Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Zero to flopped blog in just over a month. That may be a record.

Calculus: Not even really started.

Cinema: Tampopo was recommended to me by a friend—in a good-humored sarcastic way—because of the way I approach my cooking and ingredients. (I've been accused of being too self-critical and picky, but it's really just perfectionism combined with an apparent inability to leave a food thought unspoken.) Anyway, I absolutely loved it. And I now hate that there's no decent noodle place around here.

Penmanship: Stalled. That said, I am now at least capable of writing legibly, although it does take me some time. The new grip is almost automatic. Sharpie now makes a felt-tip pen that doesn't bleed through normal paper, and that's apparently part of what I've needed all along. I hope they come out with a classy-looking refillable, though, because I really just don't like the disposable form factor. I'm not sure exactly what I need to progress further, but I hope that by the time I've worked through Drawing, I'll be able to do better.

Extracurricular: Stalled. For all the self-hype about what cutting edge technologists Hams are, they're all stuck in about 1996 on the web. We computer geeks can go to Best Buy online or whatever, and they can display side-by-side comparisons of several similar items: This one has this feature but not that and costs this much. Retailers who sell amateur radios online don't list their prices—even in the hard-copy catalogs and Ham Fest booth displays. (The brick-and-mortar stores started disappearing about the time drugstores began to retire their vacuum tube testers.) Ham clubs' and individuals' web sites appear to have never heard of Google, as they all seem to think that an uncommented listing of every such online vendor is useful. I know the ballpark price for my first radio is about $200, and I did manage to find out—by talking to someone on the way into Ham Fest; it sure wasn't available online—that the 2m band is where I should probably start, but I'm kind of turned off by the whole thing at the moment.

Speed Reading: Not started. This one's been on my list off an on for years, and I have the teaching book I intend to use. I just haven't yet.

Drawing: Progressing slowly. Most of my barrier here is the fact that I need quiet, uninterrupted time to "switch to R-mode" until I learn how to do it automatically. Such contemplative time doesn't often happen at work, and it takes actual planning and effort to make it happen at home. I'm not discouraged, however, as I've been trying to pay better attention to what I see rather that what I think I see. A main thesis (is that redundant?) of Drawing is that seeing is the key, and despite all the right-brain left-brain psychobabble, I'm at least convinced of that much.

Music Theory: Stalled.
Spanish: Stalled.
Both harder than I anticipated. That's not really a bad thing; it just means I'm going to have to put more effort into it than I have: Challenge mode rather than absorption mode.

US History. Stalled. I'm just not interested in that book right now. I'll come back eventually.

PE: Who'd've thought this would be my strong suit? I've dropped at least 7 pounds, I've managed to run a 5k(!) on the treadmill and ran just over 2 miles outdoors yesterday. I've even dropped my "contiguous" qualification as obsolete. I've also added the Hundred Push Ups program to my non-running days.

Voluntarism: I've begun early work on putting together a Band Parents Handbook. There are a few out there—link is PDF, but parts are heavily plagiarized in HTML just down the road from me—but not quite what I'm looking for. We get it: Your kid must be on time to practice; now someone please explain why the kids and the props are at this moment heading in two different directions.

Work did interfere with my playtime for a few of days, but that was long enough ago to be an invalid excuse. My original (if somewhat unconscious) intent was thoughtful self-entertainment. When I found myself watching Legend of the Seeker on, solo and sober, I knew I needed something better. I'm not giving up on the more challenging material, but I think an excess of early enthusiasm has tripped me up a little bit.

I'm going to continue with the Drawing, because each exercise really has been enlightening and rewarding. And the PE, of course, at least until after the wedding and reunion this summer. I'll probably start putting some focus on the Music Theory again, now that I have a working keyboard at hand. I'll probably delay the Spanish until I've worked through the music book. (Or maybe I'll get through the Spanish book before doing the music. Dunno.) The others I'll circle back around to as they again interest me.

As for this blog? If there's something interesting to say, I'll say it. Yes, the 5k was "interesting", but I was already two weeks overdue for a post, so this catch-up was kind of a prerequisite. This will still be my journal of progress, but I'm going to follow the pattern of every other lame blog out there and not worry too much about regular updates. I'm guessing that the Atom feed is RSS-compatible. If that's not the case, just let me know if either of you would like an email notification, and I'll be happy to oblige.

