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 SuburbanReject.com 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 suburbanreject.com 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 SuburbanReject.com

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.

Health

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.

Conclusions

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.

Updates aka Where the Heck Have I Been

It’s been awhile. 

Fate keeps saying “you should write a blog post!” He’s right,  I should. That’s what I keep thinking anyway. Then I just don’t. 

I have a whole back log of things I want to write about.   Some successes, some failures,  some modifications made.  The reality is,  I don’t know if I will get around to writing about all of them before something else comes along and bumps it off the list. 

It’s been a hard year. 

I’ve been suffering from some pretty major depression in the last several months. There are a lot of things I’ve been wanting to do that have gone undone due to that this summer.  Which is just shitty since we’ve had some pretty amazing weather this summer (with the exception of the heat warnings this last week.)

My dad,  since my grandma died last November,  had been sick quite a lot.  He has been off and on having this pretty serious rash pop up over his body for the last year us as well.  It seemed like since last November he’s caught every little thing that has gone around:  cold,  flu,  you name it,  he got it.

Then in April he started peeing blood.

Not in the red tinged pee category either,  he was peeing straight up blood,  with clots even.

He’s been to multiple doctors at this point,  had just about every test under the sun,  and everything comes back clear of cancer and everything else they test for.  The only thing they are seeing is that he has some irritation in the tubes that lead from the kidneys to the bladder.  There is nothing physically wrong that they can find. 

Recently he went back to his primary physician for a recheck on his blood work to see how his cholesterol levels are doing.  In that blood work came the news that his kidney levels are poor. 

In fact,  so poor that they have diagnosed him with stage 3 kidney failure. 

And they don’t know why his kidneys are failing. 

He has yet another specialist appointment to go to soon,  another different one.  I guess we will see what happens with that one.  In the mean time he went to see a naturopath in Springfield, MO.   She did some testing and was able to come up with the issues he’s been having with out him telling her at all.  She recommended some diet changes and supplements for him,  which he’s been taking,  and it seems like it’s helping.  It is amusing to me that he’s now a believer in the things I’ve been saying for so long just because he heard a “professional”  say them,  but hey,  I’ll take it.  Anything,  along as my dad gets better. 

My dad and I are very close.  We do a lot of things together,  both at my house and at his.  Gardening,  canning,  estate sales,  tons of stuff.  This summer we haven’t done any of that,  since he’s been sick.  We’ve done a bit of canning here lately since he seems to be having some good days,  but everything else is still on hold.  I really miss it,  and him.

I really hope he is on the mend and they can figure out what the hell is going on with him.  Don’t get me wrong,  I’m extremely grateful it’s not some sort of cancer,  however I wish they could pin down what it is.  That’s been one of the scariest parts,  just not knowing why.  

There have been other shitty things this year that have added stress,  but that’s the biggest one.  I sincerely hope the end of 2014 is better then the beginning. 

————-

I’m not going to say that I will get back to posting on a regular schedule again,  however,  I am going to try to be better about it,  especially as I’m trying to force myself out of my depression.   I’ve figured out how to get my pictures easily shared between my phone and my tablet finally,  so that should help.   Part of my frustration before was the fact that my phone,  which takes decent photos,  wouldn’t play nice with my tablet,  which takes terrible photos, but I use to write blog posts.   It always turned into a frustrating process that was easier to just not do,  and therefore,  I just ended up not posting anything. 

I’m planning on starting a posting series on the blog about nail polish.   This isn’t something that will take over the content,  just something that will fairly regularly appear.  There are tons of really awesome blogs out there about all the different kinds of nail polish,  and this will not turn into one of them.  I’m planning to do nail polish “wear testing” reviews.  I haven’t been able to find anyone out there blogging about doing all the physical things I do talking about how good or bad all the different nail polishs preform under…. Stress testing,  if you will.  Maybe I can save someone who is as hard on their nails as I am some money on polish that just wears off in the first day you use it.

I will make an introductory post soon detailing why I started wearing nail polish again after all these years and some of the things I’ve learned to save time but still get nice polished nails. 

There’s no reason you can’t hold down a very physical job while still being a bit girly. 

-Fin