Epimetheusity

Happy belated Penguin Awareness Day! Don’t feel bad if you forgot we were supposed to be aware of our individual penguins last Friday; I think a lot of folks were distracted by something that happened in D.C. on that day, or were gearing up for the People Awareness Day parades that happened everywhere on Saturday. I did not participate in either day’s events, but oh, I was very much aware of them!

We too failed to celebrate Penguin Awareness Day on the day of, but as my dear @bhoneydew reminded me “I’m aware of your penguins every day, honey.” He may have added that they terrify him. Possibly. He’s a kidder like that.

The week otherwise went mostly well.  I read every day. I worked on the not-work writing project every day. The domestic and work life was a shade disrupted due to multiple days off from school (the Monster’s; my classes don’t start back until March), but nothing to freak out about … yet, anyway.  I might think differently in the future.


1Epimetheusity is a term I made up to evoke “being in the state of afterthought”. There’s probably a real word out there that means the same thing, but I don’t know it. Suggestions?

Switching Defaults

I’ve a venture that I am just now working on

-The latest #spamcommentary

The first week of January, I told myself that I was going to spend 25 minutes a night Reading-with-a-Capital-R, which for me means Reading-Of-Things-That-Are-Not-Required-For-My-Work-In-An-Intentful-Manner (a.k.a. things I seek out to read, rather than news that pops up on my phone1).

Yeah. That didn’t happen. I did it the first day, felt great2, and it just didn’t happen again. I was too fried by the end of each day, and waking up each morning a little more pissed at myself for again failing to do One Simple Thing That I Enjoy. I was a serious grouch by Thursday, so much so that when I woke up that I ordered myself to read a freaking book in the half hour I generally have before everyone wakes up instead of catching up on e-mail or squeezing in some work.

I did. I wasn’t grouchy anymore. I felt better.

So, I flipped the planner. I now read for 25 minutes every morning. If I find some free time during the day (e.g. when I’m waiting for The Monster at his after school activities), I’ve started reading then, too, instead of my default action trying to work on my laptop (or my phone) through sketchy Internet connections. Oh, I’m sure if there’s a looming deadline, I’ll go right back to working during those times, but right now? Right now, reading’s good.

Mostly good.

There have been some side effects. Poetry. I want to tell you that those outbursts were just things I had to get out of my head before I could tuck into 25 minutes of working on a creative project, but I’m afraid I won’t maintain the momentum I have on the creative project, so I’m not telling you that, just apologizing for the mess.


1 I think I mentioned that I removed the Twitter and Facebook apps from my phone back in late September. I’ve re-added Twitter, but haven’t yet been motivated to do so with Facebook. (I’m not on Pinterest: every time I’ve registered for it, I’ve gotten a splitting headache. I imagine that’s some sort of sign.)

2 While reading lulls my mental penguins into a false sense of security relaxes me, I know one of the reasons I haven’t been reading like I used to is my fear that I’ll get lost in a book and everything else going on in my life will get ignored.3 Articles are short, and work/school related reading/research will eventually make my brain tired, so they’re self-limiting.

3That used to happen all of the time when I was a kid. When I discovered the pre-Internet internet (I cut my social media teeth on BITNET) and online text-based gaming — gah, that was like having a freshly dead tauntaun on Hoth. So, these days, I set timers when I read or play video games (I’ve also stopped playing social ones altogether) to remind me to look outside of my brain to see if, oh, say, the house is on fire.

My Year of Bread and Air (and Stuck)

“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”

-Albert Einstein (likely misattributed).

I baked a lot of bread this year.  One or two loaves a week (three loaves a week on a few occasions), even the week of Mom’s funeral and the subsequent weeks of family-related and work travel.

I have been on planes this year more than I have any other year of my life — but there has still been bread in the house, each homemade loaf a little (and occasionally quite a bit1) different, even those weeks I’ve had all the ingredients I needed on hand and the last thing I wanted to do was experiment.

The bread did run out during a couple of those business trips, which inspired @bhoneydew to capture all the scrawled-on-butter-stained-printout hacks I’d made to the basic recipe I started with and bake a couple of loaves himself. Both of them came out differently than any of mine, and different from each other, even though he followed the same steps each time.

And … this is the paragraph where I was stuck for two weeks (I started writing this blog post on my birthday). It was a unique sort of stuck for me: until December 19th, it was a stare-at-a-page-and-no-words-come-out stuck as opposed to a write-ten-paragraphs-think-they’re-messed-up-and-delete-them-all-before-anyone-else-sees-them stuck. Though since this isn’t the first time this has happened this past year, I guess I should stop calling it ‘unique’. I should just call it ‘2016’s stuck’, and hope the year doesn’t forget it in the house when it heads out the door in a couple of weeks, especially if the door smacks it on the butt so hard that it falls down the front steps, because that should so happen.

My chirpy ambitiousness about being able to do NaNoWriMo and a massive work project and finish a networking class all in the same November timeframe? Yeah, that was me trying to flip off 2016 before it’d turned its back. I should know better, I really should, but I did get the two most important things on that list done, so there’s that. The bread still happened.


1The first time I used the “Proof/Warm” setting on our oven to proof a loaf, I didn’t notice that the temperature read “Hot” instead of “Brd”. This killed most of the yeast and made for a very dense brick o’ bread.

