Music of my Life (part 1)

8 August 2022 • Personal

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I was talking with a group of friends in our Discord this past weekend, and a great prompt came up. “Share 3 songs that you feel like summarize your musical preferences/your journey through discovering new styles of music.”

Y’all realize how hard it is to narrow that prompt down to just three songs? Cripes.

Anyway, I fulfilled the prompt, but a lot of us were talking about our honorable mentions. This led me down a rabbit hole of figuring out what were my personal defining songs from my life, and now… well, it turned into 3 blog posts.


Prior to high school, I listened to a ton of different stuff. My first 3 albums that I ever owned were (lol in advance) Spice Girls - Spice, Hanson - Middle of Nowhere, and the Mortal Kombat Annihilation soundtrack. I then dabbled with a lot of Creed and other Christian-adjacent bands as I learned to play drums, bass, and guitar over the years. But none of that was really what I considered “formative” - most of those bands I’d heard on the radio, or was convinced by my mom to buy the CDs. Mortal Kombat was an out of the blue album purchase for me - I’d played the video games in the arcades, but didn’t even see the movie until I was in my 20s. I was pretty much relying on other people’s suggestions of what music to listen to until 1999/2000, when I was 12-13.

Jr. High, High School, & Early College (1999 - 2007)

Around 99/2000, I finally started to break out of the shell of “listen to music my parents recommend”, and found things via friends that I really enjoyed. I’ve included a Spotify playlist of 12 songs from that time that I loved/continue to love today, and either where I can picture myself listening to the song, or why I love it so much. (I’m including a Spotify playlist here, but I’ll link every song on YouTube as well.)

Deftones - My Own Summer (Shove It) - My cousin Cory has always been a very gifted drummer and musician, and I looked up to him a lot. Always loved going over to his house as a kid and playing drums (he’s now got his Masters in Jazz Studies). I still remember him playing Rage Against The Machine and Deftones for me as a “check this out” sort of deal, and opening my eyes to a new world of music.

Linkin Park - Krwlng - I still remember throwing on Hybrid Theory for the first time on a way back from some church camp my friend and I went to, and being blown away. The emotion I felt from Chester’s vocals and the band’s instrumentation gripped me and changed my perception on a lot of things. While HT and Meteora continue to be amazing albums, Reanimation has some absolutely incredible remixes, and the harmonies on Krwlng make the original song 300% better.

Norma Jean - Creating Something Out Of Nothing, Only To Destroy It - There was a concert venue just down the street from where I grew up called The Reverb. It was a dimly lit bar on the 2nd floor above some Main Street businesses. I’d be down there nearly once a week, going to shows of my friend’s bands, or other bands that came through. We had a pretty robust straight-edge/hardcore scene (x319x), and I still remember how energetic and chaotic the Norma Jean show I went to was. An absolutely incredible memory.

Beloved - Death to Traitors - I latched on to Beloved as one of my favorite hardcore bands, simply because they brought more melodic structure to their music. They played a show at the local rec center that was a block from my house, and it was nuts seeing kids running all over, playing basketball or throwing a football, while this band set up in the corner and just absolutely ripped.

Anberlin - Ready Fuels - I don’t remember exactly how I discovered Anberlin, but this was their very first track off their first album, and it spawned a nearly 2 decades long infatuation with this band. I spent many an afternoon in my room playing along to this album on my guitar and bass.

Billy Music - Stereofoam - A band that came through my hometown and played a show, and then practically dropped off the face of the planet. I would love to get a group of friends together and cover this whole album top to bottom. Stereofoam is in my top 10 songs of all time.

Incubus - Summer Romance (Anti-Gravity Love Song) - My friend Steve LOVED Incubus. Their mainstream releases were all really good, but I fell in love with their super early stuff (Fungus Amongus and S.C.I.E.N.C.E.). This is a song we’d casually drop while playing pep band gigs (along with Are You In? from Morning View).

Thursday - War All The Time - Oh yeah, I definitely had an emo phase that I went through. I distinctly remember listening to this album while sitting at my desk waiting for 1st period Trig to start. This album, plus Full Collapse, were on frequent rotation for me.

Underoath - Down, Set, Go - Underoath is a band that I still continue to listen to on repeat to this day. Soaring melodies, heavy hitting riffs… this band had everything I wanted back in the day, and their music still resonates today. I moshed right alongside a bunch of youths when I saw them live a few years ago.

