Category Archives: General

Life’s a Beach

How to Run a Navy Recreational Facility:

Congratulations! You’ve now assumed responsibility for and management of the fabulous White Beach Naval Getaway. It’s a proud location with a rich history, and not much else—you’re going to love it. Here are some pointers, some dos and don’ts to get you started on your adventure serving customers as a Navy Morale, Welfare, and Recreation facility manager.

First, keep in mind that the customers are probably mostly sailors. They’re used to a level of suck that you and I don’t put up with in our day-to-day lives, so when you need to cut corners and save some money, don’t hesitate to take it out of services you provide your guests.

In fact, if you’re honest, you’ll quickly learn that needy, whining guests are the cause of most of your headaches. They’re always wanting stupid things like someone to answer the phone at the Reservations desk, or to be there when it’s time to check in. You don’t actually have to put someone there all hours of the day; after ten or twelve unanswered rings, most customers stop calling.

Email is another dangerous means by which customers will contact you. Not only will they try to use the Reservations mailbox—they might contact your staff members directly. Here’s a pro-tip: no one has to actually read anything customers send. For example, when a customer mentions a problem with one of your required forms and asks for help, ignore that part and send them a six-word email to tell them you still need that signed form. Three exclamation points should convey the right professional sentiment.

Occasionally one gets through to reserve a room. That’s where your fun begins! People will show up expecting something like a hotel room or typical lodging experience, with basic provisions like soap, TV programming, or Internet access. Maybe something as simple as paper towels. You’ll save money and channel more customers to the overpriced mini-mart if you don’t provide standard accommodations. Kill two birds with one stone–after you squeeze some blood out of it.

It’s not really up to you, but if you can help it, make sure there are swarms of ants everywhere guests might go—zigzagging across the walkway leading up to the door, marching in columns up the doorframe, wriggling into the room, running on the walls, climbing on the couch or the bed or the people on those pieces of furniture. Don’t ever mention this—it’s part of the excitement of “roughing it” that guests obviously expect from a Naval Getaway. We have some standards to uphold, and they are low. You’ll do great.

This will be a great pic for the safety brief when I fall off this 15 foot wall…

When you advertise services, here’s a neat trick: don’t give specific details like hours or days of availability. At the check-in desk, for example, we’ve placed a convenient ad for breakfast in the solitary restaurant—which is really just a bar that also serves a variety of greasy food. Let the customers see that and plan for breakfast, then surprise them in the morning with locked doors and darkened rooms. “That’s just on Sunday,” you can explain, with a shake of the head and a condescending tone. Moments like that give you a chance to vent frustration while also channeling customers to the Subway stand—it’s good for everybody! They’ll serve up a freezer-aisle-style breakfast sandwich, “toasting” the frozen meat on top of the bread to keep it soggy and soft—easy on the gums!

When asked if everything is open, say yes, but mean no. For example, the beach is “open” but you can post signs with big red letters warning swimmers, “Jellyfish, swim at own risk.” They might see the enclosed pool across the street and think, “That’s okay, I’ll swim there.” That’s when you can spring the news on them that the swimming pool is closed… like the cable and Internet service in all the cabins. Be sure to remind them of all the ways they can incur additional fees, though, as this is valuable information—unlike interruptions of expected service you advertise as available.

You can throw guests a bone and place complimentary Keurig coffee next to the posted warning about lead in the water—you might help someone kick the caffeine habit! Now you’re paying it forward.

You’re off to a great start thus far, but there are still more corners to cut. Housekeeping workers shouldn’t actually have to scrub the shower clean; a slimy floor can be a fun adventure. A little dirt on the toilet seat never hurt anyone either, so you can leave those weird stains to set into the plastic. If you don’t put light fixtures into the shower, people will only use the water in the daytime instead of running up the electrical bill during the night. You know what would be a good thing to have in the shower? A towel to dry off while still getting sprayed. That’s why we feature a conveniently placed towel rack on the inside of the shower door.

