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October 2019 Retrospective

I thought that by allowing my October goals to be fluid it would result in me trying all sorts of new things. Perhaps I had been pigeonholing myself by coming up with goals that were trying to be a direct solution to the retrospective I just wrote. I could now change what I was interested in on the fly and not force myself to work towards something that turned out to be soul crushing. Oh how naive I was. It turns out playing video games and watching TV is what interests me.

I started the month with a single goal, run 100 kilometers, and only managed to add one more, read a book. The second goal only came about because I happened to stumbled upon my Good Reads 2019 reading challenge and saw that I was only 9/12 of the way through it. Edward Snowden's autobiography Permanent Record had just been released and it seemed like the perfect mix of short length yet interesting topic that I could finish it by the end of the month.

I am honestly at a loss about what to write about in this retrospective. Typically I would go into a review of my monthly goals but with only two of them it doesn't really seem worth it, does it? That concrete list of goals not only helped me try new things (even if they didn't always work) but also provided a nice structure for these retrospectives. It was obvious what to write about when you made a whole list of promises the previous month. I never really had to look back at the month on the whole because I would frame everything around those goals.

The point of these retrospectives was so I would have something to look back at down the road and be reminded about what I was doing that month. So how about this? What if I look back at the good, the bad and the honourable mentions from the past 31 days? It doesn't have to be something I accomplished, it can be a small thing I did or had happen to me. This whole month was suppose to be about not pigeonholing myself so let's break the mold!

The Good

What occurred this month that left me feeling good and thinking "I'm glad that happened"?

Ran 100 kilometers

I ran eleven times in October for just over 100 kilometers. It is the first time I've run 100+ kilometers in back-to-back months since 2012 when I was probably 10-15 pounds lighter. I honestly can't believe I managed to do it but the greatest thing is that I actually want to try to go back-to-back-to-back. #PrayForMyKnees

Beat Monster Hunter World: Iceborne with Elsie

I am not going to lie, it has been tough living on my own. It is not that I can't appreciate living by myself but living in San Francisco and being responsible for a sick cat has really been taking its toll. Every day makes me want to relocate back near my family in Canada.

I really do love playing video games with other people so it was great that Elsie was able to take her PS4 back to Canada and we finally were able to start (and beat) Monster Hunter World: Iceborne. I know I have been harsh on it in previous retrospectives but Monster Hunter really is one of those games that is 100X more fun when you're playing with someone you can talk to in real-time. Speaking of games like that...

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019)

All I remember about Winter 2009 was coming home from work everyday and playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 with friends until it was time for bed. It is fitting that 10 years later a Modern Warfare reboot is released that miraculously manages to recapture a lot of that magic. There have already been multiple days where I had to force myself to turn off the computer because it was nearly midnight and I had work in the morning.

Also the single-player campaign was far better than it had any right to be. I haven't enjoyed a first person shooter campaign like that since probably DOOM (2016). I am super happy that in this day and age where most publishers want games as a service that print money, Activision somehow greenlit an expensive Call of Duty campaign. I don't say this very often (actually probably never) but hats off to Activision for taking this risk.

iPhone 11 Pro Max

I forgot how much I preferred the bigger iPhone screens. I only had my iPhone XS Max for six weeks before it was stolen but lord that screen was amazing. The iPhone 11 Pro Max is flipping fantastic in that regard and the new cameras and increased battery life are the perfect finishing touches. I absolutely adore this phone and would recommend anyone on an iPhone X or lower to consider upgrading because that increased battery life cannot be undersold.

Read a book

I am about two-thirds of the way through Permanent Record and it is a decent read. As someone who has seen the films Citizenfour and Snowden none of the major events are surprising. However, since this book is coming directly from the mind of Edward Snowden it is providing some interesting flavour text for events.

I wouldn't recommend this book if you want in-depth info on what exactly Snowden but if you want to know the why then he goes into great detail about what motivated him.

Board game night at work

It is something small but it is really enjoyable. As a huge fan of board games it makes me happy to be able to bond with coworkers over them.

The Bad

What were those "I am not a smart man" moments this month?

Poor diet

Those goals of "eat less candy" seem to be pretty crucial because without them I broke down and gorged myself constantly. I lost track of the number of times I ordered McDonald's this month which is a sentence no one should ever type. It really should be no shock that even after running 100 kilometers I still did not lose any weight with this shitty diet.

