A Nomad in Skyrim – Day VIII

These pages are extracts from the diary of Adrian Caro, a nomadic Imperial who recently crossed the border into the harsh but beautiful province of Skyrim.

I awoke this morning with the most sublime feeling of contentment after the
most comfortable nights sleep since I arrived in Skyrim. Faendal had insisted
I sleep in his bed and, after I initially politely declined, I was very glad he
did. It was so comfortable in fact that, for the first time in a long while, I
slept without my clothes. When I somewhat reluctantly rose for the day Faendal
was nowhere to be seen, doubtless he had already gone to the mill, such is his
propensity for hard work. I stretched in the most satisfying manner, the house
was warm because of the crackling fire and Faendal had left me some cabbage
stew in the pot. I sat down to eat my stew, it was tasty and wholesome, sating
my appetite along with a carrot I had in my pack. I washed my breakfast down with
a bottle of water and decided to get dressed and see what the day had to offer.

All that wood-chopping seems to have given me a Hod-like physique (only a little leaner)

It was a fine day, brilliant rays shone down over the village as a cool morning
breeze played across my face. Riverwood always rose early, even the town drunk
Embry was at his usual station outside the Sleeping Giant. The children played
with a scruffy mutt and I was greeted kindly by a toiling Alvor as I walked by
on my way to the mill. As expected Faendal was chopping away at his customary
station. I told him of my restlessness and of my plans to soon leave Riverwood
behind. The news seemed momentarily to pique his curiosity but he frowned and
issued me a warning. “I understand, Riverwood may be a little sleepy but be
warned, you have seen the dangers that this land holds and bandits are the
least of them. This is not Cyrodil, all manner of beasts and men roam here,
not to mention the war you found yourself embroiled in.”

His words tempered my enthusiasm, he was right. I have been through a lot since
I arrived in Skyrim and I’ve hardly moved from this tiny village, I struggle to
imagine what hazards the wider country might present to me, he carried on.
“If a change of scenery is what you fancy then the city of Whiterun is half a
mornings walk from here, the road is not nearly as dangerous as most and there’s
always a lot going on there.” I had been planning to go to Whiterun next anyway
so this sounded like a great idea. I bid farewell to Faendal, telling him that
I’ll be back later on tonight and headed past the Sleeping Giant and out of
Riverwood. I had been in Skyrim for a week now, it was high time I visited one
of its major cities. I had carried out very little research before deciding to
come to Skyrim so I knew very little about the city, I do know that it favours
the empire over the rebellion however so I should be safe within its walls.

Such a lovely village, it is a shame I shall soon have to leave it

I crossed a small stone bridge out of the village, looking back on its pastoral
splendour before following the river north. After an hour or so of uneventful
walking I heard shouting, not angry shouting but what seemed to be cries of
revelry from around the bend. Rounding the corner I came across three men, each
holding tankards and looking very drunk indeed. I thought it rather peculiar
that three men were drinking by the roadside at eight o clock in the morning,
but it was hard not to be buoyed by their merriment. One of the revelers who,
judging by his attire, was a Nord farmer, approached me and said. “Hail, friend!
It’s good to see another merry soul enjoying this fine day. Ah, but you look
tired. Come, share a bottle of Honningbrew Mead with me!”

I’ve been to known to like my ale but drinking on the side of the road in only your underwear?! These Nords party too hearty for me!

Not wanting to dampen their mood and being rather thirsty, I accepted the mead.
I’ve been in Skyrim for a week now and drank ale or mead in the morning twice and I’m
beginning to think the Nord stereotypes about their drinking culture could
have a semblance of truth to them. Where else in Tamriel do the farmers party
by the roadside at all hours of the day? After downing their drinks the revelers
simply walked off down the road without another word, hopefully to do some
actual work, probably to get more mead. Shortly after I caught my first glimpse
of Whiterun though the trees and it was more magnificent than I had previously
imagined. In the midst of a wide open valley sat a sheer citadel, perched on
a rocky hillside. It’s uppermost roof reached into the heavens, topped with
carved wooden dragon’s heads. The rest of the city was arrayed beneath what
I knew to be Dragonsreach, the seat of Jarl Balgruuf, with small farms and lush
green fields outlying. It was certainly a far cry from Riverwood and I could
hardly wait to give it a closer inspection.

