I’m not one for making resolutions as typically they end up being things that get forgotten by February. That said, 2016 was rough all around for most people. Personally, I had a pretty good year (new job, new house) but there were a lot of things I’d like to improve upon. Resolutions are not powerful in themselves — it’s saying the thing and/or writing it down that commits those things to memory and makes them real. As such, I’m not calling them “resolutions” but “goals” for 2017. Here are some things I’d like to look back on in 2018 and think that I did a better job of.
- Read more. Reading books for me pretty much only happens on airplanes which I take infrequently. I managed to finish Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency but only because about 80% of that was read during jury duty. I want to make it a point to read more things that are not on my phone. I have a subscription to WIRED magazine but I think I literally went 12 months without opening a single one and I used to, at least, read that while eating breakfast and doing my morning routine. I’d like to get back into that routine and stop reading crap news on my phone.
- Write more. I have an amazing opportunity to write for the SBNation blog, RSL Soapbox which I’ve mostly let fall by the wayside in 2016. Sure there were reasons — I was a developer lead, I had very little free time and what free time I had I didn’t want to spend on my computer. I also wrote very little on my blog. I kept having things I wanted to write about but lacked the “time” to do such things. Time is relative, you can always make more time. Now that I am not in a position where I feel like I need to clock a specific number of hours a week and/or I need to be more available for half a dozen phone calls a day plus management duties, I want to make the most of my time and write more. I’ve already written one article for RSL Soapbox since landing my new gig and I want to write more both there and here.
- Do something with chrisreynolds.io. For a long time I thought my domain chrisreynolds.io could be a sort of portal into various projects that I am active in, but that meant building a site and that’s where the plan fell apart. I want to do something with that domain besides just using it for email even if that means just mirroring jazzsequence.com there.
- Make music. Music in 2016 suffered from the same fate as writing for the same reasons. I didn’t participate in the RPM Challenge in any capacity which tends to be when I double down and focus on making music for a month. It sounds daunting right now to even think about trying to participate in RPM next month but that’s probably the perfect reason to do it.
- Take time off. My mindset around taking time off has been focussed around making the best use of the small amount of days I have and don’t get sick and waste them. This often meant scheduling trips around holiday weekends when I’d get an extra day for the holiday, plus two days for the weekend, so I’m only using one or two vacation days. Trips scheduled like this are typically jam-packed, with last minute visits to cool places on the day that we are leaving so we get back home late and I work the next morning. Having a vacation that rushed is extremely stressful almost (but not quite) to the point of offsetting the recharging nature of taking a vacation. And I did it again for my Solstice/winter break even though I’m no longer in a position where I need to watch every PTO day. I took a longer break, but there was no break between when my parents came out to visit and when we left to go to the Pacific Northwest to visit family and no break between getting back and going back to work and I worked one of the days my parents were in town even though I didn’t necessarily have to. Not taking sick days because I tend not to get sick is one thing, but not taking mental health days because I need a break is silly when I have the days to take. I want to be more mindful of myself and part of that means taking time off and actually enjoying the time away from work and the computer.
- Listen to music. Thinking back on 2017, I feel like I was in a musical hole. I listened to my Spotify Discover Weekly playlist but on the whole, I had no idea of new releases or new artists coming out. What I listened to was, largely, the same stuff I normally listen to. Oh sure there was the new IAMX and Nick Cave and David Bowie but I completely forgot (or missed) that Radiohead quietly put out a new album and even those four specifically are artists that are already in my playlist, not new things I’ve never encountered before. I want to listen to more and find more new music so that I don’t look back on 2017 and wonder if any music at all came out.
- Make cider. My first batch of homebrewed cider was pretty much a success. As a first batch, it wasn’t too bad. More on the sweet side than what I would have liked. The instructions in the cider-making kit I got for my birthday said that you needed to use a sweetener with a more complex molecule structure than natural sugars (honey, cane sugar, brown sugar, etc) because the yeast will just eat it up and you’ll lose the sweetness. However, the result was that it tasted artificially sweetened (a little like Splenda or Sweet n’ Low). The instructions also said that the sweetener would bring out the flavor of the apple more. I’m sure that’s somewhat true. However, one of the best ciders I’ve had recently — Crispin’s Honey Crisp — was made with all natural ingredients including locally sourced honeycrisp apples and sweetened with honey. It had a very apple-y bite and wasn’t too sweet. I would much prefer using honey as a sweetener and if we lose some of the sweetness in the fermenting process, that’s okay because the batch I made was too sweet anyway. I also think that using a specific variety of apple, or using real apples (the kit came with a concentrate) makes a difference — the Honey Crisp cider tasted very distinctly of honeycrisp apples — and this means that using our apples from the apple tree in the back yard of our new home should work really well. They have a snappy, apple taste that’s not too sweet. I am looking forward to getting my new hose and auto-siphon so I can start thinking about what the next batch will be.
Sidenote: In looking back on the label I made for the first batch of cider, I think there was a missed opportunity — I should have put a sombrero on Trump’s head. Would have made the visual much more absurd and much more obvious that I’m trying to make fun of him and his stupid use of the phrase “bad hombres”.