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2021 Resolutions Retrospective

Now that I know the year will be affected by a pandemic, let's create some sane resolutions shall we?

That is the description I used for my 2021 New Year's Resolutions article. It is hilarious to look back and see what I thought qualified as a "sane" resolution during a pandemic, because twelve months later the vast majority of them seem compete asinine.

In the introduction paragraph of my resolutions retrospectives I usually try to give some background as to how I created the resolutions and then some context as to how the year generally unfolded. I think this year I'll be able to be much more succinct than usual.

*clears throat* Shit's on fire, yo

Let us begin sifting through the ashes of 2021.

1. πŸ™…πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Take more vacations

I did not take a single vacation this year. Alright onto the next resolution!

Joking aside, as a citizen of Canada and a resident of Ontario there was only a very small window when I could have vacationed. By the time Ontario came out of a lockdown and I got fully vaccinated it was already the end of July. In hindsight we should have travelled between August and October when cases seemed to be ebbing. But that general fear of getting COVID-19 away from home and the protocols on how to return to Canada being in constant flux, we just never felt comfortable. Now that the omicron variant is tearing things up worldwide the Government of Canada has put out a notice advising all Canadians to avoid non-essential travel internationally.

It is looking like Ontario is going back into lockdown again to start 2022 so I really have absolutely no idea if travel is even possible. Even with 80% of the eligible Canadian population fully vaccinated there does not appear to be any end in sight for this pandemic.

2. πŸ™…πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Learn to play ice hockey

Basically the same reasons why I didn't vacation in 2021 are why I didn't learn to play ice hockey. As far as I can tell everything was locked down well into August and now at the end of the year I am not even sure if any ice rinks are allowed to open for lessons.

Supposedly the outdoor rinks around Toronto no longer require reservations so maybe I'll be able to pop over and shake the rust off my skates. But as for picking up a stick and learning how to take a shot I think I am out of luck.

3. πŸ™…πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Lose belly fat

I started at 36 inches across the abdomen and the goal was 34.

I ended the year at 35.5 inches…

4. βœ… Read 20 books

My goal of reading all 14 books in The Wheel of Time series quickly fell apart when I realized about 1/3 of the way through the fourth book that they are actually utter shit. Robert Jordan is a horrible writer but an absolutely amazing world builder. I then hoped I could pivot to the Witcher series and read those eight books instead. But lo and behold after getting through four books I realized they were not my cup of tea either. Again, Andrzej Sapkowski is not a great writer but a fantastic world builder.

I did manage to stitch together a plethora of books across a wide variety of genres to read 23 books this year, meeting my goal.

  1. The Eye of the World
  2. The Great Hunt
  3. The Dragon Reborn
  4. The Three-Body Problem
  5. Beartown
  6. The Big Short
  7. The Last Wish
  8. The Premonition
  9. Monsters in the Dark: The Making of X-COM: UFO Defense
  10. The Queen's Gambit
  11. Sword of Destiny
  12. Androids: The Team That Built the Android Operating System
  13. Blood of Elves
  14. Burning Chrome
  15. Time of Contempt
  16. All Systems Red
  17. Artificial Condition
  18. Rogue Protocol
  19. Stay Awhile and Listen: Part 1
  20. Exit Strategy
  21. No Country for Old Men
  22. Leviathan Falls
  23. Boss Fight Books: Resident Evil

Unfortunately I only ended up reading about 8000 pages which was a lot less than the 10,000 I managed in 2020.

5. πŸ™…πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Set daily/monthly goals. Record daily successes.

If I am generous with myself I kept up with this resolution for about three months before completely falling off the wagon. I did record what I did in my Hobonichi Techo journal but I gave up entirely on daily/monthly goals.

This was probably the worst/vaguest resolution I set and it should not have been made.

6. βœ… Play 365 rapid games on Chess.com

Played 365th game on July 18th. I played 714 rapid games on Chess.com in 2021. I actually didn't realize it had got that high. Apparently I managed to play 192 games in August alone where I won 94, lost 87, and drew 11.

My Chess.com rapid stats for 2021. I played 714 games, winning 356, losing 318, and drawing 40.

As you can see from that graph the first half of the year was drastically different from the second. I thought that the lessons and puzzles on Chess.com would be the best way to relearn how to play chess. In hindsight that was probably the worst thing I could have done.

Between January 1st and April 30th I played 148 games where I won 51, lost 81, and drew 16. I thought that by doing Chess.com's lessons and just grinding out games I would magically get better. But looking back I am now able to realize that I was doing poorly because I did not understand any chess openings. I was learning fundamentals that apply in a general sense but if you look back at my earlier games you'll see that by moves 10 to 15 I was already behind even when I was the white pieces. I was just reacting to what my opponent was doing rather than thinking 4-5 moves ahead.

In May this all changed when I finally learned the London System and the Caro–Kann Defence. For the rest of the year these were essentially the only two openings I played and my win rate skyrocketed because of it. What happened was that after 10 to 15 moves I was constantly ending up in similar positions that I had a lot of practical experience with. I now understood how to attack, defend, and counter-attack from these positions. Before I was just flying by the seat of my pants and trying random shit every game. Now I was refining my skills and putting myself in positions of strength where I had clear opportunities to win.

So if you have absolutely any interest in playing chess my recommendation is to watch these videos from GothamChess on the London System and the Caro-Kann Defence. Blindly play these openings until you understand their strengths and weaknesses and then you can start to branch out. Even after 714 rapid games I'm still relying on these two openings. Maybe in 2022 I'll branch out to the Ruy Lopez or the Italian Game.

