Looking forward to 2023

There are so many things that I am wanting to try and get accomplished in 2023 and beyond.  There are so many projects, so little time to work on all of them. Maybe not so little time, but it is finding the time and the time management to work on and accomplish them that is the issue.  I have outlined goals before, and they have fallen by the wayside.  I am horrible at holding myself accountable for things, and also pretty poor at sticking with things over the long term.

I am hoping for 2023 to get situated with a proper planner and use the damn thing to keep myself a bit more organized, as well as keeping myself accountable for a lot of the things I am wanting to do and work on. 

The big three, as they have been before, are writing, gaming, and gambling. 

Writing

The goals for this are similar as years past, I want to work on journaling every day, or at least most days.  I was fairly good at this this year but not the best when I was home in the beginning of the year, and I figured with everything that was going on then, that is to be expected.  During that time period though I did do a good deal of writing, working out the backstory for something that has been in the works since I lived in Reno, so that felt good to get accomplished, however I haven’t done much with it since.  Making decent progress on NaNoWriMo as well, so I can’t say I haven’t done any writing this year. 

I do want to continue with all of that into 2023, as well as keep going on the coffee shop/café reviews as well.  I am hopeful that I can knock out one review a week at least, it shouldn’t be too difficult to keep up with that, the biggest challenge may be working out the formatting for it on here.  I also would like to try and write 500-1,000 words a day on some sort of fiction, either something new, or working on any of the number of projects I already have in the works. 

It would of course make the most sense to work on the projects that already exist, especially since two of them are so damn big, however I also know I will need to go back and do a lot of work to try and get all the details right on those projects as well which will requite a good deal of editing which I am not looking forward to but is a necessity and something I have been putting off for far too long.

Blogging, something I struggled a bit with this year, or at least more so than I wanted to.  Something that I have a love and hate relationship with.  It is forever a struggle to find things that I feel are worth writing about.  With café reviews that takes a little bit of the pressure off, but I still have to get out and visit cafés at the same time.  I am hopeful to get back into the swing of posting three times a week either in December or come January.  Either or would be good, however with the upcoming travel it will be a little bit of a challenge for the month of December perhaps.

Gaming

Gaming is where I have struggled mightily.  Games struggle to hold my attention, or I play them a bunch for a couple of days, and then struggle to come back to them.  I would like to have some sort of a more clearcut plan for them, both regular sorts of games, as well as sports gaming (both of the management variety and otherwise).

Finding time to game during the week when I get home from work is a challenge.  There generally just isn’t enough time, which is unfortunate, but when dealing with dinner for all of us, play time with the baby and bath time as well, there just isn’t a ton of time for anything else.  One thing I thought that I could work towards would be playing at least one game of a sports game (management or otherwise) per day at a minimum.  I feel that is a reasonable goal, as the games themselves last at most maybe 20 or so minutes.  That isn’t too big of a time sink I feel, and would be something achievable, or at least mildly achievable. 

I also would like to be able to complete at least one flight in Microsoft Flight Sim with FSEconomy a week, as well as perhaps a drive in each of the American and European Trucking Sims every week as well.  They don’t have to be long but completing them will at least keep me engaged with the games, and I feel that is important at least.  I don’t think it is unreasonable to want to stay more connected to games instead of going months without touching one.  As for the bigger games, stuff like Skyrim, Fallout 3, 4, New Vegas, all the Tomb Raider and Hitman games, I will figure out what to do about those later, those are not as easy to drop in and play for 15-30 minutes at a time and I don’t know what my plan for that is going to be, same to be said about all the Switch games.  That I can figure out later, or so I hope.

