Spare Time Fun

January 30, 2012

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Now that I am officially tired of the political ads, reports, coverage and analysis, I have to find something to do with my spare time.  If you have read some of my previous posts, some of what I am going to right is not necessarily new.  Actually, none of it is new, but it may be presented in a new light.

The NFL Pro Bowl

My annual rant on the NFL Pro Bowl.  It is supposed to be a show case of the best players in the NFL.  Since the league has move the Pro Bowl to the week between the conference championships and the Super Bowl, we do not actually get that show case.  The selected players from the two Super Bowl teams opt out of the Pro Bowl for obvious reasons (practicing for the Super Bowl, avoiding possible injury, losing focus, etc).  Although I am not a New England Patriots or New York Giants fan, I would like to see all of the best players, not just the ones who have nothing else to do.  I will give credit to the league for moving the game back to Hawaii.  This is supposed to be a reward for greatness.  Having the game in the Super Bowl city in the week leading up to the Super Bowl is almost rubbing in the fact that these players are not playing in the really big game.

Productive Activities

As I have written before, I have taken up crochet again.  It has been a productive year already.  I have finished two single bed blankets, one for each of my college age children, and a shawl (see photo) that I will be donating to a local elderly care center (this is part of a church group activity where I am younger than all of the other members by at least 20 years).  I am currently working on another blanket, this one for my niece.  I have found that this hobby is cheaper than most of my other entertainment options such as going to movies and it results in something others can use.

Motion Pictures

Since I mentioned movies as entertainment, I have to comment that “The Iron Lady” is a great movie.  It is not the typical Hollywood production, so some people do not like it.  The story is compelling even if you did not live through the events as I have.  The acting is also very good.  I plan on going to see both “Red Tails” and “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”.


You would think that with my refocus on more productive use of my time, that I would be more productive in my writing attempts.  Sadly that is not the case.  My writing has languished since before Christmas, except the short story that I published last week.  I certainly hope that the rest of you are progressing in your writing.


Resetting Priorities

January 16, 2012

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Things I have stopped doing

I want to start this with a disclaimer that I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with the activities I am avoiding or the products and services that I am no longer using.  The first area of life that I am resetting is the use of my spare time.  I have cleared my friends list to just actual friends and family.  I have stopped using the time consuming on line games that kept me going through my period of heavy travel.  I am limiting my television watching to planned program viewing.  All of this is to realign the use of my time with what I have claimed (and really want) I want to do.

Next, I am no longer consuming carbonated beverages (colas, beer, etc.).  These beverages are liquid candy and except for the beer, have no nutrition value.  I am reducing the amount of sweets (candy, pie, cake, cookies, ice cream) to actually be treats.  I am forgoing the second helpings of my favorite meals (pasta, pizza, turkey, stuffing).  These actions are to reduce my caloric intake to address the fact that I am significantly over weight.

Things I am starting

I am spending more time writing.  I have taken up crocheting again.  I have already completed two single bed afghans for my college age kids.  This is something I learned as a child at the feet of my grandmother.  I have even gotten books from the library to help me understand the secret language of the crocheting patterns.  I am doing this with my wife (she actually is knitting and taking classes).  It is something we do together while watching television programs.  Having something to do with you hands really cuts done on the snacking or even the channel surfing.  These activities help to calm me especially during high stress with work, kids or life in general.

I am going to the gym more.  I am trying for at least three trips a week.  This in combination with my eating adjustments should work towards my weight loss goals.  My doctor has told me to try for at most one pound per week.  This is the sustainable loss rate the will result in a weight that can be maintained.  If I success, I will lose 50 pounds by next Christmas.  So far I have lost five pounds in the first three weeks of 2012.  I know that there will be plateaus, but I am encouraged.

Other adjustments

I was wrong in my prediction that Green Bay would make it back to the Super Bowl, but I still stand by my prediction that Baltimore will win it all this year.  I did not win the lottery – again- so I will just have to keep working and earn a retirement.  The History Channel and National Geographic Channel have become my favorite stations, mostly because they are not reporting on the primaries.  And finally, I really have to get my first book into the Hyrax store.

How Do You Spend Your Free Time

December 19, 2011

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How do you use your spare time? I have a great opportunity over the next few weeks to really relax and get some stuff done at home. Between vacation and a plant winter shut down, I will not be going back to work until the New Year. So what to do with all of that time? First and foremost, I will be writing. I will be working on my science fiction novel that I started over a year ago and I will be putting my first book into the proper formats to allow people to download from the Hyrax store.

Next I will be making cookies, lots of cookies. My daughter came home from College this weekend and the first 10 dozen are made with the dough for an additional 20 dozen in the refrigerator waiting for morning. That represents 30 dozen cookies of 5 types so far. We still need to make 3 more types. We will not be making all of Martin’s favorite cookies this year, partially due to lake of time, and partially since I will not be able to take many into work.

A year ago, I would have talked about playing video games, but not this year. Video games are a great escape mechanism, but in the end, they only have entertainment value. This year I am taking up crocheting again. I learned to crochet at the feet of my grandmother when I was very young. It was a way of staying up late and a way to hear stories of the past. It is a comfort to crochet now that I am older. Remembering back to those days, usually at Christmas time when my grandparents would visit. Now I sit by the fire watching football and crocheting.

This year, I am working on an afghan for my daughter to take back to college with her. It is a simple design, cream-colored variegated yarn for the top and dark green for the border. No special patterns, just a simple double stitch in a rectangle. It is just as time-consuming as computer games with the benefit of producing something useful, eventually.

My wife knits, something I do not have the skill or training to try yet. She is even taking classes at a local weaving and yarn shop. She will eventually make some really complex articles from hats and sweaters to socks and mittens. You can make similar items with crocheting, but I am sticking to the easy stuff for now, blankets and throws.

I hope you fill your spare time with whatever is enjoyable to you. I also hope that you actually get some spare time, if not during this holiday season, then sometime in the near future. I am a Catholic, so I will wish everyone an early Merry Christmas (we are still in Advent after all). I have many friends and relatives who are Jewish and I wish them a happy Chanukah. My hope is that every person around the world has a chance to prosper, experiencing joy and happiness, during this holiday season and every day.