Seven-ish month check-in

When I look back at the Three Month Check-in post I have to kind of laugh at the "At this point, I think we're expecting at least 3-4 more weeks of working from home." sentence as I sit here at FOUR AND A HALF MONTHS after the shut down, still working from home. And there doesn't seem to be much of a chance that will change in the near future since Texas is one of the current coronavirus hot zones right now. The dean of my college at the university sent out an email a couple of weeks ago that basically told us to keep working from home through the fall if we can and since we don't have visitors, star parties, and field trips, I can and will. But I am hoping to go up a couple of afternoons a week to work on the lab classroom that I'm in charge of since this is the best time to finally clean out old equipment and get our demo stuff in order since no one else can use the room.

This continues to feel like some weird time-warp since almost everything I wrote three months ago is still pretty much how things are going. I haven't lost any weight - in fact, I gained a couple of pounds since I'm still not getting enough exercise. Now the weather is too hot instead of too wet and we had a bonus Saharan dust influx, which my lungs can't handle. Although I have been regularly getting in some arm weight exercises! I'm also still keeping up with the Shakespeare 2020 Project and I'm still getting in some more stitching time! I haven't done quite as much stitching in the past few months since I actually did some work on my Tudor History website. (My webhost is moving to new servers and so I had to do some work regardless because things would break if I didn't!)

I've been on a "cooking things from scratch" kick for the past few weeks and have learned to make my own tzatziki after I discovered that my grocery store has gyro meat in the frozen foods section. Not as good as fresh from the Greek deli, but not bad at all! I also made a pot of Boston baked beans a couple of weeks ago to finally break in my Dutch oven that I bought for myself at the holidays. Of course, I picked a day that would get up to 106°F to cook beans in the oven all day... Next up will be some homemade charro beans and the restaurant-style Mexican rice that I like (I've done that one several times now, but not with my new Dutch oven!). And probably some cook-all-day marinara too. I kind of wish this had come over me earlier in the stay-at-home time when it wasn't so damn hot!

That's it for now. I hope anyone who stumbles across this is doing well and staying safe!

Three month check-in

Huh, yeah, so my life and pretty much everyone else's has now gone off the rails!

February ended up being just as busy as I had expected and that continued on into the first two weeks of March. We had our faculty candidate visits, our board meeting, and our grad student recruiting and then the university closed on March 13 when the first cases of the novel coronavirus were confirmed in Austin. Most of us have been working from home since, although I've popped up to campus a couple of time to grab things. I was lucky that I was pretty much ready to go with a set up for working from home - probably a sad statement on my life choices - since I have had to occasionally do some work while home on staycations.

Not surprisingly, with all of the free food around during all of our events, I have not been able to sustain any weight loss over the past two months. And I don't expect to really lose any while working from home. I'm actually mostly okay with that, as long as I don't have a huge gain. I'm not getting as much walking and stair climbing in right now, mostly because the weather hasn't been very cooperative (not really a complaint - we've gotten some much-needed rain). I also haven't been checking my blood pressure as frequently as I should, but when I have checked, the numbers were pretty good.

But the good things - I've been keeping up with the Shakespeare 2020 project! I can stay up later reading since I don't have to get up as early to get ready for work and drive in. And I've gotten quite a bit more stitching done, not surprisingly. More on that over on Lara's Loose Threads soon!

I keep thinking that I should write some about what it's like to be living through this time, but the main thing I keep thinking is just how WEIRD it all feels. I was shopping in the grocery store on March 10 when things were really starting to get... "interesting" and they were already starting to sell out of some things and limit purchases on items and while I was standing in line to check out, I was reading the news on my phone. And for one brief moment I had a wave come over me where I honestly felt like I was in the first 20 minutes of a post-apocalyptic movie (or the first episode of a post-apocalyptic TV show) as things are *just* starting to tip. I did a little shopping last week and it was just surreal going through a store with a bunch of empty shelves and few people, some already wearing masks. I'm probably going to head to the grocery store later this week and this time I'll be wearing some sort of face covering too.

