Saturday, January 10, 2009

2008 Personal Enrichment Update

Aka, “Diary Of My Year Of Abysmal Slacking” Seriously, I got almost nothing DONE. Lots of things started but no follow through at all! And most of it is just my own damn fault. There were a several of goals that upon closer examination weren’t really good ideas so I nixed them for scheduling, financial, or other reasons. However, the vast majority of this list was completely feasible if I had only applied myself more. Here’s the depressing breakdown:

Actual Completed Tasks: 2
Eliminated/Postponed Tasks: 3
More Than 50% Complete Tasks: 4
Less Than 50% Tasks: 4
Never Did Anything Category: 3

In the “Actual!Completed!Tasks!” Category:
Both are lame, small things.
Support WGA Strike – Did that until it was over in FEB-2008. DONE.

Keep Ubuntu Install Updated – DONE but then when my computer crashes and I have to buy a new one, it’s pretty much guaranteed my install will be the latest & greatest. I do feel good that I did 2 fresh Ubuntu installs & customizations, install a router in my apartment and added several applications to improve productivity.

In the “Eliminated/Postponed” Category:

Laser Eye Surgery – Due to restrictions on nighttime driving after, this had to happen in the summer & didn’t. It was a scheduling issue. I already had a dental surgery planned this summer and didn’t want to miss that much work within such a short time. Of course, the dental surgery got pushed back. It will be on next year’s list.

Buy & Test Google Phone – Due to certain other financial to-dos that frankly are more important, this got placed on-hold. While I could order one right now, I’ve decided that the money that I’d have to spend would be better used elsewhere. This one isn’t opportunity/time related so much as a change in priorities.

Linux Professional Certification Test – The more I’ve studied the CLI & scripting this year, the more I realize I’m not ready for this test. Per my other goals, I have been focusing on using the command line and I have bought several books on improving my skills here. But I’m nowhere near “certification-worthy”. This will however remain on my list for next year simply because I do believe that further progress is possible and desirable. Just I haven’t had the time to made enough of that progress in 2008.

In the “More Than 50% Complete” Category:
Teach Myself: Controls Engineering – While I’ve made pretty consistent progress here, I’ve going to fall far short of my goal of completing the work for half of my textbook. The main delay here was due to my taking the time to review several Differential Equations concepts that I hadn’t really used since college. While this delayed me, it also ensured that I’m actually learning (and will remember) the material far better. In this particular instance, I believe retaining the information is much more important than merely covering it. I have so far completed about ¼ of the textbook (besides the review stuff) so I consider this goal half complete.

Disaster Kits – Kits are set-up and my email calendar has dates input for re-stocking supplies. However, the at-home stuff is scattered in several storage places instead in one easy-to-assess/access location. Also, due to the new car, I had to reorganize the auto kit and, thanks to some new compartments, will likely expand that kit. I’ve already bought a trunk organizer. Once decide what additional items I want to include, I’ll do my last bit of shopping for “Auto-Disaster-Kit version 2.0”. I consider this task approx 75% DONE.

Read 20 Nonfiction Books – I breezed through the first half of this goal but have since faltered. Thankfully, I did a bit of reading toward the end of the year so while I didn’t get 20 books read, I did get 18 finished. So, 90% DONE.

Better Track Finances – After a disastrous computer crash and an unimpressive test-run of GnuCash, I thought I had finally found a Ubuntu-compatible money management program that I like: KmyMoney. I did begin teaching myself this program which is for the most part fairly intuitive. However, it does a lot of things for you that I’m used to being able to do my way in a spreadsheet program. So, it’s been slow-going converting to the new system. Also, I’m still not sure this program by itself will be enough so there may be a few additional spreadsheets that kinda piece together certain things. I’d say this one is about 60-70% DONE.