Friday, March 6, 2009

2009-03-06, Week Two

Where was work when I wanted it?

Okay, so I need to adjust my approach. Work still comes first, of course. But this stuff is supposed to help me maintain my sanity, not threaten it further, so I hereby resolve to no longer become frustrated when I can't do my schoolwork because of such conflicts. I'll get done what I can when I'm able to do so.

P.E. Tuesday was okay; Thursday was okay. Nothing spectacular, but I'm making progress. My 5K visions are already moving from being able to jog the whole thing to wondering if a 10-minute-mile pace is within my reach. I overate last weekend—being a good cook occasionally has its drawbacks—so my weight is back to about where it was last week. But people are starting to notice, so I'm not fussing. I'm not planning on spending this weekend in the kitchen, so things should be better.

Penmanship. I just suck. I've moved on to other patterns and have finally started looking at the training alphabet. (It's not one I'm supposed to retain; rather, it's designed to teach proper pen strokes.) And it's ugly, too. I'll keep plugging.

Spanish. No progress in the book, but I've had ThalĂ­a playing on my Sansa ghettoPod for most of the week.

Music Theory. I have a keyboard! And batteries! And apparently a completely deaf ear. Even when I narrow down my choices so that I have only Major and minor chords—nothing diminulated or suspendered—and I still can't tell them apart. I haven't given up, but I'm beginning to suspect that my band director friend is right: I may need instruction. But hey, I have a keyboard with batteries and even some staff paper, so I'll just keep chipping away for now.

Drawing. Hooray! I did manage to get my first drawings completed, and yes, they are horrible. The Boy laughed. I can't blame him.

I'll just have to see how next work goes. There's some work to be done, but I don't expect it to last long.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Snow day. Didn't even try. Turned out to be the right call. /sigh

Friday, February 27, 2009

Day Five

What good is it to run your own "school" if you can't play hooky once in a while? Eh. Not a totally wasted day, but I did pretty much decide to chill instead. That said, I obtained my drawing board and mirror, and I think I've accumulated just enough frustration that next week I'm going to be a Drawing maniac.
It's helpful to remember that we don't teach reading and writing to produce only poets and writers, but rather to improve thinking.

Yep. The author called me retarded 'cause I can't draw.

Cinema. On the advice of an Indian friend, I introduced myself to Bollywood by watching Slumdog Millionaire. (That same friend recommended Mamma Mia!, which I've heard elsewhere is terrible, but if I watch through a Bollywood eye, maybe it'll be art.) I kind of like the idea of a lazy day of learning, and watching significant films I would otherwise have missed probably isn't a total waste of time. If I could learn to listen to music without also needing visual distraction, there's probably something in that world, too.

No, I don't feel guilty about it. I've been listening to a History of Rome podcast on the treadmill, so I'm secure in my geekulinity.

Extracurricular. I can now also make the announcement I'd mentioned, since I passed my Technician Class license test this past Saturday: My call sign is KJ4JWS. I am now a licensed amateur radio operator, a.k.a., a "ham". Besides the natural progression in hamdom—the General Class is the next step and allows transmit privileges on even more of the spectrum—there's circuitry and antennas and all sorts of retrogeek cool stuff.

I suspect I'll have something to add, too, because from everything I've seen so far, these guys just don't get the modern Internet. They know a hell of a lot more than I about digital signal processing (DSP) and packets and protocols and all that stuff, but they don't seem to care about the content and what they can do with it. /chuckle. I asked at the meeting if there were someplace I could actually handle a radio before buying it—I mentioned the retro aspect of this hobby, right?—and they assured me that the club's website had all the information I needed. Yep. And about a thousand hits I didn't. Google without the ranking. Thanks. Oh, and every club has a web site just like it.

But Morse Code! Among hams (and perhaps universally across all license types) it's called "CW" (from "Continuous Wave") on the air and "code" as a language. I have wanted to know code since my Hardy Boys days. Now I have an excuse. It's no longer a requirement for much of anything in the way of licensing, but it'd still be cool to be that guy.

Music Theory. I finally remembered to have The Boy drag out his keyboard for me to use. I'll need to pick up a pile of D-cells sometime this weekend.
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