Oh 2016...

It's been a rough year for many folks: lots of celebrity deaths that impacted people particularly hard, lots of negativity across the American political spectrum, lots of negative news stories, lots of hardship economically and otherwise.

Some have cried out about how horrible 2016 is as a year. And I hesitate to paint the entire year with that brush -- there remains too much time to just give up, but hey it's hard. I could, of course, focus on all that negativity and pain, or I can look to ways to change and move forward, of ways to create and bring about positive change.

I don't always succeed -- some days it feels more like two steps backward for every forward step -- but I like to think that the future can be a whole lot brighter if we only put some effort in. And watching people I know and respect work for causes they feel passionate about makes me so much more likely to want to follow that model of behaviour and step forward on the right footing to do good things.

Some days, it's all I can do to be an adult and get chores done or do other important tasks. Other days I feel like a productivity monster. Sometimes time flies by and at other moments each moment is dragged out to feel like a hundred thousand years.

Sometimes it feels like 2016 is a step back in time, and at others I marvel at all the progress we've made and continue to make. Looking at my day I can be proud of all that we might be doing, accomplishing or otherwise.

No, it's a heck lot more than just an attitude -- and attitudes are hard to alter... but I definitely like to think that 2016 is more than a dumpster fire. I like to hope that 2017 will improve things for so many people. In the interim, let us hope, and fight and work to ensure that we move forward as best as we are able.

More Gilmore Girls thoughts (though this time reflecting more on A Year in the Life)

Still no overt spoilers though I might recommend watching the revival before reading on, it's not necessary, but it might help. I'll type a bit about the emotions that the show has for me.

I think part of why this show is so influential to me is that Rory's character is so close to my own age, but also because Lorelei's character embodies so much of the growth (throughout the entire show not just the revival) that I hope to have in my life. Much of what I feel like I've dealt with in the last 4 years is reflected in some of what happens in the show simply because Rory is of a similar age and the show really does reflect a bunch of what is going on for people of a similar age demographic -- of course nothing on TV is going to be the same as real life and well, I like to think that the personal growth that I've had in my life is more real and more substantial than the growth that Rory has (I would argue that her character's journey is somewhat unsatisfying as she doesn't grow as much as I might want her to have, yet this does seem somewhat truthful for the character and doesn't seem poorly written: so many people in my life (not excluding myself) have journeys that are similar in one way or another to hers in this one year. It's admittedly hard to show in about 6 hours of television the growth or stagnation that an individual might actually go through in the course of a single year, no matter how much humor, emotion, etc. the show might employ.

I feel like the revival is a great story arc for Lorelei's character. I feel like Rory's character could stand to develop more (and if the show is ever revived again, I feel like it ought to focus on her continuing storyline moreso), but that's important not just for us as viewers but to the arc of the entire show from 2000-2016. Yes the ending of the show that the producer/writer/creator really truly wanted is there, and yes it can be both predictable and shocking... but I'd argue that it fits a whole lot better with the series now than they would have had the series ended with an 8th season in 2008, but who knows? I mean the show could have taken a whole different direction in the 7th and 8th season if things were different.

I like how the show challenges me. It isn't a simple story: I have never been solidly on team Dean, Jess, or Logan for example (unless you count being on team Dean before any other beaus were introduced, realistically before that character was fully developed, back then I was more naive and young in the way of relationships and the world), particularly not after the whole arc of the original run of the show. I can see the arguments that people have for each of these three characters, however. I can see a bunch of my previous relationships in each of these characters and I can see their flaws in hindsight, just as one can overanalyze a TV show better than one can actually have perspective on my own life.

I like to hope that the relationships in my life are better for the media that I watch or read. Perhaps my favourite male character from the show has always been Luke (or at least ever since I stopped being a teenager, it has been because I admit that when I was a teen first watching the show, I had a much harder time identifying with Lorelei when compared to studious Rory)... and I guess that might tell me a whole lot about some of the traits that I value in relationships as an adult.

The Netflix show is a bit more edgy than I remember the tv show being -- but then again nearly a decade has passed and Netflix is a whole different medium, really. Six hours of tv is a lot, but it's not an unmanageable amount to binge in a single day (multiple sittings in my case but I was trying to be productive).

