Getting Mugged

So, it’s been a while since I have been here (actually, a LONG while upon reflection) and a short back-story might be in order. I decided maybe 6 months ago to become more adept at drawing, thanks to my gaming friend Bill “WhiskeyKetchup” (not his real name…er, the Bill part is, but the WK part is his gaming nom de plume) and the skill he demonstrated in his hobby. He created one of those “adult” colouring books for his wife and I had serious doubts upon first examination…it was WAAAYYYY too good to have been made by hand. Looking at other works he did allowed me to change my opinion and see he was truly skilled at putting marks on paper in appropriate places.
I’ve wanted to do this (sort of…kinda…) for a long time without really giving it serious thought or effort. Until now, that is. I asked him if we could do a weekly challenge, draw the same thing and compare the results to provide incentive to improve (as well as actually DO the work). He agreed, and this is week 6 of the challenge.
Today, while doing laundry, I spent my typical session (45 minutes by the “focus@will” timer I use for background music) originally doing a warm-up exercise of drawing the same thing 20 times, building incremental improvements with each iteration. I did not get the second one done…

I was drawing the coffee mug that was sitting beside my drawing pad, the coffee cooling and decreasing in quantity over time. It was about a third of the way into the second drawing that the problem focused enough to result in a [small, but reasonably valuable pile of head-hair ripped from about temple high on both sides of my head] need to determine what was going on. It’s not like I’m making something up out of the depths of my soul, memory, or imagination…the blasted cup was sitting 14 inches from my right hand. So, why could I not draw the silly thing?

It also should be pointed out that one of my principle goals in this (longish-term endeavor) is to overcome the tendency to draw icons and to put what I actually see on the paper. I “know” what a coffee mug looks like, and could “draw” one in a moment, but in this time and place, the problem wasn’t with the mug, but the handle. In iconography drawing, the cup/mug always has the handle coming out of the side of the thing. On the table, it was rotated about 30 degrees toward me (clockwise as viewed from the top) and so I could see part of the outer face and part of the inner face (the handle was not a tube, but more of a rounded brick shape, roughly rectangular in cross section with the corners rounded off). It was driving me nuts, as it was also a highly glazed surface, so reflections were noticeable on both the mug and the handle, and it was also partially in the shade (where the light coming through the sky-light struck mostly the far edge but some hit the handle as well), so I was having no easy time with any of it.

Instead of being a warm-up exercise, it became an obsession of it’s own, devouring the full time the last load of clothes took in the dryer…and then some. Half a page of badly drawn cup handles later and I achieved only the first goal: finishing the coffee in the mug (drunken, not drawn). Even while driving home after folding clothes, my mind kept returning to the problem of drawing a twisting ribbon in 3-space on a 2-D page.

I “know” what I have to do…so why is it so hard to actually DO it?

I suspect that the problem lies within the scope of the explanation I heard many years ago, that the key difference artists have over mere mortals is the way they SEE the objects they draw. To the extent I can “train” myself to look at my subject in the same way an artist looks (that is, to see it the same way) it will be “easier” to make the needed marks on the paper with the stick in hand. To stop seeing a coffee mug handle and rather seeing a smooth curve bending over, then down and back a little…until it meets up with another curve which also bends in an interesting way and changes value as it moves over a little to the right, ending with a sweeping curve upwards… and so on.
Despite how “easy” this is, it is proving to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done…and re-done…and re-re-done…and erased and done over…and over…and…

And so, I’m home, several hours later, and still trying to recover from my brutal assault. At the very least, I have a badly bruised dignity and damaged self-worth. Yet, I suspect it is not going to be productive to file a police report on the mugging I took this morning…


post 82 of n


Stuck In The Middle With ME…

Sometimes I wonder who’s side my brain is on. I am usually mystified as to the deeper meaning of my dreams. I get a feeling for what they are trying to say, but most of the time it’s either dredging up minutia from the less interesting times of my life (propane or school related) or some kind of free-form rant about random topics of no practical application, without any hope of  understanding. Still waiting for popcorn most of the time, too…

Not so today. I’m perfectly clear on what the message of my last dream, who it was addressed to, and what is expected as a result. So little mist is present surrounding this last dreamscape, that I need to get moisturizer on my life to keep it from cracking.