In The Weeds

Current NaNoWriMo Word Count [end of Day 6]: 13,101
Current Work Word Count [end of Day 6]: 13,144

Surprisingly, my despite being in the weeds of a massive work project and in the last two weeks of a networking class (I haven’t been keeping track of the words I’ve written for class), I’ve been keeping up with The Bone Sapling. The plot’s even coming together.

Something must be horribly wrong.

Horribly. Horribly. Wrong.

Things seemed to get easier when I gave up on the idea of having Thanksgiving. My work project’s due that week, and my class finishes that week … and Halloween didn’t turn out so bad after all (left a big bowl of candy on the porch and went to see an early movie with the Monster: the theatre was practically deserted, which was awesome!). So, maybe lowering expectations is going to get me through this without going insane.

My having removed the Facebook and Twitter apps from my phone might also help.

On that note, I’ve already voted. 🙂

Be safe out there tomorrow.

Low Bars

This is not a post about Halloween. It’s best that I don’t talk about how Halloween is going right now, or rather, not going. This year was supposed to be the year where we had our patio and fire pit finished, so we could have little monsters traipsing safely across our backyard instead of negotiating the dark spots and trip hazards to get onto our porch.  Preparations for this started in April, and were supposed to take three weeks. Three! Weeks!  Notice how Halloween was not moved to Spring this year!  We were finally supposed to get the gas line run and everything hooked up today — but now there’s a problem with the permit, namely the County can’t find the one for the fire pit, and is questioning if one was ever obtained for building it, never mind that they’d already inspected it when they checked the landing and the patio back in early September…

Like I said, it’s best I don’t talk about how things are going wrong with my favorite holiday in this year where everything else is going wrong.  Not that the patio’s the only thing to go wrong:  haven’t decorated, haven’t carved any pumpkins, haven’t … arrgh.

My goal for today, work willing, is to put candy out in a bucket on the lawn and just not be here tonight.  Just not. I don’t want to deal with being repeatedly asked why we didn’t decorate this year.1

Like I promised, this is not a post about Halloween.

2016challenge

12 Books, Two Months ahead of Schedule.

Yeah, that happened last week.  I am both proud of myself for completing this year’s Goodreads reading challenge two months ahead of schedule, and embarrassed that I set the bar so low in the first place.

You see, when I was a kid, I used to read everything that was nailed down, and most things that weren’t. I didn’t start developing discriminatory tastes until I got older; when I was around my son’s age, I was reading beauty magazines2 side by side with nursing textbooks3, and a juvenile Heinlein in the same can’t-check-out-more-than-three-books-at-a-time-Shai library stack as a fat Herman Wouk and James Clavell (or The Silmarillion stacked with The Captains and The Kings and Gone With The Wind3 … or The Book of Skaith if GWTW was checked out.)

As an adult, well…

Okay, I still read everything that’s nailed down and most things that aren’t. Unfortunately, far more of everything is now articles, research reports/white papers, RFI/P/Qs, blog posts and lordhelpme Facebook shares5 than it is books. So, very likely I am reading the same amount of material that I used to, perhaps even more, it’s just not…

It’s not the same.  It aggravates me. Perhaps next year it’ll aggravate me enough to do something about it. Hey, it’s possible! I got aggravated enough at my lack of fitness this year to start working out with a trainer, and now I’m able to keep up with the Monster on his Cross Country days.6

In case you were wondering what books I read this year, here’s the list:

Plot Perfect, by Paula Meunier
Level Up (Fandom Hearts: Book 1) by Cathy Yardley.
A Bitch Called Hope & Betting Blind (Lennox Cooper #1 & #2) by Lily Gardner
NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman
The Martian by Andy Weir
The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan
The View from Flyover Country by Sarah Kendzior
Best Served Cold, Red Country and The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

On second thought, maybe I haven’t developed discriminatory tastes after all. These are still a fairly random mix.  The only pattern I’ve noticed emerge is that I tend to alternate fiction with non-fiction/reference.

Bhoneydew’s been after me to read Scalzi’s Redshirts next, which I might do after my networking class ends — which coincidentally, is around the same time my current massive work project wraps. I think I will need something to stop the bleeding from all the holes in my mind once those two things get yanked out of it. Some of my penguins like the idea of my adding Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy to the fiction side of next year’s reading challenge, so I might do that too, even if their agreeing on anything is a little disturbing.  I’m not sure what to read next in non-fiction, though Jane Ziegelman’s A Square Meal:  A Culinary History of the Great Depression looks fascinating.


1Because the house is always decorated for Halloween. Never with tombstones and smoke machines or zombies erupting from the ground or such things, but it’s always festively lit even if it is draped with fake spiderwebs and spiders.
2Because my aunt had left them at the house.
3Because my aunt had also left them at the house. I grew up in a household that never gave or threw books away, and married a man with a similar disposition — so our son has access to all sorts of books, plus the access to bookstores (and yes, Amazon) that neither one of us had as kids.
4Hands down, this is still one of my favorite novels. I’ve always had mixed feelings about the movie:  I think it scrubbed more warts off Scarlett O’Hara than it should have (e.g. she more-than-less abandoned her first two children, who weren’t even mentioned in the movie) in order to make her seem more conventionally appealing.
5Even though I spend more time blocking or hiding Facebook shares these days than I do reading them.
6I set a low bar for that too: get butt to gym, don’t fall on face or pass out during session, remember to drink your water. Yep. That’s my bar. If I clear that each week, everything else is cake. Umm … delicious caaaaake.