Sometimes your best choice is a still a bad choice.

I was recently chatting with a friend of mine who’s wife is in ministry. One of the things that came up in a conversation was answering hard questions in youth ministry and how, sometimes, you just don’t really have the answer. But, I feel like that is an answer. Life is hard, working together with people you sometimes disagree with and sometimes don’t like is hard. Working even when you didn’t get any sleep last night is hard. And, sometimes there are no good answers. I think if I had heard as a teen that sometimes your best choice is still pretty sucky that would have been meaningful to me.

Even though I know that now, I still feel like I need to be reminded sometimes. When things are going well and you’ve had nothing but good choices for a while, you sometimes forget that what you’re experiencing isn’t how it always is for everyone. It is good to be reminded.

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When I first started my dissertation project, I was really excited to using my new found skills from a workshop I attended on a particular kind of software. I collect conversation data and one of the first things I have to do in the processing of that data is transcribe it. The software the workshop had taught facilitates transcription and allows you to create tiers of information that can be connected. So, if you are transcribing and then translating something, you can have a tier of what people said and a tier of the translation of what people said. If you then want to look at the subjects and the predicates, you can add a tier so that you can divide sentence information. Or, word information. Or, gesture information. Any information that you want to use.

When you first start a project, you have an idea of what is going to be relevant or useful. You know what research questions you are asking and what kind of data you will need to answer those research questions. But, sometimes, as you are working, you find other things that are interesting and you start looking for those things, too. It is really important to be consistent, though, when adding category names, especially retroactively. I was not careful, sometimes capitalizing names and sometimes not. This meant when I went to analyze the data, I had to combine a bunch of categories that were actually the same category because the computer program did not know that THIS, This, and this were the same thing. It was a valuable lesson in consistency. (Also, in updating my template).

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What is it for?

I haven’t been meditating recently and I have been trying to figure out how to get back to this practice that has meant so much to me. I would like to get back to it because I feel like I’ve been pretty exasperated by many things recently and I think it could help me better manage that feeling. I am concerned that acting on my exasperation will not lead to the kind of change or forward motion that will lead to less exasperation in the future. This is a desired outcome because part of my exasperation comes from repeating actions and conversations, redoing them. I am being vague here, partially because I do not want to get into particulars and partially because particulars do not really matter. I have reached this point with many things. The question I found myself asking this morning while feeling exasperated was, “What is this for?” Why do I do exasperating things? Read exasperating things? Engage with exasperating people? Discuss exasperating topics?

What is it for?

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Always, Always, Always back up.

I am a user of the Pomodoro method. I think I do will another post about my Pomodoro routine. Planning how long things will take has always been difficult for me. I have trouble getting and staying focused and often underestimate the time a task will take (especially if I do not include the time it will take to get focused.) So, when my laptop would not charge earlier this year and then again earlier this summer, I was very grateful for my studious backing up of things. That is, until I realized that, in July, when my laptop was replaced, that one file was not backed up at all. So, now I find myself calculating how much time to recreate the file that has gone missing.

If you put something in a spreadsheet and have to properly format it, that can take a long time. Getting the details right is important. Problems in a spreadsheet can have pretty big consequences. Maybe not world-changing consequences as a linguist, but certainly we-have-to-redo-all-this-work consequences. And, nothing is more frustrating than spending an entire day to redo work you have already completed.

So, ladies and gentlemen. Always, always, always back up.

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I guess I am a pretty bad blogger. But, part of that is undoubtedly that I do not and have not have an explicit topic for this blog, so it makes it hard to focus time to something that is so unfocused. I have periodically fancied this a food blog and have posted about recipes I have tried and things that I liked or didn’t like.

I have a confession to make. I do not really like cooking. I like eating, for sure. And, I do not like the emotional roller coaster that I end up on when I do not eat. So, I cook. I will probably continue to talk about recipes that I like and have tried, especially things that worked well as leftovers.

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Election Feels

I think, like most people, I am ready for this election to be over. I am tired of hearing about and seeing the candidates. I am tired of having the same unproductive conversations. I am ready to focus on the next challenge (which will depend entirely on who is elected).

But, of all the things that have come up this election cycle the thing that bothers me the most is people I know and trust posting articles to facebook that contain dubious information. This past week I have clicked on a lot of links only to get to another website, read a few sentences, and then google whatever the subject of the article it is to find no other information on the same topic. It is disappointing.

