Sunday, 30 April 2017

Chats, Change, Contests and Chasing Classics

The word of the week is momentum.

Apr 24 – Back To A Better Me

Good news: my appetite’s almost back to normal.

I'm eating regular sized meals again, though I'm being careful about exactly what it is I have( pasta and bready foods are still too filling for me ) and it seems to be working, as I've gained 5 pounds in the last three weeks. I don't feel like my stomach is full after only eating half a meal and I have enough energy every day to get through what I need to without straining or feeling worn-out.

All good signs.

I'm also walking up to 10K steps a day, with little to no discomfort, though again I'm watching how I step and making sure that's I don't sit or stand for too long at any one time at the day job.

Speaking which, I've been re-tasked again at work, for the better: as of last week, I'm no longer in contact with the public and instead can wear headphones all day long while I go about my tasks. Ironically, this is extremely like the position I started with in the government nearly 3 years ago, and I fully intend to saturate my brain with epic music scores to kick my writing Muse into overdrive just as it was back then when I was putting the finishing touches on my first novel's third draft.

While it does seem at times like I've gone backwards, I'm choosing to see this as a reward: I've worked hard, put in my 'time' on the front lines and now I get to step back to perform necessary tasks that you are in no way as stressful as the ones I was undergoing for far too long.

In a way, it's like a vacation from stress, and that's exactly what I need right now.

Apr 25 – Land Mark Redux

Last night I attended a free seminar, offered by Land Mark.

It was the first of a series, meant to be an introduction to a total of 10 parts over the course of the next few months. The series was designed to allow the participants to continue to work through the topics they wanted to explore from the three-day weekend back in March that everyone attended.

After the first hour, I already knew that it wasn't for me.

Quite honestly, there were no breakthroughs that I experienced from the weekend that I feel I need to explore further, which I'm getting is a good thing as it means that I'm far more well-rounded than I thought.

I was also glad to be sitting next to one particular guy, who was of the same mind: neither of us was convinced that the seminar series was necessary for us. It was nice to be able to simply discuss things honestly with someone there.

In the end, I handed in my nametag and left satisfied that my time would be better spent each week working on my novels and looking to upgrade my current work position. I also felt that for many of the people in the seminar, this will likely be a singularly important experience to vastly improve their lives.

It's just that I'm already well on my way, on my own.

Apr 26 – Chatting It Upwards

I had a good talk today with someone I trust in the government.

They were my boss for nine months last year, and it was a fantastic experience working with them. They are a straight talker, passionate about the work we're doing and for some odd reason extremely interested in me as a person as well as an employee, which I found gratifying - and still do.

To make the point: today's meeting was set up a month ago because this person's schedule is always so incredibly busy due to their position, but they spent almost 2 hours this afternoon talking to me about my career with government... as well as chatting about how I was doing personally.

I felt pretty good after the talk today, I tell you!

Again, it was amazing to hear such kindly interest about my strengths and specific praise for my skills from someone I respect so much. I really needed that this week, as I've been feeling very off balance from my shift in responsibilities at work:  today's talk truly helped push all the lingering negatives aside from the last few months.

In summary: I need to focus on exactly what I want out of my time in government, to move from a broader 'I want a good position that's not going to stress me out to the point where I can write after the workday's done' to 'My skills and interests will allow me to specifically perform well at these particular jobs I want' - I can then apply for those positions( things like a business analyst )instead of IT positions that I don't-quite-qualify for.

It was a very good day to be Me.

Apr 27 – The Tricorder is Real!

We all win, with this news.

For the last three years, I've been following the occasional story about various individuals as well as parties trying to come up with a viable working modern analogue of the Tricorder from Star Trek. To date, it's been hit and miss, though I think this guy came the closest of all of the ones that I have seen.

However, the Xprize contest to create a Tricorder has found a winner!

It's really a 4-not-1 device...

Oddly, the winning Tricorder design consists of actually four separate devices, each of them designed to be used by people with no medical training while still providing accurate and valuable data for medical professionals to use with connected data links.

In other words, anyone can use them to diagnose a multitude of illnesses and injuries without the presence of a doctor:

It's a huge step forward and I hope that the initial designs can be mass-produced in upgraded forms over the years to ensure that the quality of medical care around the globe improves significantly without undue cost.

Apr 28 – A Pro On Writing

The Flow: what is it?

Writers, real writers, often talk about 'The Flow' in revered tones, as though it's a place that they would love to visit often but rarely find the time to do so. What they really mean though, is that when a writer's Muse is working properly, the words flow like water and the passion of the writer produces amazing work.

