Two Steps Forward, One Step Back & The New Year’s Direction

In my zeal for New Year’s spring cleaning and re-ordering my life for the better, I opened a window that hasn’t been opened for the last ten years of living in this house.

The idea was to air out the place, improved ventilation and all that.

Also, I was proud of my herculean efforts cleaning out the window ledge, previously a location for accumulating convenient dusty junk piles, and removing chunks of grime from said window and wanted to keep looking out of it to celebrate.

Then it started raining.

The initial drizzle lulled me into complacency. A couple small drops on the ledge, nothing more, so I shrugged and went to enjoy my lunch.

I walked back into the room with a bunch of stuff in my arms, planning to have a good time sorting and arranging, only to discover an Olympic-sized swimming pool had now taken up residence on said window ledge.

Happily wading inside it, was a table lamp and my $800 Fujitsu Scansnap scanner.

*sigh*

I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice to say there was a great unloading of stuff in my arms on the floor, quick scrambling to shut off all electrical plugs, much rummaging for absorbent rags and dehydration effort implementation on various fronts.

The long and short of it is that my best laid plans for spending the weekend decluttering have now got to be pushed back at least 24 hours (and probably 48 hours would be safer) before I get to find out if I now have to buy myself a belated Christmas present of a newer model of Fujitsu Scansnap.

The shelving that I was -hoping- to sort things out on is now half-soaked and has been carted out to somewhat drier surroundings in the hope that it’ll dry out before mold decides it’s an optimal home.

The PC, thankfully, seems to have been shielded from the brunt of it by the valiant shelving’s sacrifice, but since there was a random scattering of raindrops across all the electrical plugs and wiring and the metal casing, I’m thinking it’ll be safer to give it at least a few hours of drying time.

So now the air conditioner is running, during an already fairly cold day (for the tropics, anyway,) in the hopes that it’ll speed up the dehumidifying process, and I’ve beaten a hasty retreat to the living room, sneezing frightfully with a nose that is fitfully protesting the sequential abuse of dust, mold spores and shivering cold temperatures, typing out this blog post on a laptop, for lack of anything better to do.

Well, it’s one way to get me back to blogging again, I suppose.

On a brighter note, I’ve discovered that serious full-fledged decluttering involving moving books, technological objects and shelving from room to room is pretty good beginner movement exercise for an overweight sedentary person, in that it provokes movement out of me and more importantly, feels more productive than engaging in repetitive motions for the sake of moving.

(If we liked moving to begin with, chances are we wouldn’t be overweight, so it does take a bit of mental gymnastics to find movement activities for a sedentary person that we like and can see ourselves doing repeatedly as a lifestyle change.)

Plans for the year ahead are pretty simple.

I won’t call them new year resolutions, as those seem traditionally broken or forgotten by April or so, but more of guiding principles to skew my life towards in 2016:

1. Pay more mindful attention towards health and exercise.

This cover things like trying to choose healthier foods when possible and enjoy indulgences in smaller proportions. Practice more mindful portion control, we know roughly how much we should be eating, it’s just ridiculously easy to over-eat because the bag of chips is there and we want the sensation of crunch while watching a show or whatever. Make an effort to move more, whenever the opportunity arises, just to get in the habit of -moving-.

2. Actively seek out a variety and novelty of experiences.

I’ve been noticing that I get depressed (or at least slow down, get apathetic or negative) every time I get into a rut and end up feeling like there’s nothing more to life than waking, going to work, eating, sleeping, rinse and repeat, with maybe some gaming in there from time to time.

To combat this, I think the first few words are important, I may need to be proactively looking to switch things up and keep myself focused on experiencing a whole bunch of different things. We’ll see how this works out in the year ahead.

3. Hoard less, use more.

It may be an odd slogan to coin, but I just finished a library book the other day (part of my branching-out-to-do-other-things-than-just-GW2 campaign) by Randy Frost, titled “Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things.

It was a nice read and a bit of an eye-opener. I mean, sure, we’ve all seen the hoarding TV shows, gawked at the spectacle of extreme hoarding and probably gave thanks that our own homes have not quite descended to -that- level.

