Category Archives: 2013

2013 Resolution Wrap-up

So, wrap-up time.  My 2013 resolutions were a thing. Given the nature of my goals, some of which were more of a becoming thing than a doing thing, it’s kind of hard to know exactly how I did.   I’ll try to give my thoughts about how they went, and some thoughts about how I want to proceed in 2014. Look for a new post with those as I finalize them (still considering how I want to approach them. I’m thinking of doing an RPG style game/goal this year.)

[ ] Create more  – I’m gonna give this a Fail. I don’t really think that I specifically created more this year. Although I tried a little, it wasn’t as much of a focus as I wanted it to be.  I did work on a model airplane for a while at the beginning of the year, I never really finished it.  I had wanted to do some video blogs, but never really got anywhere with that. 

[ ] Be kinder – With a few notable exceptions, I think I was a little kinder this year. I have to continue to work on it. I’m not very patient sometimes, and that leads me to do things that are unkind.  Pass, with continuing efforts.

[ ] Be more active – I’m going to say I achieved this goal. It probably could have been more measurable.  I can use my step count as a fairly good surrogate for my activity level.  In 2012, I recorded 1,880,902 steps.  In 2013, I recorded 2,198,161, a 16% increase.  On average, I took 6211 steps per day in 2013, compared to my long term average of about 5499 steps.

Here’s my step Beeminder goal this year.

[ ] Row the length of the Huron – Nailed it.  This was a symbolic goal (I did very little on the actual Huron this year, I think one float on Labor Day…), so it was really to pull 21,000 strokes on my rowing machine. Going into this, I wasn’t sure if I could do this. In the end, I probably could have doubled it, if I had really tried.  I finished up at the end of November.  I had a few eep! days, but I never fell off the road.  Here’s my Beeminder graph:

[ ] Cook more – I don’t have a baseline to compare to, but I think I did do a better job after I got several talkings to by my doctor.  Vegtember helped a lot, since it is very difficult to find vegetarian meals in the frozen food aisle.  I’ll give it a win.

[ ] Spend out – This one was one of those becoming goals.  I defined it as a reminder to not hoard, to use, to be willing to spend on quality.  It’s one that I need to continue to work on, but I feel like I’m remembering to spend out. (Now if I could just convince myself to replace my ragged work shoes with quality!)

[ ] Take a real vacation – I’m going to give this a double win.  The purpose was to take a vacation to a place I wanted to go and see things that I wanted to see on my own. In April, I visited Washington DC for the Cherry Blossom Festival and in October I headed down to Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky.  Both were incredibly cool. (I was playing with the idea of Costa Rica or Orlando for the October trip, but I delayed planning too long for both of those. Maybe this year!)

 

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Me at the Cherry Blossom Festival in  DC
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Mammoth Caves – Rainbow Room

 

[ ] Plan better – I’m going to give this a Fail.  I was terrible at it this year. I think I did ok with the planning for our Family Reunion in December, but that was about the only thing.  Both of my vacations were fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants experiences, and I missed out on a conference I wanted to attend because I didn’t plan far enough in advance.  Could use some better planning at work too, although for routine things, it went alright.

[ ] Plant a garden – Winner.  I planted a great garden. I struggled to keep up with it, my squash failed to thrive, and I regretted not planting green beans, but it was a resounding success. This year, I plan to expand my raised beds (I converted my non-raised bed into a bulb flower garden), and do a better job of eating what I grow!

[ ] Be ok- This one is a hard one to measure. I’m going to give it a pass though, based on one experience.  In the late summer/early fall, I could tell I was slipping back into depression (stupid brain not doing what it is supposed to!). My sleep was disordered and I was finding little joy in life. I asked for help, and got it, and am doing much much better now. That qualifies as being ok, I think.

[ ] Be braver – Again, a hard one to measure. I’m going to mark this goal as one to keep working on. I can’t think of anything that says I failed, but I can’t think of anything that says I didn’t fail, either.

[ ] Be believing – This is one of my major struggles. I’ll keep working on it.

[ ] Deliberate practices – I struggled here too.  I’ve got a few ideas for deliberate practices for the new year including keeping a diary and possibly folding paper cranes for the sake of folding paper cranes.  Possibly some meditation.

[ ] Host more dinners – I hosted a few, including my first Thanksgiving at my new house.  I don’t know if I hosted more or less than in prior years. I don’t feel like I hosted enough dinners specifically, plenty of parties and get-togethers (and Rob did a lot of the planning for those…). I have a specific goal to host 12 dinners (at least 1 a month) in 2014.  That way I will know if I accomplished it or not.

[ ] Invest in relationships – I did alright with this one.  I’m doing better with my family relationships, especially now that most of my immediate family have begun to text more frequently. (Got to maintain favorite uncle status! I have a nefarious plan for that in 2014! Watch out, other contenders!)  I’d like to do better outside of my family. I’m considering The Friends Game to help myself in 2014.