In the “Less Than 50% Complete” Category:
Study Command Line – While I didn’t set any specific targets for this one, I have kept up with it better by both using the command line and acquiring both online & offline references. What I have not done is really write scripts. Part of that is I haven’t felt the need to automate processes which appears to be the #1 reason for writing a script. For programming stuff, I usually move at a glacial pace. Part of this is my own insecurity regarding programming (which this is supposed to help with) and part of it is my belief that most tasks are made easier by thinking them through before you try to do them. Unfortunately, the whole point of learning CLI is to automate tasks using scripts and since I haven’t done that, I cannot claim more than 20-30% DONE on this one.

Be Sociable – In general, I’ve most improved in terms of commenting on websites. No longer am I strictly a lurker. While I’m no social butterfly of a commenter, I have made an effort here and by commenting on different types of sites from fan to political. At first I had attending a sci-fi convention of some sort but that got scratched off fairly quickly when I discovered how expensive they were! In a year when I’m buying a car (and maybe doing some other things), I cannot drop $300-$400 dollars (MIN) on one weekend. I hope to continue commenting such that it becomes more habitual. Since I did break my lurking habit, I would say this is 25% DONE.

Patio Garden – I planted new stuff but thanks to the heat and lack of rain, this did not turn out too well for me. Thankfully, one of the shade plants survived. There’s one area of my patio that hasn’t had anything ever because it’s too dark. At least for my shady corner, it doesn’t look so desolate now. Still, most everything else died. Great = Planting new things. Not-so-great = They all died. Also, 25% DONE.

Maintain / Improve Weblog – While I missed my 20 posts/month goal for much of the year, I did tweak the layout a bit by creating a better header image, adding feeds and improving the sidebar. One reason for posting decline, aside from work, is that I have been trying (with mixed results) to better define my blog “voice”. One of the reasons I started this blog was to develop that voice and for 6-9 months or so, it just wasn’t there. Now, I’m starting to feel like the posts have a more targeted feel (not in terms of subject matter but that they sound like ME). I have some ideas for further developments but that is next year’s list.

In the “Never Did Anything” Category:
Krav Maga Level 1 – While I’ve been OK about going to the yoga class, making it to other classes hasn’t been occurring with any respectable frequency. Part of it is that on weekdays, I don’t really have time in the evenings and on weekends, well, no excuses I just haven’t gone. Needless to say, I’ve really not applied myself here. Part of it is time constraints but the large majority of this is just me not trying hard enough. FAIL.

HTML class – Hasn’t actually been offered by NISD all year! It was especially frustrating this fall because, even though “Intro to HTML” is listed as a prequisite for two classes, they don’t actually offer “Intro to HTML”. I’ve attempted instead to build a little bit of a library of HTML/XMTL references. So officially, FAIL but I worked around it.

Skydiving – I almost went through with this. I found a place in San Marcos that offers tandem jumps with DVDs (this doesn’t count without photographic proof….no matter how embarrassing). On Saturday November 22nd, I drove out there but the weather wasn’t good so there were no flights that day. I got a voucher good for a year that I can “cash-in” at any time. I had hoped to do so before the new year but either the weather was bad or I had previous engagements on the weekends (the skydiving place is only open Fri, Sat & Sun in the winter). So, once again, FAIL. No excuses for scheduling either because if I’d tried it earlier, I’d have had plenty of time to get it done.

For all my excitement about an ambitious list at the beginning of the year, that feeling did not carry over to actually completing my goals. Several items will be carried over with modification onto the 2009 list (coming soon!). Seriously, this performance is pretty embarrassing especially since it is only the second year of doing Personal Enrichment Goals so it’s not like I got lazy after so many years of working. One thing that I do is get too specific in the goal. I need to keep the goals general but have a specific plan for fulfilling that goal separate from the goal itself. This way, fewer goals are eliminated or left incomplete after further investigation reveals they may not be what I had in mind (Linux Certification) or due to lack of availability (NISD not offering any HTML classes). Also, I need to focus more on feasibility both in selection and execution. While part this year’s slacking here was due to work getting busier at certain points, I should be taking that opportunity to hone my multi-tasking skills instead of eliminating non-work stuff altogether. In conclusion, I’m quite disappointed in myself and improvement must occur in 2009!

No comments: