Whole day off

Because I’m trying to kick this cold that’s been kicking my ass the past day or two so I can be close to 100 percent by Thursday, Wednesday was a day to do as little as possible.

There’s a fine line though, when you don’t want to or feel like doing much of anything but by the same token boredom can quickly set in. It’s a balancing act that involves TV, books (if you can focus enough to read unless you have something nice and brainless to fall back on) and maybe checking out the internet or YouTube.

But you can’t do that too long because the computer screen’s hard on the eyes, and your eyes are among the things bothering you most. They burn, they water, they itch and you just want to close them and hope it goes away. But I didn’t feel like sleeping, and I didn’t want to be bored, so I found things to occupy my time. I had one thing that had to occupy it — a bit of freelance work.

Of course, I know from my years working at the paper that as a sports reporter — especially with a new season right around the corner — there’s rarely any such thing as a true day off. I’ve even received calls while on vacation in another state partway across the country, asking for help, information or a phone number. There is no escape.

Even if I wanted to ignore things I simply couldn’t and get done what needed to get done. So I did a bit of research, did an interview, and got things ready to bang out a story.

Maybe it’s just me. The last time I simply slept all day I was sick, a few years ago. I think it might have even been around Christmastime. That time I didn’t go to the doctor, and was so floored by whatever flu I had I slept for something like 16 hours straight. But I find that very hard to do as a general rule, and while this illness has made me miserable it’s nothing compared to that plague.

So I probably didn’t sleep enough, but hopefully I rested enough to be able to attack Thursday a little more head-on. Because things have to get done, and I’m the one that has to do them.

On the ropes

When I woke up this morning, my hopes of this cold not getting too serious were quickly dashed. My throat was sorer than ever, and the congestion had finally moved in to match.

I was supposed to be babysitting Wednesday, so I quickly decided (or at least as quickly as I did anything) that I should see if I could get in to see my doctor and get some antibiotics to hopefully knock out the cold faster.

They squeezed me in to see a physician’s assistant in the office since my regular doctor wasn’t available, and despite some unsolicited advice she did say she was sending a prescription for a Z-pak to my drug store — across the street from the office.

I assumed that meant the prescription would be there when I arrived a few minutes later, but the pharmacy said they couldn’t find it. I thought they’d sent it electronically, and they said they’d text me as soon as they received it and it was being processed.

That text never came, and eventually it was closing time at the doctor’s office. I called the drug store back, they said they still didn’t have it, so I called the doctor’s office and explained my plight to the answering service. One of the other doctors called back and said it was definitely put in, but he would call again to make sure. While I was on the phone with him, the drug store called back. When I returned their call, they said they’d found the request — on their answering machine.

So then I had plenty of frustration on top of not being able to breathe (I’m currently on my third box of tissues today). I was in no condition to pick up the prescription by this point, so I had to wait for my wife to bring it home. Thanks to work and traffic, it was 8 pm before I finally g0t to take my first dose.

That was after hearing my cousin was hospitalized overnight. Then to cap things off I got to hear that a close friend had been laid off from his job, just as I was earlier this year. Luckily he’s one of the smartest people I know, so I have no doubt he’ll be employed again soon. But I could really use a break from this cold, bad news and just crap in general to give me a chance to feel like I’m getting off the ropes and back in the fight.

Here it goes again

Of course as soon as things start getting busy in my life and I commit to doing what I want with the blog, I start coming down with a cold. It’s perfect timing, especially considering I finally got my flu shot last week — though that is merely coincidence (and more ironic than anything Alanis Morissette wailed about).

I started feeling the bug coming on Sunday, and when I woke up this morning didn’t feel any worse than I did when I went to bed. That’s usually a good sign because it seems the cold always works its “magic” while I’m asleep, in spite of any medicine I take or how much rest I get. But the happiness was short-lived, and while it was a slow progression by this evening the congestion had begun in earnest and the throat was more sore and raw.

Having to work on a preview story and try to get other chores around the house done as well, I was reminded of the toughest part of getting sick — the effect it has on your mind. I had trouble focusing on what I was trying to do, and it felt at times like I was in a fog and just couldn’t concentrate on … well, much of anything.

Hopefully I can start to shake this by tomorrow and get back to normal so it doesn’t affect any of my plans for later in the week. Hence an early bedtime and a good night’s sleep to try and get on the down side of this.

