New Year’s Day 2018

It’s New Year’s Day morning, and it’s 5 degrees out, with a wind chill making it feel a few degrees colder. So I guess it’s a good morning to stay inside and write my annual year in review / new year’s goals blog post. As I get older, I’m finding these little reviews to be pretty helpful.

Here are links to the last few:

2017 was a challenging year, on many fronts, most of them related (at least tangentially) to Donald Trump. Andy Zaltzman has a great 2017 year in review article up on the Guardian web site, and a very funny 2018 year in review article at iNews. It’s stuff like Zaltzman’s Bugle podcast that has kept me sane though the last year.

Weight and General Heath
Last year, I mentioned that I’d transitioned from losing weight to maintaining my weight. Well, I guess that’s not entirely correct, since I weighed 150 at the start of 2016, 146 at the  start of 2017, and 140 today. So I actually still seem to be losing around five pounds per year. It seems like I’m going to have to level off at some point and I honestly think that 140 is going to be it. I can’t see myself dropping to 135, but we’ll see. I’m still using LoseIt every day, and logging all my meals and snacks.

On the general health front, I had blood work done last month, and everything is looking pretty good. No major health crises in 2017, so that’s something, at least.

In terms of exercise, I’m doing pretty good. I got my Apple Watch in April 2016, and I’ve been wearing it every day. My move goal has been set at 400 calories for probably all of last year, and I’ll hit that 3-5 times a week on average, I think (more often when the weather’s nice, and less often when it’s ridiculously cold, like right now).

As to sleep, that’s been a mixed bag this year. I mentioned last year that I might toss my mattress and get a new one, despite the fact that it’s not really that old. I didn’t do that, but I might do it this year. I had a run going for a while where I would wake up at 2am or 4am every night, for no obvious reason. I think it was due to some noise outside or something like that. I’m still generally waking up at 4am or 5am for no reason, looking at my phone to see what time it is, then rolling over and going back to sleep. I blogged about sleep back in October. I’m still using the Sleep Cycle app.

Blogging and Journaling
I wanted to check and see how many blog posts I’d written this year, but then realized that I can’t figure out how to get that number easily. (It’s probably somewhere in the site stats, but I can’t find it.) So I just counted then up on the 2017 archive page, and it looks like about 128. (I could probably write a SQL query to get that number, but it’s not worth the time.)

I didn’t write a ton of programming-related blog posts in 2017, but I’m trying to correct that with my “12 Days of .NET” series of posts.

As to journaling, I finished a five-year journal in 2016, and used Day One exclusively in 2017. Day One is working out OK for me. From their Mac app, I can see that I’ve written 363 entries in 2017, which is almost one per day. Most entries are very short; I’m keeping track of things like books, comics, and movies that I’ve read/seen in Day One. (I might have more to write on that subject later.)

Professional / Education
I will be hitting my five-year mark at SHI this month. I don’t think that gets me an extra week of vacation in 2018; I think that comes in 2019, when I start the year with more than five years on the job. (I could be wrong though.) I’m a little jealous of my brother in this area: he gets a lot more vacation time than I do. (But I’m sure he gets paid a lot less, since he’s working for a non-profit.)

My year-end performance review was very good. Interestingly, my boss told me that I rated myself lower on my self-review than anyone else in the department. Part of that, I guess, is humility. Part of it is probably imposter syndrome. But most of it is that I rushed through my self-review without thinking about it too much and just hit “3” on a lot of stuff (on a scale of 1-5). I also got a slight promotion in July, so I’m now a “Senior Application Developer.” So overall I’m doing fine at work, from my boss’ point of view.

Near the end of 2017, I started a new project that’s allowed me to do a good amount of .NET programming, using modern tools and techniques (for the most part), so I’m happy about that. I still do a lot of Dynamics AX work, and I’m a little worried about that, since Microsoft has really been pushing people into the cloud version of AX. (Which is annoyingly now called Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise Edition. Seriously. I wrote a whole essay on how annoyed I am about that name, but didn’t post it. But I digress.) We’re not likely to upgrade our on-premise install of AX anytime soon, so I have a little bit of worry about becoming a “legacy system” programmer. But my boss is aware of that, and has gone out of her way to try to get me involved in general .NET projects, whenever possible.

