A reflection on the past, and goals moving forward
Happy 2024 to all my readers, and I hope you had a great past few holiday breaks (if able). It was a consecutive three-day weekend back-to-back, which was nice and gave me a lot of time to rest, so now I'm back and ready to talk about stuff in a self-reflective meta analysis of one self.
Comparatively, if I compared 2023 to my 2022, it was very different. 2022 was for me a weird year where I had to shake up a lot of things. I worked in a warehouse being the all-hands tech guy, to leaving that job on a whim, to then becoming a full-time remote programmer, to then getting laid off. It was weird, and it wasn't comfortable being in that position.
It was difficult, because I had to cut out lots of my past in order to move forward, so in some sense I feel like I'm almost starting from scratch. However, my 2023 had some luck, and I've been thankfully employed for the last seven months now, which has been a blessing when looking back at the extreme market shifts that happened over 2023.
Last year I ended up moving homes twice. First to a temporary home, then to our next home, an apartment we decided to rent and start our next part of our life together. This was a big step, and slightly scary at first, but we're here and we will see how long our current home lasts for.
I think looking forward, 2024 has a fair set of challenges waiting for me, whether it's personal growth and relationship development, or job challenges, or just working on my own hobbies and trying to improve my own skill set.
Now let's talk about my 2024 goals that I want to strive for.
2023 I had some goals of trying to achieve financial stability. I started 2023 as a laid-off employee and had some ambitions about achieving more financial independence somehow. I considered game development as an indie, but it didn't pan out so well for me, due to lack of ideas, blockers in home life, and eventually, getting a job that paid the bills. Indie game dev is a life I'd love to attempt once I have a better home life, because ultimately, I can't focus on it if I have to focus on gradually building my home life upwards.
So let me start off with something simple.
I currently clock in around 190-something pounds for weight, which has sadly gotten out of control largely thanks to the pandemic. During that COVID-19 long-forgotten era, I didn't go out of the house much, didn't have many friends to keep me in check, and I spiraled out and lost interest in trying to "maintain" a certain weight. I probably went up at least well over 20+ pounds since the start of the pandemic, but I don't have a measurement of before.
Weight is an issue for me as I get older, and I'd love to get somewhere under 180 pounds to feel at a comfortable level. The human body can realistically only lose about a pound of weight a week, with proper exercise and calorie intake. I studied a bit about health, but not enough for me to make the drastic changes necessary to my diet; proper food preparation takes a lot of time to get fully into, and I'm not at a level where I can cook five meals ahead of time or whatever.
As a remote worker, I stay at home, and convenience is a nice thing to have. The trade-off is that I spend money in exchange to save time to optimize my time for work or play. I acknowledge that typical fast foods are largely a killer of humanity, so I try my best to eat "okay" fast foods where possible. I like deli sandwiches that include turkey, cheese, lettuce and tomato. I try to opt for vegetables where possible in my meals, and try to avoid things like fatty fried foods if I can.
However, the other half is exercise; something I sorely lacked a consistent routine of. We moved to a building that has a gym in order to reduce the time spent traveling to said gym, which was really a theme for me when moving ("how can I reduce the time spent outside as best as possible so I can enjoy being home more?").
My legs and feet are a pain point, and I don't have comfortable enough shoes. If I walk too fast, I feel my feet start going in pain, so I take care to make sure I don't do too much strenuous walking. I need to work on my cardio as best as possible, so I plan on measuring my walking potential by doing a lot of treadmill activities, either walking, jogging, or full-on running. I had amibitions of being able to complete a 5K in real life one day, so I will continue to work towards that effort.
(I need to buy shoes for this that will actually last and be comfortable)
Short-list of goals for me to look at in 363 days:
Decentralization is a big subject that is hard to explain to people, but ever since the Reddit third-party client impodus of last year, I have consistently not used Reddit for my ever-terrible drip feed addiction to content for a long enough period to talk about it. I was a big Redditor when it was a lot smaller, especially after the Digg Exodus of yesteryear.
However, Reddit is part of a problem the internet has, and that's monetization. Everything for Reddit is about increasing maximum yield off free user-created content. Reddit wants you to use their app on mobile devices so they can inject ads into your eyeballs, and have since limited the number of Reddits you can actually visit, while not making their app any better. The app sucks, plain and simple.
If the internet sucks in general, what are we to do about it? Unfortunately, the answer is itself to create a different internet where we don't rely on big-name corporate entities to host content for us. Instead, we need to create a network where it's not possible for one entity to rule everything in that particular kingdom, and that's where the Fediverse comes into play.
The goal is simple; a user account is created on an instance of a service that implements ActivityPub, and your user account can be accessed from different instances ("hosts") and interacted with, despite being on a completely different physical machine. This is literally email, except email is now just not cool.
I don't use Twitter, and I don't use Reddit, but I use Mastodon because I believe it has the potential to be something useful for everyone. Mastodon isn't corporatized, so Mastodon won't be automatically recommending you junk for you to focus your gaze on. You get whatever you follow, no algorithms running in the background dictating what you get to see.
I make it a thing where I don't really talk to my real-life friends about this kind of stuff, but I think in 2024, I will actively be bringing things like Mastodon or Matrix up more frequently. Reason being is that if I don't, then nothing will change. But if I can drive a talking point, then it will make people more aware of the world around them that they engage in every day.
