Last week's late pants points report

I'd like to say I forgot to do this last Friday, but the truth is I couldn't be bothered to go and get my date book, which is where I record all the scores, so I didn't have the numbers to report.  (Also, I didn't want to bother adding them all up, which contributed to my desire to leave it until today.  And I wanted to write the post about leggings.) Last week's score was 283/350, total so far 1633/2000.

That week includes quite a few days of relative high scores compared to my apathy -- it does not include the fact that, on Friday night, I went to sleep fully dressed.  It was kind of an exhausting week.

And while I'm on the topic of my life on the scale of weeks, if this year's Clarion email comes at the same date and time as the one I got in 2010 letting me know I was on the wait-list, it will come, this Friday, during the sociology class I wrote about last Friday.  I have an IFTTT trigger set up to text me whenever I get an email from either Clarion or the Clarion foundation, so I will know as soon as the email arrives.  If it isn't convenient for me to check my email during class, that may be a very un-fun hour.

It's shaping up to be a long, drawn-out week, which sucks, because I'd love for it to be one of those short, punchy ones that goes by so fast you feel like you've wasted part of your life.  Anything to get to Friday, really.  (Oh glob, I really hope the email does come on Friday.)

Pants Points: report and version update

As I wrote on Tuesday, I've started a new system for forcing myself to get out of bed and put on clothes this vacation.  I'm calling it Pants Points, and this is the first version update. This is the v1 score table.  All iterations of this vacation's Pants Points scorekeeping will use this table -- it may be updated in the future, but to keep this winter's game coherent I'm going to use the same scorekeeping the whole way through.

[table id=3 /]

Version 1.0 rules:

  • For a perfect day (all items on the list, clean) the day's score gets bumped up to 50 points.  The total possible points without this bonus is 37, so that's a 13 point bonus.

Version 1.1 update:

  • The day's score is locked in the first time I leave the property of wherever I woke up.  (That means if I crash at someone's house, I need to have a change of clothes with me or I'm not getting points for that day.  It also means I can't run out to a gas station in a t-shirt and dirty pants, then come home and put on a clean outfit to blog.)

I'm also adding a page for the Pants Points rules in the Rules section of my pages.  It's unlisted, so it doesn't show up in the drop down menu, but you should be able to find it if you scroll to the bottom of the rules page.  Also, here's a direct link.


I'm happy to say that my score so far is 150/150, a perfect score up to this point!  It appears that this system has at least the potential to work.

Gamifying yesterday's problem

I wrote yesterday about how I have a massive problem with handling money.  And I've written before about how much I love Jane McGonigal's work in gamification to help make life easier, and more fun. McGonigal made a game, years ago, to help her heal from a serious injury.  It's called SuperBetter, and I'm setting up an account now.

I'm sort of misapplying the basic premise here, using it to treat bad habits rather than a specific illness or health goal, but I don't think it's out of the spirit of SuperBetter's function to use it to improve your ability to handle things in your life that stress you out.  I'm saying this because there's a page in the signup process where you have to select what you're using the site for:  Illness or injury; or, Health goal.

I picked illness or injury, and left it on Anxiety for a while.  But part way through the process of finishing the initial goals, I changed it to "Horrible money habits."

And since my goal isn't one of the clearly stated options, I'm going to choose to design my own adventure, rather than starting with a pre-made power pack.  Here, by the way, is a great bit of validation for my decision to use SuperBetter to deal with my money problems:

What are other people using SuperBetter for?
  • Finding a job
  • Getting pregnant
  • Writing a novel
  • Learning to dance
  • Detoxifying
  • Getting over a breakup
  • Overcoming a fear
  • Making more time for family


Okay, I've finished setting up my profile and completing all the starting quests.   Now, I feel really, incredibly awful.  Like, (if you're familiar with the experience,) the way you feel when you're in therapy and you finally talk about something that's a really huge deal but you've been avoiding thinking about it for years.

Which, I guess, is pretty much what I'm doing here.  I've been semi-subconsciously deflecting my awareness of my money issues for years, and now it's really painful to address because it's big and scary and every little thing feels like a huge imposition and a massive personal flaw.  I just want to hide under a rock right now.

So, I think that's what I'm going to do.  I'm going to take a nap, and hopefully I'll feel a little better later.

Jane McGonigal: Life-giving games



Now that I've got that out of my system.

I remember, when I was reading "Reality Is Broken," the chapter when Jane McGonigal discusses "Super Better," the game she invented to help her through the depression and recovery after a serious injury.  I don't remember, at the time, making the connection between my own depression and the variety of illnesses that other people are using Super Better to get through.

I don't know.  Maybe I did think of it.  There was a lot in that book that made me think, "There it is!  The solution to everything!"

In McGonigal's new TED talk, she points out, much more straightforwardly, that the tools she developed are a framework for improving one's life, in exactly the sort of way that everyone, not just people suffering from serious illness, can benefit from.

It's a little embarrassing, actually, to realize that I didn't make this connection in the first place.  The central theme of "Reality Is Broken" is positive psychology -- using science, psychology, analysis, and especially gamification, to move upwards from a neutral point and make life better, rather than just focusing on alleviating suffering and reducing exposure to unpleasant experiences.

The talk is great.  You should watch it.  You should also watch her other TED talk, which is more broadly about how gaming can make the world a better place, and read her book, Reality Is Broken, which is about using game style mechanisms to make everything better.

Google Badges: Gamifying news

Google's news section has a new feature:  Google Badges.  Google is monitoring how much of particular types of stories you read, and you can level up in different areas by reading more stories on those topics.  So far, I've read 1 story about Google, so I've got a Google badge with no stars.

I have mixed feelings about this.  On the super-positive side, I love the idea of gamifying news consumption -- putting out in public your news reading habits as a ranked icon is a solid step towards objective measures of how informed people are in various topics, and provides a nice little social kick towards reading more news, and more substantial news.

On the other hand, it's subject to some problems.  This method rewards equally following up on light reading, like the example category, basketball, as it does more in-depth categories.  Google isn't exactly encouraging getting informed as a civic duty here.

The video says you'll be able to keep your badges private, or share them with your friends.  If you want to keep secretly informed about some topics, Google offers a solution:

Sharing Badges By default, only you can see your badges. You can choose to share a specific badge in your badge collection by mousing over the badge and clicking one of the sharing icons. When you share a badge, it reveals your badge’s name and level, as well as the rough number of articles that you have read about the badge’s topic. Your friends will not see the specific articles that you have read.

This mechanism seems handled altogether quite well, but I don't know whether to hope that, in the future, Google leans towards encouraging good information consumption habits and discouraging binges on nothing but pop culture, or whether the natural tendency towards easier news will go unchecked.