November 29, 2018

Gooooooaaal! That was a goal!

Filed under: About Rhiannon Lassiter,Fitness,living in the future — Rhiannon Lassiter @ 3:57 pm

I’m all about the goals and this morning I completed a major one.

I’ve written before on my blog about fatness and fitness. I got fat by accident through not paying attention. I got fit by starting to pay attention and then a lot of hard work. Along the way my goals changed.

In June I started working out with a personal trainer. At that point I knew I could achieve weight loss, what I wanted was the ability to “do everything we do in class without needing to rest or failing to complete the set”, as I explained to Eli, my trainer.

With Eli I have become much stronger and fitter and more toned. I got compliments before on weight loss but now I get them on my musculature. Me! Being complimented on my muscles! (I know it’s problematic to compliment people on weight loss but at the gym it does happen, it’s meant well and at least half the people are tactful about it.)

Because I was building muscle I had to reduce my number of classes. Rest periods are important for muscle growth and I had to decide between fitness (more rest periods) and weight loss (burning more calories). I chose the first so my loss slowed down. My trainer increasingly told me that I was fit enough now that weightloss should not be a factor. But she understood when I said I wanted to hit that goal.

I started my weightloss journey in on the 9th of February 2017, my 40th birthday, at 96.8kg, over 15 stone. I was technically obese. (Yes, it was a shock to me too.)

Today, 29 November 2018, I completed it. As of this morning I weigh 64kg. That’s 10 stone in old money. I have lost a third of my body weight.

And now the next part of my journey begins. Now I enter the sunlit uplands of focusing on fitness. I don’t intend to gain weight, although Christmas is coming so realistically I may put on a bit, but that’s okay. I will continue to be mindful of what I eat but I’m not setting another weightloss goal.

For those curious about BMI, at my height of 161cm (5 foot 3), my BMI is circa 24. That’s only just within the acceptable range. I have a lot of doubts about BMI as a measure. I think it is a useful guideline but it is not the final arbiter of health. I like data, but I like detailed data, the kind I get from Boditrax technologies which measures many aspects of a person such as muscle to fat ratio. That’s more important to me than BMI. However, I did allow it to inform my goal weight.

I set staggered goals, the first was to achieve 76kg (12 stone) which I thought was sensible and realistic. When I first set the secondary goal of 64kg I thought that was dauntingly difficult. Along the way I realised it wasn’t going to be as hard as I feared. But by then I’d learned a lot about myself.

How did I achieve it? Everyone is different and what worked for me may not be the thing that works for someone else. For me, I benefitted from ample time, because I had taken a sabbatical from work to focus on personal goals – and that is the privilege of working in the public sector and of having savings. I used a FitBit to track aspects of my fitness and MyFitnessPal to calculate calorie intake. I was very data driven. I got started with walking, then I did Couchto5k which changed my attitude significantly (although not to running, I don’t like running as it turns out), then I started gym classes and learned to enjoy aerobics, zumba and weight lifting. I got serious about diet and nutrition and learned how to become a better cook. I did not give up any food although I experimented with different ways of eating. The next step was to work with a personal trainer (again a privilege to be able to afford this) and it was to my advantage that I had already prepared my body so I could focus on improving my form. I increased my water intake several times. It turns out water is pretty important.

And you know what else is important? Happiness. That is my number one life goal. I never would have imagined that working out could make me so happy. I have always been a person who lived inside my head. My body was just the transportation mechanism that carried it about. I don’t feel like that any more. I live inside my whole holistic self. I am integrated in a way I’ve never been before. I am living in the after. And it feels great.

November 12, 2018

Armistice Day

Filed under: bloggery,living in the future — Rhiannon Lassiter @ 9:07 am

WB Yeats said that the war poets weren’t proper poetry. He called them passive suffering and dismissed them from the Oxford Book of Modern Verse.

They suffered, those poets. And there wasn’t much they could do about it. What they could do, they did. Which was to leave us their words and their warning.

