Wow. It’s hard to believe that today is the last day of 2017 already. Since this has been a very busy year for me, I thought it would be good to look back at some the major events in my life. This is more for my own benefit than anyone else’s, if I’m honest. It’s always good to remind myself of what God has done in my life over the year, and what he’s helped me to accomplish throughout the year. So, as Ro (from Nerdy Nummies) would say… Let’s Get Started!

Every year, during the week of Martin Luther King Jr Day, Precision Planting hosts a Winter Conference where they announce their latest products, and also provide farmers with a lot of agronomic data from the past year’s test plots. Although I worked at Precision in 2016, it wasn’t until January 2017 that I attended a Winter Conference. I was not heavily involved this year, so I was able to attend the different sessions and just observe. Even though I have been around farming for most of my life, I always have more to learn, and there was a lot of new information I learned over the course of the week.

When February came around, it was time to travel to Georgia to do some testing for a project I was involved with at work. The weather had just dipped into the single digits in Illinois, so heading to a place where the highs were in the 60s sounded good to me. This also marked the first time that I a) traveled for work as a Precision Planting employee, and b) the first time that I ever flew in an airplane. As one would expect, I was much more nervous about it than I had reason to be, and the week went smoothly. I spent most of my time there either in the buddy seat of a tractor doing diagnostics, or else writing software (either in the tractor, in a gator, or in the back of a rental van, depending on the amount of concentration needed). The following picture was taken from the aforementioned buddy seat on my second day in Albany.

February 2017

In late February, I got the news that my paternal grandmother had taken a turn for the worse. And a few days later, on February 21st, she went home to be with the Lord. While there were many tears, there was also joy in knowing that she is no longer suffering here on earth, and that she is in a better place. The funeral was held in early March near my hometown, and so I traveled back for the funeral and to visit family.

And that pretty much takes us to Spring. Working for an agricultural company, Spring is generally one of the busiest times of the year, and this year was no exception. From late-March through June my time was centered around field support, and included a few impromptu trips to debug issues. While not great for photo ops, it did keep me busy, and also gave me something out of the ordinary to work on. I can say without a doubt that there wasn’t a boring day at work during that time period. Although, to be fair, I have rarely had a “boring day at the office” since I started at Precision Planting. We’re not really that type of company!

The summer months were a bit less busy for me, and included a trip home to see family in early June and early August, and two visits from my family to see me, for July 4th and in mid-August for my birthday. My dad always marvels at the size of the crops that we grow in Central Illinois, and this year he had me take a picture of him on July 3rd with the corn across the street from my house. He enjoys sending it to friends back home and watching their reactions, I think.

Also during the summer, on a whim on July 7th, I decided to change my eating habits (I don’t recall exactly what triggered this – probably some article I was reading). And so, with less than a day’s planning, I started out on the ketogenic diet. I was 287 lbs at the time, and while I wasn’t having any particular issues, I was getting tired of the limitations that being overweight brings. I didn’t know if I would be able to stick with the diet, nor for how long I’d want to even if I could. Therefore, I did not take a “Before/After” photo, although at this point I really wish that I would have. I have stuck with the diet throughout the rest of the year, and as of today (December 31st), I’m weighing in at 232 lbs. I have a long ways to go before I get anywhere close to my target weight, but I am quite happy with how far I’ve come as well, and I fully intend to stick with the diet for the foreseeable future. Thankfully, at this point it has become more of a lifestyle than something I really need to put effort into.

The week of my birthday, I decided to splurge a little, and picked up a DJI Spark (a small drone that shoots 12 MP stills and 1080p video). So, while my family was in town, I grabbed some extra batteries and took my drone (and my family) to a local park to learn how to use it. It took me a while to learn to fly the drone properly, and so, unfortunately, I didn’t get much usable footage (or any particularly good photos) during that time. However, I did manage to take a family “dronie”. It turns out small drones are very good for taking family pictures!