I was sitting, listening to a guy complain about how unfair it was that he had been overlooked for (a job, or promotion, exactly what was not terribly relevant). He was peeved and was rehashing the indiscretion over again (for at least the n’th time) when I had enough and laid into him.

“Listen, I’m tired of you going on and on about how you were wronged, that your work was at least good enough to be chosen. [Ed note: apparently he was an artist of some kind, and the portfolio he presented was rejected.]

“If you would have taken the energy and effort you spent in complaining and kvetching, and simply taken a piece of paper and a pencil once a day and did a drawing, you would have much more experience and would be better than you were then. As it is you have wasted time and effort without getting anything out of it, and frankly wasted my time as well!” I really laid gave it to him, with gusto and great conviction.

Then I woke up…

And boy, was I ticked, because I knew EXACTLY what this dream meant. Hard to escape pain when you forcefully poke yourself in the eye with a sharp stick. I even tried to go back to sleep quickly so as to forget this lesson from my subconscious better half. No such luck.

So, here is a post. Next is a pencil sketch, a half hour spent on the guitar or keyboard. Previously there was 20 minutes of puzzle solving and a few exercises, a 15 minute walk followed by a reasonable lunch.

Not sure why I still feel guilty, but I presume it will pass eventually…maybe after a few days/weeks/months/years/decades/eons of repeated effort. One can only hope.

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right! Here I am…


post 81 of n

Asking the Hard Question

A few days ago, I called my friend Randy, and he asked me if I had watched the news yet. Since it was not quite 11:00 in the morning, my response was “of course not.” I typically watch the noon news about 15 minutes for the weather forecast and to watch Mr. Food (a quick recipe program from my youth…carried on after the death of the creator by his director), and turn the TV back off before the “pet of the day” feature comes on. In fact, if my set is on at all during the day, it’s either a weekend and I’m watching some sport event or it’s running a music app (Calm Radio or my Amazon Music subscription). I will watch the local news from 6-6:30 evenings, and (possibly, but not likely) the national news feed for 5-30 minutes. After that, there’s not much I watch, music (again) or some video game playing into the evening (Destiny has eaten many nights lately). But, to WATCH TV, in general that doesn’t happen.

Randy has committed a fair chunk of his life to following the news (I don’t remember his kitchen set displaying anything else…) and told me about the Las Vegas shooting. After another 10 minutes of talk, we said goodbye and I fired up the set…and lost 2 hours. Later another 45 minutes of focused attention directed at other peoples horror and shattered lives disappeared. Since then, I have listened to various sources (radio, mostly) of speculation, interviews, and commentary on what happened, why, and what could be done to prevent similar events in the future.

Much (if not most) of what I heard was predicable, and in the long run, pointless, as they were discussing answers to the wrong question. The bulk was (probably) well meaning, “considered” opinions intended to address concerns, solve problems and fix situations.

There was the call for stricter gun laws. Bans for assault rifles, wholesale removal of personal weapons from the hands of people in general. Others questioned what could be done to increase safety of the people attending events.

My dad had a habit of saying “locks only keep out honest people” and this concept applies in this situation. Legal restrictions only apply effectively to the people that are willing to follow such restrictions. In other words, a rule to make [insert position desired here] illegal/immoral/undesirable will not be obeyed by the very people it is aimed at, those who want to [insert position desired here]. The percentage of people committing crimes with legally obtained, licensed and registered firearms is ridiculously small. Making purchase, possession and use of an addictive (or simply desirable) substance illegal works mostly for the people that don’t want it in the first place. (In college I wrote a position paper making drug use legal with serious restrictions, including a lifetime agreement that getting a licence to consume would permanently make the user ineligible for ANY public assistance—unemployment, welfare, food stamps, medical assistance, the whole works—thus placing full acceptance of the individuals responsibility for consequences on his shoulders. I was the only person in the class of 30 that took a pro side…) Locks and laws.