On top of that, as long as there are no visible stains, bed sheets can totally be reused by multiple sets of guests. A stray hair or two in the already-made bed can be the source of fun contemplation as your tenants sort out the mystery of how it got there and what they might be sleeping in.

Beyond that, the little details and subtle touches are what separates your Naval Getaway from all the other available options. Ideally, your ceiling tiles should have a variety of shades ranging from peppered grey with mold or dust, to water-stained brown at the edges, to gleaming white like new. Think of it like a mosaic, and raise the price of your artistically designed and decorated cabin.

Griping aside, the views here really are quite lovely.

Armed with these ideas as a foundation, you’re ready to lead this facility into a mire of mediocrity… which is good in its own way. Even if customers don’t repeat their visit, the advertising and the panoramic vistas will still lure in enough unsuspecting sots to fleece. Striving to be the best on island would waste a lot of time, effort, and resources. Someone has to come in last place, and it might as well be you.

Beach Day

The clouds streak across the grey sky, obscuring the sun’s light if not its heat. Sea-birds squeal and call as they glide over the wide patch of coral-studded sand. Purple flowers pop in the clusters of green leaves that form a line to separate the grass from the advancing beach. The waves rumble at the shore in a soft rhythm like a drum swell to fill the silence every few seconds. And I sit on the cabin porch in the thick. humid air, looking over the scene when I’m not staring into the darkness behind my eyelids. 


This is a day “off” from work, the one full day of a visit to the resort at the north end of the island. I’m on leave from military responsibilities, though they still hover over my mind like a swarm of the mosquitos and gnats that nip at my exposed skin. 

Work duties may be on hold, but that doesn’t mean their voices remain silent. One of my programs requires more attention–something unimportant but neglected too long. Mysteries and technical difficulties loom over one of my aircrew duties–and another program that falls under my purview. We’ve asked for aid and channeled our questions in the right direction, so now we wait for additional details. I have personal responsibilities calling for attention, and my transition to retirement, put off as somewhere forever down the road, approaches next year with the inexorable passage of time. 

The waves crash in their unchanging pattern, one after another–splash… splash… splash…

“Later,” I tell the myriad concerns. “It’s a beach day. I’m taking a day off. You should too.” 

I hear their laughter as they continue their slow, constant pace. 

Commitments pepper my mind like a nagging wife, while my actual wife sits on the porch with me, chortling and giggling at hilarious videos on her smartphone. The woman I love is happy that I have this time to relax, happy that I have no timetable or schedule or task calling for my attention. “You probably need this,” she said as we made ourselves comfortable in our home for a day and a half.

I need to get caught up on weeks of writing courses I’ve neglected. I need to keep up with planning for the National Novel Writing Month events kicking off this week. I have to post something to a blog I’ve ignored for weeks, or perhaps finish one of a half-dozen drafts and concepts I’ve jotted down in various notes.

We snack on sandwiches of turkey and Colby-jack, food brought from home since everything on the resort is so pricy. I look over the groceries in the kitchen—more than we need—and the gym duffel full of too many clothes for the short stay. 

We dragged plenty of bags into the cabin last night, a couple pieces at a time, one trip after another from the minivan.

I always seem to bring too much. “What if we need this? What if we want that tomorrow?”

Urgent news from home occupies my thoughts. My mother is in the hospital, and needs a pacemaker. I’m on the other side of the world, unable to do anything but pray and wait for news. Suddenly some of the “important” things in life lose a little bit of their precedence. 

Wave after wave, worry after worry, tiny little turmoils and troubles that fill the background noise.

My smallest son, age six, proudly displays his catch–this time a water bottle full of hermit crabs, scrabbling and scratching over each other trying in vain to find freedom. “They can’t live in there, honey,” Mom tells him. “You need to let them go.”

“Oh,” he says with barely a tinge of disappointment. He dashes off in the direction of the repetitive rumble and disappears behind the slope of sand that leads down to the water’s edge. The concerned parent in me knows that his older brothers are looking out for him, watching to make sure he doesn’t go too deep or too far into the blue water.

