Can’t Do

I am aware sometimes my demeanour might seem quite angry and intractable. Neither of those things is true. I am passionate, and principled. Both these things are in short supply in the modern world, and the more that happens around me gives strength to the belief that this is the right path to be travelling. I’ve lost count of the number of individuals who’ll consider this arrogance, or insouciance. It is convenient to try and use those terms as means to start an argument, except to do so requires two people involved.

I’ve stopped taking the bait.

Occasionally you’ll see someone innocently say something that is a window into their true character, the one away from Social media. Nobody’s perfect, after all, we all have our moments of WTF were you thinking by saying that. I now spend more time thinking about what I say in the Real World, far more than was ever the case in my youth. There comes the realisation too that my family had a significant effect on what was considered acceptable behaviour, and their belief that certain mindsets and attitudes were simply wrong and not spoken about is partly why I was a fucking mess for a while. Sorting through the detritus of my past, comes the understanding that nurture can be very damaging if your personality via nature is at odds with the people who birth you.

Evolution creates variance. The constant reproduction of people will highlight issues in one generation that did not exist in another, or when combined with the DNA of a different strand of human being. Every so often there’s a ‘black sheep’ in your family of white, middle class humanity. The troublemaker. The gay kid. The autistic boy or the bisexual girl… it doesn’t matter, these things happen in households where those things are not understood, or frightening. Nature produces a variance and it is up to nurture to deal with the consequences. If you’re lucky, you get a great family who cares and your variance becomes part of a bigger whole. If you aren’t, you’re not on your own, but it is a fucking horrible task to survive. Many people give up.

It shouldn’t be like that, especially when variance could hold the key to Humanity’s future.

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The key, of course, is not getting angry. Learning to take bad emotions away and focus only on positive can be the most difficult of asks, too, and when you become passionate it is amazing how many people simply mistake this as anger, because on a basic level they share so many of the same characteristics. It is the subtlety lost on Social media which makes such a task virtually impossible. That then means as an individual, every interaction has the potential to be misinterpreted if the person at the other end of the conversation is unable to judge your sincerity. With friends, people you’ve interacted with over time, it is easier. With total strangers however? You know what’s coming.

If you don’t bother to do the work, you’ll get nothing out of the process.

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It is why I cherish so much the people who will come out and state they didn’t like me when we first ‘met’ virtually, but now understand it was worth the effort to become friends. It isn’t just me in these situations: two of you need to work at the process, and if you don’t want to embrace variance, it will never happen. That also means that the two ‘friends’ I have on Facebook are as important as those on Twitter, but I won’t ever start adding any more on a platform that does not embrace anything other than what it considers to be ‘right’ and ‘fair’ across the widest possible spectrum. Keeping ‘everybody’ happy undoubtedly means a set of rules that ignore variance unless it becomes societally acceptable. I do not want to share my life with certain people because of this, and this is never going to change.

I wonder, is that my own intractability causing an issue…?

Ride on Time

My husband is a member of British Cycling, and last night printed the first page of a PDF file that he was directed to as part of his membership package. This details an eight week Sofa to 50k Bike Ride training programme.

As it transpires, I’m quite tempted to use this as the warm-up to Eroica because it ensures I get plenty of rest before the day. I’m going to take it and show my PT as a discussion starter next week, but before then I need a new Fitness Plan on the wall.

Next Five Weeks planned. Orange is the bike.

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My starting weight from five weeks ago is EXACTLY THE SAME as it is now, except with a crucial difference: I am eating more to fuel the extra workload. That means, logically speaking, once I adjust to more miles and start eating less? My weight will fall. The PT (quite sensibly) suggests not fixating on the scales, especially as I’m adjusting to a completely new form of exercise. Undoubtedly my stamina is improving, and the fact I’ve increased just about every weight in my upper body sessions suggests that side of things is benefiting from the change.

Now, all we need is legs at a consistent level.

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The key in all of this is the Weighted Average Power number: the higher that number, the harder my legs are effectively working. This is the second day in a row I’ve been able to maintain 134w and the plan now is to settle at this level for a while and build the endurance. Ideally I’ll want more but both ankles and knees need time to get the plan and work with it. I also need a Physio to poke my right foot at some point which I suspect has a trapped nerve somewhere. They’ve done wonders for my hands via shoulders so I would hope something can be done to at least reduce irritation.

