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About oromendur

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  1. "The Hobbits named it the Shire…and there in that pleasant corner of the world they plied their well-ordered business of living, and they heeded less and less the world outside where dark things moved, until they came to think that peace and plenty were the rule in Middle-earth and the right of all sensible folk." (The Fellowship of the Ring) Greetings Adventurers, it's your resident Tolkien-obsessed comrade here, checking in late as usual... Since I respawned earlier this year, I haven't missed a single four-week challenge, and there has only been one in which I wasn't able to meet my stated criteria for success. I've got a pretty good thing going, I think, and it has really made a difference in many of the habits of my life. But this time around I just don't have the wherewithal to put anything together that would be well-considered and meaningful and positive. Of course, I could just keep swinging the same stick in the same way I have been recently, but honestly it's starting to feel perfunctory. I just don't want to, dammit. I need a change. So I'm not going to do a quantitative challenge this time. I'm going to hand the management of the quants over to Habitica (which frankly is much better at it than I am, despite its many UI problems) and just chill out here for a month. I am NOT giving up my challenge streak, though! So, although I'm going to take a break from the excitement of my continuing journey through Middle-earth, I do intend to enjoy some quality downtime in the Shire. Life quest: The Red Book of Westmarch "I have done this and that. I have written some more of my book." ~Bilbo Baggins (The Fellowship of the Ring) Unfortunately it just isn't possible to let this one go. My unexpected whirlwind adventures last challenge were exciting, but unfortunately I fell way behind on the dissertation front. I feel pretty good about how I've started to get myself back on track this past week, both in the patterns of writing and the actual production of paragraphs, and I need to keep it up. This is the only quantitative measurement I will report on here: I will write at least SOMETHING in my dissertation document every day. Without fail. To keep this from being a perfectionist trap, I am explicitly permitted to open the document and type some sort of self-pitying garbage about how I didn't win the battle against Resistance on any given day. That will count. Electrons are free, I have a delete key and I know how to use it, and there is nothing more mutable than the first draft of a dissertation -- so the next day, when I get back on the horse, I'll delete the crap and move on. So, yeah. EVERY DAY. For the rest of my efforts this time around I don't have any specific quests. Instead, I am aiming at two soft targets; they are to be considered intentions, more guides to daily choices than specific demands or hard requirements, and while I will report on them when I check in here periodically, I won't be counting anything. Target #1: Improve my external environment "‘I shan’t call it the end, till we’ve cleared up the mess,’ said Sam gloomily. ‘And that’ll take a lot of time and work.’" (The Return of the King) There are so many home things screaming for my attention right now: rodents chewing up the wires in my car, a nasty note from the fire inspector about the disaster that is my landscaping, never mind the leaky roof or the broken shower valve or the rage-inducing barely functional washing machine or...gods, the list goes on forever. It's overwhelming. In the next four weeks I would like to take some baby steps towards resolution on some of these. I will try to get my mind around the next steps on the big things that are beating down on me, with the intention of having a plan of action for when I start walking the challenge path again. Also, a friend is coming to stay for a few nights during Week 3. Those of you familiar with my recent challenges will know that having guests is pretty much the only thing that works to make me clean my house... I will take the actions necessary to get my hobbit hole into a fit state to welcome my friend. Target #2: Improve my internal environment "The future, good or ill, was not forgotten, but ceased to have any power over the present. Health and hope grew strong in them, and they were content with each good day as it came, taking pleasure in every meal, and in every word and song." (The Fellowship of the Ring) I'm tired. I'm grumpy. I'm stressed. I'm running out of money and time and I feel like the world is conspiring to spin me off my axis and prevent me from doing my work, with the hardest deadline in the history of hard deadlines menacingly looming just beyond the horizon. I can't afford to get distracted. I can't afford to waste energy on things that will keep me from finishing this dissertation. But still -- if I'm going to get through this, I need to make a conscious effort to perform regular psychological maintenance on myself. There are lots of things I can do to keep my mind and emotions hitched to the carriage and pulling rather than spastically bouncing around all over the place and yanking me off track. It's an effort to keep my attitude under control, but I will consciously work on making that effort. Julia Cameron talks about the benefits of Artist Dates; I'm not going to commit to anything specific like that, but I will make an effort to take my inner child out for ice cream once in a while I will do little things just for the fun of it in the next four weeks, and I will enjoy them, dammit. Watch this space for tales of Shire-fun! All of that said, I am not quite going to spend every moment in my quiet corner of the Shire this challenge; I am still an Adventurer, and there will be adventures... The reason my friend is coming to stay is because there is a big medieval camping event in central California over the holiday weekend in October: Great Western War. I used to do this sort of thing several times a year, back in the pre-dissertation days. Now I pretty much don't play anymore unless this particular friend is involved. She lives on the East Coast and needs logistics support to make events; I provide said support (storage of camping gear, rides to and from the airport, crash space before and after) and in return she pays pays my entrance fees and puts gas in my car. I know I really shouldn't go. It's a distraction I REALLY don't need right now. But I promised, and I don't feel right backing out just because I'm up against a deadline. So I'll drive us up, and I'll get to see friends I don't ever get to see anymore, and maybe play some music and eat and drink too much and remember what non-dissertation life feels like. I don't think I'll be fighting -- my armor is utterly unserviceable and needs more of an investment in time, money, and energy than I'm willing to contemplate right now. Besides, if I don't spend hours and hours on the field every day, I can huddle in the corner of the pavilion with my (very un-medieval) headphones on and type words on my (also non-period) iPad and not lose the entire weekend. But it will still be an adventure. Adventures are good. Good luck to everyone else in your adventures this challenge!