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May 2018 Retrospective

For my first vacation of the year I travelled to Edinburgh, Scotland and I would recommend it to everyone. The historical sights, the amazing food, the beautiful highland scenery, Edinburgh had it all. My personal highlights would be eating at Dishoom, hiking Arthur's Seat, walking through The Real Mary King's Close and of course attending my cousin's wedding at the beautiful Dalhousie Castle.

One thing unrelated to Edinburgh that I must mention are the noise cancelling headphones I bought for the plane rides. A colleague recommended the Bose QuietComfort 20 headphones. As someone who has never used noise cancelling headphones before I was absolutely floored when I turned them on for the first time. The roar of the jet engines were reduced so much that I honestly could not believe what was happening. If you've never used headphones like these before you owe it to yourself to give them a try.

Outside of 10 amazing days in Scotland I played a lot of games and consumed a lot of media. If I don't force myself to be brief I could easily end up writing a dozen paragraphs on this so here it goes:

Whew, maybe I need to cut back on the amount of media I consume?

Health

I am legitimately impressed with how consistent I have been with my bouldering and yoga. It is a foregone conclusion that I am going to hit the gym or go to the studio. I don't even think about it anymore. It has gotten to the point where it is just as natural as going to work or eating a meal. I also managed to replicate my feat of three V5s in a single bouldering session as well as completing my first C2 yoga class. I have noticed that with this consistent exercising I have been putting a bit too much strain on my wrists and forearms so I'm going to make sure I stretch them out more and perhaps focus on strengthening them.

If you've been reading my monthly retrospectives you know that I've been gaining weight and simply chalking it up to muscle gain but I am finally ready to admit that is a lie. My diet has been atrocious and even though I am getting stronger I am also gaining a decent amount of fat. My health goals for the last few months have revolved around improving my exercising habits but I got that shit on lock now. It is time to focus on improving my diet and losing that spare tire around my waist.

Hobby Programming

I definitely did not do as much hobby programming as I wanted to but I finally managed to "publish" the Git Leaderboard. I use quotes around publish because I am not exactly happy with how it turned out. The code is still in a very poor state with absolutely no tests. Feature creep permeated all aspects of the project. I spent a lot time on documentation that doesn't really feel worth it. I even generated some examples in hopes that it would demonstrate the usefulness of the tool but it failed to convince even me.

I should have stopped working on this weeks ago. I think I wanted the Git Leaderboard to succeed was because I wanted to complete a project that I had total control over. Work has been fairly mundane recently and I haven't been able to flex my creative muscles. I saw the Git Leaderboard project as a way to showcase that I still had what it takes and when things started to falter I didn't want to admit defeat.

Having come to these realizations I want to set a very lofty goal for hobby programming this month. It is a goal I probably mentioned on this blog several times over the past year but I think with everything that has happened I am finally ready to truly commit to it. I am going to start work on my Observables framework for iOS and built it out using everything I know about how to develop a framework from scratch.

Read a book

I did manage to take a decent chunk out of The Lord of the Rings on my four plane rides this month but I am still only 39% of the way through it. I reached the chapter where Merry and Pippin meet Treebeard but it is still so god damn dry. The writing has been picking up since the Fellowship broke at Amon Hen but Tolkien's penchant for excruciating detail about things that have no bearing on the story is exhausting. My mind constantly wanders and I catch myself daydreaming because I don't care about what I am reading.

I am going to continue because I am very interested in seeing how Rohan and the Battle of Helm's Deep are represented but I am absolutely terrified about how monotonous Frodo and Sam's journey towards Mordor may turn out to be. I wish I had some notes about what I thought about The Lord of the Rings when I first read it 15 years ago because I still cannot believe 18 year old me was not bored to tears.

Gaming

I finally managed to beat God of War and I am going to force myself to keep this brief because I know I will end up writing an essay otherwise.

First the good. The graphics are absolutely stunning. The world and level design is top notch. I never felt lost or overwhelmed which is always a good sign in an open or hub world type of game. The story was engrossing (much more than I thought it could be) and the characters were extremely well written and voice acted. Christopher Judge killed it as Kratos and I think Alastair Duncan stole the show as the voice of Mimir.

You may have noticed that I haven't mentioned anything about the gameplay and unfortunately that is where I feel God of War falls short of its predecessors. The over the shoulder camera and slower combat was not interesting or fun to me. It didn't flow as well as it has in previous games and I found it difficult to chain combos and juggle enemies which I consider a staple of the God of War franchise.

