The Sun Rising

DAY 2: I’ll just leave this here.

Sugar cravings are non-existent. Sleep patterns are a lot less fraught after a couple of weeks off the routine, but as I miss order so very much, and without it everything suffers, it is time to be up at approaching ‘normal’ before cracking on with the plan. Yesterday went fabulously well: poetry’s already scheduled to archive, I have a month’s worth of Motivation stacked and ready to post, Short Story is already ahead of the curve.

Today, we’ll see if we can’t get the YouTube stuff organised too, remake some website headers, before creating a ‘form’ for scheduling so that I can cut down on the massive number of PostIt notes and random pieces of paper required to make each new month happen. Call it being overly picky, or perhaps just wanting to be more environmentally sound… but it should be doable now. The routine is set, but can still be flexible.

HOPEFULLY this will assist in making weight loss and meal times less stressful. I have my first recipe ready to go. It was either a) safe with burgers or b) risky veg and YES I’M GOING FOR B because nothing changes when you’re safe. This is a line in the sand, and it will go on being pushed and redrawn, but it won’t be walked away from. I’ve wanted to do this properly for decades. It will happen.


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The other promise is to my husband, who’s been pushing me for years to expand my mind via podcasts. I’ll be honest, there’s normally just not been enough brain-space to process stuff like this between everything else that’s upended mentally over the last few years. Now, however, I feel comfortable enough to give it a go. I’m listening to 2017 podcasts, starting today, then we’ll do last year so I’m caught up to current.

After that? We’ll take a trawl through the archives and see what looks interesting. I’ll be back to you on how it all goes.

Oh, and I’m gonna exercise later, because I haven’t lifted a heavy weight since Friday.

Beautiful Day

Not gonna lie, would rather be outside. Instead, BRB, seeing if the first 5k of this project is worth submitting.

Wish You Were Here

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Okay, I can positively attest that personal clarity and focus has returned to my brain after yesterday. The focal point came at about 4.30pm yesterday afternoon when I sat on the sofa and could feel an anaesthetic ‘fuzz’ almost pulling me to unconsciousness. There was an incorrect assumption that after three days I was shot of the worst of it, and that is was increasingly apparent what was needed was a return to ‘normal’ working hours as a matter of priority. This morning I could have gotten up and stayed up at 7am, but made the choice to go back for another 90 minutes. The benefits are already obvious, but I am still having to concentrate on focus. I can but hope that with the application of caffeine and enough time, this too will heal.

I can feel that happening now, rather bizarrely. My left wrist, belly button, upper chest are all tingling. The entry for instruments on my lower right hand side is no more now than a scar, not even bruised: it’s not counted as an injury. I’m still getting occasional tinnitus on waking and going to sleep, which says to me that maybe it’s not just ears but neck that could do with a poke, which I will bring up on Thursday when I see the surgeon. Half term starts Friday which is totally perfect timing, and the plan is to be back to ‘normal’ (as much as that is possible) for the first week of June. I’ve learnt an amazing amount about myself in the last six days, and I suspect there’s still a lot more to factor in.

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However, this morning my legs are really keen to do something. I can’t lift yet for another eight days, but nothing is stopping me being outside. Therefore, I’m already planning to go and eat lunch at the Gym today, and at least walk there for a drink every day this week. It’s a perfect short hop with two breaks in between, allows me to judge my levels of stamina, and stops me from going insane by being stuck inside. Plus, if I believe the weather forecast, I really don’t want to be stuck inside anyway. It will be glorious all week, and considering that I’ve been stuck in my own head for nearly a month now, getting outside needs to be a factor in the recovery process.

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In fact, let’s get organised so I can get out and enjoy the day. Be warned, there will be Instagramming.

Words

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It’s been some time since a movie stopped me in my tracks, but last night (as our kids were with their Gran and Grandad) Mr Alt and I ‘rented’ Arrival. It’s probably the best six quid I’ve spent on a film for quite some time, and although it was almost frustratingly slow to start, on reflection the pacing was spot on. It’s also a VERY clever film in terms of its use of a Chinese character (who has a key and pivotal significance to the narrative) as has become the fashion of late for Hollywood. I won’t spoil it for you, because I really urge a watch if you’ve not done so: I guessed the ‘plot’ quite early on, and the signs on the roadmap to final understanding were subtle enough to make this hugely satisfying. My only objection is Renner’s casting as a physicist when all I can see him doing is firing arrows, but that’s my problem to fix and not anyone else’s.

