Maybe Unstuck

A few days ago I ordered the book, "The Art of Electronics". Today, it arrived. I've heard that it's a great book for learning practical electronics. I've been meaning to do some serious study of electronics for a while. With my job, I should know more than I actually do. So, I think I finally have my plan. I'm going to try to work my way through the book. Nothing drastic and I have no real time table. But I'm going to try to study like an hour a day. And to limit distractions, I think I'll work in the library at work. I'm thinking this is also how I got started in learning Rails programming. I want to say it took me a few years before I could do anything usable. I'll have to check my old notebooks for the exact dates. But there's no deadline or anything that I need to hit. So I can take my time. And when I get a decent feel for things, hopefully, I'll be able to make the game that's been floating around in my head for a while. And once I start working on this, it will hopefully kick me in the butt to get moving on the rest of the stuff in my kitchen. Tomorrow I'm going to see a ballet. So perhaps I'll start at the library on Friday. Or I'll just wait until next week and start off on Monday.

Must Plan or It Won’t Happen

I've been doing really good this summer with biking. The 30daysofbiking in April started things off well and my trips have been tons of fun. Unfortunately, Bike the Drive at the end of the month is my last planned ride I have. I am old enough to know that if I don't plan things, they aren't going to happen. So here is a list of rides I'd like to do this summer. They're just about all in the midwest, so I should have no problem getting to them.

Indiana Dunes - 9 mile gravel trail - 30 August 2014, was submerged in places and not a very nice trail. Will not revisit.
Dayton OH, home of Wright Cycle Company Building - Dayton looks to be a nice place to ride
Iowa High Trestle Trail - 25-mile trail
Wisconsin, Elroy Sparta State Bike Trail - 32 miles (requires a Wisconsin State Trail pass)
Iowa, Trout Run Trail - 11-mile trail
Michigan Kal-Haven Bike Trail - 34 miles gravel and blacktop
Indiana Pumpkinvine Nature Trail - 25-mile trail
Missouri Katy Trail - Runs from St. Louis to Kansas City
Illinois Prairie Path - 61 miles
Indiana Monon Rail Trail - 8-mile trail
South Dakota Mickelson Trail - 114 miles (A tad further than I'd probably go for a weekend)
Ohio Little Miami Bike Trail - 80 miles

I probably won't get to all of these this summer, but I'll try to do, at least one of them each month.

Getting Started

At this rate, I'll read 365 books this year. 🙂 Anyway, had a lovely New Year's Day, where I watched some hockey and just sat and read. I finished Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. I don't really understand why, but I liked this book a lot. I guess it's because I liked the characters and the weird things that happened to them, but I can't really say for sure. This is now the second book by Murakami that I've read. I read 1Q84 a couple of years ago and liked that one as well. So I guess I'm going to add Murakami to William Gibson and Isabel Allende as authors that I really like.

I haven't spent an entire day reading in a long time. The first time I did this was a very long time ago, when I stayed up all night reading Cuckoo's Egg by Cliff Stoll. I'm glad I finished this book at a reasonable hour because I do have to go to work in the morning and would be very cranky if I had been reading all night. I'm quite happy that the book sucked me in, since I had been worried that I was no longer able to read an entire book. Now that I mostly read short magazine articles and blog posts, a novel seemed slightly insurmountable. But I'm glad that I can still do it. Happily, I just got email from the library that a book I requested there has arrived, so I can pick that up tomorrow. I shouldn't spend another full day reading, since I have to go to work AND should be working on my kitchen. But I'll see if I can grab a few hours here and there.

To 2014

I'm hoping that 2014 will be as good of a year as 2013 was. But I like to set specific goals/resolutions/whatever you want to call them. So here are some things I'd like to accomplish in the coming year.

  • Finish the kitchen - My desire to cook a meal in my own house is very great. And I've made great progress in the past few months. So, while I'd like to say that it'll be done by the end of February, a more realistic deadline might be by May or so. Whenever the deadline, I want it done this year. I'm committed to hosting Thanksgiving here and possibly Christmas too.
  • Ask for help - Related to the above, I'm going to have to start asking for help with things. And while I like to think that I can do anything by myself, I need to get over my incredible dislike for asking for help.
  • Being active - This is just my generic term for biking, running, skating, etc. I was pretty good last year about keeping moving. I have noticed that in winter I tend to shut down, but as soon as the weather gets a little better, I want to get back outside and moving. And I'd still like to take an overnight bike trip. I should start researching some possibilities.
  • Programming - Specifically, in ruby I want to learn how to write tests and I'd like to learn some javascript.
  • School - I haven't taken a real class in a while and I think I'd like to do that. There are tons of online classes now, so I think I'd like to sign up for one in the fall. Right now, I'm thinking a material science class would be interesting, but that could change.
  • Travel - While I'm really not much of a traveler, I do know it's good for you. So I'd like to get myself out there in uncomfortable situations and see what happens. Now that the kitchen is closer to being finished, I feel like I'm in a better position financially to be able to get out some more.
  • Read - I like to read, but of late have been having problems in concentrating long enough on a book. Since I think specific goals are good, I'd like to try to read at least one novel per month.
  • Make a point of seeing friends - Unfortunately, the main communication method I've been using with most of my friends is texting. This should stop. So I want to make a point to go and see people in person. For a person who tends to prefer to stay home alone, this will be a bit of a challenge. But it'd be good for me and good for my friends. And if any of my friends are reading this, feel free to remind me of this anytime if I'm being a pill.
  • That's probably good for now.

    Here's to 2014! Hope it's a great year!

