30 Days of Fitness

Fitness is my nemesis. For years I’ve struggled to focus on different parts of my life, usually at the expense of other major parts. The eternal struggle between Fitness and Finance takes all of my willpower to manage. This month is all about Fitness. Exercise and food tracking are on the menu.

For now, Finances are in a good place. We’re paying down debt. We can afford the upcoming medical procedures. Our new solar installation is starting to earn its keep and knock wood the house is cooperating. With the help of our financial planner and TillerHQ, our finances are in order and I can keep tabs on them.

That has been a long, and ongoing process. But it’s finally in a place where we feel we can turn some of our focus (and let’s be honest, worry) to better places. This month, my wife and I are going to workout every single day. 30 days. 30 workouts. 30 times we are are going to get up, put on comfortable clothes, close the blinds and turn our living room into a yoga studio and fitness center.

We decided to mix it up this month with a mix of 21 Day Fix and Yoga with Adriene. We used to subscribe to Beachbody and did the shakes and the On Demand video service and the whole thing. But it was very expensive so we’ve long given up the shakes and have DVD copies of the programs we wanted to repeat. Yoga with Adriene is free on YouTube. She puts out a monthly calendar with new programs, and we’re using her November calendar. She has a membership program as well but in balancing out finances, I’ll turn to a free Yoga program. She has a huge catalog on YouTube as well. So if you are looking to start a Yoga practice or are curious what it’s all about, she has a playlist for all skill levels.

I’m writing about this to keep myself accountable. For the next 30 days, I’m going to work out. And I’m going to write about it. At least a little bit about what I did and how I did each day.

Today was Upper Fix.

Upper Fix is all about Arms. I feel good tonight and even though I can’t do a push-up to save my life, the weight work felt good and my arms felt stronger when I finished. I’ll see how I feel tomorrow, that’s always when the soreness hits. But this didn’t feel too bad.

Tomorrow we will be Grounding Into Gratitude.

Why I setup an email address to read newsletters

I setup a dedicated, private email address for newsletters and now they’re a joy to read instead of anxiety-causing clutter. This may not seem like a big deal to you. But it has changed how I read newsletters and reduced my stress in seeing new ones piling up in my Inbox. I enjoy the Newsletter Renaissance and when I see an interesting one, I sign up for it. The problem started as many of them arrive on the same day (like podcasts on a Wednesday, but that’s another story). So I would get overwhelmed by the number of emails in I wanted to take the time to read but would never find that time because they added to a pile of anxiety instead.

The first solution I tried was Stoop. I thought it was a perfect solution. An app for newsletters. I could send them to that email address for Stoop and read them in the app at my leisure. It worked well for awhile, but the problem was I didn’t want another app to remember to open. So again, newsletters I wanted to read would sit unread for months. Also, the app wasn’t a great experience for newsletters I want to open links from in other tabs to read after I finish the newsletter. I want a computer screen for that, not a phone.

The second reason I stopped using it was more than one person writing about (I don’t remember who) how they were starting to remove stoop.email addresses from their lists because part of the point of a newsletter was the intimacy with the audience, being invited into their Inbox. And Stoop was taking those emails and instead of providing the authors with real people, it gave them a pile of junk addresses essentially. It’s hard to get intimate with a piece of code.

So for those two reasons, I deleted stoop and then it hit me.

I want to get these newsletters delivered in email because email is flexible and can be anywhere I want to be. I also want the authors of the letters to know I’m a real person behind the address and when I wanted to reply to them, I could, from a real address. I guess that would have been a problem with Stoop, but I don’t reply very often so I never encountered that problem.

I setup a reading@ address. It’s perfect because it reminds me what it’s for. It gives me a place that’s not my primary mailbox to dive into at length and know I will find long, quality messages there. It’s been a perfect solution for me. I can open it on the phone, or on a computer and dive into as many or as few letters as I want at a time.

I can enjoy them in a quiet, peaceful space without other messages around them screaming for attention. Moving these newsletters out of my screaming, needy Inbox and into their own home, means I can read them with the slowness and patience of a good book rather than a screaming Twitter feed.

I’m starting to think about what other things I can change the context to enjoy more.

Autumn Excursions

Autumn Excursion train ticket

Today started with an adventure. An train ride through the countryside of rural Maryland. It started a few weeks back when we went looking for fall foliage train rides and located a few in Maryland. We decided to try the Walkersville Southern Railroad for our first ride. It was closer to home, cheaper and didn’t require getting up as early.