Gambling

In 2022 I made it to one new casino, Resorts World Las Vegas, and my first visit to the Las Vegas strip in a few years as well.  It was good, overwhelming, but good.  Ilani up the highway from me has opened up their sportsbook, with zero publicity, and I have yet to make it up there.  I want to before the end of the year at least to check it out, give it a once over and add it to the review.  I would like to make it to some more in 2023, which I feel will be likely as there will almost certainly be more trips to Las Vegas in 2023, which means I should be able to make it to Circa, the Virgin hotel and casino, as well as the rebranded Hard Rock (Mirage) and the Palms now that it has been taken over San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.  Also would be good to make it back to Horseshoe (formally Ballys) and potentially the Tropicana which will turn in to Bally’s, yay for everything getting sold, renamed, and the like.

When it comes to the sports data, well, I need to totally redo all of that.  After the last Los Angeles trip in October, I effectively stopped collecting data.  The weekends were getting too overwhelming with all of the soccer, and college football.  I need a better plan, a better way or organizing things, and potentially finding a way to make things more automated than things are at present because right now, it is so damn much work on a daily basis and it is overwhelming.  Either that, or I need to dramatically cut down on the amount of leagues, or the amount of data that I am tracking for soccer (like spreads and over/under odds) so it is a much more streamlined process to input the data into Excel or into a paper notebook, which I still toy with the idea of doing, even if it is wildly impractical by comparison. 

Overall, I just want to be better at focusing, creating, and holding myself accountable for the things that I want to get done, and in the case of a lot of them, wanted to get done or do or work on for years.  I need to not struggle so much with motivation, and be better at holding myself accountable for all of the goals that I have.  I don’t think that is too much to shoot for, but at the same time, I know it is going to be a challenge, hopefully one that I am able to overcome.

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A NaNoWriMo wrap up

The last day of November and NaNoWriMo has been a success for 2022.  I went in with a hint of an idea, building on something in the same universe that I had written a couple other things in the past, part of a big concept I dreamed up the better part of 15 years ago, and it feels good to be making more progress in that world, even if I know good and well that I need to rework a good bit of the world I created.

As of this morning I am sitting at slightly above 60k words, which is awesome.  I am also sitting with a decent idea of how to end the story, which is a rarity for me.  Conclusions are one of the hardest things for me to write because I feel like I never have a good idea on how to wrap up a story.  This time I have an idea, maybe not the best one, but it does tie things up in a decent way, or at least decent enough.

Moving into December it will be time to do a bit of a refocus on things, mostly getting back to blogging here, hacking away at the café reviews too.  I would love to be able to post one a week, and that seems like a rather reasonable goal.  Generally speaking, though feeling good about the writing overall.  For the month of November I wrote an average of 2k words a day, and only didn’t write on three days over this past weekend, which given the holiday and the fact I had already hit my 50k, I didn’t think was such a big deal.

I know during December I would like to, or need to, do some rather serious work on the world that I have built for the story that I am working on for NaNoWriMo, as well as the other two projects that are based in that world.  I don’t need to totally redo the world or the details of it, but I do need to rethink some portions of it and try and draft things out in a more logical manner as opposed to what I drafted out in March and April of 2020.

Going into 2023 I know there is a good deal that I want to work on with my writing, between blogging, novels, and the like.  There will be a much more detailed post about all I want to get done, and work towards in 2023 coming soon, but for now, I at least know I have a plan, that I think is pretty decent, just have to work on the self-discipline, and holding myself accountable about things.  Goals are good to have though, and I am hopeful that going into 2023 I will be able to accomplish what I am setting out to, or at least make a decent dent on those goals.  Tired of things just being goals in my mind and not seeing any sort of progress being made towards them.

Back from vacation, now for NaNoWriMo

We returned from Los Angeles late Tuesday night.  Got in far later than anticipated thanks to mechanical issues with our plane in LA which required us to switch planes and terminals after we had already boarded our original aircraft.  It was far from ideal, but there wasn’t anything we could do about it, and honestly the process was pretty painless compared to what it could have been.

The trip itself was wonderful, getting to see family, see my sister-in-law get married, and get a chance to relax for a few much-needed days before returning home and returning to work.  Yesterday was a very tired day, that was for sure, but with a decent nights sleep last night I am feeling rather good this morning, at least in comparison to yesterday so that is as far as I am concerned, a massive relief.

