j4: (fruithat)
Happy new year! And a very belated merry Christmas, since I never posted anything for that either.

I think this is the last day I can legitimately get away with using my fruithat icon, even though ACTUALLY twelfth night is INTERESTINGLY not today but last night and we are already courting BAD LUCK by having taken the decorations down tonight. Anyway. It's 2014! There are a lot of 'review of the year' things going round but I already can't remember anything that happened last year. I spent the last 3 months of it with a hideous cough and the previous 3 months feeling faily about work and before that I have no idea, though I definitely read some books somewhere along the line.

I didn't really make any new year's resolutions this year either, which doesn't mean that I don't feel the need to improve anything in my life, but is more an indication of my current level of confidence in actually achieving anything, viz.: approximately zero. I made vague resolutions to go running more often and to have more fun, but have no idea how to go about achieving the latter and feel too apathetic to do the former (also at the moment it would be more like swimming anyway). In the meantime I guess I will read some more books and try to stop Img falling off anything particularly high.
j4: (badgers)
Happy new year, friendslist! I'm sorry I completely failed to do an LJ Christmas card this year. I didn't even manage to use my LJ Christmas icon. Here's a belated Christmas photo (yes, I know it's after Twelfth Night):

Santa's Little Helper

I'm sorry I've also failed to send 'thank you' notes to all the people who gave us lovely presents. I will say a big THANK YOU now & I will try to email you all soon.

We spent Christmas itself and a couple of days either side with my parents in Leicestershire (including a day trip up to Bramhall to see my grandma), and then spent a few days after Christmas with [livejournal.com profile] addedentry's parents in Bristol. Img was mostly fairly well-behaved but was obviously getting more and more twitchy with all the new places and people and changes to her routine (such as it is -- we're not very good at routines at the best of times) so we were glad to get back to Oxford just before New Year. We didn't exactly stay up to see the New Year in, but Img did wake us up at about 12:05 (possibly having been woken up herself by the fireworks outside). Seemed a bit daft saying "Happy New Year" to someone who hadn't even been alive a whole year yet, but she didn't mind.

Obviously Img didn't really know about Christmas, either, but she seemed to enjoy trying to eat lots of wrapping paper or rip it to shreds; she also got some lovely new toys which she obviously likes -- the bright-coloured stacking cups are fun to knock over (and bang against each other), and she also seemed surprisingly keen on a big floppy doll (I didn't think they got into dolls until later). She also enjoyed the food at Christmas, which may have played a part in the fact that she managed to gain 2lb between mid-November and January. :-)

I don't have any New Year's resolutions this year; there are things I'd like to do before I go back to work in March, and things I'd like to do at some point this year, and things I'd like to do some day in the future; but at the moment I'm really just concentrating on surviving from day to day (or maybe week to week). I'm still finding it really difficult (as anybody who follows me on Twitter will know) because of the sleep -- or rather the lack of it -- and while I think some things will get easier, other things will surely get harder to make up for it. I can't remember if I made resolutions last year either, but I don't want to look back at them because I suspect I won't have succeeded in any of them. I did, however, manage to keep reading lots of books, which is practically the only resolution I've kept for long enough for it to become a habit.

I hope you all had lovely Christmases and I hope 2012 is shaping up well for you so far.
j4: (admin)
I never did post New Year's Resolutions at New Year, because the winter seemed to go on for ever and involve nothing but snow and fail and stress, so I've decided to move them to April 1st. It seems like a better time to start new things anyway, with the green shoots of spring pushing up and the new life beginning all around.

For those who care, here's the results from last year )

And, if anybody's still reading, the resolutions for this year )

There are lots of other things I want to make resolutions about but they're awkward things, hard to get a grip on in my head, mostly to do with keeping-in-touch-with-people and where-I'm-going-with-work-and-life-and-stuff. I think they'll need separate posts of their own, assuming I can actually get back to posting sensibly again.

