It’s strange to me that I find so much to write every time when I normally start out thinking it was a quiet, simple week.
- Math relearning – This week I’ll start on my programming approach to this project, and I am really looking forward to it, since it’s a method of learning I’ve had in mind for ages but haven’t actually tried. I’ll be posting the code on GitHub, which is another first for me, both using GitHub (or Git at all, since I’ve always used Subversion) and publicly posting any significant amount of my code. So that’s pleasantly scary.
- Ulcerative colitis – After going back on all my medications and intensifying them somewhat last week, I’ve finally gotten my symptoms back to a calmer level. I might start a 6-week gluten-free experiment next week after my low-carb experiment is over, which in some ways would only be slightly difficult because I’m practically gluten free now, but it would take an extra level of vigilance that would need more preparation and determination.
- Diet – One week till my blood test, and my cholesterol self-test kit should arrive in the mail this week, in time for me to compare the results. Cooking experiments: following this chocolate sauce recipe exactly this time, which turned out well; and eating chicken taco salads every day, which was fine, except that I think I used too much sour cream on one I made myself, because the salsa-and-sour-cream dressing ended up bland yet sweet in a sickening way, so I think 1 tablespoon is better than 2, and the salad green mixes I normally buy have some type of bitter lettuce that’s really out of place.
- Daily routine – My bedtimes weren’t really better than they have been, but other than a couple of cases I don’t really know why because I wasn’t tracking my time, which I’m planning to do this week with the ATracker app. I’m warming up to the idea of moving my devotions and exercise to the morning to make sure they happen, so I might try that this week, which would mean getting up an hour earlier, but at this point in my life I think I could do it. I’ve even thought about joining a gym again, but I expect that would complicate my mornings more than I want, so if I get into more than just walking, I’ll start with simple exercises at home.
- Spirituality – Last week in order to learn more focus and lift the tone of my thoughts, I started exploring meditation again, more seriously than I have in the past, and I’ve been taking a two-pronged approach, looking into both Christian and Buddhist versions. For Christian meditation I’ve listened to the audiobooks of Richard Foster’s Sanctuary of the Heart and the shorter classic works he recommends that I could find on LibriVox, The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence and A Short and Easy Method of Prayer by Madame Guyon; and for Buddhist meditation I’ve (barely) started reading Culadasa’s The Mind Illuminated, which synthesizes various Buddhist traditions with neuroscience to create a very organized and well-presented method for Westerners. I think some Buddhist techniques can be separated from their religious elements and used by Christians, so that’s one of the main goals of this project, and I’m reading Zen and the Birds of Appetite by Thomas Merton, a Catholic monk with an appreciation for Buddhism, to see how he integrated them. I’ve been in info-gathering mode so far, so I haven’t done any actual meditation in the past week, but I’ll probably start that this week. I’ve also started writing an article for the wiki about how to choose a spiritual discipline, based on Adele Calhoun’s Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, but I don’t really have enough to post yet.
- Catch-up – I’m catching up on two families of shows right now, Doctor Who and Arrow, and I’ve reached milestones in both recently: the end of the 10th Doctor a couple of weeks ago and the end of Arrow season 2 last week, so this week I’m starting the 11th Doctor and season 1 of The Flash, an Arrow spinoff, both of which I’ve been looking forward to.
- Anime – About a week ago I ran across some Japanese pixel art animations, and they’ve put me in the mood for anime again, specifically slice-of-life with nice everyday scenery (along the lines of this piece). I found a few possibilities and ended up watching an episode of Dagashi Kashi, which I liked, though what I really want to see is The Garden of Words, so hopefully that’ll become available someday.
- Fringe theories – In spite of my intention to turn my mind in a more positive direction, I’m not done with conspiracy theories and pseudoscience yet, so I did some more listening last week, mostly to the Exposing Pseudoastronomy podcast, and I got my Conspiracy Encyclopedia in the mail, which I’ll be reading completely as soon as I’ve put the entries in chronological order. I also found some academic lectures on conspiracy theories, which surprised me because I didn’t think academics would pay so much attention to them, and I suspect these lectures will shape the way I approach the topic. I’ve started a fringe theory page on the wiki, mostly to collect links at this point.
- Nostalgia – I’ve been on an online ordering binge lately, and on a whim I decided to include a nostalgia purchase I’ve had in mind, a View-Master, along with a set of reels I remember having, Sesame Street Visits the Farm. They came in the mail last week, and nostalgia did indeed occur, and it put me in the mood to order other things from my childhood, so I’ll probably do some of that soon, and maybe it’ll motivate me to finally finish my nostalgia box.
- Socializing – Independence Day I didn’t go to fireworks because my friend Tim that I usually see them with didn’t want to stay up late and I didn’t feel like dealing with the crowd on my own, so instead I played games at Jeremy’s place, where I ended up seeing some fireworks anyway. Then Thursday night I went back to his place to play more games.
- Worship team – I substituted for another team’s pianist again this weekend, and it was one of those sets that required some extra practice and only really came together at the last minute for me, but people told me they appreciated my playing, so it worked out and was worth the extra effort.
- Shootings – By now probably everyone knows that shootings are a regular occurrence in the US, but last week felt like an especially tough one because two national stories about shootings of black people by police were followed by shootings of police at an otherwise peaceful protest of the earlier shootings, plus other shootings around the country, and all of it followed another mass shooting a couple of weeks ago where 50 people in Orlando were killed. To be honest I usually refrain from commenting on social issues because they’re so complicated and I worry about saying the wrong thing, but the intensity of recent events makes me feel the need to say something, and the main things I want to say are that, yes, black lives do matter, and LGBT lives matter, and I think that whatever the solutions are, they won’t be simple or easy, but one thing that gives me hope is my sense that the US is a place with many creative, compassionate, courageous people who won’t give up until we’ve resolved our society’s problems.