A couple of weeks ago, I started with the idea of writing down whatever comes into my head for about an hour each day in order to improve my fluency with writing. I’ve let it drop a bit since my trip to New Jersey, so now I’m going to try to pick it back up.
This has coincided with several other similar efforts. I am also cleaning the apartment for one hour each day. That includes laundry and dishes. I’ve fallen behind… Actually, can you even say that you’ve fallen behind when that is your permanent state. Anyway, my place is a mess and the idea of cleaning it all in one fell swoop is overwhelming, so I’ve been doing it bit by bit, one hour every day. I’ve been more dutiful in that regard than I have been with the writing. Still, sometimes at forty-five minutes I find my attention wavering. Housecleaning is so difficult. I think it has the wrong level of mental engagement for my taste. Too engaging for your mind to totally wander without affecting your ability to clean well, but not absorbing enough for the time to pass without noticing. I find that I keep checking the clock. “Am I done yet?” “Am I done yet?”
The other thing I’ve been doing, and pardon me if I’ve already mentioned it, is programming for one hour a day. I realized that I hadn’t done any programming in a while. I wanted to make a little tool to make my sister’s life easier, and it was like pulling teeth. I’d become terribly rusty. So, I decided that I would program for at least one hour a day. This has, of course, just the opposite problem as the housecleaning. I find it very absorbing and I usually do it for as long as I can, meaning until my eyes are crossing and I need to go to bed. I’m still terribly rusty, however. Far from improving my skills, I’m reclaiming skills I lost.
I’ve set myself about the little task of make a half a dozen games. These are casual games, and they’re basically copies of things I’ve seen elsewhere. If I get any brilliant ideas, I’ll be glad to do them, but right now the point isn’t to come up with a clever game so much as it is to start programming again. So far, I’ve made two little ones, a memory game… and something else I am forgetting. Oh, yes, a code breaking game.
So, now I’m working on little game number three. It seemed just as simple as the other two games… actually, I realized it was slightly more difficult, but, still, it’s not a difficult game. I should be able to knock it out in a couple of days. Well, needless to say, that has not been the case. What’s bothering me though is not the time it’s taking. What I’ve done is really ugly.
First of all, I cobbled together something that I thought would work. It was really good practice. I haven’t had to do a traversal of a graph in a long time. It’s one of those things you think you know, then you try typing it out. You look at what you’ve typed and say to yourself, “What’s to prevent me from revisiting that node a million times.”
“Okay, let’s think this through again.”
I know people have solved these problems before and I can just look at a reference, but I find that I remember it better if I try to hammer it out myself first.
So, I did that, and I was happy enough with it. I did look at other people’s work. There’s a happy medium between trying to work it out yourself so that you understand and not reinventing the wheel.
The next stage was to cobble together some sort of GUI (Graphical User Interface) to see if it worked. I believe most of my readers don’t program, so let me say that I was doing it according to a pattern called “Model-View-Controller.” The “view”, in this case is the GUI, which allows the user to interact with the program. What I had done thus far was mostly the model. Now, you know that parts of it aren’t going to work, but you assume some, hopefully most, of it will work. Unfortunately, nothing was displaying at all. I was having a hard time finding, in everything I’d already written, where the problem was.
So, I did an absurdly simple version. Since then, I’ve been adding pieces back into it. Now, it is all messy and ugly. I add a bit of the functionality back, and then I need to be able to show it to the user. Then I add something onto the GUI. I have a whole bunch of nested “if… else” statements. I’m not done, but the part I’ve done is working as expected. I guess I can try to clean it up and make it more elegant afterwards. Still, I feel slightly dissatisfied. I’m not sure I’d want to show anyone the source code as it is. It’s about as messy as my apartment. Somehow, that seems fitting.
Beyond one hour cleaning and one hour writing, there are other things in my life I’d like to improve. I think I should add one hour exercising and an hour playing the piano. That’s five hours already and I haven’t even done any work yet! I want more hours in my day. Life is not fair, is it?
Maybe that’s why I don’t like to go to bed. Sometimes I joke that I’m on a thirty hour a day schedule. Unfortunately, that’s not really a joke. My sleep schedule slowly shifts. Each day, I go to bed a little later and each day I wake up a little later. The worst days are when my schedule is completely backward from the rest of the world. It’s no problem at all as long as I have no appointments, but if I have to interact with the rest of the world during this time period I can get a little stressed out.
Last week, we went to go see Mark Morris’ dance company and a couple of days before I started making an effort to get my sleep schedule set so I’d be wide awake between seven-thirty in the evening and ten o’clock. I didn’t entirely succeed. Normally, I like Mark Morris a lot. They were performing three new dances all set to the music of Mozart. It started seeming repetitive sometime during the third dance and I struggled to pay attention.
I was hoping to get my sister to do a dance review as a guest post, but I guess that’s not going to happen.
Do any of you have favorite, living, choreographers?