January 24th, 2015

New Year's Themes

I really don't like to think of these as resolutions, because, you know. Resolutions.

Inevitably, in the New Year, there's gonna be an exercise theme, right? In the interest of avoiding the start/stop problem of New Year's, I've been thinking about this for months and decided the thing I missed the very most about pre-kid physical activity was hiking. And since there's nothing within an hour to 90 minute drive as Worth It as the Cascades were when I lived in Seattle, I figured I'd just suck it up and do all the local hikes, with a heavy emphasis on Great Hill, which is a quarter mile walk from my house. This has been going well. I also signed up with Comm Ed for fall walks and Acton Rec for winter walks. I'm also more consistently making sure I get a daily walk around the block, or the 3 mile loop out to West Acton and back, by either going with R., or taking turns getting walks. I store the LED head lamps by the door with keys, scarves, gloves, etc., which helps a lot; it doesn't really matter if it's dark I just go anyway. I also have my wireless neckband style headphones hanging up by the keys, so I don't get too bored. You may lecture me about how FUCKING STUPID IT IS TO WALK IN THE DARK BY MYSELF WITH HEADPHONES ON. I know. I don't play the music very loud. I have decent situational awareness. Also, very small town, with sidewalks and the speeding teen drivers don't speed as much in the winter plus they usually are driving later than I am outside.

Along with an exercise theme, there is always a diet theme. When I was out in Seattle, J. told me that he now has solid data on what foods spike his blood sugar and what doesn't. J. is a Reliable Source. Also, what he is saying is a good match for what every study ever has said (protein/fat doesn't spike, and if you're going to eat something carb-y, then have it second and/or with the veg/protein/fat and it won't spike, etc.), with a couple of interesting sidelights (lemon juice in water!). I really don't approve of low carb diets (yes, I know everyone else luuurrrvvves them), but I see only good things about avoiding the whites, upping the veg, and a little attention to order/combinations. I've also just completely given into the idea of an early dinner and going to bed early. As long as the kids are getting up early, this is just going to happen. (I have no reason to believe I have any worse blood sugar control than I ever did when I was a kid -- I'm still prone to woozy when I miss meals, but that's about it.)

Finally, there's sort of a life review theme, which has included genealogy in other years. On the trip to Seattle, my cousin was talking about personal timelines, which seemed really cool. I haven't settled on how I'm going to do that (I'm thinking just hacking raw html the way I do the rest of my website, because while he's excited about Simile, I just think it sounds like a lot of work for very incomplete data separation. But I may shove it all into a spreadsheet and figure it out from there). And I've been thinking since 2013 -- my 10th year blogging here on LJ -- that it would be pretty cool to mine all this crap I've been blogging over the years. I think this will be the year I assemble the inputs and think about the best way to organize and present whatever it is I decide I want to include.

Recent Activities Include: shoveling! Khan Academy, Rosetta

I continue to reread (and not post about) JAK books.

It snowed. It snowed kind of a lot. It was fluffier than predicted and thus there were more inches than predicted, but the same amount of water content, I think, in the end. Easier to shovel this way, too.

I've now had three people in my life declare a desire/interest in (re)learning mathematics, especially algebra forward. I tend to be very down on this as an idea, for several reasons. First, while slogging through first year calculus in college is necessary to get a whole bunch of degrees that then line you up for making decent money, if you don't intend to go all that way, I don't really see much point in starting. It's so, so rare that you actually need any of this stuff in Normal Life (altho to be fair, I did actually stumble across one of those a day or so ago when I was trying to work out how many of the told books read by readers in the US were read by readers who read a few vs. shades of many books a year -- and in the event, I wound up asking R. to help me out with it, because I did not trust what I came up with. He actually had a way better explanation for the thing we did would work than I was able to come up with, which let me trust it).

Second, if you didn't learn this stuff when you were young, there was probably a reason, and it is unlikely to have been something as simple as, I had a bunch of crappy teachers. Good teachers, and especially good one-on-one, like tutors, can get math into just about anyone's head. But if math is going to be the kind of thing that you like and look for excuses to use, you do not need good teachers to get through the usual courses.

