Alright this is not how I had hoped to end 2017. An illness combined with post-Japan fatigue combined with taxing times at work have given me a really poor excuse for why I barely did anything in December. I can take some solace in all the writing I managed to do this month but outside of that I definitely dropped the ball.
On the flip side, I finally managed to make it back home to Canada for Christmas and, I gotta admit, it made me forget about everything else that I did this month. Spending time back in the town I grew up in. Seeing my year old niece scoot around on the floor. Eating turkey with my extended family. These things really made me miss living in Canada. It brought back all the memories of getting together with friends and family and just enjoying their company. While I have made some friends here in San Francisco it really has been a docile existence when I compare it to my life in Canada.
In San Francisco the primary focus has always been money and career. How can I advance these as quickly as possible so that I can escape this environment I willingly entered myself into. I think back to my time working at theScore before I headed out west. I honestly saw myself working at that place for several years. I was happy with the money I was making and the direction my career was going. I made dozens of work friends, some of whom I stay in contact with to this day. Other than the bone chilling winters (of which I did experience during this Christmas) my life seemed nearly perfect in retrospect. Now I find it hard thinking about myself working somewhere for more than two years. I find myself constantly thinking about how I can trade up to get even more money. Money that I would use to essentially stop working because I no longer have any idea of where my career can or should go.
It has been a sobering experience being re-exposed to my previous life and seeing how far I have come in the last three years. Maybe this isn't the sort of thing that I should be rambling on about on this blog or maybe it is the only way I'll be able to truly figure out what I want to get out of life. Who knows.
Anyway, let's move on to how I horribly failed at fulfilling most of goals and resolutions this month.
After getting back from Tokyo and having my Apple Watch move streak broken (by the Activity app not being able to understand time zone changes) I found myself in a bit of a slump. I reduced my daily move goal by almost half and simply stopped exercising. A nasty cold also struck me for the first two weeks of the month and made it real easy to just hit that snooze button and stay in bed a little longer.
With respect to bouldering I only climbed three or four times before I went home for the holidays and I wasn't able to finish a single V4 problem at the gym. My climbing colleague also went home for the holidays which made it even easier to slack off but I am happy to report that as of today, December 31st, we both got back and the horse and hit the gym after nearly two weeks off. Hopefully we can continue this trend and get another good climbing streak going in 2018.
With respects to food I think I did decent again. No real gorging, no eating out. It was all fairly mundane. Even going home for the holidays I ate respectable portions including during Christmas turkey dinner, I barely had a second plate. We got another shipment of Soylent drink and have been using it to supplement our meals again. My weight went up a couple pounds but I am confident that with regular exercise I will quickly return to the weight that I have been stable at all year.
This brings me back around to what I have been talking about for months, I need to make some changes. My weight and body fat percentage are not moving and even though I did get better a bouldering over the course of 2017 that is no longer good enough. So for 2018 I have three major goals with respect to exercising:
- Push myself while bouldering. I need to get up to V5s to really showcase that I am trying to make progress. I cannot be happy with where I stand.
- To get to those V5s I will need to build more muscle. I must start weight lifting to improve my upper body.
- I have been noticing that my neck and shoulders are incredibly tight. I'm sure some of that has to do with sitting 10+ hours a day so I am going to focus on posture and stretching this year which I have always neglected. I am considering going to a yoga studio at least three hours a week.
I haven't yet decided what I am going to use as my metric for if I am healthy in 2018 but regardless of what I decide these three goals are definitely going to move me in the right direction.
Read a book
I read a lot more of Words of Radiance than I was expecting. Flights to and from the east coast as well as Christmas with the family gave me a lot more time to read and I easily eclipsed the 65% barrier. While I am happy that I made it over half-way I am upset with the circumstances that lead to it. I was really hoping to space out my reading throughout the entire month and not binge on it so we shall try to work on that in 2018.
As soon as I finish Words of Radiance I will undoubtably move onto the third book in the series, Oathbringer. Words of Radiance has been a much more consistent burn compared to the previous book, The Way of Kings, which took a really long time to get going. My main complaint with Words of Radiance would be that really bad things keep happening with no end in sight and that sometimes gets really tiring. You just feel the weight of the world is beating these characters into the ground and it sometimes makes it hard to continue.
