Thoughts and Goals 2018

This post is coming a lot later than my usual list of ‘goals’ for the year. Mostly, because I’ve been giving my life and this blog a lot of thought. That said, it’s past time to get something going on 2018 plans.

1. Complete 2 graduate courses with B or better.

The masters program I’m working on requires completion of 2 courses with a B or better before one is fully admitted. If nothing else, completing a couple courses will help me get some confidence back in my abilities. Especially after seeing the new batches of interns starting that all make me feel old and out-of-date.

2. Obtain HAM radio license

A repeat from last year. This fell through from a lack of time and desire to buy equipment. I’m not certain how much the graduate course work will interfere with this, but I’d still like to try.

3. Complete a composition and recording for the piano

Also a repeat from last year. I need to get back to work on my musicianship. Hoping the first goal doesn’t hurt this too much, but only time will tell.

4. Focus on my health

I’d like to move to a ‘healthy’ weight / body fat percentage over the next year. Also, I’d like to get my level of physical activity up to a healthy level, and kill some of the lethargy that seems to follow me these days.

5. Move (Or at least Organize and Pack)

I’d like to end 2018 in a new home with the current house sold and no longer my concern. This goal is dependent on finding a house and organizing finances. I’m hopeful, but it’s going to be a stretch. While outside circumstances may prevent moving this year, I’ll call this goal a success if I can at least get areas I can control ready to go if we find something.

6. Find and Visit some Kansas CIty features

A returning goal, this year I’d like to visit a couple of the local tourist traps that I’ve been putting aside for a while. By the end of the year, I’d like to visit at least 2 local events.

7. Do some gardening

I’m not a hard-core gardener / farmer / outdoorsy person. But, back in my youth and high school days, I did enjoy gardening. This year, I’d like to do more outdoors and be productive at it.

8. Complete a major home project

There’s a long list of home projects that need done. The goal here is to pick one and complete it myself – or at least make an attempt myself before getting a contractor involved. That said, the means of completion isn’t as important here as the end – whether by contractor or not, the project should be done.

9. Kick the Social Media Habit

This really should be rewritten as ‘quit or greatly reduce Facebook’. I think message boards and blogging are awesome platforms. Facebook and Twitter are toxic cesspools. The goal here is simple, revisit how I’m spending time on social media and move to healthier approaches.

10. Start Writing Again

One thing starting graduate school has helped me realize is that I miss writing. This year, I hope to make some traction on this blog, start covering interesting topics again on my technical blog – hopefully even some useful stuff.

Let’s try to make this year a good one.

2017 Retrospective

For years, I’ve followed the same formula of reviewing my past years goals and writing new ones. This year, I figured I’d move to a slightly different format and reflect on the past year as a whole instead of just reviewing goal failure.

2016 hit both Fin and me hard – not really much to say about ending that year except we both have been dealing with some serious depression. The holidays and new years were just not the same. We struggled to find a new normal.

I started off 2017 fairly active with a return to martial arts and the gym. That lasted fairly well until early Summer. Gym motivation I’ve always found difficult. I don’t have an intense interest in it and have difficulty staying focused and finding goals. The martial arts? It suffered from a lack of adult students at the school I was at. Lame excuses for both – the reality is I stopped mostly due to depression and adjusted by throwing myself a bit more into work at the office.

Depression is a big angry monster that will eat families alive if you’re not careful – and sometimes, even if you are.

In May, Fin and I hit a huge milestone and finished paying off the enormous amount of credit card debt that I brought into the marriage. At present, all the cards  have remained paid off with the exception of one that we’ve been using and paying off every month before interest starts accumulating – keeping a small rotating balance seems to up the credit score a few points.

Being in a better financial situation, we’ve now started to take more active steps toward moving. We’ve been pushing a lot more into savings for a down payment, and Fin started a part-time job.

Prior to the holidays, I managed to make some large strides in getting the house more presentable / sellable. Unfortunately, the holiday season (starting with the 2017 Haunted Houses) really killed much progress there. I’ve been trying to get back in that game, but Winter time has a lot of weekend activities that sap most of my reserve energy.