Getting Ready for the Wrap Up

For the past couple of years, I've done a sort of year-in-review post with my thoughts about what went well over the past year and what I'd like to do in the upcoming year. I don't really refer back to this list at any point during the year, but perhaps I should. In general, I like to see things that I think would be helpful/fun to know/learn/do in the coming year. And if I see things that I've had on my list for more than one year, I'd like to think that I make a bit more of an effort to do them. Anyway, as the end of the year is coming up and this is how I sort of like to spend my January 1st, I've been starting to think about the year in general. By and large, I'm pretty happy and think I had a pretty good year. I may have gotten a bit lazy toward the end, but overall, I'm not complaining. I'll go into more details next week.

A Bad Habit

Until yesterday, I had been carless for the past few weeks. Even though it was ridiculously cold, if I wanted to get to work, I'd do my bus-el-bus trip to get there and then reverse it to get home. In all honesty, this wasn't that difficult, though it was rather cold this week. One of the things that I had thought about, when I bought my house, was that I didn't want to be dependent on a car. So, I can take public transit to work, I can walk to a grocery store or other stores that I might need. Now though, that I have my car back, I was just thinking that I'll drive over to Target this morning to pick up some stuff. This is ridiculous. Last week, I would have (and did) just walk there. There was a talk in the evening the other day downtown that I wanted to hear. So, even after I took public transit home, ate dinner and was a bit tired, I bundled up again and walked to a different el stop to take the train to go to the meeting. Now, I'm being a total weenie and want to drive to a store that's maybe a mile away, but probably less to buy some things that aren't even heavy. I am completely ashamed of myself. This is a habit that I need to break and I'm not sure how I'll do it. But, I'm going to try and be more aware of when I instinctively think to just get in my car and drive. More immediately, I'm going to put on my boots and coat and walk over to the store. Self, quit being such a wuss!

To 2013

Here are my goals for 2013. A lot of the same things as last year, but hopefully I'll get further along with them.

  • C Programming
    I spent some time last year, but need to be more systematic in the coming year. The number one goal is to understand the use of pointers better. Once I have that down, I think I'll be able to move on to looking to write a device driver.
  • Finish the kitchen
    This will take some time, though nearly not as long as the things I've done previously. The holdup on starting is that I want to have at least $10,000 saved up before I start. This will take me a while. In the meantime, I'm not doing anything in the kitchen because I am using it now that I'm living here again.
  • Take an overnight bike trip
    No camping, but a trip of maybe 100-200 miles or so, where I can ride and stay at motels for a day or two.
  • Electronics
    I want to finish working through the eagle tutorials. Then design a board to use with my map game. I'd like to actually finish building the map game too.
  • Book
    I'd like to write up an ebook about using a linux server to replace a windows domain. I've done it and I think it would be helpful to have all the information in a single place.
  • Bicycling
    I did a pretty good job of consistently jogging last year. I think I should mix things up and switch sports a little. So I may make a bigger effort to ride my bike more this year.
  • Ruby
    Convert a bunch of my scripts that are currently in perl to ruby to help me continue to get better at ruby.
  • Computational Geometry
    I've been getting interested in math again and recently found out about computational geometry. This seems to be pretty common in computer graphics, which I've been interested in. My math is very rusty, so I'm probably going to have to do a lot of review work before I get back into this, but I think it would be really helpful.

I'm keeping the list a little short this year, so that I can try to stay more focused.

2012 in Review

Being the last day of 2012, I thought I'd take a minute and check out how I did with the goals I set for last year.

The big one was finishing my floor and moving back in. I had the ridiculous notion that it would have been done early in the year. They were basically finished the week before Thanksgiving, which is when I moved back home. So, while I did achieve the goal the time frame was WAY off.

  • Learn more C
    Achieved this goal. I was spending some time after work in the library and did advance some. I'd like to continue this in 2013
  • Use Blender to make a model and send to Shapeways to get fabricated
    Nope, didn't do anything here except install Blender
  • Arduino game of picking out states on map
    Got it started and bought parts, but still more work to be done
  • Get and use Eagle to make a simple PCB and have it fabricated
    Installed eagle and started working through the tutorials, but nowhere near ready to do a complete board.
  • Get a better understanding of how and when to use JSON
    Didn't do much with that.
  • Drawing lessons
    Nothing here
  • Piano lessons
    Didn't do anything here
  • Learn some basic statistics
    Nothing on this
  • Get started with GPU programming
    I can't do anything with this until I get a better grasp of C
  • Build a workbench
    Looked into buying some legs, but then didn't do it, so failed on this
  • Learn to weld
  • Work on a novel
    Nothing on this
  • Set up a Win7/Linux workstation for development work
    Installed a few linux virtual machines on my new laptop and could play around with them
  • Write up PDF on how to make linux as domain server and put it up for sale somewhere
    Nothing on this
  • Learn how to animate with Blender
    I got as far as installing Blender
  • Organize my tools/workspace
    I did move them all to the basement, but they're still a mess
  • Learn an alternative mail system to Sendmail
    Didn't do anything with this.
  • Go to some Ruby meetups
    Yep, did this. Went to some Ruby meetups
  • Pay for myself to go to a technical conference somewhere
    Yep, went to Windy City Rails
  • Make a dining room table and bench
    Nowhere near ready to start making furniture
  • Get my digital camera working with my telescope and go somewhere dark to see if I can get a good picture
    Not even on my radar over the year
  • Travel someplace that I’ve never been
    It's weak, but I did got to a park on my birthday that I never went to before. I'm sure I had something a bit more ambitious in mind when I wrote that down.