Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Recently on Facebook ImprovGuy asked "Why is it so hard to know if it is destiny beckoning, or the abyss?"  I got thinking about it and came to the conclusion that the problem is not knowing which of the two it is but rather the very idea that it could be one or the other.  Here is the thing about Destiny:  It is a fiction.  The universe is just a random place where things happen without rhyme, reason, or narrative direction.  There is no right answer, no perfect choice, no reward waiting for those who stick to the script.  Moreover I think we cause ourselves no end of trouble when we make the universe out to be that way.

The obvious example is marriage and soulmates.  You don't have a soulmate, I don't have a soulmate, nobody has one, at least not in any mystical sense.  Tim Minchin said it best in his song "If I Didn't Have You"; love grows over time and is increased by shared experience; it also ends, even when we don't want it to, even when it was complete and wonderful before.  The problem with soulmates are legion but one of the biggest is the anger that is directed against someone whom once was loved; one must face the idea that either one has no idea what a soulmate would look like or decide that the former lover was deceitful, evil, responsible for the mistake.  Far healthier to simply accept that they were right for us at one point and are not so now.

Not so obvious but equally ubiquitous is the idea of a destined career path.  Somehow we, as a society, buy into the idea that people are all on their way up to some amazing place, some pinnacle of achievement within our careers.  I encountered this as a salesman; people could not fathom that I wasn't trying to get promoted, to rise to the top.  My career wasn't a path, it wasn't destined to bring me to a place of perfect happiness and achievement, it was just something to do that made money and which I felt reasonably content doing.  Even if that were true retirement throws it entirely on its head.  How does it make sense to spend a lifetime clawing your way to the top and then expect to be happy to leave the top and abandon the race entirely?

Destiny implies some sort of nirvana, a perfect existence we can aspire to.  That isn't a thing that exists, and the idea of it encourages us to think of anyone not pursuing the same goals we are as being wrong.  There is no such thing as destiny and there is no perfect ending, no happily ever after.  There is just living, and trying to be happy while doing so.  The further away we can get from the idea of destiny the easier it will be for us all to accept that life is messy, complicated, and full of potential awesomeness in all kinds of unexpected places.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Time to spend some money

I had a great conversation with FireflyFanatic this week that gave me a bit of perspective on how I have been running my life as we have shockingly similar attitudes towards money.  I have been living for a long time now on very little and although I am pleased that I have been able to make my family finances work on starvation wages for years I think it has warped me in ways that I need to address.  I have a natural inclination to be extremely frugal; while being careful with money is good I go too far.  I have a baseline aversion to spending money that goes way beyond sensible budgeting and into lunacy.  I don't go places because I want to avoid bus fare.  I drink only water to avoid paying for beverages and skip out on events because I don't feel like I can afford them.  The problem with my attitude is that it isn't based on the total cost but rather on *any* cost.  There is something very deep and very powerful in my brain that tells me any expenditure, no matter how small, is wasteful.

You might think that always cutting spending until you are making money is sensible.  You would be right in the general case but my current case is that I am attempting to run a household on a student stipend.  The thing about student stipends is that they eventually turn into real salaries and trying to balance a budget when you are in a temporary state of minimal income leads to despair.  I have enough money that I can live quite reasonably until Wendy graduates and starts to earn real cash but I have this brain that keeps screaming at me to stay home and buy nothing because I can feel my money bleeding away.  Knowing that my finances are not stable is a terrifying sensation but I need to get past it and move on.  I was never able to get past it when I was in undergrad and although I made decisions that blew lots of money (failing courses) I was a lunatic when it came to small amounts.  It wasn't even a case of penny wise, pound foolish... more like penny foolish, pound foolish.

Having the discipline to live cheaply is a good thing.  In the past I often confused that with having an irrational urge to not spend money and thought very well of myself for it; I was wrong.  The best place to be is not a miser but rather someone who makes realistic long terms plans and sticks to them.  Discipline is necessary to both spend enough and to not spend too much.  I don't think I can actually get these thoughts out of my brain because the desperate need to live cheaply is so ingrained I am pretty sure it is my companion for life.  What I can do though is crush my instincts with logic.  I know that I will be happier if I get out there and do things.  I will enjoy my life more if I spend small amounts of money to do the things I really want to do - join some sports leagues and buy a few computer games here and there to play with my friends.  I just need to maintain discipline and make myself do the right thing... which is to buy whatever the hell I want, apparently.

