Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"Simple and romantic." - How to Send a Message in a Bottle

How I did it: I've often thought that there is not enough magic in the world, not enough sacredness and random serendipity. To that end I decided I would help spread a bit of it by throwing a bottle in to the ocean and seeing if someone might be able to experience a bit of this.

I had on hand a bottle that had been used to hold rosemary vinegar that smelled wonderful. I wrote on a piece of paper in waterproof ink (I expect the bottle to leak a little bit) and shoved it down in to the bottle so it wedged there tightly. That way if the cork or the wax I later dripped over the top to seal the whole thing up managed to come off, it wouldn't move and might yet survive being washed up on to a beach.

Then this evening my husband and I walked as far out on a pier as we could get in Boston. It happened to be behind the New England Aquarium, and nobody was around. It was ferociously windy and the sea was on its way out, so I wound up and chucked it as far as possible from the pier. It took off the second it hit the waves, disappearing after 3 minutes in the waves and chop.

I hope it finds its way to someone who needs the words inside.

After we get home, we'll be making a donation to Clean Oceans, an organization that works to keep oceans and bays clean around the world for wildlife.

Lessons & tips: ~Use a glass bottle or a biodegradable bottle(apparently available in Europe), as there's enough plastic already in the ocean.

~it is better to be somewhere that a lot of people are not. You're less likely to have people giving you crap for throwing something in to the water, especially if you're not from there.

~be somewhere that tide and waves won't bring it immediately back to shore, unless you're impatient and really need someone to find it quickly. A pier far out past the beach or shore would be perfect, or off the side of a ferry boat mid-bay or harbor would be perfect.

~If you can write it with waterproof ink, do it. If you have waterproof paper, use that and write on it with a pencil. That will keep as well. If neither are available, wrap it in a plastic ziploc bag and slip it down inside.

~When done, continue the good feelings by either volunteering to clean up a beach or make a donation to an organization to clean the oceans up.

Resources: - if you'd rather send words via twitter then put a bottle in the ocean.

It made me feel - romantic :D

Wind in the Bamboo - Birdsong in the City


Friday, March 19, 2010

How to meditate every day

"No wrong time to meditate, no right time to start!"

How I did it: Having learned that in any moment you can bring your attention forward
to your breathing and the actions of that exact moment, I have been able
to meditate more often. A few minutes here, a few minutes there, and my
mind feels far better for the rest of the day for having done it.
isn’t the rigid, ritualized meditation practice I thought I would want
to do. Hitting the zafu every morning isn’t always possible and the
first thing I needed to acknowledge, but didn’t, was that I wasn’t able
to make time in my life for a formal meditation ritual. Spending several
days beating myself up over not actually getting down on to the zafu
and zabuton to stare at the wall was counter-productive in the
beginning. I’m glad to be past that.
Now that I have realized how
easy it is to be mindful of the moment wherever you are, I can begin to
clear my schedule and make way for the formal practice. It will take a
bit more dedication to get up early than I have (I am enjoying late
nights and late mornings currently) but we can move to that position
gradually. It doesn’t have to be done overnight.
As always, the
bigger lesson in this was not the actual point of the exercise. I
learned more about listening to myself, learning to honestly evaluate my
time and energy level, and being gentle with myself when I wasn’t able
to meet all of the things I wanted to do. It spilled out from this to
such things as the impossible to-do lists I set up for myself every day.
I’ve trimmed them down markedly, noting that I’m far happier and less
stressed for not listing out 15 things to do and only seeing 5-8 of them
finished per day.
Overall this has been very good for me. I’m going
to miss the opportunity to sit on the zafu and be utterly swarmed by the
cats when I meditate next week while in Boston, but it’s good to know
that I can start the morning focusing on breathing, focusing on eating,
focusing on walking, and still achieve the same results without dropping
the practice.

Lessons & tips: ~be realistic with how often and when you want to do your practice
~be flexible when scheduling conflicts arise; everything changes always, so rigidly held ideas will only cause you stress here
~be willing to accept other forms of meditation. Yoga can be a form. Walking can be a form. If you can't handle zazen, there are other ways to do it.


