Author Archives: Bob

More On Reading

This year’s reading is going well. I’m on book #6 for the year, and finally might catch up on my Goodreads Challenge, as I’m only one book behind now. I got a slow start in January, but that’s fine. This isn’t supposed to be a stress-inducing thing. Just a goal.

I’m not rushing through the books. The idea of bumping my yearly goal up to 36 from 20 is simply to help me waste less time doing pretty much nothing. I’m reading at a relaxed pace and enjoying the books, not just cranking through them like a project to check them off the list when I’m done.

I’ve been doing a lot of “research” (which means mostly watching YouTube videos) about reading habits and how people approach daily reading. The first thing that became apparent is that there are lot of “BookTubers” out there, and everyone has lots of opinions. People I talk to in-person have lots of opinions, and I seek these out because I really want to know what people are doing with their reading and what they get from it.

I’m approaching one year of doing my 5% Reading Goal every day. I think my ability to focus and not get distracted by shiny objects (Instagram, Facebook, etc.) has improved a lot. I’ve also gotten much better at being able to sit and read, then talk with my wife for a bit or pet the dog or cat, then get right back to my reading and not feel like I lost my place. Essentially I’m using sustained reading to rehabilitate the concentration and focus that I’ve spent the last 20 years destroying with social media.

I’ve talked to people who say they just can’t concentrate on a book. Well, of course you can’t. You have been trained not to. The TV and the Internet don’t want you to. Sure, most of us are literate to the extent we can read, but like anything else reading is a skill, and you get better at it with practice. That’s why I think if you don’t read books now, it is good to start with tiny goals, like reading one page without checking your phone, and move up from there.

It’s given me a daily and yearly sense of accomplishment. If I read my 5% I never end my day feeling like I didn’t do anything for myself.

Science Fiction Micro.blog

A few friends know I’ve been keeping a blog just about my science fiction reading for the last year or so. I started it back in April 2023 (I think), when I began my 5% per day reading challenge. https://bloftin2sf.blog. I haven’t really promoted it much because it is really just a personal blog for my own tracking and reflections on reading. In other words — probably not that interesting to most people.

One feature I love on micro.blog is the built-in ability to track your reading. Could have something to do with the fact that the developer, Manton, is a reader. Might also have something with his wife, Tracy, having gone to library grad school and being a reader.

Here’s my 2023 year in books, as tracked via Epilogue and Micro.blog. https://bloftin2sf.blog/2024/02/28/year-in-books.html

At any rate, Manton has created a simple system for tracking and blogging about your reading. He has a companion app for micro.blog called Epilogue, which makes it simple to track your reading from your phone or tablet. He’s done all the work to draw the book information from legitimate bibliographic sources. This is available even on the base $5 per month micro.blog account.

I’m not planning at this point to move Concrete Lunch to micro.blog, as I have a few friends who enjoy commenting here. Micro.blog does not have a comment function, and thus there is no comment spam or harassment. You have to comment through the micro.blog interface, which is limited to users. They do a great job of keeping the system clean.

As part of the fediverse, micro.blog makes it easy to post there and syndicate your writing and other media to other parts of the fediverse, like Mastodon, BlueSky, etc.

The simplicity of being able to post from my computer or easily from my phone with micro.blog is great. The $10 per month premium account allows you to upload videos or podcasts of up to 45 megs, which is a short video or a mid-length podcast. All of this is unattached to Google, Youtube, Facebook, or any of the other commercial sites. Hell, you can run a podcast from micro.blog without having to have an account anywhere else. Amazing value.

Forgot to mention. They just changed the $10 per month account so that you can host up to 5 blogs for that one monthly charge. The service just keeps getting better.

Yes, I can create a post on the mobile version of WordPress, but frankly the interface it clunky and crowded. WP is still great for running a more full-featured site or portal, but it has really grown beyond the notion of “blogging” — a web log. Micro.blog is focused on blogging.

More and more I’m convinced the future of a quality internet is going revolve around pay services. Sure, there will be social media and massive sights like Youtube that are full of great stuff and lots of shit to wade through and put up with, who sell your data to every marketer in the world. And there will be a small fraction of the web that is curated, not free to every lunatic with a phone or computer, and of higher quality, that respects the privacy of its users.

Aikido

I have returned to Aikido.

The pandemic nearly destroyed our dojo. When we were able to return to practice our rent went up. Due to reduced membership we could no longer afford it, and our landlord would not negotiate. I negotiated a deal with the city’s Parks & Rec department for us to teach our classes there and we share the revenue. This is how a lot of classes are done there. It has worked out well, but I was just not ready to return to class. Things at home were not settled down enough from the pandemic and other issues. I practiced a few times, but it wasn’t really time yet.

I’ve never considered myself to have “quit”. I knew I would go back to practice. When I started back in December 2006 I made the commitment that I would never voluntarily quit. It just wasn’t timeĀ  to come back yet. I needed more time to deal with things at home and my own battered mental health. This year it was time.

I’ve been back at practice for about 3 weeks now. I assumed I was in horrible condition. I was wrong. It’s not like I’ve been totally inactive the last 4 years. I’ve been skating a lot. Anyway, as it turns out my fitness level needs improvement but I’m pleasantly surprised. My body isn’t very sore. My ukemi (falling and protecting myself when being the “aggressor”) are still pretty good. I am rusty and need refreshers on some details and of course need a lot of practice, but that’s always the case in Aikido.

After one practice my mind felt clear again. I feel like I have energy again. Everything is just better.

What really makes me happy, however, is that my friend David has started. Like all of us, the last few years have been rough on him. He says he feels good. He’s engaged with practice. I can already see the change in him. It is really great to have one of my oldest friends at practice with me. I hope he really gets a lot out of it.

Thankfulness Report 2023

Time for another report, this being Thanksgiving and all.

I am thankful for…

  1. The fact that there is something rather than nothing
  2. My wife
  3. Our cat, Lefty
  4. Our dog, Riley
  5. My family
  6. My friends
  7. Skateboarding
  8. Gaming
  9. Reading
  10. Libraries
  11. People of good heart
  12. Our house
  13. That I grew up in a house and family where I felt safe and we didn’t a bunch of fucked up problems
  14. Our stereo and music collection
  15. Our health