Late night chats aren't just good for telling secrets and laughing; they also seem to be sources of revelation.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Seriously, reporting on the wrong thing

I wrote last week that the Boston bombing media frenzy was misdirected and unwarranted.  It turns out I was wrong, but in a strange way:  Reporting on the bombing itself was still terrible but the event had a lot more importance when you consider the side effects.  I did some reading on the internet about the capture of the bombing suspect and the things people said about it were utterly terrifying; it was dead common for people to be against the suspect being read his rights.  Note that he hasn't been convicted yet.  This isn't someone who has had his day in court, nor even someone caught red handed.  Is he guilty?  Probably, as far as I can tell.  Even so, the people of the US shouldn't be advocating that the government toss aside fundamental rights of citizens whenever something exciting happens.  You do *not* want them to have that power, just like you don't want the police shutting down an entire city except for the donut shops.  (I wish I was kidding.)

A similar sort of thing is happening up here in Canada.  The government is pushing through a new anti terror bill that would allow them to detain people for three days without charging them and limit their travel abroad. All in the name of stopping terrorism, of course, which won't be stopped by these measures and isn't a significant problem here anyway.  We had our own series of high profile arrests (well staged and conveniently timed) recently to support pushing through the bill because nothing gets people willing to give the government unchecked power like a little bit of high profile mayhem.  Fear is a very useful tool when you want to add a bit to the reach of your power over those under you; once the law is in place it is a lot harder to remove.

Governments will leap to make use of any high profile event to push their agendas and we would be wise to try to stop them from doing so.  It is made all the harder though by citizens who immediately jump up to ask the government to strip away human rights any time something bad happens.  I don't want people to get blown up of course but I recognize that people getting blown up is not an infinitely bad event.  It is very bad, and the government abusing its power to oppress the citizenry is also bad and *vastly* more common.  It makes me sad to think it but it may be that the most important thing to think about for most people when a tragedy occurs is "How is the government going to abuse this to justify doing terrible things to people?"

Monday, April 22, 2013

Single parenting

Single parents deserve a bloody medal.

Wendy is away at a conference this week, which means her primary complaints are the difficulty in finding a tool to open all the bottles of wine she and her colleagues plan to drink at their nonstop parties every night.  I, on the other hand, am a single parent for a little while.

This is where you all sigh and say "His life is so hard, he probably needs presents."

Or, more likely, you shout at me to shut up since I am a single parent who doesn't have to go to a job - how freaking easy is that?

It will be good for me in the long run, of course, but many things that are good for you in the long run aren't that much fun at the time.  It will give me time alone to figure some things out and get some things done though, which is good.  There are chores that have piled up over the past few weeks that I have been ignoring and when I am alone I can't avoid them for some reason.  I don't know why exactly it is so much easier to vacuum, do laundry, and dust when there is no other adult in the house but it sure is.  Somehow it is soothing to me to get chores done each day and I need that when my evenings are less exciting.

Knowing that I will need more adult time I have furiously booked get togethers with friends all through this week.  Wendy was a bit envious of my social schedule - she wants to see all these folks too!  After doing so I wondered why I don't call all these people up all the time; I think I just forget that I have an equal responsibility in maintaining relationships and I sit around just waiting for somebody else to ask me to do things.  It is a good kick in the pants to get me out there and realizing that if I want to see people I had best pick up the bloody phone.

It strikes me that being a single parent for a week is going to be good for me.  I miss Wendy a lot but time apart is good; it reminds me of why time together is so amazing.  Gotta say though to all the single parents who have jobs and don't have partners helping them:  You are juggernauts.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Tell me what to do

I have been spending a lot of time this week reading feminist blogs.  I learn a lot while doing so but it is a depressing pastime.  I view it a bit like lifting weights - not much fun, but useful as self improvement.  The not much fun part comes from reading about how terrible society is to women and how awful men are.  The really not fun part comes when I learn something totally new and end up realizing I have been doing it wrong all these years.  It is good for me to understand the world more completely but I should probably take it in small doses.

