Going to Japan

I’ve been talking about wanting to go to Japan for years — Japan and Greece were my go-to bucket list destinations going as far back as when I was 11. I still haven’t visited either of those countries, 25 years later, and it’s high time I corrected that. Just booked tickets for a trip to Japan for my birthday in April! I’ll be there for 11 days (well, I’ll be gone for 11 days, but 10 days there due to timezones and transit). My plan is to bookend my trip with a few days in Tokyo on either side, then take a train down to Kyoto and Nara in between.

I tend to look for quieter spaces, and I’m fascinated by a lot of the shrines and temples, but I’m also going to try and hit some other stuff (keeping an eye on tickets for the Ghibli Museum for instance). I’ve not done much foreign travel (and basically none to non-English speaking countries), so I’m a little nervous about it, but also excited to finally do this. Do you have any tips for things to check out or stuff I should prepare for in advance?

2018

While there’s no reason you couldn’t choose to reflect on the past at any point in the year (and let’s face it, we could all do with more reflection), the end of one year and the start of another is as good a time as any. Yes, that’s right, it’s time for another new year post.

I’m not going to dwell too much on the current political, economic, or social debacle we call modern society. There’s plenty of that to be had all over the internet, and I don’t have too much to say about it that hasn’t been said by people far cleverer than myself. I will say that I hope we are able to show each other a little more compassion, a little more kindness, and a little more acceptance — and not just for those like us. While we should be intolerant of intolerance, it’s easy to let that slip into intolerance of other things as well.

On a personal level, 2017 wasn’t actually a bad year. I moved into a new house (where I was finally able to get all my things out of storage), got a new job (that seems to be going well, and finally let me move out of QA), and have been (relatively) stable overall. I’ve made a few new friends, and reconnected with some old ones. I managed to knock out a few things on my to-do list (mostly administrivia-type things that have been on my list for ages but never made a priority, like getting Global Entry/Pre-check, and some banking/financial stuff). While none of this is particularly exciting or revelatory, it all adds up to a pretty positive personal 2017.

So, what does 2018 have planned for me? I’m not entirely sure. I’ve got some things that I’m not sure I’d qualify as resolutions, but are definitely some aspirational goals. A few highlights:

  • Get fitter: I’ve never had a particular interest in a 6-pack or being super buff, but the years of sedentary work and hobbies are starting to catch up to me — my general fitness, energy levels, and weight could do with a tune-up.
  • Travel more: I’ve had wanderlust for years, and it’s showing no signs of abating. I’d like to carve out some time and resources for some more diverse trips — while I’ve done a ton of domestic travel (3 more states to go!), I’ve done very little international travel. I’d like to correct that. I’m currently planning to try and go to Japan for my birthday in April — my current thought is to fly in to Tokyo, then take the train down to Kyoto and back, with maybe a few stops in between. If you have thoughts on things to see or do, I’d love to hear them!
  • Connect with people more and try to foster stronger relationships: I’m pretty shit at keeping in touch with people at regular intervals, even people who I really care about and value. While anything social takes both parties being interested in investing some energy into it, I feel like I could be better about doing my part. I sometimes worry that I’m imposing, or that I’m coming off as network-y/reaching, and I need to get over that.
  • Organize my time better: my life is relatively stable at the moment, so this feels like a good opportunity to get into some better scheduling habits. Allocating time for playing games and watching things, AND time for reading and writing and working on projects, instead of having all of it be a sort of mishmash that happens in fits and spurts (with a fair bit of sitting in analysis-paralysis pondering what to do with my evening, if I’m being honest).
  • Create more: I’ve always had issues with trying to tackle large projects and aiming for a high level of quality and complexity from those projects. This leads to a lot of feeling overwhelmed or disappointed with my output, and it ending up abandoned. That’s not very useful — not everything has to be perfect or amazing, and frankly gets in the way of actually improving enough to where those big projects are actually achievable. So this year, no big “I’m going to make a game!” or “Write a novel!” stuff, just “create more, finish things.”

That’s probably enough — too much and you’re spending all your time aspiring to aspirations, and not enough movement towards achieving them. In the vein of that last goal, you might have noticed that I tweaked the site design a few weeks/months back. I didn’t bother posting about it, and it’s not done — but it’s something. I made the theme mostly to play with new CSS stuff like grid and flexbox. Expect further tweaks as I go along.

That Squam Time of Year

This week, I’ve been at Squam. Each year, my family spends a week at a lakehouse on Squam Lake. It’s one of my favorite places on the planet, for a variety of reasons ranging from just enjoying the space and the peace and quiet, to a lot of good memories with friends and family. It’s sort of a sanctuary for me, and as a result, also tends to be when I take the time to write and create and tweak websites and do other random cruft. I look forward to it each year, and always wish I could find ways to extend the time, but you do what you can with the time you have. Continue reading “That Squam Time of Year”

New job, yep.

Just a brief update because I thought it was time to share: I just started a new job as a Technical Writer for a company called ForgeRock. My first day was today! It’s a bit of a shift away from what I was doing before (QA), but anyone that’s worked with me in the past is probably unsurprised by the change.

SOAKing it in

It’s been about a week since I got back from SOAK, which is Oregon’s regional Burning Man. For those not aware: as Burning Man grew and became more popular, many folks decided to branch off and do smaller related events that also follow the 10 Principles. They’re not officially part of the Burning Man organization, but do operate with their blessing. This makes for a great opportunity for folks to still participate and connect with that community, even if they can’t make it to the main Burning Man event. Chances are good that there’s a regional near you, wherever you are (especially in the US and Canada, but elsewhere too).

This was my fourth SOAK, but my first in several years (basically since I moved to the Bay Area at the end of 2013). It felt good to reconnect with this community — I saw a lot of old faces, and met new folks too. In general, I like Burners — especially the old schoolers. These are the sorts of folks who might crack jokes about you falling down, but they’ll do it with a smile and while helping you up and dusting you off. There’s lots of snark and puns and trolling, but not with ill intent (which feels refreshing given the current state of the world). It leaves you (well, me at least) feel more at ease with being yourself, and creates space for deeper, more interesting conversations than the usual small talk.

I camped with a small camp towards the outskirts, comprised of a few folks I knew and more folks that I didn’t — but it didn’t take long before we were all sharing food and stories and wandering around the event together. There were some great art pieces — a few highlights for me was the “digital stained glass” dodecahedron, “Stoicheia”; the monster heads; and the temple. There’s also a drone flyby you can check out:

Already looking forward to next year.

36.

I turn 36 today. It sort of broke my brain to realize that it’s been 18 years since I was 18 (I’m an age of majority past being the age of majority). It’s made me think about what I’ve managed to create or do with my life. My depression-brain immediately went to “you’ve made nothing,” but that’s the depression lying, because that’s what depression does. It’s my birthday. Let’s try and do better. What have I done with myself since I turned 18? Continue reading “36.”

It’s the End of the Year!

What a year. It’s pretty easy to look at 2016 as a year full of doom and gloom (a super partisan and frustrating election cycle with a terrible outcome, many deaths of cultural and scientific icons, increasing tensions all over the globe, et cetera… the list goes on for a while), but there’ve also been some really good things, too. I suspect the year will be remembered for being shitty for a lot of people, but it’s important to not neglect the good that came too. Continue reading “It’s the End of the Year!”