7. πŸ™…πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Have some sort of creative outlet

Looking back at my monthly retrospectives I would say that there are only three things that could possibly satisfy this resolution:

Built Heavyarms Gundam

https://www.instagram.com/p/CKIIqtCH4pr

3D printed some miniatures

https://www.instagram.com/p/CK0BHN_Hxmh

Built Lego Ecto-1

https://www.instagram.com/p/COT4mW0HNKW

While that may seem like some sort of creative outlet, the issue I have is that it all occurred during the first four months of the year. For the next eight I did absolutely nothing. The goal of this resolution was to find some creative outlets that would continue to drive me. But combined these three activities probably took me less than 20 hours. It's like I did the bare minimum needed to pass a school assignment.

Everything that I truly wanted to do (paint miniatures, build a drone, make some molds, assemble some gunpla) requires a work area with great ventilation which is just not possible inside this small apartment. I know that is a pitiful excuse but it was like a splinter in my mind. I tried to figure out how to get an airbrush booth or soldering station into my office but it being literally three feet from my work laptop just ate me up inside.

I think the hope was that I'd purchase a home in the summer and be able to spend the fall indulging in these fantasies. But as we'll see when we get down to resolution #9 that didn't happen.

8. βœ… Play 24 games on subscription services

The idea behind this resolution was that it would allow me to play a bunch of games that I may skip because I wouldn't pay for them normally. If after a few hours I wasn't enjoying myself I could simply abandon the game because I hadn't sunk any money into it. In that regard we can definitely call this resolution a success because on this list there were a number of games that I did not finish.

  1. Destruction AllStars
  2. Control: Ultimate Edition
  3. Ratchet & Clank (2016)
  4. Infamous Second Son
  5. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
  6. Oddworld: Soulstorm
  7. Slime Rancher
  8. Taiko no Tatsujin Pop Tap Beat
  9. SongPop Party
  10. World of Demons
  11. Spaceland
  12. Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance
  13. Ori and the Blind Forest
  14. Monster Train
  15. Twelve Minutes
  16. Sunset Overdrive
  17. Hollow Knight
  18. Back 4 Blood
  19. Beyond a Steel Sky
  20. Age of Empires IV
  21. Forza Horizon 5
  22. Halo Infinite
  23. Tales of Memo
  24. Survival Z

It is amazing how much this list is skewed by Xbox Game Pass which has been absolutely killing it this year. Microsoft has been doing a fantastic job at adding bona fide AAA games to their service. Back 4 Blood, Age of Empires IV, Forza Horizon 5, and Halo Infinite all came out within like two months of each other at the end of the year. If you were an Xbox Game Pass subscriber you easily got your monies worth.

On the flip side PS Plus and Apple Arcade seemed to be scraping the bottom of the barrel. PS Plus' only great release was Control: Ultimate Edition and Apple Arcade was mostly ports of existing PC games.

If you're interested in how I ranked each of these games check out the 2021 Games of the Year playlist.

9. πŸ™…πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Start working out the logistics of purchasing a home

The logistics are that I cannot purchase a home because apparently I cannot afford one.

The housing market in Toronto has gone absolutely apeshit during the pandemic. Prices have jumped over 20% in the last year. 2000 square feet, four bedroom, 1 garage homes in an area I like are going for $2.5 million CAD. Who the fuck can afford that? Elsie and I's household income leaves us quite well off but we couldn't in good conscious take out a mortgage that large.

I'm at the point where I am actively cheering for a massive recession that would make the 2008 financial crisis look tiny by comparison. This market makes absolutely no sense and I cannot comprehend how we are going to get out of it. Torontonians are buying homes at a record pace and there appears to be no end in sight. The Bank of Canada is sitting with their thumbs up their asses refusing to raise interest rates from 0.25 percent where it has been since March 2020. Meanwhile inflation is out of control and COVID-19 cases have reached record highs.

10. πŸ™…πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Run a 30K

I did not go for a single run for all of 2021. Instead Elsie and I went for a 60-90 minute walk every morning where we'd usually cover 7 kilometres. Obviously that has nothing to do with this resolution but I just wanted to make sure no one thought I was getting lazier.

11. πŸ™…πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Smoke 12 cigars with family and/or friends

One cigar a month seems like a reasonable amount and I'm hoping that I'll not have to wait for vaccinations to start. No I am not planning on having any massive cigar smoking parties that would inevitability become super spreader events. Hopefully in a few months the lockdown will be lifted and we can go back to having small, safe gatherings between two households.

I did have to wait for vaccinations to start and it took six months before the lockdown was lifted.

In total I only managed to smoke six cigars between June and November.

Conclusions

Alright, there is no sugar coating this. Not only did I set absolute shite resolutions but I also put a half-assed effort into most of them. In the end I only managed to complete 3 out of 11 resolutions for a 27% success rate.

I want to use the pandemic as an excuse but really it was my indecisiveness that cost me this year. Yes I was locked down through July and basically back in lockdown in November. But if I truly wanted to get these resolutions done I could have started running again in May. I could have made more of an effort to see friends and family over the summer and fall. I could have gone on actual vacations when cases were ebbing and the vaccines were working. I could have figured out how to get a god damn soldering iron into my apartment like thousands of others already have. But I just kept passing the buck saying I'll fix things when we're "back to normal". If the omicron variant has taught me anything it is that we're not going to be back to normal for years. I'm sure the pi, rho, sigma, tau, and whatever other variants that pop up over the next few years are going to keep throwing wrenches into our daily lives and we're just going to have to learn how to live with them.

So for 2022 I think I'm only going to make a handful of pretty cut and dry resolutions. Just assume we're going to be in lockdown for like 3/4th of the year and set a couple of goals that I can complete from the comfort of my own home.

#Resolutions