Late in the day

See, one day and I’m already fighting to meet my own ultimatum. Now I’m doing it at the end of a day that began for me at 7 a.m. on too little sleep (my own fault) for my weekly bowling league, with what feels like the beginning of a nice cold. Should be interesting to see what happens.

It was a fairly typical Sunday of laundry, some TV and starting to dip my feet into preseason information to get ready for the girls basketball season that begins in less than a week. For that and other reasons, the main goal was to take it easy in anticipation of a long week ahead.

Things can get especially hectic at this time of year, especially for scholastic sportswriters thanks to the change in seasons in addition to the holidays which already sap so much time, attention and energy. There’s even more on my plate than that this week, including an impending babysitting assignment which I have a pretty good feeling will end up its own blog post.

So I should really keep this short so I can actually get to bed and get up at a decent hour to start the week off right. Since I’ve been pulling as hard as I can just to get these words out, shouldn’t be a problem. But I got words out, and got a post up. Yay me, [ 2 ] days without missing a blog post. Let’s hope I don’t have to reset the counter soon like the accident sign at Springfield Nuclear Power Plant.

  • By the way, my friend Brandi Lukas was kind enough to ask me to be the guest co-host again this weekend on her fun (but NSFW) podcast, Going To Hell. The episode went live late Sunday, and you can listen to it here on her podcast site, Olio.fm. Again, use headphones if you’re going to listen in public. Also due to the many topics we covered the show runs over an hour, so settle in and enjoy — especially if you hate Secret Santa.

Do it anyway

Once again, I bang out a blog post and then create others over the next week-plus only to never finish any of them. I think I have to give myself an ultimatum to get things going here.

My plan was always to treat this blog not just as a place to pontificate with long (but hopefully not ponderous) posts, but also write smaller things that don’t take hours of crafting and research. This is where I’ve stumbled, and where I need to improve.

So my plan is to try and post something daily (or as close to it as I can get) for at least a month to get into the creative rhythm, so to speak. Hopefully I’ll live up to the challenge since I’m putting it out there publicly, and it will make the blog become a more regular part of life which I’m pretty sure is what I want.

I’m going to treat it like a New Year’s resolution, but without waiting for the new year to get it going. A friend once said that waiting until the new year to make big changes and resolutions was just an excuse, and I think in this case I’m taking that to heart. I think if it helps someone to achieve their goal, they should do whatever it takes.

I’ve been getting hints and encouragements from different people in different ways, but it’s all helping point me in the same direction. I’m planning on making other changes in my life as well, but trying not to make it too big and taking it one step at a time. I don’t have forever to do it, but if I try to do too much too quickly it could easily lead to becoming overwhelmed and quite possibly failure. That’s not what I’m after.

The main point is, even if I don’t think I have an earth-shattering post to write every single day … do it anyway.

The Art of Giving

Photo from TED.com/James Duncan Davidson

Photo credit: TED.com/James Duncan Davidson

They say Christmas is the season for giving, and Amanda Palmer’s fans seem to be proof.

Amanda Palmer has become something of a polarizing figure in recent years, which at least means she’s getting noticed. She used Kickstarter to fund her most recent album, raising over $1 million, and then used musicians donating their services her tour to create The Grand Theft Orchestra with which she played on her tour stops in addition to a few regulars.

Even as she was vilified in some circles for taking advantage of those musicians by not paying them with money because of their desire to play with her and for the exposure, she gave a TED talk called “The Art of Asking” about her experiences and what it meant to her to become willing to ask others to help, including the funding for her album.

That talk is one of the most watched ever on the TED website with over 6.2 million views, and it turned into a book deal. She spent much of 2014 writing and editing the book, and “The Art of Asking, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help” was released Nov. 11 and made the New York Times Bestseller list for nonfiction. (Maybe it didn’t hurt that one of her main editors was husband Neil Gaiman.)

Part of the unique relationship she has with her fans is through Twitter, where she interacts and responds frequently. Those fans sometimes wind up making connections with each other thanks to her and the open atmosphere she promotes online as well as in person. It’s led more than a few times to fans giving other fans rides to shows, extra tickets or even places to crash afterward.

Followers of her account in mid-November (and beyond) were flooded with retweets of her fans happily clutching their preordered copies of her book, many of the autographed variety. There was at least one and perhaps a few people who noted that they would love to be posting their own pics, but simply couldn’t afford to buy the book right away and looked forward eagerly to the day they could.

