Still technically writing every day

I have not found my groove yet early in this new year when it comes to writing, but I am writing something every day, as I had vowed to do. So yay for sticking to it for nearly a whole week so far! Only 51 more to go.

Part of the problem is my mind feels cluttered by negative thingamabobs, mainly but not exclusively related to a growing professional dissatisfaction. Maybe all those years of not working in a field I am passionate about is finally having an effect. I’m not saying there is something I am passionate about–clearly I struggle with writing, no matter how many books I read on the subject, and how diligently I follow all the little tricks and things to keep you going–but I can’t help but think there might be something I’d be generally more satisfied in doing in my work life.

But every time I take one of those “This is the work you SHOULD be doing!” tests, the results are always somewhat dubious. So I’m not sure how to go about investigating a possible career side-step. I’m also aware that I’m not exactly a 20-something that can freely experiment with a bunch of different jobs to see what sticks (or maybe I could, who knows?)

Anyway, the important thing is I wrote something today and maybe I’ll hit the treadmill again tomorrow. Also, only two more months until we are back on Daylight Saving Time, hooray. All right, this concluding paragraph was a little random. Maybe I accidentally lapsed into free writing. There are worse things that could happen. Like scurvy or the return of parachute pants.

Treadmill run 2019

Well, the first one of 2019, anyway. I’ll run outside one of these days (but maybe not tomorrow, as they are forecasting winds gusting up to 70-90 km/h).

I spent about five minutes out of the 30 doing a fast walk, with the pace set to 4.0 on the machine, which is…I’m not sure. I don’t really know what the numbers represent, exactly. The rest was jogging at a pace set to 6.5, which is a bit slower than an outdoor jog, based on heartrate and just generally how it feels. I’m more comfortable pushing myself outside because I don’t have to worry about flying off a fast-moving mat below my feet.

My best km, which did not include any walking intervals, was 5:58, which is actually pretty decent. The knees were again not an issue and my stamina is perhaps a very tiny bit improved.

The overall stats:

Distance: 4.62 km
Time: 30:03
Average pace: 6:30/km
BPM: 153
Calories: 336

This is slower than the previous run, but I spent a bit more time walking, especially during the 5-minute cooldown period when the machine automatically drops the speed to 3.9 (I raised it back to 6.5 for a few minutes of the cooldown, as I’m a rebel).

Here is the previous treadmill run for comparison:

Distance: 4.31 km
Time: 27.03
Average pace: 6:16/km
BPM: 157
Calories: 354

Write something every day

That was one of my resolutions and these words are proof that I am sticking to it, if only technically. But give me a little time and the words will soon flow like some big flowing thing, like lava, but faster and less likely to incinerate you.

In the meantime, here is a kitten:

Haiku to The Rains

We’ve had a rainfall warning the last few days, which, as you might guess, means a whole lot of rain– between 40-90 mm, depending on where exactly you are. It’s been quite wet.

The Rains

The rains fall heavy
Vehicles splash and spray me
My spirit is damp

The rain actually doesn’t bother me–this is definitely the wrong area to live if it does–and I’ve learned to avoid the areas where splashing and spraying can happen.

But I still remember that dark winter day last year when I was learning that lesson, diverting along the one block stretch of Brunette Avenue between the Sapperton SkyTrain station and my place, unable to take the much nicer hospital lane, closed (and still closed until December 2019) due to construction. This section of Brunette tends to be driven at highway speeds. I don’t know what the actual speed limit is here, but I am reasonably certain it’s not highway speed. The combination of excess water on the road and the aforementioned high speed led to me getting soaked with a great wave of water that fanned over the sidewalk. I stood for a moment, trying to register the fact that this little slice of a comedy movie had actually happened to me.

I walked on and got soaked three more times. I was very wet when I got home. In the end I found it kind of funny. And instructive. I’ve never risked the same trip along Brunette again during The Rains. The safe diversion adds two blocks to my trip, a small price to pay in exchange for not getting a metric ton of water sprayed on me at high velocity.

