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September 2018 Retrospective

Like I suspected, work was just as demanding this month and as a result my spare time was quite limited. That being said, I definitely did not make efficient use out of this time so I cannot absolve myself of all blame. Long hours at work and poor sleep led me to take the easy way out and mostly do nothing but veg in front of the TV when I got home.

I am making it sound like I got nothing done which is far from the truth. If you look at my goals for last month I completed nearly all of them. But when you look back at my journal you'll see a staggering number of days where it looks like I did absolutely nothing. I refuse to believe that those days were just "off days" and it was physically impossible to do anything. I have so many hobbies that do not feel like work and yet instead of doing them I would default to YouTube or Netflix. For October I want to set some goals to really force myself to default to other things when I am "too tired" that are more productive than YouTube or Netflix or Reddit.

That being said, if you were curious about what TV I wasted my time with in September then look no further than Amazon's Jack Ryan and F is for Family. Both are excellent shows that I would recommend except maybe ingest them in a bit more moderation than I did. Elsie and I also watched Jason's amazing coverage of the September Grand Sumo tournament. If you haven't watched any sumo you will not go wrong making this your first tournament. There were so many great storylines and the competition was fierce throughout. Elsie also dragged me to the romcom Crazy Rich Asians which was actually quite good. Sure it was tropey but the backdrop of insanely rich people in Singapore was very fun.

Before I get into the meat of this month's retrospective I wanted to do a quick public service announcement for all of the men out there. Generally speaking we all try to avoid going to the doctor and specialists even more so. But I really want to hammer home the idea that every male should get himself checked out by a urologist. I won't go into gory details but my general practitioner referred me to a urologist who identified something that has been wrong with me since I was born. I really should have been doing routine checkups every few years when I entered my 20s which could have caught this much sooner. Most people think urology is only for old men who have trouble going to the bathroom but that is far from the truth. So if you're reading this man the fuck up and make an appointment today.

Anyways, onto the retrospective!

Health

I am going to try to breeze through this section really quick because honestly there isn't much to write about. I was able to exercise every day. I bouldered three times a week and did yoga / rode my OneWheel every weekend. I even started running outside again!

I am eating decent sized portions for lunch and dinner as well as supplementing/replacing meals with Soylent. I am drinking tons of water, minimizing my caffeine intake and trying not to snack. My weight is trending downwards but I only managed to lose a pound. However, my body fat percentage is also dropping which is a good sign.

If I did the exact same things in October I think I would be able to claim a victory healthwise but I want to push myself a little bit. I do feel that I could be exercising more and snacking even less, or at least smarter. So for October I am going to try to do something more exhausting on Wednesday mornings. I am thinking either running 10 km or doing a 60 minute yoga class. Really try to transform that hump day into something more positive. For snacks I want to stop eating the carb heavy stuff that is available at the office and focus more on fresh fruit. There are a dozen convenience stores within walking distance of me. Taking a 10 minute break in the afternoon for a little walk and fruit should do me good.

Hobby Programming

Amazingly I got off my ass this month. Having to use RxSwift at work spurred me to investigate building my own alternative. So on Monday September 3rd I finally started my "Observables Kumite" where I compare and contrast BrightFutures, PromiseKit, RxSwift and any other futures/observables frameworks that are popular.

The goal is to come up with common use cases that I have had for observables frameworks and implement them in BrightFutures, PromiseKit, RxSwift, etc. At the same time I am designing how I would like my own observables framework to work in each of these use cases. The hope is that by actually having concrete implementations from a variety of frameworks I will be able to make much more educated decisions versus just jumping right in and trying to pivot my architecture as I think up a new use case.

I believe I have finally implemented all of the use cases that jumped to mind but there is a nagging feeling in the back of my head that I am missing something. However I feel that I am finally at the point where I can start building and testing my own solution. The goal is to push the Kumite and my observables framework to GitHub before the end of October. I don't think I am going to be "done" in the sense that I could use this framework in production but I hope it is such a state where someone could read the code and learn something from it. Documentation and proper testing is usually the hardest last 10% of any project and I am not going to delude myself into thinking I will get all of that done in October.

Read a book

Someone please shoot me. I am only 77% of the way through The Lord of the Rings and Frodo SPOILER ALERT just finished throwing the One Ring into Mount Doom. Well technically Gollum fell into it with the Ring but let's not split hairs here. How the hell is there still 23% of this book left? I am legitimately shocked 18 year old me was not bored to tears.

I am going to try my best to finish Lord of the Rings in October (My Kindle says I "only" have four hours left) but I have said that for three straight months now. I started reading this god damn book in March! I finished the entire Stormlight Archive in less time.

Gaming

I could not be more disappointed by The Banner Saga 3. The first two hours were really interesting but little did I know that was its peak. The story basically failed to progress and its ending was wholly unsatisfying. It was essentially Mass Effect's "choose your color ending" where nothing you did leading up to that point really mattered. The combat also flat-lined and was simply made more "difficult" by throwing more of the same enemies at you while your soldiers were injured because there was no time to rest in between battles anymore. I had such high hopes for this game and it is so disappointing to see nothing changed or improved upon from the previous one. It feels like the developers just limped this one across the finish line because the fans wanted an ending to the story that was started back in 2014.

Thankfully I was able to cleanse my palette by jumping into Insomniac Games' Spider-Man. It is the perfect example of a game where there is always something obvious to do and traversal is always fun. I think the closest competitor in this regard would be the Assassin's Creed games or maybe Grand Theft Auto. Sandbox games where the side content is almost as good as the main story.

