So long 2015, year of changes! Hello 2016!

2015 was a weird year for me personally. It was a year that a lot of things changed, and a year that a lot of things didn’t change. Compared to the last several years where I kind of just rode the same groove, 2015 was pretty notable.

So what didn’t change is: I’m still living in the same place, still on the same lack-of-romantic-relationships setting, and still working at the same place. Commuting still sucks, but still doesn’t suck as much as living closer to where I work, and my schedule is still pretty heavily shifted from “normal” in part as a response to that, and in part because my sleep cycles have just always been wonky.

What did change is … well, kind of my whole lifestyle.

In April or so I took a bit of a staycation when the work pressure and burnout got to me a bit, and decided to start changing how I ate (by banning myself from “depressing” food). That started a tour of a bunch of other restaurants, and just trying to eat things that weren’t Wendy’s, Subway, Papa John’s and Domino’s all the time. I didn’t really eat less, I wasn’t any more active, and I didn’t do anything else about my situation, but I was enjoying food a lot more. It’s one of the great joys in life, and I was absolutely exploiting that.

Well, I guess that “undepressing” doesn’t equate to “healthy”. You can read more about that in the “undepressing food” post … I was just trying not to eat food that made me sad to eat it, and succeeded pretty well. I held roughly the same weight, but I think I was managing to get just as much sugar and salt as before. And that was well over the “way too much” line.

So in early July, after a delicious burger and extra-salty fries, I started experiencing some chest tightness. It didn’t feel too serious, but it was definitely uncomfortable, and it stuck around, so after a week or so of that it crossed the threshold from “hmm, that’s different” to “hmm, that’s alarming”. I remembered I had a BP cuff in a box somewhere, dug it out and checked, and got a blood pressure in the 180/120 range. So … that was a thing. Also right on the edge of the “you are having a hypertensive crisis, get to the ER” levels, so … I got to the ER. Spent an afternoon there, with nurses monitoring my BP and making sure I wasn’t having a heart attack or anything, and then deciding that “nope, no heart attack indicators, no organ failure indicators, you’re fine, but you need to get that in check and you need to follow up with non-ER doctors”. Got a referral to a cardiologist to do a stress test and other followup stuff.

Well, I’m not going to recount the details here, but after a few rounds of testing and checking stuff, we concluded “you’re across the line into diabetic, your liver numbers are a mess, basically you’ve gotta get this whole thing in check, for real”, I got prescribed a blood pressure medication and a “more Mediterranean-style diet”

So I did that: started taking a BP med every day, and overhauled my diet, explicitly focusing on removing sugar and processed carbs where possible, adding fiber and green plants, and replacing red meat with fish and poultry. And generally just not overeating so hard…

And the result is this:

cusp-tacular
3-day smoothed weight measurements for 2015

I’ve been stepping on the scale and recording the number pretty much every day since Jan 1, 2011, and I’d seen that number drift around in the window between 360 and 390. That’s too damned heavy. I’m starting this year at 313 instead, and I’m gunning for 220 — while I don’t have a deadline for it, that’s my current goal weight — because screw being so heavy it gets in the way of me having a life.

I started walking regularly too … first just like part of a mile a day at low-ish speeds (like 22-23 minute miles), but now I’m routinely pounding out 3-4 miles at 16-18 minute paces 4 or so days a week, and honestly it feels pretty great. It helps with the energy balance, it helps with the cardio capacity, and honestly I was listening to audiobooks and podcasts a ton anyway, so pairing those with walking instead of gaming is perfect.

So that’s been the big, dominant sweeping story arc of my 2015 … trying to get my lifestyle in order and generally get better. 2016 will be the year that I fall under 300 for the first time since high school. While 2015 saw me go from “severely obese” to just “obese”, 2016 will be the year I cross out of “obese” and into “overweight”.