To be young and fearless once again… but that would mean forgetting the truth: some concerns and fears are protective, instructive, the result of experience or maturity, an acknowledgement of reality. Some worries are voices to which we do well to listen.

The buzz of cicadas fills the air, and the noise of the sea dies down. The slight breeze falters, gives up, as if the oppressive humidity is too much to push through. The children return, their hearts light, their voices loud and silly. Water rushes from a hose to sweep away the sand, and then it becomes a puddle in which they splash and play while “drying off.” 

It’s a beach day, a day of rest, free from concerns and cares. We’ll roast marshmallows and make s’mores over a bonfire at sunset, then wonder in awe at the array of stars filling the night sky. In the periphery of our attention, in the background of my mind, the waves will continue their perpetual, rhythmic chant.

“Tomorrow,” I’ll tell them, like I always do… and they’ll laugh as they rumble ashore, one after another after another. 

Forward into April

When I created my Bullet Journal spread this month, I looked over previous diary entries and recorded thoughts to see if a recurring theme would reveal itself. 

The one that caught my eye was the word “Forward.” I’d been making a lot of progress in various areas – losing weight (lost 30 pounds over the last six months), improving fitness, accomplishing personal goals, participating in more events that matter to me… 

At the same time, I realized I waste too many hours on stuff that doesn’t matter, and I make too many spontaneous or thoughtless choices that hinder progressing in the areas I say are important. 

“I could write…” but I play a couple hours of video games.

“I should eat the healthy meal I planned…” but I reach for cheap junk food.

“I’ve got more exercise to do if I’m gonna meet my goal for today…” ehh, but there’s always tomorrow.

“I’ve had enough food. I should drink water and let my body realize it’s full…” but another slice of pizza is sitting right there and I think I heard it beg for death.

Point being, if all these little things are like running a race, I don’t want to step off the track or leave the course when the finish line is in sight. And while it’s sometimes frustrating to realize that there is no true finish line, just a good habit that I continue doing into the future, I realize I’m only tripping myself up and pushing the short-term goals further away when I make bad decisions. 

So this month’s spread is trying to capture the idea of stopping the old habit of “two steps forward, one step back” — or more true to my life, two forward and three back. 


We also watched Moana near the end of March / beginning of April, so that influenced my pictures. Hei Hei is there because he’s awesome and hilarious, and an Alan Tudyk character is always a good choice. The quote I found which I put above Moana’s sail is: “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” – Jimmy Dean.

I picked up a pack of Stabilo markers from the base art supplies store, and I love the colors. While I enjoy colored pencils (which I used for the Moana and Hei Hei pics), I hate scratchy media. The Stabilo markers don’t seem to bleed through the paper so long as I’m not going over the same spots, and the colors show up brighter in my opinion. 

Sorry for the quality of the pic – it’s just off my iPad.

Bullet Journals are Fire

I added a couple adjustments to my Bullet Journal process since my last post on the subject. Here are a couple quick tricks that I think work for both the minimalist version and the artsy / time-consuming arrangements.

Track the workplace “fires” that you put out

If a task is REALLY frustrating, actual fire is also an option.

Office workers know the pain of watching your organized, planned-out schedule burst into flames as managers or circumstances bring you all sorts of “fires” to put out. Urgent tasks demand attention. Surprise emails reprioritize your day. The boss comes in and says “Drop what you’re doing, I need you on This now.” 

Bullet Journal is about tracking what you’ve done as well as organizing your future effort, so from the beginning I’ve written down the unplanned or unexpected tasks I accomplish. But I decided to capture these random “opportunities” with a symbol all their own: a little flame on the task. Not only does that identify the task as HOT but it also shows that I didn’t plan for this… which might explain why other tasks get migrated to the next day (yet again). 

Even more rewarding? When that surprise tasker is completed, I can draw a squiggle on the fire to show it has been put out properly. We joke about putting out fires all day—why not incorporate that into my BuJo?

