239 Days Until 33

My thought was to make this a monthly update, but I completely skipped last month, and I’m three days late on this month.

#1 Less Than 500 Strikes

291/500. 118(!) too many.

#2 2000 Servings of Vegetables

363/2000. 327 Servings behind.

#3 750 Servings of Fruit

197/750. 62 Servings behind.

#5 One Month Continuous Glucose Monitor

Complete.

#7 750 Hours of Exercise

62/750. 196(!) hours behind

#9 KT Challenge w/ Zedweblog

In progress. Completed the 14 mile run yesterday. Will be traveling next week so will need to plan ahead to get the runs in.

#12 $1M Revenue

$439,194/$1M. $94k ahead. Finally, a goal I’m doing well at!

#13 Setup SIMPLE IRA for business

Complete.

#14 10 Hours of Productive Time for 200 Days

62/200. 7 days behind.

#15 200 Days No News/Social Media/YouTube/Netflix

55/200. 14 days behind.

#16 48 Weeks Commitment Contract

14/48. 3 weeks behind

#25 Donate 10% of Income (post-tax)

10.19%/10%. 0.19% ahead. Another goal doing well at!

#27 Get Pilot’s License

I feel like I’m currently stuck getting landings dialed in. It’s all we’ve practiced the last 7 lessons. I think increasing the frequency of the lessons would be helpful with mastering landings.

#29 Volunteer 100 Hours

25/100. 9.3 hours behind

#32 Read to Roark 10 Minutes for 300 Days

70/300. 34 days behind. Despite receiving another shipment of children’s books from the tremendously thoughtful KTR2BURN, I’ve been slacking on this goal.

What a boring update! But in writing this post I created a tab on my ’33 Things Tracker’ that auto-calculates how far ahead/behind I am on all these goals.

302 Days Until 33

A day late on this post. Let’s nail it out quick.

#1 Less Than 500 Strikes, #2 2,000 Servings of Vegetables, #3 750 Servings of Fruit, #7 750 Hours of Exercise

117/500, 209/2000, 106/750, and 21:14/750:00. Waaaay behind on all these year long goals.

#5 One Month Continuous Glucose Monitor

Complete! I think a second month would be beneficial as I never tried to optimize my diet to minimize glucose response. Also, I never completed any long endurance activities while wearing the CGM. It would be interesting to see what a ‘bonk’ looks like in the actual blood sugar readings.

#8 Get Jacked (100 Day Muscle Build Routine)

Fell off the wagon. I’ve only lifted 5 times in the last three weeks when the goal was 15.

#13 Setup SIMPLE IRA For Business

Complete! First contributions came out of last month’s paychecks.

#12 $1M Revenue

$154k/$1M. Still working on that large multi-phase project. Submitted a phase of it earlier this month, which we’ll get paid for in another week.

#14 10 Hour of Productive Time for 200 Days

33/200. This goal is directly time to goal #15, in that when I avoid distraction, I tend to fill it with productive things. Or maybe it’s the other way around?

#15 200 Days No News/Social Media/YouTube

31/200. The Pavlok band that I mentioned in the last post bit the dust for good after giving my son a bath. After relapsing with numerous hours of News/YouTube, I purchased the much more stylish (and waterproof) Pavlok 3. Only two of three buttons work on the version I bought, but it delivers a reliable shock. I even installed a Chrome extension so that it auto-shocks me I unconsciously stray.

#16 48 Weeks Commitment Contract

8/9. I’m doing well making the weekly goals that I send to my Life Coach (aka Mother-In-Law), but not so good on actually accomplishing them. I think I need to increase the financial penalties each week to encourage accomplishment of the goals.

#27 Get Pilot’s License

The goal I’ve made the most progress on this month. I’ve had six lessons so far and we’ve already worked on stalls and take offs and landings. They supposedly let you fly by yourself with just 10-15 hours of experience (but it takes a minimum 40 hours to get your license and fly other people around). Learning to fly is both exhilarating and terrifying. I’ve also found myself wanting to use the phonetic alphabet when talking on the phone. Whiskey – Romeo – Oscar – Bravo – Echo – Lima. Pretentious, right?

#30 Fix Up Yard and Landscaping

My quest to grow grass where grass does not want to grow continues. I’ve spent far too much time moving the hose and sprinkler head around my yard to ensure that newly planted grass seed remains moist. I’ll be working on a cheap automated watering solution later this week (aka a janky above ground sprinkler system)

#32 Read to Roark for 300 Days

39/300. Reading to him isn’t difficult. It’s just remembering to read to him that I struggle with. Need to develop a routine

Wrap It Up!