 

I guess on the work front, I’ve got a noteworthy change too. With some other staff movement that happened,  I went from “the go-to-guy to help solve complicated problems” to “the technical team lead (go-to-guy to help solve complicated problems)” … basically it means I’ve got the same role I had before, except that it’s formally recognized as my job instead of just being that thing I did, and that mentoring and teaching is explicitly part of my role now. So that’s kind of awesome. Our team has grown, which also means I’ve got more people who are backing me up on some of the day-to-day technical work too, which is helping me manage my burnout levels better.

I also got to spend Thanksgiving in Albuquerque with my mom and stepdad. It’s magical out there. I can see why the stepdad wanted to move out there.  The rugged beauty of the parts of New Mexico that I saw were simply breathtaking.

The breathtaking Sandia Peak looms over Albuquerque. Not pictured: Albuquerque.
Greetings from the museum at Los Alamos, home of replicas of Fat Man and Little Boy. The originals couldn’t make it, for … umm, reasons.
The sheer vertical mesa wall looming over Jemez Springs is one of the most breathtaking scenes I’ve ever encountered. Photos do it no justice.

Other than the working and the big lifestyle changes, anything else I could say pretty much pales in comparison, so I’m going to just leave it there. So long, 2015, the year the ship turned. Hello 2016, the year the ship continues on its new, better course.

Thoughts on undepressing food.

One of the things in the last year or three that has kind of gotten me down is depressing food.

I don’t mean depressing in the new-agey “natural foods are medicine and processed foods are poison” bullshit sense (but, umm …. no judgement, new-agey hippie organophile types?). Rather, I’m talking about the easy, boring food. The stuff it’s easy to just sort of stuff into your face-hole and be full without really taking pleasure in.

So recently I took a week of what I guess you could call a “staycation”. I basically had 3 goals for every day:

  1. Have the usual regimen (wake up, shower, wear clothes)
  2. Leave the house for some reason — maybe something as mundane as “go get a haircut”, maybe “go drive a hundred and fifty mile loop starting at 9 pm on a weeknight while listening to XM Chill, because you actually really love driving as long as it’s not at 5 miles an hour in bumper-to-bumper beltway aggro-mode”, or maybe “go for a walk in the woods until you’re so tired you don’t know if you can find the energy to walk home, and then walk home instead of pussing out and taking a bus or something, because really two more miles isn’t that far”. Maybe even just to…
  3. Eat un-depressing food.

Right, so mission accomplished all around. The first two are part of almost every day anyway, but that last one was actually a fairly big change, and I’ve decided I’m going to try to keep it going.

So what do I mean by un-depressing food, exactly?

First of all, un-depressing food doesn’t come from a drive-thru window. I’ve eaten so much Wendy’s over the last few years that it just feels like failure every time I get it. So drive-thru is probably out. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not saying it’s out forever, just that it’s out for now because I’ve had so much of it — to the extent that every time I pull up to a speaker and order some food, it makes me sad.

Then again, I’ve had one single Subway sandwich in the last maybe 6 months, and it was also depressing. So maybe once a place is well and truly burned, there’s no going back. Or maybe at some point I’ll get tired of variety and want something boring? It’s a good experiment anyway :p.

Second, whether it’s restaurant food or not, no more eating dinner in front of tech. That next random YouTube video can wait, I don’t really need to update twitter while I eat. The act of eating should be more of a deliberate, mindful, even ritualistic thing. Less face-hole stuffing, more tasting and savoring. This also helps with unplugging and with being more aware of what I’m eating.

Third, un-depressing food is something I haven’t eaten lately. I’m fine with my in-workplace barista recognizing that I always (always) want an iced coffee, and it’s OK that in any given week I’m probably going to order takeout from my delicious local Chinese restaurant, but it’s not OK if that takeout order is the same thing I got the last time.

I’m hoping my third requirement will drive more going to new and different places and trying a bigger variety of foods. Pretty much it’s an anti-rut measure.

Importantly, I’m not setting out to eat every meal at home — ain’t nobody got time for that! Well, maybe you do, but I don’t. Restaurants are great! Just … you know, not always the same one.

