Monday, February 18, 2013

I don't know how to answer...

So, the usual thing happened: the long weekend was DunDraCon, and I attended. Thing is, like last year, I only attended for one day; there just wasn't enough of a value proposition for me to attend more than that. The trouble is that I won't even bother trying to get into any games there.

Let me explain. My first DunDraCon was four years ago, and I went for a weekend pass. I did online games registration, and I lucked out; I got into my first choice of game for the first slot. That was a blast, thanks to Sean Nittner's excellent work in getting the situation complicated. If you ever get the chance to play the Burning Wheel scenario The Gift, do so, and if it's Sean running it, be VERY glad!

What I didn't realise at the time was I was lucky as hell. See, DunDraCon has a game assignment system which uses a random number generator to  decide who gets to be in which game. This means you've got no guarantee of getting into any game at ALL, never mind the one you want to play in.

Ryan Macklin has outlined his problems with the shuffler system more eloquently than I can. Suffice it to say: I don't even try to get into games at DunDraCon any more. I don't even attend KublaCon, because it also uses a shuffler, and doesn't have as attractive a seminar track. I attend DunDraCon mainly for the City Building seminar that tends to happen on the Saturday, and whatever other panels Kenneth Hite happens to be on, since he's always worth listening to and potentially debating with.

But the survey asks how satisfied I am with how the system works. There isn't a box for "not applicable" or "broken as designed". My only real option is to keep on complaining on the publicly accessible internet and not paying for a full weekend pass. They could make almost twice as much money from me; but until the shuffler is removed, I simply don't see enough value in paying for the whole weekend; it's better for me to wait until the seminar track is visible and then plan to pay at the door on that day. I wouldn't save any money by pre-registering (and that means the con misses out on getting my money early, with attendant problems) and so it's just not worth it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Zero Sink Rate

With a title like that, you might expect this to be about glider technology - I mean, gliders are pretty awesome, right? I know I'd love to try it. But no, this is about kitchen management, and the fact that a kitchen is a system in which cooking is only one part.

In my last post, I mentioned a tendency to get behind on cleaning up after meals, and the knock-on effects that had on future meals. That got me thinking, and I came up with some rules for myself to keep my kitchen more usable.

Rule 1: Making a meal includes cleaning up. If I have enough spoons to cook, but know that I will run out before I've cleaned up after it, I don't have enough spoons to make a meal. The easiest time to get pans clean is right after use; if I let them sit, I'm making work. I'm stealing spoons from myself and throwing them away. So the only valid reason for the pans from a meal not being cleaned up is the meal still going on, whether in active eating or conversation.

Rule 2: Thou shalt not soak. This one isn't quite rigid; if I screw up, there might be carbon that doesn't want to come off. That's acceptable, but I have to have made a genuine effort to remove it before resorting to soaking, and I MUST make a genuine effort to remove it each time I enter the kitchen until it's gone. The same goes for peanut butter jars (the LA loves it), which do require soaking to soften the peanut butter; but each time I enter the kitchen while one is soaking, I have to get it half-full with water and shake the dickens out of it to knock the tenacious stuff off the sides.

Rule 3: Drip-dry is fine. Sit dry is not. What this means is that once pans are dry, they should be put away at the first opportunity. That way, when the time comes to cook again, I know where they are. I don't have to waste spoons on remembering which pans are next to the sink and which are in the cupboard.

Rule 4: Load the dishwasher. The LA and I both have the bad habit of setting plates, glasses and the like on the counter rather than in the dishwasher. In the LA's case, it's because she knows I'm particular about how the dishwasher is loaded (engineer brain working out the optimal stacking for cat dishes, how to keep can covers restrained, and so on) but in my case it's purely and simply a bad habit. I'm aiming to break it.

Rule 5: Unload the Dishwasher. This is the automated version of Rule 3. In the dishwasher's case, it's fine to wait for it to cool down (attempting to remove a plate right after the cycle finishes will erase fingerprints, and hurts even my notably heat-resistant hands) but then, put stuff away rather than letting it sit.

I'm not necessarily doing well at following these rules - but I do want to let them guide my actions and decisions, and I want to make them public for anyone else who's having trouble with keeping their kitchen usable.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The insidious cycle

As you probably know, I'm one of those people who suffers from chronic pain. I have arthritis, I'm currently dealing with a knee injury, and it all adds up. This limits what I can do, both from a physical capability perspective (sitting cross-legged on the floor is not within my capabilities, unless you're going to pay for the necessary painkillers and a hefty guy to haul my carcass back upright) and from an available resources perspective; I simply don't have enough spoons. Do read that piece, if you haven't already, and then come back.

It's the lack of spoons that leads to the insidious cycle in the title. It's common for me to have enough spoons to cook a good dinner, but run out of spoons (having been sure to reserve enough to go to bed) before I can finish dealing with the mess generated by it. So now I have dirty pots and pans sitting in the kitchen, waiting for me to deal with them. This is somewhat daunting mentally, and of course requires spoons. So now, the next dinner is a higher spoon project than the one I did last time, because I have to clean things up before I can start it. And then I run out of spoons before getting ANY of it cleared up. The vicious cycle means that even though I might have enough spoons to cook, I don't have enough spoons to make dinner, because of the prerequisite tasks. Life is unfair like that, and this disproportionately affects sufferers from chronic conditions.

It wouldn't surprise me to learn that chronic pain and depression are linked. They have very similar effects on life activities, albeit by somewhat different mechanisms, and having dealt with them both at one time or another, I honestly don't know which sucks less. Both take (potentially) mind-altering drugs to treat, and that makes people wary of treating them. I worry about addiction and tolerance every single time I need to take a painkiller, and frequently argue myself out of taking painkillers even if the pain is too intense to stand.