Post-Thanksgiving, Post-London, but Pre-Vacation

I have four more work days this year, including today, and then I’m on holiday until January. That’s pretty exciting.

Staying on my diet through Thanksgiving was pretty easy. I just ate turkey, ham, and green beans, and saw my siblings and some extended family at my mom’s house. It had been almost 10 years since I had seen my brothers. One of my nieces was there and I hadn’t seen her in 24 years.

Then, the Monday after Thanksgiving, I went to London. I was able to stay on keto through the first week without too much trouble. Salads with chicken, a McDonald’s salad with a couple of hamburger patties on top, roast chicken and squash and other veggies. Not too bad.

The second week was a loss, though. It’s hard to avoid rice when you’re having Thai food every other meal. I didn’t drink a single beer, but I did drink two bottles of wine one night. There was a pot pie for dinner one day, and pizza another, and I lacked for choices. So not ideal, but I tried to manage my portion size at least, and I think avoiding beer helped.

I was back on keto as soon as I got home last Friday, and the re-adjustment has been a bit tough. I’m hungrier than I was, so I made a fat bomb yesterday comprised of almond butter, cocoa, cream cheese, and heavy whipping cream. Then I made hot chocolate last night with almond milk, cocoa, some vanilla powder, cinnamon, a bit of xanthan gum, some swerve, and a bit of heavy whipping cream. I didn’t have much sugar while in London, but it was enough to have me craving sweets again.

All’s well that end’s well:

  • Starting weight: 240
  • Goal weight: 190
  • Current weight: 223

It’s neat to see these numbers, because I forget between blog posts what I weighed. I’m weighing myself every 1-3 days and logging it into MyFitnessPal so it’s pretty incremental, then I blog and see I’ve dropped 5 pounds since my last weigh-in.

This week, I’m finally adding in the exercise that I was supposed to do in week 2. I have a new battery for my heart rate monitor, so I got that working this morning, then rowed for 20 minutes and stayed in the target range for 7, per Mark Sisson’s book. He recommends 2 hours of exercise every week, so I figure if I do this 20 minute routine every morning, 6 days a week, that should set me right. We’ll see if I can keep that up, though. It was nice to listen to NPR while rowing this morning.

I have an 8 a.m. meeting, so I better get going. Heading into the office this week since I haven’t been there in almost 3 weeks.

Family Vacation to Mt. Zion National Park in Utah

April and I have just returned from a vacation with her brothers, sister-in-law, and parents to Utah. We were there five nights, and it was the best vacation I’ve ever had. April’s family is wonderful, the scenery was beautiful, and despite some delays getting home, it was overall a relaxing and enjoyable trip.

I have a lot of photos in a Google+ gallery, but I wanted to write about the trip as well.

Continue reading

Breaking Radio Silence

Oh, hello there.

Brief recap of what did and did not happen this wonderful, phenomenal Winter Break.

  • We hosted Christmas for April’s family. Eric got into town a few days early, with the rest here on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The day after Christmas, we traveled to St. Louis, and then visited Piedmont the day after the day after Christmas.
  • I got some awesome gifts. Now, Christmas isn’t about gifts, and what we really loved was having the chance to spend lots of time with our family. But it cannot be denied that I also played Dragon Age: Origins for about 60 hours this week. It may be the best game I have played in the last 6-8 years.
  • I didn’t write a whole lot. I was stymied on the story I wanted to write, and didn’t feel like I could write anything else until I made progress on it. That was stupid of me. I should have dropped it and done other things, coming back to it once I had something to write, but I got stalled and played Dragon Age instead. For what it’s worth, I finally found the idea I needed to drive the story forward, but it’s a bit late now.
  • I have had the best week of vacation ever.
  • Finally finished our D&D campaign. Not that it has comprised too many game sessions, but between us we have so many scheduling conflicts that we end up only playing about once a month. Since I’d originally intended this campaign to be 15 games, I had to revamp it and cut it short–we’d already been playing it over six months and it was getting old. Really looking forward to the next (much, much shorter) story arc.
  • April and I celebrated our second anniversary, somewhat to our surprise. Not that we’re surprised we lasted two years, because it’s been a pretty blessed and easy two years. It just came up on us fast. Totally awesome. We stayed in Springfield and saw local touristy things, like Bass Pro and fancy restaurants and little shops we never visit. Good times.
  • Snow!
  • Seriously, such a good week.

I don’t even feel [too] bad about not writing. April made the excellent observation that I really oughtn’t put a ton of pressure on myself to get everything done and caught up in the one week I have off a year. I should enjoy the time instead, and work harder to build writing time into my daily schedule instead of forcing a lot of it into this week. I was gratified by this and went right on playing Dragon Age.

I’ve got nothing prepped for this week, so I don’t know what the publishing schedule will be like. Need to get my sea legs back under me, so to speak. For the first time in six months, though, I do not dread going to work tomorrow. I had an amazingly productive end-of-the-semester and got everything done that I wanted to get done. There’s nothing really hanging over my head tomorrow. I have lots of good stuff to report. All-in-all, things are looking up.