The blog I have been reading the most had a really interesting (and highly disturbing, to me) post on BDSM with the author talking about an experience she had that she absolutely loved.  It involved her being bitten, pinched, punched, whipped, and tied to a wooden cross and it was apparently the height of ecstasy.  I can't fathom that personally but I did find her descriptions of dominant and submissive behaviour fascinating.  While the extremes BDSM enthusiasts go to is quite beyond me I completely get the appeal of being submissive in a sexual situation.  Being able to completely let go of responsibility for direction and simply live entirely in the moment without responsibility or the burden of leadership sounds hot indeed.  The reverse situation where I am barking orders and expecting unwavering obedience doesn't hold any appeal; I suppose I could do it but I don't particularly want to.

That tendency for me is interesting because it appears in the rest of my life too.  I am a homemaker married to someone who has big career aspirations and wants to get out there and do things so I tend to follow more than lead.  I remember the first time I flat out told Wendy how things were going to be and the people around us were pretty taken aback.  Everyone was used to me saying "Sure, whatever you want, I don't care either way." to most decisions and when I put my foot down it was a bit of a shock.  We were moving into our first apartment together and I simply refused to use the futon we had at the old place; I told her flat out that I hated that piece of crap and I wasn't going to have a shitty couch that turned into a shitty bed.  It is funny how small and random things like that can stand out as being key points in a relationship.

I wonder very much how well other people who see us as a couple could predict this sort of thing.  If you saw us at a party you would probably see Wendy in a corner being silent or chatting with a single person while I stood in the centre of everything ranting loudly about something or other and challenging everyone to prove me wrong.  After knowing us for awhile I figure people would be able to pick out our dynamic but I don't really know; perhaps only those who are closest to us really see how things work and the rest assume the loud guy is the one in charge.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Reporting the wrong thing

I think we all need a bit of perspective on the Boston bombing.  When the local news in Boston goes crazy about it that makes sense.  Even when the news all over the US is full of it that makes some sense.  When world news is completely drenched with coverage it just makes me sad.  Canadian and British news sources spending inordinate space both in ink on paper and digital space on the Boston bombing is a serious mess.

Was it a tragedy?  Certainly.  Are there one hundred greater tragedies all over the world every day?  Yes!

While it is great to sympathize with the people who died or were injured in Boston we should not think that just because somebody lives in a country vaguely similar to ours their life is worth more.  People die in, for example, Iraq, constantly due to bombs or other violence and it barely makes a blip on the news except for the monthly body counts.  Going nuts because some rich folks died instead of some poor folks is a terrible way to live.

Two car crashes with five or six deaths happen daily and yet we hardly even care but when fewer people die of a bomb we can't help but stick our eyeballs to the story.  Somehow that becomes more of a threat, more real, more deserving of our concern, cash, and attention.  If we really want to express our concern for our fellow beings or worry about threats to our safety we need to get our brains in gear.  In the past two decades car crashes have killed ~400,000 people in the US and terrorism has killed ~4,000.  In Canada the numbers are even further apart.

Bombings are bad but we can do practically nothing to stop them.  There are plenty of things we *can* do to stop other sorts of deaths though and we should be doing those things, not spending all of our time obsessing over what is in the end a small thing on the world stage.  Having a fit over a bombing like this makes it more likely to happen again rather than less and furthers the goals of the bombers; that is, to create panic, chaos, and fear.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Jealous rage

Jealousy has a really unfortunate position in our culture.  Much of what we read presents it as natural, acceptable, or desirable even when it is violent or destructive.  When I see an Archie comic at the grocery store these days I shudder because of the way in which the characters are still portrayed; as though nothing new has been learned in the past half century.  Moose is a gigantic football player and every scene he has anything relevant to do in is about him inflicting brutal violence on others because those others looked at his girlfriend Midge.  Moose is presented as a sympathetic character, a nice guy who defends his property rights with such gusto that everyone around him can't help but admire the bruises and injuries he so casually inflicts in his jealous rages.  It makes me sick to see it.

This clearly isn't limited to Archie comics.  The law in Texas up until a few decades ago allowed people to murder their spouses and a lover if they were caught having sex.  Advice in Cosmo magazine and its ilk constantly assumes that women should use the irrational, blinding jealousy of men to their advantage.  Sexism thrives on the assumption that a man's jealous rage justifies all kinds of terrible acts because clearly women need to work around this insanity that men are 'unable' to control.  It is an excuse to let men act badly.  (Among other things.)

