This is going to be a shorter retrospective than usual because I did not start drafting it until August 29th. A planned vacation extended by an unplanned trip to Toronto combined with a demanding new job conspired to steal a lot of my free time this month.
I mentioned Granny Main's passing in my July retrospective and I was finally able to return home and pay the proper respects she deserved. Not by cramming into a stuffy church and mourning but by celebrating her life. I was so happy that her funeral was a more upbeat and chipper affair because I know it is what she would have wanted. She always brought life into the room and the eulogies from her son and her grandchildren did just that. I am going to miss you Granny and I hope I can touch but a fraction of the number of people you did in your amazing life.
From Toronto I headed out to Vancouver for The International 2018. I have been watching these tournaments for seven years now and I was finally able to attend in-person. While I had an absolute blast overall there was a lot of downtime and the days were incredibly drawn out. We would wake up every morning at 8 am, leave by 8:30 and not get back to our Airbnb until 9 pm at the absolute minimum. One day we arrived home at 11:30 pm and that was straight from the Rogers Arena! Despite the long days it was a dream to watch OG capture the Aegis in a five game Grand Finals. It was a storybook ending to the tournament and everything I experienced has me stoked for The International 2019 in Shanghai next year.
Oh and one thing I absolutely have to call out before I get into the meat of this retrospective, stop whatever it is you are doing and go watch this gameplay reveal of Cyberpunk 2077. I can already tell that whatever year this game comes out (I am gonna bet it won't be until the next console generation) it will be my undisputed game of the year.
This wasn't the greatest month from a "being active" perspective. I was all excited to finally receive my Onewheel+ XR and immediately proceeded to sprain my thumb on my very first ride. Thankfully it wasn't too severe (I was actually able to keep riding) but it did hamper my ability to boulder and do yoga. I was barely able to attempt any V4s let alone V5s so most of my exercise related goals for this month were shot. I did soldier on though and focused a lot on cardio to ensure I was still staying active up until my trip out of the country which is where I essentially stopped exercising for the rest of the month.
From a food perspective I did much better. Soylent is still my goto meal for breakfast and dinner and my portion sizes for lunch are improving. I also managed to minimize my snacking and increase the amount of fruits I consume. My weight has continued to trend downwards and I even hit 160 pounds on a number of occasions. September will finally be the month where I get back to my January 2018 weight!
All that being said, my time at The International 2018 was a complete gong show. Not only was I sitting on my ass for 10+ hours a day but the only food available was Rogers Arena concession stands. That meant we were able to chose from hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza or grilled cheese for lunch and dinner every night for six days. The only variety we had was in the snacks which consisted of sugar donuts, popcorn, pretzels or churros. While Reid from 15 years ago might have loved this predicament, 2018 Reid was ready for salads by the time he got back to San Francisco.
OK I technically did do some programming this month. Some eagle-eyed readers may have noticed the design of my blog changed around August 11th. That was because I played around with my templating engine in an attempt to make the site easier to navigate and consume. I didn't make all of the changes I wanted to but it was definitely a start.
That being said I barely consider that hobby programming. It was more design if anything. While I definitely had a lot less free time this month I chose to spend it playing video games, reading books or watching YouTube instead of programming. It was a conscious decision I made and I just can't seem to force myself to program.
The worst thing is that after my first month at my new job the importance of this has skyrocketed but I am still having trouble finding the right motivation and, at the time of this writing, I still don't know what I can do to kickstart it.
Read a book
I was successful in replacing my iPhone with my Kindle Paperwhite in bed for the first half of the month and it helped me make a significant dent in The Lord of the Rings. I am about 64% of the way through it which places me a few chapters into The Return of the King. Compared to the movies I am at the part where Frodo has entered Mordor and Gandalf is preparing Gondor's defences.
My goal for September is to finally finishing reading Lord of the Rings so I can finally move onto something new.
I played a lot of Dota 2 in the run-up to the International. I got good at playing a single game after work every day and then stop regardless whether I won or lost. This mentality seemed to result in me playing with a much more even keel and I actually went on a bit of a win streak. Even the games I lost weren't as one-sided or as bitter as they had been in the past. Having watched The International I just want to play even more Dota and try out all of the support characters I saw on the main stage. We'll see if I get the opportunity to play in September.
How the mighty have fallen with respect to Octopath Traveler. I was so hyped for this game and now I have completely stopped playing. The grind just got too much and the lack of an overarching story gave me little reason to continue playing. I literally got into a boss fight that dragged on so long I couldn't finish it and had to go to bed. I put the game down and forgot to pick it up again.
On a positive note I have put a little over two hours into The Banner Saga 3 and it is exactly the game I was expecting. The story, characters and graphics are still top notch and the tactical gameplay continues to be engaging. Unfortunately the RPG elements are still as weak and punishing as the previous games in the series but nevertheless I am very much looking forward to finishing the trilogy in September.
