Thursday, December 28, 2017

2017 Goals Review: Maker Year

It's time for the annual update on goals. This year was the Maker Year. I had a bunch of projects around the house I wanted to do (and I completed most of them). We also welcomed Samson to the family right before the start of the year. It turns out that having 2 little kids is a ton of work. Here's how I did for the year:

1) Get Sore 4 Times Each Week - SUCCESS
Not only did I run the Tough Mudder with my brother. I ran a second one with a friend, Lee, 3 months later. Plus, I'm signed up to run a once-in-a-lifetime marathon in May with Jessi, my sister, and her boyfriend. I also installed a pull-up bar in the garage which has been great to grab onto regularly throughout the week. I have the check-off sheet (pictured center) also helped.

2) No Desert or Treats for 1 Month - SUCCESS

I did it in January. I created a "Don't break the chain" calendar and it worked. I also got a smart scale in the middle of the year, starting tracking a bunch of data, and nerded out on it. It turns out that counting calories works really well for managing your weight. You quickly learn to minimize carbs and sugar if you want to feel full after hitting your calorie limit. What you eat is also twice as important as how much you workout. My weight & percent body fat are right in the range I'd like to be for the end of the year.

3) Send 1 Thank You Each Week - HALF SUCCESS
I didn't get one out each week, but averaged every other week. A lot of the notes were over email, but I also sent out a good chunk of them in physical mail. I'd like to keep this semi-habit going next year.

4) Complete a Bevy of Home Projects
We completed a ton of projects this year on the house. The planned for next year is really boring: improve insulation.

4a) Wood / Classic Construction - SUCCESS
The Standing Table
Here's what I completed this year:
  • BathroomIt looks great.
  • Standing desk. I selected the wood. Helped a woodworker turn it into a table. Then worked with a friend to weld the legs. I created a paint booth in the garage and then assembled it. Finally, I added a smart light stripe to the back for awesomeness.
  • Office shelves. I also installed new shelves in the office.
  • Dining table. It turns out IKEA had exactly what I wanted for a reasonable price, so we went this route.
  • Neighbor fence. Part of a shared fence fell down, so we replaced it.
  • Living room smart lighting. We used to have 3 lights in the living room. Now we have 9! I made a HUGE dust mess while drilling the holes.
  • Smart garage door system. It's so quiet and can be opened 4 different ways. We love it.
  • Smart blinds. I bought some new blinds for each bedroom and am using SOMA to operate them. The jury is still out on this. More later, probably.

4b) 3D Printing - SUCCESS
I only did one project, and I learned a lot, which was the goal. The new living room lights are Philips Hue lights. I have a bridge and each light connects directly to the bridge. We regularly have dance parties and Elinor likes to request changing different colors. Since the lights manage themselves, you need to keep the power on all the time. Then you use your smart device (Siri, Alexa, Assistant, or then app) to turn them on and off. But sometimes it's nice to simply turn a switch on and off! What to do? Well, Philips makes a remote you can attach to the wall. It comes with a nice wall plate and cradle. Normally, people stick it next to their switches and put some sort of block on the switch (most ugly: a piece of tape that says "do not turn off").

This called for a 3D printed object. I created a new 3-gage faceplate. But instead of having the 3 holes for the switches, I replicated the cradle for the remote. Boom! New switch for the remote. I simply removed the switches (wired them directly in the box) and put the new faceplate over it. Now the lights are on all the time and there's still a way to turn them on/off with a switch.

To model the project I used a free online CAD tool called OnShape. Once I figured out how to use it, with a lot of help from my brother, it was fairly easy (it helped to have a simple design). I started researching the other projects, but other priorities prevailed. But I learned what I set out to learn and feel confident I could create a 3D object in the future if needed.

4c) Internet of Things - FAILURE
I didn't even try. How sad. I would still like to do and learn about these, but they'll continue to be on the back burner for now.

4d) Food - FAILURE
The original plan was to replace our cooktop with a new one, and use that momentum to take a cooking class. It turns out that our cooktop is a non-standard size and isn't easy to replace... which means we didn't replace it (and probably won't for a while) and it ruined all momentum for taking a cooking class. We might get around to the class next year now that the kids are little older.

Final Thoughts
That's how I did for the year. Overall, pretty good. Having kids takes a ton of energy. It's good, but a lot of work. As a result, I didn't accomplish nearly as many personal projects as I expected. Next year will be about focusing on a few bigger items and doing them really well.