My New Favorite Food

Reading the title, you’re likely to think that I went to a new place in town and found my new, most favorite, indulgent food. You may even assume I am off my diet I started with Change Write Now. In both instances you would be wrong. I did try some incredible squash ravioli that is one of the specialties of our Sister City in Italy on Saturday, but I am thinking of Friday.

As you may remember from earlier posts, in starting with Change Write Now I also started using an app on my iPad called Lose It. My wife got it first on her Droid and convinced me to use it. According to the programs in the app I was not only not eating frequently enough, but if I skipped lunch my dinner was even worse for me because I figured it didn’t matter. This got me onto counting up the calories of the food I bring to work and choosing better foods for my 5-6 “meals” a day. For my purposes a 10am snack of Greek yogurt counts as a meal. This is also the source of my rants of feeling like a hobbit. (First breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies…)

My wife loves the low-fat 80 calorie generic yogurt. I’m fine with that, but I prefer Greek yogurt which is fat free, but 140 calories and has more protein. It keeps me from wanting to gnaw on the arms of coworkers like a real zombie during the day. In short, I usually bring two Chobani cups with me to work. Also, I have found if I even skip one of those snacks during the day, I have to make up those calories at night and get forgetful and “weird” during the day. For those of you who know me, that’s weird in comparison to my normal, not most people’s.

On Friday, I open my container of blueberry Chobani and see a purple splotch of yogurt on the edge. Not unusual for blueberry, but normally the fruit is on the bottom. I lift the edge of the yogurt on the lip and see a big patch of mold. Obviously the top foil has punctured or the edge had lifted on it exposing it and causing it to spoil. It happens. Of course the issue was not having anything to replace it. I was bummed. As such I went to Twitter and sighed my angst over my lost yogurt in emo fashion.

This is where I get to the point of the blog – the part where I mention that in about 30 minutes or less I had a tweet from Chobani apologizing for the problem and offering to replace the product for me. This gesture along with the excellent product (when not left exposed to air) marks them as one of those products I will always support when the choice is there. In this day it is becoming less frequent that we see customer service this fast and helpful when it is solicited – much less unsolicited on social media.

Friday night on my way home from work I stopped at the store for groceries and restocked my yogurt with another dozen containers. Four were left this morning when I packed my two. I guess my wife and son have grown fond of them as well. I guess I know what I’m doing tonight on my way home.

Change Write Now (for 1/22/12)

  • Food – spot on (even with the cupcake of the week)
  • Water – under due to being at home and working around the house instead of at a desk
  • Exercise – well over due to cleaning and such
  • Writing – over goal, but it was all for game prep
  • Habits – both met, but it was my normal weigh in day (lost my 2lb goal for the week)
  • Sleep – over 6 hours, must’ve been a long weekend

Project Stats

  • Writing – naughty story about ready for critique, dragon poem planned
  • Reading (print) – still on Silver Tongued Devil (not much reading time this weekend)
  • Reading (Nook) – see above
  • Listening (iPod) – picked up Hammered and Hexed by Kevin Hearne from Audible

The Death of a Rule

The following is a blog about my string of political comments as of late, and my offer to my friends with opposing viewpoints. If you’re here for my Change Write Now stats or ongoing projects list, feel free to skip to the bottom of the page. You can even use the handy included anchor link. 😉

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Back in the day I invoked the Alfano Politics-Religion 20′ Radius Rule. It simply stated that no discussion of politics or religion could carry on less than 20′ away from me. While this sounds like a boon to me, it was meant for everyone’s benefit. My observations were that people tend to get pissed off talking about one of those two subjects. Being that I’m already kind of an asshole, it made sense that limiting the reasons for people to get pissed around me meant that friends and I could carry on. All seemed to go well.

Cut to the here and now, otherwise known as over 25 years later. I’ve learned over the years and this includes the rather helpful ability to not give a shit what people think of me. That isn’t foolproof as all writers are at least partially neurotic about their work and how it will be received. I’ve also learned that while one person can change the world, not everyone has to agree with you. That is where some of this comes in with relation to social networking.