I decided to actually put some energy into opening some new doors, and signed up for a graduate program. Starting in January, I’ve enrolled in a Master’s Degree program at Georgia Tech. I’m looking forward to challenging myself and learning some new tricks. I’ve been working through the various Math classes at Kahn Academy, trying to get my Math skills back up to those expected in a graduate program. I’ve forgotten a lot recently.

I can’t help but keep score for my last year’s goals:

I did not finish paying off my student loans, but did pay off all the credit cards. This was a decision to change the plan versus a failure. Success.

I did do some research into the HAM radio license. This has been more a lack of time lining up with getting tested than anything else. Fail.

My piano playing has been behind – largely due to depression and frustration with my slowly degrading piano. Fail.

I advanced fairly far at the new martial arts studio before the lack of fit between routine and myself became an issue. Mixed.

I’ve not managed any of the server customizations I’d planed for this year. Fail.

I’ve been working through multiple online classes and have completed a good deal of content. Success.

We’ve made a start on some things for the move on the house and improvement – but the past few months haven’t seen much progress and there’s large issues and small issues that haven’t been addressed yet. Mixed.

Fin and I did the usual family camp trip, but we didn’t make any real vacation time for ourselves. Mixed.

I’ve made a small effort to reach out to some new areas of the city – including visiting some areas. Still, I don’t think I met the goal as described. Mixed.

I’ve been far more regular in meetup attendance and active within the group. Still room to grow here, but… Success.

Total Score for 2017 – 3 successes, 4 mixed results, and 3 fails.

I think the theme for this year was attempting to rebuild and lay foundations for a new normal. I’m not sure we did nearly as much as we could have, but I do think we at least got a few solid starts.

2016 Recap…

I’m keeping this tradition alive, but my feelings toward this year are best summarized by a picture:

SCH Fire Department Dumpster Fire Picture
SCH. Haven Fire Dept Dumpster Fire

Fin and I have been through some rough years. This past year, though, felt like an extra special kick in the face. That said, how’d my year end goals go?

See the picture for a summary.

  1. Consumer Debt Free
    FAIL, stalled out in the summer.
  2. Make measurable progress toward moving.
    More FAIL.
  3. Get technical blog running again
    Even More FAIL.
  4. Build wireless temperature sensor system for greenhouse
    Epic FAIL.
  5. Post another piano recording
    You probably guessed it already. (*cough*) FAIL (*cough*)
  6. Take an actual vacation
    Holy shit. We did this one.
  7. Complete an online course
  8. Learn a web framework (server and browser side)
    You might see a pattern here… FAIL.
  9. Visit at least 2 Kansas City tourist traps
    Well, I saw *both* Sea Life and Lego World? So? FAIL.
  10. Branch out from previous years in a current hobby or find something new altogether
    Hey, I started Taekwondo (Fin calls it Fancy Karate, because she can’t spell it) again. She doesn’t know if it counts, but I’m padding the numbers with a yes.

Well, given all that happened, 2/10 ain’t that bad. Hoping next year goes better.

2015 New Year, New Goals

It’s that time of year again.

So far, my record for New Year’s Resolutions:

  • 2014 – 40%
  • 2013 – 25%
  • 2012 – 10%
  • 2011 – 30%
  • 2010- 50%
  • 2009 – 30%
  • 2008 – 50%

The past few years, I’ve not been hitting my goals. This past year, toward the end, things have started heating up again. Hopefully the trend continues. This year, Fin and I will likely be focusing a lot more on the family than some of our other endeavors. Still, we’ll be working at moving onward and upward.

1. Pay off at least one more account

Yes, even after succeeding for several years on this, there are more to go. This year, I hope to pay off at least one more account.

2. Publish an App for Android, PC, or Web

I’ve actually managed to do some degree of Android development this year. I’ve got ideas, and have even made a few toy apps on my phone. The next step is to get something released and out there. Hell, maybe I’ll do another Asteroids game. This really is a continuation of last years goal. I simply find myself not having enough time or ideas to put toward it.

