A Year Of... interesting things

2021 - Year of Ones

The Year of Ones is mostly focusing on myself and my health.

Not sure yet if the goals are doable or too lofty, but they have a nice ring to them so at least I’ll try.

  • One hundred pushups - be able to perform one hundred pushups, in a row, by the end of the year.
    I’m a wimpy noodle that can barely do ten now.
  • One hundred squats;
  • One hundred of something else - crunches? Dips?
  • One pound lost a week;
  • One meal a day (OMAD);
  • Eating out no more than Once a week;
  • 10k steps at least three times a week. Right now I’m sitting at 5k / day.

OMAD is going to be hard, not because of the obvious hunger – I already tend to eat only once or one bigger meal a day, but because my family tends to focus on a larger dinner, whereas I would need this to be more in the middle of the day.

I’m also going to need to ask them to stop bringing left-overs home.
We all love trying out new places and having exciting food brought home will not do great for my already low ability to resist.

I will allow myself snacks, in the shape of high-fiber or high-protein snacks: mostly fruits that help stave hunger (apples, citrus) and protein shakes. A slice or two of cold-cuts also seems to help.

I will reduce my intake of sugar and carbs outside of the one meal.

To reach 100 push-ups, I would need to increase it by 10 pushups every month, allowing for a margin of error. Having reached 30 in three months or less, that seems doable.

That being said, I was also not doing full pushups, but only 90 degree ones. I will try to for 100 proper/full pushups, but I’ll settle for even being able to do 100 half-pushups, or whatever you want to call them.

As a bonus goal, I’d like to end up being able to do 10 pulls up. Right now I can’t do one, so maybe that’s too big of a jump.

Can’t hurt to try.

Reflection on Year of Writing

Back in January I wrote a short story. Barely. More like a vignette, really.

When I started on it, I felt driven. I felt as if I had a good angle, I wrote about something I loved and then seeing the word-count barely break 1,000, after all that effort, broke me.

I always felt words came easy to me. If that was true, then perhaps it’s story that comes hard.
Taking steps is easy, running a marathon or even arriving at a set destination is a multi-layered skill. One that the skill of putting one foot in front of another, in isolation, does not amount to much.

I thought I got distracted and other tasks took me away from what I was trying to accomplish, but now, twelve months later, I can see it clear as day: I got deflated.

Writing is hard. Long form is even harder.

When all adds up, 2020 - Year of Writing is a clear failure. Not even small goals have been achieved.

That being said, there’s a naïveté in my heart that has me want to try this again, at a future date.

If all I’m looking for is some modest financial success, I believe my fundamental approach is correct:

  1. Build an software solution to analyze gaps in the market;
  2. Make attempts in those niches;
  3. Re-tune;
  4. ???
  5. Profit.

That’s a story for another year.

March Report

I don’t know what was about March that completely set me back to zero. No writing. Nada. Barely any reading too save for books because of travel Wildlife of the National Parks and Reserves of Costa Rica by Michael and Patricia Fogden and Costa Rica - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture by Jane Koutnik.

(On the flip-side, I’ve discovered a really cool sunscreen: Blue Lizard. The bottles starts white and they turn blue in the sun to indicate protection needs to be applied.)

I could blame my lack of progress on any number of issues:

  • travel/vacation - on one hand no more work, on the other hand exhaustion from activities and adventures;
  • COVID-19, which provided constant anxiety; travel + COVID-19 proved a real worry machine;
  • ramped up work to make up for vacation then catching up after vacation;
  • uncertainty over the direction to pursue and seeming lack of “inspiration”.

I need to meditate a bit on this and figure out exactly what’s holding me back. Perhaps it’s a matter of time, available time, but I feel there’s a deeper reason there. I need to find that deeper reason and work with it or against it, whichever gets me move forward.

(Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

February Report

I have a bad habit of getting distracted with rabbit holes. I see one and I feel a compulsion to go down it. Sometimes it’s like starting with a Wikipedia article and many hours later I’m down only half of the starting page but I have read 100 other pages linked from it. Other times, it takes the shape of falling in love with a technical solution when a half-assed manual approached could have produced much of the same results and often much shorter time. February was the later.

In trying to make progress on research topic, I went down the road of trying to automate it. Scrape down a certain site, parse the results, extract the information using a Python scripts and store various metrics into a database so that I can build my data analysis on top of structured data.

The compulsion came from not being able to access an inelegant solution an so I spent a good deal of time trying to write not just useful code, but beautiful code too, and trying to learn and practice new concepts while doing so. While I have made good progress, I still don’t have a solution that allows me to proceed to the next step: data analysis and trying to determine, perhaps mathematically, a good niche.

Not all was wasted in February.

I have read several stories in a larger category as one of the recommendations I picked up was to read works in a potential category in order to become familiar with the conventions of the genre. It was eye opening and illuminating and I was happy that the books I read on reading have helped me better understand structure, characters, and settings.

I read only one “technical” book: Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. I enjoyed it and captured many great quotes and lessons from it. I think my favorite and the most relevant to my endeavors:

Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.

January Report

January had a fairly tall order: reading, writing, research, online persona creation.

As per usual, trying to grab a big bite is a recipe for failure.

Reading happened:

In in all, I also managed to find time to write a short, 1,000-word story. (It’s not much but it’s honest work meme)

It was … unexpectedly difficult. It was effectively fan-fic, in a way, but I combined two ideas that were very dear to my heart. I doing so, I thought it would’ve been easy, that words would freely pour out of me. An incident comes to mind: it’s [the story][dropbox] of a meeting between Steve Jobs and Drew Houston, the creator of Dropbox, in which Jobs tells Houston, derisively, that Dropbox is a “feature, not a product”. It’s an apt analogy for I thought I had a product – the story, but what I really had was a feature, an idea, without too much of a path to full realization.

Even with the pieces in place, it was hard to write the connecting text and do so with consistent tone and quality. Perhaps this is something that gets better with time. Right now, I cannot even begin to imagine what it takes to write a whole novel.

The online persona creation started with a Reddit account so that I can participate in discussions. I still need to figure how to create other accounts that are common with writers – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – keeping in with both their respective terms of service and the need to not have it connected to my identity.

Research is where it all faltered. I started going down that path, but I wasn’t able to make much progress. I am trying to take a programmatic approach to this research that would allow me to create a repeatable solution in order to be able to explore niches quickly. Or at least quicker.
February will need to pick up the pace on research.