This has been a much quieter week as compared to the previous. I’ve had time to catch up, regroup, refresh and, best of all, think.
This is the end of my company’s fiscal year and with that comes a responsibility for producing a summary of how I spent the company’s money for my favorite project, a quarterly security patch analysis – that (trust me on this) unless you work in software maintenance – you really don’t want to know the details of. The reason I even mention it is that this year, the writing of it has been particularly enjoyable due in part to something I mentioned in a previous coffee share.
If you are a writer, you need to start using some kind of “Read Aloud” tool. It is amazing how much polish has come into my scribbling for so little effort. One caveat; I think it works best for writers who are writing only in their native language. I doubt it would be as effective if you were writing in a second or more language as it depends on what the strings of words ‘sound like’.
I’m one of those writers who could not parse the intricate rules of English very deeply, but my inner ear is well tuned to the sound of correct English usage. Any: a/an, singular/plural, past/present tense and similar errors just jump out despite the fact that I just wrote them – which normally blinds me when trying to edit my own writing.
A mechanical reader, I think would be best for this task as the reader has no idea of what you’re trying to say. It just turns whatever you actually wrote into audible words, that for your native language just sound right or wrong.
Okay – enough on that.
I have a life hack I want to share today because: A) The lizards have been deadly dull this week and B) There’s a more than decent chance you’re sick of hearing about them anyway and furthermore C) This is a pretty cool and easy hack that I used virtually every day.
So here’s the setup. You awaken and get yourself ready to start your day then wander out to the living area of your home (or tent – because that is where this idea was birthed). If you’re anything like me, what you don’t need or want is a bright light to blow a hole in the back of your eyeballs because, just coming from a darkened room after a good night’s sleep, your eye lenses are wide open, suitable to low light conditions. But just a little light, well focused just on what you need/want to see is all you really would welcome.
This is the solution to this problem.
I start every day by getting up early enough to read some, while letting the sun rise at its own speed, so my lenses are pried open very slowly. But, to read, obviously I need some light and a simple camping head light is almost perfect. I wear glasses and if worn on my forehead as these things are designed to be used, causes a ton of unpleasant stray light to trip over the frames and lenses of my glasses and cause glare that makes the situation worse.
So, one day I had an inspiration. What if I just moved the light off of my forehead and just hung it around my neck, pointing down at what I’m trying to read? This worked amazingly well – so yes – I do this every day. I’ve been known to prowl around the kitchen first thing in the morning like this instead of turning on the full spectrum lights of our kitchen, while brewing my tea.
I found that my head light worked best if I turned it upside down and adjusted the direction up two clicks. I also use a light that has 2 settings, dim and eye-blasting bright so I can comfortably light my book only rather than the whole room.
That’s it. It’s so simple and I honestly do use this trick every day. It also works great for reading in your camping tent or similar settings.
Next up, I’ve made a tea discovery I like so much, I wanted to share it with you.
Tea is tea and for many of us, it delivers a desired reduced caffeine jolt with a strong enough taste that (with some acclimation) can be the answer for those who drink too much coffee (and you know if this is you) but you may not have tried enough teas to find one that works for you.
My discovery is yet another option that works really well.
Some teas are themselves too strong and need to be tweaked somehow. Normal options are:
- less tea in more water to dilute the tea. This is the option favored by my wife.
- using less-than boiling water to pull out less tea flavor from whatever tea you’re using.
- steeping the tea for less time
- switch to green tea – which is okay, but with much less caffeine, it also has a lot less flavor.
All these are great to experiment with, but I really didn’t find a variation that really matched what I was looking for when I wanted full-bodied taste with less caffeine than normal full-bodied tea leaves.
So, here’s what I tried this week and loved the result.
- I use loose leaf tea and put a quarter to half of a rich black tea in my pot infuser and
- steep with just enough boiling water to cover the tea for about 2 minutes. So there is not enough water in the pot yet. That will be added shortly. Black tea normally steeps for 5 minutes, so it’s really not done when I . . . ,
- lift out the infuser and add enough green tea leaves to complete the amount needed for a full pot of tea.
- I use an electric pot for boiling my water so I leave the top off the boiling water after getting the black tea started.
- Green tea normally steeps for only 3 minutes at a lower temperature, and in my case I need to add one ice cube to the boiling pot to get the water down to the suggested temperature for my green tea.
- I return the, now full, infuser with both teas added back into the pot and pour in the less-than boiling water for the remaining 3 of 5 minutes.
- The result is a slightly diluted black tea taste with the richness of taste and less caffeine from the green tea. This could easily become my favorite blend. It is so good, that you really should give it a try. It would likely work for tea bags as well, but read the box and see what yours recommends for temperature and steeping time.
It is more work, but is so worth the effort.
Finally, what did I do about writing this week? I was hoping to get my head back into at least one of my in-flight longer projects, but the week was not that quiet and my brain just wasn’t there but I did both my short story projects so here they are.
That’s my update for the week. Thanks for stopping by. Hopefully, the rest of the day will be quiet and I’ll be looping back at least twice over the weekend to visit your literary venue.