Kernkraft 400

Space Engine

This morning I was up at 9am and in the Gym by 10.30. Somewhere between Tuesday and here, I’ve moved past being unwell and shifted back into Gym Progression Mode.

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I’m now managing a Push and Pull day with weights a week, plus my scheduled PT. On all the other days (bar one because you know REST) the plan is simple: at least 45 minutes of something. In my case that includes 20 minutes of brisk walk/sprints and using an Octane machine.

I like the Octane as much as I do because it allows me to pick a level of exercise that fits with my limited lung capacity. It’s new enough a piece of equipment to scare most people away (meaning it is always free when I visit) and the ‘Climb’ mode gives a really effective all body workout without leaving me incapable of completing anything else. I’ve been working up my progress in miles and can now do three in 17 minutes, which is pushing lungs and body but which has been getting slowly easier. The plan is to work up to 5 miles and then keep working on stamina with 250m sprints on the Treadmill. After three days of this, it does feel like I’m getting somewhere.

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The sleep ‘issue’ I’ve been having of late last night simply didn’t exist. Enforcing a 40 minute ‘vigorous’ target meant that I was truly exhausted when hitting the bed, and it showed. Trying not to nap during the day (despite needing to do just that on several occasions) and diet changes appear to be having the required effect. Now all I have to do is keep up the progress.

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I have a busy week: two days of medical shit on Friday/Saturday and the first full five days back for the kids. There needs to be a lot more organisation than currently exists to get everything sorted.

Let’s see if we can’t get that all sorted now.

Time in a Bottle

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Tomorrow, I’ll have written 500 posts here. A lot of it, let’s be honest, has been dross but as I continue to have my moments, the body of work increases. I’ve been unhappy with the layout for a while now, and decided to go Full Minimalist because the Writing site is going to be a bit blingy at the start. Not TOO loud, I hope, but enough to attract some attention. It seemed logical whilst I was doing one to attack the other, and hopefully this will remain a ‘less is more’ spot to come and escape to when the work gets too hard.

Tomorrow I hope to set the stall out going forward for all three sites.

I hope to see you here bright and early in the morning.

I Might Be Wrong

There is a eucalyptus tree in our garden, almost pulled over in the last round of Winter storms. We’ve decided it was too unwieldy, that our whole garden is going to be remodelled in the next year, and this (plus many things) had to go. My husband had taken most of the height from it, but showed reticence to finish the job, and after a particularly passionate discussion over commitment to maintaining the outside of the house, I stepped in. That meant that yesterday morning, as remnants of a teenage LAN party were filtering into unusually warm April sun, I stepped into the garden with a huge hacksaw and a plan.

Today Girls and Boys, Alt is tidying the Garden… #spring #photographer #365photochallenge

A post shared by AltChat (@alternativechat) on

I am not, as a rule, an outdoors person. Sure, I enjoy going to places and looking at things, but relaxation for me is never outside. However, now I’m beginning to grasp that my future is changing, it is only right and proper that I force out of my normal comfort zone and start doing stuff that is not fun. That eucalyptus was taken to almost ground level yesterday, and has a root system that is a metaphor for how sometimes it is hard to remove things from your life. Every time I thought I’d got on top of removing the stump the thing showed me how deep to dig and strong I’d have to be to cut it out. I’ve done good work, but one day will not be enough, and I’ll be back this week to finish the job. However, what I did manage was to clear more than half the rest of the mess, and call out for a chainsaw because sometimes, you just gotta use the big equipment.

However, yesterday was exactly what was needed.

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The change to my upper body strength was the biggest revelation: sawing shit is FUN when you don’t get tired after 30 seconds. In fact I hacksawed so many things it was enjoyable: once upon a time I’d have never coped with the job I’d set myself in one sitting. Yesterday, by 3.30pm I was tidying up and feeling the effort had been very much worthwhile. The other massive upswing from last week is the ‘nothing fatty that could set off another gallbladder incident until you’ve had bloods and an ultrasound’ warning from the Doctor. I now know that peanut butter is off the books, organic included. It meant the roasters had to be omitted from last night’s chicken dinner too, but that didn’t diminish the awesomeness of the experience, because I sneaked bread sauce in.

This has also stopped me looking at calorie content at foods and pushed me back to the ‘fat’ part of the nutritional information. Even though I’ve been better with food, there were indulgences (especially in the cheese and butter departments) because I’d be able to burn the calories off. The problem now, of course, is if my body cannot handle the process of breaking down high fat foods, there has to be accommodation and I will need to start logging those indulgences to ensure I’m not potentially causing more harm. What I really want to avoid is surgery, because that will put back all my hard work potentially for months. If I can manage this without the need to do so, that will be the long term aim.

I might be wrong, but the more I think about last week is turning out to be a massive positive than negative.

