hope you’ve been well

I feel like this has become a common opener in emails in recent times. Hello, hope you’ve been well… Usually it’s work emails to/from other companies, and usually it’s a supplier that I need to ask about something, and I haven’t corresponded with them in a while. Sometimes the supplier is interstate, in a state that has recently had severe weather or a wave of virus, or some other event that has made the headlines.

It just seems polite to show some concern. My usual contacts also use it when starting a new correspondence with me, so it goes two ways. But I’m pretty sure people didn’t always do this. Or maybe they did, but it didn’t mean as much as it does now. Maybe the pandemic made people more compassionate or something.

For the record, yes, I have been well. I have been very absent from this blog, and I’ve been keeping busy with other things, but I always intended to come back.

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to replay or not to replay

Usually when I finish reading a book, and I’m considering how much I liked it, I ask myself if I’d read it again. If a book has a profound impact on me, I’ll say with certainty that I want to reread it one day. (Whether or not I actually get around to rereading it is another matter altogether.)

There are a lot of books that I want to reread, but I never reread a book immediately after finishing it. At most, I might flick back through the book to revisit certain parts, but I know I must move on to another book before restarting the journey. The idea is to leave enough time between readings to allow some forgetting of events so that it can be experienced anew.

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the end of an epic

Last week-end, I finished playing Mass Effect 3. It is the final instalment in a trilogy of video games, which I would attempt to summarise here except that I’m not sure where to start, and I’m sure there are better explanations already on the internet. In basic terms, it’s a game in which you play as a character named Shepard, who has to save the galaxy from various evils.

It is very much like a “choose your own adventure” book but in game form — at various points in the game, you have to make decisions that will affect what happens next or what happens further along in the game. Even when your Shepard talks to other characters, you choose between different dialogue options to shape your character as more friendly (paragon) or mean (renegade). I suppose this makes it very easy to become personally invested in the game, as it feels like a unique experience shaped by your own choices, which are likely made based on what you would do if you were in Shepard’s situation. 

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home time

I was going to write a post to round up the year, and lead into the next one, but it feels like there has already been so much contemplating, reflecting and philosophising throughout this entire year, that maybe one more is superfluous. I think it is normal to see a surge in these reflective posts on the blogosphere around this time of the year, which is completely fine, but I think I’ll leave it to other bloggers.

As I started writing the previous draft of this post, I realised that there were only a few things I wanted to mention.

First, that it would be wonderful if I could just stay at home all day, like I have been over this long week-end, and just learn things (piano and Russian being the main subjects of study at the moment, along with the Napoleonic wars, which I’m inadvertently learning about from reading War and Peace). But, alas, one must have an income to support these hobbies (not to mention sustain life), so I’ll be back at work tomorrow.

Second, is that my partner has got me back into computer games. I haven’t played — as in, properly played — a video game of any sort for a very, very long time. Those little mini games or apps don’t count, and I don’t play those anyway (there are no games on my phone). I think good games need good storylines with interesting characters in order to captivate me, and make me feel like I’m not wasting time. The ones I’ve been started on — Dragon Age: Origins; and Spec Ops: The Line — certainly deliver on intriguing stories.

Initially I felt incredibly uncoordinated with the controls, having become unaccustomed to the movements of gameplay, but I’d like to think I’ve gradually gotten better. Yes, I’m playing on the easiest settings, but it’s challenging enough for me. Besides, if it was too hard, I wouldn’t have energy to appreciate the stories.

And so, as we approach the end of a year that most would probably rather forget (or bury as far down in the depths of memory as possible), I think ending on a quiet note is not a bad idea.