Thursday, December 31, 2020

Books of 2020

 I set my goal low this year. I tried for 20 books and managed to read 24. Success!

I'm planning on taking a slightly different approach this year, which I will discuss in January. I've set my goal at 21 though, because 2021. Get it?

366 seconds of 2020

This was my third year of using the 1 Second Everyday app to commemorate my year with a daily micro-video. The pandemic forced me to get a little bit creative. For example, for the month of April, I pretty much outsourced all of my shooting, asking friends and family to send me snippets that I could use in my video collage. After that I resumed my duties but still put in outside submissions for special events like Violet's birthday and first steps. I did manage to make a trip to Florida in the fall to help my parents out with some non-Covid health issues and squeezed in a visit to see Violet (and Mike and Sarah, of course) on the way home. I hope that my 2021 video will include more travel and time spent having fun with others.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas!

 Can't wait until we can see this little moppet again. Merry Christmas, all!

Monday, May 25, 2020

2020 interrupted

Back in the days when I was keeping my blog more faithfully, I often lamented that I wished I could blog straight from my brain without having to get the thoughts out my fingertips and into the computer. You would think that having the possibility of writing immediately from anywhere thanks to my phone would make that better, but apparently it hasn't. What a year the past 2 months have been!

Of course, everybody knows about the Covid-19 pandemic. Here's what I call my Covid journey, the steps at which it stopped feeling foreign and started feeling like a personal danger:

  • In early February, I remember discussing the news out of China with my friend Miki. At that point, I still felt like we had a lot more to fear from the seasonal influenza.
  • By late February, I was worried about the economic effects of the oncoming crisis. I didn't expect supply chain disruption, but I did think it likely that the hype would cause an uptick in demand and lead to shortages. Fred and I don't generally keep much extra food on hand. We put something on the shopping list when we start getting low on it. I did my first Hamsterkaufen (the Germans really do have a word for everything; in this case it means shopping like a hamster) on February 27. Fred cleared off some shelves in the basement to accommodate my purchases, which we both assumed were not really necessary.
  • On March 8, we were supposed to meet up with our friends Phil and Amy for lunch at National Harbor. We changed our plans and cooked steaks here at the house instead when news broke the night before that attendees at the recent CPAC, which was held at the nearby Gaylord Hotel, had tested positive. We felt a little silly, but why take chances?
  • Annabelle was supposed to come to town that next week for a programming conference, which got canceled at the last minute, but I was still hoping she would come just for a visit since her ticket had already been booked. She opted not to come though, which was probably a good idea.
  • Around this same time, I was encouraging the national indexing organization on whose board I sit to consider canceling our April conference in North Carolina, not because I feared we would be in some sort of lockdown situation but just because I thought the virus was going to make people less likely to travel. We decided to err on the side of caution and replace this year's live conference with a virtual conference.
  • I was supposed to fly to Orlando on Saturday, March 14, to visit my family and to see Sarah and Violet, who were going to be there visiting Sarah's mother. We were going to take Violet for her first trip to Disney World on Monday, March 16. The whole week before I was in turmoil. I wanted to see them so bad, but at the same time I was feeling awful about making the trip, especially the Disney part, when the death reports were stacking up. 
  • On Wednesday, March 11, we got guidance from our union at work to request permission to telework if we felt unsafe going in to the office. I arranged with my manager to come in the next day for a meeting but then to switch to telework starting Friday.
  • That Thursday I canceled my travel plans for Florida. Within a day or two, Disney had announced that they were closing their parks the night of Sunday, March 15, so that part of the trip became, as Joey from Friends would say, moo--like a cow's opinion, it just didn't matter.
  • During my first day working from home--Friday the 13th!--the guidance from our company switched from needing permission to telework to needing permission to go into the office.
  • That next week marked the first week that Fred and I would spend working from home. As I type this, we are headed into week 11.
Obviously a lot of my 2020 for 2020 list became outmoded during this transition. Anything involving travel has been shelved for the foreseeable future. I decided early on that I did not need to do anything (like learning to ride a unicycle) that might increase my chances for needing medical care. So I have transformed my list into a 19 for Covid-19:

  1. Keep regular work hours: 9:00 to 5:00
  2. 20 flights of stairs daily
  3. Re-read A Gentleman in Moscow
  4. Finish knitting sweater (and then Sam’s stocking)
  5. Finish “The Self-Taught Programmer” class
  6. Clean out Downloads folder
  7. Catch up on podcasts
  8. Daily Duolingo and Deutsche Welle
  9. Animal Crossing
  10. Finish birthday puzzle
  11. Bake bread or make cinnamon rolls
  12. 1SE: guest stars
  13. Watch a Bluprint class
  14. Freelance indexing project - April 14
  15. Table of cases presentation for ASI’s virtual conference - April 25
  16. Take 19 baths 
  17. Do 19 workouts 
  18. Close Safari tabs on phone (146)
  19. Make face masks
I haven't looked at the list in several weeks, and there are a few things on there that I'm probably going to change. But this is my list for now, and having finally caught up on 10 weeks that have been both incredibly long and incredibly short all at once, I shall once again start documenting my progress (or lack thereof) here.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

2020 sewing goals

I dearly miss sewing. It's been years and several moves since I really had my sewing stuff organized and felt like I could sit down and work on a project. I've done some stuff here and there, like when I sewed an Elsa dress for my friend Tammy's daughter over 5 years ago, but that generally involves me re-buying supplies that I know I already have around here somewhere, and that's not a good feeling.