Two goals complete this month is good progress. This month I’ll work on developing routines that will allow me to accomplish this plethora of goals. Based on a suggestion from my Life Coach, I’ll make sure I have a time blocked schedule.

Update over.

335 Days Until 33

After reading update posts from fellow nBn‘ers ZedWebLogTitle and AssIsGreenCom, I’ve decided to hop on the bandwagon with an interlude of my own. I’ll aim to put these out monthly as accountability for goals that take several months to accomplish.

#1 Less Than 500 Strikes

61/500. Yikes! 20 strikes ahead of where I should be.

#2 2000 Serving of Vegetables

85/2000. Zoinks! 79 servings behind.

#3 750 Servings Fruit

42/500. Crikey! 20 servings behind.

#7 750 Hours of Exercise

11/750. Blimey! 50 hours behind.

Well, I’m significantly behind on all the long-term health goals. I’ll work on developing some habits and routines this week to get back on track.

#5 One Month Continuous Glucose Monitor

At this moment, Ive had my CGM on for two weeks. So far I’ve learned that I need to avoid high-sugar beverages like soda, but high sugar foods do not seem to be much of an issue. Overall, I seem to have good blood sugar control. I’ll experiment the next two weeks to see if I can’t optimize my diet for blood sugar levels and also see what the effects of long bouts of exercise are on my blood sugar.

#8 Get Jacked (100 Day Muscle Build)

I’m 14 days into this goal, replete with ‘before’ pictures so I can hypothetically make an inspirational YouTube video with jacked ‘after’ photos for all the other skinny-boiz that garners millions of views and thousands of comments about how poor my lifting form is.

There are three pillars to this goal: lift 5 days a week, eat 180 grams of protein per day, and eliminate junk food. I’d give myself a B- in adhering to those pillars. I’ll work this week on developing a less haphazard lifting routine and removing my evening libations of Cherry Coke.

#13 Setup SIMPLE IRA For Business

Got in contact with the folks at Vanguard and finalized everything. First contributions will come out of this month’s paychecks. I know small business retirement plan updates are what bring all the boys to the yard.

#12 $1M Revenue

$135k/$1M. Finally ahead on one of my goals! We’re working on a large multi-phase project to replace the signal system from Texarkana to Little Rock.

#15 200 Days No News/Social Media/YouTube

12/200. Only 4 days behind. I started wearing a Pavlok band earlier this week and have been administering electric shocks to my wrist whenever I feel the urge to go to one of those wasteful sites. It’s been surprisingly effective. Unfortunately the generation of band I have does not appear to be waterproof and quit functioning. I might replace it with the much cheaper canine variety.

#25 Donate 10% of Income Post Tax

Donated $7,000 to GiveWell. Another goal I’m ahead on! I say ‘I’ when I should really say ‘we’ as it’s also my wife’s money that’s being given away. For this year, we’ll try to make donations throughout the year, rather than one large donation at the end. It’s easier to swallow the decrease in net worth that way.

#30 Fix Up Yard and Landscaping

This is the goal I’ve been working hardest at. I laid down some topsoil and grass seed in some dead spots on the lawn and have been watering vigorously. With the assistance of my father-in-law, I also removed these giant bushes and replaced with a privacy fence. Over 30 hours have been spent the last month on this goal.

#32 Read to Roark 10 Minutes for 300 Days

20/300. 4 days behind. We received a slew of children’s books from Goal #9 namesake KT Norterburn. Thanks KT!

Update over. Any grammatical errors are the result of getting this post out before I had to change the title.

33 Before I Turn 33

You’d think I’d have trouble coming up with an additional goal every year, but this year I had a surplus of ideas. Most of these were reused from last year due to the abysmal results.

