Butt Glue and the Great Outdoors

I am really liking the weather right now – sunny, warm…  This is such a blissful change from spring last year, I’m really enjoying it a lot.  In fact, I’m outside right now, working and enjoying the sunshine.  I used to work outside on this portable word processor before my son was born.  We had this sakura tree outside our window, and in the late spring, I’d be sitting under it working on a carpet of pink flowers.  There was a mockingbird next door to us that liked to perch on the neighbor’s roof.  Whenever I made a mistake and the spellcheck would beep, the bird would imitate the sound.  It was like I had this little writing buddy.  These days, my cat is my writing buddy, but I don’t take her outside.  She’s strictly an indoor cat.

I’m really considering finding a good outdoor umbrella so I can sit in the shade when it gets really warm and still work outside.  I need to soak up as much sun as possible this summer.  Last summer’s gray and rain did a serious number on me.

I swam my mile this morning, but push myself a lot more than I wanted to.  We got into the gym later than I’d planned, and I had to hurry to make sure that everyone could get to work and school on time while still getting in my mile.  Even so, I’m pretty charged up, so it’s clear I didn’t push stupidly hard.

And speaking of not being stupid, I need to get to work.  Outlines to write, photo sessions to plan and serious butt glue needed to get my writin’ done!

And, it's GOOD for you, too!

Hey, lookie here! I have a hobby of making pretty, healthy, portion-controlled lunches!  Isn’t that wonderful?  Everyone should do it because it’s Good For You!

I’m not trying to sneer at hobbies, but I do find it amusing that people often attribute some sort of beneficial or character building qualities to what is essentially a hobby.

Sometimes you’ll run across articles about knitting, extolling its stress-reliving qualities.  I’ve seen articles on sewing that remark on the same.  Martial arts is notoriously smug about this one, talking about the character building qualities of getting dressed in what’s essentially underwear and throwing people around a room.

This isn’t a new thing.  At least since early Victorian times, writers often discuss the positive, productive effects of various hobbies.  One was not supposed to read because a story was fun, but one was supposed to read material that would improve one’s mind.

Fast forward to the present and video games are considered a waste of time unless you can claim some educational or character-building qualities to them.

Me?  I think it’s kind of weird.  I mean, yes yes yes, I get a nice sweater for an inexpensive price if I knit.  My family gets some really healthy lunches  because of my bento hobby, absolutely.    But I wonder, why isn’t the simple fun of a hobby given more value?

Digital Media and Public Libraries

I’m a pretty avid consumer of digital media, as I am sure my Faithful Readers know.  I listen to audiobooks when I’m doing housework, and I often read books in a digital format.  This could get expensive if I were to buy these materials all the time.  While books in electronic format are often cheaper than the dead tree variety, they’re still not free.

I’ve always used public libraries to fill the gap between what I can afford to buy and my admittedly voracious reading habits.  However, I do have a slight preference for electronic media[1].

Living in the boondocks, my local library is probably less wealthy than most.  That doesn’t stop them from offering an electronic collection I can download right to my computer.  They use Overdrive as their media service.  It’s really wonderful.  I started using it when it became possible to transfer audiobooks to iPods.  From what I understand, Apple was pretty reluctant to allow for this[2].  However, I can now listen to audiobooks downloaded from my local library on my iPod, so that’s all good.

But you can also download electronic texts.  The software used won’t transfer to a Kindle, though I expect if one waits for a year or two, that’ll change, just like it did with the iPod.  It will transfer to some other digital book devices.  However, I have a netbook, so as far as portability, I’m all good.

My library limits one to three electronic items checked out at a time.  These items have between a one and two week lending period.  This is a serious limitation, as you can’t manually check an item back in.  For me, that’s a pity, as it only takes two or three hours to read the average novel[3].  So, I have to wait until the lending period is over before I check something else out.  For audiobooks this is not such a big deal.  I might listen for a couple of hours a day while doing housework, cooking or going for walks.  Even so, the average audiobook I listen to is about ten to twelve hours long.  I don’t go through them nearly so fast.

Still, I can only complain so hard, as I’m delighted the service is available.  Yes, I do still read paper books, but I do so enjoy having a small library in my computer, too.

I don’t know how common electronic offerings are, but I’m assuming that since my little town does have the service, it can’t be but so uncommon.  I encourage anyone who uses their local library to check it out and find out.

[1] The last twenty or so books I’ve read have been in digital format.

[2] Which is another point against the company, and is causing me to consider against replacing my iPod with another when the one I own goes to the Digital Player Graveyard.

[3] Something like The Hunt for Red October did take considerably longer.  I’m fast, but let’s be real.

Good Days

Ordinarily, I either swim right when I get up, then have breakfast, or have breakfast, then go for a swim. What I don’t ordinarily do is get up, work for a couple of hours, swim on an empty stomach, then eat.  But if you want very ordinary food to taste delicious, try it.  Makes oatmeal taste like filet mignon.

I really had to push in the pool today.  I swam after my shift, which means I have about 50 minutes to get my mile in before I get kicked out of the pool for the aquafitness class.

Now by swimmer’s standards, taking 50 minutes to put in an 1800 is sllooowww.   If you can’t do a mile in less than 40 minutes, many triathlons will discourage you from competing[1].

