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[German] Super – Wie die Nutzung eines Wortes sich verändert

Super. Vielleicht habe ich das Wort als Kind auch einmal regulär benutzt, daran kann ich mich aber nicht mehr erinnern und meine Mutter meint auch es sei zumindest nicht auffallend oft über meine Lippen gekommen.

Seit meiner Jugend verwende ich “Super” ausschließlich ironisch oder sarkastisch. Der übermäßige Gebrauch in der Werbung und allen Möglichen Medien hat dafür gesorgt, dass es irgendwie für mich seine eigentliche Bedeutung nicht mehr ausfüllen konnte.

Bis jetzt.

Seit die zweijährige Tochter alles was ihr sehr viel Freude bereitet außerordentlich enthusiastisch als “Super” bezeichnet, hat das Wort mit seiner ursprünglichen Bedeutung den Weg zurück in meinen Wortschatz gefunden.

Es ist schon interessant zu sehen wie die Umgebung und die Formulierungen im Umfeld, und wenn sie auch von einem Kleinkind stammen, die eigene Sprache verändern.

Excluding a Category from WordPress main page & RSS feed (quick & dirty)

I recently started a daily writing practice and while just using the existing blog, seemed to be the fastest way, I also did not want the posts in the main blog and RSS feed.

You can find the posts in Notebook category. By default, WordPress does not let you do that though.

Ultimate Category Excluder

The Ultimate Category Excluder (what a name) plugin lets you hide a category from the latest blog posts as well as RSS feeds. It is rather dimple to configure and does what it says it does.

It does however hide the category from all RSS feeds. I anted to have a feed for the category though, so people interested in following the notebook, could subscribe. It also allows for syndication like in Rixx notebook collection.

Quick & Dirty fix

My goal was to set this up quickly and I was already considering just running a hugo or other static generator. That would have taken quite a bit of time to properly set up as well though.

But then I found a post on the plugin’s support forums that describes a quick & dirty fix. In line 152 in /plugins/ultimate-category-excluder/ultimate-category-excluder.php change

if ( $query->is_feed ) {

to

if ( $query->is_feed && !$query->is_archive ) {

It works and from a quick glance at the rest of the plugin’s code should not have further side effects.

That change still comes with one Drawback, I have to do it every time the plugin is updated and I can not rely on the integrity check for the plugin file since it always comes up as changed.

This can only be a short term solution and I would not recommend it for the use in customer projects. I hope excluding a category only from the main feed will be added as a feature to the plugin, but if it does not, I will eventually have to write my own solution.

Habit of breaking new Habits?

As you might have noticed looking at the dates of these posts I failed to keep up with writing them daily. It is something I am struggling with in many other areas as well. One might even say I’m in the habit of quickly breaking new habits.

I will go over this incident but mostly as an example of a general pattern I have found with me.

The Good Reason

It always starts with a good reason to break the habit for one day.

This time I had an extensive work related writing task due on Wednesday night and a second one for a hobby project. So while I did not publish something here that day, I actually did a lot of writing, which made it okay for me not to post here.

Similar, sometimes even better, good reasons come up in other areas as well. That might be a sick day where it is impossible to do a workout or a celebration that gives an day off from a diet.

In itself I do not think that it is a big issue to skip a habit for a day. Some reasons are just more important than a habit and it does not sound healthy to force yourself through everything. As long as one goes right back to the habit when the special situation is over and exceptions do not happen too often.

The Bad Reason

After the valid, good reason for me usually follows something that might look like a good reason to continue breaking the habit, but actually is not.

In this instance it was a post I wanted to spend more time on. I read a interesting question on social media and while composing an answer I noticed it would be too long for a response there. So I started writing a blogpost.

After the first paragraph I found a pitfall in my thoughts and it became clear I had to think a bit longer about the topic.

But instead of just writing something short, maybe even bad one a different topic (I actually have made a list of short topics I could cover), I postponed the post.

Again, this is a pattern with me not following through with new habits. Things like “I can’t go running because my only short running pants are in the laundry.” or “I made a tough workout today, I don’t have to pay attention to the fasting day.”

The Procrastination

After the second day I have a, at least subconscious, notion that I did not succeed and the latest reason was not really good. This leads to anxiety to even getting back to it and / or the will to overcompensate.