What Arrival has now prompted in my mind is the understanding that language is a hugely subjective tool. There’s a key point in the narrative (which is referenced in the trailer and so won’t spoil you) where, in interpreting the Heptapod’s incredibly complicated, 3D written language, the word ‘weapon’ is used by the aliens with immediate and devastating effect. Crucially, it is immediately understood by Dr Louise Banks (Amy Adams) as a potential mistake: we are teaching aliens our language, and by doing so there is always the possibility that a word can be misinterpreted because of the way we misuse them ourselves. There’s a brilliant scene in the narrative that foreshadows this too: Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) is amazed that the first words that Banks will ‘teach’ are, in his mind ‘grade school’ and only when Louise explains exactly why it has to happen that way is it clear that learning to communicate without misinterpretation is one of the most complicated things we will ever do.

Social media, on any given day, is a perfect example of how that process can get mangled.

Language is a constantly evolving concept: words change meaning from generation to generation. What someone can consider a grievous insult others will laugh at as a clever pun, or an adroit use of definition, and the problem remains the interpretation of the individual. On social media however, there are other issues to consider. If, as has been the case in the past, I’m discussing something in one place with someone who’s reading about other people’s views in two other places, their frame of reference to mine is different, making their interpretation of the key issue inherently different. If all you did on Social media was have one to one conversations, an awful lot of miscommunication and offence would automatically vanish, but often several conversations will go on at once and in amongst this people are asked to make judgements, sometimes based on only a portion of the total facts available. When the definition of those words get mangled, then it can all go to hell very fast, and pretty much always does.

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There is a great deal you can learn from discussion and debate, so much so your kids will be encouraged in school to do just that. My son has been incredibly brave in his admissions, my daughter is just beginning to find a voice which I hope one day will allow her to feel confident in her chosen career. Being comfortable enough to argue is great, but I’ll be the first one to admit that doing so in certain online spaces is a waste of both time and sanity. Even the most erudite of speakers, the most intellectual of human beings has the capacity to become a total imbecile when given half the chance, or the right poke from a Troll. On the flip side, branding a whole group of people as ‘deplorable’ doesn’t do wonders for your PR either. This is where the adage that ‘it takes two to start an argument’ is the mantra to repeat, and the Monty Python sketch on Arguments should be taught to every person who’s never heard it:

M: I came here for a good argument!

O: AH, no you didn’t, you came here for an argument!

M: An argument isn’t just contradiction.

O: Well! it CAN be!

M: No it can’t!

M: An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.

O: No it isn’t!

M: Yes it is! ’tisn’t just contradiction.

O: Look, if I *argue* with you, I must take up a contrary position!

M: Yes but it isn’t just saying ‘no it isn’t’.

O: Yes it is!

M: No it isn’t!

O: Yes it is!

M: No it isn’t!

O: Yes it is!

M: No it ISN’T! Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says.

This week therefore I’ll be doing my utmost to improve communication skills in places where I know they’re lacking. I’ll also remember that it matters just as much who I’m speaking to as what I say, and that a wise woman remembers this and plans accordingly.

Some days, the best thing to do is never to speak to begin with.

Don’t Tell Me

These are disturbing times we live in. The value of expertise is being rapidly devalued. People would rather save money than consider consequence: as a result of linking this news story from the Guardian yesterday, a friend revealed a reasonably horrifying truth he’d been exposed to in a meeting from a global consulting firm:

Right, let’s just stop the bus here, shall we? First off, I was surprised it’s as low as 44%, especially looking at the Amazon supermarket ‘concept’ that only¬†appears to need an App as a basis. Of course, all this food has to be made somewhere, and Robot Sushi creators are a long way off, so in theory not everybody in¬†the associated service industries should be worried. At least not yet.

