Pants Points Report (late)

I've missed my Pants Points Reports for the last two weeks, so this is a catch-up post. As of Friday, Feb. 8: 176/350 total to date: 443/1050 -- I did not do well this week.  Depression affects my ability to convince myself to do laundry.

As of Friday, Feb. 15: 319/350 total to date: 862/1400 -- The 19 was the Saturday, when I did laundry.  The rest of the week was all 50's.  I felt a lot better this time.

Pants Points 1.1 final report

Today is the last day of the trial run, version 1.1, of the Pants Points system -- and I think it's been a resounding success.  It continues to be a little bit uncomfortable to talk about the state of my laundry on the internet, but as with most things I figure I probably wouldn't stick to it if I wasn't using the internet to hold me accountable. Final score: 1440/1750.

Now's probably also a good time to update on my other winter break goals: 

  • I have not finished the first draft of the story I'm on.  That said, it's kind of turning into a novella.  I think it's pretty good, so I'm going to finish[1. I mean, even if it sucked I'd finish.  Every story feels like it sucks somewhere in the middle of it, and it's supposed to.  That's what first drafts are for.] then put it on hold for a total rewrite after I've got some distance from the story.  
  • I learned a lot about regular expressions.  Like, now I know what they are, and have used them in a few situations.  I'm pretty sure if I had a big project that regexes would help with, it would be easy to look up some syntax and write them.  Learning code is going to have to get on the list some time soon.
  • I am not finished learning the concepts on the College Algebra CLEP test.  I've been working on it, but I'm struggling with quadratic equations.
  • My finances aren't totally sorted, but they're in a much better place than they were at the start of vacation.
  • My spaces aren't clean.  Maybe neater than they might otherwise be, but definitely not clean.

So, going into this coming semester:

  • Straight A's.  Obviously.
  • Read books from all this year's Clarion authors, in case I get in.
  • Finish learning, take, and ace, the College Algebra CLEP test.
  • Keep up with my responsibilities to the Observer (school paper) and the Community Outreach Group, but don't take on more external commitments.
  • Finish the story I'm working on, figure out what to start on next.  (Probably the rewrite of my first novel.  I'm looking forward to that.)
  • Stay marginally organized.
  • Here's the new set of Pants Points rules:

[table id=4 /]

The Perfect Score bonus is now 7, so the max possible daily score is still 50.  The biggest difference is an adjustment in some of the multipliers.  The version 1.1 rules stand:

  • 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.
  • 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.)

These goals are set 'till the start of Spring Break (the Monday).

Update about responsibilities this semester

So I'm back on the school newspaper this semester, and tonight is the first production night.  Or, rather, production day, going into night.  I got here at about noon, and it's almost eight, and it is roughly all I've done today. I mean, I've done other stuff too, but that other stuff primarily consisted of dicking around on the internet while I waited for other people to get their pages finished so I could edit them.  (I'm the copy editor.)  I tried to get some of my blogging done, but a significant portion of my writing energy and attention was diverted by the paper.

So, it's going to be hard to keep up with this blogging schedule, again.  I'm not cutting down on the minimum wordcount -- I did that once already, when I was as busy last semester as I'm going to be this one -- but I'm going to have to change around my habits to keep up with it.

So, Minecraft is probably going to have to take a back seat soon.  Also probably a lot of YouTube.

Or maybe there will be advantages to having my time structured again -- I had plenty to do this vacation, but it was all under my control when it got done and when I had free time.  Maybe being at school often will force me to get my work done earlier, and I can go home and relax?  (That would be nice.  It's very stressful to end a day frantically finishing up the things I put off.)

So, this isn't a rules update or anything.  Just an observation.

Talk to you on Monday.

2012 is basically over

All that's left now is to celebrate the passage of time through one of the more fun arbitrary goalposts.  (Don't get me wrong -- I like arbitrary goalposts.  But it is, still, definitely arbitrary.) And, to review 2012.

