Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

NaNoWriMo and Effort over Talent

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

I spent November writing a novel. Not a good novel, mind you, but I sat and pounded out fifty thousand words over thirty days. The experience has been somewhat transformative for me. In the same month, I climbed my first 5.12a (considered by some to be the point when you can really be called a “climber”) and ran my first 10k (I think a new personal distance record). I received a ton of support from various people and it all makes me feel a bit less cynical about what’s achievable if you just keep putting in an effort.

I feel a bit more like diving into things that I might have avoided previously. It’s important for me to keep this momentum, rather than thinking “I’ll just take a month to relax after all that writing, then try something else.” To get this off on the right foot, I’m going to do a bouldering competition (this particular move is partially inspired by Adventuregrrl’s recent blog post). Next Saturday my local gym is hosting a Dark Horse Series comp, so I’ll sign up for that. I’m not sure what division I’d be in – maybe “recreational” – but it doesn’t matter, I’ll just try to climb, and it’ll help me fight my performance anxiety as well.

I’m going to link to the draft of my novel, but not before adding a disclaimer: This is a first draft. It’s an unfinished first draft. There are plot holes, discontinuities, poorly developed characters, loose ends, and premises that don’t hold up to scrutiny. I consider it rather embarrassing, but part of doing something is not burying it afterward. I plan to continue working on it, but other than maybe taking part in NaNoEdMo, I don’t have any real schedule.

I’ve put this off long enough, so … here’s Counting the Countless. I came up with the title on October 30, and ran from there.

[Update: In response to (completely valid) criticism, I’ve changed the font to Georgia.]

Riding to Cure MS

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

In a few weeks (Oct. 5), I will once again be riding in the MS Bike Tour in New York. I\’ll be riding 60 miles through Manhattan with Diana, my dad, and my brothers. The goal is for 5,000 riders to raise $3 million (that\’s an average of $600 per rider) to fund research and services to treat people who have MS. Please help us reach this goal by donating at my page. Visit The National MS Society to find out more.

Thanks for your support.

Riding for a Cure

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

This Sunday (Oct 14), I\’m going to be riding in the MS Bike Tour through New York. If you know someone with multiple sclerosis, you know what a horrible process it can be. The symptoms are random and often each is seriously debilitating on its own. There are also “good days”, when all the symptoms seem to go away, and the victim is given a brief reminder of what they\’ve lost.

Please help make a difference by donating to support research toward treatment and a cure.

Remote Book Storage

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

Thanks to Casey, I\’ve rediscovered the library. While it would be great to have a Netflix-like hold system, I\’m already pretty happy with how far libraries have come since I was in elementary school (the last time I really used them). There\’s a library two blocks away from me. I can request any book available in most of the Boston suburbs online, and it will be sent to the library that is just a minute away from my house. It operates about as quickly as Amazon\’s Prime shipping (as long as you don\’t care exactly which book shows up), and you don\’t need to find space for more stuff in your house. I\’m also a member of the Boston library, in case I need anything that the Minuteman Network can\’t provide.

Libraries are particularly good for read-once books, like fiction. So I should be able to get rid of most of my fiction books no problem, right? I think they can be broken down into a few categories. I have books that

  1. are valuable in-and-of themselves (first editions, etc.),
  2. I actually refer back to often enough that it\’s worth having a copy on-hand,
  3. are involved enough to require study and commitment over longer-than-library-loan periods (like Finnegan\’s Wake)
  4. I keep around for nostalgia,
  5. I keep as a record of what I\’ve read, and
  6. I keep as a list of things to read.

The first three groups are small and justifiable. The fourth and fifth can be replaced by some sort of \”what I\’ve read\” list, like those available on Facebook or any number of other places. The sixth is just me looking for stuff to buy on Amazon, I guess. Things I\’m interested enough in to queue up on a shelf.

I think the sixth group is actually detrimental. There\’s no urgency in having to read them. They\’ll always be on that shelf, and I can postpone them indefinitely. I think the three-week deadline of library books will keep me from postponing them as well as help me avoid the paradox of choice. It\’ll be weird getting rid of books I haven\’t read yet, but I think it\’ll be the biggest help to make me actually read more.

Getting rid of books

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

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I have way too many books. This picture is about half what I had before I moved. I managed to get rid of a bunch. However, that was more of an emergency culling. Now I have to go through the tough process of parting with books I actually care about. Being a GTDer, I broke it down a bit. I have to ?

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Boston Rocks

Saturday, July 7th, 2007

The longer I wait between posts, the harder it gets to post, so here\’s an easy one to break the silence.

