New Year, New Rules

Well, we did it: we made it to 2019! 🎉 🥂

And with the big change of the calendars comes that yearly opportunity to set goals and challenges whilst just generally realigning personal direction. I’m not one to believe that the New Year is necessarily the best time, nor certainly the only time, when you should take a pause to evaluate priorities, but it does have a nice feel to it.

More importantly, after just over six months living relatively consistent lives, I think we’re finally sure enough of our surroundings to begin forcing them into a more rounded shape. Drumming is one clear area we’ve managed to create consistency, but there’s plenty of room to ensure that what we want to do and what we’re doing aligns as closely as possible.

Personally, that means reevaluating my goals. Yes, I absolutely want the experiences to keep on flowing, which is good because we already have a whisky evening booked, two gigs sorted, a climbing experience to work out and the previously discussed Zoo membership to make full use of. But it also means finding ways to refocus on hobbies and make our London life more, well, self-centred.

The Year That Was

Two years ago I gave myself a Big Challenge to write one article a week, minimum, for an entire year. Last year I shied away from making any big, bold, public claims; with an impending move across the country and loss of a job, long term commitments needed to be chosen wisely. Which isn’t to say the New 52 Challenge was frivolous – it likely played a significant role in my career change over the course of 2018 – but that type of thing would have become a distraction.

That said, I did write down a list of goals that I still wanted to accomplish over the past year, so that became a good place to start thinking about ideas for 2019. I’ll preface this by saying my 2018 To Do list didn’t exactly have a great strike rate, but nevertheless, here it is:

  1. Find a new job ✔️
  2. Read 12 books ✔️
  3. Finish all outstanding MiMs ❌ (hah!)
  4. Migrate CMS ❌ (though I have at least had a good play with Directus and Grav)
  5. Create better review system ❌
  6. Add social streams to theAdhocracy ❌
  7. Start making better use of Twitter ✔️
  8. Upload 4 videos ⭕ (1/4 definitively, but also a few more – not what I’d intended but not awful)
  9. Sort out hard drives ⭕ (I’m in a much better place but still only about 50% done)
  10. Find a better organisational tool set ✔️

I think it’s most interesting, when looking back, that photography factored so little in my plans, despite it being a pretty central hobby. That’s more of a shame because I did manage to hit some good milestones in terms of rate of turnaround, uploading and even (finally) printing out/framing some of my shots for the new flat, and it would be nice to have been able to get some more ✔️ in there, but oh well.

Onwards and upwards!

When looking at what the next 12 months could hold, and what it needs to be, there are two main standouts. The first is to find more time for personal projects and creativity; the second is to begin planning for 2020. That might seem a little odd – to make the goal of one year to focus on the next right from day one – but 2020 is going to be a big one. It’s a new decade, so for fellow children of 1990 that means a new leading number on the age dropdown. Turning 30 really doesn’t bother me, but it does offer a good opportunity and excuse, so it’s fair to say that it would be wise to begin planning ASAP.

Starting a new decade also has an even greater feeling of a changing of the guard, so as 2019 becomes the last year of the… teenies (what do we call this decade?)… it seems like a good excuse to focus inwards and generally get things in order.

With that all said, I’m not planning any big overarching projects or challenges for 2019, but I do want my to do list to be public, hence this article. So without any further ponderings, these are my big goals for 2019:

Photography

  1. Finalise all photos taken in 2018 by the end of March
  2. Upload at least 52 photographs to portfolio channels (500px/Instagram)
  3. Print out and hang more photos
  4. Get my Quiraing shot framed
  5. Go on at least two specifically photography related day trips with friends/solo

General Life

  1. Finally finish sorting out my hard drives
  2. Create a process for organising video files
  3. Finish digitising my magazine backlog
  4. Plan the big 3-0 trip
  5. Visit the zoo at least 6 times

theAdhocracy

  1. Create a personal logotype and logomark
  2. Migrate CMS!!!
  3. Create a better review system
  4. Add social streams/focus on homesteading
  5. Publish at least 12 articles

So those are my goals. Some are “borrowed” from 2018 in the hopes that they may actually happen, some hark back to years long past, whilst others are brand new. The overarching themes are to drill down into photography and flesh out what theAdhocracy should be, which is a digital playground and home base, somewhere that’s just mine. I want to move away from trying to branch out or diversify hobbies and, instead, spend 12 months really getting to grips with what I know I already enjoy.

Obviously I still have other goals, some loftier (it would be great to learn React, for instance) and some less serious (I really wanted to add both “Play archery tag at least once” and “Minimum one full, extended LOTR marathon” to the lists), but those will remain nice-to-haves rather than focused goals.

Hopefully in twelve months time I’ll be able to write-up a success story, but even if the hit rate is as low as 2018 (or lower) I think simply putting these plans out there and having somewhere to refer back to will be a useful tool. So here’s to an exciting, progressive, focused, and fun-filled 2019! 🍻

Spiders, Dinosaurs and CVs [#49]

Well it’s been a long week of other distractions rather than writing, but I have built up several things to link out to, so I guess a round of links from the web is in order.

