A Walk in the Park (Duwamish Hill Preserve Edition)

A chaotic bunch of clouds stream across the sky, the sun shining through a large clump of them.

There were some dramatic-ass clouds out today. Thank you, wind!

I’ve been reading a book, Eat Dirt by Dr. Josh Axe, that talks about a lot of things. Mostly it talks about dealing with stomach issues via gut flora management, which is an overly-flowery way of staying “make your stomach stop being fucked up by filling it with bacteria.” I promise it makes sense.

Bare feet on mossy ground.

It also talks about earthing/grounding. Which–why not try it, I guess?

Part of the book deals with stress, and how it affects the gut. I’ve long suspected that my anxiety, stress levels, and habit of putting a lot of pressure on myself has at least something to do with my unpredictable stomach. The book also includes ideas on how to reduce stress, and since I don’t actually want to die at 30 from a stress-induced heart attack, I figure I should give the whole stress-reduction thing a shot. Continue reading

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2017 Progress Report: Mid-March Check-In

PIE CAAAAAAKE

It’s Pi Day! I had cheesecake, because it was the closest thing the coffee shop had. Still, at least it’s delicious.

Time for another progress report check-in. “Where’s February,” you ask? Why, it never got written because a) busy and b) feeling like shit. So now you get the last six weeks or so all wrapped up in one pithy, probably over-long post. I know, you’re so pleased. Honored, even.

Donations to the Cult of Ian can be sent to our usual mailing address, care of the USPS Shadow Brotherhood.

Now, without further ado… Continue reading

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2017 Progress Report: January Wrap-up

It’s the end of January, and that means it’s probably time for another progress report on my personal goals for this year.

Exercise: By the end of the month I’d gotten a good exercise rhythm going. I’m settling in to doing weight lifting three times a week, running (or other cardio, but aiming to make it mostly running) three times a week, and having Sunday or Saturday as a rest day each week. I’m doing Couch to 5k, because I’m a predictable workout plan consumer and because while I’m probably capable of forcing myself to run 5k without stopping, this is a much more pleasant way of ramping back up to it and ensuring I don’t burn out. Plus it’s nice to have a program managing my workout structure for a bit.

C25K also stops jogging from making me feel like this.

I’m still wrestling with body goals. Probably something to talk to the therapist about. But for now my weight’s relatively stable, and I’m looking forward to seeing some changes as I start lifting heavier. Now I just have to figure out how to healthily eat enough protein to ensure I can keep improving.

Reading: I finished up Life Debt by Chuck Wendig. It reminded me that a) I fucking love Star Wars, b) EUs are cool, c) someone please hire me to write for their EU, and d) Wendig spins a damn good yarn. I’m looking forward to the final book in the trilogy, Empire’s End, which is coming out at the end of the month.

I also finished From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, my first audiobook of the year. (Though I found I couldn’t listen to it straight through after being stressed out by politics, so I had to listen to it sparingly and went for a more lightweight audiobook at other times.) It’s a really good deep dive connecting modern movements a la Black Lives Matter to the original Civil Rights movement, without being afraid to critique the modern political system, people who were leaders in the original Civil Rights movement, etc. It also reminded me of the specifics of many of the different, tragic stories of police brutality against Black individuals we’ve heard over the years, which was heartbreaking and powerful. The author pulls zero punches, and the book is mighty for it.

I’m now working my way through The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler in audiobook. I’m also still reading Fafherd and the Grey Mouser as well as Falling in Love With Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson. And on my phone I’m slowly chipping away at The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy by Violet Blue. Continue reading

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Muslim Ban (Immigration Executive Order) Protest

Seattle is fucking awesome.

Don’t worry, that pat on my adopted city’s back does have some justification. In the face of the executive order on Friday that banned, among others, Syrian refugees and individuals from several Muslim countries from entering the United States, Seattle threw together a protest on Sunday night. Just, you know, a small little protest:

I LIED ABOUT IT BEING SMALL, GUYS. (And this photo was taken from the back!)

It was awesome to see everyone out there, protesting yet another unethical, probably-illegal (or should be) thing that the Trump administration was doing. That there were thousands (I think? Finding an official count is difficult) of people out there on such short notice was nothing sort of amazing.

We have to keep resisting like this. Showing up and having our voices be heard.

