Forecast for the Future
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
A bit of time tending to the tomatoes, from last week's "Gardening Week"
Hyperliving is, obviously, on a bit of a hiatus. I am leaving for England tomorrow for work and will be gone until June 29. The recently exhaustive amounts of work i've been doing have been wearing me down and cutting into my ability to focus on anything resembling blogging. This is the first week in 2008 when I haven't even had the pretense of having a "Hyperliving activity"--but, as you might guess, that is mostly because this week's Hyperliving task has been "Do your job because it all comes down to next Monday, buddy!" However, I do hope to regroup when I come back and get Hyperliving back into gear.
But regardless of where Hyperliving heads, now or later, I think that most importantly I can say that I appear to have achieved a relatively stable level of happiness over the past few months that is almost unlike anything I've ever known. For the first time in my life, I feel like I have some perspective on what I'm doing and where I'm going, and what I might be trying to get out of life. It's sort of amazing. I am not suggesting that I feel constantly ecstatic, but simply that things seem all right and in order and that I feel generally confident that I am making decisions that I feel good about, which represent new directions in life that I've taken.
Though this year i've struggled my way through some of these Hyperliving activities (not to mention getting past my own personal demons and misfortunes), but there is just no question that they've done wonders for me, and that many of them have lead me to change small and large parts of the way I live each day of my life.
I'll check back in again in a few days but rest assured, there will be more Hyperliving.
Friday, June 13, 2008
I've been gardening this week, but also working a lot... i will post on gardening soon. Lots of work distractions lately, which will culminate with a trip to England for a week next Friday.
More info to come.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Both the Saturday and Sunday NY Times crossword puzzles come to NYC residents in the Saturday paper, as the Sunday section is split up and half included in Saturday's paper. This means that, as usual, Sunday's puzzle can be in the NY Times Magazine, and the Saturday puzzle is.... where? I spent a long time flipping through the two Arts sections of the paper looking all over for the Saturday crossword, but it was just nowhere to be found, so I just started working on the Sunday puzzle first. I finally found the Saturday puzzle in the Metro section, but by then it was kind of late and I knew that my efforts at solving it were doomed.
Saturday: Pathetic (though seriously, Saturday is ridiculously difficult)
My work on Sunday's puzzle though was pretty solid and I got a solid 2/3 of the way through the puzzle before running out of time. Not so bad for a first week of puzzling.
Sunday: Coming along (still not finished)
Note: I have specifically NOT looked at the answer keys because some part of me hopes to return to these puzzles and completing them.
Overall it was a great week and I am now ready for puzzling on a more longterm basis. For fun, I signed up for the a month subscription the NY Times website and did Monday's puzzle:
I actually managed to get what I feel is was an almost astonishing amount done on Friday's puzzle, though admittedly with some choice help from EmJo here and there to help keep me moving.
Not bad at all, I feel--there were basically only a handful of clues left when I finished, which is awesome for the mega-toughness of Friday.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
For the rest of the week, Thursday through Sunday, the puzzles became significantly more difficult. I made it through only aboout 1/3 of Thursday's puzzle, but I also did it entirely on my phone, which I feel good about.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
For Wednesday's puzzle, for the first time I needed to rely a bit more on some additional clues from EmJo to get me unstuck. I could notice for sure how much more immediately difficult it was to get started, and, of course, how that difficulty continued throughout the puzzle.
Began: 10:11pm, 6/4
Began: 11:42pm, 6/4
As you may note, I actually began this puzzle before I finished Tuesday because I'd gotten held up and felt like starting anew. The theme to today was "things that break," and was represented by answers like "curveball," "daylight," "kids toys" and "oceanwaves." EmJo said I picked a boring week to get started on crosswording, as the themes for this week have all been pretty Zzzzz.
Mostly so far I'm feeling good about the way I'm forcing myself to stay relaxed and focused, as NYT crosswords usually stress me out completely and I give up after only a short while. I suspect, however, that today's and tomorrow's puzzles will test this newfound patience and calm as I struggle to get even an answer or two. We'll see.
This is EmJo's drawing for Tuesday
Tuesday was definitely trickier than Monday, for sure. I also didn't complete it until tonight, because unfortunately (or fortunately, from a certain perspective), I went out for a meet and greet with some good folks, coordinated by "Are we having fun yet?" Queen Dan. And we had lots of fun.
I did get through about half of it though on the subway to work, as this time I bought the paper on my way out the door. I wasn't quite in the proper state of mind to work on it any more on my subway ride home, so I got back to finishing up when I got home tonight.
Tuesday Puzzle, 3 June 2008
Began: 7:11am, 6/3
Finished: 12:14 am, 6/5
The theme for this puzzle was actually kind of awesome--"Where's Waldo?", as defined by clue number 35-Across: "Question posed by a 1987 children's best seller". Clue 43-Across then said "This puzzle's answer to 35-Across (spelled out four times)--and sure enough, as you can see, the word W-A-L-D-O can be seen descending diagonally inward from each of the four corners. I, as a crossword newbie, found this to be kind of amazing.
I got angry with question 59-Down: "Phila.-to-Miami dir.," the answer of which was "SSW". I kind of say, "Fuck you, Shortz" to that, because I feel like there should be a rule stating that you can't travel to Miami from anywhere within the continental United States and have your direction be "south-by-southwest". Grrr.
Also, E-bad, who assisted a bit on solving some of these, took issue with clue 26-Across, "Long March participants", as she insists that "The Long March took place before the development of the cult of personality and therefore the answer cannot be "Maoists" as listed. What do you say to that, Shortz?
