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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


2014 New Year Goals.

One of my favorite bloggers, Chris Guillebeau, does an annual review that I have found kind of inspiring.  Most of my favorite bloggers tend to suggest making goals for the New Year rather than resolutions, which is a helpful distinction for me.  It helps me create actionable plans for the next year rather than my usual wishy washy (or way too specific) goals…like “exercising more” or “reading one book every week”.  With resolutions I either have no idea where to start or I fall behind immediately and quit out of frustration.

Three is my number, so I set my goals this year in a system of threes.  First, I divided my life into three sections.  Each section is separated into three categories and I have three goals for each category.  I’ve bolded the goals so if you’re interested in what I’m doing, but not the specifics or the why you can skim.  Gawsh, I’m considerate.


Flowcharts are highly superior to lists. I learned this from Swedes in India.

I.  Passion
1)  Creativity
i.    Write lyrics song to the song Jeff sent me.  I like writing songs and finally have a springboard since I have no instrumental talent of my own.  Booyah.
ii.   Create nap time story blog.  I’ve started making up stories for my niece when I’m putting her down for naps.  Cataloging them in a blog would be a good way for me to practice writing fiction and might be fun to look back on later.
iii.  Paint the awesome painting in my head.  There is a painting I really want to make and have half created…in my head.  I would love to create it, but I want the appearance of oil paint and I’m used to acrylics and it isn’t my usual slap-dash experimental style.  I would actually need to do some planning, so it’s an intimidating project.
2) Travel
i.    South Africa for Isaac’s wedding.  I haven’t been to Africa since 2008 and who doesn’t love a wedding as an excuse to go somewhere new and beautiful?
ii.   Spend about a month in Panama.  (Read Path Between the Seas first)  I would love to do some outdoorsy stuff in Panama and evidently have a family member working out there. 
iii.  Teach English in South Korea for around six months.  Get paid to hang out with kids and see a new country?  Yeah, sure.  Sounds great.
3) Education
i.    Learn HTML and CS2  I am interested in getting into technical writing.  HTML and CS2 both seem to be necessary skills for technical writers these days.
ii.   Become conversational in Spanish by  year end.  Because I’m 25, monolingual and currently work in an industry where Spanish could get me better jobs.
iii.  Finish TEFL courses by mid-year.  I am not sure if I’m doing these yet, because it sounds like not all teaching abroad opportunities really care about TEFL certification, but dependent on a couple conversations I will have in the next few weeks, I would like to be certified around Easter, because I want to head to South Korea by May.

II.  Relationships
1)  Family
i.    Spend one-on-one time with every member of my family.  Because I love all my siblings and, strange as it sounds, I would like to get to know them all better.
ii.   Make sure that I give all of my nieces and nephews presents for their birthdays.  I am not always in Minnesota, so it can be easy to forget to get a gift for nieces and nephews when their birthdays come around.  Still, presents are really special when you’re little and I want to respect that.
2)  Friends
i.    Be intentional about doing things with friends instead of just grabbing coffee or drinks.  I love just hanging out with my friends, but I think it’s wise and fun to do interesting things with the people I like.
ii.   Figure out what qualities are most important to me in friends (a la AoM and Oprah, according to the google search I just did to find the AoM link) and be intentional about seeking out those qualities in new friends and realizing those qualities in old friends.
iii.  Give.  Love.  I think I’m pretty good about this already, but I haven’t been in Minnesota for a while and would just like to be especially aware about how I interact with the people I love.
3)  Self
i.    Play more.  I could stand to be a little less serious and a little more active.  Playing more would cover both of those bases.
ii.   Fix my super meaningful tattoo that Bridgeport Tattoo so kindly f-ed the f up out of a despicable sense tattoolitism.
iii.   Take the time to figure out what virtues are most important to me and be true to them.  Know thyself.  Or something.  (In all seriousness, in this last year I constantly found myself in situations where I did not feel like I was being true to myself, but I never had the certainty I needed to extricate myself.  I would like to cultivate that sense of certainty.)

III.  Adulthood
1)  Work
i.    Publish one story and one article.  Preferably a travel article.
ii.   Work out plans for Hot Cocoa Café and decide if it is a practical business.  Not to overlink the Art of Manliness or anything, but last year they did a fantastic post on Hot Cocoa.  It made me think about HOW MUCH FUN it would be to start a Hot Cocoa Café that specializes in all sorts of different kinds of hot cocoa, ranging from the bitter to the sweet, the classic to the current.  This year I’ll write up some design plans and toy around with the idea a bit just for funsies.  If I decide that it’s a practical business model, I’ll start seriously pursuing it next year.
iii.  Write a novel.  Preferably that futuristic Plato’s Cave thing that I started when I moved back to Minnesota.
2)  Money
i.    Pay off half of student loans.  (I might be changing this to 1/4 of my loans because for some reason I keep convincing myself that I only have $10k in debt when it’s really $20k.)
ii.   Start a savings account.  I’m a quarter of a century old.  It’s about time.
iii.  Invest in a new computer.  Especially since some of the learning stuff that I want to do (HTML and CS2, especially) are going to require a more modern OS.
3)  Home
i.    Keep the place where I am living clean.  No more living in filth would be nice.  And now that I would just be picking up after myself it seems much more manageable.
ii.   Research logistics on buying an income property.  Since I’ll be out of state for most of the year, I don’t think that I’ll get around to actually purchasing an income property yet, but it seems like a really good source of (mostly) passive income that would also allow for money-making while I was off doing other things.
iii.  Find an apartment.  Consider whether AirBnB would be practical when out of town.  Also decide if I want to live on my income property, too, or if the two should be separate.

