Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve

2009 is almost in the book. Like everyone else, I usually look back on the year and ponder what I've done, resolve to fix what I've done poorly, and maintain or improve on what went well.

I'm a fortunate man, because I have some wonderful things that I've been lucky enough to be able to take for granted.

My mother is still with us - living in her own home, taking care of all her business. She still has all her wits about her and is as good looking as ever. Same for my in-laws. Seeing what people go through when they lose a parent, I'm grateful that the three that I still have left are all doing amazingly well.

I've been married now for 28 years and counting. In a time of 50% divorce, I'd say we're breaking the curve.

I have one daughter through her undergraduate degree and another that's half paid for. My goal is to have two smart girls educated without any of us having to take on a mountain of debt.

I'm still working. When 10% of America is reported as out of work, with the shadowy bits that have stopped looking unreported, I'm humbled to have a job that doesn't appear to be shaky. I try my best to always make it worthwhile to my employer by pushing myself to continue to learn and stay sharp. That won't change in 2010.

My health was excellent last year. The problem I had with a bulging disk has not resurfaced. More on this topic to come.

The two things that I usually focus on are technical education and exercise. They're the two easiest things to quantify, especially that second one.

I think I had a pretty good technical year. I made a special effort to go against the grain of my architect title by trying to write code each and every day. It's important to practice, or the skill goes away. I didn't always succeed, but I think I've done a better job of it lately. That will ramp up in 2010. More languages (C#, Python), more math (Mathematica and LaTeX), and more coding will help. I've got a good list of projects to work through.

I signed up at Stack Overflow in Oct 2008, but I didn't answer my first question until Christmas Eve 2008. Since then, I've amassed over 29K points, rising as high as #47 in their point ranking. The negative side of that is that I spend far too much time on the site; the positive side is that I've learned a fair amount and (hopefully) helped a few people.

This blog still has a long way to go, but I've managed 27 posts this year, more than twice as many as all of 2008. I'm happy with this year's progress. I hope I'll find my voice in 2010.

I've got seven out of ten speeches under my belt towards a Competent Communicator rank in Toastmasters. I hope to finish that off early in 2010 and reach for the next rung. I'd love to try a competition and see how I do.

I'm going to start tracking my reading in the coming year, just to get a baseline for how much material I'm taking in.

I have something of an anal-retentive streak when it comes to exercise. I've been tracking my swimming yardage and attendance using an Excel spreadsheet since 1994. Last year was a blowout swimming year for me. I exceeded 524K yards for the year, averaging 10K yards per week for the first time ever. My previous best was 429K yards in 2006, the year before I hurt my neck. I managed 407K yards this year. I'm pleased to say that I've topped 400K yards three times, and all have come after I turned 50. I know I can't get back the youth and speed that I had when I was 20 or 30, but I'm still swimming pretty well. The younger me never had the courage (or the time) to attempt a Masters workout. Now it's a big part of my social life.

When I look at the difference between 2008 and 2009, it's obvious what happened. I swim in the morning before work and with a Masters group. My morning attendance and yardage was unchanged from 2008 to 2009, but my Masters yardage declined by 50%.

I have an easy scheme for improving on my 2009 totals: swim more. My standard was to swim a mile during my noon and morning workouts. One day I decided that 2000 yards per day would be my new minimum. I've maintained that for the last five years. Next year I plan to up the ante and shoot for 2200-2500 yards in the morning. If I can be more consistent with the Masters workouts I'll have a shot at matching my 2008 totals.

I rediscovered the joy of riding my bicycle to work this summer. I had my best year on a bike in about fifteen years. It was great to spend time with my best friend doing something I love. Next year I'll make the goal 1,000 miles for the summer. I'll start earlier in April and work my way to two rides per week.

I kept up with yoga all year. I averaged 90 minutes of yoga every week for the whole year. I've attended a weekly class faithfully and managed to do it fairly often on my own. I think it's helped my flexibility and core strength.

2009 was a pretty good year for me. I hope I can maintain it in 2010.


Jaime said...

If you have the swimming sorted out and have already started cycling, you need to consider doing a triathlon.

John said...

Sounds like you've had a good year in 2009. May your 2010 be even better.

Michael Duffy said...

Hi Jaime, I'm not nearly competitive enough to do triathlons. My running ability is nil. But thanks for the suggestion. Happy New Year!

Michael Duffy said...

Hi John, 2009 was a good year for me. I hope for the best for you in the coming year as well. You know I'll be reading.

Mike Croucher said...

Looking forward to seeing some of your math projects :)

Happy new year,

Anonymous said...

@Mike Croucher, my best to you and your family in 2010. Thank you so much for reading.