Life Update, February 2019

I like writing small updates around the turn of the month, but this time I want to deep dive into what goals I tracked for January to give a sense of how varied and granular it can be and still be super helpful (to me).

I track my goals in Trello with a very simple board layout: columns for To Do, Upcoming, Doing, and Done (cleared out once a month at our goals dinner). I keep the mobile app on my home screen, keep visible bookmarks to the board on every browser, and remind myself to check the board in my habit tracker daily.

I completed over 30 goal cards on the board this past month (which is crazy) and I’d like to share all of them to show how even the smallest goals can add up to a real feeling of self confidence and success.

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My Favorite Games of 2018

My love of gaming started early and still burns bright, even if my relationship with it is a little weird right now (feeling pushed out of the AAA scene via boredom). Last year, I kept a quick ranking of every game I touched by enjoyment and thought I’d write a little about my favorites.

Honorable Mentions

Donut County: The game design is a bit simplistic but it’s an ear-to-ear grin inducer from start to finish with wonderful characters, snappy, aware writing, playful graphics, and a soul that exudes joy. And raccoons.

Deltarune: Who would have thought we were going to get a fully functional and super enjoyable first act to a sequel to Undertale out of the blue? Great music, interesting new characters and nostalgic hooks made for a really fulfilling experience and gave way to the excruciating wait for the final product someday, hopefully.

Forza Horizon 4: I’m actually kind of bummed that this didn’t make my top five, but the changes to the world economy and introduction of extremely silly personalization options really took me out of the perfect formula the team crafted for the previous iteration. That aside, the game is still one of the best racing games ever made and a wonderful co-op experience that shouldn’t be missed.

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2018 and 2019 Goals

It’s that time again! Halfway through January in the new year, it’s time to look back at 2018’s goals, see how they turned out, and use those lessons to set new and better goals for 2019. Let’s go!


2018 Goals in Review

  • Grow at Work: I made good progress in developing more fluency in Agile methodologies and techniques, bouncing from a successful Product Owner to a Scrum Master role after our team downsized a little. Despite really disliking being expected to motivate inherently unmotivated people, I have learned quite a bit about what the role can and cannot accomplish.
  • Start Exercising Regularly: My walking distance has crept up steadily and I’m thankful for that, but I never really found a rhythm for stretching or exercising in a regular fashion outside of long walks and semi-regular bike rides.
  • Plan Nights and Weekends: We tried this for most of spring (and it worked well for a bit), but it started to yield less and less results as it became less novel and less compatible with external stressors and obligations. Instead, we switched to a dedicated night per week for games and lightly planned weekends and that has worked well as a fallback.
  • Clear (Some) Game Backlog: Most of my legacy gaming backlog is still the same as last year. Now I know that it won’t solve itself and needs to be addressed a little more directly.
  • Play Myst 4, 5, and Obduction: I dipped my toe into Myst 4 just in time for Cyan to do a Kickstarter for a re-release of all of the Myst titles. Now that 4 finally runs on Steam, it’s back on my list for this year.
  • Read More Books: Unfortunately, my backlog is largely the same as it was a year ago. It’s just something I couldn’t find the time for, and when I did it was very difficult to slow down enough to focus on the simple task of reading.
  • Finish and Publish Oral History Project: Despite taking much more effort than I expected, I did follow through on this and I’m very happy with the outcome. I have shared it with most of my family members at this point and they have all been thankful. Good outcomes all around.
  • Publish Springs Photo Book: Basically no movement on this one, so it’s been pushed into 2019 with lower requirements and expectations.
  • Get (a Little) into Investing: I didn’t purchase any shares in 2018, but I did gather some information on Roth IRAs and opened one with Schwab. It will be a crucial piece of my budgeting strategy in 2019.
  • Relocate from Florida: Despite some genuine efforts (visiting Charlotte twice, talking to locals on Reddit), I didn’t make much headway on my Florida exit plan. A big reason: Rob got a killer job and it pumped the brakes on our planning (and I was fine with that).
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Blue Ridge 2018: The Hikes

Hey all! For anyone interested in some Blue Ridge hiking guidance, here are all of the hikes Rob and I did on our annual October Blue Ridge trip this year, ordered chronologically and labeled with our distance and elevation gain. These differ a little bit from the published info (we sometimes combined trails and extended them).

