Sunday, 24 January 2016

Schedules, Shantytowns and Simplification

The word of the week is ponderous.

Jan 18 – Blue Monday?
Supposedly today is the saddest day of the year.
You can substitute whatever phrase you like for it: Most Depressing, Personal-Low Day, whatever - it all basically means the same thing: it's a low point.
I had my low point last week, with my almost-panic-attack. Definitely not depressing, but certainly akin to the same. Around this time of year, Christmas is but a memory a month gone, bills are due and it's really dark out too early in the day. Myself, I've noticed that I've been quite lethargic these last couple of months, more so than usual, and I attribute it to a general lack of exercise.

To combat that, I've started going out for walks on one of my daily breaks, taking a turn around a block or two. The fresh air, exercise and brighter light seem to be helping, in that I don't feel so run down by the time I get back home. Working in an office does have its downfalls, for all the perks that a good job may offer, one of them being a lack of moving around or carrying things like my former office supply job. As well, I'm considering getting
I've also started paying attention to the Health app on my Pebble Time watch. It tracks the number of steps I take in a day and I'm trying to get that up to close to 10,000. Walking to work and back is about 5,000 so I just need to try to double that on a daily basis; may be leaving earlier for work or taking a more roundabout route home will help, depending on the weather. Fortunately, it hasn't been anything more than rainy here, compared to the lambasting that the Eastern half of the continent is getting right now.
On a positive note, it's all uphill from here, seasonally-speaking!

Jan 19 – Artistry     
Some people just have talent in spades.
Take, for example, Kay Pike, an artist who works with paint... and uses her body as a canvas. She's able to create incredibly realistic-looking characters, thanks to her color choices, skill and abilities as a photographer/videographer. It's like watching a comic book come to life:

Nebula Bodypaint KayPikeFashionHey all, This is the Nebula Bodypaint from last night almost have the complete set, Nebula, Thanos, and Gamora so far! I actually did a decent job of getting the bald cap on properly. I am pleased. Can’t wait to have to photos ready for this one. Wish me luck on finding time to do edits!Nebula was pretty fantastic to paint, still trying to figure out the blacks however! Overall its pretty good, I carried over my robotic techniques from DR Doom, and this one was relatively stress free with next to no optical illusions. She looks just like me :D#nebula #sister #scifi #comic #movie #favouritemovie #villan #gotg #cyborg #assassin #badass #retro  #guardiansofthegalaxy  #twitch #twitchcreative #creative  #makeup #bodypaint #bodyart #paint #art #artist #cospaint #cosplay #cosplayer #yyc TwitchTV Guardians of the Galaxy
Posted by Kay Pike (Designer/ Model) on Sunday, January 17, 2016

Here's hoping this sort of talent will help her go far as an artist. She and others like her are one of the many reasons that I love browsing through FBook, to see just what wonders that some people are capable of creating.

Jan 20 – Clearing my Schedule
The first half of 2016 is going to be pretty dull for me, in some ways.
I'm stepping back from running my writing group, for one thing. The group seems to have attained a self-sustaining momentum, in that I no longer feel that I have to give at least one presentation a month in order to keep the membership happy and returning on a regular basis. This will help clear up some time for me during the week in order to write, which is somewhat overdue, I feel - ironic that I have to give up writing in order to write, but that's life for you.
I'm also stepping back from social obligations, in small ways only, however. I am going to limit my boardgaming to once a month, again in order to free up time. As well, I'll be cutting back on going out for drinks or dinner to once or twice per month, for the same result.

These reductions will also help my budget, which I've resolved to shape up even further by limiting my 'meals out' to one of each type( breakfast/lunch/dinner ) per week, again in order to both save time and money.
It's my hope that these reductions will have the dual effect of getting me focused on just my writing as well as reducing my stress when it comes to my finances. I know I'm capable of living simpler, in terms of sociability at least, and my sense of accomplishment when it comes to getting my writing done can certainly use a boost in 2016: I have a lot to do.
Not to mention getting my new business off the ground by the summertime...

Jan 21 – In-Tents
In most cases, nobody knows how good they've got it.
When it comes to life, people are always wanting more, were taking for granted what they already have - sometimes both. I know I've been guilty of each in years past, wanting instead of needing and not appreciating the less tangible things that I possessed but instead thinking that the material could somehow become tangibly important.
For the last six months, I've been walking past a tent city on the way to work.
It's full of people who have very little, in every sense of the word. Materially, personally, professionally and financially, they are poor in these senses and many more.
Victoria has always had a large homeless population, but for the most part they are barely noticed by the citizenry except for people traversing the downtown core. The homeless are everywhere, on most of the busy street corners, asking for handouts politely and quietly on a daily basis. They sleep tucked away in corners of the downtown at night, or more commonly in tents in the city parks.
Most people ignore them as they go about their business.