Yep. I still hate the term “BuJo.”

Color code or number your top priority tasks 

When I first started my journal, I picked up a set of five ultra fine point gel pens with different color ink: black, blue, purple, red, and green. I thought I’d use them more often, but I prefer colored pencils for anything artsy. So I’ve had these things sitting in a pen case doing nothing. 

The other day, I think a motivational video or article suggested organizing or identifying certain tasks as the priorities for a given day, and hitting those first. I could use numbers, of course… but why not the pens? Now I look over my to-do list for the day and underline four tasks in priority order—red, purple, blue, green—as my primary focus items. It’s an added satisfaction to check those off as done.

Sometimes you just have to punch Monday in the junk.

Today, I knocked out everything on my high-priority list before my lunch break. Now I can get to some of the other tasks in the afternoon, with the satisfaction that the big items are out of the way.

Time Management

On a side note, when I reviewed February’s journal entries, I found a lot of references to using the limited time we’re given wisely. As I considered how to lay out March’s monthly calendar and tracker, I decided to incorporate that message into my spread as a constant reminder this month. I found a few sweet quotes that spur me on to do the most with each day:

And naturally, as a Whovian, I had to incorporate the Doctor and some items related to his adventures. Here’s my timey-wimey March page:

The trouble is, you think you have time. -Buddha

Some of the applicable motivational quotes that have come my way include:

  • The billionaire and the beggar each are given the same 24 hours in a day.
  • You will never “find” time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.
  • We hold other people to guarantees and promises, like “30-day satisfaction or your money back.” Why don’t we hold ourselves to that standard? You owe you, you owe it to yourself to set such a standard.
  • It’s not a last minute “fire” task if it’s a “waited until the last minute” task. That’s just poor planning or poor execution. (That’s my own, in light of the fire symbol idea.)

Bullet Journal Part 2: Personalization

In my first Bullet Journal post, I talked about the results I tracked during the first month testing out how I liked the system.

In this post, I wanted to share a few of the personal touches from my journal. 

A look through social media or Google Images for anything “bullet journal” might return wild results that look more like a scrapbooking site than some quick and easy system for tracking tasks.

Some argue there’s a difference between bullet journals (which have little to no complexity, basic subjects, simple uses) versus the “omnijournals” where people are tracking anything and everything, from books to read, to which episodes of Dexter they’ve watched, usually with impressive calligraphy, artwork, colorful inks, and even art supplies like stamps, stencils, and washi tape. It can get expensive if you go all out, but the system can function just as well in a 69 cent memo pad. 

While I think the minimalist version has great usefulness and merit, I’m too artsy and doodle-prone to be content with that. So when I found an article called “The Comic Book Journal” on the bullet journal site blog, I decided that was closer to what I wanted. This allowed me to capture some moments and memories, like a family trip to a restaurant, some time relaxing in the shade of Okinawan banyan trees, and a silly drawing to remind me to avoid superficial garbage and distractions. 

Here’s what worked for me: 

Beyond the basics (index, future log, monthly spread, daily entries), I adopted a more complex monthly format that allows tracking of recurring activities–great for building habits and checking progress toward goals. 

A lot of the purpose of the bullet journal is to serve as a brain dump memo pad which can quickly feed into indexed sections based on the content. Someone recommends a good book? Jot it in the daily notes, so that later you can put it into the “books to read” spread. Hear a line that inspires you? Add it to a motivational quotes spread for mental fuel when you need a pick-me-up or a kick in the procrastination. When the spouse says “We need toilet paper next time we go to the store,” or when you realize the car needs a tune-up next month, put those on financial spreads split for short-term and long-term expenses. 

I loved pictures I found of a bookshelf spread with books you color in as you finish reading them, or popcorn kernels for movies you want to watch.  

Watching movies is clearly easier than reading books…

I have some fitness goals I want to reach, so I set up a tracker for push-ups, sit-ups, planks, and generic strength-focused workouts. I also put in a page for meal plans, so I can easily grab the right ingredients and put together lunches for a few days at a time. For my writing efforts, I put in a year-long word count spread with a color code for how many words I manage on a given day, and space to jot down writing ideas.  

