Category Archives: Administrivia

Come Follow Me Thoughts

My church has a program for church-supported, home-centered gospel study called Come Follow Me. We use it Sunday School at church, in Seminary on weekday mornings for the youth, and also in our home and personal gospel study. If you’re interested, you can find a link to the curriculum here. This year, we’re studying the Book of Mormon, but each year we alternate to a different one of our standard works of scriptures (last year was the New Testament, the year before that the Old Testament, and the year before that what we call the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price). As part of my study this year, I thought I would start a series of blog posts on thoughts I had from either my own studies, or from discussions we had as a family, at Sunday School, or elsewhere. Knowing how inconsistently I am at blogging, I don’t know how frequently I’ll do this, but I figured I’d give it a try.

Just as a reminder for those who’ve recently stumbled on this blog, this blog is focused on things related to my personal/family goals, recipes, religion, philosophy, and if I’m stupid enough I might get into politics and policy thoughts. I have two other blogs that are not dead yet — Selenian Boondocks, which is focused on space technology, policy, and business musings, and which has had a few cobloggers over the past 18yrs, and my Starbright Engineering blog, which is focused on professional writing related to topics such as satellite servicing, etc. As you can probably tell if you check them out, I don’t get a chance to write very frequently. I’m hoping that these CFM Thoughts blog posts can be short enough that I can do them more frequently.

Anyhow, wish me luck. Hopefully someone finds these interesting.

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2023 Goals Accountability: The Good, the Meh, and the Ugly

Following my tradition from last year, I wanted to share how I did with the 14 goals I set for myself. I had some success, some of which were very fun, some partial successes, and some goals I completely failed at.

The Good…

I had five goals that I succeeded at all the way:

  1. Physical Goal #1: Get to the point where I can jog a 10K: This was the first goal I completed, when Peter and I ran the Bolder Boulder on Memorial Day (5/29) last year. About a month earlier, I was starting to warm up, planning on doing the 10K at the end of the summer, when a friend who knew about my goal had asked me if I had ever run the Bolder Boulder. That race was only barely over a month later, and I wasn’t certain if I could get ready in time. But one of our investors at Gravitics had gone from being in shape for a 5K to running a marathon in only a month, so I figured getting ready for a 10K might be possible. I got a heart rate monitor watch so I could do the aerobic threshold running that a friend had told me would help me build my endurance the best, and then started running almost every day. In the end we did it, running the race non-stop. My time wasn’t amazing, right around 1hr 30min, but that was me running non-stop for 1hr and 30min! Anyhow, given that three years ago, I couldn’t make it a quarter way around a track without wheezing, I’m pretty proud of this one.
  2. Spiritual Goal #3: Attend the temple with Tiff at least once per quarter and with the boys at least once per quarter: I finished this one in late October on 10/26/2023, shortly after getting laid off by Gravitics. We had managed to go somewhat consistently, but once I was laid off, I started going more frequently. All told, it was also a great experience.
  3. Intellectual Goal #1: Cook at least one new recipe per month, with at least on recipe this year from each of the six inhabited continents: This was probably the funnest goal. Some of the non-international recipes weren’t particularly memorable, but it was fun trying out cuisine from all over the world. I’ve posted some of the recipes here like the Indian Butter Chicken and Naan, the Peruvian Pollo a la Brasa and Aji Verde Sauce, but we also did Ratatouille and Honey Garlic pork chops from Europe, Tourti√®re (a French Canadian meat pie), a spicy Kenyan Chicken Jollof Rice dish, and finished up by doing an Aussie Burger, complete with roasted beet root, and a New Zealand Jelly Slice for dessert on 12/15/2023. This was one of my more unusual goals from last year, but I’m glad that I chose it.
  4. Intellectual Goal #3: Finish at least two significant crafts projects (making things that involve multiple components that weren’t a premade set from someone else): I actually didn’t think I was going to make it, having not really done anything for this goal at all through the first ten months of the year, but I actually had three cool craft projects that I wrapped up in November/December. The first one I can’t show many pictures of because it was for work. But right before I got laid off by Gravitics, I had completed a major proposal effort, so I rewarded myself by buying a Snapmaker 2.0 3-in-1 3D printer, with a lot of upgrade modules. When I got laid off, I thought at first that maybe I should return the printer, but when I realized I had paid for it on my credit card, and if I returned it, I’d only get back about 2/3rd the price, and then have to keep paying for the other 1/3 without ever having used the machine, I decided to keep it. A few weeks later, a friend of mine whose startup was moving asked me if I still had the printer. Apparently their printer was already packed up, and they had a short-fuse project for a client that needed parts designed and 3d printed. In the end, I ended up making almost as much off of that project as I would have from two months at Gravitics, and ended up designing, and printing 9 parts (3 from PLA, but most of them from Nylon), and machining about another four pieces from G10 fiberglass boards. It wasn’t perfect, especially since I hadn’t had a chance to really dial in my printing parameters before jumping into it. But the client was able to assemble the system, and run the tests they needed, and I got to learn a lot about my printer. The other two projects were Christmas presents, one a drawing board for Jamie (that included a riveted on clipboard clip), and one a water color palette for Tiff (that we bonded in about two dozen metal water color pans). We finished this one on 12/23/2023.
  5. Spiritual Goal #1: Read the New Testament and Book of Mormon cover to cover: I finished this goal on 12/26/2023. This was probably my fourth time all the way through the New Testament, and probably my 34th or 35th time through the Book of Mormon in English.