I liked the commentary on technology that I saw in the show -- even though like with most tv representations of technology there are a lot of liberties taken and a lot of problematic moments. I found the way that the return of multiple beloved characters was handled was good -- even if some only got scant minutes of screentime, it was helpful to see it.

I feel like there are a lot of loose ends but those are good fodder for imagination. The door is both closed and open to new content at some point eventually. And you know what? I'm pretty okay with that. I wonder at whether it would jump the shark in another revival or whether it would continue along in the same vein.

I think I smiled or cried in each episode for different reasons. There were those awkward moments, and moments of reflection in all the 4 episodes. There were a few times I felt like things went on for longer than I desired, and others where I think that more could have been done, but that's TV for you. I don't watch much TV but this show has and has had such a strong impact on my emotions and thought processes I could probably write all day or talk all day in an environment where I wasn't worried about spoilering things for other people.

Suffice to say it, I'm full of emotions with regards to this show and for me that's probably a positive all in all.

Because Gilmore Girls is back in a big way...

... I figured I'd type a bit about the show without spoilering anything of the new episodes (note that I'm typing this shortly before viewing the 2nd of the 4 Netflix episodes, still basking in the myriad of emotions that the very first of these new episodes brought on... but I refuse to spoiler the actual content of these new episodes).

Gilmore Girls was one of my very favourite shows. I own all the DVDs of the series for example and I'm oh so happy that they went back to Stars Hollow for this reunion of the old cast members nearly a decade later. It's a show that I've rewatched more than most, and I suspect that I'll want to rewatch these new episodes too if the first of these episodes is any indication.

When I was younger, I used to identify a lot more with Rory... but as I aged, I began to identify more with Lorelei's character. When I was a teenager I guess I had a lot more in common with Rory's character... but as an adult, it's a lot more complicated than that. Some of the characters from the show are just so iconic to me and well, it's inevitable that these episodes cause an emotional reaction for me.

I've never been, nor ever will be the consumer of media the way that these characters are, but there are so many things that I can latch on to from the show that I appreciate and enjoy. And now that I have a lot more life experience under my belt, I think about situations from the show in a whole different light. Indeed, I can think of people in my life that have similar characteristics insofar as how they interacted with me at the time... but it's a whole lot more than that.

Yes this show was on precisely at the right time of my life, and I'm truly looking forward to watching the rest of the 1.5 hour episodes to see where the writers and actors etc. have taken the show. There's simply so much I'm curious about and even after the first episode, there's a lot more I'm looking forward to seeing!

Thinking about technology...

... specifically the app form of technology. We were talking about social media at the pub tonight and I got to thinking about my reasons for not using Snapchat (which can be briefly summarized as being because I find Facebook and Twitter to satisfy my social media needs for the most part)... and then I got to thinking about the fact that I've been prioritizing Pokemon GO playing rather than focusing on oversharing or devoting too much time on social media.

And to be honest given the nature of social media post-US election, well, I'm pretty happy with Pokemon GO not being a cesspool of negativity. I am focusing on getting a bit less of my news this way as a result and though I do still spend a LOT of time on social media, I'm tempering it much more with time playing games such as Alphabear and Pokemon GO and trying to encourage myself to walk more, even as it gets so much colder (really it's still just seasonable).

This means of course my addiction to playing Pokemon GO has more positives in my life: it's preventing me from focusing quite so much on bad news (much of the news out there isn't positive, regardless of how I get it, whether via Google News, a news broadcast, a website, social media, or the radio), and rather on walking just that little bit more to hatch my Pokemon eggs, or catch an elusive Pokemon (gotta catch 'em all!).

Frankly the news these days is frightening, and sometimes we all just need some happiness from our digital media... in my case I get a lot of this enjoyment from video games as of late.

Christmas wishes

So the holidays are coming. And inevitably people ask me what I want for Christmas.

Now I pretty much always have an Amazon wishlist with stuff listed that I'm wanting. And this does include some of the items I've been eyeing. But I still often get questions as to what I want, and for the small number of people who might see this because of a Secret Santa or other gift exchange, I guess I ought to list a few things, but tangible and not.