Making Your Mind Up

Even though I lost an hour this morning, it’s a beautiful day.

I’ve spent some time pouring over Co-Promote, which is turning into an extremely useful component of the experiment for the Writing Site. I have posts worked out for the next few weeks on the Warcraft Site, and there’s NEW CONTENT due on Wednesday. The only problem I foresee in the next week is when I get on the scales tomorrow for PT and it is apparent I’ve been eating far more than I should have been, because it’s taking a while to adjust noshing patterns to the increase in exercise frequency. Everything else is looking great, and there’s now no excuse to put off a lot of stuff I’ve been avoiding. In fact, I’m looking forward to getting things thrown out and cleared away.

Life, as it stands, is going remarkably well.

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What has now made the difference, undoubtedly, is the Mindfulness course I’m on, which is about to end its first week. It has done nothing more than opened a door in my head that before I did not even realised existed. That has in turn given me entry to a place where my normal life has gained an extra depth and space: nothing dramatic has changed, but my perception has undoubtedly shifted. I’ll write about this more in detail in the week, but suffice it to say there’s a new brightness to every moment that is only now beginning to register. I’m beyond grateful for the lovely lady who suggested I go take this course to begin with. I may never adequately find the means to thank her for simply doing the job she’s paid to do.

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Normally on a Sunday I’d be lost at a PC and gaming, but today (once the blogging is done) I fully intend to put my mind to the first big task I set myself to finish this time last week, and once that is finally done I can move forward and start attacking the front of the house with hoover and dusters. Spring Cleaning will take a couple of weeks at my current rate of attrition, but this year it will be done. I’ve half assed my way through it over the last few years but really, there’s just so much crap now accumulated, and a ton of it is never used any more by either child or us. As a result, it doesn’t need to be here any more, and I can make space in a house that’s already bursting at the seams. That’s the other debt of gratitude I have to acknowledge: I’ve been keeping track of my Minimalism Game goals since the 1st of March, and I’ll have thrown out a ton of stuff come Friday and completed the goal.

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Sometimes I know it can feel as if people blog stuff that’s not real, that it is all just smoke and mirrors to get others to read their work. I couldn’t get away with ever being like that because I know now I’d be lying, and that helps nobody in the end. This month, I suspect, will be looked back as a watershed going forward, that this was the moment when I stopped pretending to be doing all this stuff seriously and moved forward.

The future is making me vibrate with excitement, and that’s never a bad thing.

The Test

Some of you know me very well, and have done for many years. For others, this is the beginning of a new ‘relationship’: you took a chance on an unknown woman and clicked on the website, wondering what might be hidden amongst the words. In a reality full of people shouting at you from various platforms, how on earth do you ever find the confidence to stand up and take a step in the dark? Reality in 2017 is a pretty hard sell: I’m watching people I thought knew better effectively pretending life isn’t happening and moving further away from social media. I realise that for some, the only way to cope with the chaos around us is to effectively retreat, and I can’t say I blame them one iota. Once upon a time, that would have been my coping mechanism too, but not any more.

Life right now is a test of how capable we all are of moving forward.

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Finding a personal balance is never simple, and inevitably involves pushing out of comfort zones. Whatever the new age gurus might try and sell you, or the clean eaters plus any of the new generation of spiritually aware, there is never just one answer that solves everything. Because everybody is different, pretending you have the cast iron solution to change someone’s existence is no different than being a charlatan. The Internet, often described as the Wild West by those who’ve not lived here nearly long enough to understand the reality, does however possess more than a fair share of Snake Oil pushers. There may well be gold in them thar retweets but if you want peace of mind as well as your fortune, taking part isn’t enough.

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I get frustrated when people describe me as quirky and confrontational, just because I won’t use the established rule book. After a lifetime in computing, in one form or another, I have a fairly unique perspective of what it means to be a woman in lots of differing places. I have no doubt the real world is both differing and similar to these experiences, and I’m never stupid enough to assert that my truth is any more or less important than the next person. The fact remains that in the current version of reality we live in, the Internet allows everyone to shout at each other pretty much without consequence, unless you’re lucky enough to have the cash/patience/backup required to make your point of view in court. Then, and only then, can you prove you’re right without an argument. That means, like it or not, pretty much everybody else is pissing in the wind.

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The trick to real success, it seems to this mind, is twofold: either never talk about anything personal or difficult ever and just get on with life, or sell yourself for all that you’re worth and become famous for being just that. On reflection, I can talk about what I am now without much fear, because I understand what libel is, and what you should never do in public. My past cannot be changed, but is reconciled with the present. Really, all I have now is a blank page and the next day, with the fundamental understanding that I may never reach it. If I died right after this blog post was written, if it were my last testament to what I am and what I have worked towards, I would be happy. Sure, I would have liked to have had some of my works published, but as my husband likes to point out, many of the most famous authors only became revered after death anyway, so what does it matter? It doesn’t. Living each day well, making solid progress on goals, being a better person, looking after your environment… all of this is how you become happy. You don’t drink a shake or run a mile, you don’t just pray or hand over some cash. Life is to be lived, in the best way your environment and circumstances allow, and that’s what I intend to do going forward.