However, since my only real goal is to challenge myself a bit and get my body moving, that doesn’t matter so much.  However, I’m sure to get faster by the end of the summer just because my body will get used to it, and I’ll have to push a bit to get my heart rate up.

I treated myself to a short soak in the hot tub afterwards as well as a long, hot shower.   So, I’m feeling pretty mellow at the moment.

And now, to write.  Working on finishing up one book, starting an outline for another, and writing a few articles.  Swimming and writing makes the day good.

[1] This is usually a water safety issue.  Swimming against the tide is no damn joke, and if you can’t do a 40 minute mile, there’s no way in hell you’re strong enough to be in serious open water.

iPads and Netbooks

I like my netbook a lot, and really wasn’t getting all that excited about the iPad.  I had a bit of a lightbulb moment when I realized that I wasn’t that excited because if I want an ultraportable wireless device, I want something that’s good for content creation, not something that’s only good for content consumption.

Now, Stephen Fry wrote a glowing piece on the iPad, admitting he was an Apple fanboy and all that smack.

I was surprised that he was that excited about the thing, to be frank with you.  The man’s an actor, a writer and what have you. He creates a lot more content than I do, just sayin’,  ‘Course, he also makes a lot more money than I do, so dropping $600 on something to view content probably doesn’t seem as absurd as it would for me[1].  If I made as much money as Mr. Fry, possibly I’d own an iPad right now.

But I doubt it.  Even the fact that you can read books on it wouldn’t quite be enough for me. Certainly, I’d own it over a Kindle.   Do I read Kindle-enabled books?  Yep, all the time.  I read ‘em on the PC software on my netbook.  Call me the Alton Brown of technology, but I’m not a big fan of a single-task device unless it’s really cheap or so astoundingly good at doing something I find necessary that I’m willing to own a single-task device.  I mean, even my MP3 player[2] doubles as my alarm clock!

I do think there’s a strong possibility that the demand for something cool for content consumption will kill off the demand for a small cheap computer, though.  And that rather depresses me, as the netbook was the computer I’d been waiting for since I was in my teens.

[1] Since dropping $600 solely to view content does seem absurd to me, I suppose that it’s obvious I still own a television that’s a CRT, too.

[2] Yes, it’s an iPod. 2nd gen Nano, in fact.

Swimmin' and Body Image

I’ve been slow getting off the mark with my 50 mile challenge.  But I swam a mile today, gosh darn it!  It took 50 minutes, which surprised me, as I was sure it’d be a least an hour[1].

Last year when I was talking to a friend about the 50 mile challenge and asking her if she was going to do it, she commented, “I couldn’t do that.  I’d lose count.”

I didn’t try to convince her, as I think the real reason she wasn’t doing it was a much more valid one.  She didn’t want to.  But I got to thinking about keeping count.

My pool counts a mile as 1800 yards[2].  That’s 72 lengths of a 25 yard pool, my friends, and is going to take between 40 minutes and an hour for the average lap swimmer to complete.  If you’re counting down by lap, not only are you going to lose count, you’ll probably get bored.

I don’t just hop in the pool and start counting down from 72 doing freestyle.  Forget losing count.  That would be daunting[3].

What I do is sets of laps[4].

1 X 50 Freestyle, backstroke and breastroke                        150 yards

1 X 100 Freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke                  300 yards

1 X 50 Freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke                    150 yards

1 X 200 Freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke                  600 yards

1 X 50 Freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke                    150 yards

1 X 100 Freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke                  300 yards

1 X 50 Freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke                    150 yards

Total Swim:                                                                                         1800 yards

What this really means is that I never count higher than eight, what with 200 yards being 8 lengths.  But it is also a lot easier to face.  By the time I’ve warmed up with the shorter sets, 200 yards of a stroke isn’t particularly intimidating.

I also had a funny thing happen in the locker room today.  Like many women in the gym, especially ones with really long hair who need to dry it, I walk from the showers to the lockers with my hair twisted in a towel, but otherwise am not wearing anything.

It really quiet, only another woman and I.  She was swathed in a towel and dressing under it.  She commented that she admired my confidence about walking naked to the lockers.  She sounded really kind of sad and wistful.

I turn around as I’m putting on my underwear.  She’s about 5’7”, and maybe a size 8.  Had I seen her first, I would have suspected condescension.  But the vocal tone combined with the careful draping of the towel made it clear enough.

I made a joke of it and asked if she had kids.  When she said no, I commented, “Eh, well, giving birth will blow away any body modesty.”

The thing is, that she felt badly about her body was hurting her.  I think it was a bit of a shock to her that the body modification you can achieve in a gym wasn’t necessarily going to cure it.  Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for working out and all that smack.   Obviously, what wit me being there and all.  But I’m not there to make myself acceptable to what I think outside perception is.  I wish I could have thought of something to say that would have helped her.  I wish I’d commented that her body is fine the way it is.  I wish I’d commented that you don’t have to fit a physical mold to earn the right to live.

I just hope my example said something to her, as the pain she clearly felt really bothered me.

[1] Note to competitive swimmers:  I know, I’m slow.  Go laugh at me somewhere else.
[2] Yes, a real mile is 1780 yards, but that’s not divisible by 25 yards – the length of the pool.
[3] And courting a rotator cuff injury
[4] This will look familiar to competitive swimmers, though a bit of a light workout.