- The financial freedom to not worry about money (not going to happen, but I can always wish. To be honest, I'll probably always worry about money, just not in the same way necessarily if I am better off). Last year I wanted a job for Christmas and I essentially got that, so that's not the concern but I'd love the wherewithal to do do more with my income -- this is probably a wish that most if all people have to one degree or another.

- Clothing that fits me and makes me feel awesome (this includes footwear -- I seem to have rotten luck with shoe shopping as of late).

- Needle felting supplies. This is probably a whole category of things that I really truly want. It's a hobby I want to take up properly and I got a great taste on the JoCoCruise. A bunch of kits and wool roving is on my Amazon wishlist, but I definitely don't own much if anything of this type of category and I can definitely use more. This is a hobby I can do while watching Netflix or YouTube. It's remarkably difficult to find wool roving and needle felting supplies locally, and I would love enough supplies that I can just experiment and make whatever strikes my fancy.

- Experiences: what can I say, I enjoy trying new things, traveling, restaurants, spending time with my friends etc.

- Time to do all the things I really want to do or feel are important

And right now that's all I can think of. I feel really fortunate in that I have a lot of what I want/need in life, and sure there's a lot more that I'd really adore having, but yeah. I always update my amazon wishlist with new things that I notice, but don't choose to purchase for myself immediately.

It's getting chillier outside

And it's quite hard to believe how far into November it is given how little snow is on the ground at the moment (though it did snow earlier today it was mostly gone by the time I went to run some errands tonight and catch some Pokemon (not as much Pokemon as usual but that I blame in part on my lack of Pokeballs and the chilly temperatures which encouraged me to head inside rather than continuing to walk around my neighborhood).

And while it is getting chillier outside, it's rather concerning that it is as warm as it is given the whole climate change problem. But every year when it starts getting colder I struggle with the whole debacle of what to wear. In a perfect world I would wear skirts and dresses every single day, but warmth is a tough thing and I own too few pairs of good leggings or pants that fit (the pants I am wearing today are a bit loose at the waist which is annoying as that means that they don't necessarily want to stay up when walking on a Pokemon walk, which given the cold is really awkward). I need more nice opaque long-ish skirts and dresses. Some good washable durable materials would be perfect. And I know I'll find some great stuff at the Butterdome Craft Sale come December but outside of that, ideally, I don't want to spend much money on clothing: I already own so much (volume) of clothing even if it's not enough of the RIGHT clothing. I do need more work-appropriate clothing (though that's kind of inevitable), and well my body shape has changed a bunch over the years so some clothing no longer fits as well as I'd like (yes I've gained weight over time... but some of my clothing has shrunk or gotten stretched in certain ways or have gotten worn out). I probably ought to do laundry more often too which would help with these issues...

But the reason I don't really like clothing shopping right now (other than the fact that it costs money, evidently) is the fact that so little of what I find out there suits my own personal style and/or fits my lifestyle. I mean, I'm always needing more business casual clothing but I'm also needing more clothing that makes me feel awesome and fits me right and is at the right price point and etc. I'm pretty okay at finding cool scarves and jewelry and other accessories but the actual regular clothing itself is important. I'm slowly acquiring more awesome jackets over time but I do need more layering pieces for under the jackets and jackets that fit my awesome shoulders but don't make me look like I'm drowning in them elsewhere on my body and/or allow me to properly layer underneath them (because women's clothing is so rarely warm enough or it's too warm or something like that (yes I feel like I'm constantly either too warm or too cold, hence my need to find appropriate garb that suits me in particular ways I guess).

The only places I've reliably found clothing that I like tend to be the Butterdome Craft Sale and Desigual. Both are expensive in their own ways. I mean there are other retail stores where I buy things but it's so variable as to whether or not I'll find ANYTHING that fits remotely right or is the right colour or pricepoint, or style... that I just get kind of dejected about the whole thing. My sensibilities don't really match what is the fashion most of the time and maybe I worry too much about what other people think, but I like to find the right mixture of what I want to wear to be comfortable and feel awesome, but also fit with what I'm doing: you know, finding the right dresses to wear for more active pursuits, like Pokemon walks, etc., or the right shoes/leggings/clothing to crouch in a file room or carry pallets around or sit for hours at a computer workstation...