What I need to get done now, or at least start thinking about a little bit more is NaNoWriMo because it is les than a week away now.  Starting next Tuesday it will be back to the grind of trying my hardest to knock out another novel this year.  I am feeling optimistic about it, not sure what I am going to be able to make of the idea that I have, but I am hoping for the best for it at least.  I at least have a general idea of how I want to start things, as I usually do, and I will see where things lead from there.  All I can hope is that I can keep up the momentum and don’t get bogged down in the middle like I have been known to have happen in the past, that is a fear of mine most years.  Thankfully it is something that has happened only rarely, and I have been able to power through the mid novel slump.

This year I am for sure not going to be writing longhand like I did last year.  Even though writing it by hand was enjoyable, the rewriting it was a headache to get through and not something that I really want to have to do on that scale again, at least not anytime overly soon.  I am hopeful that again this year I am able to write move than the goal of 1,667 words a day, so there isn’t some massive crunch to write a ton at the end of the month like there has been a couple other years.  I haven’t had a year like that in a while thankfully, because while I could in theory write 8,000 words in a day, I would rather not be in the position where that was something I needed to do.  Just because I can do it doesn’t at all mean that I want to do it.  I am hoping for a much more leisurely pace this year, even if I manage to average about 2,000 words a day that means I will get done with a few days to spare, and honestly 2,000 a day is a fairly reasonable goal for me I feel.  When I get in a groove writing, knocking out that many words isn’t too much of a challenge for me, so I am hopeful this year is no different.

Do expect the blog posts to drop off a good deal for November, there is no way I will be able to focus my energy so much on both NaNoWriMo and the blog, but I will try and get a few posts up as the month goes on.  If I didn’t post for the first 20 days of October and spaced things out and left a bunch on a queue to post in November it would have been a different story, but here we are. 

The day before a trip is always a bit hectic

I am so glad that we are all going on vacation tomorrow.  Five days of what will hopefully be relaxation in Southern California for my sisters-in-law’s wedding.  It will be nice to spend what I am hopeful will be five relaxing days in Los Angeles.  Besides the wedding, we don’t have anything else planned to speak of and to me that is possibly one of the better kinds of vacations.  A chance to relax, with little to no expectations of anything which should hopefully help us recharge a bit.

A relaxing low-key trip is what we need, for the three of us, plus as always it will be good to see family.  We haven’t been to my in-law’s house since last year before the baby.  We have seen everyone since then, multiple times, but all up here in Portland or in Las Vegas a month ago, it will be nice to be in Los Angeles, and also nice that the weather looks like it should be quite decent, if not a little cool overnight.  I might actually have to pack a little warmer than I was anticipating, which isn’t the worst thing in the world either.

I am hopeful that PDX in the early morning isn’t too bad tomorrow.  I haven’t taken a flight as early as ours in a very long time and I can’t remember what it was like for security lines, or even for places to be open to get a snack or a coffee or anything.  I guess we will find out when we get there.  All I know is that I am hopeful the flight goes as well for our son as the Las Vegas flights went, which he was generally quite calm on, and ended up sleeping the second half of both flights.  Hoping that tomorrow and the return flight is a repeat of that.  Would be even nicer if all three of us were able to manage to get some sleep on the flight down considering how little to no sleep we will get tonight.  My wife coming home from work at 2:00 a.m. and waking me up so we can get ready to head to the airport before 4:00 a.m., she won’t be going to bed at all and that is going to be beyond rough for her.  I will at least get a few hours of sleep.  Most importantly I hope our son sleeps well, so he isn’t a fussy boy on the way to the airport or during the flight. 

I have yet to pick out a book for the flight.  For the trip to Las Vegas, I opted for Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential.  For this trip, I haven’t made any decision, part of it is going to depend on if there is room in my bag for a physical book or if I am going to opt to take my Kindle which I really only use when I travel anymore.  I will know that tonight, and can plan accordingly, and if I do go the Kindle route, find something worth checking out from the library. 

