2011: The Intermediate Chapter

Throughout my christmas holidays of 2010 I imagined the possibilities 2011 had to offer. My studies at The University of Aberdeen were coming to an end and a chapter of my life was coming to a close. Or so I thought… As I lazily listened to music one evening (obviously just to distract myself further from the coursework and exam revision that I should really be getting on with), I wrote “2011:  Getting Things Done Edition”  in which I described some of the goals I had set myself for the new year.

“So, nothing huge here. No life changing goals or anything, just a few positive uplifting goals to keep the rest of 2011 interesting.”

I say “a chapter of my life was coming to a close” only because my expectations of finding a student placement program that satisfied the requirements set by The University of Aberdeen were, well, low. I was sure I would be a graduate of 2011. “Or so I though…”? Well, what’s happened? where am I now? I believe the best way to put it is The Intermediate Chapter, an interlude that separates university lifestyle from ownership of a degree. Simply put: I am currently working full-time as placement student. The fact that I got this placement rules out much of the uncertainty I had towards 2011 – I now know where I’ll be spending the rest of 2011, both job wise and location wise. It’s a funny situation to be in, like the interlude at a concert that connects two songs together while certain band members retune their guitars, I feel like I am tuning my life before the next chapter starts. Only once The Computing Science class of 2012 march through Elphinstone Hall will I realise that my time to start a new chapter has come. Until then, regardless of working full-time, I am still a student at heart. 

So now that my uncertainties are cleared up, let’s look at some of goals I had set myself.

  • Learn to Drive. As mentioned previously, I can drive. What has changed since 2010 is that I’ve had a lesson. A single lesson. Yes, just the one. A small, miniature, tiny, microscopic achievement. Or failure? This is definitely something that needs to change within the coming weeks.
  • Healthy Snacking. Although I dropped Graze (only because I realised it’s actually quite easy to go to the shops and buy nuts), I have maintained quite a healthy snacking lifestyle. Gone are the days of Haribos and chocolate – they’ve been replaces by dried and fresh fruit along with an occasional sweet. 
  • Maintain a good fluid intake / Continue Drinking Green Tea. As I write this, I’m enjoying a delicious teapigs green tea! Especially since having started my (office) job, I have been drinking vast amounts of green tea – along with plant of water, it’s basically the only drink I consume throughout the day. My fluid intake has been very high and I definitely feel the health benefits of keeping my body at a good level of hydration.
  • Learn the Basics of Sign Language. I am still very eager to start learning this, but have simply not found the time to do so. Staying on top of my things to do list!
  • Surf / Wind Surf. No / No. Although I won’t be going (wind / ) surfing this summer, I will be going SUPing. When my family told me what they’ve been up to, I too had no idea what they were taking about. SUPing, or Stand Up Paddle Surfing, is apparently a “an emerging global sport with a Hawaiian heritage”. It looks fun and I can’t wait to try it in a couple weeks!

Frankly, I have hardly had the chance to cross out any of my planned out goals. My Getting Things Done approach followed me into 2011 and I have simply been, well, getting things done. My dissertation was finished and achieved a high mark, adventures with friends and family took me to new places and a spontaneous job application veered my life for the better! 2011 has been a fantastic year so far, but there’s no way I am slowing down just yet. Hardware needs to get soldered, core strength should be built up, sign language would still be a nice addition to my knowledge, a drivers license must end up in my wallet and adrenaline should be enjoyed! Hello rest of 2011, I’m looking forward to meeting you 🙂

2011: Getting Things Done Edition.

I’ve never been a huge fan of new years resolutions; to me, they always seemed so pointless. I’ve always been a person who likes the idea of a ‘getting things done’ lifestyle; no procrastinating, no lazying about. If something needs to get done, do it. Towards the end of 2009 I set myself exactly that goal for 2010; simply get things done. 

Frankly, I failed. There’s no drivers license in my wallet. Learning to surf and wind surf are still dreams to come true. I have zero knowledge about rock climbing. My skateboard and snowboard are still tucked away in my cellar. I can sum up my 2010 achievements on one hand; 2011 needs a change.

Here’s what I know about 2011:

  • I have my Computing Science course at the University of Aberdeen to finish (Honours Project and Professional Topics in Computing).

Here’s what I don’t know about 2011:

  • Whether I’ll graduate or go into a Masters course.
  • Where I will live. If I graduate, will I stay in Aberdeen? Move to Munich? Apply for a green card and try my luck at moving to San Francisco?
  • Who I’ll spend my time with (if I move away, will I know anyone?). 

With that in mind, let’s start a new chapter of my life! There’s a blank canvas eagerly waiting to be drawn on and there’s nothing that can stop me enjoying a beautiful year 🙂

