2020 Challenges: Mid-Year Update

We're almost at the midway point of 2020, so I thought it would be a good moment to take a look at my New Year's challenges list and see how things were going.

Things I'm hoping to end:

  • Planning the big 30th trip: heh. Well, does "it's cancelled as international travel no longer happens and South Africa – in particular – is unlikely to open their borders before my 31st birthday" count? Because if so this is done! ✅ (sorta)
  • Review website section: I'm working on it! Seriously, this is getting very close to being "done". Done in a sense of useable and public, though not really in the sense of what I had envisioned. The data structure is finalised, the actual code is at about 95% for an MVP, and yesterday I actually finished porting all the old MiM reviews into the new format/system. There's still a few reviews orphaned over on Workflowy that I'm sorting through, and a frankly terrifying backlog of partially completed/completely unwritten films and TV shows to log, but I'm making headway on that as well. It's been a monumental task, far larger than I'd have thought, but it's almost done! ⏳
  • Notes/thoughts/link digital archives: Notes are done! I ended up rolling the "links" idea into the notes section as well, so that's 2 out of 3 (and that 🎵 ain't bad 🎵 after all). Thoughts may yet happen, but I have to decide whether I actually want it. I'd say this is 75% done, at the minimum. ⏳
  • Fixing my PC: Done, updated, rebuilt, new RAM, new super-fast hard drive, new hotness all round. ✅
  • Magazine digitisation: I have two photography magazines left to process and then that only leaves my year of Web Designer, which I've decided to keep (for now). Within a week or two this will, therefore, be done! ✅
  • Backup routine: I've chipped away at some bits and pieces here and there, as well as getting my old backup routines running again for a time, but honestly it's not much improved. I'd consider this a tenuous work in progress. ⏳
  • Complete the Wild Hunt: Done! Okay, I technically have one outstanding side quest and I haven't tried to finish off the trophies, but the side quest is just the Gwent cards and I've already won all of the tournaments so I'm calling this finished. It was excellent. The final expansion is worth buying the game for alone. A review will be coming shortly. ✅

That means I've actually completed over 50% of the "ending" challenges for the year, so I'm bang on track. Excellent news! (even if the first one being complete is not, really, excellent news at all)

Things I plan to begin:

  • Reading more: Eh, sort of. I'm not doing too well here, but I have finished two books that I started last year, so only Earthsea is still outstanding and it's up next. I've also recently taken some time away from other pursuits to catch up on Looking for Group, an excellent webcomic I've been reading in bursts for probably a decade now. So some progress but I haven't made it fit into a regular routine yet. ⏳
  • Web dev training: Yeah, no. Even with the whole "being furloughed" situation I've not taken anything that could be considered training. I've done a few courses and read plenty of blog posts, but nothing I feel fits this goal. ❌
  • IndieWeb meetups: I'm doing much better here. I "went" to IndieWebCamp London – which was made virtual at the last minute – and learnt a lot. I've also "been" to Jamstack Conf, Sparkbox, and React Summit, all virtually, and have tickets for another conference next week and a couple of lectures, meetups, and small talks in the coming months. If there's one thing the whole pandemic situation has been good for, it's been making great talks much more easily accessible. I'm still hoping to get along to a HWC or two towards the end of the year in person and may even try their digital format beforehand, though I feel it's something I'd benefit most from actually meeting people at. ✅
  • POSSE: Not made a move here. I did take a look into it, but right now other projects (chiefly search and reviews) have taken priority. Ideas are forming neatly though... ❌
  • Coach to 5K: Again, the whole "situation" has put this on the backburner, but before we were banned from going outside Alison and I had made it to week three/four. We've been stretching it out, but that amounted to a run or two every week, which is (was) a massive improvement. Something we need to get back into now lockdown restrictions are beginning to lift, though I'm reticent to run with the mask. ⏳

More of a mixed back, with some goals without any progress. Still, I'd say there are positive signs here and it gives me some clear ideas for priorities moving forward.

Things I want to continue:

  • Music: I'm not listening to as much music as I would normally do because, weirdly, I'm at home all the time. That said, when I do listen to it the chances are it's not through headphones and it's a lot more likely to be new stuff, though I have been doing a lot of "new" old albums i.e. bands I haven't listened to in decades, so have never been scrobbled before. I've also been able to indulge in a bit more vinyl – both buying and listening – than normal and, before the lockdown kicked in, had been to see a number of great bands live. Some positives, some negatives, but not going badly. ⏳
  • RSS, podcasts, and YouTube: RSS is getting there, particularly now the Notes section is live, but I have let it slip a little. YouTube is in a similar place where I'm just about treading water. Podcasts, on the other hand, fell off a cliff as soon as lockdown began. I literally only listen to podcasts when commuting, so no commute means no podding. I miss it and now have a terrifying backlog to get through... ⏳
  • Photography: It was going so well. We managed three trips to the London Wetlands and were planning trips up to Norfolk and down to Hampshire to go to other WWT sites. I even picked up a new birding lens for my birthday. Obviously, though, none of that has been a possibility. I'm hopeful that in a couple of weeks we might be able to get away for a day or two somewhere a little wild, but we'll have to wait and see. On the other hand, the extra spare time has meant some sorting of old photo archives, but nowhere near as much as I would like. ⏳
  • Gaming: Sure, I finished The Wild Hunt but that's been about it. I was actually going to pick up The Last of Us the weekend lockdown started and have since been avoiding it. I've been coping with everything going on with productivity and gaming just seemed like a bad idea as a result. Still, I've sunk a fair amount of time back into League so I've not been too good either. ❌
  • Friends: Hah, yeah, this has gone poorly. Sure, we started the year off with some great get-togethers and I'd even planned a birthday party (of sorts – tag archery followed by a pub) but most things have been cancelled. We have managed a quiz or two, including one last weekend, but friendship has become a weirdly virtual concept in 2020 so the whole "meal plan" thing hasn't got off the ground. There's time yet... ❌

Another mixed bag but nothing that can't be salvaged.

Basically, COVID-19 threw a large spanner in the works, as I'm sure it has for pretty much everyone on the planet. It could have been much worse though, so, all in all, I'm feeling pretty positive and grateful at the halfway point of 2020. It's been one hell of a year. We've been joking collectively as a society about "dumpster fire years" for a little while now but 2020 has just been a rollercoaster. I have no idea what the next six months could possibly have in store but hopefully the challenge completions continue apace, at the very least.

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