Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Some Resolutions: February Update

  1. I have, indeed, eaten something green every day.  Some days have been better than others - yesterday, for example, I just had some cucumber sticks at the pub - but I wouldn't have had those without the challenge!
  2. I have read two books that fit the Read Harder challenge - The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu (a book about books), and The Obelisk Gate (a fantasy novel).  So I'm on track!  I'm currently reading a book that makes me FURIOUS (Give Us the Ballot) and sadly does not fall under one of the categories, so the next couple of books I read will hopefully fit so that I can stay on pace.
  3. Cut down on screen time. This has gone terribly, frankly.  In January, I tried Moment, but at that time, my phone didn't tell me how much time I've spent on each app, so Moment, the one app that is supposed to help, didn't work.  Apple's suggestion for getting the battery usage data to work was to reset your phone entirely which seemed... extreme.  On the other hand, I needed to do something and not make excuses.  So...

    I reset my phone.  Ulp.  I'm going to restore it at some point, because I need my photos, but I reset it to monitor my phone usage.  The phone usage figures may be warped, however: I did not re-download any of the three games that I previously spent a lot of time playing. I have already noticed that I reach for the phone whenever a lull occurs, and I don't quite know what to do when I realize that I cannot play a game on it.  What has happened is that I am genuinely using my phone less, although I've probably upped using some other apps because I have that ingrained habit of reaching for my phone.  

    What does that mean for me?  I think I'll keep monitoring my usage for the next couple of weeks to get a good sense of what I'm using, when, and why.  Then I'm going to restore my phone, but remove those games so that I do not play them.
  4. Walking!
    1. I have been, more or less, doing 10,000 steps a day.  My January average was just under 10,000 - 9.500.  I think this may change, however, because almost everyone at work now has a Fitbit, and we're doing weekly challenges.  Our competitive natures seem to be kicking in... I have deliberately chosen a route home that allowed me to get in that extra walking time...
    2. I have not been setting my phone to do the walk every hour, so I'm adding this for February!
  5. It's a little hard to use my planner, but I have been better about it.  It's quite difficult because I don't like the weekly bit - it doesn't give you days of the week, just things to plan / focus on.  I suppose that I need to start adding what days of the week I should do the tasks, but it's not great.  That's the one thing I'd change about the planner.  If you're reading, Panda, that's what I'd do...

Saturday, January 07, 2017

2017: Year of the Dumpling (Part 1)

Since moving to New York City, I have learned many things about myself through exposure to things new, exciting, and mundane.  One of the most important pieces of knowledge I have gleaned is that soup dumplings are one of humankind's greatest inventions.  That is not hyperbole.  They are truly glorious.  Luckily, through careful selection of friends and physical activity, each week we play football in Chinatown and frequently end up at a soup dumpling place.

I am not narrow-minded, however; my love for dumplings extends beyond the soup variety.  Which is why I was super excited to see New York's list of the 50 best dumplings in NYC.  What could be a better challenge for 2017 than to eat as many of them as I could?*  Having enlisted the support of the aforementioned friends, on Thursday we embarked on two of the top 50. These are found at Hao Noodle & Tea House, an absolutely gorgeously designed restaurant on Sixth Avenue.

The dumplings recommended were not, in fact, the stars of the show. I enjoyed the claypot dumplings, which used egg as the wrapper, but I was in the minority.  The bacon siu mai were enjoyable but not particularly exceptional.  Nonetheless, the soup dumplings were lovely; the noodles we ordered were very spicy and tasty; and there was a gorgeous lotus root dish with sweet osmanthus that was, probably, the standout for me - the lotus root tasted like chestnut, and was delicious.  We also had shrimp in fried dough - how can you beat that?

Claypot Dumplings

Bacon Siu Mai


* Although I would like to eat as many as possible, we're concentrating on the Asian dumplings rather than the European ones.  

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Some Resolutions


Hello there, 2017!

