On Baldness.

I used to hate getting haircuts.

Now I shave my head every few months.

I hated it with a fury that is hard for me to explain. I did not like it at all. The whole experience. The glasses being taken away. The silence. Or the conversation. (Both are bad.)

The first time I shaved my head (voluntarily; I won’t go into the many Tirupati trips) was March, last year. I don’t quite remember why. I was frustrated. And I didn’t want to deal with it. I had no control over the situation, so I desperately did at least one thing I could do that was in my power.

I hated going alone, too. Usually went with father. And usually got a Frankie or something as a treat after. It was… tolerable.

The second time was less thought. It had all grown back and I didn’t like how it was. So instead of fixing it, I just took it all off again. Was there a third time? I think so. Same reason. And yesterday was the fourth time.

The barber in the hostel is pretty nice.

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On Swearing.

I don’t like it when people swear unnecessarily. By unnecessarily I mean anything on the order of “that was fucking awesome!” at something middlingly interesting, or “fuck off” to mean “shut up” or… you get the point.

My reasons? Well, because it devalues the force of you swearing. If you’re the kind of person who says “fuck” every few sentences, it’s going to be very hard for people to differentiate an emotional, forceful expletive from all the “background” ones. I don’t swear, right, so if I do ever say “fuck” in an even slightly serious context, the people I’m with take it very seriously. Immediately. I say “shut the fuck up” and they shut the fuck up alright.

I don’t mean to say you’re wrong if you swear a lot though. This cannot be either right or wrong. All a matter of taste and utility.

However, I seem to take quite perverse pleasure in characters in books or movies or series who swear. A lot. My recent favourite is Malcolm Tucker, from the highly recommended The Thick Of It. Here are a few selected quotations:

FUCK’S SAKE! JESUS CHRIST! Well, now we’ve got another fucking adjective to add to fucking ‘smug’ and ‘glum’, haven’t we? ‘FUCKING RETARDED!’ Do you think it would not just be germane to check who you’re talking to? IT’S A FUCKING NEWSPAPER OFFICE! IT’S NOT A FUCKING SANATORIUM FOR THE FUCKING DEAF! ARE YOU SO DENSE?! AM I GONNA HAVE TO RUN AROUND SLAPPING BADGES ON PEOPLE WITH A BIG TICK ON SOME AND A BIG CROSS ON OTHERS SO YOU KNOW WHEN TO SHUT YOUR GOB AND WHEN TO OPEN IT?! JESUS CHRIST, THAT’D PROBABLY CONFUSE YOU AS WELL, WOULDN’T IT? THAT’D BE TOO CONFUSING, YOU’D SEE THE CROSS AND GO ‘OH, FUCK, X MARKS THE SPOT! I’D BETTER TELL THIS LITTLE PERSON ABOUT THE PRIME MINISTER’S FUCKING CATASTROPHIC ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION!’ Oh, but not to worry, not to worry. You’ve sent fucking Olly over there to deal with it. FUCKING OLLY! HE’S A FUCKING, HE’S A FUCKING KNITTED SCARF, THAT TWAT! HE’S A FUCKING BALACLAVA!

You breathe a word of this to anyone, you mincing fucking CUNT, and I will tear your fuckin’ skin off, I will wear it to your mother’s birthday party and I will rub your nuts up and down her leg whilst whistling Bohemian fuckin’ Rhapsody, right? Now get out of my fucking sight!

Come the fuck in or fuck the fuck off

I quite enjoyed those. I don’t know why exactly.

Specifically, I don’t know if I like it because of the context it’s spoken in and thus because of the excellence of the story, or because I don’t swear myself and so this is like some sort of weirdo post-deprivation wish fulfilment thing.

I’m leaning more towards the first. Because everything I’ve seen that could be considered crass also had quite nice stories. That said, I’ve never (as far as I remember, anyway) given up something profane because of the story, so I don’t know.


On Treasure.

Treasure Planet will always be a special movie to me. I watched it first a very long time ago, when I was rather little. Maybe 10 years old. I liked it for a few reasons. I had just recently read a comic version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, on which this movie was loosely (but also surprisingly thoroughly when not loosely) based. I also fell in love with this idea of building upon a story. I used to think of stories as immutable objects that were told. After this, I made up my own stories set in worlds that I had read about. Or invented worlds for characters I liked. I don’t think I can go so far as to say my love of science fiction stems from this movie, but it sure didn’t hurt!