Short list of goals:
I will leave my contact points on both Mastodon and Matrix down at the end of this. If you want to be friends or even have a chat with me, I'm all ears, because that follows my next point:
Ever since starting my relationship and moving and changing jobs so frequently and working remote, I realized my friend pool is starting to shrink. Real-life friends are constantly moving away from New York because they don't really like it here, and I find it hard to be friends with people who just don't like where they are currently. Like yes, New York sucks, but I can't say for certain if it's necessarily better anywhere.
I have few internet acquaintances, but I want to change that in 2024. I don't go out terribly often for fun or to socialize; usually if I go out anywhere, it's usually with a friend or two, so it leaves little room for interacting with new people.
My long-term goal would be to meet new people and see what life has in store, I suppose. It's broad, but I'm not against admitting the truth; I'm a bit of a hermit at times. Even one day, I'd love to make a webring and establish a network of contacts that we can regularly keep up with each other and create a mini internet family.
These are ambitious goals of mine, I know, but I think 2024 is going to be a scary year for many reasons, and I think talking to more people would open up my eyes to the world a little more and increase my knowledge in ways I don't think I could do myself.
Short list of goals:
So, hello world, reach out to me if you want to share ideas to work on together.
I have not spent much time doing music production and development as I would have liked in the last few years. Being terminally unemployed, surviving a pandemic, trying to start a relationship, moving, apartment hunting, and just in general not thinking about it enough, would do that to me.
I used to be someone addicted to creating PureData applications, but that slowed down a ton in 2016/2017 for me when I had to start working for money and being independent. More curiously enough, you might be curious as to why I even use PureData at all. It's a visual language, it's unique, and frankly, it works really damn well. Never before have I gotten off the ground quicker from random hardware MIDI device to basic synthesizer than I have with PureData. No plugins in Rust, C++ or Python could ever hope to compare.
PureData is weird, and isn't exactly "popular", but I'm not really here for popularity, I'm here for what works well. I found my USB A-type cable, so now I can connect it to my Novation Launchpad, and I invested in a new sampler device called a K.O. II by Teenage Engineering which I'm having a lot of fun messing around with. I want to take my music skills up a notch, feeling mostly inspired by SONOIO.
When I'm not working on a slew of other projects, I will do my best to come up with cool innovations when possible.
Short list of goals:
Speaking of projects:
Throughout all my years, I work on a lot of random shit, and I think in 2024, I want to work on my level of focus. I will not be working on more than one or two projects at a time, and I'd like to limit my time to one thing per month if needed. I start a lot of projects that don't get finished, so I'd like to close out any open projects I have, close them, then move on.
(This blog website is unfortunately a project that doesn't fall under that idea)
I feel like I have a tendency to start things, but never see them through to the end. Reasons being general unsatisfaction with the "ending" of my projects, and being really attracted to the start. Not healthy, but it's best I learn from my mistake and actually just finish the damn thing.
So, once I spend some days closing out things I think are worth a damn, I'll pick some longer projects that require more time investment than anything and come up with a more "formal" approach to project management for myself. If I can take my projects on and break them down into issues almost using a sort of test-driven development (TDD) approach, then I can hold myself more accountable if I say "this code should do this, get it there".
I am going to hard-limit my language tooling to a small pool, and will not budge unless I convince myself otherwise. So, my language picks of the year will be:
I sort of deleted a section here about languages I will not be touching, but that felt way too mean. I won't do that, it's not productive.
Short list of goals:
I've never felt comfortable enough to be in a position to say where I can give back, and by this provide financial donation to some things I enjoy. This year I would like to donate some small amounts of money to projects or artists I enjoy. Mastodon is one, Matrix might be another, Signal could be another, even if I don't use it, but I realized that financial support is one way to show your support for people, however small.
My music collection is rather small, and I want to collect FLAC files, so I might spend some time shopping around on Bandcamp acquiring a better FLAC library. It's not something I have done before, and I'm committed to dropping big-name services that provide streaming and focus on actual purchasing of digital content, or physical media if I have to. I did recently buy a Blu-ray collection of my favorite TV show Psych.
Short list of goals:
This has been my personal home for a number of years, and I have a constant problem of saying "yeah I'll be posting more later", to which I never do. The reality is life gets in the way, and I don't make this my first home, which is problematic. Writing here makes me feel a little bit happier, knowing I'm writing into the void.
The goal in my mind is still to create my own site-building program so I'm less reliant on Zola. I don't have hot takes with Zola, but it's hackability for me is low. I don't want to fork Zola, then get lost in Zola source code, and have an unmaintainable mess of code I don't like. Why not just make my own mess of code I do like?
I will more likely than not start out with a Racket program to simply build a site from some Markdown files and go from there. This is my more ambitious goal, but it might take me forever to do.
I also want to try out 100DaysToOffload to start posting more actively. One hundred posts in a year sounds strenuous, but writing is good for the soul, mine at least.
Short list of goals:
I said earlier I'll post my contact links, so here they are.
I'll eventually compile all this into a page where it's much easier to share, a la LinkTree.
This was a pretty long post, but I think I had a lot to talk about. I was preparing this all mentally leading into the new year; the move, the job, the dog, and everything inbetween was keeping me occupied, so I prepared myself to be ready for this new year and take on all these challenges as best I can.
So, for me, Steven, if you're reading this at the end of the year, remember where you started, and hopefully you made a reasonable dent in all these goals.
See you all soon!