Read More Books

The year started out well reading-wise. I was reading a book about every five days or so on average; then, when the pandemic hit, and it slowed up a lot.

Total Books Read

I finished the year strong in December and managed to read 23 books.

Oops, I forgot about a few digital JavaScript books I read with a remote JavaScript book club.

So I ended up with 26 books. There might be others I missed too.

My Plan

I had hoped to read a book a week as my plan, but other things happened, and I didn’t. No, worries since it’s the most books I read in a read ever besides comic books as a kid.

Book Length in Pages

Some books were longer than others and others not so much. A bunch were between 120 and 150 pages others were over 450+ pages.

More YouTube Learning

I started watching more YouTube to learn about different ways to cook, start a small farm, ideas for a tiny house, etc. More on that in another post.

Below is the list of books I read. I had planned to put them in the order I read them, but I managed to knock over the two piles. So they got all mixed up.

List of Books

  • The Tiny MBA – 100 Very Short Lessons about the Long Game of Business by Alex Hillman.
  • Do Agile – Future Proof Your Mindset. Stay Grounded by Tim Drake.
  • How to Listen to Jazz by Ted Gioia
  • Twenty Bits I Learned about Design, Business, and Community by Dan Cedarholm
  • Whatcha Mean, What’s a Zine? – The Art f Making Zines and Mini-comics by Mark Todd and Esther Pearl Watson
  • The Rancho Gordo Heirloom Bean Guide by Steve Sando and Julia Newberry
  • Elements of Fire – A Comic Anthology of Color! edited by Taneka Stotts
  • Do Bee-keeping – The Secret to Happy Honeybees by Orren Fox
  • Do Disrupt – Change the Status Quo. Or Become it. by Mark Shayler
  • Cool Beans – The Ultimate Guide to Cooking with the World’s Most Versatile Plant-based Protein with 125 Recipes by Joe Yonan
  • Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison with Reny Mia Saly
  • Do Preserve  – Make Your own Jams, Chutneys, Pickles, and Cordials by Anja Dunk, Jen Goss, and Mimi Beaven
  • Cartooning – Philosophy, and Practice by Ivan Brunetti
  • Do Listen – Understand What’s Really Being said. Find a New Way Forward. by Bobette Buster
  • Oishinbo – A la Carte – Ramen and Gyoza story by Tetsu Kariya and Art by Akira Hanasaki
  • Do Story – How to Tell Your Story, so the World Listens. by Bobette Buster
  • Form Design Patterns – A Practical Guide to Designing and Coding simple and Inclusive Forms for the Web by Adam Silver
  • Inclusive Design Patterns – Coding Accessibility Into Web Design by Heydon Pickering
  • The Fermented Man – A year on the Front Lines of a Food Revolution by Derek Dellinger
  • The Noma Guide to Fermentation: Including Koji, Kombuchas, Shoyus, Misos, Vinegars, Garums, Lacto-ferments, and Black Fruits and Vegetables by Rene Redzepi and David Zilber
  • Glenn Ganges in The River at Night by Kevin Huizenga
  • The Public Library – A Photographic Essay by Robert Dawson
  • Drawing Book of Faces by Ed Emberley
  • The “You Don’t Know JavaScript Yet” series books by Kyle Simpson
    • Get Started – 2nd Edition
    • Scope and Closures – 2nd Edition
    • this and Object Prototypes – 1st Edition

I will do a more in-depth write up of the ones I like the best in the future.

More Reading in 2021

Here to as much reading in 2021 as in 2020 and more if possible.

Please leave a comment if you read any of these books and what you thought of them.

Attended More Conferences

I managed to get to many more events this year because of the pandemic and them being remote/online. Which meant not having to take extra time off to travel to them and have all the expenses of travel, hotel, food, etc.

It worked out for me, deciding not to attend CSUN this year. It’s an accessibility conference in Los Angles. As it was scheduled at the beginning of everything, closing up related to the pandemic.

Luckily many conferences had time to switch to remote events. I used my vacation to attend more of them.

Used Vacation to Attend Some Events

A good part of my vacation had been saved by not traveling to any of these events.

In 2020 I attended many remote events. From four or five conferences, a few workshops, a few couple hour-long food classes/demos, some meetups, remote field trips, etc.

I even attended an accessibility camp in Australia because it started at the end of my workday. Which allowed me to participate for a few hours at least before heading to bed.

Events I Attended

Below is the list of events I was able to attend in 2020, with dates listed if possible. I might have missed one or two, but these are most of them.

Here’s to More Remote Events

So here is to these events having remote components in the future when the pandemic is over. Which will allow me and many others to attend that normally couldn’t.

My Plans for Three Days Off

I have the next three days off, with today being the MLK (Martin Luther King Jr.) holiday. Then Wednesday being the Inauguration, I decided to take Tuesday off too to have a five day weekend.

So I plan to use the three days like a workday and spending eight hours doing things for my projects and learning. It might be broken up more than a workday, but that’s fine.

Video Learning

Each of the days, I plan to spend an hour or two watching my Wes Bos “Beginner JavaScript” video tutorials. During that time, I  will be taking notes and attempting the code examples to get used to coding the syntax.