I have several friends, acquaintances and followers who are Republican. Many of those are pretty strongly in the conservative subsection of that group. While I don’t really consider myself a Democrat, I rarely see anyone I would vote for in the Republican Party. Were one to come along, I would vote for them but this cannot happen because almost all (if not all) of the Republicans wouldn’t. This is fine as while I don’t agree with you, I’m not going to say you must agree with me.

With everything that has gone on over the last year and as this current year rolls on, I find myself adding caveats to the opening of the rule. If it is a problem of beliefs, I will “agree to disagree” even though I loathe that phrase with the  heat of a thousand suns. If there is a difference of viewpoints based on differences between us as people I can do the same. The caveat to this is that your argument has to stand up to some form of logic or reason.

If you support the far right due to a fundamental belief that marriage is between a man and a woman and the far right supports that in their “family values/family morality” campaign, then that is your right. If a leading spokesman for that campaign cheats on a terminally ill wife and then asks a wife for an “open marriage” and you forgive and still support him, how can you still claim “family values” in that scenario? This was a rhetorical question, obviously.

Without calling anyone out, earlier in 2011 when the Governor Walker situation came to a head I had a discussion with a friend. I would point out policies and legislation that the state Republicans were putting forth that were damaging to the state as a community and as a whole. It seemed that each new piece of information I put forth was met with “Unions bad!” If your reason for supporting a Governor who divides the people of the state to make them fight with each other and not pay attention to what he’s doing is that you’re anti-union, then I think you need to take a look at your motives.

Another example is another person that after the last presidential election asked my wife, “Are you satisfied with your vote? Are you really?” The reason this person voted Republican was that their family votes Republican. This is free licence for you to walk into a voting station and not pay attention to who you’re voting for and why. This is also free reign for a political party to push an agenda without losing voters. And for the record I responded to the question above with, “Why yes. Yes we are. You?”

Overall though, I’ll support my friends in their differences but there are lines. So if you see me spouting a little political due to current events, know this is because I am paying attention to them. The biggest benefit to Wisconsin that Governor Walker has done (in my opinion at least) is he’s made people start paying attention to politics again. He’s given us incentive to be aware of who we’re voting for and why. He’s made me look at current events and ask if Herman Cain is a bad choice due to his sexual misconduct, how does that make Newt Gingrich the moral compass of a nation?

And while I’ll support your choice to be of a different mind then me, please do the same. Don’t tell me why I’m “wrong” or you’ve then entered into a challenge. You can tell me why you support the opinion that is different than mine, but be prepare to back up the discussion. Spirited discussion will keep us all paying more attention to this process and making more informed decisions. If we reduce our discussions to flinging talking points at one another nothing will ever be solved.

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Change Write Now Stats (01/19/12)

  • Food – just under 100 calories shy for the day
  • Water – enough that I think I can swim now
  • Exercise – had to fit in during the day, but done
  • Writing – think I am almost done with current project
  • Habits – both met, although almost weighed myself
  • Sleep – still getting six hours total

Projects

  • Reading (print) – still on Silver Tongued Devil… reading time has been scarce this week
  • Reading (Nook) – on hold (see above)
  • Listening (iPad) – just picked up book 2 & 3 of the Iron Druid from Audible

Eat Soup, Read a Book

Really I had some incredibly insightful stuff to post about cooking soup and focusing on my diet this past week. But much like when I was making the soup last night, the further I get away from a “meal” the less my brain seems to want to behave. I explained it today as being like a hobbit. You know; breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, luncheon, afternoon tea… the whole nine yards.

In lieu of anything insightful, I will announce a little change to my blog postings. Not really a change so much as a backup. I’m going to start posting recipes that I’m using including the calorie count that I’m getting for them. I’ll start with the pasta fagouli and probably the devil’s food cupcakes. That is all a moot point as it will likely happen this weekend. I have some big plans over the next 24 hours – not the least of which being getting the new graphics and such for this site.

As far as the “read a book” goes, I have three books I’ve really been looking forward to (two of which I’m already finished with) and one I took up for a book club. It’s non-fiction, but it’s one my wife would be interested in. But that’s not the real reason I included it here. The real reason is to let you know about a contest going on for one of those authors.