The worst thing in my opinion is the horrible crafting system. Kratos' strength no longer depends on your skill but what gear you can craft to get your numbers up so you can fight the enemies that have higher numbers. For the first dozen or so hours I would routinely run into enemies that I physically couldn't beat and it was an extremely frustrating experience that made me want to stop playing the game. In my opinion action games like this should unlock modifiers to your skills that allow you to leverage new techniques which can make enemies easier. You shouldn't be able to use the same moves all game long and defeat enemies you couldn't before just because your numbers went up.

Even though I said I was going to be brief I still managed to write three paragraphs and I've barely scratched the surface. It may sound like I am hating on this game but I still think it is a really well put together video game and I would recommend it to most people. The story and visuals carry it and the combat is serviceable, it was just not up to the expectations that I had coming from the previous games in the series.

Alright let's try to burn through the rest of the games I played this month and not prattle on.

I am still really enjoying Dota 2. I can see myself gaining a better understanding of the game and my go to support picks of Shadow Shaman and Witch Doctor always result in a fun match. I was also a good Dota fanboi and put way too much money into The International Battle Pass.

I played the month of February in Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 and continued to be surprised by how the rules evolved. I cannot wait to play more of this game because it is truly impossible to predict what will happen next.

Beside reading books and watching movies on my plane rides I also played a good amount of Dragon Quest Builders on my Switch. You could describe it as a dumbed down version of Minecraft and Terraria. It is not a bad game but I found it to be much more constrained then I was expecting. The building and crafting isn't as open-ended as Minecraft and the combat was much too simple to be enjoyable. I could easily see how younger generations may be interested in a game like this but I found myself wanting to play other games that do these kind of mechanics better.

Plan out my day

I wrote that I wanted to try doing three things in May: set daily goals, write in-depth about why I chose one of those goals, write about what happened throughout the day.

Amazingly I managed to do each of those for the majority of May (with the exception of when I was on vacation because I was just too busy) and it really has helped give me a better understanding of my mindset throughout the month. Looking back at what I wrote I had honestly forgotten about a good number of things that had happened because I am just too focused on what has happened recently.

I am going to try to continue this practice in June but hopefully write even more every day. I'm not exactly sure what I am going to get out of this yet but it has been a very cathartic process.

Review

I thought I had been too aggressive with my goals when I was going to be vacationing for a third of the month but I didn't do half bad.

Three V5s in a single bouldering session.
Managed this feat on May 8th.

Try a C2 class in yoga
Did this on May 6th and it wasn't nearly as bad as we feared. Definitely more intense but we had all the skills necessary.

Don't buy any snacks or candies.
I am going to count this as half completed. I never bought snacks just for myself but I did have a get together with friends where I bought a number of snacks.

Cook/prepare your own meals every weekend.
Killed this. Pasta and steak & asparagus were the go to meals. Not exactly super healthy but they were better proportioned and routinely resulted in leftovers which we could eat for lunch the next day.

Ship the Git Banzuke.
Technically I did this but I still don't feel that it is really done.

Play God of War.
I beat it on May 28th. I would recommend it to most people.

Play 10 games of Dota 2.
I only managed to play 7 games this month. God of War just took up too much damn time.

Play the month of February in Pandemic Legacy: Season 1.
I managed to win this month as well but it was super close.

Publish Games of the Year 2014 article.
I didn't even start a draft.

Hotlink at least three things.
I actually did four:
They Voted for Obama, Then Went for Trump. Can Democrats Win Them Back?
Ole Begemann: Browsing your iOS app's Documents directory using the Files app
Chris Lattner on Rafael Avila de Espindola leaving the LLVM project
YouTube Recommendation: 2018 May Grand Sumo Tournament

Read at least half of The Lord of the Rings.
Only got to 39% of the way through.

Play Swords of Ditto with Elsie.
No but we did install it on a PS4 so that counts for something right???

Conclusions

I seem to have reached another plateau. All of that momentum I picked up in March has just been maintained in April and May. This isn't necessarily a bad thing but I definitely should be trying to make some tweaks for June. I am at risk of getting complacent and that usually results in a regression.

I am content with how much I exercise, how many games I play and how I plan and write about each day. These are obviously things worth maintaining for the month of June. However, I am not happy with my weight and diet as well as what the output has been from my hobby programming. I think these are the things that I need to focus on.

I also want to push myself to work on something that I haven't done for a while and that is my writing. June is the month of WWDC and E3 and with my recent vacation to Edinburgh I have a plethora of topics to write about.

All that being said, let's look at my specific goals for June.

#MonthlyRetrospective

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