The Wheel of Time: A Beginning

I am re-reading The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. This series was one of the formative series of my youth due to the timing, and that I was there for each release after about book 8. It took me from my pre-teen through graduate school years as the books were finally finished by Brandon Sanderson after Robert Jordan's death. I eagerly awaited the release of each new book with a longing that equaled Harry Potter releases except it was a much more private and intimate sort of longing unlike the mass hysteria that was Harry Potter midnight premieres. Only in the release of the last few books did I share that waiting with my family since I had forced them into reading the series.

I have been looking for a way to relax and unwind recently, but didn't want to pick up video games, sports or much more. I figured a chapter or so a night as a reward for actually studying for my 2 different certifications I'm currently pursuing is a good idea.

Some initial thoughts about the series that I will explore in much more detail later.

I listen to certain songs and think of certain characters. I explicitly listened to Of Wolf and Man by Metallica during scenes with Perrin in them and think about it now every time that song comes on. Probably partly growing up in the 90's and 00's when the few CD's I had transitioned into the iPod. Specific songs still bring me back to the books.

It was my introduction to meditation. The flame and void which is introduced in the first chapter as a technique that Tam teaches Rand in order to concentrate and later is expanded into a way to access the True Power. I will admit to trying this technique many times growing up but being unsuccessful. But from this I think I also was introduced to a form of stoicism before finding actual stoicism teachings in my classical education oriented high school. My interest (and extreme difficulty with) meditation probably started with these books.

I would spend hours re-reading the books in no particular order. I would just open up book 6 somewhere in the middle and read for 30 minutes. I have probably read books 3-8 about 10 times in this way. I don't believe I have ever done that with anything else. The dedication to repetitive learning that I have given this series is quite astounding and probably should have been put to better use with school, oh well. The only disappointment about that is the later books I was in college and did not give quite as much energy to them so don't remember them as well or as fondly.

My favorite character is, of course, Elayne. She is everything I wanted to be growing up. Followed by Mat, the trouble maker and Han Solo character in the books, of course I liked him as well.

I am very excited to start re-reading them and it will take me a long time but starting September 16th, 2018 the 11th anniversary of Robert Jordan's death seems a fitting place to start with the formation of dragon mount and introduction of The Two Rivers. James Oliver Rigney, Jr may you rest in peace and thank you for allowing me to live in your world.

Visit Dragonmount for one of the best fan sites of a series I have ever seen. Also there may be a tv show but I’m not getting excited about it yet.

The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan

Christopher Robin

Christopher Robin is the best movie of 2018, don’t @ me.

Some small spoilers may follow, so continue at your own risk

I loved this movie so much, probably in a large part because it plays to my childhood nostalgia. But, Christopher Robin has a lot more going for it than pure nostalgia. They are called Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, and Tigger.

The movie had the perfect balance of explanation of the magical connection between Christopher Robin and the occupants of the Hundred Acre Woods and mystery left to the imagination about how it works. It purposely doesn’t worry too much about the pure explanation and invites you to live in a world connected to a man’s childhood memories. Which are just as much our childhood memories.

I almost cried bunches of times during the movie, but most so during the opening 30 minutes or so when Christopher Robin is leaving his childhood friends behind and journeying into adulthood. He then is thrust into trials of adulthood such as going to war, finding love, and getting a job he hates. He loses all sense of family, and forgets what it is like to play. This is a spear straight to the heart of any adult who plays less than they would like. Charlie Hoehn wrote a great book on play called Play It Away and the importance of play in our life. But, Christopher Robin has forgotten all about that.

Then all of our childhood friends return. And the live action version of the cartoon characters we knew and loved come to life, with personalities true to their former selves and updated for a movie focused on Christopher Robin and his daughter rather than them.

The interactions between Piglet, Pooh, Tigger etc made me cry all over again. It wasn’t tons of crying, just some tears and sniffles that required wiping with a shirt sleeve a few times.

God, I just saw a commercial for it again. Well, at least I’m not crying this time. Maybe.

Just go watch it and see for yourself.