Mae - Suspension - One of those churchy-adjacent bands that I listened to a lot of, Mae’s music has always been this melodic punky vibe that I seem to click with. The main guitar riff was one that I still play to this day when I pick up a guitar.

Relient K - Devestation and Reform - Exact same as Suspension above, with the only difference being that I’m in the music video for this song.

MUTEMATH - Typical - My college girlfriend and I went to go see The Fray play at her college. Wasn’t a fan, but it was live music, so why not? MUTEMATH opened for them, and absolutely blew them out of the water. Such an incredible performance, I was completely hyped and energized. Bought the t-shirts, the CDs, everything. God, that was such a good show.

So there we have it. Music of my formative years, ages 12 to 20. Anything you love or vibe with? I’d love to hear about it.


15 July 2022 • Personal

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Man. A lot has happened.

It’s been almost 7 full months since my last post, and SO MANY THINGS have changed. Mostly for the better. Let’s do a quick recap.

New page

I’ve added a new page to my site called Hello. My friend Patrick was the one that turned me on to this trend, and honestly, I think it’s great. Go check it out.

Theme System Journal

I did implement the Theme System journal that I talked about in my last post into the start of my year, and it was a tremendous help in rapidly prioritizing things that mattered vs. things that didn’t.

  • Harvest: I’m through 17 books so far, and I’ve only stopped for coffee maybe a dozen times all year (thank you, Trade Coffee, for keeping me stocked with beans).
  • Prune: My Twitter and Instagram lists are both staying small, I haven’t gotten hooked on any long-play video games, and we’ve been doing our best to eat healthier overall.
  • Sow: I’ve been getting out and walking a lot, and I’ve been drinking a lot of water. I’m also in the progress of learning Swift. The other things on that list… not so much.
  • Raze: I’m back on Facebook, albeit very infrequently. I’ve not done anything with Screen Time (honestly forgot about that one), and my nails are still short.

I’m definitely leaning into the theme, even if I’m not actively using the journal as much anymore. More on that in a minute.

New addition to the family

My wife and I welcomed our first child, a daughter (you may see me refer to her as V in some places), on February 28th. We thought we were so prepared. We weren’t even close lol.

V has been wonderful. She’s smiling and giggling, she’s curious, and she gives amazing hugs. We’ve been doing the best that we can to get out of the house and do things. Most of my walks that I’ve been doing have been pushing her around the neighborhood in her stroller while the weather is nice. We’ve been taking her out and about around some friends, and tomorrow she gets to go to a friend’s child’s 1st birthday party. I love her so much.


I’ve been doing better about trying to foster the kinds of communities that I want to be a part of. I’ve been actively trying to rekindle relationships with friends of yesteryear, now that we all have kids and can relate to that. It’s been great to touch base with all of them, swap stories and tips, and be reassured that we aren’t alone in our journey.

I’ve also become a member of the Relay FM podcast network, and through it, made some great friendships with people all over the world. We talk about random nonsense, we share projects we’re working on, and we hold each other accountable for things we’re trying to accomplish. We’re even doing a Play-By-Post D&D game, which I rejoined this month after taking an absence for V’s birth. This has been one of the best decisions that I’ve made in a long time, and I’m so thankful that I took the plunge - thanks to all of you (if you’re reading this) for being an outlet, a support system, and wonderful friends over the past few months.

Jobby Job

I quit my job! Today was actually my last full day. It’s all good though - I have another gig lined up, one that’s gonna be fantastic for allowing me to flex my time & help out my wife and V. Having more time available, and not feeling pressured to be Always On from 9 to 5 is going to be huge (and honestly, hats off to families of the past - I can’t even imagine how hard it would be trying to go to work every day and being away from my family. Yikes).

Those are the high points of what’s been going on with me as of late. I’m hoping to write a lot more over the coming weeks and months as we finally settle into a routine again. No promises, though.

Did you enjoy this post? Did something I say really resonate with you? Am I just flat-out wrong? Check out my Hello page to find a way to contact me, and let’s chat about it.

Year of the Garden

28 December 2021 • Personal

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So I really wanted to do a theme this year. Thought it’d be a nice thing to do instead of “goals” or “resolutions” or anything like that. However! Life is gonna get a little complicated with a newborn arriving in February, and I knew that was going to throw everything into whack.

With that said, my theme is: Year of the Garden.

I want to work on all of the small things in my life, thinking of it like a garden that I need to tend to in order to have success this year, and be ready for future years as well.