Let’s not get too romantic about what they called the Great War. Two million people died for patriotism and pride. They died stupidly and futilely and painfully, or they came back shattered and maimed and full of horror. It was an epic tragedy.

Yeats thought that, in times of peace, war should be forgotten like a fever dream. I believe those who forget the mistakes of the past will sleepwalk into a nightmare.

On Remembrance Sunday, I wear the red poppy with a white one: for the memory of the fallen and the hope of peace to come.

And I remember Wilfred Owen, who knew how stupid his death was, but did his best to make it mean something.

October 24, 2018

Halloween offer

Filed under: Little Witches,special offer — Rhiannon Lassiter @ 9:20 am

Little Witches cover

This Halloween, I’m offering the eBook of my junior title Little Witches for only 99p, reduced from £5.67.

The offer is open from Saturday, October 27, 2018, 8:00 AM GMT to Saturday, November 3, 2018, 12:00 AM GMT.

You can read a sample chapter first and find out more about the book on its webpage. Read what others said about it including Frances Hardinge, Ann Giles, Imogen Russell Williams and KM Lockwood.

To buy the eBook from Amazon just click here. But wait until the offer opens!

You can also buy the print version but due to publication costs this isn’t included in the offer. Buy it here for £5.65.

October 22, 2018

RhiWrites’ PokemonGO Raid Guide

I wrote this in March this year but someone asked about raiding today and that reminded me I wrote this but didn’t post it anywhere. Here’s my guide to raiding in PokemonGO.


So you want to be a Pokémon raider? Use this guide to master the basics of raiding with a crew.

Find your local raid groups
If you’re an urban player there should be online communities to organise raiding. Your local group may already be co-ordinating on Discord, Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram or WhatsApp.
If you can’t find them online look for a group of people standing together all on their phones at a gym during a raid and introduce yourself and ask to join. Then ask them for an invite code to online groups.

Look for raids posted online
Once you’ve found the groups, keep an eye out for raids posted to the groups. They can be high traffic so you might want to mute the messages. If you do then be aware you’ll need to check in when you’re ready to raid or make friends who will tag you.

Get to know the raiders in your area
Not every PokemonGo player is a social butterfly and it can feel weird to ask people their real name the first time you meet them. Luckily the game will tell you’re the usernames of the players in the lobby and some people will introduce themselves. Knowing the names people use online will help you to tag them in raids. Getting to know people in person will encourage them to remember you and tag you too.

Post raids you want to do to the groups
When you log into the game and see a raid near you that you’d like to go to, post the details on your online group. Be concise. The details people need to know are the location, the pokemon, the hatch time or the time left on the clock.
So for example you might post “Florence Park, Ttar, 40m to despawn”
Then tag the people you think might be available to raid eg “@Luke @Leia @Han”

Find a raid crew chief
Someone, usually the first person to post it, should take responsibility for organising the raid. The crew chief should count the number of players (and accounts) available to raid, agree a time and announce it.
Some online groups have a function to allow you to create a plan or trigger a raid bot. It’s useful to learn those functions if your group has them.
When you arrive at the raid the crew chief should take responsibility for counting that everyone who said they were coming is there, to tell people when to bring up battle screens and when to enter the lobby.
There are other issues that can apply here such as whether the group is using a public or private group, “hard starts”, exiting the raid, and late arrivals. Scroll down for more about these.

Be communicative
If you want to go to the raid, tell people. If you think you might be late, tell people. If you run into a problem at the raid like no signal or the game crashing, tell people.
Be specific: saying “I might be there” isn’t helpful; “I’ll try to make it but don’t count on or wait for me” is.
People will usually try to help you if they can.