On the education front, I’m still subscribing to Pluralsight, and watched a handful of courses in 2017. I have a blog post on that scheduled as part of my “12 Days of .NET,” so I won’t say any more here.

Looking at my Goodreads history, I see that I managed to read several programming-related books this past year, including:

So I’ve really got nothing to be ashamed of there. A bunch of these were read via the Safari subscription that I get via ACM. That’s turned out to be a really useful benefit. I have a bunch of books in my queue there, and I hope I’ll be able to read a few of them in 2018.

Organization / Finance
Not much to say here. I’m still using Evernote for nearly all of my personal organizational needs. And I’m still on their premium plan, which should renew in about a week at $70/year. For me, it’s worth it. It’s still my best option for an organizational tool that works well across Windows, Mac, and iOS.

On the Finance front, I did a quick year-end review yesterday, and I’m looking pretty good. The stock market has been crazy this year. I’ve done well, but I’m a little worried about the possibility of a crash in 2018. I haven’t really done much in the way of review this year; I’ve mostly just kept everything where it is and let it ride. I feel like maybe I should move some money out of stocks this year and into bonds.

And I still have to figure out what to do about the fiduciary duty rule. I have a document from Merrill somewhere listing the options I have on my various retirement accounts. But I’m not sure where any of this stuff even stands now, since this is one of many things that Trump and the Republicans want to roll back. There was a lot of talk about it back in February (see here and here), and a little in May (here), but I haven’t heard much lately. The whole thing is giving me a headache.

Comics and Books
I set a fifty-book goal in Goodreads for 2017, and read 115 books total, according to my year in review page. Some of those are short stories, and a lot of them are graphic novels, so that’s a highly-exaggerated number, but I still feel like I got a lot of reading done this past year. Highlights would probably include finishing Warren Ellis’ Transmetropolitan, re-reading Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, and reading Seveneves by Neal Stephenson.

On the comic book front, I’m still visiting my local comic book store once a week and picking up a handful of new comics. I started doing that in mid-2016, when DC’s Rebirth started. I’m still reading a number of the titles that started up then, though I’ve dropped a few. And I’m not really reading any Marvel books right now, though I picked up Ed Piskor’s X-Men: Grand Design, which looks really amazing. (Marvel has had a pretty bad year, overall.)

I’ll probably keep going into the comic shop every week, if DC keeps publishing a few good books. But if they go off the rails at some point this year, then I’ll probably stop and go back to just reading an occasional trade paperback and random stuff from Comixology.

Art and Entertainment
I’ve gotten a good bit of use out of my Met and MoMA memberships in 2017. But I haven’t been to either in a while, largely due to the cold weather.  I did see the Rodin exhibit at the Met, but I haven’t seen the Hockney, Munch, Michelangelo, or Leonardo to Matisse exhibits. I’d like to go next weekend, but it looks like we’ll have a high of 11 on Saturday and 21 on Sunday, so that’s not looking too good. There’s less going on at MoMA; I’d like to get in and see The Long Run, but that’s going to be there until November, so I’ve got plenty of time.

I got out and saw a few good concerts in 2017, including Paul McCartney in Newark. I went to NYCC. And I went to the Star Trek set tour in Ticonderoga with a couple of friends!

I have a pretty full schedule for 2018 already, including U2, Weird Al, the Harry Potter Cursed Child play, and a repeat visit to the Star Trek tour (with a William Shatner appearance). I’m actually wondering if I’m going to make it to all of these. I hope my health holds up, but I do have a tendency to get sick at the most inopportune times. (I’m still mad that I had to miss the Spinal Tap Unwigged concert back in 2009.)

I started writing this post just after breakfast, and now it’s almost lunch time. And the word count on this post is almost at 2000, which is pretty darn lengthy, for a self-indulgent year-in-review post. But I think these posts are really helpful for me, and if they’re interesting to anybody else, great. (If not, I’m not forcing anybody else to read them.) The temperature outside is crawling upward, and is now at 14 degrees. That’s better than the 5 degree reading when I started writing, but still not warm enough for me to want to go out for a walk or anything like that. (And I’d really like to be able to go out for a walk right now. I may bundle up and force myself to. At least as far as Starbucks and back.)

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