Monthly Archives: April 2008

April Blog Chain: New Beginnings.

Mada at For the First Time is leading this month’s Absolute Write Blog Chain, and our theme is new beginnings. Auria Cortes posted about the beginning stages of writing a new novel, and Polenth at Polenth’s Quill described how she learned to build 3D rendered pictures the hard way in order to get it right.

Doing things the hard way doesn’t necessarily mean getting them right the first time, or even the tenth. It means getting back up off the floor when you fall down and taking another shot. For my link on the chain, I thought I’d post about rebooting.

We all know what it means to reboot, right? When your computer at work acts up and you call tech support, what’s the first thing they ask you?

Okay, the first thing after you confirm it’s plugged in.

Right! Mr. or Ms. Helpful Support Person asks you if you have rebooted your computer. And if you haven’t, the Helpful Support Person will suggest you reboot right away, and then call back if you’re still having a problem.

Now, my understanding of the purpose of rebooting is to clear what Stephen King calls “the bad-gunky” out of your computer’s system and recent memory and shut down unhelpful applications and processes, to allow the computer to restart clean and run smoothly again. At least, until the next time the bad-gunky clogs everything up.

Sometimes you need to clear out life’s bad-gunky, too (although preferably not the way Stephen King’s characters do it). Not so many years ago, after several years with stressful jobs and a new baby, Mrs. Unfocused and I looked at the increasingly high numbers showing up on the bathroom scale and our alarming reflections in the mirror and decided to do something about it. Largely (but not entirely) through adjusting our eating habits, we each lost a significant amount of weight. It took a while, though, and there was much plateauing and backsliding along the way. Even now, we both go through periods where we eat junk, drink too much or too often, stay up too late, and so on.

Often the backsliding is a reaction to outside stressors, such as my work and travel, but sometimes we just get lazy. For me, as an example, I get into bad cycles when I don’t have time or energy to exercise regularly; if I can’t run or lift, my energy levels drop, and I eat more sugar to bring them up.

Eventually, we notice it when we have fallen off the wagon. It might only be a couple of days, or it might be a couple of months, but when the realization comes, we gather up whatever shreds of willpower and mental discipline we have left, press CTRL-ALT-DEL, and reboot. One of the things we learned when we were trying to lose all that weight is that if you fall off the wagon and have too much pizza, or chocolate, or beer, you can just start over, and you’re still better off. A couple of bad days, even a couple of bad weeks, won’t set you back that much or that long if you scramble back onto the wagon. It’s the long-term trend that matters, not the daily returns.

I don’t always notice it for myself. Last October, Mrs. Unfocused had to tell me point blank that I was off the wagon and needed to reboot. My job had been particularly intense for several months, and I had just gotten home on a Sunday morning after a particularly grueling business trip. After giving me surreptitious worried looks for an hour or so, the Mrs. said, “Honey, you can’t go on like this. You need to reboot.” I didn’t argue, and my feelings weren’t hurt; she wasn’t criticizing, she was concerned and was letting me know it was time to start over. I made it to the gym the next day, got my eating back under control after too many days of conference room food and hotel room service, and handled the next grueling business trip three weeks later much, much better.

For us, at least, that’s how we kept the worst of the excess weight off: knowing when to reboot.

That, and slow-cooker oatmeal for breakfast every morning. But that’s another post.

Up next on the Blog Chain: Spittin’ (out words) Like a Llama.

Also, there was an error in the original Blog Chain line-up, so I’m reposting the entire line up, corrected, below.

Auria Cortes

Polenth’s Quill

Unfocused Me

Spittin’ (out words) Like a Llama

Food History

Fantastical Imagination

Life In Scribbletown

For The First Time

Polyamory From the Inside Out

Livininsanity

Spynotes

A Wayward Journey

Virtual Wordsmith

Advertisement

Guest Photoblogger.

Tomorrow, I’ll post my entry in the April Blog Chain. Today, I’ve asked Unfocused Girl if I can post some of her pictures from the walk she, Unfocused Junior, Grandpa Unfocused, and I took at the North Park Nature Center on Saturday. With her permission, I’ll put up some of the best of them.

