My Blog and I Both Need To Lose Weight

This hasn’t been a great week for blogging. I should explain why–in my normal convoluted way, of course. A couple of years ago, I switched to the Premium plan thinking I would love the new features, get lots of followers thrown my way by WP, and maybe even make enough money that it would be free by the end of the year.

That didn’t happen and now I have decided to end the experiment. In reality, having the followers that I have and the interaction with those followers is more than enough motivation. I enjoy it enough without having to worry about making it a career. I also didn’t use all the features that they offered and really didn’t see the point.

Now, going back to the free version is fine, except that my photo storage is over the limit of the free blog. I just uploaded images from my phone and they took up a lot of space. I tried editing them in the media section, but that doesn’t do anything. In fact, I think it makes a copy of the new size and doesn’t delete the previous version. A word of advice is to resize your pixels before you upload them to the library.

The good news is that they won’t delete anything when I downgrade to the free plan, but rather I might not be able to add any other photos to my posts. While my photo skills aren’t great, I think the blog might need some photos. The other option is to downgrade to their less expensive plan (the Personal), but I am not sure about that either. I should be economizing to the best of my ability since I am officially laid off right now.

While none of this is terribly upsetting, it has dominated my thoughts and not allowed me to really focus on writing anything. I am sure I have had some perfect moments–I am still losing weight, Zwift is still fun, I am eating better, relationship is going great, and curbside shopping has decreased my browsing and spending. Being out of work sucks, but everyone else has had to deal with that while I haven’t, so I shouldn’t be more upset than anyone else. I don’t have any great student stories for you, but that might be a good thing.

If you see any changes to the blog in the coming months, you will know why. I will try to get back to my positive ways shortly.

Posted in blog, blog posts, blogging, blogposts, growing your blog, increasing blog traffic, motivation, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Finding Advice and Friends in Odd Places

I have a couple of Perfect Moments today. This is good because I have been worried about a lack of them now that I am in lockdown and laid off. Without the interesting questions or antics of my students, I am not sure I will be able to find them. I might need to get out more.

The first Perfect Moment comes from the slip tucked into the library book I picked up on Tuesday. As you can see by the picture, it is quite interesting. I think it is pure marketing genius to remind readers that they saved quite a bit of money by using the library. I knew it, and I suspect regular readers know all too well how much books cost. It is wonderful to own books, but if you read a lot, it is much pricier than a subscription to Netflix. If I buy books, they’re more likely to be paperbacks (though the power couple who own Canada’s bookstores prefer pricier softcover versions) or sourced from the bargain bin.

Yes, there are other options out there. I know there is an “all-you-can” read service for digital books. That sounds great and I may one day make use of it. However, the library is free and I am glad my tax dollars support it. Since I am reading two books, I saved 74 dollars.

The second Perfect Moment came when I found myself virtually riding besides someone I knew. This isn’t like the other time, when I was riding beside someone who had the same name as someone I know. This case, the Zwifter (can I use that word?) include our cycling club initials in her name. It was quite a coincidence to meet her as we crested a climb. I haven’t got my tablet handy while riding, so I couldn’t say anything to her to let her know it was me. However, I found myself talking to the TV similar to what I do when sports are on. I said “Hey! (and her name)” Of course, she didn’t answer me. I really should get a tablet stand or something. There are a number of people who gave me a “ride on” that I couldn’t respond to.

I did message her after the ride and she typed back that she thought it was me. She might have just said that to make me feel better, but there is no need to think negatively of her. She’s a good person and even if she is only being polite, she’s being polite. ON interesting thing is that she’s even newer on Zwift than I am.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Have you ever had something written on a bill or receipt or a note tucked into something you bought that made you smile?

Posted in advice, bicycles, books, bookstore, club, cycling, finance, librarian, library, Newmarket Eagles, perfect moment, zwift | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

An Uncommon Day in Winter

Today’s Perfect Moment is a taste of summer, even though in the northern hemisphere, it most assuredly is winter.

