2015 has been a super odd year for me. A year that I’ve stayed so busy that it just passed away and I realize where I was in January of this year and where I am now is not all that different but full of experiences and memories that seem remarkable. This post is a bit longer as it’s a larger reflection of 2015.
Reflections from 2015
Traveling was another big highlight for me this year.
- 4 days in Death Valley using a very lucky combination of Christmas and New Years timing for a long holiday break.
- 2 days in Seoul
- 18 days in Mainland China
- 2 days in Hong Kong
- 12 days in Peru
- 8 Days in Colombia
- 9 Days at Burning Man
- 4 Days in Toronto / Waterloo
Total of: 59 days which is about what I spent last year traveling.
The Korea-China-Hong Kong trip was a work remotely trip. I had the pleasure/displeasure of working from 4am-noon most days in China in order to coordinate timezones at work here in San Francisco. I still remember being the only one up in Seoul at 3am typing code until people woke up for breakfast. Thankfully jet lag works in your favor in those situations.
The travel experiences though have been ridiculously awesome this year:
I went to Machu Picchu which has always been a dream of mine. I went with an amazing crew of people who mostly I’ve never met before, a special thanks to Mark for inviting me along on his already planned trip and Toyo for planning and letting some random strangers join in. Random highlight has to be playing sardines (reverse hide-and-seek) in the ruins of an ancient city, which I think is a great bucket list item that wasn’t actually on my list.
China will always hold a special place in my heart. My first time traveling to a foreign country with a group of friends. Most of my travels has been solo or perhaps with one other person. The first half of the trip was with Shandy, Luna, and Kim in Shanghai and a trip to Huangshan while the second half of my trip was by myself to Beijing and Yunnan provinces. I got to eat lots of delicious Chinese food, saw a massive lightning on top of Huangshan, and climbed the wild parts of the Great Wall. China was also the most interesting place for meeting random people. I met former SAS Soldiers, people from remote and large provinces in China, and some of the friendliest locals who always tried their best to speak with me. Knowing the local language I can imagine only helps so much more but Mandarin is hard. I did impress the customers in one restaurant with my knowledge of Chinese dishes. Or maybe just surprised them… not sure.
Toronto was a fun work trip and I got to experience Canada for the first time ever, where I discovered that all the things I want to see about Canada are in Montreal. God damn’t.
Burning Man this year was odd for me since I didn’t go out and party as much. I stayed in most of the time and had some great adventures with some good friends and for the first time volunteered with the Rangers. The Rangers are an organization there to help people out when they’re in trouble at Burning Man. They enforce the rules at Burning Man and do what cops should do without the violence and authority to really enforce anything. The weirdest thing about the Rangers are they have no real authority to enforce anything but are primarily volunteer only, but people have learned to trust them. The primary role was always to help people so the cops don’t have to come. I was able to give back to the community and meet a lot of interesting people.
iOS at Ginger.io is not particularly challenging technically. But it’s been a great opportunity to work on skills outside of my technical skill. Because of the changes in the company I’ve had the opportunity and pleasure to transition the app to Swift from Objective-C. So heralding that change has been an interesting learning opportunity to learn a new programming language and peer more into the process for an evolution of the language. It’s exciting, challenging, and incredibly frustrating at the same time.
A bit of a goal for 2016 is trying to switch away from the concept of “best practices” as the language is new I can decide and try out my own constructs of the patterns I choose from more general programming practices. Try to think of Demeter’s Law instead of Singleton pattern, etc.
I did a speech at the Moth and didn’t score last! I love storytelling events and it was only 2 years from when I saw my first Moth show in New York City to giving a talk. If you want to listen to the talk, Soundcloud a link to the recording.
I’ve planted at least a dozen trees now with Friends of the Urban Forrest, which is nice. There’s one on the bike path on San Jose Avenue heading from Glen Park to the Mission that was planted by me and the other volunteers. I have some friends who live in Glen Park so I can always spot it on the way home when I’m biking there.
I was able to surprise a friend with a room full of Balloons for her birthday.
I ran a half-marathon! That’s 13 miles of running for almost 2 hours!
