It’s hard to believe, but another year has come and gone. And so, to keep with my tradition (is 3 years enough to call it a tradition?), here’s a look back at the last 12 months of my life.

The beginning of 2019 was relatively bland for me. I was active at work, and volunteering at church, but not many noteworthy events occurred during that time. I did, however, make a small change in one of my habits: I quit listening to audiobooks on Audible. I wrote up a blog post about it in early March, so I won’t rehash the details here. But that change did see me begin to purchase and read more physical books than I did in previous years.

Then, towards the end of March, I took a week-long trip to the southern United States to see my sister, who was there for 3 months on an optometry externship. I should note, at this point, that traveling is highly unusual for me. I tend to stay home and just read or spend time by myself when I take time off of work, instead of traveling. But this seemed like a good opportunity to visit the area and do some hiking, so off I went. While there, my sister and I went hiking pretty much every day, and also visited a number of local restaurants (all of which were amazing). Below are some select photos from that trip.

And a few short months later, my sister graduated from optometry school! I traveled back to my hometown, where I met up with the rest of my family, and together we headed to the university for her hooding ceremony.

And to wrap out May, a group of production team members from the church I attend headed to Chicago for FILO 2019 (First In, Last Out), a 2-day conference for church production leaders, staff members, and volunteers. It was a great time of worship, learning, and growing in technical skills, as well as a great time to spend with friends from the team. You can see a recap of the event here (I couldn’t embed it in this post due to restrictions by the content creators).

Early June means the first of the local small-town festivals, and once again this year I went one evening with friends from church. While there, 2 of my friends competed in a competition to see who could hang from a bar the longest. Watching them compete got me thinking about my own lack of muscle, and so I began debating what to do about it. I have never liked exercise, but I know that physique does not improve by sitting on a couch. And so, a few weeks later, I began to build a home gym in my basement, working under the assumption that I would be more likely to use equipment if it was readily available than I would be to visit a gym. At that time I bought and installed a power rack, a bench, a bar, and a 165 lb plate set. Needless to say, I wouldn’t be outgrowing that anytime soon.

In midsummer (late June/early July), I took another step in leaving what I refer to as “traditional social media”. In last year’s retrospective I mentioned that I had left Facebook & Instagram. Now I shuttered my Twitter account, and chose to join Fosstodon, a FOSS-centric Mastodon instance (for the uninitiated, Mastodon can be thought of, in super-simplistic terms, as a federated Twitter alternative). I blogged about my experiences after leaving social media back in October (see this post), so once again I won’t go into too many details here.

Now, on to August! Ever since I’ve worked at Precision Planting, my coworkers have been trying to get me to attend the annual Farm Progress Show. Pretty much every agriculture company attends the event, showing off their latest and greatest, and it’s a good opportunity to see what’s going on in the industry all in one place. The show is hosted at two alternating sites, and this year it was in Decatur, which is around an hour away. I finally agreed to go, since it was close, and so on August 28th, 3 coworkers and I drove down early in the morning and spent the day touring the show.

Then, in early September, I made both a somewhat substantial purchase, and a very substantial change in my daily tech. After 4 years of using Android phones, I made the switch back to iOS with the release of the iPhone 11. I once again blogged about my decision (see this post), so I won’t cover my reasoning for switching here. I will say, however, that I have overall been happy with my decision to switch to a different mobile OS, and while I don’t believe that Apple is perfect, I’m more comfortable with them than with Google from a performance and privacy position, and there are no other options that I am ready to consider at this time (although I’m definitely keeping an eye on the PinePhone).

At around the same time, I decided to build out my home gym a little more, and add a trap bar and a dumbbell set. I had not outgrown what I had installed a few months before, but I was finding the limits of what I could do with the equipment I had, and a friend had suggested that I pick up some dumbbells due to their versatility. And so, after weeks of planning and pricing options, I went ahead and purchased some additional equipment. It took a week for it to arrive, and when it did, I was slightly shocked by the number of boxes that I would have to carry to my basement. Thankfully, the same friend was willing to come over and assist, and so between the two of us we got everything moved from my garage to the basement, and the dumbbells and trap bar unboxed. I spent the following day putting the dumbbell rack together and moving equipment around.

On to October! Every year, the young adult ministry I’m a part of holds a Fall Festival at one of the leader’s houses, complete with a bonfire, games, and food. This year it was held in early October due to scheduling, and one of the team-based competitions was pumpkin carving. My team, made up primarily of other leaders, struggled briefly on what to carve, but quickly settled on Bob & Larry from VeggieTales. We didn’t win, but we did come in second place! Below is a picture of our creation.

October 2019

This brings me to November. In mid-November, I was invited to attend a men’s conference at a church in Indianapolis by my pastor (who was also one of the speakers), along with the other male leaders of my small group. We traveled there on Friday, spent Saturday morning at the conference, then returned home Saturday evening. It was a fun time with friends, and it was also great to just participate in the event, learn from those speaking, and enjoy a time of worship. The picture below was taken between sessions, when I (being the geek that I am) went up to look at their tech booth.

November 2019

The following week, I made a short trip for work out to Los Angeles. I won’t lie, I was a little nervous about the trip, primarily because I didn’t know what to expect when it came to traversing such a large city. And while I definitely wasn’t as comfortable there as I am in rural communities, I’m glad I had the opportunity to go. Below is a picture I took from the window in my hotel room.

November 2019

And the week after that was Thanksgiving! This year I traveled home for Thanksgiving to spend time with family for a few days. I had caught a cold about a week earlier (right after returning from LA), and so was unfortunately still a bit under the weather while visiting family. But thankfully I was able to rest and recuperate while there, take it easy, and overall it was a relaxing few days.

Then, it was back to my home for a few weeks! The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas was busy with Christmas parties, church events, and shopping. And somehow, in the midst of that, I managed to find time for some mischief too! A week before our R&D Christmas party, some coworkers and I decided to wrap another coworker’s desk in wrapping paper, and then built an entire “gift box” around it. And to top it off, we blamed it on the elves (see below). Thankfully, the coworker we played the prank on took it well, and his desk became the talk of the company for the next week!

Elves 2019

The following week was our R&D Christmas, which is always a fun time with coworkers. This year the event was held at a large venue nearby, and I was asked to take photos at the event, to be shared in the following days with the entire team.

That takes us to my family’s Christmas, which this year was held at my parent’s house. Just like Thanksgiving, it was once again a relaxing time, and also a fun time to spend with my parents and siblings.

And with that, 2019 comes to a close! I’ve spent the time since returning from visiting family catching up on projects around the house, and doing an excessive amount of reading (although, because I keep bouncing between books, I’ve only completed one during that time). As to what 2020 will look like for me? I have no idea. But I look forward to whatever God has in store!

Happy New Year!