Tag Archives: Life

Did I tell you about the new dog?

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His name is Murphy (the one on the bottom of the dogpile underneath by beagle-boxer mix Riley). We’ve had him about two months now, and other than a little toy aggression on Riley’s part (used to being an only child), they get along great. Murphy is much more respectful of Dax (our cat) than Riley, who still hasn’t figured out that hissing and swatting are not a game.

On a side note my cat is a bit of a badass. About three weeks ago she came inside with a wound about the size of a quarter in her side. She didn’t meow or complain about it, even when the vet had to put three staples in her. She didn’t pick at the wound or anything, and is now well on the way to recovery. Both my wife and I have a greater respect for her, though we still have no idea how she came by such a battle scar.

And in case I didn’t mention it, Coonie, who graced our house for about three weeks was adopted from the shelter a couple months back. We would have loved to keep her, but Dax wouldn’t have it, which in the long run is for the best since Murphy came around.

So here’s how Murphy happened. I was out at Starbucks working on my sermon when I get a call from my wife telling me I had to come home immediately. She was getting Riley into the car, and was going over to the shelter to meet this new Beagle she’d spotted on the website. I wasn’t sure we had enough room in the house for two dogs (even though we have a four dog yard) but my wife has always loved purebred beagles. Truth is, though I was a bit grumpy about it for the first few weeks, Murphy has been a great addition to our home. If he’d been as energetic as Riley I might not be so thrilled, but he’s a real snuggle-bug. He’ll latch onto you on the couch and huddle close all evening. And he’s pretty tolerant of being flipped to the side so he can get some back-scratching along with Riley. And he’s adopted the laz-y-boy in my basement office as his new favorite spot.

Probably most of my reluctance at first was that he reminded me of our previous dog, Simon, who I’d known for eight years and missed a little more than I’d realized. Still Murphy is his own dog and he’s a great companion. He’s definitely more of a mama’s boy, but both of them barrel to the door to jump on me when I come home from work.

So two dogs, a cat, and maybe in a year or two a mini-me. Life is good.

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Garbage In, Garbage Out

I’d say one of the things I’m already learning in my 30’s is the truth of an old programmer’s adage: “Garbage In, Garbage Out.”

When you’re younger you can do pretty much anything you want and get away with it. I’m not saying that drinking too much caffeine, or eating too much, or not getting enough sleep don’t have an effect. You just have a better ability to power through.

Despite being a “creative” I have a very quantitative mind when it comes to this stuff. It’s hard for me to make generalized changes like “eat better” or “drink more water and less soda” without quantifiable goals, plans and known results. Ironically I like my plans clear and my results fuzzy; “I feel better” not “I lost X pounds”.

Today I started my new work schedule which is an hour later. I could tell from the way I felt during the week, and how much better I felt on weekends that I simply wasn’t getting enough sleep. And I know from my own patterns that the solution to this couldn’t be “go to sleep earlier” since pretty much no matter what I do I can’t fall asleep before 10:30pm. I may have inherited some of the Trube “gift of sleep” but so far that only seems to affect the strong desire on Sunday afternoons to take a nap. I do feel more rested and less like a narcoleptic today, and we’ll see how the siesta time in the afternoon goes.

Another change was a hard one, cut down the caffeine and limit when you drink it. Like a lot of cubicle dwellers every time I get up and walk by the coffee pot I come back with some. Sometimes it’s decaf but that’s still 4-6 cups of coffee every work day (which in terms of the actual cup unit of measure is more like 10-12). My solution, brew my own coffee at my desk. I have a little 4 cup (the unit of measure) coffee maker from my college days and I brew a full pot every morning. I try to drink it before noon and don’t drink anything but water the rest of the day (2 water bottle’s worth). I’ve been doing this for a couple of weeks and find I am sleeping deeper (less waking up in the middle of the night) and I am feeling a little less high-strung. One down side is that I seem to be having more vivid dreams, not all of them pleasant but that may due to other kinds of input (shows I watch, news I hear, media I consume).

But what seems to have changed in my late 20’s and 30’s is that these kinds of changes actually have an immediate positive effect, or if I go the other way, an immediate bad effect. This might sound like a bad thing but actually it’s kind of helpful. Some of the stuff we do to be healthy can seem theoretical. At best it seems to effect only one arbitrary variable and not the systemic qualitative way we feel. What’s the basic goal of life? Be well, live long, and enjoy your time. That’s going to look different for all of us but it helps to get feedback from more than just external sources.

We’ll see long run if these changes actually result in better health, but feeling better is a good start. It’s a good lesson to learn at 30 rather than 50 (though I wouldn’t have minded really learning it 5 years earlier).