Health

  1. Less Than 500 ‘Strikes’ (Strike is any Item of Junk Food)
  2. 2000 Servings Vegetables
  3. 750 Servings Fruit
  4. 8 Week Mindfulness Meditation
  5. One Month Continuous Glucose Monitor

Fitness

  1. Qualify For Boston Marathon
  2. 750 Hours of Exercise
  3. Get Jacked (100 Day Muscle Build)
  4. KT Challenge w/ Zedweblog

Lethal Engineering / Lethal Tri

  1. 12 Lethal Engineering  / Lethal Tri Videos
  2. Build R2D2

Business/Productivity

  1. $1M Revenue
  2. Setup SIMPLE IRA For Business
  3. 10 Hours Productive Time for 200 Days
  4. 200 Days No News/Social Media/YouTube/Netflix
  5. 48 Weeks Commitment Contract
  6. Acquire A Second Railroad
  7. Develop Formal Training Plan, Processes, Job Aids, Metrics, Objectives, and Incentives.

Learning

  1. Python Book (and project)
  2. Machine Vision (OpenCV) (and project)
  3. 3D Modeling w/ Fusion 360 (and project)
  4. Complete Two Khan Academy Physics Classes

Other

  1. Win 100,000 Ticket Prize at Dave and Buster’s
  2. Mountain Bike 25 Miles
  3. Donate 10% of Income (post tax)
  4. Solve World’s Largest Rubik’s Cube
  5. Get Pilot’s License
  6. Get Another Tattoo
  7. Volunteer 100 Hours
  8. Fix Up Yard and Landscaping
  9. Clean/Fix Up House Like Ready to Sell
  10. Read to Roark 10 Minutes for 300 Days
  11. Surprise Goal From KT and Zach Norterburn

32 Before 32 – Results

This was my 8th year making a goal list. A quarter of my life. Not a good year for goals, but there’s a good reason for that.

On to the results!

Completed

#27 Beer Mile
Drink a 12 oz bottle/can of beer, then run a lap around the track. Rinse and repeat a total of four times, drinking 48 oz of beer and running one mile. So much pain for such a short race. The build up of gas in my stomach was crippling. A combination of average speed and horrendous chugging ability yielded a time of 12 minutes 24 seconds. My buddy Zach (a much more prolific runner… and drinker) completed it in 7:07. I’ve never gotten drunk so quickly.

Sunburned after 12 minutes shirtless 😦

#29 Donate 10% of Income (Post Tax)
This is a weird goal, in that I cognitively know it’s important and worthwhile, but emotionally it feels quite empty. I do get joy crossing it off my list, so in that regard, this is a very effective goal. A majority of the money was given to GiveWell, which distributes to the most effective charities. We donated appreciated stocks, utilizing my account with Betterment, which yields the greatest tax savings.

Partial Completion

#1 Less Than 500 ‘Strikes’ (Strike is One Item of Junk Food)
776 out of 500. Eliminating junk food is a goal I have every year and that I continue to fail at.

#2 2000 Servings of Vegetables
1,325 out of 2000. Made up mostly of carrots, kale, spring mix, and asparagus. Fell vastly short on the goal, but this is 400 servings more than I ate two years ago, which was four times more than the year before that. That long term improvement is gratifying.

#3 1,000 Servings of Fruit
794 out of 1,000. 1,000 servings might be too high of a goal, due to the large sugar content on fruit.

#8 1,000 Hours of Exercise
350 out of 1,000. Had some consistent training weeks of running due to a bet with some friends, but everything else was haphazard

My exercise totals for this year and previous years:

 Bike (Miles)Run (Miles) Swim (Yards)
321,28499612,301
311,0581,20055,612
30948595210,930
295,000437209,663
281,941732162,913
271,93558969,311
262,042654154,868

#11 Total of 12 Lethal Engineering and LethalTri Videos

6 out of 12 videos. I think my dream job would be as a professional YouTuber.

#13 $1,000,000 Business Revenue
$595k out of $1M. A decrease from last year, but our capabilities as a business certainly increased.

A crossing we designed in Le Mars, IA

#14 10 Hours Productive Time for 200 Days
132 out of 200 days. I continue to track my time by the hour utilizing an app on the lock screen of my phone. 3,104 hours of productive time, a 438 hour increase from the previous year.

#15 250 Days No News/Social Media/YouTube/Netflix
182 out of 250 Days. 494 hours of wasted time, a 188 hour increase from the previous year. How many more of these goals could I accomplish if I converted that to productive time?

#32 Volunteer 100 Hours
71 out of 100 hours, all through Big Brother / Big Sisters. We had to do virtual visits for most of the year, due to COVID, but made it work.

What About Alexis?

She completed her Master’s in Public Health at Harvard University and got a slew of papers published. The end of June marks the end of her two years of research. She’ll be going back to surgical residency for two more years and then hopefully a Pediatric Surgery fellowship after that.

