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May 2019 Retrospective

I would like to think that I have been fairly candid and outgoing in all of my #MonthlyRetrospectives. Some people are surprised by how unfettered I am with my thoughts and opinions but in my mind nothing I have written on this blog is truly personal. It is simply the output of my life which is a topic that I would gladly share with any random stranger who was interested in listening. My hope was that by writing about my life not only would I be able to look back and learn from my past but perhaps other people could as well.

Unfortunately I must be much more reticent this time. May has proven to be quite a trying month and I experienced a number of things that I should not go into detail on in a public forum. The recovery from the medical procedure I underwent did not go as planned and a personal issue created a lot of stress and anxiety which stole nearly all of my productivity. These things I have only discussed with close friends and family because I value their opinions above all others.

Due to these circumstances I have essentially written off May as a lost month. I spent most of my time inside my own head instead of focusing on the goals that I set. But that is now in the past. June is a new month and a chance to refocus. I was pleased with the goals I had set for May but I simply failed to execute. I am going to carry most of them over and make June the first month where I actually complete every goal I set!

Review May's Goals

βœ… Exercise every day leading up to my procedure.
I demolished this goal. I didn't slack off a single day leading up to my procedure and I felt great doing it.

πŸ™…πŸ»β€β™‚οΈAfter being medically cleared get back to exercising six days a week.
While I would like to blame this on the cat (who is still sometimes a hellion at night) the truth is I was lethargic and couldn't wrestle myself out of bed some mornings. I did get back to waking up at 6am and going bouldering but consistency was not my strong suit.

βœ… Run two 10Ks.
I was over my goal of 5 min per kilometer by several seconds but I was able to run two 10Ks.

βœ… Incorporate push-ups and squats into my warm-up routine when I go bouldering.
Before every bouldering session I did three reps of push-ups and squats. I started at 10 each per rep and was actually able to get up to 25 for a single rep. There were some days where I really didn't want to do it but I persevered and am glad I did. It is making a difference and this is a habit that I am going to try to continue for all bouldering sessions in the future.

βœ… Minimize breakfasts. Ideally only after particularly grueling morning workouts.
I will admit that I ate more breakfasts than I expected but that was primarily because of drugs I had to take. Otherwise I held off and fasted the majority of the time.

βœ… If I am home for dinner have a Soylent drink before consuming anything.
I am going to give myself a pass because I do not have any explicit memories of not doing this but plenty where I did. The spirit of the goal was undoubtedly carried out.

βœ… No snacks unless some fruit or vegetables are eaten alongside.
Similar to the Soylent drinks for dinner goal I have no explicit memories of breaking this and lots of ones where I made sure I grabbed fruit first.

πŸ™…πŸ»β€β™‚ No TV after 8 pm with the exception of the NHL and NBA playoffs because they only happen once a year!
While I was recovering I spent the majority of the time on the couch with the TV on. YouTube, NHL/NBA playoffs, Hulu, it didn't matter I consumed it all and definitely went over 8pm on a number of nights.

πŸ™…πŸ»β€β™‚οΈBeat at least two scenarios in Gloomhaven.
Unfortunately Elsie and I's Tinkerer and Cragheart only completed one scenario. I think I'm gonna have to hold my feet to the fire in June and make sure we play the game once a week.

βœ… Finish reading The Hero of Ages.
I devoured The Hero of Ages and, despite its length, somehow managed to finish it by May 15th. It really was a great book and an amazing rebound from the snoozefest that was The Well of Ascension. Brandon Sanderson got back to what he does best which is creating a sprawling story with dozens of important characters whose motivations you are genuinely interested in. No storyline ever wore out is welcome because you were constantly jumping between characters and slowly seeing their paths intersect.

I am very satisfied with the first Mistborn trilogy and hope to read the second one sometime in 2020.

πŸ™…πŸ»β€β™‚οΈKeep a pen-and-paper roleplaying rulebook on my nightstand to read before going to bed.
I did not make an attempt at this goal because my urge to be creative was stolen from me. After finishing The Hero of Ages I just wanted to lose myself in someone else's works which was why I decided to pick up another book, The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage. This is a book that has been recommended to me by a number of people over the last decade and now seemed like the perfect time to read it.

I am a little over two thirds through the book and it has been an engrossing read. Clifford Stoll has created a well paced tale that leaves you wanting more at the end of every chapter. His ludicrously detailed notes give amazing insights into how hackers operated and were tracked in the early days of the Internet. If you are remotely interested in technology you owe it to yourself to read this book.