After my session on Zwift, while I was looking things over on the computer, I noticed that the mail carrier had arrived and was busy putting mail into the group mailboxes across the street. When they left, I quickly went to check my mail. I’ve got stamps and presents coming….I hope.

What I noticed the minute I stepped out the door was how great a day it was. The air was quite warm and the snow was melting. I paused before crossing the street because it was so glorious. It was that perfect winter day for people who don’t like winter. Actually, it was the perfect day to be skiing in a light sweater and drinking cold beer outside the chalet.

I could have gone for a walk, but instead I parked myself next to my sliding patio doors and read my book. The sun was warm through the glass and reading was easy. I blasted through a hundred pages before I became sleepy.

Posted in seasons, snow, summer, temperature, weather, winter | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Amusing Library Story

I would like to relate an amusing story. It didn’t start out as a Perfect Moment, but became one in the end.

I got a notification that a book I had requested from the library was now available. My library, like most, if not all, has a system that allows people to put books on hold and the people are put on a list and eventually get a call or email that the book is available. You then have a designated time to pick up the book. This is because some books are incredibly popular and sometimes the waiting list can be hundreds of people long. You either enter the list, or forget about reading the book in a timely manner, or go and buy the book. Being the somewhat frugal person that I am, I am usually content to wait. Sometimes my friends cannot wait and I get to borrow the copies they buy. Usually, I just have to wait.

With the Pandemic and not being able to visit the library, anything I want to borrow has to be requested online. This is no big deal, but I do miss walking around the library looking at books. I like walking around bookstores too, but balk at the high prices books now command. Scrolling through the library catalogue is okay, but I don’t always know exactly what I am searching for and sometimes cannot remember the authors, or don’t feel inspired. However, and I don’t remember when, I came across a new Jim Butcher novel in the Harry Dresden series and put my name on the waiting list–then promptly forgot about it.

So, the other day, I got an email that my book was in and went to the library to partake in Covid safe book pickup system. The Library in my town is being transformed. The library has already been renovated but the surrounding area is being turned into “Library Square” which will include some maker labs, an ice rink (this is Canada) and several other things that are part of this grand vision. I like the plan and now is a good time to get some work done. This has meant that all library pickups are now done at a window on a side street. It doesn’t seem terribly efficient and it is a bit cold to be waiting around to go through the whole show you card, wait for the books, and show your card again procedure, but that is what I did.

So, I picked up Jim Butcher’s Battle Ground and went off to my girlfriend’s place. It is always nice to have a book in case someone is busy, or I need to wait somewhere. My memory is still good enough that I can read a couple of pages at a time.

In an appropriate moment, I started looking at the book summary inside the dust jacket, and I felt a little confused. I remember the plot and basic outcome of the previous novel, and there seemed to be some gaps. I consulted. the list of books and then it hit me. I missed a book. Granted the author hasn’t written a complete novel in this series in about 5 or six years (there were two books of short stories to sustain us) while he focused his creative energies elsewhere, but how could I be so daft.

I checked the library website and they had the book, but predictably there were a number of holds on the book. I wasn’t devastated, but I was a little disappointed. I also wondered how I could have missed that. My girlfriend suggested that I just read the books out of order. I had done that for most of the series, but didn’t really like reading them that way. It just isn’t the same and I vowed from about 2018 on that I wouldn’t do that in a book series again. I checked Amazon, but the affordable paperback version wasn’t out yet and I haven’t had any luck transferring e-books to my Kobo in quite a while. So, I figured that I would just read the book and read the preceding book at a later date. I was too disappointed to start that day, so I put it down.

On Tuesday, my birthday, I got another email that my book was ready for pickup at the library. I noticed it was a Jim Butcher novel and thought that the library didn’t realize that I had already picked up the book. It’s kind of like when my phone notifies me of things twice. I was about to delete the email when I took a closer look and I noticed that titles were different. Unbelievably, to me at least, this was the first book of the two. I must have reserved both of them at the same time and not remembered it. Now I had both books and all the annoying thoughts I had went away.

