Prude

In the Lenten spirit, I went for confession.

In addition to the usual old favourite sins, I confessed that I overworked myself trying to secure a future for my future wife and I. This lead to injuries and burnout. Both of these forced me to quit. We needed guidance on the matter. He said hard work was a important, and it was good I had practiced it. But he said that without prudence, we can struggle to know what is best for us. Even what seems good or worthy can be hurting us. This was why prudence is a cardinal or guiding virtue, and one that takes time to develop.  He said there is a lot of pressure on young people to succeed, and it was understandable. He asked how I was doing now, and I said I was retraining and had started a business. He said that was good, and he also advised me to be mindful of what had happened in the past. Prudence, he said, was about knowing what was best for ourselves. He said to pray every day, and try to feel God’s closeness. The priest absolved my sins, and did not assign any penance.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that confession. Prudence is the thing I’ve been missing.Whipping out the old Catechism tells me: “A person becomes prudent by learning to distinguish what is essential from what is non-essential, to set the right goals and to choose the best means of attaining them.” Prudence directs the other virtues. Prudence is the ability to recognise what’s right. If you want to lead a good life, you have to know what the “good” is and recognise its worth.

Part of the problem growing up was I never was told or shown what “good” is. My dad, who was agnostic atheist along with my mother paid lip service to the Church. They went to Church in front of the Catholic School principal’s nose to get my mam a job there. I was baptised, recieved first communion, and was confirmed in order to give me priority for Catholic high schools.  I don’t even think I could classify it as lip service: they were cynical about it. All that, along with the background of the fighting between my mother and her mother skewed my values. There was too much confusion growing up to get a handle on what was good. Good was a quiet house. Good was no one screaming or crying. Good was holidays. Good was wine and meals. Good was grades. Good was father’s family.

And so it passed to me. Most of it good.

I’ve been financially prudent so far. I’ve tried to be prudent with others. But this feels more like conditioning. Like valuing hard work, they are formulas that were programmed into me growing up. Without that compass of prudence, I’ve felt totally lost up until last year. Put shit in, get shit out. It’s logical within the system. One example typifies it for me.

I had a habit of finding money growing up. I would see lost bank notes that no one else would. Sometimes as large as a €50 note. I usually made efforts to find the owner, or hand it in if was in a shop. This became a self-reinforcing loop. I still find money. But one time, I came across a dropped wallet, with no cards, no ID. Probably a child’s after a birthday or confirmation. I picked it up and took it home. It had €400 in cash (about $500). I hid it in my room while I deliberated what to do with it.  I told my sister, who told my parents. They said they would give it to the police.But they lied to me. They ended up spending all the money from the wallet on themselves. This was at a time at the height of the boom, when they were both wealthy, with two properties, new cars: the works. It felt disgusting. I confronted them about it, and they said they would give me just €50 back from the wallet I had found. I think it was €50 from their pocket, they just wanted to shut me up by making me complicit. I used it to buy a computer game. From there on in, I kept every note I found. But I’ve reunited many people with their lost phones, wallets and bags. I don’t think that €350 was a good exchange for losing whatever trust I had in them.

When I checked into hospital because I was suicidal, I didn’t tell them. I didn’t trust them. Examples like the above, and others, go some way to explain how fucked you are without prudence,. I don’t know what I am supposed to take from that situation.”Follow the money” was one of my maxims in understanding behaviour. No suprise it lead me into hedge fund audit. But that’s no way to live life. I think it’s a good way to end up jumping off a bridge. “You didn’t get here by accident” a partner told me when I went for interviews. You were selected. You were chosen for your compliance first, then your analytic skill and intellect. You are cordially invited to fuck my ass.

Better get used to being in the bottom position, because you’re going to get fucked. A lot.

Too big to fail

I wanted to join the Irish Defence Forces when I was in high school. I could do 100 consecutive pushups and run a 7 minute mile. I was county athletics champion 2 years running in long jump. I liked to hike and box. My friends in Scouts had parents in the Irish Army, and were already in the Reserves, or going for Officer positions. My folks wouldn’t let me join the Reserves as I had 3 seizures when I was 15, but these never happened again.  The Irish Army also ended up having a hiring freeze for 4 years before I finished, so that was out.