Going back to the subject of pen-and-paper roleplaying rulebooks I do want to complete this goal and intend to carry it over into June.

βœ… Complete Udemy course on Docker.
Having finished the Udemy course I would probably recommend it to anyone that is absolutely new to Docker. It gives a very good high level overview of what Docker is and how it can be leveraged. But it does not get into the details about actually using Docker for serious software development. As someone who has worked in field for a decade now (particularly at large companies) I came away with dozens of questions as to how things work in production and was not convinced the Docker ecosystem was the answer. The container engine seems great but all the software surrounding it is very raw. I would be afraid of becoming too dependent on something like Docker Swarm.

I came away from the course completely convinced that containers are the future. I have only set up a handful of servers in my lifetime and I can already see how this type of virtualization would make things 100 times easier. Infrastructure as code is undoubtedly the future. Also the ability for your development, testing and production environments to be nearly identical and a cinch to get up and running is extremely appetizing.

I am going to try to build and ship an app (most likely written in Go, Swift and Kotlin) this year but am still not sure if I am going to deploy it using Docker or one of the alternatives.

βœ… Add "tags" and "years" pages to my website so that every article can be reached by a web crawler.
Both tags and archives were added to the home page. Check out the top right corner.

πŸ™…πŸ»β€β™‚ Write a full length article on some original topic.
As I mentioned further up my creativity was at an all-time low this month and I could not come up with a topic to write about.

βœ… Play Rage 2.
Rage 2 is one of those rare games that is reviewing exactly like I would expect. It is not a great game by any stretch but it has a really solid core loop that can allow you to overlook the rough edges, of which there are plenty.

The core combat loop is a lot of fun which isn't surprising since it comes from id Software. The gunplay combined with the crazy superhuman powers has yet to get old for me. Every time I roll up on a bandit camp I immediately want to get out and waste all those fools.

The problems mostly arise because of the open world nature of the game. It is traversable using vehicles but unfortunately there is basically nothing to do along the way to wherever you are driving. The world feels empty for the most part. When you compare it to something like The Witcher 3 which constantly has amazing side quests popping up as you traverse the world you can really see the shortcomings in Rage 2.

Another negative side-effect of the open world is that all of the powers and weapons you get are from "arks" scattered all across the world. So if you do not prioritize going to these places immediately you could end up playing the majority of the game having only accessed 10% of the weapons and powers. It is a baffling game design decision that I cannot defend. I would love to see the statistics as to how little some weapons and abilities were used because they were simply not found. Personally I'm almost done the game and haven't found 40% of the weapons and powers.

Some people are annoyed by the story and dialogue because it is "too childish" but honestly I'm enjoying it because I came to this game to blow shit up. Self aware references to me being "the blaster man" who kills shit get a chuckle from me. Maybe I just haven't grown up enough.

I wouldn't recommend Rage 2 at its current $60 price point but when it drops down to $20-30 and you're looking for a mindless shooter you could do a lot worse. What Rage 2 has mostly done is get me super excited for Doom Eternal because it looks like a near perfect id Software shooter.

πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚ Meticulously track every hour after work until bed in my Hobonichi Techo journal.
The data was essentially useless because it boiled down to eat, watch TV, play video games. Pretty easy to see where I could make better use of my time.

Thoughts on Last Month's Goals

I am really happy with the goals I set for this month because it feels like I actually set realistic goals that could have all been completed. If I freed up 10 hours by watching a little less TV I would have had more than enough time to complete all of my failed goals. The three pieces of criteria I used for my May goals (minimize instantly failable goals, no vague goals and less overall goals) really did seem to make a huge difference and I am going to use them again for my June goals.

Game of Thrones

Last month I ranted about the first three episodes of season 8 of Game of Thrones and if I am not careful I'll do the exact same thing here. All I want to say is that I was disappointed by the finale because none of the characters' actions were believable. Everything felt completely rushed because it was. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss didn't want to put the time in to end the show properly and just kicked it out the door so they could move on to fucking up the next Star Wars trilogy.

If George R.R. Martin actually finishes the books (which I would bet thousands of dollars he won't) and all of the characters end up in the exact same positions I am confident that I will buy into it because of the path they take to get there. If you look at the early seasons where the show was following GRRM's books, the path that everyone takes is completely believable. But when we get to seasons 7 and 8, characters are teleporting around Westeros and saying and doing the most inane shit that it feels like a teenager's fan fiction.