With that said, here are my 4 main categories:

Harvest - continue with established habits

  • Read at least 1 book/month (far less than my goal of 50 that I had for 2021, but hey - a baby is incoming)
  • Brew coffee daily vs. buying sugary mochas

Prune - trim down existing habits to be better suited for my future

  • Prune who I follow on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube every quarter (Tokimeki Unfollow is GREAT for this if you’re a Twitter user)
  • Uninstall/stop playing video games that I can’t pause
  • Cook fewer “comfort” recipes, and focus on healthier options

Sow - plant new habits

  • Healthy movement daily (exercise, Ring Fit, walking)
  • Drinking 80+ oz (2.3 L) of water daily
  • Write more (D&D campaign, blogging, journaling, etc.)
  • Practice piano
  • Practice guitar
  • Write music again (possibly Q2-Q3)
  • Learn to draw (iPad? Pencil?)
  • Learn a language (Spanish, Korean, French)
  • Learn a new programming language (Python, Swift, Rust?)

Raze - clear weeds and unwanted habits to make way for better things

  • Get off of Facebook (planned departure date of 1/1/22)
  • Use the Screen Time functions of Mac/iOS to restrict time on Twitter and Instagram
  • Actively identify and implement solutions to stop biting/picking my nails

I fully intend for items to move around in this list. For example, once I “sow” some of these new habits, I intend to move them to the “harvest” category where I continue to pursue them. Some “harvest” items will need to be “pruned” as I go along, or “razed” entirely. I want to leave myself the flexibility to identify and attempt new things, while simultaneously understanding that my time will not be my own in about 2 months.

Ultimately, I want to trim the fat, keep things lean, and identify the things that bring me joy and growth. Lay the ground work and prepare the garden for future years. Practice habit gardening now, so I am experienced with it as my life changes and I need to change.

Deadlines (or, On Writing)

5 July 2020 • Personal

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I love writing.

Technically, I guess you could say that I love words. I’ve been an avid reader since I can remember, and I found that I really enjoyed writing as I got into jr. high. I’ve always had an extremely vivid imagination, and it was fairly easy for me to manifest those crazy daydreams into decent stories.

For most of college, I ran or wrote for a handful of blogs or media outlets. Some of the actual reporting that I did still exists over in Macgasm’s archives. Beyond that, I’ve run a sports blog, maybe a dozen personal blogs, a well-meaning (but in hindsight, extremely cringe-worthy) “How To Be A Gentleman” blog.


Anyway, as college became post-college, and as my free time dwindled & became occupied with other things, I’ve been looking for an outlet to start writing more. I’ve had this site up for nearly 2 years now after I stupidly let my .com address lapse (I mean, I could always get it back [for the low price of $4,000]…), and I’ve gone in spurts with writing posts when I actually have something to say. But beyond that? I haven’t done much of anything.

It’s crazy, too… I haven’t done a lot of creative writing in that time, either. Something that I used to love to do has now become something that I’m ashamed of, or at least apprehensive about sharing with the world. It’s the same with my music; when playing in front of a huge crowd, it’s no big deal. When playing for a small group, and ESPECIALLY family? Hard pass. I don’t pretend to get it, but that’s the way it is.

But I think that I have FINALLY found an outlet. One that not only affords me the ability to creatively write again, but also share it with a smaller, more intimate group & setting.

Becoming a Dungeon Master.

The returning popularity of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) has been something I’m very thankful for. I’ve been playing since I was in high school (surprise, Mom & Dad), dabbled a bit in college, and then completely dropped off of it until about 2 years ago. I’ve only played in other people’s campaigns up until this point, but at the encouragement of my group, I’m starting up my first campaign next weekend.

I’ve actually been dabbling with a story/plot for the better part of these 2 years that I’ve been playing again, but I’ve not really taken the time to sit down and finish it. Actually, the plot spawned off of a novel series idea that I had about 5-6 years ago, and I’ve been just poking at with sticks every few months ever since. Occasionally I’ll get a new idea for the campaign, but they’re usually big, grandiose plot points that don’t fit in anywhere & would require a full rewrite of the story in order to accommodate.

Well, that happened again mid-June, but this time, I just took the idea and ran with it. It’s simultaneously a small yet huge plot, with a ton of threads that I’m having to ensure don’t unravel when you pluck at them. It’s been a great exercise in not only writing, but organizational skills as well (which is something I’ve struggled with for years, so yay, more practice).

The additional benefit? I now have deadlines to hit.