A lot of cool stuff happened this year, I'm sure.  Right now, I'm kind of drawing a blank.  I remember Wreck-it Ralph, my relationship with my partner, which, if she doesn't dump me during the countdown, will have spanned the full calendar year, working at an amusement park, lots of school, and lots of Minecraft.

Seriously, though.  I didn't talk about it much (because I can't imagine it's very interesting) but I spent a lot of time this year playing Minecraft, and watching Minecraft Let's-plays on YouTube.  I'm currently following like a third of the Mindcrack server people:  Etho, DocM, BdoubleO, and I just subscribed to Guude.

And Ze Frank started vlogging again.  That's awesome, and I've really enjoyed having the chance to be part of the Sports Racers community live this time.  I also became much more deeply invested in the Nerdfighter community over the course of this year.  (Having learned they exist just over a year ago.)

And, there was the serious, global stuff.  Like the election.  That was scary -- I felt okay on election night, because I checked Nate Silver's projections and decided that I felt confident in them, but I really didn't know.  It's still scary, because our government is not being super cooperative, but Romney as president was not a pleasant idea.

And the shootings.  There were three major shootings in the US this year, and it's pretty seriously solidified my position on guns.  (No-one should be allowed them.  It should be a jailable offense to be caught just having a gun.  That way, we can just arrest the people who get their hands on guns, rather than waiting until they do something awful with them.)

But back to nice things.  The Lizzie Bennet Diaries!  For anyone who doesn't know, they're a modern-day adaptation of Pride and Prejudice via the medium of vlogs.  (And tweets, and tumblr and pinterest.)  Not only is it an amazing series in its own right, but it introduced me to the story of Pride and Prejudice -- which, up to this point, I basically knew featured someone named Darcy.  Now, having watched multiple TV adaptations and staying up to date on the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, I understand why some people rank it as the greatest English novel.  It's freaking extraordinarily fascinating, and I'm looking forward to reading the book.  (Didn't get around to that this year.)

Food was also a significant theme this year.  No, seriously.  My partner and I do a lot of cooking together, and it has expanded my horizons re: food.  I have also rediscovered a number of foods that I had forgotten I loved.  Like Hummus.  Hummus is amazing.  How did I go several years without eating hummus.

I mentioned Wreck-it Ralph earlier -- that was one of a few amazing movies that came out this year.  Rise of the Guardians was another one, which was a huge surprise to me.  I was expecting a weird, cheesy movie about the importance of telling kids there's a Santa.  And it kind of was, I guess, but it was also amazing and inspiring and moving.

And there was the Dark Knight Rises.  And the Avengers.  This was a pretty good year for superhero movies, which appear to be being taken more and more seriously by Hollywood.  (It occurred to me the other night that there are some inherent problematic qualities in the concept of a superhero, which I want to talk about, but I'd like to gather my thoughts first, so not today.)

Altogether 2012 was a great year.  I give it 4 out of 5.  Would see again.

2013 is scary.  It's a big, huge, scary year coming up.  I'm going to turn 24.  I'm going to find out if I got accepted to Clarion.  I'm going to have to figure out where I'm going after I graduate NECC. Lots of big, scary stuff.

For now, though, things are pretty good.  I'm going to enjoy that tonight.  I'll worry about my life tomorrow.  That's what hangovers are for.


In about an hour...

The Doctor Who Christmas Special starts in about an hour, and I'm still at my aunt's house.  Hopefully, my parents are getting ready to get going.  But I'm a little worried. I'm also super-excited.  For one thing, I can't wait to see more of that Victorian lizard person, she was an awesome character.  And I want to see more of the new companion.  Fingers crossed that we're meeting next season's full-time companion.

Also:  I'd love to be able to go on tumblr again.  Apparently the new episode has already aired in some places, and that means people are referencing it, and not everyone tags diligently.

It's funny how, around some events, the mechanics of society are suspended in the temporary chaos until enough time passes that everything sorts itself out.

Talk to you tomorrow.