Bitten by Books is hosting a chat with Diana Pharaoh Francis along with a giveaway. I really enjoy the series and look forward to each new book that comes out. I could say tons more, but I would hate to spoil anything in the books for you. The series (The Horngate Witches) revolves around a witch and a college roommate she turned into a night-dwelling bodyguard known as a shadowblade. The world building in this series is pretty awesome, and the characters are surprising in how much you start to like them – even the bastards.

Go forth, read more on the series, pick up the books, ask the author questions… just click on the Bitten by Books link above.

As always, included below are my stats for the day…

Change Write Now (1/12/12)

  • Food – within 100 calories
  • Water – right at 64oz
  • Exercise – walking
  • Writing – at least 500 words
  • Good Habit – wrote, all meals home made
  • Bad Habit – didn’t weight myself

Projects

  • Reading (print) – Silver Tongued Devil by Jaye Wells
  • Reading (Nook) – The Power of Less
  • Writing – naughty project take three

Of Migraines and Cupcakes

a.k.a. In Where Zombie Joe Rants About the Optometrist

Well not really the optometrist, more the store where we picked up our glasses. A while back I believe I blogged about how much I regret not getting polarized sunglasses sooner. The effect on my migraine instances was immediate and pretty dramatic. Over a month ago the horrible happened – an arm fell off of my sunglasses. I took it in figuring the screw slipped out and I just needed a new one. Nope, it broke.

Nobody sat on them, there was no accident, they just broke. So the person at the shop found the frames at one of the other stores and was going to have them FedEx’d to the location by my house. Notice I said “over a month ago” above. Even with the holidays going on, I should have the new frames by now. Needless to say, between this and the problems my wife had with her glasses, we won’t be going back there again.

The lesson to be learned here? I would have campaigned for still shopping there had they presented good customer service and fixed my problem. Hell, if they’d just kept in contact with me to let me know what was going on I would’ve given them the benefit of the doubt.

What does this have to do with the title of the blog? Well, yesterday I was hit in the face with a migraine. Let me emphasize… in… the… face. Although this did lead to a somewhat comfortable day off. I sat in a dark room and finished Sins of the Demon. I picked up what I needed for my cupcake orders. The dog and I went for a nice long walk (wherein I broke the poor thing and he slept the rest of the day). But the fact remains that with some polarized glasses I may not have had the migraine at all.

My other victory for the day was calculating out the calorie count on a branch of my cupcake base recipes. My devils food cupcake base (and by extension my Rhyskahl cupcakes) counted out to 166 calories. With my white chocolate cream cheese frosting each one comes in around 306 calories. While that may seem like a lot (as much as a cup of beef stew), it really isn’t too crazy as far as sweets go, and really does fit into my goal for each day. The downside being of course that I only made enough to fill my orders for today.

So nobody feels to sorry for me, there was a cup of coffee ice cream in my path last night. And nothing soothes the aches and pains of cupcake loss like coffee ice cream.

So let’s hit the stats for Wednesday then…

Change Write Now (1/11/12)

  • food – on task, came in about 200 calories too low
  • water – hit at least 64oz
  • exercise – too the dog for too long a walk… 30 minutes
  • good habit – wrote later in the day
  • bad habit – didn’t touch the scale (new bad habit to kick)
  • checked in – I think I checked in… will look back in emails

Project Stats

  • Reading (print) – finished Sins of the Demon, picking up Silver Tongued Devil by Jaye Wells
  • Reading (Nook) – The Power of Less by Leo Babauta (Team Awesome Book Club read)
  • Listening (iPod) – still catching up on podcasts
  • Writing – scrapped first draft of naughty project and started re-writing it

My wife tried to kill me…

So after the first week of dieting a number of things have happened. I started eating more, which triggered losing weight. I bounced back from a flare up of my spinal injury. I started the rebranding of the blog but didn’t finish it this weekend as planned. Produced several batches of soup and stew in individual sized containers. But most of all, was almost killed by my wife.