It took me 1172 days.

It made me more peaceful

Praise from Caesar

I passed my last class with a B... not bad, an 85% is acceptable and given the difficulty of trying to slam through some serious C++ techniques in a few short weeks, I feel I did a pretty good job.

But I think what made me most satisfied with the work I managed was the comment left on my individual assignment. I couldn't get the main program to work, so instead I fell back and did the alternative assignment of submitting only the SQL setup that the C++ program was supposed to connect to. It meant I could only get a maximum of 8 points out of the 10, and I would be taking a hit to my overall grade. But the professor seemed to realize he was asking a lot of us, and included this short note in the following:

"Excellent job on this SQL code. I know that I said that the Alternate assignment
was only worth 8 points, but I went ahead and gave you 9 because you did such
an extensive job on it. Very nice work. Enjoy the game, you've earned it :)"

The game he refers to is God of War III, which I told him I was attending the midnight release for as a means to blow off steam. It had been difficult, but I had loved the challenge and told him so. I wish we'd had more time to work on things and flesh them out a bit more deeply, in fact.

I love that I managed a 9 out of 8 on a project, though, because I went to town on the SQL and made it impeccable, since that was what I could handle. It felt good to have the effort noted and appreciated.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy Saint Padraig's Day to Ye All!

I've decided it's about time I put yet another entry here that has nothing whatsoever to do with goal setting or anything of that sort. It probably won't be educational, uplifting, or anything that the reading of will result in great catharsis, enlightenment or laughter. Mostly because I'm feeling very clever with myself and wanted to share what I've done with my newest device this morning.
I got a nook. It is awesome.

And so is the wallpaper I've put on it.
Hearkening back to THIS particular strip on xkcd, upon seeing it I decided that I absolutely had to download it and use it.

A few other things found - Pip Boy, a covenant elite, some random lotus vector art and a lovely shot of Yosemite Valley. I may convert or make some of my own artwork for the wallpaper in the future, but thus far the flickr group and the folk have done a fine job of finding something awesome.

Compare the current wallpaper to how it looked out of the box..... boooo-rrriiiiinnnng....

Thus far I've really enjoyed playing around with it. The major selling point was discovering that my local library will actually lend out books to it for free using an eReader program. Being that I just got my library card (still feeling awesome about that, actually) I can put it to use via the eReader downloadables program. How cool! That and they might have a few titles that aren't easy to find on Barnes and Noble's interminably difficult to navigate site, so this is a plus. This is, in fact, what sold me on the idea. I'd been thinking about how libraries might survive the death of print and had been seriously pondering trying to find a way to integrate eReaders of all types with the libraries. After all... if you donate $$$ to a library and they have a deal with, say, or, they could get a ton of books. No worry about shelflife. No worrying about a lack of returns. But also no elderly women behind a counter in an older building surrounded by the cloud of aging paper smell that goes along with the awesomeness that is a library. There'll always be a need for print. After all, who wants to take their $300 device out on to the beach where it could be stepped on or stolen? Or if someone ends up somewhere that they can't charge the battery on the thing, or they're out of range to download books (or worse, they're somewhere that can't do it at all because the books are in a foreign language). Always, always there will be a means and reason for pulp.

Ours, named Ms. Marple (for all devices in this household that are gadget-rific are named) currently has Edgar Allen Poe, Bram Stoker, and Jane Austen on it. Downloading free from Google we also got our hands on Anne of Avonlea, Beowulf, the Kalevala (I've always wanted to finish reading that) and a few others. Also downloaded The Lovely Bones, which I've wanted to read for a while -well before the movie came out, anyway- and a few other things. Sadly, HP Lovecraft is not in the public domain but we'll be putting him on there as well. If it can make the transition, I want to put Mark Danielewski's last novel on there, too.

I've really enjoyed setting it up and working with it. The possibility of listening to music while reading, or sitting back and listening to an eBook on it was also very appealing. I have several Buddhist tomes I purchased that I need to go back through and listen to. I think later today I'll be setting them up on Ms. Marple so they can be listened to.