I served on an attempted murder case as a jury member for 3 weeks. It was interesting to see the trial and what misconceptions there were from TV shows and what things actually happened. I ended up being an alternate juror which sucked since I didn’t get to do deliberation at the end of it.
Good Friends make a difference
My friends are awesome and I feel I always need to appreciate them more. I think New Year Eve this year could have ended up being a terrible night for me and highlights what the right group of friends makes a difference. We were in Vancouver with a large group of people and we tried to all go to downtown. But the downtown area provide to be super busy and it was frustrating to walk around trying to just find a bar that would take us. Vancouver bars have some weird laws about drinking and many bars downtown shut down at 12 so wouldn’t seat us or serve us. I got frustrated and annoyed and was turning into a grump at this point but then my friends just started to be silly trying to make the journey of walking around Vancouver into a game. Mini-Dance party, parkour, along with a well timed joke by Michael about expectations made me significantly less grumpy. The rest of the night was just another ridiculous and playfulness which always highlights for me that a destination isn’t as good as the people you go with.
I think traveling the way I’ve been doing it is too much of a strain though. I would be in and out of home so much that I could never keep anything long term. Combined with teaching part-time I didn’t really have time to plan and do anything until the end of the year. Trips are disruptive when building routines or creating new relationships. Teaching part-time at General Assembly was also time consuming as it takes up at least 2 night of your week for the class itself and another 2-3 nights to prepare curriculum. I thought the second time around would be easy but there was even more to work on as my class was more advanced than my first class and almost double the size.
Here was my schedule this year:
Teaching General Assembly 1/1 until 2/18 Korea/China/HK 3/26 -> 4/17 Peru/Colombia 5/22 -> 6/10 General Assembly class 6/15 -> 8/26 Burning Man 8/29 -> 9/7 Toronto 9/16 -> 9/21
This ended up being too much for me. Maybe others can figure this out but I always felt like something else was looming up. I never had that moment to focus on me or anything bigger than me until September where I could just relax and think. I’m a bit of a planner so each trip required leg work in order to figure out what to do and what I can enjoy while I’m there. I lack that ability to just let myself go to an area without knowing anything. So every break also consisted of planning and preparing.
Traveling and working was going to be the best of both worlds! I can do both! I can have my adventures and life that regular life. But it’s not true. Perhaps you can build the routines and develop that lifestyle while abroad for multiple months in a row and I’ve heard it’s hard because you’re torn between “I’m in a new place!” vs. “Gotta get work done”. Either way, I wasn’t able to do that while keeping my apartment in San Francisco. I’ve also found that traveling alone while providing you opportunities also gets incredibly dull at times. Constantly having to meet new people and try to make conversation proves to be difficult and the ability to just hang out with your friend is just a nice switch. The combination trip of traveling with a group of friends while also traveling solo was one of my best combinations and I think for any future trip creating a combination of the both is the best option. But only with small groups, trying to corral more than 3-4 people is just too difficult.
Resolutions from 2015
Under 8 minute mile on a 10K
Unfortunately I haven’t accomplished this. I’m training for it and on a regiment that allows me to pick up the pace but it’s proving to be hard to keep up that accelerated pace. The traveling at the beginning of the year also prevented me from doing any running and trying to shower at a hostel that barely has running water in rural China doesn’t have that same appeal.
App Store App
EAT Origins as a prototype is working. It’s just a matter of fleshing it out and completing it now. I’ve always enjoyed finding out how people know each other and I’ve been collecting the stories over the years just from curiosity. I decided to visualize and show those stories off instead of just keeping them to myself. That’s what EAT Origins is.
Net Reduction in TV Shows
I somehow fucked this up… At the end of 2015 I was at 13 shows and now I’m at 14.
My Current List: Archer, Black Mirror, Bob’s Burgers, Daredevil, Fresh off the Boat, Game of Thrones, Girls, Gravity Falls, House of Cards, Last Week Tonight, The Muppets, Orange is the New Black, Rick and Morty, and Sherlock.
I added Bob’s Burgers, Daredevil, Fresh off the Boat, and The Muppets.
Parks and Recreation and Community ended this year and I had no interest in watching Robot Chicken anymore.
