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July 2020 Retrospective

I have been trying not to use the pandemic as an excuse for my behaviour. But being trapped indoors and unable to interact with other human beings has definitely started to hit home. Last month I wrote about how I thought I was settling down into a relatively productive routine. In hindsight, I have been lying to myself. In July things degraded even further and I indulged in far too many time wasting activities such as Reddit, TV, YouTube, Twitter, etc. So much so that I barely completed any of my July goals.

I have been naive believing that my behaviour would magically improve as the pandemic became the new normal. Unless I call out my poor behaviour and detail how it can be improved, history is doomed to repeat itself. So for this retrospective I am going to switch things up and first write about everything that went poorly this month. Usually I focus on the good first and give that section a disproportionate amount of time during the drafting phase. By giving the negatives more time I hope to not just reflect on them more but also explain how I can improve upon what is going wrong.

The Bad

Too much Reddit / TV / YouTube / Twitter

It has been months since I last highlighted this as a negative because I honestly thought I had been improving. But when I looked back at the hourly breakdowns of each day in my Hobonichi journal, it was painfully clear that wasn't the case. Almost every weekday could be summed up as work, dinner, TV, Reddit, sleep and the weekends weren't much better.

My hypothesis is that my days are like this not because the goals I have set aren't enjoyable but because these activities result in much more immediate and easy gratification. I've written about analysis paralysis in the past and am still effected by it. Every time I thought about painting or printing or programming I became overwhelmed by the depth of what laid ahead. It was always easier to open up a browser or turn on YouTube.

Writing "I am going to stop doing these bad things and do good things instead" is obviously a stupid solution. It hasn't worked in the past and shows no indication of working now. So what do can I do instead? I think addressing each one of these vices individually and coming up with alternative activities is a much better starting point.

For Reddit, opening up a browser on my phone and reading is obviously an incredibly low friction activity so what could possibly match it? How about reading a book instead? It should be fairly straightforward to have a book in progress at all times so why not default to that instead of reading Reddit? The only excuse I can come up with is the book is boring and I am reading it out a sense of duty which is something I've called myself out for numerous times in the past. So let's chastise myself again and point out how if a book is boring me in the slightest I should put it down and choose another one. In that spirit I'm going to start August by attempting to read Moneyball. In addition to reading a book I want to also fix up my Pi-hole and potentially use it to limit access to Reddit across all of my devices.

For TV, I am going to ban myself from rewatching TV shows. I wasted so much time this month on shows I'm seeing for the umpteenth time. Yes, The Wire is absolutely fantastic but I did not need to spend 20+ hours rewatching it. If I am going to watch any TV or films it absolutely must be something I have not seen before. My hope is that making me think about what new show I want to watch may actually push me towards another activity instead.

For YouTube, I need to push myself away from watching recommended videos. While some of them are really great, the majority are a black hole of empty calories that I have lost dozens of hours to. If I am not subscribed to a video I need to do my best to avoid watching it. But what is something I could do instead? This is going to sound counterproductive but I would much rather play a video game. Rather than spending an hour watching random YouTube videos, why not try to play a new video game? I easily have hundreds of games I have never touched on my PC or consoles and instead of trying them I'm killing time on YouTube?

For Twitter (or really all social media), I am going to make use of Apple's Screen Time feature. Doomscrolling is very real especially now that I'm trapped indoors and spend an inordinate amount of time getting angered by idiots on Twitter. I need to limit the amount of time I can spend on social media apps per day.

Hopefully by spending the last few hours writing down the paragraphs you just read I am at the very least making myself more aware of these issues. Maybe these solutions aren't going to work but admitting my problems are the first steps towards actually addressing them.

Played Dota 2

https://twitter.com/statuses/1285048931743870978

Last month I went 13-19 in 32 matches of Dota 2 and hated nearly every moment. This month I went 24-24 and actually hated every moment. I even played those 48 games in just the first 19 days of the month! I ended on such an infuriating losing streak that I managed to break free and not play a single game for the rest of July.

And yet, after writing that last paragraph, I still want to play more of this game. There is something about that slim possibility of winning that is so sweet and keeps drawing me back.

In an attempt to address this debilitating addiction I reached out to a friend of mine who also has a love/hate relationship with Dota. Hopefully him and I will finally try playing together to improve the quality of our games. We've avoided this in the past because of how far apart we are ranked but the matchmaking in Dota seems so fundamentally broken that I don't see how we could make it any worse. The hope is that by having a very open channel of communication we can enjoy the game more and I will actually learn how to improve my supporting skills.