I will get into the rest of it later, but let’s focus on the statement that will invoke me getting “the look” – that’s right, the part about almost getting killed. The statement itself is a bit of an exaggeration, but makes a more humorous image than “my wife tried to give me a hypoglycemic event.” What actually happened is that we went out for breakfast before going grocery shopping. A “Fit Slam” at Denny’s was the meal of the day – 550 calories of egg whites, tomatoes, spinach, muffin and fruit. That was at 9:30 in the morning. Shopping lasted until around 2:30-3:00.

Consider that the diet program gives my wife considerably less calories per day than I get. Now consider for the last week I have focused on eating five small “meals” a day. I had the breakfast in the morning, but had skipped the mid-morning snack of fruit or yogurt, the light lunch and was well on my way to skipping the midafternoon snack. It was bad enough that on the way home when we stopped at a new cupcakery that opened up to check it out I splurged and picked up and unfrosted special they had to go with my coffee.

Once we were home, I went to attempting to make a batch of cupcakes (I now have 3 dozen on order for this week) and couldn’t remember how to make the recipe that I’ve had memorized for well over a year. I had to stop, sit down and eat something with actual nutrition in it before continuing on with making the trial batch of cupcakes, stew and the soup we were cooking.

Come Sunday I was a bit more adamant about when we had to stop for food.

On a less blood-sugar-dipping note, this weekend I went and picked up a new bathroom scale. Our old one was sounding touchy (making all sorts of cracking sounds) and is several years old – like older than most of my grandchildren. The new fancy glass one reads more effectively and is easier to see. During my weigh in for the week it revealed that even though I was upping the amount of food I ate (even though it was home made meals) I lost weight. As of this morning I am down 4 pounds. Now that is faster than the program is supposed to drop, but not like I dropped 10-15 pounds in a week or something. So not enough to be concerned, but more than enough to see results that are motivating me.

As for the cooking and baking, Zombie Cakes did make its first debut at the September event for Iron Cupcake Madison. The theme was Late Summer Fruit and we arrived with a chocolate cherry stout cupcake (after a trip up to Door County for a ridiculous sized tub of cherries) with a cherry rum cream cheese frosting. The display was decorated to look like a haunted cherry grove in Door County, complete with a haunted lighthouse to hold the cupcakes. We didn’t win the taste category (although I counted any taste vote taken from a trained pastry chef a win), but we did take best display. And when I say we, I mean my wife. She’s the presentation person in the relationship.

This has lead to where we are today. Doing more cooking around the house. Baking more options with our baked goods to have more unique things to try. It has also led to two orders for cupcakes making for 3 dozen this week. More difficult than just that we’re talking three dozen “surprise me” cupcakes. That’s when you ask what they’d like for flavors and they say “surprise me.” I considered making my Ryzkahl cupcakes as they’re chocolate base and I just restocked my ancho chile powder, but we’ll see. One dozen is for a cardiologists rehab group – I’d hate to cause “an event.”

And just for the humor factor, when people at Iron Cupcake Madison asked why we were Zombie Cakes, I simply told them, “Because our cupcakes eat other cupcakes.”

I also rebooted my Sunday night gaming group. We had been off for long enough that I didn’t think we could keep going with the game as it was. Also one of the members was stepping out due to real life taking up more and more time. Tonight’s session was all role playing to flesh out the characters. Player’s actions in the game would determine their class, skills and abilities. Overall I think it went well – we’ll see what they all thought once I do a D&D specific post on it.

One of the players did text me before the game saying he was excited to be back into gaming on Sundays as he was jonesing for cupcakes. I know, right? Not “hey, I appreciate your work running the game” or “hey, you’re an awesome storyteller and DM and I can’t wait to start in” – just that he had a hankering for cupcakes. I damned near told them all I didn’t have any.

