What I Learned in the first 7 months of 2016

It’s a lot easier to forget what I’ve accomplished in the year when I don’t keep written records, so I’ll catch us all up on my learnings this year.

Education Updates

I’m starting to think I should stop reading as much, and focus on just doing.  However, I’m a learner, so I use learning as a way to structure my development in art, business, and life.

Here’s how I rank my education: (Similar to Destiny’s Item Rarity Ratings):

  • Gold Tier – Items in this tier wowed me.
  • Purple Tier – Items in this tier provided me supreme value for the cost and time invested
  • Blue Tier – Items in this tier provided me a good amount of value for the cost and time invested
  • Green Tier – Items in this tier provided me some value for the cost and time invested
  • White Tier – Items in this tier provided me little to no value for the cost and time invested
  • Grey Tier – Items in this tier felt like value was taken away from me for the cost and time invested


  • Dream Worlds by Hans P. Bacher – $22 – Green Tier  – Some insight into the film art that occurs before the movie.  Beauty and the Beast and Mulan are two movies this guy worked on.
  • Elemental Magic by Joseph Gilland – $40 – Green Tier – I tried learning special effects for games, and a lot of the artists in that area pointed to this book.  It does just that.
  • Extreme Productivity by Robert Pozen – $23 – Green Tier – Another goal setting book.  I’m finding them to be repetitive, but still providing me value by reinforcing how important goal setting is.
  • How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card – $10 – Green Tier – My next game will be Science Fiction or Fantasy.  This book helped a bit to give ideas on how to tackle it.
  • Keto-Clarity by Jimmy Moore – $17 – Blue Tier – I tried losing weight with this.  I like the logic in the book, but I’m just no good at sticking to weird diets.  Putting butter or sour cream on everything was novel at first, but I couldn’t stick with it.  I’m not saying it’s a bad diet; it’s just not for me.
  • Level Up Your Life by Steve Kamb – $12 – Green Tier – This book combines goal setting with the micro-rewards seen in Video Games.
  • Living Forward by Michael Hyatt – $13 – Green Tier – Goal setting and having a vision for your life/profession is one of Michael Hyatt’s strengths.  I think because I hear it so much from his blog, I’m pretty confident in this area.  Here’s a book for you if you want to learn to direct your life.
  • Necessary Endings by Dr. Henry Cloud – $16 – Blue Tier – The book explains the importance of mourning losses in relationships or careers in life.  If you need help getting over something, this is a great read.  For me, it’s getting over my burnout of the Army.
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy by Dr. Robert Glover  –  $13 – Purple Tier – I’m prone to being a person that avoids confrontation, and it’s been a part of me that I’ve hated.  Going into the infantry helped tremendously, but there is still more growth for me in this area.  The book gives insight into why our country is producing weaker men, and some practical tips on how men can restore themselves to behaving more like men, instead of how women think men should behave.  Perfect read for any passive aggressive men in your life.
  • Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg – $13 – Purple Tier – Great advice on how to tweak your thinking to be more productive and be empowered.  Not only for your brain but for your team as well.
  • The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge – $12 – Blue Tier – I’d developed some nasty habits growing up, and into middle age.  This book gives hope in breaking them.  It touches on the scientific community, and how despite their rootings in science, some truths are suppressed (in this case, brain plasticity).  The ideas of those who believe that the brain can change (plastic brains) are helping other researchers to experiment and dive deeper into mental health, and other brain ailments.
  • The Now Habit by Dr. Neil Fiore – $10 – Blue Tier – I felt overwhelmed learning about art, and compared myself to people on Arstation.  The book gives recommendations on how to defeat that mentality.
  • The School of Greatness by Lewis Howes – $18 – Green Tier – Another goal setting book.  Goals, are important, and so is your attitude on achieving them.


