The Rainy Start to 2013

I really love Christmas time. I love the lights, the classic carols, the cinnamon and nutmeg coffee, the eggnog, and the ritual of putting up a Christmas tree in our house. It fills me with a deep joy every year as I look forward to taking a break from my job and being around my friends and family. It’s probably the one cultural tradition that I really connect with on an emotional level. It taps into so many pleasant nostalgic memories of Christmases past. And I cannot express how wonderful it is to simply disconnect from the daily concerns of my job (even though I rather enjoy my job on most days).

But alas… every year without fail, Christmas time has to come to an end. While I usually enjoy staying up late and counting down to the new year, the next day is often the time that we take down the Christmas tree and the day after is usually the time that I have to return to work. It’s all a bit depressing – especially so when I look outside and see nothing but rain falling upon a grey, cold day of mud and muck.

One of the odd things that I find about periods of vacation is that I don’t always enjoy them as much as I should because sometimes I find myself stuck in a cycle of starting and stopping half a dozen different projects that I want to accomplish or enjoy with my time away from the usual busyness. This period of a week and a half, I wanted to finish or at least make good progress on reading Anna Karenina and possibly work on a small personal programming project in Clojure. Instead, I mostly read a lot of incidental articles, blogs, and historical discussions on forums while starting to read a book on Clojure, but getting distracted: first by setting up a decent Clojure environment with vim, then by a few attempts at messing around with emacs because I often feel like I am trying to swim upstream in any Lisp community when wanting to use something others than emacs. But inevitably I abandon any attempts to develop anything more than basic proficiency with emacs because I’ve just spent too much time developing my skills with vim and always find that I just grok the vim way of doing things a lot more than the emacs way – which is a shame because I am very attracted to the idea that one’s editor is directly programmable in a real programming language instead of project-specific language that has no applications outside of the editor.

At any rate, despite all my circles, I did manage to read a fair chunk of Anna Karenina in the last few days, and I’ve really enjoyed playing some new games with my wife that we picked up from a local gaming store. It has been a very pleasant break.

As the day dies and the night ascends here, I realize once again in passing that my blog has fallen under the shadow of disuse. It seems my last entry was October 2011. Earlier last year, I remember reading about people committing to writing at least 500 words a day as an exercise in getting their writing to flow more easily. It sounded like a fun idea at the time, but I quickly forgot about it.

Last year, I set a few New Year’s goals for 2012 that I thought I might track in an online goal tracker:

  • Plan a trip to France for 2012
  • Learn to Type
  • Read all three volumes of Karl Marx’s Capital

Of those goals, I only finished the first one. That said, it was a pretty epic task when you consider that I had to register my wife and me for French classes to brush up on our language skills, call and book two weeks worth of restaurants and hotels, book flights, and map out a highly detailed two week itinerary. And the trip was a smashing success!

I was doing my daily typing exercises for at least the first month of 2012 if memory serves me correctly, but then I started to slipping and eventually abandoned that goal. I’m a decent enough typist without knowing how to properly type and I’m not sure that I actually care to invest the effort to learn touch typing in exchange for the marginal improvement that I might find in typing speed.

As for reading Capital, I made excellent progress. I got about half way through the first weighty volume and was fairly good at keeping to a decent reading schedule daily, but ultimately I got distracted. My attention for books can be pretty fickle. I’ll definitely return to it again, but I think my rigid reading schedule kind of took the fun out of it. Reading shouldn’t be transformed into a chore.

For 2013, I’m going to plan a trip to Italy, but as a New Year’s resolution sort of goal though, I think I’ll settle for trying to write at least 500 words a day on my blog.

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