It’s still February. It’s still winter, with the occasional warm day to suggest spring might show up eventually and the regular single-digit-degree morning to suggest otherwise.
We’re halfway through the semester, so time for midterms and papers. The poor students have been felled by one of the worse flu seasons we’ve seen in a while, so I’m just impressed when they show up to class and participate. Which they’ve been doing admirably, in both classes. In the Privacy class we watched and discussed CitizenFour, the documentary about Edward Snowden. Many of the students weren’t aware of the extent to which the government was hoovering up data on not just supposed terrorists but also citizens. And when your surveillance list comprises over 1.3 million names, that “supposed” is doing an awful lot of heavy lifting.
I finished The Hobbit and will post my TBR Challenge review on it in the next couple of days. I enjoyed it a lot, and I probably would have adored it as a young person. The writing is occasionally quite lovely, although there are also sentences which I had to read two or three times to make sense of. It’s the ultimate Quest story, of course, and it’s very episodic. It isn’t really clear why each of the encounters and episodes needs to be in the story, except to introduce another part of the world and another set of interesting non-human characters. I also don’t understand at all why the film adaptation required three separate installments, except for the obvious motivation of that sweet, sweet financial return. I appreciated that in contrast to Peter Jackson, JRR Tolkien didn’t consider battles worthy of long descriptions. I got a good sense of what was going on and the characteristics of the participants in the amount of space he accorded them. I will move on to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but after a break with some human literary companions.
We’ve been listening to music in the evenings rather than watching movies or TV shows. I know we watched something this week, but it must have been very timepass because I can’t remember what it was. I got back from a work function Friday night and enforced socializing left me fit only for a Midsomer Murders episode, which turned out to be one of the ones where the people are particularly unpleasant. And the policeman sidekick was the middle one who never clicked with Barnaby and was gone after a couple of seasons.
I finally got myself to start using the rower. We’re doing another walking holiday over spring break and my core strength is nowhere near where it needs to be, so even 20-25 minutes on the rower makes a difference. We have a water rower, which I like because it’s quieter than the standard Concept flywheel style. Apparently water rowers have become quite popular in some gyms; I recommend them if you have access to one. You can row as fast or slow as you want and the main thing is consistency and proper form. You’ll feel your muscles until they get used to it, but it’s non-impact and works a lot of your body.
We also did a 4+ mile walk in Forest Park wearing our backpacks to get ourselves ready for the real thing. We picked up new, smaller packs (22L) and we’re breaking them in. They have full harnesses and suspension panels in the back, like the Gregory packs we’ve been using, but they’re narrower, hold less, and have a lighter harness system. So far they seem to work well, although they are definitely not as comfortable yet as the Gregory packs are.
I spent some quantity time making up a lighterpack list of what I’m taking on our trip. I’ve made lists for all my trips in the last year as part of my #onebag efforts, but they’ve been simple paper lists. Lighterpack is a program someone in the r/ultralight subreddit set up a while ago, primarily for backpacking, but it is applicable to travel as well. Ultralight hikers are all about reducing the weight they carry and the program helps you to determine the individual and total weight of your stuff. This means you have to weigh anything that doesn’t have a weight specification available online, which for me is most of my stuff. So there I was with a kitchen scale, weighing every item. It was a great way to avoid work! It’s also very helpful in showing exactly what is going into the pile of stuff in the bag, and it’s making me more mindful of my choices. I don’t usually start preparing, much less packing, this far before I leave, but the advance planning is letting me think through various options.
This is the last week I’m adhering to my Project 333 clothing list. It’s been enlightening and I’ve definitely become more adept at mixing and matching pieces in ways I hadn’t tried before. And except for a couple of coats, I’ve stuck to the 33 pieces. But I’ve found it both unnecessarily restrictive (I have clothes I enjoy and usually wear a lot that have been shelved since January 1) and not always practical in a climate where the weather consistently swings between 5F and 55F in the dead of winter. I’ll write a full post on my experiences when I’m done.