BirchTree

Talking tech since 2010

My Quantified Life: 2020

Every other year I set up a quike survey for myself to take every night to track a few things in my life. These are things I'm either interested in improving, while others are just general curiosities. I'm publishing this on Christmas Eve, so I'm missing the last week of the year, but this isn't going to move the needle much on anything, and I'm aiming to take the last week of 2020 off entirely, so this will have to do.

The 2016 post and 2018 post are still available, of course.

This is going to be a long post, so here are the things I'm breaking down if you want to skip to the things you're interested in:

  • Movies
  • Video Games
  • Books
  • A Better Computer
  • Exercise
  • Drinking
  • Dog Walking
  • Apple Watch Bands
  • When my iPad was not enough

Movies

I watched 54 movies this year, which is down significantly from 2018 when I tracked 80 films. In my defense, far fewer movies came out this year.

Here's the full list, with a few standouts at the top:

  • Parasite (my favorite film of 2019)
  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire (my close second of 2019)
  • Shoplifters (oh my god, have you seen this movie?!)
  • Frances Ha
  • Hamilton
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Before Sunrise
  • Moonlight
  • Uncut Gems
  • Alpha Go
  • App: The Human Story
  • Bad Education
  • Before Sunset
  • Bombshell
  • Can’t Hardly Wait
  • Casino Royale
  • Class Action Park
  • Deathly Hallows Part 1
  • Deathly hallows Part 2
  • Emma
  • Enemy
  • Enola Holmes
  • Eurovision
  • Going Clear
  • Greyhound
  • Happiest Season
  • Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Horse Girl
  • Hot Fuzz
  • I’m Thinking About Ending Things
  • Icarus
  • In the Heat of the Night
  • Inside Lewyn Davis
  • Jennifer’s Body
  • Knives Out
  • Mrs. Doubtfire
  • Network
  • On the Rocks
  • Rams
  • Ratatouille
  • Sicario
  • Swallow
  • Tenet
  • The Florida Project
  • The Holidate
  • The King of Staten Island
  • The Platform
  • Under the Silver Lake
  • We Are Freestyle Love Supreme
  • Where’d You Go Bernadette?
  • You Were Never Really Here
  • Zombieland Double Tap

Video Games

I played a total of 56 video games this year, which sounds like a ton, but exactly half of them were only played for 1-3 days before I moved on. Seriously, I have Wargroove on this list, but I played it for about 20 minutes.

Anyway, here are my top 10 games based on days played:

Flight Simulator takes the cake by a mile here, although I don't play this game like anything else here. I often will start a flight, put it into autopilot, and let it go for an hour while I get closer to my destination, then I take over again for the landing. I've found this to be quite cathartic this year, and finding new and interesting flights to make has been lots of fun. Here's a New York to D.C. flight in the snow, for example.

And here's another fun one I made earlier this year:

As for Madden, well I will say that Madden 21 is the buggiest, worst version of Madden I've ever played, but it's my only option, so what can I do? Madden has long been my "unwind" game after work, so the vast majority of these games were played around 5pm as I decompressed from my work day.

And finally, how about what I thought were the best games? I of course have a video for that too, but my top 5 games I played (regardless of year they were released) are:

  1. The Last of Us Part 2
  2. Death Stranding
  3. Final Fantasy 7 Remake
  4. Hades
  5. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

Books

I read 31 books this year, which is right where I want to be. Considering a few years ago I read 1-3 books, this year's number speaks to how much more I've focused on books as a form of entertainment.

Below is a video where I discuss my top 10 of the year, followed by a full list of what I read (top 10 are bolded, and a few are noted as books I would not recommend).

  1. Alexander Hamilton
  2. Atomic Habits
  3. Caste: The Origins of our Discontents
  4. Company of One
  5. Creative Selection
  6. Essentialism (would not recommend)
  7. Hiding in Plan Sight
  8. How Music Got Free
  9. In the Garden of Beasts
  10. Measure What Matters
  11. Never Split the Difference
  12. No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram
  13. Radical Kindness (would not recommend)
  14. Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World
  15. Reality is Not What it Seems
  16. Sapiens
  17. Start With Why
  18. The Color of Law
  19. The Elements of Typographic Style
  20. The Future is Faster Than You Think (would not recommend)
  21. The Happiness Hypothesis
  22. The Infinite Game
  23. The Silent Patient
  24. The Year of Less
  25. Thinking Fast and Slow
  26. This is How You Lose the Time War
  27. What Truth Sounds Like
  28. Where Good Ideas Come From
  29. White Fragility (would not recommend)
  30. Why Do We Still Have the Electoral College
  31. Why We’re Polarized

A Better Computer

A Better Computer (like and subscribe!) was my biggest new undertaking in 2020, and I'm happy to say that it has gotten enough traction to warrant more time devoted to it in the new year!

