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Uncle Josh Bids LiveJournal Adieu

Apparently LiveJournal has gone bad. I haven’t read my friends feed over there in a long time, and added nothing to the journal there that wasn’t cross-posted here. So, like many others, it’s time to leave.

Of course, that means a retrospective, which is a good time to catch up with myself, look at the great patterns of my life, and come to the conclusion that I’m pretty much the same person I was when I started on Jan 4, 2006. I left Blogger for LiveJournal. I had several Blogger blogs (I think they still exists, so abandoned they don’t even get porn-spam comments) because Blogger didn’t handle tagging back then, and I wanted to separate the different thought streams. Because I thought it mattered.

2006

I was writing and submitting a lot back then, and discovering new literary loves. I wrote of finding Raymond Chandler that month, the perils of writing for your workshop (short version: don’t), and started my ill-named Story-A-Day project.

Highlight from February: My first vaguepost:

The Email was still there

This was my first fiction sale: $5 for Memory of Flesh in AlienSkinMag.com (it’s not as dirty as it sounds.)

I also replaced my old desk with my current desk. Mmmm… maybe I should buy another desk.

I also read a lot of comments from Jay Lake, whom I still miss.

I also read a strong implication that we went to a talk by Sir Roger Penrose but for the life of me I don’t remember doing that.

Another gem from a first draft:

She sat in her chair and fucked up this story so badly that there’s nothing I can do to fix it.

Hey, it got a giggle out of Jay!

I also took (and publicized) and embarrassingly large number of internet personality quizzes.

Finally, it seems there were a lot of people commenting on that blog who I remember, but could not identify with a real name.

I’ll keep reviewing this cleanup of a decade of my life.

Uncle Josh Bids LiveJournal Adieu was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much

Uncle Josh does the NaNoWriMo thing again

This morning the plan was to get up at 6, make a cup of coffee, and start writing for NaNoWriMo. My body decided that I needed to be up at 5:30, but I wasn’t aware of the time and after failing to fall asleep, got up about ten till six and made my coffee and managed to start writing by 6:08. Not bad.

One hour later I heard Stephanie up and about and so I called it a day and checked my word count: 1,714.

That had to be wrong. I don’t write that fast. Yes, I’m a fast typist but I average 1,000 wph when drafting. I have a new computer. It’s possible the program I’m using (Focus Writer, damn fine tool) wasn’t calculating it correctly. It’s possible something went wrong with the file. I opened it LibreOffice and it confirmed the count.

On the way to work, Stephanie and I went through the mental math to figure it out: I hit “flow”. I found that spot where I could just keep on writing at a steady pace without worry. We figured I was going at about 30 wpm, which is a slow typing speed. It’s maybe 2 to 3 keystrokes per second. If that pace is kept up and consistent, 1,800 words in an hour is feasible. The scary thing is this means if I was really on fire and really knew what I wanted to say I could get 3K in an hour, and that seems ridiculous. It’s the sort of thing that makes me want to do the math all over again.

30 wpm @ 5 cpw  = 150 kpm = 2.5 kps. (@ 6 cpw = 180 kpm = 3 kps.)

30 wpm × 60 m = 1,800 words.

Shockingly, this works.

I am taking a different tactic this year. Usually I start at the beginning  and crap out mid-way through. After extensive work with Mark Teppo’s Planning, Plotting, and Progress I have a pretty good idea of the pace of the novella and where things need to happen. This year I decided to start right after the midway point where the standard plot crisis occurs. I don’t plan on writing this thing in order, which should help solve my perennial problem of not knowing what happens next.

So, with a sample size of one day, I’m going to look forward to NaNoWriMo this year and I think I’ll have a successful year.

Uncle Josh does the NaNoWriMo thing again was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much

Uncle Josh is Half the Man He Used to Be

Well, not literally, but I am a writer and allowed to bump the baseline, as the song goes. But I am feeling smaller, and I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that.

This is the end of Day 13 of our Whole30 and on top of getting sick and tired thinking about and working for our food. It seems like all our free time is going into food prep and cleanup. I carve out enough time to work out three times a week, and I feel like I’m  losing ground.

I started serious strength training on June 20, 2013. I did my first set of squats (5×5) at 25 lbs. On September 16, 2013 my squat was 215 lbs. It maxed out at 290 lbs that November and had read Starting Strength on the recommendation of a chiropractor, so I only needed to do three sets of five, but I did them. I tried to go higher but my standard bar was full and the plates popped off once and there was another dangerous incident where I bottomed out and could not get out of the squat and had to roll the bar over my neck to escape.