Happy Doctor Who Christmas Special Day

So it's Christmas.  Again.  Didn't we just do this last year? Not having a terrible day, but I couldn't sleep last night.  Not that I was excited about Christmas or anything.  (Well, I'm excited about the return of the Doctor.  But that's not till 9pm.)  So when my parents got up at 5am to go to my brother's house so they could be there for their grandkids' Christmas morning, their walking around and stuff made it even more difficult for my partner and me to get to sleep.

So we got up and did Christmas Morning with my parents before they left.  We exchanged gifts (they liked what we got them, and they got us some pretty awesome stuff) and talked for a while, then we went back to bed.

Then, virtually instantly, my parents woke me up six hours later and forced me to get out of bed and go to my aunt's house.

Like I said, it's not a terrible day.  My aunt and uncle have WiFi, don't mind me sitting on the computer, and I like these relatives, and I like my cousins, and they have an adorable new puppy.  (Looks kind of oldish.  I don't think that it's a Christmas-Gift-Puppy, which is good, because those are a terrible idea.)  But I woke up with a splitting headache, made myself nauseous brushing my teeth (nearly choked on my toothbrush) and got carsick on the ride over.  Then I did a bunch of Khan Academy on the couch at my aunt's house, which doesn't exactly put me in a fantastic mood.

And it's getting better.  My headache is fading, I'm not in a car anymore, and I'm done Khan Academy for the day.

(Also:  Tumblr is weird to browse at my aunt's house, because of the number of blogs I follow that occasionally post porn.  Good thing I'm sitting with my back to a wall.)

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.

A dream.

I woke up filled with regret this morning. The reason is that I had an incredible dream, which was full of symbolism about my self-identity and sense of security or insecurity.  The dream represented these things in a sort of journey through a city (more of a sprawl) -- some of the symbols I remember:  My philosophical perspective was represented as a red-shift view of reality, for which I was mocked at a rest stop on a highway that I think represented a 4-year college.

The whole dream, I think, was narrated by a conversation between me and an anonymous psychoanalyst, who was asking me questions about the symbolism in my dream.  By this point, I knew it was a dream.  So, we returned to the beginning, where I was standing alone outside a garage in a dead-end parking lot at the end of an alleyway.  I was green, and I was androgynous.

There was a song playing, and I told the psychoanalyst that I didn't know the words.  It was beautiful, kind of operatic.  And I looked to my right, and the song, in my handwriting, was projected onto a wall.

I grabbed a notebook, because I wanted to know the song when I woke up.  I was clued to the fact that it wasn't a real notebook, because the song was already written down at the bottom of the page I started writing on, going over to the next page.  I think that the notebook I grabbed was the one from the projection.

But I didn't fully realize that it wasn't the right notebook, and I started copying down the first verse.  I remember being profoundly moved by it.

I got to the chorus, and only managed to write down part of the first line before I woke up (my alarm went off) -- that's the part that was stuck in my head when I was awake, so I remember that the line was "The garden of your golden touch" -- I don't know what it means, at all.

I regret not just standing still and trying to memorize it, because if I had, I'm confident I would have known the verse when I woke up.  Maybe it would have been awful, having been manifested by a dream and all.  But still.


I don't know if I mentioned before, but my partner and I have been watching Glee.  I am aware of the reasons Glee sucks. Today, we checked out the Glee drinking game, on DrinkiWiki, which is apparently a wiki of drinking games.  Furthermore, we played it on the episode of Glee about the dangers of alcohol.

Here are some of the things we drank to:

  • Someone refers to Will as "Mr. Schu"
  • Sue attempts to take down the Glee Club
  • Rachel sings a solo
  • Rachel closes her eyes and turns her head to the side during a solo
  • The Glee Club refers to Sectionals, Regionals, Nationals or Vocal Adrenaline
  • Puck talks about/attempts hooking up with someone
  • A dramatic moment turns into a song that no one in the halls can hear
  • The Glee Club sings a song perfectly with no prior rehearsal
  • Coach Bieste eats a whole chicken
  • Principal Figgins pronounces something completely wrong

If you watch Glee, (and are over 21, and are at home, somewhere you can stay, or have a ride home) it's pretty fun.

