A Call to Honk.

Friends.  Family.  People who I talk to on Facebook but not in real life.  Blog browsers.

We face today a seemingly insurmountable problem.  Every day tempers are lost and days are ruined over this serious issue.  People yell and hit things and kind of act like a-holes.  Incredulous shrugs are shared with friends and coworkers and swear-words are launched, missile-like, from spluttering, slathering mouths.

I speak, of course, of rush hour.  A problem, of course, exacerbated by what is actually, of course, the insurmountable problem I originally referred to.  Bad drivers.

I’ve been ruminating on this very serious issue for a very long two-months of being a life-hating commuter, and I flip flop between what the appropriate response to bad drivers is.

The first option is to treat every driver on every road like a 16-year old tourist.

Is someone trying to move from the left lane to the right hand exit in a sixteenth of a mile?  They have never been here before!  Slow your roll and let them through!

Is there a giant SUV that just sped up to at least two times the speed of traffic in order to ensure that they could merge in front of you in a stand still instead of the person behind you?  It’s just a kid!  They probably forgot which pedal was which!  It’s safer to have them in front of you!  How lucky that they made that mistake right before they changed lanes!

Did someone just skip two miles worth of stand still traffic to budge into your lane at the last minute?  Let’em in.  They have probably had their blinker on for miles and they didn’t have the confidence to merge until it was almost too late.

This is clearly the kind option.  But it’s also the same old defensive driving bullshit that we were fed by our driving teachers back in high school, and, friendsicles, I gotta break it to you, that shit has its limit.

Now, before all you a-hole drivers think that I’m about to condone swerving from lane to lane, speeding like a maniac and cutting people off, slow your roll.  Because what I’m actually advocating a balance.  You know what would be awesome?  If people drove like a team instead of like a bunch of individuals, because we kind of sort of make a loosely organized team when we’re all in the same place at the same time.  Your goal, as a car, should not be to always stay ahead of everyone around you.  Your goal should be to make sure that traffic stays at approximately the same speed for as long as all of us are stuck on the roads with each other.

This, friends, is why what I advocate for is honking.  Every single time someone does something stupid, lay on your horn and if you are lucky enough to make eye contact with the person you are honking at, make a genuinely puzzled and judgmental “What are you doing face?”

Because we all know that you’re not supposed to cross white lines.  We all know that you cannot drive on the shoulder.  We are all pissed that we just waited in a line of cars that was not moving for 45 minutes because people like you decide to “improve traffic flow” by not getting into the lane they need to be in until the most inconvenient moment for the people who are already in that lane.  Merge when it’s not going to make anyone brake, not right before you need to exit, losers.  We all know that the left lane is a passing lane, not a “I exit this way in five miles and am uncomfortable going faster than 10 less than the speed limit” lane.

Why honking, you ask.  Honking is annoying and counterproductive and leads to noise pollution, you say.

Well.  Because I think we should honk at people who deserve it.  That dude who totally cut you off for no reason?  He knows he did something wrong.  That lady who is tailing you like a maniac and is probably going to rear end you the moment you take your foot off the accelerator?  She’s being a jerk.

And you have the means to TELL THESE PEOPLE that they suck with one push of a (sometimes very difficult to push) button.  So you should do that.  Because it embarrasses people.  Sometimes it also makes people mad, but mostly, in my not super informed opinion, it makes people stop (or swerve) at least for a moment.

And maybe, just maybe, if enough of us honk at each other to call out our shoddy driving, we’ll be able to graduate to Japan-level highwaycommunication in which we do adorable things like flash our hazards at people as a way of saying “Thanks for letting me into your lane.  We make a good commuter team, you and me and everyone else on this highway.”

I don’t mean to harp on the whole commuting thing, but it has only recently become a part of my life and, dudes, it sucks.

Especially because all y’all suck.  And I am going to honk at every single one of you and make you feel bad because you deserve it.  And I also deserve it if I do something stupid.  Which I don’t because I’m an awesome driver and, like, follow the law and shit.

Flashing hazards at each other will be effing adorable!  We might get there!

(THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I HAVE GOALS TO BLOG ON CERTAIN DAYS AND ACTUALLY FOLLOW THROUGH.  RIDICULOUS BLOGS ENCOURAGING PEOPLE TO HONK AT EACH OTHER.  #HOORAH)

Habit RPG

So anyone who has spoken to me in real life in the last week should probably not bother reading this, because it is just going to be me writing about the only thing I’ve said to anyone for the last week.  Although I’m also including pictures, so if you were not just pretending to think that Habit RPG seems sorta cool, READ AWAY.

There is this to-do manager that I backed on Kickstarter almost two years ago called Habit RPG.  As the profoundly nerdy, not-very-good-at-doing-stuff-unless-it’s-fun kind of person that I am, I immediately knew it was something that I needed to back and would use obsessively the moment it came out.

Now, I think we can all agree that one of the most important features of any to-do manager these days is cross-device compatibility.  Unfortunately for me, Habit RPG decided to not prioritize creating an app for Windows phones and since I had one I couldn’t use this app that I had backed and was super excited about for TWO YEARS.  I don’t go on my computer every day.  So Habit RPG fell to the wayside.

Unfortunately, the fact that I’m using it now only means that I got an Android, not that Habit RPG is on Windows yet.  Hopefully they’ll change that itnf, because I HEART WINDOWS PHONES and will probably get another one some day and would hate to have to stop using Habit RPG again when that happens.

ANYWHO.

Habit RPG incentivizes habits, to-dos and goals through the very relatable format of a classic role playing game.  It’s adorably 8-bit and very bare-bones, which I personally really like.  When you start your account you fill in three kinds of tasks: 1) Habits 2) Dailies and 3) To-Dos.

Observe:

Screenshot_2014-12-27-14-26-16

Habits can be assigned positive values for things that you want to do (like flossing), negative values for things you don’t want to do (like biting your nails) or both for the ones that can go either way (eat healthy/eat junk food).  As you get better about your habits, their rewards decrease, which is GENIUS because if your only motivation for doing something is the amount of gold you receive (imaginary or no) your motivation will eventually flag.  Additionally, the penalty for not following through on a habit is negative health points, which is a much more serious penalty than losing some gold.  Much as I like my gold and need it to buy cool new weapons and clothing, my health bar is much more important.

Screenshot_2014-12-27-14-26-28

Dailies are things that you want to do every day (or once every Monday, or every Tuesday and Thursday etc. etc.)  If your daily isn’t assigned for the current day it is grayed out.  At the end of the day every daily that you don’t accomplish counts as negative health points.  So sometimes you wake up to a dead character.  Luckily, this only means a lost level, piece of equipment and less gold.  Unluckily, it’s always a random piece of equipment, so you can lose some pretty cool stuff.  It’s a good incentive to at least check off a few things, even if you can’t do it all.

Screenshot_2014-12-27-14-27-17

To-dos are exactly what they sound like.  You can sort them into different categories (in browser mode, not mobile mode), so you don’t have to be distracted by personal tasks when you’re at work or vice versa.

You’ll notice that there are a lot of different colors going on in the above screen shots.  The base-color for every task is yellow.  If you do it a lot it starts to turn green and then blue.  If something stays on your to-do list for a long time or if you’re really bad about checking off one of your dailies it starts to turn orange and then red.  The more red something gets, the more points you get for accomplishing it, which doesn’t work as motivation for putting stuff off, because you’re rewarded pretty well for checking things off as you do them.  The extra gold does work as a good motivator to do things you’ve been avoiding, though.

