A drawing per…month?

One of the things I did when making my resolutions for 2019 was lower the bar. In some cases I didn’t just lower the bar, I gently set it down on the ground. I wanted as little friction as possible to make progress, hoping the ease in doing so would provide sufficient psychological boost to push me beyond my terribly modest goals and reach for the sky, or at least something that requires me to stand on my toes.

One might make the argument that since I obviously know I’m trying to “trick myself” into improvement, it will never work. And that’s possible. But I like to think I’m at least willing to meet my brain halfway on this.

And so I am adding another resolution for the remaining 11 months of 2019: A drawing per month. Not one per week or day, just one every month–a modest goal that can be built on.

I have 20 days to keep pace going forward. Will I draw a blank (lol)? Find out on February 28! Or hopefully sooner. You never know.

30 day check-in on 2019 resolutions

The first month of 2019 has passed. Let’s see how the ol’ resolutions are doing. Remember, I have 11 more months to make “course corrections” in the event of resolution recidivism.

  • Drop to 150 pounds. Realistically, I was not going to drop 17+ pounds in a month. I did drop 0.2 pounds, though. At that rate I will hit 150 by 2026. I may need to re-examine my current diet.
  • Write something every day. I am 100% on this so far, though some days have been a struggle. I don’t have any momentum yet, but feel I am on the verge, so I expect better in February.
  • Run at least once per week. 50% on this, so room for improvement. But I am running!
  • Read at least 52 books. I’m close to finishing my third book, so a bit behind. On the other hand, I went an entire week without reading, so I handicapped myself.
  • Eat better. Definite improvements here, especially with evening snacking. More improvements to come.
  • Learn and practice meditation. I have not started this yet. I kind of feel like I need to get a few other things sorted first, but maybe I’m just stalling.
  • Stretch. I finished reading a book on stretching, but have yet to stretch. Some preliminary “stretching” left me mildly alarmed at how incredibly inflexible I am.
  • Redo the Complaint Free World 21-day challenge. I haven’t formally restarted the challenge, but I am being a lot more mindful about saying negative things to others. I want to make myself and things around me better, and I know that bellyaching–though satisfying–is not the way to do it.

Overall a mixed bag, but nothing I would consider an outright failure at this point. I am cautiously encouraged.

The long way to not doing something (Writing Edition)

At least I didn’t wait until 11:56 p.m. to start writing tonight (it’s 8:26 as I type these words). I have been re-reading parts of Road Closed, my still-unfinished 2014 National Novel Writing Month novel. And I have to say, I rather like the parts that I’ve read. The story, told from the perspective of Christian Warren, a 20-year old alcoholic college student trying to right his life, is engaging, he’s appropriately self-deprecating and never comes off as “woe is me.” He feels like someone you could sit down and listen to tell stories. Which is good, because the whole novel hinges on him telling his story.

Road Closed has mutated a fair bit from its inception as a writing exercise based on a photo prompt. By the time it became a NaNo novel, I was writing it using WriteMonkey on a Surface Pro 3 (and on my home PC). After getting a MacBook Pro sans Touch Bar in late 2016, I found Ulysses and switched to writing the story using that. As Ulysses is Mac (and iOS) only, this meant I could only write on the MacBook, which was maybe not the best idea, given I still had my home PC at, well, home.

Then Ulysses switched to a subscription model and I’ve made it well clear what I think of that.

After that I moved the story over to Scrivener, which has the bonus of being available on Mac, Windows and iOS. Problem solved, novel finished, royalties and accolades flooding in.

Well, not quite. There were two remaining wrinkles:

  • My fear of Scrivener eating my work based on past experience where Scrivener ate my work
  • Disparity between the Mac and Windows versions. I upgraded to version 3.0 on the Mac in November 2017. At the time the 3.0 PC version had just released as a free beta, with the final release due “soon.” Now, in January 2018, version 3.0 for Windows is…still unreleased (they are now pretty sure it will ship sometime between April and June of this year). While the Windows 3.0 beta continues to be available to use, I am hesitant to put anything other than test material in it, mainly due to the bullet point above, with the bonus of seeing how much more likely beta software will eat my work.

So although the story is in Scrivener, I haven’t really done much with it. In theory this could change in a few months when the Windows version finally catches up.

But then I actually dusted off Ulysses on the MacBook (the earlier non-subscription version still works) and was entranced by its simple, clean interface all over again.

But as I mentioned, it’s now subscription-only and Mac-only.