Too much caffeine

My sleep schedule has gone to absolute shit and I've found myself needing a Red Bull four or five days a week just to keep myself going. If I don't break this vicious cycle now the inevitable caffeine withdrawals are going to get worse.

Wasting time on Reddit

I finally admitted I have an addiction and straight up blocked reddit.com on my Pi-hole. The problem is that I realized I can get around this by simply turning off Wi-Fi and using cellular because miraculously T-Mobile is fast in my apartment.

Too much YouTube/Netflix

While not as bad as Reddit, YouTube and Netflix are also eating up too much of my free time. I wouldn't say I am wasting it per se because I really do enjoy the content I am consuming, I just need to work on doing it in moderation. I don't need to watch an episode of West Wing every night. I don't need to watch every video of every YouTube channel I am subscribed to, the day it comes out.

Maybe it is time to actually use Screen Time for something like this? Limit myself to an hour of YouTube and Netflix a day? At least during the week.

Did not work on any side-projects

I've written about how 2020 is going to be a year of change and that I need to sort out where my career is going. If I can't convince myself to program things for fun in my spare time I don't know how I plan to avoid having more dead-end 9 to 5 jobs in the future. Maybe I am going to stop programming and become a farmer or something but I need to at least take one swing at the ball to be certain.

Spent too much money

This is another prime example of things that fly out of control if I don't have a goal that curtails them. I ate out way too much. Bought random things I don't need like Dungeons & Dragons books from 1995. I need to get back to transferring more money into my savings accounts so I can buy my freedom from this urine-soaked hellhole. Sorry, pee-pee soaked heckhole.

Yoga isn't improving my flexibility

I've been trying to go to yoga two or three times a week for a couple months but for some reason my flexibility is not improving and I don't really understand why. I am at the point where I am considering cutting back even more and going to the bouldering gym instead so I can at least build up some muscle.

Honourable Mentions

I'm a complex person and just couldn't come to a decision if I liked or hated these things.

Pack up apartment

I finally started packing up most things in my apartment so I'm able to move at a moments notice. It is shocking the amount of stuff I have procured over five years in San Francisco. Apparently when you can Amazon anything to yourself impulse control goes out the window.

While the The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening remake still has a lot of rough edges from the original game, it is a very solid take on it. It only took like a dozen hours to beat and most of it was quite enjoyable.

Attended Swift Language User Group (SLUG) meetup

I really enjoy SLUG meetups because even though the attendees are all programmers the conversations afterwards never feel like the rote conversations I have with a lot of people in SF. I genuinely enjoy looking forward to meeting the same people every time.

Fuck the Toronto Maple Leafs!

You spend $40 million dollars on four forwards and your team only has a goal differential of +1?!?!?!? It's fucking embarrassing!

What about the weekly retrospectives?

In my last retrospective I wrote that the weekly retrospectives were a complete waste of my time. They became an obligation that I dreaded and ended up creating so much more work when I had to edit them into something coherent. They were such a pain in the ass that even though I said I was going to try to continue doing them in October I completely bailed on the idea.

What shocked me was that someone actually reached out and said they thoroughly enjoyed the weekly retrospectives. They found the weekly play-by-play and time breakdown super interesting and were even considering doing it themselves.

Because of this I am at a crossroads. I realize that basically no one is reading this and I am essentially publishing into the void. I've been maintaining this blog for myself so that it forces me to write stuff down. But to get positive feedback from someone puts me in that standard position of wanting to do it more to get that same good feeling.

So for November I am going to try to do daily and weekly retrospectives in my Hobonichi Techo journal. I'm going to try to keep them to very brief sentences or even just bulleted lists. I'll continue to track my hours like I have been doing for the entire year but I doubt I am going to break time down in the same manner. Maybe I'll try just doing a breakdown of positive/negative and see if I feel I am spending more of my time doing something productive rather than wasteful.

November Goals

I am actually really happy with how the good, the bad and the honourable mentions sections came out. The ability to write things freeform really did highlight some stuff that I would usually gloss over because it didn't fit into one of the goals I had set.

So what about my goals for November? Not setting any definitely seemed like the incorrect choice for October because I became apathetic. But at the same time the goals really did seem to pigeonhole me. It feels like they should be more like guiding principles rather than concrete things I have to achieve. So what if in November I set a bunch of goals I'd like to meet but don't actually grade myself on them? I still do more the good, the bad and the honourable mentions and most likely end up writing about my goals in there?