Longtime readers who might be finding their way back to this blog may wonder what I've been doing the last three months and how I've been passing the time that I otherwise would have spent posting here. So, here's a selected listing of things I did on my blogcation:
:: I took up swimming. Our local Y has a very nice pool, and as the size of my stomach continued to decrease, I figured it was time to avail myself of it. I've always been comfortable swimming, and in fact, one of my great regrets of my misspent youth is that I stubbornly resisted my high school swim team coach's suggestions that I try out for the swim team. I don't know if I'd have been any good, or even made the team, but ye Gods, that's something I should have at least tried, you know? Anyway, my freestyle and my backstroke are excellent, and I can do a passable if not all that impressive breaststroke. I was never able to master the butterfly, unfortunately enough, but really, who needs the butterfly? Anyway, I've added swimming to my roster of cardio-type exercises that I like to do at the Y, so it's not all exercise bike or treadmill, all the time.
(How good a swimmer was I, in my youth? Well, in my prime, if I'd been in a race against Michael Phelps, I would have come in no less than a full pool length behind him! Yay me!!!)
:: On a swimming related note, we finally decided that The Daughter's swimming wasn't really up to snuff, so we got her swim lessons, also at the Y. She's always liked being in the pool, but she's always had a fear of putting her face in the water, to say nothing of actually going underneath the water. At the lessons, the instructors kept trying to get her to consistently put her face in the water, to little avail; she'd dip her face into the water for a total of 1.3 seconds and then whip it out again. Going under entirely? Well, that just wasn't going to happen.
Which is when I suddenly realized that even though I'm generally a decent swimmer, I hadn't gone swimming in so long that my daughter had never seen me swim. I wondered if it was a matter of role-modeling. She would have none of the logic that "Hey sweetie, the kid next to you is two years younger than you and he's actually diving, so can't you see that nothing bad's gonna happen?" That wasn't working. So I wondered if maybe seeing me swimming would goose her along a bit in her nagging fears of the water, and sure enough, that's exactly what happened. By the second time I went with her to the pool at the Y, she was sticking her entire face in the water and actually going under voluntarily if she needed to duck under one of the ropes that separate the lanes.
:: I became King of the Gigabyte when I bought an 8GB flash drive for easy data transfer and a 250GB portable hard drive for complete backups and storage of large files I don't access often enough to warrant keeping on my computer's hard drive. I like gigabytes. Gigabytes are cool. (Of course, in three or four years when it becomes necessary again to upgrade the main computer here at Casa Jaquandor, I imagine we'll be into terrabyte region. Wow.)
:: I cooked ribs on my grill for the first time. I suspect that I actually cheated a bit; we baked them for 45 minutes or so before finishing them off for 15 minutes on the grill, but still. My grilling has always been pretty much restricted to burgers, hot dogs, sausages, and steaks. Doing ribs was exciting. They turned out very nicely; before baking, I rubbed them with a couple of heaping tablespoons of some kind of meat rub spice mixture, and then we wrapped them tightly in foil for the baking process. We had the sauce on the side at the end, which I believe is the "proper" way to do sauce – at least, I've read that in places where barbecue is taken very seriously (like Kansas City or Memphis), grilling the meat with sauce on it just isn't done. Now, I do like the burned sugars in the sauce when it's grilled on the meat, but it's also nice to do things the "right" way once in a while.
:: I bought more books. Yes, it's true. I can't help it. It's an addiction, and it's one I have no intention whatsoever of fighting. The first Saturday of September was the quarterly library book sale, which saw some more key additions (although nothing like the SF haul that took place in June), and there were a few trips to Borders and Barnes&Noble.
:: I've branched out on the magazines I like to read. In addition to my longtime subscriptions to WIRED and Time, I've added subscriptions to The Rambler and Ode. (I actually subscribed to The Rambler a year ago, but I've never mentioned it here until now.) I need to subscribe one of these days to Realms of Fantasy (my favorite genre mag), and I'm becoming a fan of Rosebud, although I'm undecided on subscribing to that one. Also in a period of evaluation is Geek Monthly.