The best things about 2019 so far

A short list. I mean, we’re only two days in.

  • No nuclear war
  • No snow
  • Ultima Thule revealed in the greatest detail yet
  • Did I mention no snow?
  • No donuts so far
  • Days are very slightly longer
  • All resolutions still on track (hey, I’ll take it, even if it’s only 48 hours so far)
  • This list
  • Finally, no snow

Welcome to the year 2019

As I saw noted elsewhere, 2019 is the year that both Running Man and Blade Runner are set in.

Noted elsewhere on the internet:

Predicting the future is hard. Predicting the near-future is hard. Heck, predicting what I’ll be having for lunch in two days is hard.

(To be technical, you could probably say that Philip Dick and the creative people behind Blade Runner were not specifically imagining the future, just creating one possible vision of it for story-telling purposes. But that’s no fun.)

I think the best part about Blade Runner’s version of 2019 is how they just couldn’t pass up on flying cars.

Their version of a pollution-choked L.A. is actually not that far off from some of the mega-cities in China (and elsewhere), though. And corporations are already monolithic, evil entities. So maybe Blade Runner isn’t that far off, after all.

New Year Resolutions 2018: This time for real

First, a review of the resolutions I made for this year and my grade on how well I did on each. First, a review of the resolutions I made for this year and my grade on how well I did on each.

  • Drop to 150 pounds. Grade: D. I ended the year at 168.1 pounds.
  • 100% donut-free. Grade: A. I stayed donut-free, though it didn’t help much, weight-wise. Alas.
  • No farmers tan. Grade: C+. I didn’t run as much, so not as much of a farmers tan. Kind of a dumb resolution.
  • Write 250 words of fiction per day. Grade: D. Total fail, unless you split the 22,222 words of NaNoWriMo into 250 word chunks and spread them out over the year (and I’d still be way off the 91,250 total).
  • Run at least three times a week. Grade: C. Knee problems slowed my running in the first half of the year and weather/laziness took over in the second half. My worst year for running since I started in 2009.
  • Read at least 32 books. Grade: A. I read 40 books, woo!
  • One drawing per week. Grade: D. I did a few drawings the entire year.
  • Win the lottery. Grade: B. I won $10.
  • Eat better. Grade: D. Not a good year for self-control when it came to (comfort) food.
  • Curb my web surfing and put my WoW sub on hold. Grade: C and A. The C is for web surfing, which I have not really reined in much, though I think the quality of the content I read is higher now. I dropped my WoW sub.

Not exactly a banner year. For 2019 I am slimming down the list:

  • Drop to 150 pounds. Third (or whatever) time is the charm?
  • Write something every day. No minimum limits should make this possible.
  • Run at least once per week. Again, lowering the bar, but it could lead to more.
  • Read at least 52 books. Yes, a book a week. I think this might be possible if I cheat with some really short books.
  • Eat better. For real this time.
  • Learn and practice meditation. I think this will help a lot if I can take it seriously.
  • Stretch. I am stiff as a board and it’s not good. I need to get more flexible.
  • Redo the Complaint Free World 21-day challenge. I’ve regressed on the no-complaining thing and need to do better.

We’ll see how things look in just 12 short, zany months.

December 2018 weight loss report: Up 3.1 pounds

These results are not unexpected. December is never a good weight loss month.

And still I’m disappointed, as the last week of the month saw me go from holding steady to holding fat.

My 2018 goal of getting to 150 pounds meant I needed to lose 12.3 pounds this year. Instead, I gained 5.8 pounds. Now I need to lose 18.1 pounds. This is like math gone wrong.