About YouTube

Have I mentioned before that I want to make YouTube videos?  I can't remember.  Anyway, I've been thinking about it again recently, and it feels like one of those things where it's just going to keep nagging me until I finally get around to doing it. What inspired me in particular this time was Charlie McDonnell's recent video, "I'm Scared."

Depressing, right?  I know.

A lot of YouTubers have been responding to this.  I wrote a rough draft of a video script, responding to it.  I actually tried to record it, too.  But I just ended up feeling kind of gross watching the footage, and I deleted it.

I'm going to start trying to record again soon, and I think I've figured out a way I might be able to make it work.  I'm going to do the CGPGrey thing, just record sound then animate it with text and images and stuff.  It's going to be, like, crazy-hard.  But maybe it'll make me feel a little less nauseous when I create.

Clarion writing advice, and a tangent about my own self-esteem

Cory Doctorow posted a link to a list of quotes from this year's Clarion workshop.  It's amazing, and digging through it is lighting up all sorts of points in my head about the story I'm currently working on (for the WriteWorld Album challenge). The quote that stuck out to me the most dramatically was this one:

“You have to be willing to be bad in public, to be a writer.”

Abstractly speaking, I know that's true.  I know that I have to put stuff out there, and I also know that the more I work, the more painful it's going to be to go back and look at my old stuff.  But in practice, I'm not very good at getting over it.

I mean, it's fine on the blog.  I produce so many posts every day that it's not hard to convince myself that the stuff I'm embarrassed to have said is so buried that no one will ever see it.  And, to any historians who might be combing through my archive to write a book about me (just in case), a lot of the most embarrassing stuff back there is stuff I don't believe anymore, or regret saying.  But some of it is just stuff I wish I'd said better.

But with short stories, I have so few, and with none in public, I feel like I'll be throwing a spotlight on my failure.  That needs to be at the top of my list of things to get over -- in fact, I think I'm going to add some stuff about that to my SuperBetter account.  It's not like trying to sell my writing will prevent me from saving money, and it will push me towards being better at the chance of making money doing what I want to do with my life.

Relatedly, I am applying to Clarion this year SO HARD.  Cory Doctorow and Kelly Link are both going to be resident teachers.  So, like, wish me luck and stuff.

Contextualizing money

I'm bad with money.  And I don't want to think too hard about that, because it makes me feel sad and overwhelmed.  So I'm going to talk about food instead for a little bit, then circle back.



This is a Ze Frank video, about cholesterol.  It's called Cholesterol.  In it, Ze talks about the impulse that persuades him to make bad food decisions, and has put him in a state of health that reduces his projected lifespan substantially.  He describes a voice inside his head, that decides what's going to happen ("He'll tell you not to have the sandwich.  And we've already established, that's happening." [emphasis mine]) even though it directly contradicts the advice on healthy eating he literally just got, in the building he was walking out of at that moment.

I used to have a problem with healthy eating.  I mean, I still do.  I ate an entire Ben & Jerry's ice cream today.  But I've got my problem in control to a level where I'm pretty healthy -- two years ago, my weight fluctuated between 240 and 260 pounds.  I'm 5'9", so that's not healthy.  And if you're thinking, "The BMI is total crap, it's possible to be healthy at that weight!" -- you're right.  But I'm not a weight lifter.  None of that extra weight was muscle.  I wasn't healthy.

But my mental block about dieting was so massive that I could barely even begin to do anything about my health.  The only times I ever lost any was when I got dumped, and I'd drop twenty or thirty pounds because I wasn't eating because I was sad.  Or, when I was working every day around the holiday season, and barely eating enough to keep myself from passing out at work, where I was standing up for eight hour shifts every day.

