Accomplishments #6 and #7

I forgot to post yesterday, probably because… well I can’t remember. But at any rate.
June 27th:
– Finished College Admission by Robin Mamlet and wrote a review for it on GoodReads.
– Finished Assessment 9a.1
– Reached 57% in Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien

June 28th:
– Finished Assessment 9a.2 and 9b.1
– Reached 75% in Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
– Sewed the beginning of my two wrap-around skirts
– Grammarchecked my mother’s translation of something for church.

Accomplishment #5

The accomplishment for today is quite simple. Last night I couldn’t fall asleep, mostly because I was trying to figure out how to do a todo.txt file with a Command Line Interface (CLI).

Well, the problem was that the other two times I tried to do this, it didn’t work. I’m not sure what I did wrong back then, but I did do something wrong, and so I gave up in a huff– twice. Today, however, I’m not sure what I did, but I basically went through all the problems and the ideas until I got through it all the way.

So, as shown here, this is what my todo list likes.

The second accomplishment, perhaps a bit smaller, is that I totally took back everything I said in regards to the Camp July Novel and suddenly (not really suddenly, it’s been coming on, I think, for a while) decided that I would be editing Perfume, from Camp… May, I believe, of last year.

And the reason for going into this and editing it now, I believe, is partially because I don’t really have a plot, and I don’t want to expend energy to figure out a new plot. I want to figure out an old plot. And Perfume, I think, was my favorite story, which is why I think I’m starting to edit it.

My To-Do List

Click the photo to open the full size version in a new tab. This took 4 hours to configure… basically the text is part of the desktop (but is actually a text-file put on top of the desktop, using GeekTool. The left list is my to-do list, the right my idea list. Both update every … Continue reading

Accomplishments #3 and #4

Yesterday I forgot to post because, quite simply, I thought I already had.

I’m also not sure what my accomplishment was yesterday. oops?

But accomplishment yesterday, so far as I can tell, was etiher:
Reaching 32% in The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien

or

Testing and finding out that my theory on how to write the Camp Novel is good.

 

Today, accomplishments include:
1. Finishing 8th Grade Math Review with 77 marks out of 100 on the final assessment. Considering most of the answers were done from memory without actually reading the book, I’m happy with it. When I get a mark below 70 I’ll get worried. Right now, 77 is perfect. (97 would have been better, but this was getting boring).

2. Read Romeo & Juliet. I read this with my friend Bouchra as a sort of race to see who finished first. She finished literally 30 seconds before me. We had breaks, I’m sure, in between, but GAH! 30 seconds?? We’re planning on doing this more often.

ACCOMPLISHMENT #2

You’ll probably be able to tell how happy I am for the day by reading the list of accomplishments. Today there’s more than one.

1. Finished The Fellowship of the Ring. At the same time this makes me sad because I will definitely beat my brother in our reading race (he’s reading part of the Anne of Green Gables series and I’m reading The Lord of the Rings series in order to force ourselves to expand our reading horizons.) Winner gets $100 from the loser. As I’m more concerned with not losing my hundred dollars, this contest does not make me particularly happy, since I have no wish to deprive my brother of $100. Still, I made the bet, and I have no intention of giving up $100, so I guess I’ll have to win.

2.

I think I’ve figured out how the July novel will be written:
1. Grab a random noun or verb generator (or a list of peoples’ words for the year) (This would include oneword.com, but as they only offer one word a day, I need to branch out)
2. Write on that word for 1 minute.
3. Move on to another word OR expand on that one word.
4. (Remember to save the word’s output in Scrivener)
5. Write the characters, year, and main plot point on the index card in Scrivener.
6. At the end of the day, organize things all prettily, draw conclusions, make chapters, etc.

I think it will fit perfectly with the title, Inklings, and also the nature of how this story is coming into being.