Let’s end today with some weekend stats…

  • First Meal Prepped – double batch (14 cups) of pasta fagouli (203 calories per cup)
  • Second Meal Prepped – beef stew with tomatos, onions, garlic, carrots and potatoes (17 cups at 282 calories per cup
  • Breads Baked – butter milk cornbread muffins (at 165 calories per)
  • Cupcake Test – cranberry, apple and walnut cupcakes with white chocolate cream cheese frosting (calories not calculated yet)
  • Reading – Sins of the Demon by Diana Rowland
  • Listening (iPod) – podcasts
  • Writing – this blog (so far)

Change Write Now Stats

  • Water – on track for the weekend
  • Food – Kept under my calories for the day and only 1 “event” this weekend
  • Exercise – topped out higher than the 20 minutes a day goal
  • Writing – Sunday wasn’t kind to me (I’m not counting writing for the game)
  • Habits – only the Sunday lapse on the good habit, revising my bad habit for tomorrow
  • Checking In – every day so far

Blog Redesign – A New Direction

Today I’m doing a “soft announce” for the new direction of the site. And by “new direction” what I mean is the same old direction that limped along for the past year or so, but with a new destination in mind. Which is to say you’ll see sections of the site and the layout changing over the next week or two. For the three people checking this site (myself being one of them) I wanted to avoid confusion. If the new title of “Haggis in a Tardis” makes any sort of sense to you, you’ll have an idea of my “new direction.” But allow me to explain anyways.

Halloween night I sat at home, unable to sleep, making my new “This is not Neil Gaiman’s Gazebo” sign for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and trying to decide if I would dive in at midnight or not. In a stunning display of serendipity I saw that Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer were going to be on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. This started me in on watching the show regularly even though I’m not normally a fan of talk shows. They all seemed to be the same thing and were really hit or miss on the comedy. And then came Craig Ferguson.

Granted this is all opinion, but I really couldn’t believe he seemed to be the only late night talk show host not nominated in the People’s Choice Awards. Don’t get me wrong, I like Conan and all, but this show is something truly unique. Of course that may be due to the fact that it is on so late the CBS doesn’t really give a rat’s ass what they do. Cussing on the show is a norm, included with small flags to go over their mouths and nonsense words in the language matching with the flag.

Also, in addition to some extremely entertaining interviews (along with the ritual throwing away of the prepared questions) there have been a rather large number of authors these past couple of months. Albeit one of them was his mother-in-law, but I have picked up a couple of interesting looking books due to his show. Granted I was considering Charlie Higson’s The Dead already, but after his story about how he gauged if it was too much for kids, there was no way I could not.

Really though, this is only one half of the equation. The other half comes from a social networking friend that had done her Oprah by 2011 campaign – to get her novel published and on Oprah’s couch before her last show. I supported the effort, but in reality knew this was not my way. I write genre fiction – horror, science fiction, urban fantasy. There was no way any book of mine would be on Oprah’s Book Club lists. I considered the field of what I was seeing on the Late Late Show. Books of all kinds, but specifically genre fiction, young adult, romance and midlisters. This was more up my alley.

So the rebranding of my publishing effort is hitting this site now. Now my goal is to get a book published and make it onto Craig Ferguson’s show as a guest. In a perfect world I’d also know how to play the harmonica before I do. But as we can all tell by news reports, it is a far from perfect world.

Knowing the time it would take from the selling of a manuscript to printing, this venture will take a bit. I would have to get the book produced and then get a copy to the show. I would even venture a trip to California for that. And let’s face it, I would be more likely to go to Scotland than Florida under normal circumstances.

In considering the new title for the blog, I had considered something about being ushered in by Secretariat (as that bit always makes me chuckle), but somehow with Neil Gaiman being the one to gift Craig Ferguson with the vegetarian haggis and it becoming one of the bits at the end of the interview (touch my haggis in the Tardis), as well as my wife’s introduction to Dr. Who this Christmas, Haggis in a Tardis seemed to be an appropriate title. Who knows, that may change. Hell, if I had never discovered the show, this could have very well be named Not Neil Gaiman’s Gazebo.

There will be more to come, but between this effort and the Change Write Now challenge, it will be one hell of a busy year. This includes not only both the writing and the Change Write Now, but also Mrs. Zombie’s birthday cruise from New York to Hallifax and back, a week camping in Door County and Authors After Dark in New Orleans (now with cupcakes). I will do my best to include frequent updates as I hope the other two blog visitors will help keep me honest… and teach me to play the harmonica.

