Tag Archives: goals

Personal Goals for 2020

Welcome to 2020 folks.

I have always said that I do not do “resolutions.”  Except for the year I told people that I was going to take up smoking, gain weight, and drink more.  Granted, I failed on all three but I made some resolutions. However, I will make some goals.

The reason I publish these goals and cadence them on this blog is that I have found it is hugely effective in getting me to execute.  The power of accountability. What follows does build on what I wanted to achieve in 2019.

Here are my goals for 2020:

  • Deeper decarbonization: It is one thing to put solar panels on your roof and buy an electric vehicle.  That is just the start. As I look at my household energy use holistically I can see several opportunities for deeper decarbonization.  A couple of examples: replacing an aging gasoline powered lawn mower with an electric lawn mower; replacing an existing natural gas fired water heater with an electric air source heat pump “smart” water heater.
  • Replace 500 Vehicle Miles with Human Powered Transit: It is one thing to replace a gasoline powered mile with an electric powered mile, but it is an even better thing to replace all of these miles with human powered miles.  Why? While an EV is orders of magnitude more efficient than an ICE vehicle, both pale in comparison to the efficiency of human powered transit. It is not just about the direct energy costs of delivering a human being to their desired location, but the embodied energy of the infrastructure required for cars.
  • Ride 2,500 Miles on my Bicycle: Last year I rode over 3,000 miles.  I am keeping the goal the same for this year because I am looking to incorporate more commuting into my summer riding and I am going to try and branch out with some different riding.  Maybe I will even get back into mountain biking after almost a decade out of the saddle.
  • Ride 2 “New to Me” Trails: There are so many potentially amazing trails just in my region that I have not ridden.  It is easy to become complacent and ride the “usual.” I am going to try and break out of the rut.
  • Local, Direct, and Packaging Neutral Beer: It is one thing to buy local beer, but it is better to buy it directly from the brewery without creating packaging waste.  Combining all three is like the holy grail of beer consumption.
  • Read 40 Books: Last year I read 51 books against a goal of 25 books.  I guess that I was sandbagging a little bit. Moving the goal up to 40 books, but there are a lot of thick and dense tomes on my book list.  Like Capital in the Twenty First Century dense.
  • Reduce Lawn, Increase Landscape Variety: There is too much grass.  Our lawns are giant monocultures that are crying to be diversified.  The goal this year is to take some of that grass out and replace it with diverse plantings that are beneficial for both the environment and wildlife.
  • Maximize Local Food: Month in and month out, food is the second largest expense in my household after a mortgage payment.  Directing as much of this money as possible to local vendors and producers is the single biggest change that I can make in 2020.  I have about three months of detailed information from the end of 2019 when I began thinking about this as a baseline, so I think I will know if I am doing a decent job.

Fourth Quarter 2019 Books that I Read

My goal for the year was to read 25 books and I read 51 books over the course of the year.  I would say that I met my goal.

Here are the books I have read in the fourth quarter:

 

Note: The links to buy the books from Powell’s yield me no benefit.  I would encourage you to find these books at your local library, but if you must buy a book do not buy it from Amazon.

Every Fifth Flush is Free

One of the goals I had for 2019 was to replace the toilets in my house with high efficiency models.  A toilet’s efficiency is measured in the amount of water used per flush (e.g. 1.6 gallons per flush).

When my house was built almost ten years ago three 1.6 gallon per flush “builder basic” toilets were installed.  Up until the past year the toilets have worked with relatively little trouble save for the occasional clog from an overzealous use of toilet paper.  In the past month or so, two of the high use toilets have begun to develop the annoying habit of not sealing after a flush so the water runs continuously until someone jiggles the handle.

Repairing a toilet can send someone down the rabbit hole of wildly different parts.  Do you have a 2, 2.75, or 3 inch tank outlet?  Well, if you want to repair that leaky flapper get ready to find out.  Even if you happen to figure out the exact size be prepared for one brand of part to not fit quite right so you spend the day at Lowe’s or Home Depot staring blankly at toilet flappers, repair kits, or the mirage of a six pack of beer to get you through the nightmare.

Or, you can just replace the whole toilet. This is the route that I chose to take.  I chose to install a Kohler Transpose:

IMG_20191116_125713238

I went the complete replacement route over a replacing the “guts” of the old toilet because as I disassembled the old toilet I found the rubber gaskets to be falling apart.  Not enough to cause a leak, but it did cause me to question just how much life was left in the entire system.

The Transpose’s selling point over similar toilets was its smooth sides.  No visible trapway snaking down to the drain hole, collecting dust, and just being kind of a pain in the ass to clean.  Not a problem now.

The new toilet uses 1.28 gallons per flush versus the old toilet’s 1.6 gallons per flush.  The .32 gallons per flush saved equals 1.28 gallons after four flushes, so the fifth is “free.”  At least that is the math that I am sticking to in my head.  A twenty percent savings per flush is a big deal.  Imagine the pressure on our municipal water systems that could be reduced if every toilet suddenly became twenty percent or more efficient overnight.