Accomplishment #1

Today I finished the rivers for the regional map of Tibov, which is a fictional location and will probably be used for a lot of novels. I also touched up the mountains. The rivers still need a little work, but I think it’s pretty good so far.

Sad

I never thought I could be this down for this long, but apparently I can, and it’s very easy.

So, because life is hard (the American college system, shall we say, boggles my mind, especially since there’s no one course I can take. Which I love and hate at the same time).

I’m stuck questioning everything I ever wanted to do, life is weird, Dad is making me play ping pong, I have a blister on my foot (which you know, doesn’t bother me, but it feels like a good thing to put in there at the end of a mini-tirade).

So. Life sucks, yadda-yadda, I get sick hearing myself talk about it, so I’m not going to continue.

The point is, I’m going to post one accomplishment (major accomplishment) a day until July 6th, when I head off to summer camp. Some may not be so major by your scales, but to me, for the day, they’ll be major. So, here we go.

 

(I don’t have one yet today, but there’s still four hours to go)

A quick update

I feel as if I should have at least one post for the month of May, so here goes… an update:

  • I cannot take part in Romanian medical school as a Romanian student (but I can as a foreign student speaking Romanian), so no bacalaureat and no admissions exam.
  • We’re trying to figure out a medical certificate and lots of other things before sending in the ‘admissions’ packet.
  • In the meantime, slightly stressed and resorting to one of two preferred coping strategies, I am world-building and culture-building very very happily.

What do I mean by preferred strategies? Well, they usually include meaningless reading (romance, anyone?) or writing.

At least I’m not watching TV, right?

 

An Interesting Day

I am snacking on spinach.

Baby spinach, to be exact.

I’m writing my second blog post in a day because I feel chatty, and my friend isn’t online because it’s 3am where she is, and Facebook feels like a waste of time. Besides, there’s still Camp NaNoWriMo to win, and I need 22,000 words by… whenever the end of April is. The end of five days or so. Strangely, I’ve written more today (or I will have written more today) on this blog than I have written on any novel in a day yet this month. (The point I am trying to make is that this word count will be high. :D)

If this were yesterday, I would now probably be studying madly at some literature or history, but instead I have f.lux installed, which has currently made my screen look orange and pretty cool… if I could just get used to the fact that the normally blinding bright light is… yellow.

Normally, at this hour, I would have to have the room light on, even if I’m just using my computer screen, simply because the contrast between the computer screen and the room puts a strain on my eyes, and I don’t like the lack of contrast with a dimmer screen. Of course, now the computer screen is at about 40% brightness level, simply because I am now conducting an experiment.

Normally, at this hour, if I had had the schedule I have had today, I would be quite awake and eager to go. I am pleasantly sleepy.

To explain:

Today I woke up at 5:00 (all times are now on the 24 hour clock), got dressed, said prayers, went downstairs, ate a breakfast I can’t remember (probably peanut butter sandwich), came upstairs, tried to write at my novel (which… I am not even going say a word about how slowly this is moving. 500 words a day is too fast for this thing), stopped at 5:45 on that, then tried to concentrate on physics.

“Nope!” said Brain, “Nope nope nope! Remember that willpower being finite thing? Remember all that other stuff?”

“Shut up, Brain. I’m going to close my eyes and banish all your thoughts and concentrate on my breathing.”

“Well, okay.” says Brain, properly chastised. He’s quiet as I concentrate on my breathing. It’s like a little mini-meditation session, and it’s awesome. And relaxing. Tomorrow, I am going to do this for 15 minutes!

“Okay. Back to physics,” I said.

“Nope! Nope! Nope nope nope! Remember that productivity stuff you were going to read?”

“Okay… back to mini-meditation.” I said.

Brain is again quiet.

The third time Brain spoke up, I said, “Fine. Okay. I’m going back to sleep.” I told Bouchra I was going back to sleep until 7. She told me to have a good sleep, and I did.

