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Talking 'bout a resolution - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
Talking 'bout a resolution

Many years ago, I made a New Year's resolution that I wasn't going to rely on spurious points in the endless cycle of the seasons to make new resolves concerning changes in my life. (Yes, I was a facetious little object.)

In some ways, though, I think I had the right idea -- I shouldn't have to wait for New Year to come around before I can change my life in any way. On the other hand, the human mind is a funny old thing, and sometimes the force of the "new beginning" aspect of the New Year is enough to kickstart it into actually making the changes it keeps idly contemplating.

I spent most of the last year drifting. I've decided that this year I have to make some changes to my life. In a way, it doesn't really matter if they're the "right" changes -- whatever that may mean -- I just need to prevent myself sinking any lower into this godawful rut. That's not to say that I'm making change solely for change's sake, but I'm perhaps bothering to try to change things that I might not otherwise worry about, just to see if I can take control of any aspects of my life.

So, this year I have made some New Year's resolutions; they're an odd mixture of trivialities and more serious stuff, but even the trivialities have a point to them.

At least one person has told me that they don't like to reveal their New Year's resolutions, because they feel that this will somehow jinx them. Perhaps there's also a feeling that if they don't tell anybody, nobody will hold them accountable if they fail to keep the resolutions. However, the reason I'm posting them here rather than just keeping them to myself is that I want to feel that I'm accountable for them -- even if nobody reads this list, I know it's here, I know it's publicly available, and that might just be enough to give me the extra willpower I need.

I know that if you read these you'll think I'm making mountains out of molehills, but as I say, this is all really about the wider issues of control, agency, willpower and change.

(BTW, apologies if the formatting of the list is screwed -- it seems to have acres of unnecessary whitespace inbetween the two tables, and I can't work out why, but I haven't got time to fix it if I want to post this before I go home. Any suggestions welcomed.)

[Update: should now be fixed! Thanks to the people who explained LJ's auto-formatting to me...]

ResolutionReasonProgress so far
Read more non-fiction (one book every two weeks?)I buy far too many interesting non-fiction books which I never get round to reading, and I spend far too much time reading "comfort fiction" -- like re-reading all my Chalet School books, and re-reading the same few Stephen King novels again and again.Bad. Haven't read a single new non-fiction book this year, though I've read bits of books here and there.
Update personal website.My website is rubbish. It doesn't have anything interesting on it, and the information it has is out-of-date. My website is the top hit for my name (without quotes) on google -- I want it to be something at least vaguely worth finding.None. Haven't had any inspirations yet for a unifying theme for the site, and without that I don't feel there's much I can do with it.
Stop drinking Coke.Rots and stains my teeth, provides unnecessary sugar intake, too much caffeine, and wastes my money.Good -- haven't had a single drink of the stuff so far this year!
Stop buying snacks from the chocolate machine at work.If I want to snack at work, I can bring stuff in from home -- it's cheaper and it means I have to think about how much I'm going to eat, rather than just buying more chocolate because I'm hungry (or bored).Good -- haven't bought anything so far this year (although I've only been back at work for two weeks...)
Drive at least once a week.Now I've passed my test, I need to start actually learning to drive myself around from A to B (rather than learning to pass the test). In order to do that, I need to practise.Not too bad -- but I've only driven on my own once so far, and that's the bit I'm most shaky about. I'm slowly getting used to driving sion_a's car, but I don't think I'll ever like it.
Practice karate and piano at least once a week.(These do seem like a weird pair of things to be practising, don't they?) I'm not going to get any better at karate if I don't practise, and I'm steadily getting worse at piano because I play so little these days.Bad. Have played piano a couple of times (but I wouldn't really call it practising); haven't practised karate once.
Play no more than 15 minutes' worth of minesweeper per day.Minesweeper (on the Palm) wastes far, far too much of my time. The problem is, it sort of helps me to think -- if my hands are playing the game, and the fidgety bits of my brain are focussed on it, then the rest of my brain is free to think a bit more lucidly. But really, spending hours playing it is A Bad Thing. I need to find better ways to think clearly. And besides, I don't think I'm ever going to beat my current hi-score of 37 seconds for 50 mines.Not too bad. Have played for more than 15 minutes on a couple of days but having the time-limit in mind does seem to be helping me to stop sooner.
Do timesheet every day at work.I hate having to make up an entire month's timesheet at the end of a month.Good -- I haven't actually been doing my timesheet proper every day, but I've been keeping a note of what I've done. It's a start.
Stop chewing my fingers.Okay, so I may not bite my nails, but I chew the sides of my fingers instead. It's just as bad (if not worse) and my fingers look horrible.Not too bad -- I do still catch myself doing it occasionally, but I usually stop when I catch myself.
Remember people's birthdays better.I'm terrible with birthdays, really terrible. It's not that I don't care about people, it's just that I'm bad at getting round to doing things at a particular time, if I even manage to remember a day and date -- and I'm not very good at even that. I usually send something anyway sooner or later... But it does offend and upset people sometimes if they don't get something on their birthday.I don't think I've missed anybody's birthday yet. Oh, hell, no, I have. Sorry Juliet... I was still subconsciously thinking "I'll see you soon anyway", and it's not quite so soon any more. :-(
Send Christmas cards before last posting date!I know there's only one Christmas a year, but I'm hoping these habits will last longer than just this year. Basically it always makes me horribly stressed trying to send all my cards out at the last minute, and I end up forgetting people, and I want to avoid that stress from now on if possible.You must be joking!
Try to control my temper.I've left this one till last because it's the hardest. I know I have a tendency to snap at people far too quickly, particularly at Siôn who rarely if ever deserves it. I just instinctively seem to think of the nasty response, and I don't like that. I don't want to be that kind of person. I believe it must be possible for me to bite back the sarky responses; and in time I may even stop thinking of them. Worth a try, anyway.Ask the people who have to spend time with me...