It becomes more magnificent each time I see it

I headed down to the valley floor, across a small stone bridge and past a rather
large building that according to the sign was the Honningbrew Meadery (and thus
solved the mystery of where the farmers went). Walking through a neighbouring
leek farm I recieved perhaps the biggest shock of my life. Sprawled across the
floor was the body of a giant! Weathered grey skin, colossal hands and feet and
carrying a bone that must have been four feet long. Whoever slayed this
monumental creature must have been a fearsome warrior or warriors indeed. I admit
to knowing little about giants, I heard rumours of their existence before coming
to Skyrim, but seeing one up close is truly breathtaking.

I can’t imagine picking a fight with a creature that has toenails the size of shovel heads

Deciding to leave my find before its bane returned I continued on my circuit
of Whiterun which, for reasons unbeknownst to me, has only one entrance. The
outer walls of the city were crumbling in places but still looked fairly
imposing and as I approached the entrance to the city numerous sentry towers began
to spring up all around, each with a guard in residence. After telling the guard
on the gate my business in Whiterun I was admitted to the city, after the sleepy
streets of Riverwood Whiterun was a revelation. Well-crafted buildings lined
the streets, outside the nearest of which was a female blacksmith hammering
away. All manner of people bustled about the streets, a lumberjack carrying
a pile of logs, children at play, guards in mail and with concealing steel helms.
I decided to set off exploring straight ahead and soon came to a marketplace
surrounded by shops and other establishments. While I was inspecting one of
the stalls something happened me that has not happened in a long, long time. I
became infatuated with a beautiful woman.

Her name was Ysolda, she was poorly dressed in a rather distressed looking dress
but her face and manner was kind and she possessed an elegance beyond her care-worn
appearance. As soon as I saw her my stomach began to churn unpleasantly and I
simply had to engage her in conversation. She was a friendly girl and talked to
me gladly, she confessed immediately that once she has made enough money trading
with the Khajiit caravans she is going to buy The Bannered Mare from a woman
named Hulda. We talked for a while about the Khajiit, Ysolda complaining at
length about how they are mistrusted in Skyrim, I agreed perhaps a little more
wholeheartedly than I would normally have. “Before my Ma and Da passed,” she
said. “I told them that one day, I would become the greatest trader in Skyrim.
I met one of the caravan leaders Ma’dran, he said he’d help me get started if
I could bring him a mammoth’s tusk.” I fought back a chuckle, how in Talos’
name was she planning on getting hold of a mammoth tusk, I’ve seen what herds
them and I certainly wouldn’t want to try and steal livestock from something
that wields a four foot club! I desperately wished I could help her but I just
could not see how I could and wished her luck then parted ways.

He’s really taken with this one it seems….

I decided to head to The Bannered Mare for a spot of lunch and spent the next
hour or so sat at the bar thinking of Ysolda. I felt like a teenager again,
obsessing over a girl, but I could not help it. I talked to Hulda the landlady
who confirmed that Ysolda was looking to buy her out and was served by a rather
attractive Redguard by the name of Saadia. After hearing some idle gossip from
Hulda and listening to the bard sing surprisingly similar songs to Sven back in
Riverwood I asked Saadia to fill up my water bottles and left to explore the city
some more.

The weather had changed little since I left Riverwood, the sun was still shining
and everyone in Whiterun seemed to be out to enjoy it. I climbed the steps into
the next district, passing a gang of children on the way and a man and woman in
the midst of a heated exchange. I subtly listened in for a few moments but it
soon began to sound dangerously like an opportunity for danger to strike, keeping
in mind all that had happened thus far I got out of there as fast as I could!
In a town square of sorts I came across a hooded preacher, stood under a large
stone statue that seemed to be the likeness of Talos.

How could anyone frown upon the worship of such a figure as Tiber Septim?

