Monday 19 March 2012

Exams, Climbing and Gaming

Another long time since the last update, and some stuff has happened... just not a great deal.

I shall start with a list of things to be covered:
  1. Learning Fatigue
  2. CWIF
  3. Peak District afternoon
  4. Gaming
  5. A Badass Music Video
 1. Learning Fatigue

In response to an email conversation earlier this week I suggested that I would drop some thought bombs on the subject of learning fatigue in the modern age.
A simple analysis of 'schooling' shows that if a person goes through preschool, primary school, secondary school, and then gains a degree at university, then they will have spent about a fifth to a quarter of their potential lifespan in education.

Now, I understand that people need to be educated to exist in the modern world, but doesn't this just seem mental? 21-15 years in education, just so you can get a job that may potentially be nothing to do with your degree!

Now, I'm not saying that this method is necessarily any worse than the alternative methods of education, but I don't think it has worked for me.

I did something like 12 GCSE, I'd count them but I cant remember what I did any more. I then did 4 AS levels and 3 A levels before going on to do a degree in chemistry.
  • GSCE - 12 Papers over 2 years
  • A levels -  15 Papers, and practical exams over 2 years
  • Degree - Who knows... not to mention various projects, assessed labs, vivas and presentations over 3 years
When I was younger I would read books on other subjects and write short stories in my spare time just for the giggles. Unfortunately I think I hit a wall somewhere in my degree, and I feel like I neither wanted to, nor had time for that sort of thing any more.

Put simply,  I hit the wall. I imagine that gaining some Independence from the system allowed me to take a backseat with my studies , and given that I had been pushed for the last 5 years I took full advantage of the wealth of both money and time I had come to receive.

From there it was a bit of a vicious circle of doing badly in exams, led to me feeling less interested, led to me doing other activities, led me to doing badly. I knuckled down a bit in final year and saved myself a vaguely passable grade. But when asked by a woman in HR why my certificate wasn't framed, I just laughed and looked at her like she was insane.

The funny thing is, that at the time I wasnt concerned with my performance in exams. But now that I have had a year out of education, I actually feel a bit guilty about 'letting myself down' given the opportunity that I had. I know I could have done better if I had applied myself better, there are far more stupid people on that course that got better grades that me. But after all those persistent exams in the preceding years, I ran out of juice.

Maybe I am making excuses, maybe I am just a lazy scroat. Either way, my new years resolution is to read more books to try and get my brain back on track. Unfortunately, judging by the huge unread part of 'Game of Thrones' I still have to read, I need to try a bit harder.


CWIF Richards,
CWIFton suspension bridge,
the white CWIFs of Dover

Or as it is known up north, where the people are grim faced and 2/3 have never laughed:

The Climbing Works International Festival

 The CWIF is a bit of an odd competition, in that pros and punters all have the opportunity to qualify for the finals. To split the field effectively this requires a large number of problems, with a large number of difficult ones to split the top levels.

Last year's competition was host to some serious talents in the form of Nalle Hukkataival, Ty Landman and a significant portion of the UKboulder team. This years was no exception with names like Puccio, Sanchez, Barrans, Partirdge, Webb-Parsons, Coxsey, Crane, Wujajstyky, Caminati and more that I cant remember.

Needless to say, watching some of these guys cruise through the problems that I am at a loss with is at once both humbling and inspiring. I might be pretty good down south, in my small town, London based, 20 problem contests against the baying mass of new climbers. But when I come up against a troop of psyched individuals, who have used all the time they spent not-laughing to train...Things turned ugly.

30 problems in 3 hours is no mean feat when the problems start at about 5+/6a and get much harder very quickly. SIBL works out at about 20 problems in 4 hours or so - or 1 boulder every 12 minutes. And those boulders are pretty easy for the most part.
CWIF was a much higher standard and ran at about 1 boulder every 6 minutes!

I was given a round spanking by the works, and while the problems were cool, I dont think I really managed to reflect my ability to climb as best I can. But everyone competed in the same circumstances, and I heard a lot of similar complaints to mine about falling off the last moves of problems. I guess the good people just didnt do that...

I ended up as 87/189 who put in cards (quite a few didnt bother). I think this probably verges on respectable, but I am 100% certain I can significantly improve on this next year with a small amount of fingerboard and stamina training.

