Joseph Hallenbeck
January 01, 2018

2017 In Review

Filed under: Journal part of Annual Reviews

We started 2017 with the simple goal of settling into our cabin in Alpine, exploring the nearby trails and outdoor opportunities, and reconnecting with side project long abandoned to hiatus. As the year progressed, it took on an increasingly fever pitch that left us longing for that empty stretch of winter duldrums.

Sprint Highlights

Sprint A
Hotelled at the Wigwam Village in Holbrook, AZ
Sprint B
Started waking early and walking three miles each morning
Sprint C
Explored downtown Raleigh, NC
Sprint D
Spent the weekend at La Posada in Winslow, AZ
Sprint E
Spent the sprint sick with norovirus
Sprint F
Exploring creating a single-player Damasca using Solarus
Sprint G
Visited Wisconsin for my niece’s baptism
Sprint H
Visited my grandparents in Cleveland, OH
Sprint I
Investigating growing Orchids
Sprint J
Camping trip to Blue Crossing
Sprint K
Writing retreat at Cottonwood Campground, Reserve, NM
Sprint L
Jess visited Portland
Sprint M
First time playing Dungeons & Dragons in five years
Sprint N
Cabin trip in Bluff, UT
Sprint O
Converted my blog to Jekyll with a new design and posts
Sprint P
Attended funeral for Grandpa James in Cleveland, OH
Sprint Q
North American Mycological Association Regional Foray in the White Mountains
Sprint R
Backpacked West Mount Baldy Trail
Sprint S
Jess on Fire
Sprint T
McBride Mesa Trail #26 (13+ Mile/16 hour Hike of Doom)
Sprint U
Quarterly Vacation to Durham
Sprint V
Clint Visited & Apache Box
Sprint W
Katie Visited
Sprint X
Grandma James’ Funeral in Cleveland, OH
Sprint Y
Zend Framework Fundamentals Class
Sprint Z
Christmas in Spearfish

Personal Highlights


Whale skeleton in the NC Natural History Museum

  • The most relaxing quarter. Found time to play – games, films, reading; and to pick up time for writing and pursueing creative projects.
  • In exploring, found George’s Lake Trail. A beautiful oak glade at the base of Escudilla and just outside of town (indeed it’s within a half mile walk of the house). A complex of old roads in the area affords over six miles of hiking end to end.
  • Started the year at over 215 lbs in weight which puts me into the obese category for my height. Started the RealAppeal program, offered by my health insurance and through my employer, with a goal of dropping to 180 lbs. Dropped my weight to 194 lbs at it’s lowest, but spent most of the year at 198 lbs.
  • Explored a lot of culinary delights: crawfish casserole, shrimp in pesto-tomato sauce, turkey breast with almonds, butter chicken, celery and sausage frittata, lentils and rice, squash and browned butter pasta, chicken scarporiello, caldo verde, creamed spinacha nd cauliflowr soup, lamb chops, and miso chicken
  • Replaced the single-pane windows on the house and officially became a resident of Arizona, although saddly not in time to put in for an Elk tag (need six months of residency.)
  • Started a dialog with Dart Zaidyer about the Solarus Engine and its potential for creating a single-player Damasca game. He converted the old Magrathea maps into the Solarus engine format and we began working to fix linking them together as I researched Lua and the API that powered the game engine.
  • Home adventures included hotelling at the Wigwam Village in Holbrook and La Posada in Winslow, AZ as we explored the delights of North-Western AZ.
  • Followed Jess to a training session in Flagstaff
  • Started taking extra time in the Quarterly meeting to really explore the Triangle area. If I am to be flown across the country, I ought to take the chance to look into museums, buy souvenirs, attend concerts and such.
  • Dana visited and we took her to Sante Fe.
  • Ended Quarter with trip to Rhinelander for Felicity’s baptism followed by my last trip to see my Grandparents before their funerals later in the year.