As much as I would like to pack it and take it with us to Boston (ohhh the long train rides ahead of us!) we don't have a protective case. They don't have any cheap ones available, and the ones that ARE will come to exorbitant prices of $65+ just for the privilege of not cracking the eInk screen. I shall run the idea past Bob and see if he thinks we can take good care of it in Boston. Otherwise, I shall be bringing the PSP, the DS, a knitting project, and a sketchbook. Oh, and a lomo camera, though not sure which one. I think photographing Boston in b&w with the Holga might be grand, though!

As always, I am grateful to they that listen to me ramble and share in the excitement of shiny new toys in my life. My dog snores at my feet and I am also a bit woozy from the illness I'm still fighting off. Methinks it is a good day for R&R....and reading, of course.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Last step down!

I borrowed my husband’s beeswax candle and dripped it all over the bottle to seal up the cork and the top of the bottle. I dribbled it all around the lip of the bottle and down the sides in rather thick blobs. The bottle is now water-tight and ready to sail!
Next week my husband and I are heading to Boston. I’m going to bring it with me and drop it in to Boston Harbor to see where it ends up. I’ll be glad to see what happens to it (if anything at all). I’ll be more happy to get sf my list and move on to another project that has been sitting around and needs cleared off my queue!

Friday, March 12, 2010


Another damned footcramp! On the left again, too… I know it’s not the shoes, as I’ve run in them without cramps before.
I noted after I got off the treadmill my left calf was amazingly stiff and tight, so my guess is that’s where the problem comes from.
I’m ticked off. I did yoga this morning to stretch everything out, I stretched besides that, and I had a massage yesterday. I shouldn’t be getting tight!
Going to try to finish this up tomorrow because it felt awesome right up until the stupid cramping.
I’m enjoying Nicole’s podcast for this. I like that the music changes to queue you in, it isn’t just a soft voice-over like with one of the other podcasts (I missed 3 transitions because the music drowned out her voice on that one!) Also the bass cuts in over the music even on my crappy laptop speakers, so when the deep voice starts the countdown, I can tell. I felt far less adrift this time.
Ah well… I only got 10 minutes total treadmill time, including 4 minutes of warm-up walk before I was in a lot of pain.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll try it again after drinking a ton of water and spending some of the evening in a bubble bath.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

How to finish knitting a sweater

"Using my talents to make gifts for others is always worthwhile! Even after 8 months."

How I did it: I bought a pre-assembled kit from that included everything needed to knit up a baby sweater. I'd originally intended it to be for the first niece of my brother, but she's a nuclear mutated monster and is waaay too tall. So the second niece will grow in to this one and get a few good months use out of it (hopefully). Kits tend to have plenty of instruction, and Knitpicks also has lots of support if you run in to trouble. I ran in to issues with the "bubbles" and they had videos to walk through parts you might get stuck on.
I admit I cheated just a bit by doing a baby sweater to complete this goal, but the joins of the sleeves so there's no seaming can still be applied to larger the one I'm working on for my husband right now as well!
The only downside was that I kept running out of time to work on the intricate switch of colors in the pattern, so it much, much longer than most people would take on something so small. In the future I'll do with less of a pattern and more solid color blocks for decoration.

Lessons & tips: ~if you've never knit clothing before, pick a pattern marked "easy" and make sure you get it from somewhere that has up-to-date errata and an active community to help you out if you get stuck!
~when in doubt, check Ravelry. Chances are good someone there has knit your pattern and made notes on it. You can either look up what people have already done, or go on to their boards and ask a question. the people there are really nice and someone will help you out.

Resources: - good for yarns and equipment, not just kits!

It took me 8 months.