(And it doesn’t have to be just marches and rallies. If you’re disabled, or can’t handle crowds, or have any other condition that makes marches/rallies a bad fit for you, there’s still a lot you can do. Send letters to, e-mail, or call your representative! Donate to causes! Commit dark sacrifices! Lots of options.)

This was also a protest where I got to be out there with a significant number of friends, which is always a good way to increase one’s endurance for such activities. It’s so good to know you have friends that think along similar lines to you. Also, being around people I know super helps with any crowd anxiety I experience. It was wonderful to have them all there, and I hope we can all keep protesting together in the future.

With that, I’m going to just leave you with some more photos and a short (bad quality due to WP upload limits and camera phone) video. Long live the Resistance against Trump. Stay safe and sane out there, everyone. <3

Seeing this little old lady protesting made me so, so happy.

Right as we left it started turning into a march! (Also, this woman’s sign said something along the lines of “Our Whiteness is Ruining America,” which I thought was awesome.)

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A Story of Poor Impulse Control

There’s a lot of shit going on in the world today. But I’m not here to talk about that. I’m here to give you a simple story of human hubris leading to entirely preventable disaster.

swear this isn’t about Trump.

It’s about me. It’s about what happens when I decide I’m going to do something, gods be damned. Continue reading

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Womxn’s March: Seattle

Hey all.

On Saturday, I marched alongside about 175,000 others to protest Trump and advocate for women’s rights. It was my first march, and quite the experience. While it had all the logistical problems and other annoyances of any large gathering of people, it was absolutely worth it, and I hope it’s read as a strong rebuke to the atmosphere of hate and lies that the Trump administration has been building up, even before he officially took office.

It was a little crowded.

We started out in Judkins Park. There were some speakers, though Jill (my marching buddy!), her friends, and I were stuck far enough back it was hard to hear. I did hear bits and pieces of some of them, with Aneelah Afzali leaving the strongest impression. Continue reading

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2017 Progress Report: Mid-January

Tracking habits *and* showing that not everyone’s bullet journal is beautiful!

My attempts to meet my goals so far this year have met with mixed success, but I think I’m making progress. Yay, progress! And progress or no, checking in every couple weeks to keep myself accountable seems like a good way to ensure I’m actually going to stick with my goals. Here’s my progress, broken down by the goals I listed in that earlier post:

Keeping in touch with folks: I’ve managed to get in touch with at least one old friend who I hadn’t been able to talk to in forever, so that’s been good, and we’re slowly catching up. Bonus: she’s moving to the Seattle area at the end of the year, so I’ll get to see her in person at some point!

Exercise: Exercising has been semi-consistent, and I’m slowly figuring out what routine works for me. (As much as I love running, going running outside when it’s 26 degrees and dark outside isn’t super for me! Thank you youtube for being full of silly free cardio workouts.)  I’ve managed to keep up with tracking food, and have switched over to MyFitnessPal for that part of my data logging. Being able to type in recipes and have it do all the math for what’s in each serving is *so much better* than adding each item individually in Fitbit, and the two sync, to boot!

I’ve been doing a lot of think about how I want my body to be, too, but that’s still mostly a lot of my brain chasing itself in circles. I’m sure I’ll get it figured out someday. At least my waist measurement has been going down consistently, even if my weight is currently staying put. Continue reading

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Looking Forward Towards 2017

I woke up today to snow sparkling in the sun. It was beautiful, and a great way to start the New Year. It’s the kind of quiet day that’s perfect for reflection on what I want to aim for in the new year.

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While this isn’t quite a post of resolutions, I do want to look forward towards the coming year and talk a little bit about the goals I have. This is partially as a document for myself, and to focus my own thinking, but I also think it’s almost always good to share your goals. Maybe you’ll cheer me on, maybe you’ll scoff (and if you do please there is no need to share it), but just knowing my goals are out there and other people are at least vaguely keeping an eye on them can be motivating in its own right. (Or paralyzing through anxiety. I’ll try not to let that one happen.)

1. Exercise More

Exercise is one of those things that makes me feel better both mentally and physically whenever I get a chance to do it, and yet is always easy to let drop when things get too busy. Plus, I’m just not particularly happy with the shape my body is in right now. So exercising more (and more consistently) is a major goal for the year. I’ll be doing weightlifting for sure, and probably some running as well. I just need to figure out a good source of cardio that I can do on the freezing mornings in Seattle where, sometimes, making myself go out and go running is just a bridge too far.

