Mid-year Review

Sunday, July 16, 2006 | 4 comment(s)

Well, somehow it's the middle of July already (unbelievable).

I've never been much of one for New Year's Resolutions, but this past year, I took them a little more seriously than previous years gone by. Usually, I never made resolutions. This year I made several. I wrote them down. I've been keeping track of my progress. And now I'm taking stock. Crazy, I know. Who does this sort of thing? For most (normal) folks, these things are usually forgotten by the end of January... Valentine's day at the latest.

So, I made five (5)
So I'm curious
I see this format occasionally, and I have no idea why it's used. The whole "number (#)" format boggles my mind. Anyone know why this is used? Just to avoid confusion? Only in certain circumstances? I have no idea.
resolutions this past New Year's Eve:

  1. Be a better diabetic

  2. Start a blog

  3. Read more (hopefully: a book/month)

  4. Learn more Songs (target: similarly, a song/month)

  5. Perform at an open mic

Be a better diabetic
I realize that this is a vague statement, but I had some hard goals attached to it, for sure. Specifically, I want to get my A1c below 7.0 (and if possible, below 6.5 by the end of the year). So in December I was at 7.3 -- not too far from my goal, and I thought it totally reasonable that I could hit this. In March I bumped up a little bit to 7.4 while I was working out a lot of basal rate adjustments. And then in June I was at 7.1 (Oh so close!).

But in addition, to just the A1c, I decided I wanted to become a more active diabetic -- to participate in the community, to do some fundraising, to be more informed, and more of a diabetes research advocate. All of which I have done. I (shockingly) raised over $3,300 for the JDRF walk in May, I've attended some more Capital Chapter JDRF events and meetings, I went to the Children With Diabetes Quilt display and the ADA's Call to Congress, and I'm wearin' an "INSULIN IS NOT A CURE" advocacy bracelet (which were being given out kindly by the Children With Diabetes folks). AND, I went to the Diabetes Sports and Exercise Association (DESA) Meetings in North Carolina in June.

So, I'd say I'm doing pretty well on this resolution, but I'm still working to hit my A1c goals.

Start a blog
Done and done.
This one kinda also fits into the "becoming more of a participant in the diabetes community" bit mentioned above.

Read more
At the end of last year, it took me 3+ months to get through a fluff book ("Skinny Dip" by Carl Hiaason), which was just ridiculous. I resolved that things would be different this year. My plan was foolproof: only read thin books ("Gravity's Rainbow" and "Ulysses" will probably have to wait yet another year before I'm ready to pick 'em up). I didn't really stick to that plan, but I have read some rather not-so-difficult books lately.

So far:
  • Jan: "Blink" by Malcom Gladwell (fluffy pop-psychology that I kinda liked, but then when I stopped to think about it, there were a lot of holes in his whole premise)

  • Feb: "Think Like a Pancreas" by Gary Scheiner (a decent refresher on intensive diabetes management)

  • Feb/Mar: "The Polysyllabic Spree" by Nick Hornby (a fun collection of essays in which the author details every book he buys and every book he reads in a given month -- man, someone without a day job can really plow through a lot of books!)

  • Mar/Apr: "Freakonomics" by Steven Levitt (fun, geeky, economics/sociology)

  • (Oddly, no fiction in the first three months of the year. I'm usually more into fiction than non-fiction).

  • May: I bit off more than I could chew. My plan was to kick-up my Spanish studies at the same time as keeping up with my reading plan. I decided I would read "The Da Vinci Code" and "El Codigo Da Vinci" at the same time - first a chapter in English and then the same chapter in Spanish. I think I made it 70 pages in before I dropped it. I'm not sure I'm willing to concede that I've given up, just yet though. Perhaps I'll get a second wind in August or something crazy like that.

  • June: "Don't Make Me Think" by Steve Krug. (An easy (as it should be) book on web design and user interface, a good read).

  • June/July: I've been all over the map. I've currently got 3 or 4 books going.

    • "The Diabetic Athlete" by Sheri Colberg Phd. (I ordered this after seeing her speak at the DESA conference. Some good info in the beginning on metabolism and exercise, but then a ton of sport-specific recommendations. Seems more like a reference book, perhaps).

