I don't remember when my last personal retrospective was... It must've been at least a year ago.
It's been a few months since I've started relearning Japanese. It's hard and time-consuming, but I'm already starting to notice progress at least in listening and reading. I'm almost done reading my first manga volume in Japanese: 聲の形。I randomly decided to reread the first issue, and it was so much faster compared to the first few times. I even picked up on some details I missed before. New vocabulary and grammar are sticking more, and nuances of specific words and phrases are improving in my head. I also am listening to old anime episode audio while mindlessly playing video games.
Relearning Japanese is such a productive and effective escape for me from all the negativity in the world: the shootings and other murders, the pandemic continuing, the war, our rights being taken away, the economy tanking... I feel like a college student again, in a good way. :) I feel a little guilty writing all this out, though.
I've waxed and waned with my exercise, but I've been on a strong streak for the past few weeks. The waning was largely due to a minor surgery (with recovery) and a lot of travel that happened between the spring and beginning of summer. Since I haven't traveled lately, my schedule is a lot more stable, including my exercise routine. I tend to do at least 3 upper body strength routines per week. If I'm good, 4; if I'm extra good, 5. I used to do 10 minutes of spinning for cardio warmup and then same for cooldown on strength days, but I've recently switched it to be a longer 20-minute warmup or cooldown just to keep my heart rate higher for a longer concentrated time. I don't know if it matters. On my non-strength days, I do 45 minutes of spinning. I try not to have a rest day as I otherwise have a pretty sedentary life working from home, but if I do have a rest day, I try to at least do 20 minutes extra of walking while reviewing Japanese flash cards on my treadmill. Once in awhile, I'll go out for a run.
I try to incorporate at least 15 minutes of flash card review with walking every day, regardless of my exercise routine.
I feel so fulfilled with cooking. I've been getting better at staple dishes and branched out into a few new ones. I made homemade pasta (egg tagliatelle) for the first time in years, and it was delicious. I've perfected the homemade crunchwrap supreme. I think my ground turkey smashburger knocks other restaurants' out of the park. I think the same of my french fries... but I love fries so much that I'll still order those when I'm eating out. (I generally don't order things I can make well at home.) My favorite instant ramen hack so far is a tomato and onion stew with egg. I make a very satisfying, simply late night grilled cheese snack that is as much as a third of the calories than what you'd get at a restaurant.
Exercising a bit more than before and cooking regularly at home, i.e., not traveling!, help me with health and finances. Neither have been much of a concern as we've been fortunate with good amounts of both, but it's always good to try to improve. In particular I have a small goal to lose 6 pounds, and more ideally 10. I did notice that I gained 3-4 pounds when I started using creatine. I may consider removing that from my diet after finishing this new jar (perhaps months from now...).
Work and software engineering
I finally finished the Stairway to Scala Applied, Part 2 course on Udemy! Now I want to take a JVM/memory course.
I feel settled in at my new job, but still have so much room to grow with a product of such massive scale. I need to dig deeper with performance profiling/troubleshooting/optimizing, machine learning at least at a high level, and wrap my head around several technologies I am using for the first time here. I've finally done so with a few, but there are more, and I can continue to dig deeper.
Sometimes I still feel like I don't have certain people's respect. I need to stop worrying about pleasing them. I should focus on doing well, foster the relationships of people from whom I do feel respect, and soak up as much knowledge as I can from everyone. In many ways, I have gotten what I've looked for: a place where I can do a lot of coding again, with people who embrace Scala and functional programming, who are super smart and proactive, on a high impact team, with a good work-life balance, feeling like I'm generally making the world better (and definitely not worse) with my work, and in a company that has an inclusive, diverse, and supportive culture. In many ways, the circumstance better than I could've hoped for, especially the culture. It is not perfect, I super miss unlimited PTO (!), and it was in several ways a bit bad when I first started, but those little bad things have improved so much in a few months. I can truly say I'm pretty happy with things.
I just need to continue improving but also 1) not doubt myself and 2) continue to prioritize work-life balance. I still find myself not uncommonly working without breaks and overtime. Some of this is due to my being in flow which is a great sign meaning that I'm enjoying my work (it just needs to be moderated). Some of this is due to feeling like I need to keep catching up with my coworkers. While I have no trouble finding faults in myself and motivation to keep improving, I quickly forget the very positive feedback I've gotten about my performance, character, and unique contributions.
I continue to give back financially to several orgs. I also recently joined a volunteering thing for the Scala community, which I'll write more about later.
I mentioned already that I've done a lot of traveling in the spring and early summer.
First, I visited friends in Vegas with my partner, which we used as a base between Death Valley and the Grand Canyon parks. I really liked that trip – the sights, the food, the tacos and Korean crepes! – but it was admittedly quite a lot of driving.
Second, I visited a friend in Los Angeles, and I drove us all the way to King's Canyon, Sequoia, and Yosemite parks (and back to LA). That was exhausting as I was the only driver between us, on top of all the hiking... but it was otherwise a great time.
Third, I visited my company's office in New York City. It was a beautiful office, and it was nice though a little weird and nerve-wracking to meet my coworkers in person for the first time; it was also a nice opportunity to meet old friends and family in the same city.
The fourth thing coming up is a trip to Marquette to see my partner's family. As I don't have unlimited PTO anymore, I'll be working most days of the trip in a coworking space, but otherwise am looking forward to family time and hopefully some cooler weather for running, swimming, and hiking.
Other than local trips to my parents and our friends, and probably at least one or two more trips for me to my company's office in NYC, we don't have anything else planned for the year except for a wedding in Pennsylvania. As I'm enjoying this period of respite after all the concentrated travel in the past few months, I'll probably be okay with that...
I've seen quite a number of friends so far this year, some for the first time in a long time. I'm glad, as far as I can tell, that these folks are hanging in there, and that we continue to value each other's company. It is neat to think about how much we have evolved in our lives in the time we have known each other, and how we each have coped with the pandemic and other calamities.
Goals and things I want to change
I want to better control my video gaming as well as my study time for Japanese compared to my career development.
At the same time, I do need to evaluate whether I want to advance in my career now or if I'm okay with where I am. My default mode is to always keep rising, because I'm a sucker in this capitalist society. But I've honestly found so much fulfillment outside of work that maybe I can pause. I don't know.
Perhaps making meditation more regular in my life again will help there.
I want to keep at my weight loss goal. I've been able to lose and keep off 2 pounds out of the 6-10 I want to lose, but my good friend just gifted us some delicious cookies, so...
I need to give my blog a bit more love and care. Some extra version controlling, upgrades, backups, etc., would be good... and I need to keep adding more of my recipes!