My videos have gotten just over a quarter million views, with one video accounting for almost half of that.

In terms of subscribers, I logged this most days since the channel launched. It took me 4 months to get to 1,000 subscribers, and 2 months to get to 2,000.

Much more to come here in the new year 😃

Exercise

What a trash year for exercise!

I basically gave up on cardio fitness this year, as you can see from this graph of cumulative runs this year:

Basically, I started off okay in January, got a big push soon after I started staying home, and then lost all momentum in May. In fact, there was a 4 month window where I didn't run at all, which is shocking for me, especially duing the summer.

But that's not to say I didn't work out at all this year. For the first time ever I made strength training a priority and I did way better here, lifting weights nearly every other day. In fact, while I didn't run at all from mid-May to mid-September, I did weight training 56% of days, including a 2 month stretch where I never missed more than one day in a row.

Drinking

2020 has famously been a big year for drinking since we're all bored, but it didn't seem to have a big impact on me. When I tracked this back in 2018, I found I had a drink 60% of the days that year. In 2020, that number was 62%.

Most of these were a single beer after work while I played Madden, which is the most "gamer bro" thing about me 😆

Dog Walking

My dog Sherman loves to walk. Truly, it's basically his only hobby. He doesn't love to play, and he doesn't enjoy chew toys all that much, but boy oh boy does he love to walk!

We went of 484 walks this year, adding up to 514 miles!

You can see the line slow down a bit in June and July when it got really hot and he simply overheated quickly, but after that the numbers only accellerated.

Apple Watch Bands

I wore 8 different watch bands this year, leaning heavily into the more premium bands. The Milanese Loop took the cake, adorning my wrist 95 days this year. That would be higher, but I switched to a stainless steel Apple Watch this year and the black Loop doesn't look good with it.

The Milanese Loop also had the longest streak without me chaning it: 49 days. THat was a stretch duing the summer when it was hot and I liked the cool metal on my wrist.

When my iPad was not enough

And finally, I track how many days I needed to use my Windows PC or old Mac Mini for something that my iPad could not handle. There were 105 days where I needed one of those machines because the iPad just didn't cut it.

This is actually up from 2018 (99 days), but up until June it was going to be much lower. What changed in June? YouTube.

While I can certainly do video editing on the iPad in LumaFusion, there are three problems with this that make this a harder proposition for me:

  1. Screenflow is so much better at animations
  2. Uploading multi-gigabyte files in Safari for iPad almost never works
  3. Editing on a big display is just way easier

I still do all my other work on the iPad, and I even edited a bunch of videos in LumaFusion this year anyway, but video production is definitely an area I feel the limits of the iPad slowing me down. Here's to hoping for some big updates in iPadOS 15 next year!

Takeaway

Looking back on these numbers, there are a few things I'm proud of and several that I want to change going forward.

  • I'm super happy with how many books I read this year. I think this is a good pace for me, and adding any more may make me less capable of retaining enough from each book.
  • I'm really proud of the dog walks too, as 500+ miles of walking has made both me and my dog healthier. It was a great thing to have this year as it gave me a reason to leave the house every day.
  • I'm proud of how much A Better Computer has grown. I am still working on making it better, and there are production quirks I want to sort out sooner rather than later, but I've gotten better in the first 6 months, so I have high hopes I can keep growing from here.
  • I think my alcohol consumption is something I could work on this coming year. I don't have a problem by any means, but it is objectively an unhealthy thing to do, and I've put on a few pounds this year, and each drink involves taking in a bunch of calories that I could save by drinking almost anything else.
  • I also really want to get running back into my workout rotation. 26 runs all year is shocking for me (I usually do around 100), and while I could excuse myself because I was doing all that walking and weight training, my cardio is definitely worse this year and I need to get that back in a good place.
  • Finally, I'd like to reduce the number of games played next year. It's not the hours spent on them, but the quantity of different titles. I want to lose myself in more games. I want to have more games where I spend countless hours getting to know all their details. This should help me enjoy things more deeply, as well as save me money on new games.
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