Week of 21 June, 2021

On Pratul’s recommendation, I started reading How to Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens this week.

I’m only halfway through it, but already this book has changed the way I think about organizing the information and insight I glean from books, articles, lectures, and other media. It has also put into words some of my beliefs about writing and thinking that I’ve never been able to articulate myself.

I’ve been taking notes using the method described in the book for about a week. Even though putting it into practice takes great mental effort, I feel it’s worth the trouble. My only complaint is that it takes some of the fun out of reading and makes it feel like work. But I’m willing to live with that trade-off.

If you’re serious about learning, I highly recommend this book.

On a particularly dull weeknight, I started playing the original Legend of Zelda on the NES app on my Switch. I expected to kill some time with the game and bounce off after a while, but it captured me in a way that very few games from the NES era have managed to do.

NES games aren’t exactly easy so I’m dying a lot, but it’s not too bad because Zelda lets you continue playing with the same save file no matter how many times you die. You’re teleported back to the starting screen every time you restart, but you get to keep all your items and money. This feels fair. Even if you lose some of your progress, you at least restart the game with enough weapons and money that you can quickly make your way back to the area you were exploring.

Like many other titles on the NES, reading the manual before you start playing is a pre-requisite for making sense of this game. The bit of story that appears after the start screen even mentions this emphatically at the end. Luckily, the manual is available as a PDF from Nintendo’s website.

It’s easy to get lost in Zelda and go around in circles for hours if you don’t have a map. There’s one available in the manual if you want to make things easy for yourself, but I’m making my own with pen and paper. It’s a lot more fun this way and adds an extra layer to the experience. I just wish there was a way to digitize my illegible chickenscratch so I could pull it up on my phone for future playthroughs.

I can now see all the ways in which The Legend of Zelda has influenced some of the modern games that I enjoy playing. From The Binding of Isaac to Grand Theft Auto, seems like there’s a bit of Zelda in everything.

Playing this game in 2021 is still a fun experience. The only thing that feels dated about it are the graphics. The mechanics are still delightful.

Maybe I’ll play through A Link to the Past on the SNES app next.

On Thursday I got to see some friends I hadn’t seen for nearly half a year. All of us had at least one shot of the vaccine in our bodies, so meeting up felt kind of safe.

Looking at some of our old photos, I couldn’t imagine how we ever felt safe going to music festivals and packed indoor gigs with so many strangers around. I don’t know when I’ll feel safe enough to be able to do something like that again. Those pictures feel like they’re from a different universe that no longer exists.

My second shot of Covishield is scheduled for two months from now. Hoping that the government doesn’t run out of vaccines by then.


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