2018 Year in Review and Looking Forward to 2019

Whoa, it’s already 2019! It sure did sneak up on me there. I think that probably happens every year for everyone, but man, 2018 really flew by for me.

A lot happened for me this year. But most excitedley, I found my life partner at the start of 2018. It took some patience and a lot of persistence, but we found a path to each other and just two weeks ago, moved in together. I’m really excited for each and every day with her and can’t wait to see where we are at the end of 2019.

As far as the rest of the year, well, let’s review my resolutions to see what I was up to.

  1. The fitness trifecta!
  • First, increase my weight to more than 200lbs. I’ve flirted with it for some time, but I’ve fluctuated from 185-195 for the last year. It’s time to cross that barrier in a healthy way that will let me age gracefully. Ideally I’d like to settle in around 215-220lbs.

I did it! I just weighed myself 10 minutes ago and I made it all the way to 203lbs! And while that was a goal of mine, I’m not overly happy with how it came, namely, around my stomach. I suppose it’s time to sculpt that weight into something I’m happier with.

  • Second, run a sub 5 minute mile again. I nearly did it in 2014 with a time around 5:10-5:15, but because of a stress fracture in my shin I wasn’t able to quite complete it. I ran a 4:50 mile in high school and to date I view this as my peak physical/athletic accomplishment. Surely I can do better at 34/35.

Absolute fail. I tore some cartilage in my wrist back in June and for about a month I jumped on the treadmill 3-4 days/week and worked hard on my mile time and got it down around 5:50. But that last minute or so is the hardest and was not in an danger of disappearing.

  • Third, increase my vertical jump by 4″. I’m at 24″ right now, which is up from 22″ from earlier last year. I can dunk a basketball, but I really want to throw down like I’ve always wanted to. Get ready to be posterized!

Fail. I don’t have any idea what my vertical is right now, but I imagine it hasn’t changed much and if anything, droppped an inch or so. I never committed to this, first because of injuries and then just generally apathy towards this goal. I suppose it was never that important to me.

For 2019, I resolve to do 40 pushups and 40 crunches each day. I’ve already started this morning, so I’m off to a great start.

  1. The birding trifecta!
  • First, get 5 new life birds in the United States. Rosy Finches and Sage Grouse have teased me long enough! Prairie chickens, I’m looking right at you! Don’t think I’ve forgotten about you Whooping Crane!

Check! 8 new species and here they are: Gunnison’s Sage Grouse, Red-Breasted Sapsucker, Pacific-Slope Flycatcher, California Thrasher, Rufous-Crowned Sparrow, Sagebrush Sparrow, Gray-Crowned Rosy-Finch, Brown-Capped Rosy-Finch.

  • Second, see 200 species of birds in Colorado. I thought I would attempt a Colorado big year this year, but I just have too many other things I want to do with my time. So instead, I’ll just try to increase my birding activity by maintaining a list and seeing where it takes me. I would like to limit my efforts to Larimer County or maybe only species seen by bike travel, but we shall see.

A big nope on this one. I didn’t really try because of too many commitments from recording jobs, as well as a new project that I’m really excited about.

  • Third, add 100 life birds overall. A trip to Trinidad in March should take care of this!

So close! I think I ended up just shy at around 95, but I’ll have to double check once I get back to my house. A trip to Trinidad in March contributed to the majority of new birds, but also 5 trips to Sequoia NP and a quick jaunt to southern Baja California where I added Xantus’s Hummingbird and Blue-Footed Booby!

For 2019, I have two goals: 1. See the Swainson’s Warbler and 2. Add 5 other life birds. Seeing Swainson’s Warbler would close out my eastern warbler list and I should be able to do this in April in Louisiana or Mississippi. I’ll also be birding for two straight months up the Mississippi Flyway, so I should be able to find 9 other life birds. Hello Red-Cockaded Woodpecker, Black Rail, King Rail, Bachman’s Sparrow, Black-Billed Cuckoo, Whooping Crane, Seaside Sparrow, and Nelson’s Sparrow. Also, there’s a Gyrfalcon, Black-Legged Kittiwake, and Pink-Footed Goose waiting on me when I get back home!

  1. Give up online dating.
  • I’m over it. It’s pretty much the worst thing ever. And the worst thing of all, I think people justify it as a means for their busy lives, when in actuality it’s likely a justification for not having the courage to face rejection. It’s time to get over that and do this the old fashioned way.

Check! I finally mostly gave this up at the start of 2018 and then I met my favorite person in the world. No looking back!

  1. Learn two songs on the guitar and banjo apiece.
  • I failed at this one last year, so let’s give it a shot again. I’d really like to learn my scales, but that’s a bit intimidating. Maybe I’ll try that one while I learn the songs. This again is the resolution most likely to fail, but I can feel a little momentum, so there’s always hope!

Nope. I learned how to play ‘Misty’ by Caamp on the banjo and ‘Best of What’s Around’ by Dave Matthews on the guitar. A song short for each instrument.

  1. Create two meaningful writing projects.
  • This is the next step to taking my writing seriously again. Last year creating this blog was an attempt to jump start my writing productivity. Now that I feel better about writing in general and my confidence has increased, it’s time to turn my attention towards writing that is more meaningful towards my career.
  • I have ideas for two audio podcasts that should propel me into a more formal writing mode. I need to sit down with a good bottle of scotch (thanks Emily!) and flesh out the details.
  • One of the ideas is to capture the power of sound as a memory tool. The idea is that sound and smell are the strongest eliciters of memory, even moreso than vision. And since I’m particularly interested in sound, I want to create a podcast that deals with people’s memories that are tied to specific sounds.
  • The second idea is a podcast called Science in 60. I am less sure about the direction I want to take this one, but I do know that I want to create a digestible weekly pill of a meaningful discovery in science. Most importantly, I want it to include messaging that is influential and memorable so that easily discussed talking points can spread to water coolers across the country (a. do water coolers still exist in offices? b. Mom, do you have one because that’s probably the furthest these efforts reach).

I’m going to call this one a win even though I didn’t create the two projects I said I would. Instead, I created a better project and National Geographic gave me a lot of money to go do it. I’m so excited to get started on this and see where it takes me. In many ways, this was the tougher route. I proved to myself I have good ideas and that I can write. The scars of graduate school are fading.

For 2019, I resolve to pour everything I have into this project to make sure it has the greatest impact possible.

I also published a peer-reviewed paper with one of my undergraduate students. This again was a huge accomplishment and was deeply rewarding because of my experience mentoring someone else on a project of that size and watching them grow as a professional.

 

Well, that’s it. Only 3 resolutions for 2019, but they are important and achieveable. I feel really good about where 2019 is going.

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