2017 should just be decreed the year of Ryoga. Probably the biggest and most momentous life change I’ve done in a long time is take on the responsibility of a dog. I’ve been considering it since 2016 but decided to wait until after the new year since I had a 2 week vacation planned over Christmas. Beyond that the year was combined with the most hectic summer I’ve ever had where I was doing something almost every other week. I even opted out of a camping trip because I just needed a break from doing too many things. It was just too hectic for me.
My dog is adorable
He’s also sweet, kind of shy, and loves other dogs. His paws are slippery and he’ll tumble down the grass in Dolores Park when chasing birds. He’s so afraid of water he’ll stop and walk around a puddle. He doesn’t have any idea on how to play with toys, he’d rather chew headphones than his squeaky toys, and he’ll chase after a ball in the park and then look at you so proud that he chased it down but never pick it up.
He will eat anything and everything on the ground. He’s still not fully comfortable in the house. He slinks and walks around the house like he’s tiptoeing sometimes. He probably has some kind of separation anxiety especially with longer stays. He will jump on things that are super unsafe to get food and I don’t think I’ve ever cried so hard as when I had to leave him overnight at the vet after he ate grapes.
I know that there’s a saying pets sometimes resemble their owners and I hope that’s true. Hopefully Ryoga grows more into his confidence.
Outdoor Adventure Club
I accomplished (kind of) two major things that I’ve been wanting to do in California for a long time.
The first was an attempt on climbing Mt Shasta. I went up with three good friends who were incredibly helpful with both gathering equipment, being prepared, and having a fun time climbing up a giant fucking mountain. I felt like an idiot because I was by far the slowest person whose crampons kept slipping. Doing anything at elevation is hard and hits people in different ways but I knew that about myeslf and I need to prepare myself for it better. I learned afterwards that you can train for elevation by using a oxygen deprivation mask. We didn’t end up summiting but had a good time glissading down the mountain. At some point I will conquer this peak.
The second activity was River Rafting. The El Nino year produced some great rapids and we did the Yuba River. I did a bunch of research about deaths on the river before going on it and even asked my friend who is a raft guide who declined to tell me that doing Class 4 Rapids on your first try out might not the best idea. I survived and even fell out of the boat once. It’s comforting to know that I have the basic instincts to remember how to get out from under the boat and swim to safety after being tossed out. I felt a bit of a coward opting out of the Class 5 Rapid but I think I made the right call. The rapids were strong and I would have freaked out too hard in there if I fell out.
I ended up running a small workshop called Frankenstuffer at Priceless. While I’ve done silly stuff before it’s kind of nice to actually run something. Most of the attendance were my friends but I had a few random people join in and many people talked about it as something that caught their eye. Amusingly, it continues the tradition of events that my friends run that become commercial enterprises. I’m sure she had the idea long before I did though. Props to her attempt at creating something new! https://www.theanimoodles.com/
Outside of my Mexico Trip in the beginning of the year which crept into 2017 this is the first year since 2012 that I hadn’t been outside of the country. Instead I focused on things that I could do inside the country.
Seattle Summer Trip
Seattle was a trip to hang out with some friends who I haven’t seen in a while and it was amazing. I was at a dinner with some friends of friends and I found out that it was a bit odd to suggest sea kayaking and backpacking adventures as tourist activities. I’m just going give a shout out that Tyler & Becky and Ryan & Lillian are both the most gracious of hosts and amazing friends.
I was able to do my first beach backpacking trip, which is a very different experience when you literally have to outrun tides or you get stuck. My attempt at seeing orcas though was not accomplished though.
It was also my first time going camping and backpacking alone. I found the hiking incredibly fun. A 16 mile round trip hike with a good audiobook was great. It’s nice to have that freedom to not beholden to anyone else. The only problem is camping alone is that it’s dull. Staying at night around a campfire alone was just lonely and Rainer was full of families that I didn’t feel I would want to intrude on. I recall that when I went to Yellowstone that me and my friends accepted a random stranger into our group for the next day as something that I imagine is far more rare than I thought.
Burning Man 2017
If there’s one thing that took up a lot of 2017 is being part of leadership team for Camp EATME. Our camp has people in charge of various things but me and two others were in there to ensure everything gets done. Camp survived, we have plenty of money for next year, new friendships were formed and new amazing memories were developed. But it was a lot of work and being in charge felt cumbersome. I think in terms of my own leadership abilities I learned that I have the habit of micromanaging and that I need to watch my own language and communication when talking with disagreeing with people. I think my overall rating for my self was a C.
I felt especially bad because many noobies this year had a lot of trouble dealing with the ridiculously hot year. Even non-noobies had a lot of trouble but it’s not the best welcome to Burning Man.
I think though that leadership positions are hard for me in general. I always feel like I need to be responsible and have trouble giving up a bit of control sometimes. Combined with my Ranger duties on playa and early morning events I ended up having a rough time this year.
Overall though, learning experience. I know more about myself and know about what I need to look out for when I do this next (both in and out of Burning Man).