May be an image of 3 people, including Alexis Wrobel and people smiling

Oh, on December 20th, she also gave birth to our son Roark! What an extraordinary event. I’ve never experienced such a broad range of daily emotions from joy to fear to love to frustration.

Six Months Old!

Wrap It Up!

Two fully completed goals and 4.66 partially completed for a total of 6.66 (maybe I should round that number). An abysmal year on the goal front, but a truly life-changing year otherwise.

I vastly underestimated how much of a change caring for a baby would be when I made this list. Sleep quality has been drastically reduced, my schedule is inconsistent, and responsibilities increased.

My lack of goal completion can also be attributed to getting complacent with age. Life is going pretty swell, and the work required to achieve some of these goals doesn’t always seem worth it.

I’m still bullish on goal setting. Eternally optimistic that I can make significant behavior changes in one year. I’m certainly guilty of over-estimating what I can do in a year, but it is encouraging to look back over the last 8 years of results posts and see all of the changes that have happened.

33 Before 33 List coming next week!

32 Before I Turn 32

Health

  1. Less Than 500 ‘Strikes’ (Strike is any Item of Junk Food)
  2. 2000 Servings Vegetables
  3. 1000 Servings Fruit
  4. 8 Week Mindfulness

Fitness

  1. Swim-Run Event
  2. Qualify For Ironman World Championships (70.3 or 140.6)
  3. Qualify For Boston Marathon
  4. 1,000 Hours of Exercise
  5. Touch Toes
  6. Get Jacked (100 Day Build Muscle Routine)

Lethal Engineering / Lethal Tri

  1. Total of 12 Lethal Engineering and Lethal Tri Videos
  2. Finish Building R2D2

Business/Productivity

  1. $1M Revenue
  2. 10 Hours Productive Time for 200 Days
  3. 250 Days No News/Social Media/YouTube/Netflix

Learning

  1. Learn Python
  2. Learn Machine Vision (OpenCV)
  3. PCB Design & Surface Mount Soldering
  4. 3D Modeling w/ Fusion 360
  5. Read Feynman Lectures on Physics and Summarize
  6. Read ‘Harvard Business Revew 10 Must Reads’ and Summarize
  7. Learn HTML/CSS & Build Website

Adventure/Fun

  1. See Sandhill Cranes
  2. Win 100,000 Ticket Prize at Dave and Buster’s
  3. Cross Country Ski 25 Miles
  4. Make An Ice Sculpture
  5. Beer Mile
  6. Make a Deepfake

Other

  1. Donate 10% of Income (post tax)
  2. Solve World’s Largest Rubik’s Cube
  3. Get Another Tattoo
  4. Volunteer 100 Hours

31 Before 31 – Results

This was my 7th year making one of these goal lists. Who’d have thought in 2013 that I’d still be doing this? On to the results!

Completed

#2 1,500 Servings of Vegetables
1,501/1,500. I’ve consumed approximately 70 servings of vegetables per week for the last 10 weeks to meet this goal. Procrastination is a bitch, amirite? This has to be the most vegetables I’ve consumed of any year of my life. Last weekend, I ate two pounds of kale in a day.

#3 1000 Servings of Fruit
1,003/1,000. I’ve heard alcoholics use coffee to fill the void filled by not drinking, and that’s how I’ve used fruit when trying to quit junk food. I’ve tried to replace the crack cocaine that is refined sugar with a nutrient dense and fiber rich fruit smoothie.

#5 Two Ultra Endurance Events
I completed the Barkley Fall Classic and David Goggins Challenge, but I also DNF’ed three times at the Washington Island Ultra, Frozen Otter 64, and 100 mile run. I’m really proud of the effort that went into this goal, attempting these events even when ill-prepared.

top of rat jaw

#16 Setup SIMPLE IRA
It’s like a 401k for small businesses. Who else gets excited about Vanguard Retirement Plans?!

#18 100 Days No News/Social Media/YouTube/Netflix
190/100. This is a cornerstone habit that makes all the other goals possible. The decrease in distractions seems to result in a much greater increase in productivity. There’s this discomfort that sets in when doing difficult tasks, and rather than scrolling Instagram when that feeling arises, I just sit there and wait it out. It always passes.

#20 Develop A Plan For Each Goal
The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. I didn’t follow the plan at all, but I did create one!