Over all I think I'm having more trouble than usual inspiring myself to do things this year, but I can't keep blaming the long cold winter forever. Time to get up and start doing things, putting out shoots as well as putting down roots. There'll be time enough for sleeping when we're dead.
j4: (hair)
This is going to be One Of Those Posts. Last chance to look away now.

I lost myself I cannot speak )
j4: (dirigible)
A belated Happy New Year to all my readers!

New Year's Resolutions so far:

0. Post New Year's Resolutions to LiveJournal before the end of January.

(The rest are not considered legally binding until/unless I've posted them in public.)

It is not going well on the Actually Getting Things Done front so far this year, though. I blame the snow. Well, I don't really, I blame myself, but hey.

Year we go

Jan. 3rd, 2009 05:40 pm
j4: (knitting)
Happy New Year! 2008 was a bit rubbish, though, wasn't it, on the whole? I feel like I spent most of the year hiding under a rock and being stressed. No more! 2009 is a year for being calm and sorted and efficient and productive.

Some people seem to see New Year's Resolutions as a big pressure on themselves, a thing to set yourself up to fail against. If they're not the right tool for you, don't use them: silly to use a screwdriver if what you really want to do is knock a nail in. But personally I see them as a way to clear out some of the little lists in my brain, a good starting-point to count from if I want to try something new (whether it's running, reading, or remembering the milk) for a fixed period of time (long enough to give it and myself a chance, but a fixed-length commitment rather than an open-ended thing which is more likely to fail or fizzle out). NYRs are, for me, the mental equivalent of a brisk walk to shake off the New Year's Eve hangover: the direction isn't really that important, but the sense of going somewhere and doing something and focusing on one thing gives my brain a bit of a kick in the metaphor.

I didn't begin this year with a hangover. I began it curled up on our friends' futon in a warm and welcoming house, after an evening of drinking (but not to ridiculous excess) and playing Singstar (probably to slight excess) and talking. I didn't manage the New Year's Day walk, either, but only because said friends had got us BIG PRESENTS so we had to get the bus. The bus turned up on time, and we were just in time to use the end of the 24-hour DayRider that had got us there the day before, so the year's spending started with a saving of about a fiver. Also, I'd put the laundry on and hung it out just before leaving the house for NYE festivities; in retrospect, I'd definitely recommend this: as soon as I woke up on New Year's Day I knew I'd already done the laundry. I then spent most of the rest of NYD reading Ben Goldacre's Bad Science, which is thoroughly excellent and I would recommend it to anybody reading this.

Can't put this off any longer by rambling... let's have a look at last year's resolutions (I reiterate: this isn't really a question of "win" or "fail", it's more like "how did my predictions pan out, and did I end up going in the direction in which I thought I was going" -- more like planning a walk and then looking at the GPS reading afterwards): last year's troubles )

So! This year's resolutions:

Reduce my/our carbon footprint

This is [livejournal.com profile] addedentry's resolution too; like him, I've got a carbon account (but unlike him I haven't patiently typed in the historical readings from the last year, so my figures are probably less accurate; so a sub-resolution is to fix this either by a) typing them all in by hand, or b) asking the people who do the Carbon Account about the possibility of a one-off import of historical data...)

On the other hand, we live a fairly low-carbon lifestyle anyway (we don't drive or fly, for a start), so I do rather feel as though I'm whittling away at something I can fix while other people are happily burning tyres on the deck of the Titanic. What I really want to do is try to do something to try to influence other people's behaviour as well, but preferably without making everybody hate me. On the other other hand... we are on a sinking ship. Time to worry about making everybody feel fluffy, or time to start bailing and building rafts?

So the related resolution is:

Do something every month to contribute to the global campaign against climate change

Which is fairly vague, and which may well result in throwing money at campaigns because I am generally less cash-poor than time-poor, but if humanity survives for long enough for me to be telling my grandchildren anything, I'd like to be able to tell them that I didn't just carry on selfishly wasting resources and sticking my fingers in my ears while hoping that someone else would sort everything out. And even if there is a Magic Bean made of Clever Science to get us out of the fix we're in, people need support (morale and money) in the process of looking for it.

