New Year’s Resolutions 2012

This past year has been definitely a year of expansion for me, and as such I have had a rapid expansion of goals. I actually want to remember these, so I made myself a separate file and just listed essentially all of the things that I’d like to either accomplish fully, or make some damn good progress toward in the coming year. I then remembered that I had started this blog and decided that I could put them up here, and maybe even add a little bit of explanation on each item.

My view of New Year’s Resolutions might be somewhat different than most people’s. The impression that I get is that most people make a resolution, and if they don’t hold to it then they feel like the scum of the Earth. My way of thinking about resolutions is thus: they’re just a list of goals that I want to work toward. If I don’t achieve them, then I don’t achieve them. But, as long as I make progress toward these goals, I’m alright. And, if I happen to actually accomplish any of these, then even better! It means that I’ve managed to take an active role in improving my life, and there’s documented change! Awesome!

Anyway, here’s….most of them (some are meant to remain private), in no particular order:

  • Pass the UW Astronomy Qualifying Exam at the doctorate level. (this one is not a “work towards” goal, it’s one of those “if you don’t do this then you’re scum of the Earth” goals)*
  • Run a 5K race in under 20 minutes
  • Memorize 2 capoeira routines of at least 30 movements
  • At least one takedown per jogo (capoeira game)
  • Control of my angular momentum when performing the armada and meia lua de compasso kicks**
  • Straighten legs during capoeira movements (unless of course the movement requires bent legs)
  • Be able to perform a back handspring and a back walk-over well
  • Be able to perform Aú Sem Mãos (example)
  • Be able to perform Mariposa (example)
  • Be able to hold a bananeira (normal, fechado, open, walking position, from headstand, walking, one-handed fechado, one-handed open, both sides) for at least 10 seconds
  • Increase endurance so that I can play at least 2 consecutive five-minute games
  • Work on jogo de dentro so that I’m never more than 1.5 leg’s length’s away from my opponent***
  • Practice with Manganga consistently****
  • Get to New York for the Guerreiros batizado*****
  • Visit other Capoeira schools once per month
  • Become proficient at the berimbau
  • Become proficient at the pandeiro
  • Lock down the Samba rhythm on the pandeiro
  • Lock down the Samba rhythm on the atabaque
  • Become a regular berimbau player
  • Be able to play the gunga for rodas
  • Go bouldering at least once per month
  • Samba at least once per week (either in class or on my own)
  • Dive back into Portuguese as soon as the Qualifying Exam is over******
  • Communicate with friends regularly
  • Start on a first-author paper with minimal outside help
  • Obtain RA funding for Spring quarter (non-TA)
  • Obtain RA funding for beyond Spring quarter (non-TA)
  • Settle on a dissertation subject area*******
  • Coordinate and go on an observing run
  • Read and understand at least one paper per week. Note, it’ll probably take at least 5 read-throughs to begin to understand each one.
  • Save at least $1,000.00 in the bank by next new years, AFTER having spent money on leisure stuff
  • Give blood at least once (successfully! Remember to drink water!)
  • See a psychologist at least once this year********
  • Put $100 from every check into the credit card
  • Eat out less than 4 times per week (including lunch and dinner)
  • Enunciate your words, especially when you get excited. You sound like you don’t know how to speak english when you’re worked up about something.
  • Become knowledgable about the Candomble Orishas and practices
  • Less broken commitments
  • Floss at least once per week
  • Get a video camera for capoeira before Batizado. Doesn’t need to be terribly high quality or anything, but something that can take continuous footage and have a tripod would be nice. (ex: Flip UltraHD Video Camera, ~$160, $10 tripod)

* Pass the UW Astronomy Qualifying Exam at the doctorate level. – The University of Washington Astronomy Qualifying Exam is what is given to the graduate students at the end of their first and second years. Essentially, it is a 6-hour exam (with one hour separating the first and second sets of 3 hours) testing two years of astronomy graduate coursework. It’s essentially a rite of passage for those hoping to continue on to obtaining their doctorate. When it’s taken after the first year, failure is expected, as it very well should be. You’re being tested on two years of knowledge after only one year of instruction. You are, though, expected to fail gracefully, hitting that first year of knowledge pretty solidly on the exam. It is possible for people to pass the exam in the first year, and actually happened with one of the guys in my cohort. Once it’s passed, it’s never taken again. There is a lower-level pass, the master’s pass, but if you pass at this level you still have to take it again.

