In this quietest time of the year, as people take their spare holiday days to fill the gap between Horacemas and the destruction of the Old Year, there will be many who are using the time to catch up on games they've missed. Top of that list for many will be BioWare's epic RPG, Dragon Age: Inquisition. But what to do with the 95-99% of dead-time playing the game leaves, as you stare at its loading screens between moments of playing? Or maybe you'll boot Far Cry 4? How to wile away the hours during those intro titles? Are you catching up on Shadow Of Mordor, and need activities while it's showing you yet another close-up of an Orc Captain?
I've come up with some suggestions of how to fill this time.
1) Have a bath: It's been ages since you've had a relaxing soak in the bath. Quick showers, rushing about, never having enough time to just lie there. So why not now, while Inquisition loads the next Hinterlands mission, run a hot, soothing bath, replete with bubblebath and scented candles, and just be.
2) Finally redecorate that bathroom: You've been meaning to do it for so long, but there's rarely the time. Well look at all the time you've got on your hands now! Think how much better you'll feel once those manky tiles are off, the grouting replaced, and some steam-resistant paint on the walls in place of the ridiculous wallpaper the previous occupants put up. It'll make all those baths you're taking all the more relaxing.
3) Learn a new language: We all say we want to, we so rarely do. It's so good for our brains, such an effective tool to fight off or delay degenerative cognitive conditions, and broadens us as people. It allows us to communicate with more of humanity, and express ourselves in whole new ways. And it needn't be a spoken language - you could learn Braille or sign language? There's so much opportunity in these extended down-times.
5) Grow and harvest some vegetables: You may think the frosty climes of a December holiday are not the time to be pottering around in the garden (unless you're some weird space alien person who lives on the underneath of the Earth, and madly think it's currently Summer), but this is in fact the time to be getting those large onions seeding, so you can transfer seedlings during the next load screen in March. You'll also want to get your cauliflower seeds in the greenhouse at this time of year. Then once you've read a couple more of the game tip cards, go pick them in the late Summer and enjoy!
6) Track the movements of a glacier: In these times of increasing rapidity of climate change, glacial movement is no longer the paint-drying experience it once was. In the 90s they'd only reach speeds of four kilometres per year, but now you can see the ice racing along at up to 17km/y. Perhaps play glacier pooh sticks, seeing whose lump of ice melts away to nothing first?
7) Call BT/Time Warner Cable for some technical support: Hmmm, no, this is likely a little ambitious.
8) Chronicle the life-cycle of a hypergiant star: These notoriously luminescent stars are quite literally playing with fire, pushing close to the edges of the Eddington limit. Perhaps you could pick Eta Carinae, who at three million years old, has a mass 150 times more than our own Sun, and is four or five million times more luminous. And at that size, it won't be around for long! With possibly just 100 centuries remaining, why not make regular observations of its extreme fuel consumption as that squiggly green icon pulsates in the bottom right corner of the screen.
9) Evolve into a news species: It's been around 50,000 years since there was a big evolutionary step for Homo sapiens, and as a species we've been around for 200,000. With all this extra time on your hands, why not allow your genetic code to adapt and evolve far beyond your current state, creating a generationally derived life form with vastly superior abilities to those you presently possess? Perhaps you'll become a vapour? Or an AI. Maybe you'll simply add gills to your current set of appendages? It's entirely up to you and your extended family.
10) Download, install and play Dragon Age: Origins again.