Wrapping up 2012 was a bit exhausting. I got a copy of the first four (hopefully complete) chapters of my thesis to my mentor just before Christmas out of town at Cori’s parents’ place. Coming back from that, we had to promptly pack and I drove the crew out to Long Island for Cori’s college friend Kenny‘s wedding. As she was in the wedding party, it wasn’t exactly a tame weekend. We were basically busy every day. Without having a lot of downtime, it at least provided me some time to decompress from the thesis writing, and play around with the replacement Nikon I picked up (as my D80 was finally on its death throes). I got a few lovely shots out of the weekend, but I learned the hard way just which focus mode I should be using (I knew I should have stuck to my old guns!). We spent all weekend hopping from domicile to domicile to hotel. The first two nights were rough and short in sleep, and the stay at the coastal hotel was far too short, especially considering the lovely view!

Coming back from Long Island, I was pretty much a zombie last Sunday. With ten hour drives back to back over that busy weekend, I needed just some raw sleep. Using that down time to recover, finally got to thinking about how I need to setup this year.

This lack of activity is killing me. I’m no longer power-walking around the lab, lifting 50–lb centrifuge rotors, or squatting down regularly to get into low cabinets and floor–sitting incubators. Writing my thesis has killed my muscles and my ass. My quadriceps and hamstrings are tighter than they’ve ever been, and I’m so tired of sitting in a less than adequate computer chair all the time. I need some steady exercise, and it needs to be doable. I have been taking roughly three mile walks to break the monotony of writing. Considering they only take about 50 minutes, I figure I can eek out at least four of these a week. Ten miles of walking a week. Hopefully more, weather permitting, but I got to get this body moving again. I’m learning the hard way what happens when you neglect to regularly use your day–to–day muscles, let alone put them through full ranges of motion.

In addition to that, I will really need to get back into a gym again at some point. I’m worried my torn calf (from November of 2011) is weakening and getting tighter. My patellofemoral pain in my right knee has flared up a bit more than usual. I still do okay lifting heavy objects, but my back needs more work supporting my upper body and arms in those endeavors. I need to do some resistance training. Free weights. Legit squats. Calf raises. Good mornings. Good ol’ bench press and cleans. Get my core back to somewhere I’m comfortable with. With that in place, shucking the pounds to get me back down to 200 (or less) should be substantially easier.

Writing needs to be more frequent. More organized. More coherent. I’m going to need to write a lot more in my post-doctoral work. I’m going to need to put it together faster and better than I am now. Anything and everything I can do to improve that, I should be. A good start would be regular blogging, much to the desensitizing chagrin of others. Doing this in the early days of Toronto should be easy. The trick will just be to keep it up! Keep it something novel. Not just day–to–day humdrum or trivial stuff. Congeal some coherent, novel writing!

That pretty much sums up what’s on my mind right now. There is more floating around in there, but those thoughts will have to be coalesced later. For now, I need to give the laptop a break, revel in the Bison having won the NCAA FCS Championship Game, and root on Green Bay to a win on this wildcard weekend of playoffs!

December 7 – Community Prompt: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? (Author: Cali Harris)

I feel a bit unsure of how to go about this post. I don’t really feel that I have discovered any real community over the past year or so. I have remained a bit secluded since the summer of 2009 when I struck out and was living by myself again, so I haven’t really discovered or filled into any communities since then. I did round out a bit more into some of the Buffalo Twitter community when I was living in the Elmwood part of the city, but moving out of there and into the Hertel area, I feel like I’ve left the closeness and easily accessible nature of that part of the community.

Similarly, I started to connect quite well with many members of another lab, with whom I knew another student from when we both started the graduate program here at UB. Alas, that lab has since picked up and left for the University of Rochester, so that newly formed community sort of dropped out from underneath me by surprise.

I feel like I’m sounding depressing by saying it, but I think I’ve lost more in community than I have really gained in any this year. However, I do suppose this helps set my bar (unintentionally, and perhaps unnecessarily) lower for next year.

Trying to nail down a community I would like to join or connect better with feels a bit hard to pin down. Over the past year or so, I feel like I’m ripening out some of my random techie/hackish hobbies, and I’d love to entertain that more, but I hardly know any people who are comfortable throwing themselves at the mercy of even simple coding and terminal-line usage. I’ve built and maintained a FreeNAS server, mashed up CiteULike’s API into a self-standing Perl script to synchronize a local library backup, hacked the bejeezus out of my phone to make it run CyanogenMod instead of stock Froyo, and have even taken to building that OS from source, and trying to tweak the build, too! I would love to dabble around and chat and immerse myself with more people who enjoy pushing tech to their extremes, or even just tweaking things as well.

Really, more than anything, I would like to find a community that feels a bit like home. I don’t have a strong network of friends at all anymore; really more of a collection of acquaintances I spend occasional time with. I don’t get around to spending nearly enough time with any of them, and I probably should. See what communities I can discover there, and if nothing else, just have a good time if nothing else. There are three (possibly four) people associated with strong avenues into some communities I would enjoy checking out more so. And with that, I think I just picked up a new resolution for the following year!