At work we held a Switch game night where we played a bunch of Rocket League and Mario kart but I would say the most fun came from an indie game called Runbow. Essentially it is a platform racing game where up to eight players try to get to a trophy at the end of the level by screwing over their competition along the way. It is very similar to SpeedRunners and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a fun multiplayer game on the Switch.
I did pick up Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate for the Nintendo Switch near the end of the month but I haven't had a chance to play it yet.
So as of this moment I have three games that I want to play in September: Banner Saga 3, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate and Dota 2. Normally that would be enough for any month but September is going to be crazy this year because two amazing games are being released. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age and Spider-Man both come out in the first week of September and I don't know what I am going to do with myself. I spent the start of this article talking about how I had so little free time and didn't spend any of it programming and now I get hit with this amazing wave of games. 🤷🏻♂️
Plan out my day
I did a stellar job at writing in my journal for the first half of the month. Each page is almost completely full and contains a lot of insight into my thoughts and feelings on that day. I fell off the wagon when I went on vacation but I partially picked up the habit when I got back and plan to continue it into September.
I said that I wanted to write more aspirational daily goals in my journal and that apparently lasted for about a week. I am going to make an attempt to do it again in September but augment it ever so slightly. I want some of these goals to be about what I want to do at work. I've noticed that most of my journal entries just clump everything related to work in one big 10 hour blob which is insane when that is the majority of my day. In the past I just treated work as something I had to get through so I can actually do something I want and I cannot have this mentality. I hope that by setting these goals and writing more about work I'll gain a greater understanding of what parts of the job I like and what parts I don't and how I can change.
Cataloging every day as being either negative, positive or neutral was useful as a sort of way to "dog ear" days so I could easily reference the good or the bad ones. The "come up with a single word to represent the day" has been a very mixed bag. Leafing through the pages some of those words really leap out and do help frame the day while others make absolutely no sense. I think I will continue to try doing it in September but not make it a requirement. If some word (maybe words?) really jumps to mind then I'll write it down but I think forcing myself to do it is just generating a lot of junk.
Exercise everyday. When I am at The International just close my move ring on my Apple Watch.
Failed but not by much. I exercised every day until I left for Canada but only managed to exercise two days in last week of the month.
Climb three V5s in a single bouldering session.
After spraining my right thumb on my inaugural Onewheel ride I could barely climb so no I did not do this one.
Lose some weight and/or body fat.
Amazingly I did this. I am trending downwards and am actually quite confident I will be able to hit my January 2018 weight.
Don't be a god damn pig when eating at The International. A salad or two isn't going to kill me.
Ok this is a tough one. In my defense I really tried not to eat poorly but we had to eat only food we found in Rogers Arena which was garbage. So technically I wasn't a pig because I really didn't want to eat any of that food but I did it just to survive.
Order out only once a week.
I think we may have ordered out twice during the third week of August but the fact that I can't remember shows that we're doing a much better job at either making our own food or just drinking Soylent.
Publish Games of the Year 2016 article.
Didn't even start it.
Read Lord of the Rings.
Made good progress. I am 64% of the way through.
Grade each day as either positive, negative or neutral and write as to why that is.
So I was doing really well with this and then completely fell off the wagon when I left the country. I found that I forgot about my journal for most of the day and by the time I got home and ready for bed I was so tired that I would either forget or just quickly mark something down and not write any details about it.
Play a board game.
I beat the month of April in Pandemic Legacy: Season 1. Shit is actually hitting the fan but I handled it quite well. I can't wait to play May.
Play The Banner Saga 3.
I played a little over 2 hours.
Don't use iPhone or iPad in bed.
While I did manage to do this at the start of the month (which is why I managed to read so much of The Lord of the Rings) I immediately went back to using my iPhone in bed when I went on vacation and still haven't broken out of that habit even now that I am back in SF.
Put 20 kilometers on my Onewheel+ XR.
I think I only got a little over 10 kilometers on it. I was only able to get in one good ride before leaving for Canada and I wasn't able to ride it after I got back.
No TV/YouTube unless it is new content I have not watched before.
I actually managed to do this surprisingly. I am subscribed to some really good YouTube channels.
Write any Swift code for fun.
Alright I grossly underestimated how much free time I have during the week so let's try to actually set some sane goals this month knowing that constraint.
- Exercise everyday. There is no excuse now that I am back in SF and not traveling this month.
- Climb five V4s in a single bouldering session. I need to get back into form and this seems like a good goal.
- Get back to January 2018 weight. If I can maintain an average of 160 pounds this month I will be super satisfied.
- Order out only once a week.
- Finish reading Lord of the Rings.
- Grade each day as either positive, negative or neutral.
- Set at least one daily goal involving work.
- Publish Games of the Year 2016 article.
- Finish The Banner Saga 3.
- Play May in Pandemic Legacy: Season 1.
- Ride my Onewheel every weekend.
- Write Swift code.