Books Of Change

it's all about the stories

Taking Care of the Mind Through Exercise: Does Strength Training Help?

In a previous post, I said I wanted to test if physical exercise improves my mind, hence writing. My tests are by no means scientific. For starters, the subject is only me. Also, I haven’t settled on what measures indicate “writing improved”. But in the meantime, I figured I could get my body ready for exercise.

The Challenges

Self-experiments like these, you have to do it for at least a year to gather good data. Or better, multiple years. That takes grit. Have I mentioned that I’m physically lazy and yearn to be a disembodied brain? I’m not unhealthy, but I’m no athlete. The only thing I’ve got going is my curiosity and need to test things.

To make things easier for me, I concentrated on two areas: cardio and strength. In plainer English: I ran and lifted barbells. Yes, I ignored flexibility, except to always stretch after a workout. For running, I did a lot of 5ks and 10ks. For strength, I chose the stronglifts  program because,

  1. focuses on increasing max strength
  2. involves only five exercises
  3. I can get away with doing only two workouts a week.

Today I’m going to talk about the strength training results:
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What I’m Reading Now: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Author: Stieg Larsson

Notes: published posthumously and translated from the original Swedish

I’ve been meaning to read this book for a while. I heard so much buzz about it from the interwebs. So when I noticed a hardcopy of the book at my local library, I snatched it before someone else did.

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Degrees of Magicalness – from Dumbledore to Lockhart

I’ve been thinking about degrees of magicalness in the Harry Potter world. It came about while I was fleshing out chapter ten of A Study in Magic: Application. So beware if you’re the type who hates spoilers.

From Great to Average to … Lockhart

This post calls for a Lockhart photo

Lockhart’s magic ability perplexes me. He excelled at memory Charms, but mediocre to bad at everything else. How? How?

Let’s suppose memory Charms are N.E.W.T. level magic. Hermione doesn’t even try to learn it until after book six, so the evidence seems to point to this direction. Based on this, one may think Lockhart had N.E.W.T. level Charms education. Neville Longbottom got an “Exceeds Expectations” for his Charms O.W.L.. Can we further assume Lockhart was at least as good as Neville in his fifth year?
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A Study of Magic: The Application Update

burning night oil writing again

It’s done, it’s done, chapter nine is finally up!

Ahem.

A Study of Magic, the Application was updated. Here, Harry has an important epiphany: HE CAN DATE NOW. Sherlock and John raised him too well for him to start eyeing every pretty girl as a potential *wink*wink*nudge*nudge*, but the idea makes him giddy. Unfortunately, very few people know about the dating ban Harry had imposed upon himself, and make all sorts of assumptions.

Now for the postmortem: Continue reading

Contests, A Study In Magic and The Martian

Winning Writing Contests

My short story, Persistence of Frost and Memory, is a #wintercontest2016 winner! I was so chuffed. Persistence is the first piece of original writing I’ve ever written and published for the Internet to see and ridicule.

It’s on the blog and Wattpad. Since Wattpad requires you to have an account, and the blog is not exactly the friendliest for reading chaptered stories, I’m looking into creating a kindle and/or epub file. At least, a PDF, as much I don’t like them. I’ve downloaded scrivener and will play around with it soon. (I like their 30 days of free use policy. It’s not based on the calendar days, in other words. The days I don’t use don’t count! Yay!)

Now speaking of writing…

The Martian Enters A Study of Magic, the Application

model of BOC in natural habitat

It’s official. I’m obsessed with the Martian.  I’ve read the ebook five times and watched the movie four times (at home, at 1.25 speed; I’m a frugal person). I’m reading fanfic, studying orbital dynamics via research papers, and looking up all the health problems Mark Watney will need to overcome post-rescue.

This is why I can’t like things. My life is a series of one obsession after another.

And lo! Since I’m also working on the next chapter of A Study in Magic, the Application at a blistering speed of 200 words per day (curse you, job!), I can’t help but imagine Harry and Julia gushing and nerding over the Martian. Because they would. Hermione would understand the plot and context, but not get their nerding. Ron and Neville won’t get it, full stop.

Robert and Jacqueline, who will introduce Julia to the Martian, will build a magical spaceship in their backyard. They may or may not call it Hermes. EAV suits will be constructed (with Magic). A Hab will be modeled (with Magic). Their future children — there will be at most one — will be surrounded by so much nerdiness. Harry will spoil their child rotten and set up play dates for Benedict as soon as he gets his license to Apparate. Julia will embrace Aunt-hood, also, and the two will take Neville with them.

I need help.

What I’m Reading Now: The Underground Railroad

Have you ever read one of those books that haunted you with its beautiful yet brutal story? That kept you spellbound with terse sentences that depicted the scenes better with words not said? Hemingway did it. Now I count The Underground Railroad as another. I mean, look at this:

The slave catcher had little choice but to call upon the man after midnight. He daintily sewed their hoods from white sacks of flour but could barely move his fingers after their visit–his fists swelled for two days from beating the man’s face in.

The Underground Railroad

By Colson Whitehead

Short description: a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave’s adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South

In this story, the underground railroad is a real thing: with steam trains, conductors and engineers and secret codes. Cora, the protagonist, goes through stations in her bid for freedom and encounters a version of America as it might have been. The South and North Carolina she encounters aren’t “real” in the sense of historical accuracy. Yet it terrifies you with its ring of truth and plausibility.

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If You Want To Be An Author

I’ve finishing filing my taxes today. This year was particularly painful. Last year I moved jobs, had a second job, and overcontributed to my Health Savings Account (HSA). All this translates to not-simple tax situations, which means additional paperwork (UGH). I would much rather be doing this:

this is not BOC reading

Or this:

This isn’t BOC, either

While I was being a Responsible Adult, with much grumbling, I daydreamed about alternatives. You know, having a different life. Anyone who loves writing at least once dreams about being an author. As in, a writer who gets paid writing and sellings books. I certainly day-dreamt about the possibility. Only, I couldn’t just leave it at daydreams. So I girded my loins and went looking.

Here are some things I found out from my bout of Researching Things To Death:

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