayside. I’ve always been pretty lazy when it comes to post-workout care and some months ago I realised the lack of stretching was contributing to a plateau in my recovery from my injury. When I committed to lifeguard training I decided to get more serious about stretching.

In started going to some Sunday yoga classes at my gym and enjoyed them. Then I subscribed to ROMWOD, a daily yoga-like routine aimed squarely at people who do Crossfit. There’s a bajillion free yin yoga videos on YouTube that I could have gone with but paying for ROMWOD gives me some encouragement to do it regularly.

Until just over a month ago I was doing a ROMWOD routine a couple times a week. Better than before but not a habit and not enough to really get good results. Not worth the subscription either! Then a post from Austin Kleon’s archive about keeping a Seinfeld calendar struck a chord. I decided to make stretching a habit.

“After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”

Jerry Seinfeld

I drew up a thirty day grid in my brain dump notebook and committed to doing a ROMWOD routine every day. I’d mark an X in the grid whenever I completed a routine. I wrote DON’T BREAK THE CHAIN at the top.

Thirty days later, I’d done a routine every day, the chain unbroken. I saw some results: more feeling in my leg; more flexibility in my arms and shoulders; less soreness. Stretching, along with swimming, and drinking water has paid dividends.

Keeping up the chain was difficult. I got sick twice and the congestion and headaches weren’t super conducive to yoga moves. I did the shorter workouts on some of those days. I had to plan around a night away: an early morning routine one day followed by a late one the next.

Crossing off the grid every day was very satisfying. And I genuinely think the stretching helps. It’s a habit now and I look forward to getting out my mat a blocks and stretching as Daniel Head’s baritone encourages me along.

Enjoy a video of a bloke sawing a log

Look: I’m not handy. I wish I was handy. I do enjoy watching competent, enthusiastic handy people go about their work, though. I learn new things about new topics and I get a vicarious sense of satisfaction when they complete projects.

This video of a bloke named Nathan cutting slabs of Chinese Chestnut on his sawmill is a great example. A video of a sawmill slicing up a log might be mildly satisfying. This 15 minutes is so much more so. Nathan talks about his preparation and his expectations before he starts sawing the log. His surprise and low-key delight when the wood turns out much better than expected is kind of heartwarming.

I could watch this stuff all day. It’s such an antidote to almost everything in the world that winds you up. It’s relaxing, almost zen. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Where the hell did emacs put my config files?

Masochists like me use emacs on windows. This gives me pretty much all the power of the infinitely configurable text processing machine along with inexplicable default settings and all the confusion of not knowing how to find the config files emacs creates.

I can live with some defaults. The font is ugly but serviceable and the starting window size is a little anorexic but easily maximized.

Other defaults are annoying and expected. Word wrapping is off by default. There are a minimum of default syntax highlighting schemes.

The thing I couldn’t live with, the thing that made me dig deep and started configuring was the unnecessary noise. The fucking app beeps whenever you scroll to the top or bottom of a file with a mouse. That got old fast.

So I googled “how to disable the beep in emacs”, and, thank god for Stack Overflow, got exactly what I wanted: “How to disable the beep in emacs on windows”. The first answer to which not only tells you how to configure emacs, but how to find your emacs config in the first place. Bravo, Stack Overlow user phils! Excellent answer.

What happens when you drink a gallon of water a day?

Aleta Burchyski from Outside Magazine took up the Water Gallon Challenge and was feeling great in a matter of days. She got used to the other side effects pretty quickly, too.

Day 1: I’m peeing every 15 minutes. How in the hell am I supposed to get anything done?
Day 4: I didn’t feel like a 70-year-old woman when I got out of bed this morning.
Day 7: Can we talk about how good I am at yoga right now?

Partially inspired by this article, and in an attempt to improve fitness for life guarding training, I’ve consciously upped my water intake to around 3L per day over the last couple of months. That’s not quite a gallon, I’d get caught in an endless cycle of drinking and piddling. I definitely feel much better when I remember to drink. I notice being thirsty more than I did before. I feel less sore after the gym and I find it easier to keep up my stretching routine as it’s not the pain-fest it used to be.

Drink water, readers. That’s a solid gold tip.