Sunday, October 19, 2014

Another Year Flies By

Yesterday was my birthday. I was born October 18th 1966 which means I turned 48, getting closer to the dreaded 50. As the years pass I notice time moves quicker and quicker, and I suppose it means that I am more concerned with making sure that I fill my time up productively. Saying that, my ideas of what is productive has certainly changed over time. Of course chess is a big part of my life, but it might just be that my view of chess has changed somewhat too. It's time to reflect on the last year, and make some goals for the remaining years in my 40's.

To be honest, there isn't that much that the average person can do in 2 years, but every little thing counts. I mean, some people have some amazing goals. Take a look at this bucket list of Photographer Alon Dande. While there are a few things on that list I'd love to do, let's get real. I have a finite amount of money and time. Much of that bucket list involved travel, and I also want to see new places and experience new things. This year has been good for travel with trips to Hong Kong and New Zealand. Having emigrated from England, these places seem like trips of a lifetime on the other side of the globe, though now I'm an Aussie citizen these places are relatively short hops.

Stunning scenery of Fjordland, New Zealand
Cruising Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong, on a junk.
I'm not sure I'm going to be able to top the beauty of New Zealand's south island, or find a city to top Hong Kong's vibrancy in the next two years, but there are certainly some plans that Caroline and I are making. While there's plenty of Australia still to explore, not too far away Singapore, Japan and India are all appealing, while next year we plan to visit relatives in England and spend some time in France. At some stage in the not too distant future, Caroline and I want to revisit North America and spend time in Glacier National Park and up into Canada. Hopefully, there will be scenery to challenge that of New Zealand. This site is seriously whetting my appetite.

Just over a year ago Caroline and I saw Buffalo close up in Yellowstone
While travelling is so important for Caroline and I to plan and do, there are other things that I love to do. Reading is one of those joys. I probably spend too much of time reading fiction, but I can get so absorbed in a book, unlike TV or film which tends to wash over me. A few days ago I finished reading this year's Booker Prize winner, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, by Australian author, Richard Flanagan.

2014 Booker Prize winning novel
Now I've read lots of good novels, as well as a fair amount of mediocre and bad stuff as well. I enjoy books of almost all genres, crime, thrillers, fantasy, dystopian, historical, romance and many other things that I struggle to categorise. If I was pushed to make a choice, which is something I rarely like to do (typical Libran personality, though I have no belief in astrology), I would have said my favourite novel was The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, another Booker Prize winning novel. However, as Narrow Road is sinking in more each day, it is gradually replacing Remains of the Day as my favourite novel. It reminds me much of another novel that I loved, Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks. Flanagan explores a number of basic human emotions, such as love, hate, fear and uses the gruesome story of the building of the Burma railway during World War 2 as his centrepiece in the plot. The writing is amazing, the techniques bring the stories and plots to life in a way that I've rarely read before. If I could read another book anywhere near as good as this by the time I'm 50, I'll be very happy.

One part of my life that has sadly lapsed over the past 12 months has been keeping fit through running. I had managed to get up to about 15 kilometres  and then just let I pulled a back muscle and stopped running for a couple of weeks. I then procrastinated, and let all the good work go to waste. Well, I have now decided to stop procrastinating (not just regarding running) and just to get on with it. Actually, I've been running a few times since coming back from New Zealand a couple of weeks ago and I was pleasantly surprised that I wasn't too bad. I can still run 5 kilometres without much problem, though not quickly, and this gives me a base to start building up again. The plan is to get up to half marathon distance, though I'm not concerned with speed. If all goes well, I would like to run the Great Ocean Road half marathon over the weekend of 16th May 2015. That is 6 months to get myself in shape and to get to the distance under me. Having a goal certainly helps to motivate me to get out and run, especially in these early days when it is still a bit painful. I'm not sure whether I'll follow a training plan, of which there are many. However, the main gist of all these plans is to take one long run each week, and back it up with shorter runs or some form of cross training. I think I should be able to manage this, and starting running again has reminded me just how much I enjoy it when I'm out doing it.

I also intend to write this blog more often. I'm coming up to 500 posts, but lately the posts have been few and far between. I like writing and another life goal would be to write a book. I guess I am most qualified to try to write a book about chess, but the inspiration doesn't seem to come. For now, I'll post more on this blog, with some chess posts coming up for the rest of this week. I guess I should do this sort of thing for chess too. Unfortunately, my students have had far better years than I have, which in some respects is good. For now I'll leave it there. Travel, read, and run. Sounds like a plan, as long as there is some good coffee thrown in.

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