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2016 will be more than 2015. In the sense that I will invent even bolder predictions and fail even bigger. That’s the theory.

I didn’t do well on the 2015 bold predictions front, but that can be forgiven because no one is holding me accountable! (Right?)

Yet, I still did a lot. I went to eight different countries, but only one new one. I waded along beaches, rafted along crocodile infested rapids, climbed the head of a lion, those types of things.

I didn’t run all that much, but I hiked a fair bit. I played a lot of sports, from volleyball to softball to soccer to flag football. I watched a lot of sports as well, mostly football (Seahawks and Huskies) and some baseball. I went to a ton of music concerts…and reviewed a few.

What does 2016 have in store?

The theme is ‘More than 2015 or bust‘.

 

In 2016, I predict I will…

…visit two new baseball stadiums. Only four left!

…read 33 books (one more than last year); watch 101 movies (one more than last year).

…visit two new countries (one more than last year).

…run in at least four races (one more than last year).

…find a reason to do something even crazier than the last time.

…hike over 250 total miles. (Last year I hiked 185)

…take no prisoners and give no shits.

…pick a few musicians and go deep into their music catalog.

…binge watch three new TV shows.

…play with two puppies.

________________

 

Let’s look at how I fared from my 2015 list:

Success rate: 6/10

…visit three new baseball stadiums. Surprised? Result: Nope, I only went to one this year. St. Louis.

…do something crazy. Climb a mountain crazy. Run a half-marathon crazy. Crazy like that. Result: I went white water rafting down the Zambezi River and waved to the crocodiles! Cray cray.

…read at least 35 books. I haven’t read that much the past few years. Doubling down. Results: Nope. I only got to 32! So close!

…read seven books I own that I haven’t read. I estimate I have over 30 unread books lying around! Results: Well now…no, I only managed to read five.

…run 300 miles. That’s 25 miles per month. That sucks. Results: Hahahaha! Wow, I failed this one miserably! I ran 86 miles. I’ll blame the fact that I didn’t run much the first few months because I had thrown out my back. But to be fair, I knew that fact when I made the prediction.

…get myself to at least one new country. I haven’t been to a new country since 2012. Result: Boom! United Arab Emirates!

…write more. Result: Yes and no. I wrote more for the blog Parklife DC, but wrote somewhat less for this blog. But overall, it was more!

…volunteer to be a commissioner of a sports league. (Hint: I already did this for volleyball…victory! 1-0 already!) Result: Done.

…win a championship with one of the sports teams I play on. Let’s do this! Result: Our sand volleyball team won a championship via forfeit. Lame, but another team I was on should have won it all also, but the league scheduled the final match on a day no one was available to play. I call victory.

…play with a puppy. Result: Of course.

Cutthroat Lakes (Walt Bailey Trail)

Cutthroat Lakes (Walt Bailey Trail)

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In 2015, I predict I will…

…visit three new baseball stadiums. Surprised?

…do something crazy. Climb a mountain crazy. Run a half-marathon crazy. Crazy like that.

…read at least 35 books. I haven’t read that much the past few years. Doubling down.

…read seven books I own that I haven’t read. I estimate I have over 30 unread books lying around!

…run 300 miles. That’s 25 miles per month. That sucks.

…get myself to at least one new country. I haven’t been to a new country since 2012.

…write more.

…volunteer to be a commissioner of a sports league. (Hint: I already did this for volleyball…victory! 1-0 already!)

…win a championship with one of the sports teams I play on. Let’s do this!

…play with a puppy.

 

________________

Let’s look at how I fared from my 2014 list:

Success rate: 7.5/10

…read four ‘classic’ science fiction novels. From this listDone! See the which ones here.

…participate in three races. Maybe even a sprint triathlon? 1/2 credit for this one. I paid for three races, but was out-of-town for one and hurt my back for another. I did run the Army Ten-Miler however.

…prance about in at least one new country. Maybe Croatia? Nope. I went to Malaysia and Thailand this year, but I’d been to both countries before.

…visit 2-3 new baseball stadiums. Yes! Went to Globe Life Stadium (Texas Rangers) and Minute Maid Park (Houston Astros).

…attend another music festival. Maybe the Firefly Music Festival in Delaware? Oh yeah! I made it to the 3rd annual Firefly Music Festival.

…find a new job. True. I started working on e-learning for WV’s information management system.