What to do at the raid
Arrive and check in with the crew chief by saying you are here. (if the weather is bad and you’re in a car do this via online message.)
When the agreed time be prepared for a call of “battle screens” and then a second call of “go in”. There may be a later call of “come out” so listen for that too.
You have 100 seconds in the lobby to select Pokemon or use a preselected team. Don’t choose Blissey.
The raid begins and everyone taps their screens and makes conversation. This is the boring bit of the raid unless you have only just enough players.
At the end of the raid you get rewards (stardust, items, xp) and premier balls with which to catch the raid boss.
Factors which affect the number of premier balls you get are your battle performance, your team’s battle performance, level of your Gym Badge for the Gym where a Raid is taking place, if you’re part of the team who controls the gym. (See raid etiquette for how to optimise this.)
For a detailed online guide to raids see: http://uk.ign.com/wikis/pokemon-go/Raids

Consider dividing into teams
The maximum number at a raid is 20. If you have enough (or too many) players for a raid, consider dividing into teams. You optimise the number of premier balls players get to throw at raid bosses by dividing into teams by colour. The most effective way to do this is to count Mystic players first and then divide the group into (usually) one Mystic team, one Valour and Instinct team. This (usually) means Mystic and Valour players optimise their number of premier balls and Instinct infortunately gains no extras. Factors which affect the number of premier balls you get are your battle performance, your team’s battle performance, level of your Gym Badge for the Gym where a Raid is taking place, if you’re part of the team who controls the gym.

Know your legendaries
A lot of raiders are only after legendary pokemon. They’ll do the occasional Tyranitar or Agron raid but legendaries are what they want. Legendaries lead to complications when more than one is out at once. Your raid squad will post that a “T5” is due to hatch but you can’t organise a squad until you know what type it is. Groudon and Kyogre need 6 players to beat, Rayquaza only takes 4.

Know your acronyms and jargon
Our raid group uses a short hand to organise raids and our own terms for how we’d doing it. Here is a glossary of common terms we use:
• Tiers = Difficulty levels of raid bosses (https://pokemongohub.net/gym-raid-update/raid-boss-tier-list/)
• T1 and T2 = “tier 1 and 2” raids, pink eggs
• T3 and T4 = “tier 3 and 4” raids, yellow eggs
• T5 = a legendary
• Ttar = Tyranitar
• Battle screens = the screen which selects public or private group
• Go in = join the lobby for a public or private group
• Come all the way out “out out” = leave the raid and the lobby
• Hard start = the group will begin the raid at the agreed time without waiting for latecomers (but see etiquette)
• Automatic hard start = bad weather means all raids are hard starts.

Raid etiquette
Different groups will have different cultures and etiquette, so these are not universal rules but things to be aware of include:

• Don’t block the path. Pokemon players need to be aware of walkers, people who use wheelchairs, parents and carers with small children and pushchairs. Move away from the path and into an empty space or arrange yourself in a line. Don’t intimidate passers by.
• Be on time; people have lives and jobs to get to.
• If you’re late, communicate. Perhaps the group will wait.
• If you were late and they didn’t wait, accept that these things happen. A “hard start” means the group have said in advance they can’t wait. It sucks to miss a raid but there’ll be another one along before long and if you missed out the crew will usually be keen to help you to get the next one. We all have felt the pain of missing one.
• Take heed of the weather. Be safe in bad weather, don’t risk your health for the game. Note that some of our group use an automatic hard start in bad weather. This means when it’s cold/raining/snowy/winter the group begins the raid at the agreed time even when a hard start hasn’t been announced, without waiting for latecomers.
• Take heed of the time on the clock before despawn. If someone errors out and needs to restart they will not be able to re-enter the raid when the boss is gone. (The exception is errors after the boss has already been defeated.)
• If someone errors or is late, the group has the option to back out of a raid. Everyone must leave the raid and the lobby and reenter to do this. (it does not cost a raid pass.) Doing this runs the risk of running out the raid clock or people being late for their appointments. Most of the time the group will back out when someone errors, occasionally they may have reasons why they don’t want to.
• Don’t gloat. Not everyone will catch the raid boss, especially at legendary raids. Be happy for yourself but don’t be a jerk about it and other people will be happy for you. Celebrate when someone catches their first or their best one.
• Be sad, not angry. Other raiders will be sad for you if you error out, are late, don’t catch or have another bad experience. They will want to help you get the next one and be happy for you when you do. Don’t take your frustration out on other people or disturb them catching.
• Be inclusive. If you feel comfortable, get to know people and talk to them. Don’t stand so that one person has everyone’s back to them unless that’s what they want. Be mindful that someone might not have heard an important announcement and pass it on. Watch out for kids or people in wheelchairs, don’t crowd them.