Strength training has come and gone, but I am back at it and did a 215 lb squat today, almost three years after I first hit that milestone. My squats are okay, but my press is deteriorating and my deadlift is crawling up and getting dangerous. I need some serious checks on my form and perhaps some special instructions to avoid the–ahem–soprano maker deadlift.

In all this lifting, in this rebuilding of my strength, I don’t feel strong. I used to feel strong. Maybe what I felt all that time was muscle soreness and constant inflammation and that’s the sort of thing the Whole30 is supposed to be fixing in my system. No inflammation, or at least heavily reduced, leads to faster recoveries. Gains in the gym are included in the Whole30 success stories. Perhaps the diet and heavy protien is helping. Although I haven’t counted protien in a while. I counted the first couple of days and didn’t get enough according to the strength training advice for building muscle.

Considering I’m hungry a good portion of the day, perhaps this is the case.

Besides feeling smaller and not feeling my strength, my mood swings have stabilized but my energy level seems to putter around 75%. I just don’t have the oomph to get started on anything. This is mental as well as physical. I tried getting up early to write and so far I have done that three times this month.

According to the Whole30 timeline, this is normal. I should be getting my energy back next week. I miss it. I miss feeling strong. Granted, my strength is there when I need it. I felt it when I put Stephanie’s spinning wheel in the car. I felt it when moving a television table to the garage. Sitting at my computer, I don’t feel it, and I used to.

Uncle Josh is Half the Man He Used to Be was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much

Uncle Josh breaks a mayonnaise

This is day 6 of our #Whole30 and it was a tough one. I was tired all day no matter how much coffee I drank. I ate everything I had taken to work and was hungry by the end of the work day. Tonight was also a lifting night, and I was afraid of what the iron would do to me.

I had to run and errand during the day and I turned a corner to see the sign of a sub shop and my first thought was “she’ll never know.” I was tempted. Hungry. Worried. And there was the promise of forbidden foods that would make me oh-so-very happy. I even persisted in the illusion that I could hide it. No, that’s not bread and onions on my breath, not at all. Gee, hon, I don’t know how that sub shop charge landed on our bank account. 

I was, in short, thinking like a heel.

The sub shop was closed anyway. A Mexican joint is under construction in that place. 

So I came home and had some almonds and raisins and went to the bar. Whole30 leads to some strange snack options. I gained my scheduled ten pounds on my squat, and did worse on the overhead press than last time. This has me worried. Then again, I looked at some Starting Strength workout logs and people with twice my squat are doing about the same in the overhead press. So maybe I’m okay there and should work to maintain a weight while everything else returns.

Our dinner plans were foiled by a lemon. This was the result of a series of discoveries that rivaled a Douglas Adams text adventure. After dinnet I went to the store to get the lemon so we could make a mayonnaise so we could make a ranch dressing so we could make something resembling one of our favorite fallback recipes: chicken ranch wraps. Of course, being on the whole30, it was to be unwrapped ranch chicken wraps.

And so I made a mayonnaise. We’ve made two batches already and I tried for the third. We don’t have a food processor, only an immersion blender. The first batch we tried mixing in a mason jar. it was okay but the shape or the jar fought the emulsion. Then we tried the plastic mixing cup for the blender. It was okey at first but fought us net the end. The emulsion was so thick we had a heck of a time getting the last quarter cup of oil integrated. (But it tasted great. We used half of it to make the ranch dressing and I fell in love with a food all over again.) The next experiment was to use a small mixing bowl, but this didn’t work as well as we’d hoped. The oil flies to the edges and the mass of mayo doesn’t come together. I finished it, but I don’t think it will hold up.

Now I am tired, and I’m going to bed.

Uncle Josh breaks a mayonnaise was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much

Uncle Josh Dreams of Food (Whole30 Day 2)

Yesterday, according to Weight Watchers, I only ate about 63% of my daily allotment of SmartPoints™. I was satisfied with breakfast, but fell into hunger mid-morning and mid-afternoon. I ate raisins as a pre-lift snack and because it was cool I managed a pretty good workout between WW and dinner. Dinner was wonderful, and there was a hint of peckishness as I fell asleep.

