Monday, March 23, 2009

02009 New Year's Resolutions #15 and #16: Write Nicely and Write Nicely

Horrible handwriting sample

My handwriting is terrible. I know this. I have known it for a very long time. IN FACT, I USUALLY WRITE IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS IN AN EFFORT TO INCREASE LEGIBILITY. But as anyone who knows about typography will happily tell you, legibility is actually increased by not using ALL CAPS. This is because with ALL CAPS the words tend not to have a very distinctive shape. Lowercase letters have tall parts and short parts and parts that dip below the baseline, which tends to give words distinctive shapes. I almost never use cursive. So rarely, in fact that it feels completely unnatural.

Here's my fifteenth New Year's Resolution of 02009:

I resolve to try to improve my handwriting.

I am increasingly impressed with decent handwriting. This is particularly true of lovely cursive. My mother's handwriting is terrific. And the lady who writes out the appointment cards at my doctor's office has really beautiful cursive. Beth's handwriting is vastly better than my own, and I am a bit jealous. So I'm going to try to improve my handwriting over the course of the next year. Beth tells me that this won't work. She thinks my handwriting is fixed, beyond my control. We shall see. I don't hold out much hope for success, but I choose to go into this with uncharacteristic optimism.

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My sixteenth New Year's Resolution of 02009 is somewhat related, at least inasmuch as it will provide me with an opportunity to work on my handwriting:

I resolve to start writing letters again.

Long ago, I used to write letters. Pretty regularly, in fact. I wrote these great rambling things, sometimes 20 pages or more, to dear friends — to people who then meant the world to me and, frankly, all these years later, still do. Somewhere along the way, I simply stopped doing such. I miss it (and I have gotten a report from one such friend that she misses my letters, which is encouraging). Although the simple truth is that it's been so long that I'm not altogether sure what really went into a lot of those letters, so it's entirely possible that my new letters will be entirely different in both tone and content from what my old letters were. So what?!?

Honestly, given that we're all in such a rush and all so overburdened with "responsibilities" nowadays, isn't it the thought that counts? And what better expression of thought than taking/making the time to commit words to paper, with a specifically targeted audience of one (with no expectation/intention of having anyone else ever read those words, and with no capacity to cut-and-paste the contents to be repurposed into some other document), using a time-consuming and hand-cramping technique?

There's something very intimate and personal about sitting down and writing a letter longhand that is just not matched by typing an e-mail. I miss that. And while I greatly appreciate a good e-mail from an old friend, I do also miss receiving actual letters in the mail. I think sending letters tends to encourage getting letters. So while the blame is wholly mine for discontinuing my own writing of letters, I think it's also fair to say that I am somewhat to blame for the fact that somewhere along the line I also stopped receiving letters.

I'm going to try to break the cycle, at least a little. I'm not setting any real goals for myself. I don't necessarily intend to resume letter-writing correspondence with everyone who I used to write to. I'm not aiming to write, for example, twelve letters in the next twelve months. I'm just aiming to start.

If I manage two real letters in the next year [personal letters (not business), hand-written (not typed), on sheets of paper (not crammed into the confines of a birthday card or holiday card)], I believe that will be more than I have accomplished in the last several years combined. The last real letter I can recall writing was probably in 01998, to an old friend, who (as a result of that letter) figured out before I did that Beth and I should end up as more than just friends.

Note: Do not infer from my mentioning of "two real letters" that I intend to write two and call it a day. I don't. I really want to make letter writing a habit, as it once was. But I do at least have in mind my first two intended recipients. So I'm ready to get going. All I need now is the spark of inspiration, and some time to get rolling.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A New Photograph

One of my New Year's Resolutions this year involves trying to produce five photographs that fill me with unjustifiable pride. Here's my first. I shot this on Thursday.

Trees, Snow, Clouds, Sky, Nature

I rarely title my photographs, but in this case I've made an exception. The title of the photograph: Concerning the Transience of Rainbows.

The rainbows reference has to do with the two arched trees that are central in the image. I don't know why, but up here in New Hampshire there are lots of these thin trees that have bent over into beautiful arcs. I noticed this particular pair a while ago. On Thursday I decided to trek out into the snow and shoot them from the opposite direction. I love how they parallel each other.

I'm truly proud of this shot, so that's 1/5 of the way to fulfilling this particular resolution.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

02009 New Year's Resolution #14: Cut Back on the Soda

It seems to me that a fairly good number of my New Year's Resolutions have been aimed, in some way, towards "self improvement" — whether that's in terms of how I view the world (1, 2, 7), in terms of taking more responsibility for my share of the stewardship of the planet (8, 13), in terms of trying to improve my odds of living a long healthy life (6), in terms of trying to improve my lot in life or feel better about my value in it (3, 4, 12), or just in terms of trying to be more accommodating of others (1, 10).

Perhaps the "self improvement" aspect of things is just part of the nature of the exercise. I don't remember ever hearing of anyone making a New Year's Resolution to contract AIDS or to take up crack or to make lots of people cry.

Anyway, I suppose that my 14th New Year's Resolution of 02009 hits on at least a couple of these ideas (stewardship of the planet and working towards improving my own health):

I resolve that I will significantly cut back on my own consumption of soda and opt for water instead, most of the time.

We have perfectly potable well water here at our house. I have a reusable Nalgene-type bottle that I can use to carry about 35 oz. of said well water with me. (It's a rare day when I really feel the need to drink more than 35 oz. of water while I'm out of the house at work, for example). Every time I buy another 2 liter bottle of Tropicana Twister (lately my soda of choice), that's yet another 2 liter bottle that didn't need to be manufactured and that now needs to go through the recycling process. Why not just stop demanding it?

I've been trying to cut back already, with some success. I'm no longer going through two liters every couple of days. I want to get to the point where I just completely stop bringing soda into the house for my own consumption.

I still like a soda (Tropicana Twister, Coke Classic, Mountain Dew, Sunkist), and there's simply no denying that I enjoy drinking it more than I enjoy drinking water. I'm not aiming to go cold turkey. If I'm offered a soda while I'm out, I'll probably continue to accept it. And when I'm out on the road and find myself in need of a fresh drink, given that a disposable bottle is a disposable bottle (no matter what comes in it), I'm likely still to opt for bottled soda instead of bottled water. When we go to the movies, I suppose I'll still go for a big cup of Coke. But there's just no denying that, historically, most of what I've been drinking over the last many years has been in the form of soda that I brought into the house in 2 liter plastic bottles. While it may be yummy, it's also wasteful. So I'm going to try to curtail it.

From what I hear, water is better for me anyway. (Who'd've thunk it?)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

March Hair Photos

As you will recall from previous posts, my 02008 New Year's Resolution was to try my best to resist the urge to cut my hair, with the ultimate goal of donating it to Locks of Love.

With just one week left in the year, my resolve to keep my hair uncut was still intact. However, my attention was brought to Pantene's Beautiful Lengths program, with its 8 inch requirement (which is better for me than Locks of Love's 10 inches). I am eager to get rid of the mess on my head. So, I switched allegiance.

Here are the March 2, 02009 photos:

Self portrait, Locks of Love, hair, growth, Pantene, Beautiful Lengths
I'm still desperately hoping to be able to get this all chopped off no later than May, although I'm just not certain that it will all have hit that 8 inch minimum by then.