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Reid Main

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July 2018 Retrospective

When Death's dark stream I ferry o'er,
A time that surely shall come,
In Heav'n itself I'll ask no more,
Than just a Highland welcome.

- The Highland Welcome by Robert Burns

July 2018 was the month where Granny Main took her last breath. Ever the trooper, she soldiered through her illnesses these last few years but a part of me cannot help but feel some relief knowing that burden has been lifted from her shoulders. I do not know what is after this life but I know that Granny deserves the peace she has finally found. It is impossible for me to do her life justice in this one tiny paragraph but even if I blathered on for thousands of words it still wouldn't be enough. I just hope that she knows how much I loved her for what she did for me and that I made her proud.

If there is one thing I know for certain it is that Granny wouldn't want to see me sitting around all mopey so I finally got off my ass and quit my job. I cannot say what my new job is just yet since we are still in stealth mode but it is in a field that I never thought I would get the opportunity to work in. I am only the second iOS engineer and if I play my cards right I will be in a position to really grow alongside the company. I honestly hope that I am still at this company five years down the road, when we are hundreds of employees and I am managing a team of my own. This is a long cry from what I wrote about previously where I wasn't sure what I would be doing in five months let alone five years.

Health

Consistency was the name of the game for July and I nailed it. Between bouldering, yoga, the elliptical and running outdoors I managed to exercise every single day. I definitely didn't push myself as hard as I have in the past but that is something I can look to build back up to. Setting good habits is really difficult but I feel July has done a good job at laying the foundations.

My consistency carried over to my diet as well. Breakfast was either Soylent, yogurt or cereal all month and amazingly I didn't falter once. Lunches were my heaviest meal of the day (just like I had planned) but I could have done a better job with portion control and minimizing my carbs. Dinner was where I really impressed myself because I actually managed to drink Soylent for 20 days! I also never ordered out more than once on the weekend and even cooked like I said I would. I did have a few moments of weakness where I snacked on some things I shouldn't have but those instances could be counted on two hands. Baby steps.

While the last two paragraphs made it sound like I did a great job this month health-wise that unfortunately was not represented on the scale. I did not manage to meet my goal of 160 pounds but my weight and body fat percentage are trending downwards. Things are improving but just not at the ludicrous pace that I was hoping. But I fully accept that there is a lot more room for improvement and I am not going to let missing my goals break my spirit.

For August there is no reason I can't keep up exercising every day while pushing myself a little bit harder and eating a little bit less.

Hobby Programming

This section has become a joke. I really am not sure what to do with it anymore. I'll go into this more in detail in the "plan out my day" section but the gist is that I just used being exhausted after work as an excuse to play video games, watch TV, browse Reddit. Pretty much anything other than be productive. Sure there is a little validity since my new job is much more taxing but I easily have 3+ hours every night and even just taking an hour to do something constructive should not be too much to ask.

I am still holding out hope that my new job will reinvigorate me and make me want to program outside of work but maybe that is just more wishful thinking.

Read a book

I also used exhaustion as an excuse to not pick up a book which is absolutely asinine. Reading is one of the most relaxing things someone can do. If I am getting home at 7pm dead tired then why not curl up on the couch with a book rather than re-watching a sitcom or browsing Reddit?

On July 29th I finally managed to grow a pair and I picked up my Kindle Paperwhite and continued reading The Lord of the Rings. I have read about six more chapters and am kinda getting hooked again. Elsie and I have decided that we are no longer allowed to use our iPhones in bed and we can only read on our Kindles. I have actually started to turn in a bit early so I can get in some more reading time.

If somehow I manage to finish reading Lord of the Rings in August I hope to pick up Stay Awhile and Listen, a novel detailing how the original Diablo was made, or maybe even start reading some of the plethora of pen-and-paper role-playing books I have bought.

Gaming

I am struggling to explain why I continue to play Dota 2. The game is a roller coaster of emotions and can make me incredibly toxic. I pride myself on communicating with my teammates and being positive but sometimes the game just pushes my buttons and I say (more like scream) some things that would make a sailor blush. Even after typing those last sentences I really want to go play some more games to see if I can improve my Crystal Maiden. There is something about a competitive game with such a high skill ceiling that draws me to it like flies to scheisse. If I am going to continuing banging my head against this wall I can at least make a better effort to curtail my anger. Maybe I should just yell out "serenity now" whenever I get frustrated?