It turns out twelve hour fly days don’t help me get a lot of writing done.

Some of the artistic pages incorporated ways to track or focus on gratitude, which I thought would help me maintain positive energy. I liked the gratitude “sunburst” the most, with rays for each day and then some.  


I viewed that as part of my month-long tracking, so a new sunburst got added for this month right before my February spread. The habit trackers have been great for pushing me toward making better decisions and achieving my goals. For example, last month I tracked whether I logged all my meals in my fitness pal, but this month I added a box for which days I kept below my calorie count. And while I don’t drink alcohol all the time and keep it to a small amount (a couple shots max) whenever I do imbibe, I decided a box for “no alcohol” was a way to force a conscious decision of “do you really want a drink?” The mental reward of checking a box that said I didn’t partake is enough to make me hesitate and actively consider the question rather than drinking just because it’s there. 


The artistic aspect of the way I’m doing my journal lets me capture memories and moments in pictures. Maybe it’s a character’s silly expression or a mindless doodle, but sometimes it’s an attempt to capture the way the sunrise painted amber on the tips of purple clouds, or the hilltop view overlooking the ocean with islands on the horizon. For me, these also break up the monotony of tasks and appointments in my journal, giving me something cool to look at when I flip through the pages.

A drawing of some sunrise clouds with touches of amber on the tips.
A view from a high hill overlooking the sea on the horizon

All of that said (and shown), this is just what I found kept me motivated and engaged in these areas I wanted to track. My format might not work for every reader. 

The personalization makes all the difference. 

I have a co-worker friend of mine who started setting up his Bullet Journal, and he paged through mine to get some ideas. We talked at length about what I used and why, but from the get-go, he proclaimed he wanted the minimalist arrangement, nothing elaborate or frilly. I stopped in his office today and saw a Leuchtturm 1917 opened with a number of familiar spreads–all of them clean and neat, black and white, crisp and sharp. Most of all, I noticed the bright smile on his face as he showed off his work in progress. I recognize that happiness–it’s the same sensation I feel about my Bullet Journal, even though mine is full of varied letter shapes, random doodles, and colored pencils. 

Do you “BuJo” ? (confession: I hate that word and I won’t be using it any more.) What have you found works for your needs? Do you go artistic or minimalist in your journal? Let me know in a comment. I’d love to see how you set up yours–maybe I’ll get a new idea for mine!

My Brain on Paper

About a month ago I found an article introducing the Bullet Journal, which is an old-school pen-and-paper method for organizing tasks. The original system put to the public three years ago was designed to be minimalist and quick, allowing one to track past tasks completed and progress toward goals, organize current schedules and priorities, and plan for future efforts or upcoming issues.

The Bullet Journal is essentially your brain in a notebook

…except it remembers everything perfectly.

It’s quick to start and manage, and flexible enough to adapt to any number of specialized uses.

The “Bullet Journal” concept has since grown into a large community of people who incorporate a wide variety of artistic designs and complex tools into their bullet Journals. Instagram, Facebook, and the bullet journal site linked above all have an array of photos and ideas ripe for the picking.

I started mine in a cheap notebook to get used to the idea, then upgraded to a long-term version.

the Leuchtturm 1917 lines of dot grid notepads are popular choices.
 

I decided to give it a shot for a month before posting my thoughts on the process, along with an intro of my journal and an explanation of what I found worked well for me. 

The system feeds off the satisfaction that comes from the visible reminder of task completion, the mental reward of checking off tangible lists, and the relief of jotting down notes to reduce the busyness in our scattered minds.

(Pic)

All those efforts go back to one concept:

  • You can’t make progress when you’re not aware of your current circumstance.
  • You can’t be aware of what you don’t monitor.
  • You can’t monitor what you don’t track.
  • You can’t track what you don’t measure.