#24 See Falcon Heavy Launch
Accomplished minutes after turning 30. This was an incredible experience. I’d highly recommend it for your bucket list

Landing

#28 Donate 10% of Income (post tax)
Rather than donating a small amount of money each month, I figuratively ripped the band-aid off with one large donation last week.

#29 Walk Zucc 1 Mile For 200 Days
Zucc has returned to Milwaukee since I wrote the results post for this goal. He’s been accompanying me on my runs and has developed an insatiable endurance capacity. I can no longer put on socks or shoes in front of him without him whining incessantly. He’s a perfect running companion, even attempting to bring home some venison when we spot deer in the woods.

#31 10 Escape Rooms
10 for 10. This is my favorite activity to do with friends. We had an 80% success rate.

Partial Completion

#4 200 Days of Meditation
120/200 Days. No closer to achieving nirvana.

#8 Qualify For Boston Marathon
I set a personal best at the Cascade Express Marathon with a time of 3:36, but still a long way from the Boston Qualifying time of 3:00. I ran over 400 miles more this year than any of the previous five years.

#9 1,000 Hours of Exercise
361/1,000. This seems like a good place to put exercise distance that I track every year:

Bike: 1,058 Miles (30Before30: 948, 29B29: 5,000, 28B28: 1,941 27B27: 1,935 Miles, 26B26: 2,042 Miles)
Run: 1,200 Miles (30B30: 595, 29B29: 437 Miles 28B28: 732 Miles, 27B27: 589 Miles, 26B26: 654 Miles)
Swim: 55,612 Yards (30B30: 210,930, 29B29: 209,663, 28B28: 162,913, 27B27: 69,311, 26B26: 154,868)

#11: Join Artisan’s Asylum and Go 10 Times
I joined Boston Makers which was very close to our Boston apartment, but only went twice.

#13 10 Lethal Tri Videos
3 for 10. I really enjoyed making all these videos

#14 25 Blog Posts
14 for 25. My favorite posts were The Pamela Anderson Slideshow and A Murder in Psychology Class

PIC 2

#15 One Million Dollars Revenue
$640k/$1M. Despite not completing the goal, this result is the one I’m most proud of. Six years ago, I quit my job to start this business and slowly but surely it’s continued to grow. We’ve got fantastic employees and work with great people.

GSS Logo

#17 10 Hours Productive Time for 200 Days
94/200. I tracked my time everyday this year. There was about a three-fold gain in my ratio of productive time to wasted time.

#19 48 Weeks Commitment Contract
47 out of 48. At the beginning of every week, I sent my life coach (AKA my mother-in-law) a list of goals with monetary penalties for non-completion. I just added it up, and over the course of the year I sent her $1,572. Ouch. However, the threat of having to pay her each week was a big reason for the consistency over the year.

#25 Go To Two of Four Boston Sports (Red Sox, Bruins, Patriots, Celtics)
I went to a Boston Celtics game where a beer was thrown on the court after Kemba Walker got ejected. This was about as stereotypical of a Boston experience as I could have hoped for. See @ 2:40 in the video below

Zero Completion

#6 Qualify for Ironman World Championships
COVID-19 had other ideas (and I was never in good enough shape)

#7 Wabash Trace Fastest Know Time
Pro ultra-runner Kaci Lickteig lowered this FKT to a break neck time of 8 hours 44 minutes, which comes out to a pace of 8:27 min/mile for 62 miles. I was initially bummed out, but then got excited about that I would have to get into elite shape if I want to capture the FKT.

#10 Sub 6 Minute Beer Mile
Didn’t even attempt

#12 10 Lethal Engineering Videos
Not a single one, but my channel continues to grow!

#22 Mountain Bike 100 Miles
Nada

#21 Complete Raspberry Pi (using Python) Book
Zilch

#23 Complete SCUBA Diving Course
Zero Progress

#26 See an F1 Race
I watched one on TV? Another goal derailed by COVID

#27 Bike To Walden Pond
Nope. We spent a surprisingly little amount of time in Boston in the last year.

#30 Hold Breath For Two Minutes
What should have been the easiest goal on the list was never attempted.

What About Alexis?

She traveled all over the world, visiting Haiti, Brazil, South Africa, and Peru while attending conferences and working on research. She also completed the first year of her Master’s in Public Health through Harvard University. On top of that, she took call a couple days each month at the Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee.

Wrap It Up!

