It’s been a wild ride, and now it is time for it to end.
I smashed my previous consecutive blog streak of 120, with my final number being 365. I don’t intend on blogging tomorrow, and I’m happy for the streak to die out – to be honest, it’s a relief, more than anything else. I did kinda cheat, pre-writing some of the blog posts, to make up for the days in which I wouldn’t have time to write / wouldn’t have internet access, but such is life when you’re working full time and trying to do other things, too.
I’ve been asked by a lot of people why I wanted to do this. The biggest part was just the challenge – to see if I could. As MrFodder says, I’m the Queen of high effort, low reward activities, and this is definitely one of those, at least on the face of it. I combined this with my challenge to spend at least $400 a month on non-necessities (i.e. not counting rent and bills and stuff), and the idea behind it was to push myself to do things that I wouldn’t normally do – things that I either considered “not my thing” or things that I normally wouldn’t want to spend money on. I’ve always thought that people tend to settle in their favourite spot on the couch, and they’ll yell at the TV screen how X player is the worst in the world and that they could do better.
But if you’re just sitting on the couch, you don’t understand what it’s like to be in X’s shoes. There are so many perspectives other than yours, and unless you push yourself to try something different, you’ll be forever stuck in that part of the couch that has moulded itself around your ass, and not grow as a person.
Not that I think this is necessary for everyone, but being able to empathise with people and see things from their point of view is really important to me. As I’m slowly moving out of my comfort zone, and talking to people I thought I had nothing in common with, I’m realising that we’re not so different, and getting to know a “jock” who wouldn’t touch a computer game with a 10ft pole isn’t as difficult as I thought. Not only that, but there are things that I’ve learned from him that I’ve taken on board to shape myself into the person that I want to be.
It’s been a difficult but interesting journey, and this post is shaping up to be a long one, so despite what I just said above, I’d recommend settling into the moulded shape of your favourite chair.
The first month of the challenge, and we spent nearly half of it in Japan. A side effect of this challenge was that I pushed myself to do things other than shopping and eating while in Japan, and we did some cool things, like seeing a samurai kembu performance, and watching a sumo fight. The highlight for me was definitely the chicken ramen instant noodle factory tour, and that brand of chicken ramen has made its way into our home back in Australia. I built my own computer for the first time, and it took a lot longer than I thought it would.
Following all the eating from Japan, I realised I weighed a lot more than I wanted to, so I decided to take up running and work towards being able to run 10kms. Michael and I finally had our tartes aux pommes bake-off, and I won, though I really didn’t deserve to, as his tart tasted much better than mine, which fuelled me to improve even more. I tried to make soufflé for the first time (and failed). I went to see The Consouls perform, a video games jazz band, and they were amazing. I volunteered at a tech conference, and heard a lot of great speakers.
Jal finally solved the Truman chips mystery, and it was nothing to do with race, age or gender, and everything to do with the fact that I don’t drink soft drinks. I borrowed a friend’s son for 2 hours, and that was probably the most exhausting thing I’ve done all year, and that includes going to work on very little sleep, and getting up early to run 10kms. I gave my phone number to a stranger who seemed nice, but then asked me a weird question and I stopped responding to her. I lined up far too long for OK doughnuts (a very Melbourne experience). I went to the Arnold Classic, but didn’t get to meet Arnie, and I also saw some French movies, including an incredibly bizarre movie that still makes me think, “What the f#$% happened?”. I put together a parody of Mean Girls and said goodbye to GD.
I saw Rove McManus at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Began the 12 week body transformation fitness challenge. D challenged me to a Dota 2 match, where it would be 3 against 1 (me being the 1). I started training to play mid. MrFodder and I went to the Wonders of the World Lego exhibition, which was amazing (and definitely something old me would have considered a waste of money). I took part in Premiere’s Active April again, contributing many hours of workouts to my suburb’s stats, and training with Pharmacist at the gym.
I ordered my first lockpicking set, and tried to soothe rising nuclear tensions in Calm Down, Stalin. I volunteered at BAM. I failed many times at making a sponge cake, but got there in the end. I took part in Melbourne Knowledge Week. I went out drinking and didn’t spill any secrets. It was also the first time I threw up due to too much alcohol – not fun. I also got some Shadow Fiend coaching. I lost to D at mini-golf, and saw an art exhibition (Van Gogh and the Seasons).
The fated 3v1 Dota 2 match finally happened, and I won! Adam West passed away. I gave up a lot of the most recent technologies, including lights, and had to resort to using candles after the sun went down (thankfully I didn’t set the house on fire). Attended the Good Food and Wine show, and also finally hit 10kms! I beat Captain in a choc-chip cookie bake-off, though it was technically a tie. The 12 week challenge ended, and I didn’t really get very far.
