When Burnout: Paradise first came out I thought of it as something which might almost scratch my GTA itch.  I saw myself driving around a city for a few minutes and then getting frustrated with the lack of safe houses, rocket launchers and bitter satire.  It would excite my hunger without putting it to rest.  I could see myself cursing the game for all the things it never set out to provide.  I put the box back on the shelf.

This being the case I am as surprised as anyone to find myself, with GTA IV still half-completed, playing Burnout Paradise, a lot.  I do like the graphics, the viceral crashes and the stunts but what really appeals is the utter directionlessness of it all.  The game makes it virtually impossible to plan your activities and you are launched ito a state of constant side-tracking.  No sooner do you decide that there is a secific race which you want to win than a car you want to catch wizzes past, or you find yourself being invited to join a different race.  The game’s rewards for completing one activity vary very little from completing another to the point that it is impossible and counter-productive to lay out any specific goals.  You just drive and do shit, then drive and do shit without really knowing what shit it is you want to do until you are actually doing it.

This has a very pleasing effect on my brain, not dissimilar to browsing in a shop.  I find myself not really thinking at all.  I realised that sidetracking and being sidetracked is something which I purposefully factor into every activity.  Right now I am writing this, I have an email I am working on and I am looking up the exact wording of our copyright form for an author, I check my inbox every few minutes and I am eating my (first) lunch.  I periodically flick between these activities, doing a little work on each.  This way I structure my time so that every activity happens in parallel to another and I never dwell on one for more than 20 seconds or so.  When I get home, I tend to read whilst eating, listen to music whilst playing games, do forms whilst my food is cooking.

I understand that this is not the most efficient way to go about things.  People get more done if they dedicate themselves to one task at a time, but this behaviour is hardwired and I find focusing on one task for an extended period exhausting.

Is this MTV’s fault?  Do I have a postmodern brain?

Training

May 14, 2008

I am supposed to do some time management training.  I am writing this at work and, apart from the email concerning the training I am supposed to do, my inbox is otherwise empty, which I take as a testament to my time management skills as they stand.  The email directs me to an online course I can do which will train me in time management.  It includes a link which I can follow and instructions on how I will need to register and enter an activation code if I do not have a login already.  If I do have a login already, then I need to sort through my ‘Important Messages’ folder and find the login and password.

I have opened this link three times over the course of this last afternoon and each time I have looked at the little box prompting me to log in and the gargantuan weight of putting work into logging in, in order to entitle me to do more work is so overhwelming that I have closed the box.

I went to school for this.

Phones

April 23, 2008

I have had three phones, my latest one can do lots of stuff, it never has signal but that is not the phone’s fault.  It can take pictures, videos, it can surf the internet, it has bluetooth, it has a massive memory, it can make calls.  It also goes through spells where it switches itself off at random despite having full battery.  The other day I entered a number in it, hit save, went back to the phone book and did not find the number.  Then I entered the number again, hit save and the same thing happened.  Sometimes it buzzes for a text after I have read the text, making me think that I have a new message when I have not.  It also keeps on telling me ‘please insert sim card’, which means that I have to open up the back, wiggle the sim card around and then boot it up again.  Then it tells me ‘please insert sim card’….  The fact is, as modern phones go, this is a good phone. Read the rest of this entry »

Sports

April 17, 2008

 I am not opposed to football in theory.  I just can’t seem to form any strong opinions about it.  I watch when England are playing and I am near a television, and someone else has switched said television on, and for some reason I do not have a book to hand.  Otherwise I am not fussed.

 

I am not sure quite how this came about.  In the normal flow of things a boy in the UK generally inherits loyalty to his local team or, sometimes, the team from whatever county his family are from, or he follows Manchester United and joins the wandering fans with no homeland.  At some critical juncture something must have disrupted the process because I just plain can not seem to care about football.  I find it odd that people talk about their team as ‘we’ as if they, personally, have a hand in the result of a game or, in fact, how they can muster the enthusiasm for it all.

  Read the rest of this entry »

Partially-Shaved

March 13, 2008

About half an hour ago I discovered to my horror that I left the house this morning only partially shaved.  I missed a small section just under my right nostril and am currently sporting what can only be described as the beginings of half a Hitler-tash.  I think we can all agree that post-1946 a Hitler-tash is something of a facial hair faux-pas.  With half a Hitler-tash people are going to be confused as to exactly what I was trying to do and will most likely be offended anyway.  I am going to have to spend the day angling my head, standing sideways-on to people or positioning my hand to cover up my deeply innapropriate stubble growth. Read the rest of this entry »

Handshakes

March 10, 2008

I have a firm handshake. Some might say too firm. It is a problem which comes from doing kung fu: you learn a load of cool things which are easier to demonstrate than explain, you learn a new (and not entirely socially condusive) set of rules concerning physical boundaries and your grip gets stronger. Before you know it you are enthusiastically jamming the second knuckle of your index finger into a stranger’s shoulder joint whilst explaining the finer points of dim mak, when all they did was innocently say ‘Kung fu? That sounds cool” in order to be polite. It also makes you unwittingly crush any hand which is offered to you. Read the rest of this entry »

My Cowboy Hat

March 7, 2008

I was in Albuquerque for a conference last month.  Albuquerque is big and empty – everything is brown and turquoise.  The only things in Albuquerque worth getting excited about were the burritos and the old town.  I spent an hour doing everything there was to do in old town and a further hour waiting for a taxi to take me back to the conference.  If you find yourself in Albuquerque in the near future, there are three border-line intersting things you can see; The New Mexico Art gallery, an Atomic Weapons Museum and past lots of buildings (most of them closed) with hanging signs and cattle skulls over doorways.  It helps if you have someone to talk to whilst you do these things. The rooftops in old town looked perfect for sliding off onto a horse for a quick getaway if you are so inclined. Read the rest of this entry »