The Hermit, from the Rider-Waite tarot deckOver the years, I’ve often thought about finding a nice remote cottage, and ending up as a hermit, more or less. Shunning human contact for the most part, and being able to spend the time doing something creative.

Of course, as most of my nature and work is also pretty techie, the idea of a remote cottage in the middle of the moors somewhere is a bit of a stretch, there not being likely to be decent broadband anywhere nearby. If I were primarily doing writing, I could probably do it – but that particular aspect is still very much a pipe dream, albeit one that I’m still working on when I get the chance.

I still like the idea of it though – it’s still something that sticks with me, and even more so when I do travel up to the North-East and North-West, or Somerset/Devon. Maybe one day – depending on how everything else works out.

In the meantime though, it occurs to me that a lot of my current existence is quite hermit-like in many ways. I don’t interact with people around me all that much – I do with colleagues, to a degree, but in general prefer not to – and I’d rather be in my little house and spending time with my own company.

I have enough broadband (although I’d prefer more, but such is life at the moment) so really it’s the best of both worlds. Or at least it is for me – I suspect it would drive most people mental.

Things may change over time – there’s some things I’d like to change, and others I’m not bothered by – but in quite a number of ways, I’m actually really quite content at the moment. It’s a strange state of affairs.

Fitbit Flex – Sleepy Time

Carrying on from yesterday’s post, I’m writing a bit about how I’m doing with the Fitbit Flex, a wristband pedometer and sleep monitor. Today it’s more about the sleep monitoring that the Flex does.

As with the pedometer side, the sleep monitoring can be a useful tool, but it’s not something to rely on absolutely.

The sleep monitoring is activated manually (which is usually OK, but could be a pain in the ass on occasion) and also needs to be manually deactivated – which is more of a pig, because if you forget, it screws the figures. It would be nice to have some automatic deactivation in there, although I suspect that the variables for it are pretty wobbly.

Based – I assume – on movement during the night, the Flex can report on “Sleep”, “Disturbed Sleep” and “Awake”. “Sleep” is – again, I assume – when the sleeper is motionless, as REM sleep paralyses the body. (which is why most people don’t sleepwalk, or do anything else physical that they’re dreaming about) “Disturbed Sleep” is when the sleeper is moving about. I’ve no idea how it discerns “Awake” though – it pegs my awake-in-bed time as ‘disturbed sleep’- so I assume that “Awake” means “Registered as sleeping, but actually walking around”.   As such, the categories are a bit rough, but at least provide an illustration of sleep quality – or lack thereof.

One thing I do find affects me though is actually looking at the results. (Which is a bit meta and ‘chaos theory’, but bear with me)  It’s one thing to feel like you’ve had a bad night, but it’s another one entirely to know it with the readings from the Flex. And yes, I could ‘leave it’ til later, but damn it, I’m interested.  However, it does make me feel more tired, more justified in being tired, with that knowledge of “Oh yeah, but I had a crap night”.  Seeing the information makes me aware of that crap night, and does affect how I feel during the day.   (Similar to how reading a horoscope first thing can sometimes subconsciously direct you towards doing the things ‘predicted’)

It is interesting though. It’s proven that I usually actually get by on 3.5-4 hours sleep per night most of the time, and that it’s really only when I’m on sub-three-hours that I feel shockingly bad. I have good nights (rare), bad nights (common) and very bad nights (thankfully not quite as common as I’d thought)

I’ll keep on using the Flex for this – as I’ve said, it’s a useful indicator, if nothing else. Whether I continue to be aware of the timings or not, bearing in mind how much that knowledge affects me, remains to be seen.

Fitbit Flex – Taking Steps

It’s now been a couple of months since I got the Fitbit Flex, and it’s been pretty interesting.  I didn’t buy it to boost my fitness, or any of that other rot – I just wanted to see how much I do walk on any given day, keep track of it, and also to look at how I sleep. (which I’ve written about before)

The sleep monitoring is quite useful – although I do wonder about how it affects me subliminally. (of which more later in the week)

For the walking / pedometer, it shows I’m currently walking about 3 miles a day. Not brilliant – but equally, not at all bad. I started this year with the intention of getting out and walking more, and getting into a routine of doing so. (This actually started back in November-ish, but has been more fixed since January) I try to make sure I walk around the village (a decent mile loop) most days – although I still sometimes fail to do so when the weather is truly vile – as well as walking more when I go to the local cinema etc.

The Flex helps me keep track of that, and it’s been useful. There is a certain satisfaction when it buzzes away on my wrist, letting me know that the daily target (currently set at 5,000 steps a day, approx 2.5 miles) has been achieved. And weirdly it does get into your head – I find myself thinking “Oh, well if I park there, it’s a longer distance to get to the shop/cinema/whatever, I’ll be closer to that target” and similar.