August 21st, the Monday after my birthday, was the Solar Eclipse. I originally planned to work that day, but I ended up being given the day off. For those who don’t know, at that time Precision Planting was owned by Monsanto, which is headquartered in St. Louis. St. Louis was directly in the path of the solar eclipse, and so Monsanto chose to give all of their employees the day off. A number of my coworkers were driving down to a campground in Sparta, IL, to watch the eclipse, and so I decided to join them. Early Monday morning I met one of my coworkers, and we carpooled down to Sparta, about a 3 hour drive. We arrived a few hours before the eclipse started, and so I spent a while just chatting and waiting for the eclipse to occur. Below is a picture of the group of us that were there, taken with my DJI Spark.

Eclipse 2017

Now, I’ve seen articles that give a much more accurate depiction of the “experience” of the eclipse than I can, so I will be intentionally brief. The solar eclipse was definitely a very interesting event to witness. The first thing we noticed was that shadows started to get very crisp, and lighting looked “off”. And then, gradually, it began to get darker, though you could see light on both horizons still. Almost as soon as it started, the eclipse ended, so we finished packing up, and began the trek back home (which took about an hour longer than normal due to all of the traffic).

As I mentioned above, in mid-August I picked up a DJI Spark. I played with it some over the next few months, but it wasn’t until October that I did anything substantial with it. My younger brother’s birthday is in late October, and every year I try to make it home to see him sometime around then. This year’s visit coincided with the fall soybean harvest on my family’s farm, and so while my dad and uncles harvested, I flew my drone. I got some cool pictures and videos, and in mid-November I sat down and edited them together into a video. This marked the first time since 2015 that I edited together a video, and since I’ve been using primarily Linux, I attempted the edit using Kdenlive. The results were okay, although I quickly came to the conclusion that if I’m going to do any more video production in the near future, I’m going to re-subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud and use Premiere Pro (which is what I was using before moving to Illinois).

I again traveled home to visit family at Thanksgiving, this time with another toy in tow. For a number of years I’ve really wanted to own a good camera for photography (all of my cameras are exclusively for video), and so I purchased a Panasonic GH5 the weekend before I left. That meant that most of my trip to visit family was spent playing with my camera and experimenting with different settings, when I wasn’t spending time with family (and occasionally even when I was). The picture below was taken with the GH5 on Thanksgiving, so that my mom had a nice family portrait to use on her Christmas cards. My other main focus while with family was setting up my dad with new computer. Well, a new-to-him computer. It was actually a Chuwi laptop that I had purchased to play with a few months prior, but found that I was not using it much. And so I took the computer with me, wiped it, and installed (you guessed it) Arch Linux, with the KDE Plasma 5 desktop, for him. The install went off pretty much without a hitch, and he’s been happily using it ever since. I also installed Arch Linux, this time with Mate as the desktop, on an old desktop computer he had in his office, so that he could experiment with using Linux for bookwork. That computer hasn’t been used very much yet, but he also hasn’t wiped it, so I’ll count it as a partial win.

And that brings us to December. For me, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas were very hectic this year. I had a number of projects at work that required my attention over this time, which led to longer hours than I originally planned on. December was also spent planning and purchasing Christmas presents for family members, and as usual, I probably went a bit overboard. However, I enjoy buying and giving gifts to others, so I’ll count it as a job well done. On December 23rd I headed back to my hometown for the holidays, and spent the next four days with family, celebrating Christ’s birth. While there, my sister and I took our parents out for their 31st anniversary to a local restaurant, which was also the last meal with the family before I headed back to my home.

And, that pretty much wraps up my year! As seems to always be the case, I could have never predicted where this year would take me, and I look forward to seeing where God takes me in the year to come!

Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

  • Edit #1 (2018-01-01): Added Solar Eclipse + photos + video (thanks Dave!)
  • Edit #2 (2018-11-15): Replace Instagram links w/photos