Mini Non-Video Game Guides

The Eerie World of Abandoned Arcade Games” –

Let’s face it: yesterday’s series of mini video game guides was likely unintelligible to the vast majority of my quantifiably minuscule readership. In an effort to write something that the masses–minute as they may be–will be able to appreciate, I’ve composed a series of guides concerning things that are not video games. As with the preceding post, I’ve prioritized brevity over clarity. And as with the video games I love to play, I don’t purport to be particularly skilled at the activities I discuss below:

  • Surfing
    • Most people are afraid of tipping forward as they start to slide down the wave and so shift their weight to the back of the board. This dramatically slows down the board and makes catching the wave all but impossible.
    • Waves break either to the right or left, from the perspective of someone facing the beach from the water. Proper surfing involves gliding over the face of the wave as it breaks (turns to whitewash) in one of these directions. Intermediate surfers will know that surfing “front-side” (toes facing the wave) is far easier than “back-side” (heels facing the wave). Novice surfers, in my experience, have no concept of this, and rarely make an intentional choice about going right or left on any given wave. Look at the wave, point yourself slightly left or right of perpendicular to shore based on where you think the wave is going to break and try to pick waves that let you go in the direction that corresponds with your front-side.
    • The majority of people learning to surf start out long-boarding (riding a round-nosed board between 8 and 10 feet) and most of those people eventually move to a short-board (pointy nose, typically between 5 and 6 feet). Something I hear all the time directed at beginners is that long-boarding is easier than short-boarding. This is not strictly true. Rather, there is a narrower subset of waves that can generate enough power to lift up a smaller board, and powerful waves are harder to surf in general. But riding a long-board on such waves is arguably harder than riding a short-board. So it’s not the type of board so much as it is the type of wave (slower, less-steep) that facilitates learning.
  • Guitar
    • Learn how to play a diatonic scale, then hole yourself up in a room and figure out how to play the melody of your three favorite songs. For each song, you will need to figure out what key the song is in (by ear or with the Google machine), figure out where the melody is (likely in the lead vocal), and patiently try notes in the scale until you’re able to replicate the melody on your own. Not only will this force you to get comfortable playing in the most common scale in Western music, it will also help you develop an expressive, fluid style when you start improvising.
    • Don’t find work-arounds when it comes to playing hard chords. The song will sound worse and you won’t get better at playing the hard chord. Unless you literally need to perform the song that day, hole up in your room again and drill the chord until it feels somewhat natural.
    • This might be a hot take, but 90% of learning guitar is listening to other guitarists. Do it, and when you hear something you like either rewind the track or, if it’s a person, try to get them to play it again and watch/listen carefully.
  • Cooking
    • Timing is everything. Know how long each ingredient is going to take to cook and stagger the start-times of each dish so that it’s all ready at the same time. Nothing is worse than pulling something off the stove that you totally nailed only to have it go limp and soggy twenty minutes later.
    • If you don’t know where to start, the following can always be made into a yummy, nutritious meal:
      • A protein
      • A leafy green (spinach, kale, chard, bok choy)
      • A crunchy vegetable (bell pepper, broccoli, brussels sprouts)
      • A starchy thing (rice, potato, pasta)
      • A yummy sauce
    • Get a good knife and take care of it. It will make the whole process easier, more fun, and the meal will likely taste better as 1) everything will be chopped more consistently and 2) faster chopping makes it easier to stick to your timing.
  • Cycling
    • Don’t ride a bike that doesn’t fit you. Your body will thank you.
    • You probably don’t need to buy a carbon-fiber bike.
    • You probably don’t need to buy another bike.
    • Find a route to ride that minimizes vehicle traffic; you will feel an invisible weight off your shoulders when the number of cars passing per hour drops below five.
  • Mountain Biking
    • All the same stuff about fit, carbon fiber, and not buying another bike.
    • If you don’t keep your weight centered over the bottom bracket (where the cranks connect through the middle of the bike) the bike won’t perform how it was designed to.
    • Ride what is fun to you, not what you think would look good in a YouTube video.
    • Get the right bike/tires for the trails near your house, not for the trails in those YouTube videos.
  • Coding
    • Once you learn the basics of how computers understand the kinds of commands you might give them, you can figure out how to do just about anything with enough Googling, creativity, and patience.
  • Falling Asleep
    • Audiobooks are great for this.
    • Try watching videos of people doing some hand-oriented task like cooking, carpentry, or building a clock with serene music in the background.
    • Find a routine and stick to it.
  • Puppy Ownership
    • I got nothing.

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