That took a long time, so I am not going to edit it.  Doneskies.

What are your New Year goals/resolutions?  Do you prefer flow charts or lists?  Do you also plan on completely, wonderfully overextending yourself in 2014?  Did you know that writing questions at the end of blogs is actually SUPER FUN and kind of hard?  Because I kind of forgot most of what I wrote already.

Let’s Talk About School.

For those of you who are not aware, I am starting school again.  In the past four years I have attended four different colleges.

First, as a hopeful freshman, I attended Hofstra University.  I was going to double major in film and philosophy (after which I would become an ethicist and independent filmmaker), but the tuition freaked me out and the education level was reminiscent of my high school’s.  Granted, I went to an awesome high school, but college should be a step up, regardless.  My philosophy and math classes were especially bad and my religion class was hands down the easiest I’ve ever taken anywhere (although that professor was also one of the nicest I’ve ever had.)  My English and Latin professors were superb, but two out of five classes that meet expectations (is it wrong to have high expectations?) do not warrant the excessive pricetag.

Then, in the middle of a quasi- life panic-attack/depression I did what I said I never would and I went to the family school.  My mother, father, brother and sisters all attend(ed) North Park and I had no intention of doing the same, but sometimes when you’re under duress it’s easy to let people make decisions for you.  North Park is a good school.  I had some great teachers and took some interesting classes while I was there.  I would never go back.

I have recently decided that I might want to be a professor at a community college.  (Yes, Grantley, you thought I was joking, but I wasn’t.)  I was consistently impressed with the caliber of my teachers at Inver Hills, and, as a general rule I found that professors at my community college were more interested in creating and maintaining relationships with their students (Dluger [NPU] and Fichtelberg [Hofstra], you are exceptions to this rule as I found both of you to be extraordinarily, impressively invested in your students).

Honestly, I had really negative connotations regarding community colleges before I started, and I am still unnecessarily defensive about my education at Inver Hills (“I just wanted to finish really quickly”, “I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I wanted to get an AA under my belt.” etc., etc.), but in reality it was probably my best year of school.  I was very involved (theater, outdoors club, art club, and more) and I was positively challenged in most of my classes.  I would like to be a part of the education system that doesn’t get the respect that it deserves and continue providing students the opportunity to learn in a challenging environment even if they don’t have the resources that people who can attend a typical university for all four years do.

Now I am slotted to go to Shimer.  First, I should say that I am outrageously excited about this program.  It is a great books school, which means that our curriculum is centered around classic texts that scholars (and people in general) claim continue to be relevant, challenging and informative throughout history.  Classes are small and discussion oriented.  We meet around tables instead of in lecture halls.  And, wonderfully, although centered on the progression of Western thought (we do live in the United States, which is a part of the Western world, after all), Shimer seems to do a decent job of representing minorities in their curriculum, so we are not a Dead White Male focused school.  We study Flannery O’Connor, W.E.B. Dubois and others.

School is going to be awesome.

The problem that we have is this:

Or…more accurately, the fact that I don’t have that.

I was looking over my financial aid package today and despite Shimer’s generosity I am still screwed for coming up with tuition.  I will rack up $19,500 in loans over the three years I go there (it would be $6,500 less if they had maintained their initial claim that I only need to attend for two years) and, on top of that, I need to muster up $16,000 per year after financial aid.  That is $48,000 of upfront costs in three years.  Altogether (loans and immediate cost) I need to come up with $67,500.  This does not include books or living expenses.

I spent a lot of time looking and applying for scholarships today, but even when using fastweb and zinch I did not discover the overwhelming scholarship opportunities people say are out there.  A lot of the scholarships are oddly specialized (must be a member of the llama club?) and a lot are seasonal or scammy.  I don’t get how people do it.  Scholarships seem to average at $1,000…according to my calculations above that means that I would have to apply for and win SIXTY EIGHT scholarships.  While attending school.  And presumably working a job or two.  And not, evidently, having a social life.

Is a piece of paper and boxy hat really worth that much money?

I mean look at them.  They’re pathetic.

The problem is that now that now that I think I know what I want to do I also know that I need the education.  Becoming an educator mandates higher education, so any wiggle room that I used to have has been obliterated.  Still, I am putting $67,500 that I don’t have into a future that is not guaranteed.   I want to study Shimer’s reading list on my own and then Sparknotes the hell out of their curriculum and read other related commentaries if need be.  But the truth is that I think discussion and community, especially the kind that I’ll find at Shimer, are important.