Next week will be the South Edmonton Kiwanis club's Buy Nothing Day Free Market (staffed/run by the MacEwan CKI club) and I'll have the opportunity to rid myself of some clothing and items from my home and hopefully come home with far less than what I bring in. It's a good time to contemplate wardrobe choices, and so on and so forth. But it's also a good time to try to figure out how to stay warm/comfortable in the chilly air.

On procrastination and time management

I always think that time management has a lot more to do with priorities than it does with delayed gratification or anything of the sort -- this is probably true for me: the amount of personal pampering I neglect because I want to focus on something semi-more productive in another way indicates this pretty well to me.

A few times a year I look over what I've been neglecting or procrastinating, or not focusing on as strongly and how my priorities have changed. Usually this doesn't mean that I'm terribly disappointed though sometimes it gives me renewed vigor in one area or another (recently this has meant that I've read a bit more), or it gives me a reason to stop paying for something or to do something more effective. For example I realized today yet again that I'm not effectively using the webspace that I pay for... but I'm unwilling to let go of my domain name of choice... Maybe someday I'll find a more effective way of using my domain name? I'm entirely unsure. I could build a simple website of some sort but what stops me is my indecisiveness as to what exactly I ought to be doing with it: I have my social media properties and this blog as online identity enough, I think, sometimes. But it is something I'm not yet willing to let go of, whereas I know it's getting to that time of year again when I try to de-clutter my life a bit and rid myself of some objects and things that are simply not all that helpful/useful/happiness-bringing.

I'm feeling a bit less behind these days than I have in weeks past when it comes to my online hobbies. Blogging regularly helps with that. But I'm woefully behind on some just the same: contest entries, surveys, etc. are definitely on the backburner, but that's pretty okay. I have other hobbies that take up my time. And that's something I have perhaps always struggled with: I want to do it all but I have limited time and ability to do it all. So I need to prioritize and make decisions. And I have to on a semi-regular basis admit to myself that I simply cannot be in multiple places at once.

I think having a relationship with a great person to ground me helps (of course so too does petting Kerbal the cat), and I think I'm a lot more relaxed because of these little moments of pleasure. I'm trying my best to give myself at least one weeknight a week on average where I don't plan anything so I can just be at home (or out catching Pokemon, but the weather is turning colder, so more often it'll be at home, I'm sure) and doing the things that I often get so behind on, whether it is my goal of reading 75 books this year, or catching up on the piles and piles of email or something.

As I get older, I'm getting better at saying no to things... but I'm also discovering all sorts of new things with which I want to get involved, or which I would like to try. And really, experiences are a whole lot of what I like about my life rather than physical goods (which are good too but in a very different way).

There are only so many ways...

... of interpreting a situation. And I'm sometimes shocked and surprised at how my behaviour and others' behaviour is interpreted. I wonder at how the social mores of different situations and environments can be interpreted so differently. What I might think of as a complex nuanced situation might be straight forward for another person. What might seem unbelievably rude to one person might be just accepted by another. What might seem like good leadership to one person might seem like shoddy people management by another. What toeing the line might be to one individual might be passive aggressive to another. And while I've set this paragraph up with a list of dichotomies, it is never so simple as that.

Today has made me think about all of these interpretations. Sure I've been thinking more about perspective in general since the US election last week, but I think my life in general allows me to make such observations on a more regular basis as I see different groups of individuals interact. And I do indeed interact with a large swath of different people. A few noteworthy groups who might have different expectations include my Kiwanis friends and club members, my pub Monday friends, the people I see at my Tuesday night board game group, the friends I invite over for social gatherings in general, the people I work with for GOBfest or with GELA or with many other organizations of which I am a part, my co-workers (at different offices too), and so many others in person and online.

And the behaviours I might have all the patience in the world with in one environment might be intolerable in others. But it's usually more subtle than that. Much more subtle. So it takes some of these more extreme encounters to remind me of the full spectrums of possibilities when it comes to what might be deemed acceptable or even encouraged in different atmospheres.

