Ashcan Hubris: 6 December 2020

This is Ashcan Hubris: 6 December 2020 edition, the weekly newsletter where I believe I’ve written things worth reading.

How do I give thanks for this without sounding ungrateful: I’m happy that after today, I won’t need to deal with another holiday for 18 days. Halloween, my birthday, Thanksgiving, Black Weekend (for my business, not as a consumer), Katie’s birthday, Finnish Independence, all in a row. It’s nice to have two weeks off until Christmas. No special meals to prepare, no rituals to observe, I can just chill.

Bullet Journal Blues

I cannot wait for 1 January. At this point I’m working out of 3 separate journals: the main one for this year, the new journal for next year, and the project journal. The new journal will have the project spreads incorporated, not in a separate book. One journal. That’s it.

As future log items for next year come up, I switch to the 2021 journal. Yes, I could put them in this year’s book. Copying items over it double work. As I finalize what projects I’ll be working on in the coming year, I’m setting up spreading in the new book. Projects that are being closed out are finalized in the old project journal; ongoing things are being migrated to the new book.

It’s a lot of back-and-forth. I think it will be worth it, though. To only have one journal, or at least only one at a time (until it’s filled and I start the next one) will make life so much easier. No stress about what’s written down where. I won’t have to make notes and create mini-indexes in different books to point me toward what is where. This system has worked well, don’t get me wrong. It’s just a lot to deal with when my executive function issues are flaring up.

Tabletop Design

A friend recently gifted me with a copy of Tabletop RPG Design in Theory and Practice at the Forge, 2001–2012, by William J. White. It’s an academic work about tabletop roleplaying. Apparently the publisher had a Black Friday sale, and brought the price down to something resembling reasonable. While I was somehow expecting something pretentious, the book is quite good in its examination of how TRPG design has been discussed.

It’s also made my aware of why I find current design discourse options frustrating. The Forge, for those not aware, was a forum in the early 2000s for designers. Definitions of terms were set, and could be linked to. Longer articles on bits of theory and practice were published and discussed. The tone was pseudo-academic, which some people found off-putting and admittedly it sometimes could be. But, there was a touchstone for talking about tabletop roleplaying, an a common language to be used.

The problem with discourse on, say, Twitter is that there is ease of reference. You can’t easily refer to a previous thread on the same topic, and build on it. That leads to the same subjects come up over and over and over again. The same arguments are hashed out. It’s Groundhog Day, every day.

There’s also the matter of The Forge having a singular purpose, as opposed to the generality of social media. You went to the forum to talk about tabletop roleplaying design. You weren’t also there, under the same account, to kibbutz with people who only wanted to discuss politics or pop stars. It was an immersive experience.

The Best Time to Read

For most of this year I’ve tried to read after dinner. It’s been my routine. My logic was that it’s a low-spoons activity, and actually relaxing. My mind is drawn away from the stresses of the day. The intrusive thoughts that come with anxiety are distracted, making it easier for me to fall asleep. The problem is that when I am beat, and brain fog has set in, it’s difficult to concentrate on a book.

An acquaintance recommended reading in the morning instead. Studies seem to conflict, but there is some research that says reading retention is higher earlier in the morning. Engaging your brain as early in the day as possible tends to keep you more engaged and productive throughout the day. Plus, starting the day off with a relaxing activity sets an easy going, low-stress tone.

After trying it for a few days, it works for me. Reading first gets me energized to write. My productivity is higher. I’m not running out of spoons until a couple of hour later in the day. If nothing else, it keeps me away from the internet longer, and assuages my guilt over not getting enough reading done. I save the period after dinner for tasks like accounting (somehow I can still math when I’m low on spoons) and doing light housework.

In Case You Missed It

Ashcan Hubris: 6 December 2020 Edition

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