Jerry Nixon @Work: Some goals for 2019

Jerry Nixon on Windows

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Some goals for 2019

imageHi. Today is the first day of 2019; I have a few goals for the coming year I will codify here so I can look back and see how I did. This is not a list for you, it’s for me. That said, I am satisfied for my list to influence your list, should it.

I have some big things afoot in my life and should waters stay smooth, these goals are both attainable and what I want. I should also point out this year’s goals resemble last year’s goals. I am certainly a creature of habit. Some of last year’s goals were reached. Some are carrying over. Some, however, always make my list in one form or another.

1. Re-watch Battlestar Galactica 2004

See the source imageI am starting with a goal I have been wanting to do and likely will, regardless. Previously, I binge-watched the series with this rule: I can only watch the show if I am on my treadmill. I calculated nearly 400 miles by the finalé. I have forgotten the B storylines and should relish in, what I think is science fiction’s high-water mark. Star Trek is a wonderful universe, but Battlestar Galactica 2004 is the finest show science fiction fans have been given.

2. Read the seven Harry Potter books

See the source imageIt might seem impossible, but I have neither read the books nor seen the movies. It’s just one of those things.  It’s been my intention to do both for some time; if for no other reason then to get the pop culture references that certainly go over my head today. So many friends adore them, I am surprised I have managed to wait this long. We’ll see if I get my own wand and plan a pilgrimage to Harry Potter world at Universal.

3. Write twelve blog articles

imageOnce again, I am looking for attainable goals – after this article, I only need eleven more. It aligns with one article a month, and it’s more about writing and expression than anything else. Don’t expect only code walk-through articles, either. Why blogging has been declining is a matter of debate. I know mine has. But it’s great, helping me remember what I discover. I’m pleased to turn this back on.

4. Pay for what I Torrent

imageWe’re treading on an ethical issue for me. There are times when a Torrent of a movie or television show is not wrong. Not to me. For example, Star Trek Discovery launched only through CBS All Access. I signed up. But the CBS service and app were so bad, I had to torrent episodes to watch them without buffering. What did I do that was wrong? Nothing. Not to me.

When I Torrent movies, for similar technical reasons, I turn around and rent them (later) from Microsoft Movies or Amazon Video. I’ll Torrent Netflix movies just the same, but I subscribe. Is it weird to Torrent movies and still pay for them? No. Not to me. There are two roads: a low road and a high road. This goal is less something I want to do in 2019 and more something I want to keep doing in 2019.

5. Write the "Difference Between" draft

imageI’ve wanted to write a book for decades. So many novel ideas later, I’ve never written more than an outline and a few chapters. Difference Between is my latest, but it’s not a novel; it’s an etymology book addressing terms regularly misused in writing and speech. For example, Fate & Destiny or Hard & Difficult – terms we treat as synonyms, but they are not.

The draft will be difficult, not hard. ;-)

6. Publish my Star Trek Dreams Alexa skill

imageWhite noise is a staple at the Nixon house. My kids sleep to it, as do my wife and me. We don’t live near a highway, a train track, an airport, or a draw bridge. We live in the mountains – it is blisteringly quiet and white noise helps us sleep through strong winds or woodpeckers drilling into the siding. Star Trek Dreams is white noise, Star Trek-style. Version one is simply the TNG warp core gently beating all night. It's really for me. I see that.

7. Read 48 books

imageThat’s four a month. It should be easy. My Harry Potter goal checks off seven. I love reading. Audio books are an easy way to shorten a long flight or drive. I love underlining in books and just holding them. I like philosophy books but not self-help; I like memoirs but not biographies; I love post-apocalyptic but not horror; I like science-fiction but not fantasy. And, I can tolerate history.

I’m not all that picky. Not really.

Here is my reading list from November and December 2018:

imageOne Year After & The Last Man by William R. Forstchen. These are the second & third books in the One Second After series. They started my ongoing love for post-apocalyptic novels years ago. There are no zombies. This is about how society survives without the internet, cell phones, and electricity.

Master of Formalities by Scott Meyer. This galactic-scale science fiction novel follows the odd events around a century-old cold war between feuding kingdoms. It’s very long, but quite creative. It’s a wonderful treatment around the subtle use of language to control those around you.