But I shall persevere and if all goes well hopefully I will be deep into Oathbringer by the end of January.
Play a video game
Because I am a corporate shill who needs the latest and greatest technology I bought an Xbox One X. Ever since I bought my 4K TV I wanted to buy a 4K gaming console and this month I finally broke down and purchased an Xbox One X. I decided that Middle-earth: Shadow of War would be the game I would use to showcase that this console purchase was not in vain and boy did it deliver. The 4K resolution/textures and HDR lighting really did make the game look worlds better than anything I have played on a console. The only issue I had was that out of the box the Xbox One X did not work with my TV. It gave cryptic error messages saying my TV was able to do 4K gaming but not 4K HDR gaming. I turned to Google and found some random Reddit thread detailing which settings I needed to toggle on both my TV and the Xbox One X (god damn that is really getting annoying to type). I am really surprised that Microsoft shipped it like this because I can imagine it is not going to work out of the box for most gamers and Microsoft's troubleshooting was garbage.
But anyways what about the actual game. How was it? I was a huge fan of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (it was actually my 2014 Game of the Year) and this is more of the same but with a lot of new systems added on that seem to facilitate more grinding and frustration rather than enjoyable gameplay. The core gameplay of running around an open world slaughtering orcs, destroying encampments, dominating captains and war chiefs is all still there and can be quite fun especially in 4K HDR. One problem is that the story mode is absolute dog shit and not only is it the quickest way to level up your character but also you need to play it for about 5-6 hours before you can even start dominating orcs.
So the start of this game is a real slog that I could see turning off a lot of gamers because honestly it is not fun. To boot the story feels like it was something pulled off of fanfiction.net. Why the fuck is Shelob suddenly a sexy spider lady? How the fuck does she have the power to dominate someone with the One Ring? Why are all of the humans doing stupid shit and running headfirst into obvious danger? The only interesting writing in this game is the crazy shit the orcs say when you initiate combat with them and even that gets tedious after a while.
Another issue is the fortress assaults. The marketing touted them as being completely dynamic and so engaging that each one would never be the same. From my experience every one is exactly the same unless you go out of your way to make it hard for yourself. If you simply kill all of the war chiefs and then assault the fortress you'll quickly capture the points and move on to fighting the overlord. It becomes so rote even after the second fortress assault. I don't understand why they didn't try to make each fortress assault unique since there aren't many of them.
The final nail in the coffin is the grind that happens near the end of the game where you have to do the same damn thing 10 times in a row. The strange thing is that each time you do one of these things you get almost no experience but your enemies level up so you now need to grind for experience and level up all of your orcs. Or you can just pay real money and buy max level orcs with kickass abilities. The drive for microtransactions became so incredibly transparent that it completely turned me off of the game. I put down the controller and have absolutely no plans to go back to this game.
I would not recommend Shadow of War to anyone. It is a completely broken game that is full of repetitive gameplay designed to either waste your time or entice you into paying real money to skip it. I wish I could understand how/why I still played 30 hours of this game before putting it down for good. Something about it tickled the broken part of my lizard brain and kept pulling me through all of the frustrating gameplay as long as I got to slaughter/dominate orcs at a decent pace I guess.
In other gaming news I played the second year of my Kingdom Death: Monster campaign. I hunted a full White Lion this time and it was super fun. However, even after another play session and probably over five hours put into this game total the rules are still stupidly complex. I bet it will take me several more hours before I find myself not looking up a rule every minute or so. Also, I am still not sure if I am "winning" in the sense that am I making good decisions that aren't going to bite me in the ass two or three play sessions down the line. I am partially afraid that I am going to come up against something that I can't beat and the game will just be over because of that but who knows, maybe I am fretting over nothing.
As fun as Kingdom Death: Monster is solo I can definitely see how it would be more fun playing with other people. After going back home for the holidays and remembering how much fun it is to be in the same room chatting and laughing with other people I really want to find some way to make that happen in 2018. Life is too short to be as cooped up in my apartment as I am even if I am enjoying what I am doing.
