By the Numbers: March 2013

Books

Total read: 6 of 36 (target was ~9)

I haven’t had much time to read anything that wasn’t assigned for my writing classes (mostly short stories). In March I finished:

  • Blue Remembered Earth — Space odyssey that is part mystery, part family drama, part environmental politics, part technology politics, and part adventure quest. The multiple “themes” at work here remind me a little of Frank Herbert and Dune. The Descrutinized Zone and the hacker / maker culture reminds me of Cory Doctorow and Little Brother.
  • Little Brother — Read almost all of this in one sitting. Definitely YA and definitely geeky, but in a good way. Doctorow is ever the activist, and his writing is very “message-y.” I wonder how this book actually goes over with teens (if they love it or if they find it too preachy). Even though I agree with his ideals, I worry that this is more propaganda than literature. Still… if you are a fan of freedom of speech, technology (esp. Linux), and security, you should check out this book.

I also noticed that Amazon (finally) added one of my all-time favorite Sci-Fi novels (Sassinak) to Kindle. So I had to buy it and start re-reading. Anne McCaffrey rocks.

Writing

Most of my writing this month has been part of one of my two writing classes. This was the month where my two classes overlap. So I’ve been writing all sorts of exercises and impressions of stories I’ve read, and working on my own stuff. It’s been a good month for producing content.

On Tuesday I turn in my final “portfolio” from my Craft of Writing Workshop. It will include two poems, one short story, and one personal essay. After that, I get to focus 100% on short stories (fiction) for another month plus. I’ve determined that it’s way easier for me to write fiction than to write personal essays or poetry. Most of the people in my class found writing non-fiction easier, which surprised me.

As much as I prefer writing fiction to writing non-fiction, I seem to be keeping up with the blogging. I posted six times this month (if you include this post). I seem to keep coming up with new ideas for blog posts, I just never seem to have time to write them. Maybe next month I’ll finally get around to those “learning to code” posts I promised.

Swimming

My US Masters Swimming FLOG (Fitness Log) says I swam:

  • 20 of 31 days (target was ~20 days)
  • 29.09 miles (target was ~30 miles)

That includes three swim meets this month where I swam US Masters Swimming Nationals qualifying times in all three breaststroke events. You can check out my race times on the US Masters Swimming website here. But if you’re lazy and you just want to see my times / events from the various swim meets I participated in this month, see below:

 Date  Event  Time  Age Group Place
3/10/13 (CAL)  50 Free 32.92 4
3/10/13 (CAL)  50 Breast 38.79 2
3/23/13 (USF)  50 Breast 38.16 1
3/10/13 (CAL)  100 Breast  1:21.65 2
3/16/13 (RINC)  100 Breast  1:22.28 2
3/23/13 (USF)  100 Breast  1:21.57 1
3/16/13 (RINC)  200 Breast  2:55.23 1
3/23/13 (USF)  100 IM  DQ  —

The two events I swam that weren’t breaststroke were disappointing. I almost missed the wall on the flip turn in my 50 free sprint at the CAL Masters meet, and then I got disqualified in my 100 IM at the USF Masters meet. The DQ was a stupid mistake. I thought backstroke turns were legal going from back to breast, but they’re not. Oops. I am now practicing touch turns in preparation for the Pacific Masters Short Course Yards Championship meet next weekend. I’m swimming all three breaststroke events and the 100 IM. It’s a two day meet. So, that’s actually a reasonable number of races — two on each day.

Movies

In addition to my usual busy schedule, Greg was out of town for a week this month and I was sick. So this ended up being a big movie watching month.

  • Total Recall — The original. I hadn’t ever seen it and Greg hadn’t seen it recently. Hello totally 80s! We’ve come such a long way in both special effects and… acting!
  • Ted — Funny. Mostly. A nice evening distraction. Also, I’m a sucker for Mila Kunis. Pretty sure she plays the same part in every movie, though…
  • Anna Karenina — Started watching this with Greg who lasted about 10 min and kept saying “is this a musical?” It’s not a musical, but it is “interpretive” in a way. Greg couldn’t handle “Anna” and her hysterical screeching. I watched to get a “Cliff’s Notes” version of the story and to admire what the Russian classics do with character and narrative. Also because I’m a sucker for Keira Knightly… who also pretty much plays the same part in every movie… huh.
  • Pretty in Pink — saw that Netflix added this to Instant and couldn’t resist re-watching. This was one of my absolute favorite movies as a teen. This was for me what War Games was for Greg. Now they are both on streaming, so we’re both happy.
  • First Position — Ballet documentary? Yes please. Of course. Watched this the night before my USF Masters swim meet to get a little inspiring athletic kick-ass drama.
  • LOL — I could just say I’m a sucker for Miley Cyrus and leave it at that, but that’s embarrassing… true, but embarrassing. Miley Cyrus may have been the hook, but this movie surprised me a bit… better than I expected. I will admit, the emo-boy love interests all kinda looked alike, but whatever.
  • Mona Lisa Smile — I remembered liking this one and was looking for something to watch while I was sick. Also I’ve been thinking a lot about gender issues / sexism lately. There are aspects of this movie I really like, especially the part where the teacher has to realize that part of feminism is that everyone gets to choose what’s right for them. Sheryl Sandberg, as inspirational as she is to many, takes a lot of flack for making a similar mistake… (Also, I’m a sucker for Julia Stiles…)

It’s not a goal of mine to watch movies, so you may wonder why I even bother including them in my monthly “by the numbers” post. I think it’s interesting to review the list of movies I watched in monthly snapshots. Movies are like little drama snacks for me. When I don’t have time to read a book, I watch a movie. Particular movies appeal to me more than others depending on my mood. I’ve been known to use both movies and music to “balance my brain chemicals” when I’m in a mad / sad / bad / whatever mood.

I definitely think these particular movies give some additional insight into my state of mind this month. Maybe the streaming ones more so than the ones I watched with Greg, but they all have some common threads. It would be an interesting exercise to trace the emotional / character / narrative links back to Pretty in Pink… maybe some other day.

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