…hike more than last year. Benchmark: 17 hikes/177.5 miles. Fail. I did a scant 14 hikes/154.75 miles.

…finish watching the American Film Institute’s (AFI) Top 100 movies and all the Oscar Best Picture winners. Don’t get too excited, I only have 18 movies remaining. Boom! Done!

…cook more. I got a CSA share of veggies and cooked lots of new things. And I slapped together mucho sloppy tacos.

…win. I played on six different sports teams throughout the year (volleyball x 3, soccer, softball and flag football). We won 29 games I played in. Oh yeah. (But not because of me…). Plus the Seattle Seahawks went 3-0 in games I attended.

Out!

bold

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I can’t speak for you, so this is why I use it.

Take heed. Or not.

I’ve been using Foursquare on my iPhone 4 for about 2-1/2 years.

For the uninitiated, Foursquare is an app that allows you to ‘check in’ to the places you’re at. It’s like the Facebook ‘Check In’ feature. In theory, this let’s your friends know where you are or the ‘cool’ places you frequent.

You can also write reviews, add photos, become the Mayor of that place and earn badges for checking-in to certain places.

My stats as of January 28, 2014: 3,538 Check Ins and 133 Badges.

There are three main reasons I use Foursquare. Note: None of these are because I care if you know where I am.

3rd Best Reason to Use Foursquare

To search for new or recommended places.

Yes, you can use Yelp or Google (or other apps) but those don’t offer the other two reasons. This feature is especially useful as you visit new cities or places. You can search by category (Want a taco? Find it!) but the ‘trending’ feature sets it apart from other apps. This shows a list of places that many fellow Foursquare users are currently checked in at. For example, a friend found a number of ‘trending’ places in New York that were cool (The Standard Biergarten and the Frying Pan).

It’s easy to use the map feature to track your progress as you get close to the place. I use this a lot.

2nd Best Reason to Use Foursquare

To keep track of places to write about later.

As you may have noticed, I like to make lists. I like to write about travel and places I’ve been. I need a way to track all that nonsense.

Before mobile phones, I scribbled on a small notepad at the end of the day. Often I’d forget a name of a restaurant or cultural icon or museum or dish I devoured. Or I’d forget to write anything for weeks at a time, and then I was really screwed. I’d have to phone a friend or Google until I remembered. Tedious.

Now I can scan the list of places I’ve checked-in to via Foursquare. The work is done! And you get ample lists and useless content from me. You are welcome.

The Best Reason to Use Foursquare

To earn badges.

Now it’s a game. A competition. A scavenger hunt. I like small, simple goals (like doing X, Y and Z to achieve A). I like the feeling of (pointless) accomplishment for achieving something – no matter how small. I am fond of mastering small challenges in my head (like where to go and when to unlock a particular badge).

None of this is significant. Or life-changing. Or useful in and of itself. But why do we play games? Why did you while away countless hours playing Angry Birds or Candy Crush? We do it. Because we are competitive. Because we like to be distracted from real-life. Because we want to get better and do better. Because we want to impress our friends. Whatever the reasons, we like to play games.

And that is why I like to use Foursquare.

There are many types of badges you can earn. Either from Foursquare or from partner organizations.

The two types of Foursquare badges I want are ‘Expertise’ badges and the ‘City’ badges.

‘Expertise’ badges – Earn the badge (in a specific category), then ‘level-up’ as you continue to go to more places in that category. Say you like Mexican food and tacos. After visiting three Mexican/taco places you earn the ‘Hot Tamale’ badge. Then after going to five new Mexican/taco places, you move up to ‘Level 2’. Then ‘Level 3′. All the way to ’10’.

There are currently 39 different expertise badges. Categories of food and drink are common (like Burgers, Pizza, Italian, Japanese, Coffee and more). But there are sports, travel or outdoors related ones as well.

Some Expertise…

‘City’ badges – Earn the badge by checking in to five different places on that city’s Foursquare list. The list usually has around 50-60 places (tourist sites, restaurants, places of cultural significance and more). There are 55 cities across the world that have a badge. The USA leads with 18.

This is the most interesting part of the entire badge system. I have earned 9 City badges so far. Come join me as I travel to get more.

London. Paris. Seattle, WA. Bangkok. Las Vegas, NV. Portland, OR. Boston, MA. Stamford, CT. Baltimore, MD.
Other cool badges
Bonus!
Foursquare also works with the app Untappd, which allows you to track the various beers you’ve imbibed. You can earn certain Untappd badges by connecting the two apps!