And I didn't decide to eat healthy.  That never happened.  What I decided was to switch my lifestyle around food.  I took up Weekday Vegetarianism. ([TED talk] [Vlogbrothers video])  That worked, for several reasons:

(1.) Meat is bad for you, and eating substantially less of it significantly improved the quality of my diet.

(2.) There are several reasons for doing Weeekday Veg, so it was easy for me to avoid annoying self-justification arguments about whether I should make that decision, both with myself, and with people whom I didn't want involved in my dietary choices.

(3.) It created a concrete, easy to follow commitment that allowed me to limit my consumption without thinking too hard about why I was doing it.

(4.) I was doing it for myself, on my own terms, so I didn't feel like I was doing it just because people expected it of me.

My weight dropped at a healthy, steady rate of about 2 pounds a week, until I leveled out at 195, which is where I've been for, so far, all of this year.  I'm still not skinny.  I'm not the embodiment of any ideal of beauty in Western culture.  But I'm not unhealthy, in the way I was before, and I feel ethically better about my eating decisions than I did before.


Now, I said earlier in this post that I had a whole Ben & Jerry's ice cream.  Which is fine.  I do that sometimes, and I'm not worried about it, because it's not my whole diet and it's not every day.  Reasonably frequent bowls of ice cream have still been better for my health than reasonably frequent burgers, chicken and steak.[1. Especially considering that I didn't skip the ice cream when I was still eating meat every day.]

But I bought that ice cream.  And if you've been following my blog, you know I'm in quite a lot of debt.  But I had some money, so I ended up spending it.

I hate having money.  It makes me feel uncomfortable, unsafe and guilty.  Having money, and relying on money, always implies that I risk losing that money, or losing access to money.  I hate having bills, too, for the same reason.  I hate that money is a thing, though I recognize and acknowledge its utility.

I hate money like I love steak, and I don't know any easy way to control my spending.  If I could, I'd just give all my money away to charity, but while that solves the problem of having it, it doesn't solve any of the problems of not having it.  I haven't yet figured out any way that better spending can be a lifestyle choice, the way Weekday Veg is.  People's advice for lifestyle changes with money generally seem to be, "Be better with money."  It's not that easy, and that approach has never worked for me, with anything.


Sometimes, I hear people talk about a "Welfare state," like it's some sort of evil system that only people who want to lay around all day and not do anything would want.  But when I think about my money problems, I tend to find myself fantasizing about exactly that kind of system.  I would happily work a full-time job, doing whatever the government decided I was needed for, as long as I didn't have to end up with money as a consequence.  I want a place to sleep, food to eat, the freedom to do and say what I want in my free time, to possibly earn enough admiration in an artistic field to shift into doing what I want to do for my living, and access to the resources like libraries and workshops in which I can do and say those things I want to.

don't want to have to be an accountant.  I don't want my success in the world to be contingent, not just upon my talents and dedication within whatever field in which I might excel, but also my talent at keeping track of finances and spotting good deals and financing plans.

When I think too much about money, I get wrapped up in that daydream, and anger at the unfairness that the system in which we live artificially enhances the success of people who are good at money over people who are good at anything else, like engineers and teachers and medical workers.[1. Until they're making enough to hire someone good at money.]  And that anger makes it difficult for me to accept the world I do live in, and makes it difficult for me to explore solutions to my financial problems that don't rely on the civilization I live in being fundamentally different.


So, that's it.  That's my money problem, wrapped up in a neat little psychological, socialist-idealist bow.  I'm hoping that having this out of my system and up on the internet will free up the mental space necessary to work with the capitalist environment I've got [1. Which has loads of advantages, don't get me wrong, and I do see the practical and theoretical problems with my socialist fantasy too -- I'm talking about my fantasy here, not making a serious Utopian proposal.  Please don't jump down my throat about being a commie pinko fascist.] instead of getting angry, daydreaming, and stress-spending fifty bucks on scratch tickets and booze.