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)….


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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…

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