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If you don’t know me yet, I hope that can change. I’d like to help you write better, to think about life even if it is hard, and to try and help other people. That means today I ask you to take a small amount of extra cash, if you can spare it, to help those with nothing in east Africa, which is in the grip of a major famine. That’s all: today, you help somebody less fortunate than yourself, for no other reason than one day, this could be you.

This way, maybe, we eventually all help to make life easier for everybody to live well.

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Well Done

Success is an odd concept. Too often it is defined by somebody else and not you: parents, friends, colleagues. I remember as a child my main desire was to look and feel relaxed, that kid who wasn’t perennially awkward and uneasy in her own skin. I was bought a book, or maybe I bought it myself, I don’t remember: How to be Cool. It had lots of film stars on the cover, most of them in shades, because that was how you cultivated a persona that radiated confidence. In the ignorance of youth (and boy was I naive back then) all you needed was the physical tools to become famous, and that’s how it worked. Not much has changed in 40 years: all you need now is to break 1000 Followers on your online medium of choice and suddenly, BOOM, you’re the person to know. Except success shouldn’t be defined by other people’s beliefs, at least if you want to try and attain some notion of personal peace.

Only now do I begin to understand why ‘do it for yourself’ matters more than any other goal you’ll ever set.

If you don’t enjoy sport, you won’t understand why last night’s PSG v Barcelona game was such a big deal. Barcelona, effectively buried at home in the first leg of their Champion’s League tie by French opposition, did what is normally considered impossible and came back to win 6-5 away from home, with a display of determination that saw their win effectively sealed in the last five minutes of normal time plus time added on. Success sometimes means not assuming you’re beaten, that the opposition is fallible. It also helps if there’s some luck in the mix (one of Barca’s goals was the most amazing of deflections) but mostly you never give up until the game is over.

When history and your critics have condemned you to failure before the whistle is blown, there’s nothing left to lose, and here is where success is never defined by anybody else except the people playing the game. The reason I love football (and I do as a spectacle, because it is) is if a group of players believe enough in themselves and the task to be surmounted, it will happen. That was the case with Leicester City last season, and it will be again, as I’m confident that group of players will survive their relegation battle, but only now because they are fighting adversity on their terms. But I’m not here to pretend I’m a pundit, because success is knowing what you’re good at and not trying to be everything at once, and I’m straying from my own point.

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Success is not what other people tell me it is. I define the parameters, from start to finish. That’s because, when all is said and done, I am the team here. Nobody else edits the Blogs or produces the graphics. There’s no writing team producing the words ever day. If an idea is created or developed, there will be input from other people, but the final production and ‘manufacture’ of the articles from those discussions falls into my lap. Effectively, when you are your own production company, PA and publicity teams? It makes satisfaction a lot easier to both quantify and gauge. There’s also far less stress because being beholden to other people in process can often be enough to send you batty. This means that creative freedom and inspiration don’t get stifled nearly as much as can be the case in collectives. It also allows me the opportunity to pick and choose what gets done and when.

The flip side to this of course is that there is often a temptation to do everything at once, because it is hard to work out what’s the most worthwhile idea in a pile of potentially great projects. That has been the hardest lesson of all to learn, but now I’ve cut things down to small, workable ‘blocks’ of time, it is becoming quite manageable and attainable. What that means in practical terms is as after this post is written, I’ll get a cuppa and a flapjack and spend a couple of hours setting up webpage frameworks for the back end of the Warcraft site, and looking to add a couple of new headers to the Writing one. What I’ve often overlooked is foundations in my projects, and without solid bases on which to build long term projects, things can have a habit of collapsing around me… but not any more.

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I am infinitely grateful for the opportunity to define my own rules going forward. It means that nothing is ever a bind, or a chore, even the stuff that seemed so before because it didn’t appear necessary. Once you realise that EVERYTHING, even the mundane shit, is a way forward, your life can shift about quite rapidly. It is, in effect, understanding that your half empty glass means you’re still not thirsty and it could be so much worse. This has taken many years to comfortably grasp, and there will still be days when I struggle to remind myself that backwards is the last resort. As long as the words keep working that’s great, but now there’s the acceptance that there needs to be more, too. That means the photography is becoming more important, alongside the exercise: a range of interests and not just an obsessive focus on one thing alone.

