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

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 goals

Here are my goals for the month:

  • stay sane
  • stay the same weight or hopefully lower–as mentioned before, December is not a great month for weight loss
  • continue working on my currently unfinished NaNoWriMo novel, The Journal
  • to generally write more; last month was a rare off-month on the blog and I will work to correct that
  • read at least a few more books–I am at 36 read so far this year
  • to take more photos of things interesting and mundane
  • get a new computer desk and set of drawers to store computer-y things
  • run and walk as weather permits. I don’t mean walking as in walking around the condo or walking to the store, I mean exercise-type walking where I move almost as fast as a 17 year old girl texting on her smartphone
  • to stay donut-free
  • to do more cleaning and organizing, getting rid of more unwanted and unneeded stuff
  • to start putting together parts for a new PC
  • to make an extra effort to not complain, to remain positive and offer constructive feedback and suggestions where appropriate
  • to make more lists
  • indulge in sarcasm just a wee bit from time to time

Things I would not expect in late October

  • So much sunshine (not a complaint)
  • Being able to walk comfortably outside wearing only a t-shirt (well, and pants, too)
  • Flowers still in bloom (I never paid much attention to their seasonality until I started taking pictures this year)
  • Snow (I’m not expecting any to happen this October, though I remember at least one Halloween with a few idle flakes falling on the trick or treaters)
  • Valentine’s Day promotions (still hasn’t happened–yet)

It’s October, the Octoberiest month of the year

It’s time for a list, specifically an October list! More specifically, several October lists!

What I expect in October:

  • 31 days
  • 31 nights
  • Temperatures to be on average cooler at the end of the month than at the start
  • Many leaves on the ground
  • Rain
  • Air conditioners put away until next June or thereabouts
  • Halloween
  • Halloween candy
  • Halloween candy to share shelf space with Christmas candy
  • Thanksgiving
  • A pseudo-turkey (a real one doesn’t work well with only two people to eat it, unless you really, really like turkey leftovers

What I have planned in October:

  • To maybe drop below 160 pounds for real
  • Don’t laugh, I’m serious
  • To avoid all Halloween candy
  • To also avoid the Christmas candy
  • To probably avoid fudge
  • Mmm, fudge
  • To pick my NaNoWriMo 2018 novel and outline it in preparation for the glory of NaNoWriMo in November
  • To finally settle on what I’ll be using for writing the above-mentioned masterpiece. Still leaning toward WriteMonkey.
  • To run at least on weekends, no matter what the weather
  • To take more pictures, especially of trees and their leaves
  • To continue spring cleaning four months after spring ended

Weird rain

Weird in that today is the first time in a long while that we have had fairly steady rain during the day.

School kids were probably fuming. This is the first weekend since classes started.

Other signs of impending fall:

  • The swimming pool at Hume Park is closed for the season, and has been drained. The slide is still in place, so if someone really wanted to, they could climb up it and slide down into a nearly four foot deep concrete hole. Probably not recommended.
  • Likewise, the bubble over the tennis courts at the Burnaby Tennis Club (which I can see on my runs at Burnaby Lake) has been put back in place. It looks like a big oval marshmallow. Mmm. marshmallows. People would have been able to play tennis today because it’s up, so good timing there.
  • The sunset tonight was at 7:37 p.m. The post-dinner walks are going to be spooky pretty soon.
  • It never got past 20ºC today. In fact I don’t think it got past 16. Brr, relatively speaking.

I’m not complaining about the change in weather, mind you, as we need the rain and despite a slow start in July, the summer has been pretty dry overall. Still, I always lament this season’s passing. The world just feels so alive and vibrant in the summer.

I will now count the days until next summer. Actually, thanks to a Google search, I now know it’s 265 days. I’m undecided on whether this precise level of knowledge is a good or bad thing.

A list of failure, a list of hope

Here’s a list of things I have tried and failed to do (or didn’t do enough) that I’m thinking of trying again:

  • Typing. I mean, I can type, I just don’t touch-type, and while I’m reasonably fast for someone who uses three fingers instead of ten, I know I could be a lot faster. However, past attempts have not gone well. Still, enough time has passed that I think I’m ready to give this another shot. I may not choose Mavis as my guide this time, though. Sorry, Mavis!
  • Swimming. I live on the coast. Knowing how to swim is a good thing. As with typing, previous attempts did not end with great success. I can at least go into this knowing that I have a fear of water to overcome. Or maybe more precisely, a fear of drowning, which technically requires water (yes, I could also drown in a giant vat of chicken broth, but I’m more likely to go swimming in water than chicken broth).
  • Programming. Just kidding. This is one area where I’ve made peace with my mind just not being suited for this kind of task. I’m okay with that. I like to think I’ve helped someone else gain employment as a programmer through my diligent avoidance of programming.
  • Drawing. I am not bad at drawing, though I’m not good, either. I’d like to dabble in this more as a kind of therapy or meditation. I find doodling soothing and relaxing.
  • Stretching. I just need to do this. I used to stretch before runs, then got paranoid that I’d injure myself. Then I injured myself anyway, probably because I wasn’t stretching. So I plan to start stretching. Then I can say I have a stretch goal. Thank you, I am here all night.

