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2018 Musings - Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Well hello there. In case you haven't noticed, it's 2018. I'm now just writing my first blog entry for the year, which is by far the latest that I've started in any given year.

I might try to say the dearth of blog posts is because some of the experiences I used to blog about I now instead write about on Yelp, but that's not quite the entire picture, is it? Whereas in college I'd write about nearly every class, every encounter and what I'd be doing on holidays, nowadays my writing is limited to infrequent highlights of the year, at best. Granted, some of my earlier posts were just a few words long and resembled a Twitter feed before Twitter was even a thing, but what's changed? Could it be that I've simply grown tired of writing about my life? That the novelty of having an active blog has faded? Or could it be that I'm at the stage in life where people commonly settle into a routine where not much changes from day to day, or even year to year?

"Hey, long time no see! What's new?"

"Oh, well, I'm still at the same company I've been at for the last few years. We did some traveling last year and this year. Still playing drums for church. Not much else."

Is this why people feel like life just flies quickly by and is over before they know it?

I don't want that to be my life. There's more to life than work and even more than the sporadic vacation to an awesome place. What am I passionate about, really?

Well, let's get the yearly highlights out of the way, since they do matter. Last December, Priscilla and I contributed a good chunk of money to help her parents buy a condo close to their church, so now their drive to church is 7 minutes instead of 40. Since her parents are retired and her mom spends a lot of time helping church people, this was a logical step. Her mom spends a lot of time at the condo but her dad prefers staying at the house (I completely sympathize with him), but they're trying to get him to commit to moving to the condo so that they can live there full-time. It'll mean serious downsizing, which will be difficult to say the least.

In June, Priscilla and I visited Chicago. I was awed by the architecture and the human ingenuity behind it. Some highlights of the trip were an architectural river cruise, Navy Pier, Buckingham Fountain, Maggie Daley Park, the Field Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and visiting Skydeck at Willis Tower when there were no lines due to heavy fog.

Then last month, we went to Seattle and visited a couple airport lounges (Priscilla loves using her Priority Pass and American Express Platinum card to get into lounges), the Seattle Art Museum, Pike Place, the Museum of Pop Culture, and the Amazon Go store which is an amazing technical feat. We also spent a whole day with Nathan and Andrea and their very energetic toddler at their church, house and two restaurants. We stayed with them longer than planned, but it was the most rewarding part of our trip.

Five months from now, we'll be visiting Barcelona. We're spending a few minutes a day learning Spanish, hoping to better immerse ourselves in the culture when we visit, and hoping to better remember and utilize the Spanish that we learned in high school. I took three years of Spanish in high school and quickly forgot almost all of it. Sad.

This year, I've taught myself more about cars. It was just a year ago that I knew almost nothing about car maintenance, and cared almost as little about having it done. Once it sunk in that this was not a good long-term approach, I started researching more about what maintenance items needed to be done on our old cars. My cheapness, as well as my mechanic's reluctance to fix everything on my nearly 30-year-old car, made me decide to learn to fix some things myself. YouTube, after all, is a great teacher. On the Taurus, I solved an idling issue by cleaning the IAC, diagnosed and replaced a faulty multi-function switch, replaced the fuel filter, and replaced the valve cover gaskets. The car is not designed to be easy to work on, especially since it has a bulky V6 engine. On the other hand, the Corolla is designed nicely, down to the little things like all the bolt heads being 10mm. I haven't had to do as much work on the Corolla (it's a very reliable car), but I did replace the spiral cable behind the steering wheel (the dealer wanted $700 to replace it; I did it myself using a $12 part from eBay), diagnose and replace a faulty compressor clutch relay, and replace the spark plugs. I never imagined I'd learn so much about vehicle maintenance, but YouTube and Haynes/Chilton repair manuals have gotten me far.

So back to the issue of passion. Where is mine? As much as some people claim to be passionate about their jobs, I can't honestly say that I'm passionate about mine. I have a great job with awesome teammates, and I generally enjoy the work that I do. But at the end of the day, it's just a job that's a means to an end, and not something that I live and breathe. A tow truck driver (whose services I enlisted - see above about not taking good car of my car) once told me, "If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life." That guy claimed to love his job that much. I don't think that will be me. Work is not what fulfills me.

I guess what I enjoy is learning skills and then putting them into practice. I think that's what kept me interested in working on cars - learning a skill to solve a tangible problem. Given enough time, there are a few things I want to do. I'd like to get better at running, trail running in particular, and be able to easily run an ultramarathon. Running the 30-mile Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail is on my bucket list. I'd like to learn to sail and get an ASA certification; being able to charter a boat from SF to Angel Island or even be 100 miles from shore for a week sounds great. And I'd like to learn to fly a plane and get a private pilot license. But these are goals, not passions.

Honestly, I don't think I've found a real passion yet. Maybe I'm still trying to get in touch with myself, to figure out who the real me is while working on the things I think need adjustment. But one thing's for certain - I want to make sure that (what are hopefully) the middle years of my life are meaningful, a time of growth, and not just gone in the blink of an eye.
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