October 10, 2018

Before and After

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rhiannon Lassiter @ 10:25 am

Most of my recent posts have been about my new active lifestyle, but it’s not all been gym and cooking. I’ve also been working on my new novel.

My tidy filing system tells me I wrote the first draft of chapter one on the 10th of September 2017. It’s now one year and one month later and I’ve sent the completed text to my agent. That’s a submitted draft of 98,000 words.

People often ask how long does it take to write a book. It can take years, it can take months, but this particular novel I feel I wrote at a pretty good pace for the level of complexity and the other stuff I had going on. Looking at my journal, I think I’ve effectively written this part time. Most writers have a day job as well, and for the past year I was on sabbatical which gave me more time to write, but also to pursue some of the other goals I’ve been blogging about.

Another question people ask is “so when will it be published?”. Again, that depends on a number of factors. The next step is for my agent to read it and tell me what she thinks.

And, until that happens I can’t tell you very much about it. It’s a secret!

However, I do want to tell you something about it so here’s one way you can get into my head. While I was writing this I created a playlist of songs that cover some of the themes in the novel. It’s a high impact pop playlist so if you like that sort of music, you’ll like it. It has 27 songs right now and a run time of 1 hr 35 minutes and you can follow it on Spotify by clicking this link.

There is one song that isn’t like the others, but it’s an important inclusion. That’s the Baz Luhrmann song “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)“. (The link is to the original video on YouTube.) This song is a spoken word version of an essay “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young” written as a hypothetical commencement speech by columnist Mary Schmich, originally published in June 1997 in the Chicago Tribune.

In 1997, I was 20 and I could really have used a lot of that advice then. Only the irony of the song is that you can’t actually use the advice, you have to learn it for yourself. My novel is about some of the same ideas and it’s intended for teenagers like me and like everyone else, trying to work out who you want to be when you grow up.

That’s all can say right now. Enjoy the playlist and look forward to some more updates and teasers as I use the time before I start the next book to do some more bloggery about it.

September 24, 2018

Review: The Refrigerator Monologues

Filed under: recommended reading,things Rhiannon likes — Rhiannon Lassiter @ 10:45 am

I wrote a review of The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M Valente. Read it on Writers Review.

August 9, 2018

Sabbatical goals 11-15

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rhiannon Lassiter @ 11:38 am

Bath

Bath


The sabbatical is over. It ended at the end of July and I will explain in another post how that worked out. (TLDR: Mixed emotions but ultimately a good ending.) Meanwhile I have more goals to log.

11. Make clothes
12. Attend book world events
13. See more friends
14. Visit places I haven’t been
15. Reduce household expenses

This was a very mixed bag. I made progress towards all of these but some more than others.

11. Make clothes
The short answer is, I didn’t. I had been getting so much into sewing I thought this was going to be my next big thing but actually scaling up from dolls clothes to people clothes turned out to be more of a challenge than I’d anticipated. I’ve added knitting as a separate list item so I can’t really count socks.

I did sew things. But I stalled with this, maybe because I was having so much fun doing other things and almost certainly because the idea of making carefully crafted clothes while actively losing weight started to feel a bit futile. By the time I’d made an item it would have been rendered obsolete.