Café Explorer – Starbucks, NW 21st Portland, Oregon

Starbucks Coffee 1012 NW 21st Ave Portland, OR 97209 Portland, Oregon – Website

The Details

Wi-Fi – Yes
Power Outlets – Yes, scattered throughout cafe
Restrooms – Yes
Parking – Parking lot and street
Transit TriMet Line 77 directly outside

Seating

Indoor
5 two seat tables (three with two wooden chairs, two with half padded bench and a wooden chair)
2 four seat communal table
Outdoor
3 two seat tables with metal chairs
Outside seating is covered and has overhead heat

Coffee and Food

The offerings at this location are the standard Starbucks fare.  They do have Nitro Cold Brew on tap.  They do have a Clover brewing system.  Menu can be accessed through their website and app.

Comfort

Thhis is a very small location, if you aren’t lucky enough to get one of the small tables next to the windows it is especailyl cramped. The half booth/table seats are very near to where people will wait to pick up their drinks and can be quite crowded.

This is not a location I would want to spend any serious amounts of time for writing. It is often very busy with people walking down from the hospital to pick up drinks. Can be quite loud as well. Only good for a quick visit, not somewhere ideal for a longer visit.

Fighting WordPress formatting and exploring more cafés

There is nothing quite like fighting with WordPress to get a post to have a layout I want. The café explorer post from yesterday was a massive pain to get up due to how I was hoping to have it formatted.  I was hoping, and trying, to use a table to have the café photo side by side with the details portion of the post.  However, no matter what I did, I couldn’t get things to go side by side and not have some sort of wonky alignment that looked like garbage.

Likely I will need to spend some time with YouTube and or other tutorials to figure out how to get the formatting I want to work, or possibly I need a different theme/style for the blog in the first place.  The other possible alternative is to do it all in HTML, which of course would take some learning too as I haven’t done anything with HTML sine a web design class in high school 20 years ago, so, needless to say, I don’t remember much, especially when it comes to tables.

Otherwise, I am generally happy with how the post came out and am glad I got the first café review up.  I am hopeful that I might be able to pop up a new review every week or so, if not more frequently depend on how accessible some of them are.  There are quite a few in the vicinity of my work to hit, but outside of that, most will require a bit of travel to get to.

Related to the café reviews, I am also planning to not just review places that are local.  When I travel if I manage to hit cafés or coffee shops or whatnot in other cities, I will do my best to get a review up as well.  I am not sure if I am going to be doing anything with places located inside of other businesses, such as Starbucks located inside Safeway, Target, Fred Meyer locations, or inside of casinos or the like. 

Potentially they would be worth reviewing or mentioning if they have a dedicated seating area, or if they are visibly being used by people who are there for a coffee and not just grabbing something before or after shopping.  There is a lot or can be a lot of variances though because those locations are not operated by Starbucks employees, and they may not offer all of the same things as a stand-alone Starbucks location which for some people is probably a disappointment. 

So, going forward, we will see what all sorts of cafés, coffee houses, coffee shops, and the like I can get into and review.  In a coffee mecca like Portland there is going to be a lot, and I know there are going to be some that are great places to want to spend time and write, and I am sure there are others I will want to walk right back out the door as soon as I walk in.  My goal is to find and report on those, so others don’t make the same mistakes.

Café Explorer – Starbucks, NW 23rd Portland, Oregon

Starbucks Coffee 1301 NW 23rd Ave Portland, Oregon – Website

The Details

Wi-Fi – Yes
Power Outlets – Yes, scattered throughout cafe
Restrooms – Yes
Parking – Street Only
Transit TriMet Line 15 directly outside
Portland Streetcar NS Line at 23rd and Marshall and 22nd and Northrup

Seating

Indoor
5 two seat tables that are half bench half chairs
1 six seat communal table
1 four seat long table against the window
6 two seat tables with chairs
4 large, padded chairs around pillar in the middle of the café

Outdoor

5 two seat tables with metal chairs
Outside seating is not covered or heated

Coffee and Food

The offerings at this location are the standard Starbucks fare.  They do have Nitro Cold Brew on tap.  They do not have a Clover brewing system.  Menu can be accessed through their website and app.

