Happy New Year.
Mine began with a bang and then a whimper of sorts, and now I’m back to the races. I was on STTW (semi-total technological withdrawal) from Christmas Eve until returning from a family vacation/reunion in the North Carolina mountains on January 3. I did not touch my Kindle, sent maybe two text messages the whole time, did not check my email or Facebook at all, and pretty much just let things happen “IRL”.
I managed to get a couple books and a few magazines read, half of a Kindle book “heard” on the drive up and back, did a few workouts, got some sleep, caught a nagging though mild cold, saw one lame and another decent movie with my brothers, got my hands on some nice used books, played Portal 2 from start to finish, fell in love again with The Baked Potato, realized anew that some treasures are too heavy to bear and yet too precious to give away (“The Tenth Floor Paradox”).
Did I leave anything out?
I’m not much given to New Year’s resolutions, but this year I’m taking up the gauntlet:
1) Actually Really Learn to Read Latin At a Passable Level
2) Read the Collected Works of Shakespeare
3) Try Ellington Darden’s “New HIT Method” of weightlifting for at least six months (“High Intensity Training”), of which more later.
I often find it hard to come out of vacations. After retreats this feeling of lethargy and/or numbness is known as the valley experience. Getting our house in order after the Christmas influx and a week away has been demanding enough, and now, thank God, I’ve also got some steadyish cases at work.
Probably five years ago a now erstwhile reader of my blog warned me that, if I were to marry, my reading and writing volume would drop sharply, and if I had kids, my writing would all but stop and my reading would slow to a trickle. In many ways, he was right, yet I just can’t give up. I am behind on posting at least three pieces at One Peter Five, must polish and submit a freelance ad piece after an inexcusable delay, still have to finish those backlogged posts for my faithful reader here at FCA, and I have yet to really establish a good routine for my resolutions. Let the record state, though, that I did at least prepare my materials and study/reading plan before the New Year; I just haven’t settled down enough the past couple days to get into the rhythm.
Of course, based on recent discoveries and changes, there’s no sign my life will get any less erratic nor any more fiscally stable in the near future. Suffice to say I am extremely disappointed–embarrassed, really–by America’s social benefit structures–and I realize that sentiment may make me sound like a “liberal”, but my point is entirely conservative. The incentive structure of social aid in this country is anti-family, socially progressive, and completely back-asswards. It would actually be more “prudent” for my wife to drop out of the workforce and spawn another hungry mouth, though we are, foolishly enough, still attempting to contribute to the workforce and produce another citizen-in-the-making, for which we’re basically being punished by the gremlins of bureaucracy.
In any case, here a few random notes that I glossed over above. I’m sure you’re fascinated.
• I have taken up jogging on a somewhat regular basis, and am brainstorming a kind of “cross training” running method, which not only relives one of the notorious boredom of uni-dimensional running, but also actually trains the entire locomotive physiognomy.
• In the past week I read Brian (“Bree-an”) Moore’s 1972 Catholics, Pär Lagerkvist’s 1951 The Dwarf, the two latest issues of Culture Wars, the latest issue of New Oxford Review, half of Hilaire Belloc’s 1922 The Jews (Kindle edition), Alexander Isaev Solzhenitsyn’s Warning to the West, and (liturgically continuous) passages from Fr. Gabriel’s Divine Intimacy. I have also been getting the homesteading bug again (binge-watching Doomsday Preppers has been partially to blame, though seeing hundreds of miles of mostly rural east coast also played a big role). I really, really want to raise chickens, rabbits, and a goat–to start. Raising spirulina and some basic tubers and shoots would also be grand.
• Here are some nifty words I garnered (or had recalled to mind) from my recent reading:
18 – Brobdingnagian
32 – caparisoned
35 – vorpal
45 – stertorous
misc. – curragh
111 – dulse
The Dwarf, page:
58 – condottiere
66 – grapnel
93 – descant
93 – flummery
97 – procuress
102 – camariere
102 – damigella
124 – baldachin
127 – scabrous
132 – majolica
132 – damask
147 – ewer
147 – potation
147 – eructation
157 – jackanapes
158 – cortege
192 – prie-dieu
• Pope Francis continues to depress me, but I have achieved great peace by deactivating my Facebook and generally ignoring the news altogether.
• My first ever attempt at “High Intensity Training” was…, well, not a hit, exactly, but very challenging and enjoyable all at once. It was unlike any weightlifting I have ever done. In almost every exercise I began too heavy, and therefore in only one exercise did I reach partial muscular failure (PMF) at 12 reps. That number of reps is not a magic number, but as a rule of thumb, reaching PMF too early means you are lifting too heavy, while failing well past 12 reps means the weight is too light. I did a 4/4 second concentric/eccentric (flex and release) rhythm for almost all lifts, and, let me tell you, that changes everything. The whole workout took less than 25 minutes, which is less than half of my usual workout, but not only did I shake with exertion on many reps, but was also dripping sweat by the end. An interesting, rather new concept came to me just as I was writing this post: the key is not what your muscles have you doing (i.e. many reps, lots of thrusting, etc.), but what you have your muscles doing (viz. spending longer time under tension and hitting an exertion plateau by the end of every set/exercise). Note well that PMF does not refer to the stereotypical notion of “failure” in which the bar and perhaps the lifter crashes down in a paroxysm of fatigue. It simply means your muscles are no longer able to perform the motion with proper form: they failed in the task and therefore it’s time to call it quits until the next workout. Suffice to say I will not be deadlifting 455 again any time soon.
• Like the bubble in the ocean of cosmic meaningless, an image I got from one of Tolstoy’s greatest novels but can never seem to state in the right way, I am not merely between jobs but in fact between careers–virtually between identities, in fact; in the space between. Pray for me. I need something steady to open up soon.
• Dear Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, deepen in us faith, hope, and charity.