Yet I remain cautiously optimistic and even feel bold enough to make a prediction: My weight will be down in January. January 2019, that is. Like, the month that starts in less than two hours

But in the meantime,. here are the grisly stats for December and the year to date. I blame the December results on the following:

  • Ferraro Rocher
  • Ritter Sport bars
  • Breaking the “no snacks after dinner” rule about five thousand times

December 1: 165 pounds
December 31: 168.1 pounds (up 3.1 pounds)

Year to date: From 162.3 to 168.1 pounds (up 5.8 pounds)

And the body fat:

January 1: 18.5% (30.2 pounds of fat)
December 31:
19.2% (32.3 pounds of fat) (up 2.1 pounds)

Book review: You’re Saying It Wrong

You're Saying It Wrong: A Pronunciation Guide to the 150 Most Commonly Mispronounced Words--And Their Tangled Histories of Misuse

You’re Saying It Wrong: A Pronunciation Guide to the 150 Most Commonly Mispronounced Words–And Their Tangled Histories of Misuse by Ross Petras

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is good fun for word and language nerds. The title is a bit misleading as the authors dig up some fairly obscure stuff to hit that 150 total, but there are plenty of expected words, too.

(I was expecting to see “halcyon” on the list, but apparently I’m one of the few that gets tongue-tied over it.)

The authors also cheat a little by including a few phrases or misunderstood words, but a little cheating is fine when it’s in service of showing how “would of” is wrong and stop writing it!

As you read through the entries it becomes clear that most of the pronunciation trouble arises from a word’s origin in another language, most often French, at least as far as this list is concerned, though Latin and other languages come get called out, too.

And then there are the recurring nautical words that make no sense at all because of drunk sailors slurring everything they say. None of these words come close to being pronounced the way they look–gunwale, boatswain and so on.

I will also happily own up to mispronouncing more than a few words covered here. In my defense, as is the case for most people, I never hear the words spoken, so I am always making a best guess and my guesses seem to line up with everyone else’s, as no one ever corrects me. Or maybe everyone is just too polite to say something.

The book ends abruptly after “zydeco”–there are some endnotes, but it would have been nice to have a brief wrap-up. I also think less-is-more would have worked here, by culling out some of the more obscure words and perhaps expanding on the number of phrases. Overall, though, a neat little book that will make you feel a bit smarter–or dumber.

View all my reviews

Photo of the Day, December 29, 2018

I cleaned the innards of my PC today. This is the dust filter from the front of the case. You’d think the PC was 50 years old, but it’s not. Really!

2018 kind of sucked

I started my 21-day “complaint free” experience in January of this year and after a couple of tries, I managed to go the full 21 days without verbalizing a complaint to another person. I became much more aware of how often others complained–often, I suspect, without them even being conscious of it–and I became very aware of what came out of my own mouth. Since I have a preference to not prattle on unless prodded (prodding me can lead to excessive prattling), the transition from “complain about the weather along with everyone else” to “just smile and not say anything” was easier than expected.

But it didn’t last.

I tried again. I even got the official purple Complaint Free World bracelet. It’s the child size, as I have strangely thin wrists. I could blame my lapsing back into a semi-complaint-filled experience because of the weather–not that it’s bad, but that when it gets cold I’m wearing long-sleeve shirts and jackets, so the bracelet isn’t visible most of the time to remind me not to complain about stuff.

But that’s an excuse, because I did get through the exercise successfully when the weather was cold and wet. It was January, after all, as I mentioned in the first paragraph.

So what happened? Well, a few things. The problem is they were spaced just far enough apart that it felt like, as the old saying goes, “if it’s not one thing, it’s another.”

My health was kicked in the junk this year. Speaking of my junk, I did not have a testicular cancer scare like last year, so that was good.

Instead, I got a tooth infection in a tooth that had been broken for years. That it hadn’t gotten infected much earlier was pretty much dumb luck. Once it did get infected, it had to be dealt with immediately, so I had to pretend to overcome my existential fear of dentists and get what remained of the tooth yoinked.

It actually didn’t go that bad, though keeping stuff out of the resultant gap while it healed was tricky.