And it was indeed a train ride. Through the wilds of townhome developments and backyards. We passed over a pretty creek and held up traffic across a few roads. It was a short hour-long ride up and back a single track. (Did you know trains could go forward then reverse back the same they came?) It was a short train with two open-air cars (and hard wooden benches), two indoor cars (with padded seats and windows that opened) and a caboose decorated to be used as a birthday party setting with limited (padded) seats and two small chairs up a ladder at the top of the car.

It was unusually full, I had assumed on a beautiful 70 degree day in October people used that as an excuse to take their kids on a train. But the ticket taker commented this was as full as one of their Christmas rides and it wasn’t usually this packed (there wasn’t an empty seat on the train).

Creek with fall tree reflections.
Creek the train passed over.

I wish it had taken us past some actual fall foliage rather than through town, passed developments (that perhaps were trees once.) But it was a pleasant ride and not so expensive I regretted the trip.

After the ride, we walked through their small museum, and daydreamed about setting up our own elaborate country scene with model trains running through it.

Afterwards, we had some shopping to do which led to our next adventure of the day we didn’t plan.

Long aisle of books.
One of the few aisles that didn’t have books lined up along each shelf on the floor.

We stumbled upon Wonder Books and Video in Frederick, Maryland. And it was far better than I could have hoped. The book shelves stretched forever with cluttered, but well-maintained stacks of every sort of books, new and old, one could hope for. There was also a huge selection of DVDs and Vinyl. There were also cassette tapes and 8-tracks. I could have easily spent all day in the store and far more money than I did.

Books organized by color, available for purchase.
Need colorful books to complete your shelves? Wonder has them.

From the FREE OLD BOOK SMELL sign on the door, to the friendly, helpful staff inside, may be the perfect bookstore. We have already made plans to return with a list as I have the problem of never remembering what books I’m looking to buy when I’m in a place to buy them. Beforehand, they flood my brain. Afterwards, they haunt me like apparitions of a lost opportunity. But in the moment, my brain empties, achieving a perfect meditation.

Gas Man

Today got off to a weird start.

I had a man come to my door about turning the gas off to the house. I assumed he was working in the area and needed to turn it off for that. (Washington Gas had replaced our main gas line, as well as our neighbors, and dig up the street thrice looking for a leak.)

But no, he said we had not paid our bill. Confused, I said we had paid or online just a few days before. (Our last bill was about $17.) He read the amount due on our account was $1600-something.
I asked what address he had. He read the amount again. I asked the address.

“1000 Crawford Ave.”

I told him he had the wrong road. Crawford is three blocks away from here. Right house number. Wrong road.

He quickly left, presumably to show up at the correct house and deliver their bad news.

I thought of this because 1) we pay our bills online and on time. 2) We have gotten legal paperwork delivered to our house for that same address in Crawford more than once.

It’s interesting to me that neither a law firm or Washington Gas can read a map correctly enough to arrive on the correct street.

Mainely Offline

Did you know you can download a large area from Google Maps for offline use?

Google Maps app with Offline Maps circled.
Select Offline Maps.

By opening Google Maps on my Android phone, I pressed the hamburger menu in the search bar, just below the Wifi-Only toggle, there’s an option for Offline Maps. Press it and press Select Your Own Map.

This will open the map with a large box. Move it around and zoom out as far as you like to capture the area. It will tell you how much storage you’ll need to use. (Almost the entire state of Maine was only 140mb). Download this and you’ll have it available to you offline.

Select area of map to download offline, with the state of Maine selected.
Zoom out for a larger area.

As a rule, I do this with my home area, just in case I’m ever in a situation where I need it. Maps will update your offline information every month automatically, with options to do so more frequently, or remove the data entirely.

It won’t give you the full Maps experience, but you can search for specific places like “Hannaford” (a local grocery store) or “Acadia National Park” and you’ll be given turn-by-turn navigation. It worked flawlessly for the entire week we were without non-roaming cell phone reception.

The state of Maine selected for offline use, using 149MB and expiring in a month unless updated.
Maine, Offline!

As I lack even the most basic sense of direction, this saved me and got me all over the state without issue. Here’s a sample of the trips made with completely offline Google Maps while in Maine.

131 miles from Belfast to Acadia National Park.
150 miles from Belfast to Booth Bay Harbor. (Not counting the whale watching.)