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March 2018 Retrospective

When I started drafting this month's retrospective I was prepared for it to be really negative. I felt like I wasted too much time and that I didn't get as much done as I could have. Anyone who knows me wouldn't be shocked by that because I am a fairly pessimistic person. But as I started to outline all of the things I had done (referring to my Hobonichi Techo journal multiple times to be reminded of stuff I had forgotten) it became apparent that I really did have a productive month.

I'll go into much more depth about these things later on but here is a list of some of the things I did:

Now I am not saying there isn't room for improvement. I definitely did waste time and could have been more efficient but I want to make sure I realize that is more of a little improvement or optimization. What I have been doing has been working. I may not be super productive like some people but I am undoubtably moving in the right direction and want to make sure that I drive that point home.

Anyways, I'm going to hurt myself if I keep patting my back this hard so let us move on to the retrospective.

Health

March was an excellent, well let's not go overboard, let's say great month when it comes to health.

I continued to boulder three times a week and maintained my ability to do multiple V4s in a single session. I did fall short of the prediction I made in February where March would be the first month I did multiple V5s. While I did attempt multiple V5s, I was only able to complete a single one. However, those attempts were not half-assed and I came dangerously close to completing a couple. I have come to the realization that I am putting too much time into "warming up" and maintaining my current ability to do several V4s in a single session that I am not working on project routes as much as I should be. My goal for March now is to drastically cut the amount of time I spend on routes I know I can do and instead try to spend the majority of a session working on a route that I have never done.

I finally started doing yoga and sweet Jesus where has this been my entire life? Core Power Yoga hasn't only helped my flexibility but it is so strenuous that it leaves me sweating heavily at the end of every hour long class. After doing eight classes this month I am convinced that everyone should be doing yoga. I leave every class feeling energized and it has already helped improve my posture. So far I have only been able to introductory C1 classes but I hope that maybe midway through April I will be able to try out an intermediate C2 class.

Since I was spending five days a week doing either bouldering or yoga I slacked off when it came to weight lifting. Actually slacked off is being generous. I stopped lifting weights altogether and only managed to get on the elliptical a handful of times. I did make a couple of attempts to reach my goal of three sets of 30 push-ups but I after the first 30 my arms completely gave out on me. All of that being said I am actually not that upset because of the progress I was making on the other days. I am going to refocus these days to be mostly cardio and let bouldering and yoga help build my strength.

I am continuing to gain weight but I feel stronger and don't look unhealthy so I am not too worried. My clothes continue to fit and I feel great so I'm just going to chalk it up as more muscle and move on. That being said I will finally admit that my diet sucks. I have been deluding myself for far too long now. Eating out every night is not good no matter how "healthy" I try to convince myself the meals are. A baked chicken breast and some greens would undoubtably be better. Having a constant stream of carrots or grapes or apples is better than a tiny bag of chips or popcorn. I have been using work as an excuse to not prepare my own food for far too long now and I need to do something about it. The problem is, that at this exact moment, I cannot think of a solution which I will actually work towards and not just immediately abandon. I need to put some more energy into this and come up with something that I actually believe in.

Hobby Programming

While I did do a bit more work on the Git Leaderboard I don't think it was enough. I fixed a bug or two, wrote an actual README and started extending it to support multiple git repositories at once but all of these were small changes. I probably spent less than four hours total programming in March which does not feel like enough to say I actually did some hobby programming.

In February I wrote "I need to find a better way of integrating hobby programming into my day" and I barely made an effort to do that. I once again used the Git Leaderboard as an easy way out and really only worked on it out of a sense of guilt instead of genuine interest in the hobby.

I am going to write about this down below in the "Plan out my day" section but I'll give a little sneak peek here. The hope is that by picking an incredibly small problem and making it a goal to complete it by the end of the day I will kickstart my interest in programming. Setting a high-level goal like "work on Observables framework" can be self-defeating because you may not feel like you're making any progress. But with small, concrete goals like "create an Observables protocol and document its functionality" you should be able to say "yes, I solved this" and maybe even in as little as 10-15 minutes. But what I am banking on is that this is the first push of a snowball down a hill and that after I've solved that little problem I'll see something else I want to work on and I will organically continue.