On the complete other side of the spectrum from Dota 2 we have Planetary Annihilation: Titans. A real-time strategy game in the vein of Total Annihilation and Supreme Commander where you just create hundreds of units and watch them blow shit up. It became my goto game when I just wanted to turn my brain off and watch things explode. I honestly wasn't expecting the game to be that mindless. I was hoping for a complex and nuanced RTS but even on the second highest difficulty setting the enemies were pretty tame.

Octopath Traveler was one of my most hyped releases of 2018. While it didn't live up to my expectations it was still a very solid JRPG. The combat system in particular was very nuanced and while the stories were relatively shallow for a JRPG they were still surprisingly engaging. My biggest problems with the game come from it staying too close to the outdated mechanics of JRPGs. Things like party members can't be swapped out during combat and gain no experience if they don't participate which leads to a monotonous grind. Boss battles are also far too drawn out and random encounters are so frequent that they become tedious almost immediately.

However, the cardinal sin is that the game presents you with a choice of eight characters at the very beginning with absolutely no knowledge of the combat system or each characters' strengths and weaknesses. You must choose a character that will stay with you for the entirety of the 50+ hour game with this complete lack of knowledge. If you picked a character that you did not like your only option is to restart the game and eventually play that character's opening chapter again. This is absolutely inexcusable and I cannot believe it made it into the final game.

Since The International 2018 is in August I am sure I am going to continue to play Dota 2 but I am not yet sure if I am going to finish Octopath Traveler. I am debating replacing it with The Banner Saga 3 because I have played the first two games in the series and am curious how the trilogy will end. Oh and if I need a game where I turn off my brain and watch things explode I am considering trying Warframe.

Plan out my day

I continued to write out daily goals but I am not yet convinced of their usefulness. They seem to be more relevant on the weekend when I have more time to fill but during the week it was mostly just two goals: exercise and then the one random thing I would try and mostly fail to do after work. I will continue setting daily goals in August but I am going to try to make them more aspirational. Set goals I wish I could do if I had more time not the pragmatic goals I am setting now. That may give better insight as where my head is at.

Writing a summary about my day didn't work out as well as I thought it would because I quickly came to resent it. I think the reason was because I got really good about writing down my feelings before the day so when it came to write a summary I felt as if I had already written everything I needed to. I did get better at keeping my Hobonichi Techo within arms reach but I still ended up doing most of my writing at home around dinnertime. I need to focus on spreading that out more.

Also cataloging every day as being either negative, positive or neutral really helped. To thumb through July's entries and pick a negative page out I usually have a pretty clear picture of what caused me to feel that way. In July I had 5 positives, 10 negatives and 16 neutral. I'm not too worried about the neutrals being so high but that positive to negative ratio definitely has to be improved. Looking back at those negative days the solutions seem to be get more engaged at work, don't watch so much TV and stop getting so angry at Dota 2.

Like my health I am trending in the right direction when it comes to planning out my day. I am gaining a greater understanding of what makes me happy and sad and this allows me to set goals to improve myself.

For August I am going to:

Review

Wow I am actually entering the review portion of my retrospective on a high note. I like this feeling! Let's see if I can carry it forward.

Exercise everyday.
You're damn right I did!

Reach 160 pounds.
I dropped about five pounds and one percent of body fat but I didn't hit my 160 goal. I don't think it was a ridiculous goal but it was unrealistic based on the amount of effort I was putting in. I could definitely exercise more efficiently and easily eat less.

Only snack on fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts.
I definitely didn't snack only on fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts but the number of transgressions can be counted on a single hand so I will count this as a win.

Preplanned dinners. Soylent during the week. Cook one dinner on the weekend and order for the other.
Similar to my snacking goal, I didn't do this for every dinner but I only faltered two or three times so I want to count this as another win.

Start work on Observables framework.
And I was doing so well. No, I didn't even attempt to work on tis.

Publish how to setup a Mac Mini as a Jenkins CI node article.
This one took a lot longer than I was expecting but I am happy with the result. It is something I will undoubtedly reference in the future.

Publish Games of the Year 2015 article.
The year of Monster Hunter. I was actually shocked I got it done so early in the month. Usually I procrastinate and don't start working on it until mid-month.

Read Lord of the Rings
I finally got back into the swing of thing and knocked out half a dozen chapters. Still half of the book to go still.

Before bed write a brief summary of the day and if you felt it was positive or negative.
I completed this and it was supremely helpful to get a look into my psyche everyday.

Conclusions

I am going to The International in August and my new job is going to be very taxing so I need to come up with realistic goals that can fit into this new lifestyle.

#MonthlyRetrospective

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