This time it was a mix. I wanted to finish that blogpost and write a second. But what I actually did was nothing. I visited a ingame event, did more chores than usual and watched some technical talks. Those all are things I’m fine with having done, but they should not have kept me from taking 10 minutes to write at least something.

That went on for a few days.

In sports it often leads to me questioning the current workout plan or even sport I’m doing instead of just getting back to it.

A solutions?

In an ideal world, I would be self aware enough to notice steps 2 and 3. But since that is not always the case, I will have to set up some backup options. For sports, having my wife create time for me in our busy life to do it worked pretty well. Telling her why I would not use that time that day, is a pretty good moment to become aware of it being a bad excuse.

For other areas? I will have to find something. But at least now I have seen the pattern in my behavior and can try to change it. Break the habit of breaking new habits.

Going back to normal?

I just want to go back to normal.

A sentence like that or similar is something I hear rather frequently lately. It even crossed my own mind a few times and it is a rather tempting thought.

Getting back to a world without contact restrictions, no more masks, parties, travel a (somewhat) well running economy, schools and kindergarten …

There is a lot that we rightfully miss right now and it is okay to want that back, to miss it. Liberties and quality of life are things we have to regain once the crisis is over.

But just wishing things would be as they were half a year ago do not help us now. It is not inspiring action. What we need right now is improvements to the current situation and an outlook of how we want the future to be.

Do we really want to go back to how thing were?

Crowded places, lack of personal space, racism and climate change being ignored again, politicians ignoring science?

Normal half a year ago was not all good. Going back, will not fix anything. Right now is the time to move forward, not to stare backwards in a romanticized way.

This is not only true for the great scheme of things but on a personal level as well.

Maybe you want to push your employer to allow for more home office opportunities (if it works well for you), maybe now is the time to quit hobbies you did not really enjoy and only not notice how much of a relief it is that they aren’t possible.

Or the opposite, you only realisiere now how much you are missing a particular thing and want to invest more into it.

There is a lot for us to think about and act on these days. Let’s not get hold back by the old normal.

Thoughts on cross posting

If you got to this post via a link on my Twitter, you got here via a cross posted tweet. Most of my tweets actually are just copies of my toots on chaos.social a Mastodon instance I’m active on.

Crossposting is the act of posting the same message to multiple information channels; forumsmailing lists, or newsgroups.

Wikipedia

This is often frowned upon and I generally agree with that sentiment.

What’s the problem?

1 In general, one should cater their content to the audience. That holds true for social media and for every other place. There might only minor differences in the audiences that get the content, but especially the edge cases can cause problems. I’m not even going to start about cross posting to quite different audiences.

2 Conversations are not kept properly. You can for example not answer to a retweet when it gets posted to Mastodon and keep the original author in the conversation since they are on a different platform. Even if they have accounts on both platforms, the automated tools have no ways to track them.

3 Different platforms have different features and norms. For example Mastodon has content warnings. They are an incredible useful tool and are widely used as trigger warnings, to mark NSFW content or hide spoilers and other things. Ported to twitter, they make only little sense and posts from twitter will always lack them, sometimes violating the rules of the instance.

4 All platforms still need maintenance and monitoring. Usually the main platform of a person gets most of their attention and that is fine as long as they keep looking at the reactions on the others as well. Sadly too often that does not happen and makes responses there kinda pointless.

So why am I doing it?

Because I’m lazy.

Honestly, that’s it. It takes more time to write a post multiple times and even with copy paste, mentions have to be adjusted etc. So far I haven’t found a good way to easily share finds on different platforms while giving credit to the original author. It can be done, no question, it just takes more effort.

And now?

To mitigate the negative effects, I only cross post original post in one direction (Mastodon -> Twitter) and try to double check before a retweets or boosts that it really suits both audiences. Of course, no ongoing conversations get cross posted either and both clients have the same notification settings.

But this is not the standard I really want to hold myself to. One of the goals for this year will be to change my social media habits to fully get rid of the automation without making it too painful to post on multiple platforms.

Getting in Shape Again

This post includes a lot of personal history. For me it was important to write that down as well to structure my thoughts. If you are not interested in that, just skip ahead to Situation.

How I got where I am

Way back when I was at school I did a lot of sports, more than a training / day. Given my chronic illnesses I pretty much was at peak fitness at that time. But over the course of the years at university I did build up a bit of overweight. Not enough to be a problem, but enough to not feel comfortable in my body again.

