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July 2017 Retrospective

July was another decently productive month. I would say that on the whole July is a little step down from June because I did not write anything for my blog or be as diligent as I wanted with my learning of Japanese. But I still managed to read a book, continue to be healthy and play a lot of video games so I cannot complain that much.

Health

I think that July was one of my best months for exercising. I focused on the elliptical and climbing stairs during the week and on the weekends Jan and I would run and boulder. Near the end of the month we decided to start bouldering on weekdays are up to three times a week now. All of this lead me to exercise nearly every day of July. This new bouldering schedule combined with using the elliptical and climbing stairs should easily allow me to exercise every day in August.

After another month of lifting no weights I have finally decided to delete the Strong app. The app itself is great for tracking your workouts but apparently I needed something else for motivation. My hope is that the increase in bouldering will help me build muscle and cause me to start looking into new ways to improve my flexibility.

Food continued to go great in July. I would like to think I have been eating healthy, balanced meals at work and dinner has been predominantly a Soylent drink with some fruit or a little snack. Not only has the Cacao Soylent drink grown on me but I legitimately look forward to it. The ability to come home, quickly pound a Soylent and get on with my evening cannot be understated.

I haven't been buying much (if any) junk food. I try to focus on being able to snack on fresh fruits and vegetables versus buying food with processed sugars. The only real negative thing I could say about my eating habits is that the weekends seem to have become cheat days. After exercising on the weekend Jan and I usually go out and grab a carb heavy meal to replace what we burned and then Elsie and I usually order some food while we watch a movie or Game of Thrones. Things could definitely be worse but on the whole I am happy with where I am with respect to food.

Weight and body fat percentage continue to plateau but I am growing happy with the way I look and I hope that with a renewed focus on rock climbing I can help shed some more of that unwanted fat. An inch or two more off my waist and I'll have to come up with some new weight loss goals.

Read a book

I did finally read Hyperion and holy crap what a great book. I can see how it would not be for everyone but as someone hoping for a sci-fi epic I was not disappointed. I really don't want to say too much about the book because I think it would be incredibly easy to spoil it. But I will say that the world building that occurs is absolutely mind blowing. I wanted to know more about this universe the second I finished reading the book. I just couldn't get enough.

Another thing I would like to say is that I forgot, multiple times, that this book was written in 1989. The forethought of the author, Dan Simmons, is fucking insane. Hyperion reads like it was written within the last few years by someone who is completely immersed with our technical culture and where it could lead. This book was written before the Internet was a thing and you'd honestly think someone wrote his novel because they saw the potential for how something like it could grow over centuries.

The Fall of Hyperion is going to be my novel of August because I just cannot get enough. If you are thinking about reading Hyperion make sure you have the time to read The Fall of Hyperion right after because I absolutely guarantee you will want to.

Play a video game

July was a really eclectic month when it came to video games.

Elsie and I finally managed to beat the A Realm Reborn portion of Final Fantasy XIV and unlocked the Heavensward expansion. Unfortunately after that happened we fell off the wagon again and haven't played any FF14 since but I wouldn't be surprised if we came back to it in August.

PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS continued to hold Jarques and I's interest for the first half of the month. A lot of amazing moments were had including my first squad win and my second duo win with Jarques.

While waiting for Jarques to be available for PUBG, I picked a single-player game from my Steam backlog, Defense Grid: The Awakening, and beat it. I am a huge fan of tower defense games and Defense Grid was a solid one. I liked how fast the levels were and the multiple challenges each one had. I literally spent three hours one evening playing the same level over and over again because I wanted to get a gold medal for all of the challenges. That is probably the biggest praise I can give that game. It is addicting.

I choose Defense Grid over some other games in my backlog because I wanted something that I would be able to finish before July 21st when Splatoon 2 came out. I was all prepared to become absorbed with Splatoon when I heard about Epic Games' Fortnite entering early access on the same day. Well I am a huge fan of both Minecraft and tower defense games so I immediately forgot about Splatoon 2 and just dove head first into Fortnite. It just so happened that Elsie and I's friend Cthulhu and the Teamworkcast got into Fortnite as well and we've been having a blast playing together.

Looking forward to August, it is going to be an absolutely insane month for games.