If nothing else, it’s a useful tool for just keeping track of exercise through the days and weeks – but also as a minor kick-up-the-arse for actually getting out and walking more.

Getting Stuff Done

So far I’ve started 2014 with the primary aim of “Getting Things Done”, and it’s been fairly positive so far.

I tend to faff about when I get the chance, and even if I start a project, I then fail to complete it (usually by moving on to some New Interesting Idea) so I’m intending that this year is more about starting things and seeing them through to either completion, or to the point of accepting defeat.

It’s been a good start this far, sorting out stuff that’s waited for a while, getting into a new (or at least updated) routine on some things, and so far I’m feeling pretty pleased with it all.

Hopefully the interview yesterday will be successful – it went well, at least – but only time will tell on that.

There’s still other new stuff coming up, and things that need to be started and done, but it’s at least a good start in the first two weeks.



One of the things I’m truly bad at is trying to find a balance in my life. I keep trying, and struggling to do so, and then giving up and falling by the wayside once more. I know that the way I live and work isn’t overly balanced (or settled, but that’s another set of posts – past, present and future).

At the moment I’m in another “trying” phase. (And yes, yes, I know, “I’m always trying”. Blah blah. Pipe down at the back) I’d like things to be a bit more balanced, to have the time and space to do stuff, and to be able to get going on a couple of projects that I keep on not getting round to.

In fairness, I’m (currently) doing better than usual. I’m getting most of the stuff done that I want to – although a couple of things have slipped through the cracks so far – and trying to build up a schedule, or at least a routine, that’ll allow me to deal with most things.

This is mainly being achieved by dint of

  • to-do lists (as written about previously)
  • forcing myself to still do the bits I’m not keen on
  • knowing that if I don’t, I’ll just be annoyed at myself, and have no sodding excuses

But is that balanced? No, not really. I’m still trying to do more stuff for myself as well – or at least recognise the need for some downtime – but as always that’s the bit that sort of fails.  I’ll aim to improve it over the span of the year, but for now there’s things that need to be done. (Or at least started off properly)

All told, it’s been a fairly good start to the year. Let’s see if it continues…

Monitoring Sleep

Over the years, I’ve kind of got used to sleeping really badly – although I’d still like to know the causes, and whether it really is as bad as I think/feel it is.

The reason I’m not sure is because – as I think I’ve said before – according to partners, sometimes I’ll have slept through the night, but woken up and been convinced I’ve had a bad night. Yes, I apparently manage to dream that I’m waking up and having a bad night. And yes, that is really really fucked-up, however you look at it.

Anyway, as part of the whole ‘weighing less’ part of this year, I was also wanting to monitor (or at least better monitor) my activity, steps-per-day and the like. So I’ve ended up ordering a FitBit Flex which should let me keep an eye on all of that at once.  It’ll also integrate with a couple of other apps on the phone etc., which will make for some interesting reading over time.  The only downside is that I’d have liked one that also allows me to check/monitor heart-rate (and really, why can’t you get a wearable wristband device that’ll do that? It can’t be that difficult, surely?) but there just isn’t anything like that around at the moment.   The closest would be the Pulse from Withings – but that doesn’t do the integration stuff, and doesn’t keep track of heartbeat in the way that I wanted.

I’m not relying on it, or assuming it’ll be the thing that changes everything for me – but it should at least answer some questions, particularly about how I sleep. And that at least will be interesting, and make it worth what I’ve paid. Anything else is a bonus, really.

Year Start

And lo, here we are in 2014. It seems like only yesterday that it was merely 2013. Oh yeah – it was only yesterday. How time flies.

Anyway, the year comes with some plans. Not resolutions, oh no no no, we don’t do those here chez Lyle. There’s the ongoing plan for 2013/14, which is pretty simple, but this is more of a “Things I’d Like To Do In 2014”.

Of course, the original 2013/14 goals are still in place as primary things, which are…

  • Weigh Less
  • Write More

But there’s also a few other bits that I’d like to do this year, including…

  • Carry on the progress from 2013
  • Develop the software / websites for the main company stuff I’m doing
  • Keep working on finances and rebuilding
  • Take a proper holiday somewhere – even ‘just’ in the UK, but some time out
  • See friends more regularly, and generally be a bit more sociable
  • Take the IAM driving test – purely for my own ego, but I’d still like to do it

And that’s about it for the ‘plan’ side of things. The “Random shit” side is likely to be a lot more busy, in fairness.