Right, heavy shit over. Back to your scheduled programme of fiddling while Rome burns -- apropos of which, a reinstated resolution from 2007: and the rest of this year's resolutions )

I suppose I ought to include one resolution that I'm pretty much guaranteed to keep, so the last one on the list is:

Get married


In fact I don't expect any of these resolutions to start until after the honeymoon, so no nudging me about them until after January!

As a final this-year-is-going-to-be-better-really postscript I would like to note that I've managed to get the New Year's Resolutions post done while it's technically still Christmas, which is probably a record (no, I can't be bothered to check either), and hopefully a good omen.

And to everybody who's reading this: good luck with achieving your aims (stated or unstated) for this year, or just pottering along happily doing whatever you're up to.
j4: (dodecahedron)
If I don't post this now I never will. I was going to try to keep the New Year's Resolutions analysis brief this year, but it's been sitting there accreting stuff since late December...

You won't miss anything important if you skip this post.

last year's resolutions: status report )

I feel as though I spent a lot of last year trying to juggle doing far too many things, both in and out of work. However, moving house brought most of those things to an abrupt end, so I'll probably be spending a lot of this year finding new ways to fill up my 'free' time -- all the more necessary as I fear that work time (which, fact-fans, accounts for approximately 1/3 of the day) isn't going to be as much fun as it was before. Partly as a result of this, some of this year's resolutions are bigger, though the rest are the usual batch of administrivia:

This year's life )

That's it. Long overdue, but at least it's still only January.

Mind you, the real "resolutions" are all staying in my head -- the resolutions to do something, be something, make something, justify my oxygen-consumption in some way. They're vast and formless, and they don't fit in my head, but I can't work out how to get them out. Maybe that's why I've got a headache.
j4: (dodecahedron)
One of my new year's resolutions was to cook proper meals. Wasn't it? I can't remember now. In one ear, out the other. Anyway, this weekend I actually made some progress in that direction: three proper meals, plus one which my parents brought and cooked, and therefore doesn't really count. food! )

So, gosh, that's more cooking in a weekend than I did in the previous 3 months, probably. Inbetween all the cooking, on Saturday I managed to do a bit of a shift at Oxfam (though I am getting hideously slack about that, and in penance I have promised to get there early next Saturday, i.e. just before 9 a.m.). Then at lunchtime my parents came to visit, bringing soup, bread, and the remainder of my Christmas presents, including my long-awaited iSight, about which more when I have actually set it up etc etc.

Then after parents had left, O. and I headed into town with bags full of my unwanted books, intending to sell some to the Haunted Bookshop (which specialises in children's books) and give the rest to Amnesty. However in the event of it, due to my Hard Bargaining Skillz (aka complete confusion) I managed to sell the lot to the Haunted Bookshop for a grand total of £32. That works out at about a quid a book, but given that I got many of them for under a quid and some for free, I think it's not too bad. And, hell, it meant I didn't have to walk any further with a bagful of books on my back, which has got to be a good thing. Though we did eventually walk to the Amnesty shop anyway and even spend some money there, which assuaged my guilt over cheating them out of books.

In addition to the books I've sold, I've given away about 30 books through ucam.adverts.giveaway; for a couple of weeks now my desk at work has looked like a car boot sale, but it's finally getting under control. I was annoyed by one man who emailed immediately to claim a whole batch of books I was giving away, but then after about a dozen faffy emails over the space of a week and a half totally failed to come and collect the damn things ... offset against that frustration, though, is the satisfaction I felt when I was able to email the people who had mailed me after no-show guy to claim various books (which I'd said at the time were already gone) and tell them "actually this is available again, do you still want it?"

