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A Look Back at 2014

2014 was a good year for me personally (and a pretty terrible year for the world at large). Here’s my personal breakdown, with charts!

Teaching

I taught two sessions (6 months) of Metis’ Ruby on Rails bootcamp.

Lives Changed, January Lives Changed, December
0+ 16+

Teaching was a fantastic opportunity. I love that I can switch from consulting to teaching while staying at thoughtbot. I made some friends and learned a lot - teaching the basics of Rails development is a great way to hammer home the stuff about Rails that you “already know”. Helping the students and answering their questions also taught me a lot (and confirmed that accepts_nested_attributes_for should be removed from Rails). I recommend mentoring - you’ll learn a lot answering random questions, and you’ll feel great about yourself.

Books

I feel like I should have read a few more books…but I read 62 this year, so it can’t have been that bad a year! A few are repeats (like “I, Robot” and “To Kill a Mockingbird”), but I definitely got more out of them this time around, so I’m counting them.

Here they are (WARNING GIANT TABLE AHEAD):

Title Author Date
The Devil You Know Mike Carey January 4, 2014
Tuf Voyaging George R. R. Martin January 5, 2014
The Ear, the Eye and the Arm Nancy Farmer January 20, 2014
Good Omens Neil Gaiman January 26, 2014
5/3/1 Jim Wendler March 2, 2014
Vicious Circle Mike Carey March 2, 2014
Finch Jeff VanderMeer March 5, 2014
The Greyskull LP John Sheaffer March 7, 2014
Fevre Dream George R.R. Martin April 10, 2014
Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute Jonathan L. Howard April 19, 2014
Dreamsongs: Volume I George R.R. Martin April 25, 2014
Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes Jonathan Auxier May 5, 2014
Year Zero Rob Reid May 11, 2014
The Lies of Locke Lamora Scott Lynch May 14, 2014
Red Seas Under Red Skies Scott Lynch May 20, 2014
The Republic of Thieves Scott Lynch May 20, 2014
I Am Number Four Pittacus Lore June 1, 2014
How To Win Friends and Influence People Dale Carnegie June 3, 2014
Sacre Bleu Christopher Moore June 4, 2014
The Keeper of Lost Causes Jussi Adler-Olsen June 10, 2014
The Disappearing Spoon Sam Kean June 12, 2014
Soulless Gail Carriger June 12, 2014
The Name of the Wind Patrick Rothfuss June 13, 2014
Guards! Guards! Terry Pratchett June 18, 2014
The Cuckoo’s Calling Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling) June 21, 2014
The Wise Man’s Fear Patrick Rothfuss June 22, 2014
The Absent One Jussi Adler-Olsen June 23, 2014
The Drunken Botanist Amy Stewart June 28, 2014
Changeless Gail Carriger June 28, 2014
Flush Carl Hiaasen July 2, 2014
The Magicians Lev Grossman July 6, 2014
Rogues George R.R. Martin July 10, 2014
The Westing Game Ellen Raskin July 18, 2014
Blameless Gail Carriger July 18, 2014
Sandman Slim Richard Kadrey July 18, 2014
Both Flesh and Not David Foster Wallace July 26, 2014
The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room Greg Sestero July 27, 2014
To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee July 27, 2014
Dead Beat Jim Butcher August 6, 2014
The Diviners Libba Bray August 12, 2014
Johannes Cabal and the Blustery Day Jonathan L. Howard August 18, 2014
Fooling Houdini Alex Stone August 20, 2014
Mistborn: The Final Empire Brandon Sanderson August 21, 2014
I, Robot Isaac Asimov August 27, 2014
Into the Storm Larry Correia September 2, 2014
The Road Cormac McCarthy September 16, 2014
The Windup Girl Paolo Bacigalupi September 24, 2014
The Well of Ascension Brandon Sanderson September 24, 2014
The Hero of Ages Brandon Sanderson October 5, 2014
The Silkworm Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling) October 27, 2014
A Most Wanted Man John le Carre November 1, 2014
No Country for Old Men Cormac McCarthy November 1, 2014
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold John le Carre November 9, 2014
Meditations Marcus Aurelius November 9, 2014
The Moth Catherine Burns November 23, 2014
White Night Jim Butcher December 1, 2014
The Brothers Cabal Jonathan L. Howard December 4, 2014
Proven Guilty Jim Butcher December 5, 2014
The House Behind the Cedars Charles W. Chesnutt December 17, 2014
The Daughter of Time Josephine Tey December 22, 2014
The Demonologist Andrew Pyper December 30, 2014

Books read per month

The monthly breakdown is a little skewed since the dates are the dates I purchased the book, not the date I finished it:

Month Number of books read
January 4
February 0 (!!!)
March 4
April 3
May 5
June 13
July 9
August 7
September 4
October 2
November 5
December 6

Notable books

Here are my favorite books of 2014:

Lifting

Here’s my lifting progression; the rep ranges vary so they’re not directly comparable.

Lift January December
Squat 200x3x5 265x3
Overhead Press 85x3x5 120x5
Deadlift 235x5 277.5x5
Bench 135x3x5 170x3

I fucked around on lifting during the first half of the year, then really buckled down on the second half. I finally stopped running Starting Strength because I keep hitting plateaus and switched to Madcow. Using the Madcow spreadsheet gave me actionable goals to look forward to and really helped.

My squat has improved a lot - I have a note next to the “200x3x5” in January that says “HARD”. I have a note next to 195x2x5 in December that says “Easy. Good form.” Plus I added 65 pounds to it! It’s not great, but it’s going up and feels like it’s on a good track.

My OHP is progressing well. It’s hard to compare 85x3x5 and 120x5, but I’m confident I’ll hit 1 plate soonish and that’s a great milestone.

My bench is also going well - I could probably do 190x3 or even 200x3, but I’m staying on the program.

My deadlift feels totally stuck, especially since my squat is getting close to it, and I don’t know why. My legs are probably fine, since I can squat 265, so I suspect it’s my core and back. Madcow added some back work (rows, back extension), but I’m not sure it’s enough. My form might be totally fucked up. I’ll find out soon.

Writing

I was the #1 blogger at thoughtbot this year, with the most blog posts (11) and the most-viewed blog post (50k views). I also copy-edited, oh, let’s say, ALL of the other blog posts on the thoughtbot blog. Here’s hoping I can continue the streak next year.

Programming

I started getting into Haskell this year. I really like it. Hopefully next year I’ll have some more projects to show, but here are the ones I like from this year:

Wrapping Up

This was an excellent year for me. I got stronger, I changed some lives, I read and I wrote. Here’s to a kickass 2015!