It made me happy

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pill Poppin

Obtained medication for treating diabetes I don't have yet, and hormone problems that I do. Yaz and Metformin are right now coursing through my veins, making me less of an androgen-laden thug and more feminine with each second.
In fact, I proudly told my husband when we got home "my boobs are probably gonna get bigger now". He had no comment in response, but did not signal displeasure at the idea, either.
it feels good to finally be starting in on this issue. I know it's been bugging me for quite some time, and perhaps I'll start to notice subtle and wonderful things occuring in my body as we continue.
I am, most of all and quite bluntly, thrilled that I will no longer be constantly and uninteruptedly gushing blood in a feminine manner. That iron can be used for other things, like building muscle when I exercise.
I am excited in that low-level buzzing way that one gets when they know they're a long way off from a cool destination or project....but excited nevertheless.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

It's good to have someone back you up...

Ten years after I initally suspect and self-diagnose, a doctor believes me and confirms it; I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

I'm angry that it took this long for someone to listen to me, and that in the meantime my health deteriorated over what is a VERY treatable condition.
I'm excited someone believed me, and that I know my body well enough to see what's going on with it - my intuition was correct though the doctor's kept blowing me off.
I'm sad that I had to go this long with unexplained depressive periods, serious bouts of hypoglycemia due to insulin problems, and acne, weight gain and odd hair growing in places it shouldn't on a woman. Oversharing? Deal with it, this has been my life for the past 30 years.

As I move forward I'm learning to trust my own gut more than that of the "experts", and I'm noting it's a recurring theme lately. I know what's going on in my life, and I'm up close and personal with it. Making the "experts" believe it or moving on until I find one who does will now be my thing.
I'm grateful for my current doctor, who will actually be seeing me tomorrow night to discuss my options and what medications I'll need to go on to treat this. She's actually squeezing me in so that we can have a plan of action before she goes to Senegal, of all places.
Relief floods me, but looking back and seeing that it didn't have to progress this far, that I didn't have to spend whole days lying on my back wondering why I didn't have the energy to get up, or ashamed over my acne or the odd hairs showing up, upsets me.
I'll get around to looking forward and making the focus of my energy on the happiness that will come from finally having confirmation and the action of treatment. But right now I think I want to curl up with Bob and not do anything involving the world when he gets home this evening. A moment of silence for the past and the opportunities lost before jumping forward to beat this beast down with a stick.

Monday, March 8, 2010


I am to the point where I can pet but not bring home. I know when I’m tempted to purchase (if I’m at a store with brands that are unique and I can’t get at home!) and I’m avoiding those situations right now.
I’m really pleased to have kicked the desire to get more. It’ll save us so much money for me to not be grabbing $50 worth of sale-yarn here, or $20 worth of hand-dyed sock yarn there. It’s nice to know that I don’t have to worry about extra yarn creating extra expenses when it should be a happy thing. Knitting clothing with something that causes stress doesn’t make for good garments, and even if it doesn’t show in your stitches how stressed it makes you, it’ll be pervasive in the creation of the garment and the wearer (especially if it’s me) might not feel happy to wear it. Pardon the traipse in to the metaphysical.
I’ll finally be able to catch up on all my projects and not stress about having a backlog of THOSE, as well. For I have too many hobbies, and a backlog in any of them isn’t feasible anymore!

Mission accomplished!

I’ve managed to completely kick the urge to purchase new yarn! when i realized that each time I buy yarn I am adding on the expectation of another project that uses that yarn, it shut down my desire for it pretty frickin’ fast!
I organized all of it so I know what I have, and haven’t had the urge to pick up any more for several weeks now. I think once I get through all of this stuff I’ll probably be better about keeping it under control as well, as a large part of my stash is sock yarn and I just cannot knit as fast as I want! Not buying sock yarn that’ll be pretty will mean only getting yarn when I’ve got a project ready to go on the needles. it’ll probably also save me a few hundred dollars in 2010.

Week 1, Day 1....again.

After my feet cramped up last week I got really scared that I was in such poor physical shape I couldn’t even do the program for 15 minutes without pain. Thinking it might be the shoes I wore them out and about for a looong walk on Sunday. When it didn’t hurt me then, I felt more confident and decided to start over again. This morning I did Week one, day one… and my feet didn’t hurt until the last 6 minutes. Even with that occuring it wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t finish, and I felt like I’d really accomplished something when it was all done.
I am absolutely up for doing this again twice more this week. I’m going to be gentle with myself, but also strong enough to follow through once I start. That I could run at all was awesome, and it felt awesome. I can’t wait to do it again.

And in Other News Where I Am Awesome -

I took this picture. It rocks. Holgas with b&w film ftw!

Deserving a Chance to Hit the Ground Running.

I'm going to pimp another art project here that I've come across via the vast and fertile interwebs: F*X*T, a magazine of comic artists and graphic artists in general. It has the lofty and honorable goal of publishing new and upcoming talent to be seen when they might not otherwise get a chance.
Independant art sets the bar high for what is possible, and often steps outside what is acceptable. It doesn't care about popular, it just wants to be. And to that end I made a donation to get it off the ground. If you've ever loved a graphic novel or hated that your favorite indie artist couldn't get face time, then perhaps this is the project to throw your spare nickels at in the meantime.
As an amusing side note, that 50 cents tacked on the end was me being a smartass in the donation field. I didn't think it would actually take it. Hmm... someone care to donate a $1.50 and round that out?

If I hit the lottery this week, I'd give it the extra $6,000 needed to get started as my first of many acts of philanthropy.

A Roundup of...Junk, Really.

It's International Women's Day. How'd I miss that?? All attempts to reach the website are in vain, as apparently the rest of the world caught on about the same time I did and their server is choking on all of us. There's some sort of metaphor in that, but out of respect for the day I will just quietly let that thought...die.
Either way I'm entirely unsure how to go about celebrating. I just told Bob to cuddle me and be grateful I am an International Woman and this is my day.
Did my jogging, and I feel tired, a touch sore, and very happy. No crazy foot cramps like last time, and having walked around Longwood Gardens in the same set of sneakers yesterday to break them in I no longer fear intense, shooting pain that keeps me from completing the exercise. I imagine it'll stretch out more as I keep running, doing yoga, and going in for massage. I just wish I could dump the podcasts on an iPod and jog instead of moving my laptop over there. it's just clunky and runs the risk of me getting distracted with email and other things - like I did this morning.
After the intense bout of fear I had at playing Left 4 Dead with Bob the other day I found myself amused and surprised that I didn't have nightmares about it all night. Apparently my brain was so exhausted it had better things to do until this morning. I accidentally fell back to sleep and dreamt I was with friends in some city in Canada....and there were zombies. I guess my subconscious just hadn't purged it yet and wanted to take the opportunity.
Lunch has become my favorite... mini pita sandwiches with hummus, or mayo, and sliced tomato and avocado. I always feel good after eating them. A touch of the Mexican rice from last night just to vary it up a bit. I think I'll be using some of what's left for Bob's bento lunch for tomorrow!
I had some other great, insightful thing to babble about (maybe the Orchid Extravaganza at Longwood Gardens...?) It was beautiful and so much fun, I'm glad we got to go. I don't think I have it in me to do a writeup. Instead, I'll just post one of my favorite pictures from the entire endeavor. Enjoy.

I'd like to add, proudly, that this was taken with my cell phone camera, as were all the other images from that day posted on Photobucket. The others were taken via Holga and Diana, and will be developed and scanned later.

What Hath God Wrought?

His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, is on Twitter. And I am now following him.

Such wonders of this age and day. Perhaps his message will reach more this way. And I can always have a small bap to the head about being compassionate to my fellow man with each tweet I read, and I will leave it at that without an emotional autopsy, for it is Monday and the world didn't stop just because I made a new discovery. I sort of like it that way. It reminds me of other lives out there that are not my own and doesn't let me slip too far inside my own bullshit.

Btw, for those wishing to follow, he's simply @DalaiLama. And yes, he can squish compassion in to 140 characters. If you're good, you don't need them all to speak simply.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Timelapse introduces the importance of the moment.