Fourth, un-depressing food is recognizably good. Like, when I was shopping for food recently, I looked at the grocery store sandwiches (thinking “hmm, quick easy so-so meal?”) and realized, I haven’t had a grocery store sandwich that failed to disappoint me in years. Really, it’s been since my local Giant discontinued their “Sweet Turkey Naan” sandwiches, honestly… when I’ve gotten sandwiches there, it’s always been because I wanted that sandwich again and was hoping they’d have re-introduced it, and then decided that the crap that’s there was passable. But no more!

Finally, un-depressing food doesn’t try to be diet-anything or really actively count calories or sodium or fat. My reasoning is that food is amazing, but food that sets out to be low-cal, low-carb, low-fat, and low-sodium will pretty much always be depressing, and depressing food means I’m going to just go and impulse-buy and eat something terrible for me afterwards that’ll way overshadow whatever benefits that depressing so-called “healthy” food conveys.

Also, because a meal being un-depressing involves more deliberate, mindful eating, it’s more likely that I’m going to stop when I’m full instead of just shoving the rest of that sad chunk of nutrients down my throat so I don’t have to think about it later.

Anyway, that’s the un-depressing food theory. I feel like … food is too big a part of our lives, and has too big a role in our health for me to keep neglecting it. It’s easy to fall into ruts, and I’ve been in one for too long now — it’s time to break out and find a newer path. So that’s the deal with the #undepressingfood instagram topic and its so-so pictures of delicious food.

The obligatory “I’m back, bitches” life update.

It’s been a long time since I got around to writing a blog post about anything. I’ve been doing the Twitter thing a bit (pretty randomly), and a lot of worky writing (mainly in our internal sysadmin wiki), but haven’t really felt like writing in public much, especially on the personal or hobby fronts.

So I guess the personal update is … things haven’t changed much for me in the last few years, at least not in the big fast-moving milestones that other people my age seem to have.

On the health and fitness front, I’m still overweight and quite out of shape. Big shocker, right? Sleep schedule, still completely de-synched with the real world. Like, I’m writing this in the wee hours, because I don’t really feel like sleeping yet, even though it’s like 3 am local time.

Relationship-wise, I’m still single and sortof-but-not-really-looking too. That’s probably going to start to feel more urgent at some point, I guess? I dunno.

My job is pretty okay. I’m still at the same place (coming up on 7 years now). They like me (at least, they keep giving me very nice pay raises and unusually-frequent awards and such), and I’ve got a lot of autonomy and a lot of input into the more collective direction stuff. So that’s neat.

I guess the downside at work is that I’m feeling a bit like a victim of my own success. I have done a lot of really neat stuff over the last 7 years, but unfortunately a lot of it is landing in the sort of space where it’s really hard to hand off to other people — not because I want to hold onto it, but because everyone’s busy and nobody has the time or cognitive resources to grok a lot of things they didn’t build. Anyway, suffice it to say, a lot of work is great, and the part that isn’t is in the categories “understaffing” “tech debt” and “no real project management”.

Beyond that, when you’re one-deep in almost everything you do and have a lot of people who’ve grown to rely on your unique services, it can be easy to let time slip by and not take vacations. That’s pretty much my own fault, but I recently was feeling pretty burned out in general and surly about work stuff in particular. One of my coworkers (who I really liked working with) left a few weeks ago, and that kind of tipped the cart the rest of the way over… another coworker and good friend pointed out that there wasn’t really anything important going on and I should really take a vacation. It’s really amazing how much of an effect just unplugging from the grind for a while can have… I took a week off (mostly, only got dragged in on an issue once), and pretty much just hung out, played Minecraft and slept. Today (well… yesterday now) was my first day back, and usual post-vacation backlog aside, I’m actually feeling pretty good. Good enough to muster a blog post after a long and amazingly productive work day anyway :p. Last time I took any meaningful time off for something other than being sick was like, around Thanksgiving of 2012, and I spent a lot of that driving (which was awesome, iirc it was audiobooks of Moby Dick and Salem’s Lot).

