23 September 2019

Looking back through my journal for the year I found some useful conclusions for a retrospective. Maintaining a career in software and hiking in the mountains actually require some of the same skills.

Rest

I am an eight hour person, I can get by on seven, but I am not at my peak in the morning. This is especially hard when I have to go to an office on a regular basis. I enjoy working in the garden until sundown, but in the summer that puts me in bed after 22:00, which doesn’t cut it by Wednesday.

The best solution I have found is get around 90 minutes back in by day be working from home. The current engagement does not have a work from home option so I have to cut other things out of my day. After work events are gone, an extra walk after supper, week night outings. Sleep is just too important to my mental and physical health.

Diet

One of the benefits of an almost daily journal is that I track what I have been eating, exercise, physical, and mental health. I’m sure that these details will be of no benefit to any of my kids after I am gone. The do allow me to reflect at the end of the week on how my choices are affecting my overall health.

My major learning this year was that I need to reduce sugar and alcohol. The sugar was the easy one. A soda or candy bar gives me a real boost, followed by a serious crash. I really do not want to do anything except take a nap after that. Since the feedback is so quick, I decided to just dump refined sugar.

Wine is harder. I have had to change other parts of my diet to adjust my wine to one glass while doing the dishes. I was really putting away too much tea during the day, I needed a way to chill in the evening so I would have two or three glasses on work nights, usually finish a bottle on weekends when I did not have to get up. This was not helping my weight, and I was not getting through my recreational reading. So I have spent the past month decreasing the caffeine and wine intake.

Walks

I suppose the heading should be exercise, but to me that pretty much means walking outside. I have an elliptical for days when I know I will be stuck inside but I need to encounter things while walking. The exercise is good for my body and the obstacles are good for my mind. I try to stay present with the walk rather than ruminate on what I have been working on, and let serendipity help me solve my problems.

Walks through the woods or grasslands are really my favorite. If I can find some hills, that is even better. Sound is really important to me and natural sounds seem to leave me feeling much better than a walk down the street. I am fortunate to live close to several large parks and nature preserves, so the limiting factor is again time. See the archives for some of my favorite places.

Learning

Software development is not kind to developers that do not stay current with upcoming technologies. I let my guard down for a bit in the late nineties. Had to work twice as hard to catch up, but then I learned how to learn again. What works for me the past couple of years is learning about each promising tool at a superficial level, if I see the use growing, I can ramp up pretty quickly.

Linux Academy is great for learning cloud and Linux technologies quickly. I use it enough to get the yearly subscription. Udemy Is great for front-end courses and quick language introductions. The labs are what I really like, both sites have good labs to make the lessons stick.

Gardening

The garden has pretty much stopped producing now, except for some tomatoes that I really appreciate as the season winds down. This take much more time than I would like to spend, but weeding has to be done during the spring and summer. I tried landscape fabric this year. Costs more than grass clippings but it saved me an enormous amount of weeding where I placed it. The control areas took about four times more effort. I hope to recover most of it and use it again next year.