As my first inaugural post on the shiny new migrated website (which looks a LOT better now, and I really, really like the fact I could finally change the layout) I'm going to show you a little project I was working on.
Initially I had started it thinking it would be really cool to watch the massive amount of snow melt in our backyard, but when it was compiled I realized that it did something much more than that. It actually documented everything in the frame.
Well duh, you say. It's a camera, and they kind of ~do~ that.
The point is that I didn't realize that. I didn't realize that when I went to take a picture of the snow, I was capturing the entire day in slow motion. I wasn't capable of imagining everything that would be in the frame, and this emphasizes two things. That I am not being mindful of my environment and I am most definitely NOT in the moment, and that I've found a way to appreciate the slow passage of time and remind myself of how precious each moment is.
In looking at the time lapse I created, I did see the disappearing snow. I also saw the shifting clouds overhead, the shift from sunshine to clouds and back again. At the end there was even the passage of a plane with its lights on in the background that I caught a few moments of. In looking over the project I realized exactly how much of my life passed in between each of those photos I took, and how precious the time was. It brought to the forefront the scattered nature of consciousness today, and how my own has become graphically fragmented even as I'm striving to simply swing from moment to moment... literally. I want to do it simply, with awareness and presence of mind for each one as best as I can.
I started another project today when I would be far less interrupted by doctor's appointments and lunch with Bob and grocery shopping so the shot would be more cohesive. If there was any significant melt, it would be more obvious. But once again I think the shadow will dominate the image. That's fine, as the point now is to simply catch whatever has been going on. There's something about seeing an entire day compressed in to a few moments that seems magical. I look forward to seeing its results once this is finished and compressed as well. I always love seeing the small movements I missed and never saw in the grass, the trees, the land and the sky because I was too focused on getting what was through the lens. It teaches me a lesson each time I watch it again.
Behold for yourself, see if you derive anything from it as well:

Melting Winter 2 from Helen on Vimeo.

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What a long, strange journey it's been...

It looks to me as if Blogger no wishes for me to post here, so I'll be forced to move this to another site. A bit of a shame, as I'd really liked some of the features offered and I felt I was finally getting the most use out of it. I've heard good things about Wordpress, and since I'm too simple to figure out how to migrate this to my own server space (and really too poor to maintain it with hosting on my own, hence the attraction of Blogger in the first place)
I'm going to try migrating this to "custom domain" first, as they're calling it. Hopefully I won't lose everything, especially since I'm almost up to my 90th actual convo and enjoy sharing those. We shall see. Keep your fingers crossed, and if the journal needs to lead you somewhere else, I'll point you to it.

In the meantime, be assured I'll be keeping it at somehow.

Vulpes vulpes

I've seen a fox this morning. He was harried by the crows who cat-called down at him as he looked for something in the rough and snows outside. Then he turned and fled across the green towards the pond and I didn't see him again.

It was a weighted moment, like one might feel in a church. There was a sacred charge in the air of something momentous that I still feel even in the wake of his absence. He was beautiful and moved more as a cat than his canine brethren. A lithe red fox that stared me down as I ran to the door to watch him move, then dismissed me and proceeded to look for whatever he was being driven to find.

Fare you well, little fox. If we meet again, I will be less agape and more reverential.

I'd thought the arrival of the redwing blackbirds was cause for celebration, trailing spring behind them on their backs as they flew up from the south to arrive here in their happy mated pair and trill away in the reeds and cattails of the wetlands that surround this place. But now I know this is a momentous spring, and I shall probably never see the life of it again. I will cherish each ticking hour of sun and moonshine and what it reveals. I have never unknowningly longed for something so silently as I have for these first days of spring. Those who have long accompanied me on this walk of the planet earth are revealing themselves gradually, seasonally, once more.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Actual Conversation #89 - the dangers of traveling abroad and mutating virus strains strikes home.