It's been hard to ignore them these last few months however, as a tent city took root on provincial land next to the city courthouse in June of 2015. Since the land belongs to the province, not the city, the homeless discovered that local laws do not apply to them and their tents could remain there 24/7 without molestation by police. Word spread quickly and soon dozens of tents sprung up, creating a small community of very visible homeless, easily seen by any passerby. It's a far cry from the remove of a few tents visible here and there in city parks, I'd say.
There's been heated talk in the city now of how to help the homeless, from providing them temporary shelters to permanent homes. All of these solutions and others come with costs, of course, and I'm not the only one wondering what the best solution will be for both the homeless and the taxpayer in the city.
It's not pretty, and it's now made national news today. When you have nowhere else to go, life isn't great.

Jan 22 – 80's-Perfect
I love the 80's, though I was born in the 70's.
There's something about the combination of energetic music, materialism and a simpler worldview that makes me smile when certain shows are on the TV. Miami Vice, Magnum P.I. and MacGuyver all come to mind, along with the The A-Team, Knight Rider and others, all of them shows with stars that were bigger than life. Not to mention cool cars, explosions and great hair!
Trust The Simpsons to be able to pick out exactly what made the show's great and turn it into the best Couch Gag introductions that any 80's fan could hope for:
It always amazes me that The Simpsons can somehow focus in on exactly what made something great, parody it and still managed to have created something even better than the original thing they're parodying.
It's genius!

Jan 23 – Mech-Gaming
I don't really play video games anymore, which saddens me.
I know I've mentioned that before, but usually I told myself it's because I just don't have the time, but if I'm honest there's another reason why: I'm not really that good at them - which also comes down to time. Those who are good at something usually devote regular time to practice, and I've never really done that.
However, if you really love something, you can make the time.
These last few weeks, I've made the time to improve my game in Mechwarrior Online. I've always loved the giant-robot game genre since the days of my first games of BattleTech, which is what Mechwarrior is based on( and MWO is made by a Canadian company, which is also a good reason to support them ).

I've never really given thought to giguring out my play style before now, for any given game, but as I am limiting my game-time for 2016, it only made sense to try. Briefly: in MWO, there are 3 types of weapons: energy, ballistic and missile. I've never had success with the missile or ballistic weapons, as it takes a lot of ammo to have any real effect, so I stuck with the energy weapons: point laser, shoot, repeat.  However, using a trackball has meant my endpoint waves all over the place and even with a mouse, it's hard to hold the beam on the target long enough. Meaning as wasting a lot of damage by missing large portions of my shot time... which is really just a waste of time and adds to my frustration.
After figuring out this little gaming-gaffe in my play style, I switched to ballistic weapons, as well as a couple of similar-type energy weapons: aim, shoot, move. Seems simple, but it's really made a big difference in my enjoyment of Mechwarrior Online: actually getting somewhere now on a regular basis instead of depending on my teammates to hit the enemy more than I was doing.
Which only adds to the fun. One of these days I'll go back and finish up some of the dozens of video games that I have languishing on my shelves... but not before I finish my book trilogy!

Jan 24 – Localizing
This is the year of staying close to home.
It kind of makes sense, in that traveling is expensive. Especially to the States right now; with the dollar the way it is, there's little reason for anyone to cross the border except if you actually have a need to go that's vital.
The same goes for me traveling back to Ontario this summer, or anywhere else really: it's just not in the budget. I'm trying to get ahead and I can't do that by spending money, as painful as it is to admit when I really would like to see some of my friends and family again. It will be three years this summer since my last trip back east to visit in 2013 and that's a long time to go without seeing people that are important to you, especially as close as I am to so many of them.

I long for the future to arrive where I can simply teleport to wherever I need to be, or even operate an android by VR remote technology to allow me to have a telepresence wherever I want. Hopping on a plane, however convenient, is still an expensive proposition even in this day and age, especially living on the other side of the continent from most everyone that I want to visit.
By the end of 2016, I hope to have made great strides in my personal and professional life, enough so that I can take a trip to visit in 2017 back east. It's high on my priority list, for while I now call Victoria home, I will always want to travel back to Ontario to see those who aren't out here with me now.

I'm looking forward to a quiet week ahead: nothing planned except work and writing. It’s even my short week, so I’ll be able to get in a full day of writing on Friday. It hearkens back to the times years ago in 2012, when all I did of a day was write for hours and hours, just being creative. I need to get back to that, to move my muse forward.