The Greatest Ignored CV Ever

Data visualisation of academic interests, achievements and major life moments, composed as a pseudo-CV
Now that’s a pretty (useless) CV

Originally created by Ritwick Dey (and weirdly hosted on Flickr), the mock-up data visualisation of Dey’s life has earned some serious kudos on Reddit and deservedly so. The visuals have an immediate impact and are just very aesthetically pleasing, even if (as many Redditors have pointed out) actually using it as your CV would be a quick shortcut to the reject pile. To be honest I’ve been dabbling in something similar (though far simpler) recently, so found seeing the execution of, and reaction to, something much superior to my own attempts kind of fascinating.

Spider Squeeee!

GIF image of an animated spider that is particularly adorable
Lucas the Adorable Arachnid

Lucas the spider has been doing the rounds of the internet this week and I fully understand why. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of spiders but I’m also far from arachnophobic, even finding certain real world spiders adorable. That said, nothing in nature (that I’m aware of) has been designed to tug at the heart strings quite so cleverly as this short animation test. Others have already called for it, but can I add my name to the petition for Lucas to be in the next Disney/Pixar movie?

Spider Awesome

Miles Morales, Spider-Man, swings into frame and lands on a skyscraper
Into the Spider-Verse? Yes please!

Weirdly, yet another piece of spider-based animation dropped this week which captured the hearts of the internet, though this time less Tumblr and more Reddit. The first trailer for Sony’s new animated Spider-Man film hit and just looks stunning. It’s Miles Morales meets Spiderverse so I was already intrigued, but those visuals mixed with that soundtrack has left me with extreme hype!

Wildlife Photo-Ark

Around twenty heaped tortoises each with a unique code engraved on the back of the shell
Madagascan ploughshare tortoises with anti-poaching codes

I’m a big fan of projects looking to archive information of endangered species, particularly quality images, biomechanics and video, so that if conservation efforts fail future generations still at least have good data. So when I discover a project like Endangered, created by photographer Tim Flach, it has to be shared. Flach’s photographs (see more at Gizmodo) are beautiful and frequently incredibly poignant, but they’re also paired with detailed information on the animals, and the threats they face, from biologist Jonathan Baillie. It’s conservation meets art, both noble goals in their own right that are only amplified by their intermixing. Definitely going straight on my future wishlist.

The Ones We’ve Already Lost: Palaeo Art

Two theropod dinosaurs with unrealistic iguana like physiology fighting
Two Dryptosaurus (at time Laelaps) fighting in an incredibly famous image from Charles R. Knight, 1897

From ensuring the animals we may soon lose are well documented to attempting to document those that have already been lost. It should be no surprise by now that I am a huge fan of the field of palaeo art and love both the finished pieces and the processes that go into their creation. There’s something incredibly interesting about decoding the past and trying to set it to understandable visuals which I just love. Stumbling on to an article taking a deep dive into the history of the field, then, was a fascinating read which has been put together very nicely. It’s great to see books I find particularly influential, such as All Yesterday’s, as well as their author’s (and respective blogs) being linked to and discussed on such a main-stream website as The Atlantic. It would also appear that some new books on the subject may be coming out soon, which is great news. An article I will want to come back to from time-to-time, if for no more reason than to explore all the linked resources. Top work.

Finding the Time [#17]

Life is busy right now. My partner’s birthday is this weekend, which also happens to be a bank holiday, so I’ve spent a lot of the last week organising, planning and generally prepping for a short break we’re taking to celebrate.

At the same time, my car has decided the oil dipstick is too long. We’ve also come to the end of a month long process failure with BT, trying to upgrade our internet. Oh, and then there’s the other two trips we’re taking later this year, an on-going dispute with Hermes over where a parcel is, the slowly dying iPad, broken spotlight and, of course, all the usual bills, chores and ‘adult’ stuff.

I feel like my time is entirely spent sleeping, working or trying to keep various balls aloft. I’m tired, frustrated and a little bit stressed. All I want to do is spend some time writing, working on some photographs or, better still, reading! Honestly, society seems to be designed around a never-ending treadmill of requirements, research and time sinks.

And yet…

And yet, last night I spent an hour just chatting with my partner. It was both relaxing and helped remove a bunch of juggling balls.

And yet, I’ve managed to put 8 hours into the story mode of Super Smash Bros. Brawl since picking it up two weeks ago. It’s surprisingly fun.

And yet, my RSS feed is all-but-empty for the first time in nearly two years.

And yet, I’ve just finished a book that’s been sat on my night stand for months.

And yet, last weekend I had the car finally taken in to have the recalled airbag replaced.

And yet, that’s the thing. And. Yet.

Despite feeling like everything is crashing down around my shoulders, I’m still able to achieve an awful lot. Sure, I have a huge (literal) stack of books that I need to read before I can even start on the ones on the book shelf, but I am getting through them. It may have been a lot of time and work, but we now have a whole year of incredibly exciting adventures ahead, not least of all a trip we’re going on tomorrow! And when we do go on them, the car will be a lot safer then it was before.

Sometimes it’s nice to just take a step back, cover up the To-Do list and review your Done one. I live a life of immense privilege and luck. Sometimes, that gets forgotten, and yet when you remember it all the little things somehow become just that: little. It’s not so much finding the time as realising how much you already have.