2016 Summary

At the end of last year, I promised that 2016 was going to be life-changing. As I sit here and type this year's journal entry in my apartment, I can say without a doubt that 2016 truly was.

Last year, I wrote:
2015 began and continued the same way 2014 ended, i.e. depressingly. This November and December, though, has brought me a lot of mental clarity that I was severely lacking for over a year and a half. I suppose, other than studying for various professional certifications throughout the year, being depressed was starting to become a second hobby. Talking to friends helped tremendously.
At the end of 2016, I get to say that I now know what recovering from depression feels like. My desire to seek logic in the illogical combined with my innate sentimental and obsessive nature hasn't served me well.

This year, I paid off my car loan in full on Jan 2, 2016, way ahead of schedule. I officially got my PE license on Jan 11, 2016, although I did not pursue my CxA like I had hoped. Earlier this year, I told my boss I was unhappy and planned to quit (though my feelings on the matter and my general irritability have since mellowed somewhat). I negotiated a 16% pay raise this summer. I stamped and signed my first engineering project just a few weeks ago. I've developed a decent working reputation with my suppliers and clients. Enough that one of the guys took me out to a Ravens game earlier this month, my first NFL game: Dolphins @ Ravens, which ended with yet another ridiculous Baltimore home game victory of 38-6. (See Orioles games from last year.)

I found myself getting back into woodworking and painting, and built myself a watch box out of laser cut birch plywood. Some assembly required. I bought myself a Kindle paperwhite and found myself reading again. I bought into the "smart home" idea, started getting back in to coding, and spent way more money on gadgets and devices than I'm willing to admit, especially for my tiny apartment. I went to a taping of Late Night with Seth Meyers in DC with a new friend back in October. I saw Lindsey Sterling perform in DAR Constitution Hall DC with old friends. I learned how to bleed and flush brake fluid with help from Taylor and Graham.

There were just a few vacations this year, but I did find time for relatively random excursions here and there: I went on a sponsored, week long engineering seminar near Atlanta during the last week of March, where I got way outside my comfort zone and learned to socialize and network with so many awesome people. I saw the "bean" in Chicago with the bros (and Myra) early May. I drove down to Richmond to see Blue Man Group with a friend late May. I went on a Boston-Portland (ME) trip with my sister in August. (No new airlines in 2016, but I get to add ORD and BOS to the list of airports I've visited!) I went home to Brooklyn five times this year, which is one more than last year. So I guess that's an improvement. And in case anyone's keeping track, I've visited Taylor in York
threefour times in 2016, including once for New Year's weekend.

I'm on track to round out 2016 with about 22,300 miles this year, for a total of about 66,600 miles on the three-year old SPC3SHP.

Last year, I said that I should meet some people and get a life. After some self-discovery and coming to terms with who I am, I think this year has finally set me on the right track. Given all that's been terrifying in politics, the news, and the real world this year, I find myself cherishing this opportunity for self-reflection and taking advantage of the post-election months by going on figurative long walks in the woods. I mean, it'd be nice to maybe find a new passion that I can commit to—something, for once, that's not related to my employment or professional career.

P.S. Against the sound advice of a friend and my better [objective] judgement, I was selfish and decided to "re-pursue" a relationship, just to have my heart broken again. I suppose it's true—nothing teaches life lessons quite like personal experience. Still though, I'm glad I did. No regrets.

Hypocrisy

This is how I see the next four years roll out​—with less obstructionism in Congress, with significant backtracks of Trump campaign promises, and with extreme Republican hypocrisy, for better or worse.

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Obama: We just went through the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. We need to help our kickstart our recovering economy by putting Americans to work with shovel-ready infrastructure projects. Let's do this!

Republicans: We need to reign in the national debt starting right this second. No new taxes! No!

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Trump: Infrastructure, folks... we're like a third world country!

Republicans: Yes, it's about time! Reinvesting in America and American workers is exactly what we need now to save American jobs and recover.

Smell of Taiwan

Here in the East Coast, I am reminded occasionally of the nostalgic smell of Taiwan. I have only recently realized it's actually just a weird combination of the following:

5% Taiwanese People
15% Nature/Humidity/Dew
10% Taiwanese Street Food
25% Engine Exhaust
20% Cigarette Smoke
25% Sewage

2. 0. 1. 5.

I wasn't going to do it, but what better time than to gather my thoughts from 2015 than right now. Hell, it's a year-end tradition at this point. So here it goes. 2015 began and continued the same way 2014 ended, i.e. depressingly. This November and December, though, has brought me a lot of mental clarity that I was severely lacking for over a year and a half. I suppose, other than studying for various professional certifications throughout the year, being depressed was starting to become a second hobby. Talking to friends helped tremendously.

Professionally, I nailed my two-hour LEED Green Associates exam with only 2/100 questions wrong in just under 57 minutes (yes, it was an easy exam) in August, and I passed my Professional Engineer Exam in October. In November, I was invited to attended a mechanical engineering practice leadership meeting in Philadelphia. All the regional managers and group leaders were there to talk about projects, lack of profits, and other issues. I was invited to provide a "young engineer's perspective" on this; I felt somewhat out of place. I learned a lot in Philly, including the fact that I have, at least among the mechanical group, a good reputation that precedes me. Yay.

Soon enough, I'll have PE, CxA, LEED Green Associate behind my name on my new business card! Maybe I'll quit my job next year.

I went to two work-related Orioles game this year: Philly@Orioles, 3-19, in June; and Athletics@Orioles, 2-18, in August. With such a ridiculous win rate, Taylor says I need to go to every home game to help them out. Disappointedly, I haven't attended any Wizards games this year.