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The other massive, positive change is my sleep pattern. I’ve had no choice but to go to bed at 9pm all this week, I’ve been physically incapable of anything otherwise. Both body and brain have been shattered and that lasts until I have to pee, almost without fail. Tonight I can afford a couple of extra hours because there’s no 7am school run but honestly, my life is getting better and not worse despite the need to rest more. I’m noticing more attentiveness and crucially, when I am tired, it is everything that shuts down. Fighting the tail end of my cough/cold/illness this week my body pretty much insisted I go have a kip, or we were not doing anything at all.

I cannot remember the last time that happened.

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The plan remains to aim for 110 miles a week, which is utterly doable at my hourly rate. As this is a static bike there’s no worries about the weather, and the recording tools I have (heart-rate monitor, Zwift) allow some decent number crunching after the fact.

I’ll let you know how I’ve gotten on in five weeks.

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

I shifted my blog ‘life’ away from Google a while ago, deciding to come to WordPress where there was more of an opportunity to flex my creative muscles. Having now felt as if I’ve settled in, comes the realisation that for a number of years Blogger helped me live a lie. Though I know I did have a decent audience at the height of my gaming interest, a fair proportion of that did not exist. A lot of my traffic was using my sites as stop points on other journeys, or to inflate the worth of other sites and not mine. I had hoped that by shifting everything to WordPress I could finally say goodbye to the automated response, but now realise I’ve simply swapped one form of robot for another.

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Normally, 10 people liking your post would be a cause of celebration. However, all of these people did so in under a minute of the post going live. I don’t know a single one of them either, which means one of two things: they all happened upon my site simultaneously at the exact same moment my post was published and have all become overnight devotees… or, it was a robot. I know which version of reality I’m going to ascribe to here, and what it makes me question is why this kind of behaviour is considered acceptable. It distorts accurate statistics, feeds the fire of ‘all automation is bad’ and makes certain people believe their own worth far more than will ever be healthy to begin with.

However, I’m beginning to uncouple from an interest in metrics, as it becomes apparent their relevance is fast becoming pointless, at least for me.

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Yesterday I wrote two blog posts and placed them on different websites. I know they were both of interest to my core audience: one was promoted by me throughout the day, the other was not. By the time I’d gone to bed they were both equally read, and the promoted one continued to gain a steady stream of views whilst I was in bed, from a regular audience who turn up to my site regardless of what gets advertised. The fact I could probably name about 80% of these people is neither here nor there, my audience is now a fixed percentage of the people I interact with daily. Everybody else might take an interest from time to time but in essence, I do more business using Social media than I do via blogging.

It’s the future: people don’t have time for all that commitment shit any more.

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There’s also an emergent trend of people I know not using social media as much as they used to, that I’m seeing people forcing themselves away (as I have) to exercise and reconnect with reality. Those who remain strictly wedded to their platforms are becoming more apparent too, and I find myself thinking that if I’m honest, I’d rather pitch content to someone who can show that their existence isn’t just logging in the moment they wake up and not moving from the virtual unless pushed. It is a really delicate balancing act too for someone who’s now attempting to create a presence for themselves online. How much is too much or not enough?

At what point does one accept that the only true progress comes via hard work and consistency? For me, that point has been reached this month with more cash in the bank than I managed when using a custom-built crowdfunding platform. I now have a new stream of content, and assuming I can keep it all going for another couple of months, there will then be the opportunity to turn to people and point, before declaring ‘this is what you get from me, if you pay me we can make it better.‘ It seems a decent way forward, and the exchange of effort for cash then has some actual meaning, because I’m not asking people to fund controversial opinions they disagree with. This is art. You either like it, or you don’t, and if that’s the case then you don’t pay for it.

It’s really very simple, and needs no robots involved at all.

