2008 Resolution Results

Sporadically through the last year, I’ve followed up on how my numerous resolutions for 2008 were holding up. Here’s the final evaluation for 2008.

Creativity

1. Write more consistently, whether journaling, blogging, or creative writing.

Although I haven’t blogged much more than the prior couple of years, I have done a decent amount of writing and website design to support writing. I became the webmaster and a contributing editor for Rough Road Review, a poetry and opinion journal with a distinctly southwestern flavor. I also scored another regular writing gig (see below.)

I mentioned Ficlets.com in my last resolutions post back in May. Unfortunately, I just found out that Ficlets.com is shutting down as of January 15, 2009. That’s a bummer. It was really a neat little site. I didn’t wind up contributing more than one piece to it, but I read a lot of the pieces on there. I will repost my one Ficlet submission here soon.

2. Find another outlet for article writing (since ComputorEdge has gone virtual.)

Back in May, I said, “… I did hear back from another [computer magazine], which is in its startup phase. We’ll see how that one works out.” It actually worked out very well. I’m now writing for Rocky Mountain TechLine at pro rates, and have been given assignments for four straight issues. W00t! The Editor/Publisher, Eric Wolferman, is wonderful to work with, and very encouraging. Through his influence, I think my non-fiction writing has taken a step up.

3. Publish some fiction. (Didn’t I say this last year?)

Um … Yeah. 2009, here I come.

4. Play more musical gigs.

My band, Steel River 3, played numerous gigs this year, and I have a new favorite coffeehouse because of it: Forza Coffee Company. Although I rarely drink coffee, the atmosphere at this place is wonderful, and the owner clearly cares very much about making his shop the best it can be.

5. Start teaching my stepson how to play guitar (his request, my responsibility to follow up.)

In May, I said, “It’s clear that Logan needs a Logan-sized guitar with standard tuning, but I haven’t had the money to get him one.” I’m pleased to say we did get him a Fender Mini Strat and amp, but I haven’t kept up my responsibility to teach him. For Christmas, I got him a new set of tuners for the Mini; the ones it came with don’t hold tune well. After I install those tuners and a fresh set of strings, we will work on the lessons.

6. Transplant my Variax electronics into a Carvin Bolt kit or Warmoth guitar body.

Money wasn’t there for this project, but I’m hoping to do it in 2009.

Physical & Mental Health

1. Learn how to get up earlier, consistently.

I have become more consistent about when I get up, though I stopped trying to get up as early as I was before, so this one was only a 50/50 accomplishment.

2. Utilize my handheld BalanceLog software to track my eating and exercising habits.

In May: “I haven’t been using it, but I’m at my lowest weight in the last few years. Go figure.” It’s amazing what can happen in a few months. Starting in September, I started gaining weight, and I’m just now starting to turn the trend around. What do you want to bet that if I had been tracking calories I wouldn’t have gained at the end of the year?

3. Ride my bike or walk to work more often. (If I get up earlier, this is not a problem!)

I did a bit of riding, but not enough, this summer. Currently, my bike is disabled (damn goatheads!) and the load of stuff I carry to work has increased, so I need to get a backpack. Both fixes are cheap, though.

4. Schedule dental appointments to get my teeth taken care of.

I attended my dreaded dental appointment, and my suspicions were confirmed. I will need a two-stage deep cleaning, and then oral surgery to remove three wisdom teeth that came in crooked. (The fourth grew in sideways, and is technically impacted, but the dentist recommends leaving it there because there is no chance it will ever erupt.) Unfortunately, we ran out of flex plan money in September, so I had to postpone the above procedures until 2009.

Financial Health

1. Get the amp out of the pawn shop, and never put it in again.

2008 was a horrible year as far as music equipment goes. Add to this list a 1996 Takamine acoustic-electric, the Carvin Bolt guitar kit I built in honor of my Uncle Leslie (see pic below) and a Fender Cyber-Twin Ver. 2.1 amplifier. I hung on to my Variax modeling guitar because it was the most versatile for playing gigs. The year ended on a positive note, however. I was lucky enough to receive a beautiful new Epiphone acoustic guitar from my wife and sister-in-law for Christmas. Right now, my Variax is in the pawn shop, but I will be able to get it out by the end of January. One of next year’s goals will be to set up an emergency fund to prevent the need for pawn shop patronage.

Carvin Bolt Guitar (from kit):  Leslie

2. Continue to provide quality computer consulting, but stop devaluing my services as much.

Consulting work continued to grow throughout the year, to the point where I had too many consulting jobs at one point and had to start turning them down. I think I did better regarding the value of my services, but there was one special circumstance in which I basically worked gratis. I don’t regret that, though. I did it for the right reasons, though I probably put it at a higher priority on my list than I should have.

3. Keep current on space rent, car payment, mortgage, and car insurance.

Things are looking up financially. We are current on our mortgage and space rent, car insurance will be paid this weekend, and we have eliminated the car payment altogether. We voluntarily returned our worthless van to the dealer, who then sold it at auction for $167.50. Yes, you read that right. We are stuck with a large balance on the loan, but that will be going away in the bankruptcy we decided to file in October. By the end of February, we should have paid off the bankruptcy attorney so we can remove that debt, as well as a number of other judgments (medical, etc.) that are threatening our livelihood.

It seems odd to say that things are looking up because we’re filing bankruptcy, but that’s becoming a sign of the times, I think.

4. Make a spending plan (a.k.a. budget) and stick to it.

I didn’t do too well with this, but I did what I could. I already have a more balanced spending plan in place for 2009.

5. Track finances better with Quicken on computer and handheld.

I utterly failed at this, because we lived paycheck-to-paycheck all year long. Hopefully 2009 will be better.