Meanwhile, I’m working on some stuff for myself. I’m hoping at least one of my efforts I can publish, if only to pad my resume.

3. New theme

I started playing a bit with this mid-year, when the site went funny looking for a bit, and ended up reverting back to the old theme on the newer wordpress. I’m still looking at some ideas here, but like the Application business, time has been an enemy.

4. Document at least one project for each season (Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall) here

I think the previous years, I’ve tried to plan out my year in to much detail, and ended up doing nothing. So, this year, I’m simply stating that I want to complete a single project every 3 months and document it here. That will hopefully mean doing some fermented beverage, or making soap, or maybe a piano recording. We’ll see. I’m leaving this open ended so I can decide on a project every few months and do it.

New suburbanreject theme and publishing an app both don’t “count”.

5. Complete at least one online course

I enjoyed the Coursera experience earlier. This year, I’d like to work through at least one more online course. Maybe I’ll learn something useful.

6. Post another piano recording

Not going to go for a multiple here, I just want to do one this year. Hopefully more will happen. Ideally, I’ll play in another studio recital and have a strong performance this year.

7. Work my company’s “Wellness Program” plan

Every year, my company does one of those “Wellness Programs”, where you get a physical, set some goals, and potentially try to loose weight and exercise more. While I generally roll my eyes at such things, this year, I’ll play ball and take it a bit more seriously.

I’m also thinking about things I can do to start expanding my activity tracker goals into some real workouts. I’ve been doing a bit of running around the house to hit goals, I think I might start doing some more to focus on strength training. I’m not really considering that part of the company “Wellness Program”, but more along the lines of “bonus points” for this goal.

8. Write more and Produce some referable  content for this and/or my other blog

I’ve written some widely circulated articles in the past. I find myself realizing that I do have some skills and knowledge and ability to explain some difficult tasks well. I’m not sure exactly what articles, tutorials, or opinions I’ll be posting. But, I’d like them to be the sort others will find enough value to read and link to.

9. Actively take time off work

Unfortunately, family obligations might make it difficult to take some planned days off this year, but I’m hoping to plan and take some vacation time – a day off here and there. Simply to avoid the constant grind of working and lack of work/life balance I’ve had so long.

My goal is to take planned vacation day at least every 4 months.

10. Get to know Kansas City better

To be clear, I want to visit / do some of the historical / touristy things around here I haven’t done. I’ve lived here now for 8 years, and still haven’t been to many of the museums or parks around here. I’ve really done a minimum of the “KC required” tour outside of walking the plaza a few times.

And I know there’s a lot more and a lot more history around here.

So, this year, I plan on taking a bit of an effort to do a few of the larger attractions.

There’s also several large communities that I should be more active in – Make, Sustainability, general Nerdom.

Extra: Stay Positive

There’s no doubt that 2014 was a rough year, and 2015 looks to be rough too. Fin and I did a lot this past year. We learned a lot, and had a lot of positive experiences.

This year, I’ll also be looking a bit at the past several years goals, and trying to accomplish/track a few of them as appropriate. We’ll see how that works when the year closes.

Still, it’s been difficult. This year, I’m hoping we can stay positive and take the good and bad together. I’ll be hoping for a great year, but whatever more life throws at us, I’m hoping we can stay positive through it all.





2014 Year In Review

To borrow a phrase from the wonderful world of sports, “This was a rebuilding year”. While Fin and I work to shape and build a new lifestyle, I’ve found myself wrestling with questions of how to have a healthy view of life while also looking forward. Another year has passed by, and I find myself wanting to enjoy the next year more, to live a bit more in the now, instead of toward the future.

I’m not a fan of sharing too much on the internet, but the work/life balance issues, followed by the challenges of health in aging parents and relatives have put more than a little strain on Fin and myself.

Previous Years Resolutions

This is the time of year I force myself to look back into the past, and look at my previous goals. I see a mixed bag.

1. Pay off 2 more accounts

BORDERLINE. Fin and I free-wheeled into paying off one of my student loans. At this point, we’re “better than average” Americans on debt. Not quiet where we wanted to be, but we’re definitely still making progress. The closer we get, the more effort it seems to stay focused.