At this point, I think we're expecting at least 3-4 more weeks of working from home. I'm not really stir crazy yet since I've been working and chatting with people over Slack, Zoom, etc. but I think even I will have a breaking point eventually. I may be a homebody introvert, but even introverts need some in-person interaction with friends and family! With some good alone time to recover after. :)

One month check-in!

I have no idea if I'll actually be able to keep up with these (I'm almost certain I won't be able to at the end of February/early March), but I'll try!

Here's where I am so far:

* Did Dry January! (like I mentioned before, not really that hard for me these days...)

* Down a few pounds - always hard for me to tell a few pounds difference thanks to my water weight fluctuations due to a medication

* Measured my blood pressure four times this month, which was almost once a week

* I kept forgetting to do my arm exercises, so I only did a few. Still need to figure out a good time to work those into my schedule

* About half way through my "Cognitive Behavioral Therapy" course (which has been really interesting)

* Finished the first section of the Wonders of Space stitchalong and another small project

* On track for the Shakespeare 2020 Project

All-in-all, so far so good!

Welcome 2020!

Time for my annual blog post! Yeah, I probably should make a goal to post more - which I probably will, but mostly over on my needlework blog.

Looking back at the goals for 2019 and how I did on those:

Health goals - I *did* finally get an eye exam and my first pair of prescription glasses! And I did dry January, which really isn't all that hard for me anymore. As for the rest... kind of... meh. I didn't lose 15 more pounds and unfortunately I regained some of what I had lost in 2018 and ended 2019 about 5 pounds higher than where I started it. I'm still under my highest-ever weight though, so at least there's that. I did get at least 5,000 steps a lot of days, but that is one of the knock-on effects of being busy at work and doing a lot of running around! I was horribly inconsistent about measuring my blood pressure and doing some arm exercises. I think part of the problem with the exercises at least is finding the optimal time to work it into my schedule since trying to remember to do them when I got home from work hasn't been working. I'm thinking maybe adding them to my morning routine might be the best bet, but that might run into trouble with when I usually measure my blood pressure. But it might be worth giving it a shot in the new year.

Home, digital, and financial goals - Mixed bag, again. I did actually update all my passwords on my digital accounts, added 2FA where I could, and even closed some accounts (I really wish this was easier to do!). I didn't buy a new car in 2019 and I did finish the year with less debt than I started with, but not by as much as I would have liked. I also did get started on organizing my digital photos but I haven't managed to get them uploaded to Flickr. I also didn't get stuff over to Half Price, etc. and I still have some repairs that I need my complex to come do.

Entertainment - Because Disney+ ended up launching later in the year that I originally thought, I didn't get a chance to start into watching Star Wars Clone Wars and Rebels until fairly late. And I ended up not reading many of the backlogged Star Wars comics and books (although I did read some - just not many). So basically the second half of November and December ended up being the "month and a half" of Star Wars (and course seeing Episode IX twice in the theaters)! I keep poking along and reading through my backlog of comics but there are still lots left. I also managed to meet my Goodreads goal of 25 books, including some re-reads and some comics volumes. I did have some spurts or more cooking and stitching too, but it would have probably been better for me overall if I had done both with a little more regularity. I'll post a bit about the stitching in 2019 over on Lara's Loose Threads.

And I did manage to write a little something down in the day planner everyday, which proved to be pretty helpful in writing up this re-cap of the year! I bought another one while I was out running errands a couple of days ago so I can do it again for 2020. And I did take a few days off here and there in the fall after having to take off nearly half the summer so I wouldn't lose vacation time.

Goals for 2020!