Do you enjoy writing or playing D&D? Do you have any tips or tricks on how to keep your worlds organized? Hit me up on Twitter and let me know!

Digital Pruning

26 June 2020 • Personal

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When I woke up this morning, I was following 733 Twitter accounts. As of right now, I’m following 435. 298 just got the boot.

I’m not sharing this to brag, or to to make you feel bad. I’m sharing this in case it helps you out.

There are moments when pruning the digital garden that we’ve cultivated is beneficial. My Twitter feed, for example, had an extremely low “signal to noise” ratio. It was all just people retweeting stuff or being angry or whatever, and not a lot of good thoughts, important content, & the like. My friend Patrick made mention of a service he was going to be using called Tokimeki Unfollow, and I decided to give it a once-over.

It’s actually really hard to go through all of the accounts you follow & try to determine who stays & who goes. Old friends you don’t talk to much? Companies that you really enjoy? The one person that shares a ton of content, both good and bad?

The thing that kept me going, and being really decisive about pruning, was the little line above the “Unfollow” and “Keep” buttons on the Tokimaki site: “Do the tweets still spark joy or feel important to you?”

As I went along, I made up a few guidelines for myself:

  • People over products
  • People over companies
  • Thoughts over mindlessness

So… following the people that were part of a podcast is more important than following the podcast itself. Similarly, following the people working for a company or publication is more important than following the company itself. In both cases, I can expect that the important content from the parent company will filter through via RTs.

Additionally, I cut out a bunch of people who did nothing but RT without substance. A friend (I believe it was Patrick (EDIT: I was right)) imparted some wisdom to me years ago; instead of a blind retweet, they were more interested in actually knowing what the person thought about the content they were sharing (often done via quote tweets). Thoughts over mindlessness. Signal over noise.

I’m not saying I won’t add these kinds of accounts back; on the contrary, if I find myself missing the kinds of things that they posted, I’ll absolutely follow them again. I’m just trying to do a hard reset for my feed, and for my mental well-being.

Additionally, for my sanity, I’m doing 2 additional things:

  • Removing Facebook from my phone
  • Installing (and using) an RSS feed reader

The former, I’m removing so I stop wasting so much time. The latter, so I can have a dedicated location to read content from all of those companies, blogs, etc. that I want to read.

I have no idea how it’s going to go. This isn’t the first time I’ve done a prune before. But especially with everything going on right now, I think it’s vital to have peace of mind wherever we spend time, and this is how I’m going to attempt to give myself some.

Did this help you? Do you have your own suggestions for how to keep your digital garden pruned? Hit me up on Twitter and let me know!


25 June 2020 • Personal

<Insert the 30 Rock “What a year, huh?” “Lemon, it’s June” graphic here, because right now, generating that meme is just too much effort>

2020 is. It doesn’t rule. It DEFINITELY sucks. But here at the end of June, I’m just trying to make do with what I’ve got. I think that’s all any of us can do at this point.

There’s really no rhyme or reason to this post, at least not yet. That might change as I go, but for now, this is just going to be a nice little “life update”.

My 2020 goals have been all over the board. I’ve stagnated on my weight, I’ve not written since February, and I’ve only finished 2 books so far. On the other hand, I’ve cooked a whole bunch of stuff (that I’ve not written down, but whatever), and I’ve completed 13 games so far this year (including 5 in April). It’s apparent that priorities have changed quite a bit for just about everyone, given COVID, George Floyd, and everything else that’s going on.

So, what have I actually done this year?

Beaten 13 games

As I mentioned before, I’ve gotten 13 games completed. They are: The Outer Worlds, Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, Ori and the Blind Forest, Pokemon Shield, Control, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Halo: Reach, Halo, Outer Wilds, Halo 2, Chrono Trigger, & The Last of Us. I’ve been making liberal use of Xbox Game Pass for PC, which has unlocked a ton of other games for me to play, and I also hooked my PS4 back up in order to go through some of these AAA titles that have been collecting dust on my shelf. Horizon: Zero Dawn is next on my list.

I was really only able to do this for a few reasons… one of which being I FINALLY uninstalled League of Legends. I’ve been playing for 6 years, and it finally just got to be too much for me. (I did just recently replace it with Valorant, a fun new shooter from the same company, but I’m keeping a close eye on things to make sure I don’t repeat the same habits.)

Adopted a(nother) kitten

Please meet Beau.


Becca & I picked up Beau at the beginning of May, and he’s been a joy. Beau & Pixel are fast friends. Bearcat is still a bit apprehensive, but they’re bonding more and more every day.