It pretty much stayed like this for several years and getting into infosec and the conferences with much food & alcohol did not really help either. But I had a rather active lifestyle, with festivals, Live-Rolplays and other physically taxing hobbies.

Four years ago, that slowly changed. A good friend and I started working out together, well as much you can work out together if you are on two different continents, and another good friend started asking me about mud runs / obstacle courses (like ToughMudder) and half-marathons.

At the same time my father was on a steady decline and slowly dying from COPD. While he did everything he could in the final stages, he did not work out or quit smoking when diagnosed, which is very important to slow down the condition. This was when I realized two things:

  1. I wanted to get back into shape so my future kids would get the most out of their dad.
  2. I was reminded of how much stress relief sports offers to me.

The motivation got even bigger when my wife got pregnant after my father’s death. I pushed myself hard in the year leading to our kids birth and during the first months after, pretty much reaching my fitness goals.

That’s when the decline started. Working out while being the primary care giver for a toddler, doing the household and job in infosec often left me lacking the energy to do the workouts. Hormonal changes (yes, men go through hormonal changes when becoming active fathers as well, probably a topic for another post) and overindulging in good food when i started cooking for the little one added to it.

Still friends kept me active. More runs, occasional workouts together, it helped keeping the overweight at bay at least.

Moving to a new home last Autumn and a lot of physical labor forced me to stop the workouts but the problem is, I never picked them up again. A Winter full of good food, a lot personal stress and a few light sicknesses added up.

When it was time to commit to fitness events, COVID happened and pretty much everything was canceled. That took away another motivation to getting back to it.

All until a few weeks ago.

Situation

Currently I’m about 6 kg overweight and about 8 kg away from where I would like to be again. My strength, endurance and agility have suffered severely since last year. My resting heart rate has gone up and my VO2max (maximum O2 uptake) has gone down. (both are still pretty average, but close to the worst measured on me)

I did get a basic checkup by the doctor to make sure nothing else is getting in the way and so far all other basic health indicators are okay. I’m just out of shape.

Four weeks ago I slowly started with a couple of workouts and runs again and two weeks ago I got back into a daily routine.

Motivation

If it has been that difficult to retain my fitness and life circumstances that won’t change that much in the near or medium term future, why do I want to get back into shape?

It is important to answer that question because there have to be internal reasons, otherwise that won’t work. External reasons like wanting to “look good” and conform to the current body shape ideal or “A good person work on their fitness” will not keep me motivated through what ideally will be an everlasting routine.

So, what is my WHY?

  • I feel bad and it is not only my depression (yes, sports can help a bit with that too, but that’s not the point here). I’m quickly out of breath, feel sluggish and out of balance. It is a bit as I’m not really in my own body anymore or that my mental model of my body differs too much from reality.
  • I want to see my kids grow up and keep up with them. Even the 2 year old sometimes manages to push me to exhaustion and with the 2nd on the way, it won’t get any better. I don’t want to just watch them do things, I want to do them with them.
  • When it is possible again, I want to get back into physically challenging hobbies, mostly mud runs and LARP. This won’t work if I don’t get into good shape again and keep that. With a busy life, I won’t have time for the intense and time consuming preparation training required otherwise.
  • I have a wonderful kid and I really want to be there for as much of her life as I can.
  • I really dislike what I see in the mirror. I do not want to be that beer belly kind of man.
  • Being out of shape had another side effect: My ability to learn and adapt has decreased. Sure, that can also be a result of stress, but I have always performed mentally better when on a regular workout schedule.

The Plan

Workout wise, there are two options. I could do two full workouts a week, starting with a warm up, then some weight work, cardio and eventually stretching. Maybe add a third day for a longer run. Or I could do smaller, daily workouts, switching the focused muscle groups around, alternating between cardio and strength.

The first option works very well if I would go to a gym. But a) I don’t have the time for a full workout on most days b) I hate gyms and the atmosphere there.

While I can reserve half an hour to an hour for workouts pretty much everyday, getting 2+ hours is hard. Especially with the second kid joining us soon and my wife getting back to work after the COVID situation is resolved or she is out of parental leave.

So I’m going with the daily workouts, which has served me well in the past too.