And I started mulling over various scenarios:

  • Get a dock for my MacBook Pro to hook it up to my PC monitor and peripherals so I could use it to write on a larger screen (and with a keyboard that won’t jam up from motes of dust)
  • Get an actual desktop Mac. The choice here is simple: the Mac mini, because Apple literally has no other model that isn’t an all-in-one like the iMac, or horribly outdated, like the 2013 Mac Pro.
  • Build a Hackintosh, either using an Intel NUC (advantage: very tiny and can sit unobtrusively on the desk while my PC remains under it) or with something full-size that could also serve as a replacement for my current PC (probably not a great option for a host of reasons)

After this mulling, I realized what I had actually done was concoct a grand series of excuses that all led to one thing: Not working on the actual novel itself. Whatever software I use is just a tool. I had become the equivalent of a person tasked with hammering nails into a board and could not choose between three slightly different hammers, so the board remained nail-free and perhaps something sad or awful transpired as a result. Maybe a dollhouse collapsed. I don’t know. But dithering over what piece of software to use is not going to accomplish anything useful that I can see, unless the future completion of my novel somehow starts a chain of events that accelerates global warming or something, and the world is better off if I never finish it.

So consider this an addendum to my New Year Resolutions:

  • Pick a program and hardware platform to use for my writing, then continue to work on–and finally finish–Road Closed. My self-imposed deadline for this decision is Friday, January 25, 2019. Writers work better with deadlines, right? I predict great success!

We’ll find out in six days.

Addendum: This post was written on the MacBook Pro, hooked up to my 24″ monitor, using the CTRL keyboard and a Logitech Marathon 705 mouse. To get this working, I needed:

  • The Apple HDMI dongle. This includes:
    • HDMI port to connect to the monitor
    • USB 3.0 Type-A port to connect the receiver for the mouse
    • USB Type-C port for the power cable so the laptop isn’t running off battery
  • To plug in the USB-C cable for the keyboard directly into the other USB-C port on the MacBook, as it would not work on the USB-C port on the HDMI dongle

It’s not pretty, but it works and almost makes me forget how terrible the keyboard on the MacBook is. The setup looks like this:

New Year Resolutions 2018: I should stick to these because we’re still here

Of the ten resolutions I made this year, I hit four of them and failed on six. Not exactly inspiring, but then this year has been bleak in an existential sort of way that hasn’t happened in a long time, thanks to the appalling spectacle of Trump’s breathtakingly corrupt and inept presidency, which easily eclipsed my absolute worst expectations.

But enough of that. The world didn’t blow up in 2017, so there is a small glimmer it will make it through 2018, too. Therefore, my resolutions.

My theme for 2018 is “Be realistic” so my goals are more modest than in years past.

  • Drop to 150 pounds. I got as low as 153 this year, but climbed back up in the last few months to 161.6 today. I’m ready to redouble my efforts, which leads to…
  • 100% donut-free. Yes, no donuts all year, no matter what. If someone offers me a free donut I will spurn it and cast aspersions upon the giver (“Are you trying to kill me slowly? What cruel sort are you?”) Well, maybe not so much the casting aspersions but no donuts–yes!
  • No farmers tan. I got close this year, next year I’ll do it! Stretch goal: full upper body tan. This also provides incentive for resolution #1.
  • Write 250 words of fiction per day. I bombed out on my goal of 1,000 per day this year and originally was going to aim for 500 next year, but instead settled on the even more modest 250 words per day. I can always up the number from there.
  • Run at least three times a week. Should be doable, barring injury. Alternate goal: any type of exercise at least three times a week. In case of weather or something, where I would use an elliptical instead of running, for example.
  • Read at least 32 books. Unchanged from this year, should be doable.
  • One drawing per week. To help nurture my creative side. It can be anything, in any format. Stick men? Sure. A circle with two dots in it representing a mouth-less face? Why not!
  • Win the lottery. Repeating this. I’ll use the money wisely, I swear!
  • Eat better. This ties in with going 100% donut-free and involves drastically cutting back on all snacking. Snacking is bad. Healthy snacking is hard, so it’s probably better to just avoid altogether.
  • Curb my web surfing and put my WoW sub on hold. These are time sinks that take away from other things I could be doing that would be more productive and probably more enjoyable, too.

Bonus resolution:

  • Continue to spurn social media, especially Facebook. This one is easy because I don’t have to change a thing!

New Year Resolutions 2017: The results

With only five days left in the year, here’s a look at how I fared on the resolutions I made for 2017. Here’s the original post in full for reference: New Year Resolutions for 2017

I will make resolutions for 2018 tomorrow.

