Book: “Parable of the Sower” by Octavia E. Butler

⭐️⭐️⭐️✩✩

Cover of the book. The illustration shows a black woman in vivid pink and orange dress and head dress walking.

(From the back of the book) We are coming apart. We’re a rope, breaking, a single strand at a time.
America is a place of chaos, where violence rules and only the rich and powerful are safe. Lauren Olamina, a young woman with the extraordinary power to feel the pain of others as her own, records everything she sees of this broken world in her journal.
Then, one terrible night, everything alters beyond recognition, and Lauren must make her voice heard for the sake of those she loves.
Soon, her vision becomes reality and her dreams of a better way to live gain the power to change humanity forever.

I gave this book 3/5 ⭐️ because it’s a dystopian novel about the future, written in the past, where that future is horribly plausible and is already happening. Also because it’s a story about strong people of color, strong women, human rights, climate change, greed of the wealthy who treat people like a commodity, and hope in mutual help and good sense.

It took me over three months to finish the book. I went weeks without reading it. I hope to get a sense of closure and that the series makes sense, by reading “Parable of the talents” which continues the heroine’s story.

I found the climate change dystopian context riveting (the story, written in 1993, takes place in 2024-2027.)

I did not care for the religious or philosophical aspect of the novel which I found unconvincing and I was surprised and disappointed how little resistance the heroine encounters as she assembles a following to create this religious or philosophical community. 

I was disappointed that I found so little character development. That so many things are painstakingly detailed while others are glossed over. It gave me a fuzzy and partial visualization interspersed with very precise events narration. I would have liked more balance.

I think the author made the right choice to write this as a diary. It makes the shortcomings a little less worse. It also allows the young (15-18 year old) protagonist to boast, be a bit smug, and quite manipulative. I still found it hard to believe that however cunning and smart she is, she is met with hardly any resistance from her fellow travelers.

Exercising: 2022 review

2022 was the third year in a row after I started exercising daily. Before 2020, I was stubbornly against any form of exercise (I don’t even know why.) This is the review post of my exercising year 2022, following the review I wrote last year.

2022 was a good year. Not as impressive as 2021. I think I overdid it back then!

Raw numbers

Collage of two screens of the Fitness Stats app that crunched the numbers for energy: 273K, exercise time: 688h, steps: 3.6M, walking and running: 2955K, hiking: 130K, running: 146K, cycling: 1315K, yoga: 27h, elliptical: 67h, total workouts: 625

I covered 2955 km (1,836 miles) walking and running.

I cycled 1315 km (817 miles) in 4 months.

I exercised 688 hours.

I engaged in 625 workouts.

To put in perspective some of these tallies (generated by the excellent and free Fitness Stats iOS app):

  • In 2022 I walked or ran more than I drove! 2900 km (1,800 miles) vs. 2500 km (1,500 miles)
  • 688 hours of exercise is equivalent to 28.6 days (roughly a month of February)
  • 625 workouts (25 fewer than last year) mean that on average I engaged in almost two different activities per day

Burnout and anemia

I became aware a few years back that I have anemia. I had been giving blood four times a year (following the recommendation for women) until I was advised that however generous I wanted to be, it was better to donate twice per year. I was medicated the first time this was diagnosed but it was just a temporary fix. My body does not absorb iron very well. And since hemoglobin carries the precious oxygen to muscles, anemia leads to fatigue. Meh. I also burned out at work after Summer. So I gradually ramped down exercising to a gentler degree.

My Apple Watch is my sidekick

I respond very well to the daily coaching of my Apple Watch. I start my “activities” on it, launch from it the music, podcasts or audio-books that I listen to via my headphones (Apple AirPods Pro or Bose QC35, both of which have noise cancellation.) I heed its reminders, enter the monthly challenges, the limited edition challenges.

Monthly challenges

In 2022 again I earned all of the monthly challenges. They are determined based on recent activities and are meant to either keep you at the same level or elevate you a bit, so that at the end of the year you have improved.

  • 366.7 km (11.8/d)
  • 17x double move goal
  • 31x close all rings
  • 15x double move goal
  • 3140 minutes (105/d)
  • 23902 kcal (797/d)
  • 31x close all rings
  • 5x double move goals
  • 22400 kcal (747/d)
  • 14x 700 kcal
  • 3x double move goals
  • 5 walking workouts

Notes: The first challenges of each quarter were not easy and required extra effort. In addition to these three (January, May, September), June was also difficult because burning almost 800 kcal everyday of the month on average required intense sessions during the weekends in order to make up for the work week where it’s usually harder to fit longer workouts. The last three of the year were really easy and I welcomed the break!

The January 2023 challenge is to cover at least 4 kilometers a day 14 times.

New gear

I got myself a nice pedal assist mountain bike 😍 early September.

Smiling middle-aged woman wearing a bike helmet standing next to a dark grey mountain bike in a steep incline covered in dead leaves
Me next to my Nakamura eSummit 950 (picture by Daniel Dardailler)

Daniel asked me in the Spring if I might like to go biking with him once. To be honest, I wasn’t that chuffed and I said “sure, why not” but I didn’t think of it anymore until he asked again in the Summer. We finally went on the last day of August. It was A BLAST! We biked in the Esterel and I loved it so much that I bought my own e-mountain bike the same evening!

I bike as often as I can. With Daniel or not. To go places.

Screenshot of my longest and furthest cycling on 13 November: 6 hours, 96 km (60 miles), elevation gain of 1067 meters (3,500 ft). The map shows the round trip from home to Fréjus.

My longest and furthest cycling was on 13 November: 6 hours, 96 km (60 miles), elevation gain of 1067 meters (3,500 ft). I managed by saving as much battery as I could.

The advertised range of that e-bike is 80 km but in practice in the area it’s more accurate to plan circuits that do not exceed 50 km.

The part that was actual mountain biking was a small 9-kilometer area which I covered in less than 30 minutes! But going there was fun (and challenging) and going back along the coast was really beautiful. Great memory!

Aside: Even less use of my car

Since my teenage boy started high school in Cannes and takes the train I no longer have to drive him. I drove under 2500 km (1,500 miles) in 2022 and refueled only 3 times (180 liters).

I have continued walking, running (and now cycling) to places, to run errands, instead of driving which I do basically for grocery shopping.

Graphs

Screenshot of the Health app: Exercise Minutes, with daily average of 113 minutes in 2022.
Daily average of exercise in 2022: 113 minutes (January peaked at 156 minutes per day on average)
Screenshot of the Health app: active energy, with daily average of 747 kcal in 2022.
Daily average of active energy in 2022: 747 kcal (January peaked at 925 kcal per day on average)
Screenshot of the Health app: steps, with daily average of 9817 steps in 2022.
Daily average steps in 2022: 9,817 (January peaked at 16,712 steps per day on average)
Screenshot of the Health app: running and walking distance, with daily average of 8 km in 2022.
Daily average running and walking distance in 2022: 8 km (January peaked at 14.3 km per day on average)
Screenshot of the Health app: cycling distance, with daily average of 31.5 km in 2022.
Daily average cycling in 2022: 31.5 km per day (August is misleading because I biked about 40 km on one day that month)
Screenshot of the Health app: activity.
Activity graphs in 2022: move, exercise (both fluctuated), stand (steady at 19)
Screenshot of the Health app: weight, with daily average of 63,12 kilos in 2022.
Weight graph for 2022: 63.12 kg on average, slight decrease

Strava’s year in sport

One of the perks of being a paying subscriber of the sports tracking app Strava is the yearly report. See below.