Tag Archives: updates

Blog Status Going Forward

For the last few weeks I’ve been busy, trying to make up for my lack of … anything during June.  In the process, I’ve produced several YouTube videos of varying quality, and I’ve enjoyed this new medium.  I’ve also spent hours going through GM Smirnov‘s course Calculate Till Mate, which is opening my eyes.  Let me go through everything and detail what the plan is going forward.

First, I think the videos are here to stay.  I’m having far more fun speaking my thoughts than I thought I would, and I’m getting far more engagement than my regular game analysis posts.  I mean, frig, I’ve gotten more comments in the last two weeks than I’ve had in the last six months.  Maybe that speaks more to YouTube’s ability to reach people more than my meagre SEO skills, but it’s still telling. Continue reading

April 2016 Updates

April’s over.  Cool.  April wasn’t as kind to me as March.  Honestly, I think a big reason was simply the weather: it snowed in April, and then it rained and got very cold and never really warmed up.  That doesn’t make for a good month, and it more or less mimicked my mental state.  I never really got going.

More accurately, about halfway through I took a break from most of my things.  I did less chess, less poi, less of everything.  Now that the month is ending, though, I feel recharged and ready to take on the world in May.  I’m getting ahead of myself, though.  First let’s look at what happened the last 30 days.

Continue reading

March 2016 Updates

March was … how do I put this … a fantastic month, and I’m not just saying that because it’s my birthday.  Everything that did could go right did go right.  It was like an inverse Murphy’s Law.

My workouts got better, my flexibility got better, my chess rating got better, my writing got better, everything got better.  More importantly, I’m happy.  Last week, we had an ice storm.  Roads closed, schools cancelled, power flickering off and on: it wasn’t good.  The next morning, I go for a walk, and as I see the frozen trees and sidewalks lined with icy debris, I’m smiling.  Not because I’m the Joker and like to see destruction, but just because I’m always smiling.  I’ve been smiling the whole month, and not even an ice storm could dent my spirits.

That’s pretty awesome.  Anyway, let’s take a look at what I did in detail. Continue reading

February 2016 Updates

February was a MUCH better month for me, in virtually every area.

I took a fundamentally different approach this month.  In January, I bit off more than I could chew, trying to do everything at the same time.  That just led to burnout.  In February, by contrast, I started small, just doing one thing, and then the next week I added another thing, and in this way I’m building sustainable habits.

More importantly, I feel the momentum on my side now.  Last week, for instance, I added chess training to do my daily habit list, and it went off incredibly.  A huge success, and it leaves me wanting to do even more.  This week, I’m adding a small morning meditation session.  I usually meditate anyway, but now I have a set time every day, which will keep me consistent and start every day the same.  It’s simple, it’s clear, it’s easy, and life is just rolling along right now.

Splits and Flexibility

I continue to do light stretching virtually every day plus two hard sessions each week, with one day off.  It feels like it’s working, even if I mostly look the same.  At the same time, at my current range of motion, a gain of an inch would be a massive improvement.  I mean, I’m only a few inches from the floor.

Feb 2016

Jan 2016

Hmm.  I think I was lower last month, even though, judging by my expression, I’m feeling much happier this month.  It doesn’t help that my webcam decided to become super blurry today for some reason.  My hands appear as talons, devoid of form.

Feb 2016

Jan 2016

Wow!  I’m square and much lower on this, my weaker side.  It’s amazing, because that hamstring felt very tight for this photo session.

Feb 2016

Jan 2016

Even better!  Just look at the desk chair in the background.  In January, the bottom of my neck was flush with the top of the chair, while today it’s past my chin.  It’s hard to tell because of the blurriness, the shadows and the dark-pants (I won’t wear those again for photos), but I look damn close to the full splits here.  Oh glorious day!  I’m progressing again!

Nutrition

Not bad, but not great.  I’m still eating healthy meals but drowning them down with unhealthy snacks.  I imagine in the near future I’ll just use my willpower again to stomp this out, but for now it’s par for the course.

Chess

I did it!  I got my rating over 2000!  That’s another one of my 2016 goals down!  Well, maybe not ‘another,’ as it’s technically my first one, but progressing in the splits felt like a goal.

This month I completed five games, winning all five.  One, though, was due to a timeout because my opponent got his account banned for cheating.  I invested time into that game, so I’m going to still count that for my chess countdown.  I want to finish 100 games this year, and that’s five down.

One game was against someone rated 2007, but when he resigned his rating dropped to 1992, meaning I still haven’t beat anyone over 2000 rating.  That’s slightly frustrating.  My own rating, though, is 2031 right now, and I have winning positions against two high rated opponents, so maybe in March!

Also, this month I’ve begun to study GM Smirnov‘s course Calculate Till Mate.  If you read my original chess plan, I said I’d study this course later, but I changed my mind.  Calculation is perhaps my biggest weakness, so let’s try to address that now.  It’s massive, and I expect it will take me months, not weeks, to get through all the practical exercises.  I’ll have a review after I see the results.

Writing and Blogging

Another month, another month of writing.  I felt better this month, and my output showed.  I beat last month’s word total despite having two fewer days.

Crossing off another milestone: I have accumulated over 400,000 words since I started writing every day.  That’s mind-boggling.  I read somewhere once that you need to write one million words to truly get competence as a writer, to go from beginner to professional.  It’s probably even more, to be honest, but it’s right there.  As it currently stands, I’m on pace to hit that mark in less than two years, and that’s not even counting any of my school or pre-blog writing.