The movie didn’t do too well at the box office, or so Wikipedia tells me. It’s a pity really. The story is quite good, both the original and what they’ve done with it. It has two of the best songs ever. Tangent:

I’m Still Here, and Always Know Where You Are. Those are the two songs. The first plays over a montage that shows Jim and Silver bonding like father and son, and the second plays over the credits. I fell in love with these songs the instant I heard them. I wanted so badly to listen to them again, but I was young and this was before I knew about the internet. So I used to wait for the Disney channel to air the movie. I watched it every single time it did. After my fifth or sixth viewing, I thought I would record it. Mother had just got herself a fancy (by 2003 standards anyway) phone with a camera that takes videos. So I recorded the end credits one time. It was awful. I loved it. I listened to that racket for hours on end.

When I did find out about the internet, I still didn’t know I could get these songs. I didn’t know what they were called. I don’t think I knew what Wikipedia was. So one time, while I was in an Internet cafe for no real reason, I googled “treasure planet songs” until I found a website where I heard it playing. I was so happy. I didn’t know how or even if I could download it. I just listened. It sounded so crystal clear and perfect.

These songs have played quite important roles in my life. They sum up so many emotional events so succinctly. Even their titles invoke such deep memories — I’m Still Here. Whenever I mean that, when I talk to someone, I capitalise those words.

Why am I writing about this? I just watched it again. For what is probably the fifteenth time ever, but the first time in years. And I’m currently looping over the montage with I’m Still Here.

Nostalgia. Sigh.


On the lack of regular updates here.

I should write more often. I want to. But, to be honest, I’m not sad or lonely or empty enough (or happy or excited or giddy enough) to. I need some non-neutral emotion fuelling my writing.

Why am I writing this? Good question. I suppose I feel guilt. Someone read my blog yesterday and all they read was the umbrella post. Call it hubris if you will, but I want that person to have been able to read something better. Or longer.

Have I not been up to much? On the contrary. I’ve been up to loads. Or at least, enough that I will find it a chore to document now that the excitement has worn off. I won’t tell you just yet because I don’t want to leave you hanging. More on this, hopefully, later.

Anyway. What to do now? I don’t know. Let’s see.


On Umbrellas.

Yesterday, I was walking back to my hostel when it suddenly began to rain. I pulled out my umbrella and carried on walking. After about five minutes, I noticed no one else around me had an umbrella. I was the only one that I could see. In the ten minutes it took to get to my room, I saw exactly one other person, an old man on a bicycle, with one.

I always have my umbrella with me. Why? Because an umbrella is an easy thing to always have with you.


On Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy

I used to believe in the Tooth Fairy. Not Santa Claus though. I’m not quite sure why. I remember when I lost my first tooth, or maybe my second, I put it under my pillow before I fell asleep. Next morning, tooth still there, no money. So the tooth fairy was not real.

That literally was what happened. I concluded that she didn’t exist, and calmly shrugged it off. The first time I heard of Santa Claus was in a fairly sceptical environment, so I must have vaguely felt that he wasn’t real anyway. But the tooth fairy was different. I was as naive as they make them, and I simply assumed it was true, without even thinking about. And of course I threw away that assumption easily.

I don’t quite know why I’m writing this. I’m watching Modern Family and someone happened to mention the tooth fairy and all these random memories came rushing back to me.

Wouldn’t it be so nice if we could put on and throw away ideas and beliefs as easily as that?

This was #… ah forget it. No more counting. I’ll talk about this next.


On learning by tinkering, part 2.

There is always a profound sadness associated with the end of anything, be it a book, a tv show, a year, or an era. Projects are no different. And now that I’m done with my game (I can proudly christen it v1.0) I am incredibly sad. Bordering on depressed, even. I cleaned my room (I keep it dirty just to have things to clean when I’m like this). I rearranged everything. I brushed my teeth. I made an OS X build of my game, and then a Windows one. I don’t have Linux. I got a guy to mop my room down. I paid him with the surprisingly plentiful change hidden in books and crannies in my room. I sat down. I looked at the screen, with Sublime Text (my newfound favourite text editor) staring back at me blankly. I closed the laptop, and asked my mother how to clean a mug. I didn’t have detergent, is liquid hand wash okay? I cleaned my mug. I had five or six mugs of tea yesterday. I spent 14 or 15 hours at the computer yesterday. Coding, looking things up, making mistakes, fixing mistakes. Learning.

