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October 2017 Retrospective

Completed multiple V4 bouldering problems, defeated the aliens in XCOM 2, started reading an epic book series, memorized hiragana and katakana, wrote articles for my Japan Travel Tips series. All while babysitting two different cats. Not a bad month.


Everything continues to go well on the health front. I exercised every day of the month again. Did six V4 bouldering problems in a single session. Continued to drink Soylent almost every weeknight for dinner with a couple exceptions where I got food from the grocery store downstairs and I cooked at least one dinner every weekend. Looking back there really isn't anything to complain about health-wise this month. I am impressed with how consistent I was.

My weight and body fat are as stable as ever and because my bouldering is improving I am going to give it another month before I consider making any drastic changes. In the last couple retrospectives I have said that I am fairly content with how I look and because I am seeing progress in other areas I am under no pressure to change anything. My goal was not to drop 20 pounds and get a six pack. My goal was to be healthy and looking back at all the positive steps I have taken this year there is no doubt in my mind that I am getting healthy.

Read a book

I started The Way of Kings (the first book in The Stormlight Archive series) and have really been enjoying it. The world building is absolutely phenomenal. Far more expansive and detailed then I imagined it would be. You can tell the author, Brandon Sanderson, put a ludicrous amount of thought into how he could make the world feel alive and real. Every chapter pulls the curtain back a little bit more and exposes another interesting piece of the backstory of the world or the characters that inhabit it. I heard great things about this book series but, to be honest, I did not think I would enjoy it as much as I am.

The Way of Kings is a massive book (1007 pages) and I am only about a third of the way through. It will easily be my book for November and if I am not careful it could become my December book too. Regardless, the moment I finish The Way Of Kings I will be moving onto the second book in the series, Words of Radiance.

Play a video game

I fell off the PUBG train hard this month. Near the end of the first week of October, my life was completely overtaken by XCOM 2. I became obsessed with beating my War of the Chosen campaign on Commander Ironman difficulty. After nine attempts totaling over 60 hours and some insane luck with research breakthroughs and experimental ammo in the early game I finally was able to defeat the aliens on October 15th. I immediately proceeded to uninstall the game and began my wait for XCOM 3.

Last month I ragged on War of the Chosen for being a bad expansion to XCOM 2 and after beating the game my thoughts haven't changed. I absolutely dreaded fighting the Chosen and essentially broke the game by simply focusing on beating them as soon as possible and forgetting about everything else. By the time all three Chosen were dead I was probably only 25% of the way through the campaign but I was already a god because of the equipment I had. I was just going through the motions to get to the end. I still believe War of the Chosen makes XCOM 2 a game that depends much more on chance which is a direction I hope the series does not continue to follow. I will say that the faction classes were an outstanding addition to the game. They really did spice up the tactical layer.

I am a huge board game fan so I backed the Kingdom Death: Monster 1.5 Kickstarter many moons ago and it finally arrived. This is the first game that I have purchased where you actually need to assemble the miniatures before you can play. I spent a lot of time this month researching and buying all of the necessary tooling and after about seven hours last weekend I assembled the first seven miniatures of the game. Apparently what I have built should take me about 8-10 hours into my first campaign which I hope to start this upcoming weekend.

Destiny 2 finally came out for PC this month and I have already managed to beat the campaign after about 15 hours. It was subpar quality for a triple A studio that has decades of experience but Bungie's amazing gunplay still remains and that was more than enough to pull me through the campaign. Also Bungie dropped support for the PS3 and Xbox 360 for Destiny 2 and you can instantly tell how much of a limiting factor those platforms were on the environments in Destiny 1. They are so massive and varied in Destiny 2 that even after 15 hours I am still constantly being surprised by new parts of the world. I am going to try to max out my light level and beat the first raid but I am not yet sure how long Destiny 2 will be able to hold my attention.