I’m still living in the same house that I moved into in 2007. One of my roommates switched jobs and moved out to avoid having a 2 hour commute every day (which was a good move all around). The other got into a bit of a long-term relationship and functionally moved out (still pays rent and has stuff in the house, but usually stops by like twice a month and almost never sleeps here). So kind of a quiet place, but cluttered with stuff that isn’t mine and that gets in the way of me doing a lot to even clean it up much.

I’ve been looking at moving closer to work (partly just for a change, partly for a space I can more make my own, and partly because seriously, fuck the American Legion Bridge and I495 as a whole). But I’m in the endless “rent versus buy” debate cycle, and even splitting the rent on this house two ways is a shitload cheaper than any non-terrible option closer to work. So I’m sort of in a “building a big pile of money for maybe a down payment” holding pattern, but starting to feel the effects of that stasis.

Entertainments include: lots of audiobooks still. Podcasts (just 4 regulars: Hello Internet, Security Now, Arrested Devops, and The Ship Show. Spending a lot of time following youtube content … it’s amazing how much nerd-content is out there. Between conference presentations, tech talks, random topics, open course stuff, there’s …. a damned lot of things to watch. Lots of gaming still in my life, and occasionally I’ll pick up like a season of a tv show and watch it.

I suspect I need to pick up less sedentary and less techie hobbies at some point if I’m going to avoid the encroaching burnout, but … I guess I just kind of love what I do?

Maybe too much of my identity is tied up in what has become my profession, but honestly… looking at me-in-the-past, that seems kind of like it was inevitable :p.

The ever-delayed 2012 in review

It’s been a whole year since I last posted a blog update. It’s probably gone into semi-private mode now, what with people not reading it ever. I don’t blame you, dear non-reader… I never come here either :p.

Ok, so no self-flogging over not posting lots of my inner workings on a blog. Instead, I’ll just share what 2012 was like, looking back.

I pretty much focused on my work through all of 2012. I did almost nothing with my personal life.

On the financial front, I crossed a couple big milestones. Got a nice pay raise to start the year out, easily sprinted through the “paying off car” goal (and thus am completely debt-free) and really started working hard toward the “saving for a house” goal. End of the year I got a so-so raise, better than average for my center but maybe not quite in line with my output. But I’m equanimous: I’ve had a couple good years for that, going so-so for a year only really makes room to spread it around to some other folks that haven’t had it as good. I’ve made good progress — I’m up to about a 10% down payment on the type of houses I’m looking at. Not enough to warrant moving yet, but it’s great progress from the nothing+debt a year ago, and my living situation is still pretty acceptable. It’s nice to watch the options open up though…

Based on the pay raises and whatnot, my charity goals were a little ambitious. Despite giving more than ever before, it still landed right around the 2.1% mark.

On the health front, I managed to keep the brakes firmly engaged and didn’t roll further down the hill, but didn’t really get very far back up it either. Stable and slightly improved is better than sliding out of control though. The medical front is largely unchanged. I did manage to screw my back up standing on the mall back in March, and I’ve been nursing that back a bit, but no other news to report there.

I’ve largely neglected the relics of my past, in particular the old forum community. I’ve tried to make it clear that I don’t really want to spend any more time on that at all, but I don’t see anyone to hand the keys over to either. Without a clear technical successor, I don’t feel like I can just walk away from it, but having a lot of trouble finding motivation to do even basic stuff like software upgrades.

I partly moved away from wine in 2012. Had some more good bottles, but the lack of drinking buddies to split bottles with is burdensome — if I drink the whole bottle I feel awful the day after, if I don’t I feel like I’m wasting wine (and money!). In its place, I’ve moved toward whiskeys, trying out a couple good Irish and Scotch whiskeys and making friends with a few varieties of Bourbon. The nice thing about that is that a bottle of bourbon lasts for-frigging-ever, so I don’t have to push it to enjoy a dram now and then. I still have yet to break the “scotch old enough to order scotch” barrier, but I’ve had whiskey old enough to drive. So far I’m gravitating toward Knob Creek, Redbreast and Highland Park.