But, fully automatic weapons are already illegal. Restricting hand guns would have no effect in this situation as they would only have been effective in the hands of a person in proximity to the shooter…in the hotel room (or possibly passing by and taking decisive action to break into a crime scene with the sound of massive firepower already taking place. Screening attendees or scanning crowds attending, again, is pointless, as the crime was not committed on the scene. Requiring armed snipers for every event scheduled everywhere “just in case” is insane.

“What could have been done, and/or what could be done in the future to prevent this from happening again” is the questions that are being asked, along with “WHY” but this is, I contend, the wrong question(s).

Ultimately, the question that HAS to be asked is: “What price are you willing to pay for prevention going forward?” How much of your life are you willing to change, what freedoms are you happy to give away to prevent this kind of event from happening.

The shooter broke out a couple of windows to provide a firing lane. Are you willing to pay $500+ more a night to stay in a building that has unbreakable windows, or built without windows at all so this cannot happen? The shooter (apparently) transported the weapons in his private vehicle and carried them into the hotel. Are you willing to give up private ownership of transportation, relying perhaps on a publicly owned pool of cars constantly monitored to prevent transport of “improper” materials? Willing to give up private ownership of almost everything so as to keep the world safe (I’m somewhat surprised there has not been a drone bomb attack yet at some large gathering of people, but then drones cost more than pressure cookers)? Ready to sign on for a national passport and checkpoints to do random inspections (if you think racial profiling is bad now, just wait…) without warning to keep the greater good safe from the actions of an independent madman?

The sorry truth is it is impossible to protect anything against the committed actions of an individual, one that is willing to pay whatever cost is deemed necessary to accomplish a sufficiently significant goal. Just ask any self-bomber, oh wait, you can’t… Assassinations, overthrows, even the most determined dictator can be targeted by a person “crazy” enough to do whatever it takes.

It hurts seriously to be writing this post. My heart goes out to the victims and families of the same. I am spending more time than I want meditating and praying for large groups of people I don’t know, and will (probably) never meet, but whose lives have been shattered by circumstances and events outside their control (including, but not limited to, earthquakes, hurricanes, wildfires, drive-by shootings, bombs, knives, guns, drunk/impaired/distracted drivers, prescription/illicit drug use, difference of opinion, [insert cause here]). I don’t want to be here, doing this. I’d rather be on the couch, reading a book and listening to music. But I feel compelled to ask the right question, and giving a personal answer, too.

I’m not willing to live in a North Korean kind of governmental enclave to assume some vision of protectionism. I hope I never have to find out personally what it means to experience the horrors of the full measure of evil mankind can generate against man. I fervently hope that, if the ultimate test case comes to pass, that I am able to rise to the occasion and be a part of the solution.

The world needs heroes, always has, always will. May we all be found worthy when our test comes…



Post 80 of n

Aiming At Perfection, And (Unfortunately) Hitting It

I have watched enough National Geographic and Nature programs to understand how “natural selection” works. The predator approaches the herd, considers options, then sprints into action. The herd scatters and (if successful) the victorious apex hunter takes down the prey. Messy, but effective, and this permits the hunter to continue to survive another time period.

A rarely stated consequence of this interaction is the strength of both the hunter and hunted is enhanced in this exchange. The successful hunt provides energy and experience for the hunter and reinforces (or improves) the skill set used, not to mention providing food and satiety. The herd is strengthened as a result of the loss of one of it’s members by the loss of the (relatively) weakest member. For whatever reason of combination of reasons, the victim is at the lower end of ability within the group. Slower, older (or younger), lame, inattentive, whatever reasons combined to result in the chosen victim being unsuccessful in avoiding the attack, the remaining members of the group are better in aggregate by the removal of a less-capable member of their society.

