New Year’s Hopes: 2014 Edition

Happy New Year everyone. I will continue my annual tradition of New Year Hopes, which are like New Year’s resolutions, except that they’re called something different because I was trying to be different when I started them. And now, it’s a tradition, so I’m stuck with it.

First, let’s review last year’s hopes.

1. Create or contribute to an open source project in a significant way and learn something new.

Done. As part of building Spawning Tool, I created an open source project called spawningtool, and I also contributed to the sc2reader library. The entire experience of it was tremendously enlightening, and I feel like I have added something valuable amidst all of it.

2. Do something cool with my house.

I have successfully installed blinds and  furnished the place, but there hasn’t been anything really cool yet, so I’ll call it a fail. The magnetic whiteboard wall is still in the works, but I sprung for the projector first. I’m rolling this one forward into this year’s hopes.

3. Finish reading Paul Graham’s essays and Cooking for Geeks, and watch another 2 classes.

Done, done, and mostly done. I read both of the first 2 things, am half way through the game theory class, and I ended up taking this class as well. Moreover, I think the general goal of this here was to stay active and continue learning. Thanks to book club, I have actually gotten back into reading, and you can see what I read on goodreads. I’m looking forward to doing even more reading this upcoming year, so I’ll call this a success.

Bonus Hope from 2012: Write a book, and get everything done to get to that point.

Killed it as part of National Novel Writing Month. You can read it on GitHub.

 

So, this upcoming year’s hopes are actually going to be slightly different than the ones in the past. Seeing how much time I spend with Julie, I thought it made sense to coordinate these with her. She isn’t explicitly bound to the hopes as I am, and although I could succeed without her, it will be much more easily done together, as you will soon read.

1. Make something creative and physical.

I joke that all of my skills are virtual. At least my primary skill (programming) is virtual, and both my work and side projects are all on the computer. I also do my writing on my computer. And I play video games on my computer. Recent forearm pain has convinced me to be using the computer less, and frankly, it’s been really hard.

Along the same lines, I failed on the hope above to do something fun with the house, so a goal for this year will be to make something for the place. Julie wants to do some art to hang on the walls, which I’m not opposed to (though somewhat skeptical of). Electronics today are very accessible and becoming popular, so I was considering dabbling with that as well.

2. Exercise twice a week.

I don’t particularly enjoying exercising. However, I love playing sports. The unfortunate part is that currently, I don’t have a regular sport to play with because, honestly, I haven’t put forth the effort to get involved enough to do it. I was playing tennis up until the summer, but then everyone in Mountain View became interested in tennis, and I couldn’t get an open court when I went. Since then, I basically haven’t exercised.

I would love to figure out how to play a sport regularly, but seeing as I have failed so far, I just need to get into regular exercise otherwise. I don’t particularly enjoying running, but I’ll do it. I took yoga for a quarter, so that’s also possible. The trick will be fitting it into my evening schedule, but since Julie is onboard, we should be able to do it, despite it being the most often failed hope/resolution in history.

3. Speak another language conversationally.

It’s one of my great regrets that I actually can’t speak another language fluently. I took several years of Cantonese when I was young, and my parents and grandparents speak it in the family, but I can’t. It was actually quite painful when we were on Skype with my grandpa this holiday season, and I could only answer yes or no to his questions (which I mostly understand) but couldn’t speak back to him.

I took 3 years of French in high school. I also took (almost) 2 years of Mandarin in college. I can’t speak either of those, either. All along the way, I always felt there was a better use of my time than learning another language, and though I believe that was true, it has left me monolingual.

At this point, I think I just need to do it. Like writing a novel, I’m never going to get to a point where I feel like I have time for something like this, so I just need to commit to it and do it. To make it easier, I’m going to try a 5th language: German. Julie took German in high school and college, and if we can talk it at home, perhaps that will be the bump I need to actually use it enough to learn it.

And that’s it. Wish me luck.

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