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2013 Personal Goals: year end wrap-up

by Rob Friesel

And now to wrap up the 2013 goals.1 So many things made this a big year — good, bad, just plain weird, or otherwise. Let’s look at what we set out to do and then footnote the hell out of it with all of the other interesting bits.

  1. Reading: 48+ books in 2013. A few books shy of my goal of 48; I solidly finished 37 books (one of them twice) and had another 8 in varying states of unfinishedness and/or in-progressness. I fell short of where I wanted to land w/r/t/ the number of titles, but it was also solidly over 10,000 pages for the year, and several excellent books.

    2013 reading goal

    Title Author Finished
    JavaScript Enlightenment Cody Lindley 1/1
    Cloud Atlas David Mitchell 1/7
    Pocket Genius: Space2 DK Publishing 1/10
    Blindsight Peter Watts 1/22
    Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom Cory Doctorow 1/27
    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone3 J.K. Rowling 2/5
    The Unbearable Lightness of Being4 Milan Kundera 2/20
    Doom Days Arlene Blakely 2/28
    R in a Nutshell5 Joseph Adler 3/9
    Ethan Frome Edith Wharton 3/15
    Beginning Java 75 Jeff Friesen 3/16
    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets3 J.K. Rowling 3/19
    Functional JavaScript6 Mike Fogus 3/23
    A Wizard of Earthsea Ursula K. Le Guin 3/23
    Revelation Space Alastair Reynolds 4/28
    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban3 J.K. Rowling 4/29
    JavaScript Testing with Jasmine: JavaScript Behavior-Driven Development Evan Hahn 5/3
    Programming Grails Burt Beckwith 5/12
    The Two Towers J.R.R. Tolkien 5/14
    Ender’s Game Orson Scott Card 6/6
    Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder Nassim Nicholas Taleb 6/12
    Understanding Computation: From Simple Machines to Impossible Programs Tom Stuart 7/6
    A Princess of Mars Edgar Rice Burroughs 7/19
    AngularJS Brad Green 7/24
    Never Let Me Go Kazuo Ishiguro 8/13
    Functional JavaScript: Introducing Functional Programming with Underscore.js7 Michael Fogus 8/18
    The Little Book on CoffeeScript Alex MacCaw 8/20
    The Neverending Story38 Michael Ende 8/24
    Cat’s Cradle Kurt Vonnegut 8/27
    Mother Night Kurt Vonnegut 9/4
    Programming JavaScript Applications: Robust Web Architecture with Node, HTML5, and Modern JS Libraries Eric Elliot 9/5
    The Man in the High Castle Philip K. Dick 9/18
    Jasmine JavaScript Testing Paulo Ragonha 9/26
    The Sparrow Mary Doria Russell 10/21
    Operation Mincemeat Ben Macintyre 11/5
    High Performance Browser Networking Ilya Grigorik 11/20
    Wool Hugh Howey 11/25
    Practical Data Analysis Hector Cuesta 12/8
    Statistics in the Behavioral Sciences Richard S. Lehman O.H.9
    The PMI-ACP Exam10 Andy Crowe I.P.11
    Mastering Web Application Development with AngularJS Peter Bacon Darwin I.P.11
    A Canticle for Leibowitz3 Walter M. Miller, Jr. O.H.12
    Martin the Warrior3 Brian Jacques O.H.13
    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire3 J.K. Rowling I.P.11
    Snow Crash14 Neal Stephenson I.P.11
  2. Reading: these 12 specific books. I think I’ve mentioned this before: every time that I do this — that is: list some very specific books to read — I wind up failing pretty badly at it. It’s almost like committing them to such a list is also like becoming blind to them.
    • The Rings of Saturn
    • The Unbearable Lightness of Being
    • The Third Man
    • Ethan Frome
    • Revelation Space
    • Cat’s Cradle
    • A Wizard of Earthsea
    • Midnight’s Children
    • The French Lieutenant’s Woman
    • The Pragmatic Programmer
    • The Blind Assassin
    • The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman

    Where did my desire to read them go? (Although nothing has abated my desire to read The Rings of Saturn — the library simply didn’t have it.) There’s always next year?