I\’m in Boston and loving it. The weather\’s a bit hot, but my new apartment is amazing as is the fact that I\’m in the same town as my girlfriend again.

I\’ve been climbing a lot again (after taking a while off while dealing with moving, etc.). The gym here isn\’t bad, but ? despite the rave reviews ? it\’s a distant third (at least) on my list. Number two is the Seattle Vertical World, where I\’ve been a member for the past six months. Vertical World was for a long time the gym I rated all others by. It has incredible route density and variety. The routes are also fairly consistently graded. Recently I spent a day at Planet Granite in Sunnvale, California. That gym re-set the standard. They have indoor routes up to 85\’ and four or five different indoor cracks. They also have great outdoor bouldering and climbing. The routes aren\’t nearly as dense as they are at Vertical World (which is a shortcoming I\’ve noticed at every gym), but there are so many ropes you don\’t notice very often.

Anyway, the gym here … It\’s MetroRock. I have a lot of fun there, but the routes are rated all over the place. Some of the 5.8 routes are as hard as some of the 5.10a routes. There are plenty of 5.9+ routes that are easier than 5.8s, but if you kind of average out the mis-ratings, it seems like the routes are two levels harder than they are rated. This makes a bunch of the training exercises much harder than they should be. When I\’m doing a traverse or other aerobic stuff, I should end up tired ? not wishing my fingers could crimp just a few more times. And what\’s with \”5.9+\”? Is the current rating scheme not fine-grained enough? I mean, I could see adding in-betweens if your consistency was through the roof, but when you can\’t tell the difference between a 5.8 and a 5.10a? Not a chance. And there are other more confusing ratings, like \”5.10-\” and \”5.10+\”. Do those map to \”easier than 5.10a\” and \”harder than 5.10d\”, respectively? Or is a \”-\” like \”5.10a/b\” and a \”+\” like \”5.10c/d\”? Why make up ratings?

Of course, this ranting doesn\’t change the fact that I like the gym. I had a fun time with a couple of more experienced boulderers helping me through a V2 when I was there yesterday. It\’s just that I\’m used to climbing in what is apparently one of the premier gyms in at least the US, and it\’s a bit frustrating to move to one that is merely great.

In a couple months I\’ll probably be taking a trip up to the family get-away in Maine. It\’s not far from the Mt Washington Valley in New Hampshire, so I\’m preparing myself to conquer Cathedral Ledge. Taking into account the variances in rating here, I\’m working on red pointing the 5.10a routes. In Seattle I was on-sighting many of the 5.10a and red pointing the 5.10b. Hopefully I\’ll pull myself up one 5.10c here before September hits.

Ok, that was a big brain dump. I need to do more of those. Sorry for the extended silence. I\’m sure most of you had no interest in my climbing progression. Maybe the next one will interest more people. Although, if you\’re not interested in the climbing stuff, my guess is you just haven\’t tried it. Look up a local gym and drag a couple friends along. In fact, if I\’m coming through your area ever, make sure to drag me along.

Getting Over the Hump

Sunday, November 5th, 2006

I\’ve got a bit of blogger block going on. I mean, it\’s not like I\’m particularly good at it in the first place, but it\’s been two months since my last post. I have over a dozen posts sitting in the half-done state and am having trouble finishing any of them. So I figure I\’ll just throw out something random and hope it can get me over the hump a bit. So bear with me, and hopefully something good will come out of this.

I\’ve recently started getting back on track with my organization. The amazing part was that although I\’ve been lax with it the past few months, the initial setup I did helped to keep things from devolving too much. I still managed to pay bills, etc., and some areas actually continued to get more organized despite me no longer paying attention to it. The success of using GTD has been surprising. Now, about 5 months in, I figure it\’s time to get back to the maintenance. The nice thing is that the framework is already in place. It\’s not like \”starting over\” or \”trying again\”, but \”picking up where I left off\” and it\’s quite invigorating.

I also just found out (yes, after I wrote those first two paragraphs) that it\’s NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). While I\’ve already failed to meed the requirements, I can at least make a gesture by trying to get a post or two out this month.

Creative Inertia

Saturday, August 13th, 2005

I have a lot of ideas. I like to think that they\’re Good Ideas. Not necessarily all of them, but I can think of one or two that — with a little effort — would allow me to retire in a year. Retire with money, plenty of money. So, the question is: why have I not acted on any of them?

Is it a fear of failure? I don\’t think so. I\’m pretty content to fail at things. I don\’t mind failure as long as its result is obscurity rather than infamy. Failing by running a large corporation into the ground would bother me. Failure by not getting anyone interested in my super-cool invention would not.