Transitioned to Colemak

Back in March of last year, I blogged about my experiment with switching my keyboard layouts over to Colemak. I gave it up for a variety of reasons, but since I’ve been stuck at home for a few months now, I decided to go cold turkey with QWERTY and make the switch.

It honestly wasn’t terrible. I still had a bunch of muscle memory built up, and while I’m still nowhere near as fast as I was on QWERTY, I’m enjoying the more limited movements with typing. Plus, it’s a good conversation piece to have in my back pocket. (I’m still waiting on my Nerd Cred™ card to show up in the mail, though.)

So there’s one more thing I’ve done this year that’s pretty important. Some of you may have heard me talk about this over the last 3 months; I’ve written and deleted 4 or 5 posts about this because I didn’t want to seem like I was just bitching about it. Feel free to completely skip over this section if you want, but I think it’s finally time I put this down on “paper”.

Cut out toxic people

The first weekend of quarantine, I cut out an extremely toxic friend (and, by association, our friend group) from my life.

This was incredibly difficult for me. These 3 were the guys that I talked to pretty much daily through Google Hangouts or Discord for 7+ years. They were my gaming group that played games (like League) multiple times a week. We’ve been at/in each other’s weddings (for the two of us that are married). They were My People.

But for years, I’d been keeping one of them off to the side. He was the self-proclaimed asshole of the group. Sometimes it was funny. Sometimes it wasn’t. And in hindsight, a lot of the “funny” stuff was actually just me trying to laugh off some pretty rampant toxicity, bullying, and “guy talk”.

Things came to a head when he said something in our group, and just kept doubling down on it. It wasn’t a thing directed at me, per se, but it vividly showed me how much of a dick he was to anyone that he didn’t deem worthy of his presence. So, I cut him out. And the rest of the group sided with him (which I fully anticipated, but it didn’t make it hurt any less).

I’m not saying that I’ve always been this perfect poster child. On the contrary, I’d definitely said things within that group that I am ashamed of. But I believe that most (not all) of that mentality and behavior was due to the proximity & tacit approval that I received from this individual. Others around me have said that they’ve noticed a change in my persona since March; I jokingly chalk it up to “more self-reflection time in quarantine”, but really, I think it’s been because of more self-reflection time due to not having a friend group to talk to on the regular.

I’m not gonna lie, it’s sucked not having that group around. We celebrated victories (in game or in life), and were able to actually discuss some struggles, which is something a lot of men don’t have the opportunity to do. There were a bunch of hard days/weeks in there when I didn’t have that group to talk to anymore. But now? I’d say I’m out the other side, and ultimately better for the decision I made.

I’ve been interacting with one of the guys more frequently, and another one on a couple occasions. But I haven’t spoken to the toxic one in (quick math) nearly 15 weeks, and I’m not at all upset about that. He knows how to get in touch with me if he feels like it, but I doubt that day will ever come.

So yeah. 2020’s been real weird. I’m ready for some sort of “normal” to come back. I’m happy that I’ve been able to work remotely throughout all of this, but I’m just very ready to get out of the house and experience life again. I hope you’re all doing well too.

How are all of your 2020 goals & resolutions going? Are any of you doing smaller goals like I am? Have you had great success or serious setbacks? Hit me up on Twitter and let me know!

Time To Update Some Goals!

14 January 2020 • Personal

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I KNEW that doing the smaller goals in 2020 would pay off in spades.

My entire goal for this year was to set small, achievable goals every quarter. Then, if I hit a goal, I could set a new one for the remaining time, or if I missed a goal in a quarter, I could analyze why and reevaluate if I should continue to aim to achieve it or replace it with something else.

To that end, I said that one of my “Get Healthy” goals was to lose 6 lbs in the first quarter of 2020.

I did it in 2 weeks.

Honestly, it wasn’t all that difficult. I’ve been logging all of my meals in an app called MyPlate, aiming to get both my standing and movement goals fully closed every day on my Apple Watch, and just be smarter about the fuel I put into my body. I had a few days where I splurged (watching the Patriots get beat in the AFC Wild Card game was not conducive to a positive food or alcohol intake), and as such, my weight chart wasn’t a flawless downward trend. But overall, I made a nice downward progression, and I achieved my goal in 1/6th the time I allotted for it.

