Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Third Blog Entry In A Series of Six

There's an interesting FPP (front page post) on MetaFilter today: Skepticism Refocused. The point of discussion is a post by John Horgan on his Scientific American blog, wherein he addresses the Skepticism movement. The body of Horgan's post is a reprint of a speech he made to the Northeast Conference on Science And Skepticism, and then there's some addendums where he addresses a few prominent critics.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Second Blog Entry In A Series of Six

Hello again. I'm doing this once more, in an attempt to prove the first time wasn't a fluke. You can do most anything once, but the real test is when you come back to do it again and again. It's been three days since the first entry, so I took my time. But here I am.

So... things to talk about. I've been hitting the gym pretty hard the last three days, and as soon as I finish this I'll go hit it again. (I'm actually typing this on a laptop in a coffee shop close to the gym.) The goal is to go four times in a row this week. It's exhausting but fun.

Saw what looked like a C-130 fly over the house on Wednesday. It was dark coloured and definitely wasn't a water bomber like this plane. The C-130 was flying roughly west-to-east and slowly gaining altitude, lumbering through the air like it was ready fall down at any moment. No grace at all. Maybe a military flight?

Looking at traffic is kind of fun. It's constantly changing but always the same, like watching waves or flames. Visual white noise. The cars are a lot more drab than they used to be. So many whites and greys! Every once in a while a Yellow Cab goes by and it's like an exclamation point. When did car owners start to crave anonymity? Cars used to come in all colours, and the older they got the more interesting the colours became. People who owned twenty or thirty year old cars would often give them a neat custom paint job, or decal flames or stripes - and on the flipside, people who neglected their cars would end up with weird mixtures from flaking and rust, or vari-coloured replacement panels. Nothing looks neglected these days, but nothing looks exciting either. The cars all look like plastic toys.

Speaking of interesting looks, I just saw a guy go past the window in a white fur coat, pork pie hat, and black tights. There's a man who isn't afraid to make a statement. There are still people like that, who put a lot of energy into being characters. Last night I was on Whyte Avenue at about 10PM when this shirtless guy on a bicycle flies past me while playing a guitar. He was guiding the bike with his legs and strumming away. The interesting thing is that I've seen him before, in the daytime about two months ago when it was cold, and he was shirtless then as well. Apparently he spends all his time on that bike, and can be found day and night, immune to cold, riding and strumming away. He goes quite fast, too.

Writing something in  public is a bit like that. No matter how much I try to suppress it, I still feel a bit like those guys, awkwardly panhandling for attention from passers by. But if no one stands out, then what fun is that? We become a sea of anonymous white and grey people hurrying back and forth. Someone's got to make an effort.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

First Blog Entry In A Series Of Six

So I'm supposed to write six blog entries, three this week and three the next. It doesn't matter why. The important thing is I've made the commitment and have to follow through. But I've really gotten out of practice writing these things, and words aren't coming easily. It's probably more honest to say that the words have never come easily. That's because I don't like self expression. Writing is fun, but writing about anything personal is hard. Looking for attention, exposing myself to the scrutiny of others, is hard.

The thing is that it's easy to write about other things. Conversing on the Internet about some other subject that has nothing to do with me is fun and simple enough, and so is contributing to a group effort where my contribution is just part of a greater whole. But if I accidentally express too much of myself the words dry up and it hurts. The idea here is to directly tackle that resistance by writing regularly for two weeks. Six blog entries sets an achievable benchmark.

So what is there to talk about? I lost weight recently. I've been going to  a gym regularly for about eight or nine months and working pretty hard in there. My goal was to lose the extra twenty pounds I gained after Dad died, but I wasn't having much success. I think all the weight lifting helped me gain some muscle, but I didn't lose any fat. Then I went on a ketogenic diet for a month (while still going to the gym) - and BOOM, the weight melted off. I lost twenty-three pounds. I've been off the diet for about three or four weeks now, and kept most of the weight loss. I gained back about six pounds (but I'm pretty sure that's mostly muscle), so I'm still eighteen or nineteen pounds lighter than before, and that weight seems to be pretty steady. The diet really worked.

A ketogenic diet is where you eat no more than  twenty grams of carbs a day. That's it. There's  no point system or complicated diet plans. I had no bread or sugar for a month, but ate plenty of meat. Sometimes I'd get a roast chicken from the grocery store and eat the whole thing for supper. With the weight lifting and running I was burning plenty of calories, but they were all coming from protein and fat.

Maybe that's enough for Blog Entry Number One. But Ill be back soon.

Monday, 12 May 2014

April Photos

Yeah, I know. It's halfway through May. But I didn't take enough pictures for the current month yet.

Here are some of the images of April:

This is the fifty or sixty year old dogwood (Maybe ash?) behind the garage.

The yard looks like Mordor in this picture. That's because the tree trimmer I hired convinced me that Dad's magnificent fourty-year-old rosebushes needed to be trimmed to the ground. You know, for their health.

I'm really scared that I've killed them, but everyone says that roses like to be trimmed.