Fortunately for me I’ve picked a medium to work in where all my interests can effectively mesh. Now it is just up to me to make that happen.

Yeah, I can do this.

Walkaway

It is important, as we mentioned last week, to be able to step back and be objective when living in any space whose rules are defined not just by us. Obsessing about anything can be both destructive and ultimately dangerous, and nowhere is that more true than in an environment where it is easy to shout into the void and never experience dissent. The ‘echo chamber’ concept of social media’s used as a stick to beat me with on an almost weekly basis, and I thought it bore more investigation after the latest incident where someone cited the concept as the reason why a relationship had failed.

Wikipedia considers a media echo chamber as ‘a metaphorical description of a situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by communication and repetition inside a defined system,’ which in this case will be your own feed and blogs. Effectively an individual ignores basic points which are obvious to those outside the space as not being fairly represented within, if at all. It is a basic concept of curation but executed at the expense of truth: as you remove people from a space which you can and should control and organise, it can appear from certain angles to be censorship of those who disagree with points of view or who cause contention when doing so.

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Since the US Election, I’ve made a point of being more politically active, and this has upset a significant portion of my existing readership, enough to cause many of them to leave of their own accord. It also happened in the run up last year, when it became apparent that being disparaging of Republican ideas and sentiments was going to get me into trouble, and yet I’ll still peddle this line regardless. The key here is that I’m not singling out anyone in my feed as an issue, but by being disparaging of a wider viewpoint, those who hold it as sacred will logically assume I’m attacking them. The same feeling is undoubtedly true when I won’t agree with people’s views on Warcraft, feminism, cosplay, breasts, chocolate… and the list goes on and on.

At no point do I ever single someone out as being unreasonable until the Unfollow button gets hit, and only then does it becomes personal. The very act of removal is confirmation to them that something has happened that I don’t like. That’s why Mute can often be considered the coward’s solution to a problematic follower: far easier just to remove them and kop the flack. In fact, it would be fair to assume that had I been more careful and considered my choices to begin with, then there wouldn’t be an issue, but it is often hard to form considered opinions of people when they’re not standing in front of you: that’s why Facebook’s friends of friends concept is such an addictive one. If person X knows you and two genuinely close friends, their choices will be people who mesh with you, right?

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The truth is, of course, utter bollocks. That’s why some of us refuse to allow Facebook to dictate terms, and will reassess ‘friends’ on an almost weekly basis. That’s even more true when there’s a contentious issue: I am more than happy to disagree with people, and that happens with predictable regularity. What I’m not prepared to entertain, at any point, is someone else deciding a) what I am thinking and b) what I should do as a result of this. We can not vote the same way, like the same music or even agree on anything at all. I am able to do civil and polite with the entire planet right up to the point where someone points a metaphorical finger at me and states what I have to do because this is what is wrong.

That is the moment when trust is lost, but not always for good.

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I’ve disagreed with people before, but if when engaging them in dialogue I can believe that there is still a basis for communication, that’s how it works. Everybody can not see eye to eye from time to time, after all. If it becomes apparent that there’s no point in trying to communicate because what I believe isn’t considered either relevant or important, then it is time to reassess. Maybe it is not just my outlook exacerbating the situation: this same person isn’t listening to others either, apparent by the interactions with others I can read and see taking place around us. If their interest is unnecessarily obsessive, or inward facing, or they’re just a shitposting troublemaker? Time eventually shows up the flaws.

If you wait, everybody fucks up eventually, and it is how those moments are dealt with that becomes the real measure of their online persona.

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Why do I do all this navel gazing, I hear some of you ask? I learn from it and it helps me understand how this part of the World works. It allows me to grasp how human beings react in certain situations. Many people, often without realising, reveal sides of themselves online I suspect they wish weren’t as public as are currently the case. It is a delicate balancing act, which most of the sane and sensible individuals deal with by not pressing Tweet or posting on Facebook to begin with, because their real lives are more important than the virtual one. As a writer I balance between disparate worlds on a daily basis, and sitting here trying to find the right sentences to use becomes another part of the understanding process. To communicate successfully to others is no mean feat, I am now discovering, and to make the best job takes far more effort than may people ever really grasp.

It is never an easy task to shout anywhere; to have confidence in a virtual space is not as simple as many would believe. What matters more is to find a voice, and once that is accomplished to learn the best means by which you can explain yourself to a wider audience than just yourself. It is a vital part of human development, and without that internal belief it can be a hard and painful journey to take alone. More importantly still, thinking why things happen and to understand you are as responsible for events that happen around you as anyone else is an important means by which one defines your overall significance (or otherwise) in the communities you are a part of.

The people that surround you are as much a measure of your personality as you are yourself, and knowing that means a constant reassessment of your aquaintances can never be a bad thing.