I haven’t had a chance to read them yet because I have been busy fielding calls for my birthday, exercising (despite being my birthday potential indulgence needed to be met with calorie burning) and filling out Employment Insurance claims. Regardless, getting to read both books in the correct order and being surprised at that is a Perfect Moment.

Posted in Aurora, books, Covid 19, e-book, library, lucky, reading | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Additions to the Pain Cave

Today, I am making some upgrades to the pain cave. Yes, an early birthday present and something arriving in the mail make for a slightly better experience on the indoor trainer.

The angle is a bit off, but basically these things protect the bike from your personal and corrosive sweat. I can tell you that around the ten minute mark, I am basically dripping. Of course you can use a towel, and that is what I have been doing, but these have a bit of style to them. Also, I need the towel more for myself than the bike.

I ordered these from Amazon more than a month ago. They took a long time to arrive, but the price was good. I went with red today because one of my readers thinks black and red are the best combinations for bike colours. My bike has no red, but I was wearing a red jersey, so I went for the match. It seemed to work as advertised and I have no complaints. I will let you know how they come out of the wash.

The second item to find its way into the Zwift Dungeon was a fan. Everyone told me I would need one. They are probably right because I was overheating quite badly and a fan would help me breathe better. I didn’t know which one to choose, so I opted for a couple of smaller fans. Why two fans? I thought it might be good to experiment with different positions. I might like them both in front coming at different angles, or I might like one coming from the back. parameters. I think I might set them both up on remote controls as I am not that hot starting out.

After lots of research and reading, I was not sure what was the best option, but the test of just one of them today was quite good. I felt a bit stronger and managed to set a PB up a big climb. Now that I have lost weight, I might even be faster if I input my now lighter weight into the Zwift

The fans were a gift from my girlfriend. She has been very supportive of my weight loss goals and decided to give me an early birthday present. She also gave me two slices of cake. Just so you know, Groundhog day is my birthday.

Posted in bicycles, cycling, cycling gear, equipment, perfect moment, training, zwift | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

First Month Accountability

It is the end of January and I promised myself I would take stock every month to see where my resolutions are going. Hopefully this will keep me on track.

Reading

This year, I am setting a modest goal of 25 books.

Well, this one is not off to a good start. I managed to finish the two books I had read half of, but that is probably only good enough to be considered one book. To get back on track, I am going to have to read 3 books in February. Fortunately, if you read Saturday’s post, I have more time. Another good thing was that the library texted me that my copy of the latest Dresden novel is in. That might spur more interest.

Writing/Blogging

I resolve to

  1. write at least six short stories and one novel this year. I have been claiming that blogging was exercise for writing fiction and this year will see me finally follow through on that. Too long have I been sitting on things that need to see the light of day.
  2. blog five times a week. Specifically, that means I will blog here four times and at least once on my other blogs. I know I should sort out a schedule, but that really isn’t something I am comfortable doing.

I have managed to blog quite a bit. I have probably done about 6 posts a week. I haven’t written any short stories yet, but I now find myself with a bit more time. I have also found a short story contest to enter and that seems pretty motivating.

Fitness/Cycling

I resolve to

  1. Zwift at least 4 hours a week in January, 6 hours a week in February, and 7 hours a week in March and April. I didn’t wait for the New Year to start before jumping on this one.
  2. get out on my bike as early as possible this year and put some road miles on my bike. This will also mean joining the club early, and using the technology in place to gather people for some casual rides before official club season.
  3. stretch three times a week and follow all the stretches in my cycling stretching book. Obviously, I cannot do them all in the first week, but I hope to be doing all of them by April.
  4. do body weight exercises at least twice a week.
  5. drink fewer carbonated soft drinks and plan to eliminate them by summer.
  6. be a serious and able B level rider within the club.
  7. take part in the club time trials.
  8. go on one cycling vacation this year.

All of this should result in weight loss, but in reality, diet and muscle building offer the best hope in that regard. Zwifting alone will not do it. Eating better should be a goal, but since listing a bunch of food I shouldn’t eat has never been successful, I should learn the lessons that foods can be eliminated slowly, but a better mental attitude towards eating needs to be acquired first. Actually, a better mental attitude towards everything above needs to be acquired first.