The preacher was a shady looking fellow and ranted passionately, if a little
distastefully. “Talos the Mighty! Talos the unerring! Talos the unassailable!
To you we give Praise! We are but maggots writhing in the filth of our own
corruption! While you have ascended from the dung of mortality, and now walk
among the stars!” Was his opening gambit, enough to catch anyone’s attention,
perhaps for all the wrong reasons. I am a firm believer in Talos though and
agreed with the priest, who I found to be named Heimskr, that the White Gold
Concordat was a disgrace on the part of the empire. Looking up at the statue of
Tiber Septim, lord of the gods, both in equal parts disturbed and inspired me.
The Thalmor must be a powerful force indeed to dissuade the empire from promoting
worship in such a glorious deity.

You might want to look a little less like you’re going to kill me and sacrifice me to your god…just saying.

Heimskr’s words and the statue made me question once again my beloved empire
and my beliefs. When I was a child the Concordat was only a few years old and
few people I knew took the ban seriously, that was until the Thalmor arrived.
I’ve never told a living soul of the events that caused me to wander as I do
now, I don’t think I’m quite ready to face them, not yet.

I spent the next hour or two simply wandering about the town, observing the
townsfolk and taking in the views of Dragonsreach and the magnificent mountain
ranges that surround the city. After speaking to a game trader named Onoriath
I decided to visit his and his brother’s shop, The Drunken Huntsman, for some
hunting supplies. Upon entering the shop I noticed a rather enigmatic looking
Dunmer ranger sat in the corner, she eyed me suspiciously and I could tell she
was not to be trifled with. Curiosity overtook me however and I cautiously
edged over to her table and enquired about her line of work. “I am an artisan,
painting in strokes of blood red upon the canvas of life.” She replied, for a
moment I didn’t know what to say, I had never knowingly met a mercenary before.
This woman was a cold-blooded killer and, judging from her eloquence on the
subject, seemed to enjoy her “art” as well! I told her perhaps another time
and made my way hastily to the shopkeeper to pick up some more hunting gear.
His wares were expensive but I had made enough money from wood-chopping to
buy me some arrows, both iron and steel and even a better bow. I sold my old
hunting bow that I had improved on the grindstone and came out of the shop
with a considerably light coinpurse, a finer bow and the slightly chilling
experience of meeting a cold-blooded killer for hire.

“Oh you’re a mercenary are you?” Backs away slowly…

By the time my business was concluded at the Drunken Huntsman it was nearing
evening and I was becoming rather peckish so I decided to head back to The
Bannered Mare for dinner and then, after a few ales, back to Riverwood before
it became too dark. The inn was still quiet when I arrived, I took my previous
seat at the bar and ordered an ale, drinking it with a bit of fresh bread to
appease my appetite. Halfway through eating I looked up and saw something
rather extraordinary.

No way!

Behind the bar, on a shelf, sat the very object Ysolda sought. A mammoth’s tusk!
I could hardly believe it and immediately tried to get Hulda’s attention, I
simply had to have that tusk. No matter how hard I tried however, Hulda was
having none of it, she just would not even acknowledge the tusks existence.
Frustrated, I sat at the bar pondering how I can get it, the image of Ysolda
walking away in the marketplace constantly popping up in my mind. While I was
agonising over it the inn became flooded with patrons, all recently finishing
work no doubt. I downed the rest of my ale and order another, downing that one
almost in one too. Frustration at my prize being so close but yet out of reach
caused my blood to boil and I needed something to try and take my mind off it.

Suddenly and without thought, I slipped into the crowd behind me and around
the bar, using the noise of the patrons to slip the tusk into my pack undetected.
I then downed my drink and left as quickly as I could manage. When I got outside
and the cool night air hit me I began to dizzy, I was drunk and shaking almost
uncontrollably. I could not believe what I had just done, I’m no angel and have
had my fair few scrapes with the law in the past but never outright theft!
My reasons for the crime baffled me more than the act itself, why would I break
the law for a woman I had just met? My actions had no logic, no sense of
reason but I had carried them out all the same. I tried to tell myself it was
the ale but I was not drunk enough to be altogether insensible. I began the
walk home in a daze, not knowing quite what to make of the situation. Have I
ever acted in this manner because of a girl before? By the time I got out of the
city it was full dark and much too late to travel back to Riverwood so I decided
to set up camp.

It’s been an eventful day, perhaps too eventful

As I sat, warming my hands against the fire, my mind was blank. I could hear
the insects in the grass and feel the cool night breeze against my face, the
only thing that mattered was the stillness of the night. I go to sleep now with
a heavy heart and a seriously mixed up head.

