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Fool's errands - shadows of echoes of memories of songs
j4
j4
Fool's errands
I never did post New Year's Resolutions at New Year, because the winter seemed to go on for ever and involve nothing but snow and fail and stress, so I've decided to move them to April 1st. It seems like a better time to start new things anyway, with the green shoots of spring pushing up and the new life beginning all around.

For those who care, here's the results from last year:

Do something every month to contribute to the global campaign against climate change
Reduce my/our carbon footprint

On the 'doing something' front, I set up a standing order to the Campaign Against Climate Change, thus ensuring that I did do something every month. :-) I also signed so many e-petitions that I think the current value of my signature is somewhere below that of the post-war deutschmark. addedentry and I cycled to Kidlington to join the protest against the airport, and I was misquoted by the Oxford Mail. We bought a house (allowing us to actually make changes to make the house greener), and the first thing we did was replace the existing not-working boiler with a new greener combi boiler and replace the falling-down ceilings (and get some basic insulation added in the process). I also joined Low Carbon East Oxford, and volunteered myself as Secretary (not that I've done very much - nowhere near as much as the tireless jinty! - but having named officers means that we can be a proper organisation with a bank account and stuff). I should probably be writing up notes from last night's meeting rather than writing this.

I've given "reduce our carbon footprint" a tick because I think we're doing what we can; Owen's carbon account shows a massive peak in the winter, but that was the coldest winter we've ever lived through -- if we'd been in the flat we'd've probably have had a carbon footprint you could see from space. We have signed up for 10:10, but it's hard to reduce your carbon footprint by 10% when it's already significantly lower than the average -- most of the tips are along the lines of "Try using your smaller car occasionally!" and we already don't drive or fly. (OK, I did drive a van from Loughborough to move a lot of furniture from home, and paid massively over the odds to do a one-way drive; and brrm drove my Morris Minor from Cambridge, which I think counts towards my carbon footprint. The car is a problem, & I don't really know what to do with it.) The big thing where we could cut down is meat; not that we eat masses of meat (and when we do it's usually the stuff the Co-op is practically throwing away because it's so close to its best-before date, so it's reducing waste... maybe) but we do eat quite a lot of dairy & we could certainly eat less.

? Find an orchestra or ensemble in which to play violin

Well, I did play in a string quartet with friends/colleagues a couple of times, but it never really got off the ground because we're all just too busy to fit in regular rehearsals (and the logistics of rehearsal space and instrument-ferrying made things tricky). It was fun though & I will try to get it going again if I ever have any spare energy.

Audition for proper grown-up choirs

I auditioned for the Cherwell Singers, and got in. The standard of the singing is perfect for me -- I'm somewhere around the middle of the range of ability in the choir, so I feel like I'm learning but I don't feel hopeless -- and we've already sung some really decent music. I'm going to have to miss next term's concert because of holiday dates, though, so I may be looking for a different choir for a term...

Put as much in my ISA as possible

I've put a fair amount in, for all the good it does. Still probably better than putting it in a box under the bed or spending it on pies.

X Eat out no more than once a week
X Don't buy lunch 'out' (ready-made sandwiches etc) more than once a week

No, I totally fail here. It's just willpower, really. I am lazy about making lunch the night before, and I never get up early enough to make lunch in the morning. I've also eaten out pretty much every week in term because I can't bear cycling home and back in and home again for choir; 40 minutes' extra cycling seems like a lousy use of time when I can have a bagel and a coffee in G&Ds and get some reading/writing done away from the distractions of the internet. It costs money, but time is money.

? get rid of one item of clutter every day

I have no idea if I met this target over all, but I did get rid of heaps and heaps of books, clothes, CDs, and general miscellaneous rubbish. We also a) took responsibility for all the stuff that the previous tenants left in the house we bought, preventing it from being thrown away but not letting it contribute to our clutter too much, and b) imported a MASSIVE HEAP of stuff from my parents' house at the beginning of this year and didn't let it hang around here for ever: just to give you an idea of the scale of the operation, we've managed to rehome 3 and a half BBC Micros, 2 old Macs, a box full of old Mac software/manuals, a suitcase full of fabric and stuff, and god only knows how many boxes of books and videos and JUNK.

Keep to "inbox 100" and try to get to "inbox zero" for the beginning of the next academic year

I'm giving this a tick even though I didn't quite do it in the timeframe. I did get down to zero, I didn't stay there, I've managed to stay under 100 for most of this calendar year so far, and I even got my gmail down to a manageable amount. Yeah, I know gmail say you don't have to delete anything ever, but disk space is part of your carbon footprint.

X Try 43 Folders

I'd like to say "I don't think it suits my way of working", but actually I think I just couldn't be bothered.

? Leave work on time unless I'm actually busy

I'm not sure any more; I'm always busy. I certainly haven't left work at 5:30 very often. Work/life balance is getting to be a bit of a problem, because a) all my work is the sort of stuff that's never actually finished, and b) I enjoy it and find it interesting, and c) I tend to get a bit addicted to doing things when I'm in the middle of doing them, and d) I am keen to impress the colleagues who I like and respect, and e) I generally feel I'm not good enough at what I'm doing so I keep trying harder ... and the combination of all those things means that I end up doing a lot more work than I "should".

Switch computer off every night

There have been a couple of occasions where my post-backup shutdown failed and I didn't realise, so the computer did stay on all night, but that wasn't my fault!