We all had to wait for like 4 years, thinking each year would be the year the hiring freeze would be over. The Irish Armed forces have about 9k people total, and they are flooded with applications every time recruitment opens. They have a vanishingly small budget at 0.5% of GDP. So the odds of getting in were slim.

In the meantime, I bulked up by 30lb and started judo, thinking I could go for Officer Corp if I hated the idea of being a lawyer. The Irish Army is very involved in peacekeeping, so having a legal training would have been very useful when I combined it with my improving Arabic. When it came to my last year of college after China, I did hate the idea of working as a lawyer. Nevertheless, I bent myself to the milkrounds for the blue chip law firms in the country through a twisted sense of national duty. I did well by all accounts – came in the top 10%, but dreaded the idea of working in any of the firms. Then I got really depressed about the future and wanted to off myself.  I ended up in hospital, and took antidepressants for 2 months. Went off the antidepressants because I couldn’t cum.

As 2012 began, recruitment rumors started coming out. Army and officers were recruiting. I passed the screening for both and was called forward for the physicals. But an ingrown toenail I was training around got infected and I wasn’t able to walk on it. Ended up on crutches for a few weeks. It was antibiotic resistant. I think I got it off judo mats. So the Army wasn’t going to happen. Only one of my friends ended up in the Officer Corps, and he was always going to make it. His whole family was in the Army in some capacity.

The rest of my friends didn’t get in, despite their excellent physical achievements and team sports shit. Looking back on it, it was very unlikely I would have gotten into either the Infantry or Officer Corp, given that I had seizures and was on antidepressants for a bit after returning from China.  Maybe I would have hated being in the Army. From what I’ve been told, the boredom would have driven me out. Plus Irish Army pays poorly, and does not have any benefits for families. I guess I can never say what it’d be like. If I was called up because of a national emergency, I’d go as balls deep as I could on it.

I ended up living very close to a barracks, and pass the trucks and jeeps loaded with squaddies every morning. It looks like good craic. But I’m glad I’m where I am now.

Pain has been very managable, to non-existent. Trying to push out on the exercises now, while I can. Low back a little stiff while sitting.

Want to be in good health for hiking and canoeing in Spring. I underestimated how much I was cycling to work: I’ve ended up cycling between 120km and 150km every week for the last 6 weeks.  Going at a 15-17kph pace.

30km round trip to work between 2-4 times a week.

15km round trip to college 3-4 times per week.

The bike is unfortunately a heavy steel frame hybrid. It’s a great utility bike for getting groceries/wood/hauling shit, but too heavy for distance. The cycling is about another 800 calories a day. I think picking up a lighter road bike frame with skinny tires would make it easier to do the distance. I do like the wider tires for getting across the tram lines safely, and navigating our shitty, broken roads. Legs have gotten joosy again.

DB Press 8kg x 15

External rotation 8kg x 20

Lunges 8kg x 12. Right is still weaker.

Side lying external rotation 4kg x 15

pushup x 23 (aiming for 40), or 3×12

side plank at 1.35

front plank 1.45

reverse plank 2.10

side lying leg raise 40 both sides (want 50)

bridge kickouts x50

Some of these could probably be progressed. But once it’s pain free, I am content to keep plugging away slowly. Big problem is eating enough at the moment.

Business in the school is winding up. I will try find some more schools. But the 2k of income is getting to a point where I really should declare it. I can’t just slowly cash cheques and hope no one notices. If I get more work, I will have to put the price up to €25/ hour to cover the income tax of 20%. I will then write off as much of the tax as I can on training and equipment.  I would like to learn to solder, and test circuits. Part of me is wondering if I would be suited to systems administration and not software design for finance company. I need to find some work doing analytics soon for the college course. I have the backup of counting by business as relevant work, however.