Insurance World

Watching TV tonight I saw an Aflac commercial, followed by an Allstate commercial, and a few commercials later more commercials for Progressive, USAA insurance, and United Health Care. There are tons of commercials for all types of life insurance, auto insurance, health insurance, short term disability insurance and I'm sure others.

We live in a world that has been somehow dominated by insurance. I got the impression that we are one step from disaster and we have to be buying an insurance for everything just in case. If someone hasn’t bought the right type of insurance, the right policy, then their lives could turn upside down in an instant.

Much of this is connected to our work so if you are between jobs then good luck to you. If you have to work 3 jobs to make a living then good luck having the time to figure out what insurance you are supposed to get, let alone a job that provides you the opportunity to get good insurance. You can't judge a companies insurance benefits until you work their and get into an open enrollment period.

I don’t know any solutions to our current situation but the development of the insurance industries trying to convince you that doom is around the corner seems as good of an idea as commercials for pharmaceuticals … oh wait.

Audiobooks Are Books

I love books.

That should be the end of all I need to write about books and reading, but I have had some negative reactions to the way I read books. Typically the conversation is as follows:

Me: “I just read X book by my favorite author”
Them: “That is cool.”
Me: “Yeah I finished listening to it on the drive to work today.”
Them: “Listening to audiobooks is not the same as reading.”
Me: …
Me: burns them with the fire of a thousand suns

I don’t get this hate for audiobooks. And usually the people telling me this have not read a book in a while. They ave a weird snobbery that you can only read books by a melting candle and parchment paper and yet they haven’t read a book since they were forced to in college and in reality they spark noted it because spark note was a thing then and I have no idea if spark note is still a thing.

I love books in all of their forms. I love paper and hard cover books. I love ebooks. I love audiobooks. I love iBooks (or Apple Books now) and the ability to embed videos and other multi media straight into the book.

If you are able to have the ideas that Charles Dickens typed into his MacBook Air while sitting in Starbucks make it to your brain, does it really matter how they get there?

I was going to cite various research articles that showed that some kids learn better with audiobooks and that comprehension is better and give a personal anecdote that I tend to skip over paragraphs when I read very fast so audiobooks help me slow down and actually digest content. But I don’t care.

I just want to read.

And if that reading is actually listening to an author or a professional narrator read a book to me like I’m a child in their parent’s lap (instead of a mindless drone on his hour commute) then so be it.

Just read damn books and who cares how you consume them. And if someone judges you just know that inside they aren’t happy with their own ability to read books and they are taking it out on you. Since that is what we do in our society now a days.

Just read. From graphic novels to audiobooks. Just freaking read all ready.

I you need recommendations my newest and most favorite stories ever are both by Mary Robinette Kowal.

The Lady Astronaut of Mars - A Short Story

The Calculating Stars - The First book in the series based on the before short story.

The next book in the series The Fated Sky which is almost out but not quite out as of the writing of this post. (August 21, 2018 FYI)

Fruitless Search for the Perfect App

I have a problem.

I am on an endless search for the next perfect app. Currently, on my iPhone, I have 266 apps, which is down a lot since I purposefully cleaned up a lot of apps I never used a few months ago. Though it is up from 256 apps recently in this post. I know it used to be well over 300 apps, which is just outrageous.

I love trying new apps!

But, I have been trying to turn over a new leaf, courtesy of Merlin Mann. He shared a few thoughts in a recent podcast with Brett Terpstra (the maker of the two apps I am using to write this right now nvALT and Marked 2). To paraphrase Merlin, what is the purpose of the change and what are you trying to do? I am asking myself these questions with each app I am downloading and trying out. Basically, is it worth it to switch or invest the time to use it well? If not, don’t rock the boat and switch unnecessarily.

I love downloading a new to-do list or note taking app like there is no tomorrow but, so far, I have never used any of the to their fullest extent. I see a cool new feature in a new app, despite never using half the features in the previous 10 versions that I have used. This constant search for the next best widget, despite never using each widget, I found has been bothering me more and more lately.