Things we’ll all laugh about in the future: A list

Things we’ll look back on and have a good chuckle about:

  • Facebook
  • Democracy
  • Stable climate
  • Florida
  • Internet-connected anything
  • Fossil fuels

Well, that was kind of depressing. But let me try to expand a bit on each.

Facebook. From a simple way to see what’s happening with your friends and family, no matter where they are, to a complicit force in the spread of conspiracy theories, hate speech and the undermining of democratic governments, Facebook is easily the #1 tech-based scourge. I do not believe its absence would make the world worse in any way, and would really like to see a competitor try to recapture what it originally was. But it may be too big to stop now.

Democracy. The last few years have demonstrated how fragile democracy is. It’s also shown how bonkers the U.S. system of government is. It is something of a miracle that it has stood for so long (that whole civil war notwithstanding). I don’t know what the next few years will bring, but if someone got kidnapped by Bigfoot and was never seen again, like some American president, for example, the world would be better off.

Stable climate. Here’s the thing: the climate on Earth is always changing. Just look up “snowball Earth” to see. But while the climate is changing now and for the worse (as far as human habitation goes), our blundering, polluting ways are making the changes happen faster and with more severe consequences. Short of aliens with superior technology stepping in and saying, “Okay, you dumb Earthlings, you’ve screwed up enough” I don’t think we’re going to see much improvement here.

Florida. Related to the above. It’s not a question of if Florida will be submerged under the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, but when. I wonder if there’s a plan to relocate Walt Disney World?

Internet-connected anything. It’s all a bit silly now, but I have to admit, I still enjoy barking at Google Maps on my phone to “take me home” and getting real-time directions, or using Siri to start a run, add items to a list, or even just record a random thought or idea. Maybe we won’t laugh about this in the future.

Fossil fuels. Unless we learn how to make new dinosaurs and accelerate the millions of years it takes to turn them into oil, fossil fuels are as doomed as Florida. We’ll laugh because of how crude (not an oil joke. Really.) fossil fuels will seem as we jet around in fusion-powered flying cars. Assuming we haven’t nuked the world, of course.

I like lists (of old songs)

As expected, my three month trial of Apple Music has turned into a giant Music Nostalgia Machine.

I’ve been adding songs to a playlist cleverly called Pop Stuff. If I Think of a song, I add it. Most of them were songs I liked but not enough to buy the albums they were on because I was cheap and/or picky.

Here’s the list so far because, as has been established, I like lists. The songs are in the order I added them, which is random.

