2011 Review

– This year included a lot of adventuring around LA, what with my do-one-free-thing-in-LA-each month goal.  I definitely discovered some fantastic local festivals that I want to attend again, like the Kite festival and Shakespeare in Griffith Park.  It got me on the metro and around the city more, and I feel a little more informed about this place because of it.

– This was also like the year of e-sports for me.  Spurred on by my enthusiasm from last year’s Blizzcon, I got very involved in watching the NASL matches, staying up late with Nick to watch GSL finals, watching MLG events, and going to some tournaments (NASL finals for seasons 1 and 2, MLG Anaheim, and Blizzcon).  It has been great fun, if not incredibly nerdy.

– On the game development front, Resistance 3 shipped this year!  My first grown-up-game-designer cred!  Hooray!  I also started writing for Mike Acton’s blog, #AltDevBlogADay, which has been really fun and successful.  Indiecade this year was once again thwarted by sickness, alas!  But I did do a games-related podcast this year, and was a guest speaker via Google Hangout for a college game design club.

– I managed to go the entire year without a visit back to Kentucky until Christmastime, and I nearly went crazy from homesickness.  It’s amazing to me how recharging I find Kentucky.  As soon as I set foot outside the airport, I feel its energy rushing up through me, and I always leave feeling refreshed and renewed.  So, for my health, I’ll be making some extra visits in 2012.

– Unfortunately, 2011 is winding to a close on a very sickly note.  Poor Nick got terribly sick when he got to Kentucky, and since returning to LA I’ve been nursing him, so no extravagant New Year’s Eve party for us.  Eh, no matter, I’m in a low-key sort of mood anyway.

In general, 2011 has been very straightforward, “business as usual.”  Lots of cooking, cat-walking, starcraft-watching, game-making, and other such common day-to-day activities in my life.  It felt hearty, like I got a lot of sustained mental nutrition out of the year, if that makes any sense.  Anyway, I’m looking forward to what 2012 will bring, and hoping that one thing will be less sickly-times for my boyfriend.  Onward!

On Efficiency

Recently I started having thoughts about how to limit my futzing-around-on-the-internet time in order to allocate it to more productive ventures.  I do spend a lot of time browsing around, consuming random articles about random topics, reading facebook and the like.  However, in the middle of my efficiency plottings, I realized that I’ve tried this plan twice before already.

The first time was back in college, when I spent a lot of downtime reading Livejournal and participating in various forums.  One year for Lent I decided to give up non-school-related internet activity, with the intention of using all the freed up time on all kinds of wonderful personal projects.  A cunning plan that surely could not fail!  So, when Ash Wednesday came and my habitual forum-browsing time arrived, what did I do?  I took a nap.  And that’s how it rolled for the whole time.  All the time I saved by giving up those internet ventures went straight into sleep.

Several years later, after college, I had a similar scenario turn up.  It was during my World of Warcraft prime, when that game consumed up vast amounts of my free time, that I at some point decided to limit myself in WoW so I could work on more productive personal projects.  Again, I stayed true to my promise and strictly limited my time, but all that was freed up was quickly consumed again by sleep.  Naps galore.

So I can only assume that the same thing will happen again.  Is it my body’s way of demanding a certain amount of downtime from me?  When I go into overachiever mode, it just counters by inducing sleep?  Or is it some test or obstacle that I just haven’t overcome yet?  Afterall, time is the one true currency.  Am I wasting it?

When I give it some honest thought, I don’t ever feel guilty about the time I spend not-being-productive.  I have no regrets about all those hours playing WoW, and in spite of my growing list of Someday/Maybe projects, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on something by not getting down to them.  In fact, I’m rather content and happy with things right now, so maybe this is just something I need to shrug off.

Goal Progress Report

So my intention to report on my goal progress really fell apart at the end of the year, but whatever.  Next year I’ll know that a strict goal-reporting requirement doesn’t work for me 🙂  Anyway, here is my last update on how I did with my goals this year.