Then something amazing happened. Fans who had the book and were already finished it offered to send their copy on to another fan who hadn’t had the chance to buy it yet. Others offered to buy additional copies of the book for fans who couldn’t afford them, with would-be readers sending their Amazon wish list as a way to get it to them. Some suggested a sort-of lending tree where the book would be passed around from fan to fan so all could read it as quickly as possible.

This kind of outpouring of support can happen with devoted fans of an artist or author, but seems perfectly appropriate for Amanda Palmer. Her book is dedicated to further exploring the notions of asking and giving in relation to art, and her fans followed by taking the next step and creating an atmosphere of giving and making others comfortable enough to ask.

That’s pretty freaking cool if you ask me. Just like Amanda Palmer.

Definition please

Peter Capaldi as The 12th Doctor. (doctorwhotv.co.uk)

Peter Capaldi as The 12th Doctor. (doctorwhotv.co.uk)

So we’re now six episodes — almost halfway — into the eighth series of the Doctor Who reboot, the first with Peter Capaldi as The Doctor.

When Matt Smith replaced David Tennant we were very concerned that he wouldn’t be up to the task of filling the shoes of maybe the most popular Doctor in the entire five-decade history of the series. But by the time he announced his departure he had carved his own niche and become in some ways a modern Tom Baker to Tennant’s Jon Pertwee, the fun-loving kick-ass goof to a doctor who had enjoyed moments of great humor but had proven himself a serious badass who could turn cold and deadly at a moment’s notice when the situation called for it.

We had strong hopes that Capaldi would be a worthy successor. He of course had history with the show after his appearance as a Roman father in “The Fires of Pompeii” appearing alongside Tennant, and is a lifelong fan of the show.

My wife and I have been enjoying the series so far despite our general dislike of Jenna Coleman as the companion Clara. But there is something that we’ve noticed, and it’s something that I feel could be preventing Capaldi from securing his spot in the Doctor pantheon.

It seemed producers knew there was an opportunity with the reboot to introduce a whole new generation of fans to the series, in part through the parents and other relatives who’d fallen in love with the series and its repeats.

It didn’t take long for the show to set the tone with Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor and Billie Piper’s Rose, with Eccleston grabbing Piper’s hand as she’s about to be killed by the mannequins and whispers, “Run!” A few minutes later, as he’s pushing her out the door, he introduces himself and says with a grin, “Run for your life!”

In those brief encounters, and then throughout the remainder of the episode, Eccleston establishes his doctor’s persona — he can be funny, but doesn’t suffer fools and is willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

When he regenerated into the 10th Doctor in “The Christmas Invasion,” David Tennant spent much of the episode unconscious. But when he finally awakens, it’s just in time to save the day in an iconic scene that displays those common Doctor traits while also showing his unique blend of humor and boyish charm.

Matt Smith had some pretty big shoes to fill by the time he became the 11th Doctor in “The Eleventh Hour,” as Tennant became many newer fans’ — and even some older fans’ — favorite actor in the role. But with an early scene learning about his new taste buds (fish fingers and custard!), his choice of wardrobe and a final showdown with the Atraxi, his character was quickly defined and became beloved by many.

Now if you’ve been watching this new season of Doctor Who, tell me what his defining moment has been so far. Can you pinpoint it? I can’t. A recent discussion prompted the idea that it was his final meeting with the Half-Face Man, but we still don’t exactly know what happened to conclude that meeting — did he jump onto Big Ben’s spire, or was he pushed? There have been other moments in the series to date that have given more glimpses into his personality, his back story, but nothing that’s felt like a singular event that summed up his entire character.

But the more I think of it, maybe that’s the point of this new Doctor. The previews and promos leading into the series hinted that this Doctor would be darker and more mysterious, and I’d say that while we know more about him than when we started there’s still a long way to go. While with Tennant, Smith and even Eccleston to a lesser extent their personas were relatively well established early on. There may have been individual surprises, but the fundamentals didn’t change.

With Capaldi, those fundamentals are still in flux and undefined. It hasn’t affected the quality of the episodes, as I’ve found them entertaining, but I find it brings a vague sense of unease that runs under each. That only heightens the tension, even during lighter moments like during “Robot of Sherwood” and “The Caretaker.” However, that suspense of waiting for the defining moment has also kept any of the episodes from being truly great.

But I’m not going to fault Capaldi for that, and I’m certainly going to continue watching … and waiting.