Setting the bar high by going low

I started the month with higher-then-expected weight loss, bringing me down to 162.5 pounds, my lowest weight of the year. This is good. Today I maintained that weight, also good.

But this now means I need to keep losing and hitting new lows for the year in order to progress for the month. In other words, starting the month off with some unplanned weight gain gives me wiggle room to still lose weight but not have to lose as much to show progress over the 30 or 31 days.

This is silly, of course. I’m mostly surprised to be down so much. It’s nice, though. I could conceivably break below 160 pounds in September and enter into the home stretch of my seemingly epic-length quest to get to 150 pounds (again).

Here’s to no donuts for the next 28 days.

Progress update on assorted things

Let’s have a look now that we are eight months into this year of 2019:

  • World peace: Could be better, could be worse. Trump is still president, so likely to get worse.
  • Measles: on the rise, thanks to anti-vax paranoids. Thank you, Luddites and irrational fearmongers!
  • Global warming: We are doomed, pretty much.
  • Politics: Authoritarianism and despots on the rise, democracy ailing, even in places where it should be strong. This could change–but it could also change for the worse. See the first bullet point.
  • BC politics: The minority NDP government has proven adept and sane, boding well for the next election, though the general insanity of voters is always a worrying factor. It’s helped that the BC Liberals elected an out-of-touch rich white guy as their leader.

And my own list:

  • Meditation: Thought about it, but have yet to meditate. Before I can even begin, Pocket has already offered an article on the sinister side of meditation, where you apparently think tranquil thoughts about murdering people or something.
  • Stretching: Not really. A little here and there, but no concerted effort. This needs to be a higher priority unless I actually reverse the aging process.
  • Writing: The less said, the better. Which is how I’ve approached writing this year.
  • Drawing: I think about doodling. Then I never do it. But the doodles in my mind are great.
  • Reading: My pace is picking up again. If I stay at it, I may end up matching last year, which will be good.
  • Blogging: Generally running to catch up, as is the case this month where I’m tapping last minute inspiration to get to 31 posts before midnight.
  • Running: Doing more, and the runs are going well. I have yet to tackle a 10K this year, but will try to before we get fully into the fall weather.
  • Losing weight: It’s actually going down now. Yay.
  • Losing hair: Yes. Shaved head mutes the impact.
  • Legs: Still sexy.

Haiku for August 2019

Some sun and some cloud
Warm and sometimes also wet
August you snooze me

August was a strange month in how mild it was. We had some hot days, but only a few. We had some rain, but only a little. We had days of cloud, days of sun and most of the time it felt like summer, but it never felt like summer summer, almost as if the real summer weather was always waiting just around the corner.

On the plus side, the occasional soggy weather meant no big forest fires and the pall of smoke that would blanket the skies here for weeks on end never materialized. This was a bonus for air quality, general pleasantness and my running.

So August was kind of boring, weather-wise, but a good kind of boring, especially compared to the heat-blasted hellscape that was so much the rest of the world during summer 2019.

The lack of fire danger

It was cloudy this morning and now a light misty rain is drizzling. Given that we only have a few weeks of potentially hot weather left in the summer, and the forecast has dotted more potential rain on some of these days, it looks like the chance of seeing those FIRE DANGER signs go up is pretty much nil. This is the first time I can recall it never drying out enough to have a fire ban go in effect.

This is good news for trees and stuff. And we’ve still had plenty of sun, so I can’t really complain. It feels weird, though, especially with so many other places broiling all summer under record high temperatures.

Come to think of it, we broke some more records, too, so we haven’t entirely escaped the steady march of global warming, it’s just being sneaky around here this summer.

As we gird for a slippery, wet fall, I wonder what winter will be like. Then I remember it’s still August and to stop being silly.

Sleep is weird

Think about it. Every night you lay down on a bed and through no other action render yourself unconscious. In this unconscious state your brain manufactures elaborate scenarios that are at turns amusing, baffling or terrifying. When you wake up you usually remember little to nothing of what these scenarios–dreams or nightmares–were.

And if you don’t make yourself fall unconscious every night your body will malfunction in ways that are subtle to start and end with you putting pants on your head and thinking that’s completely okay (not counting places where it is completely okay).

This pattern of falling unconscious/your mind inventing little dramas repeats for your entire life.

Sleep is weird.

Also, I probably don’t get enough sleep.

The Year of Not Reading or Writing

Based on the results from 2018, I set an ambitious goal for this year’s Goodreads reading challenge—52 books or one per week.

At this point, the third week of August, I would need to have read 33 books to be on track. I have read 19. I’m actually lagging behind last year’s pace, when I managed to read 40 (with a goal of 32). To hit 40 I’d need to read 21 books in about 17 weeks.

That ain’t gonna happen unless I cheat and read a bunch of 50,000 word NaNoWriMo novels.

Why am I reading so much less this year?

Before answering that, I’ll note that my writing has stalled out, too. I’ve been keeping up on the blog, but the fiction writing has sputtered like a campfire in a rain shower. In the last few months, even the blog writing has suffered.

So here it is, the latter half of August and I’m not reading much and I’m not writing much.

Why?

The answer is: It’s not any specific thing, it’s a series of things. Mostly it’s me.

As ridership continues to increase, it is increasingly rare that I get a seat at the start of my morning commute (which begins with a 30+ minute train ride), so I don’t start reading until I get a seat, as I am not comfortable reading while standing up. I could read while standing, so this is kind of on me. But it still means I don’t read as much.

But there are days where I could read and don’t, I just put on my headphones and try to blot out the sound (and world).