We accomplished a pretty large increase in our hiking distance this year: 79.5mi, up from 55.4mi. I don’t know if my poor aching IT bands could take much more, but it didn’t feel all that crazy!

  1. Sam Knob (2.5mi, 557ft)
  2. Cat Gap Loop to John Rock (6.2mi, 1154ft)
  3. Grassy Creek Falls (1.8mi, 400ft)
  4. Crabtree Falls Loop (2.6mi, 577ft)
  5. Trout Lake Carriage (3.3mi, 300ft)
  6. Rich Mountain Carriage / Deer Park Loop (5.3mi, 756ft)
  7. Cascades / Tompkins (2.3mi, 272ft)
  8. Rough Ridge (1.5mi, 362ft)
  9. Bass Lake Loop (1mi, 20ft)
  10. Black Ridge Loop (3mi, 574ft)
  11. Fisher Peak Loop (2.2mi, 233ft)
  12. Bass Lake Loop Extended (2.8mi, 170ft)
  13. Price Lake Loop (2.2mi, 72ft)
  14. Elk Knob Summit (4mi, 971ft)
  15. Green Knob Loop (2mi, 515ft)
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Halloween Suiting

For many years I’ve had the privilege of donning an amazing costume on Halloween at work and parties. In college, I received a custom mascot costume for doing some website work for a friend that created the costumes (thanks Spain!). I don’t exactly have many opportunities to don it, but it’s always a blast when I do!

After showing up for work in a red-herring beach bum outfit, I changed into the costume and had my usual fun eliciting surprise, nervous laughter and many questions. This year, I also met up with a small group of suiters on campus and strode around with them for a few hours. After we snagged dinner, I tagged along for a chill Halloween hangout that included the requisite round trip through weird YouTube, a little impromptu jamming, and after-midnight baked cookies and ice cream. I felt welcome and really enjoyed the opportunity to hang. 🦝


Sneaking in quick updates for the month of November:

  • Met with a lovely and helpful friend to talk stocks and investing and get me rolling in the right direction with my money.
  • Oil changed in the Fit! Erik did most of the work this time. It passed 90,000 miles a couple weeks ago. Feels like I just bought the thing.
  • Physical therapist recommended me to get an MRI of my hip area if it wasn’t too expensive or a hassle. Spoilers: it’s a hassle.
  • Started tracking my sleep with my Apple Watch and AutoSleep in an effort to be more aware of how much I actually sleep so I can take steps to improve. So far it’s working out pretty well and is actually really interesting to see the results every morning.
  • In that same vein, I’ve also been trying to establish a simple bedtime routine of sitting with my laptop in bed until around midnight with lights out shortly thereafter. It lets me regularly focus on writing and organizing things just before bed, leaving me with a good sense of contentment and preparedness.
  • After hitting a little snag in therapy, it’s been going pretty well since. I’ve got some homework that I actually look forward to doing and it’s translated into a good bit of hope for a future progress.

Going to Chvrch

Before October, I’d never been to a real concert. There I said it. I’m lame. Sure, I’ve piled into a church bus to see Steven Curtis Chapman as a kid*, joyfully attended Rockapella’s Christmas special last year, and saw Hamilton with Rob in Chicago, but I’d never had to slip plugs into my ear holes and rock out in a large venue.

I’ve also been a big fan of CHVRCHES lately. I gained an interest in the band through the Rebel FM podcast, the Forza Horizon soundtrack, and their stellar remix of MS MR’s Hurricane. They were one of the first bands I binged heavily when I first adopted Spotify, and their Every Open Eye album dropped into my life with a bang.

One day this Summer I noticed their upcoming tour dates on Spotify. I’d missed them in Orlando around my birthday a few years back (chickened out on going alone) so I clicked through. One jumped out at me: Asheville, 10/9. We would be in Blowing Rock (a couple hours north) the week prior…maybe this could work? But no—we planned to drive back the Saturday prior to this Tuesday night concert. Drat. On a whim, I checked Kayak for flights to Asheville and was surprised to see extremely cheap seats from Sanford and back surrounding the exact time of the concert: departing at 5pm and returning the next morning at 9:30am. Could this work?

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