Become conversational in another language
I did absolutely nothing for this. I said I was going to make my own flash cards and continue using the Kana ones but I did neither. I really do want to be able to understand another language and I do love the idea of living in Japan at some point in the future but I am having real trouble motivating myself.
Nothing. I didn't even open up Xcode a single time.
Do not indulge in time killing activities
Yeah I did the exact opposite of this and basically engaged constantly in time killing activities. I would sleep in, barely make it to work in time, head home, eat dinner and then just waste time because my brain was drained. It was just far too easy to open up Reddit that I actually paid for 1Blocker and wrote a custom rule to prevent me from getting to Reddit.
I also watched the Rebuild of Evangelion movies, read the Evangelion manga, read the new Attack on Titan and watched the first season of Designated Survivor. None of these should really count as a "time killing activity" but I count them this month because I did not plan to do any of them. I used them as an excuse to do work on any of my other goals.
My hope for 2018 is that I can truly not indulge in any time killing activities and instead plan for everything including leisure time. If I am feeling drained or not in the mood to be particularly productive I want to have activities that I feel are still beneficial in some way and believe it or not watching TV or film can fill that role.
So how did I do on my goals for December?
Publish articles for Tokyo 2017 daily summaries.
Nailed it and you can read all of the daily summaries at the #Tokyo2017 tag.
Finish Japan Travel Tips series.
Also killed this and they are all under the #JapanTravelTips tag.
Publish 2017 Game of the Year articles.
I have the drafts ready and plan to publish under the #GamesOfTheYear tag either today or tomorrow.
Complete eight different V4 problems.
I didn't solve a single one. I did eight different V3 problems does that count? 😬
Use UberEats or TryCaviar only once a week!
We managed to do this but the number of times that once a week limit was used to order McDonald's was still too damn high.
Read at least 50% of Words of Radiance.
I can't believe I got through over 65% of it.
Beat Shadow of War.
I am going to say I beat it because the grindfest that is act 4 is no longer a game and is instead a ploy to get you to give them more money. Read this article at AV Club by Matt Gerardi to get a better idea of how bad the end of that game is.
Get to year 3 in Kingdom Death: Monster campaign.
Unfortunately I only got to year 2. I takes a long time to set up and I was only able to play it one weekend.
Continue using the Kana flash cards and begin creating your own.
Build script for generating iOS framework projects.
Did you know they have the Internet on computers now?
Alright let's not pussyfoot around this conclusion. December was a bad month. Other than all the writing I did at the start of the month and the amazing Christmas vacation I got to have with my family there was a lot of room for improvement. Now that the holidays are over and I am completely healthy again lets focus on getting back into a good routine. Bouldering this morning was a good first step and getting my ass to the gym tomorrow morning will be hopefully be the momentum I need.
With respects to resolutions I did write an article for my 2017 resolutions and I plan to write a retrospective on that as well as my resolutions for 2018 in the coming week.
But with respects to January of 2018, here is what I hope to get done:
- Publish retrospective on my 2017 resolutions and an article detailing my 2018 resolutions.
- Publish Game of the Year articles dating back to 2010. I have the lists I just need to quickly convert them to markdown.
- Create at least one hotlink article. I added the ability back in September but haven't made any use of it since. I want to get into the habit this year of constantly sharing things I find interesting.
- Complete four different V4 problems. One new V4 problem every week should not be out of the cards.
- Exercise everyday. I was going to make this something specific about weight training or yoga but let's just get back in the saddle and exercise every day of the month.
- Use UberEats or TryCaviar only once a week. I have done a pretty good job at this for a few months so let's try for one more month and then look to improve upon it in February.
- Beat Horizon: Zero Dawn before Monster Hunter World is released.
- Finish Words of Radiance and start reading Oathbringer.
- Do something involving Kingdom Death: Monster. Either build some more miniatures or play some more of the campaign.
- Build script for generating iOS framework projects. I know one of my resolutions for 2018 is going to be around hobby programming so I need to have at least one concrete goal.
- Draw something using my iPad.