I think the best decision I made (thanks to the suggestion of my wife) was to use MyPlate. I’ve tried doing the apps before, but nothing really clicked with me. This one did, though, because it includes a spot to log your weight right on the main page of the app when you load it up. They also will pipe in your calories burned from your Apple Watch (on the iPhone version, at least), and include a spot to log your water intake.

MyPlate Screenshot

For me, I’m the kind of person that likes to have all of these tangible things in front of me to play with daily. Plus, the app will notify me if I forgot to log something, which is a nice touch as well.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve found myself actively thinking more about what it is that I’m eating or thinking about making. Like last night; I wanted a bag of popcorn (which is all carbs, btw), but we didn’t have anything. So I thought about making eggs and toast. Or peanut butter toast. Or a wide variety of other things. Instead, I settled on just having a cheese stick. I’ve found myself actively walking away from doughnuts, soda, chocolate, or chips at work because I know that I’ll have to log them, and I’ll be unhappy with myself if I do.

But the other really cool thing that I’m a huge fan of is the “Burned” and “Net” calorie sections, and how your progress bar updates throughout the day with your movement and exercise. It’s nice to see how going to yoga basically doubles my “Burned” calories, or that working a shift at the brewery will triple or even quadruple it depending on how busy we are. Small little things that help you reaffirm the “Duh” aspects of how exercise can affect your weight loss journey.

ALSO! I’m modifying another one of my goals.

My final long-term goal for the year was “Write More”, which I think was a good one to set. But instead of allocating it to just doing blog posts, I’m going to mix it up a bit.

I discovered a great little website called 750words thanks to a random blog post I came across on Twitter. The premise is simple: every day, you go to this site and write (at least) 750 words about whatever you want. Some people use it as a blog. Others use it to help them write a book. Apparently the community is big on participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which takes place in November), which is something that I’ve tried and failed at twice before when I was younger. They’ll send you email reminders every day if you want, which I leave sitting unread in my inbox until I’ve had an opportunity to pop over and get my writing in.

As far as topics? A few days, I’ve just journaled. Today, I wrote this blog post. On a couple of days, I’ve popped over to the Writing Prompts subreddit and snagged an idea that looked fun from there (and they have indeed been fun). I try not to be too critical about what I write, I just write. The important thing is to get the words down on the page; I can always go back at a later date and edit them if I really need to.

So yeah. 2020 is off to a great start. I’ve already made 4 of 6 recipes and finished a game (The Outer Worlds, which was really fun). I’m going to need to buckle down and make sure I do some reading, as well as spending some outside-of-work time working on some code projects. But so far, so good!

How are all of your 2020 goals & resolutions going? Are any of you doing smaller goals like I am? Have you had great success or serious setbacks? Hit me up on Twitter and let me know!

2020 Q1 Goals

30 December 2019 • Personal

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If you’ve been keeping tabs on my 2019 goals, it’s pretty apparent that I whiffed on juuuuust about all of them.

If you read my recent post about patience, you’ll know that I intend to be better about that by breaking them down into much smaller, more easily achievable chunks.

I’m tired of missing the boat on all of my goals, getting discouraged, and feeling like I didn’t accomplish anything at the end of the year. My priorities shifted a ton since last Dec/Jan, and seeing such a daunting goal still looming in front of me on things like my weight loss made me just stop trying at all.

So! Let’s set these achievable goals, and see if we can do any better this year.

Long-Term Goal: Lose Weight, Get Healthier

Q1 Goal: Lose 6 lbs. in Q1

Updated Q1 Goal: Lose 10 lbs. in Q1

2 pounds every month. I’m itching to bump it up to 9 lbs., but I don’t wanna get ahead of myself. More water, maybe a few less cookies, and this will be EASILY achievable.

EDIT 1/14/20: I was right, it was easily achievable. Bumping this up to a 10 lbs. goal, so aiming for 177.2.

Date Weight (lbs) Weight Lost
1/1 187.2
1/14 181.2 -6 lbs

Q1 Goal: Make 6 new recipes in Q1

I wrote a few weeks ago about how I’m going to be tracking all of my recipes in 2020. Ready to put this notebook to good use.

Recipe Date
1. Avocado & Black Bean Salad 1/1
2. Low Carb Breakfast Casserole 1/4
3. Chicken Adobo 1/10
4. Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup 1/12

Long-Term Goal: Continue to Improve My Software Dev Skills

Q1 Goal: Create a New “Backlog Dreadsheets” Site

If you’ve been around my site before, you’ve probably seen my video game or books backlog spreadsheets. While these are fine, they’re really bulky & inelegant solutions. Also, now that I’ve started a new job & started working with a new language (Ruby/Rails), I’m trying to find little projects that I can do to help me learn quicker.