My hope is that these will be the "before" pictures, and when the roses have grown out again I can post the beautiful "afters."

The Blood Moon of April 15.

And here's the regular Moon. I'm a bit obsessed with it.

Hello there, Magpie.

These birds are hard to photograph, because they never stand still! And on top of that, they have black head feathers, black eyes and black beaks, which makes the features blur together. Got this one, though.

And finally, at long last, the first robin of spring!

This little guy was nearly invisible, but I saw something hopping around on the other side of the alley and just knew it was a robin. So I ran for the camera and viola!

You're Just Looking For Attention

An interesting discussion on Metafilter today got me thinking about the right to speak, and my own hangups when it comes to self expression. The discussion was about Jaden Smith, celebrity son of big time movie star Will Smith, and his strange pronouncements on Twitter. It actually wasn't that interesting. The kid has acquired a reputation for posting strange non sequiturs, and someone on Buzzfeed decided to take advantage of this by pairing Jaden Smith tweets with Garfield cartoons. The bit is marginally funny, but you could probably do the same thing with anyone's random Twitterings.

What interested me is when someone mentioned that Jaden had an Official Twitter account, and another Mefite said that his publicist probably encourages him to blast a quota of tweets out into the infosphere every month. Now that is strange. Heck, it's downright weird. His publicist thinks it's a good idea for a movie star to send unsolicited messages to random people? I mean, you can be on the bus or sitting down to a nice prime rib at AppleBee's, your phone buzzes, you see it's Jaden Smith tweeting You Can Discover Everything You Need To Know About Everything By Looking At Your Hands, and what... You smile like it's a good thing? Wouldn't that be incredibly annoying and make you hate him? Apparently not.

I just can't imagine doing this, and therein lies the problem. Deep down I've always felt that I'm unlikable, and people can only tolerate me in small doses. Twitter and its accompanying cellphone culture is weird and alien to me because I just can't believe on a gut level that people want to talk to each other that much. In our house phone calls were mostly received, not made (by a ratio of maybe a hundred-to-one), and even today I find it extremely difficult to call people. It just feels like an invasion of their privacy. I like talking to people on the phone, but calling them makes me feel tremendously guilty, because I know I'm bothering them with my unlikable self when they have better things to do. Tweeting things to a list of followers would ramp that guilt up to a whole new level.

This causes problems with writing, too. I started this blog as a storehouse for interesting things I've written elsewhere on the perishable Internet, but I've never once used it that way because deep down I don't think anything I write is worthy of preservation. I was going to post photos here, but still haven't done it. I barely post on Facebook. There are so many things I want to write, but never even start because I hear that voice (my father's weary voice) saying "You're just looking for attention." My mother had cancer for a long time, and Dad had to care for both of us. It was really hard, and I don't begrudge him anything. He did a great job, but that kind of situation messes you up as a kid no matter how much love there is in the family. Whenever I had night terrors or cried because I couldn't fit in at school, he'd say "you're just looking for attention" and I'd stop because that was the ultimate sin. You're not supposed to look for attention, you're supposed to just do your job and be quiet, like him.

But maybe that isn't the best approach to life for everybody.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Dream No More

It's been quite a while since I made a post. A lot has happened. A WHOLE lot, probably too much to summarize right now. But here's the important part for now.

I decided to make some changes to my life, to make some plans and actually carry them out. And the first plan was to travel. All my life I've stayed in Edmonton. When I was younger our family went on vacations, but the most exotic place we ever went to was British Columbia. After my Mom died, Dad and I still went on the occasional vacation, but we stayed within the bounds of the earlier trips. Then came my big act of rebellion in my twenties: going to the World Science Fiction convention in Winnipeg with a friend. By Greyhound Bus. It was exciting and wonderful, but world travel it was not. And every night I called my Dad on the phone. It was so good to hear his voice! I worried about him constantly while I was gone.

But now Dad is the one who's gone. He's dead, and it's been nineteen years since that trip. I spent six or seven months crying and wondering if I should still be alive, and eventually I decided the answer to that was Yes. So now it's time to start living, and make one of those childhood dreams come true! I'm typing this right now on a laptop in the departure lounge at the International Airport. In about an hour and fifteen minutes (barring further delays) I should be in the air (for the second time in my life) and on the way to Cancun Mexico for a week long vacation. It's exciting as hell, and absolutely terrifying.

Is this what it's supposed to feel like when dreams turn real?

Monday, 25 February 2013

Asleep Inside A Dream

Strange dream last night. I was in a cavern deep inside the Moon, about to enter an icy coffin. As the cover clicked shut I knew it was just supposed to last for a year (Asleep inside a dream!), but next thing I knew I was in a busy restaurant and somebody told me that I had actually died. There was somebody else I had to meet, but I couldn't find them or maybe they were too busy to see me, and in the middle of the bustle and commotion with all these people walking around and bumping into me I realized that dying had changed nothing. My skin was really pale, but I could still feel a heartbeat in my chest and nobody else seemed to care. It was same old runaround.