Saw Book of Mormon (very funny in a crude kind of way, check it out if you’re in Melbourne!). Made a pact with someone that if I was going to cheat on MrFodder, I’d cheat with him instead of anyone else, which seems like a stupid idea, now that I think about it. Tried to eat on $15 in a week (and failed). Went to an MSO concert which was a tribute to Mozart. Played some sub-900 MMR games of Dota 2 – that was kinda nice, but then became a struggle. Won my first Dota 2 battle cup, with Pharmacist, redbeanpork, MrMoustache and one of MrMoustache’s friends. Went to Fiji and avoided signing up for one of those “holiday share” scams.
Found Soulcry again, in FFXIV, though we still haven’t played Dota 2 together, and I haven’t really spoken to him since his hard drive died. Started my multilingual Disney music collection with some French CDs. Saw a couple of movies at the Melbourne International Film Festival. Stalked people for the sake of my nation in Orwell. Got told that someone filmed me watching some “inappropriate adult videos” and they’d release it if I didn’t pay them money, which I never paid them (did anyone happen to get one of these videos sent to them, because if they did, I’d like a copy as there was a great video I saw earlier in the year that I haven’t been able to find again, and maybe they happened to record it?). I managed to get six MrBrioches together to try my coffee ice-cream. Went to a rally in support of gay marriage. Finally unfriended someone that I’ve been meaning to unfriend for years.
Met some really cool people and destroyed the One Ring™ with them in the Lord of the Rings board game. Had my first HSP… and lived to tell the tale. Went to a Legend of Zelda concert, and nearly cried from the nostalgia. Joined Captain at a VFL finals game (his team lost, but he was happy that he got to see Mason Cox play). Lined up for more doughnuts, and cupcakes on Studio Ghibli day. Got my first sports injury (runner’s knee). Went to a trivia night, and lost due to being terrible at the music round. Sent my first not-suspicious suspicious package. Learned a lot about application security at the OWASP AppSec Day. Joined redbeanpork at a Japanese speech contest, and Pharmacist joined us at the NGV for a Hokusai exhibit. Saw a Shakespeare play. Watched the AFL grand final for the first time (spoilers: Tigers won).
Bought a mini-SNES, and relived my childhood with MrFodder playing Donkey Kong Country (that game was so much harder than I remembered). Ran in the Melbourne Marathon, making that my first official 10km run! Made a short stop-motion animation with MrFodder at the Aardman exhibition at ACMI. Complimented someone’s moustache, and started a long series of awkward events with NiceBeardGuy. Went to PAX (as an attendee, not an enforcer).
Added Japanese songs to my collection of Disney music. Went to the Shrine of Remembrance for Remembrance Day. Nearly broke up with MrFodder over Mario Kart. Nearly melted at the Sweet Expo. Paid off my HECS debt!
Saw some movies at the Japanese Film Festival. Sent the second of my non-suspicious suspicious packages, and got a suspicious package in return. Had the next of my awkward encounters with NiceBeardGuy, this time involving bananas. Watched an indoor cricket match, and then an outdoor cricket match (The Ashes on Boxing Day). Was part of the studio audience for The Yearly with Charlie Pickering (MrFodder and I watched the actual show last week, and it wasn’t as good as watching it live, strangely enough, maybe because I’d heard all the jokes already). Saw Murder on the Orient Express at the Openair Cinema. Saw Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. Baked a crapton of cookies. And now here we are.
Side note: I didn’t have a spare post to blog about it in the end, but I tackled soufflé again (with the leftover egg whites from when I made the custard ice-cream), and I did it! My culinary white whale.
Has it been a good experience? Yes. Has it been a bad experience? Yes. I started out strong, full of enthusiasm, and was signing up for events left, right and centre. I’m not sure when it happened, but I hit a wall. Perhaps it’s my introverted nature, and I had exhausted my reserves of human interaction powder, or perhaps it’s just because of other life events, but the whole thing started to become a chore.
I also began to notice that I was becoming one of those people that I detest – an Instaglammer (I’m making this word up): someone who only does things in order to give the illusion on social media that their life is so much more glamorous than it actually is. There were a lot of things that I did this year that I found interesting, but I didn’t have time to try them again because I felt compelled to do new things so that I could blog about them.
Another question that I often get asked is how long it takes to write a post. I average about an hour, but that’s just the writing part of the post, that doesn’t take into account the time it takes doing whatever it is I’m writing about, or the travel time, or the time spent finding things to do. It honestly felt like a very demanding part-time job, which was tough to keep up on top of my full-time job. Probably another contributing factor to me running out of steam part-way through, and the relief I will feel once I hit publish on this post.