Having fun.

I just spent the last fifteen minutes looking at the pictures my code generates. My code. (Knot atlas’s knots, but still!). There’s something mesmerising about losing yourself in your work. Music helps too, and I have Broke for Free playing right now. They’re on Bandcamp. Have I mentioned Bandcamp is awesome? It is.

I am nowhere near done yet. Oh no. This is just v1.0. This shall be a very ongoing project. I have oodles of ideas for game modes. Arpit had a brilliant idea, too, but I need to math it out to see if I can implement it or not.

What now? A log. Of retroactively named versions of my game. Thank you for reading.

v0.0
Idea is nebulous. Kawauchi shows us his game and I think about it for the next few days. I don’t quite know when exactly I wanted to make it. But I began doodling in class once. I drew the tiles I would go on to use in the actual code. I figured out how to convert arc representations into matrices. I stopped doodling.

v0.1
I find cocos2d and make the bare bones display window appear. I muck about till I get a hardcoded arc representation to become a diagram.

v0.2
I’m home now, and I’m back to doodling. This time it’s to toggle the crossings. I spend a full day thinking about it. I code it in one go the next day. Now the hardcoded knot toggles. I have one level of my game. It’s boring.

v0.3
The episode with Knot Atlas. I yanked 250 representations from their website. I wrote some code to go back and forth between knots. I changed from the “over/under” images for the crossings to “on/off”. And these are assigned randomly, to improve replayability.

v0.4
Squashed a bug I didn’t realise was there that had to do with duplicate regions being spat out by my code. Now is neat. Also the outside is now a region.

v0.5
Now I’m in Roorkee. There’s no internet. I can’t update/jailbreak my phone to put my game in it. Impatient. I begin coding it from scratch in Python. Find Tkinter, which I subsequently fall in love with. Rapidly get it up to speed, to v0.4 in one day. Or maybe two.

v0.6
I learn more Tkinter stuff. I make more windows. And buttons. And victory screens. I send the code to people. They either can’t or don’t want to play it. No matter, I try making it better.

v0.7
Changed a function that was updating every 0.1 sec into a static thing that checked only when something happened. Huge speed increase. Cool. Put in a help screen. Helpful help screen. Polish code a little bit.

v0.8
Added a counter that told you how many moves you’ve made so far vs. what the minimum is. Took a while to code. This was what I was doing yesterday. Made the counter slightly fancy with colours and stuff. Gave you the option to retry the same random seed, or to try a different seed.

v0.9
Got bored and added a Cheat button that shows you exactly which regions you need to tap in order to win. This is for when you’re too frustrated with a level or when you simply don’t believe the minimum number. Also, this is a wonderful gauge of difficulty. A 1, 2, or 3 turn level is incredibly easy and a 7, 8, or 9 turn level is deliciously hard. I love playing them. Can lose myself for hours.

v1.0
Used py2app to make an OS X app. Used py2exe to make a very messy Windows executable with a bunch of junky windows dlls and what not.

Roadmap?
Shall use py2objc to make an iOS app. When I eventually jailbreak my phone I shall get it on there.
Should probably care about Linux. But eh, they can build from source.
Write some code that goes through ALL the combinations for all the knots and sorts them by minimum turn required. Each knot has an average of say 12 crossings, and there are 249 knots, so that’s at least 1,000,000 levels. Yes, a million.

Jesus, a million.

Game modes. Like a time limited one. Or to get to a particular configuration. Or loads more. More info when I get down to coding them.

If you’ve read this far, you’re hopefully interested in the game. So here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/buzllp03yxp6a03/Source.zip

That contains the image tiles used to generate knots, the plist containing the codes I took from Knot Atlas, and the Python script itself. You’ll need Python 2.7 installed on your computer for the script to run. Leave all the various files inside the same folder. And you’re good to go!

Do let me know what you think. If you read the source, don’t hesitate to tell me all the ways I code horribly. Must get better.