Category Archives: Goal: Learning Spanish

My 2024 Goals

Continuing another tradition, I’d like to post my 2024 goals, as a way to force some level of accountability. This year I didn’t set as many goals, and many of my goals are actually tied with helping others achieve their goals.

Spiritual Goals

I’ve had some success with spiritual goals that were very routine-based, like reading the scriptures cover to cover or going to the temple on a regular basis. They’ve been helpful, but I wanted to make things more meaningful this year.

  1. Return to the Philippines to participate in the Urdaneta Philippines Temple dedication: 14 years ago, the prophet announced they’d be building a temple within ~25 miles of three of the towns where I served in for half of my mission (Bayambang, Calasiao, and Binmaley). They finished construction late last year, and after a three week open-house period, they’ll be dedicating the temple on April 28th. I haven’t been able to make it back to the Philippines yet since returning home in 2002, and I’d love to go back and visit friends I haven’t seen in person for two decades. I’m not sure how I’ll be able to coordinate getting permission to participate in the dedication, but I think it’s an achievable and very worthwhile goal.
  2. Participate in gospel study daily, using the church’s Come Follow Me curriculum, marking all BofM passages that point to or testify of Christ, and all that discuss gospel principles or doctrines: This one is fairly specific, but is driven from something I noticed from the past two years. My goals of reading the books of scripture cover to cover ensured I was reading regularly, but I was almost never synced up with reading what my family was studying at home, my boys studying in seminary, and our ward studying at church. So this year, I want to stick to the church’s Come Follow Me curriculum, which is focused on the Book of Mormon this year, rather than just trying to read through at a steady pace. Also the marking of scriptures based on specific topics seemed like a way I’ve heard other people have gotten more out of study, so I wanted to try it.
  3. Help Jonny get his mission papers submitted: Getting his mission papers submitted this year was one of Jonny’s personal goals, and I wanted to assist him in doing so. He’s now about the age I was when I served, and he’s pretty excited about the opportunity.

Social Goals

I haven’t been as successful with my social goals, but I’m going to try again. Once again with things that are easily trackable, require consistent effort, and should be meaningful.

  1. Complete levels 1-5 in Pimsleur Spanish lessons: I was thinking about retrying my 2023 goal of visiting somewhere Spanish speaking for a weekend, but I thought this goal would also help ensure I get more comfortable speaking the language. The Pimsleur curriculum is primarily focused on guided conversation practice, and completing levels 1-5 (with ~30x 30min lessons per level) works out to ~75 hours of Spanish conversation, and will require me to complete at least ~3 lessons per week, so I’ll be doing the study pretty consistently. This goal seems both achievable, something somewhat challenging because it’ll take consistent effort over months, but also likely to make a difference in my confidence with the language. I’ll probably keep doing Duolingo study too, because that app is as addictive as crack, but may cut back a little on trying to stay at the top of the leaderboards.
  2. Invite neighbors, church friends, or other friends over for dinner at least 3x per quarter: This is similar to a goal I’ve had in the past, but with a little more increased frequency, and a slightly broader casting of the net. I’m also going to take better notes so I don’t lose track. To be clear, while I say dinner, it could be other meals, a party or other get-together, but something that we’re hosting at our place. I think this is a good way to get me out of my introverted little shell more often.

Physical Goals

Physical goals are ironically some of the ones I’ve had the most success with so far. This year’s goals are ones that will take consistent effort, but which I’m highly confident I can achieve. Since I may be done with both of these earlier in the year, I might decide to add a follow-on goal later.

  1. Help James and Peter prepare for the Bolder Boulder 10K and run it with both of them: Both Peter and Jamie set goals to run the Bolder Boulder 10K this year. Peter ran with me last year, and after the 9.5km point when I told him he could go ahead at his own pace, he left me in the dust. In spite of only joining me for one practice run. So I’m pretty confident he’ll do fine, but this year, I’m trying to help him train enough, and have things like a way of carrying his phone, so I can let him just run at his own pace, and really show us what he can do. Jamie just wants to be able to run the whole thing without stopping to walk, so I’m going to run with him at a nice steady pace. I’m not trying to set any new speed records, unless Jamie is up for it. Just maintaining the capability for myself, and helping them prove to themselves that they can do hard things too.
  2. Get back under 175lb by my birthday: I’ve never set an explicit weight loss goal before. In 2020, I just set the goal to use the Noom app for six months, and see where it got me. In the end, I got down to just under 170lb. Over the past three years, I’ve inched up a little, with my worst weigh-in after Christmas being up around 186lb. I know I can get back to 175lb without trying that hard, so long as I’m consistent, and it would help a lot of other things. Basically, I just have to try a little. And if I’m steadily exercising and prepping the boys for the Bolder Boulder, I have a feeling I’ll likely surpass this one by a decent margin. So while this is an easy one, it’s still worthwhile and meaningful.

Intellectual Goals

I decided to stop trying to set a blogging goal. I’ll either have time to rejuvenate that skill, or I won’t. I decided to focus my efforts a little differently this time.

  1. Learn how to use my Snapmaker 2.0’s rotary 4th axis, 40W laser, and dual-print head, and design and make at least two items using each process: as I mentioned elsewhere, I upgraded my Snapmaker Original to a 2.0 this last fall, right before I got laid off. During the two months I was freelance, I had a chance to start using the module, and made some parts using each of the three basic capabilities — single-nozzle FDM 3d printing, 10W laser cutting, and CNC routing. But I have a lot of other upgrades that I’ve either not tried at all, not figured out all the way, or barely started scratching the surface with them. I’m especially interested in seeing if I can figure out how to do color metal marking of Stainless with my 40W laser, and dual printing of a graphite or glass reinforced nylon with dissolveable support structures using the dual print head.
  2. Help teach each of my boys one or two skills that they want to learn: With my youngest three still in home school, and Jonny preparing for his mission, I wanted to work with each of them on one or two skills that they wanted to learn — either one I’m already good at, or one I’m learning with them.

Anyhow those are my goals for 2024. Do you have anything you want to try to achieve this year?

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Filed under Goal: Learning Spanish, Goals, Philippines, Uncategorized

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, Tourtière (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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Filed under Administrivia, Goal: International Recipes, Goal: Learning Spanish, Goals

Learning Spanish via Duolingo

As any of you who follow me on twitter have probably noticed, I’m fairly strongly pro-immigration, if not outright pro-open borders. With that in mind, I was sitting in the “Priesthood Session” of the LDS General Conference last fall, when a rather profound talk by Gérald Caussé made me realize that if I really care about immigrants to this country, many of whom are here from Spanish-speaking countries, that I ought to teach myself how to speak Spanish. I may not be able to make much of a difference in changing the laws of our country to make them more just towards those who would like to live and work here, but had the misfortune of “choosing the wrong parents“. But I can chose to spend some of my time to learn their language so they can feel a little more at home and know that they’re welcome here.

Anyhow, nice sentiments and all, but I set that goal over half a year ago, and had so far done nothing to accomplish it. Then this morning a friend introduced me to a cool new language site, Duolingo.com. They’ve got a great user interface, I like the gamification, and my inner entrepreneur loves their clever business model–they offer you free and fun language training, and in turn some of the practice you get later in the process involves translating online documents from that language into English (with multiple users having the chance to vote on and correct each others translations). Much more clever than “we’ll show ads and make money that way” that seems to be the default approach of far too many websites these days.

Once again, starting a goal is easier than keeping that goal, so I’ll try to give periodic progress reports as a way of keeping myself motivated. Until then, ¡Buenas noches!

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Filed under Goal: Learning Spanish, Immigration