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Happy 1st Anniversary of my 29th Birthday

I turned 30 last Saturday, and rang in the start of a new decade with burritos, a bottle of single-malt scotch, Rocky Patel cigars and the company of my friends and family.

A couple of questions asked with varying degrees of seriousness from my friend Brian and others is what wisdom I feel I’ve gained up to this point and what are my goals going forward.

Truthfully it’s just more of the same. I do want this to be the year that Surreality sees the light of day, and is something I can share with all of you. I’m considering the possibility of smaller versions of myself either through losing weight or other conventional means. I think it’s a good year to read more, including a pass at reading the Bible all the way through. And I’ve got about 8 books I want to write. Maybe I can get them all done or at least drafted by the time I’m 40, though by that time I bet there’ll be 10 more ideas.

I’m extraordinarily blessed. I have a wonderful wife of more than 6 years. I have good friends and family, and a great church home. I’m curious about the world and the kind of stories I can tell, and I have a dog and cat who provide endless amusement and companionship (well, the dog does anyway). I have a home, and a big yard where I can enjoy my wife’s handiwork. I have an office where I can be surrounded by books, and still be able to carry a library with me in my pocket. Life’s pretty good.

Once nice thing is that I might finally get people to stop looking at me and be surprised that I’m in my 20’s. I don’t know if this means I’ve looked 30 or maybe even 40 for years, but it is nice to be a little more settled without being rigid. I do feel like I have a slightly better idea of what 40 will look like and maybe even 50. Not physically yet, but those people are feeling less like senpai’s and more like peers.

Like all adult birthdays this feels like both a milestone and just another day. It’ll probably take me a while to even think of myself as a 30-something, though in some ways I’ve been doing it for a while. And I had my first senior moment last week (well actually probably not the first). I put toothpaste on my toothbrush, and then raised the brush to comb my hair. I stopped myself maybe an inch from my head.

It’s all downhill from there.

Actually, I can’t wait for another day. Especially when that day includes leftover burrito fixings.

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NaNoMaybeMo

This is the time of year when I’m tempted to do NaNo.

For those unaware, November is National Novel Writer’s Month or NaNoWriMo. The goal for all participants is to write a 50,000 word novel (or at least the first 50K of a novel) within 30 days.

I have done this before. It requires a writing rate of about 1667 words a day. At the moment I’m up to 2500 words a day for my work (and that includes formatting pictures and code), so if anything NaNo would be a step down.

There are some in the writing community who kinda look down on NaNo, seeing it as the kind of thing you do when you’re starting out, but not something that serious writers take on. To me, however, it’s kind of the embodiment of what a professional writer should be able to do, keep a consistent discipline going on creating a rough draft. Write every day. These are good things to be reminded of, and to encourage you to continue in your projects.

But NaNo can be disruptive. Almost always it falls for me when I’m in the middle of projects, and this year is no exception. I’m trying to finish revisions on Surreality while at the same time creating a structure for working on my new non-fiction project. The easy answer might be to use my non-fiction project as the basis for my NaNo, bang out a lot of the text I need, but that would require at least two hours of research prior to each session. I have a very understanding wife when it comes to the writing, but having me writing or working on writing for 3 hours a day for the next month is a bit unreasonable on top of everything else.

I could work on another of the many fiction projects in my head, or do revisions or rewrites on another. But that kind of work tends to shift focus away from other fiction I’m trying to finish. And my last NaNo is still sitting in a drawer. I was very happy I did it, and it kickstarted a rewrite of a novel I’ve been meaning to rewrite for years, but it kinda fizzled in favor of the immediate.

I do like the sense of community, of the “we’re all in this together” of NaNo, since I don’t have a regular writing group, or many writing peers to talk to. Though truthfully, at least in my community, many of the people participating in NaNo have a lot more free time during the day than I do, and can meet for writing sessions in the middle of the day. I work a job five days a week which has me out of the house from about 6am – 5pm, so evening meetings are kind of all I have time for (and not on evenings before I have to walk the dog which means I wake up at 4:30am).

As with many years, this is a nagging temptation that I’ll probably let slip to another year. It was a great feeling of accomplishment to do it once, but the writing life can allow for diverse accomplishments and feelings of success. Right now I’d feel successful if I could manage getting a first article written for my non-fiction book, and getting past the chapter I’m stuck in in Surreality. If I get both those things done by the end of the week… I can write another article and revise another chapter the following week.

And not to put too fine a point on it, but all that writing for work is making me a little tired for writing for myself. That probably explains the little more infrequent blogging, which I will try to get back up to speed this week.

Is NaNoWriMo something that tempts you or is too much going on with your writing life already?

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