Goodnight!

Quick heading out of town post

We’re always so uncomfortable talking about death. Or rather, we’re not really uncomfortable talking about death, but the accouterments of death. We can discuss death philosophically, talk about it directly, and all that’s fine, but I have no good way to refer to certain things. It seems crass to say that someone died. We have to go to a funeral. We try to find better ways to phrase these things, like “They passed away,” but everyone still knows. We’re not fooling anybody.

April’s brother, Adam, is driving down tonight to spend the night with us, and then we’ll be leaving early tomorrow to go to Cape Giradeau for April’s uncle’s funeral. I, for one, was shocked, and that surprise continues to linger. I know his health wasn’t good, but I… just hadn’t expected him to die. I’m still not sure what to think about it.

We were just talking a couple of months ago about a book he wanted to write. It’s the only time we have spoken, really, but I enjoyed the conversation and looked forward to talking with him again. It’s a paltry connection, but it is startling to realize it is broken now.

Back on Friday, when I will try and power my way through 14 pages of research paper on applying structuralist and poststructuralist theory to the medieval inquisition, which is due on Saturday. Considering I’ve been typing and/or transcribing my research/notes as I went along, and those notes are about 13 pages by themselves, I’m pretty confident I’ve got enough material. I don’t know that the paper’s quality will be great, but oh well. It’s not like I need a good grade.

Oh yeah, it’s time to give thanks

It’s Thanksgiving here in the United States of America, so I kind of feel like I ought to write something about it. But I don’t really have much to say.

Everything we have is from God. Our jobs, our house, our education, the money in our bank account, the clothes we wear, the bed we sleep in. The food we eat and the water we drink is from God. The car in our garage, the grass in the front lawn, and the light shining from the stars are all gifts.

Every breath is a gift.

There is no way to list everything I am thankful for, but for today I am glad we were able to visit my aunt and uncle, to spend Thanksgiving with them, and to play three hours of poker where I managed to break even.

Not terribly thankful about forgetting my stainless steel coffee mug there, but I guess the bitterness casts the sweetness into even greater effect.

Oh, and I’m also thankful for pecan pie. That was the best freaking pecan pie I have ever had. It was apparently made by some Amish people from whom they bought it.

Anyways, yay Jesus, and thanks!

A few new photos on Flickr

Until recently, I was hosting my own photo gallery to make managing all this stuff more easy. However, I decided that I didn’t really want all my photos up for display, and I didn’t like the drain on my bandwidth and speed. Now I’m using Flickr, mostly because I can export from iPhoto with just a couple of clicks.

I haven’t pulled photos off our camera in a couple of months, so there were over 500 to import. Suffice it to say that fewer are on Flickr. Check it.

Events include:

  • Family Reunion
  • Eurkea Springs
  • Shaw Wedding Reception
  • April Langr’s BBQ

Spring 2009 Newsletter

Newsletter Front PageI’ve written my first newsletter ever, but this isn’t a once-off event. Every season, I’ll be publishing updates about my writing, our lives together and with God, and whatever else strikes my fancy. It’s a bit more polished than blog entries, and it contains a whole lot more pictures.

This first one was prepared specially for my family reunion, which began just a few hours ago. That’s why it’s a bit heavier on the “What we’ve been up to” side, but that’s also why this is the only edition that will be in print. Because printing these out and mailing them would be prohibitively expensive, future versions will be available via email if you subscribe. Of course, they’ll show up here in the RSS feed as well, or you can subscribe to an RSS feed designed especially for them.

Download and/or view SilverPen News – Spring 2009.

Moleskine Notebook

April's Art

I don’t often visit the National Art shop on National Ave. here in Springfield, but such avoidance flows from no hatred of the arts. I simply have no need for the tools they provide, being neither an artist nor a nation, and what few items they have that I might use (paper and pens/pencils) are generally overpriced. Despite that, I found myself wandering their gleaming aisles yesterday while April shopped for easels. During her art class last semester, April discovered that she has a burgeoning interest in art, and a fair talent for its discourse, but felt limited in her expression at home. Lacking an easel meant laying the paper flat upon the floor or a table, which made getting the proper perspective translated onto the page impossible.

Since April’s parents had established a tradition with her older brothers of acquiring furniture on their behalf upon college graduation, April’s first thought was to get an easel, hence the art shop. I, of course, began looking at paper and pens.

The moleskine notebook had always intrigued me, mostly because it is horribly overpriced for relatively little paper. Being in a generous and celebratory mood though, I decided to pick one up along with a pen, hoping this would inspire me to jot down ideas as I had them and maybe develop a little poetry. Though the notebook was still expensive, they (surprisingly enough) had it for less than Barnes & Noble, so I didn’t feel quite so cheated.

After I carried it around in my back pocket all afternoon and used it a bit, I felt even better about the purchase. The cover is quite sturdy and the notebook wasn’t damaged at all by my rough usage of it. I was really shocked at its durability, and though adding the pen in there made it a little uncomfortable, it wasn’t too bad. I could always carry the pen elsewhere, of course.

