Maybe I should update more than twice a year

Checking in.

  • I started a new job a couple of months ago, which I really like. It’s still weird to leave the house every day, after 6 and a half years of working from home.
  • I’m on week 5 of a couch to 5k plan. I do this most years. It’s going well so far.
  • I’m tracking my exercise in Google Fit again, and my walking and running in Runkeeper. I’m looking into FitBits.
  • I’m playing with ifttt again, after a few years of not using it. So far the only thing I’m doing with it that I see the results of is that when I read an article in Pocket, the article gets added to my Google Calendar.
  • I’m hungry. I should get lunch soon.
  • Really looking forward to Hal-Con this year. We didn’t think we were going to make it, and it’s possible that we still might not, but we’ve got our weekend passes and a hotel booked.
  • The reason we might not make it is because my wife will be having neurosurgery this summer, to address her chiari malformation. Probably next month, which should leave her recovered in time to go. But we won’t get the surgery date until about a week before it’s going to happen, and the recovery time is 6-8 weeks. So there’s a chance we’ll have to miss it.

Ermahgerd I gert a MacBerk

This is a test post, from the desktop app. No promises that starting to use a desktop app will be the magic solution to me remembering to update my blog on the regular. Having the app on my phone never did, after all.

I bought a MacBook Pro, which I like quite a bit so far. Of course I’ve only had it for a couple of days, so the shine hasn’t worn off yet. But I’ve been a Linux user for quite a while, so I’m already familiar with UNIX-like systems. And it’s nice to not have to worry about, say, having to spend an afternoon fussing over my wireless drivers after an update. Or my battery life being utter garbage. Anyway, I expect I’m going to like this just fine.

I chose to get one of the MacBooks with a French keyboard, for the odd time that I need/want to write in French. I like having the accented characters handy, but it’s going to take some retraining to avoid just hitting è everytime I want to use an apostrophe.

Peut-être je vais écrire içi en francais aussi, parfois.

Anyway, a really quick update on how we’re doing:

  • Cohen is going into grade 1 now. He’s super into Pokémon now. We’re playing the TCG together sometimes.
  • The whole family is playing Pokémon Go, although Cohen only plays with us, not on his own yet. He doesn’t have his own phone, aside from using my old Galaxy S2X to play a few games. It won’t run Pokémon Go.
  • KJ and I are getting more serious about tackling our debt. We, uh, we didn’t decide that we were going to do that until after I bought the Mac, for the record.
  • We had our 10th anniversary this week.


Hello. It me. Negligent writer.

The other day I was reading an old Lifehacker post about journalling, and told myself I should get back into that. So instead of actually starting to do so that day, or the next day, or etc., I spent a few days thinking about how I would want to format journal entries. I was thinking about stuff like listing what music I was listening to, and what sort of mood I thought I was in. It later dawned on me that what I thought was turning into a pretty good format was actually turning into Livejournal circa 2006.

I guess that’s fitting, because lately I’ve been listening to Bloc Party’s first two albums a lot. LJ was also the first spot where I did any regular journalling.

Anyway, I’m bored and distracted a lot lately, but generally fine. No current (non-day job) projects of note to write about. I did promise to run a D&D campaign in the near(ish) future, so I should start working on that.

2016-01-23 14.46.18My son is really into Star Wars now. He’s seen the first 6 movies, and a bunch of the more recent Clone Wars cartoon. We didn’t take him to see The Force Awakens because we weren’t sure he would sit through the whole thing. He really missed out, because that was awesome.

We’ve been playing the old Wizards of the Coast Star Wars miniatures game lately. He’s got a lot of the basics down, although he still need help building a team, and doing the math to resolve attacks. He plays with the figures most days, even when we don’t make time to play the game itself.

I bought a PS4 shortly after Christmas, so I divide a lot of my free time between Dragon Age: Inquisition and Minecraft now. I’m slightly past the point where I want to do nothing but play these, although by no means am I bored of them.