DEFENCE!! (A brief update on life)

I realise that I have not posted in a long time, my last ‘Nomad in Skyrim’ post was a few weeks ago, my last general post being practically ancient by now. Today however I was inspired to write, even if it was just a short update. Since my last post I have started my second year of university. Thus far it has been a mixed bag, until today I have generally been apathetic towards uni work and indeed towards intellectual pursuits in any form, I only read on the train for example. One reason for this is that I am lazy, I always have been and I probably always will be. If two options are presented to me, one requiring less effort than the other, I will 99% of the time take that one. I’ve been like this since the start of high school. I have improved a little since starting university and becoming more independent but there is still a long way to go before that 99% becomes a lot healthier figure. Another reason is that I have since joined the university American Football team, the UCLAN Rams.

The decision to do so is, as anyone who has known me for an extended period of time will know, rather out of character for myself. I’ve never particpated in a full-contact sport before, I am not and never have been particularly athletic and I am not aggressive in the slightest (which is in fact something I need to work on). My reasons for joining were a) to become fitter and stronger, b) to increase my social circle and c) to become more confident / aggressive. Thus far I am steadily achieving ‘a’, I now go to the gym three or four times a week and am not quite so out of shape as I once was. I am also breaking ground with ‘b’, an American Football team has a LOT of players so I have met a lot of people through it. Until ‘c’ i.e. my confidence is improved, however, I will continue to have problems socialising within a large, new group such as the football team. This brings us onto ‘c’, I can’t say that my confidence has not improved a little but I still have a long way to go. I have never been particularly aggressive in any part of life, I am always one to err on the side of caution rather than throw myself into any given situation. This is extremely prevalent in sports, American Football requires a great deal of aggression from every single player on the pitch (perhaps excluding the quarterback) and, at the moment, I just can not summon up the kind of controlled aggression required to just hit someone in a tackle or blocking situation. I am enjoying it though so I should hopefully improve.

All this tiring physical work in the gym and on the training field (three times a week!) has taken a toll on the intellectual pursuits in my life e.g. academia, reading, this blog. It seems that, until I become accustomed to it, this level of physical activity is simply not conducive to mental activity such as keeping up with my uni work. I am starting to enjoy my work though and hopefully I will be able to balance the two nicely in the future.

This is a short update but there should be more coming soon in both general and “Nomad in Skyrim” but, for now….

Adantur out.

A long slow summer…

I haven’t posted on here in a while, mainly because there is little to post about. It’s the summer holidays which, for a high school student, is six weeks to relax and enjoy the clement weather (ok perhaps not in England). For a university student without a job however it is many months of passing the time. It’s not been too bad, I’ve caught up with the backlog of games on my PC and, more importantly, with my friends from back home. It has been uneventful though, extremely so. Mainly due to lack of finances I haven’t travelled or anything exciting like that. I did move in with my girlfriend and have been living here for the past month or two, which is nice and I have been glued to the Olympics for the past two weeks which was great!

Other than that it’s been mainly gaming and that brings me to the reason why I have decided to start posting again before going back to uni, Skyrim. I got the game when it first came out but, after completing only half the game, found myself becoming bored with it and shelved it. Recently however I have found my interest in the game revitalised. Not the fire-breathing dragons and epic soldiery of the main quest though, recently I have been roleplaying as a humble nomad, a wandering hunter with a somewhat shady past. After playing with this character for a few days (about a week or so in game time) I decided to start a blog about it, the blog will recount his story through his own words in the form of a diary he keeps.

I am going to try and avoid anything too adventurous and just concentrate on surviving in the unforgiving landscape of Skyrim, it won’t be too humdrum I hope as there will be a good deal of character exploration as well as the occasional drama. You don’t really have to like or have played Skyrim to enjoy it, although players may get the best out of it, so give it a look.

Regarding real life I am preparing to head back to university for my second year with mixed feelings, I am looking forward to seeing my friends again but apprehensive about the work. We’ll just have to see what September brings!

Adantur out.