My job has been intense, though. I’ve continued to learn a lot, we hired a few new people (and lost a few). I’m getting pushed into the role “cloud advocate” and doing more interesting architecture-type stuff. Lots of work with our security folks, some work on a cloud research project that’s been pretty fascinating, and big core changes afoot in our server room.

On the reading front, probably the biggest chunk of reading material consumed was again Audible audiobooks. Highlights included two more Stephen King globs (The Stand and Salem’s Lot), Moby Dick, some newer Steven Pinker, and a documentary about James Garfield. As usual, spent some time wrapped up in ;login: and SciAm, and also got around to joining ACM and ripping through some of Communications of the ACM. Dense stuff. Ripped through some stuff on ITIL, Puppet, config management, project management.

I’ve been entertaining the thought of grad school, maybe chasing an MS in Information Assurance. Have to see whether I get started on that road in 2013…

I didn’t take the same sort of big flashy vacation I did in 2011, but instead went back to the midwest for a week or so to visit with various collections of family and friends. It’s been a long time, and lots of stuff has changed, but lots hasn’t. It was a whirlwind trip, and I ended up catching up with less than half the people I wanted to, but totally worth it. Also gave me a reason to be in the car listening to audiobooks for like 28 hours, which is a bonus — driving home from southern Indiana to about half of Moby Dick was a pretty amazing experience. Especially the part that involved driving through Hoosier National Forest in the late morning hours with virtually no traffic.

Goals for 2013: stay the course, roll over the old goals.

2011 wrapup, 2012 goals (terse version)

It’s sad that my once-a-year blog post has degenerated to what could show up as 5 tweets. I’m throwing more of my day-to-day brain-sauce at twitter lately. But mirroring last year’s one blog post, here’s my annual post for 2012.

Charity: 2011: 2.1%.  2012: 2.3% is a small but reasonable step up.
Weight:2011: started 370, ended ~380. Not the right direction.  2012: Keeping last year’s 340 goal, which would be on average a bit less than a pound a week. Possible.
Exercise:2011: nothing significant until December’s treadmill acquisition.  2012: goal of 5 hours a week of some kind of decent exercise. Treadmill is definitely helping toward that goal.
Medical: 2011: Dentist, eye doctor taken care of. Still no doctor.  2012: find a doctor, get rid of some cysts.
Romance: 2011: nibbles, no hook-setting.  2012: not really any goals still.
Job: 2011: crazy busy, but good work, good pay raises. 2012: more of the same.
Vacation: 2011: STS-135, Bitches! Also other Florida attractions. 2012: thinking about a few days in NYC or a road trip back home. We’ll see.
Finance: 2011: was a “grind” year, no real milestones. 2012: will pay off car completely, should be about 25-30% of the way to a down payment on a house.
Forums: 2011: upgraded to vb4, no cms. 2012: maybe do the cms thing, or find something else to put on the front page.
Reading : 2011: few issues of sciam/login, lots of audiobooks. 2012: more sciam/login, some ITIL stuff on deck, lots more audiobooks.
Property: 2011: monitor upgrade, treadmill. 2012: nothing planned.
Wine: 2011: good for synthetic corks, couple good reds, couple good whites. 2012: more red, more white, more exploring, more unnatural corks!

2010 wrapup, 2011 goals

Time for a terse 2010 update, roughly two weeks later than just about anyone else would do it :p.

