Unplug and Reset

Sea Otter mom with a large pup, Morro Bay Harbor, California

Sea Otter mom with a large pup, Morro Bay Harbor, California


I spent a few days last week in Morro Bay, doing the unplug and reset as a break from the last few weeks where the house remodel has sucked up so much time and mental energy.

My dad was one of those people who felt vacations were a time to go and Do Things and See Things, and so vacations tended to be heavily scheduled and full of museums and places and visits and things and… And I still feel the pull of that early programming, but I’ve become the kind of person who really likes to go some place, sit, relax and just enjoy watching everything move past me, and yet when I start thinking about going some place, the first thing I start doing is figuring out how many stops and places and etc I can stuff into the trip; vacation planning is really about me sucking all but the essential bits back out before committing to the itinerary.

This is one reason I like Morro Bay: it’s close, at about a 3.5 hour drive. it’s got nice food and it’s comfortable and rarely too busy or too crazy, and I don’t feel guilty about doing what I did this trip, which was effectively grab the camera and camp chair, drive out to to the harbor, and sit watching the birds and otters and boats and kayakers and enjoy doing basically nothing but talking to people and taking pictures.

Rest and reset time is underrated. It gave me an opportunity to reflect on where I am and where I’m going and make sure that where I’m putting my time is focussed on the top priority things. One thing I’d realized going into the trip was that I had put a bunch of things on my todo list, but I wasn’t really tracking it all closely so some things kept getting lost in the noise, and I wanted to fix that.

So one thing I did was sit down and build a list of all of the things I’ve committed myself to, and then both prioritize them and give each an estimated time budget I should make sure they get every week:

  • House Projects
  • Yard Projects (1-2 hr/wk)
  • Exercise Program (4x30m/wk)
  • SFBBO Archive project (2-4 hr/wk)
  • SCVAS Social support (0-2hr/wk)
  • Sekrit project (12-18 mo project, 4-8 hr/wk phase 1)
  • Santa Clara Bird Photographer site (2hr/wk)
  • BLOG (6-8 hr/wk)
  • Dungeon delve, the Swift App (???)
  • Lightroom before and after, the Youtube series (???)
  • Occam's fireaxe, the Podcast (1hr wk)
  • Marowan, the novel

Looking at that, there are about 15 hours of commitments a week in there, and that doesn’t include the Swift work, which probably ought to be at least ten if I want to make serious progress. It also showed me how some higher priority stuff wasn’t getting the right attention. So I’m starting to treat this more as I would a work situation and start scheduling these tasks onto the calendar to make sure they get done more reliably.

Part of the problem was that the house work kind of had to be top priority, because I was dealing with vendors and crafts and spending a hunk of money on them, and I needed to make sure their questions and issues got resolved first; it wasn’t even necessarily how much time I was spending with them but having them working in the house and the hey, can you look at this? questions that were popping up every hour or so which made it really hard to sit down and focus.

As of now, we’re at a point where the first phase of key projects are all done (electrical, plumbing, landscape, windows and window coverings) that we can let it pause before digging into the next phase (HVAC, Carpentry, paint, flooring, bathrooms and kitchen). So we’ll pick this up again in a few weeks when some of the other bigs are further along and I can afford the distractions again…

And I really need to get the proposal for the Sekrit Project finished..

Switching to Victoza

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It’s been two weeks since I switched my prescription to Victoza, and the good news is, it’s been mostly a non-thing. The needle used for the injection is tiny and you basically don’t feel it. The trip to Morro Bay turned into a good dress rehearsal for traveling with and managing a drug that really wants to be refrigerated, and the logistics of dealing with used needles and etc.

The big change was that over the first week I dropped off about five pounds, most of which was retained water, most of which was in my legs. Which explains why the legs always felt heavy and discouraged walking, because, well, imagine spending your entire life with ankle weights on both legs.

I’m not completely away from the foot pain but it’s much reduced, the blood sugar levels are fine, and I seem to tolerate the new drug well. Victoza is an interesting beast: it’s stimulating the pancreas to increase insulin, where Actos was pushing the body to pull excess sugar out of the system and storing it in the fat cells; Actos was known to encourage water retention, but also the data is showing it leads to a tendency to gain weight or make it difficult to lose. Victoza has shown it tends to encourage weight loss, so we’ll see.

It’s too early to tell about that, but there are definite biological changes with the switch. The big one is that digestion slows down: food moves into the small intestine more slowly, which means the stomach stays fuller longer and reduces your interest in eating — which I can attest to. Victoza can also encourage some nausea, which I haven’t really run into, but I’m finding if I over-eat I’ll definitely feel more uncomfortable than in the past. I’m still figuring out portion sizes and timing and all of those funky details you normally don’t think much about, but I do think this will all lead down the path I want, with smaller meals and lower calories. One thing I’m still trying to understand is that I think the body is less tolerant of carb loads using Victoza, so if I eat a bunch things feel a bit off; my thinking is the Actos tended to buffer the system against this. Again, not a bad thing because it’ll encourage me to eat fewer carbs, which is a good idea in my situation. but it’s a bit weird to realize I’m spending this much time really thinking and engineering something we all probably take a bit for granted: eating. At least until I understand how to do it right once again.

Remember how they always tell us each more calories, gain weight. eat fewer, lose weight? Um, yeah. Life is complicated, folks.

Getting back on the fiction horse

One thing you might notice is that my novel is back on the To Do list, although at the bottom priority (for now). I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and now it’s back in the investigation phase. I’ve consistently chosen not to try to go back to fiction writing because I wanted to focus my time on my photography and photography writing with an eye to turning that into a business, and building a career around fiction writing is a long-term commitment I just didn’t want to make.

But since I’ve shifted my mental thinking away from trying to build out a 2nd career outside of high tech, the reasons to focus on some things over others has gone away, so why not take a fresh look at this? I need to focus my time on the Sekrit Project and the Swift app first, but I can at least do some planning and organizing and decide whether it’s worth pursuing. It would actually make a fun project to do in public, as I’ve done with some things in the past, and see what happens.

I spent some time pulling out and making readable my old notes and design fragments, which mostly told me that the idea for that novel was still valid after all these years, but that all of the old work was pretty — well, I’m tossing it all out and starting from scratch. Seems weird, but the person who wrote all of that back in the 80’s and 90’s isn’t who I am today, and it’ll be less work to develop from scratch than it would be to tear it apart and update it.

One thing I’ve been doing and really enjoying in the fiction area is auditing Brandon Sanderson’s fiction writing course. Sanderson is a BYU professor and author who’s having his class taped and is publishing it out to Youtube. I think it’s both very well done with lots of interesting content and very entertaining. If you’re interested in fiction writing, I think it’s well worth your time to try it out.

And since I realized I’d never read any of his work, I grabbed a copy of his book The Way of Kings and dove in. I’ll do a longer review soon, but the gist of it is: it’s pretty darn good. I think the biggest criticism I have of it is that this is book 1 of a two book series, and I felt the book was a bit long and complicated, and that the series might have been better structured into a three book series.

Unlike a lot of fiction, though, I don’t think the book or the story is too long, just that it felt like there was a book and a half in there. So many fiction pieces I read today make me feel they’d be better with an editor willing to cut 10% of the words, and that’s not the case here. It’s good and well-edited, not bloated or too long. And if you haven’t read his work, you really ought to.

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