Friday, 1 September 2017

Summer's End 2017

Like always, the end of August is more of a conclusion to a year than the end of December could ever hope to be. I wrote one of these “summer wrap-up” posts for 2013, 2014 and 2015. In 2016, I was off work, but now we’re back into old habits. Here, have a “Year of Summer” AMV (courtesy my AMV Friday #49, 2014).



Am I ready to go back on Tuesday? Yes and no. There are things I didn’t get done, but I think that will always be the case - for 60 weeks, I was always on the go. My reluctance is more a fear of being overwhelmed, particularly now that I’m back in a tech class after 10 years. (Verified: My old files are from 2007.) It’s not only the new material, it’s a whole new way of evaluating and delivering content too. On the flip side, it’s good to reconnect with people and colleagues, the bank account is nearly drained, and one hopes that I’ll be making a difference out there.

Oooh, the waking up before 8am is going to be painful though.


LESSONS LEARNED


Before going into a roundup of the old categories, there’s a few things I realized about myself in the past year or so.

1) I Cannot Focus. The only exception to this seems to be in my writing, when I can vanish for a few hours as I play with my characters - but even then, sometimes I need to walk away for a bit. Or I’m distracted by a shiny thing. Or I’m scrolling through Twitter to confirm I’m not crazy. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing... until you pair it with grading.

I have this mental block on grading, where I feel like I need to be as consistent as possible (perfectionism!), hence a need to do a full class set at the same time. So I procrastinate, not wanting to do a half hour here and a half hour there. But then I can’t FOCUS for a three hour long stretch of grading papers. And at exam time, there’s too much of it, and everything blows up.

I don’t really have a solution for this yet, aside from trusting in my ability to recall what I do in a sequence of short bursts (which is a thing I’m capable of, my memory’s good). But the diagnosis is something of an eye opener.

2) I Am That Damn Introverted. Often when out with friends, or even when spending time with family, I’d stress out over the other things I needed to be doing. Mostly school related things, like quizzes sitting on my desk. But remove the job, and the deadlines, and I STILL stress the SAME. Turns out I simply can’t be around people longer than about two hours.

Oh, it’s different in a classroom, because I’m not having to wrack my brain to come up with social questions or charming details about my life - we’re there for math. Or tech, or drama, or whatever, there’s a PURPOSE. I can do purpose. I can’t do extended before dinner conversations. Which is not because of other commitments or time management, I simply get tapped out spiritually. So yeah.

3) The Week Starts on Sunday. I’ve posted my weekly summaries for 60 weeks now on Saturday nights. I think this is in large part because my step counter summaries end the week then, so it makes those tallies easy. But by documenting Saturday, I find myself doing OTHER things on that day, so that I can mark them complete before the next week starts. Like drafting posts, lawn care, or what have you. I then start the week not by waking up at 7am, but with a day open for anything that didn’t get done.

With those universal truths out of the way, let’s break the rest down as usual.


WORK RELATED


I went to “Twitter Math Camp” in July 2016 (and the Desmos Pre-Conference). Math debates still tickles at my senses, but in the name of not changing over 10% of one’s practice in a semester to stay sane, teaching programming would seem to be that 10%. Let’s file debates away for another year. I also went to the French AFEMO conference in October 2016. I participated in the MTBoS January 2017 initiative again. And this past month I’ve been trying to re-teach myself programming.

Through COMA I also ended up coordinating emails for a conference (that didn’t have the numbers in the end), and I did present at uOttawa with Cathy. My online video on the Cubic Formula has played well (just hit 900 views in 14 months, making it about 9 times more popular than my other videos combined). There was an accompanying post. I did another Christmas video, and another video last month. Two per year seems to be the limit. I also got my files organized.

I finished JLV’s “This is Not a Test” book (bought at TMC). I got no further in “Fooled by Randomness” (by Nassim Taleb). I caught up in all my Conference Recap Blogging. I didn’t go to OAME 2017 because they were full by the time I thought to register. I did just attend a PD on Aug 29th, not sure if I’ll blog that or not. A blog post I made about MTBoS and ITeachMath gained some traction.


UPKEEP RELATED


Finally cleaned up my home office. And organized all the boxes of old materials downstairs that my parents brought me. And hung pictures, and the spoon rack. Installed new smoke alarms, learning about electrical wiring. Cleaned the back deck (last done in 2015). Swept out downstairs and cleaned the air filter. Removed rust from shears. Installed netting on the eavestroughs to keep out leaves. Cleaned the ice out of the freezer in May.


We had to replace the air conditioner (2016) and washer/dryer (2017), which was a downer, but hopefully that won’t be an issue for years to come now. The car broke down briefly in October (which led to the attending AFEMO) and later the airbag component was replaced. Also, just called insurance to tell them the car’s being driven back to work, so $10 more expensive per month. Trimmed hedges in 2016. Also we renegotiated our mortgage.

On the personal side, I kept with the TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Clinic) program through to last month (the program’s now effectively dissolved, but I can still book an appointment). Related, I think nothing of walking to and from the store - or yoga sessions, which I have now maintained for a full year. I did get a persistent tingling in my left arm in January, went to the doctor, and have since had some massages. Got new glasses in October 2016. Depression is still a thing, I hope I continue to keep it at bay.

Family-wise, a wire transfer was done in early 2017, we’re into the third attempt at treatments. Me and Anne-Lise went to British Columbia in September 2016 and Stratford (Ontario) in July 2017.