Then I've got some "New Year's Goals" -- that is, they're resolutions to do specific, one-time-only things some time this year, rather than to change my habits in some way. As such, I haven't got very far with them yet, because it's only January...

GoalReasonProgress so far
Sort out credit card bill.I'm in more debt than I want to be. What I really need to do is transfer the balance to a new account where I'm not paying interest for the first 6 months, and then pay it all off, and then CUT UP MY CREDIT CARDS.None. Haven't decided on a bank/account yet. But I do intend to do this soon.
Take "Pass Plus" driving lessons.These are effectively a series of driver-awareness lessons for people who've passed their test; you learn to drive on motorways, in the dark, in bad weather, in towns, etc. They sound like a generally Good Idea(tm), and furthermore, some places do discounts on car insurance for people who've got the resulting certificate. (There's no test, just 6 lessons and an assessment from your instructor.)None, but I'm waiting till I've got a bit more money before I do this.
Get my orange belt in karate.I chickened out of the grading last year, and I don't want to end up doing the same this year.Well, the grading's in February, so I'll let you know...
Sort paper at work into folders.I have huge stacks of paper at work, and I can never find anything. I'm sure it'd only take me an hour or two to sort it all out, but it's sort of frowned on to spend work time doing that kind of thing, because (I assume) we're supposed to just Be Organised from the start. So I'd probably have to do it in my lunch hour or something; but it would save me lots of time and angst.I've made a start -- I managed to throw away heaps of useless out-of-date stuff when we moved desks at the beginning of this week; and I've sorted some stuff into piles.
Buy a car!Because I want one. Because I hate driving Siôn's car, but I do want to be able to drive occasionally, and sometimes I'll want to drive somewhere at a different time from him, e.g. being able to drive into work so I can do a decent-size supermarket shop at lunchtime ... stuff like that.None -- I'm not even going to try until after my birthday, because once I'm 25 the insurance should be lower.

I think that's about enough to be going on with.

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reddragdiva From: reddragdiva Date: January 15th, 2003 10:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Weird shit like LJ auto-formatting?
reddragdiva From: reddragdiva Date: January 15th, 2003 10:33 am (UTC) (Link)
And there's something weird in your table HTML too.

(You realise you can edit posts after the fact, btw?)
j4 From: j4 Date: January 16th, 2003 09:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I'd already had two or three goes at re-editing it to make it work, to no avail. The auto-formatting jobby seems to have done the trick though -- I think my table HTML was okay actually! Unless you happened to look at this between edits, in which case I might have screwed it up while trying to fix it.

I think it's fixed now, anyway...
reddragdiva From: reddragdiva Date: January 16th, 2003 09:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Table HTML is still slightly shagged - spurious <td> or something which causes weirdness in Mozilla. (A particular effect I see a fair bit with tables in LJ, and which I'd love to know the cause of.) LJ is tag soup anyway, but you might care to take your fragment and run it through the W3C validator.
j4 From: j4 Date: January 16th, 2003 10:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah, thanks, there was a missing </TD>. Does that look better now?
reddragdiva From: reddragdiva Date: January 16th, 2003 11:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, that was it :-)

I see this particular breakage a lot with bad HTML from quizzes.
From: kaet Date: January 15th, 2003 10:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Good luck with the resolutions (*hugs*). I agree with you about credit cards, btw, though the rest of the world seems against us. I play atc to satisfy the minsweeper bit of my brain; no better, though.