  • Build Core Strength. 2010 was a complete downfall as far as exercise goes. I lost 6 stone throughout the start of my second year of university (2008 – 2009) and once I got to a healthy body weight, I completely stopped exercising. Although I never gained weight in 2010, I have completely lost all the body muscle I previously built up. I hope to build my core strength in two parts: The Hundred Push Ups Training Programand then Rock Climbing
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight. Along with the exercise regime mentioned above, I want to maintain a healthy weight. 
  • Experience Adrenaline. It’s been far too long since I’ve had a good adrenaline rush and it’s about time I experience some again. Bungee jumping or Skydiving are possibilities, but a simple snowboarding holiday could also suffice.
  • Learn to Meditate. Along with wanting to build core strength and general wellbeing I want to understand and control my inner peace. I know meditating, or rather learning and understanding meditation, will take time, but I know in the long it will be extremely beneficial to me.
  • Learn to Drive. Actually, this should read get a drivers license. My dad taught me driving years ago, but having lived in cities I’ve never had the need to have a drivers license. However, I can’t predict where I’ll be towards the second half of 2011 so having a drivers license should open up more possibilities as I’d be able to commute and travel.
  • Maintain a good fluid intake. In previous years I’ve easily let healthy drinking slip my mind and I could often feel the effects of dehydration towards the end of a day: extreme tiredness and dizziness. I don’t want to let that happen as often and simply carrying a water bottle around with me shall solve this. 
  • Continue Drinking Green Tea. I’ve recently switched to green tea and I’ve started to notice the health benefits. Green tea is a great healthy warm drink and replacing constant hot chocolates has really made my body feel better.
  • Healthy Snacking. I do enjoy the occasional treat here and there, who doesn’t?! But snacking on cup cakes, brownies and Haribo needs to stop. I’ve recently signed up for Graze and I plan to cut out all unhealthy snacks completely by replacing them with healthy, natural portions of nibbles I hope to have more consistent body energy. 
  • Solder, Build Things and Hack Away! As a kid, I loved being technical with my hands. I helped out the art studio at my school by putting the finishing touches to people’s pottery and preparing them for the furnace thing. I honestly can’t remember the pottery vocabulary and what I did, but I remember my teacher saying I had very steady hands and I should apply them more. I got into soldering after a physics practical in which we built our own random die generator. I started hacking away on my Xbox soon after that, installing mod chips and custom hardware/software. I really miss those days and I hope to slowly bring back hobbies which include technical know-how and using my hands. Read below about my knitting experience!
  • Learn the Basics of Sign Language. I know I won’t be a professional sign linguist, but I am extremely eager to start exploring the world of sign language. I find it extremely interesting and think it’s one of the most beautiful languages around. 
  • Keep a Journal. In 2010 I tried hard at keeping journals; I had a dream journal, normal journal and a journey journal. All my journals were forgotten about and only ever had few entries in them. My dream journal is probably the one with most pieces in it; I had fun psycho-analysing my dreams and writing them down. It’s a month into 2011 and I’ve started a new journal. It’s a combination of a journal, dream diary, motivational pieces and todo lists and so far I’ve been good at writing in it. It’s not a daily activity I plan to do, but as long as I have an entry a week and my dreams written down, I’m happy. I also have another journal for my university work; it’s got ideas, tasks and notes as I work through my Honours Project and other personal software projects. It too has been used and I hope it will continue to be used throughout the year.
  • Write More Letters. 2010 was the first year I ever wrote someone a post-card, and I absolutely loved it. I hope to send out more mail, letters and post-cards as I experience 2011.
  • Get More Involved. Throughout school I had to be involved; it was part of the Duke of Edinburgh and International Baccalaureate to stack up hours of activities, whether creative ones, sporting ones or service ones. I actually enjoyed it too; I never stopped when I reached the required hours. I’ve let that passion of being involved slip and have hope to bring it back this year. As mentioned below, I’ve joined a knitting group and already learnt a new skill. I want to be more involved with charity, promoting events, helping others and generally ‘being out there’.
  • Surf / Wind Surf. I failed at attempting either in 2010. Let’s change that!

So, nothing huge here. No life changing goals or anything, just a few positive uplifting goals to keep the rest of 2011 interesting.

Already completed at time of writing:

  • Stop Bad Habits. My worst habit is picking skin on my fingers. I woke up on New Years and spontaneously decided to never ever be OCD and simply stop picking on them. It’s a month into 2011 and I’ve completed this goal so far. Most habits/addictions take two weeks to adjust to, to get over that ‘urge’. I’ve been good and can say I have completed this goal. Other habits have also been taken care of and I’m extremely glad to have had such a positive start to the year!
  • Learn to Knit. I’ve always loved technical ‘puzzles’ and as mentioned above, I want to be more technical with my hands. I’ve been to a few knitting group sessions and have really enjoyed it so far and have already completed my first knit! I can definitely say I’ve learnt something new in 2011.

2010 Geek Holiday Gift Guide

With just two weeks days to go, there’s still plenty of time to buy your favourite geek a little something. Here’s my 2010 Geek Holiday Gift Guide, do enjoy!

  • Amazon Kindle – Perfect eBook reader at a very reasonable price. Perfect for those who travel lots, commute on trains. 3G model available too.
  • iPhone Wallet – Classy wallet for your iPhone/iPod Touch. Fits cards and cash too. 
  • Moleskine Daily Planner and City Notebooks – Geeks love computers and gadgets, but deep down inside everyone still loves a good piece of paper. Moleskine’s Daily Planner is perfect for keeping yourself organised, and of course remembering all those deadlines.
  • Phosphor E Ink Watch – E Ink watch… What more can you say!
  • Nerf N-Strike Maverick – Because we all like a reminder of how fun it was to be a kid, and how cool Nerf guns were.
  • LaCie Rikiki 500GB – Geeks never have enough storage, and this beautiful ultra portable hard disk is perfect for anyone in need of extra space.
  • Spotify Premium – Give the gift of music with Spotify Premium. Local music is so 2009! Premium benefits include streaming to mobile devices, playing ad-free and allowing for a higher quality stream.
  • Koss PortaPro – Extremely cheap headphones with great sound quality, very comfortable. 
  • Sharpener Desk Tidy – A giant pencil sharpener for your desk. Won’t sharpen your pencils, but it’ll definitely keep your desk looking sharp!
  • Floppy Disk Sticky Notes – What’s more geeky than a set of sticky notes that look like floppy disks?!