Looking back at the past few years and things that I've done well with and... not so well with... I think I need to get back to setting more clearly defined and measurable goals. So with that in mind:

Health - Since 2020 is a nice round number, I'm setting the goal of being down at least 20 pounds by the end of the year. With my weight creeping back up and my clothes getting tighter, I'm getting back to the "lose weight or buy more clothes" area and I'm really too cheap to buy a bunch more clothes (although I really do need to get a few more pairs of blue jeans since spots are wearing thin on the two pair I'm currently wearing to death). And I wrote it that way on purpose since a couple of years ago I did lose the 15 pounds I wanted to, but then re-gained 5 of them by the end of the year. And I'm going to measure my blood pressure at least once a week. I probably should do it a bit more, but I think weekly is doable. I'm also going to do Dry January again, but that is the one thing that I'm actually quite good at doing. Since I'm going to monitor my calories closely to lose weight, I'm likely going to be going back to just having the occasional beer, wine, or cider when I'm out, but not keeping bottle of wine, etc. at home. As much as I love those things, they are a very easy way to consume too many calories. Once in a while when I'm out with friends or family is fine - or at my Happy Place, the Alamo Drafthouse - but that's about it. And finally, I'm going to try to get back into regularly doing some small weight exercises for my arms. As I mentioned above, finding a better time to work it into my routine is probably the key. I'm going to aim for doing them 5 times a week, at least.

Home, digital, and financial - Yeah, I still need to get some repairs done around the apartment and I still need to take stuff to Half Price, etc. so maybe 2020 will be the year those things finally happen. And I'm going to keep working on organizing and posting my digital photos. If nothing else, I'd like to get them organized and uploaded to where I'm backing them up in the cloud, but maybe I'll actually add a few things to Flickr this year! I have TONS of stuff that hasn't made it there yet that I'd really like to share. For financial goals - again, end the year with less debt than I started with. That's going to continue to depend on how much longer my car holds out, but if I can make it to mid-2021 I'll be in better shape financially to buy a new car. (Technically I could do it now, but the longer I can go the better loans I'll get!). I've also made some gradual improvements in the past few years of controlling my impulse purchased and scaling back the things I buy for my collections. I probably should be more in the "getting rid of things" mode instead of "acquiring things" mode anyway since my little apartment just can't hold all my nicknacks!

Entertainment - One well-defined goal for the new year is to complete Ian Doescher's (of William Shakespeare's Star Wars fame) Shakespeare 2020 Project. I tried to read or watch productions of all of the plays and sonnets between 2014 and 2016 (the 450th anniversary of the Bard's birth and 400th anniversary of his death), but didn't make it, so I thought maybe I would succeed with a little peer pressure. (And for the record, in 2015 I did visit Stratford-upon-Avon for the second time, so that should count for something). I'm going to set my Goodreads goal for 30 this year and not include the Shakespeare unless I finish the challenge, in which case I'll pick a Complete Works to count as read. And I do have the sonnets as a separate book (purchased in Stratford!) so maybe I'll count that too. :) I'm also going to keep ploughing through the backlog of comic books. 2020 almost certainly won't be the year I get caught up, but I can at least make a dent! One other entertainment thing I'm going to start in 2020 is making my way through the 1000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die list. I don't plan to try to finish it for a few years, but I want to start on it finally! And of course, I'm going to keep working more cooking and stitching into my routine. I've signed up for a Wonders of Space stitch-along in 2020 so my one firm goal is to have it finished by the end of the year. And to keep me company while I'm stitching, I'm also slowly making my way through all of Disney's animated features. While I was looking through the list of the movies I realized that there are SO MANY I haven't seen from the past few decades. I mostly watched the older things while I was a kid and then never saw most of the new ones as they came out.

And I'm going to throw in a few more vague things - I think the key to getting some of these other goals done is actually in my brain, so I'm going to work on that a little too. I've tried it learn to mediate a couple of times and I haven't kept with it, so I'm going to try a little different approach. Audible had a 2-for-1 credit sale at the end of 2019 and I got two Great Courses - one on "Practicing Mindfulness" and one on "Cognitive Behavioral Therapy" and I'm going to listen to one lesson a night (outside of days that I have other evening commitments). I think I can learn a few things in those that will better help me with some of these other goals. Or at least that's my hope! And one of the other vague things I'm going to try in 2020 is to not get too discouraged with things either in the greater world or in my own life. I know it's going to be a busy year at work and heavily front-loaded, so if I can maintain goals through to the end of March then I'll really have no excuse for falling off later in the year.

Whew - I didn't think this was going to end up being such a long post! Okay, let's get started with 2020!