HBO's Chernobyl miniseries

Band of Brothers is the greatest TV show every created. There is no debating this in my mind. But HBO's Chernobyl definitely deserves to be up in the rarefied air occupied by shows like Band of Brothers. It is near perfect in that it doesn't try to overly dramatize historical events. The brutal reality of this disaster is laid bare and every episode is a kick to the chest.

Chernobyl easily joins my very short list of shows that every single person on this planet should watch.

Tesla Model 3

Last month I wrote that the Tesla Model 3 was the obvious car for me and this month I put those words into action. I took possession of a deep blue metallic, long range Model 3 and it is already one of the best purchases of my life. The amount of technology in this car is truly mindboggling and I cannot fathom returning to one that doesn't have this kind of depth. Being able to simply walk up to my car and have it unlock because my phone is in my pocket is the greatest.

But the real magic of the Model 3 is Tesla's Autopilot. I've already traveled over 200 kilometers in the vehicle and I probably had Autopilot on for over 80% of that. It was shocking how quickly I came to trust the software even in busy highway traffic. There were only a few incidents where I was a bit anxious, mostly when it was taking a corner or ramp at a speed that I wouldn't normally. But I'll tolerate those few tense moments for a car that can actually change lanes without any input from me. I don't see how I will ever get tired of that feature.

I haven't even mentioned the power of the Model 3 yet either. The instant torque the electric motors provide really is a game changer. It's something you have to experience to truly appreciate, unless you've been lucky enough to put your foot down in a Porsche or Ferrari. I have never experienced acceleration like this before in my entire life and now I am absolutely hooked.

But don't let it be said that I am a Tesla fanboy. The actual design and manufacturing quality of the car is not great. I would much rather have all of this technology in the frame of something like a BMW or Audi. The rear window is quite small, the car has massive blind spots and road noise is definitely noticeable. But I would choose a Tesla over every car on the market today because of the technology that is in it. I really hope that car manufacturers are paying attention and start to steal what makes a Tesla special because after having one for a few weeks there is no doubt in my mind that it is the future.

Uber IPO

I don't want to write too much because I'll probably find some way to get in trouble but being inside Uber HQ on the day it went public was something special. I've only spent a little over two years of my life at the company but it has been some of the most productive. I joined Uber when there were only ten iOS engineers and now there are close to 200. That kind of growth is something I'll never see again but I am very happy to have been part of it.

What was on the boob tube?

I watched an inordinate amount of TV this month so I may as well share the good stuff with you.

Review New Year's Resolutions

1. Get my driver's license and go on a road trip
Road trip to LA is being planned. Hopefully it should happen by the end of the summer.

2. Lose body fat
I ticked up at bit to 21% which doesn't surprise me after how lethargic I was at the end. I'll be able to pick-up exercising again but I still gotta improve my eating.

3. Do 50 push-ups and 20 pull-ups
Max push-ups was 25 at once and I didn't attempt pull-ups at all. Maybe I need to add those to the beginning of my bouldering sessions?

4. Find a side project or hobby
Reading a roleplaying rulebook was supposed to be my attempt at this for the month of May but I obviously blew that.

5. Read six different types of books
Finished reading The Hero of Ages which is another fantasy book but I'm not sure what I would consider The Cuckoo Egg. It's probably best described as a non-fiction / history book so that would mean I've still only read four types: science fiction, non-fiction, history and fantasy.

I'm thinking a thriller/whodunit would be another good type to read and if I actually read a roleplaying rulebook I'd consider that another type.

6. Complete unique 24 scenarios in Gloomhaven
We only managed to beat one scenario in May which puts us at seven for the year. We're still three behind the pace so I'm hoping to complete four in June to make up some time.

7. Be proactive at work and take on tasks that increase my visibility
I'm gonna have to plead the fifth on this one this month.

8. Grade my mood multiple times a day
Unsurprisingly there was a large dip in my mood this month.

9. Run a half-marathon
I ran 20 kilometers at a decent pace so I'm still confident that I am in shape. I hope to run 15K at some point in June as a preface to a half-marathon perhaps later in the summer.

June Goals

I wrote earlier that I am going to carry over most of my May goals and any new ones will fit the same three criteria I used previously: minimize instantly failable goals, no vague goals and less overall goals.