Per my New Year’s “goal” I was setting out to replace all of the toilets in my house.  I think, based on usage patterns, I am only going to replace the two high volume commodes.  The toilet in our basement is used infrequently and the water savings will hardly make up for the cost/embodied energy of a new toilet.

NOTE: I bought the Kohler Transpose toilet with my own money, installed it of my own free will, and receive nothing of any kind from Kohler. 

Books I Read in 2019…in the Past Nine Months

Thirty eight books down through nine months of the year.  Marching toward fifty.

You can see what I read during the first three months and the second three months of the year.

Reading in the third quarter:

That’s all folks.  I completed my goal of twenty five books.  In hindsight, this seems like a “gimme” goal and, maybe, I should have aimed for something a little more aspirational.  It does seem that merely giving myself an arbitrary goal led to more reading.

The best aspect of this, in my opinion, is that all of these books were borrowed from my local public libraries.  Yes, I said “libraries.”  I am one of those weird people who has a library card for three different library networks in the area—Cedar Rapids Metro Library Network, Iowa City Library, and the University of Iowa Library.

Note: The links to buy the books from Powell’s yield me no benefit.  I would encourage you to find these books at your local library, but if you must buy a book do not buy it from Amazon.

Books I Read in 2019…in the First Six Months

You can see what I read in the first three months of the year here.

The books that I have read in second three months of the year go like this:

A note on a book that I tried to finish, but gave up on for various reasons:

This book came highly recommended from two sources that I take seriously on what books to read next.  However, I could not finish the book.  Why?  It felt like every chapter, regardless of theme, was there to make the point that the medical establishment had failed Lyme disease patients.  As in the chapter could be about the spread of disease carrying ticks due to climate change but it would segue into a harangue on doctors ignoring Lyme symptoms in a patient in Wisconsin.  The topic is important and timely, but an editor could have tightened the narrative to make it more impactful and readable.  Sometimes you just gotta’ cry “Uncle!”

The best aspect of this, in my opinion, is that all of these books were borrowed from my local public libraries.  Yes, I said “libraries.”  I am one of those weird people who has a library card for three different library networks in the area—Cedar Rapids Metro Library Network, Iowa City Library, and the University of Iowa Library.

I have finished 23 books with just 2 to go until my goal of twenty five.  Maybe I was selling myself a little short in the reading department.

 

Note: The links to buy the books from Powell’s yield me no benefit.  I would encourage you to find these books at your local library, but if you must buy a book do not buy it from Amazon.

Books I Read in 2019…So Far

At the beginning of the year I set a goal to read twenty five books.  Here is what I read in the first three months of the year:

Thirteen down leaves twelve to go.  Twenty five books seems like a light goal, but I have some monster books to finish that will slow down my completion rate.

The best aspect of this, in my opinion, is that all of these books were borrowed from my local public libraries.  Yes, I said “libraries.”  I am one of those weird people who has a library card for three different library networks in the area—Cedar Rapids Metro Library Network, Iowa City Library, and the University of Iowa Library.

Note: The links to buy the books from Powell’s yield me no benefit.  I would encourage you to find these books at your local library, but if you must buy a book do not buy it from Amazon.

Tangential Goals

I have struggled with my weight since childhood. Periods of “normal” weight usually coincided with times in my life when I was very physically active, as in two-a-day swimming practices. Since leaving business school more than seven years ago I have found that physical activity and weight loss have been very difficult.

I have set weight loss goals, done all the recommended dieting, and struggled to even lose a few pounds. It is disheartening.

This year I wanted to do something different. I decided to ignore the number on the scale for all intents and purposes. I might weigh myself from time to time, but it was not going to be the single piece of information that determined success or failure. Instead, this year I chose to set a goal of riding my bike 2,000 miles with a stretch goal of 2,500 miles. The total stands at 1,505 miles before today’s ride

The reward for getting to my goal? A brand new Chris King external bearing bottom bracket. Granted, it’s going to replace an already fried FSA external bearing bottom bracket that I am trying to nurse through the next 500 or so miles. The clicking is starting to drive me mad, but I do not want to lose a week of riding time to get the bike in the shop. If I get to 2,500 miles I might replace the no name head set with a Chris King model as well. Sure, it’s “bike bling,” but there are no finer components for your bicycle.

The upside of this goal has been a fairly amazing weight loss. Before the end of winter I weight over 220 pounds. Just yesterday I weighed in at 196 pounds. Granted, some of it is because I have cut back on my beer consumption but some of it is due to riding my bike thirty miles or more four and five days a week. As I stay focused on getting to my mileage goal the pounds seem to melt off. Maybe I will get to my goal of sub-190 pounds before the end of the summer and sub-180 pounds before the start of 2015’s ski season.