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image credit: Sam & Max Hit the Road inventory screen, copyright 1993, 2002 LucasArts (Disney) : for 6 American Dollars this fine game can be yours

When you’re not sure how to move forward, take an inventory. Sometimes just asking the question, “OK, so what do we have?” will lead naturally into, “Alright, so now what do we need?” and maybe even, “Does anyone know how we’ll get there?”

In this case, I’m not looking to solve a puzzle in a point-and-click adventure, I’m trying to get a handle on how to juggle a few different projects and manage my time better.

Let’s see what pieces I have, and how they fit:

The Big Immovables

  • Work, of course. My commute is only 12 minutes but it still seems like work is eating 9-10 hours out of every day. Maybe it is, honestly, only 8 hours and 54 minutes (on average) but it feels like half.
  • The odds and ends of keeping house: Grocery shopping and cooking. The dishes. The laundry. I barely clean (as a bachelor of long standing) but even I spend some time cleaning. I own a vacuum.
  • ‘Reading’ – though I tend to read the internet more than I read books these days (maybe I make reversing that a resolution next year). Also with the way I use Twitter I often count it as ‘reading’ time as well though it should probably top a list as ‘Distraction no.1’

The projects

Project I: Blog.
“You’re soaking in it™”

Success or failure here is beside the point – the blog is going to be whatever it ends up being and I’m fine with that. About the only thing I want to get out of it (personal-development-wise) is the writing practice: finding a voice; sounding out ideas on a… um, sounding board; practicing the stringing together of words in a format that requires more thought and care than Twitter’s 140 characters.

Project II: Kickstarter? Cards and/or Dice.

each of those layers has a short but descriptive, and unique, label – not because I know what I’m doing but because I’ve seen the alternative [*shudder*]

The other big project[s] on my plate are a number of gaming accessories for tabletop gaming – to date: a deck of cards that may end up being multiple decks that use a tessellating hex design to quickly build ‘random’ boards or battle maps for things like small-scale strategy games, or as an RPG aid for use with tokens or 28-30mm scale minatures.

Also, a d6 that is numbered 2-7 instead of 1-6 (which is more a matter of finding a manufacturer as opposed to doing anything really fancy with the design) as well as other custom d6 dice that I’ve already dreamed up or that might occur to me later.

The idea for the cards came first* (sort of; and I might expand on that in a future blog post) but in thinking of a quick & easy game to include with the deck—so you can play something right out of the box, even if it’s more of an accessory as opposed to a game in itself—the many-different-types-of-weird-six-sided-dice occurred to me and has sort of stuck with me since. The dice might be a kickstarter first, but I’m still in brainstorming-winnowing-focusing phases right now. I should have some prototypes by the end of Summer, and at that point I’ll have a better idea of what I want to launch.

Project III: Baking. [update]

Baking was a 2017 New Year’s Resolution

I can manage a fair bit as a hobby baker (see loaf, above) but this year I was specifically looking to get back into sourdough. The first and second sourdough starters I tried to encourage (encourage is the verb here as I have always done spontaneously generated, ‘wild’ sourdough) didn’t quite meet expectations. Each attempt worked, as the actual finished loaves attest, but overall it was slow, finicky, and ever-so-slightly off. Part of that might be because I live in a different apartment now, and local microflora & microfauna are obviously different. Also, it was January. January is a pretty bleak month and maybe my sourdough starters reflected that.

So I’ve purged the starters and sterilized the mason jars and when I have three days off in a row for a holiday weekend maybe I give it another go while spring is the air and decent bread-proofing temperatures are a matter of turning off the AC, not turning on an oven.

Project IV: Custom Leather

photography isn’t on my projects list but eh, not bad. I can usually manage a decent product shot.

I happened to notice how nicely the cheap Samsung stacked with my usual Moleskine and a decent pen.

I think I want to make a leather case for these. I looked for something online first, but nothing fit. So I’ll be doing it myself. It’s a small project, and apparently one of the local craft stores should have leather in 8×11 inch chunks (at least, I see it listed on their website). So I can use a piece of regular copy paper to prototype this and, eventually, get around to buying the leather, tools, waxed thread, barge cement, and whatever else I need to make a fine stylish case for the phone-and-notebook.

Project V: Recording
Podcast? or maybe doing readings of old sci-fi short stories from out of the pulps?

This is the least solid and most iffy of the current projects, but it’s still far enough along that it gets put on this list. There are probably a dozen other things I could be doing to make progress on this but I’m kind of hung up on finding music for a theme and for bumpers. I’ve identified a source – but like prototyping game accessories, it needs a little money on the front end and I don’t feel like spending the $99-300 on this particular bit right now.

The other calls on my time:

Distraction 1: Still kinda-sorta semi-serious about Hearthstone but not enough to invest more than an hour a day (or every other day) – and while I could definitely make up for that with some weekend gaming sessions, I haven’t. If I had all kinds of time, I’d also be very much interested in getting better (or decent – or vaguely passable and not embarrassing myself) at both Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch. But who has that kind of time?

Distraction 2: ‘television’ isn’t a distraction per se, and thanks to streaming services and other options it’s possible to schedule: 13 episodes of an anime all-at-once (my preferred consumption mode) takes about 6 hours and you can pretty much sink a whole weekend afternoon that way (best option) or with enough planning, evenings after work-–5am alarms to get to work by 6 are a concern here but with enough planning and not giving into ‘one more episode’ it’s workable.

YouTube is actual more of a problem than TV, and in its own insidious way it’s even more distracting. 8-11 minute bits are the worst, because you think ‘this will take no time at all!’ and then of course 5 or 6 clicks later you’ve wasted an hour. A song is only 3-4 minutes but music video can also eat a lot of time, especially if you’re combining listening with deep dives using search terms like ‘soul funk’ or ‘soviet disco’. And this doesn’t even count the channels I’ve put into my Feedly (YouTube channels have built in RSS feeds) that count as part of my daily ‘reading’

Distraction 3: Obligations
Weekends have been very non-productive recently. Easter weekend was just a mess of work half-shifts and familial obligations. I’ve also been helping Dad with his bee hives on and off the last few weeks, though that should tail off now that we’ve established the two new hives and we let the bees do their thing for at least a couple months without much more than the occasional feeding of sugar water (and less of that, as there should be plenty of stuff blooming).

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I feel like I should include at least three sentences here, even though I don’t really have a conclusion or takeaway message to offer, if only so you know that this unhelpful abrupt end to the post is intentional and not that I forgot to neatly wrap things up with a trite “So work on those lists!” with maybe an additional call-to-action “and let us know what you’re working on in the comments!”

I will probably update this ‘inventory’ once a month; typically on the first. (I meant to post this yesterday, but, you know, ↑↑↑ …distractions.

In the meantime: Work on those lists! And let me know what you’re working on over on Twitter!

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