My blog is rolling along because of this.  February was my highest visited month, beating out both January and December.  Granted, it was by a very slim margin, and all three months were very close, but considering I’m doing absolutely no advertising, I’m pretty happy with that.

In two months of 2016, my blog has already reached halfway to my total in all of 2015.  I’m going to crush that.  I also got two comments!  Holy cow!  They were in this post, about toilets, and this post, about my cat SmithyQ, the inspiration for my blog’s name.  Hey, that’s another goal!

Skills

I said at the beginning of the year I wanted to become a speed cuber.  Well, that appears to have just been a fad, because I haven’t even touched my cube in February.  I mean, I still might do it, but it’s not on the horizon.

Similarly, computer coding is way on the backburner.  In fact, it’s so far in the rearview mirror that it’s safe to say I’m just going to forget about that.

The flow arts, by contrast, are going great.  I spent every single day practicing, at least a little, and I feel it paying off.  My planes have better control and my transitions seem smoother.  My butterfly moves, in particular, I have far more confidence in, and I’m even exploring some behind-the-back stuff.  I still have a ways to go, but it’s nice.

I also took advantage of a sale to pick up two poi DVDs.  They are advanced … and they really mean it.  I won’t be trying any of that stuff for quite some time, but if nothing else, it’s inspiring to see what is possible with this art form.

Conclusions

I really liked February, despite some of the weather, and March promises to keep going in the same way.  My commitment to doing little habits each week and building them up has been a great success so far, and I’m excited to see where it will all lead.

On the whole, I’m perhaps not exactly where I want to be but I’m definitely heading in the right direction.  I feel I’m on the right path, and that’s everything.  Now I just need to take one step at a time.  Onwards to March!

Installing Stupid Freakin’ Updates

I’m writing this at 10:30pm, which is very strange. Throughout February, I’ve written every blog post in the morning. I made it my goal, my mission: I would write as much as I could as early as I could, just to check that off my to-do list. It has worked wonderfully, and it gives me a huge sense of both satisfaction and relief. Satisfaction, because it’s adding to my writing streak, and relief, because this task won’t hang over my head like the sword of Damocles the longer the day goes on.

This is the literal Sword of Damocles.

Depending on the day I start writing around 8:00am, sometimes earlier, sometimes later. I’m almost always done by 10:00am, 11:00am at the absolute latest, and it gives me the rest of my day to do whatever I want. I also do all my workouts in the morning, so by noon I have accomplished two major things already. I work evenings, so this is important. It’s been a great system … until today. Continue reading

January 2016 Update

One month in, and 2016 is not off to the best start.

In a word, I bit off more than I could chew.  I tried to do too much, filling my days with task after task only to be left with no time, no energy and no motivation to do it again tomorrow.  Within just a few days I basically abandoned everything I set out to do.

I’m perhaps being overly dramatic, but in general, this month has been a failure.  Better luck in February.  Here, let me categorize in depth each one of my failings. Continue reading

My Best Chess Games, Part Two: Flipping the Switch

If I had to be honest, most of my chess games are unremarkable.  Usually one side makes a silly mistake, losing a pawn or a piece, and then the other side takes advantage and wins rather simply.  This is how most chess games work.  We like to think it’s because of smashing attacks and beautiful play, but usually it’s a simple blunder.  That’s okay, a win is a win, but it’s hard to call something like that one of your ‘best’ games.

Back in September I covered perhaps my best chess game, one where I obtain a perfect positional bind and then creatively opened lines for a mating attack even without Queens.  It’s original, in an unusual opening, and it was a lot of fun.  Completely different from most of my chess games, and the computer confirmed that most of my play was near optimal.  That makes me happy.

Today is something completely different: a game where I do not play accurately; in fact, I play based on emotion, basically saying ‘screw it, I feel like attacking now,’ and amazingly it worked! Continue reading

My 2015 Year in Review

Today the world says goodbye to 2015, but before we do that, it’s always beneficial to look back at where we came from. At the beginning of the year I had three main goals involving my flexibility, my chess and my writing. I had some ups and downs, but mostly ups, and I can end the year feeling pretty good about my efforts. I also went through some interesting personal developments.

Let’s take a look in depth. Continue reading

One Week of Eating Healthy

I did it! I went one week without eating anything unhealthy! I can barely believe it!

Well, that’s not completely true. When I set my mind to do something I generally do it. I once gave up all TV, computer and video games for a solid month, just to prove I could do it. That first week sucked, let me tell you, as I barely knew what to do with myself. As the month went on, though, I found more and more non-electronic things to do, and by the end I didn’t even miss it.

Indeed, I basically stopped watching TV after that. I just never went back. I still watch sports, but that’s it, and even here I watch far less then I used to. As a kid, the TV was always on, even if no one were in the room. It was the default entertainment option. As a kid I watched cartoons and as I grew older I watched more and more sports, sometimes sports I didn’t even care about. I did it because I didn’t know what else to do, and I can thank that one month period for weaning me off this bad habit. Continue reading

November 2015 Updates

I think I said this in October, but this month was a transition experience.  Last month, I went from injured to back to regular life, albeit slowly.  This month, I aimed to get back to normal, and I believe I did.  Right now, as I write this, I feel back to 100%

That said, I actually managed to fail almost all of my monthly goals!  Here they are again:

  • start light workouts, keep ankle happy
  • write a novel!
  • try for 100k words
  • get chess Tactic rating back over 2000
  • finish my chess games

Continue reading