One of my most anticipated games of the year was released in October and I have yet to find time to play it. Super Mario Odyssey was released on Friday October 27th and I somehow managed to spend the entire weekend playing Destiny 2 and building Kingdom Death: Monster miniatures. But no more excuses! Mario will be the first game I play and beat in November. There is no ifs, ands or buts.

Speaking of November games, I managed to preorder an Xbox One X which will be arriving on November 7th. I am going to pick one game that will showcase the 4K, HDR capabilities of the platform and make it my second game of November. I think it will be either Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Forza Motorsport 7 or Gears of War 4.

Become conversational in another language

Holy crap, the Kana flash cards Elsie bought me are absolutely amazing. I memorized all of hiragana and katakana in a matter of days. The pictogram that each flash card associates with a symbol was absolutely instrumental in helping me memorize them all.

Each flash card also comes with five words written in either hiragana or katakana. I am now focusing on translating every word and hope to more on to memorizing the meaning of them by December. I should easily be able to have a vocabulary of over 400 words just through these amazing flash cards.

Hobby Programming

Move on. Nothing to see here. Please disperse.

Do not indulge in time killing activities

October was probably my best month for this. Every day I spent the majority of my time involved with something that was on my list of goals.

Elsie and I still spent time watching TV but I would say it was a perfectly reasonable amount. We finished seasons 4 and 5 of Breaking Bad. I was impressed to see a TV series that actually had a very cathartic ending and didn't try to leave a lot of threads hanging. Stranger Things season 2 was also very good. It was essentially just more of the same which I don't think was a bad thing because Strange Things definitely left me wanting to learn more about this monsters in the Upside Down. We even watched The Accountant which was a very pleasant surprise. I was not expecting it to be such a good action film. It had some John Wick vibes to it.

On the whole I think I had a great mix this month between these "time killing activities" and my more productive ones.


I need to do a better job picking these goals because it seems like I either focus on one and kill it or completely forget.

Continue to exercise and boulder. Complete four V4 problems in a single bouldering session.
Destroyed this one. I actually got six in a single session and one very generous V5 that was probably a V4.

Cook dinner one day on the weekend and cheat the other.
Steak and asparagus or pasta are always fun to cook and eat. No problems here.

Read The Way of Kings.
I only got about a third of the way through the book but it so good and I will definitely be finishing it.

Memorize all of Hiragana and Katakana.
I literally cannot believe I did this. Those Kana flash cards are amazing.

Write the rest of the Japan Travel Tips series for my blog.
I wrote two articles for my Japan Travel Tips series. One on everyday advice for when you're in Japan and one on the local cuisine. But I have drafts for six other articles that I would like to post.

However, when I came up with this goal I only had topics for two articles in mind so I am going to count this as a win.

Add photos to Japan 2016 articles. I want to be able to blog during my Japan 2017 trip and a big part of that will be showing pictures and videos.
Unfortunately all of the work on my blog this month went towards writing articles for the Japan Travel Tips series. I never did look at adding photos to my blog engine.

Stream Monster Hunter XX.
I did not play a single second of Monster Hunter XX and unfortunately I do not think I ever will. Not that it is a bad game but there are just so many other types of games coming out right now that I am more in the mood for.

Build script for generating iOS framework projects.
I didn't even open up Xcode on my personal laptop this month.


Other than my standard lapses at not programming anything in my spare time I look back at this retrospective and am really happy about how positive it is. I have a tendency to focus on the negative things and it seems like this month that everything was moving in the right direction so yay me!

Elsie and I are actually going on vacation in November (Finally! First one in over 18 months.) and so my goals for month are going to be much more subdued. Also I am going to try to be much more realistic and set goals that I am 100% confident I can set. Let's try completing all of my goals one time and then try pushing the limits again.

So, without further ado, my goals for November.

I thought I said I was going to be more subdued and realistic with my goals for November? Oh well. Let's work hard during the first part of this month and then vacation hard the next half!