Plans for summer: Relationships, work, gardening, biking, drawing and photography, making, and finances

Cate Huston asks for inspiration: What are you focusing on in June? Work is straightforward: Drupal web development until September, at least, and probably similar work after that. Summer also makes it easy to decide what to do. Biking and gardening, yes. Baking and sewing, not so much. Social events, yes. But it’s a good idea to go beyond these vague categories and figure out what I’d like to explore.

This blog post is not really about focus. It’s more of a list of things I’m thinking about, but at least it’s a shorter, more concrete list than just "stuff". =) Focus comes when I go through the different categories and focus on making one item for each category happen.

Short-term thoughts for summer

Relationships: I should take advantage of summer’s long days and warm weather by meeting up with people. It might be awkward in the beginning, but I’m sure it will get easier. I should nudge my friends to organize things more often. Maybe I just happen to be the most get-folks-together-and-feed-them sort of person in the different groups I’m in. This is okay, although I’m curious about what it might be like to get a regular potluck going. Or a regular cookathon going. Hmm… Possible improvements:

  • Shift us to salads and other yummy things to eat during summer.
  • Think through upcoming decisions and scenarios, and write about them.
  • Meet at least one person each week, possibly around events I’m interested in.
  • Think about cool things to offer during get-togethers. Fruits and lemonade, mmm.
  • Set aside social time and proactively reach out to people through the Internet.
  • Set aside driving practice time, too.
  • Schedule Latin-learning dates with W-, so we stop cramming our Latin homework on Saturday evenings.

Work: Development is the way to go for me, I think. I like it more than consulting. I like making things happen, and I like the way it continuously sharpens my skills. Yes, it’s a global marketplace, and the work may be tougher than consulting because it’s more easily virtualized. But that’s good, too – less travel. I can keep growing in this by learning more about Drupal and Rails, and improving my front-end skills. I would like to work on a Drupal 7 project and another Ruby on Rails project this year. I want to be the awesome backend developer or technical lead people like working with in order to make websites happen. Possible improvements:

  • Get even better at automated testing (Selenium for web-facing tests?)
  • Develop more patience for manual testing; yes, coding is fun, but testing prevents embarrassment and increases learning
  • Figure out continuous integration, perhaps with Hudson
  • Make sure I’ve got interactive debugging set up for both frameworks I like working with
  • Learn more about working with other developers: managing projects, workflow, etc.

Gardening: I think it’s incredible. You put seeds in soil, you give them some water, and sunlight and nature do the rest. I want to take advantage of the sunlight to learn a little more about growing our own food. I love how the strawberries are starting to bear fruit, and how the peas race up the string-trellis I made. I want to grow more and more fruits and vegetables so that someday, we can grow most of the produce we eat. Possible improvements:

  • Increase my trial rate (and perhaps success rate!) by planting new things weekly
  • Implement drip irrigation again, or find other ways of keeping seedlings well-watered
  • Keeping a garden journal so that I can track my progress and plan ahead

Biking: I enjoy biking. It’s a great way to get to places. I would like to bike more as casual exercise and a way to get myself outdoors. I tend to bike as a way of getting from one place to another, instead of just taking a joyride. One way to bike more would be to just come to work more often, particularly when it’s sunny. Another way to bike more often would be to plan more events that get me outside the house, because I’d rather bike than take public transit if the destination isn’t too far. Hmm… Possible improvements:

  • Plan more excuses to go biking.
  • Consider getting a lighter second-hand 21-speed bike? Not essential.

Drawing and photography: I’m slowly getting the hang of drawing, and now that W- has a tablet PC, we can make it a relationship-building thing too. Summer is a great time to sketch or shoot the outdoors, use bright colours, and have fun with drawing and photography. Possible improvements:

  • Get into the habit of shooting and reviewing pictures. Shooting doesn’t count if I don’t look at the pictures again!
  • Take pictures of the garden. It’s convenient, personally fascinating, and I can leave the macro lens on the camera all the time.
  • Upgrade my hard disk. Then I might use my tablet PC as my main photo processing device.
  • Practise sketching those cubes! Maybe draw one thing a day, too.

Making: My wardrobe has settled, so sewing is lower-priority, although I like making gifts and accessories. We might make some shelves for the living room and for upstairs, but that’s also not urgent.

Finances: Nothing special here, just saving up. We’re shifting our grocery patterns (lighter summer meals, organic and local produce), so I’m going to do some more price-checking to see if the community-supported agriculture box is a better deal than, say, shopping at the Sweet Potato (a local health food store) or checking out farmers’ markets. I’ve been thinking about experimenting with dividend-focused stocks after I reach one of my savings milestones, but I’m not completely sold on it yet, and I’m fine just putting money into low-MER index funds for now.

Plenty of good things to grow into.

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