2018 finally coming to an end

This isn’t going to be a post about New Year’s resolutions. Frankly I don’t much care for them, and have yet to meet someone who actually keeps them. So it’s a goofy little tradition but fairly pointless if you ask me. If you want to make a change in your life, you don’t need an arbitrary turning of the Gregorian calendar from one year to the next in order to start making that change. Just saying.

2018 was a lousy year for me, especially the first half. That’s when I was medically retired from the Air Force, something which in spite of ample warning about due to my failing health, I was completely unprepared for in the end. It was just a huge shock to the system, going from having this really close-knit community to suddenly being on the outside and feeling like an outcast. And then there were the financial stresses that came with being a “retiree” instead of gainfully employed.

The year wasn’t a total wash, however, and if I’m going to reflect back, it’s on the positives that I think I should focus:

  1. I went back to school starting in September. I took Introduction to Web Programming with JavaScript through Harvard Extension School (online), and brushed up on my HTML and CSS, and learned JavaScript (both plain vanilla and jQuery). I ended up building a final project that I’m pretty proud of, an autosomal DNA relationship visualization tool that makes genetic genealogy a bit easier and more fun:
    It works, it finally works--dynamic chromosome height resizing is flawless - 2018-12-15
  2. I published 2 more books in my Hoffnungslose Ziele series. Sure it seems all but impossible to get noticed as an author or to make a living off my writing, but it was enormously satisfying making my imaginings real and releasing them into the wild. I also learned quite a bit about self-publishing, and have become smarter about the “how to publish” end of things (and went from hand-holding to doing all of the technical/formatting stuff myself, greatly reducing my publishing costs since I’m not making any money off these books anyway). I also cleaned up my website here a little, consolidating all of my published novels into a single landing page with links to each individual book, rather than cluttering up my top menu with each title:
    Novels Page 2018-12-30
  3. I started a Petition to reform military pension law that would greatly benefit disabled veterans such as myself and a number of people I served with, or have subsequently met, who due to an 1800s restriction on receiving both our military pensions and VA disability compensation, struggle to make ends meet. To my surprise and absolute delight, the Petition now has over 7,500 supporters, and I was able to discuss it with a US Senator’s staff and receive encouraging feedback about the possibility of my reform idea actually becoming law sometime in the future! That would be a godsend not just to my own family, but would provide me with a tremendous amount of self-actualization, as I firmly believe one’s worth is determined not by his/her career, stock portfolio, or real estate holdings, but by the positive impact s/he makes on the world around herself (or himself).
  4. I started to feel less sorry for myself regarding my chronic illness, and appreciate the wonderful family I’ve been blessed with. That can’t help but be a positive development!

So what’s in store for 2019?

Well, I’m going to continue my education, and plan to take the following courses starting in late January (Spring Semester): Web Application Development using Node.JS and Web Programming with Python and JavaScript. I’m hoping after completing those 2 additional classes, which will bring my total up to 12 recent Computer Science grad school credits (plus another 4 if you count Intensive introduction to Computer Science that I took back in 2012), I should have a decent foundation in computer and especially web programming, a foundation that I plan to continue building on with further grad school courses in web design and web content management systems (such as WordPress, the CMS my site uses).

I’m also eyeing taking courses on Mobile App Development and perhaps Game Development, possibly through EdX instead of for grad school credit through a formal online classroom setting with graded assignments/exams like the above classes I’ve taken/plan on taking. Basically, I want to do computer programming work, from home since that seems to be my most realistic work option given my degree of disability, but I’m also specifically taking courses that interest me because what’s the point in doing something that isn’t fun? At least so long as I have a choice–necessity can sometimes drive us to do things that aren’t fun at all, but while I have a choice, I’d just as soon spend my scant spoons doing work that interests me and provides a sense of satisfaction.

I also plan on finishing up my 4th novel, A.I.M.E.E. The Sci Fi genre is a lot different from Fantasy, and I find the limitations (trying to maintain at least some semblance of realism/within the realm of possible or at least imaginable in terms of technological advancements) to be a tad frustrating, while at the same time presenting an interesting challenge. I’m not going to claim I get everything right from a Physics perspective, but I am trying to take into account limitations on space travel and the sheer vastness of space! As in, wow, it’s mind-blowing to think of just how small we are in the grand scheme of things, and how restricted we are in our ability to travel to the stars. Even with stretching-the-edge-of-possible technology, leaving our little neighborhood in the Orion Arm of the Milky Way seems impossible/magic requiring. Like my other novels, though, my in-progress work isn’t really about the technology, it’s about the characters and the human condition, albeit with a very different setting.

All right, that’s a wrap! Here’s hoping for a better 2019!!

One thought on “2018 finally coming to an end

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