But I liked how the book explained that forced intervention usually don’t solve the underlying problem – something within the person that causes them to feel obliged to hoard, and elaborated on various reasons while not being judgmental (one interesting twist of perspective is that some hoarders are very adept at creating connections and imbuing meaning and uses to objects that most people would consider junk, and thus find it hard to throw anything away; or that some hoarders rely on objects to build up an almost encyclopedic memory of stories about each thing, a sort of tangible memory palace to fuel prodigious feats of memory, so asking them to throw stuff away is like asking them to discard their memories or parts of themselves…)

Hoarding, it seems, may also have a genetic basis. Which does jibe when I look around at my life and realize that one of my family members is likely to have at least a moderate hoarding problem (which makes discarding old furniture and bulky household items quite a challenge) and that I probably have a subclinical to mild hoarding one as well. (See the Clutter Image Ratings on the Amazon page, or the full PDF.)

Most of the house hovers around the 2 mark, with one or two rooms (a storeroom and the room inhabited by the family hoarder) at 5.

It’s unlikely said family hoarder is going to change, but at least said family hoarder respects room boundaries.

In the meantime, I have my eye on the rest of the rooms, the bulk of which is either my stuff or family-owned stuff and am motivated to change up some things about myself, if only to eliminate dust allergies, make future cleaning easier, and have rooms that look easier on the eye and -pleasant- to look at and enjoy.

The good news is that I haven’t been really acquiring new clutter for the past decade, having moved much of my life (and my hoarding tendencies) to the digital realm. Yeah, I have somewhat crazy MMO and Steam game collections. But hey, they don’t take up as large amounts of space!

(The “hoard less, use more” slogan also applies in a figurative sense to the digital hoard. I intend to play more of my Steam games and branch out this year. It’s time to use and enjoy what I’ve been stockpiling.)

The bulk of the clutter that has yet to be dealt with is old stuff and once gotten rid of, unlikely to ever come back in such volume. Definitely something to work on this year. Hopefully it doesn’t take up the whole year and I can spend more of the time -enjoying- the freed up space and actually -using- the things that I choose to value and keep.

The latter is a big motivator for me. While decluttering this month, I keep encountering stuff I’ve wanted to do, but “kept for later” (be it books to read, hobbies to take up, games to play, whatever.)

That stuff ends up buried under piles of other stuff, forgotten until unearthed.

It’s way past time to unearth it and enjoy it, before it rots or I pass on and end up leaving it for some other poor bastard to clean up.

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NBI: Figure Out Your Blogging Goal

So you wanna start a blog

…now what?

There’s an intimidating blank white page that could be filled with anything… anything at all.

That, my friends, is a screamingly delicious recipe for writer’s block.

Before you know it, you’ve put the blog post aside for another day, which stretches into another, and then a week goes by, a month… Whoops.

Just as poetry benefits from some constraints on one’s writing, so too can your blog benefit from some restrictions on what or how you write.

The only caveat is not to make it too restrictive either. If you decide you will only post in three verse haiku about one specific game with screenshots to match, well, that’s up to you, but I strongly suspect you’ll get tired of either the format or the game eventually.

Some things I would suggest thinking about:

Blog Focus

The subjects you’d like to write about – one game, a few, many games. Will you be sharing other interests, or primarily just one?

I’ve seen blogs cover things like games and psychology, games and cooking (yum), games and gender issues, etc. and it’s not a bad way to give a unique concept to your blog.

Or you may just want to have the blog be about your unique take on games – in which case, a memorable name and viewpoint may be of some importance. Rest assured that we are all very different, if united in our love of game, and the moment you put words on the page, your voice will be trying to come through.

Post Length

This is just a rough guideline for yourself – how do you know when you’re done? 250 words? 500 words? A lot longer?

A general rule of thumb is that short posts are more frequently read by more people, whereas their eyes will tend to glaze over and scroll past 5000 words of squished together wall-of-text.

A short post also takes less time to write, and you’ll thank yourself later on slow days.

However, too short a post may also end up restrictive in that you may find yourself editing too heavily. Once you turn on the editor, it tends to kill off the creative freewriting portion of your brain that produces all the freaky ideas, so you don’t necessarily have to take a word limit to heart too literally.

If you’re like me and love walls of text, producing 2-3k words every time you have something burning deep down that you want to say – just bear in mind the tradeoffs. Personally, I welcome turning off the readers who can’t concentrate beyond a paragraph or two, I think it spares my comments bar a great deal.

It’s also good to break your wall of text up into short, easily readable chunks. Pictures are a very good formatting cheat that I use all the time. Or consider a two-parter post.