On socialising and the geek/lad ratio

It’s coming up towards the end of my first year at university, an end which, for my tastes, has come about far too swiftly. Generally I have to say that is has gone exceedingly well, perhaps even better than I anticipated, however that is not to say that I don’t have a few regrets. The one foremost in my mind being the fact that I never really got stuck in and socialised with my coursemates.

Now I have met an array of weird and wonderful people since coming to university (some a little closer to weird than wonderful), some of them becoming great friends. When it comes to my coursemates however I am less enthused and to diagnose the problem I came up with the geek/lad ratio. For it seems on my course (Computing) that there is a 70/20 split between the two, with only 5% left for people with a healthy mix (like me or so I like to think) and the other 5% for females (5% may be a little generous as there is about 10 in the whole year). Looking at my rough, indeed very rough estimations there are certainly no surprises. Computing has always been a male-dominated career path (or sausage-fest as I have in the past so eloquently put it). But what I have an issue with is not the lack of females, it is the lack of a middle ground that irks me.

Perhaps it is too much to ask for to meet people who are happy to set up a minecraft server one night and go out and get hammered the next, perhaps I am too much of an everyman so to speak, maybe I should stick to one or the other. Don’t mistake me there are some great lads on my course but they, for the most part, seem to either want to go out everynight and do nothing else but drink and have ‘banter’ (I’ll come to that word towards the end) or do nothing of the sort. The whole thing serves to make me relieved that I have been blessed with such great flatmates, I surely would have been admitted by now otherwise.

This is more of a ramble than usual as it was an impulse post, there is a good chance that I am completely off the mark and the fault is mine rather than my coursemates but the point stands. I have a little resolution for second year and that is to make more of a concerted effort to socialise within my course as well as outside of it. I believe that, if I succeed, second year could be even better than the first.

Adantur out.

P.S. About the term ‘banter’, it is most odd how that word has come back into common usage as, when I was younger (I hate being able to say that!!) the term was very rarely used and seemed extremely outdated, perhaps something one might expect to read in English class. It seems to have coincided with the ‘lad’ culture that is prevalent at the moment and is indeed used most commonly by said ‘lads’, some people hate I have no strong opinion on it. It can be offensive, it can be just outright crude, but what else is to be expected from the vast majority of its users?

Reflections

I’m currently sat at home, in my dressing gown with a nice glass of cider, reflecting on the past few months. It has to be said that they have been quite eventful indeed, particularly when compared to the prior year or so. In the space of around three short months I embarked on my higher academic career, moved out of my mum’s (where I’m currently writing from), met a wide range of people many of whom I have befriended and, amongst many others, taken up the Korean martial art Tae Kwon Do.

Eventful indeed, in fact, I don’t think it would be an overstatement to state that it has been one of the best times in my life thus far and has met and exceeded all of my expectations. I can still recall that sunny afternoon on the 10th September 2011, over three months ago, when I moved into my new home. The intense mixture of anxiety and anticipation that I experienced when I first met my flatmates, most of whom I am now great friends with. Many people find it difficult when moving out for the first time but I have to say I hardly noticed, this may or may not have something to do with the copious amounts of alcohol consumed by all in the first month or so, but that is neither here nor there… In fact, once the initial awkwardness was washed away by a sea of vodka and coke, we got on and still get on like a house on fire. I have to say, having spent a good few months away, that I prefer living out. I decided after a week or so back home that the advantages e.g. not having to cook or clean, are outweighed by the sense of freedom one has when living away. I can certainly empathise with people who do find it difficult to live apart from their family however, never having been extremely close to mine, I suppose I found it much easier.

Apart from living arrangements, university itself has gone better than I had hoped thus far. The grades I have achieved have all exceeded 70% (the criteria for a ‘first’) and my highest grade for an individual piece of work was 90%, something I am extremely happy with indeed, if I remember correctly, I was practically skipping home after receiving it in lecture! As well as achieving good grades I am also, to my relief, enjoying my course a great deal. The course (Computer Games Development) is, as one might expect, focused primarily on programming and it is this aspect of the course I thankfully enjoy the most. It can be a frustrating affair, I once said, while raging over an issue with my first assignment, that ‘programming games is more frustrating than playing them!’ On the other hand, the sense of reward that you get when you overcome an obstacle, similarly to playing computer games, can be profound. Another aspect of the course which, in the past, I have had but a mild interest in, is the science of computers themselves. In other words, how computers actually…compute! In one module we look at the computer at almost the lowest level, where data is sent via two arbitrarily charged electrical impulses represented by binary digits (0 & 1). From here we looked at different number systems (binary, hexadecimal, octal), logic gates, the microprocessor and main memory all the way up to the different hardware components that we see with the human eye e.g. the graphics cards and peripherals.