College is back on. Grades are out. Got a 73% average across all modules. I also managed a 93% in computer architecture and networks.

Bootleg Korean Gundam

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This is an American dub of the Korean bootleg Gundam series called Space Black Knight. The American version is called either Captain of Cosmos on DVD or Johnny Destiny – Space Ninja on VHS.

It features a mixture of the characters from Mobile Suit Gundam, who were clearly looking for work after MSG was cancelled.  If you like space adventure nonsense, or would like to see Char Anznable fighting Sayla Mass,  it is worth a watch for novelty only:

It has more of a Leiji Matsumoto feel than anything else. It just shares characters with MSG (including a green Dozle Zabi, what the fuck).

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Went to a 72-hour games development jam last weekend. Learned a lot about the Unity engine, and development. We got our game made, which I was pleased with. I ended up meeting some people who were in my college a few years below me, and I teamed up with them. We ran into the usual problems: scope and  collision detection. You really are better off making something as small as possible. We did have some successes with the other assets: the game looked quite nice, and proved to me that art and sound assets can make a shitty platformer with simple puzzles play well.

When I was younger, I did want to make games but had absolutely no idea how to develop the skills to code. I read a lot about design philosophies, mechanics, and some terminology. I was also able to script and plan how events would take place. I mostly wrote stories for them.

There were going to be three:

Darkened

A tactical turn-based RPG that focuses on managing social ties to have your squad perform better, and develop their skills. Story was roughly this: a conscript returns home after his national service, and murders someone to keep a secret. He goes on the run. He meets up with disabled war veterans, punks and disposessed aristocrats, who start a revolution against the government. It’s a top-down turn based tactics game. You would have a chance to react to enemy movements with suppressive fire, and characters could be linked together into a squad that was more effective. It’s set in 1930s Dieselpunk Europe.

Punks would hate vets. Vets would hate aristocrats. Aristocrats would hate Punks. Managing these personality conflicts and finding common ground between factions in your squads would take up the story.

Characters’ individual morale would play a big part – with punks needing to be close to others to feel comfortable, some characters panicking more easily, and “friendly fire” if the conflicts are not managed.

If managed correctly, the squads you chose would develop cohesion, and there would be enjoyable character interactions.

No Love Lost

A cyberpunk sandbox game set in a decaying Russian city in the 2050s. Your character starts in a waste compacter and has to escape before they are crushed. They have lost all their memories and abilities, but have only a song in their head. They seem to be a cyborg.

When they get on the street, they start to have options: help someone being mugged, or aid the muggers. As they grow in influence, they have the option to rebuild the city block by block. The character can be authoritarian or liberal. They can also be be benevolent or exploitative. The city, your zone of control and the events that happen will be changed by your choices.

The character rebuilds themselves and their memories. A third world war happened a decade ago – most of the movers and shakers in this city are cyberised. There are few people under 30. There are rumors of a technological singularity that started in this city, but something stopped it. Getting out of the city is almost impossible- there is a cordon, and the city is isolated. But new cyborgs come in every day.

As the game develops, and the character recovers their abilities, the machine that started the singularity contacts him, and tries to get his aid.  In the city, the machine could recover her power, then take over the world. All those who had been cybernetics, and all machines could rejoin the wider world. A second plotline starts: should you pit your city against the world?  Or should you fight the nascent machine god for humanity’s sake?

WWI/Irish Rebellion First Person Shooter

Two brothers from Liverpool fight in WW1 for different reasons: one fights for Queen and Country. The other fights in Dublin City for a free Irish republic. They stay in contact by letters. The actions of one brother affect the other brother’s levels. Ultimately, the player has the chance to end their fighting, or choose one story over the other. Both will have to face the bitterness of the War of Independence, and the Irish Civil War that followed.

The brother in Europe contends with trench warfare. The brother in Ireland must scrape together enough shotguns, pikes and potatoes to be in with a chance of holding out against the British.

It was going to be made for the 1916 centenary of the Easter Rising that kicked off Irish independence. Still possible!