However, when you consider that replacing humans with robots would save companies (according to this presentation) a staggering¬†$2.2 trillion dollars of overall wages? Yeah, you can see why that shift forward would become so¬†attractive… except of course, robots aren’t cheap. Someone needs to repair them, or at least maintain software, and with Russian Hackers being blamed for influencing the US election? I wonder how Amazon would police a potential¬†hack that reduced the price of all food in Chicago to 1 cent in the poorest areas during the Winter months? How would you effectively cover the FTSE 100 to ensure the robot bankers didn’t start colluding due to a judicious hack or two to bring down global economies and level the playing field for the disadvantaged? The politicians who don’t like the ideas that prevent them from making money might one day rue their desire to automate, quite apart from Skynet-style predictions of dystopian futures…

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Right now, we don’t need people doing stuff without a plan. You cannot affect long-term and consistent process by pretending you’re an expert when you don’t have a fucking clue. That last line in the meme above says it all, really:¬†‘No-one wants to do any research, they just want to be right.’ ¬†It could be the metaphor for my Government post Brexit where STILL nobody has a fucking clue what happens once we invoke Article 50. It could be the Republicans, repealing Obamacare but promising to replace it with something (presumably called Trumpcare) which makes more money for big business (somehow) and stops anyone with a gender deviation or a disability from ever being able to use it, because that’s what freedom is all about.¬†As long as you’re not different, everything is fine. As long as you don’t want to understand and be a free thinker, the new World welcomes you with open arms.

In fact, if you could just whine and complain about everything, that would be even better.

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I’ve spent the week coming to terms with an intractable truth: these people won’t go away. They’ve always been here, it’s just now they’re in charge of governments and my kids future, I’ve got a bigger axe to grind than was previously available for me to chuck. All I can do as a result is make sure I keep highlighting the hypocrisy at every turn, keep my eye on the ball, and Never EVER EVER¬†be the person who just wants to be right. I’m happy being wrong, I enjoy being corrected. In fact, I positively encourage people to pick up my failings at every opportunity. Being wrong is what more people need to do.¬†Without that, you never grasp the intractable¬†truths which bind¬†Humanity. You can live in the dark, if you choose, but the light’s not only far more fun, it’s a better way to exist.

Do the research, people. Never leave the house without it. One day it might save your life.

Ready To Go

And so 2017 begins. I’m too old to be phased by this shit any more, and I sure as fuck know that making any sweeping promises on Day One is just asking for trouble when the month goes to double figures. Therefore, let us begin with the small and attainable goals, right here on the table.

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HEALTH

I could be out there in the rain, suffering for my art, but I don’t need that today. What is more important at this point is laying the foundations for the real, hard work moving forward. This requires me therefore to ignore all sugar, processed or otherwise, for at least a 14 day period so my body remembers what it’s like to burn fat again and not derive all its energy from tea and sweeties. Tomorrow I have a meeting with my PT who will ask me if I want to go full-on hard bastard in losing the last of my weight, to which I am going to say yes.¬†I’ve been running pretty much every other day since Christmas, and most days before, so this form of exercise no longer frightens or intimidates, and my chest is back to pre-infection levels. That means we’re going for it. I will need the cast iron will out, and to not give up because I’m tired and it’s hard.¬†YES I CAN DO THIS.

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WORDS

Tomorrow I’ll send a sample of my words to a grown up who’s never met me and only knows me via Twitter, and we’ll see if I can begin a professional relationship with an Editor. The novel is now back in writing mode, with editing on the side. I’ve set myself a realistic timeframe to write a long-form essay, and I’m actively pursuing writing jobs. That means I have a CV now. Yeah, I’ve never owned one before, but that changed yesterday, and once husband takes a look at the last few edits, I’m going to start submitting job applications. Sadly, because I am not J.K Rowling, my writing career will not pay for itself on current subsistence levels:¬†summat has to change. So, I prove I’m capable of getting work, and I can maybe afford a luxury or two going forward. I’d dearly love a new PC, for instance, and that’s not happening any time soon. The only way I make progress is with sacrifice, and if that means less free time, so be it.