Problem was, when I woke up I really didn’t feel like doing any work. So I consciously made a decision not to work until after lunch. I was gonna have a nap, then get right into work. Right?

Wrong. I found out some really cool stuff. I wrote a blog post  I found out some more cool stuff. I finished  a book that’s due at the library tomorrow and has been in the house four weeks. And it’s even a book I liked! I just felt lazy to read it.

I invited a friend who was in the area over to eat lunch with the family. We and he and his mother enjoyed an hour eating lentils and pasta and trying not to cringe at the fact that our food storage was dangerously low. All the same, it was a pleasure to see how that guy enjoyed eating food. I now think I want to learn to cook. A bit more.

After lunch, I realized I had some tabs open. So instead of jumping into work, I jumped into clearing off the tabs. Then I remembered I still hadn’t looked up willpower. (the good thing is, it’s a muscle, and that’s all I wanted to know. Another thing about it is that depleted stores can be restocked by consuming glucose. Good to know.)

Bouchra, by then, was heading to bed, so we talked a bit and she said, “I will be disappointed if you don’t have at least a number total in the 100s by the time I wake up.”

So I set in to work. I grabbed my big round chair that folds up, put on my sweater, went outside, and sat on the porch to read analyses of literature. It was really cool, but an analysis of Ion Creangă does not make me want to draw like an analysis of Mihai Eminescu does. After 20 minutes I threw in the towel because the wind outside was really getting annoying (despite the fact that the clear blue sky totally made up for it), and came back inside. Decided to read a romance novel after trying to tackle the analysis again, but it was really boring and nothing was getting through to me.

And I did, right up until sunset, when I held to my resolution of not exposing myself to blue-light after sunset. I went downstairs to eat… and this brings me to the baby spinach.

I wasn’t hungry for dinner, nothing in the fridge looked appetizing, and I was not in the mood for a peanut butter sandwich. In fact, I wasn’t really in the mood for eating at all. But, I told myself, staring into the slightly-too-bright fridge interior, in a matter of months I am going to have my own apartment. And I will have to force myself to eat.

So I took out the bag of baby spinach, cut it open… took out the bean dip my mom makes (traditional Romanian food called fasole bătută (fah-SO-leh buh-TOO-tuh), literally ‘beaten beans’. It’s amazing and we use it as a bread spread, or eat it on its own… or recently, in vegan burritos that have become something of a staple in the house. I can’t quite remember what we ate in other Lents (I’m Eastern Orthodox, so our Easter varies from the Catholic’s version. This year it’s May 5th). Then, after having spread the bean dip and scattered spinach on a tortilla, I took and washed a tomato. Then I remembered something I wanted to tell my sister, so I picked up the bag of spinach and took a leaf to chew on.

Eventually I realized this stuff is good. Much better than the boiled spinach my mom and dad think are amazing.

So here I am, snacking on spinach.

Writing a blog post. Quite having fun with the blog post, actually.

And Bouchra, I am afraid you are going to be disappointed. Total work time is 34 minutes. It has been glorious. I recharged, I learned some things.

I don’t see this as a lack of self-discipline. (I did exercise self-discipline. I stopped reading a pretty interesting book at sunset. And I think I’m going to bed at 21:00.) I see this as a natural call from my body that 6h+ days and going to bed at 23:00 is not good for me.

It’s not a failure. It’s a phase of a learning process. And frankly, I feel really calm. I have no idea what’s going to happen tomorrow, but I’m determined that I’ll do work.

Life, I have discovered in the past hour, is really boring if I can’t read after sunset and the only thing to do is write introspective blog posts when I’m pretty much all thunk out. Honestly, without light, there is pretty much nothing to do except jump around and do push-ups or go downstairs into the really bright lights that I don’t particularly want to confront right now.

The plan for tomorrow

Wake up at sunrise. Technically, this is at 6:09. However, seeing as it starts getting light out about 24 minutes before that, I’m going to wake up at 5:30, then go out and see the sunrise.