And I wonder at how that will change for me over time. Because it has already changed dramatically over my lifetime, at least in certain ways. And I can't expect anything different. But sometimes it is simply a shock to the system to realize just how differently two people might interpret a single event or activity... and more difficult still to reconcile these differences if people are to get along or continue to interact positively, especially when these differences are substantial. Social mores are pretty important after all.

Sometimes a weekend of board games and whatnot is just what a person needs

... and maybe my "mini-wrimo" attempts are futile this year, but I'll keep on writing sporadically throughout the month regardless. We'll see how many posts I'll complete.

What I do know is that it was really good for me to play some video games (Animal Crossing Amiibo Party and Lego Dimensions mostly unless you could Pokemon GO), board games (Ghost Stories, Sushi GO, Sheriff of Nottingham, and Tzolkin) and indulge in some peaceful time away from the hustle and bustle of the workweek. This is extra needed when people's emotions are running on a high, especially when social media doesn't provide me what I normally expect it to, instead being a locus of hatred, frustration and well, NECESSARY communication about the world as it is for some right now. I won't avoid it entirely but I know better than to spend too long reading social media postings at the moment. And I don't want to read any dystopian fiction right now, going for comfort literature, or other books that I know will be better for my mental state.

It's been quite a week politically and it feels good to spend time with friends, in small groups or one on one and just talk, be safe, engage in worthwhile discussion, and share some fun times. I think everyone needs that kind of thing on the occasional.

While we played board games at one point this weekend we had Firefly playing in the background (thanks to Netflix this time, though I do own it all on DVD)... it has been a while since I had watched that show through and it was kind of nice rewatching a few episodes, even if we weren't paying a whole lot of attention.

I hope that in the future I'll play some Civilization VI with some of my friends, since that'll be a different experience than playing my single player games. And I realized today that it's likely that I'll reach my reading goal for the year (75 books), so there's that. Some little accomplishments in the more fun-oriented sphere of my life!

On this Remembrance Day

I think and reflect, like many years on what has come before. But this year, too, I worry about what might yet come to pass. Now is a time when I don't want to think about the future in certain terms: after all, I have read far too many dystopian novels. I've read far too many books set in wartime, true stories or stories based on true events. I've far too often understood that the world is not fair and that war is far more complex than we ever make it out to be. I long for peace, but peace and freedom to live in a world without strife, without unequalities, unequities, disenfranchisement, racism, misogyny, discrimination etc. is not something that is likely to happen -- at least not in ways that I would be okay with. There will always be problems, and I can only hope that they will not be worst case scenarios. I hope we have learned from our pasts and that the work that our militaries do, our soldiers do, and have done is not done in vain, or in error, and does not harm more than it helps. I like to hope that the sadness of the lives lost past, present, and future due to conflicts of ideas, wars whether overt or covert, whether "right" or "wrong" are remembered.

But we know that history is the story told by the victors. And this Remembrance Day I think about the past conflicts that have impacted my family tree. The people who were impacted whether as civilians or as soldiers. I think about the stories that I read about in books. I think about what I've learned in history and social studies classes. I think about individual struggles. I think about collective battles. I think about our soldiers and their sacrifices. I think about PTSD. I worry about how we might be repeating the past. I worry about how we always repeat our past. I think about the concept of remembrance.

And I think of the video games and board games I play and have played and their perspectives on war, on fighting, and on battle. I think about how our current culture reflects our past wars, our past works, and our social issues. I am proud of the work that our military has done on one hand, am sad about it on the other. I think of the people I know who have birthdays on November 11th and those who have died on this date itself as well. I think Remembrance Day is more abstract for some and more real for others. Like every Remembrance Day, I recite to myself In Flanders Fields... and I think of the great rendition of this John McCrae poem that Leonard Cohen performed last year. I remember writing poetry about Remembrance Day and think about how much more abstract my writings are than those of a soldier during wartime.

And even with all of these conflicting thoughts and reflections, on this Remembrance Day, I think about how fortunate we all are that people have chosen to fight, and to remember. Thanks to all those who fight, have fought and will continue to fight to ensure that the world will be a better place. We do not all agree, nor will we. But I like to hope that the future generations will have it better than we once did and better than I have, do, or will myself.