Monday, February 29, 2016

The Spire

Hello.  Yes, I know I missed last week.  I was having a bit of a computer issue on Monday and was not able to upload.  However, everything is back up and running.

Today I want to tell you about my new exciting little gadget called:  The Spire.

The Spire is a bit like a fitbit, as in it tracks your steps and your calories burned, etc. However, the reason I decided to try a spire instead of the fitbit is that it has an added perk that also tracks your focus, your calm, and…your tension/stress.  I have been using it for almost two weeks now and here is what I think of the product. 

My review: 

The product is different from many others in that you wear it on your person not your wrist.  You can wear it on your waistband or you can attach it to your bra, which is how I use it.  I thought it would bother me and be uncomfortable, but in fact it is not.  The fitbit I wore on my wrist and it bugged the poop out of me all day long.  It would get sweaty and was in the way while on the computer.  I never did get used to it and I wore it for a long time (almost a year).  The spire, I actually find myself forgetting I have it on.  I think the reason it is so comfortable is the design with the use of the stone.  The stone warms to your body temperature, but as it isn’t plastic, you don’t sweat under it.  However, I can’t sleep in it, which is okay as it does NOT track sleep, which I actually do miss from the fitbit.  Maybe they can add that in someday. 

The step calculator seems to be accurate.  I can’t tell if the other technology is correct or not.  I would guess that it seems pretty accurate, as when I check it while I am working it is telling me I am “focused” or while I am reading I am “calm”.  The tension indicator is why I decided to try the spire.  I was interested to see how it worked.  I find it somewhat funny, although I would have to say it does appear accurate as well.  When I am stressing for two minutes the spire will vibrate and buzz me telling me to take a break, a breath, and to clear my mind and try to calm.  It will surprise me most the time, as when I am stressing I am not thinking about the spire.  But the little buzz gives me a heads up and gives me an opportunity to try to settle down. 

When am I finding myself getting zapped the most?  Usual things like difficult moments at work, being approached by a stranger, and dealing with family issues.  The surprises were: pick ups from dance for the tiny dancer; at the grocery store while checking out; at the home and garden show when approached by hard sale people; and the most surprising of all…going out to get the mail from the box (LOL!).  I gave that one a bit of thought and I think it all comes down to the change from living out in the middle of nothing to living in a development.  At the old house I never saw anyone.  I mean, never!  Now every time I walk out the door there is someone out there.  Which is not a bad thing at all, it just takes a bit of getting used to by me, a very shy, very introverted individual. 

Yesterday, I was outside with the tiny dancer as she was working on a few tricks, when a couple stopped to say hello and introduce themselves.  Very nice people, not pushy, not over friendly, just a hello, welcome to the area moment and the spire was buzzing me like crazy.  Simple moments like that, when I get a poke from the spire surprise me.  I know I am shy and nervous around strangers, but I had no idea I was that tense and stressed over it.  It’s been an eye opener for me.  I can see I have some work to do with myself in trying to deal with stress. 

So, all in all I am very happy with the Spire.  It was worth the money and the purchase.  How often do you get to say that? 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Surviving the Winter Blues

Winter makes me sad.  When the sun is out, even when it’s cold and frosty, I do really well.  I feel good and happy and motivated, but lately it’s been gray and gray and gray, along with the cold and frosty and icy. 

I try to beat the lows and stay positive.  First, I read.  Nothing can transport you out of the gloom and cold like a good book.  I tend to read a lot more in the winter as I don’t go anywhere, and I don’t do much of anything as I refuse to go outside in the cold.  I have loads of time to plop into a book.  I am not a huge TV person.  So this works well for me.

Second, although I am not a huge TV person there are a few things that I will watch.  I have very recently found the Outlander series on Starz.  I have read a lot of the books in the series.  I think I still have one or two more to go, but they are long, long reads, and I like to enjoy them, therefore, I tend to put them on hold until I have a nice long break between projects to drift into them.  Anyway, they have started a series on Starz based from these books.  They have found great actors to portray the characters and the show is wonderful.  It’s an adventure and a love story all in one.  Such a great find.  If you have read the books or even know of the series, I recommend it.  However, be prepared as there is a spot of nudity now and then. If you have little eyes at home, I would watch it after they are in bed or out of the house.  Just to be safe.  After watching the Game of Thrones, and being shocked out of my knickers with some of the adult aspects, I’m wary of premium channels and the series they put out.  If it says MA, it really is MA.  FYI. 

Thirdly, I am editing.  Although I hate to edit, it does get my mind off how much I hate the snow and cold and onto how much I hate to edit.  Ha!  I am through the big harsh edit of my horror story.  I know. I am thrilled too!  Now I just need to review it and give it one more good read, and then I will have to figure out what to do with it.  I have another story already written that I need to do that big edit on as well, which I will move onto as soon as I finish the horror.  I’m actually working. 

So you see, the winter although I am not a fan, is good for some things.  How do you pass the winter months?  Do you enjoy the snow?  I don’t understand this myself, but I have heard of people that love the season.  Obviously, I am not one of them.

Have a great week everyone.  I will be dreaming of spring.  It’s almost here.   

Monday, February 8, 2016

Reading Book Reviews - My Opinion Only

When I'm looking to get new books to read, I find myself checking out the reviews.  Some you can tell are just family and friends gushing.  Some are good and helpful, and then others you can tell are just unhappy people that don’t like anything. 

The ones that annoy me the most though, are the ones that are useless.  They don’t talk about the book itself. Instead they focus on small grammar issues or “mistakes” that they found or how they don’t believe the story.    