Karate and Piano

sound like an excellent combination. If dropping it on an attacker doesn't work, they're also the only natural source of piano-wire.


spot the SGML professional. I bet you just new the name of that character entity of hand, didn't you? :)
j4 From: j4 Date: January 16th, 2003 10:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Good luck with the resolutions (*hugs*).

Thank you! *hugs*

I agree with you about credit cards, btw, though the rest of the world seems against us.

Really? I know plenty of people who think they're a Really Bad Idea(tm)... and certainly most people I know don't think it's weird to want to get rid of the thing to remove the temptation of overspending.

Today I very nearly went and bought three swords, on impulse; they're a set of 3 for £100, in the sale, and they're gorgeous, and I was there saying "I could put it on the credit card", but fortunately Ellie said "NO!"

spot the SGML professional. I bet you just new the name of that character entity of hand, didn't you? :)

Sadly enough, I did. 8-) Not only that, but I can type in SGML entities almost as fast as I can type in normal words. I first started getting scared when I realised I could copy-type from Greek text into SGML entities. I only wish there was a use for this skill that didn't involve working for ProQuest...
From: senji Date: January 17th, 2003 06:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I've just got a credit card, and it's absolutely only going to be used for:

  • Work expenses.

  • Things I would've got someone else to pay for with a CC and then given them some cash.

It's the second one that's going to be hard.
(Deleted comment)
j4 From: j4 Date: January 16th, 2003 10:11 am (UTC) (Link)
i think i'm only sticking to it as i've promised myself that once they look better and i've really stopped, i'll get very girly and go to boots for a manicure.

Whatever works for you! -- I'd run a mile from stuff like manicures and professional hairdressers though. I don't like other people fussing with bits of me for the sake of "beauty"... it just kind of makes me uncomfortable. Maybe I'm just weird.

I'm trying to stick to it because I know that if I do stop for long enough I just won't want to do it any more. Like I don't want to bite my nails now (except if I chip a nail and really need to get rid of the snaggy bit and don't have a nail-file, but that doesn't count).
jiggery_pokery From: jiggery_pokery Date: January 15th, 2003 10:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Know just what you mean about birthdays. There's something very easy you can do which will make you several times better at remembering your LJ Friends' birthdays, though; instead of using the usual update.bml page to post your LJ entries, use the portal instead. This contains a little box with upcoming birthdays of your Friends - or at least those who have made their birthdays public. It's a partial solution, admittedly, but a darn good one as far as it goes.

Fingers: not long after I've cut my nails, I fairly frequently get hangnails at the sides of my fingers and chew the loose skin off there. That's not the same thing as chewing the sides of your fingers, is it?

Good luck with the personal site. I know just what you mean there too...
j4 From: j4 Date: January 16th, 2003 10:19 am (UTC) (Link)
... the portal ...

Wow! That's nifty. Thank you -- I might well start using that instead.

not long after I've cut my nails, I fairly frequently get hangnails at the sides of my fingers and chew the loose skin off there. That's not the same thing as chewing the sides of your fingers, is it?

Er, not sure. I don't usually chew them unless there are little bits of loose skin there, but because I chew them there are always little bits of loose skin there. And even if I think they've all gone, they all look much more obvious after washing-up or having a bath, because the loose bits are all white-ish, so I can chew them easier.

When I actually try to explain it, I realise that it's a bit minging, really. Maybe I should just tell people about it until I put myself off doing it. :-) Unfortunately other people might not find this much fun...!
jiggery_pokery From: jiggery_pokery Date: January 16th, 2003 06:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
By way of mild aversion therapy, you could always scan the fingers next time you've chewed them. (Not that I'm suggesting you post said picture, though I would be strangely curious to see them...) Then instead of chewing the fingers in the future, you could just look at the very large picture of the chewed fingers instead.

Would that work, I wonder?
simonb From: simonb Date: January 15th, 2003 02:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know what you mean about the start of a new year being a suitable point psychologically to change lots of things, or at least to decide to change lots of things.

I too am a person who bites the sides of their fingers; at least this is better than when I used to bite my nails. However I only stopped doing that after I got a rather painful infection in one of my fingers. I've had the areas where I bite become infected once or twice and its not nice... its going to take a bit to break that habit tho.