I’m starting another frivolous shopping ban, for at least a couple of months. Mostly I’m just not happy with the balance on my credit card, but at least partially because my house is starting to feel cluttered again.

My guitar has been neglected since the fall, although I’ve bookmarked some tabs that I want to play around with. I should get around to learning how to play an entire song. Or even most of one.

My regular exercise has just been walking to the mailbox and back (about 10 minutes, total) and about 15 minutes of yoga at my desk, most week days. There’s been a bit of shovelling here and there, because it’s winter and I’m in Canada.

I’ve had a cold for about three weeks, although that’s mostly gone now. I had a vasectomy two weeks ago, which probably went fine but I won’t find out if it actually worked until May. My diet could always be better, but hasn’t been that bad lately. I got new glasses last month. I’m going to the dentist on Tuesday. I’d like to book a massage but I haven’t decided if that counts as frivolous spending yet.

Here’s a music video:

How I’ve been doing

A quick update on what I’ve been up to.

The shopping ban: I’m doing well on this one, but I think it’s only because some of the rules were poorly defined. By that I mean that I haven’t done any shopping, but I have ignore the spirit of the ban and bought fast food on, I think, three occasions. Which doesn’t sound like much, until you consider that I bought it for the whole family. This means I’ve spent somewhere between $70 and $90 on fast food this month. I’m unlikely to never buy fast food again, but I’m going to try to get that under $50 for next month.

Also, KJ got a tattoo, and therefore lost the shopping ban wager. Technically she got two tattoos, but one of them was planned before we agreed to the wager, so that one didn’t count against her. Anyway, I have to figure out where she’s taking me to eat when we’re in Halifax for Hal-Con.

Guitar: I’m kind of at a pause in my lessons (more on that in a minute), but I’m still practising most days. Like, 6 days a week, if not 7. I may only practice for 20 minutes some of those days. But I’m slowly getting better at the little bits I’ve learned.

I’ve decided to slow down on the lessons because I was blowing through them kinda fast. It’s a disadvantage to doing an online course. You finish a video, and the next one is right there. The instructor tells you to practice, but I mean, you’ve got time for another video and you think you’re keeping up pretty well. Next thing you know, your chord changes are sloppy and slow, you can play a scale but not identify the notes you’ve played, etc. But I’m making progress, and I’ll get to at least a basic competency at some point.

French: Give me another month and I think I’ll be at the end of what Duolingo offers for lessons. I need to get into reading and writing French more often if I really want to relearn the language. Reading a couple articles a week isn’t really going to cut it, long term.

Meditation: Still doing it once a day, still getting distracted a couple of minutes into it.

Exercise: I’ve put in a half an hour a day at least, all but one day since vacation. Mostly walking and yoga. I’m feeling and looking better than I have in a couple of years. It’s weird because I keep noticing little changes, like my posture has improved and I have pecs now.

Other stuff: Cohen and I got library cards yesterday. I’d like us to make going there a routine. It’ll help with the no shopping thing, but more importantly it’ll keep him excited and looking for new things that interest him. Plus libraries are one of the best things that humans have come up with, and we should take advantage of having access to them.

I’m sitting here just letting myself get hungry

I mean, my stomach is straight up growling right now, and my fridge is only about 4 meters away. Maybe less? I’ve never been good at estimating distance. I didn’t have enough for breakfast, and I’m probably not going to have lunch for another hour and a half. On top of that, now I’m daydreaming about some crème brûlée that I had yesterday, because my tweet about it just got retweeted a bunch of times (OK, three times, let’s not oversell my reach here) and I wish I was eating more of it right now.

Like, have you even had crème brûlée with chunks of fruit in it before? I didn’t know that was a thing and it’s the best.