As suggested by the Shrimp Cracker, I have decided to re-watch Wordplay this week in honor of my activities.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
I had a wonderful but very late night yesterday out with my friend Dan & Co., so I haven't had time to get yesterday's crossword up, but i'll post that and today's later tonight. I can already feel the puzzles getting harder and me feeling dumber.
Monday, June 2, 2008
This is a week of wordsmithery and braincrunching. I've always sort of had an affinity for crosswords but yet I've also never been all that great at them. I am a wizard at Scrabble, perhaps because it's more math and puzzle-y, but I think the linguistic conventions, shorthands and secrets of crosswords have always befuddled me enough to put them down without finishing.
For sure at least I can say that, prior to tonight, I had never before finished an NYTimes crossword puzzle. Now of course anyone who knows about the NYT crosswords knows that they begin with an easy one on Monday and get progressively more difficult as the week goes on. As far as me never before completing on goes, a funny thought occurred to me tonight that the vast majority of NYT crosswords I've ever tried to do have been on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the three hardest days of the week (significantly more so than Monday), as the time when I'm most apt to pick one up is when beginning a trip somewhere.
Anyway, I set out today with the goal that I would do it and try not to get help if possible, to "get over the hump". Here was the puzzle:
Monday Puzzle, 2 June 2008
And voila, done! It took about 90 minutes, but sure enough, I did it, and all on my own except the last few clues in the upper-right hand corner:
10 Across - Evil Organization in "Get Smart" (Kaos, should have gotten that one)
12 Down - City near Provo (Orem... umm...)
13 Down - "Oh yeah? ___ who?" (Sez -- these are the kinds my brain has trouble with)
EmJo, The Texas Crossword Queen--if you can't tell, don't fuck with her
I got help from these last three clues from the amazing EmJo, queen of all words crossed. She did her puzzle today in about 10-15 minutes, the time it took her to get from the Lorimer stop on the L train to Union Square. EmJo does them everyday though, so getting through a Monday in no time at all is really no big thing for her.
I spent some time picking her brain tonight on pointers, strategies and thought processes facing both the maker and doer of crosswords. I am filing these away now and will prepare some thoughts to share on them tomorrow when I do not have to wake up at 6am the next day. She also recently gave a presentation on crosswords, including a slideshow, some of which I will share with you over the course of this week.
I am incredibly curious about the types of folks who become obsessed with crosswords and hope to learn some insights about them this week. For now, I'm happy at least that I can go to sleep having completed my simple goal.
This week I'm going for something different.
As you know, I love incorporating the unique and interesting talents of my friends into my Hyperliving activities. I feel blessed that I know so many folks with great skills and knowledge, and that they've put time into me and my project to help me get going.
This week my "Hyperliving Challenge" is inspired by my new and great friend EmJo: to do the New York Times crossword puzzle every day, starting with Monday.
This activity is exciting to me because I love word games but I've always been bad at crossword puzzles, to the extent of feeling somewhat self-conscious about it. I'm pretty sure that I have never actually even finished one NYT crossword puzzle in my life, so obviously this week is going to be a hell of a challenge to actually complete. But as always, I am ready to try (and fail, if necessary).
Where does EmJo fit into the world of crosswords? Well, not only does she do the NYT crossword every day, but she adds an entirely addition level of choosing a few answers and then drawing a picture based on them, overlaid on top of the day's grid (the image in this post being an example). She then post them all on her website, emilyjocureton.com/follies.
I have asked EmJo to help me out and give me some tips, and so therefore, as a supplemental goal for this week is that I will also attempt to do one EmJo-inspired crossword drawing.
We'll see how it goes. I expect a lot of frustration... and as the week goes on, less and less answers. But note: because I recognize that it will be almost impossible for me to do these entirely on my own, I will be expecting to get a lot of help from EmJo and other folks as I struggle along the way.
Home Improvement week went well, though admittedly most of it was centered around my efforts to paint three rooms of the apartment: the kitchen, my bedroom and the living room. However, I did a great job going through the house and ridding myself of junk and detritus of past lives, including two full garbage bags of recyclable e-waste. I also cleaned the bathroom (twice), replaced some new furniture including bedside tables, and emptied off the stairwell in my apartment that goes into the upstairs of the building (I have two other separate entrances).
But certainly painting was the focus, and I'd have to say that the results were exciting, as you can see below. A general challenge for me is that the apartment is a half-basement with low light levels much of the time, and so I needed to choose light colors that would maximize what I get. I ended up going with a semi-gloss yellow for the kitchen, an eggshell light pastel blue ("Ionic Sky") for the living room and an eggshell light pastel green ("Cabbage Green"). I used Behr paints, and needed one liter for the kitchen, one for the living and two for the bedroom (my bedroom is pretty huge).
I'd never in my life done a home improvement project of this sort, so I just sort of learned as I went along. Thankfully, Miss Sweeetheart, E-Bad and Ben D all pitched in at various points to help me out. The total process took parts of four days, including buying paint and doing each of the three rooms, with me wrapping up finishing touches on Saturday about an hour before guests began arriving for a party we were having.
Below are photos from over these few days--thanks again to Ben D for taking many of them.
The nearly cleaned off stairway, once home to much junk (and suitcases)
Kitchen, getting ready to be painted
Blue tape in action
Bedroom, getting ready to be painted and wayyy messy.
The walls are closing in on me...
Stretching out a bit before getting started.
1, 2, 3... and they're off.
Getting those hard-to-reach spots near the kitchen ceiling.
The bedroom is almost done...
And then, the finished rooms:
The Living Room
The week was concluded with the ridiculous celebration of the "Barkmitzvah", which included the creation and destruction of a pinata in the shape of a dachsund.
I can't convey enough the awesomeness of this moment or this photo