2. Read 50 Books

I hit 50 books this last year and it felt really good, so I’d like to do it again if I can. I’d like it if this year more of them were full-length novels, or if I hit a slightly higher number if a similar percentage of them are going to be graphic novels and small issues of short story magazines.

3. Write Consistently

I let myself get into a real creative backslide this last year. It’s easy to go “oh, but I didn’t write the last five days so what’s one more day?” and my output suffered greatly for it. It affected my happiness, too, because I lost so much creative momentum that it began to feel like I was running out of ideas when in fact I was just drowning in inertia. So this year I want to try to write consistently, even if I don’t write a lot. (Though I’d still like to hit 1,000 words a day.) I even altered how I track words written for this year so I can count things like this blog post, which will encourage me to switch gears more often. Even if I can’t think of any fiction to write, I can try to write an essay or a blog, or work on some game design. Everything counts now, not just fiction, though that’s still where I want to keep my overall focus. Continue reading

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2016 is Over, Thank the Gods

My face when thinking about 2016 as a whole.

I figured I should do a 2016 wrap-up post, closing out a week or so of more blog output than this thing has seen in months. But seriously, I like doing wrap-up posts and reflecting a little on the past year. Forward-looking things, such as potential New Year’s resolutions, will happen tomorrow.

2016 has had a lot of ups and downs. First off, at least it’s over. Some bad shit went down this year. America elected a fascist, the electors didn’t rise up and do the job they were originally intended to do (not that I super-blame them, given how their job has been reduced to a rubber stamp over the years), a bunch of wonderful, wonderful artists died (RIP Carrie Fisher, among many others)… Yeah, a lot of shit. The worst part is that I know I’m missing a ton of it, because so much came in this year that it overloaded my brain’s RAM and processing through the pages on the broken disk that is my long-term memory will take quite some time.

And there’s been some personal bad things, too. I’ve been exhausted a lot. I took on a bit too much this year and only really got through by the skin of my teeth. In some ways, I felt like I did a lot of running in place this year, making little appreciable progress while still ending up panting with effort.

But not all was negative. I moved into a new apartment with my boyfriend, and while sometimes I miss the old place, this new one is about as close to living in the woods as I can get while still being in Seattle proper. I got to spend lots of lovely time with him (sharing a place = lots of nice casual together time), and I’ve been growing as a person as I figure out what it is to truly function as a team. (Including the need to curb some of my impatience that expresses itself as excessive independence.) I met a lot of great new friends, and kept up connections with some old ones. I finished the first year of my MLIS degree, which has been exciting but challenging in ways I didn’t quite expect. I was able to get some additional training at my day job, which opened up new opportunities for me. I slowly started figuring out an exercise plan that I actually enjoy. I even went backpacking for the first time in forever, which is fucking awesome.

But most importantly for me, I created. A lot of my big projects still aren’t done, but even though ti’s been faltering at times, I’ve been writing, and I’ve been drawing. Looking back, making things, even the things I haven’t shared and may never share, is what I’m proudest of this last year. Because it means that I’m still learning and growing, and going to (hopefully!) make even better things in the future.

I realize that’s not a lot of detail on what happened this year, but that’s what years end up being. Blurs with highlights. I’m looking forward towards next year, towards fighting whatever fascism comes our way, towards creating more art, towards more great times with friends, and towards gaining, hopefully, a drop or two more of wisdom.

Happy New Year, everyone.

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My 2016 Reading, Part 5

And here’s the final entry! These are the last ten of the fifty books I read in 2016, including a book I just finished a mere two days ago. As with the past entries in the series, an * denotes an audiobook. Catch up on the previous parts here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh

Allie Brosh is amazing. I’d seen a lot of these comics on her website already, but they’re super fun and well worth a retread. The book format it’s also much friendlier to keeping track of the way the stories are told, and make it easier to keep track of the throughline of the story. Ms. Brosh illustrates with a ton of energy, and the pictures bring a great comedic point to the stories, even those that are already funny. Well worth a read, especially if you haven’t read the comics before.

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

From the author of xkcd comes a collection of the “What If” questions from his site. I really, really love these, especially since a surprising number of them end in the annihilation of the planet. (Don’t mess with light speed baseballs.) I wish more of them weren’t repeats from the site (there are a few new ones), but they’re still super fun even as a re-read. I eagerly await a second book of these.