Important legal notice: Unlike most of my posts, these pictures are subject to Unfocused Girl’s copyright, all rights reserved, rather than a Creative Commons license. She’s a minor and can’t waive her rights. Frankly, I’m taking a risk posting them at all, since the license she’s granted me wouldn’t be enforceable, either. It’s a chance I’m willing to take.

Glad that’s out of the way. Here are the pictures (click the thumbnails for larger size):

A great day was had by all. We didn’t see the deer that left the tracks and the droopings, but we saw the turtle, many geese, two ducks, and a diving beetle. Most important, the kids started to work off the cabin fever that’s been building for the past few months. I hope the weather holds for a while.

And Now For Something Completely Different: Insomnia.

I have never had any trouble falling asleep. I see television commercials for Lunesta or Ambien, and they don’t make any sense to me at all. I’ve been practicing law for 13 years, and a handful of times I’ve woken up in the middle of the night and stressed out about something, but I can’t remember the last time I got into bed and simply lay there, unable to fall asleep. Normally, the amount of time it takes me to fall asleep is immeasurably short; a “long time” is five minutes. (One exception: I often have trouble falling asleep in hotel rooms, for a variety of reasons that boil down to being uncomfortable. Special case.)

All of this is to underline how unusual it was last night, more than half an hour after Mrs. Unfocused and I turned out the lights, for me to still be wide awake. I wasn’t panicking about anything, or stressed out. I was physically wiped out from chasing Unfocused Girl on her bike and Unfocused Junior on his scooter up and down the block all afternoon, and had nodded off on the sofa before coming up to bed. I had no good explanation for why I couldn’t sleep. We had gone to sleep a little earlier than usual, but not by much, and considering how tired I was, it shouldn’t have been a problem.

Finally, I slipped out of bed and went downstairs. I spent an hour on the novel, which I had ignored all weekend while my father was in town and we were out enjoying the weather. After about 800 words, I went back upstairs, and fell asleep within a couple of minutes. This morning, I’m exhausted, but at least I have something to show for it.

I’m hoping this was a one-time problem, and not the beginning of a serious problem, where I can’t sleep if I don’t write. There are going to be plenty of days when I’m too busy to work on the novel, and I can’t afford to kill a night’s sleep every time that happens. I’d try warm milk, but I’m lactose intolerant. Maybe next time, I’ll just take a Benadryl.

April Weekend, April Blog Chain.

The first weekend with real spring weather, at last! My father flew out for the weekend, and we had a good visit. Yesterday morning, we took the kids out front to ride their bikes on the sidewalk, both still with training wheels. After about 15 minutes, Unfocused Girl pulled up in front of me and asked me to take off her training wheels, because she said they were slowing her down. I could not get the wrenches fast enough. It took a little work, but she made it a few wobbly feet before we had to knock off.

We spent the afternoon at the nearby Park District Nature Center, walking the woods and wetlands. Tomorrow I’ll post some of the pictures Unfocused Girl took. She and Junior had a blast running up and down the trails.

This afternoon, Unfocused Girl was back on the bike. She can now ride the entire length of the block without help (she still needs me to hold the bike steady when she starts, though), but only SOUTHBOUND. Coming back up the block, she goes in bursts of five to ten feet, starting and stopping or falling down. Our block is perfectly flat, so it isn’t a question of incline. It’s very strange, but we’re working on it.

So there it is. Right up at the top of the list of great moments in parenting: when your kid comes to you and asks to have the training wheels taken off her bike.

Junior wants to use her training wheels for some kind of project. We’ll see.

I’ve joined the Absolute Write April Blog Chain. I can’t seem to get onto the Absolute Write website tonight, but it doesn’t look like it’s my turn yet. Here’s the list of participants (I’m third):

Auria Cortes

Polenth’s Quill

Unfocused Me

Spittin’ (out words) Like a Llama

Food History

Life In Scribbletown

For The First Time

Polyamory From the Inside Out

Livininsanity

Spynotes

A Wayward Journey

Virtual Wordsmith

I’m supposed to be preparing materials for a short speech I’m giving next week for work, so I should probably go back to that. After all, I don’t want to end up like these guys, although there’s really no danger of that, at least not from over-blogging.

I Walk Like a Cowboy…

… because my quads are killing me. I was right — I’m paying for my caffeine-fueled race on Sunday. Damn DOMS.