Charity: 2010: 2% target, met. 2011 target: 2.5%.
Size: 2010 peak: 372. 2011 goal: stabilize at 340.
Exercise: 2010 goals: abject failure. 2011 goals: just make a dent.
Medical 2010: abject failure. 2011 goal: not that.
Romance 2010: First dates = 2. Second dates = 0. Second dates declined by me: 2. 2011: no goals, I’m not digging myself enough to dig the ladies who dig me.
Job 2010: great. 2011: dark scary things coming, gonna do my best to keep it good though.
Education 2010: nil. 2011: take something! Anything!
Work Travel 2010: Minneapolis in February (solo, which was new). Louisville in the springtime. 2011: no plans.
Vacation travel 2010: Gettysburg, PA. Luray VA, Shenandoah National Park/Skyline Drive. 2011: take a week for myself, go somewhere!
Finance 2010: Student Loans gone (!). Car loan down to ~12k. Positive net worth (w/ retirement included). 2011: car loan sub-4k, positive net worth (w/o retirement/investments), big start on savings for a house.
Forums 2010: bought vb license, upgraded 3.5->3.8. 2011: upgrade to 4.x w/integrated cms for front page. Stretch: update tracker interfaces.
Property 2010: major purchases: PC upgrade, office furniture. 2011 goal: living room furniture that doesn’t suck.
Wines in 2010: lots of reds. Ravenswood Shiraz 2007 was the go-to. Who knows what 2011 will hold?

on 30

So I’m 30 now. Been here for a couple weeks. Meant to write one of those “big-zero year” updates, and procrastinated until my brother’s birthday …. kinda odd coincidence.

Anyway, so I’m 30 now. As of turning 30, I hit pretty much the low point in my fitness level, which is fairly scary. I got to the point that walking a mere 2 mile moderately-hilly walk was hard work. My 27-year-old self would be ashamed.

I started exploration of wines in earnest on my 29th birthday, so this seems to be a pretty good point to look back on it and reflect on a year as a wine-drinker. I’m no afficionado yet, but I’ve probably averaged a bottle a week, give or take. I’ve tried various vintages of pinot noir, pinot grigio, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, burgundy, shiraz, chardonnay, champagnes of various styles, port, sherry. I’ve had wine that’s come from Italy and France and Australia, and a lot that’s come from Napa and Sonoma, and some from Virginia. My palate is a bit unrefined, so on some of the more delicate wines (pinot noir, I’m looking at you…) I think I probably miss the point a bit, but I love me a good bold peppery olive-and-berry shiraz, and have found a couple of go-to wines that usually make me pretty happy to be drinking them. I’ve also figured out my hangover threshold and ways to consistently avoid hangovers, which helps a lot. The most expensive bottle I’ve drunk in the last year was in the mid-$20 range, while the cheapest was probably about $6 on a very good sale.

In other fronts, I got the promotion I was hoping for at work. I’m now at the highest level that I can be at without managing other people. I am honestly stretched a little thin, but not being hit with anything I feel like I can’t handle, just maybe more of it than I can do in any given day. My oddball work schedule seems to both help and hurt that … I tend to wake up in the 8:30-9:30 range, take a shower and make it to work around 11, work until sometime between 6 and 9 depending on the day and my state of restfulness, and head home. That means I get about 5 to 6 hours of time when other people are around, and generally between 2 and 5 hours of time in any given day that I’m there solo. Sometimes my job requires interaction with people who’re on normal schedules, and other times the job requires that people stop pestering me, so when I can make it work it’s great, but sometimes I don’t end up getting to the “pick up the phone” part until after 5 when everyone else is gone, so I end up pushing stuff off a day or two (or indefinitely) due to the limited afternoon hours.

So one other problem with the oddball schedule is that it’s a bit self-perpetuating. Like an engine with warped crankshaft, or a washing machine with a brick tossed into it, my sleep and waking schedules are all over the place in unpredictable directions. Some nights I go to sleep at perfectly reasonable times and wake up at similarly reasonable times. Most nights I go to sleep 4 hours after a perfectly reasonable time for when I have to wake up, and end up running in 3 or 4 hours of sleep per night for several consecutive nights. It’s a bad pattern that I need to get in check, and I’m not so good at that.