me:I told her that because we are an awesomely dynamic duo I make no decisions without activating the wonder twin powers, and thus I would consult with you about the feasibility of this plan and/or any other ideas you might have.
You can pretend you're sick at home and play video games if you'd like. I think that would be the best possible outcome for the Bob contingent in this plan. :d
gru: I see no problems with this plan at all. I endorse this. :-)
me: Alrighty.
You have the HIV. That's the story we're going with.
So you have to stay at home with a nebulizer.
And take steroids.
or something.
And there's a morphine drip and a nurse.......
gru: Okay. Did I get it from a panda or a monkey or what? Just in case they ask.
me: ......oh, panda. We were in Japan, after all.
gru: Tru.dat
me: Latent Panda HIV.
gru: Sneaky bastard of the HIV universe
It lies in wait then pwns your bamboo
me: Yup. It's triggered by stir fries.
gru: If only I had seen that after school special. I might still be alive today.
me: I miss you so much. I wish you hadn't died of the Panda HIV, sweetie.
gru: Good talk, Helen. Good talk.
me: :D

(a special side note... when you see "HIV", it was actually being pronounced "Hiihhvvvvuh" in my mind, so you have the full and ridiculous affect. As always, I am your public servant.)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Actual Conversation # 88 - the importance of preventative health care.

"Neener neener, I don't have cancer. Fuck you!" - Bob's recap of a text I sent to my mother re: the moles I never had removed.

Note to self: when possessing

Note to self: when possessing an eReader, come get a list of all the classics listed on the header shelf in B&N-download & read ALL.

~there are simply too many cool books already created and tried and true to go worrying about new fiction right now. I nearly bought The Inferno, The Purgatorio and The Paradiso based on just finishing Dante's Inferno and my general love for older epic poems... getting to finish the Kalevala might be nice one day, not to mention Beowulf.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Of what import is a mere 750 words?

I thought I might make an actual post instead of a post that was sent here from another website that I've been playing on. It has been a rather good day and I wish to document it before bedtime, which I am happy to say will be earlier than usual.

I discovered a terrific website yesterday, called, which is beautifully coded and based on a very simple premise - the morning brain-dump. That is to say, it offers a place for you to slap down 750 words in the constant-stream-of-consciousness format that allows you to purge whatever's bugging you and get on with your day.
Back when I first read The Artist's Way, the author recommended writing 3 Morning Pages a day, handwritten, to do the same thing. I loved it while I was doing it, though the quality of writing is not to be really lauded. It is mostly a mechanism to clear your crap out. the only downside was that life eventually got so busy I was unable to find time to sit down and hand write 3 pages. There was also the chance that the person I was venting about might locate it and get ticked (as there was a history of that). The habit died away until I really only thought about it in passing. But I'd always enjoyed doing it.
Now with the introduction to the website, I'm able to sit down and bang out 750 words via typing, which is honestly easier. I can then write as fast as I think, clear that out, and have a decent rest of my day. After trying it this morning I discovered I was faaar better off and happy with life. While there were multiple things (see entries below re: donations, going to the bookstore, etc...) that contributed to it, it can't hurt that I started out with that.
The main thought behind the morning pages is that when your mind is clear of its crap, you can take the rest of that energy and dump it in to other things. Your creativity is free to utilize what it needs in order to grow, and things go from there. I'm not sure I remember how well it worked the first time, but as a solid psychological trick it can't be beat. I know it gave me a boost to drop all that junk on to a page and walk away to focus on the day. I'll definitely be back.
I've signed up for the One Month Challenge starting in April to see if I can write my pages every single day. If I manage it, I'll get myself a nook saving me from future traipsing up and down very old stairs with many, many boxes of donate-able books! I figure dedication should be rewarded, and by then I'll have gotten so much done with the freed up energy and mind space that I'll have time to sit down and read.
An interesting side-fact - I found this site via Lifehacker, which apparently was what a lot of other people did as well. It was damned nigh impossible to get to it yesterday, with constant time-outs. It finally loaded this morning. I was halfway through an entry when the website started doing odd things and stopped responding. After that I kept getting Error 403: Forbidden. Being that this is a server issue and I didn't' have access to client-side, I was stuck that way (or so I thought). It turns out that there was such a pull on the server's resources that the website admin pulled the plug on people trying to sign in and had to get a bigger server to handle the rush for it. I slid in just under the wire and get to keep writing until the new server shows up. For this I am grateful, and adore my usual sense of good timing!
I'm sure few people care about it besides me, but I was amused and interested. It may fall away in a month or two, but thus far I'm excited to have found it.