I think the real reason is more about how I\’ve never had to work at anything. I\’m moderately successful — a more-than-competent employee in a job I really enjoy. My life has no hardship in it, nothing to overcome. \”Failing\” at college, \”failing\” at being a professional musician; these things haven\’t bothered me. With close to zero effort on my part, I make a salary that is well above the 90th percentile.

So, I can\’t complain. I do better than most. But I know this is only a fraction of my potential. I know this because my head flows with ideas, and I put no effort into them. Even if they all fail completely, they won\’t degrade my current situation. They can only improve things for me.

I have a severe lack of focus. I need to deal with that somehow. Part of the problem, as I mentioned above, is that I haven\’t needed focus to get where I am. Another part is that I have so many ideas, that picking one to focus on is extremely difficult. Also, maybe I have ADHD or some crap — who knows?

I definitely have a bit of a prioritized list, but the things with the biggest potential payoff also have a higher barrier to completion (surprise, surprise). And when I do work on something, I end up stopping somewhere around the 90% point … the \”proof-of-concept\” is done, and it never gets to where it\’s generally usable.

Anyway, this is just rambling. Trying to figure out how to improve my focus, and actually follow through with some of these ideas. You\’ll know if I manage to….

Enneagram & Jung Again

Friday, May 6th, 2005

Periodic retest of my personality (once again, I got an A+) to see if I seem to be moving in any direction. I should make a graph of this over time or something. Too bad I don\’t have any results recorded prior to last August. Here are my current results:

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Old Friends and LiveJournal

Tuesday, October 5th, 2004

I promised that I would do this a while ago, and I have been remiss.

An ex-girlfriend (and still friend) posted on her LiveJournal, offering to tell anyone who responded what she really thought of them. Of course, I couldn\’t resist, and I put myself on the firing line.

And so, reciprocation was required …

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What\’s Going On?

Saturday, September 25th, 2004

I thought I\’d do a quick recap of the past few weeks here. I haven\’t posted much and there are some big changes in my life, so I figure an explanation is due.

Two weeks ago was a big party. Big. With a laser light show. In a planetarium. It rocked. Hardcore. And then continued to rock until sometime on Sunday afternoon.

When I finally recovered from that, I got on a plane back to Philly (the ol\’ hometown). My first girlfriend (and consistently good friend) was getting married. While I was there, I took time to catch up with friends and family (with whom I only get to spend about two weeks each year). It was a blast, the wedding was great, and it was the perfect length of time for me to be excited about my next visit.

Here\’s the really exciting part, though …

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Marduk, Son of Ea, Slayer of Tiamat, Kitten

Wednesday, August 18th, 2004

So, the kitten\’s name is Marduk. It\’s all decided.

I\’ve made a photo album of him in my gallery. The pictures are taken with my Nokia 3620 phone and I\’m also not a particularly good photographer. I should have my friend Jeremy come over and take better pictures.

Update: just added new pics.

Slightly Better than Astrology

Wednesday, August 18th, 2004

Since I put the personality test bug in Jonnay\’s brain, I figured I should post my own results as well:

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Kittened!

Saturday, August 14th, 2004

I apparently have a new kitten as of today. Found this guy out wandering the street earlier tonight. Skinny, a few fleas, thinks kitty litter is food …

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QotD: Weird Hobbies

Thursday, August 12th, 2004

Erik asks \”What is one of your more unusual hobbies?\”

I seem to continuously pick up and drop weird hobbies. Maybe that\’s my hobby — a meta-hobby.

I\’ve been through almost any musical instrument you can name, including the super-cool ones like accordion, mandolin and bagpipes. Playing go, studying typography, and building wearable computers are all on the list as well. Recently, I\’ve been doing taiko and breakdancing. They are at least uncommon, if not weird.

Collecting is anathema to me, so I don\’t have piles of golf balls or snowglobes or anything like that. Really, throwing stuff out might be a hobby of mine. I\’m the anti-collector.

Practice Makes Perfect

Thursday, August 12th, 2004

Another benefit of this blog thing is that it exercises my writing chops. Technically, I write well. However, I find that I frequently don\’t communicate well in my writing. It\’s frustrating, because I often agonize over it to the point where it prevents me from writing anything.

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Formal Education: Less Evil than Previously Imagined

Thursday, August 12th, 2004

The education bug has bitten me lately, I think. I mean, I\’ve always been for learning, but any formal education has been a serious turn-off. My parents stressed over it so much when I was a kid — they\’d explain how I needed good grades, and I\’d explain how I felt that understanding the material was much more important than doing my homework. Fundamentally, we agreed, but they were afraid the grades would hinder me in the future. College went pretty much the same way, except my grades got worse, and I eventually dropped out.

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