I plan to spend an hour or two watching and taking notes of Penn and Teller’s Masterclass “Penn & Teller Teach the Art of Magic”.

I’m not necessarily watching Penn and Teller to learn magic, but to learn about storytelling and presentation. If I learn a magic trick or two in the process, all the better.

In the evening, there will be some watching of YouTube videos.  The subjects I want to learn more about are cooking/baking, farming/gardening, tiny houses, etc.

Book Reading

I will finish reading Heydon Pickering’s “Inclusive Components – Accessible Web Interfaces, Piece by Piece”. I need to go back to his other book and Adam Silver’s book to work through the examples a bit more. Below are the other two other books I’m referring to.

Form Design Patterns – A Practical Guide to Designing and Coding simple and Inclusive Forms for the Web by Adam Silver

Inclusive Design Patterns – Coding Accessibility Into Web Design by Heydon Pickering

My next book to start reading is “Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything” by BJ Fogg.

Blog Posts

I need to start outlining a few more blog posts and maybe even start the first draft.

My more significant issue is figuring out the best way to link to all the books I read last year. I don’t want to link to Amazon. But I know money is tight for some, so the lower prices and free shipping with having Amazon Prime will help. If I would I need to figure out a code for an organization/charity, I would like the earned money would help them. So need to figure that out before posting that post.

More research is needed. Any suggestion would be appreciated.

Odds and Ends

Other things that need to get done over the three days are:

  • Sending out some bills
  • Daily walks
  • Laundry
  • Cleaning the house, especially the kitchen, to make room for new spices and other utensils
  • Etc.

I might even start some sorting or items that I no longer use to donate them or get rid of them. I know where I want to donate all the clothes and the like, to Martha’s Table in DC.

Someone from the DC Code and Coffee group mentioned they are willing to come to Northern Virginia to pick things up with their car. Since they live near Martha’s Table, it wouldn’t be hard to drop them off for me.

Lots to Due but Not Enough Time

That’s a lot to get done while also relaxing some, but at least I have a game plan. If I don’t start on things, I won’t get any of it started or any of it done. Here’s to slow and steady work at the list above.

Any suggestions to help with any of this, please leave a comment.

Veggie Stew

Over the weekend (Saturday), I made a veggie stew. It might even be vegan, but I would have to check the ingredients on a few labels.

Let the Chopping Begin

I started out dicing up three medium-sized onions and got them cooking down in my cast iron skillet. I used two good olive oils to help soften them up. While the softening up was happening, I peeled and chopped up a head of garlic from the farmer’s market.

Ingredients

Once the garlic was in the pan, I added some salt, pepper, and spices. The spices were curry powder, cayenne, chipotle, smoked Spanish paprika, and Ancho chili powder. I then added dried basil, thyme, and oregano along with many turns of finely ground Szechuan peppercorns.

I let the spices cook a bit to intensify the flavor. Before adding the pound of Rancho Gordo heirloom Classic Cranberry Beans to my large stainless steel pot (16 quarts?).

Soaking Beans and Wild Rice

The dry Rancho Gordo beans started soaking three-hours before I started chopping my vegetables. I also soaked half a pound of Trader Joe’s wild rice separately.

Okay, it was probably between 14 and 15 ounces of bean because I put 50 of them in a small envelope in my wine cooler. The reason being I wanted to see at some point if I could grow my own beans.

Slow Cooking

I added the beans and then made sure they boiled for five minutes. Then turned them down to a simmer. I then went to read some more, lying on my sofa. About every twenty minutes or so got up to check on the beans and other vegetables and stir them. After about an hour, I added the soaked wild rice and it’s water to the pot.

Stirring While Reading and Writing Blog Posts

More reading, and I think outlining a blog post or two along with more stirring.  After another hour or so, I added in a 12-ounce package of Anson Mills Slow Roasted Farro. Before adding the farro, I made sure to presoak it for an hour or more.

Over the next hour or more, I let the beans, the wild rice, and the farro slowly cooking. I added the following a 4 ounce can of Trader Joe’s Fire Roasted Diced Green Chiles. Then I added a 13.75-ounce jar of Trader Joe’s Corm and Cile tomato-less Salsa. Followed later by a one 15.25 ounce can of Wegmans No Salt Added Whole Kernel Crisp’ N Sweet Corn.

At some point in all of this, I cooked up 10-ounces of Impossible Burger in my cast iron to then added to the pot too.

Oops, I forgot I chopped up a medium-sized head of fennel and cooked in my cast iron pan, and added it in at some point to my veggie stew.

All this needed time to meld together and get tasty.

Extra Notes

For the spices, I probably put in two tablespoons of each, give or take in a very large pot. I learned over time; I can add hot sauce for added flavor and heat later. Instead of putting n to many hot spices in, that got hotter as the water evaporated.

Leftovers

So now I’m eating it most days for one meal. I need to put some in the freer for later if there is any room.

Here’s to more large batch cooking on a slow Saturday to have good food and lots of leftovers.

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

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.