Up until Sunday night I had never experienced jealousy.  People might not believe me, which is fine, but when I suddenly started experiencing it I was totally taken aback and honestly didn't know what was happening.  I felt sick to my stomach, was full of adrenalin fuelled anger and sorrow, and felt like the world was crashing down around me.  It was one of the worst experiences of my life to sit there in a furious, miserable rage and to not understand what brought it on.  Now I get it; I can suddenly see why jealousy gets so much support.  It is *powerful* and all consuming and terrifying and I wanted it to STOP.  That doesn't justify doing terrible things to try to satiate it but today I can see why people do so when I never could put myself in that frame of mind before.

After some reflection I figured out what was bothering me and as is my habit I tried to crush it with logic.  I went on the internet and read about jealousy and how people handle it.  I read about the various types of jealousy.  I hunted down books on the topic and told the library to bring them in for me.  Often, but not always, when I am upset I can spend time inside my own head and logic myself into a better place.  The heart wants what it wants but I can and will make it understand that its wants are sometimes destructive and inappropriate.  

I certainly had never thought that I would experience an entirely new emotion at age 34.  I kind of figured I was done with that sort of thing a couple decades ago.  Turns out there are depths I have not fully plumbed within me.  A tough pill to swallow for someone who prides himself on being self aware and in control, for certain.  I can't just decide to get rid of it entirely from myself but I can decide how I react and try to make sure I never let it determine my actions.  Feelings I don't want are inevitable but I will be damned if I let this one have its way.

(Edit:  Some people have expressed concern over this post.  To be completely crystal clear:

1.  Wendy did nothing wrong.  This was me freaking out over something totally innocuous.  My problem, not hers.

2.  We are fine.  Really.  I am taking this as a teachable moment where I learn about myself.)

Friday, April 12, 2013

100 years, so what?

Elli's school is celebrating its 100th year of existence this year.  The celebration is going to take place in the fall but we are already gearing up for it as the parent's council tries to sort out what activities might take place, how we can prepare the school for it, and other details.  It is an odd thing for me because although I like working with the council and volunteering I feel absolutely no interest whatsoever in the 100th anniversary.

It won't be any surprise to anyone that knows me, I suppose, since I don't care about birthdays at the best of times and a big old brick building is hardly one to have its feelings hurt.  I don't get the necessity of spending a lot of money on celebrating a completely arbitrary milestone when we could instead focus on what the children themselves could benefit from.  It isn't just money of course but also volunteer hours and effort; I put in time for a variety of different things at the school but I just can't see myself caring enough to show up to the 100th celebration.  I wouldn't even bother to go if I wasn't volunteering so I can't see how I would go about working up the gumption to work hard to prepare for it!

I know that the community tends to see this differently than I do.  It isn't so much that I don't want them to have their fun as I can't put myself in a mindset where this celebration makes any sense.  We should spend time and money because shovels broke the ground in 1913 instead of 1914?  Or 1981?  No comprehension.  This seems like it is part of my usual puzzlement at the rituals people go through for reasons that aren't well defined.  Tradition, and the reverence for it that the average person has, simply escapes me.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Tragedy and saying the wrong thing

It is hard to know what to say when someone else is having a really bad time of it.  There isn't a good formula to know what exactly to do and how to present yourself because the person in dire need is both unique in and of themselves and also in a unique situation for them.  As as example, if I was very sick I wouldn't want my friends and family coming by feeding me platitudes about how I will get well and everything will be fine.  If the prognosis is crap then I don't want to spend my last days in irrational denial; joke with me, play a game with me, or have fun making jokes at the expense of the Pope but don't feed me garbage we all know isn't true.  Of course there are lots of people (most people, I would suggest) who really do want people to come by and offer kind words that have no basis in fact.  There are lots of folks who want expressions of faith more than anything in that circumstance.

I found an interesting article that talks about this in an attempt to tell people what to do.  It suggests placing the patient in the centre of a diagram and placing all of the other people who know them on circles surrounding the centre.  Parents, children, spouses, etc. would be on the first circle, close friends second circle, out to colleagues on say the fifth circle.  The article then suggests that the way to approach these things is for anyone to be able to say anything at all to someone in a more distant circle but to always be 100% reassuring and calm to those in a circle closer to the centre.  It specifically states that the patient in the centre can say or do anything to anyone.

