Category Archives: Fantasy CEO

A better class of computer game

Filthy¬†LucreFor no good reason that I can think of, I signed up to play Fantasy CEO with the Times. Essentially, you make the decisions which run a manufacturing company – one year’s worth per week – every week for eight weeks, and at the end I guess they see who’s a billionaire and who’s bust.

Why did I do this? The first round of decisions have to be in on Monday and I haven’t even finished reading the effing manual. There are a lot of manuals to read, tutorials to watch, and practice runs to try. I’m impressed by the slickness of the whole thing, even if I did have to install MS Excel because their seriously fancy spreadsheet wouldn’t work in OpenOffice.

I do know why I did it – I did it for a dare. I dared myself to do this complicated, competitive thing. There are, apparently, 3880 of us. The problem is that it’s already stressing me up – the first round closes on Monday, and I haven’t read the manuals, watched the tutorials, practised with the spreddy, considered a strategy or anything. And I was given the whole week to do it.

It’s making me nervous, and that’s why I have to do it. Which I guess is an interesting learning in itself.

Autumn evenings and new beginnings

Filthy¬†LucreIt seems to me September has much more of a sense of new beginning to it than the middle of winter: January 1st feels like a nadir not a beginning. March and April put a spring in the step because new beginnings are easy when the world is full of daffodils and lambs. But September puts a boot up the backside and life picks up again with a different kind of impetus. A month ago it was light in the evenings, it took me half an hour to drive to work, and I didn’t have any classes or chores. Now it’s dark and chilly, it takes me nearer an hour to get to work, and I’ve a course to study for, Pilates classes to go to, books to read for the Book Club, and I’ve just signed up for The Times’ new online game: Fantasy CEO.

Fantasy CEO seemed such a good idea at the time: a supplement to my other studies, a mix of a game and an exam, and a positive distraction from time-wasters such as Travian and blogging. Having started on their material, I really am not so sure. There’s a lot to read and the game hasn’t even started. And it’s all rather grown up, competitive and – well – technical. I ought to know instinctively that EBIT is Earnings Before Interest and Tax, but I don’t. “Oooh”, as they say, “er”.

Pilates, on the other hand, is proving to be enjoyable. There are only two of us in the class and it is hard not to improve in those circumstances. Since I am not my body’s best friend (hey, don’t blame me, the feeling’s mutual) I am having to make the acquaintance of muscles I don’t know I have. It’s like learning to hear the line the violas are playing in a pastoral piece when you are habitually tone deaf. I’m finding it mentally stimulating as well as physically challenging. I may have to resort to filling in my copy of The Anatomy Colouring Book. Oh, look! Another way of wasting time.

The book group, however, seems sadly beset by Quality Fiction. Fortunately I’ve been invited out for a curry at the time of the next meeting and the book for November is humorous. However, it worries me that the group discussed their departure into frivolity so earnestly. We shall see. They are interesting and intelligent women, it is just that I don’t really like fiction.

September is an odd time to start gardening, but having spent much of the weekend up to my wrists in weeds and compost, I’ve realised it is in fact a good time to start. There’s lots of satisfying clearing and tidying up to do, you can get a splash of instant colour with pansies and chrysanthemums and reliable deferred gratification by planting bulbs. I am a big fan of bulbs: minimal effort now and lots of splash in the spring, just in time to get one all geed up and enthusiastic again after the winter. September’s also a great time to score lawn-mowers off freecycle – two emails and I got offered half a dozen of the things.

So all in all, a snap in the air, a boot up the bum, and a time of new beginnings.