Friday, December 30, 2016

Building on Success: 2016 Year In Review/2017 Goals

I realize that 2016 was not a great year for a lot of people, and definitely a lousy year for celebrity deaths. That said, it was a pretty good year for me personally, and as a sort of year end review/new year goals, I want to focus on five things that I accomplished in 2016, and how I want to build on those successes in 2017.

One of the most fun things you can do with your clothes on.
Photo credit: Me.
1. I got a motorcycle! I love riding, I wish I’d done it sooner. I don’t know I would have afforded it years ago, but I wish I’d found a way.

For 2017 I want to improve my skills. This means three tangible goals:
  • Take the MSF’s Experienced Rider Course. The Basic Rider Course helped me get my license and spend my first season riding safely, so the ERC is the next step.
  • Road trip: The longest rides I took on my Sporty in 2016 were about an hour and a half. I want to get some three hour rides in, and collect a few t-shirts from some of the other Harley dealerships in South Dakota.
  • Ride more. This largely will get covered by accomplishing the first two, but in my first full year of riding, I would like to hit at least 3,000 miles.
2.  Health and Fitness. At the beginning of 2016, my office had a weight loss challenge that got me to within a few pounds of being under 200lbs for the first time in a very, very long time. Later in the year, I successfully completed a couch to 5K program and ran my first 5K race in a reasonably respectable time.
Unfortunately, the weight started to come back once I stopped paying strict attention to my food intake and resumed treating my body like a fast moving garbage truck, and my follow-up to the 5K has gotten a bit derailed in terms of both consistency, and possibly a minor injury I picked up while running.
For 2017 I want to build on the things I did successfully in 2016. This means two major things:
  • Weight loss. My office has another weight loss challenge coming up, I’ll be participating again. I aim to be under 200lbs by the end of this year.
  • Fitness. I know that I can maintain a fitness plan, I need to get back on it. However, I want to combine strength and cardio now. The plan is to do cardio (running or swimming, most likely) three days a week, alternating with weight training. Sunday will be my rest day.
3. Youtube/Twitch. I saw a lot of good channel growth this year, but struggled with consistency, both for my broadcast and upload schedules.
For 2017 I’m not setting any Follower/Subscriber goals, because I can’t control those. What I can control is the quality of the product I am putting out, and the consistency with which I appear. Two goals then:
  • Regular broadcast schedule. Be on Twitch at least three times a week, with regular hours.
  • Upload at least one video to my Youtube channel a week.
4. Writing. This year I got a short story published, started writing for Marooner’s Rock, and got better on my blog.
For 2017, I want to be more consistent.

  • Publishing two posts a week (Monday & Thursday) right here on
  • Publish at least one article/review a week on Marooner’s Rock.
5.  Reading. At the beginning of the year, I jokingly said I was going to not read any books by white, heterosexual men in 2016. Turns out I accidentally accomplished this, mainly because for the first time that I can remember, I failed to finish a single book this year, and am still slogging through Atlas Shrugged.

2017 goals:
  • Finish Atlas Shrugged.
  • Read some other books. Literally ANY other books.

Monday, December 19, 2016

History for Gamers: Battlefield 1’s Fokker DR.I

In our previous installment, we looked at the Bristol F.2B Fighter, the “Brisfit” hero of Battlefield 1’s Friends in High Places single player War Story. Today we look at the primary enemy fighter from that campaign, Germany’s Fokker DR.I, the triplane made famous by Baron Manfred von Richtofen (the Red Baron).

Photo credit
February 1917 saw the British Royal Naval Air Service taking flight with a new fighter, the Sopwith Triplane. With ailerons fitted to all three pairs of wings, the Triplane or “Tripe” to its pilots, proved to be extremely maneuverable, exacting an impressive shoot down ratio against the slower but better armed German fighters of the time.

So impressed were the Germans by the performance of this new aircraft, that several manufacturers set out to make triplanes of their own. Anthony Fokker, after viewing a captured “Tripe”, instructed his designers to create what would become known as the DR.I (DR being the abbreviation for Dreidecker, the German word for “triplane”).

When tested, the DR.I proved to have excellent maneuverability, much like its British predecessor. The lift from its three wings also allowed it to climb like a homesick angel, at least to altitudes where the low compression of its rotary engine caught up with it. For a brief moment, the Fokker Scourge returned to the Western front.

Most famous, of course, was the red DR.I of the Red Baron, whose final nineteen kills were achieved in this aircraft. Multiple German squadrons equipped the triplane, with its presence on the Western Front peaking in April 1918.

Hunter, by Barry Weekley

However, the triplane configuration suffered from an insurmountable flaw: drag. Three sets of wings required three sets of bracing struts and wires, all exacting a weight and speed penalty. As faster, better armed French and British aircraft such as the SPAD XIII and Sopwith Camel reached the front, pilots of the DR.I found themselves unable to keep up.

The DR.I also suffered from some self-inflicted problems. Wood rot from poor construction caused structural failures. Furthermore, the DR.I’s top wing took a heavier aerodynamic load than the other two wings, causing it to sometimes fail during hard maneuvers.

There are no known original surviving Fokker DR.Is in flyable condition. However, a number of replicas have been built, and companies such as Airdrome Aeroplanes even offer full scale kits.

Thanks to Wikipedia and Fokker for research with this post.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Bob Dylan on the Secret to Success

I am not, I’ll admit, a huge Bob Dylan fan. However, his acceptance speech for receiving the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature is worth reading and understanding for anyone striving for success in any endeavor. The entire speech is worth reading in its entirety. However, I’d like to call out a few specific notes.

Referring to some of the literary giants who have previously received this award, Dylan says: “I don’t know if these men and women ever thought of the Nobel honor for themselves, but I suppose that anyone writing a book, or a poem, or a play anywhere in the world might harbor that secret dream deep down inside. It’s probably buried so deep that they don’t even know it’s there.”
Then later, referring to Shakespeare, he says: “The thought that he was writing literature couldn’t have entered his head… When he was writing Hamlet, I’m sure he was thinking about a lot of different things: ‘Who’re the right actors for these roles?’ ‘How should this be staged?’ ‘Do I really want to set this in Denmark?’ … I would bet that the farthest thing from Shakespeare’s mind was the question ‘Is this literature?’ “

Still later, of himself, Dylan says: “I too am often occupied with the pursuit of my creative endeavors and dealing with all aspects of life’s mundane matters. ‘Who are the best musicians for these songs?’ ‘Am I recording in the right studio?’ ‘Is this song in the right key?’ Some things never change, even in 400 years.

Not once have I ever had the time to ask myself, ‘Are my songs literature?’ “

The lesson here is that success isn’t starting out and saying “I’m going to be THE GREATEST!!!” If that’s your only goal and your only plan, then the only result you’ll see is failure. Success isn’t found in some lofty ambition, success is found in grinding out the details, in the focused pursuit of having what you make or do today be better than yesterday, and in trying to be better tomorrow than you were today.

It’s a common trait in the success stories in every field: Dylan, Michael Phelps, Bill Gates, PewDiePie. They don’t set out to be the best, but they do it better and more consistently than the competition.

This isn’t a sure-fire recipe for world fame and fortune: I’ll never be as fast in the water as Michael Phelps, or faster on a marathon circuit than Galen Rupp, but I can be faster next week than I am this week. I may never be a writer in the league of Hemingway, or even Larry Correia or George R.R. Martin, but I can write more consistently this week than I did last week.

Following this advice may not be an absolute recipe for success, but it’s one of the most consistently successful recipes I’ve ever seen.