Eras

A deep, even grandiose title for what is actually going to be a post about something pretty superficial.  My iPod seems to be giving up the ghost.  It will stop playing songs midway through.  This still happens after a reset, but with different songs.  Apparently at random.  They all play fine in iTunes.

I’m not entirely surprised.  I’ve had the iPod for a while now, maybe seven years or so.  It hasn’t seen continual use; when I got my first smart phone I started using that to save carrying around more than one device, although I would still get the iPod out now and again if I knew I was going on a long trip or fancied listening to something a little more obscure since it could fit my entire library – something my phone couldn’t (and still can’t) do.  That was its big advantage.

Recently I started using it a bit more again.  Access to all my music was good but it also meant I wasn’t running my phone battery down as quickly – something that was becoming more of a problem.  It looks like that solution is gone now.

So I’ve been having a look at options to replace it.  Weirdly, and annoyingly, the current models that Apple make have much less storage space.  Their biggest (and most expensive) model only has about half the storage of my old one.  It’s enough to hold all my music but I’d rather not pay that much.  The next model down won’t fit all my music.  And a Nano, which would probably be the more desirable in terms of cost and features will only hold about a quarter of it.

It’s all very ‘first world problems’ but it did have me remembering some good times associated with that iPod.  House parties with friends and road trips; it got me through my final undergrad year – late nights in the library with only my music to keep me company.  I used to think those memories were tied just to the songs but I’ve come to realise that isn’t the case.  Somehow this object – one that should be a perfect example of function over sentimentality – has worked its way into those memories to the point where it now seems inseparable.

I’m not sure why I wrote this post, other than to have a bit of a rant, which then got me thinking.  It’s funny but when I finally replace it, it really will be the end of an era.  A short one for sure, but in some small way meaningful.  One that I never saw coming.

Perched on the Edge

Photograph courtesy of Barbara W. Beacham, (c) 2015

Dropping her line into Fool’s Lake, she patiently waited for something to bite.  She’d done the same thing nearly every weekend for the past year without so much as a nibble.  She didn’t know whether she was using different bait from the few others dotted around the lake; whether there was something at her particular spot – a little jetty tucked away near the river that fed the lake – that the fish seemed to steer clear form.

“Maybe today,” Sarah thought to herself.

But the truth was it didn’t matter.  She didn’t mind.  She didn’t come here for the fish but to get a break from the week before.  Her job, her family, her life.  She loved them all but at the same time there was a desperate need for some time alone with her thoughts and no distractions.  It was a welcome peace and quiet.

Fool’s Lake wasn’t about the fish, no.  It was about the ritual.

And it was about the solitude.

This piece of flash fiction was in response to a prompt from Mondays Finish the Story.  Check it out if you fancy trying something similar.mondays-finish-the-story

Fitbit, pt. 5

I haven’t had a particularly good couple of weeks in terms of weight loss.  It’s actually gone up a little.  Not much, only 0.3 kg (which is just over half a pound), but it’s disappointing.  I can see some of the reasons.  I slipped up with my 5:2 diet a couple of times, only managing to stick to a single fast day each week and that seems to have been enough to reverse some of what I’ve already done.

It’s particularly disappointing since in those two weeks I’ve also had some of my best days in terms of activity, according to my Fitbit.  It makes sense, I’ve been making an effort to get out my flat and go for more walks including a couple of days where I had the opportunity for some fairly long ones.  I enjoyed those spells so I’m hoping this is just a minor blip.  I’m going to take a closer look at what I’m eating and not just in terms of calories which I’m already doing, to see if there’s something there that needs changing.

So not the best week, but with luck this is just a short-term plateau and things will start going in the right direction again soon.

Until next time.

Recommendations

I mentioned in one of my Blogging 101 posts lasts week that I was planning to take part in the Around the World Reading Challenge over at Booking It.  I thought I’d reach out to you readers and the wider blogging community to get some recommendations for what I should read.  In particular I’m looking for good reads that aren’t from European or North American authors, because those I’m most familiar with.

My go to genres tend to be science fiction or fantasy, with the odd mystery or crime fiction thrown in now and then.  This doesn’t mean I only want recommendations in those genres.  In fact, a big part of why I took this challenge was to expand my reading, and I’ve enjoyed books from many different genres in the past.  I’m also looking for a wide range of formats – novels, novellas, graphic novels, collections of short stories – as long as I get some ideas from all around the globe.

So if you know of some good books by South American, African, Asian or Australian authors, or just have a favourite author from one of those regions that maybe doesn’t get the attention you think they should, drop them in the comments.  Feel free to throw in North American and European authors too if you like; I’m always on the lookout for something new to try.

I look forward to seeing what you enjoy reading.

