A second China book

I decided to leave this as a second post since the last one was getting a little long and separating these two will allow me to use my categories a little more.

My second most favorite collection of books from this era of my life were not even written by a single author. I guess you could refer to them as a ‘collection of authors’, but that typically implies that each of them contributed to each of the various works, which is not the case. Yes, it’s true, I am speaking of the Baen Free Library.  Those of you who are unfamiliar with this lovely little development in publishing and also happen to enjoy science fiction should now take a happy-little-dance moment.

The basic idea behind this whole thing is that Jim Baen decided that as a publisher, instead of a) getting locked into an ever-spiraling cycle of more complex ebook protection from ‘those pirates’ and b) setting up his own division or company to sell books electronically, he would use what was available and get a little extra publicity for his authors.  So, any author with Baen can volunteer to have their published books offered free online.  A little publicity for the author, and generally traditionalists are willing to cough up money for the book once they know they like it.  Writers are encouraged to give the first book in a series, but basically anything goes.  And if you happen to be really cheap or in China, it works very well for keeping you stocked in quick reads.  While I haven’t yet bought anything from Baen for myself as a result of the free library, my dad is now overflowing with Baen books, most of them hardbacks.  Though there is a question of whether or not he was already hooked before the free library went up….

Now, I must admit that most of what’s available probably will never be called ‘literature’.  Most of it is pretty heavily based on plotlines and can leave some things to be desired as far as poetic language go.   But if you’re looking for a free classic, there’s always Gutenburg. Though I haven’t stayed up in front of my computer screen for awhile just to read a novel, I feel a sense of relief, knowing the free library is there for me to peruse again the next time I’m at leisure.  Ahhh.  Say it with me.

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There’s always something.

This is a repeated line from a series of lovely children’s books: A Series of Unfortunate Events.  For those of you who don’t know or haven’t read the books, a part of what makes them lovely is the fact that they most likely aren’t written for children.  A part of the delight that comes from reading them is in the literary quips and unlikely definitions that are liberally spread throughout the text.  The characters are interesting enough, and the plotlines are at least entertaining, but the substance of the books would never happily fill up 13 novels, with out a bit of something more.

True, by the thirteenth book the system of adding quips and delightfully amusing sidenotes has gotten a little redundant, but I still have an attraction to these books.  I want the entire set for myself.  I want to curl up with one of them again on a cold snowy night, or when I’m having trouble falling asleep, or when I’m feeling a little sick or a little worn.  I want to read these books to my children and draw them against their wills into the jokes as my father dragged me through puns and word plays in my childhood.  These are books that Italo Calvino would say are classics.  There’s something there, inside them, no matter how many times they are read.

Perhaps my own personal interest has something to do with the circumstances in which I first encountered them.  I was introduced to the first book in China, by a good friend who happened to know the author.  I ate it up.  Since I was in China, I know I wasn’t going to get to read the second one for at least a year – books being largely unavailable in English if new, and typically quite expensive.  But, to my surprise, one of my English teaching compatriots was being shipped each book by her mother as it came out.   Ah, fresh-off-the-presses books!  Just for me (after my friend had read each one, of course).

But despite the early encounters being weighted in favor of these books, I still believe they are generally enjoyable and of some worth.  Now that I have an Amazon gift card, they just might be shipped to an address near me.

Gyminee for me.

So, in my renewed commitment to being healthier this year, I have been to a yoga class at my gym class once so far this week. That’s probably not very good exercise-wise, since it’s the only time I’ve been to the gym, but it’s definitely a more complete stretching of muscles than I normally accomplish on my own. Witness: my rib-muscles (wherever the ones directly over your ribs are called) are still hurting.

Be that as it may, I did accomplish one other thing, which is to regularly start tracking my daily ‘health vitals’ – my weight, body fat, exercise, and food/beverage intake. It’ll be interesting to see if I can watch any trends between these things. Of course, most of them are not indicators of health per se – I would like to also be able to track my heart rate or some other vital signs, but this will do for a start.

As a part of this process, Mike and I signed up for this little online service called ‘Gyminee‘. It’s not a bad little service, for what it is. Granted, we only signed up for the free part, but that still lets you track a fair amount of nutrition information. Individuals enter specific product information which is available to all participants, so you can usually find an entry comparable to what you’re eating by searching. And it will chart your intake over the period of time that you regularly enter information, as well as other statistics – resting hear rate, weight, and various body size measurements (waist, arm, etc.). The downside is that it doesn’t really allow you to track your exercise without signing up for their special services, which is how they make their money. Also, the charts leave a little to be desired, as they only track one thing at a time. So I can see that my weight went up-down-up-up-down over the past few days (mine tends to fluctuate alot), but that doesn’t tell me anything in comparison to how I’ve been eating or exercising.

So I decided to make one of my own.

exercise-2.jpg

I ended up putting it on two charts instead of just one, and I think it’s not that bad.  A little hard to read, but I can do a  bit more with line weigh and colors to spruce that up.  Anyway, I can’t post Excel files here, but if anyone wants a copy, they can email me (miamaya222@yahoo.com).  Is my email listed someplace here?

Oh! I just thought of something. It would also be useful to try and track other eating habits at the same time – such as when eating is typically done, how much eating is done in one meal or a series of little snacks, and how quickly you eat. But that will have to wait for another day – I’m all pooped out of Excel and figuring things out.