2016 is winding to a close and I’m going to take a few moments to reflect back on the year, personally and the world at large.
It was actually a year with some significant changes. To start, when I went back to work after the holidays at the beginning of the year I went to an eight hour a day five days a week work schedule like most normal people, although from 2pm – 10pm. This presented some challenges and honestly I didn’t care for it when the idea was proposed, but turned out to be overall a positive thing. It means I’m home every morning and then home every night, whereas the schedule I had before had me working nights and basically working a couple of days then getting a couple off.
The change in schedule made my life a little more regimented and also gave me the weekends off. Unfortunately it made it harder to tackle bigger projects with smaller periods of time and I’m not sure if I sleep less, but it feels like it – going to bed at midnight or one then the baby waking up at 6:30.
Having the weekends off led to the biggest success of the year – our business. It feels like most Saturdays were spent pushing tea one way or another and now we have a viable part time business going into the new year. In some ways we underperformed my expectations but in others we succeeded…I would say that at the outset my expectations were kind of arbitrary though.
Then we got married. Honestly things didn’t feel very different the day after, but it was a big event during the year. I was more involved this time around than last, so the planning had a bigger impact on my life. It was a very DIY wedding so Mary spent countless hours on Pinterest and such. At times I wanted to say “can we please not talk about the wedding anymore tonight?”, but we made it through and the wedding was amazing. Everything went great.
Then we found out (recently) that we have another baby coming. It’s a boy. That’ll be a huge change in 2017.
I always get ideas for different little projects. A book I should write, a webpage, a podcast, a business, etc. Usually I get so bogged down with ideas that nothing ever happens. This year I decided to focus on just one of those things and I did. www.coldwarcast.com A podcast about the Cold War’s history, with a strong emphasis on telling it through the pop culture of the time. It’s been fun and with no significant advertising somehow I have about a 100 listeners that tune in each episode. I’m hoping to grow it and dedicate myself to putting out more frequent content. As of now it’s been about a show every two weeks, maybe twice a month. I’d like to do *at least* once a week, even if I have to shorten episodes. I’m hoping to take that to the next level this year.
At the beginning of the year I made a list of things I wanted to do this year. A list of books I wanted to read, a couple activities and a few vague “learn more about…”, “do more…”. Thinking back, I think I at least made a conscious effort for every one of them, except making a point to hit up the shooting range. Admittedly I had some help early on by spending the first couple weeks of January at work doing very little but reading.
Fitness goals? I definitely had them. Ones that I thought were achievable, too. Wound up hitting a plateau, doing something else for a while and then ramping back up, even bulking, before hitting another plateau, getting some aches and pains and getting bored. I can say that I did get stronger in the current year, but I also put on a little bit more fat than I’m comfortable with and feel like my stamina is way down.
Now, what am I going to do about it this year? I can’t say my diet was the best it’s ever been last year, at times intentionally. I’m going to have to clean that up. I just started a new program that has me doing more volume rather than low reps/high intensity. I’m also adding back in a meaningful go at assistance work and planning on doing at least 5 minutes of cardio before working out in order to warm up. I’d also like to add a few minutes of medicine ball slams or hitting the heavy bag a few times a week.
Off the top of my head I’d guess that I could stand to lose around 15lbs of fat, give or take a few and be about where I would want to be aesthetically. I just have to realize that it’s completely on me. Sometimes I get pissy when Mary fills the candy jar full of m&m’s or randomly decides to bake a cake. It makes it difficult, but that’s where willpower comes in.
It was another terrible year for gardening due to the chickens tearing things up. If I want to have a garden, I’m going to have to do something really drastic, like put up a deer fence around the whole thing in order to keep them out. Doing that will help with the diet problem too, as I’ll have more vegetables in my diet than I did the previous years.
Financially it was kind of a rough year too. The wedding took a toll, a cut in pay over the past couple years and then going to a one income household made it hard to stay ahead of things. Oh, and Mary’s student loans kicked in. We sunk a lot of money into the business, which took a while to recoup (and I’m ok with that). I’ve been doing pretty well for myself over the past several years, having a job that pays a fairly high wage and living low. I’ve been used to doing just about whatever I want within reason, but this year was the first time in a very long time where I’ve had to say that I couldn’t afford it about something fairly reasonable.
Things are aligned for 2017 to be better financially though and be able to start putting some money aside again.
Oh, I also wanted to have all the loose ends in my house tied up, like fixing trim, painting this or that, just little things. How’d I do on that? HA! Better luck next year.
I’ll leave the personal stuff there. Let’s go on to the larger world.
Holy fucking shit! If I could sit down with Ryan circa January 1, 2016 and have a conversation about what’s all happened in the past year, I wouldn’t believe it.
Right wing populism was the big winner of the year. I can’t believe how far various aspects of that worldview have come in the past year. Our cousins across the pond ran away with it in the Brexit vote, causing all kinds of heads to spin. Merkel’s political power/approval is waning in Germany. Viktor Orban in Hungary became a national hero. Vladimir Putin is probably the most respected politician in the world. Le Pen and FN is looking good in France. Wilders in The Netherlands is sitting pretty good and Duterte in the Philippines rounds it out in the East.
Then on the homefront, there was the election of Donald Trump, which I followed closely throughout the year. At the very least his election was a rejection of our political class, immigration, globalism, political correctness and the idea of undue civility. What I mean by the last one is that the American people are ok with pushing back on some of the social forces that have been shaping our society for the past few years. A celebrity, pundit or politician makes a comment on social media? Fuck ’em, let them have it right back. Half of the country acted shocked and appalled over this, half of the country cheered it loudly.
I think it’s safe to say that the gloves came off a little bit against the zeitgeist in 2016. Social media is definitely no longer a “safe space” for left wing ideas as there’s been all kinds of pushback on these kinds of things to the point where there’s a strong internet subculture against these kinds of things that uses the language of the alt-right.
On that note, I can’t believe the alt-right became something of a household name, even if it is a little off target. A year ago these guys were making podcasts and blog posts that maybe a thousand people heard/read, now Richard Spencer’s name is plastered all over everything. Guys like Mike Cernovich, Paul Joseph Watson and Milo Yiannopolous have built careers in the past year around being “alt-light”. I just wouldn’t believe that there would be a meteoric rise in the alt-right and many alt-right viewpoints.
Now let’s talk celebrity deaths….
I think there were a few “big” ones in the final days of 2016 that brought the idea of dead celebrities of the year into the forefront of people’s minds. It’s hard to say it was really worse than any other year, if you like celebrities.
I can’t say I really care about these kinds of deaths. I can acknowledge, in many cases, the entertainment value or even “impact” some of them have had on me, but in reality almost each and every one of them have functionally stopped existing for me. What do I mean by that? I mean that if Prince put out an album today, I probably wouldn’t have listened to it. If Carrie Fisher starred in a movie today, I probably wouldn’t see that either. Most of these people are, as far as I’m concerned, carved into stone in a sense. What I appreciate about these people almost always is something in the past, not the present. If a favorite actor/musician/author/etc in their prime died, maybe the prospect of missing out on them fulfilling their potential would affect me (i.e. Kurt Colbain dying while Nirvana was still going strong seems more tragic than someone living off fumes from the past).
At any rate, I’m ready to move on into 2017.