Inch by Inch — Day 3

Always strive to become your best self. I’m attempting to improve in 10 areas at the same time. Check out my introduction post to see what it’s all about.

Daily Habits ☀️

📖 Reading

Today I finished reading The Black Tides of Heaven. I thought the latter half was a bit better than the first half. It explored some of the mechanics of the world a bit more, and we were finally introduced to technology, which I’d been waiting for since I knew this was classified as a silkpunk novella.

Overall, I think the main problem with this novella was that it was far too short, and would’ve been served better as a novel at least two or three times this length. There were pacing issues because the novella covers thirty-five years in the life of the main character, so the plot felt disjointed as we jumped around. Relationships felt rushed, especially romantic relationships, because there wasn’t any time for them to be developed. There was also sorely missed backstory on the cultures and conflict of that world.

I would say that the book was well-written and there were definitely a few lovely sentences. The Mother was also an interesting antagonist and I would’ve liked to see more of her perspective. I will probably read the companion novella too just because it’s short and I want to see what happens to the main characters, so stay tuned for that.

✏️ Writing

I wrote 283 words of fiction. I decided to feature twin tiger hook swords, which are my favorite kind. I like their unique design and versatility.

Just look at how many sharp edges there are.

I also wrote a journal entry, a daily thought about discipline, a book review, and this post.

🎨 Drawing

I started sketching out the shape of a dolphin. I was deciding between various angles, but went with the classic croissant-shape of a dolphin leaping out of the ocean.

💻 Side project

Today I finished this paper. Most of the bots that the paper tries are extremely simple and would not work against a decent player. The most viable algorithms that it uses are Q-Learning, Pruned BFS, and Minimax. In a simple simulation, the algorithms that performed best were One Turn Lookahead and Pruned BFS.

The problem with using the Minimax algorithm with a Pokémon game is that it assumes that the opponent acts in their best interest, and then finds the best move to counteract the opponent’s move. Except that sometimes it’s very difficult to predict what an opponent would do and there are certain psychological factors at play that would cause them to play more safely or more aggressively. The best move to counteract the opponent’s best move might fare poorly against other possible moves the opponent could make.

🎮 Pokémon VGC

I played four battles today and won all of them. My first battle with a new team was characteristic of how important positioning is. After the first turn, both of my active Pokémon were knocked out. After the second turn, my two remaining Pokémon were both at low health. But at that point, I had a Xerneas fully set up and so I then proceeded to sweep my opponent and win.

🇯🇵 Japanese

I did my reviews on WaniKani and a singular review on Bunpro. Because I finished all my lessons on Bunpro for the N5 level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test about a week or so ago, my review load has decreased significantly on the platform. It uses a Spaced Repetition System (SRS), which means that the gap between each review gets longer with each consecutive correct answer.

🇨🇳 Chinese

I did my daily reviews on Anki. I learned a bunch of new words today, one of which is 非常, which means ‘extremely’ or ‘very.’ The character 非 means ‘not’ and the character 常 means ‘frequently’, so ‘not frequently’ equates to ‘very’. It almost seems like the opposite meaning to what the components would suggest.

🏃 Exercising

I did some walking on a treadmill and used the equipment at the gym.

📸 1 Second Everyday

Took a second of my bedroom after I lay down on my bed for a brief rest and my body just decided to turn off, causing me to nap for four hours and miss my yoga lesson.

Rabbit Hole 🐰

Where I celebrate and shame my wayward wanderings on the internet.

Today I followed the conclusion to the Chess World Championship, in which the defending champion Magnus Carlsen successfully defended his title against by winning the tiebreaks.

Despite barely knowing the rules of the game, I find elite chess interesting, especially the dichotomy between positional and tactical players. In simple terms, tactical play is characterized by short-term attacks and requires calculations, while positional play is focused on long-term strategy by gaining and exploiting small advantages, and on analyzing the larger position. Of course, grandmasters need to be masters of both and can adjust depending on the position, but if there are several possible moves without any particular one being better than the other, then that is when a player can show a preference for a certain style of play.

Here’s a fun video about how to play chess in four dimensions! So you know what game Trump was playing.

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