Long term I want to pick up a group sport again, with maybe one weekly or bi-weekly training. Mostly for socializing and further continuous motivation. But given the current situation, I’m going to schedule that for next year / next summer.

But being realistically, I might improve my fitness by working out but I won’t loose weight. Only a deficit in calories can do that and as much the daily workouts can exhaust me, they burn maybe 200-300 calories if I’m lucky. At the same time I know my appetite rises when doing regular workouts, so I most likely will take in more that that in additional calories.

That means I will also need a diet, at least until I reach the weight where I want to be.

Workouts

I’m a big fan of Darebee. It is a free, donation funded site for workouts and body weight (as in using your body weight) programs. I will be alternating between cardio based programs and adding in an occasional session with my sling trainer / pull-up bar and strengths based programs and mixing in a few runs.

Currently I’m half way through their 30 days of Change program and working with the sling trainer on the pure cardio days. I have chosen this program because I have done it twice in the past and rather positive memories of it. That helped getting me motivated.

Diet

When I started to get back into shape 4 years ago, I quickly picked up intermittent fasting, more specifically the 5:2 version of it, where you eat 5 days normally and limit yourself to about 600 calories on the other days.

It worked really well for me and gave me a slow, healthy decline in weight over the time. When I had reached my target weight, I reduced it to one fasting day and kept it.

That changed when the kid went from eating mash to full meals. Now I had to cook a full meal every day and it was nearly impossible to just cook for her and not for myself too.

I’m not sure it will work this time but should be doable at least while my wife is still at home. So I will start that again tomorrow.

Why no other diet? They make me rather unhappy. Because of medical conditions I had to follow certain diets in my life and it always pulled down my mood significantly. This was the first time a diet actually improved it, so I’m kinda biased and willing to give it another go before resorting to alternatives.

Outlook

I will monitor the progress rather closely, both in terms of performance indicators but also with a mood diary to make sure it does not have a negative impact on me.

There probably will be more post coming to update this as it evolves.

Calming Chores or just Procrastination?

For some reason doing chores helps me to calm down in exceptional stressful times. That might be because it are tasks that don’t require thinking and allow for the brain to “turn off” and move the processing of the stressful things into a background task. But it very much also could be the quick Dopamin kick of getting something done.

Sure, having a way to deal with stressful times in life and getting stuff done can be very valuable. But where is the line where it becomes just procrastination? How do I notice if what I am doing is actually helpful or if I am just putting another, anxiety inducing task aside by doing the chores?

I struggle with this quite a bit. While things not done in the household create a sense of failure and guilt (“What a bad dad are you that you can’t even handle a kid, job and the chores?”) but sometimes other things are just more important (like taxes).

To accommodate for that I’m trying to alternate between other (dreadful) tasks and my typical chores. Like bring out the trash and clean the can, then write the invoices before emptying the dishwasher.

Another way for me to find out where my mind stands is asking myself if I would prefer to play games instead of the chore. If the chores win, they are a factor in what is creating my stress, and should be done. If the games win, well, everything seems normal and i should do either work or the chores. But if I’m feeling indifferent, then I’m pretty sure it is procrastination and my mind just wants to get away from another task.

Tired, so tired …

So tired today, not even running could uplift my spirits. This basically is me hoping things will get better soon.

At least the list of writing topics is growing, just the focus is lacking to put them into posts.

Nothing to say

Something painful, bad, not entirely unexpected but still sudden happened today. All my thoughts circle around it but I can’t public talk about it. I will most likely write about it in the coming days, but I also did not want to break the daily writing habit right on the second day.

The embrace of a two year old, her few words, can make the pain worse and sooth it at the same time.

About the Notebook

The notebook is inspired by Rixx daily writing practice (https://ramble.rixx.de/) and David MacIver‘s Daily Writing Guide.

The notebook here will by may attempt to establish a similar daily writing practice. These will be rather raw and barely edited posts about all kind of topics. Some will most likely be NSFW but tagged as such.

Because of this, they will not be shown in the feed or front page of the (much neglected) main blog. If you want to subscribe in an RSS reader the notebook category has it’s own feed though.

Why is it on this blog and not it’s own place? Mostly because this was the fastest way of getting everything set up. I love tech and can get lost in setting a site up, choosing theme, editing it, optimizing it ….. I would get it done eventually and it would be better than a hidden category but the point is starting the practice and this should get it done.

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