Man does not play by these rules.

As a direct result of his ability to create tools, we are the only creatures on the planet that can (and do) choose to kill the best of another species rather than the “worst” available. The concept of acquiring a trophy for display is meaningless when survival and self preservation is at the root of a hunt. My deer hunting friends often talk about letting the pronghorns pass by in anticipation of a bigger rack to arrive. While arguably a larger amount of meat is available on the older, more developed 8+ point rack holders, it is less about filling the freezer than the space over the mantle. It is a source of pride as well as food to demonstrate one’s ability to kill the wiser veteran of the forest.

Were this a contest of capabilities, of strength versus speed, wisdom versus knowledge, there might be a global benefit gained by both species. The use of “superior” tools allows mankind to succeed simply by reaching out and touching one who’s weakness is simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Separated by hundreds of yards, it is no longer a matter of tooth and claw, of might or majesty but of a sliver of refined metal projected at speed over distance, with little or no warning and less ability to react. An “unearned” kill, so to speak.

As a result, man can take the best of a group, leaving the remaining members less able to cope and in the big picture, less likely to survive as a species. Were this limited to food animals, it would be disturbing and possibly wrong in a global ecology sense, that the overall strength of the planet as a whole is diminished by culling members from the upper echelon rather than the lower ranks. Of course, man is not limited in this way.

He also takes out his own kind.

I watched the news last evening. There was a story about the dramatic increase in the number of young people being killed as a result of violence in their vicinity. A mother spoke of her daughter sitting next to her and how she could not do anything to protect her as gunfire erupted in her area. The girl was not targeted, but died anyway, as a conflict between two groups unrelated to the victim attempted to “settle” a disagreement. Collateral damage as it were.

It seems reasonable were the two groups equipped with fists and claws, the mother might have been successful in saving her offspring. At the least she could have snatched her from the bench and ran, or interspersed her own body in the attack, shielding her daughter from the mob and giving the girl a chance to flee. BANG! Too late, no chance.

Is it possible that this outcome was the “correct” one in terms of the “law of the jungle”, “survival of the fittest” kind of view? Possibly, but hardly obvious. It is vastly more likely this is the global denigration of the species as a whole, removing a member from the middle rather than the bottom ranks.

Perhaps we lost another Einstein. We will never know.

What if this is a (rather common) isolated case, the exception rather than the rule. Surely mankind is better controlled than that, right? This was an unfortunate accident, to be lamented.

No, I suspect our ability to create tools capable of launching man outside of the food chain rules of power has given us a substantial leg-down in our capability to survive long term as a species. Weapons of destruction (mass or individual) make us less likely to advance in the evolutionary game.

How else can you explain how a four year old, incapable of making his or her own food, is able to take down the apex predator of the house with their own weapon…

It seems mankind is destined to go out, not with a whimper, but with a BANG!


post 79 of n

Disbelivable Suspended Disbelief

There is a principle of movie watching that suggests (unless it is a documentary based completely in facts, and even then not totally) the first prerogative for enjoyment is to “suspend disbelief” in the presentation of events. That a rigid reliance on internal consistency or adherence to the generally understood and accepted nature of reality will result in a “less than satisfactory” result. Since movies are intentioned to provide entertainment rather than presenting brutal reality, there are certain “liberties” that can (will, perhaps must) be taken.

In the last thirty hours, I had the opportunity to go see two of the movies on my wait list, “Doctor Strange” and “Rogue One” at a couple of local theaters. My expectations and the degree of enjoyment I obtained from my viewings were approximately what I had expected, but the movie that exceeded my wildest expectations and the one that fell far short of what I would have expected from the title ended up being completely opposite of what I would have posted about last week.

Doctor Strange was taxing to watch. I have suggested to others that this movie would benefit from watching “Inception” at about six times the normal speed. I am glad I did not watch it in 3-D, as I suspect motion sickness might be a result (something I rarely experience). Unlike many of my friends, I do not have the comic-book background to know what the “back story” of the character is (frankly, one of the more compelling reasons to see the movie was simply that Benedict Cumberbatch was staring in it) so I really had nothing but a couple of trailers to base my opinion (or expectation) of the movie.

