Category Archives: for the heck of it

Ten Things I’ve Done

Still working on the site updates; thanks for being patient with me, everyone!

Scalzi's doing a thing I thought I might jump in on (and you totally should too, if you want!) — Ten Things I've Done That You (Probably) Haven't.  This was a fun list to write!

1.  Almost died one random day from a sudden rupture in my guts.  Happened completely out of nowhere; I was 23.  I barely made it to the hospital in time, and had emergency surgery that left me with 250+ stitches in my stomach and a few less organs.  (Note to self:  Never ask the Universe to better help you understand "memento mori", amiright? ;)

2.  Shot a fish on breath-hold under fifty feet of water (and took it home and ate it)

3.  Free-solo'd a thousand-foot cliff face to see the Anasazi ruins at the top (Note: this was stupid, my first adventure climbing, and I don't recommend free-soloing to anyone!  I climb with ropes now that I know what I'm doing.)

4.  Lived on the Uberman schedule for six months?  I mean, I had to put that, right?  ;)

5.  Spent 22 hours in labor…not really recommending that one, heh

6.  Road-tripped almost the entire length of Route 66 (which bisects the U.S. longways) on a motorcycle

7.  Studied under a Shaolin monk

8.  Had my tongue pierced

9.  Urban-explored my way from the sub-basement all the way to the very top (not just the fourteenth floor or the roof, but the top of the ladder on the smokestack on the roof) of the famous abandoned train station in Detroit

10.  Presented a paper to an audience of PhDs when I was an undergrad (and I should add that irrespective of everything else on this list, I still get heart palpitations when I remember this one!!)


Okay, seriously, that was super fun.  We all know Scalzi's a genius, so I guess it doesn't bear repeating; but do make up your own list, whether you post it there, here, on your own page, or nowhere!

Gluten-Free Summer Fun

I looooooove summertime, and it's finally here!  Today I wandered past my mirror, au naturel, and realized how very I-love-summer-y I looked, so I snapped a photo.  

After snapping it, I realized that it wasn't just stomach-muscles (well, some) and ridiculously comfy clothes, but that in fact the backdrop is entirely made of martial-arts weaponry and tools.  Accidental though that is, it officially made this tribute to summer too good to not post.  ;)


I also grabbed this pic for similar reasons to the last one, when I was making a dietary change and wanted a baseline to track any changes — though in this case, it's a bit different.  Multiple symptoms that can't be easily explained have plagued me lately, and my experiments with reducing certain foods has made me pretty certain that the cause of at least some of them (and more likely all of them, only some stop and start more quickly after exposure) is an allergy to wheat-gluten.  Furthermore, as seems to be the case with such things, the more I waffled (pretty good dual use of that term, I think!) and allowed myself a scone here, a sandwich there, the worse the symptoms got.  The other day I realized that I'm just going to have to admit that "bread and sugar isn't good for you" is more than a generality in my case, and go really Gluten Free For Serious, as the health consequences to doing otherwise are simply too dire to mess with.

By the way, one thing that really motivated me was the worsening of the symptoms and the knowledge that the sensitivity can ramp up and get nastier the more it's poked — and beer.  I love beer, especially since I've discovered craft beer, and beer is not entirely gluten-free.  It does have barely trace amounts of it compared to bread-related things (about 15ppm compared to 200,000, if my reading is generally accurate) — so you see where I'm going.  If I quit the bread and stuff now, hopefully my sensitivity doesn't get so serious that I can't drink beer.

Ah, motivation, you wear some funny clothes sometimes.  Then again, given the picture above, I suppose I can't talk.  ;)

Anyway, I've cleaned out my fridge and re-done the shopping, and stuffed everything with fresh produce, because the fillingness of raw veggies and the sweetness of fruit seems to be the only good substitute for the psychological lack of my favorite foods.  …And I'm sure that sounds healthy and everything, but it's risky too:  I do a lot of pretty calorie-intensive things, and I don't have a big appetite, and since I rarely cook I don't eat much meat.  I've got a pretty healthy level of body-fat now, and while losing a little of it wouldn't hurt me, I'm definitely not built to function with too little reserves.  Plus, I hate the feeling of being calorie-shy; if I get under by more than 500 calories on a given day, I feel like I've been squished by a steam-roller!  

So yeah, I bet I'll be thanking goodness for trail mix before too long!

But who cares, really?  It's summer!  


If things are random but all good, is it still random?

(A:  Nothing is truly random.  ;)

Devoting a post to the ton of small wonderful things I've run across this week!

