Crazy Summer Update, August 2015

Back in July I wrote about my “One Awesome Summer” list — the big list of all the stuff I wanted to do this summer in spite of being in the middle of an all-consuming project at work. That project had me regularly working 12-14 hour days in late June and July, and it threatened to overwhelm my summer. Feeling like my summer would be over before it began, I decided to make a list to make sure that summer felt like summer. It couldn’t take away the long work day, but it could help mitigate them.

It’s now late August. The big summer project I was working on launch at the end of July, and I’m just back from a week-and-a-half long vacation at Lake Champlain in Vermont. With a few days more until I return to work, I thought it would be good to check in on list.

The Summer That Was

Exercise like it’s 1985; Break the 210 lbs. Barrier Done and done. My morning exercise routine (save for my recent vacation) has been solid and it’s show results: I finally broke the 210 lbs. barrier, hitting 209 lbs. for the first time in a long time. This allowed me to finally build the LEGO Milano that I’d put aside as my reward for hitting the 210 lbs mark; the ship now proudly sits in my office at work. Naturally, my weight continues to bounce north and south of the 210 mark, but it’s nice to have finally hit my target. Now to start working toward 200 lbs….

Reading Days: The idea of Reading Days was a good one — take a few days off here and there in the summer and spend them reading books and drinking good beer, just like I was on vacation. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to defend that time. One of these days was consumed by family projects; two more fell to my work schedule. That said … I didn’t need them to keep up with my reading list. I made a concerted effort to read when I had downtime, and as a result I made tremendous progress on my summer reading list. Going into my August vacation I’d read 7 of the 12 novels on my reading list; coming out of vacation I’ve read 11 of 12 novels … and added three more! I’ve also read all five of the graphic novels on my list, and added another four. It’s done wonders for my mental health and 2015 is shaping up to be one of my most productive reading summers in decades.

Summer Movies: I’ve seen most of what I want to see: Avengers: Age of Ultron, Jaws, Ant-Man, Mad Max: Fury Road and Jurassic World. Most of what I haven’t seen has been because of terrible reviews: Pixels, Terminator: Genisys, and Vacation (though I’d still like to catch Terminator … it just seems like the sort of bad movie you should see in the theater.

Baseball Games, Hitting the Beach: In addition to seeing my expected IronPigs games, I saw two new Minor League teams: The Pawtucket Red Sox (AAA-affiliate of the Boston Red Sox) at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket Rhode Island and the Vermont Lake Monsters (Single-A Short Season affiliate of the Oakland Athletics) at Centennial Field at the University of Vermont. Even better, the Lake Monsters played against the Brooklyn Cyclones, the affiliate of my beloved Mets. Finally, against all odds, the Mets are in first place in the National League East. And not by just a little bit — they’re up 6.5 games on the Nationals (as of 8/19).

I’ll be rounding out August with an all-day beach trip to the Jersey Shore topped off with a Lakewood Blue Claws game (Single A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies), so there’s even more baseball to look forward to.

Fly Model Rockets: My friends and I had a huge model rocket build night at the end of July, in which we built about eight Viking model rockets. We then launched them at Easton’s Hackett Park. It was a fantastic experience — I underestimated how intense my memories of model rocketry are. Building the rockets caused all these skills I’d forgotten I had to come surging to the forefront. Now to build something a little more challenging…

Monster Week: I’d set a date for Monster Week of August 23-August 29, but unfortunately I’m just not going to make my deadline so I’ve moved it to October 18-24, 2015. So far I’ve seen four movies for monster week — The Blob, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Grabbers, and Jurassic World — but I still have to do the hard work of writing the review.

200,000: The Jeep’s odometer rolled over to 200,000 this summer. Not only that, it got a new soft top and new speakers, so now I can once again listen to my tunes with the top down.

Summer Vacation: I spent nearly two weeks with my family on vacation in Vermont. We spent our first two days in state visiting Burlington, where we went to the Vermont Brew Pub, Magic Hat Brewery, Lake Champlain Chocolates, and a Vermont Lake Monsters baseball game. Then we spent nine days with our friends at their cabin on Butler Island in the middle of Lake Champlain. There I read a ton of books, played “island ball” with the kids, watched the original The Blob with the neighbors, put together an impromptu disc golf course with the kids, and ran my first-ever kid-centric D&D sessions with my daughter (12), my son (10) and his two friends (also 10).

The Unexpected Summer

And then there’s the stuff I didn’t plan for, but was awesome nonetheless.

Disc Golf: So it’s early July. My work project is hitting, and hitting hard, and my free time is seemingly non-existent. That’s when my friends and I decided to try out disc golf. What is it? Well, it’s like regular golf except you use flying discs instead of clubs and balls. The idea is the same — try and traverse a course using the minimum amount of tries (in this case, throws).

I loved it. It’s basically a hike in the woods combined with the occasional skillful throw. The abundance of trees and hills (the courses around us are heavily wooded) makes things challenging and, occasionally, hilarious as discs go bouncing around the course and into the brush. What started off as an offhand “we should try this” comment has turned into a once-a-week outing.

Apple Watch: As my fitness routine ramped up I’d been considering getting some sort of exercise monitoring tool, like a Fitbit, to measure my progress. When the Apple Watch came out, I was intrigued because it could do all the fitness stuff while at the same time connecting with my iPhone for texts, calls, etc. The $350 price point ($400 with AppleCare) made it a pipe dream on my budget … or so I thought. In June I won an award at work. That award included $500 … and suddenly the watch became a possibility. More than a possibility, because I bought one over the Fourth of July weekend, and have been wearing (and playing) with it ever since.

What’s Left Undone

Most of my “secondary goals” remain undone. I did an unpublished test run of Picture a Day in July but gave it up after about two weeks — I just didn’t have the mental discipline to keep it up. Spending more time writing was incompatible with reading, disc golf, work, and sleeping; I’ve got a dozen articles started for Nuketown, but most are languishing. My Map of the Southern Pomarj saw some progress, but it’s far from complete. I haven’t done any cycling, but disc golf has filled that niche nicely.

All in all, I’m pleased with how my summer went. Yes, it was a blur, and yes, there was a tremendous amount of work, but it wasn’t all work and I think I relaxed just enough to stay sane. The challenge now will be to start thinking about the fall, and transitioning to a more human schedule.

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