This isn’t to say that I haven’t posted things to facebook with obvious bias or that I haven’t read. I have. I am guilty of this behavior, too. But, I’ve decided to make a pledge to stop doing this. You can save articles now if you can’t read them now but want to read them later. So, I pledge to only post things that I have read. I also pledge to point out what I like about the article and what could be better about it.

It is time to raise the level of public discourse. The election will be over soon, a new government will be elected, and we are all going to have to learn how to work together.

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Recipes I’ve Tried 5

It had been my plan to make macaroni and cheese. I had this recipe from Cleverly Simple. I was going to make Mac and Cheese and I was finally going to stuff peppers. I started by making rice, which I made in abundance. That was fine; I have a lot of peppers. I also have everything for a kitchen sink type casserole. So, I stuffed peppers and put them in crock pot. I used the leftover rice, leftover green beans, a leek, a pepper, some cheese and a packet of sour cream and onion chips and a made a casserole.

And, then, because they were on sale and I can’t help myself sometimes, I bought pumpkin gnocchi and instead of making macaroni and cheese I made gnocchi and cheese with leeks and broccoli.

And, after last week I want nothing more than to eat salad. Oh man, too much rich food. That being said, though, that mac and cheese recipe is pretty great and I will absolutely be making it again.

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Recipes I’ve tried 4

It was my intention this week to make broccoli cheese soup, deconstructed stuffed pepper salad, dilly beans and pepper jam. But, the week started off poorly. I left one of the bags of groceries at the grocery store and somehow didn’t notice until two days later when I was making the broccoli soup. Two key ingredients (the onion and the evaporated milk) were both missing. But, since I had already started making the soup so I decided to wing it. I added some rice milk to it and an extra cup of broth and then a can of cream of mushroom soup. It turned out pretty good. It had a lot of broccoli in it but that is how I like my broccoli cheese soup.

The deconstructed pepper salad was supposed to go something like this: packaged mushroom and herb quinoa, chopped bell pepper, black beans, cheese, onion and garlic and corn. Somehow it ended up just being packaged mushroom and herb quinoa. Luckily, the peppers kept so I will get the stuffed peppers this next week (the filling is all prepped and ready to go into the crockpot tomorrow.

The dilly beans went exactly as planned. I used the recipe off the fresh preserving website. I added two dried chilies to the vinegar bath while I was heating it up. This made the vinegar and salt quite spicy. I had enough beans to make 5 pint and a half jars of dilly beans. The good news is I was able to give one away the night I gave them. The other good news is that I love dilly beans as a snack.

As I’m writing this, I still haven’t made the pepper jam yet but I have it in the plans for the evening. I’m sure it’ll go the way pepper jams always go. It will make the kitchen smell spicy but it will all be worth it when I’m having pepper jam and cheese sandwiches in the dead of winter.

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Autumn is here

There is a chill in the breeze. It is has been mostly overcast today. I have hot tea and apple cider. I am listening to the last regular season baseball game.

Autumn is officially here.

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What’s going on in there?

One of the things that I have found with my meditation practice is that it helps me when I’m feeling restless. Last week I had a lot of phone trouble. This meant that in the space of four days, I had to reset my phone three times. Making sure everything was backed up, signing out, resetting, and then reloading everything meant that I didn’t have access to a lot of the little apps that keep me on track and from imploding into a little fire ball of nervous energy.

And, of course, every one of these resets happened at the end of the day so that I was waiting for things to finish setting up so I can re-download apps while I was sleeping. The third time this happened, I was so overtired by the time I made it to bed that I tossed and turned for awhile. Then, I was frustrated because I’ve dealt with this in the past by doing a guided meditation (but of course none of those apps had re-downloaded yet to my phone.) That’s when it occurred to me that I could find a guided meditation on YouTube.

Meditation is about focus, awareness and presence (at least, that’s what I think it’s about. I could be wrong. I am so not an expert). So, at the end of your meditation, you should be awake. Obviously, if you get carried off into sleep that is okay. It happens sometimes. But, it shouldn’t be your goal. And, that sort of seems counter-intuitive. Why should I do something that I should be awake when I’m trying to fall asleep? I suppose the answer to that is I should do it because it helps me deal with my overtired, cranky restlessness. So, I googled guided meditations and settled on the link below. I really like body scans. There is something about focusing on your body and checking in with how you feel that is really grounding and calming. It worked. I may have been a little agitated towards the end of the half hour but I made it to the end, awake, aware and mostly calm. Afterwards, I had no trouble falling to sleep.


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