I find all of that pretty silly.  Sure, people should be more considerate of someone who is suffering.  Their normal defenses and strength aren't available to them.  The idea of a numerical ranking system that specifically denotes how people should behave strikes me as a bit loony though.  Things are more complicated than that because sometimes people near the centre of a crisis are really strong and quite capable of helping those further out and sometimes people who aren't necessarily emotionally close to a person can be struck heavily by their situation.  And then there are people like me who would feel betrayed if everybody fed me full of platitudes and ran off to talk to somebody else about their real feelings.

There are no obvious, simple rules we can follow when negotiating a complex situation like a person in need and their entire group of friends and family.  Certainly it would be a good idea to tread lightly and say little if you really don't know the person in particular but relationships and situations are far too complex to be summed up by a simple ranking system.  Think about what impact your statements will have on the people in front of you; if they will make things worse then don't say them.  If you don't know find somebody who does  know and ask.  I think this is far better described by the nonspecific 'don't be a jerk' than anything else.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Right to Fly Cheaply

There is a bit of a revolution brewing in airline fares.  Samoa airlines is changing their fare structure to charge based on the weight of the passenger.  Presumably there will be some kind of base fee + constant*(weight in kilos) but the actual structure isn't the important thing; dealing with the public relations mess is the hard part.  Of course there are lots of small people and people who take minimal baggage who are cheering at the prospect of reduced fares but there will be plenty of folks who are completely against a public weigh in at the ticket counter in the airport.  This does make economic sense because heavier people and luggage are actually a very big factor in airline fuel costs.

The arguments that are being tossed around over this are interesting.  Note that I don't have any particular stake in this since I am of average weight and carry an average amount of luggage - it shouldn't matter much to me even if Canadian airlines start doing this.  However, there are a lot of people arguing that this is discrimination because it forces people with the 'wrong' genes to pay more.  There are even folks crying about sexism against men because women are on average lighter and thus pay less.  Both of those claims are obviously bogus because nobody cries discrimination when large people have to pay more for larger clothes, larger cars, or stronger beds.  If you are large and you want companies to do more to accommodate that you pay for it.

One argument that holds a little more merit is the issue of people requiring special equipment to move about.  A walker or a wheelchair isn't optional for many people and they could be really unhappy about paying extra to have one.  In the end though I still side with the airline on this:  They have to pay for the fuel and the space to cart the extra gear around so charging to do so makes sense.  Homebuilders don't install elevators for free, moving companies charge to move specialized furniture, and wheelchairs themselves cost money.  Airlines clearly have an obligation to provide service to people with physical challenges but paying the same rate for gear isn't an unfair hardship.

I figure that this will end up something like cell phone packages - lots of different companies offering different plans.  Heavy people will be incentivized to fly with flat rate carriers and light people with 'by weight' carriers and it will even out in the long run.  It seems like exactly the sort of situation unregulated economics will sort out efficiently in the long run; predicting exactly how that arrangement will work is however quite beyond us.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Motoring that cycle

Savage Love contained an interesting letter this week talking about motorcycles and the danger inherent in them.  The letter writer had a real fear of the danger of motorcycles and was unsure what to do when their committed partner decided to buy one.  Dan Savage's advice was bloody terrible - withhold sex until they do what you want - but the comments had some really interesting discussion on the actual safety hazard motorcycles present.  This came up in my family because my dad bought a motorcycle when I was in my early teens and I am sure it made my mom nervous; all three of my father's brothers have been in accidents on motorcycles that range from serious to catastrophic.

Certainly motorcycle use is correlated with death and injury.  A very large part of that correlation can be accounted for by the fact that people who like to drive fast, refuse to use proper safety gear, and act recklessly tend to buy motorcycles.  Even then though a motorcycle is still more dangerous than a car.  The problem is that some people use this as sufficient to dismiss any motorcycle rider as a suicidal lunatic.  By that logic we should dismiss anyone who uses a personal vehicle instead of public transit as unfit for partnership due to the increased danger.  Same goes for people who drink too much, eat crappy food, refuse to exercise, or smoke.