 Screenshot_2014-12-27-14-27-33

Rewards are purchased with the gold that you get from accomplishing tasks.  They can be real-world rewards (like watching an episode of a favorite tv show) or in-game rewards (like weapons and new outfits).  I have only used my gold to buy in-game rewards so far.  (You’ll also notice that there are some weird effing things to buy in that screenshot.  Those are linked to a couple challenges that I am a part of.  I just tried buying a free spirit (for the benefit of you, my loyal readers) and nothing happened.  So.  That was a waste of some of the gold coins I was saving up for the Winter-Lit Staff.  Whatever.  An imaginary free spirit was totally worth it. /sarcasm)

I do genuinely find Habit RPG really helpful, though.  It might be a little too bare-bones for the to-do portion (I like to be able to very precisely sort my to-dos), but it is, so far, an incredibly powerful motivator for me to do do dailies and habits.  I’m still feeling out how to differentiate between my habits and dailies, because I think there are a lot of things that could fit in either list.  Different people will probably use those two features in their own unique ways, and I think that the flexibility in those two categories is part of what makes Habit RPG so awesome.

I also love it because I’m waiting for the day when my boss comes in, sees Habit RPG pulled up on my computer and tries to yell at me for playing a game.  THE GAME OF LIFE, FOO.

Aaaaand this is me with my new winter themed mage (you can also be a warrior, healer or rogue) clothes and an albino panda:

aurora me with white panda

If anyone wants to join Habit RPG and be in a guild with me, that would be AWESOME.  I could use a healer and a rogue and a warrior to hang out with.

There is a whole social aspect to Habit RPG that I havent had the chance to explore yet because so far none of my friends think this is nearly as cool as I do.  Look for me.

I’m Hollissima.  I’ll be the one with Holly for hair.  I might be riding a mantis shrimp. Y’know. Like mages do.

Car Meditation

A blog that I read suggested using your commute as a time to meditate.

Since I am a new member to the commuter community, I decided to give it a shot.  After all, anything has to be better than flipping through radio stations, wishing my Buick (oh for Summer-Saabing) had a more accesible horn, and being constantly amazed at how terribly so many people drive.  There are only so many times that I can say, “If you’re going to be a dick, I’m going to be a dick” to cars that deserve dickishness.

So.  Meditation.

The blog I read suggested meditating during your commute by focusing on driving.  Y’know, take a few deep breaths before you start your car, be aware of your feet on the pedals and your hands on the steering wheel, take in your surroundings as you drive through sight and sound and touch and WALA arrive to work refreshed.

I made it about fifteen minutes, which I think is pretty good for someone who doesn’t really meditate.

But dudes.  Driving is stressful.  I’m trying to quietly take in my surroundings and there is an ocean of red, glaring taillights in front of me.  I’m trying experience looking through my windshield and some fool cuts off two lanes of traffic because they had to drive in the left lane until his exit was thirty feet away.  When you’re required to be mindful of stressful stimuli, it inherently becomes a more stressful experience.

Today I started using a new app called “Stop, Breathe & Think”.  Part of the guided meditation it took me through told me to be aware of any uncomfortable feeling in my body.  To be aware of it, acknowledge that it exists, and then to let it go.

Which makes me think that maybe, just maybe that is how I was supposed to do the car meditation.  Perhaps I was supposed to see the terrible drivers around me and forgive them their terribleness.  To see them disrespecting every other person on the road in their quest to get home five minutes sooner and to let them be.  Yes, their actions impacted the amount of time it took me to get home, but that didn’t have to change anything else about me.  I see.  I recognize.  I shrug.

That’s actually definitely what I was supposed to do.  But for serious, the stimulus of a thousand bright red taillights was too much for me.  I would rather just devote the minimum necessary brain power to driving while spending most of my brain energy listening to my podcasts.

Which makes it sound like I’m an irresponsible driver.  I swear I’m not.  Unless we’re in a gridlock I always have a couple car lengths between myself and the car in front of me.  I let people in when they use their blinkers.  I use my blinkers.  I don’t change lanes in the middle of an intersection.  When traffic is bad I get into my exit lane at least a mile before my exit so as not to cause issues for everyone else.  I am aware of the cars around me.

I just don’t see the benefit to spending an hour and a half every being mindful about how much what I’m doing sucks.

I think I’ll stick to podcasts, thankyouverymuch.

(This is me throwbacktuesdaying to the kind of blogging I did in high school.  No edits.  Just a me talking about whatever I’m thinking about.  #fascinating)