Winter 2017 Mega-Update

by bizzle

Geez, has it been six months since an update? Let’s do it mega-style.

Overview

I’m still a Data Scientist at Target, still living in Minneapolis, and still loving Jenga.

Life is good, cats are healthy, and there’s no major drama. Whereas my 20’s were spent worrying about what person I should be, what hobbies I wanted to cultivate, and whether I was headed in a good career direction, my early 30’s have me becoming more and more satisfied with where I’m headed. I think the biggest difference is fomo (fear of missing out). I used to have a lot of it. I’d wonder what cool people were doing on a Saturday night, or if there were career-developing activities I should be pursuing. Now, I’m pretty relaxed about it all.

Alicia is also kicking ass. We’ve been married seven years now and she’s still my best friend. She’s a budding competitive jigsaw puzzle solver, a voracious reader, and practically an academic on the subject of Horror Movies.

I know it’s against the zeitgeist to compliment 2016, but it was a pretty good year for us.

Hawaii

The biggest 2016 news for the Copelands was a trip to Hawaii in November. We seem to manage to save up for a biggish trip every 2-3 years and our last biggish trip (a Caribbean cruise) left us wishing we had more time at the beach. So we decided to try a new style of vacation; a “go somewhere and do nothing” trip to Maui. It was interesting – vacation lifestyle is different lifestyle, for sure. Everything seemed to shut down around 8pm and we never really adapted to island standard time – I think I was awake by 7am every morning, which is out of character for me.

Our days had ample time for lazy sun-soaking, running along the beach, day drinking, and even reading. The most unexpected highlight was a road-side food truck serving a traditional Hawaiian lunch:

That’s pork, chicken, glazed pineapple, rice, a light salad, and orange wedges – all served on a banana leaf. Even the chop sticks were chopped off of fresh bamboo. We found this stop along the Road to Hana and ate it off the trunk of our rental car – a brand new Ford Mustang.

I think Alicia and I are go-explore vacationers, so I doubt we’ll visit a tropical location soon, but it was still unforgettable.

Halloween

I was a squid. It was fun.

Glasses

It had been two years since I had gotten glasses, thus it was time for a prescription update and some new looks. I decided to go with a few thicker frames. If I haven’t raved to you about Zenni Optical yet, please allow me to do so. Glasses start at $6.95, and by that, I mean that’s frames + lenses. I spent just under $100 for six pairs of glasses and that’s me “splurging” on two fancier $25 models. They take about two weeks to arrive from California, where they manufacture everything and charge $4.95 flat for shipping. It takes all the fear out of new glasses – who cares if you don’t end up liking the style, they were super cheap!

Xmas

I doubled down on lasers, even decorating our “Christmas trees” with lasers.

The holiday was the most relaxing in years. Christmas Eve being on Saturday meant no rushing home from work. Alicia and I held off from exchanging gifts because we’d splurged in Hawaii, so shopping was a breeze. I even got some interesting gifts, such as this sample of gallium:

It’s a metal that is liquid at slightly above room temperature, which means it melts in your hand and has all the freakiness of mercury without any of the decreased cognitive functions. Great holiday, all around – especially the Prime Rib at my parent’s house!

Websites

I’m always an internet fan. Here’s some of my favorite website as of late:

Salty Bet – A website where you watch two computers fight in a Street Fighter style competition. You bet “salt” on which side will win, which is purely meaningless. Because it’s just for fun, the fights can almost be nonsensical – you get a Sponge Bob fighting an anime samurai chick.

/r/internetisuseless – my new favorite subreddit that collects the most useless websites (read: my favorite types of websites). For example, see http://isitthursday.org/  or http://www.howdoeshomeopathywork.com/ or even http://www.iraqlobster.com/

ZenPen.io  I’m not afraid to admit that I journal. It’s just one of those things that helps me process my thoughts, de-stress, and collect my thoughts. I’ve also found that there’s a lot of things I think about that no one needs to hear, such as my todo list or when someone makes me cranky (sure, I could rant at Alicia, but that is rarely a fun conversation – I’d rather chat about fun and happy things).

So, when it comes time to write up things, I love a simple “just let me type” editor. ZenPen is my favorite, and I’ve even reviewed the source code – it’s a beautiful example of simple HTML5 code.

Shout out to Writer, which is also a solid option. I really love single-purpose websites.

The SCP Foundation – It’s a fictional website that outlines the “Secure, Contain, and Protect” protocols of various phenomenon. It scratches an X-Files itch with lots of omitted and classified information everywhere. You simply pick an entry (such as SCP-087) and start reading it. They usually reference each other and provide a ton of eerie reading.

Spicy Food

For me, it started with my diet two years ago. I wanted a low calorie snack and carrots + hummus fit the bill. But soon, hummus wasn’t enough, it had to be red pepper hummus. Then “supremely spicy” red pepper hummus. Suddenly, foods I thought were stupid hot (such as sriracha) were plesant.

For Alicia, it was watching Hot Ones, a YouTube series that features interviews with celebrities while eating progressively spicier hot wings. It made her want to try some hot wings. Then hot sauce. Then really hot sauce.

Now, we’re putting hot sauce on half the food we eat. Salsa gets doused in Cholula. Buffalo wings are usually too tame. Carribean jerk is a treat. We’ve even polished two bottles of Sriracha within the last two months.

I vividly remember being about 12 y/o at my parent’s house, having a hot wing, and practically crying. It’s crazy how things can change.

New Year’s Resolutions

To wind down the post, here’s some low-commitment resolutions I’m hoping for in 2017.

Pixel Art – I’m not sure if I want to create it myself or just be a patron of the pixel arts, but I want more pixel art in my life.

Weird things – I stumbled upon the below picture of a useless fence and I just love it.  It’s the kind of thing nine of ten people might pass and not put a second thought into, but that tenth person will stop and wonder “why does this even exist? Who constructed a twelve inch fence??”

I love it. I really hope I can contribute some weird things into the world in 2017.

Jenga Party – 2016 went by and I didn’t host anything (see poker party of 2015). I really want to host a Jenga tournament this summer.

Running – As much as I hate running, it’s good exercise. What makes me cranky is how much faster people are than I am. For example, there are competitive “Beer-Mile” runners that will chug four beers and run a mile in 5:00. Now, this is competition winning-speed, but the fact that they are pausing four times to chug a beer and still running a mile significantly faster than I (my fastest mile time is 6:30) is frustrating.

So for 2017, I’d like to run a mile in 6:00 and I’d like to run a 21:00 5k. Just recently, I managed to hit 22:00. It was stupid painful and I know that shaving the next minute will be damned-near impossible, but I might as well dream big, right?


Take care and have a happy 2017!

– B