[ ] Dress better, take better care of my appearances – I’m going to give this a win.  I bought (and used!) a can of spray starch, I made certain to iron my shirts, I invested in higher quality clothes, especially dress shirts. (I have one with a monogram on the sleeve now! How fancy is that?)

[ ] Take a class – A win, but kind of a combined win-slash-maybe I’m cheating.  I took a yoga class… See next goal.

[ ] Do more yoga – Yep, Winner. I took a yoga class, which I really enjoyed.  I should have re-enrolled, but I didn’t. Guess there’s always this year.  Also, Yoga X from P90X is intense. I can making it through the dynamic standing poses, but by about 45 minutes in, when it gets to static poses, I die, every single time.

[ ] Shave with a razor – Winner. I don’t think I used my electric razor more than once or twice while traveling this year. I don’t know why I never went with a regular razor before. I can get away with only shaving every other day, and my side burns have never looked better.  Also, so much smoother!

[ ] Do things I’m not good at – I’m going to go with Fail on this one. I think it slid off my radar, and I continue to avoid doing the things that I’m not good at. I’ll have to try again.

In addition to these resolutions, I also did a series of monthly challenges, although not every month got one.  I for sure won February, March and Vegtember.

So, mostly successful in 2013.  I’ve got some things to continue to work on.  I’ve got some goals for 2014, which I am still mulling over.

How did things go for you?  Did you win 2013?

 

March Personal Challenge : Be More Active

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year, I set some New Year’s Resolutions, mostly principle based, to help me improve how I feel about myself and about my life.

The idea, when I had them, was to take one or two or three of the principles and work on them in any given time period (months being the most obvious.)

I’ll do a Jan-Feb wrapup here in a post or two, but I wanted to share an experience and my thinking about March.

In February, for reasons still a bit unclear to me, I asked myself a question: “Can I underspend a particular budget category?”

I do pretty good with my budget, but there is one line item that I constantly overspend: Shopping. I bin all of my Amazon purchases, clothes purchases (“Dress Better”), and most household goods to this category, and so have a tendency to overspend.  It’s not a problem to my overall budget, as I’ve got a lot of wiggle room baked in.  But I wanted to see if I could for once, spend within that budget on purpose. (“Deliberate practices”)

I’m happy to report that I could. It actually took a bit of work to rein back some impulse purchases, but I made it, underspending my budget by $43! No creative accounting or anything, although I did use points to pay for one Amazon purchase.

As I thought about the experience, I wondered what kind of a question could I ask myself for March.  I have been playing with the idea of eating Paleo or vegetarian for a month (“Cook More”), but felt like I need a bit more time to learn about those particular diet systems.  I’ve been meaning to start back up my Morning Mile (“Deliberate Practices” / “Be More Active”) once the weather starts to warm back up again. I had a great experience with that practice during November, and put it on the back burner for winter.

At approximately the same time I was pondering these big questions, I found an article about getting data out of the FitBit system into a Google Document.  I love my FitBit, but I’ve never been able to really analyze my habits with it. It’s great on a one off daily analysis, but I wanted to know how I have been changing over time.  Am I walking more? Am I walking less?

I spent some time figuring it out, but I’ve got my data over to a spreadsheet, where I learned some very interesting things.  For example, last November was my 2012 high for average daily steps: about 7,600 vs my long term average around 5,500. (No surprise, thanks to the Morning Mile). I was surprised that I only hit 10,000 steps in a day only 16 times in 2012.  Sundays are my least active day, and Saturdays are generally my most active, but in 2013 so far, it’s been a virtual tie between Mondays and Thursdays. I’ve apparently been more interested in watching TV on Saturdays than going for a walk. Cut me some slack, it’s cold in January and February!

I decide my question for March would be: Can I average 10K steps?  Can I get more 10K step days in March than I did last year? What does it look like if I try to get more walking in?

I started out on Friday with a Morning Mile, and by the end of the day had only made it to 9000 steps. (I definitely took a few extra trips downstairs at bedtime for things I had “forgotten” to get past 9000.) Saturday, I may have overcompensated with a walk, a row, and then picking the vacuum cleaner at Chapel Cleanup. I hit 10K shortly after noon and ended the day with 14K steps.  Already today I am at or above my Sunday average.

The graphs at the top of the page should show you how I’m doing. They should update daily. I’ll report back in April and let you know how it went.

Backwards in Oz

I apparently have to share this because after discovering this yesterday, I had very vivid dreams last night about telling other people.

I know that you probably won’t be as blown away as I was, because you probably didn’t devour all of the Oz books when you were a kid, like some people I know.

I’ve been listening to the Wicked Years series by Gregory Maguire during my commute recently, and I’ve been holding a map in my head of Oz, of you know where Munchkinland and Gillikan and the Emerald City are.  And I keep getting tripped up.  Something wasn’t working quite right with my assumptions about Oz.

