2017 Goals

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Learn javascript, deeply. 2 years ago now, Matt Mullenweg set out a goal for WordPress developers to “learn javascript, deeply.” While I am increasingly taking a more objective view of Matt’s opinions rather than what I did when I was a Matt fanboy, it’s obvious that JS is increasingly becoming the future of the internet. WordPress powers over 25% of the internet. The idea is that in order for WP to keep up with the rest of the internet, the future will be much more js-based. I have felt for a couple years that I am at a place where if WP died, I could make my way as a straight PHP developer. This is a fairly big leap from the days when the only programming language I felt fully fluent in (in that I could write something from scratch without a framework or existing platform) was HTML/CSS. Which means I could hop technologies pretty easily to, say, Joomla! (yuck) or Drupal if WordPress disappeared. More recently, I feel like I’ve gotten to the point where I’m capable at javascript — I can use existing libraries and write some simple things, mostly in jQuery. But I am not at the point where I feel like I could write something from absolute scratch. One of the first things I did when I joined HM was purchasing some javascript courses from Wes Bos and my goal for 2017 is to begin to become fluent (not just able to use/adapt) in javascript. Becoming fluent in a language means using it all the time, so the language is reinforced in your brain and at your fingertips. Yes, a lot of that involves Googling which is partially why at any given moment I have 30 different tabs open but having to Google doesn’t mean you aren’t fluent — mostly my Googling is to find out proper syntax or figure out the parameters and what order they come in for various functions. You have to know or be familiar with the functions to get to that point. I can do that with PHP and WP, but I’m not there yet — I don’t have the functions in my head and at my fingertips — with javascript.
  7. 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.
  8. 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”.

2012 review and resolutions for 2013

I don’t tend to do these resolutions posts because resolution posts are things you do when you can’t set your own goals and feel the need to announce publicly something you plan on doing to act as an impetus for actually doing it (by shaming you into doing it since it’s out in the public). But I recognize that stating your intentions publicly can help to make those things happen and also it provides easy blog-fodder and one of my resolutions is to freaking blog more.

2012 Review

Between posts originally authored on this blog, my Kickstarter campaign for The Signal, posts on Museum Themes and Plague Music, and my Tumblog wht.the.fsck, I wrote a total of 99 posts with a grand total of 25,269 words. However, out of all those posts there were only 5 comments.

(all yearly stats came from my Updated Blog Metrics plugin that’s a fork of Joost de Valk’s Blog Metrics plugin)

In 2012, my most popular blog post was still my Gun Porn (Borderlands) post, which is just evidence of how much you can draw traffic if you use “porn” anywhere in your post title, regardless of actual content. Second place went to my now 3 year old post on MusicIP vs. WinAmp’s playlist generator. I don’t even use WinAmp anymore, am not even on Windows anymore, so that tells me that not much has been done on WinAmp in that time, which is also pretty sad. My third most popular post, though, was actually written last year. It was this post on getting Sublime Text 2 to run on older versions of OSX. Considering most of my popular posts are a few years old and my most popular post is solely for the “porn” in the title, this is actually pretty cool and emphasizes the point that when you write good content, people come. So write more.

Goals for 2013

I’m breaking this down into various, topic-based sections. Here we go.

Blogging

  • Write more posts
  • Do more food blogging (also: cook more)

WordPress stuff

  • More WordPress tutorials
  • More WordPress documentation

(I’m already planning on doing WordPress videos for @pluralsight and I’m going to be working on the WordPress Theme Development handbook, so I’m already in a good position to do this.)

  • Go to (and speak at?) more WordCamps
  • Get (more) involved in the community
  • Update Museum Core
  • Update Hello Ziggy and finally add it to wp.org
  • Update and release the various CPT plugins (artists, releases, reviews, products…)
  • Finally build and update the new theme for this site
  • Do more WordPress themes, both for Museum Themes and WordPress.org (1/month, goal)

Music

  • Make it.

Not make it like “make it in music”, just make more music. Been on a major hiatus after my PC died. This year there’s no excuse. Whether that means I’ll be doing RPM this year, I’m not sure, but I’m at least planning on being available for collaboration projects.

  • Convert all CDs to digital and archive in boxes

Other stuff

  • Move sites to a new host

As much as I’ve been happy with the support at my current host, I can’t help but notice that my sites all load slowly. Need something faster and/or more able to take the load.

  • Go to more RSL games
  • Follow and post crazy stuff to WTF Soccer?
  • Cook more (see also: do more food blogging)

I’ve actually found a few things I like making and have made changes that weren’t awful. Also:

  • Start a pinboard on Pinterest for food stuff

I should probably stop now before this list gets too long. I think that’s enough for one year. Maybe one more thing:

  • Have more fun.