2018

Two years ago I started setting personal OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). I wrote about the 2017 results here and decided to carry the practice forward into 2018. I wanted to recap how things have gone and how I’m thinking about this experiment going into 2019.

I am aware that this is a bit of a ridiculous exercise. My answer to “do you have any New Year’s Resolutions in 2018?” was “well it’s like 13 metrics-driven resolutions spread across three main themes”. Most people probably wouldn’t find value in this kind of system, and I think it would be fair to criticize me for taking this approach to achieve goals like “happiness”. I probably overdid it this year by trying to do too much. I felt stressed out about making progress on these goals and that led me to be very protective about my free time. I was probably a worse husband, father, son, and friend this year. At the same time, it’s hard to say that I wasn’t aware that this was the deal I was making. I wanted to push myself to do more, and to have more to show for it. I’m proud of what I was able to achieve in 2018, but there was a cost too.

Reading List - 2018 Books

I enjoyed publishing some thoughts on my reading list from 2017 at the end of last year, and wanted to continue the tradition in 2018. I think my blend moved more toward nonfiction this year, which I’ll blame on getting a ton of good recommendations through work. Stripe is an amazing place to build an impossibly large reading list.

I didn’t quite hit my goal of 20 books this year, but feel good about the material I did get through this year. If I had to pick, I think Men, Machines, and Modern Times, Democratizing Innovation, The Score Takes Care of Itself, and Sculpting in Time were my favorites of the year. I’ve left some notes on these books (and more!) in ascending order of completion below:

2017

I tried something new in 2017, which was to make a set of personal OKRs to fulfill throughout the year. OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) are typically used as a planning framework by companies (both Google and Twitter implement them) but I had never tried to structure personal goals in this way. I’m not sure it’s a general approach I’d recommend for anyone else, but I like the idea of taking a set of abstract goals and trying deconstruct them into measureable tasks.

I respect the effects of small adjustments to habits compounded over time. New Year resolutions have been effective ways for me to implement such changes. In 2014 I started making one-second-per-day videos (and have done so in 2014, 2015, and 2016 so far!). In 2015 I started regular Rosetta Stone lessons to learn Mandarin. In 2016 I tracked my weight and food every day with the intent of losing 30 lbs by the time my daughter was born. In 2017 I wanted to be healthier, happier, grow intellectually, and create things. I’m writing this as a postmortem on the process, and an accounting for how I think it went.

The Exterminating Angel (1962)

The premise for Luis Buñuel’s THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL is that a group of socialites are unable to leave a parlor following a dinner party. This is about as much as I knew going into it, which was exciting, since the premise works better that way.

I figure that if you’re going to keep people in a room there’s a few ways it can go. The most obvious is that the room is literally locked or blocked off and those folks need to escape it physically. In this case that seemed unlikely, mostly because the movie is named The Exterminating Angel and that would be a pretty bad name for a movie about a locked room.

Throne of Blood (1957)

Akira Kurosawa’s THRONE OF BLOOD (as I like to think of it, Michael Fassbender’s favorite Macbeth) is a meticulous, engrossing, and beautiful work. It was created at a time in 1957 where cinema still had a great deal of constraints, but also at a time where Kurosawa had honed his square-frame black-and-white film technique to perfection. There are shots in Throne of Blood which I haven’t seen done with as much skill and artistry in any other film.

The Holy Mountain (1973)

This IMDB review of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s THE HOLY MOUNTAIN says “If you liked ‘The Wall’ (you know, the Pink Floyd movie), but thought it was a bit of a downer and suffered from the lack of a fat woman humping an excitable, legless, animatronic horse, this movie could be for you” which may be a little flip but not entirely wrong description of what to expect from this film.

Suspiria (1977)

Oh boy, SUSPIRIA. A prime example of the “cheesy horror movies so well crafted that they can be considered art films” genre. I can’t even remember what first added it to my queue, but I do remember seeing references to it in a crazy 2010 playthough of the SNES game Clock Tower which led me to the following reasoning:

  1. Clock Tower is an insanely weird, horrific, and beautiful game.
  2. Clock Tower cribs scenes directly from Suspiria.
  3. Therefore, Suspiria must be even more weird, horrific, and beautiful than Clock Tower.

Stalker (1979)

There’s a point early on in Andrei Tarkovsky’s STALKER where the Stalker, the Professor, and the Writer have snuck past a military blockade, dodged bullets and ridden a railway work car for a few silent minutes of screen time. The film switches from sepia to color - they have entered The Zone, a mysterious alien-touched segment of the world. “We are home” Stalker says. “It is so quiet out here, it is the quietest place in the world.”

Under the Skin (2013)

A little while ago I read this great article on the cinematic influences of the game Kentucky Route Zero, which got me thinking that I should be expanding my exposure to and ability to talk about film, particularly with regard to influencing work on Moonshot or other creative projects. So I’m starting an informal Cinema Club (think Book Club) and hope to write a bit about the films I watch and what I took away from them.

Elsewhere

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