  3. Exercise: Average 25 miles or more per month. I did what I could. I tried to stay strong spring through autumn, but it got colder and darker and after all that outdoor action, I decided I hate the treadmill.
    2013 exercise goal
    182.98 miles recorded for the year though, so that’s something; 5.71 mi/hr as my average speed for the year. (And an estimated 22,500 calories.)
  4. Learn some R. “Close enough.” “With Distinction” in two Coursera courses where this was a focus; and I used it a bit for “real work” and some for side projects.
  5. Learn some Python. “Close enough.” Mostly I stopped trying because I stopped worrying about it. I’ve gotten to this point where I’m comfortable enough with those lower-level fundamental programming meta-skills that in the future I won’t be worrying about “learning [programming language X]” but rather “learn enough of [X]” to do what I want/need to do with it.
  6. “Ship” one trivial “novelty” app. Boom. Project Management Dev Dice. Done. And/but: it’s funny how I parleyed that into a larger study of AngularJS.15 And for what it’s worth, I also published a “tiny Node.js library”.

As for the rest:

  • Sold my first piece of fiction. “Where the Air Is Sweet and the Clouds Are a Different Shape” will appear in Please Do Not Remove, which is being edited by Angela Palm and should come out in Spring 2014.
  • Signed a contract for my first technical book. This came together right before Thanksgiving. I’m working on a book for Packt and it should come out… summer 2014? I’ll reveal more details when we’re further along. Needless to say: that’s exciting and consuming a lot of my time.
  • A decade at DDC. When I took that job, I really didn’t think I’d be there for all that long. We were in VT just long enough for A.’s grad school thing to happen. But that opportunity has really worked out well for me and for us.
  • A decade of this blog. Speaking of milestones: 10 years of
  • Two talks. I gave a talk on functional programming in JavaScript (link) back in June, and then I gave a talk on AngularJS at VT Code Camp (third year in a row; link). Both were well-attended. The BurlingtonJS talk being well-attended I just chalked up to it being a popular event. My Code Camp talk managed to draw around 45 people–more/less packing the room that day. So that was cool.
  • I was a GDI TA. I gave a little back to my local community of technology learners by being a TA for Girl Develop It. It was a worthwhile experience.
  • Visited California for the first time. San Francisco, to be specific. I was really only out there for a little over a day. Interesting place, and I’d love to visit again sometime.
  • Big “real” family vacation. Speaking of traveling… We finally took our first big “real” family vacation. A whole big giant out-of-state trip complete with a hotel stay, rental car, tourist destinations, and everything. Except for the normal travel-related stress: Fun times; would definitely do again.

And last but not least… a doubly-abbreviated visual 2013 in review mosaic:


Wow. What a big year. Looking forward to 2014!

  1. First Quarter results are here: /2013/03/2013-goals-q1-check-in; Q2 is here: /2013/07/2013-goals-q2-check-in/; and Q3 is here: /2013/10/2013-goals-q3-check-in/ []
  2. What? Don’t look at me like that. []
  3. With Holden. [] [] [] [] [] [] []
  4. See also: Dating Without Kundera. []
  5. ”Done enough.” [] []
  6. Pre-release. As a reviewer. []
  7. ”Wait! Was that on here twice?” Yes it was. []
  8. Man that took a long time… []
  9. On hold; though in this case, “abandoned” is probably more appropriate. Part of my “have A. teach me stats” goal for the year. I got about halfway through it. []
  10. As an aside: I’m just reading this for a perspective on Scrum and ScrumMastering. I’m not taking the exam. []
  11. In progress. [] [] [] []
  12. On hold; though “abandoned” is probably more appropriate since this was one that H. picked out to have me read to him and though we got 76 pages into it, I think he decided that it was too “grown up” for him though he also wouldn’t admit that. []
  13. On hold; though “abandoned” is (again!) probably more appropriate. H. picked this one out to have me read to him but I don’t think he ever really got into it; that being said, when I asked if we should pull out the bookmark he replied “no” because he wanted to come back to it. (Not that either of us will remember where we left off…) []
  14. ”Sort of” annual re-read. []
  15. Including a pretty popular talk at the 2013 Vermont Code Camp. []

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

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