Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday Review #21

Gulf Coast League Phillies
Gulf Coast League Phillies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It's been another week.  Time continues to march on.

Over the weekend, Chris and I went to Philadelphia to visit with some of his law school roommates. One of them drove down to our place from Boston, and then Chris drove the rest of the way.  Due to assorted traffic-related circumstance, we didn't get to Philadelphia until 1:00 AM, so we pretty much went right to bed that night.

Saturday Chris and I had lunch with my parents for belated Father's Day, then we met back up with the law school folks for the Phillies game.  It was a great game, and I had a lot of fun.  After the game, we went for barbecue; the food was great but the service was not. We then took a walk and got some late-night cookies. Sunday, we drove home after breakfast.

Sunday evening, Chris and I planned to walk to the beer garden for dinner, but got distracted by a good Sunday special at a local raw bar we passed. We then wandered the neighborhood on the way home; it was a very nice evening and we should do it more often.

The week has been pretty quiet since.  Lots of big things going on in the news, but since I don't want to pick fights or get depressed, let's just smile on the good right now.
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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Steve Pavlina: Is It Time for You to Stop Dabbling and Get Serious?

English: Swan on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal...
English: Swan on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, Rodley, Leeds. Every canal should have waterbirds on it. Here is the most majestic, which has just come up from dabbling under the water. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Well, I've made it past the 6-month mark, anyway:
So many would-be pro bloggers give up in their first 6 months. They get bored, lose interest, or get a “better” idea for some other venture. I see them change topics or URLs and start over once or twice a year. After five years of this kind of dabbling, they’ve still barely gotten anywhere. They keep erasing what little progress they’ve made, so they never have the chance to develop anything serious and enduring.
In December of 2012, Steve Pavlina posted to his blog about the importance of picking a path and sticking to it.  Giving up in the first 6 months doesn't pay off, he says; picking a topic or interest you believe you can stick for five years, or longer, and then doing so is the key.

It's a little embarrassing to admit that I've been struggling with the whole "adult identity" thing since college, considering how long ago that was and, by corollary, how long I've ostensibly been an adult (you can tell I'm embarrassed because I'm using SAT words). But it's a fact, and even if I ever figure it out, I'd like to think I'll still be interested in helping other people figure it out.

Then, there's committing to mastery. Not really sure what to do there.

Still, that's the thrust of it: commit to mastering something for the long-term if you want to profit from it.  Makes sense to me.

What do you think?

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Nothing to see here

Home made macaroni and cheese, with some dried...
Home made macaroni and cheese, with some dried herbs and grounded pepper. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It looks like this is going to be one of those "Writers Write About Writer's Block" posts.

Sometimes, I feel like I don't have much to say.

I'm sure I must, even if it's not something you would find particularly interesting.

But I'm reviewing the things that are on my mind right now, and #1 is the climate control in my apartment. It's hot enough to use the air conditioning, but the window is positioned such that having the AC on causes a pretty strong draft, which makes me feel cold even if I keep it at 75 degrees or higher.

And then, I'm planning on making macaroni and cheese, which I'm looking forward to eating... not so much looking forward to baking, though.

Which makes me wonder if I can get away with adding mushrooms, and if I have enough scallions left to add them, because I always sneak veggies into recipes when I can.

But none of this is interesting.

I kind of don't want to be writing this.  I have stuff I need to do, and stuff I want to do, and right now this feels like a chore, but a chore that is expendable. There are more important things: the dinner I just mentioned. Cleaning the apartment. Going to the gym, and you know how I feel about that.  There are literally thousands of books I want to read. I have knitting that can be worked on. Heck, I have Netflix!

But I'll push through, and tomorrow I'll talk about some article I found online, and Friday you'll skim the events of my week.

Because writers push through, get their words on the paper or the screen, even if they're boring or stupid or inane.

For which I apologize.  But hey, I guess it technically beats skipping a post.

So what do you say when you have nothing to say?

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What makes you happy? #16

Fireworks #1
Fireworks #1 (Photo credit: Camera Slayer)
I need more reasons --

Scratch that.

I need more excuses to celebrate.

It's a fine line, of course.  Any luxury done too often becomes a habit, not a treat. And for some reason, toasting every time there's a drink in front of you, especially if you insist on clinking with everyone in a quarter-mile radius, is the kind of thing that makes me think you're not taking this seriously.

I don't know, it just is.

But from a pumped fist after a particularly good round of Balderdash, to a fancy cocktail on a birthday, to an exhausted brunch after a race well-run, to a weekend getaway for an anniversary, a celebration is a moment to say, "This matters, and I'm happy about it."

I won.  You're important to me.  This matters.  We matter.