Those were all the goals that I completed all the way. Many were fun adventures, others just the result of trying to be consistent. Now on to my partial successes…

…The Meh…

I had another six goals that I at least made headway on.

  1. Physical Goal #2: Finish getting my 5K race time down under 30min: Of my partial successes, this one was the one I came closest to achieving. In the fall, after we got back from summer vacation, I started training again for doing a 5K over Thanksgiving, using a training routine from my Polar Pacer heart-rate monitor watch. I figured that two months would give me enough time to get ready, and we decided to sign up for a race out in Springfield, OR again (the same place I ran my first real 5K race two or three years ago). In the end, I set a personal record, but missed my target with a time of 30min 26s. Given that any further 5Ks I ran would be at much higher altitude, and that the weather was rapidly shifting to winter, I realized I likely wouldn’t be able to get this goal completed this year. But I at least came pretty darned close. And a personal record is still a personal record.
  2. Social Goal #3: Invite neighbors or church friends over for dinner at least 2x per quarter: I didn’t keep good track of how often I had done this, so I don’t know for sure how well I did, but I think we only had people over maybe 5 or 6 times this year. Still likely better than if I hadn’t set the goal, so worth celebrating as a partial.
  3. Social Goal #1: Take Tiff on meaningful dates at least 1x/month: We had some good dates/activities this year, including a 20th anniversary trip to Hawaii in August. But once again, I didn’t keep close track of this goal, and am pretty sure I probably only had about 8-9 of the months where we went on at least one date, and I’m not sure if all of them were particularly meaningful.
  4. Family/Home Goal #1: Do at least two home or yard improvement mini-projects per month: I did do a lot of mini projects over the year, but probably nowhere close to 24 of them. And I didn’t keep close track of it. But some of the things we got done included setting up new shelves in the garage and basement, getting a food storage area setup downstairs, fixing two of our sofa chairs whose legs had broken, cutting down the brush around our back patio, weedwacking the 6ft tall weeds in our back yard, repairing my broken desk, and building out my home office. Not perfect, but there were definitely some wins in there.
  5. Physical Goal #3: Finish getting to the point where I can do all five Home Fitness bodyweight exercise sets at full reps, without having to take extra breaks in the middle: In 2022, I got a bodyweight exercise app that I started in on. By the start of 2023 I was just transitioning into doing the hardest of the three levels — Advanced, for all five types of exercise (Abs, Chest, Arms, Legs, and Shoulder/Back), but at around 1/2 of the reps they suggested per exercise. By the time I switched my focus in April to 10K training, I had gotten the Legs and Chest exercises to full reps, but with lots of breaks. I never really got back into this consistently enough to pick this up, and after the 5K, one of my shoulders was hurting in a way that I wasn’t sure doing a bunch of pushups was safe. So while I made some progress on this at the start of the year, I never finished this one all the way.
  6. Spiritual Goal #2: Do something meaningful for each ministering family at least 1x per quarter: I started off ok with this, but it tapered towards the end of the year, especially with how busy stuff got over the summer, lots of trips, then getting laid off. I don’t have great excuses on this one. I did some ministering, but only felt like I did much for one of the families.

At least in this case I made some effort towards achieving the goals, even if I didn’t succeed all the way. Without further ado, on to the last category, where I couldn’t even say that.

…The Ugly

I had three goals in this category, where I really feel like I didn’t make any real headway on them.

