Hello 2017!

Happy New Year!

I made it to 2017, so things so far are great! As always, I want to make some plans to get the most out of my year. Though, I really need to start thinking more long term. Bill Gates has the great quote "Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years." I think that's very true. And I think I sort of due that here. At least I have my bucket list for things I want to do over my life. My idea of tracking something on the calendar is mainly a way for me to build a new habit that I'll hopefully have for the rest of my life. And so far, it seems to be working. I'll keep doing my yearly resolutions and hope that they end up being lifelong habits. Let's get started.

Sugar - My focus for the year is going to be reducing the amount of sugar that I eat. I did this for about a month last year and I noticed enough changes in me that I think it's a worthwhile goal. This is what's going on my calendar this year. It's a simple yes/no question. If I ate something with sugar, black frown goes up. If I avoided it, red (if I can find the red marker) smiley goes up. And much like when I was trying not to use my car two years ago, I'm not going to be a jerk about this. If someone invites me to a birthday party, yes I will eat cake. I'm not asking anyone to make food special for me. Just when I'm home or on my own (which is most meals), I will try to avoid sugar. This means that I need to have food in my house to eat instead. I went to Costco the other day and bought a bunch of fruit, cheese, nuts and some frozen meals that all don't have sugar. There may be some foods that I stop eating altogether. For example, I'm having a cup of coffee and oatmeal right now. I much prefer both of these with some sugar and a few chocolate chips, respectively. If that was the only sugar that I ate all day, it would probably be fine. But it still gets a frown because I'm avoiding all sugar. Those are the rules.

DIY Projects - I love to make stuff. I love to watch other people make stuff. This probably isn't really a resolution, since I already do this. But I'd like to do things more regularly and post information. As an example, I went to the store the other day to buy myself a calendar. I couldn't find a calendar I liked, so I decided to make one for myself. I have a printer and paper and very little design talent. I made simple calendar with quotes about life that I like. Here are what some of the pages look like.

Pretty simple, but it was fun to make. I have some ideas for binding books and making traveler's journals. I also have some woodworking projects to finish and some new ideas. And I'd like to get another sewing machine (more on that later) for a couple of sewing projects that I have in mind.

House - It's time to get back to work on the house. If nothing else, I'd like to have at least the back half of the upstairs gutted by the end of the year. Taking down drywall should be far less messy than the plaster and lathe removal of the downstairs. It'll still be messy, but I'm hoping I can control it a bit more by hanging some plastic to contain dust. I'd also like to finally bury the electric line that goes to my garage. If I install a new one, I can then put in another line and add more lights to my garage. That would be great. I'd also like to add some outdoor plugs which would be great for when I cut the grass and helpful for my garden.

Skills - As always, I would like to learn how to weld. And I'd like to learn how to design/build some simple electronics. Not to be able to do anything at work, but just to be able to create some ideas that have been floating around in my head. I did some soldering last year and while I was eventually successful, I wasn't comfortable doing it. That's just because I need to practice more. That's the case for a lot of the things I want to do: sewing, woodworking, bookbinding, etc. I need to do some simple projects just to get good with my hands. Once I'm comfortable with the basics, I can move on to trying to make my more difficult ideas. I guess the resolution here is that I'm going to work on any skill at least two or three times per month.

Read Books - I read a lot online, but I'd like to get back to reading more books. Online reading is really just skimming things for ideas and I want to get back into deep reading which to me means books. My goal is to read one or two books per month.

Write a Book - I still want to work on my book. It will be technical and I doubt that I'd sell many copies, but I'd like to do it just to see if I can.

Tune My Tools - I have a table saw that I use quite a bit. However, I don't think that it's set up properly. I haven't done any tests, but I don't think the fence is completely parallel to the blade. If I want to get serious about woodworking, I need to make sure that all of my tools are working correctly. So I need to research what to do to check and what periodic maintenance I need to do to make sure things are working properly.

Language - I've been swearing a lot more of late. I need to watch my language and cut it out. This is going to be hard, but it's something I need to do.

Things I want to keep doing
More bike, less car - Since this has been my focus for the past two years, I think it's already something I do a lot. But I just want to note it so that I remember it. I plan on going for a bike ride today because I can think of no better way to start off the year and it's a nice sunny day with temps in the 30s.

Work on financial independence - Last year put me in a much better position financially that I had been in for a while. So I'd like to keep working to financial independence, which is still a number of years away. But I think I'm doing the right things and I just need to stay the course.

Travel - I still like to take my bike to new cities and explore. I had been doing big rides around cities, but I think I may stop doing them. I signed up for a number of them last year and then didn't go because of bad weather. So now, I may just throw my bike in the car and drive to a city and ride around myself. Or look up interesting trails and go and ride them. I'm already going to go to Sedona this year. And I'm thinking that it might be cool to go to the finger lakes region of upstate New York.

Rewards - There are a few bigger ticket items that I'd like to buy for myself, but didn't because I was being financially responsible. Now I'm thinking that it would be a good idea to use these as rewards. Say if I don't eat sugar for 75% of the days in a month, I get a reward. Or if I do take all the drywall down from the back of my house, I get a reward. So here are the things that I'd like to get:

New bike - Totally don't need this, but very much want it. Test rode this bike last year and it was so nice to ride. Planned on buying it last year, but didn't because I was being responsible.

Sewing machine - After going through a few used sewing machines that were given to me, I decided that I wanted to get one that I actually want. And what I want is an industrial sewing machine. First because they really only do straight stitches and that's the only stitch I've ever done. Second because they'll be better at sewing through heavy material, like canvas or leather. I have zero interest in ever sewing clothes, but I would do curtains, bags and maybe even get into upholstery. I've been watching Craigslist to see if any used ones come up. Otherwise, this one with the 3/4 hp servo motor is the one I want.

Camera - If I want to start posting videos of me making my projects, I think I'd like to get a good camera. I have a little point and shoot camera that I've used in the past, but the battery doesn't last very long and it doesn't hold much video. I haven't researched these too much because this would definitely be bought after the above items. But I was thinking that something like this camera would be pretty nice. If I do decide to get a new camera, I'll have to do more research.

Tools - There are a few more tools that I'd like to get for my workshop. I'd like to add a drill press and a bandsaw. Here I should just keep an eye on craigslist or start going to the flea market by my house to see what they have.

That's it, my plans for 2017. I think for now, I'll start the year by trying to install a new light over my stairs before I head out on my bike.