Dangerous activities in a partner should be evaluated with an eye to the actual danger incurred compared to the others dangers we with live with all the time.  If your partner wants to head to biker bars, get wasted, and then motorcycle home without a helmet at high speeds you are damn right you should be worried!  If, on the other hand, they want to take weekend drives now and then and are paranoid about wearing maximum safety gear and took defensive driving courses, why worry?  It would be more dangerous if they developed a taste for sugary treats from Starbucks.

One thing you absolutely should not do is follow Savage's advice.  Obviously if one's partner makes it clear that certain things are flat out deal breakers before committing there is an obligation to respect those feelings but withholding affection to force obedience is total garbage.  For one it will cause bitterness and resentment and for two the precedent is set that affection is to be used as a weapon of control.  That will not end well.  If you can't deal with something your partner is doing then be a damn adult.  Tell them you don't like it, tell them how much you don't like it, and if it is that important and the two of you cannot reach a compromise (which you damn well should) you leave.  If it isn't important enough to consider that then it isn't important enough to wreck your intimate dynamic over either.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Not good enough?

There has been a large and very successful campaign going on to get people on Facebook and other social media to use a big red and white equals sign as their picture.  I saw it lots of places and thought that it was a great symbol of support for gay marriage as the US wrestles with the struggle between religious oppression and being a decent person.  I thought not much more about it until I read articles here, here, and here slamming the practice and talking about how terrible this symbol was.  I wouldn't have batted an eyelash if it was just some homophobe wailing about how the gays will rainbow us all but instead it was someone claiming that the organization behind the symbol wasn't progressive *enough*.  The short form is this:  The HRC whose symbol it is struggles for gay marriage rights but does not worry about other problems such as trans issues, racism, or other serious social problems.

Essentially the argument boils down to:  Should an organization that promotes something good be derided for not working on things that are more important instead?  I often think about this when I read about charities working to help people in Canada, particularly ones that aren't focusing on the poorest and most needy.  For every person we help here we could spend an equal number of dollars and do fifty times as much good in a developing nation.  People here have health care, relative security, and tremendous support from the social safety net that would be unimaginable in other parts of the world.  Can we justify assisting people who are lower middle class in Canada considering the greater need in other places?

While in some theoretical world we should all maximize the good we do globally that isn't particularly reasonable.  People have a strong sense of tribe for good or for ill and they want to have their efforts be noticed by those around them.  They also see the difficulties of those close by or in similar circumstances and sympathize more readily.  These things mean that people will always help others like themselves even if those others aren't particularly in need.  Does that suck?  Sure.  Can we fix it?  I doubt it.  I think the best thing we can do is to accept that people will help who they can and encourage them to expand their list of people who they think of as 'like them'.  The closer we get to people thinking of all others as belonging to their own tribe the better off we will be.

What this means for the symbol in question is straightforward I think.  It is good that people are willing to make a public statement that they support gay marriage.  It is good that people are trying to make that a reality.  Those people should not, however, consider that this is the only goal or that they have done all they need to do when they change their Facebook photo.  There are a world of good changes out there that need to happen.  We should all prioritize our time to push forward those causes that seem like they will make the greatest positive impact for the least effort and accept that sometimes people doing good won't do exactly the good we want them to.  We still need to support the good that they do and encourage discussion on exactly what the greatest good we can do is.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Feel the burn to the tunes

I have been having trouble sleeping lately.  I am up, late at night, struggling to turn my stupid brain off and not able to actually take that last step.  There are lots of places to get advice on how to deal with insomnia but I already do most of what they recommend so generally it isn't very helpful.  Normally I look at the 'get more exercise' recommendation and just sigh because I know that I am not going to do that.  I have tried it before and always got bored; it never stuck for more than a few months.

Today I decided to hop back on the wagon with a new (to me) twist; music.  I did an hour of yoga with much of it consisting of simply holding a single pose while listening to an entire song.  I stayed in tree or downward dog for a very long time while the Corrs pumped through the condo and just closed my eyes, turning off my bodily sensations and ignoring the discomfort.  It worked, I think, and I feel really good about it.

Hard to say if this will end up being any different than the other times I tried to incorporate regular exercise into my routine.  I always struggle with exercise not being hard, not requiring me to push myself, not scratching that competitive itch.  Leagues don't run at times I can make so I am stuck doing it solo and that is a recipe for giving up in my experience.  Strange that I took this long to try music; this isn't exactly a new idea for the world even if it is new to me.