Save a Prayer. Duran Duran’s weirdly soothing mix of synths and guitars is both very 80s and yet timeless.
Don’t You Want Me. This was notable in being the first all-synth song to go #1. That seems positively quaint today, but in 1981 it was the first taste of what was to come.
The Safety Dance. The video is silly, the song is silly, the name of the band is silly, but it’s just so catchy. Also, synths because the 80s.
Ray of Light. From 1998, this may be Madonna’s best song. Effervescent, propulsive and vocally exciting.
Got to Get You Into My Life. I always liked this Beatles song. I think the brassy horns did it because as a kid I didn’t know what brassy horns were, I just knew I liked them.
Something About You. What lifts this song is both the soaring falsetto of keyboardist Mike Lindup and the funky bass of Mark King. The video features King as this weird pantomime character that turns seriously creepy toward the end of the song. I have no idea what they were going for.
Beat It. Never had enough interest in Jackson to commit to his albums, but really liked “Beat It.” The start of his vocal tics doesn’t diminish it.
Billie Jean. More tics and as David Letterman pointed out in 1982, he totally says “chair” instead of “child.”
Voices Carry. This song doesn’t hold up as well as I thought it would, but the chorus is still sweetly sung.
Radio Ga Ga. A guilty pleasure of sorts. The video, which intercuts clips from Metropolis, doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s fun to watch, especially the bits with the band in the flying car. Most of them look vaguely uncomfortable.
Under Pressure. This song is a lot weirder than you probably remember. Freddie Mercury vamps it up while Bowie treats it Very Seriously.
We Will Rock You. Queen enters arena mode. And it works.
We Are the Champions. Arena mode, but quieter.
We Belong. Pat Benatar turns nice and this is a nice song.
White Rabbit. Amusingly subversive, the way Grace Slick’s vocals build to a crescendo is still really effective.
I Want You to Want Me. A fellow student was constantly playing Cheap Trick in Drawing & Painting class, so I pretty much knew their first two albums by heart. This song is even slighter than I remembered. Surrender is better.
Heat of the Moment. Asia was one of those “supergroups” that had the unfortunate luck of peaking with their debut, making everything after a bit of a disappointment. This song is still catchy and serves as a kind of template for what some call the widescreen music of the 80s.
Beds are Burning. Peter Garret has a weird voice and dances like a chicken, but this song delivers its message about the plight of Australian aboriginals in a slick package. Also the other band members were all really hot. I’m just sayin’.
A Horse With No Name. The lyrics are silly (“the heat was hot”) but the layered vocals are as smooth now as they were in 1971.
The Reason. The jewel robbery of the video bears no relation to the content of the song, but that’s okay. There’s nothing outstanding here, but it all fits together so well it doesn’t matter. Plus more hot band members. Just sayin’.
She Loves Everybody. One of the newer songs on the list. I don’t recall how I came across Chester French, the short-lived duo, but this song (and video) are amusing and catchy. I like catchy music. I need to find a synonym for “catchy.”
Skyfall. As Bond themes go, this is one of the best. It’s theatrical, Adele’s vocals lend it the proper gravitas, and the orchestration works perfectly. The lyrics range from opaque to silly, fitting with Bond, really.
Empty Garden. Elton John’s tribute to John Lennon. This one really takes me back to 1981.
(Just Like) Starting Over. The above inspired me to get this, Lennon’s fun take on renewal, which gleefully changes style throughout, not to mention Lennon’s occasional riffs on Elvis. Enough time has elapsed that listening to it no longer makes me feel sad.
9 to 5. Short, catchy and perfectly calibrated to the movie that it served as the theme for. In the 1980s Dolly Parton could do no wrong.
Can’t Smile Without You. Barry Manilow came out as gay at the age of 73. I hate to tell you this, Barry, but we kind of knew. This is classic Manilow–big, schmaltzy, but also kind of irresistible.
Waiting for a Girl Like You. My favorite Foreigner song. I love the icy keyboards.
Can’t Fight This Feeling. Another guilty pleasure. A bit too slick for its own good, this REO Speedwagon hit is terrific in small does.
Angel of the Morning. I love the brief martial drum in Juice Newton’s cover.
Africa. I know there’s some Toto song I really liked back when they were big (around the time of Toto IV). I thought this was it, but listening to it, I’m not so sure. Maybe it was Rosanna?
Take On Me. Everyone remembers the video, but I’m still impressed at how lead vocalist Morten Harket climbs through the octaves during the chorus.
Hold Me Now. Not sure if guilty pleasure. But dare I say it–catchy? The Thompson Twins also serve as an early example of inclusiveness.
Some Like It Hot. Power Station was another supergroup that debuted big, then disappeared (they did do a second album about a decade later). The song opens with big, crunchy percussion and Robert Palmer growls and croons his way through this with aplomb.
Sledgehammer. Everyone remembers the video, but the song itself is an amusing delight all on its own.

Three things I like right now

Time to put a more positive spin on..a couple of things.

  • my legs are still sexy, albeit with less tone than a few months ago. But still sexy.
  • I lost almost four pounds during my kidney infection. Sure, not the best way to lose weight, but a nice (if unintended) boost to my weight loss plan. It’s also helped to steer me away from snacks or at least blatantly calorie-rich ones. I actually bought apples!
  • still no nuclear war

Not the greatest list, but good enough for now. I’ll gussy it up later. I probably won’t, actually, but wanted to use the word “gussy.”

April, the shortest month of the year (when it comes to blog posts)

April was a bad month. Let me make a list:

  • I bombed out on a relatively easy goal for Camp NaNoWriMo 2018
  • I had to visit the emergency room after two days of throbbing pain in my mouth
  • I had to visit the dentist due to the above and get a semi-tooth yoinked due to infection
  • I had to take antibiotics due to the above which have fun side effects like diahhrea
  • I barely ran at all due to weather, my suddenly sore knees and general ennui
  • I gained 1.1 pounds (I’m actually surprised it wasn’t more)
  • I felt like no progress was made in work-related matters (this may change)
  • I wrote almost no fiction at all
  • My one-post-per-day blog rule fell to dust (this is post #21 and I’m pretty sure I’m not cranking out nine more tonight)
  • Other stuff

There were also some good things and I am more hopeful for May. If nothing else the weather should be better.

Also I’m going to start the 21-day complaint-free challenge again. I feel like I went from being super-observant in watching what I was saying (ie. complaining) to just opening my mouth and spewing rants almost randomly. I need to get back on track and find my inner teddy bear.

The spring list

Things to do, things to suffer through, things that just happen. This is spring.

  • warmer weather, yay
  • allergy season, boo
  • bees are back. As long as they are not killer bees, yay
  • still kind of rainy, boo
  • but now the sun feels warm again, yay
  • it’s still light after dinner, yay
  • still dark early in the morning, boo. But it’s early in the morning, so not a big boo.
  • next season is summer, yay
  • Easter weekend has two stat holidays, yay
  • Easter eggs, yay

On balance, spring is a pretty good season.