Change

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Right then.

Yesterday was, without doubt, one of the best I’ve had for organisation for some time. It helps that the back of work was broken on Sunday, and now I’m left with the process of scheduling (which will happen after this.) Then it’s all about finishing off outstanding stuff, and starting the next batch of Things to Do. After three months, there’s a schedule that works. 

Next up, it is time to make some important changes to Social media.

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I now have a ‘Professional’ Twitter AND Instagram, and having worked out how to use the app in Windows (how smart is that?) I can prep all my artwork beforehand and still schedule it. This is unbelievably useful, and will encourage me to further organise my sorry arse better. Then there are the changes to how social media is consumed:

  • No social media before bed, or before I sit down at the PC first thing in the morning
  • ABSOLUTELY NO starting discussions without being 100% awake and attentive
  • No social media when bored ^^
  • Complete removal of Twitter (and all online media) from places where I relax or sleep
  • Regulated use of social media when I’m supposed to be sociable
  • Making time for ‘silence’ and times when electronic interaction does not happen

This is a lot but really, it all matters. If I look at the instances when I have gotten myself into trouble, 90% of them are due to engaging with people at the start and end of days, plus when I shouldn’t be using Social media at all. So, maybe if I can keep at this for a month it’ll become habit too. The lack of a tablet at bedtime for two nights running has made for some quality sleep, I hope this isn’t just a blip.

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The plan here is to try and be less reactionary and more reflective. This is fairly atypical of my life up to this point, but I’d like to believe that even at this age I can change and become more mellow. Sure, there are still going to be days when the table gets flipped, but at least now I’ll be better prepared to clear up the mess made afterwards, rather than just stomp off in a teenage huff and leave it to somebody else.

If I can get at least a part of all this to stick, it will totally be taken it as progress.

Hard Rain

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This week has been a literal disaster area for millions of people in the Caribbean. With three hurricanes now on Storm Watch, from a distance this is not unlike watching the trailer for The Day After Tomorrow, just without the Ice Age bit.

Climate change deniers are gonna have a hard time explaining the last month away. This is also the moment where, living as I do on a coastal estuary, there is a reminder that there for the grace of your deity of choice goes me and anybody else who enjoys the benefits of a beach within walking distance and the pretence of being a holiday destination. Anyone near to a coastline now stands the chance of being underwater quite soon, if those pesky polar icecaps continue to melt into the sea. The water has to go somewhere, and when the sea temperature is rising? Everybody’s in trouble.

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I know a LOT of people in Florida. I won’t lie, if I was there… well, I would have left probably on Wednesday, to hell with job or schools for the kids. I also realise that saying you’d do something and having the luxury of doing so are as far apart as the melting icecaps. I didn’t mean to either upset or irritate anyone by suggesting publicly they should leave, but it happened all the same. I thought about deleting the offending tweet but on reflection, it is an important lesson learnt. From a distance, everyone can seem like a critic. My overriding concern is that there will be massive loss of life, and if that could have been preventable via evacuation… but it id never that simple. These are the issues that will now become as global a problem as refugees from wars and famine.

It is the elderly and the young which are of greatest concern, of course. Asking people to stay safe is all well and good, but until the storm makes landfall… it could yet decrease in potency, and all this hand wringing and panic would have been for nothing. Except, it isn’t, none of this is wasted. This is the next decades of existence unless global warming is arrested. Nature will simply do what it has always done and its own natural defence system will reduce the population of the planet. Ecology, like it or not, exists in very delicate balance and if you fuck it up, there will always be consequences. Add to that the truly unexpected, and a bad week just gets worse.

All I can do now is watch from a distance and cross everything that the people I care about will be safe. Offering prayers is about as effective as believing I can change the world just by blogging, and we all know that’s not happening any time soon. I’ll be donating my Patreon earnings this month to the International Red Cross, because these people need the money far more than I do right now. In fact, they need everybody’s love and cash as a matter of some urgency, because one day this could be us.

The World is changing too fast to stand by idle.

Life on Mars

I have a confession to make: I watch perilously little TV these days. Normally there is just not the time to do so: there tends instead to be vicarious consumption via Social media. However, as of right now I have two regular shows which aren’t missed: Quacks on BBC2 (you can iPlayer the whole thing if you choose, I prefer to do it old school) and, on the same channel Astronauts: Do You Have What it Takes? They are about as far apart as you can get in terms of subject matter, but I have interests in both.

The former is interesting for the subject matter (Victorian medicine but done for laughs) except I don’t find it that funny. In fact, I’m slightly concerned when I’ve heard other people consider it just that when I really don’t laugh that much at all. However, Rory Kinnear can do no wrong in my mind (you’ll know him as Bill Tanner from the Bond movies) and everybody else seems to be having a whale of a time so you know, it’s a win regardless. The Astronaut thing is as cerebral as reality TV shows can probably get at current levels: you ‘prize’ should you ‘win’ is a recommendation from former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield to get you into the Space Programme.