Similar to the year-long word count spreadsheet (which I posted about at the start of the new year), my Bullet Journal gives me more insight and detail on what I’m doing that is or isn’t intentionally moving toward the goals and desires I say I want to achieve. 

In the end, after a month, I looked back and discovered I had done the following:

  • I watched 10 movies with the wife and/or the kids.
  • I recorded and posted 8 songs with my wife or on my own (not counting instrumental jam sessions).
  • I wrote 32,887 words and kept above the 1K / day goal I set for this year.
  • I did 1,140 push-ups, 2,180 sit-ups, and 39 minutes of plank.
  • I filled a gratitude log with daily entries and several bonus lines.
  • I logged 24 of 31 intentional morning routines.
  • 17 of 31 days writing 1K words or more.
  • 25 of 31 days logging all food intake for weight loss
  • 26 of 31 days walking 5K steps or more
  • 17 of 27 days drinking >64 oz of water (added this a few days in)
  • 10 of 21 days doing 100 push-ups (added a week and a half into January)
  • 10 of 21 days doing 200 sit-ups
  • 7 of 21 days doing strength workouts
  • 7 of 21 days doing 5 minutes of plank
  • and 10 of 12 days being intentionally outdoors for >15 minutes (not just walking to my car, etc)

Looking back over the journal entries, I saw trends and thoughts that needed repeated emphasis. I also saw places where I came up with a solution or plan, and found that it worked.

All in all, like many systems, gimmicks, and gadgets, it comes down to individual preference.

A Bullet Journal is great if it works for you, and if you keep it up. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and intend to continue using the system. In my next post, I’ll show some ways I adapted the journal to my interests and needs.

Dear United States,

Saw this on a friend’s FB wall and thought of this post:
http://www.humansofnewyork.com/tagged/refugee-stories

Cherry-picked instead of the “randomly selected” that the page implies? Sure. Maybe. Cynical me admits that’s possible.

BUT these stories are also just as likely true. These experiences I’ll never understand are some people’s daily life. If I can talk about how pro-life I am and how much I love Jesus and how bad the world needs the Gospel, then maybe I can look at these people’s desperate needs and not see only an ISIS ploy.

“We should be careful, though,” caution says, parroting the words fear whispers. “We should be wise as serpents.”

Yes, let’s. Wise as serpents, we’re to be–but not actual snakes.

Intentional

Early this year, a click-bait style post came across one of the writing groups I follow. “This one notepad will get rid of all your productivity apps!” or something like that.

For whatever reason, I clicked and watched the introduction to the Bullet Journal (a.k.a. BuJo).

The system is intended to be minimalist: fast, easy, helpful for tracking what you’ve done, focusing your efforts now, and planning your future.

“Interesting,” I thought, and moved on with my mindless Facebook browsing. But then the concept kept bouncing around in my head. Soon I found myself looking at ideas in their blog posts, discovering co-workers who already follow the system, then looking through piles of new ideas posted to Facebook groups. The artistic versions caught my eye.

Also a set of colored pencils and pens appeared randomly, demanding use. (And I learned to make an origami bookmark, because reasons.)

One of the spreads I’ve seen in numerous Bullet Journals is the “word of the year,” something that captures a person’s intended focus area for attention or improvement. I liked the concept, but there are so many words! Who could choose just one to capture everything they really want for 2017?

I chose intentional as my word of the year, because of how often I find myself wasting time and energy on superficial garbage through lack of decisions or purposeful effort. For example: “I never have time to write, I’m sooo busy. I think I’ll take this hour to play phone games and scroll through Facebook some more.”

Googling images others have used to capture the idea of “intentional” resulted in two personal faves: a brick wall being built out of Lego, and a direction sign shaped with a pointed end. The bricks convey the idea of step-by-step effort toward any goal. Results don’t appear out of thin air, but usually out of doing the same, simple task over and over until it becomes easy. I liked the sign as a way of capturing motion in a chosen direction instead of flailing around aimlessly through life.

