2013 Roundup

Posted on 18 February 2014 by Joseph

This year has been a year of much growth for me, and though ultimately I didn't complete all my goals, I did try a bunch of new stuff, some of which I really liked.

Goal review for 2013

  • Lifting goals. With my primary climbing partner out of commision with a new son, at the beginning of this year I decided to try to focus on some powerlifting goals to switch things up in the exercise department. Having done (self-directed) Crossfit for a couple years prior, I had a good foundation for the primary lifts I wanted to focus on (squat, deadlift, press, clean, snatch), as well as having a decent base to start from.

    My lifting buddy and I set out on the road to swoleness with a copy of Starting Strength, the best place to start as far as I can tell. My lifts immediately started progressing, and I became more confident in my form. The most surprising thing to me was the effect of diet on lifting. If you want to get stronger, really a lot stronger, eat as much as you possibly can! For me, that meant trying the GOMAD thing, which, incidentally, really works.

    Ultimately, it's all about the numbers. In 3 months of the 'beginner' programming from SS, my lifts went:

    • Squat: 295 -> 320
    • Deadlift: 295 -> 345
    • Press: 145 -> 155
    • Clean and jerk: 205 -> 225
    • Snatch: 165 -> 185 While not quite hitting the 2X bodyweight goals I had for myself, I felt good about the gains.
  • Reading. I set out to read 50 books in 2013, and as of today I have less than 100 pages left in the 50th. So close. I read some really excellent works though, both fiction and nonfiction, as well as exploring graphic novels a bit. Some favorites are:

    • A Canticle for Leibowitz - Walter Miller, Jr.
    • Feeding the World - Vaclav Smil
    • The Notebook, The Proof, and The Third Lie by Agota Kristof
    • Everything ever written by Milan Kundera
  • Get my spending way down. Late last year I started reading Mr. Money Mustache, and the whole 'eschew materialism in favor of doing things you love to do' concept stuck with me. I spent the first part of this year getting my spending in check, and at this point I am spending between $1,000 and $1,200 a month, with my yearly costs factored in. This is a far cry from where I started, and I must say it feels very liberating to acquire almost nothing.

    Additionally, I decided that many of my things that I already had were nonessential, so I purged hundreds of books, DVDs, musical instruments, kitchen gadgets, and other "stuff" from my life.

    On the other hand, I did acquire something big in 2013: another home. Specifically, I bought a small condo within walking distance to town, and I love it. I burn maybe 1/4 tank of gas per month, and that is almost all in climbing travel. Additionally, I got a good deal on it, and while it is tying up a good bit of my capital, it has lowered my monthly burn rate significantly.

  • Improve my knowledge of web software and deployment. This was a resounding success. I rolled out several side projects this year, each of which taught me many things. Web servers, datastores, security, queueing, infrastructure automation tools, and more.

  • Take on a social good project. I worked with my friends over at Maryland Nonprofits to help create a spacefinder for nonprofits, focused on low-cost sublets. This tool promises to help nonprofits in the Maryland area find homes for themselves so they can focus on their actual missions. This isn't quite finished yet, but it is nearing release, and I am excited to see where this goes.

  • Climbing. After my stint lifting (and brief forays into Olympic lifting and Crossfit Football), I decided to get back into climbing after all. My original goal was to boulder V6 outdoors, and while I haven't quite crushed it yet, it is on the near horizon. The last time I went out before the end of the year, I climbed three V5 boulder problems.

  • Travel. This goal is always on my list. This year, I was lucky enough to have time to take an 18-day road trip with one of my closest friends. From Virgina, we drove north to Chicago and beyond, ultimately taking highway 2 most of the way across the northern part of the country. Along the way, I saw and met some excellent people, I got to do the greatest hike I've ever done, I saw tons of wildlife, I got to see my sister, and I got to see the City Museum in St. Louis, which was the sleeper hit for the trip as far as I'm concerned. While 18 days isn't as much as I would like, all in all it was still an excellent trip.

  • Create some cool side projects. Like traveling, this is a "forever" goal. This year I released my first "major" side project, Silvi, aimed at improving institutional (and personal) documentation. I also toyed with YellowCap after talking to my mother, a landscape professional, about one of the problems she has in her business: keeping clients up to date in the face of changing situations (backordered plants, weather, etc.). Lately, I've been working on Photobooth Creator, a spin-off of an afternoon hacking project to put together an HTML5 photobooth for the MiserWare holiday party. Additionally, I've done myriad other smallish projects, ranging from games to libraries. You can find most of them on my Github page.

    Along the way, I've grown quite a bit as a developer. Deployment methodologies, integrations with other systems, new languages, and improving old ones have all made my fu much tighter.

New goals for the new year

Based on the amount of flux in my life at the moment, 2014 promises to be an exciting year. Here are, as of now, the goals I have for the upcoming year.

  • Make $500 on a personal project. Word on the street is that the first $500 is the hardest.

  • Get Lasik. Thanks to an incredibly generous gift from my parents, I will be getting my eyes did on January 28th. I am excite!

  • Work on a project with Chris Poirel. Chris is an old friend, and a genius to boot. I don't know if he'll have time with his new job, but I'd love to work on something with him this year.

  • Read 25 challenging books. Both nonfiction and fiction, and I expect to read several less challenging books as well. Along the way I'd like to read A New Kind Of Science. Stephen Wolfram fascinates.

  • Boulder V6 outdoors. Carry-over from last year. The psych is high though, so should be an early one to knock out.

  • Write and record five songs. I've tried this one before, and I have trouble sitting down and actually doing it. We'll see.

  • Learn to fish. I feel like this is almost a birthright.

  • Kill, clean, and eat an animal. As a meat eater, I feel like if I can't do this then I don't deserve to eat animal flesh.

  • Become conversation in Spanish. Just started Rosetta Stone. This is something I've wanted to do for some time.

  • Build a major(ish) project in a functional language. Functional languages seem awesome to me, and I use functional features of many of my favorite languages, but I've never built anything serious in a pure functional language. UNTIL NOW.

  • Travel. I've already got a trip lined up to India to speak at the NAE IAFOE symposium in May. I'd also like to take a big destination climbing trip. Again, a "forever" goal.

  • Create some cool side projects. I'm foreseeing a genetic programming framework for Clojure (with the comments in Spanish!). I usually just follow my interests for side projects, so we'll see.

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