The best thing about this house is that there is a certain point where I can both see the sunrise and the sunset.

I shall call it thinking time and it shall be mine. And it will be my thinking time.

After that

Work. I’ll take a notebook up to jot down ideas up there, about things I am going to do tomorrow. It shall be awesome.

I have no minute goal. I have no word goal. All I want to do is get one important thing done, be it the physics test, or the literature book, or a perfect history test score.

That’s about it. 🙂

The Problem of Math, Sleep, and Keyboards

Every once in a while I get an idea and it becomes an obsession. Like tiny houses, or songs, or… school, or teaching math, or whatever.

And I couldn’t really even call these things an obsession, because I’m totally capable of turning off the song or ignoring tiny houses (I’ve seen most of what I care to see… all that remains is getting money and building one. Expending resources for research on building doesn’t help as much as expending resources on getting into school to make money to build the house). In fact, they’re less ‘obsession’ and more ‘really interesting.’

Like the fact that

The number of syllables in Cantonese number words are less than the number of syllables in English number words… therefore making Cantonese people memorize faster as opposed to English people. [1] Or, the fact that the Asian number system is so simple (21= two tens one) it allows a child of four to count to 40… whereas in English, a child of four can count to about 15. [2] [3] [4]

My conclusion came in two distinct stages:

  1. My kids will learn math in Cantonese. This presented a slight problem later on down the road, unfortunately, as I don’t know Cantonese, and as I’m not Cantonese, nor do I plan on having a Cantonese husband… and as Cantonese has no shared root-words with English… I unfortunately had to scrap this idea.
  2. * As Romanian is slightly better than English when it comes to logicality (21 = douăzeci și unu, doi= 2, zece= 10, unu=1. The instead of i in două and the i instead of the e in zece are grammatical things, and și (pronounced she) means and), but not as good in syllable count, my kids will learn math in Romanian first. This is good, because they will learn the ‘weaker’ language first (Romanian isn’t exactly the primary language in any country except Romania), and have it cemented in their brain. Then we can work on English, because Romanian is latin-based, and English smart-words are latin-based.

* This is, of course, subject to change.

Second really-interesting thing

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. A book written by Mihaly Cziksentmihalyi (Yes, I can spell that. I use the mnemonic: Chick-sent-me-HIGH, which does not exactly connote the proper pronunciation, but helps with spelling).

Mom borrowed it from the library and had it around the house for 2 weeks, then sent it back before I had the opportunity to say, “MINE!”

That said, I do know the basic idea:

Scratch that. I have no idea.

Basically the state of flow is one where you are completely involved in what you are doing in the moment, and you’re creative as well and you’re feeling enjoyment (we discussed that in Thought Pattern).

Now, I feel as if I’ve been feeling that. Because, *ahem* yesterday, by 1:30pm, I had worked six hours and 22 minutes.

More, in fact, than I worked on Tuesday, and about the sum total of work the previous Wednesday to Friday.

Before lunch!

How?

I woke up at 5:00am, sat down to work by 5:45, got stuck in a physics problem for an hour and a half (I have no idea where the time went), and then started in on literature study sheets.

And let me tell you something. When a literature study sheet about a poet makes you itch to draw something or write a poem or do something creative, you know the poet is a good one. (The poet in question is Mihai Eminescu, and according to Romanians, he is the best poet that ever lived.) I mean… I actually copied down a paragraph in its entirety describing his style merely because it sounded so musical.

So I had a lot of fun yesterday. And, unlike previous days, I wasn’t ridiculously bouncy until 8pm, when I hit 8:08 hours of work. It was pretty awesome.

Which leads into a small problem:

Sleep

Something in my brain psychology, at some point down the line, has changed.