Home Improvements

1. Clean cat boxes daily.

This resolution started out well, and finished very poorly. I will definitely need to reaffirm this one.

2. Help more with household chores without having to be asked.

I think it’s safe to say that I improved overall in this area.

3. Reduce household clutter gradually (this will help mental health, too.)

As of late August 2008, this became impossible. Lannette’s father and sister moved out to Denver and lived with us (at our invitation, of course.) Her father has since found another place and moved into it, but her sister is not at a point where she can afford to live on her own yet. As long as we have an extra person living in the house, we will have to live with clutter, and I’m resigned to that.

4. Upgrade my computer (new mobo, RAM, and video.)

I actually accomplished this one in its entirety! Of course, it helped that my old motherboard completely died, so I was forced to upgrade.

5. Replace carpet with hardwood flooring throughout the house.

Money to do this was simply not there in 2008. Hopefully we can do this after the bankruptcy is finalized.

6. Landscape yard.

Well, my neighbor certainly did his part to help with this. He put a lot of work into building a partial low wall where we had discussed putting one. He used all the materials he had, but then I was unable to afford the materials we needed to finish the job.

7. Install carport/awning.

See #5 above.


Overall, I think I made some progress in all categories, which is not so bad. I still have room to improve, and I will need to recommit to some goals, but I’m ending the year knowing there’s hope, and that’s worth a lot to me.

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2008 Resolutions

Why do we have resolutions if all they do is depress us when we don’t keep them? Earlier tonight, I composed my initial list of resolutions for 2008, and just a few minutes ago, I looked at my 2007 Resolutions post from last year. Of last year’s resolutions, I only completed two to my satisfaction: I got my taxes done on time and I bought a Variax.

This year’s list is much bigger, but possibly less restrictive. Several resolutions from last year carry over (and may well be perpetual entries, no matter how well I perform them), with lots of new entries. I’ll try to organize them into manageable sections, though I’m sure there will be crossover.

Creativity

1. Write more consistently, whether journaling, blogging, or creative writing.
2. Find another outlet for article writing (since ComputorEdge has gone virtual.)
3. Publish some fiction. (Didn’t I say this last year?)
4. Play more musical gigs.
5. Start teaching my stepson how to play guitar (his request, my responsibility to follow up.)
6. Transplant my Variax electronics into a Carvin Bolt kit or Warmoth guitar body.

Physical & Mental Health

1. Learn how to get up earlier, consistently.
2. Utilize my handheld BalanceLog software to track my eating and exercising habits.
3. Ride my bike or walk to work more often. (If I get up earlier, this is not a problem!)
4. Make appointments with the dentist to remove my errant wisdom teeth and extra teeth below the gum on the lower jaw.

Financial Health

1. Get the amp out of the pawn shop, and never put it in again.
2. Continue to provide quality computer consulting, but stop devaluing my services as much.
3. Keep current on space rent, car payment, mortgage, and car insurance.
4. Make a spending plan (a.k.a. budget) and stick to it.
5. Track finances better with Quicken on computer and handheld.

Home Improvements

1. Clean cat boxes daily.
2. Help more with household chores without having to be asked.
3. Reduce household clutter gradually (this will help mental health, too.)
4. Upgrade my computer (new mobo, RAM, and video.)
5. Replace carpet with hardwood flooring throughout the house.
6. Landscape yard.
7. Install carport/awning.

Whew! Am I setting myself up to fail? Probably, but as I established at the beginning of this post, that’s what resolutions are all about, right? At least making the list helps me keep an eye on the goals.

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Back?

It’s been a long time. My last Creativity Journal entry was October 24, 2002. I have written little since then, but I have not been entirely devoid of creativity.

The band formerly known as Flat Rabbit has started getting serious; we added a couple of members, and our first gig is a benefit for the victims of the December 21st Summit Apartment fire in Thornton, Colorado. See the band’s website for further information.

I spent my lunch hour throwing that site together; I expect it to change much in the coming days and weeks.

One of my vices in the last three months has been a game called Motor City Online. It’s an online racing game, and I’ve become hopelessly addicted to it. Even this has not been uncreative, however. I have experimented with building my own skins for the game, and the results are below.

I chose to use my character’s ’65 Mustang for the experiment, since that is the vehicle referred to in Agamemnon’s Skinning Tutorial. Also, I knew I wanted to build a Denver Bronco themed car, and what better car to use than a pony car? The picture below is an in-game screen shot of my first attempt on the Mustang.

Not bad, but it has some problems. Most notably, the orange mane of the Bronco logo washes out next to the orange car. Bad design idea. Here’s attempt #2:

Much better. The blue really sets off the logos and is consistent with the Broncos theme. It was a lot of fun to build the skin, even though I’m the only one who can see it in the game. To everyone else online, this is simply a standard, red ’65 Mustang.

Technically, I did attempt another skin before these. It was a modification of an already modified ’73 Firebird skin, the closest thing to a second-generation Camaro that exists in the game. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work very well because the model that the skin wraps around is much more true to the body of the Firebird than the Camaro. I may post a shot of that car if I can get a good angle on it. Originally, it was an attempt to replicate my old 1970 Camaro Z/28, a car that I miss dearly and should have never sold. I may give it another try, now that I’ve learned a little about skinning.

Thanks to all of the people who sent me e-mail about the site recently. Two of the e-mails were guitar-related, one from a person wanting my final opinion of the Carvin Bolt kit (which gives me some incentive to finish documenting that project) and another from one of the primary guitar playing influences in the early days of my playing, Peter Neds. You can read why Peter is one of my favorite guitar players in “The Zone,” one of the first pieces I wrote for this site, five years ago.

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