To that end, I’ll be working to develop a site to track all of these. Should be pretty straightforward, a nice learning opportunity, and it’ll allow me to have everything sorted exactly how I want. Wins all around.

And speaking of these backlogs…

Long-Term Goal: Work Through My Various Backlogs

Q1 Goal: Beat 2 Video Games

Game System Completed Date
The Outer Worlds PC 1/3

Q1 Goal: Read 2 Books

Book Author Read Date
Wanderers Chuck Wendig 2/3

I’ve had a book sitting on my nightstand for a few months now, and just got 4 more for Christmas. Maybe it’s time I open them. I’ve also got a myriad of games installed on my PC for years. I need to actually launch them and beat them.

Long-Term Goal: Write More

Q1 Goal: Write 6 Blog Posts

Updated Q1 Goal: Write Every Day on 750words

This is the one I’m actually going to push myself on. Not only do I have to write 6 posts, but they’re not game review posts or anything like that. Actual content, things that I actually thing need to be said or logged for posterity.

EDIT 1/14/20: Changing this up, and instead I’m going to aim to write & hit my goal every day on I started on Jan 8, and am currently on a 7 day streak.

That’s it! 6 goals for Q1. Keeping them small, simple, and achievable. I want to blow past all of these goals, and give myself the motivation to either stretch these for Q2, or open up to some different goals in the spring.

What goals do you have for yourself? Are you planning to do monthly or quarterly goals this year? Need someone to check in with you and keep you motivated? Hit me up on Twitter and let me know!

2019 Music Of the Year, Part 1

26 December 2019 • Personal

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Every year, I’m always anxious to find out what people’s albums or songs of the year are. Every year, I lament that I should’ve started in on my own ranking earlier on, so I’d have something to contribute.

This year, I finally did it.

While the lists have taken numerous forms1 since January, it has been meticulously updated since the start of the year. It’s been cool to watch my perceptions change along the say. My #1 album of the year was usurped in the final hours by another album that had been out all year, and finally clicked with me. Even though I’m really into the progressive rock & metal, a ton of indie (and some hip hop???) made its way onto my list. I’ve found it absurdly difficult to keep a running list, and actually had reservations about saying “this album is better than that one” later on in the year2.

So, without further ado, let’s start the lists!

Singles of 2019

I wanted to start with my favorite EPs and singles of 2019, which are not ranked and just exist as individual bright spots on the year. All of these hit me at a certain point in time that made me go “whoa” for various reasons, and I wanted to share them with you (some with commentary, and some without).

Killswitch Engage - The Signal Fire

Genre: Metal, Metalcore

I’ve been listening to Killswitch Engage since I was in high school, and fell in love with the band when Howard Jones became their singer after Jesse Leach’s departure in 2002. Jones himself had to depart from the band in 2012 while dealing with type 2 diabetes, and the band eventually brought Leach back to be their vocalist.

For 7 years, I had been crossing my fingers that the band would bring Howard back to split vocal duties on a tour, or even a show. Instead, I got a song and a music video! The magic moment starts at 0:51 below.

Pomplamoose - Lisztomania (Phoenix cover)

Genre: Indie

Pomplamoose is another band that’s been with me for years. I remember listening to their covers of the Angry Birds theme song or Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ in college. Over the past year & change, Nataly and Jack have been recording a ton of unique mashups, covers, and originals with the help of some of their friends, and they have all been killer. I encourage you to check out their full video catalog if you enjoy this video.

Bad Snacks - Oh, Shoot

Genre: Hip-hop, Chill hop

At some point earlier this year, I stumbled across Andrew Huang’s “Flip the Sample” challenge, and I was blown away by the creativity of all of the participants and the concept of these videos in general. Watching Snacks transform the simple piano line into a beautiful chill-hop beat was one of my favorite musical discoveries of 2019. (Honorable mention to Virtual Riot’s flip in the video.)

Jakub Zytecki - Sunflower

Genre: Prog rock, Instrumental

Just a gorgeous track from Jakub, making me wish I could write music and guitar lines even 10% as good as he can.

The 1975 - People

Genre: Indie rock

I’m constantly impressed with The 1975’s ability to completely transform their sound from album to album, or even track to track. The punk aesthetic of this song grabbed hold of me the day this track dropped, and actually inspired this entire category to be created.

