Learned More

Getting rid of my cable TV a year and a half ago and the pandemic has made me use my time better to learn even at my age. It’s been helpful having no commute now.

Learning on Night and Weekends

So after my nightly walk after work or on the weekends, I watched YouTube videos to learn things. I have even purchased courses on fermenting, JavaScript, etc.

Creative Mornings Fields Trips have allowed me to learn about tortilla making (wheat and corn), creativity, painting with pastels,  and a few others. I will have to gather my notes from them and post a few notes at a later date.

With the pandemic, I have attended a lot more remote conferences and other events. I have also used my time to read many books, articles, blog posts, etc. A future post or two on those I attended events I have attended and the things I have read to come.

YouTube and Other Videos

Some of the things I have spent time learning about on YouTube are the following. There is homesteading/small scale farming. Which includes growing my own food and raise animals for when I get my plot of land. The land will have a tiny house of between 600 – 900 square feet. At least that is my thinking of a reasonably sized tiny house to live in full time.

I have also been watching videos on, cooking. Some of them are known cooking professionals while others are not, but have been become YouTube famous, so to speak.

Below is a list of a few of them with links to their YouTube channels.

Remote Book Club

I joined a remote JavaScript book club in mid-January 2020.  We have worked our way through the four of the “You Don’t Know JavaScript Yet” books in the series of six books. Okay, we are actually finishing up the last chapter of the four-book this week.

The format we started with was reading the free version of the second editions on GitHub one chapter at a time. Then we read the first editions for books three and four because the newer books hadn’t been updated yet.

Even More Learning

There are more things I have learned, which I have to wait until I have time to write other blog posts.

Please add any recommendations in the comments of things that fall into the above categories I should look at.

JavaScript Book Club

I joined a remote JavaScript book club in mid-January 2020.

We are about to finish up the fourth of the “You Don’t Know JavaScript Yet” series of six books. Okay, we are finishing up the last chapter of the fourth book this weekend.

What’s Our Format

The format has been reading the free version of the second editions of the series on GitHub. We read them one chapter at a time for the first two books. Then we read the first editions for books three and four because the newer ones hadn’t been updated yet. The plan is to read the first editions of the last two books in the series.

For the first book, “Getting Started”, we read a chapter a week and met on Sunday evenings at 5:00 PM East Coast time.

We followed this format through the first two books.

Time for Some Coding

Early on, we started doing JavaScript Code Wars problems as group coding sessions on early Saturday afternoons.

Once we got to the third and fourth books and the content was harder to digest. We went to reading a chapter every two weeks. So on the weeks we were not gathering about the latest books chapter, they moved the Code Wars event to that Sunday. So now, every Sunday afternoon for me, it’s either book of code.

Recently, we started doing coding sessions after the book club part. Since we tended to get through the chapter discussion in 30 minutes. So people would then work on a Code Wars problem for another hour. Sometimes depending on the difficulty of the problem, it might take over a week or more to finish them. Part of the reason for that is because we limit the time.

Who Is Attending

People attended from across the pond in England, and once in a while, someone from Africa attends. It was 10:00 PM when we started for them. At times there have been people that hopped in from Central America and other places around the globe.

The Best Part So Far

Here’s to learning more from the JavaScript book club and meeting new people. A group from Asia/India are meeting at a different time to go through the boos we did independently. Because of the time difference, they couldn’t attend ours. I think that it’s great that more than one group is reading the same book.

Once we’re done with this series, we will need to move on to another book or series about JavaScript.

Other groups are reading other coding/tech books and not only JavaScript.

In the End

Here’s to more reading, group learning, new friends, etc.

My Weight Loss

My weight loss over the last fifteen or so months has been slow and steady. Been working on what I eat and don’t eat, along with portion size and healthier choices.

Eating Habits

My eating habits have changed a good amount since I’m no longer buying breakfast and lunch at work. Which has allowed me to save more money.

During the height of the summer, lots of my lunches started with tortillas. I added garlic hummus, mixed greens, heirloom tomatoes (Cherokee Purple), and a cheese slice. I started eating more salad too as my dinner a few nights a week.

Most of my salad was the bagged kind with a dressing pack and some crunchy element. You would think that might not be healthy, but it was better, I guess than what I used to eat. But I would add some smoked sunflower seeds and two slices of torn up sliced cheese. I would even crunch up tortilla chips for some crunch.

I almost forgot the halved heirloom cherry tomatoes that I added when possible to my salad.

Breakfast or lunch could also include peanut butter and jelly on a tortilla. Or eggs and cheese in a tortilla with some hummus if I had some and mixed greens too.

Lots of Tortillas

You might have noticed all the mentions of tortillas. It’s been more because I saw that when I purchased bread, it dried out or got moldy much quicker. So I went with the tortillas, which cut down on the carbs, I think a bit more, but I’m no scientist.


Snacks have been better also. Meaning I now eat more peanuts, cashews, fruits, carrots, and hummus when I need a snack than before. Sometimes after dinner, I will put a good handful of peanuts in a bowl. Then a half a pint of blueberries, a sliced banana, and add a bit of chocolate sauce. So it’s feels like a fancier dessert minus the ice cream etc.