Celebrations are about significance and joy. Something matters, and we're happy about it.

Really, what are these weekly reflections on happiness, if not small celebrations of tea or rainstorms or books or whatever?

I need to do that more.

And, truth be told, being celebrated would not adversely affect my happiness, either. So long as it's for a real reason. Please don't congratulate me for BS or say you appreciate me because you think I'm fishing. Just... who doesn't like to be told they're doing something right?

Who doesn't like to celebrate?

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Monday, June 24, 2013

I Don't Know What I Want... Chapter 3, Part 2

I Don't Know What I Want, But I Know It's Not This

By Julie Jansen

Chapter 3 (Continued)

When we left off, I had taken the Values Assessment. Next up: The Attitudes Assessment. We're given 12 statements, and asked to assess how often we feel or act the way the statement describes.  Then, there's a key that scores our answers.

Every pair of questions pertains to a different area, and the scored for each of those areas are tallied. 6 is a mid-range score, and I hover around there for every category, doing worst (5) in Self-Confidence and Managing Motivation, and best (7) in Professional Commitment.

Not a lot of practical advice in this, though. Any score can be raised with motivation -- including Managing Motivation.  That's one of those simple-but-not-easy things, isn't it? And my Attitude is something I need to be aware of... but awareness is useless without follow-up.

So, I'm not thrilled with this week's section.  Maybe it helped you.

Next time: Change Readiness!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday Review #20

English: Bay of Stony Brook Harbor in Stony Br...
English: Bay of Stony Brook Harbor in Stony Brook, Long Island. Deutsch: Bucht Stony Brook Harbor in Stony Brook, Long Island. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
OK, first, I need to confess that, unlike what I wrote last week, I did not go to knitting group last Friday.  I intended to when I wrote that post up on Thursday, but when Friday rolled around, I had to skip it -- and forgot to update the post.

I think I'm going to have to stop going, at least most of the time. This summer, we have things happening most weekends, and since I'm home, it's on me to do the prep for them -- whether it's scrubbing the bathroom for guests, or baking for a family function, or packing for a weekend trip, it's got to be done, and ideally, it's got to be done Friday afternoon.

Other than that, what's been going on this week?

Well, what I did do on Friday was make lemon squares for a family function Saturday.  And I already told you about that family function.

Friday evening, we had a very nice dinner with a friend, then Chris and I stopped for drinks on the way home.

Saturday, well, like I said, I already told you about that. Afterwards, we went further out Long Island for a friend's birthday party. The bar/restaurant was really nice -- family friendly during the day, clubby at night, ad we were there around sundown, so we got just enough of both that neither were annoying. Really good peach sangria, too.

Sunday was Father's Day, of course, so we went to a cookout at Chris's parents' place.  All in all, it was a weekend of doing things earlier than usual -- and it was kind of nice, actually.

I finished Wool by Hugh Howey, and, since I have a book on the way from Paperback Swap, I read Tales of the Red Panda: The Android Assassins, which is based on a podcast I love, Decoder Ring Theatre. It's a nice, short book, so I can clear it off my shelf quickly and pretend I'm at least maintaining equilibrium on my bookshelf. Now, it's back to Washington: A Life.

I also got an actual deadline for the blanket I'm knitting, which is helpful. I broke the needle, but fortunately, I have backup, so I can keep working while I wait for the replacement to arrive.

How was your week?
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Thursday, June 20, 2013

48 Days: Ikigai – your reason for being

I don't know about you, but I'd sure like to live a long, healthy life.
People living on the islands of Okinawa and Sardinia are more likely to reach 100 years of age than people living anywhere on earth.  These people attribute their long lives not to healthy eating, leisure living, or great genes, but to a term they love to use — ikigai which in essence means “sense of purpose” or “a reason for being.” 
In December of 2012, Dan Miller wrote about this concept of ikigai. It goes deeper than just a sense of purpose -- if it was that simple, the English phrasing would suffice -- and it apparently has nothing to do with economic status.

Miller goes on to ask the reader what his/her ikigai is... but doesn't really offer any clues on how to figure it out. Too bad... if he had take it a step further, I'd invite you along to follow his process with me.

But I guess that's where his books come in.

Still, do you know what your ikigai is?
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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Shouldn't she have seen that coming?

I've mentioned before that this was supposed to happen but it got cancelled. But I haven't yet told you what it was.

On Saturday, I participated in a group session with a medium.

Or a "medium." I'm agnostic, and your mileage may vary.

My headline?  The first time it was scheduled, she called to confirm the night before, then called again the morning of to say she was sick and would not be able to do a reading.  All together now: If she's that good a psychic, shouldn't she have predicted that?