:: I started exploring the Beatles. I'll have more to say about this in the future, but this was generally prompted by watching the movie Across the Universe. I've never been that big a fan of the Beatles, tending to like their songs best when performed by someone else, but tastes do change, and I've been listening to the genuine article for a few months now. Turns out those mop-headed lads from Liverpool had some game. Who knew!
:: I contributed financially to a political candidate for the first time in my life. I'd like to think that my fifteen bucks bought a pizza for an Obama staffer or two somewhere. Yes we can!!
:: I turned 37 years old on September 26. The Wife was out of town, so no family celebration this year, but I did go out to dinner with a couple of very dear friends. And my main gift from The Wife was that she got my bicycle repaired. It needed a lot of work. I used to be quite the biker, but not so much in recent years (with "not so much" meaning, "not at all"). Now my bike will be ready for next spring and summer, when I plan to bike to work at least twice a week. Suck it, gas prices!
:: I started weaning myself off network teevee. I like teevee, but I'd rather watch movies and read and write more, so I didn't adopt a single new series this year, and the plan is, unless some other series or two rises up to catch my attention, I'll continue to follow the series that I follow now until each one heads into Syndication Heaven. Will this work? Who knows? I'll probably get sucked in at some point, I know. But for now, that's the plan.
:: Out of curiosity, I watched the season premiere of ER, which confirmed my abandonment of that show a few years back. On that episode they killed off Dr. Pratt, who may have been the last interesting character left. Morris as leader of the ER? Come on; the guy's got less charisma than Carter had in the early days of Season One. Maybe I'll watch the final episode, but I doubt it. ER has become AfterMASH, without even changing the name of the show.
:: The Daughter took up her first musical instrument: the string bass. This is an exciting development, and I'm sure I'll document this over however long she plays. (I, obviously, hope she plays for years and years.) It's funny that she ended up with the string bass, actually. We suspect that her size had something to do with it: she has always been one of the taller kids in her class, each year, and we suspect that when she walked into the room to meet the music teacher for the first time, the teacher took one look at her and thought, "My new bass player! Yes!!!" The bass is a fine, fine instrument, and I hope she does well. All things being equal I'd rather she'd chosen something smaller, maybe a violin or viola if she had to play a stringed instrument. At least she didn't become a damned woodwind player. What's worse than a flute? Two flutes!
:: In terms of writing, I started a whole bunch of new projects and finished one, although that one is unlikely to ever see the light of day, in terms of publishing or production. It's a screenplay, actually, the first one I've written since my days of writing Star Wars fanfic in that format; it's also the first thing I've ever done that's a roman a clef in a lot of ways, which is why I'm unlikely to let it out into public consumption. (I tend to never base characters in my fiction on people I know, so anyone who knows me and reads my work and tries to figure out if this or that character may be based on them is wasting time. I never consciously do this, although I do borrow specific personality quirks, like expressions people use a lot or a way a woman might flip her hair or something like that.) Now I have another one started up, along with two short stories, a space opera novel, as well as all the projects I had going on before I stopped blogging. That's what I did to fill the time I had originally spent robotically trawling the Interweb, looking for stuff to blog about.
Hmmm. Maybe I'm rethinking the relaunch of my blog...nah, probably not. But I am going to start setting a time limit for myself in sitting in front of the desktop computer. (The laptop is not connected to the Interweb at home except for when I physically disconnect the DSL modem from the desktop computer and plug in the laptop, which I only do when I want to update the virus protections and run Windows Update. And this I usually only do a day or two before I know I'm going someplace that has WiFi, which is only once or twice a month on average.)
:: What else did I do? I dreamed, and I continue to dream. I'm finding that's what the whole thing's about.
And what did I dream of? Oh, many, many things! Some things I'll tell you. Other things, you'll just have to guess.