2. Publish an App on the Android App Store

FAIL. I’ve taken some time to learn about Android and app development. I even have made a few demo/test apps for my tablet and phone. At this point, it’s about finding time to actually sit down and build something. Taking care of family has been significantly more important over the past year.

3. Make a few batches of fermented beverage

FAIL. Didn’t even get a chance to look at this.

4. Develop a whizz-bang theme

FAIL. Ugh, same here. But, I’ve at least kept this site online!

5. Record/Produce a few pieces of music and publish them on the net

BORDERLINE/FAIL. So far, I’ve put up a single recording on SoundCloud, and it was a quick and dirty playing for a Mic test (versus something done to record). I’ve focused more on developing my musicianship this past year, including doing a bit of the coursera thing.


6. Have a solid work out routine formed before September

FAIL/BORDERLINE. This has been slowly developing for the past few months. Mostly, on account of having purchase an activity tracker: the vivosmart. I’ve joined the “get my steps in cult”, and it definitely helps to have a “trainer” that sets reasonable goals and pushes you along.

7. Learn C#

CHANGED. After switching jobs, I’ve found myself more involved in C/C++ land than before, but I’m now adding OpenGL and SQL into the mix. I’m working on developing newer technologies, but will probably target Java first, and then C# as required for work.

8. Get a few of the homestead Carpentry/Plumbing/Electrical “TODO” items out of the way

NEAR WIN. I accomplished a couple things here on my list. More to do still, but there’s been progress!

9. Average 2 posts a month on

WIN. Not all quality, but I managed this one.

10. Resume my tutorial writing / developer documentation niche

FAIL. Life has been in the way here.

Stretch Goal #1 Develop Income Sources Outside of Office Work

Stretch Goal #2 Get Involved with Make style community

Stretch Goal #3 Amateur Radio License

All stretch goals where fail.

Unexpected Developments

Switching Jobs

My former employer turned into something of a drama show during last winter. Disagreements between managers, the owner, and a multitude of political games and politics killed my desire to work there. The environment leaked into my personal life, and caused inordinate amounts of stress.

From the months leading up to my leaving, I watched many good people walk out. At the end, only a handful of people from my starting remained – mostly the successful sales people.

I’ve switched to worker for a larger company, and so far, it’s treating my well. If only as a place where I don’t have to deal with as much interpersonal stress and confused dynamics.

The majority of wins in my goals list all came AFTER switching jobs. And more so, after switching jobs and spending some significant time decompressing.


Fin posted a while back about the challenges we face with her father. I don’t have any plans on actively blogging about it except to say – it’s been tough for us both.

Fin might not be around here much, because she’s focused on taking care of her Father. Watching her makes me think just how lucky he – and I – are to have such an amazing person in our lives.


This blog remains an experiment to chronicle our adventure – in trying to escape a “suburban lifestyle”. And yet, in that adventure, the timeless issues of living come and rear their heads. I find myself wishing we did a better job chronicling the earlier – we’ve done some really cool stuff over the year.

But, that’s getting into my standard “new years” post.

Posting again

Seems that I have a habit of posting for a bit then completely ignoring the blog for long stretches of time.  This time there was a mis-communication on moving the blog from blogspot to our own domain and then going to WordPress for posting.  I wasn’t sure that actually ever got set up and then I was told I could post from blogspot still….by that time I had already kinda lost interest in the blog and just never got around to posting again. 


Well, yet again, I am back to posting and this time hopefully I can keep it up more regularly in the coming year. 

I think the end of the old year and the start of the new really make me think about posting.  I always have all these ideas that I want to do and talk about, especially during the cold month while I shut myself inside and wait for spring to arrive. 

So much has changed this year going into 2013 I am still trying to wrap my head around it.  Soon I will be putting together my seed order for the year and another garden season will be started.  I am hoping to get tomatoes and peppers in seed pots by Feb 1.  Guess I need to get myself in gear and find somewhere to put them!