While I would love to say my goal for April is to ship an Observables framework in Swift the much more realistic goal could be solve 5-10 small problems you set for yourself at the beginning of the day.

Read a book

The first (and last) time I read The Lord of the Rings was in 2003. I was a teenager who could just not wait for the film trilogy to be released and decided that I had to read all of the books first. I remember devouring them and even chastising Peter Jackson on the changes he made. How dare he leave out Tom Bombadil and how the hobbits actually got their Barrow-blades!

Now as an adult I find myself chastising Tolkien for writing about Tom Bombadil in the first place. I am only 10 chapters in (about 16% of the way through) and the majority of it has been an absolute slog. Tolkien doesn't appear to be a fan of Chekhov's gun and waxes poetically about things that turn out to be completely useless.

I am at the part where the hobbits are preparing to stay in Bree for the night and it feels like things may be picking up. I don't want to jinx it but hopefully those earlier chapters were Tolkien getting his legs under him and he will soon be hitting his stride because otherwise I cannot remember what I found so alluring about these books those many years ago.

Gaming

March actually turned out to be a much busier month for gaming than I had anticipated.

I continued to play Monster Hunter: World to absolutely no one's surprise. I have played over 140 hours of that game and have still only used the Charge Blade. Go back to my January and February retrospectives if you want to hear me gush over this game some more but just know that it is still the best game that has been released in 2018.

I also continued to play Into the Breach. Its fast pace and quick playthroughs make it really easy to keep saying "just one more turn". Also their brilliant achievement system, which acts as a form of currency, really helps guide you. Sometimes I open the game not knowing what I want to do, see an achievement I want to get and suddenly two hours have passed. Kudos to them for this amazing game design.

Also, I think I finally was able to identify the game mechanic from FTL: Faster Than Light that I was really missing in Into the Breach. In FTL you were always looking to purchase something. Your starting equipment, crew, etc was never enough to get you through the game. In Into the Breach your starting equipment is what you will end the game with probably 90% of the time. You will use the money you make in Into the Breach to power up your starting equipment where in FTL you would use it to replace what you started with. This led to you praying to RNGesus that the next shop you got to would have that one piece of equipment which could save your ass. While that may sound like bad game design it led to amazing playthroughs where I was able to cobble together equipment that synergized in some unsuspecting ways and I felt like a god. In Into the Breach you never really get that feeling. You just go through the motions and power up your starting equipment and use the same tactics over and over again. It is the reason why I feel that I will get bored of Into the Breach faster than FTL.

One thing I want to point out is that I understand why Subset Games did this. Every squad in Into the Breach synergizes so well with one another, and usually in ways you don't recognize at first. All their weapons and skills were meticulously designed such that you can always enjoy playing with them. This means that every playthrough of Into the Breach can be fun and result in your victory. In FTL you would routinely get dealt a bad hand where there was literally nothing you could do to win and your last 15-30 minutes of playing were pointless. I don't know what the solution to this problem is but identifying it was a "Eureka!" moment that I experienced which I wanted to share.

I also briefly played Burnout Paradise Remastered. I put about two hours into it and it is still the same perfect arcade racer that I played a decade ago. If you have never played Burnout Paradise and are in the mood for an arcade racer than you must buy Burnout Paradise Remastered.