Thinking about patterns, over the course of me being 29, I went on precisely one date. Part of that may be the scheduling, partly the fitness slide and associated reduced self-esteem. But then, I also realized, from that one date, that there’s such a thing as better off alone, and that it’s probably better to be single and career-focused than dating and focused on personal-life drama. Besides, I’m a guy, my biological clock is basically giving me another 15-20 years to reasonably start a family with the right girl, so I’m probably better getting my own house in order.

Still, it’d be good to have a drinking-buddy, right now the drinking is pretty much a solo affair, which limits my willingness to go too far with it. It perpetually rings in my mind…. drinking alone as the first sign of alcoholism… but as a bachelor with few drinking friends, I tend to find myself in the “go solo or abstain entirely” mode a lot.

I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks lately, as my last couple posts indicated. Got the whole audible “platinum” membership …. $23/mo for two download tokens, which are generally good for a book each. Some cheaper books (the sub-$11.50 ones), if I’m really interested, I just drop cash for, but with a recent “want to buy 3 more credits?” promo I’ve just gotten myself a nice backlog to listen through. I’ve gone through something like 22 full-length books in the 8 months or so I’ve been at it, with and I think the 3 book a month pace is probably going to hold out through the rest of the year and into next. With my lack of a good place to go and nest and read comfortably for hours, the audiobook thing has really picked up my consumption of intellectual material in general — I think in the 10 months before that, I made it through maybe three books, and a decent chunk of that progress was due to the work travel putting me on planes and in hotel rooms. So that’s a fairly positive change. I think this actually puts me at a higher consumption rate than I was at when I was working for CACI and spent 2 hours a day on the metro.

And now that audible’s released their android app (which does dramatically better than the pc version), my new phone has become my primary audio-listening station… meaning I can listen when I’m doing more repetitive/mindless stuff at work or when I’m out walking, which is helpful for both the listening and the walking.

Lots of other free time has been filled with supcom 2, then starcraft 2, then civ5, now back to starcraft 2. I’ve found that I’m an antisocial gamer … the hyper-competitive games in the rts world and the griefers in non-rts games pretty much kill their appeal to me entirely. I played some online Red Dead Redemption, and the only times I had any fun at all involved me playing at unusual times and finding the server I was on somewhere close to deserted. Even a while back when I played rockband and rockband 2 online a bit, it wasn’t really a good time.

On the political front, I think I’ve been slowly evolving further and further away from my parents for a while. My parents are both pretty conservative, and I guess I grew up in a pro-Bush(1), anti-Clinton, Christian-chauvinist household. In high school I read Atlas Shrugged, in early college I read The Fountainhead … I really bought into the libertarian romanticized capitalism ideal for a long time, but I’ve since kind of come to regard Rand’s work as beautiful romantic tableaux of precisely the way the world isn’t. Having watched the hypocrisy of conservatives, seen the true results of free markets run amok, and generally become more aware of the world around me, I’ve gone from a hereditary Christian center-right subscriber to a full-blooded center-left atheist. Which is probably convenient, given that I’m living in a very blue district of a very blue county of a pretty solidly blue state, and really really don’t like the sort of bullshit I’ve seen coming from the republican party as a whole these last couple of years.

Moving back to other less-internal topics, I’ve no longer got student loan debts. As of the 15th, I’ve paid off the student loans in full. I’m paid up on my car through January, which puts me at something like 3 months ahead. No credit card debt, and with the promotion came a comfortable raise that accelerated a lot of my financial goals a bit. At the same time, I’m thinking about pushing back against that by spending some of the newfound income on upgrades to my life as a whole … like new furniture, maybe a treadmill to keep the exercise up through the winter. Still, it’s a damned big milestone having college paid off, and I’m pretty happy to have met that one.

I guess what I’m saying is 29 was a somewhat off-balance year. I made big strides forward in my job, in my finances, in my situation as a whole, made some strides on my personal intellectual development, but pretty handily failed phys-ed and didn’t really join a whole lot of extra-curriculars or do much on the social front. I’m shooting for 30 being a fair amount more steady, with the goal of re-balancing the professional and the personal me. That’s it…. that’s my big-zero-year update.