Large portions of the book took place in Munchkinland, where Dorothy originally landed.  In my mind, (like the map below), Munchkinland is on the left side of the country.  But wait! Dorothy landed on the Wicked Witch of the EAST!  Munchkinland in my mind is on the West!  No wonder I keep getting things messed up.

 

But notice that compass rose on the map. It’s oriented so that North is up, and East is left.  Crazy!

According to Wikipedia, Mr. Baum had a map on a glass slide that he used in a traveling show.  When he later copied it from the slide, he accidentally reversed it, and rather than redraw it, he just reversed the compass rose.  His editor later flipped it back the normal way, adding to the confusion.  Apparently, I am not the only one that this mixed up.  Even the woman who took over writing Oz books, Ruth Plumly Thompson, reversed directions in Oz frequently!

And now you know! And maybe your mind was just as blown as mine was.

Reviews – pt 1

As part of my goal to Create More, I decided that I should review the media that I consume, as a way of reacting to it and as a way to be more conscious about what I am consuming.  Expect to see a few of these here and there.  I dream of maybe making video reviews at some point, but I’m not quite there technically yet.

Son of a Witch – Gregory Maguire

I saw this on the Audiobook shelves at the Library, and I’ve kind of been wanting to read it for a while.  I’m an unrepentant Oz fan, so I picked it up.  It’s the sequel to Wicked, which I read years ago, and of which, I will admit, I didn’t fully remember the plot.  It follows the story of Liir, Elphaba’s possible son as he tries to figure out his place in the world.  It was a fresh, if slightly dystopic, revisit of the familiar Oz.  Liir struggles with feelings of insignificance, and is constantly telling people he isn’t important while taking charge of situations and pushing for results.  Who hasn’t been there, but seriously, Liir was a bit whiny. (Not as whiny as the Cowerdly Lion, but I haven’t finished that book yet.)

I listened to a recording that Maguire had done himself.  When I first realized that, I cringed internally.  Authors usually aren’t as good of voice artists as voice artists are, but I was surprised.  With the exception of a few really annoying Animals, he was actually a great voice for the books. (And I imagine that the Animals would have been annoying anyhow.)

I’d give it 3 stars of 5.

 

The Gathering Storm – Wheel of Time Book 12 – Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

I’ve been saving the last two Wheel of Time books until the final one came out this year.  It is such an immersive universe that I wanted to wait so that I could jump in once instead of three times.   Just trying to keep characters and plots straight was difficult enough.  I resorted to wikipedia for plot summaries of the previous books and I constantly had to google characters and plot points to bring myself back up to speed.  But hey, that’s what tablet computers are for, right?

I think Sanderson stepped into Jordan’s story admirably well. I could occasionally see his dorkiness shine through the text, but it wasn’t distracting, and I felt he was true to the story telling styles required for the Wheel of Time.   The characters rang true to how I remembered them (It’s been years since I picked up the series, so I can’t speak to if there are glaring differences between the authors.)

As to the story itself, the main themes seemed to be the consequences of alienation and of reconciliation.  We creep ever closer to the Last Battle.

I’m going with 4 of 5 stars.

Fringe – Season 1

Fringe is one of those shows that was advertised alongside Lost, and so you’d think I would have picked it up ages ago.  I didn’t. The pilot involved a very grotesque terrorist attack, which was heavily advertised at the time.  I didn’t get the point of the show from the advertisements, and so I didn’t watch it. Kind of like I did with Pushing Daisies.

Fortunately, some of the tastemakers that I follow on Tumblr posted just enough amusing Fringe GIFs at approximately the same time Amazon made it available for streaming that I was intrigued enough to give it a shot.  I’m glad I did.

It took me several episodes to get into the show, but I was eventually hooked.  The main characters all have a fantastic chemistry that pulled me into their world.  The Peter / Walter relationship intrigues me enough to make up for the silly pseudo-science.  I am also a amused by the Ford product placements.  When the show finally started hinting at its main mystery, very late in the season, I knew I was in for watching the whole show.  I won’t ruin the secret, but trust me when I say that getting past the pilot is totally worth it down the rest of the series.

4 of 5 stars.

Goals for 2013

[ ] Create more
[ ] Be kinder
[ ] Be more active
[ ] Row the length of the Huron
[ ] Cook more
[ ] Spend out
[ ] Take a real vacation
[ ] Plan better
[ ] Plant a garden
[ ] Be ok
[ ] Be braver
[ ] Be believing
[ ] Deliberate practices
[ ] Host more dinners
[ ] Invest in relationships
[ ] Dress better, take better care of my appearances
[ ] Take a class
[ ] Do more yoga
[ ] Shave with a razor
[ ] Do things I’m not good at