David Gerrold, a famous sci-fi writer, recently mentioned this in one of his many, many FBook posts( again, real writers often  = prolific word count )below:

It's refreshing to hear a professional who's been writing for decades speak about the flow in reverent tones; to me, that means that it's not a state that everyone can attain and even the professionals seek out fervently on more than a few occasions.

I've felt 'The Flow' when writing my first two novels and I know in general how to assist my Muse to come out of hibernation and get to work. I've been doing it on and off for the last two years and a good portion of the effort is reducing the stress on myself to where there's room again for my creativity to blossom on a daily basis.

I'm almost there again this year and it feels... potent!

Apr 29 – Jazz!

This afternoon, my lady and I attended a jazz session at Hermann's, where we haven't been in over a year.

We were there to see the Great American Songbook Trio, who we had previously seen last year and loved. My lovely lady's poetry group had invited her and myself along, and there were a half-dozen of us at the table to enjoy the music that started a little after 2 PM.

Cookie Lady Louise is on the left!

While I'm not particularly familiar with all that many of the Jazz Classics, today's tunes that I felt an immediate reaction to, in no small part thanks to the wonderful renditions that the Trio gave to the music with their passion and skill.

It was a stellar few hours spent inside, carried away by jazz.

Afterwards, we were treated by Louise, one of the Trio, to some homemade ginger cookies as she knew several of our group members, something that nobody else in the club was offered - sweet! I also admit that I had a few too many of the cheesy nachos that a nice lady named Sue bought for the table, but I'm happy to say that while I was uncomfortably full for the evening, I wasn't in any significant discomfort as I would have been only a month ago, so that was a useful discovery.

I'm happy that Victoria has such a deep-rooted and vibrant jazz scene. My girlfriend and I really enjoy having a place like Hermann's in town, as do many others, and I look forward to jazzing up my life more in the next few years.

Apr 30 – Races and Blossoms and Trees

What's all that yelling outside?

I was up early today( most days I'm awake around 6am )and after a small breakfast, I was puzzled to open the curtains at 8am to the unusual sight of a city bus turning around on my street, with a police van blocking southbound traffic - what the heck?

Expecting to be picked up by my lady so we could head out to Langford for the morning, I stepped outside to discover a massive stream of runners crossing cook Street West to East, with the street blocked off to all traffic. About 10 seconds later, I spotted my girlfriend's car on the other side of the southern barrier


To her credit, while I searched for a break in the pack, she managed to get out of the snarled cars waiting impotently and went looking for a way to reach me. But unbeknownst to her, the race route was so poorly-designed that it completely blocked off the southern portion of the city where she lives, to the point where she couldn't find a north-south route to reach me after a half hour of searching! This was all for the TC10K as it's known, draws over 10,000 runners annually, so it's ironically well-named.

Did I mention it was a massive stream of runners?

This was the start, and BOY was there a turnout!

Eventually, the numbers dwindled and I managed to scoot through to where I could be picked up, then we headed west to the downtown core where one of the volunteers had told me the barriers would come down first - and it worked!

We did manage to reach Langford in time to have breakfast and then meet with a gentleman who just happen to be selling an extremely rare complete copy of the old boardgame Mercanauts for $35.00! Considering I have never been able to find it anywhere online, I was stunned to discover there was one for sale right here on Vancouver Island and for an incredibly good price - talk about serendipitous!

Little plastic ships, whose sails break off so easily...

While I still have the majority of the pieces( but not the boards! )from the 3 copies I purchased almost 30 years ago for a mere $8.00 each on clearance, I've never been able to locate another copy anywhere, at least not until now. It's a unique game in several regards, the major one being in that it has no set victory conditions: you can play until you get tired of it, or invent your own rules, which my friends I did back before high school. I truly liked playing the game back then, and look forward to playing with friends here soon.

The rest of the day went pretty smoothly, seeing us spend some time in James Bay playing Dragonwood at a cute old-school café/bookshop, then just enjoying the rest of the afternoon together before I went to meet a friend of mine for coffee at the Breakwater Café where I happily sat in the gorgeous sunshine without any ill effects( overheating / light sensitivity ): it felt absolutely wonderful.

It was a lovely, lovely day.

I'm feeling quite relaxed after this weekend, ready to head into the week where I'll be learning some new tasks that don't involve any public interaction at the day job and spending my evenings writing: both sound glorious to me.