Change Write Now for yesterday…

  • Calories – made it to less than 50 under my goal
  • Exercise – spine is just starting to behave, so nope
  • Sleep – just under 6 hours with only 2 interruptions
  • Water – made goal before bed (which may explain interrupted sleep)
  • Check In – at least twice yesterday
  • Good Habit – not today (Wednesdays are not seeming to be my day for writing)
  • Bad Habit – within budget for books this month (of course its only the 4th)

Other Notes

Preorder vs Opening Day Visit

As promised, Barnes and Noble had my copy of Sins of the Demon by Diana Rowland to my condo on release day. As per my nature, I didn’t grab it from the mailbox until this morning on my way out of the garage. Honestly I probably could have left it until tonight or tomorrow morning as I’ll have no time to read it until Thursday and I still have a few chapters to go in Shadow City which pushes it to Friday. I could have… assuming I didn’t want to caress it and chant “my precious” like a demented hobbit. Besides, we have one package locker for our 9 unit building. Keeping it filled for multiple days would just be rude.

Now I preordered Sins of the Demon – months ago. With Silver Tongued Devil by Jaye Wells, I picked it up in the store. Partially this was due to my budget and which one I was reminded of a month where I had the extra income to spend on it. Equally so was the growing concern I have with space on the shelf. Particularly with midlist authors (read as most of my favorites) once the local Barnes and Noble is out of them, there’s a better than even chance there will be no restocking of it. To this end, I have been trying to pick mine up in preorder, or placing the order online to have it shipped to me. I can afford this as I get free shipping as a B&N card holder. This helps to ensure that if I suggest the book to a local friend they’ll be able to find it.

This isn’t a fool-proof plan as it does hinder some of the eccentricities that I have when it comes to books. Okay, it really only trips up on one of them. It’s a holdout from my days (years) as a comic book collector. I check the copies of the book to ensure that I get a nice, unblemished copy. Even though once I have them home my attitude changes, while picking it up I make sure to get a clean copy.

Of course when one of my wife’s employees at work was going to borrow my copy of Mark of the Demon, she was horrified to find out it was signed. She insisted there was no way that I wanted to loan that book out. Granted I loaned a few out to her before I let her have a signed book to make sure it would come home, but once that is established the real issue here is that this was a book I wanted to share. She freaked out less when I loaned her the second in the series. (At least I think I have books 1 and 2 both signed.)

Sins of the Demon is another story though. It made its way to me with a cover looking similar to the cover of my copy of Red Headed Stepchild (the first in the series by Jaye Wells mentioned above). For those unfamiliar with the story, I’ll sum up. I was walking to work with the book in hand when a small bird dive bombed for my chest. I batted it aside with the hand that had the book. When I looked at the book I could make out the distinct beak marks in the cover. I called it my bird shield after that.

Really it doesn’t look as cool as that. It just looks like there are a pair of gouges in the cover. The only part of this that irritates me is that I really love the cover art and would prefer the spine be messed up than the cover. Well, that and there’s no cool Hitchcockian story related to the damage.

Will this prevent me from ordering online again? Not likely. The books I have, even if signed, will be read and re-read (or loaned) meaning there will be wear on them. If they start out that way it doesn’t really affect the end result. Also, there is a certain sense of pride in asking to have a book signed that has been obviously read as opposed to brand new and never been cracked open. Of course Diana Rowland knows that I will definitely be reading her books and buying them. She’s a much better shot with a sidearm than I am and Wisconsin just passed a concealed carry law.

The change in my buying habits also represents a direct shift in the way I purchase my books. I used to subscribe to the words of a history teacher I had back in high school who would say, “The sign of a successful man is his ability to afford a library.” This is a direct quote… from the 80’s… so please try not to kick me in the shins over the “man” part of that. What it really stated was that books are a luxury, whereas for me they were a downright necessity. But times change. Our lives change. The amount of space in our condo changes. Aside from my Nook taking up infinitely less space, I find myself reading more and faster on my Nook. I find myself saving my shelf space for the books of those I know, are signed or simply have incredible covers that can only really be appreciated in print.

Again, no shin kicking. I do still love the look, feel and smell of a printed book. But I am also already running out of shelf space and don’t really have the room for more shelves. Well not realistically anyhow. There’s space there, but that would simply clutter up my living room even more.