My sister Kelsey and I took a two-and-a-half week vacation/road trip in September (right at what should have been the peak of PE Exam studying season). We started by visiting Stephen in Seattle, WA. From Seattle, we rented a Chrysler 200S and drove to Portland, OR via Mount St. Helens. From Portland to Eureka, CA, via a circuitous detour to Crater Lake National Park (at which we saw literally nothing because of epic fog). After leaving Eureka, we stopped at Fort Bragg, CA for lunch before arriving at San Francisco, CA. San Francisco was awesome. We met up with some distant cousins for dinner, we wandered the necessary sights, and we biked across the Golden Gate Bridge twice. I travelled through SFO airport for the first time. (No new airlines in 2015 though.)

Also, I visited York, PA three times, including for Christmas this year, and I visited Taylor in Raleigh, NC, once. I only went home to Brooklyn a disappointingly meager four times; I need to do better.

This year, my car engine died suddenly while I was going 75 mph driving home from the aforementioned Athletics@Orioles on I-95S. Coasting without engine power, across three lanes, to the right shoulder is definitely something I do not want to experience again. I had to call for tow-truck service for the first time in my driving career. (It turned out it was a failed Cylinder #3 coil, causing the unbalanced engine to shake violently whenever I tried the accelerator. Ultimately, the broken piece was replaced for me under warranty. Luckily.) I drove approximately 20,870 miles in my Mazda3 this year, at an average of 34.36 mpg. My best tank-average to date was 39.53 mpg, which occurred in 2015.

Photography took a major backseat this year, but I've resorted to Instagram, which is weirdly addicting. I am considering making a photo book of my Instagram posts in 2015. Otherwise, there's been no major new hobbies this year. Although, I did develop an interest in horology and watches late in the year.

I should go meet some people and get a life. 2016 will be life-changing. I promise.

So sit up straight. Pay attention. Don't be shit, Kevin.

To My Self

To You,

I hope that you can stop yourself from falling into old, destructive habits. I hope this tragic ending to your year-long fling with the idea of finding love and happiness won't stop you from discovering new love in something you've yet to do or with someone you've yet to meet. I hope that you will be able to forgive and let go of those things that have hurt you. I hope you will be able to find your own way and find the peace you've been looking for for far too long.

Yours truly,

Kevin

Mousepad

K: Is a mousepad where a field mouse dwells?

B: Yes.

B: If he's single.

B: Like a bachelor pad.

B: Otherwise it's a mousehouse.

K: Ohhh!!

Not a Haiku

Right turn. 
Walk 10 steps.
Left turn. 
Hit wall. 
Open door. 
Hit wall.
Left turn.
Fall down stairs.
Keep falling.
Keep rolling.
Exit on level G1.
Turn left.
Keep going to Laundry Room.
Turn right.
You're at the Loading Dock.
Hit wall.
Fall down 4 feet.
—Directions on how to exit my apartment, to RC

Mid-Year Review

Again, I cannot stress the accomplishment the design and production of the 200,000 square foot bus storage facility has been. Kevin has taken on major portions of the design, drawing and specification production, including calculations, internal and external coordination.  This, while we continue to push forward many other small and medium sized projects.
I have been working with Kevin for over a year now and it is a pleasure. [T]he enthusiasm and energy he brings to the office along with intelligence and professionalism.
Thanks, Boss.

Plans, Ahead

I think I've decided to make 2015 the year of professional growth. There are a few exams lined up for various certifications and professional licensure with my aim to successfully attain them by year's end. We'll see.

Brighten Your Day

K: I like when I accidentally hit my light when answering the phone.

K: It brings me much joy.

B: Does it brighten your day?

K: Quite.

2014 Sucked So Bad

This year brought so much joy to me; before becoming sad, depressing, and miserable; before ending in doubt and confusion. I started compiling this end of the year post on December 07, but gave up putting any serious effort into it.

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So this year, 2014...

I attended a talk by His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the National Cathedral in DC. (The first time hearing him speak was at Cornell.) We saw Lindsey Sterling in concert when I, along with Kelsey and Stephen, visited Hans in Denver. We had L&L Hawaiian BBQ again, in Denver. We did AirBNB near Colorado Springs and survived. We visited Pikes Peak to 14,114 feet above; I nearly fainted.

Taylor gifted me an old Trek road bike. I passed and received certification as a Commissioning Technician for work. This summer, I've gotten the most depressed I've ever been (but have mostly recovered from it, I think). I took sleeping pills for the first time; the experience scared me to death. I started running.

We visited Canada for the first time; I drove in my first international country. I successfully grew a marconi pepper in my indoor garden; it was delicious. I won a 40" LED Smart TV in a raffle and sold it. I haven't gained any weight for the first time in many years; I managed to lose about 10 pounds. I watched way too many movies in the theaters. I continued with tutoring, now in AP Physics and Calculus. I quit Facebook.

I've accepted the fact that I'm short and started getting my clothes properly tailored. I started paying attention to fabrics of clothes and material of things. I started baking pies, quiches, cookies, and pastries. I received an automated speeding ticket. I replaced my car windshield because of an incidental crack. I replaced my car hood because of a motherfucker.

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New airports visited: STL, MKE. New airlines: Southwest.

Thanks for the experiences 2014. Now please go away. Get out of my head.

P.S. 50,000 IU D3.

Edit: In 2014, I also fell short of my 30% YTD stock market growth by approximately 30%. Great...