One of the benefits of having a birthday in June is it makes a nice target for reviewing my goals and seeing how I am doing. Previous readers will recall that I set some really ambitious goals back in January, and by about the third week of February, my weekly monitoring and tracking was pretty much done. I do review my goals, and check in on my progress, but I haven’t been posting about it.
For blue / mind / organizing / planning goals, my two big ones for the year were to do more on astronomy (to re-kickstart my interest in and use of my telescope) and a kitchen renovation. For the astronomy, I had the problem last year with the gears (losing it to the repair shop for August and September), and I have to confess, I’ve been somewhat disappointed anyway with my progress. I bought a good beginner scope, and it comes with a Go-To mount that basically uses a computer to track the sky and auto-adjust to various locations. However, I’ve struggled with the tool. I would set it up, choose an object from the menu, and have the scope slew to it, but then I wouldn’t be able to see much. Almost like my scope wasn’t powerful enough to see it, or my eyes were too weak. I just wasn’t sure. I thought my alignment was working because when I would go to a planet, bam, there it was. But galaxies, nebulas, etc., I wasn’t having much luck. At a star party about 2 weeks ago now, I was sitting next to a guy with a similar sized scope and he was resolving lots of things. I asked for his help, and he adjusted the alignment of my scope, and bam! There was the ring nebula. The first time I’ve really seen anything that wasn’t “obvious” with the naked eye already. So it was clear it wasn’t my scope, my eyepieces, or my eyes, it was just the alignment. I couldn’t “see” the objects because the scope wasn’t pointing at them, just near them. So, after much research, chasing people, adjusting my technique, I’ve figured out a better (i.e. the proper) way to align the scope, and tried it out last night. Almost without exception, everything was close enough to aligned to see in the field of view. So, that’s fixed. Yay! I’ve also been using my Canon T5i in the scope to take a few pictures, but haven’t quite worked all that out yet. I’ll probably spend some time in the summer tweaking the setup, and then target the moon in September.
For the kitchen renovation, up until about 5 days ago, I would have said we were completely off the rails. We have a great contractor, but he has a small team, and goes from one project to the next in a more or less linear fashion. We finally got some plans and designs this week and have given him feedback. I feel much farther along than a week ago, although I won’t say I yet believe we’ll have it all wrapped up by the end of the summer. But back on track.
For various other blue commitments:
- Haven’t been actively using my To-Do list or the tracker, and haven’t made up the HoneyDo list of things to get done around the house;
- Scanning of photos and sorting them all has been pretty much on hold, but that didn’t surprise me much…I hoped to start in January, but really wouldn’t be surprised if it slipped to September;
- Backups and ripping started off well, but has kind of slipped a bit, need to get back into now that I have the right e-setup;
- I haven’t done anything on photography (other than some astro stuff), knitting, juggling, origami or a meteor shower (although might do Perseids in August); and,
- For courses, I’ve found a great psych course at Carleton that I plan to do in the fall, but in the meantime, trying to put some time into an Understanding Video Games course which is quite interesting.
For the green / emotion commitments, my two big commitments were better engagement with Jacob and random acts of romance. For Jacob, the “nights with Dad” weren’t a big hit honestly. He was okay with them, but didn’t seem to have much interest in scheduling “activities” to do other than just going for dinner or doing the same thing we do on any given night. I’ve lessened the pressure, and while I hate the term quality time, I’ve focused more on being present when we do hang out playing games, etc. For the random acts of romance, I’ve been far from creative. Mostly it is has been giving flowers regularly. Need to work more on that one.
In terms of other activities, I have done a few MMMMM nights out for wings with the guys, but nothing recently. It’s hard to pick a night when multiple people can attend, so sometimes it’s just one or two. I enjoy it, but seems like a lot of work when I could just see those people without organizing an extra outing. For siblings, I haven’t done much outreach. There’s only 3 that I would target, and while I see one at wing nights, the other two are really just occasional phone calls and I haven’t done much reaching out in the last few months. More internally focused I suppose. Need to reboost that one. I’m still open to a corn roast party in August, supporting my friend on his AstroPontiac campaign (although little for me to do lately), and I have a charity hack to explore further, but that was my plan for the fall.