Overall, it has been a good learning experience, and as much as I grew to resent it over the year, I am glad that I did it. I’ve definitely become a lot more confident over the year. Maybe it has something to do with getting better at playing mid heroes in Dota 2, or maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m less afraid about trying new things and failing. I’ve failed a lot throughout the year, and you know what? I’m still here. I don’t have people pointing and laughing at me on the street when I walk by. In fact, I’ve discovered that I have a great support network of amazing people who help me pick up the pieces.
Which brings me to the next part: the thanks. Of course, MrFodder is going to get a huge mention here. Having to do this challenge is a huge burden, not just on me, but on him. The frantic rushes home so that I’ll have enough time to smash out a blog post before the midnight deadline. Many hours spent sitting at cafés in Japan, leeching the free-WiFi so that I can publish my blog post. Me disappearing for hours on end, just so I do things to write about. The extra chores he has picked up so that our house doesn’t fall over while I write, and so we still have things to eat. He didn’t sign up for this challenge, but in a way, he has had to do it, too, and I couldn’t have done it without him.
Pharmacist, who has pointed out at lot of mistakes in my posts (ninja mention of QCN who also did the same). Who reminds me when it’s getting close to midnight that I still haven’t posted yet, so I really need to wrap things up and hit publish. I nearly called it quits a few times, but a part of what kept me going was that I didn’t want to let him down. He was always available for me to have short discussions to gather my thoughts, and I’m very lucky to have a friend like him.
redbeanpork – the food master. I feel like I can hardly take credit for a lot of my food adventures this year, since a lot of it is inspired by him. He seems to have this innate ability to find something so delicious that I could have just finished eating a three-course meal, and then I’ll open up a recipe he has linked and feel hungry all over again. He is also definitely the source of the more art-y related activities I’ve done this year, which is something I wouldn’t have done in the past, but I’m glad that I did.
Of course, the Dota 2 support from both of them, having to go through my growing pains as a mid player, and all the complaining. Which is where I should mention MrMoustache, who I feel is going through a lot of the same problems I’m going through while playing Dota 2. And it was nice to have someone to nerd out about Star Wars with! He pushed me to compliment NiceBeardGuy, and even though that didn’t go very well, it has opened up the world of compliments to me. I complimented someone’s T-shirt the other day, and another person’s beard, and both of them looked really happy about it.
Over the year, I’ve become a lot closer to A, and I think we’ve both helped each other get out of our comfort zones. I think we’re close enough now that we’re comfortable enough to talk about those niggling self-doubts, and we can have an honest talk about each other’s strengths and weaknesses. In particular with running, I don’t think I could have made it to 10kms without his support.
Jal and Michael have contributed to so many interesting discussions, and there are quite a lot of blog posts that started because of something I talked about with them. I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing that Jal seems to treat my stalker nature as a challenge, as I showed him my notes on him and he seems to be encouraging it by saying mysterious statements that are almost a challenge to find out more. D helped by being the subject of a lot of posts, though I don’t think he knows yet.
All the people who helped me take pictures, or posed for one: MrFodder, Special K, D, Jal, TS, Chris, Pharmacist, redbeanpork, Michael, TH, a random person at Fed Square, the pottery lady in Kyoto, Goaty, GD.
Finally, here are my stats for the year.
As of the time of posting, I have 5257 views (only WordPress lets me see yearly stats), across 2982 unique visitors, with 5 likes and 26 comments.
My most popular post (not counting the home page), was the Java 7 certification exam post I wrote a few years ago, followed by the second certification exam post. The most popular post I wrote this year was “Bad Brother is Watching“, about the adult video recording scam.
There were 62 posts that I categorised as having done something new that I wouldn’t normally have done. That’s about 1 new thing every 6 days. I made 45 posts about things that I had cooked / baked.
Unsurprisingly, my top category (other than “365”) was food, with the top 6’s stats as follows:
- food – 73 posts
- around-town – 67 posts
- work – 29 posts
- geeky – 28 posts
- games – 27 posts
- dota2 – 26 posts
I attended 15 different talks throughout the year.
I averaged 783.2 words per post, with the shortest post being 47 words (Road to 10k), the longest being 4068 words (Kiev Major – Main Event: Liquid vs Newbee, Game 1), and a median of 654 words. Here’s a chart of my word count over time.
Thank you for joining me on this adventure. Let’s hope I don’t do anything stupid like this again for a while.