  1. Social Goal #1: Visit somewhere in Central or South America for at least a weekend, where I will have to speak Spanish: I’ve been teaching myself Spanish for about 8yrs now using Duolingo, and in 2022 I finished reading El Libro de Mormon in Spanish, cover to cover. But I still didn’t speak Spanish very well, so I wanted a goal to force me to learn how to speak Spanish. While I did do some work on Spanish speaking with a new app that was better optimized for teaching you to speak (Pimsleur), I never got far enough that I felt I could make the trip. I had been intending to visit a friend down in Equator for a weekend, but between my lack of preparation, and Tiff getting congestive heart failure, I decided to punt on this goal for this year.
  2. Family/Home Goal #2: Finish reading at least one book each on parenting for autistic and NLD kids: I did read like 2 or 3 chapters of NLD Super Stars, but that was about it.
  3. Intellectual Goal #2: Wrote at least two substantive (technology, policy, etc) blog posts series of at least three posts long each: I’m kind of embarrassed by this one. I used to be pretty prolific with Selenian Boondocks. But while I did write a few recipe blogs, and I think one opinion blog post, I don’t think I wrote a single substantive blog post last year. This is two years in a row that I’ve completely failed to resuscitate my blogging mojo.

Anyhow, that’s my report for 2023. Next up, tomorrow I hope to do a writeup on my 2024 goals, what I changed, and what I want to try that’s new. All told I’m still pretty happy at all of the full and partial successes, though some of the complete misses sting a little.

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Etymology of the Name “Taong Boondocks”

Before I go into why I chose the name, let’s start by breaking it down a little bit.

The first word “Taong” comes from the Filipino/Tagalog root word “Tao” (pronounced Tah-oh), meaning man or person.¬† It has an “-ng” ligature at the end, which links it to the second word, “Boondocks”, which is an Americanization of the Filipino/Tagalog word “Bundok” which means mountains. American GI’s couldn’t pronounce bundok properly (the ok at the end is pronounced like “oak”) when referring to the backwards, mountainous regions of the Philippines, so they called them the boondocks. As far as I can tell this is the only word that American English has borrowed from Tagalog. Put together Taong Bundok or Taong Boondocks would thus mean “Mountain Man”, which in Tagalog carries some of the same hillbilly/rustic connotations the phrase has in English.

So why did I chose a name like that? Here’s a few reasons:

  • It ties into my two years I spent in the Philippines on a mission for my church. I had originally intended to talk a bit about my time there on my other blog, Selenian Boondocks, but this is a more appropriate forum for such discussions/stories.
  • It also ties into my better-known, space policy blog, Selenian Boondocks (which would roughly mean Lunar Mountains, but with sort of a Lunar Hillbilly connotation).
  • I like the fact that we actually have a word in common usage in America that was borrowed from Tagalog.
  • I plan on using this blog to discuss some topics (religion, politics, etc.) that are typically considered inappropriate for polite conversation.
  • In some ways this blog is also sort of a blog about the person (tao) behind Selenian Boondocks.


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Rationalle for a Third Blog

First off, I’d like to welcome any regular readers of Selenian Boondocks or any of my twitter followers (I’m @rocketrepreneur in case you were wondering). Those of you who know me are probably wondering why I’m starting a third blog (after Selenian Boondocks and the Altius Space Machines Blog), when I’m already struggling to regularly post on those other blogs.

The genesis for this idea actually came from several years back, prior to my moving from Tehachapi to start Altius. My original blog, Selenian Boondocks gained its notoriety primarily as a space technology, space business, and space politics website. Unfortunately, Selenian Boondocks has become strongly tied to my career persona, and I quickly became aware that trying to mix in other areas that were important to me might actually hurt my credibility in those areas that I was already posting about on Selenian Boondocks. Basically, it’s a lot easier to dismiss analysis on a space blog as being the hopelessly naive and amateur ramblings of some net kook, if you’re also talking about your pet, your recent recipes, and your opinions about other various and sundry things. Combine that with the fact that many of the things I care about are items where I disagree with some healthy fraction of my readership, and it just seemed better to have a separate blog for non-spacey things.

I guess I could’ve got a Facebook page, but then I’d have to use Facebook. And you’d have to put up with me on Facebook. No, I think we’re all better by me having another blog that you can safely ignore if our only point of agreement happens to be space. I’m almost guaranteed to get myself in trouble on this blog eventually, but I’d rather be able to talk about who I really am than have to artificially stifle a significant fraction of who I am and what I care about just because I don’t want to dilute the message of my other blogs.

And with that, I give you Taong Boondocks.

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