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2017: Not a Resolution, More a Plan

reportcardLast week, I posted a sort of 2016 report card for myself. You probably want to read that post first if you haven’t already. There were several takeaways from my navel gazing.

  • I want to play more board games
  • I want to read more books
  • I want to watch fewer movies
  • I want to reduce or eliminate time wasters (social media, silly mobile games)

That’s all well and good, but there is a big difference between wanting something to happen, and making it happen. If I want the first three items on that list to happen, I have to be vigilant about the last item on the list. I need to replace time wasted on Facebook with time spend reading. I need to leave the mobile games alone, and play a board game instead. The idea is to eliminate bad stuff, and replace it with good stuff.

unnamed-1We’ll see how I do. I’m looking at apps that limit my time on my tablet, as that is where 90% of my wasted time goes. I’m trying both BreakFree and Moment, though I will likely only stick with one in the long term. Ideally I need a way to control only certain apps, as I do most all of my reading on my tablet. I suppose I could just buy a Kindle for reading, though that seems like a waste…

I have other goals for myself this year that are not directly related to the items above. Here they are.

Publish my third book

Last November, I wrote 22,000 or so words on my latest story. That takes it to 26,000 total. I want to get that up over 30,000 before I publish. Right now, I’m in the middle of my first serious round of revision, rewriting, and fleshing things out. I have a set deadline for this, as I am appearing at the SBU Library Comic Con again this year, and it is the first weekend in March. Working back from there, that means the print version needs to be done and ordered by mid-February, and the Kindle version even earlier than that, say, the first week of February. That’s a tough deadline, but doable. The third book will be a significant milestone for me in 2017.

geekonfleek_009Write two Geek on Fleek scripts each week

I announced before that I’m partnering with my friend Brandon Pennington (who did the awesome cover art on my first two books) on a webcomic. We’ve now got a website, which you can check out at geekonfleekcomix.com if you like. I write the scripts, he does the art and layout. We mainly focus on geek culture, because that’s who we are, naturally. We started in December, and so far are keeping to our two strips a week release goal. My part is easy, really, compared to Brandon’s, but it can be hard to sit down and think of something funny. Mainly the ideas come when I am doing something else. Anyhow, I want to make sure I keep on top of this for all of 2017, making sure I have plenty of scripts in the queue for my artist buddy.

product_detail_3162030205001_4623757311001_automanFinally get started on a podcast of my own

Being involved with the Tupacast has been one of the highlights of the past couple years for me. I love talking about things with Chris and Kevin, and we always have such a fun time recording. We’ve even got some fans, which is nice. The only bad thing about the Tupacast is that it’s difficult to get all three of us together. I hope we can be better this year than we were last, but there’s certainly nothing stopping me from doing a podcast of my own.

So, I’m calling it now. This summer, when I have my six weeks off school, I will record and release the first three episodes of the Automan podcast. Yes, Automan, the cheesy Tron ripoff from 1983. Trust me, it’s awesome, and you will love hearing me talk about it. Probably.

There will be other projects, naturally. I’d like to paint more in 2017, as I have a huge backlog of unpainted miniatures. I also want to continue the Star Trek Haiku project in some way. But the big three goals are finishing book #3, writing Geek on Fleek, and getting the Automan podcast started. Hopefully I will be more productive in 2017 than I was in 2016!

2016: A Post-Mortem

far-side-9It’s very cliche to look back on the last day of the year, but that’s what I’m going to do. Just as with everyone else on the planet, there were highs and lows in my life in 2016. I accomplished some things, like publishing my second book, but I missed the mark on many others, like leaving my watch-through of Star Trek The Animated Series undone. Unlike many people, I am compulsive about keeping track of some things in my life digitally, and I wanted to take a look at how I spent my time in 2016 as the calendar turns over to a new year.

First up is my board game playing. I’ve cataloged both my collection and the number of games I’ve played using boardgamegeek.com since January 1, 2011.  That year, I logged 400 board game plays. In 2012 and 2013, my games played went down slightly, to 386 and 364, respectively. 2014 was a larger drop, with 268 games played, almost 100 less plays than the previous year. I played more or less the same amount in 2015, 260 total, including one month where I played a game every day, August.

Even before counting it up, I felt like 2016 would be another down year, and I was right. I only logged 212 board game plays this year. That doesn’t seem like too much of a drop on the surface, right? However, looking closer, I noticed I had exactly 100 plays of Magic: the Gathering logged in 2016. This is due to a game store opening up in my town, and my support of it. However, Magic is one of those games where you play many games each session. For many similar games, like Code Names or Coconuts, I just log one play no matter how many times I play a day. If I do that for Magic this year, I move down to 129 logged plays. That’s by far the lowest since I started keeping track, meaning I played roughly one third as many games in 2016 as I did in 2011!

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-5-54-50-pmIn addition to board gaming, I also use Goodreads to keep track of the books I read each year. Last year, I started a reading challenge, and set a goal to read 20 books. I did that, with days to spare. This year, my goal was 22 books, and I fell far short. I only read 15 books in 2016. I was feeling bad about this, as I hate not meeting my goals, but then I looked at my reading totals for prior years. Since 2012, the first full year in which I kept track, this year ranks as #2 on the list. I hope to read some more compelling books this coming year; several I read this year weren’t very good and I was stuck reading them for more than a month.

Since I love data about how I spend my time so much, this year, I began tracking what movies I watched using IMDB. We watch movies more than we watch TV, and so I knew that my total would be a big number. I just didn’t realize how big. Counting the one movie I watched twice this year (Captain America: Civil War), I watched 123 movies in 2016. That’s… a lot. An awful lot. Admittedly, I often put a movie on while I’m doing something else, like a bit of spreadsheet work, or painting miniatures. Still, 123 movies watched seems very, very high. During my six weeks off in the summer, I was watching, on average, a movie every day, and more than one several times. Movies are something I enjoy, for sure, but I think perhaps they are taking up a bigger piece of my free time pie than they should be.

pac-man-clockThere’s another area of my life that I am concerned about wasting time, and that is something I will call “time eaters”. I’m mainly thinking about three things here. First, social media, primarily Facebook but sometimes Twitter as well. Often, I catch myself watching some stupid viral animal video, or someone cooking a burrito, or a so-called life hack or a dumb political post or any one of a thousand other things that aren’t worth my time. I’ve got to be more mindful about the time I spend on these sites. Another one is Reddit; I read Reddit daily, often multiple times. A few minutes is fine, but when I’m perusing items 500-525 and still looking for something interesting to read, I could have used my time better.
The last “time eater” I want to eliminate from my life going forward are mobile games. Not all of them, of course; many I use to keep in touch with friends (Lords of Waterdeep multiplayer, for example), and others are certainly worthy games on their own (Hearthstone is something I love to play every day). I’m talking mainly about free to play games that use a timer or some other limitation to motivate you to spend money. For me, the biggest offender was Transformers Earth Wars. I love Transformers, and the gameplay was pretty good compared to prior Transformers mobile games (Battle Tactics was terrible). However, you actually end up playing the game less and less often as you progress, which seems backwards, and the rewards in game are not worth the effort. I spent way too much time and (sadly) money for an experience that ended up being nothing but frustrating. I quit playing last Monday and it has been great to not have the tyranny of the cool down timers shaping my life. Mobile games can be good, but I need to be more considerate of what I will spend my time and energy on.

All things considered, I would give myself a B- this year. I didn’t play enough video games, nor did I read enough books. I watched too many movies, played too many dumb mobile games, and consumed too much social media. Next year, I need to be better. I have some goals for myself in 2017, some related to the areas in this post, some not. Next week, I’ll share them.