It began with a long-awaited holiday. Going away from life as usual. Seeing family. Meeting friends, at least the ones interested enough to catch up for a coffee. Lots of dental visits. And little, if any, "online" activities. And a conscious choice to not post anything for a while.
That "while" has turned out to be a year. A whole year.
In the meanwhile, not posting as much meant I had the time to pursue other things I wished I had the time for.
Calligraphy. Using the traditional dip pen & ink kind. After a bit of mucking around with various styles, I chose to go with copperplate calligraphy. Bought a few nibs. Brought out the fountain pen inks that I'd never used in a while. Quickly realized I had an awful lot to learn. How to hold the penholder. That nibs are called pens. The right way to draw guide lines. Or where to find & print them. Angles, ovals, flourishes, majuscules, base lines & headerlines. Learning to make sense of the jargon.
And more importantly, where to look for help. Iampeth (that site is under renewal right now). Zanerian. A whole host of penmen (and women) around the world who were as fascinated with the simple art of writing letters using, not a keyboard, but an old-fashioned pen. A whole host of brilliantly talented people who make their own pens & penholders. Even a TEDx talk devoted to calligraphy! I've made some progress on this, & have begun using Instagram to hold myself to account, writing a quote a day for practice (and to lurk around those other awesome inspirational penmen around the world for eg Dr. Joe Vitolo, the insanely talented Schin Loong & the very generous Leenah.
Python. Not the snake. The programming language. A couple of reference books to teach myself basic stuff. Install. Search for help. Write some basic programs. And how to learn code the hard way.
R. Not the letter, but the Statistical programming language. Again, not big progress but enough to understand the language. This book has been my reference.
Helped write a training handbook for Tableau users.
Physical activity. Simply walking around the block. Walking longer distances to & from public transport. Short & long bushwalks. Never boring when the kids are with me, and great practice of motivating very tired young legs.
Time with the kids. Amazing how quickly they grow up. Stellar how they bond when I have undisturbed time with them. Quantity is important, & "total attention" is the quality. Both are crucial, imho.
Lots of reading. That addiction didn't really go away. Began with one published in 1940, called "How to read a book" by Mortimer Adler. The most useful so far: How to fail at almost everything and still win big by Scott Adams. Fiction: So Long See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell. Reference (mostly unsuccessful attempts at disciplined effort): Norman Lewis' Word Power Made Easy. Incessant references to Reddit & my Feedly subscriptions (not sure how I can share that OPML link).
Gazillion music videos on YouTube. Favorite subscription find so far - Josh Turner, NPR's Tiny Desk Concert, & Candy Rat Records. Shout out to the World Music subreddit. Beth Hart. I probably have a whole post devoted to the process of discovering music this year. Maybe I will. A fantastic performance by L Subramaniam, Jean Luc Ponty & Billy Cobham from a while ago.
I even watched a movie with my wife. Lunch Box. Probably a few others without me really noticing, which is a very common occurrence since I don't really care for them.
Podcasts, starting just a few weeks ago. A friend commented "Welcome to 2007" when I said I'd finally got a few subscriptions. Thanks to Ken Black who blogs at 3danim8, I decided to listen to this podcast interview with Slomo by Rich Roll. James Altucher, the idea machine, has my vote for his no-nonsense, sometimes quite brusque interviews that are always fantastic value for time invested. I am hooked on the weekly releases of Serial.
Work kept me preoccupied & out of trouble most days. Appreciation of the beauty of nature along my daily journey helps keeps my sanity. As does the daily practice of meditation, which of late has taken the form of my daily habit of writing quotes in a calligraphic hand.
This post began with me tearing the last few strands of my hair off my balding pate, wondering how on earth was I going to rekindle my blog with. I think I've done enough for a first sitting. Hopefully, I will have more to share in the days ahead.
If you really took the time to read this far, thank you.