A beagle cools off in a mountain stream in the shade of a boulder

  • Culinary delights continued: quinoa pasta and burnt butter sauce, french onion stratta, schnitzel and beat sandwiches
  • Continued exploring and hiking, cover over seventy miles and adding Lamphier Trail, Juan Miller Road, MS Mountain Trail, Pueblo Park Interpretive Trail, Indian Creek Lookout, Cottonwood Canyon, Bonanza Bill, and Goose Point road to the list of trails that I explored.
  • Rewrote from Wordpress to Jekyll including a new mobile-friendly design. Implemented a system for updating the site, analytics via a personal Pikwik install instead of Google spyware, and several new posts. Took down the Wind-Up blog and imported the posts into my Portfolio site. Started working on a similar treatment for Dreamscapes, but never got around to it.
  • Played D&D at Flying Rook Games while Jess was out in Portland, but just couldn’t find the time to make the commitment to the three-hour round trip biweekly to attend.
  • Picked up zazen over lunch and kept at it through the summer, although tailed off by Q3. It is a practice that I have long wanted to make routine, but also find that my life is plenty busy without adding another daily item. I have been interested in the Zen center in Silver City, and perhaps if I could make it down there, I could find instruction in the matter and better practice. As such, I’ve put meditation on the back burner of things to do, time permitting.


Basket of wild foraged mushrooms

  • Completed the third year of a “social media fast,” with several interesting introspections coming from it. Namely the observation that Social Media creates the illusion of being connected to friends. That smaller, more tight knit communities create better interactions. That I ought to spend more time seeking friendships among my immediate peers, or at least maintaining relationships through direct contact. Also, that I largely get nothing from Facebook. Find Twitter and Hacker News amusing, but ultimately distracting. That I would be better
  • Found time to regularly play Team Fortress 2 with Will and Clint
  • Celebrated our sixth anniversary with a trip to Bluff, UT to stay at the Comb Ridge Bistro and explore Bear Ears National Monument (our interests in the area pre-date the creation of the Monument).
  • Grandpa James passed away, necessitating an emergency trip to Ohio to attend the funeral.
  • Attended the Regional North American Mycological Association Foray at Sunrise Ski Resort. Learned a ton about mushroom collecting in the area and set about amassing thirty-some pounds of mushrooms (pre-dried). Signed up for a membership with the organization and looking forward to future mushroom hunting next year.
  • Moved into the house as I disposed of three bags of the prior owner’s linens. Purged an exsessive amount of old paperwork to the fire bin. Decorated the Arizona room.
  • Ended the quarter with a two night backpacking trip to the top of Mt Baldy via the western trail. Sprained an ankle.


Winding mountain road descending through juniper covered hills

  • Got cat, Tilde!
  • Started the quarter with a 13.5 mile all day hike of the McBride Mesa Trail. A volunteer activity for the Forest Service as we checked the trail conditions and determined the true path of the trial via multiple GPS unit.
  • In total we hiked a 100 miles this quarter, and according to my Garmin, took half a million steps.
  • Jess came along on the Quarterly trip to Durham this time. We saw a Robert Cray concert, toured the triangle area and had a generally good time.
  • Clint visited. Took him on the grand tour of the area.
  • Katie and Ben flew out to visit.
  • Grandma went into hospice and for three long weeks we wondered about her condition. She passed away in November on Thanksgiving Week. This necessitated a wild drive across the country to Cleveland, trailer in tow, for a second funeral.
  • Returned home for two weeks before needing to leave again for our Christmas plans in Spearfish. Two days driving up, celebrated over the weekend, two days driving back, and then back to work.
  • Ended the year with lobster at the Foxfire in Alpine

Professional Development

  • Peopleware book club
  • Started a Modern React and Redux UDemy Course; took a deep dive into the React ecosystem but really I don’t do enough front-end UI/UX work these days to keep on top of it or make much use of it on a daily basis.
  • Abandoned Pomodoro, it isn’t an appropriate technique for development except as a means of breaking a procrastination cycle.
  • Big research into accounting platforms, from Quickbooks, Freshbooks, Zohobooks, and their integration pain-points for a business interested in offloading a bespoke accounting system (integrated into a software monolith). The particular painpoints where the need to export over ten years of pre-existing accoutning data, and also create an automated platform that could record a large volume of daily orders from an external system. Found Zohobooks perhaps the easiest platform for this use case. Would spend the next two quarters implementing this integration.
  • Create a self-sylalbus for studying Machine Learning. Started with reading and completing the example problems in Statistics in Plain English and Statistics: A First Course. Read through the Tensorflow documentation. Completed the first half of Coursera’s Macine Learning course.
  • Work signed us up for Zend Fundamentals I. Completed the course before the end of December.
"2017 In Review" by Joseph Hallenbeck is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.