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FOOD

Here’s a heading I’d not have considered could get use¬†at the start of last year. Sure, I’ve cooked some things for myself before, but if you told me last month I’d be enjoying making my own breakfast the night before, I would have laughed at you.¬†In good news this is not about to transform into a foodie blog overnight, because I know how my bread is buttered (^^) and nope, this is not my future. It is however, a necessary part of the journey where I can see what goes into my body because I put it there.¬†I suspect there will be pictures, therefore, of what I do and how it¬†arrives at the state I serve it in. I don’t make any pretensions at being Mary Berry either. There will not be brilliant cake or superb meals from scratch. I’m reading everybody else’s crib notes whenever possible. However there are already the beginnings of a desire to experiment, and that’s no bad thing.

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PICTURES

I got a new Sony Digital camera for Christmas. I asked for it with one desire in mind, to walk around with the lovely retro¬†case my husband bought and show people that is what I’m doing. I’m taking pictures. I want to document the world around me better. One of the things I’ve done with the Mac Mini I use for mail and music is set my pictures from last year up as inspiration, to make me realise I don’t take a bad snap. I should use them as motivation¬†and that is certainly the plan going forward in January. There’s a ton of stuff from New York I’ve been staring at and been stimulated¬†by already. This will never be a bad thing.

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PERSONAL

Gonna try and post every day on Instagram, here and on the Warcraft blog. The writing one will get love too, but only when I’m finished with the workload. I might serialise summat again. There’ll be more non-fiction words there too. I’m getting more confident with personal pictures, and have changed my Instagram profile to reflect this. I love working in B&W. Need to smile more. Gotta be more confident in my ability to be capable. DEFINITELY need to run more and have a better waist. So much to do, and always so little time.


Better get on, then.

This is Mine

I’m lying in bed, having coughed and sniffed a tun of green goo out of my body, and the temptation to stay right here is immense, especially as there are no kids to look after. I’m terrible at taking care of myself, when all is said and done. It would be simpler, surely, just to turn over and go back to sleep. Then, looking through social media I see a series of things that make me realise that actually, the last thing I want to be doing is lying down.¬†Then, I ask the question: given the choice, where would you want to be right now?¬†Given the choice between nothing, gaming or exercise, which one would win as relaxation?

The answer was, I have to say, a pleasant surprise, and that’s why as soon as this is written I’ll be off to the Gym, confident I am no longer infectious. In a straight race, exercise now beats gaming as what I’d do to relax,¬†and that’s something that might take some getting used to.

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NaNoWriMo’s starting on Tuesday, and I’ll be committing to screen¬†a story that has lived in my head for some time, which is wrapped around the notion that fate isn’t a constant: the Sarah Connor belief that life is doomed because the future has dictated it only true if you allow it to be. There should be no fate but what we make, but the reality of this and so much else is a long way from the cinematic pronouncements. For me, I could succumb to a day of lounging and faffing, but the reality now is that to keep moving forward, I have to do just that. In fact, if I stop it’s probably more dangerous now than it has been at any point in the recent past. I’ve dosed myself up with drugs, and because I can still breathe reasonably well there is nothing stopping me being on a treadmill and lifting weights. Once upon a time I would have felt sorry for myself, but that person’s not making the decisions any more.

The New Me is in control, and understands the importance of moving forward.

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However much fun gaming is (and it is) that is no substitute for health. I watch those who complain that even gaming is too much work, and wonder how these individuals function on a daily basis. For me, at least right now, forward motion is no longer a list of things on a screen. It is knowing I clocked 12k steps on a day when I wasn’t badly ill, I was just feeling a bit sorry for myself. Ironically, were it not for being ill yesterday, deciding to stay home and writing, I suspect this epiphany wouldn’t have happened.¬†I finally finished the Bondfic,¬†all 77k words of it, and now that is done I can look at the understanding that if I really do put my mind to words, magnificent things can and do happen. This gives me not only hope for NaNoWriMo, but the future generally. There is a way to do everything I want, if I allow myself the space to breathe, and I’ve only learnt to do that properly thanks to the exercise.

Going forward, I am beyond excited for the possibilities.