God is the Gospel by John Piper. Books challenging contemporary norms are my cup of tea. This book asks the question: “Could you be happy in heaven if Christ were not there?” It’s heavy. I stop about every chapter and just think about it a little. That’s what I like. Having to think.

imageYou are not so smart by David McRaney. This book is a lot like Do Gentlemen really prefer blonds by Jena Pincott. They are fascinating evolutionary biology studies. They make for interesting conversation. I also think these books give me an advantage when dealing with people. It almost feels like cheating.

The Dispatcher by John Scalzi. This audio book was narrated by Zachary Quinto, who I like. In the future, inexplicably, anyone intentionally killed wakes up fine in their home. The Dispatcher is responsible to intentionally kill anyone dying any other way – like in surgery. It’s a short story. It was weird. I liked it.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. This is a fantasy book. I hate fantasy. This florid novel fell into my stack of books, so I read it anyway; I found myself surprised at how interesting and imaginative the story was. It basically followed the enigmatic, secret world under London & invisible to us normal mortals.

imageThe Long Haul by Finn Murphy. This might be the best book I read in 2018. It follows the life story of a trucker whose thoughtful prose massively educated me on this opaque field with hilarious anecdotes. I still talk about this book all the time, and constantly looked forward to reading the next chapter.

Love Does by Bob Goff. My wife read this book a few years back, so I felt I should, too. I am glad I did. It iterates the funny mishaps of a guy who retrospectively finds the meaning he couldn’t see at the time. It’s difficult to believe this many crazy things can happen to one person – and he would still be alive.

The Sherlockian by Graham Moore. This blends two stories into one: one is a story from the life of Arthur Conan Doyle, the other is a contemporary mystery investigated by a Sherlock Holmes enthusiast.

House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds. This is my kind of science fiction. A family of immortal clones observe the galaxy, getting together every 200,000 years to compare notes. Then something changes.

I suck at girls by Justin Halpern, the guy who created S#!t my dad says. It’s Halpern’s coming of age memoirs with frequent insights from his dad. It’s tragically funny. I found myself looking forward to the occasions he would interact with his dad and skimming his own personal story. I laughed.

8. Rewrite Free Timer in the Microsoft Store

imageI get two or three emails every week from Free Timer users. They are asking for new features that would be simple to add if I had not lost the source. ;-) It’s crazy how many people use this app. I have not updated it since Windows 8. It’s time. The interface is wonderful, but it looks just a little dated. I want to make it better and use the effort to sharpen any of my UWP skills that may have dulled.

If I manage to get that updated, I’ll follow up with writing my Pomodoro app. It’s a powerful technique to focus and I’ve been wanting to write the app using the Desktop Bridge for a year. But, it’s one app at a time – Free Timer comes first. The Pomodoro app will exercise my Xamarin certification that’s just gathering dust while I spend most of my days writing bot and edge libraries. Should be fun.

9. Dial back on the caffeine

imageWhen my doctor prescribes a drug, I hate it. I resist vitamins, supplements, even medicines for coughs and colds. It’s just my thing. I eat well and maintain a pretty healthy balance. Yet, I seem to look right past caffeine as a drug. It is. The amount of caffeine I consume might be less or more than what you consume, I don’t care; I’m ready to change my consumption habits.

My goal for 2019 is to change my caffeine consumption to the point where this goal (or anything like it) does not show up for 2020.

10. Leave room

Because I have OCD tendencies, I am tempted to make this an even ten goals. But I am not, except to say this: I’ve rarely felt constrained by rules and I don’t want to be. It’s important for there to be order and consistency in life, but it’s equally important to leave room for change and the unexpected. I want to leave margin to not rush as I go or justify compromises in order to check a box. I’ll get done what I can, but the prime directive, rule zero, is to live. I don’t mind regrets, but I don’t want to add any new ones.

image And so, we open 2019. Some of these goals are lofty. Some of them are silly. But they are all real, for me. And sitting here in January, this is what comes to me. This is what I want to see in this coming year. It will be interesting to see how these change as the months pass. Meanwhile, I will do what I can.

Happy new year.

PS: I have some technical goals like learning Python and F#, but I am not adding them to the list. I have some personal goals like exercise and eating, but I am not adding them to the list. These seem a little too cliché and I didn’t want to create a cliché list of goals for 2019. I wanted to create this list.