2022 Summer Solstice Update

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Wow. This last six months have been seriously intense. Overall they’ve not been quite as rough as the previous six leading to Winter Solstice in 2021, however a lot has happened.

My partner and I began the journey of prepping our flat for sale and house hunting for our future home. One factor has been that we’ve made the decision to plan for our future and seek a home which has the room for children. This is exciting as well as a little scary. Related to that, we’ve had a lot of medical stuff going on which is a bit of a new one for me. It seems that I became 30 in October 2021, and all of a sudden my body has decided that it’s going to make me feel all the abuse I’ve given it over the years! I’ve also been given some brain-type diagnoses which are changing the way that I view myself and try to work with myself. These things combined provided quite a few stressful moments, but we’ve made it through stronger than ever before. I’ve also been growing slowly ever-more closer to my family, after being historically distant from them for around a decade.

I also submitted my PhD corrections in January, and they were accepted. I collected my certificate some time in April which was earlier than expected. My corrected thesis is still online. I resisted the urge to set a redirect for dr.mrshll.uk, although I am now officially Dr. Mrshll. It still feels odd.

Our cat (alas no longer a kitten!) continues to bring us delight and frustration in equal measure. Given that the sun currently rises around 0400, she’s decided that this is a good time to start pouncing on our heads of a morning.

Overall, I feel very good coming out of this half-year period. I still feel that I’m in the middle of a few things and that we barely get a chance to rest before we open up new “loops” in my brain. However: we’ve sold our flat and found a new home; we’ve strengthened our relationship; I’ve understood more about myself and my brain and I’m taking better care of my body; I’m closer to my family; and I’ve finally got my PhD which means I’m not constantly thinking about it.

Here’s to making the most of the remainder of summer before the winter comes.

Key Events

  • 2022-03-04, our offer on a new home is accepted
  • 2022-03-09, my partner A is given the all clear from a scary brush with a major illness
  • 2022-03-14, we accept an offer and sell our flat
  • 2022-04-12, I collect my PhD certificate
  • 2022-04-19, one of my best friends gives birth to a healthy baby
  • 2022-05, I receive my ADHD diagnosis alongside a strong indication of ASD

Hobbies

I’ve done a little bit of diversifying my hobbies this half-year. I’m still practicing Esperanto and exercising regularly, and our walking has become more pronounced and regular as well as more technical.

In addition to these, I’ve begun to do some creative writing and have gotten back into computing as a hobby. Each of these comes in waves, but I’m enjoying them a lot.

Esperanto

My Esperanto continues to develop, although at a slower pace than previously. I still have a lot of motivation to learn the language but I don’t feel a sense of urgency anymore. It’s just part of who I am and what I do, which is nice.

Most of the applications on my phone are in Esperanto now, and I now journal in Esperanto. This means that I’ve got daily exposure to reading and writing Esperanto. I still use the popular language learning app on a daily basis, and I’m only a few topics away from completing the course at Level 5. After I’ve done that, I will replace that with some daily Esperanto reading and writing exercises and only return to the app to practice. I’ve also started jotting down new vocabulary in Anki, which actually does help me to recognise more words. It’s not a complete solution, but nice to use.

You can see in my logs, that I read an Esperanto novella — Fajron sentas mi interne. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I adore that it is only available in Esperanto. I downloaded a bunch of other Esperanto books onto my Kindle, including an infamous illicit translation of Harry Potter. I haven’t been able to summon the energy to commit to one to read though. My goal will be to read maybe one Esperanto novella or short story every six months.

Exercise

While exercise continues to be one of my keystone habits, I’ve been on a bit of a downward trend lately. This is because of some cumulative injuries and exhaustion affecting me.

For my strength training, I’ve had to stop doing Close Pushups because of my left shoulder. I haven’t been able to see a physiotherapist yet, but it’s really bothering me. I’ve been able to do regular pushups fine, and I’m using the opportunity to get better at those.

For running, a bit of disruption has meant that I haven’t run a 10k in a few weeks now. This has been because of hiking exhausting my legs and some illness. I’m currently running some 5ks just to recover, and will build back up to a 10k soon. My eventual goal is to increase that amount, but I need to work with a coach to figure out how to do that sustainably.

Overall, I need to change up my approach to training as I’m stagnating. I need to spend some time in physiotherapy to deal with my shoulder, but I’ve also been interested in the idea of hybrid training. This would involve splitting up my strength routine, and doing a strength workout as well as a run every training day. I’ve held off such ideas in the past as a good way to overtrain; but I think I’m underperforming now and it might be useful as a cycle. I will work with a coach to do this, though, if I feel that I can’t do it myself.

I won’t be posting my current numbers this update; as they’re basically static from last time.

Walking and Exploring

My partner and I have gotten throughly into walking this half-year. Since the last update, we’ve completed over half of the walks in our book, done some of our own walks, and learned a lot about map reading and navigation. We’ve even “lead” groups of our friends on walks.

We’ve mostly been concentrating in Northumberland, although we’ve ventured to the Yorkshire Dales and Teesdale as well. While it’s true we’re confident enough now to go without a guidebook, we’ve had such a good time with our Northumberland book that we’ve actually bought another one for County Durham.

I’m still thinking about how to digitise these walks, or if it’s even worth doing so. One benefit of the physical books is that we write in them. On the top of each walk’s entry we write the date we completed the walk, and some details about who came. Also if there’s any particularly good bits of the walk.

Overall, this has become a solid habit and one that I have thoroughly enjoyed building with my partner.

Creative Writing

I’m getting back into creative writing. It’s slow going for now, as I struggle to make time in my schedule between work and getting enough sleep.

I’ve managed to start outlining some short stories as well as jotting ideas for longer stories that I want to tell. My friend, J, and I are also attempting to create an informal writing group for just us; but scheduling conflicts have meant that we’ve not had more than a single session.

I’m not putting pressure on myself to do much in this space, but it’s nice to be writing fiction again.

Logs

Albums

I haven’t listened to a lot of music lately. The main reason is that I often have a lot of calls and meetings at work, and I therefore am not able to comfortably listen to an entire album. Usually I listen to Lo-fi instead.

As always, I used DeDupe List to remove duplicate listens.

  • Sour by Olivia Rodrigo
  • Maiden Heaven Volume II by Various Artists
  • Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel
  • SlipKnot by SlipKnot
  • .5 The Gray Chapter by SlipKnot
  • What the F*ck is wrong with you people by Combichrist
  • Clayman by In Flames
  • Come Clarity by In Flames
  • Reroute to Remain by In Flames
  • Aqualung by Jethro Tull
  • Timewave Zero by Grendel
  • Portrait In Jazz by The Bill Evans Trio
  • A Sense Of Purpose by In Flames
  • Imperfect by Kinissue
  • Furiosity by Monster Truck
  • Harsh Generation by Grendel
  • Nature’s Beauty by Mondo Loops x L’Aiguille
  • Rammstein by Rammstein
  • Zeit by Rammstein
  • All I Was by Tremonti
  • American Idiot by Green Day
  • Benefit by Jethro Tull
  • Mutter by Rammstein
  • Led Zeppelin I by Led Zeppelin
  • Save Rock and Roll by Fall Out Boy
  • Somethin’ Else by Cannonball Adderley
  • Sehnsucht by Rammstein
  • Songs From The Wood by Jethro Tull
  • Pastel Blues by Nina Simone
  • Ellington at Newport by Duke Ellington
  • Thick as a Brick by Jethro Tull
  • Minstrel in the Gallery by Jethro Tull
  • Heavy Horses by Jethro Tull
  • The Sidewinder by Lee Morgan
  • Futha by Heilung

Books

Wow. I know that I was reading more books than usual, but totalling these up was incredibly pleasing. Some of these are “cheats” in that the books were very short, and nostalgia-driven. But I’m still pleased at my efforts.

I didn’t do the second half of the Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons, as planned. After I finished The Fall of Hyperion I wanted to do some fantasy, so I read through some of The Witcher books. These were pretty good, and I enjoyed the short story collections but didn’t feel up for an entire novel. I then got thinking about an old book that my dad lent me, Test of Fire by Ben Bova. I read the entire thing in a day and… erm… was that rape scene really necessary? I couldn’t relate at all to the protagonist after that and mostly finished it due to the sunk cost fallacy and nostalgia.