1) Financial.  I’m happy to say that I’ve completed 3 big steps for my financial goals this year.  I paid off my smaller private student loan, and then I shifted gears and decided to bolster my emergency fund up to 3 months before returning to work on the big federal loan.  This I have succeeded in doing!  Finally today, after about a year of laziness and then a month or two of getting everything in order, I closed my Bank of America account and moved all my money dealings over to a credit union.  In 2012 it will be time to attack the rest of the student loans full-force, and my new goal will be to get it paid off before Christmas of 2014.

2) Free Thing in LA every month.  This sort of waned off towards the end of the year, too, since everyone is so busy with holiday events (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas…).  Some of the latest attempts at adventure didn’t end up panning out (The Victorian Advent Fair was more of a small neighborhood community thing, for example) but whatevs.  I still think I did an enormous amount of exploring of Los Angeles this past year due to my free outings, and some of them were a huge hit.  I’ll definitely be returning to the Kite Festival, for example, and Shakespeare in the Park.  Keep your eyes on your facebook events next year, LA friends, and I will try and keep digging up interesting events!  Special thanks to Eye Spy LA’s free section, from which I get most of my inspiration.

3) Games.  This is another one that waned pretty quickly on its specificity, but I still feel like I did a good job of spending time with new and different games this year.  Since my last update, there has been Dragon Age: Origins, Uncharted 3, Driver: San Francisco, TripleTown, Trine, Spacechem, Innercube, and so on and so forth.  I do have on my list to get my hands on Batman: Arkham City, Skyward Sword, and Rayman Origins soon.  We’ll see.

4) Sewing.  Again, even though I accomplished my 3 things, I still have done a fair amount of mending and sewing stuff this year, keeping the sewing machine oiled and in use.  My latest project was cobbling together some thriftstore clothes to make my wild-west costume dress for our Christmas party.

In closing, I think my goals-for-the-year experiment turned out more or less a success.  Some of these things, like the free LA events and the sewing, I hope to turn into habits.  Stay tuned for 2012 wherein I think up some new and exciting year-long goals!

In-game Bodyguards

This is a fascinating example of mentorship-for-profit in the competitive multiplayer space.  I suppose that is one way that you ensure you get mentors who care about teaching and helping the new players – pay them!  The idea that they also take deaths for their mentees is one I hadn’t considered before.

Vegetable Soup Recipe

I’m not sure this counts as a true recipe so much as an example of “let’s just throw everything I happen to have in the kitchen into a pot and see what happens.”  I am feeling under the weather today and so thought I’d make some soup for myself.

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 1 winter squash, peeeled and chopped into cubes
  • 3 small turnips, peeled and chopped
  • 1 yukon potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 granny smith apple, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups of vegetable stock or chicken stock or water or any combination thereof
  • bundle of random dried herbs (I had some from my CSA in a bundle but I couldn’t identify all the herbs, I think maybe sage was in there somewhere)
  • salt and pepper
  • spices to your liking (I used some ground ginger to good effect)

1. Heat the oil in a large pot and cook the onion, garlic, and pepper until fragrant, a few minutes.

2. Add all the other vegetables and cook for a few minutes, stirring

3. Add stock and herb bundle.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender.

4. Remove from heat.  Remove the herb bundle. Transfer about a cup full of vegetables to a blender or food processor and puree, then return to the pot (leave the other veggies in chunk form for texture)

5. Add salt, pepper, and spices to taste.  Heat through and serve.

Pomegranate Apple Sauce

There was a request for the recipe for my pomegranate apple sauce, so here it is!

  • 3-4 apples, peeled, cored, cut into chunks
  • 1 pomegranate’s worth of seeds (youtube will help you with the optimal way to open a pomegranate)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

Add apple chunks and pomegranate seeds to a medium saucepan.  Mix together sugar and water and add to saucepan.  Bring to a boil, lower heat and cover, let simmer for about 20 minutes.  Remove cover and simmer 20 minutes more, until most of the water has reduced.  Mash up the apples with a spoon.  Done!

As for the honey cornmeal pancakes, I just used this recipe (sans syrup.  I used some plum preserves and then spread the applesauce onto them):

http://www.honey.com/nhb/recipes/recipe-details?RecipeID=647