To incorporate both, I drew a brick wall with the pointed sign hanging on it. Over the year (or however long my journal lasts) I can incorporate new words that strike my fancy or contribute to a fuller picture of what I mean by intentional living.

img_2326
A more complicated BuJo is also a fun artistic outlet.

All of it goes back to my favorite verse right now: 1st Corinthians 9:26 (ESV) – “So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.” The Chinese translation puts it, “So I run not as one without a destination.”

I’m still digging into what works for me and what doesn’t. I’ll do a full intro / personal take on the process once I get my new journal set up and going. (The Leuchtturm 1917 A5 dot grid seems to be the most popular option.)

Anyone else BuJo? What spreads work for you? Let me know in a comment.

Cacophony

I’m enjoying an afternoon with the wifey at an on-base coffee shop. It’s built into the Airmen’s Club, as an off-shoot of the snack bar. They renovated a few months ago (or more?) and the atmosphere is usually perfect for a quiet relaxing coffee outing or for some focused writing.

That back corner screams “writing nook” in my mind.

The Club’s PA system is playing a steady stream of 80s and 90s music, stuff you might hear in any store. And the snack bar / coffee shop has their own music playing. Loudly.

I’ve got a lighthearted yet punkish rock song playing at a decent clip in three-four time with some heavy bass, and on the other side is Take a Chance on Me.

Sitting where I am, I’m right between both sounds and it’s atrocious. The snack bar’s music is loud enough that I’m pretty sure it can be heard anywhere in their section (kind of the point, I suppose). But regardless of the comfortable, cozy atmosphere of that picture, the sound is just wrong.

I’ll mention it to the managers. It makes everything seem off. Ever been in a place like this, where one easily corrected aspect ruins all the hard work that obviously went into the rest of the setting?

Calm Before the (self-inflicted) Storm

I regret not participating in BlogBattles or posting, but I am enjoying a week off of work and a relaxing vacation to Okuma, the beach resort at the north end of Okinawa.

img_2230
Here’s the view from the cabin porch. It’s ok, I guess…

Also my mother-in-law is here. At least that’s not a bad thing like the stereotypical joke might imply.

After this week, I jump back into a flying schedule with double the standard workload and none of the additional support to make it work. So work is going to be crazy for a good while. And I still have an office to run when we’re not in the air doing the mission.

On top of that, I go to my PT test next week knowing I’m doomed to fail based on gaining too much weight and too much waist over the last several months. I don’t have any excuses; I know that if I log everything I eat, hold roughly to the suggested caloric intake, and get a decent amount of exercise, I can pass the test. The diet is the biggest part of achieving success, and it’s tiring to live like that for months on end. So my next few months will be not just flying but incorporating more exercise while watching and logging every calorie.

On a more positive note, prep for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is in full swing, and I’ll be participating in that again this year. During November, people around the world attempt to write a 50,000 word novel between November 1st and 30th. That works out to 1,667 words a day, assuming life never gets in the way. I’ve been planning a story and a setting with a friend, and I’m ready to dive in. I’m also the Okinawa Municipal Liaison, one of four for all of Japan, which means setting up meetings, posting messages to all of the participants in the region, and trying to help the whole event go smoothly. I love doing this but it’s a workload.

More important than all of the above, I have a wife and four kids that deserve attention. I can’t just write and workout when I’m not flying. (But I can write while getting some light exercise on a bike or a walk on a treadmill, so that’s one way to kill two birds with one stone.)

So we’re making the most of this down-time. We built a fire at sunset and roasted marshmallows, after I grilled some dogs, burgers, and corn. Last night, my wife and I enjoyed some quiet time just chatting on the porch, enjoying the cool breeze.

We’ll build a fire tonight if the rain stays away. Swimming one more time is on the menu, as is cycling around the resort. If the rain gets bad, we have some card games to play — we might get to those anyway, since my middle son is begging for them.

And maybe I’ll get some writing done. My NaNoWriMo project isn’t going to prep itself.