I believe in the program that Shimer offers; I couldn’t justify a fraction of Shimer’s cost at another school, but because I believe so strongly in their program I have to do it.  It scares me because I hate debt, and dollar amounts that I cannot wrap my tiny middle-class brain around freak me out.  I have no idea how I will pay off the next three years.  I have no idea if I will be able to scrounge together the finances that I need to go on and get the Master’s degrees I want (religious studies, philosophy and/or literature, in case you were wondering).

This is me biting the bullet.

The Sabbath Quandary

Yesterday I got an email from a friend of mine.  She asked if I could meet her for lunch on Sunday so we could talk about the film festival we worked at last fall.  She was one of the integral volunteers at the festival, not quite a director, but probably one of the five most important people involved (we will call them the ‘Fly Five’ here on out). The festival could not have functioned without this friend. Now she wants to get my opinion on how the festival ran last year and how I want to be involved this year.

I do not, for a few reasons.

1.  I did not feel particularly needed or appreciated last year.  I was somewhere in between a run of the mill volunteer/flunky and the Fly Five), which basically meant that I worked more than other volunteers for less perks.
2.  The work that I did was the work that the Fly Five did not want to do, which is fact, not speculation, because they told me as much.  I took a lot of time out of my schedule to make sure that everything I did for them was exceptional, regardless. On the second to last day of the festival they told me that my work was not very important.
3.  Men.

I will keep you posted on that half of the story as it updates (if it is entertaining), but there was something more interesting in that first paragraph:

She wanted to meet on Sunday.

Background:  Recently, I decided to start doing two things that I did not even do when I was a hardcore, obnoxious, in your face, move-out-the-way variety Christian.

I have started tithing.  When I was young I did this as a formality.  Whenever I got birthday money or cash from babysitting or I would take 10% and put it into an envelope labeled “Tithes”, which was then meant to go to church or a charity I thought God would like. Somehow the money never made it from the envelope in my sock drawer into the offering basket.

I have also decided to observe Sabbath, which I have never done for more than five hours at a time (which does not count.)  My current plan is to not do anything work related on Sundays or use any technology.  This definitely covers computer and cell phone and I am pretty sure that I will extend the ban to television (and therefore movie theaters) and music players as well.  Cameras, I think, do not count.  Sabbath is midnight to midnight.

Reaction:  When I was trying to figure out how to respond to my friend, I realized that this will probably be a rather common occurrence.  I will get invitations to gatherings and meetings and I will have to turn them down on religious grounds.  Will I be honest about why I cannot attend meetings, see movies or make a little extra cash on Sundays, or will I hide the truth?

There are both religious and secular reasons to hide the truth.  “Do not let your left hand see what your right hand is doing” would be the religious reason.  The secular reasons are too many to name, but can probably be summarized in a word and a short phrase:  “shame” and “fear of seeming pretentious.”  It seems stupid to lie, though.  If Sabbath is important enough for me to clear my Sundays, it only makes sense that I am honest about it if it comes up.

This dilemma is new territory for me.

Religiously (spiritually, if you prefer) I have no idea where I stand.  I enjoy praying, especially the long thankful prayer that has become my morning standard and covers everything from sunshine to family, a nice bed and friends who care about me.  I do not read my bible often, but I read the devotional, My Utmost for His Highest (Oswald Chambers), that Vicki gave to me.  My dedication to that is great enough that every day I read the assigned entry several times, with highlighter and pencil in hand.

I do not think I am a religious (spiritual) enough person to have this issue, but that is probably why it is one.  I have the desire to explore further and have realized that I can do that through the Sabbath, but due to my uncertainty, I do not yet have the confidence to own that desire.

Concisely, I believe in my gut, but not in my head.  Oswald Chambers says this is ok.  Oswald Chambers is not God, but maybe God agrees with him.

The hope is that, like my prayers of thanksgiving, Sabbath will give me an opportunity to get a little bit closer to this big, invisible something that the me of my childhood loved.  The hours devoid of technology, worldly problems and money will be filled instead with prayer, church, introspection, conversation, and the reading of all sorts of religious texts and commentaries.  I am not limiting my Sabbath to Christianity.  I am limiting it to the big Something.


Here we are.  Another public journal that may or may not garner attention from friends and/or strangers alike.  Let’s begin:

Life has a funny way of pulling me along by the hair and bringing me to places I never expected (and sometimes wanted) to go.  Today is the first day of my digging in my heels and chronicling that, as well as reminiscing regarding the downfall that brought me here.

I will copy train journals and write new entries here.  It might be good.  It could be horrible.  It will be Holly, through and through.  The hope is that through these meandering entries inherently Holly postings will lead us to that Holly character we’ve convinced us we lost so long ago.  If we keep at this project with a sense of determination and focus, I think we’ll find her.

She couldn’t have possibly gotten that lost.