So this one is still on the back burner. However, I’m not going to feel guilty about not achieving every single goal on my list, especially the arts and craft ones. I learned a long time ago that it’s not possibly to achieve great results in every craft hobby I have. And so I tell myself I am fortunate that I have a lot of interests that I can pick up and put down again without requiring them all to be currently active.

12. Attend book world events
I did this. It’s difficult for me. For various reasons I haven’t had a book professionally published since 2008 which means that’s ten years I haven’t really been a person who earns an income from writing and that’s a difficult thing for a professional author to admit to. You start to question if you can even call yourself a writer. And book world events are hard because people inevitably ask about what you’re working on or have had published. They sometimes ask “have I heard of you?”. Argh, don’t do this, people, it’s horrendous. And book world events are usually focused around celebrating someone else’s success which is a damn sight easier to do when you are happy with your own position.

The result is that I did it. I went to things and talked to people and celebrated other people’s success and was genuinely happy for them. I am a better person for it. But I am still a work in progress here. I don’t think I’ll really be comfortable hanging out in the literary world unless I have a book of my own to talk about. Since I’ve now written almost two bloody good books here’s hoping my lovely new agent will place them. If not, well, that’s another post.

13. See more friends

In my first post I mentioned making new friends. But I’ve also been spending more time with the ones I already had. I got so busy with work that I didn’t make enough time for this. I have been on walks, to clothes swaps, to literary events, to lunch, to the park and playground, to the pool and the spa. I went to an engagement party, a 50th birthday party, on a writers retreat and to a Welsh castle. I hosted a gathering myself.

All was in the company of some very fine friends. Some I haven’t seen but I’ve spoken to or emailed. Others have been frequent fixtures. I appreciate everyone who has been with me on my journey and the fun times we’ve had. My life now feels full of friends.

14. Visit places I haven’t been

Yes! I did this. I went to Abingdon, Hampshire, Bath, Prasonisi beach in Rhodes, Poole, Abergavenny, and Stoke-on-Trent. I feel as though I may have been to some other places and forgotten them. This is not anything like as impressive as the list of far flung locations where my little sis spends her time but for me it represents expanded horizons and a willingness to leave the house.

15. Reduce household expenses

I have not made great progress on this. There’s a state of inertia that sets in when endeavouring to wrangle the companies that provide utilities. I have reduced my mobile phone bill and reduced groceries cost and wastage. I have also reduced some direct debits. Overall this is not a win. And it’s one I need to get a handle on. If you’ve successfully done this, how did you approach it?

Right, that’s enough reflection for now. Zumba calls me and I must follow the beat. Until another blog, gentle readers.

July 18, 2018

Sabbatical goals 6 to 10

Filed under: bloggery,living in the future — Tags: — Rhiannon Lassiter @ 10:22 am

Continued musing on my sabbatical goals, today numbers 6-10.

steps6. Walk 10,000 steps a day
The sabbatical started in May 2017. I managed an average of 10,000 steps or more in 12/15 months. I missed May, June and December. This is pretty good really. And I made up for the missed months in later ones. Those steps included some lovely walks along the river with my partner and my friends Kathy and Sara.

scones

scones

7. Bake cookies
I did bake cookies and they went a bit wrong. I made rather more scones and cakes. The best were chocolate chip and raspberry scones, now a staple.

8. Keep informed about issues
I think I’ve done fairly well. I read the news every day and I also branches out into other sources of information to avoid being in a complete echo chamber. I’ve decided I like my personal social media feed to be a reasonable safe space and will challenge people sometimes in that space. But I also read and don’t comment on material found outside my bubble. I think I understand some things better now although I boggle at the world I find myself living in. When I said I wanted to live in the future I didn’t mean a dystopian one.

9. Make music
I was doing this before the sabbatical but I’ve done nothing on it at all recently. I don’t know why. I’m not going to feel guilty about that. My mashups are still there for when I return to this.

10. Use nail brushes artistically.
Yeah, I tried. It turns out I don’t have very steady hands. The brushes are not the silver bullet for nail art I was hoping for. I do have photos of my attempts but they are so terrible I can’t bring myself to post them.