After that, there are a bazillion things I probably should watch but simply haven’t gotten around to doing, thanks to the levels of work at present. This includes The Handmaid’s Tale, Twin Peaks, anything on Netflix or Amazon Prime and pretty much every point in between. In good news none of this stuff is going anywhere, the nights are getting longer and I could conceivably do this whilst cycling in the shed. I’d have to make a priority list but it might be a plan for getting through until next year, assuming nuclear war doesn’t break out in the meantime.

Today however is Back to School day for everybody, and when you read this I expect to be celebrating with a cuppa and quite possibly a book before I get on with the rest of my plans for the week. There’s a poetry submission for the 8th but as I have to pay for it I’m still not sure it is summat worth doing. I’ll sleep on it tonight and consider the possibilities on Wednesday.

Jilted John

header79At the start of July, I had a plan to lose weight. With two days to go until August 1st? Well, let’s see how that went:

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I’ve been beyond good. I’ve stuck to a strict calorie goal for the entire month, limited both carbs and sugar, never exceeded my totals once. Yesterday’s totals, according to My Fitness Pall, should have put me around the 11 stone, 5 pound mark (159 pounds.) Except My Fitness Pal does not understand how my body works:

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Now, I might have cause to be angry after four weeks of living so strictly, but these numbers are, as it happens, a step forward. That is the lowest fat percentage I’ve clocked in over a year. My BMI, for the first time in several years, exists in the 25 range (albeit not far but still.) However, if I was the kind of person who just looked at numbers and didn’t understand the fat exchange with muscle process that is going on? I could see myself being really upset.

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Here is where science, yet again, doesn’t serve someone like me very well. I do all of this work, put in a pretty superhuman effort to limit the two things that should affect my weight, and my digestive system just becomes more efficient at converting energy whilst continuing to ignore superfluous body mass. The physical changes to my body are so noticeable for it to now be inescapable, too: areas that never had muscle before now possess it, I’ve lost close to three inches off my waist… but I may not get close to my weight goal for some time, until the most stubborn and (currently immoveable) fat deposits start being eaten into. However, all is not yet lost. I still have things to do in order to make the scales move, and that means August is not only more exercise, but more protein.

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I’ve had a treat today, favourite chocolate bar that I’ll see again over the August Bank Holiday. Until then, all bread is off the menu. The carb content will be trimmed back further, replaced with more veg, chicken, fish and meat. I have options that will allow me to continue to train well, and hard, provide the calories I require but not the stuff that I think by body’s burning instead of taking my own fat. Carbohydrates will be eliminated as the potential source of the issue and if, by the end of August I’ve still not dropped some weight, we’ll go zero sugar.

I’m going to crack this bloody puzzle by process of elimination.

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I’ve also completely reset My Fitness Pal to take into account all the changes, setting a desire to lose weight in a measured and graduated fashion. It will mean having to avoid a lot of stuff that I’d normally live on, and making meals for myself, but I think that’s entirely doable under the current mindset. Then, it’s all about getting my arse properly in gear and doing the work. That doesn’t scare me any more either.

Time to make things happen.

Yesterday

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I live in Gym kit currently for one reason alone: if I have it on, there’s more chance of making it to exercise than not. Except yesterday I put on the clothes and then grasped I’d be better off not pushing myself physically. It was a day to clear the decks, throw out the rubbish that has been clogging my desk. Things got put away, or recycled, and we entered the Money Where Mouth Is portion of developmental proceedings. As an exercise in self control and diligence, it was remarkably successful. I don’t remember the last time I was this organised, and it has helped considerably in motivating brain to start this week the way I mean to go on.

Now, the trick has to be sticking to that plan: the Moleskine is full, not simply with written work. I gave up on bullet journaling sometime in April, but the weekly planner has now become indispensable. Exercise goals, writing subjects, forward planning is all inside, and the settling of this routine becomes more comforting with every new week. I actually started doing that on Friday, knowing what needs to be done for the Internet of Words before it all kicks off on Saturday. Thus far I am quietly confident, and hopefully once there’s some content up to entice people, I’ll grab some more Patreons. That reminds me, must sort out a Google Form for the rewards requests. Excuse me whilst I make a note of that.

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This week is another two lots of PT with a hard third session shoved in the middle. If six hours sleep is gonna be the norm again thanks to night sweats and the neighbour (who has a 5am start and is not quiet) then I may not make it to Friday without a nap inserted somewhere, or at least one ridiculously early night. The week will at least be cooler and a bit wet, which suits me fine: I really hope this is the last of the hormonal junk I have to deal with. It is bad enough in the heat without my body taking a temperature rise on an almost predictable four hour cycle. There is however the real chance this is the next 18 months to two years of my life panning out and if so, it might be a plan to just stop moaning and work through it. If I were famous I could write a book about it or maybe do stand up, but as I’m not? Time to stick the kettle on and accept the inevitable.