Toronto job market for iOS developers

I've been dipping my toes into the Toronto job market over the last two months and the results have been quite depressing. When I left in 2014 there was only a handful of companies an iOS developer could really thrive at. Six years later and that has improved to maybe two handfuls. A couple of big Silicon Valley players have arrived such as Uber, Square, Slack, Instacart, but that is pretty much it. Financial institutions and consulting still seem to run the show in Toronto. Most of the startups I came across weren't looking for iOS or Android developers, instead choosing to focus on web or React Native apps, to which I can't really blame them.

At this point in time it looks like I am going to have to find a remote job, most likely with a company in the United States, which is what I was hoping to avoid. It is not that I dislike remote work. I just really miss being in an office and collaborating with people in-person. While it seems that most developers are introverts who never want to leave their home, I am very much the exact opposite.

Random Disappointments

To stop myself from ranting I'm gonna group together all of the other random disappointments I had this month.

Blackhat is one of the worst films ever. Ludicrously slow pace and absolutely unbelievable characters. Why did I think Thor would be able to portray a hacker?

The Snowpiercer TV show started out great but then took a nose dive halfway through the season when apparently a gas leak broke out on the train and every character started to make the stupidest possible decisions at all times.

The Xbox showcase didn't actually show a single game that looked 4K or next-gen, let alone convince me that I needed to buy an Xbox Series X. Watch the video below and explain to me why the heck you'd need to spend $500+ on a new console?

The Good

I have been negative for too long. Let's look at the good things that occurred this month.

Steelcase Gesture Chair

I've had my Steelcase Gesture for just under a month now and it is absolutely fantastic. The best thing I can say is that I routinely forget I am sitting in it because it is so darn comfortable. I honestly don't understand how I used a kitchen stool for the last two months.

I know I am being hyperbolic and it has only been a month, but I completely understand how people view this as one of those "buy it for life" chairs. I see myself sitting in this thing for decades.

LG UltraFine 5K Monitor

After weeks of humming and hawing about what type of monitor to buy I finally prioritized what was best for work and went with the LG UltraFine 5K. While I really wanted to get a 144 hz monitor I just could not find one with a high enough resolution. A proper 5K monitor that can do 2X 1440p really can't be undersold. Everything is so crisp and clean.

I combined it with a single Thunderbolt cable and a Fully Jarvis monitor arm to create one of the most open desk setups I've had in my entire life. I highly recommend the LG UltraFine 5K to anyone who is using a Mac for 8+ hours a day.

Posted article about importing my Model 3 into Canada

I am sorry it took so long but I finally managed to finish the article about importing my Model 3. I posted it to Twitter and was shocked with the response. Very few people actually read this blog (Hi Jan!) but over 100 people came from that tweet. Reading about someone else's misery really does seem to drive page views.

Formula 1 is back baby!

After months of anticipation Formula 1 finally returned and I got to experience my first live race weekend. While the Austrian Grand Prix was quite exciting as the majority of cars fell apart, the Styrian and Hungarian Grand Prix were much more straight forward. Lewis Hamilton led the way from start to end and nothing was really ever in question.

I am expecting more Mercedes dominance at Silverstone this weekend which means the midfield battle is probably where all of the exciting racing will take place.

Smoked my first cigar in over six years

Thanks to my Dad I finally got a "tupperdor" going and stocked it with a dozen cigars purchased from some local shops. I chose a Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2 to be the first cigar I smoked in over six years. It was a beautifully mild and a perfect reintroduction to the hobby. I've got a couple Padrons and Gurkhas seasoning that are screaming to be smoked in August.

Honorable Mentions

Foundation Series

I read the first two books in the Foundation series, "Foundation" and "Foundation and Empire", and am quite surprised that they have received such critical acclaim. The high level concepts they deal with are amazing and I can totally see how they inspired a lot of modern science fiction. But Asimov's prose is absolutely atrocious. My eyes would constantly glaze over as I had to deal with his meandering paragraphs and farcical dialogue. I found myself skimming entire pages because they contained no pertinent information.

I got two thirds of the way through "Foundation and Empire", to the chapter involving the hologram for the fifth Seldon crisis, before I facepalmed at the dialogue and put the book down. I read a synopsis for the rest and realized that Asimov didn't even resolve the story he was telling in that book. I'd have to read the third book in the series for that. It was at this point I just went and read a synopsis of every other book in the series to prevent myself from ever thinking it would be a good idea to read them.

Found the first computers I ever used

While cleaning out my childhood home's basement I came across the first Macintosh computers I ever used. The PowerBook 180 laptop still worked and I was even able to play Pararena. I posted a video of me playing with it on Instagram.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CCjiQdUnYTd

Review July Goals

August Goals

#MonthlyRetrospective

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