First, The International 2017 starts on Wednesday August 2nd and goes until Saturday August 12th. This means my days are going to be completely absorbed with Dota for the next two weeks. I could honestly see myself watching 10 hours of Dota, multiple days in a row.

Second, the Dauntless' Founder's Alpha goes live on August 18th. If this games is half as good as Monster Hunter I can see myself putting dozens if not hundreds of hours into it.

Third, speaking of Monster Hunter, Monster Hunter XX comes out for the Switch in Japan on August 25th. Since Elsie and I are insane we are going to import it and play the absolute shit out of it.

Fourth, August 29th is a date that strategy game fans will remember for years to come. The first XCOM 2 expansion, War of the Chosen, and Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle are being released so I guess I'm just not going to sleep that week.

That is four amazing new releases and the biggest gaming tournament in history all happening in August. Plus I still have PUBG and Fortnite to play and I wanted to finish my existing XCOM 2 campaign in preparation for the expansion . I guess Christmas is coming early this year.

Become conversational in another language

I was doing a passable job at using Duolingo to learn Japanese but I will admit that I fell off the wagon during the final week or so of July. I found that I could not move onto the later lessons and found myself constantly repeating the previous ones to a point where I lost all of my motivation. I am going to try to press onward in August as well as use the Kana flash cards that Elsie bought me for my birthday. Hopefully I will be able to have all of Hiragana and Katakana memorized by the end of August.

Release an app

Again I did absolutely nothing to release my app in July and that has made me realize that I really need to re-evaluate this goal. It has become obvious that it is so high level and wide reaching that I just cannot bring myself to even make a dent into it. If you look at all my other resolutions you can see how small measurable subgoals grew for all of them. This is what I use to push myself to work on those resolutions where this one is basically just one big excuse to be lazy.

This will be the last month I talk explicitly about this resolution. I think I am going to rename it "Hobby Programming" or something along the lines. I want this to be about me doing things outside of work to not only help me grow but rediscover my love for programming.

Do not indulge in time killing activities

I will admit that Elsie and I probably spent more time than usual watching TV this month. Seinfeld, Broadchurch (season 2 on Netflix and season 3 on iTunes), Evo 2017, Game of Thrones, Ballers, The Defiant Ones, Ghost in the Shell (which was fucking horrible by the way), as well as various YouTube channels like Jun's Kitchen, Node, Robbaz, Sam and Niko, The king of DIY and many more. It was just a couch potato kind of month in some ways but for the most part I don't regret any of it but I probably could cut down on all the amazing content I consume.

Conclusions

Similar to June, July feels like another month of a step, mostly, in the right direction. My continued fuckups with not releasing an app and failure to learn Japanese aside, I am content with my progress.

But there is always room for improvement and for August what I want to do is create a list of goals that will help me improve. The idea is that these goals should satisfy my larger resolutions in some manner but are specific enough that they give me something to work directly on rather than towards. When I come home at night I want there to be no doubt of the answer to the question "what should I do?". It should go without saying but these goals should also be attainable within the month.

So without further ado, my goals for August (in no particular order) :

  1. Exercise every day of the month.
  2. Don't buy any junk food during the week. I am fine leaving the weekend as our "cheat days" but I want to improve my eating habits during the week.
  3. Read The Fall of Hyperion.
  4. Beat (or fail at) existing XCOM 2 campaign in preparation for the expansion.
  5. Play my 25 newcomer matches in Dota 2.
  6. Stream Monster Hunter XX. This involves organizing my desk which is something I desperately need to do.
  7. Memorize all of Hiragana and Katakana
  8. Add the ability to link directly to a webpage from my blog. I want the ability to present some webpage with a little blurb giving people context as to why I think it is worth sharing. I come across so much great content in a month that I would love to start sharing it from my blog so I can easily look back and see what I found interesting over time.
  9. Build Observables framework.
  10. Write one article for my blog about an original topic. I don't want to be too specific on the topic because I fear that will hamper me. I am thinking either a post about "Mobile App Foundations" like I have been teasing for months or maybe an article detailing game mechanics I like/hate.
  11. Use the book Elsie got me to draw stuff on my iPad Pro and share it on social media.

So those are my goals for August. I have no idea if there are too many or too few but I am looking forward to feeling out this new process and improving on it in the months to come.

#MonthlyRetrospective

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