It was GREAT! Incredibly unbelievable” in terms of science and the current state of understanding, I happily left my belief at the door and enjoyed the movie. So much so I am seriously thinking of going back later this week and seeing it again. And it is possible a copy will end up in my (reasonably small and limited) movie collection.

The latest Star Wars movie, on the other hand, was one I had understood the back story well and was pretty sure I knew what to expect. It was almost exactly what I figured it would be, done well, and in keeping with the story in general. Yet, I doubt if I will ever see it again (and would feel little regret at a future loss) ranking it as one of the lesser movies I’ve watched in the last year. Why?

I spent a couple of hours wondering what it was about the Rogue One movie that was such a let down, especially in light of the history of attending Star War movies. I remember standing in lines extending down the block for a couple of them, and having to wait weeks before the number of sold out showings dropped enough to see the movies at convenient times (for you younger readers, there actually existed a time when there was only ONE movie screen in an theater, and in many of the smaller towns, there was only a single theater to go to! Really!). Finally, I decided one of the most significant reasons for my sense of disappointment derived by the amount of disbelief I was asked to accept.

Doctor Strange was magic and sorcery, completely removed from “reality” as we know it. (The Harry Potter movies followed along in this kind of vein, and were believably unbelievable, too.) Rogue One was the standard spaceship battles and (as a person who spent every Thursday evening with my dad watching the latest Star Trek episode) the level of disbelief expected was typical, yet too much this time.

Not counting the expected space battle noises (just ask Ripley and the Aliens if your screams in space can be heard) as a source of disappointment, I found the mechanics of the ship movements to be simply wrong this time (and perhaps forever going forward, as well). The kind of maneuvering that the fighters performed in (deep) space were reminiscent of the fighter battles of conventional aircraft. And this is exactly the problem… vacuum fails to exert lift and so space fighters either need to use exotic propulsion systems to make radical movements in three dimensions or use vector engines to provide thrust in each axis of movement. If the undisclosed method of radical direction change is indeed future tech unknown at this time, then why “fly” in the normal sense of the word? If you can change direction at will without inertia why not simply move sideways rather than roll and climb (like a plane would)?

It is a problem of inertia and momentum conversation that eventually bothered me the most. When the “hammerhead” ships caused the destruction of the battle cruiser (spoiler alert, sorry), I found the level of belief being injected into the moment too great for my brain to accept. I’m not saying it couldn’t be done, that the physics of the ploy were actually in line with what science would suggest should happen. The problem was amount… to have any dreadnought sized ship moved sideways as a result of a side-mounted thruster such as depicted simply doesn’t work.

I was stationed on an aircraft carrier while in the Navy. These ships are big. Really big. They take a while to start and stop moving. And while a wind blowing against the side of such a ship can cause it to move sideways (sometimes a hazard while attempting precision maneuvers or coming alongside a pier to dock) it takes a lot of wind over a long time to shift it very far. Fully loaded tankers and freighter can take miles to come from full speed to an emergency stop.

Sorry, but there was just too much disbelief for me to believe this time. I think I will study how to cast spells for my next movie viewing.


(Extra Credit Question: if the rocket blast from the departing ship almost blew the protagonist off the landing dock, why did it not effect the rest of the bodies lying around, such as her dad? There were cases of crew members being blown off my ship by jet exhaust during flight ops…)

A Glimpse Of Dawn…

So it is nearly the end of 2016 and it’s been over a year since my last posting. There has been a lot of things that have happened since then, some were good, some bad, most were indifferent. I am not sure how much will (eventually) be posted, if any of it. I have passed through much darkness in the last year, best described by the term used by Douglas Adams. I have found myself in the “long, dark tea-time of the soul” as it were, and there seems to be a glint in the distance suggesting it is getting lighter here.