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I’m coming up for 200k Tweets quite soon, and although I might celebrate the passing, it will be with a sense of some irony involved. A vast number of those message have been GIF-based, and it is beginning to make me realise just how important that side of proceedings has become. As I’ll talk about on the Writing site today, the biggest revelation in the last 10 days has been my comic strip, and how art has subverted itself in my mind to a very specific and quite vital opening movement of what is clear will be a path I’ll never stop travelling on.

The robots don’t (and won’t) fool me any more. When success does happen, it will also make detection far easier.

It’s Probably Me

This morning, I’m sitting at the traffic lights at the end of our road with the youngest. There are two lanes: one is a left filter, one’s a right turn onto the main London to Southend trunk road. Heading towards London is always busy. This morning, the traffic is stationary: sensibly those people heading in that direction leave enough space so when my lights change, there’s space to move forward. However, when the left turn lane’s light goes green, nobody can move out into traffic.

Cue the guy three cars behind me to my left who sits on his horn for 30 seconds. All he can see is a green light. He won’t look ahead, can’t see round the corner I can at stationary traffic. All that his brain registers is that if the light is green, we should go, and clearly the guys in front of him are asleep. I hate to break it to you m8, it isn’t the two guys ahead of you that need a wake up call, IT’S YOU. If all you register is what is happening to you and the Bigger Picture’s somebody else’s problem?

Teen Vogue are totally on the money, plus the people paid to pay attention need a fucking rocket up their backsides as a matter of some urgency.

I still read the Guardian daily, it remains my paper of choice, but when yesterday it did an article on the legal ramifications of watching sexy times videos at work, even I did a double take. This is presumably in response to the revelation that porn is accessed at the Houses of Parliament about 160 times a day. I get the importance of highlighting this stuff but really, truthfully there comes a point where people switch off. If our popular press are responsible for swaying both hearts and minds, I’d like to see less emphasis on the bad stuff and more on the good, being played up for all it is worth. Where are the guys in support of sensible relationships? Why are we not asking people to reconsider how they deal with sexuality out in the open?

Is it British reserve that will finally sink any ability for us to evolve away from commonplace sexual repression over the last X years?

Part of the problem, it appears, is this annoying (and increasing) obsession with the importance of self. Teresa May can’t reshuffle a Cabinet, for instance, because people don’t want the jobs they’re offered. Can you imagine Winston Churchill offering people jobs and them being refused [*] because that wasn’t something that fitted in with the individual’s idea of Government? Mind you, I can’t imagine a Churchill aide being forced to delete thousands of tweets on Social media because they were adversely affecting their current employment… you know, sometimes I wish we could have a state of play where people just stopped deciding they know what you are and simply worried about being a decent human being first and foremost.

I’d love to see the male heroes I love step out of the shadows and support the women they work with just because they deserve it. There doesn’t need to be a hashtag movement, or a photo opportunity at play. Why not just go to the press and say ‘Hi, I’d like to offer support and solidarity here. You don’t need to pay me. I’m not after you plugging a book or my upcoming TV show/film. Here’s some genuine reflections on all this, so that you understand I care and grasp the change in my workplace.’ Most people, lets face it, are only interested in their brand, and the perceived exposure it grants. It’s amazing how much better you feel when that no longer matters, and you just decide to be honest.

Last night, I lost a follower that I’m amazed hung around as long as she did. She and I were about as far apart in politics and outlook as it was possible to get, and there’s been moments when I was convinced we’d part company on far messier battlefields. The straw, in the end, was the truth, one I’d laid out very plainly in my comic strip a couple of hours previously. She asked me a question, I answered with 100% total honesty and BANG she was gone. I don’t have time any more to sugar coat the issues I have or the direction I wish to move in. I no longer need either validation or understanding from people whose reason for being on Social media is to push themselves. I’m not here to help other people get famous. I’m here to be me.

If you don’t like how I do my business, other followers are available.

The fact I care and record all these comings and goings might seem odd or dangerous to some people, but the fact remains there is no fear any more in doing what I feel is right for me. That means not thinking about myself 24/7, looking ahead in the queue to what’s happening, understanding that fear will destroy you if you let it, getting cross at other people’s selfish thoughtlessness and all points in between. In essence, I am the problem that needs constant assessment and reinvention, and if that means you don’t like what I am as a result, that’s not an issue. Once you grasp life is not a popularity contest but an exercise in reassessment and understanding? A lot of stuff really does not matter.