The Fugitive

Photograph courtesy of Barbara W. Beacham, (c) 2015

Diamond Jack had his hideout next to the Rattle Snake River.  It was a little fishing cabin, nestled in a bend back from the trail behind a line of trees.  Hidden, unless you knew to look for it.  They’d planned the heist there and now, after the rest of his crew had all caught a bullet, Jack had retreated there to hole up and heal up.  He should have been safe there for a while, but the figures that appeared on the nearby ridge saw him grabbing for his revolver again.

Marshal Cooper looked down on the hideout.  He knew about the cabin.  He’d fished there with his brother when they were little.  The posse he’d been able to gather were lined up behind him, all wanting blood for the local schoolteacher caught in the crossfire.  This was likely it for Diamond Jack.

“Where did you go wrong, Jack Cooper?” the Marshal thought as he tightened his grip on the rifle.

This piece of flash fiction was in response to a prompt from Mondays Finish the Story.  Check it out if you fancy trying something similar.mondays-finish-the-story

The Hunt

Photograph courtesy of Barbara W. Beacham, (c) 2009

She was unaware that she was being watched.  The young doe loped around the field munching on the grass, oblivious.

The wolf was stalking her prey from a nearby copse, hiding until she was ready to make her move.  A rabbit was a meagre meal, for sure, but she had cubs to think about and it had been a lean season so far.

She prowled closer and the rabbit paused sniffing the air, but after a moment continued her frolicking.  The wind was in the wolf’s favour, and she was only a dozen feet from her prey now.  It’s burrow was at the other side of the field.  This would be over in moments.

The crosshairs settled on the wolf’s head as she was about to pounce, the hunter chuckling to himself that this was too easy for such a fine trophy.  But then he had been careful, and she was unaware that she was being watched.

This piece of flash fiction was in response to a prompt from Mondays Finish the Story.  Check it out if you fancy trying something similar.mondays-finish-the-story

Challenges

Today’s assignment seems quite good.  Pick a community event or challenge and get involved.  There are a wide range of challenges, from photography to fiction writing to general blogging challenges that use prompts to encourage you to post regularly – every day, week, whatever.

This serves two purposes.  Getting involved in the wider WordPress community, to both gain new readers and find interesting blogs you might otherwise miss, particularly the parts which share interests with you.  It also keeps you blogging.  On the days where nothing really of note has happened, or maybe it has happened before and you’d just be retreading the same ground, or you’re unsure just how to get something written down that people will want to read.  Challenges step in at this point to give you a direction or a push in way you maybe hadn’t considered.  And if you pick the right challenges to get involved in this won’t feel like a chore or alien to your blog.

I cheated and picked three challenges for this assignment.  The first is the Around the World Reading Challenge, hosted by Booking It.  I chose this for a few reasons.  First, it is a fairly low impact challenge.  Six books in a year isn’t a lot.  I could do that in a month; less if I pushed myself.  I won’t; I want to give myself time to properly digest the books for this challenge, and blog about each one before I move on to the next.  The second thing is the big draw for me.  Each book should be from an author from a different continent.  This is really the only restriction on the challenge (fiction, non-fiction, genre – none of these matter) but it gives me an impetus to branch out from some of the authors and genres I tend to fall back on, read a couple of books that have been on my To Read list for a while, and from time to time write about something a little different on this blog.

The second challenge took a bit more consideration.  I knew I wanted something much more frequent and regular.  Weekly, maybe even daily if the challenge itself didn’t take up too much time.  I wanted to try either one of the many flash fiction challenges, or possibly one of the photography challenges.  The first I think I could be pretty good at, the second less so but I’d be willing to try and it would help stretch the content on the blog.  There were quite a few options for both, and in the end I went with one of each.

The Phoneography and Non-SLR Digital Devices Photo Challenge hosted by Lens and Pens by Sally looks interesting, with a focus on using phone and other non-professional cameras to take pictures – something ideal as I haven’t had an SLR for years, but I do have a phone with a camera.

I’m also going to participate in Mondays Finish the Story, where a photo and the opening line of a story are posted and the challenge is to finish it in 100-150 words.

These should all let me stretch my writing and blogging muscles, and give my blog a boost in the process.  I’m looking forward to getting started.

Blogging, pt.3

For today’s Blogging 101 assignment the task is to create another page for your blog, with examples like a contact form, comment guidelines, a poll or a FAQ. This was a tricky one, because I couldn’t really see any of those fitting my blog at the moment. Maybe when it’s bigger and has a more active community all those will be useful and I can revisit this.

For now I’ve gone with a contact form so people can get in touch about things that don’t really fit the comments for any single post, and to ask questions that might someday end up in a future FAQ. That probably works best with a nascent blog like mine and I’ll keep thinking about other ideas.

Check it out if you like, and if you have feel like helping me test it out please do.