Waking up before dawn leads to at least an hour productivity before 8am, when the household starts work… which leads into me being in a state of high gear… allowing me to crank out 4-6 hours of work before lunch if I make sure that this thought pattern is broken:

  • lazy to work >> check Facebook >> lose time OR lazy to work >> get awesome idea >> act on idea >> lose time
  • to break it, just do this:
  • lazy to work >> close eyes and concentrate on breathing for 15-30 seconds OR do 2 minute exercise set >> work
  • or, if that doesn’t work
  • lazy to work >> change subject of work.

Waking up while the sun is up, on the other hand, leads me to believe that

  1. The rest of the family is awake
  2. I can relax on FB/make noise/what-have-you

According to the schedule I made out last night, at this hour, I should be doing physics. However, I have only worked 5 minutes today, and that’s because, at 5:45am, when I sat down to work, the words were swimming, I was tired, and I went back to sleep for an hour.

I feel totally awake now, just lazy. And I’m writing a blog post while I still have the English words to write it.

As it’s very hard to go to bed before 10pm in this household, there is the problem of getting enough sleep. I could wake up at 5am and sleep 6-7 hours a night, but be ‘productive’ (until sleep dep kicked in), or I could wake up at 6-7 am, sleep 8-9 hours a night, but be ‘unproductive’ (until I figured out a ritual/switched up my brain psychology)

Therefore, the problem of sleep is:

Should I focus on changing my brain psychology or changing my sleep schedule?

To rephrase that… 1 or 2?

  1. Wake up at 6am, create a ritual to establish flow (though the only ritual I have so far is wake up when it’s dark out), and go to sleep at 10pm.
  2. Wake up at 5am, work, nap, eat, work, go to sleep at 10pm.

I’m leaning towards #2. Not only is it simpler to fall asleep than to go to work (around the world I found that I have a talent for falling asleep… anywhere), but according to my research, biphasic sleep may actually be the natural way to sleep. [5] [6] [7] [8]

Naturally, however, the worst possible time to go for a sleep schedule change is ten days before you head out across the pond to visit family in Romania… right? Right. Despite that… this sounds awesome.

The problem with biphasic sleep is that the rest of the world isn’t on biphasic sleep.

My conclusion: I’m going to test out the following schedule:

  1. Wake up at 5am, work, eat, nap at 13:30, work, go to sleep at 23:00 (or slightly earlier if need be.)

And then go from there.

 

Lastly, keyboards

The Romanian keyboard requires five diacritic marks, two of which do not exist in any other keyboard. They are ț, ș, ă, î, and â. The ones that don’t exist are ț, ș, and ă. (the diacritic is the little comma under the s and t)

On the standard Romanian keyboard I’m using, these keys take up the place of  ; ‘ [ ] \

Which means that it’s really hard to type in quotes “like this”, unless you hit the option key at the same time (I use Mac products, so I’m not sure what the Windows/Linux does).

Which means Romanians normally do one thing:

  1. Write without diacritics and rely on innate knowledge of the language to read anything written without diacritics. It works pretty well. I myself have a diacritic in my name, but make do without it. Most words that have diacritics don’t have a version without diacritics, and if they do, context helps remove and ambiguity.

But I don’t like doing that, and since people can learn keyboards pretty quickly if I use them (I type in Dvorak Simplified Keyboard), I simply added the Romanian Standard keyboard to my list of keyboards and started working.

At the beginning, it was a problem of remembering that R is R, not P, and then I was on my way to doing quite well.

That’s not the problem now, though. Now, my fingers are incapable of typing Romanian using the Dvorak keyboard (if, by any chance, I get lazy). Sometimes I have to stop and think… “Wait. Okay. Language I want to communicate in is… English. Wait, this is a Dvorak keyboard, not QWERTY. Where’s P again?” And then 3 seconds later I’m up and running and writing my 60-90wpm speeds.

 

To conclude:

  1. Math is cool. 
  2. My kids are learning number sense in Romanian before English.
  3. I’m going to try being biphasic for a while. Also, f.lux
  4. Keyboards are weird.