Anyway, you were probably expecting, or at least hoping, that I was going to get to something that resembles a point. So, here it is. I don’t do much of anything to really allow myself to experience discomfort. And that’s something that I’ve been mulling over the past couple of days. I like being comfortable. I assume most people do. But comfort breeds complacency, and I don’t like how complacent I am. On top of that, I just don’t deal with discomfort well. I don’t get to sleep in my own bed for a few nights, and I get crankier every day. I also get super cranky when Facebook changes my news feed setting from Most Recent to Top Stories, or when I have to sit through a conference call that could’ve been an email. And yeah, those are annoying things, but none of them are things that I should let get to me.

I think the real issue is that I dwell on these little things, instead of focussing on the bigger picture. My life is pretty comfortable. I have a lot of advantages. And I ignore those advantages routinely, and I do basically nothing to ensure that other people who are less privileged can have the same opportunities that I do. This isn’t a new revelation for me. I’ve written about it before (maybe here?) and haven’t done anything else about it. Which, let’s be honest, is what’s happening again right now, because the next thing that I was going to write was “And I don’t know what to do about that, although I know I should do something.”

Oh, sure, I’ve got my little self-improvement projects (short recap: no unnecessary spending for three months, daily meditation, yoga, and French practice, learning guitar and to a lesser extent programming), but all of that stuff is very insular. I haven’t done anything to really be an active part of a community since university, and I haven’t done anything to really challenge my own comfort since I experimented with psychedelics around the same time.

So that’s what’s rattling around my brain this morning. I’m home alone for a couple days again. I had coffee on the deck a couple hours ago, when it was foggy and not too warm. My instinct now is to shut the windows and hide in front of the AC for a few hours. But maybe I’ll get the trike out of the shed after lunch and see where the day takes me.

Two things I won’t miss after the election is over

1. The phrase “Prime Minister Stephen Harper” being used without the word “former” preceding it.

Yes, I know that’s not certain at this point. But we all need at least a little bit of hope in our lives, and at least some of mine comes with a vivid image of that cynical turd being chased out of Ottawa. Occasionally it involves him making an escape on a log floating down the Ottawa river. I’ll leave it for you to decide if he needs to morph into a cartoon and do the Log Driver’s Waltz. Let’s just make his exit memorable.

2. Seeing my friends that are… let’s say enthusiastically partisan so that I can remain friends with at least some of them. Seeing my friends that are enthusiastically partisan lauding everything their party’s leader says and does as if its perfect.

I get that being a member of a party has to involve a certain amount of justifying everything to yourself. And yeah, there’s got to be a certain amount of cheerleading for something that you believe in. But it would be really nice to make it through my social media feeds during at least one of the next 70ish days and not lament that someone’s critical reasoning skills have been replaced by some party slogans.

Nothing makes me want to stomp the suffrage out of someone quite like hearing that their party leader looks ready to be prime minister. Can we at least do away with those specific words? I’m looking at you, NDP and Liberal supporting friends. I basically want one of those two parties to win (mostly because the Greens don’t have a shot, but here’s hoping they pick up a couple more seats in the process). Preferably the NDP, because at least they didn’t vote for Bill C-51, but I’ll take all the not the Conservatives again that I can get.

It’s the (sustainable) economy, stupid!

For decades, the policy community has been deeply divided over some basic questions about economic development. Forestry, mining, fishing, oil and gas—to name only a few sectors—have been at war with the environmental movement over what is or is not allowable in a resource-intensive economy. Such disagreements can be paralyzing, as we see with the debates over pipelines and fracking.

This culture of conflict is a legacy of the old industrial era, a time when the economy and the environment were seen as distinct policy fields. That legacy must be replaced with a culture of collaboration and innovation.


How I Gave Up Alternating Current

With no fridge, no dishes, no microwave, no oven, no range, no dishwasher, no utensils, no pests, no cleaning products nor dirty rags, my life is considerably simpler, lighter and cleaner than before. I think it was a bit presumptuous for the architect to assume I wanted a kitchen with my apartment and make me pay for it. My home is a place of peace. I don’t want to live with red hot heating elements and razor sharp knives. That sounds like a torture chamber. However, it’s not a total loss. I was able to use the cabinets to store part of my book collection.