I shared in a previous post that I am trying to moderate my apps to some extent and use test files for a lot of things. I am trying to do my writing, note taking, thoughts etc in nvAlt and then deciding what other app it should go to.

For instance, this post started as a file created in nvAlt, with the assumption that it would be a blog post, and then after a few paragraphs I opened Marked 2 to see how it was formatting as I wrote it and added things such as links and other text features.

I have also started trying to do the same thing on my phone. I have started using Drafts 5 as the place I start almost all of my text. If I have thoughts, an email or iMessage to draft, a post to start writing, or notes to take I will open Drafts. I even am trying to remember to use it to start a google search.

Knowing where I start each of my thoughts has allowed me to be more confident when I sit down to do something. If I had an idea that I wanted to write about I wasn't sure what to do before. Do I open Squarespace and type out a blog in their editor? Maybe put it in Notes, Pages, or Word? And the same thing on my phone with Evernote, Notes, Simplenote, Bear, Editorial etc.

It can just be overwhelming.

Now I have a flow of procedure that most everything starts from. Drafts on phone and nvAlt on the computer. Then it can be exported to wherever I need it afterwards. And I can easily change my mind if something that starts as a simple text message, then makes more sense as an email, and ends as a blog post.

I may not end up with less apps on my phone, but the amount is much less overwhelming because I don't have to worry about the app overload and what I am going to do.

And I am working on using a few apps more to their fullest extent, such as OmniFocus, Instapaper, and Bear.

But, we will see how long it is before I am over 300 apps on my phone again.

Morning Mineral Cocktail

One of my favorite things is coffee. I love coffee with a passion. And I am not one of those people who pretends to like coffee but instead have have milk or cream with some coffee. I take it completely plain, black as night, nothing added to it at all.

I have never quite been as bad as needing coffee in the morning first thing before I talk to anyone, I would even skip some days. But I could tell if I did.

I have started reading Marcus Aubrey’s new book. He founded Onnit.

I usually go into books about changing you lifestyle, diet, workout plan etc with a lot of skepticism. Most of those books are just a rehashing of things you can find easily on the internet and they only have half truths behind them.

The 1st chapter has been a game changer already.

Instead of shoving coffee down your throat and standing in a hot shower very sleepily he says it is better to drink water, get sunlight or blue light, and to move.

From the book:

"There is a solution to all that: a three-part formula that involves a simple morning mineral cocktail for hydration and adds a little bit of sunlight and a little bit of movement to reset your internal clock, taking you from getting owned to owning it within the first twenty minutes of your day. I’ve tested it, the athletes and high performers I work with have confirmed it, and clinical research has proven it: hydration and circadian balance are the essential ingredients to the consistent perfect wake-up."

So far I have mostly implemented the morning mineral cocktail. I knew I was dehydrated in the mornings, I had heard it many times before, it is one of the things that Kelly Starrett talks about. But, I have never done anything about it.

Today is my third day trying this new thing in my life an I haven’t done it perfectly yet it has still helped. First 2 days I used the sea salt grinder to put some sea salt in water and stir it up. I didn’t use any lemon juice as he recommends. And this morning I did it slightly more properly, I weighed out some fine ground sea salt (3g for the recipe) and then put in a dash of lemon juice (he recommends an actual 1/4 lemon slice).

I am just an N of 1 and these 3 days don’t prove a theory but I feel really good after doing this. I have naturally woken up at 6am on a Saturday and Sunday ready to get up and excited to drink the water. This is a little unusual for me, I do tend to be an early riser, but I’m not usually excited to face the day and I can totally sleep in until 9am or so if I wanted to.

This has made working out much easier. I can take my time in the mornings, work on the computer for a bit, before I go to Crossfit around 8-8:30. I am much less rushed an get a better workout in that way.

Here is his full recipe:

Morning Mineral Cocktail

  • 12 ounces filtered water
  • 3 grams sea salt
  • 1/4 lemon, squeezed

Happy drinking!


Resources

Marcus, Aubrey. Own the Day, Own Your Life: Optimized Practices for Waking, Working, Learning, Eating, Training, Playing, Sleeping, and Sex (p. 11). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.