That being said (just like an Assassin's Creed game) it also feels a bit rough around the edges. While the web slinging is A+ and the combat can be very engrossing I have so many memories of me not wanting to swing in that particular way or I didn't mean to attack that enemy. There were enough sharp corners that made me super frustrated at the game for like 5-10 minutes but then I would immediately go back to loving it.

The story is also extremely tropey, to the point where it even becomes groan inducing. There are so many characters wearing plot armor who just keep doing the stupidest shit over and over again but emerge without a scratch because the writer said so. Not to mention the forced stealth missions with characters who have no powers that only exist to further the ridiculous story which could have easily been told in a cutscene.

There is this great Reddit post where the comments really dig into a lot of stuff that I had similar problems with. The tl;dr is that a lot of people are giving this game a pass because they were so desperate for a good Spider-Man game. They are not as critical about it as they would be other sandbox games like Assassin's Creed, Watch Dogs, Metal Gear Solid V, Grand Theft Auto, etc.

All of that being said, I still think Spider-Man is one of the best games this year and everyone should play it. Seriously it appeals to nearly ever type of gamer. I just want to make sure it does get properly critiqued so when the inevitable sequel gets released it takes steps in the right direction instead of just doing more of the same. If I have to play a single stealth mission in Spider-Man 2 then I will know the developers just stuck their fingers in their ears.

Since it took me 20+ hours to beat Spider-Man I wasn't able to put as much time into Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age as I wanted but it is a quintessential JRPG which I am super in the mood for right now. I'm only about seven hours in so the story and combat are still very nascent but you can see them starting to open up. I am really looking forward to when I get a full party and the big bad that I have to defeat starts to show themselves.

In board game news I managed to lose both games in May of Pandemic Legacy: Season 1. Much of the world was permanently damaged in a way that I fear will make completing all of the necessary objectives nigh impossible. Those two loses sapped a lot of my interest but I am going to force myself to play through one more month and see what happens. If I lose both games in June I will probably put the game down for good.

So tentative plans for October are to get through the majority of Dragon Quest XI and hopefully start The World Ends with You: Final Remix on my Nintendo Switch. Elsie has spoken so highly of this game that with the port for the Switch coming out I figured I would finally give it a shot. I also hope to play some Super Mario Party and maybe throw in some NHL 19 in preparation for the upcoming season. I shouldn't count out CoD: BlOps 4 because I could easily see a critical mass of friends picking up that game and I would follow those lemmings right off that cliff.

Plan out my day

So from a planning perspective I did OK. I tried to set aspirational goals and even though I didn't always meet them, they did a good job of pushing me. I fell off the wagon a bit near the end of the month but on the whole I liked my goal setting and I want to try to see it through for the entire month of October. I think forcing myself to set five goals before noon is a good idea to really force me to consider what I could get done that day.

When it comes to writing about my day I did not do that as often as I had hoped. There are some days where it looks like I wrote an essay and others where I simply listed what I had for lunch and dinner. I need to do a better job of writing in my journal throughout the day. I plan to keep my journal visible at all times so every 2-3 hours I should be able to jot down something that I did during that timeframe. Currently I just block off 9-7 as "worked" which is not useful in the slightest. I should be able to break down every couple hours of my day to have some truly insightful data to look back on.

Oh also marking the days as either positive, negative or neutral has backfired horribly because everything seems to be negative when you're working a lot and don't get any sleep. Maybe my barometer for what is a "good day" needs to be re-calibrated or maybe this is a sign that I need to majorly shake up my life.

Review

✅ Exercise everyday.
Doctor appointments prevented me from exercising a couple of mornings but otherwise I was able to exercise every day and I didn't half ass any of those days either.

✅ Climb five V4s in a single bouldering session.
I managed this on September 16th. I still couldn't do any V5s but I am still quite satisfied with the progress I made on some of the more challenging V4s.

🙅🏻‍♂️ Get back to January 2018 weight.
Unfortunately I am still a little over 161 pounds. I am heading towards 160 but this last pound is proving to be a doozy.

✅ Order out only once a week.
Did it again. We've actually started to want to cook on the weekends and Soylent for dinner during the week is going strong.

🙅🏻‍♂️ Finish reading Lord of the Rings.
77% done. I think I will probably die before I reach 100%.

✅ Grade each day as either positive, negative or neutral.
I definitely did it. Whether or not it was useful is still a question to be answered.

🤷🏻‍♂️ Set at least one daily goal involving work.
Looking back I did it about 70-80% of the time.

😳 Publish Games of the Year 2016 article.
I legitimately forgot I set this goal.

✅ Finish The Banner Saga 3.
Beat it the first week of the month. Would not wish it upon my worst enemy.

✅ Play May in Pandemic Legacy: Season 1.
Lost both games though.

✅ Ride my Onewheel every weekend.
Every Sunday between 7-8 pm I would take it out on the Embarcadero. It is always a blast. Still not sure I am riding correctly though.

✅ Write Swift code.
The Observables Kumite is in full swing.

Conclusions

In my August retrospective I said I needed to set goals based on how much free time I thought I would have but it looks like I was far too lenient. Even though I was able to complete most of my goals my internal impression for the month was that I was a failure. While it is good that I am getting healthy, exercising, eating right, and even playing video games, it seems that I am not pushing myself enough on weekdays.

My goals for October need to ensure that cannot vegetate in front of the TV.

#MonthlyRetrospective

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