Comfort

The most comfortable and largest Starbucks in the Alphabet/Slabtown area.  Can get a little loud if it is full due to concrete floors and a high ceiling.  With the scattered power outlets and ample seating, it would be a conducive place to write.  The tables and seating are more spread out than it was before the COVID 19 pandemic, I don’t believe there as much seating now as there was before. 

Enough seating and space that one wouldn’t feel like they were in the way if they came for a more extended amount of time to read or write.  As long as there are open seats, each seat has ample space for beverages, food, and a laptop or tablet.  The only thing that might be an issue here is the volume, and depending on the sun, possibly glare coming in the windows.  Otherwise I would give this café high marks for its comfort as a writing spot.

Sports cards, the junk wax era, and maybe collecting again

Growing up in the “junk wax” era of baseball cards, and well, sports cards in general makes it a bit difficult for me today to even know where to even start if I was going to do anything regarding collecting today.  Back then in the early 1990’s there wasn’t much along the lines of special insert sets, or anything along those lines.  The sets now, at least from a cursory look online seem to have so much more variety, even just with individual manufacturers like Topps.  Speaking of Topps, they are offering cards now for events that are happening same day, with the Topps Now project including The Goose On the Loose.   

Now don’t get me wrong, the fact that something like that is even a possibility now due to the internet and whatnot is quite cool, but for a collector, it would be exhausting, and also quite expensive.  I remember getting packs of NHL, NBA, and MLB cards when I was a kid for $2 or $3, and them being packs pushing 20 cards per pack, now it seems like some packs have a comically low amount of cards per pack, potentially those sets are more insert heavy, I really don’t know.

I have a couple large boxes, and several binders of cards that have been mostly collecting dust for quite some time, and something needs to be done about that.  As I said, most are from the “junk wax” era, of the early 90s and therefore largely not worth too much at all.  I don’t really care how much or how little they are worth, they are in a large part, just part of my childhood.  Happy memories with them, the thrill of opening a pack and seeing what might be in there.

This was also before there was a ton of hockey broadcast on television until ESPN2 became more commonplace, so it was a chance to learn who was on what team in the NHL, and the occasional finding of former Portland Winterhawk players as well.  When it came to NBA cards it was always the hope of pulling Portland players, like Drexler, Porter, Kersey, Duckworth, Strickland etc. 

A lot of the cards I have were from entire boxes of packs that were purchased, sealed, from I believe it was KB toys, or something like that, who used to have stores at the various outlet malls here.  A whole box of packs could be purchased for somewhere between $10-20, and would give me a ton of enjoyment opening them, sorting them, looking at all the players and the like.  That was something my dad would often do for me, which I miss.  Today, with eBay,  one can still get boxes of packs for about that much, but then there is the shipping cost, which isn’t cheap at all it seems.

There is also a lot less sports card stores than there used to be, which is a disappointment.  I haven’t been to one in probably at least a decade or more, and don’t even know where one might be that is close.  I vaguely remember seeing one off I-5 or I-205 in Washington somewhere in Vancouver the last time we were driving north.  If I manage to get things a bit more organized with what I have, maybe I should go check one out and see what I can find for old cards and see if building a complete set of some of these cards is a possibility.  Who knows maybe I will even get lucky with some sort of inserts. 

There is no way I see sports cards as any sort of investment, not with the kind of stuff I go for, I do and always have done it more for the joy and excitement of the search for cards and the collecting side of things.  I guess that is one reason I like collecting sports stuff in general.  Just the enjoyment of it all.