In the fall of 2017, I bought some cozy anteater flannel with the brief intention of making Annabelle some pajama pants for Christmas (the girl does love her some anteaters and pajamas!). I quickly realized that was an unrealistic goal given my time limitations, but I gave her the flannel anyway along with the promise of making the pants one day. We even discussed maybe working on them together at some future point. The summer after she graduated from college would have been excellent, as would the few months she was home last year attending a software development bootcamp. Somehow it never happened though.

Last summer I started listening to the Love to Sew Podcast in the hopes that it would inspire me to get my "sewjo" back. It did to a point, and despite the fact that my sewing supplies were still stashed in at least 3 different closets, I set out to make the pajama pants in time for my October visit to Boston. Alas, I was able to finish everything but the hem, so I took them up for her to try on so I could mark the hem, but then I brought them home where they sat untouched for another couple of months.

I have 2 sewing projects as part of my 20 for 2020. The first was to finish the anteater pants, which I'm pleased to announce I finally accomplished. Last month I shipped them off to her, asking only that she send me a video clip that I could use for my one-second project (two birds, one stone, etc.). Here she is modelling them and looking very pleased:

Here's a closer pic of the fabric:

The second part of the goal is to make her a dress out of some really cool fabric I found at Spoonflower. I'll write more about that as it develops. This is part of a larger goal of learning how to sew with knits. To that end, all I've done so far is done most of a mockup using cheap fabric to make sure I know what I'm doing before I order and cut into the good stuff. First though, I've gotta organize my sewing stuff!

Monday, February 17, 2020

Photo organization update

I used to be so on top of things when it came to organizing my photos, but the past few years are just a mess. Having a phone with a decent camera has led me to taking many more pictures than I used to, and I haven't done a very good job about moving them to my computer and organizing them there. One of my goals for this year is to finish with the digitization of my old photos and videos, but there's an awful lot of stuff that I've already got in digital format that needs to be dealt with as well.

One thing I finally accomplished a few weeks ago was finishing the Shutterfly photobook of the trip that Fred and I made to Hawaii to celebrate my 50th birthday (3 years ago). Yay, me!

There are a few basic tasks that I really need to do to get back on the road to total photo (and video) organization.
  • Clean out the downloads folder on my computer.
  • Run a de-duplication program on my computer to find files where I have the same item stashed in more than one location. (These first 2 items would also help me in my quest to organize my digital and non-digital files in general.)
  • Clean the junk photos off my phone.
  • Figure out a plan for how far back I want the photos on my phone to go. On the one hand it's nice to be able to scroll back and find an old picture, but honestly I have an easier time locating a file when it's on my computer with metadata that makes sense. I don't think I want photos on both the camera and the computer (don't worry, my computer is constantly backed up offsite, currently with Carbonite but I'm considering finding a different service), because then I will not know from looking at my phone whether a file is on the computer or not.
I need to carve out 15 or 20 minutes every day to work on this.

Climbing stairs in 2020

Last year one of my goals was to do 10 minutes of exercise every day (generally some sort of yoga or stretching routine) and get my 10,000 steps. I managed to do it every day without fail . . . until late July when my knee freaked out on me and I missed a couple days. Having broken my streak, I declared it all a failure and never went back.

I do love the motivational power of a good streak. My nephew Ethan and I are almost up to 1000 days with our Snapchat streak, and I'm approaching 800 days of working on my Duolingo German lessons. But snapping a quick picture or spending 5 to 10 minutes doing German exercises (both generally in bed as soon as I wake up) is one thing. Exercising is another. Sometimes knees hurt. Sometimes it rains or I'm traveling or whatever, and the power of a broken streak can be dreadfully demotivating.

This year my fitness goal is to climb 20 flights of stairs (as counted on my Apple Watch) nearly every day. This shouldn't be too hard for me to do--I live in a 3-story house and work on the third floor of a building with many more floors. On days when I'm in the office and need to go to the first floor, I climb up several flights first before taking the elevator down; then I climb back up to my desk. On days when I'm home, I set the timer on my watch for 30 minutes intervals and run to the basement and back each time it goes off.

I decided to track my progress with an iPhone app called Strides. This app does track streaks, both a current streak and whatever my longest streak happens to be. But it also shows an overall percentage of days on which I have met my goal, and it colors in each day that the goal is met, kind of like a child's sticker chart.

Here's my January:

And here's my February so far:

You can see from the overview in the iPhone Health app that so far this year, my daily average of flights climbed has gone way up:

I think of my 94% score as a nice, solid A.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

19 in 2019 lookback: 1 Second Everyday

At the end of 2017, I learned about this really cool app called 1 Second Everyday. The idea is that every day you shoot one second of video and then mash it together into a compilation at the end of your chosen time period. I decided it would be fun to do for 2018, so I bought the app and diligently added my one-second clip each day. By the end of 2018, I was starting to lose interest, and I felt like I was forgetting to do it all day and then adding yet another random clip. On New Year's Eve though, when I mashed my clips together (and added music through the app Splice), I was entranced with the results:

So I entered 2019 with great enthusiasm for making another year-in-review video, but this time I tried to be much more intentional to make sure that I included a wider range of friends and family. The results:

I really feel like this project has made me happier. I begin each day by thinking about what or whom I am going to include in my clip for the day, which makes me more mindful of paying attention to the important things in my day.

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

19 in 2019 lookback: Read 36 books

Last year I set my reading goal at 36 books, because how hard can it be to read 3 books a month, right? I'm sure I used to do way more than that without setting any sort of goal. Well, I made it through 22 (click the image to see it bigger):

I've decided to set my goal this year at 20. It seems a good number for 2020, and frankly I'm tired of feeling bad about my reading.