X Keep a record of stomach problems for 6 months
X Then actually try things to fix it

I can't remember when I've tried the things I've tried any more. :-( It's still not fixed. I don't think it ever will be. I think it's probably stress-aggravated, and some foods/drinks (notably beer, which is annoying, and meat, which is probably good from the point of view of cutting down the meat-eating) make things worse. But I am tired of wasting my time and the NHS's time saying "but I still feel ill"; also, I am technically overweight, and GPs don't treat overweight women.

X Reply to emails within a week

I am still trying, but I know I am dreadful at keeping in touch with people. The biggest problem is that I never really know what to say, and the longer I leave it the more I feel guilty about not replying which makes me agonise more about what to say, and before I know it it's six months later and I still haven't replied. :-/ I wonder if feeling stressed and overwhelmed about email (even when it's nice email from people I like and want to hear from! I didn't say this was rational...) also makes me feel subconsciously as though sending people email isn't actually something they'd welcome, if you see what I mean.

Get married

Yes! I did keep this resolution, and the wedding was lovely and probably about as low-stress as it's possible for a wedding to be, and addedentry and I are still married, and it is good! :-)




And, if anybody's still reading, the resolutions for this year. I wanted to try to make fewer resolutions and keep more of them this year, so they're mostly a bit wimpy and there aren't anywhere near as many as usual. Lowering expectations, I guess. :-/ I wrote most of these at the beginning of the year, and have already broken some of them, but I'm starting again now:

Go running at least once a week

I've signed up for the Town & Gown 10K again this year, but I want to try to keep running regularly after that as well (the last two years I've dropped off after the race and then found it hard to get going again). I think the key to this is going running on my own as well as going once or twice a week at lunchtimes with colleagues (though the running with colleagues is fun, and sociable, and so far has involved some entertaining runs through mud and knee-deep icy floods which I would never have done on my own).

No coffee in the afternoons at work

I really was drinking too much coffee at work. I have stuck to this fairly well so far this year, actually; I haven't cut out caffeine in the afternoons at work, I just switch to tea, but I think it's helping to break the always-drink-coffee habit.

Get offline by 9

Um, you may notice from the time of posting this that I am kind of getting off to a bad start here. :-} But I do need to stop staying on the computer so late; it stops me getting to sleep properly, and it gives me headaches, and is generally a Bad Thing. "Offline by 9" sounds like a cool campaign-type-thing. I would totally sign its e-petition, wouldn't you?

Only take baths at weekends

Partly because baths use so much more water, and partly because they take so much longer (and often result in me staying up late reading in the bath). Showers in the mornings are the way to go. I am trying to get up earlier, and have time to do things in the morning before work, but I find it so hard to do anything in the morning (the idea of "early birds" and "night owls" may be Bad Science, but I certainly feel much less alert in the morning even if I've had a decent amount of sleep). Knowing that I have to wash my hair before work seems to make it slightly more likely that I will be able to force myself to get out of bed.

spend no more than 5 pounds a week on buying lunches at work

I need to start making lunches the night before or at weekends rather than always buying sandwiches (I suspect ready-made sandwiches are an environmental nightmare as well). I am considering having an actual pot of cash on the desk so I know how much I've spent.




There are lots of other things I want to make resolutions about but they're awkward things, hard to get a grip on in my head, mostly to do with keeping-in-touch-with-people and where-I'm-going-with-work-and-life-and-stuff. I think they'll need separate posts of their own, assuming I can actually get back to posting sensibly again.

Over all I think I'm having more trouble than usual inspiring myself to do things this year, but I can't keep blaming the long cold winter forever. Time to get up and start doing things, putting out shoots as well as putting down roots. There'll be time enough for sleeping when we're dead.

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Comments
taimatsu From: taimatsu Date: April 1st, 2010 12:42 am (UTC) (Link)
I find this very impressive, as I never manage to be this disciplined about things. Well done, and good luck.
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 1st, 2010 02:07 am (UTC) (Link)
モダンversionのfroggy princeがほしい。
cleanskies From: cleanskies Date: April 1st, 2010 06:49 am (UTC) (Link)
hm, that's a thought, I should go check on mine

I use 43 things, with variable success....
emperor From: emperor Date: April 1st, 2010 07:25 am (UTC) (Link)
I do that thing where something being overdue makes it a Thing Of Stress and therefore To Be Procrastinated. I tried Not Caring for a bit, but that meant I stopped feeling guilty about not replying and just didn't, which wasn't really a win!
lnr From: lnr Date: April 1st, 2010 05:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
We've signed up for 10:10 too, though I'm not sure how much difference we can make either, and I've not been tracking our holidays to see if we're using more or less carbon: I expect with a holiday in Italy it'll be quite a bit up in total, even if we get the train one way. Have at least got round to insulating the loft a bit more, even if it would have been better to do it *before* it was cold, rather than just after. And new boiler in January, but we've actually used nearly 50% *more* gas than last year in Feb and Mar this year :(
olithered From: olithered Date: April 1st, 2010 07:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think it's great that you have written this post; you should be proud of those green ticks!
monkeyhands From: monkeyhands Date: April 6th, 2010 07:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm impressed and inspired by this. I think what's inspiring is that last year wasn't a perfect year for you, but you still managed to achieve so much. It makes me feel like getting out of the "full marks or nothing" mentality and actually trying more things.
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