Change Write Now Update

  • Water: half way there made it… and had to buy it from the vending machine
  • Food: Noodles & Company for dinner got me within a yogurt of goal
  • Sleep: 6 hours and only 1 or 2 episodes of waking mid-sleep
  • Writing: nothing yet #writerfail
  • Reading: want to finish Shadow City tonight (but I have to write something)

Change Write Now

It’s pretty awful timing (in my opinion) but I’m starting a new group lifestyle change tag team. It is kind of like the ROW80 challenge (that mostly worked for me) but with a team aspect that was used in GISHWHES. I didn’t want to have a New Years Resolution, which is the question of the poor timing. For me the New Years thing tends not to work. This time it is slightly different in that there is a team and my motivation is to have the ability to keep doing the things I like to do – camp, travel, attend conventions, hunt, etc.

The rules are pretty straightforward…

  • Eating healthy (pick a healthy diet plan and stick with it)
  • Exercise – 20 minutes/day
  • Sleep – 6 hours (must be in bed, lights/tv/radio off)
  • Water – 64 oz.
  • Communicate with your teammates at least once/day
  • Adopt one good habit
  • Lose one bad habit

For me some of this is a bit nebulous. Namely the habits portion and the sleep. My entire life I have never slept eight hours. Through high school I worked around 40 hours most weeks, took Tae Kwon Do classes 2-3 times a week and went to school. I’d be up reading or doing homework until around 1:00-1:30 and then I would get up before my father so I could take a shower before school. If I sleep more than 8 hours it is usually a sign that I am pretty sick. Six hours is not really my minimum but my goal. And then I got old.

Which is to say I reached an age where an injured spine and other factors in an aging body keep me from sleeping through a night. I usually will wake up at least twice a night. Realistically its probably three.

That same spinal injury really has the control on the “exercise” portion of my program. What I really need is a treadmill or bike, but I have no real room for it in the condo. So I do mall walking during the winter. This really is boring as hell unless you have someone walking with you. And even that is questionable. The first two days of the year and this challenge and it was questionable if I could walk, much less walk for 20-30 minutes straight. Yesterday I had to stay home from a planned trip and I asked my wife to dig out my cane for me. It got better, but I am still stiff as hell today and hurting, but a manageable hurt.

All that aside, I have a new app on my iPad called Lose It. It manages tracking your food and counts the caloric intake for you. It doesn’t have everything under the sun in there, but its easy enough to add something if you know the nutritional information for it. It will also factor in exercise in the mix for you and give you an estimated date of when you should hit your goal weight. It’s pretty slick. Also, my wife is using it so it helps things out if I am too.

Anything that it doesn’t factor in (like 64 oz of water in a day) the other rules for Change Write Now do. Which brings me to the most nebulous of the rules. Adopting a Good Habit and quitting a Bad Habit.

Good Habit

For me this is a fairly easy one. It’s one I held onto for most of the past couple of months, and I want to keep going with it. I will write each day for at least the 20-30 minutes I should be walking. This isn’t blog posts or Facebook notes either. This is actual fiction for use in submission, or as sparks towards submission. In reality the number I am shooting for is 1-2 hours a day. Preferably in 1 or 2 sittings.

Bad Habit

I would like to say skipping my writing when I don’t feel well, but that really is what the Good Habit is about. And even though it is technically one of the existing rules I’m going food based here. I will eat only healthy foods during writing group. The heavy dinner I eat there will put a hurting on this challenge. Since this really is covered in the other rules, I’ll add on a rider to this one. I’ll also not spend more than my $10 a month budget on books. This should be easily manageable with the amount of Barnes and Noble gift cards I am applying towards Nook books for the upcoming year. My $10 a month will go only towards books I really want to own in print. Like Sins of the Demon, just released by Diana Rowland today. (Forgive the shameless plug, but… well… it is my blog.)

Reading Today: Shadow City by Diana Pharoh Francis

Writing Today: Second Short Story for an anthology submission

Edit: Holy monkeys! I totally forgot the team name. I suggested it due to be tired, but the name grew on me the more people liked it… The Undead Poets Society.  🙂