After the second year, it is strongly suggested that you pass at the doctorate level. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t, but it is severely disappointing, and really gets you a lot of unwanted looks of pity. It also means that you only have one more shot, which adds to the stress of taking it a third time. You can of course take it a third time, but if you don’t pass that third time, they hand you a master’s degree and then show you the door (I think. To my knowledge, no one here has hit that third strike).

** Control of my angular momentum when performing the armada and meia lua de compasso kicks – These are two kicks in capoeira that require a lot of spinning. Armada makes you spin while standing up, and compasso makes you spin while crouched. As it currently stands, I can usually land solidly like I’m supposed to after each kick, buuuuuut every so often I do lose my balance when I finish and it’s because I’m spinning too hard to control my legs.

*** Work on jogo de dentro so that I’m never more than 1.5 leg’s lengths away from my opponent – I find that the most interesting games to watch are when the two players are weaving in and out of each other’s spaces, and usually these are jogo de dentro type games. I also want to just work on my low game in general.

**** Practice with Manganga consistently – Mangangá is this dude I met through two other angoleiros who’s really cool and offers angola classes at his school in south Seattle, the Seattle Capoeira Center (here). He had offered a promotion last month, where if any of his Facebook friends wanted to come and take a morning class from him, it’d be for free. So, I went to one on a Wednesday, at 6:45 in the morning. It was one of the tougher classes that I’ve been in, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. He seemed to also enjoy my being there and extended to me an offer of joining him regularly, with personalized coaching! I decided to take him up on his offer, so starting next week (it was supposed to be this week, but snow halted everything), I’ll be getting my ass kicked every Wednesday and Friday morning, alongside my Senzala practice on Tues, Thurs, and Saturdays. I’ll probably also be keeping up practice on my own on Sundays and Mondays. We’ll see how this turns out!

***** Get to New York for the Guerreiros batizado – When I first started capoeira (almost exactly two years ago), I started in New York, at Columbia University with Capoeira Guerreiros. I got my first corda (something like the belts in Karate) with them at my first Batizado (portuguese for “baptism”), 2+ months after I had originally began. It was one of the most fun things that I had ever done. Unfortunately, I moved to Seattle that August, and thus stopped practicing with Guerreiros. They’ve had a couple batizados since then, and I haven’t been able to make any of them because I’m broke and cannot afford to fly back to NY. I’d like to be able to make it back and see how everyone’s improved in the past two years, and maybe even show off a little for them too.

****** Dive back into Portuguese as soon as the Qualifying Exam is over – As part of my desire to become a great capoeirista, I want to learn Portuguese, which is the language of the activity. I actually started formally learning it last quarter with a great teacher, and even made a few friends in the class, but toward the end of the quarter it became increasingly demanding (as it very well should). It was so demanding that it had become difficult to learn the language and keep up with my actual graduate responsibilities. So, with much pain in my heart, I decided to discontinue it this quarter so that I could focus solidly on my work. I’m not giving up on it though! Once my classes are through, I’m diving back into it, head first!

******* Settle on a dissertation subject area – In astronomy, most people aren’t interested in every single thing that the field has to offer. Some people like planets and planetary systems (not me), some people like stars (hell yeah!), some people like Milky Way structure (I can dig it), some people like extragalactic astronomy, and others like large-scale structure, amongst many other things beyond and between. I know that I’m pretty heavily interested in stars, but I am no where close to narrowing my interests down to something that can serve as the basis of a dissertation. There’s so much to do with stars, and I just have so much left to learn. This year though, I’m sure that I can get towards something that I can continue to study for the next 4.5 years.

******** See a psychologist at least once this year – There’s nothing that I think is expressly wrong with me mentally. However, over the past few years I’ve been through a few things that have produced varying amounts of trauma, and I’ve wanted to talk it out with a mental health professional. On top of that, I kinda just want to talk to someone who has no other connection to my life about me. Someone who’s supposed to be objective, and just have them listen to my story. We’ll see how well I stick to this one.