I’m very pleased with this year’s results. 10 fully completed goals and 5.5 partial, for a total of 15.5. I mentioned in last year’s results post that I didn’t feel like I had a lot of growth, but that changed this year.

The major improvement was increased consistency. Small actions day in and day out lead to the completion of much larger goals. That’s my main takeaway for this year.

32 Before 32 List coming next week. Leave some comments if you have any ideas!

Goal #28: Donate 10% of Income to Charity

This was an impulsive decision. As of 30 minutes ago, I had barely made a dent in my goal of donating 10% of our post tax income to charity. But then I read an article my wife wrote about the lack of diagnostic healthcare in the developing world.

Giving away a chunk of money and completing one of my goals seemed like the most obvious thing to do, so I donated some of our investments to Give Well, an organization that studies the most effective charities and distributes money accordingly.

I really hate donating money to charity almost entirely because there is no positive reinforcement. A couple of mouse clicks and poof, my investment account is down several thousand dollars. There’s no warm fuzzy feeling usually associated with charitable giving, just some auto-generated thank you email. I get some brownie points for heaven though, right?

God: John, I know you haven’t believed in me your whole life, but I’ve decided to look past your lack of faith and liberal use of my name in vain since you donated all that money to charity.

That’s how I imagine it happening at least.

I don’t like completing this goal, but that’s exactly why I need it. The loss to me is so evident and I may never see the direct benefit, but I know that the minor anxiety I feel now doesn’t hold a candle to the benefit gained by those in need.

A Murder In Psychology Class

Names and specific unimportant details in the story have been changed. This really happened, though. At least, I remember it happening.

I took AP Psychology not because I was interested in the ideas of Skinner or Freud, but to boost my GPA. It was senior year of high school, and I was locked in a losing battle to have the #1 class rank. I took all the advanced classes I could, hoping the two girls with perfect GPAs would slip up. I specifically hated AP Psychology as the teacher, Mr. Jones, insisted we outline every chapter of the book and create and abundant supply of psychology flashcards. He didn’t seem to mind that my outline consisted of copying the first sentence of every paragraph, just that it got done.

That said, Mr. Jones had an amazing track record of students doing well on the AP test, with all five students who took the test the previous year getting the highest score possible. Who was I to question the method?

I was easily distracted in that class, mostly by the two rats Mr. Jones kept as class pets. They were named Mike and Ike, each with it’s own cage. The purpose of the rats wasn’t clear to me, as we never used them in Psychology class, and they certainly weren’t being used in the World History class he also taught. It was difficult to differentiate between the two rats, other than the fact that Ike had a golf ball sized tumor protruding from his belly. He seemed unaffected by it, though, fighting off the cancer by mercilessly burrowing through the wood pulp bedding that made up the floor of his glass cage.

Rat Cage

I walked into psychology class one day near the end of the fall semester to find copy paper haphazardly taped around Ike’s cage, as if to block us from seeing what was going on inside. One of my classmates asked Mr. Jones about the strange arrangement, to which Mr. Jones replied, “As you know, Ike has cancer and is in a lot of pain, I’ve decided to end his misery.” A look of shock spread through the class. He continued, “I crushed up some pain killers and mixed them in with his morning pellets”.

Raised eyebrows and dilated pupils were plastered on my classmates’ faces. I’d learned in this very class that was a sign of the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, the classic ‘fight or flight’ response. Although a logical solution to Ike’s fatal condition, during the middle of the school day didn’t seem like the appropriate time to euthanize the class pet.

We could hear Ike furiously scratching at the side of the cage, attempting to escape before the poison halted all his gross motor functions.

The sound of claws on glass grew to a crescendo, and Mr Jones’ responded by speaking louder, as if to mask the cries for help.

Ten minutes later, the scratching slowed down, until it ceased completely. Ike had met his maker, in the middle of 2nd period Psychology.

There was another session of Psychology the following hour. They confirmed there was no further scratching coming from the cage and that Ike was kaput. You can’t kill an animal in class, can you?

I told my Mom about this incident later that night. She didn’t seem too concerned. Mr Jones was an interesting fella, and no students were harmed, right?

I walked in the next day anxious for whatever lunacy could top yesterday’s class, only to find Ike alive scurrying around his cage, right as rain. A major plot twist to yesterday’s horror show.

The bell rang marking the start of class, and Mr. Jones jumped into his lecture, apparently trying to cover up the attempted murder that happened a mere 24 hours prior. I raised my hand, “What happened to Ike?”