Warning: do not watch this video if you suffer from epilepsy

Voyager - Colours

Genre: Progressive metal

This song grabbed me with its blend of metal and synthwave, a genre I took a deep dive into earlier this year.

Opeth - Lovelorn Crime

Genre: Progressive rock

This album will be making its return on my Albums of the Year lists, but I wanted to specifically call it out here as well. The guitar player was talking about this song in an interview, and stated “[Lovelorn Crime] started off in the demo stage of the album, Mikael [vocalist] had this beautiful ballad. He asked me, ‘I want you to do a long solo. I want this to be the solo that people will remember you for when you die’. I thought, ‘Okay, thank you for the pressure, mate.’” Sit back in your favorite chair and give this track a listen.

That’s it for the singles. Stay tuned in the coming days for my favorite albums!

What do you think? Great tracks? Terrible songs? Did you have any particular favorites in 2019? You should hit me up on Twitter and let me know!

  1. First just a text list in Notes, then a full Google spreadsheet, and finally a Trello board so I could drag & drop the albums in order. 

  2. Music is art, and art is subjective. That’s why all of these are going to be labeled as my favorites, and not “best of”, because what I enjoy here in December 2019 is drastically different than it was in January 2019, or what I’ll enjoy down the road. 


11 December 2019 • Personal

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I don’t actually know if my mom liked cooking, but she did it a lot and was good at it. Her Yummy Bars were always the best thing at any party, and everything she made was always full of flavor and the literal definition of comfort food. I know my dad loved to cook; he was the grill master, the one who made rigatoni or pancakes, and the one who did the most experimenting with spices when Mom was away.

But me? I hated cooking growing up.

I don’t know why, but cooking was never something that I latched on to when I was a kid. The only things I would “cook” were frozen pizzas, ramen noodles (the 10¢ packs), and later on, some boxed Kraft Mac & Cheese. A far cry from making Thanksgiving dinner for the whole family.

I can actually pinpoint the key moments throughout my life that instilled a love of cooking within me. Moving to college and discovering the Food Network during Thanksgiving break. Moving into an apartment and getting sick of frozen dinners (and being grotesquely overweight). Making some pizza rollups1 or frying eggs at 3am with college friends. Moving to a new city and going to a massive farmer’s market that next day. Meeting a really amazing woman & deciding to make her stuffed peppers, death-by-chocolate cake, and hundreds of other delicious things as a way of convincing that I’d make good husband material.

(It worked.)

But now here I am, years later, trying to figure out how to best catalog all of my recipes. I’ve been using an application called Evernote for years, but a variety of things are making that not a great solution for me. I’ve had a few people suggest Google Drive, and storing the recipes in separate notes with links, change management, and search functions. I think if I go back to a technology-rooted solution, this might be the one.

Instead, I think I’m going to go analog for 2020.

I’m always a huge fan of nice notebooks. Not the 39¢ versions you get while back-to-school shopping, but the really nice ones like Decomposition Books or Moleskine notebooks. My handwriting generally sucks, but I always get satisfaction from writing things down when there’s a purpose to it. I’m also not a sentimental person, but the idea of a functional log of handwritten information that I can share with others holds strong appeal to me.

To that end, I think my solution is going to be this: using a Moleskine notebook (or series of notebooks) to keep track of all of the recipes I cook in 2020. And I think I’ve already figured out a system for this:

  • Write down the recipe on the left-side page.
  • Keep a “made it” log on the right, complete w/ dates, notes, and revisions.
  • At the end of the year, anything that was made >= 3x gets added to the Evernote archive (or wherever my recipes are living at that point in time).

That’d actually provide me with a few key things:

  1. Intentionality. Anything I make gets written down.
  2. Journaling. I’m a big fan of journaling or blogging or whatever it is people do to talk about what they’re thinking, so this gives me a quasi-way of doing that.
  3. Reducing clutter. Right now, EVERY recipe I have resides in Evernote; there’s a couple dozen that have never been made in the 7+ years I’ve been cataloging them. Pruning or purging is hard, because “well what if I want to make this someday?” This would help me eliminate clutter.

What do you think? Good idea? Bad idea? You have a better suggestion? You should hit me up on Twitter and let me know!

  1. Canned crescent roll triangles, each with 6 slices of pepperoni and half a cheese stick. Roll ‘em up, bake ‘em how the roll instructions stipulate, and enjoy. Try not to eat them all in one sitting.