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink*

Read this book on the recommendation of my therapist when I was talking about dieting. Pretty dry, but it recounts some very interesting experiments they’ve done on how people eat without thinking and what can be done to adjust for it (also without thinking). Well worth a read if you’re into food science/nutrition science stuff, or just want some insight into how (American) humans deal with food.

It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens by danah boyd

No surprise, I read this book for school. But I might have read it anyway. Does a good job discussing how teenagers *actually* use social networks, and doesn’t have the fear monger in tone so common with books about the topic. I’m all for books that talk about teenagers and young adults like they’re actual people instead of walking train accidents. I imagine this could also be useful for anyone who’s writing YA and needs and up to date idea of what “the youth” is doing on social media these days.

Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers by Nick Offerman*

Nick Offerman is a fantastic narrator, and I would listen to him read a phone book, even if he’s a little flat on some of the humorous passages he tries to inject here.  A tour of twenty (or twenty-five?)  of Offerman’s favorite Americans, it’s a surprisingly nuanced “manly” look at famous people in our history. Sure, you’ve got your George Washingtons and your Teddy Roosevelts, but you also have the likes of Yoko Ono, who is spoken about only with praise. A great read for a wide-ranging look at Americans you will then want to go and consume the entire oeuvre of.

Promises, Promises: a romp with plenty of dykes, an ogre, a unicorn, an oracle, a quest, a princess, and true love with a happily ever after by L-J Baker

This book is probably my favorite book of this year, and was definitely the most surprisingly good. It’s a simple romp through a snarky fantasy world that’s very aware of the history of the genre and its own cliches, and pulls every silly joke and reference it can along the way. And at the center is a surprisingly sweet love story. So yeah, go read this and give yourself the gift of a book that is just a plain old good time, no qualifications needed.

Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks

The first book in the Culture series, which had been sitting on my bookshelf for a long time. I hear this is very different in tone from the later books, but I still really enjoyed it, though it did take me a while to get into it. It tells about the culture from the outside perspective of a Changeling operator working for the other wise in a war agasint them. It gives us a fascinating, if hostile, peek into the Culture and how they operate. I’m really looking forward to reading even more in the future, though the book has one hell of a downer ending and is not exactly a quick read, so I’m going to let it digest a bit before I move into the sequel.

 

The Human Division by John Scalzi

It should come as not surprise to me by now that I loved a John Scalzi book. The Human Division takes a diplomatic look at the Old Man’s War universe, as things shake out from the major events at the end of The Last Colony. This was originally constructed as a series of short parts, released over the course of a year or so, and while for some books that would mess with the pacing I think this book is just as strong if not stronger for it. I really liked this angle on Scalzi’s sci-fi universe and really hope there’s another entry in the series soon.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I picked this book up because a) it was on sale, and b) Saladin Ahmed retweed some creepily prescient stuff from it onto his Twitter feed, which piqued my interest post-election. I didn’t realize how absolutely *depressing* it would be, but I’m still glad I read it. It’s a beautiful work, with. amazing worldbuilding and writing to die for. Definitely worth a re-read in the future, as I’m sure there’s a lot of interesting details I missed.

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

This ended up being my final book of the year by dint of being on my phone, making it easier to read at work than Star Wars: Life Debt, which is sitting at something like 25% read on my e-reader. Dumplin’ was a fun, quick read, with a lot of heart and magical drag queens. (Magical drag queens = don’t worry kids, the queers show up to help the hetereo cis main character believe in herself! And then sit off camera pretty much the entire rest of the novel.) Despite my light parenthetical beef with the book, it was very cute and full of good messages about not being ashamed of one’s body and how just knowing you shouldn’t be ashamed on its own doesn’t necessarily help in real life.

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And that’s all for my books of 2016! It was a great year of reading, and I look forward to trying for another 50 books (or maybe more) next year. I’m hoping to read more diverse authors, get around to some big hits that I’ve been meaning to read (like Leviathan Wakes and the 2nd Game of Thrones book), and read more YA to support my goal of becoming a YA librarian.

I should be back soon with a 2016 wrap up post. Maybe even tonight! I expect you all to be waiting with bated breath, refreshing like crazy. 🙂

All covers sourced from Goodreads.

 

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