Gravity Falls is ending in 2016 though so that’s one show off the list. I’m also doubtful that the Muppets will last more than a season at this rate though. Fresh off the Boat is the show I’m actually looking forward too!
Learn to Swim
Nope… Didn’t event get in the water this year I believe for any decent amount of time except for perhaps Priceless.
Run a marathon
I ran a half marathon at a decent pace. Running a race that’s been cleared for you is a completely different experience. I was struggling on a 12 mile training run when I did it in San Francisco but thanks to having pace with my friend Jill I felt the half-marathon was a lot easier. Regular water and nutella sandwiches probably helped a lot. The cake on a stick was not the best treat though… I ended up not eating it all in one bit and having to keep a popsickle stick in my mouth for more than 2 miles while I searched for a trash can in Sacramento.
The best race treat is a nutella sandwich. It’s just a lot of calories and quite good to bring that up again.
I’m back into running because of the training and I’m able to do about 30-50 miles a month nowadays. This is up from the beginning of the year when my best month was at most 20 miles.
Travel to a non first-world country
I went to China, Peru, and Colombia this year. All of them were rewarding in their own ways though I have to admit, I prefer Asia over South America because the food was better. I have some okay Spanish skills and would probably be better able to communicate in Latin America. I could probably get better and know the locals better than any attempts at learning Mandarin, Japanese or any other language.
Get rid of Things
In the last part of the year I realized that I have no intention of moving from San Francisco or my current place. My friend Amber took me to IKEA and my friend Michael helped me rearrange my house and now I technically have more things. But it’s more organized and I can host people now instead of my crummy bachelor-pad esque studio apartment before. I’m not saying it’s not still a bachelor pad but it’s significantly better than before.
Become a better teacher
I learned some new things during my second GA class and I’m pretty happy with my progress as teacher, though I need better rigor when developing curriculum. I still make those assumptions that I use programmer speak and can’t necessarily approach things from a student’s perspective. I had two great TAs who both were recently learned programmers who helped me out a lot.
Not even tried, with my Peru Trip in May/Early June taking up most of my time, Burning Man in September, and General Assembly taking up all the time between those two I never even had time during the on season to even attempt it. I do want to still try for it though and perhaps I can figure out another way to do something.
Run a marathon
With an official half under my belt I’m going to try to do the marathon at this point. I’ve heard it’s super hard compared to the half and that level of training for it will be intense but we’ll see how I do. The month of March onward will be training toward it and setting myself up to join one. If you are interested in signing up for one anytime in June or after that date you should message me and we can figure something out. I think having that buy in on a date is the best motivator for it.
30 Days Challenges
I was reading a lot about self-depravation as a form of discipline development in religions and philosophy and I tried 40 days of vegetarianism. I discovered that it wasn’t that bad to be vegetarian and the only problem I had was when I was hungry after planting some trees and the only thing people brought was fried chicken. That’s about the only lapse that I really desired meat. Eating out wasn’t that bad though I was picky about the restaurants I chose to go out too.
Beyond that being vegetarian wasn’t super complicated and it inspired me to discover a few new things. I like cobb salad (sans bacon).
I then switched to 37 days without television. That’s been a lot rougher as my defacto hobby to unwind is to watch some television show or an hour or so.
I chose the # of days to trick my mind into not thinking about when it began but 40 days kept thinking people of Lent, but even 40 days was not enough. My habit of eating meat is back into effect now and I would have preferred to instinctively kept the veggie habit better. So instead of trying shorter stints of 37 days, I’m going to try to increase to 66 days. This is the average amount of time it took to form a habit from a scientific study in 2009. So let’s just choose that for now.
Here are the possible habits that I’m going to add, suggestions appreciated:
- Type at least 20 lines of code everyday
- Go running at least 2 miles everyday
- Something to help out other people, but I’m not really sure what
- Blog post a week, which requires writing every day
- Movie a day to understand the art of film as opposed to just watching it for entertainment only
- 1 Second of Video Everyday
- Only make myself home cooked lunch
- Nanowrimo (November short story month)
- Dance practice or learning new dance style
- Playing a musical instrument
- Learning to sing
- Learning Spanish
Still going to be a goal.
App Store App
I’ll get the EAT Origins app out and at least one other for the year but we’ll have to see.