  • MyFitnessPal:  I've been looking for a simple app/site to help me track basic calories-in-calories-out forEVER, it seems — and this one finally has everything I need!  Simple interface, comprehensive database of food and exercises, and it's free.  I've found that I do SO much better with an app like this around — without it, I'm liable to either overindulge in high-calorie food because I have no concept of what I've burned off in exercise today; or for the same reason, fall several hundred calories short of anything reasonable and feel like crap.  Tracking takes maybe a total of ten minutes a day, and it keeps me in healthy limits with hardly any other trying at all.  I've really missed it since DailyBurn began to suck, so finding this one is a huge win!
  •  A simple site just for remote-friendly computer jobs?  YES PLEASE!  I wish it were bigger, but hey, at least someone thought of it finally.
  • Twitter Bootstrap:  I've come to love HTML5 anyway, but as someone who's *not a designer* and often called-upon to "just throw up a simple page for…", Twitter Bootstrap has totally saved my bacon.  I can make a clean, simple, and VERY professional-looking site in almost no time, now…it doesn't free me from hiring a designer when one's needed (and why would I want to? the designers I know are pretty awesome), but it is a big improvement for those of us lower on the web-development food-chain who still have to do it sometimes.  (If moving this site wouldn't be such a pain, I'd be considering it — but I have enough to do, heh.)
  • The Magic Work Cycle:  I mentioned this briefly before, but hoooooly wow is it awesome.  It's like sticking a firehose into your flagging motivation's tender bits, pulling out a starter pistol, and gesturing meaningfully.  I was having trouble getting "real work" done, what with so much of it and *also* so much else going on, but thanks to this thing (and the helpful website-companion here), I'm getting *crazy* amounts of stuff done, and not feeling overworked at all.  It's very, very simple:  You work 30 minutes, then you play 30 minutes.  Play is anything you wait it to be that isn't work.  The built-in deadlines and context-switching keep you focused, motivated and from getting stuck.  Simple and brilliant = WIN WIN WIN.
  • The song "Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield:  This is an old song and you've probably heard it — I hadn't, because for decades I couldn't bear music that wasn't in some way angry, and this is the pick-me-up song of the century.  It's goofy and it doesn't care, just like that friend you (hopefully) have who makes everyone feel great and doesn't care if that's not hardcore or "cool".  It's all over YouTube, it breaks the usual popular music laws by having competent and meaningful lyrics, and if you need a smile or a boost, I highly recommend it!

OK, playtime is almost up (seriously, magic work cycle FTW), so I'm outie — OH, but one last thing; I saw a proof of the new cover of the Second Edition!  Hopefully I can post it here soon, but for now I'll just say o.O!

Light’s suffering and joy

Wolfgang Goethe once said, "Colours are light's suffering and joy."

Running across this quote made me so happy — and happy's been hard today; just adjustment in circumstances I suspect — because it shows such a brilliant perspective ability, and one that transcends science without disagreeing with it.  It's unlikely that Goethe, who died in the early 1800's, knew about photons; but he understood how like us they are.

We see light and color and we say flippantly, "Ah, that's photons bouncing off things — you know, each other; everything.  How they bounce, and how we perceive the result is why we see color."

And then we say, thinking that it's a separate issue, "My, colors certainly evoke some strong emotional, instinctual and intellectual responses in us, don't they?"  

I read Goethe's quote and I think, "It's not an inconceivable point of view from which people are the sizes of photons.  What would the results of our bouncing around, off each other and everything, look like from there?  We hit each other and we make suffering, we bounce off a place or an object and we make joy; if we had to give a name to what a being that's the same relative size to us as we are to a photon would perceive when they watched what they could see of our suffering and our joy, what would we call it?

What else but color?

(Fun related thoughts:  "Gods" perceive human goings-on as color paintings, just as we perceive photon goings-on.  Maybe they can only understand our emotions that well, too — being big doesn't necessarily give you the ability to see with granularity at a tiny scale.  (How good is God's microscope?)  Maybe we are the gods of photons.  Suffering and Joy should be color names, as should other emotions.  Oddly, I bet people could generally agree on Joy, but I bet Suffering would be a battle to decide.  Buddha would like that everyone's Joy is similar — they are experiencing or expressing Oneness — but that each person's Suffering is different, since it's based on any of a zillion possible psychological illusions, and not a reality.)

NGrammatical Fun

Oooo, if you haven't messed with Google Ngram, you shooooould!  Instant pretty graphs of the occurrence of any words and phrases in tons of books over time?  YES PLEASE!

Here, for example, you can see that the phrase "in the beginning" was used a lot in 1800 and has been in steady decline ever since, while "in the end" has been on the rise during the same time-period; and the phrase "in the middle" has remained steady and qualitatively in-between the other two.  

Have you ever seen anything so squee-worthy??  I'm not sure I have.  I may need to sit down a minute, actually.  Whoo…

(YES, okay, I heard about the Ngram corpus lookup feature of Google Books and immediately headed over and devised a goofy philosophically-meta search for it.  Because that is me, and data that speaks to me gets me hot.)

Who’s your zombie apocalypse dream team?

Just a fun question that occurred to me today:  Out of all the people you know, which handful would you most rather be stranded with if the real, apocalyptic shit were to hit the fan?

(Not necessarily zombies — the idea isn't to pick for a specific skillset, but rather the people you know who you'd most trust in a full-scale redonkemergency.  And perhaps, if the people closest to you or around you most often are not among them, to ask yourself wherefore.)