When I was younger computers baffled me, I remember wondering how they could perform such complex operations at so fast a rate and then simply putting it down to witchcraft and moving on! Finally lifting the lid on these ‘magic’ boxes is fascinating. I am also enjoying learning about the history of computers, primarily in my spare time as my course deals with the present and perhaps occasionally the future of computing. There was a great documentary on the BBC a while ago called ‘Code-Breakers: Bletchley Park’s Lost Heroes‘ which tells the story of how the world’s first semi-programmable computer ‘Colossus’ was invented in order to break the German code machine ‘Tunny’ in WWII.

This has been my first post for a while, mainly because I have been rather busy, something which I most certainly am not at the moment being back at home over Christmas. I am most probably heading back to university this week so I expect my posts to be a little more frequent from then on.

But, for now…

Adantur, out.

On life at the moment…

What can I say? Life is good! I think me and my flatmates have reached a kind of zenith in terms of ‘togetherness’, for want of a better word. Even our troublesome flatmate who apparently hates our very existence partook in our exceedingly fun games night tonight. I have never been a popular person and I say that with particular emphasis on the word ‘never’! But, in university and in my flat especially, I feel liked. I have had friends in the past of course, but I saw them only rarely outside of college/school. I suppose I would liken this current feeling as that of high school actually, the final year only to be precise, it has been that long (4 years I think) since I have felt part of a group of friends. It feels great!

Not forgetting my wonderful girlfriend of five years this saturday. I have to say, it really does not feel like five years, when I tell people the most common reaction is that of shock. I suppose it is rare for a pair of teenagers to have been together for five years, not that I’m a teenager anymore… I’ve still not got over that since my birthday the other day, I am not a teenager anymore, it is terrible getting old! My girlfriend has decided to finally stop referring to me as a boy and start referring to me as a man. I’m not sure I like it…

In other news, I went to court today! No, I’ve not commited any crimes, it was just to watch. It felt extremely strange walking into the courthouse though, from being run over with a metal detector at the front door, to seeing an actual trial for domestic violence take place, it felt almost surreal. The very atmosphere in the courtroom itself was disturbing. Staring at the defendant, a rather rough looking young skin-head, I certainly felt a strong aversion to his person despite not having met him. I sincerely hope that I never have to set foot in a courtroom for reasons other than observing, I don’t think I could handle it.

When we returned from the courthouse, rather prematurely unfortunately, we set about decorating the flat for Christmas. Now I have not been a fan of Christmas for a good few years now, it just isn’t the same after your parents split. There’s also the fact that I now receive money rather than huge presents. I remember fondly the Christmas mornings when the whole family would creep down the stairs and the living room door would be opened to reveal an endless sea of presents, waiting to be torn open and played with. Now it is more like a chore to get up early and go downstairs, to be met with a pitiful mound of presents and then having to go to my dad’s house after dinner. Today, however, I felt an excitement towards Christmas that I haven’t felt in a long while, decorating the flat and doing secret santa was thoroughly enjoyable even if I’m not too sure what to get for my choice.

This has been a rather more personal post than I have posted before, there are no references to studies or allusions to science-fiction, just me. I think this may be a rarity so, if anyone reads this enjoy it while you can, or be glad it is so. I am such high spirits lately I simply had to put something down in words, I’m sure that Systems Analysis report that I shamefully neglected to partake in the decoration of the flat will bring me back down a notch however! Until next time…

Adantur out.