So over all I feel pounds lighter and a few pounds richer. Not quite enough pounds richer to cover the money I owe the Inland Revenue, but I have now actually completed my self-assessment form (with tons of practical help, translation of tax-speak, and moral support from [livejournal.com profile] sion_a). Okay, so I owe them more money than I can pay without exceeding my overdraft limit, but at least I know the worst now... right? I still have thousands of pounds of debts to pay off, I still haven't done half the things I'm supposed to have done, but right now I'm going to drink a bottle of badger beer, eat a coconut macaroon, and relax for a moment. Sufficient unto the day, etc.
j4: (kanji)
Remember learning to write? Your parents or teachers make you trace over the printed outlines of perfectly-formed letters time and time again until, after lines and lines of exercise-book pages, your shaky pencil shapes grow so close to the dotted letters that the deviations from the line can barely be seen. Eventually you're ready to write those same shapes without the safety-net of the dotted letters; and when you do so, your letters may well revert to being a little more uncertain, a little more irregular than they were previously. On the other hand, because there's no longer any underlying image to which to conform, it shows less when you do deviate from what is, after all, only someone else's ideal. You're free to form your letters in whatever way you choose. Eventually your printing becomes neater, and your handwriting settles into something fairly consistent, though it slowly shifts and changes over the years as you refine one bit or another; perhaps you try to neaten it, or make it more romantic, or make it more angular; perhaps you change the pen you use and your writing changes a little to reflect that; or perhaps it's not even conscious, perhaps the shapes of your writing shift like the ponderous movements of continents, and you don't even realise anything has changed until by chance you find a memo to yourself from 10 years ago and you can barely believe it's your writing. And, of course, it isn't; in so many ways, both physical and psychological, you're barely the same person now as you were then.

The only way to improve your handwriting is by practising, but only you know what sort of practice works best for you. Maybe tracing letter-outlines helps you, or maybe you prefer to just write and see what happens; maybe you practise in private where nobody can laugh at your mistakes, or maybe you find that writing to other people helps to motivate you to keep improving.

New Year is an arbitrary blip in the calendar, a milestone (or millstone) that's as meaningless as adult birthdays. But I still make New Year's Resolutions: I like to draw the faint outlines of where and what I want to be, so that later I can see how well my subsequent tracings match the suggested shapes; and I like the external accountability of bringing my progress (or lack of it) into the public eye. Sometimes, somewhere along the way, I have (consciously or otherwise) decided to follow different paths from those I laid out; this doesn't necessarily constitute failure, any more than deciding to write in italic script (perhaps because one prefers the look of it, or the feel of it under the pen) signals a failure to write in upright lettering. The important thing is to distinguish between lapses which damage the desired outcome (e.g. writing a 't' without its crosspiece might render it indistinguishable from an 'l', which would make the writing harder to read and hence make communication more difficult) and lapses which don't (e.g. whether your 'w' is a zigzag or two overlapping 'v's, there aren't really any other letters with which it could become confused). I leave the extension of the already over-stretched analogy as an exercise for the reader (and writer).

So how do the letters line up? Here are last year's resolutions, reproduced here with commentary.

resolved! )

And now this year's Resolutions, with more commentary. This year's are a complete ragbag of resolutions, and there are far too many of them, but I figure that if I aim at the stars, I might just hit a tree. I don't really expect anybody to read all this (though obviously you're all free to do so); I'm writing these out more for my own benefit than anybody else's.

resolvent )

I haven't really made any resolutions about friendships and relationships, or thoughts and feelings, because it's so hard to quantify things; however, for the sake of external accountability, I do intend to make more of an effort to keep in touch with old friends as well as meeting new ones, and I want to be more reliable about getting in touch with people when I've said I'll do so. I also want to get more of a grip on my self-image, but that's heading out of the realm of New Year's Resolutions and into cognitive therapy. If I think it won't be too navel-gazing, I may write about some of that here.

May 2017

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