We’ll see how long this lasts, but I’m hopeful. I wrote an idea for a poem down, and I’ve been churning out short story ideas with increasing regularity. One of my current projects is, “A Horrible Little Book of Horrible Short Stories,” and I’d like to add a few more to it before I’m done. Now I just need to find the time to write.

My mom departs around 5 p.m. tonight, and April’s got a work meeting so I’ll be writing as much as I can this evening. The entirety of this upcoming week (in the evenings only, since I work all day) will be dedicated to writing blog entries for the next two months so I don’t have to worry about that for a while and can focus on my scifi novel and short stories. Someday I’d like to start writing theological essays with more regularity, but I need to devote myself to getting some of these other projects actually done. One at a time with great abandon, and then start the next upon completion of the first.

Time to go drink some more coffee with my mom, and then we’re going to visit the Vineyard again this morning. By the way, I have a Flickr page now, so for all you non-Facebook people there’s a place where I’ll start putting some pictures up. Yay?

A quick Friday update

I normally schedule blog posts in advance so something can post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 4:30 a.m. Central Standard Time, but I left today open. The hope had arisen that, with finals completed and a rather interesting week in the mix, I’d have something new to write about that would be more topical and relevant. Instead of sitting down to write before bed last night, though, I played Runebound for three hours with my brothers-in-law and then crashed into bed around 12:30 this morning.

As I wrote yesterday, I had been running off about four hours of sleep due to the tornado sirens and whatnot. And while I have a lot I’d like to write (I’ve got 17 drafts saved here in WordPress right now with ideas and partially finished entries), I won’t have any time for them until next week. April graduates from Missouri State University today with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, so my mom and her brothers came into town yesterday and April’s mother, father, and grandmother will be arriving today. My mom is here through Sunday, as is April’s brother Eric, so the weekend is pretty packed.

I’m hopeful that Eric and I (and whoever else wants to come) might go see Star Trek tomorrow.

But seriously guys, I’m so excited that the semester is over. Between college ministry and school, I’m reclaiming almost ten hours a week. Ten more hours to think and write and edit, bringing my total up to almost twenty a week!. Once my family reunion is over (May 24ish, IIRC) and we return from April’s graduation present (a weekend in Eureka Springs), I can really pound the ground and get something churned out. My goal is to have a book done by the end of July.

Hey, if you’ve read this post all the way through, tell me: what would you like to see at SilverPen this summer? Do you want more stories? More poems? More theological ramblings or historical essays? I want to work on and polish my videos so my book reviews are a bit better, but I’ve considered doing some other video stuff too. What are you, my dear friends, interested in? Let me know!

SilverPen News

Newsletter Front PageFor years I’ve heard that, even if you have a blog, nothing can match a regularly published newsletter for connecting with people and letting them know what’s going on with you and your work. And with my annual family reunion fast approaching, I began thinking about how much I sucked for not writing Christmas letters, replying to correspondence, or sending out pictures and updates about April and me. When these two thoughts came together, I decided to start writing my own newsletter.

Since I hadn’t written a newsletter before, the entire process was quite the learning experience for me. I learned a lot about designing the letter by using a pre-built template in Pages ’09, and now feel confident that I can design the next one myself. I also discovered that the content has to come first–when I began with the design, I started writing to fit what I saw on the page and it prevented me from saying everything I wanted to say. In this particular case, the design has to be made to fit the content. Once everything’s in place, I may have to cut a line or a paragraph, but the end result will be a lot better than writing to fill space.

With the family reunion providing my catalyst, this edition has a lot of catch-up information. I don’t regularly see (or even know) most of my family, so this first edition is a bit of an introduction to my website and writing, our house purchase, and our lives with God and the church. Future versions won’t be so family-oriented or focused on what-we’ve-been-up-to.

I want this newsletter to demonstrate a bit of my work, talk about what I’ve been up to and where I’m going in regards to writing, and to share some pictures. It’ll still have some stuff about our family, but I want to demonstrate a bit more polish and flair with the newsletter that I don’t normally put into blog entries. This publication is for the people who don’t read every day or week, but are happy to pick something up every few months and keep in touch.

The newsletter will be available exclusively online as a PDF. This first version was going to be printed for the family reunion, but I just got off the phone with Kinkos a little bit ago and they want $400+ to print 60 copies. Looking around online, I could get 150-250 copies for just under $200. But with it costing too much money to print 60 and my not needing more than that, I’m having trouble justifying printing at all. I might print it myself, but that would still cost almost $100 for 60 copies. Not having a physical copy at the reunion would be disappointing, but I just can’t justify the cost for something I’m doing just for fun. Maybe I’ll make a one page teaser with the address on it and print that to hand out… we’ll see.

If you want to get the newsletter when it drops, just subscribe! SilverPen news will be published once a season, and the tentative schedule for it (after this first one) is March, June, September, and December.