HOBBY RELATED


Went to ConBravo in July 2016 AND July 2017. Went to CanCon in 2016 (including a workshop). Went to Anime North in 2017. I’ve caught up in all the serials I follow, and in the webcomics I’ve latched onto this summer as well. Not quite caught up in blogging (owing to ConBravo 2017) but a lot was pushed out.


From July through October 2016, I wrote “Time & Tied” Book 4. In a sense it was edits, but there were massive changes and lots of completely new scenes. Those 26 parts would later get published to my serial blog. From November through December 2016 I wrote 90,000 words in “The Girl Who Speaks With Algebra”, an LGBTQ/math crossover story in first person female. Yup, I did NaNoWriMo. That would get edited in April 2017 (with Camp NaNoWriMo) and the first 10,000 words were submitted to “Ink & Insights” (results in this past month) to good reviews.

T&T Commentary posts were written, and more T&T drawings were done towards the end. I wrote a TANDQ article in December 2016. I dropped my math comic in August 2016 because (as usual) it was an echo chamber, focussing on T&T - but I resumed the comic on October 31st and have kept it running weekly ever since. In April I even created an entire Personified Math Series BIBLE, with new sketches of most old characters (except fractals) and historical data to match (this after putting navigation tables into old entries). And I even got fan art for a couple months, whoa. Launched the comic on Tapas(tic) yesterday.

I did guest posts for Stable’s serial, the website Time2TimeTravel, Drew’s serial site, and an April Fool for both serial (Fantasia) and webcomic (M9 Girls). I gave a writing interview in December for Alastair Luft (appeared in January). Edits on all of T&T were done to make small parts for RRL (plus changing Woodlands’ location) as well as to make characters sound less like technical journals. (“Algebra” went on Wattpad, was less well received.)

“Epsilon” started a new arc to start of June 2016, with a new emblem and story art. “Marmalade Mercury”, a fanfic begun in Dec 1996 was finally finished after a 16 year hiatus. “Off Target”, a temporal lemon was written. A number of shorter stories were put on the blog (including post 300). “No Reason” (post 200) was revamped into “Free Will” and “Relative Change” was written (both submitted into the ether and rejected).


I transcribed old “mathNEWS” columns into the computer. I started a new column, “Series Scan”, watching all 24 eps of /Steins;Gate/, 24 eps of /Certain Magical Index/, 24 eps of /Certain Scientific Railgun II/, 12 eps of /Erased/ and Volume One of RWBY. (Also caught up in /Sailor Moon Crystal/ in Summer 2016, no blogging.)

I watched far too much “Andromeda” (blogged about it ALL), “Stargate” (skeleton of a blog post exists for 200), and “Mayday” (no blog planned). I kept up with “Supergirl”, “Agents of SHIELD”, “Timeless”, “Doctor Who” and “The Librarians”. Caught up with “Bones”, which then had it’s last season. To a lesser extent, I also saw many pieces of “Castle” and “Wynonna Earp” (and Star Trek reruns).

I stayed tapped into the pulse of the WebFictionGuide Forums. Thanks to AngelicEmpress, via another forum, I found a Discord community of webcomic authors (connected through StArt Faire, a monthly publication) and have participated in weekly chats for a couple months now. I’ve tuned into “Radio Dead Air” pretty regularly for community and media purposes. Also, I bought and played “Sakura Dungeon”, just because, so there.


MISCELLANEOUS


Made it to the Fringe Festival in June for some plays, along with the usual ones at the NAC. Also events at the Aviation Museum (Star Trek, “Doors Open Ottawa”, Global rallycross, eclipse). I figured out slightly more complex recipes in terms of cooking, being in charge of dinner most nights; that’s why Rose knows how to cook fish.

Celebrated our 9th anniversary at a new restaurant (and the 8th happened in there too). Gathered all the Doritos Guardians and won a movie pass, that was weird. Finally put in paperwork to replace my red stripe health card. Dealt with benefits switchover too.


WHERE TO NEXT


What DIDN’T happen? Well, T&T Book 5 aka “Time Untied” still needs a kick start. I never did anything with Simon’s story “The Last Magical Girl” either. And actual READING wasn’t a thing, as far as physical books go (versus online).

I managed to get through “The Temporal Element II”, a collection of time travel short stories. I then started reading James Gleik’s “Time Travel” in early February. I’m still reading it. Behind it are “Doomsday Book” (Xmas gift, I did start it, wasn’t pulled in), “All Our Wrong Todays” (b’day gift), “Air Awakens” (gift from #K8Chat over a year ago, the chat doesn’t even exist now), “Making Comics” (b’day gift), “Random Dingoes” (CanCon 2015), “You’re Never Weird on the Internet” (found in Stratford), “Thinking in Numbers” (bought in 2014), “Mindset” (from my former principal), “Finding Zero”, and at least a half dozen others. I am not a fast reader.


What else? Well, at one point I was going to turn my weekly posts into a newsletter. Nope. That column “Becoming Informed About Statistics” (BIAS)? Nope. And I still can’t market. Tumblr never really worked out, and while I’ve joined reddit and Instagram, I haven’t done anything with them. There’s also the low song parody output, but I can accept that two per year is my speed.

I’m also writing without a buffer on all three blogs. This blog still needs ConBravo posts, my serial site’s “Epsilon” vote closes Saturday, and my math comic has written content only for the next month. Yet I applied to write for the “Time Travel Nexus”, we’ll see how that works out (applications close Sept 15th).

I guess that’s it. 60 weeks of “summer”, done. Thanks for reading, consider following one of the aforementioned blogs as I continue to try and churn out content. Assuming I can function for a full day, after getting out of bed at 7am. >.<

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