The good news is that I have lost quite a bit of weight in January. I have lost more than 5 kilograms. I have been Zwifting quite a bit and I have been avoiding pop, chips, cookies, chocolate, and other assorted junk food. I haven’t given them up entirely, but I have managed to eat them much much less. I think it is important to not try and go completely cold turkey. I am trying to reform my habits not create too much angst and desire. I am feeling good in this. I have been making some healthier choices and doing a bit better on portion control.

I have been zwifting about 3 hours a week in January. It was much tougher than I imagined and riding one hour took a bit of working up to. I am there now and hopefully I can get up to 4 or 5 hours a week in February. I don’t think my early plans of 6 hours is realistic now. However, I won’t let that stop me. I am enjoying Zwift and I am very glad I made the purchase.

I have done more stretching and body weight exercises, but I should probably do more of them. I think I will buy some kettlebell weights and try and do some strengthening exercises.

House Tasks

I resolve to

  1. paint the kitchen and hobby room.
  2. organize the kitchen cupboards and pantry.
  3. organize the laundry room and get rid of the boxes that I was “saving in case I need them.”
  4. get the e-waste to the e-waste depot as soon as they open to the public
  5. replace the curtains in the bedroom.
  6. cut down on the stuff in the filing cabinet.
  7. Make planters for the back yard.

I could name a lot of other nebulous tasks like declutter, but without a clear goal and a clear way to measure if I achieved the goal, there is no point in listing it.

Nothing to report here. Hopefully some painting will get done in February.

Travel

I would love to make a list of goals in this area, but I will have to wait and see how this turns out. The best I can do now is save money so I will be able to pay for it.

I have never filed for employment insurance before. This slight bump in the road might affect these plans, but I hope not.

Summary

I think I had a good month. The weight loss is visible and feels great. Getting onto an exercising schedule, while not without hiccups, has been going well. This has been my biggest success, and probably the most important one.

While the other areas haven’t progressed as well, I am not worried about them yet. Not all of my goals can be accomplished in one month. The key is that I haven’t forgotten about them.

See you at the end of February.

Posted in perfect moment | 7 Comments

Silver Lining?

I said goodbye to my class on Friday. We were down to three students and two of the remaining 3 are finishing in the next two weeks. What that meant for me was being laid-off. I had managed to work for almost a year of Covid, but finally my number is up. The remaining number of students (including another dwindling class) can only make up one class in total and I won’t be the one teaching it. As you can see, they gave me a nice farewell. I want to call it a Perfect Moment, but honestly, it is difficult to call it anything but bittersweet. (Cue the Verve)

I won’t be laid off forever, but it might feel that way. All of my other colleagues have been laid off, and it is no surprise that it got this far. I can’t imagine many people want to travel to learn English and the students that are in Toronto probably want face to face classes–which is not happing in the near future.

If there is a silver lining, it could be that I can get a few more things done around the house. I can also exercise more. I hopefully will take some time to write more.

Posted in class, Covid 19, ESL, perfect moment, teaching, work | Tagged , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Reaching Out

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I once taught a reading lesson on the subject of different kinds of friendships. The article noted that there were seven kinds of friends. I won’t bore you with all the details-though I still have the textbook it was drawn from, and referenced it before writing. I have never done the lesson again. This is probably because it doesn’t include the friends most of my students seem to have these days–Instagram friends, FWB etc.

I bring this up because one of the friendships it mentions is Crossroads friends. These are friends who you met a crucial time in life. The article explains that these friendships can endure very limited contact and can be revived easily whenever you meet.

Keep that in mind as I outline Yesterday’s Perfect Moment. It might take me a couple of paragraphs to get there, but rest assured I will get there.