Tomorrow we will be getting our photos back from the trip to Seattle! Fingers crossed they're in okay condition, though most likely not. The film was 5 years old. I only found it when I went ballistic cleaning out the yoga room, otherwise it might've sat in the box for another 5 and been totally useless. I hope we've got some good images to share, I've always wished we had memories to look at together.
And bed. Had an early morning, I'm not staying up until 2 am like usual. Tomorrow has excitement to share!

Chipping away slowly but surely...

Another entry in the battle against letting fear win, and today it did NOT!

I am normally apprehensive about walking in to situations where I don’t know what’s going on, and dropping off a bunch of books at a building I’d never been in to before seemed seriously daunting (so daunting I put it off for 4 days). This morning I woke up and thought you know what? Screw it…I’m not going to die if I walk in there and I don’t know the deal beforehand!
It was so silly, I had nervous twitches up until I got there, and I had to give myself a pep talk over a small, silly thing. but then I walked in, asked where they went, and started ferrying the books back and forth. A few short minutes later and it was done.
I was rather proud of myself. To celebrate and bolster my courage in the future I followed it up by going to the bookstore by myself and wandering around looking at things… something I’d always felt a bit silly about. Like anybody really cares why I’m there by myself? It’s all so silly! Then, as the trifecta of giving nervousness the boot, I went and ordered a green tea latte despite my hesitation, and then enjoyed one hell of an hour sipping at it and looking over the book I got for my niece’s birthday along with a few other things. I wrote in my red moleskine with my red Lamy that had Noodler’s red-black ink, and in general enjoyed the hell out of the day.
I have a new mantra: “This won’t kill me. It’s not that big a deal.”

March Down!

Took 5 boxes of books to the library and donated them to their fundraiser book sale. While I was there I looked around a bit and got my first library card in 15 years.

It felt good to give all of those away. I’m going to go through my kitchen now and see what can be donated from there. This house needs a good purge of “stuff”, and if others can use it, all the more awesome!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Lightbulb goes on...

I realized something very important this morning – sometimes you just cannot make time to sit on the zafu and spend 5 minutes just breathing. But being the wonderful multi-tasker that I am, I DID realize that if I was in the shower, or addressing envelopes, or making phone calls I can breathe deeply and focus only on what I’m doing. It isn’t exactly zazen, but the point of zazen is to focus on the moment and be within it entirely.

I managed to do that this morning, focusing on my breath while showering. I felt fantastic once I got out, and I got to at least try to focus and still my thoughts. It felt good, and it opens up my day a bit more since I don’t have to keep beating myself up for not being able to physically sit down and breath for 5 minutes. I’m so busy setting things up for the next 6 months that I need the chance to focus my mind and stop the external babbling. This is a HUGE realization and I’m feeling good about being able to try to meditate every day.

Wk1, Day1 - This is ADDICTIVE!

So I started the program today, strapping on my swanky gym sox and my shiny new white shoes, and I hit the treadmill (because it’s sloppy and muddy and snowy and uneven out there and I knew the treadmill wouldnt’ roll my ankle from ice) and after 15 minutes the pain in my left foot turned in to a cramp so bad I couldn’t do any more. I think it’s because I jumped straight in to it and didn’t stretch first, which is absolutely a no-no. But on the plus side, i did promptly stretch afterward and the pain has subsided.

When I got done I was like ~ XD!!!

I have such a high right now! I want to do more running, but I figure I’ll do something slightly lower impact to take the edge off my energy for now. I loved doing this, and I don’t know if I can wait until Wednesday to do this again!

The Long March is come...

I'm betting in like a lion. Winter never gives up its grip on the world without resistance. There will be winds and snows and rains, and