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I’ve been eaten a lot by insects in this last couple of weeks too, which means my legs look horrible, and as I scratch in my sleep I felt today was not the one for shorts. I’ve resurrected one of my favourite pairs of leggings, and this reminds me I should have a clear out of clothing (again) as a lot of stuff is now close to being worn out, due simply to repeated use. My running shoes went that way last weekend, 25 miles of cycling the last straw, and looking at the soles the wear on the tread is a reminder that yes, I do take this all very seriously indeed, as should be the case. That will be the second pair I’ve worn out this year, and knowing that fact I’ve ordered the replacement pair this morning on sale, saving cash in advance. Ah, the joys of Internet shopping.

… and today's legs 👍

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The Warcraft blog’s got material already scheduled for the entire week. I’m not sure yet what is going to happen here, but I promise to try and make it worth your while reading.

Iconography

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I’ve been stealth writing stuff all weekend, since Thursday night, mostly because I don’t want to bore people with braindumps that means a great deal to me but not much to them. A friend told me I am perfectly within my rights to own my trauma, but there comes a point where the weight between exposition and boredom becomes very real indeed. I only need to look at my lovely and long-suffering family to understand that, like it or not, some days you just shut up and get on with life. The problem for me, right now, is that history is being rewritten. This is not revisionism, anything but. I am remembering the past as means to survive the present, and that is making for a lot of sudden and sometimes painful revelation.

This morning, we have returned to at least a semblance of normality.

Surviving #365photochallenge #photographer

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I went out after dropping the youngest off at School and did about ten days worth of overdue external running around: paying in cheques, posting mail, organising various things ‘outside’ including trying (and failing) to get a doctors appointment for my son. The earliest I’ll now manage outside of school hours is Wednesday, I’m glad he’s not horrendously unwell, or I’d be camping outside the Surgery tomorrow. I am also, inescapably, suffering what I now know is referred pain. Tonight cannot come quickly enough and yet, it is taking forever to arrive. However, I am making the most of the perception disparity by shoving as much work as possible into the space provided.

This may be only a semblance of normality, but it will do.

Consider Her Ways

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Normally my blog posts are named after songs. Today, I’m taking a book, one that was particularly significant in my youth. I remember being astounded by the main story in John Wyndham’s anthology and it having a profound effect for weeks after reading: I can’t really tell you anything about it either, because by doing so ruins a narrative that really needs to be read unspoilt. However, what I can tell you is that birth forms a key component of the conceit.

I was reminded of the Wyndham after reading this Guardian article about how premature lambs are now ‘grown’ in artificial wombs and, I must admit there was a stab of horror at the pictures I saw. Initially my thought was more of a ‘Brave New World’ scenario but then the same feeling emerged that I remember after finishing ‘Consider her Ways’ for about the twelfth time: humanity mucking about with nature does not sit well in my head. Of course, without that evolution, I’d be dead by now. I’d have never made it out of hospital as a baby.

Science has always trodden a delicate path between interference and assistance.

I suspect this has a lot to do with current concerns over my own health, but there is discomfort in growing amounts over what counts as ‘good’ science and what feels ‘bad’: I’m not a religious person, but the possibility that people could pick the sex of their child or ensure it has certain characteristics does not sit well in my mind. The Universe works best with the full spectrum of both diversity and chaos: trying to counter that or effectively guide the course of Evolution feels wrong. I’ve read enough speculative fiction to understand that for every wonder discovery or great idea, there’s always a price to pay.

I knew my great grandmother only for a very short time. One of my earliest memories is of her using a cloth hankerchief to make a mouse as amusement, and it always worked. She passed away, I remember, as not as a result of gangrene but the surgery that was supposed to extend her life. She never regained consciousness after the operation to remove her infected lower leg. I’ve always held a fear of being sent into a medically-induced sleep not simply because of this, but an incident when I was 4 or 5 and because of bad dental hygiene I had to have teeth extracted, and was rendered unconscious to do so. I can still remember exactly how this felt, enough to make me shake as I type. It is another fear that needs to be dealt with, as I have with so many others in the last year.

Science has made things immeasurably better in the last 50 years, yet it is still regarded by so many with a sense of trepidation. It is on days like yesterday I can understand that feeling, but the rational part of my brain knows that to move forward, this is yet another fear that needs to be overcome. Without science, there would not be a legitimate cure for asthma on the cards in my lifetime. When people with no other form of potential cure take gene therapy and the result is remission of their cancer? Science is amazing, and without it we’d all be lesser beings. Sometimes, taking the risk with the consequence is the best way forward, especially if it allows you more time to live.

The flip side of Science’s wonder remains the financial cost to the recipient.

When my husband and I spoke about the possibility of surgery, his first response was brutal, yet damning: at least I have the provision to do this without having to make a financial decision first. I am well aware of friends in the US currently in a state of near-permanent dread over what will happen to Obamacare, who have had to set up GoFundMe accounts in order to pay for unexpected medical expenses. I understand only too well that medicine is nowhere close to universally accessible to the people who need it most, and that this is intrinsically unfair. It may seem we live in a world full of wonder and potential, but if this is only available to a select few, is it really so brilliant to begin with?

There’s a lot to think about over my morning porridge today.