My epic failure for this year though was my plans for a giant project in November. I kept most of the details secret as I worked out the various issues, and it went belly up in about March/April. So here’s the skinny…There are tons of campaigns out there for various forms of cancer awareness and fundraising, but nowhere near the level of attention on prostate cancer. So, thinking that I could try and do something around it, I came up with some ideas about a) focusing on promoting digital rectal exams; b) coming up with a good slogan; c) trying to start something around a social media challenge / campaign targeting TV producers and writers to include storylines in their fall shows; and d) creating something more local for friends and families to create a video that would basically tell men to get themselves checked. More or less the same storyline that breast cancer campaigns used about self-exams, regular exams by doctors, etc. I lined up some medical friends to advise me, pulled in a couple of people who have decent marketing skills and awareness, and created a small list of targeted people to invite to join my campaign advisory board as I got into the text, wording, objectives, etc. leading to a dual launch (one for media types issuing the challenge, and one for local friends to do some videos). I felt energized about the plan. Maybe it would accomplish nothing in the end, but hey, I thought I would give it a go.
So here’s the problem. Prostate cancer is incredibly hard to reliably detect. There are basically two main tools that are available and the evidence of the health professionals are that both are mostly unreliable. PSE tests are incredibly unreliable and all the health professionals in the US and Canada who have reviewed the various studies and research came to the conclusion that PSE tests are not recommended except in limited situations — mainly because there are a lot of false positives that lead to unnecessary surgeries and risks, and the actual estimation is that a bad PSE will end up killing about 2/1000 people while a good PSE only saves 1/1000. So you kill two to save one. Easy no brainer to not recommend that. But I had wrongly assumed that digital rectal exams were also a no brainer. Apparently not. Their reliability and efficacy is much lower than expected, and equally not solid enough to base a campaign around. Which would leave me to do a campaign about either funding research (not what I was interested in) or raising awareness with no action to take (know your risks! and do nothing!). I had a campaign area, with no viable recommendation. Don’t get me wrong, lots of organizations out there still say do the PSE or the DRE, etc. But most of them seem to do so without any ethical check on what they are actually saying, and never present the downside. That’s not something I was interested in doing. If the evidence wasn’t there, I wasn’t going to (a) promote it and (b) even if I did promote it, it would never sell to the media types I was targeting.
In the end, I killed the campaign. It just wasn’t gelling for me fast enough to meet some early deadlines to target the writers for the challenges. Maybe I’ll try again next year, maybe I’ll do something different. Either way, I had to pull the plug for this year.
For the red / physical / directional commitments, most of it was around being more active. That took a large backseat to some other stuff in the last four months, although I’ve tried to maintain my back exercises and yoga stretches. I haven’t figured out a good walking routine yet for my schedule, but hoping to fix that next week, and I have some other ideas of small changes to get me going. I have not yet found a new dentist or doctor, although I did do my sleep test without amazing revelations. I’m likely to ditch the rappelling and zipline stuff this year, just don’t see it fitting into the schedule anytime between now and the end of the year, but I’ll keep the polar plunge option. And I’m going to start working on my French refresh in July. Overall, very little progress though.
For the yellow/creative commitments, the giant overarching commitment was to write 500,000 words this year. Unfortunately, a good portion of that was going to be around the campaign, and I was hoping for 200-250K words from that. However, I have been actively blogging on development, video games, and more importantly, the story of Becoming Jacob’s Dad. Which has allowed me to generate about 125,000 words so far this year. It puts me on track for 250K for the year still, maybe more, we’ll have to see. I’m tweeting reviews of TV episodes, closing in on 800 tweets so far this year, and expect to break 2000 by the end of the year. I don’t have a lot of followers yet, but picking up a few here and there. I haven’t completely figured out good options for TV/movie/book reviews but will have that outlined in about six weeks. A bunch of the categories will push to the fall though, as expected. On the Creativity Challenge, I did it again in February, but the take-up was quite low, and while it isn’t a lot of work, I don’t want to be chasing people either to do it. I’ve got a couple of creativity projects on the go right now including some shelving for the garage and basement, and soon a couple of cases for telescope equipment. I’m hoping to re-kickstart the HR guide this summer and finish the first draft by the end of August.
I’m happy with some things in the list above. The 125,000-word count. Blogging about Jacob. Some astronomy progress. My initial coursework. And the various tweets and memes that I have written and created. I have almost zero take up on some of it, but I’ll keep doing it for me, even if no one else cares about it.