A New Day

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I’m using the same blog title in two places today, because last night I finally reconciled how the relaxation portion of my life is going to play out going forward. For about two years I was tied to a responsibility that, having now been released, I understand was effectively strangling my love of gaming. Now that is no longer a consideration going forward? It is high time to reorganise that side of my existence, in the same way I have with everything else. It has helped greatly that I’ve had people to talk to who understand my peculiar situation. It is also really helpful that relaxation is not simply via one means any more. Previously, escaping to gaming was all there was… now, that’s not the case.

I have a new hobby πŸ‘πŸš΄β€β™€οΈπŸ’ͺ

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I’ve wanted a mountain bike for some time now, because they’re simply more robust than the road bikes my husband seems to love. Having ridden this yesterday I am already happier than I have been for many, many months: it is not only built for a female body, it is incredibly easy to manoeuvrer and direct. What this gives me is a bike I feel comfortable riding to and from the shops, that I can do some road work without panicking, and that is 100% mine. We’d considered an old style upright, but honestly I’d rather have a backpack on than a basket… unless I get to the stage where a three wheeled bike with a massive front container is available. That’s a long way off, and I’ll need an awful lot more strength and stamina if I’m going to pull that off.

If you’d have told me a decade ago I’d have said I enjoy cycling, I’d have laughed at you.

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There is an awful lot of shit going on in the world I have absolutely no influence in changing, so it is high time I focused on what can be done, and do a fucking good job of it. That means getting strong, mobile and finding a voice.

This seems like a good place to start.

Copy Me

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One of the first words my daughter learnt at her new school was plagiarism. From the beginningΒ  to the end of the School year, that concept was drilled into her: just copying from the Internet and passing it off as your own work is wrong. I was reminded of this yesterday when reading, of all things, a Teen Vogue article. I followed the site after the US presidential campaign, and the resulting output turned out to be one of the best things to come out of 2016 for me and many others.

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This story, of a woman on Instagram effectively plagiarising another (far more high profile) user’s work gave me genuine pause for thought. I know this stuff happens all the time, have seen artists that I follow complain that their work has been wholesale lifted and copied without permission. With the size of the Internet, it is no surprise that even my own work’s been duplicated and used by ‘scraper’ sites: added as filler on websites who’s existence is dubious at best. One of the reasons I finally left Google’s Blogger site after being there since launch was the amount of site hits which went through me that was clearly spam, other people using the URL as a means to direct suspicious traffic. However, it isn’t the nature of this kind of plagiarism that makes me uncomfortable. In the case of our Copycat Instagrammer, there’s almost an artistic reverence to the work which, once upon a time, might have been considered acceptable. Now, with what I know about how the Internet works? It’s just plain creepy.

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The note at the bottom of that Teen Vogue article is the real takeaway from any story like this: in my mind I imagine the copycat ‘grammer had done this simply to try and gain new followers by dupicating shots she knew would be popular. The fact she went to the exact same places to do so is no surprise either, because if all that matters in your mind is a simple reproduction? Then you require the same backdrops. In a world where image is everything (and it is if you’re playing the aspirational lifestyle card) then one assumes the effort expended will be, in the mind of any copycat, worth the reward. Except here’s the bigger problem: thought. If you have all the money you need and the time to simply scrape someone else’s life and pretend that you’re living it yourself, does this provide any real notion of satisfaction? Do you get kicks and thrills simply by pretending you are that person? If that is the case, is this ever going to be mentally healthy long term?

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I know people online who live like this. There is evidence to support that case too, in at least one case from multiple sources. I’ve considered the wisdom of pursuing an individual but after a long and very interesting discussion with a member of the legal profession, any case comes down to whether your evidence is prosecutable. As soon as it is possible to gather sufficient concrete proof that your copycat/stalker/abuser is just that, Police and Law Enforcement are becoming increasingly willing to take cases to court. For everything else, gaps in international law between countries allows crazies to quietly slip through the cracks. You teach your kids to be careful, watch for the signs, but grown ups rarely do the same for themselves until it is often far too late.

For some, however, online plagiarism has become what they’re best known for. Copying others has evolved into their own ‘signature’ move… and can you blame people, when Hollywood will reinvent itself every 10 years, a movie’s not really a classic unless it’s been remade several times, and fashion relies on recycling trends each season allowing magazines to roll out decades old stock photos of when that trend was popular the last time. Everybody’s guilty from time to time of seeing someone else’s work, going ‘oh yeah I could do that better’ and doing just that. Without that turn of events I doubt that man would have invented the wheel, learnt how to plough crops or how to use plants to make people better. Like it or not, borrowing from others is a basic part of human nature.

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The problems inevitably surface when you cross a line, which is often far more clearly defined than many copycats might like to believe. Do it once and you’ll probably be smiled at and the duplication acknowledged (especially if you do a decent job) but keep on repeating and people will eventually and quite rightly accuse you of not having any of your own ideas. In fact, if you keep doing it to the point where someone notices and then you stop and simply latch onto something else? Perhaps it might be time to take a look at yourself.Β If all of this ultimately is an attempt to keep people interested in your life, then maybe the real issue isn’t having an adoring audience to hide within. Speaking as someone who, for many years, never considered the consequences of her actions, you may not be lucky enough to be forgiven. The better option, undoubtedly, is not to fixate on someone else’s life as being an aspiration, and to focus on fixing your own.