In any case, I have a few things to say, and should post them shortly. Part of my new year’s intentions (I gave up resolutions over a decade ago because they were so depressing, having been broken or forgotten within the first month of the year beginning) is to review all of my previous postings, to see what I was trying to say. More importantly, to determine who I was then (and if I am still the same person, or some stranger using the same name). I suspect I have changed, albeit too slowly for observation in real time. It is far too early to determine whether a change will be positive, negative, or some combination of the two. This, too, may be subject of further work…

For those of you who are kind enough to care, I extend my humble gratitude for your extreme patience and trust your wait will (eventually) prove out to have not been in vain.


Click The Shutter…

There is a program on PBS on the brain (episode 2 just aired this week) and it has been interesting. i have been thinking about a lot of things lately and since this show was on memory, I was reminded of how badly I wanted a photographic memory when I was in school.

I thought it would be the greatest thing in the world. Eliminate the need to study for tests or classes, just look at the materials and they would be available for recall upon request. I would ace all my classes, be able to spend more time doing what I wanted (rather than homework and study) and generally impressing the snot out of people.

Didn’t happen, at least not in the way I had imagined. For, while lying in bed this morning, I came to the realization that I was indeed granted a photographic memory…that of the prototypical amateur photographer. Fuzzy, blurry pictures, usually over-exposed or under developed, off-center, out of focus, with the heads of most of the people cut off. Time has caused much of the colour to fade. They are scratched and bent, some of the corners are ripped off.

Then there is the method of storage. They are stuffed in unlabeled boxes (remnants of other uses, such as shoes) and tossed in the back of the closet, where they are (at best) incredibly annoying to get to or (at worst) likely to be bumped without intent and exploding into a horrific mess, scattering all over the place and requiring extra effort to grab them and stuff them back out of the way (where this scene can and will be repeated in the future).

On the (increasingly) rare occasions when I actually sit down and attempt to review the stack, I find enough time and distance has elapsed that most of the images are filled with people I don’t know at locations I can’t remember. Sometimes there is a clue of context in the image to make a guess as to who, what, and when (holiday decorations, a birthday cake, a calendar on the edge of view), but far too often there is just the vague feeling of uncertainty  regarding why this image was important enough to keep. And the perverse understanding that I can’t possibly toss it away, that someday someone will either fill in the needed background or that it will be essential to solve some mystery puzzle, providing information only this exact picture holds. So it is put back in the box to gather another layer (or six) of dust until it gets drug out again.

Some people have successfully transformed their images into attractive scrapbooks, organizing related materials and adding additional text, allowing others to easily enjoy the experience of sharing the past. A great idea in concept, the closest I have come is shuffling pictures into several heaps, partially organized by geographical proximity or temporal separation. Aggregations spanning states or decades is essentially not sorted, so the work eventually gets shoveled back in the box in the closet for future archeology students to sift through.

Perhaps the weight of time will compress my memories into something useful…coal…oil… natural gas (wait, that is happening now, so perhaps an open window is required)….


post 76 of n

After The Sabbatical

So, it is now officially the end of the summer, a time for the season to change and prepare for the cold, dark winter to come. This posting is, in part, an attempt to bring you, dear readers, up to date in the changing circumstances of my life.
Beginning in May, I read a number of books that gave me insight of my ability to make fundamental changes in my life. In particular, The One Thing was pivotal in propelling my life into a different direction. It poses the question: “What is the one thing you can do that, if accomplished, would make everything else easier or unnecessary?”

After some (rather easy) meditation the next step was to WEIGH LESS. I began a systematic program of reducing and tracking my caloric intake (with the assistance of the Ipad application MyFitnessPal). I discussed my intentions with several friends and family members and have lost over 60 pounds (almost 30 kg) in the last four months. I was not successful in reaching my initial goal of weighing under 300 pounds (135 kg) by my birthday in September, but am on track to accomplish this sometime in November, and intend to be below 200 pounds (90 kg) by New Year’s Eve, 2016.