At Elsie's behest I decided to finish off March by playing Far Cry 5. I haven't actually played a game in the Far Cry series since Far Cry 3 and even though I heard it was very derivative I remembered liking Far Cry 3 and decided to give it a shot. That was a huge mistake. Far Cry 5 is a horrible game that no one should play. Ubisoft's first-person controls on consoles are still garbage. The game has a field of view of like 65 degrees so you can barely see anything. Traversing the world is tedious, not interesting. There are several instances where enemies come to capture you and there is nothing you can do to prevent it. The villains are so comically evil that they aren't interesting. They have absolutely no nuance and are just batshit loco because they are all on drugs. And to top it all off, Ubisoft commits the cardinal sin of locking all of the interesting game mechanics behind perks that you need to unlock. I have absolutely no fucking idea how this game got through any sort of focus testing. God damn I didn't want to rant about Far Cry 5 and look what happened. Fuck this garbage and let's move on to thinking about April.

For April I see myself playing all of the same games with two exceptions. First, I want to get into playing Dota 2 again. Since I will be going to The International 2018 I wanna try to have a greater understanding of the game. Second, BattleTech comes out on April 24th and I am a huge fan of Harebrained Schemes and am very much interested in seeing what their next game will be like.

Plan out my day

I absolutely failed at this in February and tried to rectify the issue by not only setting my goals for the day but writing a few sentences about why I set them. If I didn't meet a goal I would then have to write about why and the hope was this would give me greater insight into what my motivations were and why I was failing.

I was able to maintain this habit for almost three weeks before I fell off the wagon and stopped completely. I looked back at all of my writings and the reasonings I gave were always superficial. There were a handful of times where what I wrote was actually insightful but everything else was not even worth the paper it was written on. The majority of my reasons for why something didn't happen usually boiled down to "I ran out of time" or "I was tired". Yeah no shit Reid. Welcome to the real world.

I think the reason this happened was because I felt obligated to write something down. I never wanted to. I thought it was going to help me but I immediately resented myself for having this stupid idea. It forced me to think about my entire day before I was really ready to and resulted in me setting myself up for failure which I then hated to see.

I don't think writing down goals is a bad thing. I want to continue setting goals every day but not be afraid of failing to meet them. These goals should just be a rough guideline of what I think is important that day. What I want to change is the requirement that I justify each and every goal. Instead I want to write in-depth about one important thing that I should get done that day. Maybe it encompasses a couple of goals, maybe it encompasses none of them. But I would like to look back at every day in April and try to understand what was the main thing that was motivating or driving me that day. I'm sure some will be very simple like "I want to spend time with friends" or "I want to relax and play video games". My hope is that if I force myself to do this every day I can gather a greater understanding of the days where I am truly productive.

Review

I am very impressed with the goals I set for March. I either knocked them out of the park or it was a bad goal I shouldn't have set in the first place. There was no middle ground.

Do yoga at least eight times.
Yup 👍🏻

Do three reps of thirty push-ups each.
Failed horribly. I can still do thirty push-ups in a row but my second rep never went higher than 20. In retrospect, this was a really stupid goal.

Build script for generating iOS framework projects.
I have been carrying this thing over from January and haven't made a single attempt so it dies this now. I will not be carrying it over again.

Publish Games of the Year 2012 article.
Yup. I am still amazed that I thought Halo 4 was the fourth best game of 2012.

Hotlink at least three things.

Make a hot sauce from scratch.
Wrote up the recipes for the grilled pineapple jalapeño and red habanero hot sauces we made.

Write about the motivations behind the goals I set and why I failed to keep them.
I already talked about this above but I only managed to do it for about three weeks and the reasoning was so shallow that it was not worth writing.

Play a new video game.
I played both Burnout Paradise Remastered and Far Cry 5.

Play year 4 of Kingdom Death: Monster campaign.
I kicked ass once again. Either I am playing this game totally wrong, I am super lucky or I am just a tactical genius. I am betting it is not the latter.

Read at least half of The Lord of the Rings.
I only got through 16% and it was like pulling teeth. Hopefully the next 84% is better.

Build the Gundam figurine Elsie bought me for Christmas.
I was a major pain in the ass but sweet Jesus it is stunning.

Conclusions

I'm not sure what more I can say about this month either than let's try to keep this momentum going and continue to improve moving into April. I hope to do that by completing the following goals:

#MonthlyRetrospective

🎮