Rental Car Rally
If you have to have a weird adventure in the desert and surprise your parents with 13 people dressed in bunny outfits at 6am it’s a pretty fun trip. A giant passenger van is a bit too much though and maybe a smaller vehicle next time. I’m still impressed by the winning team on costume. The Fast Food and the Furious.
Friends of the Urban Forest
I’m officially a certified volunteer leader with Friends of the Urban Forest. I did the certification and work in January and February. It was a solid class where you learned not only about street trees planting but maintenance, biodiversity, and countless other things. I’m not sure how good I am at identifying trees since it’s not my full time job but I have some decent knowledge nowadays. I’m probably firmly committed to helping out and learning more about the care and maintenance of trees.
A special thanks to Karen, Ameesha, Wasko, Edward, and Angela for coming out to volunteer when I decided to do my first leadership event. It’s super appreciated.
I attempted to frame 2017 as 4 things that I could do that I couldn’t do in 2016. Unfortunately except for the volunteering thing I didn’t do so well.
I got to dealing with conjugation in future tense with Spanish in Duolingo. I was able to at least understand a lot of books and conversations overhead in the Mission district. The biggest problems were at some point I just hit a plateau with knowing words and memorizing things. I just didn’t have the retention for it and at some point I couldn’t really translate in my head fast enough for a conversation.
I thought about taking a class mid summer but then decided against it since I was so busy.
It’s proving to be hard to even get any kind of running training with Ryoga. I’ve tried running with him but he’s pretty slow runner so he’ll trot along with me. My pace normally running is between 9-10 minutes but with Ryoga it’s 11-12 minutes. But I’ll have to train him to get faster with me. I’m not 100% sure about how to accomplish this yet but I’ll have to see about doing interval training with him. I want to be able to run a faster 3 mile run.
Long Running Volunteering Opportunities
I worked with Friends of the Urban Forest and feel comfortable in my position there. It’s good to give back to some kind of community. I also tried to contribute to a political hackathon but I didn’t feel strongly about it.
I don’t think this is enough though, I wonder if there’s better ways to give back. I think over the year I realize that while street trees are a good green initiative they are not without their own drawbacks and downsides.
I’m not sure where my career is now. I’ve enjoyed Lyft and learned a lot and I’m not planning on leaving. But how to pursue the opportunities I want there is proving to be elusive. I randomly fell back into my old habits of being a product engineer. Which basically means focusing on building a better feature within my team’s category but only focusing on building a feature versus say improving the entire iOS architecture.
The question is how do I get better at being a software engineer? Can I take on more ambitious projects?
I think one thing though that I will forever be proud of is that I helped build Round Up & Donate which allows Lyft passengers to round up their fare and donate it to charities. It has brought in over 4 MILLION dollars to charities throughout the past few months. It was a hackathon project that turned into a full feature and I’m proud that I was a contributing factor to it.
I think the big thing for me is that I hate maintaining unforgiving streaks. I always have, whenever they break they just ruin me and I don’t feel like I’m making progress on them. Duolingo was great until I lost a streak and just going on camping trips ended up causing me to lose them.
I’ve struggled all year with the inkling that I can’t deal with the whole eating animals thing. I just kind of look at Ryoga and feel a pang of guilt eating meat. I cut off beef this year and it wasn’t that bad. Watching the Netflix film Okja also made me all weepy. The film itself wasn’t that great but the sentimental aspects of it about eating meat hit a bit too hard for me.
But going from 0 to veggie is hard. The goal is going to be to 5/7 days a week being vegetarian. I can eat meat 2 days a week but then I can’t do anything after that. This will give me the flexibility to eat meat sometimes but try to assuage my ethical desires. I will eventually transition to longer periods of time as the year goes on and find that balance that works for me.
Goal: 5/7 days veggie for the next few months. The transition will eventually go to 1/month.
I’ve been picking up this habit and trying to accomplish a goal of 100 miles this month of December. This basically translates down to 3 miles a day for a long month with 31 days. My desire to hit longer distances is no longer there and I honestly just don’t care that much about marathons or half-marathons training routines. But trying to achieve numbers will be a solid motivator. I found I can still run a solid 8-9 mles without too much work on my part though it would have to be mostly flat.
I think a solid goal will be to help Ryoga become a better running partner and want him to go faster with me though.
Goal: Keep at least 75 miles a month. It’s a little bit more forgiving than 100 and gives me the free time to do some training.
I think I have a bad habit of just watching TV mindlessly. I ended up rewatching quite a few shows over the past few years including Scrubs, 30 Rock, Friends, The Office, Family Guy. It’s just one of those things to fill the gap but then it takes over too much time. I’m hoping at least a transition to reading some interesting fiction will prove to be more entertaining and significantly harder to binge read.
Goal: Read 30 minutes each day at least 3 times a week. The aim is 24 books this year (audiobook & regular book)
I think right my time is spent mostly doing: walking my dog, working, watching television/movies, reading books, and running. I feel I need a most constructive hobby such as dancing or some type of sport.
Unsure what the hobby or the pursuit will be.
I’m sick of this. I need to learn to swim again. I’m going to dedicate a month to just getting used to this. I’ve signed up for another swim class in March so we’ll see how things go.
Goal: Learn to Swim or be fine underwater.