I’ve had a mini project on to produce some good-quality ePub versions of some old fantasy novels, The Banned and The Banished by James Clemens. These are books like Wit’ch War, etc. I had all the physical books and acquired digital copies when I migrated my reading to my e-reader. Unfortunately, the digital copies were produced via some really low quality scans. I converted them to Markdown via Pandoc and began fixing a lot of the issues to the best of my ability, and produced some pretty good ePub files! I’d fix up a book and then read through it noting errors. I got through the first three pretty quickly, but stopped halfway through Wit’ch Gate (actually my favourite of the series) because I didn’t enjoy constantly going to my phone to note down the errors. I will complete the series later this year, probably.

Between Wit’ch Storm and Wit’ch War I spent some time reading my first ever Esperanto fiction book in its entirety. Fajron sentas mi interne (EN: I feel fire inside) was a beautiful story. I didn’t do a word count but it felt around novella length, although it took me a while to read it as it was in my second language! This was another test of my ePub formatting skills as the only version I could find was hosted on the author’s website (here). I downloaded it to my machine and promptly discovered that the author had produced the page using some very non-standard HTML. I also swapped out author’s use of the ^ characters for proper esperanto letters. I am pleased with the result, and thoroughly enjoyed the book.

Feeling a little frazzled, I wanted something easy to whet my appetite. I recalled another book that my dad had lent me as a child: The City of Gold and Lead and wondered if I could get hold of a copy. Luckily, my favourite ebook vendor had the entire Tripods trilogy in stock so I promptly got them all and burned through them very quickly. It gave me a lot of closure to read the entire series because my dad only had the middle book. For some reason, I think it was because I was fixing up my bad ePub copy of Bloodtide, I recalled a few Melvin Burgess books that I had never gotten around to reading. I read through Doing It which was a solid read, and a really good take on a sensitive topic. Then I went with some classic H. G. Wells intersparsed with some childhood classics such as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime and a short fiction collection.

As noted below, my partner and I watched John Carter of Mars which I recalled was loosely based on a book or series of books. Through that I discovered the Barsoom series and read the first one pretty quickly. Partway through the second, I discovered that the author held some unsavoury views about race and eugenics which sort of ruined the entire series for me. It was just a little too obvious that the various different “races” of Martians were embodying particular eugenecist beliefs about how race works.

Some more short fiction, before I devoured The Hunger Games trilogy again. They’re honestly some of my favourite books of all time; they’re clearly anti-capitalist, they’re written superbly, and use a wonderful three-act structure. They also attempt to portray PTSD realistically, which is very admirable. After this trilogy refreshed me, I was in the mood for some trashy Star Wars novels and read through Shatterpoint by Matthew Stover. I had high hopes for this as it was very highly rated, but I found it hard to follow. This could’ve simply been my brain playing silly-buggers. After this I hit up some of the Elder Scrolls fiction, before giving Altered Carbon a try. Altered Carbon had been sitting on my device for some time upon the recommendation of a friend and I’d put off reading it because I didn’t want to learn a new ‘world’. The book itself was actually great, and a wonderful concept. I won’t be following through with the remainder of the series, as they apparently take a different route into Military Sci-Fi. Nothing against Military Sci-Fi, but it’s just not what I’ve got the appetite for at the moment.

I wound down by finally reading Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book which was spectacular, before my friend J told me about Bunny by Mona Awad whilst we were walking near Kielder. I got myself a copy and read it expecting a lot… and wasn’t disappointed. It’s a lot more literary fiction than I’m generally in the mood for, and she’s very clearly trying to do something with the book. But I can’t quite decide if the book is the best, most insightful, thing I’ve ever read or whether it’s utter trash and too pretentious to take seriously. Both might be true, and I suspect the author is very pleased with how divisive it is.