On procrastination

While surfing the internet and listening to music (Shostakovich’s fifth symphony) I came across this rather interesting article on procrastination. Now, as a student, I am probably one of the biggest culprits when it comes to procrastination or ‘putting things off’. It has even got to the point now where I put things I enjoy doing off such as finishing watching that Firefly boxset someone lent me, or reading the incredibly short but very promising book I’m three chapters into. This is a disturbing development, putting off school/college/uni work I am used to, I’ve been doing that since high school, but not even having the motivation to do the things I enjoy?! Somethings not right. It’s not even as though watching a few episodes of a boxset or finishing a short work of fiction requires that much effort, one simply sits down and, in a few short hours, it is done and enjoyment has been had! Therein, however, lies the problem. ‘Sitting down’.

Before I came to university a couple of months ago I was working full time in an office. I would perform mind-numbing, entirely thoughtless labour for seven and a half hours, all the while watching the clock until that wondrous moment when the large hand struck twelve and the small hand struck six. During these hours and afterwards I would be starved of mental stimulation, the brief hour I had for my lunch was usually spent with my head in a  book seeking said stimulation. Therefore when I got home I couldn’t wait to read books or watch dvd boxsets I had queued up. Compare that to today, I have a comparatively sparse timetable, however the activities that make up my current timetable provide infinitely more mental stimulation, even coming to the point where my mind is challenged. This mental exertion means that, prior to completing my work now, my attitude is markedly different to pre-university me. This then results in that wonderful, worldwide phenomenon of ‘procrastination!’.

Of course there are other factors that affect the likelihood of a person performing a certain task, there is a wonderful example in the article linked earlier in the post and I quote…

“A study conducted in 1999 by Read, Loewenstein and Kalyanaraman had people pick three movies out of a selection of 24. Some were lowbrow like “Sleepless in Seattle” or “Mrs. Doubtfire.” Some were highbrow like “Schindler’s List” or “The Piano.” In other words, it was a choice between movies which promised to be fun and forgettable or would be memorable but require more effort to absorb.

After picking, the subjects had to watch one movie right away. They then had to watch another in two days and a third two days after that.

Most people picked Schindler’s List as one of their three. They knew it was a great movie because all their friends said it was. All the reviews were glowing, and it earned dozens of the highest awards. Most didn’t, however, choose to watch it on the first day.

Instead, people tended to pick lowbrow movies on the first day. Only 44 percent went for the heavier stuff first. The majority tended to pick comedies like “The Mask” or action flicks like “Speed” when they knew they had to watch it forthwith.” (Mcraney, 2011)

This particular study example struck me as this is exactly what I have been doing for a while now, in fact, this is exactly what I did last night. At around 23:30 last night I had a choice, continue with my book as planned or watch a comedy television program. The book would require more effort but bring greater satisfaction and the program would require less effort and still bring a modicum of satisfaction. In the end I chose to watch the program now and read the book later, I have done this around about five times now. The study quoted in the article and my personal experience would lead me to believe that we, as humans, often have a tendency choose the junk option now and push back the healthy option to a later date, this leads me to my conclusion and to one of the primary ‘facilitators’ so to speak of my procrastination habit, Facebook.

Facebook is a great tool, it allows me to keep in touch with friends (what few I have) and often, somewhat like this blog, to express my thoughts in a public domain. The problem I have and I know from personal experience many others have with Facebook, is that it can be highly distracting. One of the reasons is that it is so easy to access! The vast majority of students use a laptop or desktop computer to complete work, I use a desktop all the time in my course, as you would expect from a computing degree. Facebook and a million and one distractions is just a few short clicks away. The thing that often puzzles me about Facebook is ‘how can something so often so boring, where nothing (of note) can happen for hours at a time, be so constantly distracting. The answer, I belive, lies in the effort/satisfaction ratio.

The effort to satisfaction ratio is all-important when your body subconsciously decides to do something, at least it is to me as I made it up! There seems to be a certain point at which your mind decides a certain activity should be undertaken, a point at which there is minimum effort required and maximum satisfaction achieved. Facebook is a great way to make you miss assignment deadlines as it is requires next to no effort whatsoever, while providing the procrastinating student with a little to a lot of satisfaction. It is this lack of effort requirement that can make mindlessly browsing Facebook seem a great deal more attractive than finishing that Systems Analysis report or reading that great Russian novel etc…

Even as I speak I am on Facebook, with a Systems Analysis sheet eagerly awaiting my attention and it is to this I must go! Until next time…

Adantur out.