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On November 11th, something paramountly amazing gripped the hearts and minds of the entire world’s population. They marched to important meeting places and landmarks to share the moment together. Smiling. Anticipating. As the crowds grew, a collective hush pervaded. When every last man, woman and child had come together, they turned as one to face the mecca that is Washington, D.C.. What did they see?

Can it be described it words?

Will history remember?

Nah.

It was just the fifth anniversary of this A Random Journey blog. Nothing to get excited about. I tried telling all those people not to gather and mill about. Nobody listens to me.

Few things can be said to matter less.

Yet, (there’s always a ‘yet’) once again I have employed the shadowy Kuma Consulting firm to cherry pick numbers and stats that will illuminate just what I’ve been doing all these years. It won’t be pretty. It won’t be interesting. It won’t stop. Fair warning.

Random Stats (five years journeyed)

Total posts: 228

Average posts per year: 45.6

First post on WordPress on 11/11/08: Where Your Dreams Blow Bigger and Bigger (about Japan)

Posts still in ‘draft’: 38 (hmm, I write a lot and don’t post…)

Number of @ARandomJourney Twitter tweets: 543

Number of followers on WordPress: 93 (Thanks you! You rock!)

Bang for your buck: Zero (you pay zero bucks, you get zero bang)

Posts about ‘Wine/Beer’: 24 (relive some of the wine joy here and the beer joy here)

Posts while under the influence of ‘Wine/Beer’: Burp

Posts about ‘Food’: 48 (eat Thai, Colombian and Japanese food immediately. Or maybe check out some food porn?)

Posts about ‘Travel’: 70 (maybe Rio? or Kenya? or Cambodia? or Colombia?)

Random Monthly Goals: 15 (Success ratio: 10-4, with one ongoing)

New baseball stadiums I visited since November 2008: 15

Stadiums that I actually wrote about: Eight (like AT&T Park? or Tigers Stadium?)

Posts about hikes I’ve done: 10 (like in Washington State? or in California?)

Name most frequently found in my posts: Kuma (16 mentions plus some photos)

Number of life lessons I learned writing this blog: One (but I forgot it already)

Top five ‘least’ read posts on WordPress. So read them…

May the next five years be as random.

5year

5year2

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You actually believe that I would offer up something useful? So gullible. You’d be lucky to get a single pointless tip out of me. Actually, here is a pointless tip…

Writing Inspiration

Often, while trying to sleep, I get a burst of inspiration. I throw aside my covers, jump up, crack my knee, blindly look for illumination and glasses, grab a pen that doesn’t work, fumble for paper, scratch said paper with said non-working pen, curse, scramble for another pen, and finally scrawl down my idea.

When I wake up the next morning, I’ve forgotten all about it. Except for the throbbing knee. Later (sometimes days), I will find some random scrap of paper laying about. I look at it from different angles, but for the life of me, I can’t decode the chicken scratch. Who wrote this? Then, much like a 3-year-old, I get frustrated and petulant. Maybe I throw something. Maybe I kick and scream.

After awhile, I chuck the paper and strike the thinking man’s pose. (Photos available) Then, explosively, I land on the perfect idea. Simple. Elegant. Brilliant.

I furiously play at the keyboard like it’s an out of tune piano. I try to wrestle this fresh idea into some semblance of sense. Letters, words, whole musical sentences, wildly careen off my fingertips and magically appear on the screen. Then I pause. I catch my breath. Now is the hard part. I must break this idea like a stallion, so it will be tame and pliable. Taking a deep breath, I jump back into the fray. Soon, it’s all over but the crying. I own that idea. Now I can shape it. It’s like silly putty. I give it a few more tweaks, slap on a witty retort, add a period (or not depending on my mood), and voilá…perfection. I have just crafted the Pulitzer blog post of the century. I click ‘save draft’ and go grab a beer.

Sometime later (usually sobered up), I peek in on my wonderous idea. My jaw drops open. What utter, useless crap! Bollocks! Did my dog puke this up?

I fall back in my chair, pursing my lips for an epic curse. But I refrain and simply click ‘publish’. I’ve got other things to do.

peace

“Of all the fatiguing, futile, empty trades, the worst, I suppose, is writing about writing.”Hilaire Belloc

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