Next post, making clothes, seeing friends and visiting new places!

July 16, 2018

Sabbatical goals

Filed under: About Rhiannon Lassiter,adventures in the world of today,life — Tags: — Rhiannon Lassiter @ 4:45 pm

goals listSince May 2017 I have been on sabbatical from my university job. (By day a Faculty Marketing Manager at Oxford Brookes, by evening a writer of fantastical fiction, by night whatever the dream world dictates.) I was originally thinking of blogging about what I did but quickly decided that would take away from actually doing things, although I do have a daily photo journal.

Before the sabbatical started a lot of people asked what I was going to do. “Will you be writing a book?” was the most popular question. The answer to this question is always yes. The unfortunate state of the writer is always ‘writing a book’ although it can also involve ‘promoting a book’. But aside from writing, what else?

I started out by writing a list in a beautiful notebook. I rather regret this because paper lists just don’t work for me as well as app data. However, I’m going to use it as a jumping off point for talking about the goals I’ve achieved (and try to remember some of the others).

1. Write books.
I have done this. I completed “Candid” (working title) shortly after the start of the sabbatical and started all sorts of other projects before finding the book I was meant to write, “Before & After” (also a working title), and embarking on that. It’s currently 70% done. I hope.
2. Attend meetings of the Labour Women’s Group.
I have not done this. But I did leaflet for Labour in Blackbird Leys and we successfully elected a new Labour MP with an increased majority, so I’ll give myself partial credit.
3. Bike rides.
I have done this. I have discovered that although I in theory enjoy this, in practice I don’t often get the bike out. I have done a lot of spinning at my desk bike though, so perhaps will be able to re-enter the world of 9-5 employment as a commuter cyclist.
4. Take over 10 Pokemon gyms.
The purpose of this was to get the maximum amount of daily coins possible in the game. Only they’ve changed the system so by the time I did it, it doesn’t work that way. But I did get to level 39 and made a bunch of new PokeFriends.
5. Go to the gym frequently and regularly.
This is the real world gym, not the Pokemon kind. I have done this. I have done this a lot. I am a gym regular, people know me there, I even have gym friends. Achievement unlocked!

My reflections on the first 5 goals on the list are that although “make more friends” isn’t on the paper list it was definitely on my mental list. So that’s going to be list item 20 and it’s already been ticked off. I have game friends and gym friends, I’m just missing all those potential political friends. Yay for friendship.

Also, this was a good mix of different kinds of goals. Well done, Past!Rhi, for thinking of them.

Look out for the next blog post in which I contemplate baking, important issues and nail art.

June 14, 2018

Raising an eyebrow

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rhiannon Lassiter @ 1:12 pm

Today I encountered this meme y-all-really-not-tired-of-looking-like-this-yet meme image and I raised an eyebrow.

This is my face. Maybe thinner and with more makeup but basically this woman, this look which is now so ubiquitous that people are tired of seeing it, is mine. I have dark hair and pronounced eyebrows, brown eyes, brown skin and big lips. Check out my Insta if you want the proof of it. And when I was a child and a teenager, this idea of beauty just wasn’t out there.

When I was nine my mother wrote a book called “Beware Princess!” about a princess with dark hair because all my books had blonde princesses. The books got better but digital media as taken a long time to be as inclusive of dark-browed ethnically ambiguous women.

When I was eleven I came up with the perfect wish: “I wish that gradually, over time, the human standard of beauty will change to increasingly resemble me.” I thought that was genius and genie-proof, unable to be twisted against me. I didn’t anticipate it would take thirty years for my wish to come true, but I woke up one day and it had.

Instagram picI may not be one of the most beautiful women in the world with thousands of online followers but this idea of beauty, this kind of beauty, this face is one I recognise and can claim a share in.

So, no, I’m not tired of looking like this. This is my face. Deal with it.

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