  • Best Year Ever Online Course – $350 – Green Tier – I wanted to achieve my goals this year.  I thought by purchasing this course; I’d realize them.  This book helped me to figure out what I wanted out of this year, but I bit off more than I could chew, and my desires changed throughout 2016.  So the course helped, but without the discipline and clarity of knowing where I want to go, I haven’t achieved all my goals.  He does mention how goals do change, and that even if we fall short of them, we did better than not trying at all.
  • Rigging Techniques – Cartoon to Realistic by CGMA – $700 – Purple Tier – I want to make 3d games.  I’m getting a handle on modeling, sculpting, and painting, but wanted practice in rigging.  This course helped with that, and while I didn’t know what I didn’t know at the beginning of the course, I now know, what I don’t know, which is a step in the right direction.  Ultimately, I’d like to pass it on to someone else when my company grows.
  • Video Game Animation by CGMA – $350 – Blue Tier – I knew generalities about how to do video game animation but didn’t feel confident in it.  This class helped me to become more confident in it, and realize it’s a role I’d like to give to someone else who is in love with it.

Entertainment Updates

  • Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Sci-Fi Book)- $10 – Blue Tier – An elegant take on Artificial Intelligence that lasts thousands of years, that can split its intellect, and what happens when the separate selves reconnect.  I can’t tell if there is a liberal tint to it because everyone is considered a woman to the AI and the AI finds the idea of assigning gender at birth as odd.
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell (Fantasy? Book) – $8 – Gold Tier – Perfectly uses fiction to illustrate a point on how tyrants can use seemingly healthy social and political acts intended for good, but twisted to corruption.
  • Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex: The Laughing Man (Anime) – $3 (Rent) – Purple Tier –  The idea of cyber brains, brains connected to the net at all times, and how skilled hackers can manipulate people through it.  Great ideas for Science Fiction.
  • Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex: Individual Eleven (Anime) – $4 (Rent) – Green Tier – Set in the Ghost in the Shell world, but a little more emphasis on prosthetic bodies instead of cyber brains. I enjoy these kinds of Science Fiction ideas.
  • Neuromancer by William Gibson (Sci-Fi Book) – $8 – Purple Tier –  A dark cyberpunk tale.  You can trace some ideas from the Matrix movies back to this book

Work Updates

I started revamping my side project, called Lolsum.  I’d spent time on it before, and I’d been addicted to the game again, so I’d thought I channel my curiosity into developing a second version of it.  I got a couple of emails asking about it and was making progress in learning better Angular Java Script.

With the help of my wife, I realized too much of my time was going into the game (sadly, along with my last bit of social gaming too).  So I dropped it for a week, then picked it back up, then dropped it, then picked it back up, and then finally asked Riot to suspend my account.

I wanted to try to salvage the work that I put into the app, but it would’ve been like asking an alcoholic to stock alcohol.  So I dropped that the project.  Five months of work down the drain.  I hope I learned my lesson, a second time.

One of the triggering parts of my decision to quit League of Legends was missing art.  Wanting to do art is a recurring feeling I’ve felt since starting this journey, so I jumped back into it with the classes above.  With those two classes completed, I realized that I don’t want to specialize in those fields of 3d art (though knowing how they work will help me to better direct others).  I’m returning to doing 2d / 3d concept art.  I don’t know how to tie in my learnings in art since none of them are to the standards I want, but, hey, I’m working on it.


Life Updates

Of most significance, my wife gave birth to our second child, a baby boy (yay, now we have a boy and girl).  It’s awesome, and being a parent is one of the greatest parts of going through life.  The newborn stage isn’t super cool for Dad’s I think, but I know this little guy and I are going to have some awesome adventures when he gets a little older.

I’ve been keeping up with Crossfit to get back into shape.  I’m getting to the point where I feel more confident in my abilities and it is something I’ve missed since becoming fat again.  Even though I tried the Ketogenic Diet (mentioned in a book above), I didn’t lose weight.  So, I’m trying calorie counting for now.  We’ll see if that helps me drop back to my Ranger School weight.

It’s been about 1 month since I fell out of my morning routine, and with the addition of a new child, it’s been even harder.  As such, I haven’t checked my goals, haven’t been writing daily what I’m grateful in life about, and haven’t been reading my Bible.  I’m glad I’m spending this entire day reorganizing myself digitally and personally, and I might need another one tomorrow.  Sometimes I feel like these are wasted days, but eventually I come back at the end of it feeling like my life is back on course.  If you haven’t spent some time setting your direction in life (not that I know exactly where I’m headed, but I do know the general direction) pick up the Living Forward book from your library or amazon, and give it a try.

Well, I’m going to give this blogging thing another shot (it was one of my goals for the year).  Talk to you soon.