Isolation: How will you pass the time?


Senior Member.
I wonder if I'd have lived any differently the past 18 months if Covid hadn't happened? What with generally being quite hermetic and not really into venturing into the world anyways.

During that time I've lived in two different places in Mexico, both with populations of about 30 people and pretty much untouched by the pandemic so I haven't generally noticed it. Though I did venture out say 5 or 6 times and so have worn a mask on a few occasions at least.

Anyway, when in the place that has internet I've primarily been passing the time involving myself in Classic Tetris. I got into it at the tail end of my flat earth days in January 2019 - like FE, also suggested by the dreaded YouTube algorithm - and I suppose likewise in common with FE I at first thought it strange and daft, but got sucked in anyway.

This obsession/compulsion has manifested in a few ways: number one, getting involved with the 'community' (generally nicer people than those I found in flat earth); number two, getting better at the game and slowly making my way towards a 'maxout' (that is, scoring a million points and seeing the scoreboard 'freeze' at 999,999 - ten years ago only four people had done this, despite the game being around since 1985, and even three years ago, after it became somewhat popular again, there were still only fifty 'maxouters' (if I make it I will be by far the oldest)); and, number three, I inadvertantly stumbled into creating a ratings system and records database for the competitive scene which, despite some opposition and doubt in the beginning, is now pretty much widespread and was used quite a lot at last year's world championships. It's based on Elo - though modified - and runs via a series of Google Sheets spreadsheets all connected by the marvellous IMPORTRANGE function which really makes the whole thing possible.

If you have any interest at all, you can see the ratings here (I'm currently #269 out of 467 active players; the full match database here (contains over 21,000 matches featuring 1075 players; two years ago there were barely 1200 matches); and a high score chart here (I'm #334 out of 1095, just got a new pb of 983,982 last week).

My understanding of spreadsheet workings - which started with flat earth equations - has really gone into overdrive. Basically from a list of names, match results and dates an extraordinary number of things can be calculated and presented, and it's all pretty much automated. I even made a 'virtual player' that simulates a spreadsheet-based opponent's scores in real time. Probably pretty straightforward in something like python (of which I have no understanding) but getting Sheets to increment a score every few seconds at the right pace took a bit of creative thinking.

I also wrote three books and published one and a half of them (ie, the paperback for one is still in process).

That all perhaps feels like something but personally I don't really feel like I've been doing very much at all (have pretty much run out of ideas). The Tetris obsession won't last forever and, once/if I get the maxout, I'll probably feel ready to leave it behind and let someone else run the ratings system, job done. It's lasted almost as long as my involvement in flat earth and I'm sure I'll be glad to move on. I'm reminded of Scottish comedian Limmy's reformed junky Jacqueline McCafferty. To paraphrase:

jm meme.JPG

I wonder what will happen next...
@Rory i have gradually been teaching myself python. as far as programming languages go it is not that difficult at the basic level. if you've been able to figure out spreadsheet formulas you could probably figure out python.

beyond the basic level, there are some aspects and terminology which are harder for me to figure out, but i am persistent for an old dog. :)