Burnout diary

I’ve taken two weeks off work to deal with burnout. Here’s a log.

Week 1


Removed work Slack and email from my phone. Freedom!

Gave myself a pass on doing anything productive. Read up on the Science Victory in Civilization V and played a very successful game as Babylon on King difficulty (first time I’ve tried above Prince!). About twenty turns from victory, the game crashed, and I found all the autosaves were corrupted too. It still counts as a win, right? But I’m happy to have learned some specific tips:

  • Focusing on food production and trade routes will let you grow very tall cities with plenty of room for specialists
  • Tall (few big cities) is often better than wide (many smaller cities) for science, because each additional city makes technologies cost more, and doesn’t necessarily generate enough science to make up for it
  • Keep a big enough army to convince AI players not to pick on you. I don’t like doing this because units cost a lot of production and some gold for maintenance, and you could always be focusing on more scientific or cultural buildings to continue exponential growth, but missing the diplomatic penalties from “covets your lands” is great, let alone the declaration of war. Also, I built a single submarine long before anyone else had them, and suddenly everyone wanted to be friends.
  • Having an overarching strategy that helps you decide what to focus on and what to neglect is actually really nice, especially for a long game like CiV.


Walked to a nearby coffee shop for my first flat white in a month. It was… okay. Not revelatory.

Read the corresponding Culture Victory guide and decided to try that. Surrendered the first game half an hour in when I lost a war to Russie owing to some bad tactical decisions. I’m very sloppy at hex-based combat once it’s gone on more than a few turns. Replayed as Brazil and got about halfway in before realising that theming bonuses are possibly the lamest part of CiV. It’s a mechanic which lets you eke out some extra culture and tourism by obsessively playing a collectathon trading game with the other players’ cultural relics. It’s boring, requires some planning, and unfortunately you kind of need the theming bonus to ensure a cultural victory.

Also, the way CiV handles turns is getting a bit tedious. When you end your turn and it calculates/animates everyone else’s turns, you can kind of click around and update yourself with the many info displays, but it’ll also constantly push the camera around, refuse to let you queue up actions for your next turn, etc. Heck, if you open an interactive control before your turn starts, the buttons will appear clickable but won’t do anything - you have to open the control after your turn starts. Grr, UI.

Separately, we started doing almost daily driving lessons. Rosie will get her licence this time, dang it.


Took advantage of the reduced isolation restrictions to go for a recreational ride up some local mountains. Rediscovered some of the fear (probably healthy) of a 110-horsepower bike, which had faded in recent commuting.


Took delivery of a new desk for home. It’s sturdy and wooden and I love it, although we did screw on the top backwards and decide it was too hard to fix.

As a result, it’s been nicknamed the Prid of Ankh-Morpork.

This also involved disassembling the bed that lives in the room and reassembling it afterwards, plus the surprising compulsion to vacuum “while we’re moving things around”. Maybe my mother had a point.

Turns out all that bike time on Monday left my elbow feeling a bit off, too.


I’m starting to leave my phone in random places around the house. I’ve been on call so much the last six months that this feels very liberating.

Worked through some more of Unity’s Create with Code course.


Landlord arrived to replace our dishwasher. Hauled the broken dishwasher downstairs. Hauled a new one up. Landlord found it had a leaky hose (brand new!). Hauled it down again. Landlord found that the tap to the dishwasher leaks. Hauled the old one up to act as the world’s heaviest closed tap.

Also made a couple of silly After Effects with a friend’s selfie, learning a lot about masks in the process. The results are embarrassingly simple for the time taken, but that’s what exercises are for, I guess.

Switched out the MT-09 for a V-Star 650, and wow, the first time on a cruiser is interesting.


Looked up a new slow-cooker recipe, took the V-Star out for a shopping run via some nearby suburbs. It’s a very relaxed bike in some regards - long wheelbase, soft suspension, and lack of top-end - but I’m still playing “find the footpeg” when taking off.

Continued the Unity course. It’s well-taught, but there’s also only so much “we’re going to use what’s called a Boolean variable” you can take in one session.

Frankly, and this is a character flaw on my part, the fact that the resulting prototypes don’t feel like polished games to be proud of, is a little off-putting too.

Week 2


Neighbours were up till 1 partying. Someone called the police around 00:30 and I had a go at them a bit later. Bit of a write-off of a day from the resulting exhaustion.


Continued the driving lesson streak, caught up with Mum over Skype, then spent a few hours touring around Brisbane giving cards and gifts to other deserving people, cosplaying a Santa with a loud sleigh.


Helped the landlord swap the dishwashers (one trip down the stairs, one final trip up). We have a working appliance again!

Went to visit a friend’s favourite café to see what the fuss is about. It’s OK, nice to have a flat white again.

Switched bikes back to one I like - the V-Strom 650. It’s extremely comfortable but still handles well. Had a pretty floppy day.


Very floppy. Bit more of the Unity course, but didn’t have much patience for the lesson videos loading slowly.

Trying to be OK with not feeling that I have to accomplish things all the time.


Inspiration struck and I started from an After Effects tutorial to end up at this.

Then went for a ride to do some errands on the V-Strom. A good morning.

Fiddled around with making the tiles move in other ways, but didn’t end up with much.


[records expunged]


Went up Mt Glorious for a quarantine-legal ride. Swapped bikes halfway with a friend who owns a tremendously expensive BMW. I’m in love. Ask me about it some time - I won’t shut up.

Then went for dinner with the final set of pseudo-parents. Great to see them, as always.


Had another floppy, low-energy day. I blame all the bike exertion. I’m trying to be OK with days like these because, well, this is a recovery period - you don’t have to be creative or productive at all the exclusion of all else.

Driving lessons continued well, though! We did a great set of hill starts.