    • "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey (Not sure, exactly, why I'm reading this. Curiosity, I guess. What's it all about? Does it work?).

    • "Oblivion" by David Foster Wallace (collection of short stories - I just restarted one that I didn't finish some time back).

    • "Travels with Charlie" by John Steinbeck. This one's got me now. The writing is beautiful. A memoir about Steinbeck driving around the US in 1960 with his French poodle. I've got numerous pages dog-eared because of passages I want to go back and re-read already. Oh, this is good stuff (thanks, Cori).

Although I suffered a minor set-back with the Da Vinci Code (that was almost too embarrassing to even type), I think I may stay on track with the current summer reading (if I make it through even half of the 4 books I've currently got going, I should be good).

Learn more songs on guitar
Again (completely arbitrarily) the goal I set was 1 new song per month. I was playing more guitar in the beginning of the year, but mostly making up stuff for my own enjoyment. This habit significantly hinders my desire to be able to play more than a few songs from start to finish.

So far:
  • "Corcovado (Quite Nights)" by Antonio Carlos Jobim. I focused for a while at the beginning of the year and re-learned this one, but I recently tried playing it again, and I was completely rusty and forgeting parts. Oh well.

  • "Don't Be Afraid of Your Anger" by Clem Snide (easy chord progression and witty lyrics - my favorite kind of song!)

  • A while back I tried to learn "A Naive Melody (This Must Be The Place)" by the Talking Heads. The Talking Heads version is (as would be expected) very layered, complex, and funky. But Shawn Colvin has a real nice stripped down version of it that I was trying to learn (and even more stripped down since I was just playing the chords rather than learning a picking pattern for it). The chord progression is painfully simple, but my vocal delivery was never any good (I don't have a good voice to start with, and I'm not as esoteric as David Byrne nor do I have as pleasant a voice as Shawn Colvin. I was just randomly moving the capo around trying to find somewhere that worked for me but then gave up.

  • "Naked As We Came" by Iron & Wine. (I was completely transfixed by this song when I saw the movie "In Good Company." I ran out and bought the CD that week and spent many (many) hours learning the picking pattern. The lyrics are sparse and some would say depressing, but I find them to be kinda sweet. This was March when I started learning this one, and I haven't really worked on anything new since then.

Not really what I was hoping for on the new song initiative.

Perform at an Open Mic

I half-heartedly made this resolution last year (and didn't meet it). Seems I might be looking at a repeat performance, especially since I haven't been learning new songs, nor really working on the ones I know already (which is really the stuff to be working on if I want to get up and perform in front of people (which is a huge fear I will one day (hopefully) face)).

All-in-all, not bad, really. It's been a busy 6 months, and I'm sure the next 6 will be just as busy. Busy is good. I just wish there were more hours in the day.

4 Comment(s):

Blogger Scott K. Johnson said...

Hi Kevin!

You've got a lot going on, that's for sure!

How did you like the DESA thing? I've always been mildly interested, but never took the plunge. Maybe because I think I'm only an athlete in disguise...

Blogger Kerri. said...

Nice list. I like that you've given yourself a mid-year review. Brings me back to my corporate Six Sigma days. :)

I read The Polysyllabic Spree a few months ago after it came with my Believer subscription from McSweeney's. Very interesting read. Nick Hornby has a way of keeping my attention.

Also, I love Iron & Wine. Such a fantastic band. They're version of the Postal Service's "Such Great Heights" from Garden State had me by the throat. Loved it.

And of course, I am so glad you started your blog.

Blogger Kerri. said...

Hey, you know what's not cool? Putting "they're" instead of "their." Damn homonyms.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

corcovado is one of my favorite songs ever. i'd love to hear you play it.

and i wouldn't be too hard on yourself about not keeping up with TDVC in spanish or in english. it's a truly atrocious book. (which i read in one sitting, mind you, so riveted i was all but deaf and blind.)

i'm going to get that web interface design book you mentioned. you know what else has been highly recommended, in the visual design category? all of edward tufte's work (which, now that i think about it, i plan to go look at a lot more extensively at the bookstore tomorrow), as well as scott mccloud's "understanding comics."

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