I sometimes read at home, but it’s rare.

For the writing, I enjoy the irony of The Journal, my unfinished novel, in which the protagonist struggles with writing, knowing all the ways to get going, knows that you don’t wait for the muse to arrive, that you make time to write, that you sacrifice and force yourself to do it.

And then still struggles. As I do. Why? Ennui? Laziness? I’m not really sure, anymore.

Also, I’ve been playing a lot of City of Heroes again and until the shine of that wears off, it will continue to occupy a chunk of my free time (I had a seven year gap where I didn’t play after the game was shut down).

There are other things I intend to do—draw me, look into meditation, stretching and more—and I dabble, but ultimately don’t follow through.

Maybe I just suck at time management.

I’ve looked at time management apps and have yet to find one I really like and click with. Maybe I’ll look again. I’ll just pencil the search into my current non-existent time management/to-do app, ho ho.

Anyway, I’m writing this on my lunch break and running out of time, so I need to wrap up in some clever way or come back to this later. Or both.

Or neither.

More later tonight. For real. (Probably.)

The strange inconvenience of summer weather

It is raining today.

That’s fine. It’s dry enough that a little rain is good. It makes the grass grow and all that.

Summer rain is kind of weird, though. While it is cooler than normal, it’s not actually cool—it’s 17C right now, which is t-shirt weather. But if you go outside wearing a t-shirt you will come out looking like an entrant in a wet t-shirt contest. Which is handy if you are actually on your way to a wet t-shirt contest. It’s otherwise less desirable.

However, if you wear a jacket…well, it’s too warm to wear a jacket. So you can keep dry, but get all sweaty and gross instead.

Basically, summer and rain don’t really fit together well. Science has obviously failed us here, as there’s no super-light fabric that can deflect raindrops. This is also why I don’t wear a jacket when I run in the rain, even in the winter when it’s actually cold.

The solution, then, is to stay inside and play video games or watch something on one of the five thousand streaming services now available. Hold on, I’ve just received an update—make that 6,000.

The “Did Not Need” Vacation 2019 list

I’ve fallen a tad behind in writing about stuff and junk, like the camping trip Jeff and I took last month. I have the text written for that and will pick and post the appropriate photos soon™.

In the meantime, here’s a post-trip list of what I took and found useful and what I didn’t need to bother with. For every trip I have to consider things like:

  • How long I’ll be away
  • What kind of place we’re staying at (campsite with full hookups, abandoned farm in the country*, luxury hotel, etc.)
  • How much is practical to bring along because the easy solution would be to bring everything if possible

We were going to be camping for a week in Hope at a campsite on the edge of town, with full electrical and water. We’d go without either the last day and a half at the dirt bike camp, but generally we’d be in civilization and close to the outdoors, rather than the reverse (as would be the case at Manning Park, for example). We did not plan on doing any laundry while away.

Here are the things I brought and did not use:

  • Jeans. It was mid-July and though we had a few misty days, it was never cold enough to wear pants. Even if it had rained all week, I still don’t think they would have been needed. Summer vacation does not require one to be a pantser, you might say.
  • Long sleeve shirt. See above.
  • More than one hoodie. I brought a thicker one and a thinner one and only wore the thinner one. See above and above.
  • iPad. I figured since we had electricity, I’d bring along my MacBook Pro, which is rated for 10 hours of battery life–the same as the iPad, but with the bonus of having a larger screen and keyboard. I never looked at the iPad, though I did charge it once just to keep it topped up.
  • Long socks. See bullet points 1, 2 and 3.
  • Running gear. I brought everything–shoes, belt, shirts, shorts, cap. But I never ran. It wasn’t out of laziness, either–we did plenty of hiking and biking and disc-tossing and such. I probably could have squeezed a run in, but I’ve only ever done this once while away (in Kamloops). Plus there was a cougar alert at the campsite, which made me not really want to go dashing off on my own.
  • Charger for Apple Watch and iPhone. I forgot the trailer has these.
  • Sleeveless t-shirts. I never wore them, not wanting to get my shoulders burned. I stuck to regular t-shirts. As it turned out, I likely wouldn’t have gotten burned, anyway, as it never got hot until the last day.
  • Jabra Move wireless headphones. I never listened to music because we were always doing other stuff.
  • Charging cable for the Kobo e-reader. It didn’t need to be charged, it actually wasn’t even close to needing to be charged, one of the perks of e-readers. Mind you, the MacBook Pro also didn’t need to be charged, because I used it for less than an hour per day.
  • Electric shaver. I could have slummed for a week without shaving, really.

Overall, my load would definitely have been lighter in hindsight, but I can use this knowledge going forward to be more efficient and satisfy my latent OCD.

The things I was glad I brought:

  • MacBook Pro. I wrote every day.
  • Kobo e-reader. I spent enough time reading to warrant bringing it along, plus it’s fairly light and compact.
  • Lots of t-shirts and socks. These tend to get dirty and stinky when you’re outdoors, so more is better.

I forgot to bring along bug spray, but surprisingly there were very few bugs. I got a couple of minor bites and that was it. I’m probably forgetting a few things–one of the hazards of writing this more than two weeks after getting back. If need be, I’ll jazz this up later. It’s mostly reference for the next trip, anyway. If this accidentally informed anyone reading it, I apologize!

Best photo of a MacBook Pro accompanying an article on Windows 10 writing apps

Right here:

The best part is the editor’s note at the bottom of the list:

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2013 and has been since updated for freshness, and accuracy.

My own editor’s note: Windows 10 did not exist in 2013. Fresh and accurate indeed.