The upcoming winter household projects

Nothing like a sleepy Saturday morning.  Portland has still been unseasonably hot with temperatures in the 80s most of the week.  The overnight lows however are still dipping into the mid to low 50s, so the mornings have been rather cool.  Finally turned the furnace on the other day and it will likely be on through spring now.  No more use of the air conditioner, especially given how it hasn’t been working all that well these last couple of months in the first place.  Going to have to sort out getting it replace this winter or spring before things get hot again next year that is for sure.

So many things I want to get done this winter around the house, the biggest question though is if I will be able to be bothered to do any of it.  So much stuff in the yard that needs to be worked on, need to also figure out how the best way to go about getting the exterior of the house painted.  The paint chipping off the aluminum siding looks like utter shit, and that is just on the front of the house, which is good because it is only one side of the house but also bad because it is the side everyone can see, which is damn far from ideal.

Other than that, there is a bunch of other stuff in the yard that hopefully can be tackled, more work on the blackberry vines, bamboo, and maybe even trying to get rid of some of the grass so I can finally try and extend the patio like I have been talking about for a couple of years now.  I need to make the back yard more usable and enjoyable, especially since now the patio is largely too damn small to be functional at all.

On top of the outdoor stuff, there is painting in the house to get done too, the hallway and dining room, maybe the laundry room too, so that isn’t something I particularly look forward to but it is something that is going to need to be accomplished for sure.  The dining room and hall especially, they look like trash and need a fresh coat of paint to make them look more presentable.

I also want to make some sort of progress in the garage.  The garage is a never-ending nightmare of too much stuff and too little organization which is something that needs to be taken care of.  I need to figure out what all needs to make its way out to the shed to get it out of the garage and out of the way.  If I was able to get rid of the clutter it would be a lot better out here.  This is especially true because I want or have wanted to try and build something for my model trains I have had since a kid.  That of course requires space, space that at present is full of a ton of other stuff that doesn’t need to be where it is.  That is going to be a challenge and then some I feel to get the garage situated, considering I have been going on about it for a couple of years or more.  Hopefully this winter I can actually make the progress I want.

Too many projects, and a visual accountability tracker

I am a professional at biting off more than I can chew when it comes to projects.  This has been seen when it comes to the sports gaming project, a lot of my writing, and even having the drive and motivation to work on the casino reviews and really so many things.

I’m also afraid that the café project will turn into more of the same.  I’m hopeful that I am wrong about that, but honestly I don’t know how much faith I have in being able to keep myself motivated for an extended period of time on this project, or really any of my projects.  This is especially true when it comes to a lot of my writing projects, many of which have been unopened and not worked on in years.  Not a great look if I say so myself.

I either need to find some way to be able to hold myself more accountable for what I want to work on and create, or I need to find a way to break things down into more manageable chunks or pieces so it isn’t anywhere near as overwhelming for myself.  Easier said than done I am sure.  The biggest thing I guess for me is that this isn’t exactly a new issue at all.  This has been something that has plagued me for years.  This is especially true when it comes to working without a deadline.  That might be one reason why I am able to generally do pretty well with NaNoWriMo, is that there is a clearcut deadline for the project with daily goals and the like.  It makes it easier to stay focused.

With so many of my other projects there aren’t any deadlines, self-imposed or otherwise and that is very possibly a big reason why I am not the best at sticking with things.  Making some sort of deadline for myself or even if it is just weekly or monthly goals to write x amount of days, visit a certain number of cafes, or play a certain number of games in some sports game, that may be the best and most productive way to get my to have some sort of accountability for things.  I don’t have any better ideas to speak of.  Setting goals like that seems to be the most practical choice and easiest to track and stay on top of as well.  I guess that is something that I could track in any number of notebooks or whatever sort of planner system I decide to use for 2023, which hopefully will be something I manage to stick with for the whole year. 

If there is some sort of a visual reminder though I do believe that will help me visualize what all I need to or should I say, want to get done, and that way it will be even more apparent to me if I am not managing to stick with whatever it is I am wanting to accomplish or not.  I want to hope that will help, but I don’t know if it will or not.  All I can really do is try and see what happens, if it works, that is wonderful, and if it doesn’t, well, back to the drawing board.