But just as I recovered from that I experienced an odd “too hot/too cold” sensation at work. This was May, so neither condition really made sense. I would shiver for ten minutes, then sweat like I was in a sauna for the next ten. I looked up the symptoms and found they could apply to almost anything, but I know my body and its sordid history, and this smacked of YAI. Yet Another Infection. I was right!

I guessed bladder, but it was my kidney. They’re pretty close, so it was a good guess. I waited a couple of days to see a doctor, because I slipped into Guy Mode (don’t need doctors, don’t need maps, don’t need instructions–you know, basically DUMB). I spent a night running a high fever, felt utterly delirious, and was so weak that when I did go to the nearby clinic it took my hours to work up the energy to make the three block trip.

On the plus side, the antibiotics killed the fever amazingly quickly, and I recovered fairly quickly after. The kidney has been a (literal) pain a few times since, but the most recent blood work (which took two arms to obtain successfully as my left arm apparently contains no blood) indicates it is on the mend.

Did I mention that the antibiotics I got for the tooth infection turned out to be another I’m allergic to? Another all-body rash and this weird sensation that my face was glowing (it was, as confirmed by co-workers).

Then my knees gave out. For years they have been getting worse when I crouch or kneel, but I don’t crouch or kneel a whole lot, and running (and walking) was unaffected, so I really didn’t pay much attention.

This spring I paid attention because suddenly my knees really didn’t like it when I went jogging. And when I say suddenly, that is not hyperbole. It just happened, like a tipping point was reached and now my knees were Sore Knees. I watched my running pace get worse and worse. It was discouraging and depressing. I thought I might have to stop running, which has become my go-to Zen relaxation thing since I started back in 2009.

But then the knees…well, they didn’t exactly improve, but they did seem to hurt less. Was I just getting used to it? Whatever it was, my pace began to improve and by summer’s end I was pretty much back to normal, speed-wise. The knees still get sore, but they recover, and it’s never so bad I need to stop. So thumbs sideways there.

My weight loss has been more like weight maintenance. The problem is I’m maintaining at about 15 pounds higher than I want to be. My partner and I are going to suffer diet together for the new year, so I’m hoping there’s more progress there.

Work has been a bit of a trial for various reasons. It’s not terrible or anything, and I don’t want to go into detail on a public blog, but suffice to say it has had its share of frustrations. I don’t see it improving much, unfortunately, but you never know.

I only made it 22,222 words into my 2018 National Novel Writing Month novel. On the plus side, I am committed to continuing it, and did an actual outline, a major change for me. Other than the blog and NaNo, my writing has been pretty quiet this year. This was not my plan.

BC voters voted by over 60% to keep the first-past-the-post system for provincial elections. The referendum ballot was a muddled mess, so I think people probably would have voted for whatever was listed first, no matter what it was.

But 2018 has not been all bad. On the positive side:

  • I have developed (ho ho) an interest in photography and now take all kinds of photos with my smartphone. I don’t know if I will graduate to a dedicated camera again, but it’s already changed how I view the world. I’m always looking for a good shot. You can see some of them here. Looking for shots has the side effect of making me see (and appreciate) detail than I skipped over before. The world is a richer place now.
  • It hasn’t snowed this winter and none is in the forecast. (Technically I think we got a little wet snow while I was in bed a few nights ago, but it was gone by the time I woke up, therefore NO SNOW).
  • After buying a bunch of mechanical keyboards, I finally found one I really like, the CTRL from Massdrop, with Halo switches that are clicky, but not clacky, if you know what I mean.
  • I started baking bread.
  • I finally learned to love the treadmill. Well, maybe not love. More…not hate. (Also, the treadmill is now way easier on my knees than the elliptical.)
  • I remained donut-free after renewing my vow.
  • Um. The world didn’t end?

I may add more positive things later. While the year mostly sucked, I continue to be more optimist than pessimist, so I do not dread 2019. Next up: my New Year resolutions list, because everyone needs a good laugh.