I was recently recommended a book by Amazon.  Nothing new there, I check my recommendations often.  I like to read biographies.  Any kind usually as long as there is a story there.  This recommended book was a story of a woman who had left the Amish community and why.  Sounded decent, so, I checked it out and the reviews were annoying to say the least.  If I went by the reviews, I never would have read it.  There were complaints about how badly it was written.  Reviews on mistakes found.  Reviews on how the story was false, because the reviewer lived with the Amish and they knew what the author was saying could not be true (since when are the Amish on the internet?).  I bought it anyway.  It was on sale and even if it was as bad as the reviews were saying, it was worth a shot for $.99. 

First, I read a lot.  I don’t mean that I read a few books a year.  I mean I read a lot, at least a book a week and sometimes more.  I don’t watch a lot of tv, instead I chose to read.  In all those books, I can say, that very few are perfection.  What people don’t seem to understand is that a book goes first through the author and their own personal edit.  Then it goes through the publisher and their edit.  Then it probably goes through a beta reader or two and their edit.  A ton of people are searching through books before they go to print and they still miss stuff.  It’s not a deal breaker.  If you can’t just skip over it and replace it with the corrected word, period, nuance, then that is your issue and not the issue of the author. 

Seeking perfect in everything just makes you look petty and angry.  Life is not perfection.  It’s full of mistakes.  If a book is riddled with errors, well that’s one thing.  Then you can complain.  If there is one or two or even a small handful of boo-boos, so what?  Move on.  It’s not the end of your world.  The fact that people take time out of their lives to blast a book because it had an error in it, tells me that someone has too much time on their hands to waste and they need to get a hobby.  If they are writers themselves, well be sure to let me know what your works are so that I can scour through them as well in search of mistakes to blast you with. 

The people that try to discredit an author are another brand of petty.  This is usually in the form of personal biographies or life stories.  They like to call the author a liar or wrong as if they KNOW what that person lived through and survived.  That they KNOW how it really was.  Ugh.  When you have lived their life day for day; moment by moment; then you can tell their story.  Until that time, you are more than welcome to tell your own story.  You can put the time and energy into writing a book. 

So, what did I think of the book on the Amish woman.  I enjoyed it.  It was long.  Way longer than I expected.  I felt she put her heart and soul into that book.  I could feel her frustrations, and her fears.  I could sense her courage and her determination.  Yes, there were a few mistakes.  Not a ton, but enough to note.  Did I believe her accounting 100%.  I believe it is her accounting.  I believe it is how she sees her life.  Whether it is true in all Amish communities, I wouldn’t know.  What I do know is that this was her story.  That’s good enough for me.  Someone else can write their own and it may be a complete opposite.  I understand that all experiences are colored by our own life and mistakes and drive.  My world is seen in a different view than someone else that may be traveling along with me.  Doesn’t mean my views are wrong.

Be careful when you review a book.  This is someone’s hard work.    

Monday, February 1, 2016

Settling In

We’ve been in our new house a little over three months now.  We’ve settled in pretty much, I’d say.  I, for the most part, do like the new digs.  I am enjoying my new office more than I can say, esp. as there is a door that I can close myself in and the world out.  My husband has been very sweet, and he installed a tv, with cable, and DVD player, so that while I am “supposed” to be working I can also have the back ground noise of the tv.  I can’t use it while I am writing as it’s too distracting, but while painting or while sewing, it’s very nice to have it there. 

I also love, absolutely love, my four seasons room.  It stays nice and warm, thanks to great windows, and the sun is able to shine in whenever it is out.  I have made it through winter so far in much better spirits thanks to that room, I am sure.

This is the first house we have had natural gas.  We have a wonderful fireplace that we can start with the push of a button.  It’s pretty, it’s warm, and it’s clean.  What more can you ask for? 

There are a lot of other things that I like, but I’m not going into them all.  Sadly, there are also several things that I am struggling to get used to.  Coming from the rural environment, I find the neighborhood a lot noisier.  At the old house I could go outside and it was quite.  Aside from the wooded creatures and nature, the silence was very calming.  Now I can hear the cars coming and going from the roads outside the neighborhood.  There is a train somewhere nearby that drives me insane.  It’s not that it’s loud.  In fact, if you are busy doing something you don’t usually hear it, but the moment I want to sit in silence and recoup from the stress of a day, there it is, with it’s horn blowing.  I can’t just go outside and enjoy the quiet now, as there isn’t any.  I hate it.  I have been assured I will get used to the sounds and they will fade to the background like the nature sounds at the other house.  I have to say, I’d much prefer the sound of crickets and squirrels to the cars, and people, and trains, and whatever else there is. 

I also feel cold in my house a lot more.  I don’t know why.  The gauge says it’s 72, but I swear it feels like 62.  We replaced the old gauge with a new one thinking maybe it was faulty.  It’s not.  I don’t like being cold.  I’m finding myself in slipper socks and a jacket in my own home the moment the sun goes down.  What the heck?  I keep thinking I should just turn up the heat, but I don’t want to.  It says it’s 72, which should be plenty warm, right?  Right?

So far though, that’s all I can complain about.  There are things that bug me, like the kitchen counter tops.  I am not a fan of dark granite.  It always looks dirty.  I’m getting used to that.  The house seems to be a bit dusty, but I think that’s due to the vents needing cleaned, which I will look into in the spring.  Mostly though, we are settling in.  I’m content with the move.  The house is lovely.  Seren is happy and making new friends every day.  I’m closer to the office and town and yet aren’t right in the middle of it all. It was a good move.  One we should have done maybe a bit sooner, but better late than never. 

Until we are ready to downsize, I never want to move again.  So what’s next for us?  Well, the tiny dancer was promised a dance room at the new house, as she had to give her’s up from the old.  We are starting the basement and the new dance room, this weekend.  I’m not looking forward to that.