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October 2018 Retrospective

October turned out to be a much rougher month that I was expecting. My sleeping issues persisted and feelings of inadequacy / impostor syndrome reared their ugly heads. At the same time I been extremely frustrated with how complacent and withdrawn I am in situations where I know I am capable of much more. I am not sure why, or even how, I am oscillating between these two extremes but looking back at journal entries this month, I really am all over the place.

I've been positing that it is because I really am not sure what I want to get out of this life. A lot of my friends and family have taken major steps forward in the past five years. Made decisions at home or at work that will shape the next 5-10 years of their lives. When I look at myself I realize that I am essentially in the exact same position I was when I arrived in San Francisco four years ago. Chasing the easy money with absolutely nothing tying me down but also nothing pushing me to take a risk.

What is stopping me or holding me back? If I woke up tomorrow with $5 million would I do anything differently? Is it a fear of poverty or retirement that is keeping me in place? Is it a fear of being deported? Would waking up with a green card tomorrow truly make a difference? I think back to all of the excuses I have made for myself over the past few years and realize that most of them are just that, poor excuses. Do I really have some sort of plan or am I just a dog chasing after cars. What is it that I want to get out of this life and what is blocking me from getting there? So many other people are taking risks to chase their dreams and I'm just sitting here counting my pennies for no particular reason.

Alright let's pull back from the existential pity party here and try to focus on the retrospective. Oh, but before I do that I just wanna say that the Venom film was a lot of fun. Ignore all the haters and check it out. I cannot wait for the sequel.

Health

In September I breezed through this section because there was not much to write about and the same applies to October. Almost everything is trending in the right direction. I am continuing to exercise basically every day. I was finally able to climb V5 bouldering problems. I got back to doing C2 yoga classes. I even started running 8 km on Wednesday mornings! My weight and body fat percentage continue to drop and not only am I eating less but I also am eating healthier. There is nothing to be disappointed with other than a few aches and pains. I may have been pushing myself a bit too hard so I think a visit to a physiotherapist is in the cards for November.

Speaking of November I don't think there is anything else to do other than maintain this momentum. Continue to push myself while exercising and eat healthy. I don't feel as if I have plateaued yet with this routine so let's see if I can maintain it for one more month while my weight and body fat percentage continue to drop. When that stops then I'll reevaluate.

Oh one thing I am sad about is that I did not use my Onewheel. I took it out every weekend in September and then didn't touch it all of October. I really want to use it more. Maybe even commute to work in November?

Hobby Programming

So remember how I was all set to start work on my Observables framework? I had essentially finished my "Observables Kumite" and was finally confident that I could start my own thing and publish it in October. Well you will be utterly unsurprised to learn that I did none of that.

However, the reason I didn't start my Observables framework was because I rewrote my keychain wrapper in Swift and published it to my "Roadrunner" framework repository. I started to clean up my Roadrunner repository because I wanted to use it as my "monorepo" for all the cool stuff I wanted to build. The plan was to start work on the Observables framework inside it but then I noticed I had an old keychain wrapper I wrote when I was originally learning Swift over two years ago. I was so disgusted with how it was written that I just couldn't let it remain and so I tried to fix it. Like any good developer side project that led me to completely rewriting it which is where all of my hobby programming time in October went.

I do not feel a lick of remorse for spending all of my time on the keychain rewrite because it was honestly the most fun I had programming in years. There were days I could not wait to get home to work on it. It woke something in me that I had not felt since I worked at Uber back in 2016.

The keychain wrapper still isn't complete because I really wanted to focus on testing it properly so for November I just want to keep working on it and any other cool shit I could publish to Roadrunner. I really don't care what it is at this point. I was so obsessed with it having to be my Observables project but fuck that. Whatever tickles my fancy I should just run with it.

I also went to a Swift Language User Group meetup and it really made me want to present. Perhaps I can add something involving Secure Enclave to Roadrunner?

Read a book

I finally finished The Lord of the Rings. It took me seven months but I finally did it. I was at 77% at the end of September so I figured I still had a lot to slog through but the book actually ends at 83%. The final 17% are appendices that go into crazy detail about so many things. Aragorn's family tree was in one of those appendices!

After finally making it through Lord of the Rings I wanted to cleanse my palette so I looked for something with a cyberpunk vibe. I was debating reading the next book in The Sprawl trilogy but instead decided to read the first book in the Takeshi Kovacs trilogy. I loved the first season of Altered Carbon so much that I wanted to see what the source material was like. I loved the first book so much that I also finished the second.

For November I imagine I'll read the final book in the Takeshi Kovacs trilogy, Woken Furies, but I don't know what I will move onto after that. I could go back to the Expanse and read Nemesis Games. I could continue the Sprawl and read Count Zero. Or maybe I move to non-fiction and try something like Idea Man, Console Wars or Beyond Band of Brothers.

Gaming

I am deep into Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age and have finally reached the end of the first act. A pretty monumental event has occurred and it is really moving the story forward. The combat mechanics are deepening a little bit as well but it still isn't at the level I would expect from other JRPGs like Persona or Final Fantasy or even some western RPGs like Mass Effect or The Witcher. I am still very much engaged though and am looking forward to seeing how the story concludes in November.

Firaxis gave us an early Christmas present this year and released some great DLC for XCOM 2: War of the Chosen in the form of the Tactical Legacy Pack. While it adds a bunch of new maps, armor, photobooth options, and soundtracks, the biggest draw is a new game mode called "Legacy Ops". It is a set of seven tactical missions that are played one after another. There is no Geoscape and you don't get to name or customize your soldiers. You'd think this would make the game not as fun but the missions are very story driven and because they are hand crafted they play extremely well. You also get to control unique characters like Central Officer Bradford or Lily Shen so you still feel a connection to your soldiers and really want to see them get through all seven missions. On the whole I was surprised by now much I loved Legacy Ops and would actually really enjoy seeing Firaxis integrate it into the main mode of XCOM 3.