This week is an education, in every sense of the word.

[*] Note to self to spend time today researching Churchill’s cabinet to see if anybody did turn down a job when offered, so there’s something learnt from the experience.

Ain’t No Easy Way

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For the last week, I’ve been staring at this page of the British Heart Foundation’s website. Right now I can do approximately 20 miles in an hour, but that’s on a static bike with no distractions and nobody else to worry about falling into. If it is just me, everything is fine. If there is anybody else then a lot of other stuff comes into play, and I panic.

I think it is time to bite the bullet and just do what I know has to be done to save my own soul.

This morning came the scheduled realisation that I cannot fix everything. Yes, I absolutely should continue to try making a difference, however, and it is the opportunity with this sponsored ride to do just that. I effectively ‘buy’ a place on the ride by giving £50 and then promising I can raise £300 minus Gift Aid. This should not be a stretch all told, and it is a very worthy charity that grabs the money… except I realise now what the problem is. I’d want to ride for a mental health charity instead. I should go investigate if that is a possibility, and if it is then go apply to someone whom I feel happier getting my money.

Yet again, this whole thing boils down to principle, and not simply taking the easy road to a solution.

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I know why I woke up like this. Last night, someone whom I follow made a comment about feeling left out on Social media, which linked in with a discussion I had in the Real World with my husband. Life is not about you expecting people to include you, or assuming that because you’re feeling unwell others should treat you differently. Sure, there can be sympathy and accommodation, but at some point feeling sorry for yourself will become detrimental. The best thing I did for myself yesterday wasn’t sit on a sofa and work my way through TV shows, it was getting myself on a bike and challenging my own concepts of self worth and dependence. Your experiences (of course) will vary but for me? If I allow complacency to dictate my actions, good work simply evaporates.

It is high time I grasped that change is constant and often vital at even my lowest ebb.

In the end, I do what I feel is right to move forward. This is not a popularity contest, or a means to become a better person. If you judge people simply by the way they respond to you via Twitter or Facebook? You will eventually be on a hiding to nothing. I need to spend less time worrying about what people think, and more time getting on with making a career for myself, because nobody else is going to do that except me. If principles matter, then it is time to stick by them and move forward.

If I want this enough, I just have to get on with it.

Getting Better

I went to bed last night at 8.30pm. I read, and then I slept in fits and starts all night.

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I got up an hour after my Fitbit tells me I woke up, and have been working ever since. The left ear is a bit bunged up, left side of my throat is sore and my vocal chords are clearly suffering but, if I’m honest, I feel pretty good. So much so, I will get my planning finished and go for an early hour on the bike, so I can come back and use endorphins to power my afternoon work. There is one small niggle however: a coughing fit resulted in hand covered in blood. My tonsils have a habit of doing this, historically, but I am always a bit careful because of that one time I got pneumonia and ended up in Hospital.

It’s okay, I’m really fine, and if that changes I’ll go deal with it.

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It is time therefore to make the most of the fact I’m still the only person up in the house and counter the fact that tomorrow is traditionally known as Blue Monday. In fact that gives me an idea for the first song of next week’s #Indy31 Playlist… :D

Cough Cough

I am full on sick now, but it is only cold in head and neck. Judicious use of asthma medication will (touch wood) ensure that I don’t end up with a chest infection. I’ll still do an hour of (gentle) exercise on the bike each night across the weekend. There will be a kip at some point this afternoon, before the tree comes down and I sort out the mess of laundry and washing up. Normally I’d play games to alleviate my state of bleurgh, but all that has served to do since I woke up is to annoy and not relax. It is time to be doing something, anything else.

Breakfast/Lunch 👍

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Anti-inflammatories are my friend, but I’ll only take them when needed. Plenty of rest and fluids, eating when my body prompts, probably having a scalding hot shower after my chores. I can no longer lie and just feel sorry for myself. There’s just too much to do right now, which is actually a blessing. It won’t allow me to worry about getting worse.

I need to focus on getting better.