Scorecard for 2017 Resolutions:

  • drop to 145 pounds. LOL NO. In October I was 153 pounds, down from 165.9 at the start of the year, but the last two months have been a disaster of gluttony and not enough exercise. I’m at 163 pounds today, barely down from the start of the year. I blame my mouth and brain in equal measure.
  • run at least three times a week barring injury or other extraordinary circumstance. YES–mostly. A few lapses here and there, especially during the fall, but I’ve kept up running, including running at work during lunch when it became too dark to run after work, as well as running on treadmills during last winter’s hellsnow.
  • no farmers tan. NO-ish. I did start wearing sleeveless shirts during the summer for my runs but too late to entirely shed the farmers tan. Still, a definite improvement over previous years.
  • killer abs. LOL NO. Did not even try.
  • eat better. Provisional NO. I ate better than last year, I did not generally eat better. As with the weight loss, I started strong, but collapsed in the last few months of the year. In this case I collapsed into a bed of donuts.
  • learn to swim. This was a joke so NO.
  • write 1,000 words a day. Sadly, NO. Again, I started out strongly, going to the Other 11 Months NaNoWriMo group weekly, but though I added about 10,000 words to my novel Road Closed, I never generated any momentum beyond that.
  • read at least 32 books. YES. I’m up to 37 and may hit 38 before the year is over.
  • be a positive influence to others. I’m going to say YES because no one has told me otherwise.
  • win the lottery. YES. But my winnings totaled less than $100.

Summary:

6 NO
4 YES

Not great, but not a total disaster, either. The most important ones I flopped on, though, so there is significant room for improvement in 2018.

In my defense, 2017 was generally a colossally awful year for the planet, not just me.

 New Year Resolutions for 2017 (assuming the world is still here by 2018)

It is time to make resolutions because tradition demands we make silly promises, break them, express regret, then do the whole thing over again a year later, which is just enough time to convince ourselves that this time will be different.

That said, my goal to get to 150 pounds this year was going quite well until mid-October. By then I was at 153 pounds and was still running regularly, having recovered nicely from an injury in the early spring (and having escaped battered but without any broken bits in my Great Tripping Incident in August). Then two things happened:

  1. I caught a very nasty cold. It laid me out for a couple of weeks and I missed a bunch of runs.
  2. Simultaneously, the sun began setting early enough that by the time I was healthy again I could no longer run my usual routes after work because it was now dark and I’d be attacked and carried away by vampire bats.

To address #2 I kept running on the weekends, but once a week is not enough to keep in shape. I pondered running during lunch at work but did not commit to it for various reasons. I thought about using the treadmill at the Canada Games Pool but my partner kept offering to go and then not really wanting to, which made it easy for me to decide that yes, it was easier to just sit at home and eat bags of Bugles instead.

This is all to say that about two months later I am up to 164 pounds, an impressive backslide. Gaining weight is very easy. If I made that a resolution I’d have 51 weeks left to work on any and all other resolutions.

My first resolution, therefore, will not be a huge surprise.

My Resolutions for 2017 Assuming Donald Trump
Doesn’t Destroy the World

  • drop to 145 pounds. Yes, I’m actually making the goal tougher for 2017. Secretly this was always my goal and 150 pounds was a soft target. I’ve been as low as 143 pounds and it’s definitely not too skinny on my frame. Though I am kind of skinny, anyway.
  • run at least three times a week barring injury or other extraordinary circumstance. I would previously include “the entire city covered in snow” being an extraordinary circumstance but really, there are gyms and treadmills, so this doesn’t qualify. It’s also the minimum needed to keep in decent shape.
  • no farmers tan. I wear t-shirts when running and as a result when I remove my shirt I a) blind anyone nearby with my ultra-white untanned body and b) get mocked for having conspicuously tanned arms right up to where the sleeves of my t-shirts sit. My solution this year will be to wear sleeveless shirts (I already have a few) and maybe a few stints working on a wee bit of a tan for my upper body. I might entertain the thought of running without a shirt when the weather is warmer but I’m not sure I should subject the world to that.
  • killer abs. Yes, the time has come to work on my upper body, especially if I’m not going to have an unseemly farmers tan. I haven’t decided how to do this yet. I have dumbbells but I tried them before and didn’t like them much. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure I won’t like anything I try to achieve this goal. It will be an interesting challenge.
  • eat better. This means fewer Bugles and saying no when offered candy. Currently, I tend to say yes except you can’t hear the actual word because I’m already shoving the candy into my mouth.
  • learn to swim. Haha, no. I’m not trying that again! Well, maybe. But only if I can learn with people who really can’t swim, not the bunch of cheaters I was grouped with when I took lessons in 2009.

That covers my health-oriented goals. Now onto being a better person in various ways.

  • write 1,000 words a day. No exceptions except under extraordinary circumstances like every keyboard, pen, pencil and other writing instrument in the world suddenly disappear and even then I could scratch out words in the dirt with a sturdy twig. These 1,000 words are to be fiction, so blog posts don’t count.
  • read at least 32 books. I’d love to bump this to 52 and do a book a week but I simply can’t read that fast. Maybe I could make speed reading a 2018 goal.
  • be a positive influence to others. I have no specifics on this. I’ll just try to think before I post, be nice and smile (but not in a creepy sort of way).
  • win the lottery. I’d spend the money wisely, I promise!

That’s good for now. If I think of more I’ll add them and I’ll try to re-visit the list periodically to see how I’m doing. I expect tears.