According to the materials I’ve read, it takes about 65 days on average to create a habit, so I am somewhat less intentional about directing my focus on WEIGHING LESS, as it has become mostly habitual. A victory with many side benefits (a substantial reduction in my on-going pain level being a primary driver for the initial decision in the first place).

About six weeks into the process, a chance visit with my sister (and concurrent conversation) suggested an intention to obtain a fitness tracker of some sort after my weight dropped enough to make exercise (read: walking) reasonable. She indicated she had upgraded her primary device and that I could take her old one if I wanted it. I did, and I did.

Thus without fanfare (or even notice at the time) phase two of my realignment with reality began. After consideration, I began another habit calendar driven by a second ONE thing: MOVE MORE. This task did not have as clear cut goals or objectives, and has been somewhat less spectacular in it’s results. The FitBit Ultra automatically measures what I do and both records it within the product tracking software, and links to my food diary, so it is an observable and track-able measure of my progress in moving. I have increased my goals twice since starting in June, and on average meet my daily goals about 4-5 days each week. Other friends also track their activity (including a half-marathoner… nearly an inconceivable task to “aim” at) so I have additional levels of accountability and encouragement (while I have successfully placed last each week in the status report between friends, I am slowly and gently getting closer to the pace set by my betters).
Additionally, I have begun an eight week set of classes in my apartment on improving balance (nominally to help prevent falls; I reside in an age-restricted housing location and am officially the youngest resident here, with only another 25 years to go to reach the mean age of my neighbours…) and am studying Tai Chi on DVD. My objective goal is to begin playing golf again next year and eventually to shoot my age for a round (if history is any indicator, I will have to play and live at least another 60 years to have a reasonable chance).

And so with the passing of time and focusing on various areas of my life, I determined the third (and current) ONE thing to set as the primary compass marker for my life: ACT INTENTIONALLY, which brings us to this posting.

Many (perhaps most) of the previous writing has been stream-of-consciousness dumps, without focus or direction. Regardless of how entertaining they may (or may not!) have been, there was little or no intention behind them. (Technically the “three a week” plan would slightly count as an intent, but it is not what I am looking for.) I have taken eating from an impulsive, mindless activity to an intentional plan for achieving the vision I have created for my life. I have challenged my sedentary lifestyle and with focus am moving towards regaining my life as, perhaps not an athlete in the normal sense of the word, but a participant rather than an observer of life beyond the four walls of my cage. This focus is now being aimed at my writing.

To assist this process, I have just updated my workstation by adding two additional computers (an NAS –Network Accessible Storage– unit to consolidate my files from multiple sources and and an Ubuntu Linux system to expand my knowledge and skill set, and to work as a render station for my animation projects) and sifting through my paperwork (to clear space and streamline my file cabinets). As suggested in some of my books on organization this should make me more productive as the reduction in clutter (more focus!) will lower the distractions around me.

This should provide you with a more thoughtful and consistent product in the future. At the vary least, you should notice more content than what has been produced over the last third of the year…

post 75 of n

One (Baby) Step At A Time…”

It is the first week of July and a month since I’ve even been attached to this site. I have had several readers ask about my lack of content (one even called, an old high school buddy) and asked me what was the deal?

Short answer: I’m busy.

Longer answer: I’m involved in several different changes in my life that I am focusing my attention on and how I am splitting my energy and focus is in flux.

Even longer (rambling, reasonably pointless) answer: It all started with a passing comment in an earlier posting that my IPad had finally died (read it here, if you are interested or sufficiently bored). A friend from my church casually mentioned he had a spare and was willing to pass it along. I met him (he works weekdays about 90 km away) on an off day at the local Apple store so he could dump the data from his old one to (one of) his newer models and give me an essentially blank machine. After only about 189 minutes (typical example of how things seem to seldom go smoothly for me) of standing in the parking lot he returned with a 3rd gen IPad with retina display. Compared to my earlier model, this is like an upgrade from your basic clunker first car (189,600 miles and more rust than metal visible, but it runs…mostly) to your mid life second family vehicle (couple of years old, 60-70 thousand miles, but pretty well maintained and not too badly equiped, and at least an order of magnitude or two better than that first embarasement of a car). The crack in the screen of this one is about 6 times as long and is visibly distracting when focusing on the upper right corner of the display, but the dual cameras (front AND back) more than make up for the imperfection (and it doesn’t seem to be anything but a cosmetic blemish…so far).