In the long term, it will be better for your soul.

New Life

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This week I’ve watched the weight closer than I’d normally do, which before in my mind would have been a tad unhealthy. This time around however it is to see how the strict carbs/sugar regime is affecting my body, and I’m beginning to notice what can only be described as shrinkage. As body sea-saws between the same scale points, body begins to lose fat. Under arms, at the top of my legs, around waist, across the stomach. All of these places where before fat was obvious and often frustrating have reduced in the last week. I don’t normally look at my body at length anyway, but right now the state of arms and shoulders is cause for celebration.

This is what was wanted when I was younger but never knew how to achieve.

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Today is a self-imposed rest day, because yesterday I did 26k steps, which is almost eleven and a half miles. It also doesn’t help that one of three bites I got on Friday’s gone full on zombie apocalypse near my knee joint, with a blister the size of a five pence piece. I’m assuming this is as a result of recovery from surgery and the fact I’m now pretty much dormant in the hormones department: my body loves to overreact at intrusion, but that’s always been the case. The blister’s healthy, no infection as yet and so I think this is a way of entry site saying ‘just take it easy today, ‘kay?’ I’ll do my 250 hourly steps, and probably grab a nap after writing is done to help with healing.

I suspect today will involve minimal physical effort.

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The first week of ‘proper work’ has gone incredibly well. Looking at the planner to my right, apart from Thursday where Twitter drama rearranged the schedule, everything has gone more than totally to plan. Once done here I’ll turn the page and start on next week, which already has a number of things planned (apart from the scheduled work) that I can honestly say I’m quite excited about. Then I have Patreon pledges to complete, the first of which I started on yesterday and will be continued with today.

I decided to test yesterday whether it is possible for me to write ‘in public’ and it was, rather usefully, a very good exercise in concentration. This is the first time that I’ve applied real process to writing in this way, going through several forms in one place so that my ‘thinking’ can also form a physical reward for the $10 Patreons. It is worth at this point stating I’ve managed to pass the $100 pledge mark:

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The next yardstick is $180, which is how much I’d earn a month with the paying gigs I gave up to commit to this. I couldn’t do both, and so in my mind I was going to give myself to the end of this year to make that figure: to have reached over that total in what is effectively less than a month is beyond staggering. It gives be real hope I can achieve everything I want.

Time to start planning for the week.

The Old Songs :: One

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There will now be an unscheduled diversification of content, ahead of me having a weekend away with Mr Alt in the beautiful Peak District. I’m a sucker for Derbyshire: blame Jane Austen for that obsession, but for the next three days all that matters are vintage bikes, dressing up and enjoying what looks like could be a glorious weekend in the heart of quintessential English countryside. It’s Eroica Britannia time, and after the muddy mess of last year, I’ve got the Factor 50 sun cream standing by.

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We’ll be travelling up at lunchtime today, so ‘normal’ service on my other two blogs will be suspended starting shortly, with posts returning Monday morning. My husband, no word of a lie, has been planning this since the start of the year. The three bikes we’re taking (two for him, one for me) are ready: his two have been painstakingly restored, mine (because I’m not racing) is a little less cared for but no less loved. I have costumes for both days, been breaking in my shoes for the past three days. Our hotel is literally next to the High Peak Trail, which runs past the Festival’s front entrance. The only problem I have is that we won’t be driving to and from site, but it’s a bike ride, in a skirt.

Not gonna lie, I’m nervous.

This is the kind of event that Twitter, Instagram and blogging was created to cover: an opportunity to stick you people in my pocket and, for two days, be a part of my life at the Festival. A smart woman would have had flyers printed to advertise the Internet of Words across the weekend but that’s next year’s task, for now I’ll be taking both the mobile and my stand alone camera to pick up as many pictures as is possible. I’ve also gone a bit high tech: as there will be sun, I have a mobile solar charging panel (picked up from last years’ Black Friday Amazon sale) which looks like it could be worth its weight in gold.

I’ll be doing my best to blog extensively about all three days, to share with you some of the vintage stuff I’ve managed to pick up (been saving pennies for a spend) and hopefully give a flavour of an event that was enjoyed immensely last year. It is very, VERY British, however: warning you now, it is a long way away from anything that counts as normal in my existence. However, with the events of the last month still very fresh in the memory, there is a reminder to enjoy life as much as possible and as often as is presented. After all, you never know when your last day will come, and a life lived well is what should always be your default. So, this weekend I’m going to forget about all the bad stuff and go kick back. It’ll still be here when I return, but days away like this are the way I come back stronger and ready to deal with life’s demands.

Packing the bag. #eroicabritannia2017 awaits βœ…

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Now, the next thing to work out is how little I can get away with for two days without gimping my ability to function…