Saturday, June 11, 2016

Allergy Season and other thoughts

My thoughts are perhaps just a bit loopier than normal, since I am having more trouble than usual dealing with my allergies.  I may have written a while back that I had moderate difficulties with allergies and fairly serious asthma growing up in Michigan.  I'm one of only a relatively small number of people who have largely outgrown asthma.  (Indeed, some websites say that no one outgrows asthma, but some children have asthma-like symptoms that are caused by some other syndrome or allergic reaction, and that those children can outgrow this asthma-like condition.  I think that is splitting hairs a bit.  In any case, I am extremely relieved that I did outgrow it, though I am still more prone to respiratory issues when I get sick than most people.)  However, it is true that the pollen profile of Toronto seems to match up with Michigan more so than New York or Chicago, which means that I hardly suffered from any allergies in these places, but I do have allergies in Toronto.  They still aren't terrible, but I do need to remember to take my antihistamine tablets, and usually only for a week or so.  That said, the pollen forecast suggests that we actually only had moderate pollen outbreak this week, when I really noticed my allergies were flaring up, and that this next week is going to be considerable worse.  Oh joy.  For better or worse, it isn't a surprise that I am susceptible to allergies, since I am outdoors biking to work roughly 3 days a week and consequently am sucking in all kinds of stuff into my lungs, especially car exhaust.

It's still a reasonable trade-off and my general health does seem to be improving, though my legs do feel heavy and I clearly need to stretch more.  I am planning to look into adding swimming one or two evenings a week, and I even have a new lock that I can use when I go try out this new rec. center on my way home next week.  I still have a long way to go in terms of losing weight, but there is no point in being too harsh on myself.

The blog has hit a major milestone at 50,000 views (trying to adjust for the period when my edits were counting as views).  Now how many are real views and how many are just Google scrapes is unclear.  This fall I should hit 700 or so posts.  I think that would be a good time to see how many posts, particularly the reviews, would be worth collecting into a ebook of sorts.  I don't want to spend too much time on it, but it would require some editing and reshaping and deciding which links to keep and which to break.  While the art-heavy posts are certainly some of my favorite posts, the whole copyright issue makes it just too fraught to even attempt, so the book would not include those, nor would it include posts that are about upcoming events for example.

I've slowed down on the reading front, mostly because I can't read on the trains 5 days a week.  Also, Darwin's The Voyage of the Beagle is slow-going, mostly just a lot of detail about places he visited in South America.  That's kind of what happens when you read diaries or journals; there isn't much narrative thrust, though I am looking forward to reading along when he reaches the Galapagos Islands.  I have passed the point at which I stopped when I first started reading, something on the order of 25 years ago!  So from here on out it is all new to me, relatively speaking.  I'll persevere, though I may not finish before the summer is over, and I'll probably sneak in a few other books here and there.  In a few years, I'll probably tackle the Journals of Lewis and Clark, which will probably feel about the same, though somewhat less detail about animal species.  It is somewhat astonishing that I have read just over 100 books off my main reading list since late June 2015, which is considerably faster pace than the year before and the year before that.  I'm not sure if this is because I didn't have to take 2 months packing everything up or I was just reading shorter works or I was more inspired by what I was reading to sneak in a few extra minutes each night.  Perhaps some combination of all 3.  I guess there is some hope that I will read all the books on the reading list and then probably turn my attention to my primary bookcases.  I'd like to get through all or essentially all of these books, ideally prior to retirement.  Again, I am not talking about all the books in the basement or still in boxes, but the "featured" books upstairs.  That's something on the order of 900 books, but I have read roughly 35% of them and would only reread a small portion, which means I'm looking at something like 600 books (though many of them would be crossed off by the time I get through the main TBR list), so this could probably be done in about 10 years.  Again, best laid plans and all that...*

Or course, this approach basically guarantees that I won't watch all the movies I have stockpiled, which is something that often concerns me.  And of course my own creative writing would suffer.  However, I have not given up completely.  I should mention that I wrote out Scene 2 of The Pitch.  I'm now calling this version The Extended Pitch.  You can access it here. While I think Scene 1 is fairly amusing, the payoff comes in the second scene when Vera, a fairly outrageous senior citizen, enters the play.  I'm not going to pull it from Sing-for-your-Supper, but this is a case where if they don't take it for next Monday, it might well be better going to Toronto Cold Reads (since I think they would read both parts).  I do plan to bundle up a number of things for them and get them out by the end of this week.  That will be the point at which I type up the first scene for Straying South (I actually wrote this on the bus to St. Catharines) and then start working on the interior chapters and move forward with The Study Group.

It's looking like the rain will hold off for a while, so I had better go to the hardware store and get the materials I'll need to work on the deck.  I'm expecting to start tomorrow and hopefully finish up by next weekend.  I had better run.

* Starting tonight, I am planning on reading along with the spoken-word version of Finnegan's Wake.  That will take 25 hours, so I'll do it in pieces and should be done by the fall.  Towards the end of this year, into next year I am likely to work through quite a few short story collections, alternating between them.  After that, I am probably going to work through Joan Didion's and Susan Sontag's non-fictional works.

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