3. Peak climbing!

After being beaten up by CWIF we went out to burbage edge and flailed ineffectually against West Side Story. I am sure that if I can get up to the top sidepull I will be able to do the problem. Unfortunately, it is a bit tricky to get up there. I blame the heat.

After falling off this, we resolved to go to the Excreta Buttress, where I was once again beaten up by a filthy slopery 7B. I think that if it was slightly cooler, and I did some more fingerboarding (again) I will be able to do this problem. Unfortunately it was not to be, and instead I focused my attempts on the 7A+ linkup through the roof called Hemline. We sorted out the beta pretty quickly and easily and I sent it in 4 'redpoint' attempts. Quite happy to do something after my abject failures elsewhere during the weekend.

4. Gaming

My new thing to chill out with after a phase with Rubiks Cube, Ukulele, Juggling, Climbing, Fives, Harmonica, Slacklining, Photography and being all indie and shit with music, is competitive Starcraft 2.

In review, I am definitely getting better but I still feel like I am awful. I suppose that given the non competitive nature of most of my activities, it is quite easy to feel bad when I lose against someone who completely outplays me. I believe the experience can be looked at as 'defeat therapy' whereby your ego is given a nice beating and you become a little more level headed. It is frustrating that given my ability to 'pick up and play' almost any other sport I attempt at the moment, that one where I get to sit down and compete with my fingers and my mind is the one where I am beaten most frequently and apparently easily.

Indeed, this is what fuels my desire to get better. I know I can be, so I am going to try!

Outside of SC2, I spent this weekend playing a combination of 'Costume Quest' and 'Bastion'. I know I am quite late to the party with these games as they have been out for ages, and the reviews have been so good that I really should have attempted to play them a little earlier.

Costume quest is cute and very well written, but the gameplay became a bit too repetitive for my liking so I stopped playing after a while and switched to playing Bastion.

Bastion is simply gorgeous, I knew I was onto a winner as soon as the game opened and the narrators voice cut in. Great gameplay, great music, great visual style, great story integration.

I'll let total biscuit explain what is going on, because he is good at that sort of thing and I dont begrudge him the ad revenue.

I realise it is a long video, but if you have time I think it is worth a quick watch if you had considered getting the game. He mentions the music at one point, and it really is beautiful.

In honour of such beauty, I have decided to do my best to butcher it!

Yes - it is time.

For another.

AceEebie Music Production!

I'm hoping to go to font this weekend, needs some planning.
If things work out, and conditions are good then I am going to

I just need to come up with a ticklist now!

I have lots of photos from CWIF and the peak on my facebook, but I cant link them from work.

I shall upload to flickr or the like and get some posted up on here soonish.


Friday 2 March 2012

Happy Birthday to me!

Cough...anyone at work going to say anything?

Nope just me then.

S'all good.

I wrote this in celebration

"He floated, looking out into the inky blackness of space for what seemed like an eternity. The comlink had died 3 days ago and since then the only suggestion of contact had been a single blinking light on the console, telling him that his oxygen was running out.

Across the porthole soared a majestic planet, crowned with rings of gold and purple. He had seen it before many times as his science ship had orbited gathering research about the planets atmosphere, and after the first awe inspiring experience it had soon grown to merely become another part of his environment that he glanced at from time to time. This time however, he pulled himself towards the window, aware that it may be the last time he got to see anything so beautiful again and drank in the size and grandeur of the galactic behemoth. The red light continued to blink.

After it had passed out of sight he pushed himself back to his seat, and considered his options. Of course, since he had been out of contact for days, the space research centre located in the nearby system would be looking for him. But as the craft had only power for a weak localised homing signal, the chances of them finding him were slim to none. He knew this.
Even so, he checked the signal was transmitting and tried to conserve energy.

Slipping into unconsiousness wasnt a bad way to go anyway, at least there wasn't any pain. He had heard of a troop of scientists and marines who had landed on one of the planets, only to discover that the ground gave way to reveal a lake of fuming acid, cloaked by a thin film of impenetrable dust. Suffocation was the best of a bad job compared to that."

I may continue, I dont know. Anyone feel like a critique of that start?

I am all busted up from sport. nothing seems to be going particularly smoothly recently, maybe going to the peak this weekend, but then again, maybe not since the weather is looking a bit shite.

Time for lunch.

Also, Easter would be nice in spain.
Summer in SA

I need to get to doing some fucking training though, I feel like I have barely even been climbing at all.

I have been enjoying htis song though, so that is good.