Post Format

Conversational first-person?

Letter style “Dear Reader” like Stubborn?

More formal third-person?

Picture and text caption?

Whatever else you can dream of?

Again, bear in mind trade-offs. An informal conversational style tends to be the easiest to write on those dark dry blogging days, but may not match the image you want your blog to project.

If you intend on putting pictures in every post, it’s going to be a barrier to posting one day when you don’t have any pictures or can’t muster the energy or time to find, take or edit any.

Post Frequency

Fact: If you want more eyes on your blog, a very regular and frequent posting schedule will have the most effect in getting more readers accustomed to you being out there and making your blog part of their daily or weekly reading. Especially when they’re bored at work and are looking for -any- reading material.

But not everybody has as much time as Syp to post twice or three times a day. 🙂

Trying to keep to a daily posting schedule may already drive you insane.

Personally, my advice is to try for 1-3 days. It works for me, with some flex slippage of up to 5 days or so.

You may note that I keep a calendar on my blog’s sidebar. That calendar is mostly for me. At a glance I can tell when my last post was, and I try not to leave too large a gap of white numbers in between the numbers with hyperlinks on them.

The idea is just to get in a habit of writing. This has a net positive for yourself as you’ll find it easier to get in touch with your inner voice and ideas over time.

It does mean that some posts you produce may be rougher and less well-formed than others. If your blog format/standards allow you to post those, go right ahead. If not, just keep them as drafts – they can be worked on and improved over time, or just kept as a record for yourself.

Your Motivation For Blogging

Why you even thought this was a good idea in the first place…

The suggestion many bloggers will give you is to try and find some internal motivations for why you’d want to sit arse to chair and type stuff into the ether.

Fixating too much on garnering views, readers, attention or feedback will automatically depress you on the days the Internet doesn’t give a fuck.

You may also end up adulterating your blog too much in the attempt for ever-growing numbers. (Little tip: If you do want to do that, one of the best ways is to post informational guides. Lots of short, timely informational guides. You can try being a Dulfy for your game of poison. It may end up being more work than play, but hey, if that’s your blogging goal, work towards that.)

But ultimately, relying on external motivations that are out of your control can shake your self-esteem, affecting how frequently you post.

Maybe you’d like to practice writing more consistently. Or practice the use of English if it’s not your mother tongue.

Maybe you just need a personal soapbox. Or a space to share your screenshots or stories.

Maybe you want to be a community hub of some kind, or just part of some community or another.

Keeping this in mind helps to direct what you’d want to do as well. Being a hub requires lots more socializing and networking and marketing than someone who just wants their own personal hermit space online.

If you want to be part of a community, then you have to participate in it somehow – read and link other blogs, make comments, engage in friendly banter and interaction, etc.

If a writing habit is your goal, then that is your prime directive that should be prioritized.

None of this has to be formalized or official.

A goal is not a set of chains binding you to a writ-in-blood commitment.

If your initial set of goals isn’t working out, feel free to change them on the fly and adjust and iterate as needed.

The idea is mainly for them to provide some needed guidelines so that you have a clue whether you’re headed in the right direction that works for you.

TSW: Public Service Announcement – Directions to Blue Mountain and Council of Venice Blue Vendors

It’s become a little worrying to me that one of the major searches that land people on this blog (besides AR/Blade build searchers, to whom I hope this extremely popular post of mine offers at least -some- help) is requests for basic directions to Blue Mountain. Um, okay…

This blog generally goes into wall-of-text screenshot diary experiences and/or analysis, because I roll that way. I hope they’re not too disappointed.

But let it not be said that I do not endeavor to be helpful (while shamelessly pageview-whoring since I seem to be filling a niche.)

1. How do I get to Blue Mountain?

From the Savage Coast:

Seriously though, if you’re asking this question, I’m really not sure if you’re up to facing the zone. So please be a tide careful when you go in there.

2. Where are the Council of Venice Blue Vendors?

See Savage Coast map bit above. See Blue Mountain map fragment below. Keyword: Wabanaki Trailer Park.

I could have shown you my whole map, but that would take away your fun finding the world bosses and lair stuff cos I have map markers sprinkled all over that I’m too lazy to remove.

For the record, I’m still using QL6 green weapons that dropped while I was playing in the Moon Bog with even weaker weaponry. It’s not the end of the (secret) world if you don’t get them immediately.

P.S. Shortest post evah?