New Habits

With all this and more purposeful walking and eating better. Not perfect, but an improvement from what I have been doing. I have lost about 60 lbs (27.2 kg or 4.3 stone) since the end of September 2019. Half of that has been since the beginning of the pandemic.

What Other’s Noticed

Seeing friends on Zoom after a long time like today, a bunch were amazed at my weight loss. I haven’t seen some of them since I lost the 60 lbs, and others only the last 30 lbs since mid-March 2020.

New Things

I even had to buy a set of metal leather whole punches to put new wholes in my handmade leather belt. I purchased the belt from an old friend in June or July of 2019 when he was in town for an art show. I had ran out of wholes so that I couldn’t tighten it anymore. I didn’t want my pants to fall down.

I even purchased one new pair of jeans this fall because the others were at least four to five sizes too big. I only bought one pair for now. Since I’m mostly sitting in the house working and then out for a walk in the cold. So I don’t need more than one pair. I can put on some shorts or sweats when I need to wash them.

Walking Everywhere

Another thing that has helped is having to walk to the grocery or farmer’s market. Which are a mile or more one way and using a backpack. I found there was less room for junk food that way.

Okay, at one point, I was down 65 lbs. For the last two months or so, I have been getting more foods like pastries or cookies from the farmer’s market or the store. Now with doing a bit less walking and the holiday’s being over this will stop except for once in a while treat.

Slow and Steady

So my weight loss has been slow and steady for the most part and has become more of a change in my eating habits. That needs to be tweaked now and again.

Adding some exercise besides walking will come when I’ve lost more weight.

How much that is, I don’t have a goal in mind besides feeling better and more rested.

My Friend Tony

Today I met on Zoom with 15 or so friends during an hour-plus lunch to talk about our good friend Tony. Who passed away the Sunday before Christmas.

It was interesting when we all went through things about Tony. Some met him at the Maryland Renaissance Faire. Others knew him from a class they took together many years ago. Others met at a wine store like I did pouring wine. Or at the Washington Wine and Cheese organization or through each other. Or they were  invited to his annual pig roast.

I could go on for a few more blog posts about the pig roast and how this group helped put it on year after year.

Even though there were some tears for many. It was happy tears remembering our friend Tony, a kind soul and a wonderful human being.

The best part was how everyone talked highly of Tony and had many stories. But we had to whittle it down to one or two stories. So we could get them all in before a lot of us had to go back to work.

They talked about his knowledge of words. When he was in high school the librarian, I think it was in study hall, used to make him read the dictionary from start to finish. Or his knowledge of wine and great food.

So here is to keeping the memory of our dear friend Tony going with more of these gatherings. Be they virtual for now until it’s safe to gather as a group.

P.S. At some point earlier today, I realized I had spent more time with most of the people on the Zoom call than my family (my dad, brothers, sisters, and their families) since moving to DC 18+ years ago. Make sure to spend time with family and friends when you can, even it’s on Zoom or the like.

Met My Neighbors

With all the walking around my neighborhood, I have met more people on my block or within six or eight blocks of my house. All this since the pandemic started.

Some I met for the first time, and we have lived a few houses away for over ten or fifteen years. I had seen others a few times a week and would say hello on my commute to and from work, and I finally learned their names.

Interesting Neighbors

I even met a couple that is retired and is now Certified Master Gardeners. That we talked about plants, gardening, politics, or whatever came up that evening.

I even got a small fig tree that I replanted in a five-gallon bucket. By talking to another neighbor about all their fig trees. Of course, I spoke with the two master gardeners about the best way to replant the small fig tree.

They gave me advice on how best to replant the fig tree. The master gardeners informed me not to use potting soil. They had soil, compost, etc., on their driveway, they would give me.

So a few days later, I dropped off two five-gallon buckets for them to fill half to two-thirds full. By doing that, I would have enough soil, and it wouldn’t be too heavy to carry it the two blocks home.

How I Replanted My New Fig Tree

I took one of the buckets and drilled a few dozen quarter-inch holes in the bottom. To make sure there was enough drainage if it rained too much. I then mixed the soil from the neighbor with crushed-up leaves from under my car. Along with some chopped up vegetable scraps to add some extra nutrition to the soil.

I filled the five-gallon bucket about two thirds full. Then removed the fig tree from its small pot. Next, I knocked most of the dirt/potting soil off the fig tree. Watered the soil, so even the lower parts were wet.

I made sure there was a mound of higher soil in the middle, as I was told to do by the master gardener. Once that was ready, I spread the roots out so they have more room to grow. Then covered them with more soil that was about three inches from the top of the five-gallon bucket. Once all done, I watered the new soil with another 16 oz. of water.

I met Even More people in the Neighborhood

I have met others in other parts of the neighborhood to stop and chat with on my walks. It’s a nice break on the walks and makes it a bit more interesting. Plus, it was nice to see other people and get to have different conversations.

In conclusion

Because of the pandemic, I saw more of the neighborhood and met new people.

Here’s to more learning about my neighborhood and meeting new people.