2016 is done. Dead. Over. So... what next?
  1. I am going to eat something green every day - that definitely fell by the wayside toward the end of last year - strangely enough, after the 2016 Elections here in the US.  
  2. Do the Read Harder Challenge from Book Riot.  I did the 2016 one, and that was an excellent choice: it provided the motivation I needed to read books that I perceived to be worthy but not always as immediately appealing as something trashier and lighter. The challenge taught me also that these perceptions were not really accurate - so much of what I read was wonderful and easily digested, in part because I chose good books by authors who knew what they were doing.  I might post up the choices I made for 2016, because I was pretty pleased with myself, but that's for another time.
  3. Cut down on screen time.  I am not quite sure how I'm going to do it, but some research (sadly, on a screen) will be needed!  But, basically, I spend too much time with my phone and it irritates me as well as people in my life.  I would like this to help with productivity, too.  This is where I'm starting: each year, NPR looks at different ways to disconnect, a little, and I will be looking into some of 2015's recommendations.  It is a little scary, but exciting, too.  I think smaller steps are needed, as I don't really know how to even start!  So I see the plan as this:
    1. January: Working out (and being honest about) just how much time I spend doing what - on phone, on tv, and on computer.  
      1. After two weeks, work out what is "essential" time, what is "fun" time, and what is "I'm doing this because I can't stop / I'm addicted / being lazy" time.  
      2. Then make a plan to cut down on a small part at a time.  I think the Bored... and Brilliant? series at NPR will really help there.
    2. February: Make my first cut!
    3. March: Check in on how I'm doing; make a second cut, or alter the plan depending on the success thus far.
    4. And then we'll see, I suppose, how it is going.
  4. Walking!  There are two parts here:
    1. Hit my 10,000 steps each day.  I'm going to work on making sure that if I do not have enough steps, going for a ten minute walk before bed, that sort of thing. What should help is...
    2. Every hour I'm at work, having a five minute wander. I'm going to set my alarm to do this.  Obviously there is some leeway when I'm in meetings or teaching, but this is the aim.  At least while I'm teaching I stalk around the classroom, so I get some steps that way.
  5. USE MY PLANNER.  I often end up feel harassed and all over the place. I have a new class to teach this year, as well as all the other work and personal obligations I have to address.  So actually using the planner will, I hope, help me feel a little more on top of thing.  That would be nice.  It's not going to be easy, and this planner is a little intense, so we'll see how I do.
I know I can do #2; #1 I've done before and is a small but useful thing to do; #4 I'm pretty sure of, too.  The main concern is #3, but I think having smaller chunks to break it down will help.  We'll see about #5 - I am not good about consistent planning and use of the planner, but I know it will help.  A concerted effort to use it should help me determine whether it's good for me.  

Saturday, October 29, 2016

A Non-Exhaustive List of Chores That Are Suddenly Compelling When I Need to Grade Papers


  • Clear out the fridge.
  • Check expiry dates for condiments.
  • Rearrange the spice collection.
  • Do laundry.
    • Not just laundry, but hand wash laundry, which is really rather excessive.
  • Alphabetize books.
  • Attack the unpaired sock pile.
  • Make healthy (ha!) donuts.
  • Wash up.
  • Use a face mask.  Clearly, I cannot grade while my pores are being deep cleaned. That would disturb the process.
  • Play Sporcle.  It is extremely important that I can recognize the names of countries in Africa when they are written in Greek characters.
  • Update my planner.  This thing is seriously intense.  I'm trying to be organized.  We'll see how this goes.
  • Play Lyraball.
  • Work out.  For a long, long, long time.
  • Prep my meals for the next week.
  • Make sure I am up to date on college football.
  • Plan my Hallowe'en costume.
  • Update my blog.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Pottering

It's been one of those Saturdays I enjoy the most: a small wander around to do some tasks that had piled up (framing a print; returning not-too-overdue books to the library) and a trip to the farmers' market, and then some home-based tasks of hand washing items, laundry, and a bit of a tidy up while the slightly grubby, wet, cold weather continues.  These are all tasks that needed doing; they are also all tasks that I used to completely avoid the teaching work I needed to do.  But the main thing is a gentle sense of contentment and joy in the knowledge that I am still British enough to call this pottering.