Since I had a habit of downloading programs (free, of course) to try and run several iOS versions outdated, I had accumulated about 700 different programs to choose from to install back on this new toy. Many were no brainer choices, one was a fitness app that allows me to track my diet, exercise (HAHAHA), weight and that of my friends (MyFitnessPal). I had used it sporadically with the old pad and I thought it might be a good idea to start journaling my food intake again. It was early in May.

About a week later I read an article that pointed me to a couple of books on productivity. Which I ordered from my library and waited a week to receive. Then I read The One Thing (a book review here) and I decided the one thing I needed to do was to lose weight. So I determined I would eat less and set goals with this purpose in mind. This was about the end of the 3rd week in May.

Time passes, and more books come in from the library. The latest on loan (due back in 10 days) are Take the Stairs and Procrastinate on Purpose, both by Rory Vaden. (I hope to write reviews of both before they have to be returned to the ether.)  I think this is a personal example of witnessing the exact snowflake that causes an avalanche. Everything stacked up with the reading (and re-reading, and re-re-reading) of these books to cause me to question everything in my life. Where I have been, where am I now, and where do I want to go from here. Why? What do I need to do (or more importantly, not do) to get there?

The month of June became one great soul-search of meaning and purpose (all the time keeping under my food budget). Add to this a incidental visit to my mom and sister (where my mom lives now) and the mention of a desire to eventually obtain a exercise (HAHAHA) monitor. My sister then goes to a drawer and brings out a FitBit Ultima and gives it to me. Another excuse falls and another snowflake drops into place. And since she also uses the same food/fitness program, she agrees to be an accountability partner in my journey. Another nudge.

So. June passed without posting an article. There were a lot of things that I usually did that didn’t happen last month. I didn’t watch as much TV (one reason is it’s the dead zone of programming, there is less that the usual dribble of programs worth watching, so it wasn’t so hard/bad, but truth disclosure demands I watched considerably less news and science programming, also, so there was a significant reduction in my electric bill from non-TV consumption). I didn’t play video games on my PS3 at all. (I did fire it up a couple of times to access YouTube for a couple of tutorials.) I spent far less time on the computer (my Blender work suffered nearly as much as my blog). No movies, no fast food, limited travel. Much of the month was spent in meditation (read: intense thinking and considering options) and contemplation (not of my navel, that was more of a ’70s activity and I think I have out-grown the need for that).

So where does that take us? Currently, I believe I will continue to focus much of my energy to changing the general direction this “ship of state” is heading (similar to a huge ore freighter, my life has rarely been able to change in any direction without making a three hour, 5-mile radius turn, or involving a dozen or more diesel tug boats forcing me to go sideways in an unnatural course change). I believe I will be more active in posting in the cooler seasons, so the “three-a-week” schedule is temporarily disabled. I think a post every couple of weeks is more likely as things stabilize. Overall, I still have a desire to write, and share observations I’ve gleaned from life as we know it, but at this season it is not at the top of my list, so it’s being POPed (procrastinated on purpose, from the book of the same  name) to allow me to do more significant things first.

And the progress on that weight thing? As of this morning, I have lost 33 pounds since I started journaling. I am on track to be at 300 pounds by my birthday in September and at 275 by New Year’s Eve. And believe me when I say that is truly encouraging all by itself. If nothing else comes of my month of introspection, it will be more than worth it in the long(er) run.

So, I leave you with my best (admittedly really bad) Austrian accented quote:

“I’ll be back…”


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