The excessive whitespace is probably thanks to the LJ auto-formating they do. Essentially they convert every newline into a <br>. You can get around this by ticking the "Don't auto-format" box when you create or edit the entry. It does mean that you then have to do the formating yourself; not a big issue for people who know what they're doing with HTML when it comes down to it. The table elements are a little screwy for some reason - NS 4.78 doesn't render journal entry at all, although Mozilla is quite happy. I'm guessing that this is a case of the LJ auto-formating interferring as the <table>...</table> elements et al all look correct to me.

So far I've managed to avoid the chocolate machine at work which I routinely pass (hey, its on the way to the loo after all!) by taking lots of fruit with me into work. I normally take at least an orange and a pink grapefruit with me each day. I've found that not only does this keep the chocolate cravings down, it also means that I'm getting a bit of fruit every day :)

The "Updating the personal website" one is something I need to do as well; I really need to rehash how mine is put together. Right now its a lot of a kludge.

j4 From: j4 Date: January 16th, 2003 10:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for all the LJ-support! -- And for your mail about how to do filter thingies as well, which I still haven't got round to doing anything about (need more tuits!).

I too am a person who bites the sides of their fingers...

I'm starting to wonder if we should form a livejournal "finger-biting" community. <giggle&rt;
simonb From: simonb Date: January 17th, 2003 08:48 am (UTC) (Link)
[LJ support]

Not a problem; I learned quite a bit of this stuff when writing LJ::Simple :)

I'm starting to wonder if we should form a livejournal "finger-biting" community. <giggle>

<laugh> could be a good plan given that I've seen 4-5 people have responding to this. In fact, I've just created one - finger_biting

As to credit cards; neither ottah or myself own one. Instead we have VISA Debit cards which take money directly from our current accounts. The only way I'll get a credit card is when Smile start offering a credit card which can use one-time credit card numbers and the like for online purchases.
j4 From: j4 Date: January 17th, 2003 09:02 am (UTC) (Link)
The only way I'll get a credit card is when Smile start offering a credit card which can use one-time credit card numbers and the like for online purchases.

I've never really understood why people are so paranoid about using credit cards for online shopping, yet are happy to hand their credit card to a waiter who will take it away for quite long enough to copy down all the details...
simonb From: simonb Date: January 17th, 2003 09:51 am (UTC) (Link)
I've never really understood why people are so paranoid about using credit cards for online shopping, yet are happy to hand their credit card to a waiter who will take it away for quite long enough to copy down all the details...

Oh I'm not worried about people snooping in on network traffic to get my CC number - SSL et al make that a non-trival problem, especially if its done higher up the ISP chain.

I'd like one-time CC numbers for what happens after your credit card number hits the merchant's web site. I know of quite a few places which store your credit card number on their systems and to be honest I'm more worried about their security. There have been a number of documented attacks on online shops where credit card numbers have been gathered by attacking the database servers which hold the customer details.

Its not something I lay awake at night worrying about tho - if I did I'd have already gone out and got one of the one-time supporting credit cards which are available in the UK already. I'll wait for Smile to bring one out and then consider it.
marnameow From: marnameow Date: January 17th, 2003 10:40 am (UTC) (Link)
I have a special card for online shopping; it's got a tiny credit limit (so potential abuse is limited) and I report it stolen and get the number changed every six months or so.
simonb From: simonb Date: January 17th, 2003 04:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
That is one way of doing it; although won't this get your account flagged as being owned by someone who gets their CCs stolen a lot ?
marnameow From: marnameow Date: January 17th, 2003 04:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
No; I explained to them what I was doing and why - that also means that they don't raise the credit limit on the card. Everyone at said bank that I've spoken to about it says 'Ooh, what a really good idea'.
(Deleted comment)
simonb From: simonb Date: January 19th, 2003 03:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Luckily Smile will act in a similar way even with stuff on the VISA debit card.

I've even had one of their anti-fraud people ring me up (and then not mind when I said that I'd like to phone the main Smile number and get transfered to her) to query a payment on the card... something to the local Warner cinema AFAIR.
julietk From: julietk Date: January 16th, 2003 06:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Don't worry, I'm not one of the people who minds particularly if people forget their birthday!

And you've just inspired me to attempt to stop biting my finger-flesh, as well.
j4 From: j4 Date: January 16th, 2003 10:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Happy Birthday now, then -- hope you had fun (sounds from JunkList like it was good anyway! ;-)

And you've just inspired me to attempt to stop biting my finger-flesh, as well.

Cool. Tell you what, we'll compare fingers next time we see each other (beginning of Feb?) -- that'll be an incentive for both of us to keep our teeth off them. :-)
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