I was gripped by some nostalgia again and rattled through some old Goosebumps books to recapture my childhood, as well as Five on a Treasure Island. They served their purpose as quick pallette cleansers between other books. I then got the urge to revisit Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere and finished off what’s available of Mistborn era 2 (I was originally waiting for Book 4), as well as diving into Arcanum Unbounded; the collection of Cosmere short fiction. I read all of this except for Mistborn: Secret History and Edgedancer, because I haven’t yet read through The Stormlight Archive and these are apparently best read after this. It turns out that White Sand, the graphic novels set in The Cosmere, are based off of an unpublished work which Brandon distributes for free, so I grabbed myself a copy of the ePub and I’m currently reading through it. It’s honestly great, other than a few spelling errors. You can tell it’s early, Elantris-era Brandon Sanderson, but still a solid offering for a draft.

With my partner, we finished The Long Earth series which was a nice journey. We then turned to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld as she hasn’t read any of these. We read a few of these in publication order starting with Equal Rites before we took a break for a palette cleanser. I think our pattern will be to read several of these before delving temporarily into something else. We chose His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman because my partner hasn’t read those, either. We finished Northern Lights recently and have begun The Subtle Knife. My partner, A, adored Northern Lights.

Going forward, I’m going to finish off White Sand (Prose Version) and then probably delve back into Star Wars for a bit. I’m in the mood for some trashy-but-decent books, and the Pathfinder series of novels look to fit the bill once I get bored of reading about blasters and bounty hunters. I otherwise have no aim with my reading other than to do as much as possible within the next six months!

  • The Long Utopia by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
  • The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons
  • The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski
  • Sword of Destiny by Andrzej Sapkowski
  • Test of Fire by Ben Bova
  • Wit’ch Fire by James Clemens
  • Wit’ch Storm by James Clemens
  • Fajron sentas mi interne by Ulrich Matthias
  • The Long Cosmos by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
  • Wit’ch War by James Clemens
  • Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
  • Mort by Terry Pratchett
  • The White Mountains by John Christopher
  • The City of Gold and Lead by John Christopher
  • The Pool of Fire by John Christopher
  • Doing It by Melvin Burgess
  • The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
  • Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon
  • The War of The Worlds by H. G. Wells
  • Sourcery by Terry Pratchett
  • A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • Angels and Vistitations by Neil Gaiman
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  • The Gods of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett
  • Star Wars: Shatterpoint by Matthew Stover
  • Elder Scrolls: The Infernal City by Greg Keyes
  • Elder Scrolls: Lord of Souls by Greg Keyes
  • Altered Carbon by Richard K Morgan
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • Bunny by Mona Awad
  • Welcome to Dead House by R. L. Stine
  • Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton
  • Stay Out of the Basement by R. L. Stine
  • Monster Blood by R. L. Stine
  • The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson
  • Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson
  • The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson
  • Arcanum Unbounded (minus Mistborn: Secret History and Edgedancer) by Brandon Sanderson
  • Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

Total books read since last Solstice: 43

Currently reading: White Sand (Prose Version) by Brandon Sanderson (solo) and The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman (with my partner)

Movies

Reading these logs back, I was honestly a little surprised at how many movies I’ve seen as it feels I’ve mostly been outside!

There’s not been a rhyme or reason for any of these. You can spot where I was reading The Hunger Games, because I’d watch the movies pretty immediately following the completion of each book. There have been a few good entries: We Need To Talk About Kevin was spectacular. John Carter of Mars was the instigator of me going off to read the Barsoom books. But mostly these have been junk-food movies. My vote for the worst movie was probably The City of Ember as it felt like it really should have been much longer than it was. But it was at least visibly pleasing.

  • Easy A
  • Yes Man
  • Captain Phillips
  • Pretty Woman
  • The Talented Mr. Ripley
  • Point Break
  • How To Train Your Dragon
  • Jerry Maguire
  • Maleficent
  • Raya and the Last Dragon
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • John Carter of Mars
  • The Adam Project
  • Constantine
  • The Other Guys
  • The Switch
  • The Island
  • The Hunger Games
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One
  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part Two
  • Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
  • Bridesmaids
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin
  • The City of Ember
  • That Thing You Do
  • We’re the Millers
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past
  • X-Men: Apocalypse
  • Source Code
  • The Phantom
  • Hunt for the Wildepeople
  • Everything Everywhere All At Once

Total movies watched: 33