Third, even if you are pretty middle of the road and your issue is lack of interest/access to ways to learn it (and thus a pretty optimal candidate for playing catch up later in life), it is incredibly time consuming.

Most importantly, however, in the past when other people were enthusiastic about math, and I got enthusiastic about math for them, I was always, always, always bad at noticing when their interest flagged and respecting that, thus leading them to really dislike me. So I am now erring on the other side: fuck it, just don't bother.

However, my sister, in the course of answering questions raised by her children, started using Khan Academy, so when this cropped up most recently, I pointed towards that. And then I thought (this skips over a lot of steps in the middle, so, TAMO! Just like in difficult proofs. Then A Miracle Occurred), hey, I should go sign up and check this thing out.

First comment about Khan Academy: wow, it is way more than just YouTube videos at this point. Second comment about Khan Academy: hard core gamification of learning. Sorta like Duolingo. Third comment about Khan Academy: that is quite possibly the shittiest "where should we place you in the learning process". Their placement testing is either confusing the hell out of me or really bad. I mean, even bad compared to free online language learning AND THAT IS SAYING SOMETHING.

But that's okay, because where else are you gonna find a great way to learn math at any age and at your own pace. For free. Multi-media.

So after poking around KA for a while, I thought to myself, Self, you should fire up Rosetta and do some of the Adaptive Recall exercises. That shouldn't be hard and it might be good for you. So after two update cycles (whoa, reinstall), I have been working on some of the Dutch review stuff. Which is indeed not hard and may even be good for me.

In related news, I have figured out the world's best way to get homework done/communicate clearly to my daughter that screaming at school or at home to get her own way is Not Acceptable. I think you can probably put those two together. There was a whole bunch of no TV until you finish involved, as well. This feels very ... parental. Not necessarily in a good way, but in a probably has to be done sort of way. This may be the other good part of having homework in kindergarten (which honestly, I am not fully on board with).

Made peach crisp. I'm going to take son out in the i3 to see how it does in the snow next.

Is the i3 a snow bunny? Not really. But it is not horrible

I finally got to drive my new car on Not Fully Plowed, Treated and Dry Roads. I chickened out of the ice storm and just stayed home. Because. However, this was not ice. This was snow.

When I first moved to the east coast, specifically, Mayberry, NH [ <- not its real name], I was driving a Subaru WRX with Blizzaks. While it did not love going triple digits on the open road, it was fearless in the face of weather. Which was important, because I wasn't used to driving in snow. Snow in Seattle = I stay home or I put on the Sorels and go tromp around for a while. Not as good an option out here, because there is so much more of it.

I drove two Fits (a 2007 and a 2011), neither with snow tires. I was a little more chicken about the snow, but was willing to go out in it. And I moved to Massachusetts in 2009, which meant better treated roads, faster, thus requiring less sacrifice to wait for cleared roads to venture out. But the i3 is, far and away, the least obviously practical winter choice of all the new vehicles I have ever bought. I can get Blizzaks for it, altho I'm not sure if I will bother.

The i3 (duh) has traction control. As T. and I drove out to Hudson, MA to go to Applebee's (blame him), a little over 10 miles each way, I noticed the biggest problem was getting moving again after stopping at a slushy intersection. And then, weirdly, it did not feel like it was the back wheels slipping. It felt like it was the front wheels. If you're thinking, that makes no sense at all, I wholeheartedly concur. Next time it happens, I'll pay closer attention and see if I change my mind.

The wonderful, instantaneous torque that makes it fun to startle passengers with jackrabbit starts is what causes the problem. Even at my most restrained, the traction control kicked in at some intersections.

Other than that, the i3 handled quite well on snowy roads. There were hills. There were curves. There were hills and curves. Of course, nothing is going to make you stop in a hurry, altho the ABS does help if you are about to overshoot, and then the traction control provides an assist with the inevitable sideways motion (once, when I almost overshot the turn onto Martin Street).

It was not windy today. I could imagine that a strong wind combined with snowy roads (sort of normal Nebraska weather, say) would be pretty tense.

I kept it under 30 mph there and back, because I am too skeered to go fast in the snow with my lovely new car. Which is no snow bunny, but is perfectly acceptable on snowy roads.