Sunday, November 3, 2013

Tapering off and feeling better

I'm still feeling better. I've now reduced my Efexor to 37.5 mg a day - ten per cent of what I was on early last year - and hopefully when I come off it completely on 1st January I'll stop feeling (un)comfortably numb. (I heard that song on the radio this morning.)

So life has become more palatable all of a sudden. Work is an example of this - so much of what goes on there is (for me) excretory, but last week it didn't get me down too much. Yes, it's all shitty but it's got little to do with me. As an aside, it's interesting that I cope with work by minimising its importance, while some people - especially managers - vastly overestimate the importance of their roles, and perhaps that's a coping mechanism too. Another sign of my improvement was when I went to the gym today - I had no problems doing 500 pulls on that machine; in my depressed state I'd be flagging after 150 or so.

It's day 29 of my 30-day almost-no-carb diet experiment. Since I started I haven't eaten a single potato, nor a grain of rice, nor a strand of pasta, and I've hardly touched dairy. I've had maybe three or four bowls of cereal. A colleague felt sorry for me (even though I never mentioned my diet) and bought me a Boston bun and a sausage roll. I was cursing under my breath but I enjoyed them. A lot. I've drunk alcohol on two occasions, both times with my cousin. On the flip side I've eaten heaps of meat (mostly beef), a fair amount of fish, precisely 58 eggs, several bowls of fruit and bucketloads of vegetables. It's really interesting to see what happens to your pee when you eat a lot of asparagus. Or beetroot. Or both. (There's a technical term for beetroot-tainted pee - it's called beeturia, which is surely a made-up word.)

I'm still unconvinced about this diet, but it's got me thinking about food a lot more, and operating on autopilot a lot less. On Tuesday, when my experiment is over (I'll weigh myself then just for curiosity's sake), I won't revert to my previous diet entirely. I'll certainly try not to eat so many carbs. On the subject of food, here's an article about the shocking amount of food that is wasted in the UK. I doubt things are much better in NZ.

This article in the Herald made me want to go back to Birmingham. The university (the one I went to) is mentioned as one of the city's highlights. Birmingham has come on a long way for sure, even since I got to know the place in 1998.

Programming an Android app. Oh god. I tried to follow the tutorial provided by Android themselves. This will be self-explanatory right? They want people to make as many lots of apps so they can make lots of money, so it's bound to be simple. Um, no (except the bit about an "activity" - I understood that at least). I downloaded a free e-book that I thought might be useful. The introductory chapter told me in no uncertain terms not to think of programming an app (or reading the rest of the book!) until I know about Java. Apart from landing in Jakarta a few times I know nothing about Java, so that might be a good starting point. I'll take a book or two out of the library tomorrow. This will be a long hard slog.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a good read, but I don't think I'll try the other two books in the series. The Swedish language would be interesting to learn, not for any real practical purpose, but just because it looks like a cool language. It's rich in "strong" consonants like B, hard G, K, M and V, giving rise to such words as bekväm.

I spent some time (not too long) working out the probabilities for dice rolls in Risk. I know you can find the figures all over the internet, but to really understand what's going on you need to derive them. The 3v2 case (attacker rolls three, defender rolls two) is the most interesting. It seems obvious now, but when we played on Monday I didn't appreciate that, when you roll three dice, 6-5-5 and 6-5-1 are essentially the same thing (6-5-5 looks more impressive). They're both 6-5, which is actually the most likely of the 21 distinct outcomes (you'll roll that combination one time in eight). Once you've worked out the odds for a single attack you can then extend that to predict the likely outcome of an entire battle. There are some other things that seem obvious now but didn't at the time - if you own a continent, you don't necessarily have to fortify the inside borders of the continent; the territories just outside are just as good (or perhaps better, since you prevent your opponent from gaining control of the bordering continent).

I emailed Martin on Friday to say that if he wants to move in, drums are a definite no. I felt a bit bad - I wanted to encourage him to get back to his music, and I think that playing the drums well takes a great deal of skill. He hasn't got back to me yet.

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