I have been Zwifting for the past month and I am learning more about it all the time. While my Pain Cave is set up for me to Zwift, it isn’t set up for the social interaction part of Zwift yet. While riding people can give you “thumbs up” and “ride ons.” Personally, I don’t know how they do it because I am so covered in sweat that I do not want to touch any of my electronic devices for fear of flooding them with my salty sweaty fluids. However, several people have done this to me. If any of them are reading this blog, I have to say I am sorry. I haven’t figured that part out yet. I might buy a stand for my tablet so I can do this, but it seems a bit unlikely right now. More on that in a later post. In addition to this, the names, or nicknames of the riders you pass or who pass you are displayed. You can friend them and ride with them (in no drop fashion if you want). I have not done this yet as I am still trying to get a bit faster. I am starting to recognize the names of people who seem to race along at the same speed as I do, but not always.

A week or two ago, while I was riding/Zwifting, a person ahead of me had a name I recognized. It was the name of a person I met in Japan while teaching there some 25 years ago. I remembered that he liked cycling and thought it might be him. We had kept in touch, but I hadn’t spoken to him in quite a while. He works in DC and I was afraid that if I called him I would probably pester him with my comments and questions about the ex-president. I assumed they would be monitoring his phone and didn’t want to get him in trouble.

So, after seeing this name, I decided to send him an email and inquire if it was indeed him. While it turned out that it wasn’t him, it did lead to a phone call and a good chat and a chance to catch up mostly devoid of questions or comments about politics. We hadn’t spoken in quite some time, but it was like no time had passed at all.

That was Yesterday’s Perfect Moment and if I hadn’t stayed up late last night watching the hockey game, I would have written this post last night.

Posted in bicycles, cycling, friends, friendship, Japan, lessons, perfect moment, talking, teaching, zwift | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Nothing

I am sitting here staring alternately at the screen and the keyboard. I’ve got nothing. I want to write something, but there’s nothing in the tank. Rest assured, this is not a case of writer’s block. I’ve got lots of words. I just don’t have the Perfect Moment.

Being in lockdown, escaping only for groceries and medicine, doesn’t always leave room for Perfect Moments. How often can I write about the joy of seeing the mail truck, or a delicious cup of coffee as the snow falls outside my sliding glass doors? There are just going to be days when the Perfect Moment eludes me. I’ve got to accept that.

Posted in coffee, mail, snow, writer's block, writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Feeling Valued

As seen through my screen

Between my two classes, it started snowing and didn’t stop until quite late in the evening. It was that beautiful kind of snow that isn’t blizzard blowing cold, but rather gentle flakes falling to the ground covering up all the slush and dead grass. While my students spent time talking about connectors and phrasal verbs, I casually looked out the window and sung Joni Mitchell’s The River in my head.

Later on, after I had done my Zwifting for the day, I went out to shovel the snow. Despite enjoying winter and snow, this is not my favourite activity. I usually rush it and am disappointed by my efforts. Today, perhaps because I was worn out from exercising, or because I knew I had a hockey game to watch (Spoilers: The Leafs won), I took a different approach. I went for calm methodical rather than a rushed get it done approach that I normally favour. I wasn’t particularly cold, the snow was light and fluffy, I had plenty of time, and my mind was calm. I did a good job and I enjoyed the work, the quiet, and the chance to get outdoors.

I was going to write about these two things as Today’s Perfect Moment, but upon refection, I found something else that made me happier. I found something else that was a much clearer and truer definition of Perfect Moment.

My girlfriend is also an ESL teacher, but owing to a lack of seniority, hasn’t worked very much this year. She has applied for jobs without much success both in the industry and outside the industry. Knowing her as I do, I was quite surprised that people would pass up on hiring her. She’s a dedicated team player who rises to new challenges like no one I have ever seen. She works harder than I do, is more passionate, and brings a lot to the table. (As she reads this blog, I suspect she is blushing at this point). From where I stand, anyone who employed her would get far more than they expected. After every interview, I told her they were all fools and should have taken her on.

Today, she had an interview and was hired onto the supply list. I had felt (and expressed) that it was a lock, but months of disappointment can certainly weigh upon someone. However, when she told me how the demo lesson and the interview went, I could sense that something had changed. She had more confidence and more self worth. It was like seeing her after a great afternoon of teaching. Seeing that, is far and away, Today’s Perfect Moment. We all need to feel valued and it is great when someone else can see it too.

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