But hey, she claims that she refuses to predict bad things, so maybe that applies?

Like I said, I'm agnostic about the whole thing. I figure, if nothing else, it's an afternoon's entertainment and fodder for my writing. And I was definitely entertained, and I definitely have some material to work with.

But what did she say?

Well, I don't want to get too much into the whole thing.  You don't know most of these people, I know virtually no one who was contacted, and there's a privacy issue.

Oh, you noticed that part about "I know virtually no one who was contacted"? No dead people talked to me. Which doesn't shock me.  All of my dead, either we weren't close, or I'm pretty sure we're cool -- they're OK, I'm OK, no bad blood that I'm aware of, and any bad blood among the living... yeah, I'm not getting into that, and I'm sure the dead are relieved to no longer be involved.

She did say there were three women who have passed on my mother's side, and it seemed like a grandmother, and aunt, and a cousin.

I am the only female cousin on my mother's side, so she either got it wrong or made it up. Needless to say, I got nothing out of them.

She did figure out my parents' names and medical issues without prompting, although at least some of that seemed like a statistical likelihood (I'm 30 and American, of course someone in my family has heart problems and needs to watch his/her diet).  She also made noises about babies and grandchildren that made me and my sister-in-law pretty uncomfortable, for various reasons that aren't your business any more than they are the business of the people in that room (which, of course, is one of the reasons).

Overall, she got some stuff eerily right, she got some stuff right, but not in any uncanny way (see: heart disease), and she apparently got some stuff dead wrong.

But it was entertaining, and emotional, and good fodder for writing, so if you're interested, let me know, I'll pass on the info.

Heck, scrape together 10 people, we can do a group session.  But the rest of you might want to take Chris out for drinks in the meantime. He prefers his spirits in a glass.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What makes you happy #15

If you've been keeping up, you know I knit.  I've only been at it about a year and a half, so I'm not doing anything super complex, but I'm getting better all the time.

I also do most of the cooking at home.  Chris works long hours, so it's just easier. He's the grill master, but I've outpaced him when it comes to most other recipes (and I don't suck at the grill, either).

Similarly, when there are parties, I'm the one throwing together a baked brie or a bowl of fancy jelly shots or, as I did last week, a batch of lemon squares. I don't usually bake -- at Christmas time, I prefer to make candy -- but I can.

I like learning new things -- hardly a shock, given how much history I find myself reading. But I also love applying those new things in a real, tangible way. Setting out a bowl of Manhattan jellies, or passing homemade peanut butter cups around the office, or shipping a pretty cowl to a swap partner -- these things provide a sense of accomplishment, and also a sense of relief.

I put a lot into this: time, ingredients, anxiety... And it paid off.
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Monday, June 17, 2013

Meta: Quotes!

If you look up under my header, you'll see a quote.  I got the code from here, but I'm having trouble: I want to make the text a little bigger, and in the same color scheme as the rest of my blog -- and ideally add links to sources.  But when I tinker with the HTML, it breaks. For now, simple and functional will so, but I know some of you know HTML better than I do, so if you could take a look, and advise, that would be awesome (and I'd be happy to credit you with a link or something).

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Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday Review #19

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...
Cover via Amazon
Happy Friday, all!

Let's see, Saturday, Chris and I had friends over for drinks. Sunday was writing workshop. Tuesday was book club at a really nice brick-oven pizza place, where we discussed The Door Into Summer by Heinlein. And this afternoon, knitting group. Interesting things may be happening this weekend, but I'll let you know about them once they have.

I've made good progress on the blanket I'm knitting, but we heard this week that another friend in the same circle is also expecting, so I'll be starting a second as soon as this one is done. When I hit a milestone point on it yesterday, I put it down to work on a little gift bag I'm making, just to cleanse the palate for a day.

I still haven't finished Washington: A Life, although I'm 60% through, according to Goodreads, and the remaining 40% includes the endnotes (to be fair, I do read the endnotes). I had to put it aside to start the next book club book, Wool by Hugh Howey. It's a page-turner (or, rather, a button-pusher, as I'm reading it on my Kindle) -- I started it Wednesday night, and ended up staying up way too late until I reached a decent stopping point.

I'm re-watching Season 1 of Game of Thrones, this time with commentary, before Chris and I start our annual summer DVD binge and finally watch Season 2. I've read all but the most recent book, so feel free to talk spoilers in the comments as long as they don't blow a) book 5 or b) how the book and series diverge after season 2.  But just to be polite, rot-13 the spoilers for everyone else. Chris claims he reads this blog, and he has a very broad definition of spoilers, of which he is phobic.

So what have you been up to?
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