Like I said in September, it wouldn't surprise me if I broke down and got CoD: BlOps 4 because some friends wanted to play and that was exactly what Jarques caused me to do. We picked up the game for its Blackout mode and it did not disappoint. In my mind it is fun in basically all the same ways that PUBG is except it is a little bit faster paced and a lot more polished. If I had to choose a single Battle Royale game to play it would probably be Call of Duty: Black Ops 4: Blackout. Jesus Christ how did some marketer not step in and stop that horrible name?

In board game news I played the month of June in Pandemic Legacy: Season 1. After getting throughly trounced in the first game I really lucked out and absolutely demolished the second game. I hope to double down in November and beat two months so I can finish this game up sooner rather than later because I want to move on to the other board game I bought in October. Gloomhaven is the highest rated game on BoardGameGeek.com. It is a co-operative adventure game that plays out much like Dungeons & Dragons would except there is no Dungeon Master. The story essentially plays out from a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book that you progress through. To give you an idea of how deep this game is it took me over four hours to unpack it followed by an hour of watching YouTube videos to explain the rules and I am still not entirely sure how to play.

For November I hope to beat Dragon Quest XI, start The World Ends with You: Final Remix (which I bought in October but never had time to play) as well as start Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! which I have preordered and arrives November 16th.

Plan out my day

Let's start out with what went poorly. It has become painfully clear that rating days is absolutely pointless. There is no benefit because it is incredibly difficult to figure out why a day was rated that way. Sure you can look at the breakdown of the day and read what was written but sometimes they completely clash with the rating. I think the only way this could be made useful would be if each hour of the day was rated. Maybe a red, green and blue highlighter that is used to mark to the left of every hour. I think that colorful histogram would give a better idea of my mood on any given day.

Keeping my journal visible at all times has not yielded what I hoped for either. I thought making it easily accessible would make me want to write more and lead to better content. But looking back it still seems that a lot of what was written was out of a sense of obligation rather than an interest in writing.

So what went right? Setting five goals before noon worked exactly like I had hoped. Even though I ended up failing to complete all five goals the majority of the time they still did exactly what they were suppose to which was motivate me. I have very few memories of "what should I do next?" throughout the day because I took the time to answer that question early in the morning.

Breaking down each day almost by the hour also had the intended affect. Not only do I understand with greater fidelity how my work days went but opening my journal to describe the last 2-3 hours would sometimes lead me to writing a more detailed entry.

So what do I want to do in November. Continue to set five goals before noon and breaking my day down into smaller 1 or 2 or 3 hour chunks seems like a no brainer. These are relatively small things that seem to have big impacts to my engagement. I am also going to continue to keep my journal visible but I no longer want to have the mentality that I have to write something in it. It should still be easily accessible but as an outlet not an obligation.

The one new thing I want to try is to be more retrospective throughout the month. Sitting down to read a month of journal entires when I write one of these has just not proved tenable so I wanna try something else. Every Sunday I want to see if I can go back and look at the previous week's worth of entries and reflect. I would love to be able to only have to look back at four or five entries to get a good idea of my feelings for the month.

Also based on my ramblings at the beginning of this retrospective I need to be more forward thinking too. So every day I want to force myself to write down one goal I want to achieve in life and why. It doesn't have to be in gory detail but I just wanna start getting a stream of conscious of these sort of things to try to get some sort of guardrails for what I want my life to be.

Review

✅ No YouTube or Netflix unless progress is made towards another goal first.
I definitely didn't follow this verbatim but there were a number of times where I said "30 minutes of YouTube and then do X" and I did it. So I succeeded in the spirit of this goal. I didn't want to use YouTube or Netflix as a crutch distraction and I did not.

✅ Exercise everyday with a more strenuous session every Wednesday morning.
One Wednesday I couldn't because of a meeting but otherwise I ran 8+ km.

✅ Climb a V5. Did my first on the 25th and my second on the 27th.

✅ Get below 160 pounds on average for the month.
Literally a quarter of a pound below but I did it!

🙅🏻‍♂️ Don't eat carb heavy snacks at work. Take a break and purchase fruit instead.
I definitely cut back on them but I didn't take breaks and get fruit so fail.

🙅🏻‍♂️ Publish observables framework to GitHub. It doesn't have to ready to ship.
I didn't even work on this. Worked on my keychain wrapper instead.

✅ Finish reading Lord of the Rings.
Fuckin' finally.

😳 Start reading one of the pen-and-paper RPG books I have.
Didn't even make an attempt.

🤷🏻‍♂️ Get over 40 hours into Dragon Quest XI.
I'm like 34 hours in so I guess not...

✅ Play June in Pandemic Legacy: Season 1.
Lost game 1 but won game 2.

🙅🏻‍♂️ Attempt to organize a board game night at work.
Someone else did it before I could.

✅ Set five goals every day before noon.
There were a couple outliers where I was too busy to write anything down but I easily did it 90+% of the time.

✅ Keep Hobonichi Techo journal visible at all times and write in it every 2-3 hours.
I am going to count this as a success. I definitely kept my journal visible and while I may not have written in it every 2-3 hours exactly, every day is filled with writing so that is technically a success.

✅ Publish Games of the Year 2016 article.
Nailed it

Conclusions

Other than the serious mental issues I am only now finally admitting to, November is mostly going to be a month of consistency. Keep on keeping on while making a couple little tweaks.

#MonthlyRetrospective

🎮