I was not prepared for the dream.

It was a common scene: I was in a parking lot outside a grocery store moving soda waters and chips from the cart to my car. I opened a bag. I ate a chip.

And then I had this horrible feeling that I had done something horribly wrong and betrayed everything that is good and wholesome in the world and had cheated on my wife.

I was not prepared for the dream.

I tried to hide my sin. I tried to return the chips for a full refund (except the bag I opened because it’s not the store’s fault I opened it), and at some point I woke up.

I was not prepared.

Tonight I sleep ready.

Uncle Josh Dreams of Food (Whole30 Day 2) was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much

Uncle Josh Eats Lunch (Whole30 Day 1)

Today is day one. Last night we prepped breakfast, a potato-sausage-egg casserole with onions and mushrooms and–this is amazing in context–lemon. It lasted most of the morning until about 11.

Lunch is a mason-jar salad full of veggies and a can of tuna, plus an egg.

I don’t plan on reporting on every little thing I eat. In fact, I’m not supposed to be eating all the “little things” and restrict myself to three meals a day.

The challenge is I’ve been on an eat-every-two-hours thing for years. I have to adjust to not eating “all the time” which my co-workers may come to appreciate. (I’m sure they’d appreciate it if I didn’t eat lunch at my desk, but that’s modern work for ya!)

For years I have equated “Tired” with “Depressed” and struggled to break that mental connection. I also have equated “Hungry” with “Angry” and “Peckish” with “Tired” which links back to “Depression”. I think this is why I ate every two hours. So I am fighting this mental rut today.

On the writing side, I managed to wake up and get in a morning writing session with the SAD light. I had good energy through most of the morning, until I slipped into Peckish.

It’s a long road in September, but I am still confident we can pull this off.

Uncle Josh Eats Lunch (Whole30 Day 1) was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much

Uncle Josh Preambles the Whole30

Like many Americans, I have an unhealthy relationship with food. As a teenager a large supreme pizza from Shakey’s was a snack. A two-liter bottle of Coca-Cola was a thing I picked up from the 7-11 and finished by the end of trip. My memories of vegetables requiee a can opener. 

I was never one for self esteem, figuring it was a quality for other people to enjoy. I was married and divorced by the time I was 22 and I turned up a snotty vegetarian tipping the scale at 300 pounds. Giving up on vegetarianism got me to 320, easy. By the time I was 29, I had married the most fabulous woman in the world who loves me despite myself. I lost my job two months before he wedding and fell back into depression and back into food.

Being broke, newly married, and living in a dump did little to pick me up. We ate Hamburger Helper four of five times a week. Food was the frenemy.

So I put my foot down and insisted that we stop with HH, and we started cooking and lost a little weight and felt better. I tried strength training and made some progress. My back went out at regular intervals and things fell apart.

In 2013 we got serious about getting strong. A chiropractor turned my attention to Mark Rippetoe and his Starting Strength program. Our training went better. My food problems did not go away and I finally joined my wife and Mother-in-law at Weight Watchers. I lost 27 lbs then gained them right back with the new program last December.

I tell people that strength training starts in three phases: in the first week you feel like you’ve been  hit by a brick wall. In the second week you feel like a brick wall. In the third week  you go through the brick wall.

As I read testimonails and Whole30 stories I hear the same sort of thing. Disrupting your diet can cause mood swings. Sometime this weekend we are supposed to face the dreaded KILL ALL THE THINGS day. This is not supposed to be easy in the beginning. Fortunately, we’ve already done one of these things. We’ve gone through Starting Strength. We’ve hit walls and pushed through them. 

We’ve also ramped up to it. We made the decision to start back in early August. Stephanie was working sixteen-hour days and I had lost my early morning writing time and we needed to do something. So we decided on September First. Life is pretty much normal in September. We are only working one job each now. We have the time and energy to devote to this project.

The ramp up period has allowed us to transition into mostly Whole30 meals. We have put together our own vinaigrettes and mayonnaise. We have packed salads into mason jars for lunch. We have reduced our suger intake quite a bit so when we start tomorrrow it won’t be (hopefully) that much of a shock to our systems.

We will explore new foods. We will give up rice and pasta and bread and cheese for a month. I won’t take communion. I will also forgo birthday cake. It will be hard, but we’ve done hard things before. 

Uncle Josh Preambles the Whole30 was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much