“What are you talking about?”, Mr Jones replied.

“Yesterday, when you crushed up the painkillers and put it in his food, remember?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about…let’s continue on with operant conditioning, we’ve got a lot to learn today…”

And that was that. The topic of Ike’s near overdose on pain killers was never brought up again, until this blog post.

I’m not quite sure what happened that fateful day in Mr. Jones’ AP Psychology class. My best guess is that we must have been the subjects in Mr. Jones’ demented Milgram-esque experiment. I dropped the class for the spring semester and took late start.

Goal #24: See Falcon Heavy Launch

This was supposed to be the last goal accomplished on my 30 Before 30 list. SpaceX had scheduled the third flight of it’s Falcon Heavy rocket to take place on June 24th at 11:30 PM, exactly 30 minutes before my 30th birthday. It almost seemed like fate, as if the universe was aligning so I could complete one last goal. I was hesitant to book a flight, though, as we were packing up our things and moving to Boston in less than a week.

Falcon Heavy

Why did I want to see this rocket launch?

In February 2018, I watched the inaugural flight of the Falcon Heavy online.  It was a successful launch, sending Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster into orbit around the sun. The two side boosters then returned to Earth and simultaneously landed vertically. It was absurd to watch on the live stream. Fifty years ago we landed a man on the moon, and this seemed like the most significant progress in space flight since. I was disappointed I didn’t see it in person.

Elon_Musk's_Tesla_Roadster_(40110304192)

BOOSTER LANDING

So I bit. I bought a ticket the day before the launch and flew to Orlando the next day. I got to viewing site early only to find that the launch was delayed three hours. Bummer. I guess it won’t make it on my 30 Before 30 list. I went to my motel and took a nap.

At 1:30 AM, I returned to the viewing site. I’d purchased a ticket for Exploration Tower which is ideally situated 14 miles from Launch Pad 39A and seven miles from Landing Zones 1 & 2. Exploration Tower is seven stories tall with two outdoor launch viewing decks.

EXPLORATION TOWER 2

LAUNCH PAD 39A

LANDING ZONE

I wasn’t the only nerd who thought this was a good idea. It felt like going to a midnight premiere of Star Wars. Lots of enthusiasm waiting for the launch to commence. Through my binoculars, I could barely make out the rocket on the launch pad in the distance.

CROWD

The official live stream was playing on a TV inside. It was great to get the color commentary narrating the entire event. We listened to the countdown, “3…2…1…liftoff!”

Light travels much faster than sound, a phenomenon most evident at rocket launches. You see the rocket take off, but it’s several seconds before you hear it.

LAUNCH

It started off as a rumble and then turned into a crackle, the sound conveying the savageness of the energy being released to accelerate a 1,500 ton rocket to 16,000 mph. It’s a visceral feeling that can only be truly appreciated in person.

Launch 2

The rocket slowly ascended, gaining speed quickly as it turned into a comet streaking across the night sky.

Comet

Three minutes in, their fuel spent, the side boosters broke away from the rocket. They then twirled around in the sky and repositioned for the descent back to Earth, like some atmospheric ballet.  It was magical to watch and difficult to comprehend the sheer magnitude. Each side booster is over 10 stories tall, and the rocket combined over 20 stories.

Booster separation

The side boosters looked like two asteroids hurtling towards Earth.

side boosters

As the side boosters approached the landing pad, there was a flash of light and then…KA-BOOM….KA-BOOM. I shrieked, assuming the boosters had just exploded on the landing pad. Foolish me, It was just the delayed sound of the supersonic boosters returning to Earth.

Landing

Overall, it was a successful launch. The side boosters landed on their respective pads and the 24 satellite cargo made it to orbit.

This blog post does a poor job describing just how cool this whole experience was. It was an out of this world, double-rainbow kind of moment. I imagine this is what it felt like to watch the Wright brothers as they perfected their first airplanes in the fields of Ohio. It felt like watching the future. In a couple decades, this sight will be commonplace.

Watching this launch further increased my admiration for Elon Musk. He embodies the American dream – immigrating to the United States, creating a billion dollar company in PayPal, and then risking his entire fortune attempting to create a rocket company and an electric car company, both of which he thought had little chance of succeeding, but considered worth pursuing anyways.

I was unable to complete this goal in time for my 30 Before 30 List, but don’t fret…I just added it to the 31 Before 31 List, and immediately crossed it off.