If the number of 2016 posts in this journal were representative of productivity, it would appear to have been a mostly uneventful year. That certainly wasn’t the case. January felt like a continuation of December and only now is it beginning to feel like the new year has begun. And so, the time to grade myself on goal completion for the previous year and to set goals for the current year has finally arrived. I am a proponent of annual goal setting. When I make a solid list, refer to it regularly, and hold myself accountable I tend to meet many of them. Oddly, last year I didn’t make a solid list. Apparently I forgot to or lost it on my perpetually chaotic desk. Despite that oversight, several non-specified goals came to fruition and a number of pleasingÂ events occurred.
I have been wanting to travel for work more frequently. I had three opportunities. 1) A producing/shooting gigÂ in Costa Rica (mentioned in my last post to this blog nearly a year ago). 2) A Facebook live-stream overnight trip near Joshua Tree for AirBNB. 3) A 2 month roadtrip around the U.S.with Erika (55 daysâ€”42 statesâ€”13,510 miles) creating a web-series for TYLT that will be releasing very soon.
I lead some great climbing routes including the 1500ish foot Solar Slab, the unique Tunnel Vision, and the imposing Matthes Crest (which turned into a bit of an all-night epic because of a foolish attempt to retrieve a fallen camera).
IÂ descended a few undocumented canyons (some with the ever beloved Scott Swaney).
I finally got to shoot video of a snow covered San Antonio Falls canyoneering descent (something I had been trying to do for quite some time and posted about here on this blog) and put together a 360 VR video of the Seven Teacups.
Erika and I finally made it to Alaska and toured a glacier. We also made it to several National Parks we hadn’t visited before and attended Halloween in Salem, MA. We have now been to 45 of the 50 states.
I got to do some great social things with friends like multiple game nights, an awesome bachelor party weekend in Zion for the Merrill wedding, visit my family multiple times, and introduce multiple people to their first ever multi-pitch climbs.
The podcast continued (currently 46 episodes)Â and featured guests fromÂ all over the country recorded in their respective locales.
Erika and I celebrated 10 years together touring the treetops of Wrightwood.
It was a rewarding year, but there are certainly places I fell short:
Happy Canyoneering (my puppet talkshow short) did not move forward.
Scuba Climbers (my Class C canyoneering documentary) did not move forward.
I slacked on a proper physical fitness routine in the last half of the year.
I didn’t make the strides towards big wall climbing I’d hoped to and climbing El Cap for my 40th birthday is seeming increasingly less likely.
I still haven’t started work on a Death Valley Mars short I want to do.
My office is still a disorganized mess.
I didn’t try cross country skiing, dogsledding, or solo backpacking.
I haven’t gotten back into a regularÂ illustrating routine in years.
And various other projects, responsibilities, etc.Â languishedÂ while my pile of books to read increased faster than it depleted.
And so now I sit compiling my list of goals forÂ 2017. I look at where I succeeded and failed in 2016 and attempt to course correct. Where do I want to be in a year and how do I get there? Life is too damn short to squander.
It has been over two months since my last update. I feel like all I have been doing during that time is working, but that isn’t necessarily true. Above is a teaser for a web-series I have been working on with my Butcher Bird Studios partners. We completed most of the photography in the last couple of months, but I still have plenty of post-production to keep me busy on top of paying gigs.
Besides shooting all four episodes of G.O. – Get Outside in the last two months, I have managed to do some other stuff after all. One of my favorite climbing events, The Red Rock Rendezvous was a few weeks ago. I’ve run a few canyons and lead a few routes since my last check-in. I also got my Wilderness First Aid certificationÂ and took a Mountain Athletics Training course from Conrad Anker and Mark Jellison. There have been a few cool shoots in there as well. So, I guess I haven’t been slacking as much as I thought.
It feels like all I have been doing this year is working. To a certain degree that is true, but when I look through my calendar and photos from this first third of 2013, I see the truth isn’t so glum. The year started out well. I was canyoneering several times a month, lead my first trad routes, hit the gym hard and regularly, and was balancing my workload well. Lately, though, work has been eating into everything. I did still manage to make it out to the Red Rock Rendezvous (best year yet) and backpacked through Surprise Canyon again (last time was over 3 years ago). I’m thankful for all the work, but hopefully outdoor time will start wedging its way back in. Currently Half Dome, Zion, and the Grand Canyon are on the calendar. Maybe they’ll help me get my balance back.
On a semi-tangent, back in February, I faced my first burrowing tick. I’ve had ticks crawling across my skin many times, but this was the first time one managed to dig into my flesh. I returned home after running Bailey Canyon under a full moon and found a big monstrosity protruding from my hip. After a struggle I managed to yank it out and its disgusting buried head. I’ve almost healed emotionally from the feelings of violation. Regardless, ticks have become my sworn enemies alongside cockroaches. Seriously, avoid those fuckers. And by avoid, I mean kill with extreme prejudice. We are talking tick genocide.
Being self-employed is always worrisome. I constantly expect the work to suddenly dry up and everything to fall apart. So far I have been lucky and work continues to flow in. We shall see if I can maintain it. Below are a few of the highlights from many projects that have seen completion so far this year: (There are some cool things I can’t share yet also.)
Because I’m such a great son, I’ve included the sorts of photos in this post that make my Mom nervous. (Don’t worry, I am attached to a rope in that top picture.)
Spring and Summer seem to appear from nowhere and fly past each year. This year seems to be no different. Although not as much as I’d like, I am getting myself outside a fair amount. The photo up top is from last week on Tahquitz on pitch two of “El Whampo.” I’m not leading trad yet, but I’m getting a decent bit of practice following. I’ve also been attending rolling sessions with a kayaking club and I am happy to say I can roll my kayak now. I haven’t tested it on a river yet, but maybe I’ll get a chance before the season is through. Since Hawaii, I ran in the 5K Foam Fest, canoed Black Canyon again, jumped off rocks in a few places, climbed rocks in others, ran a canyoneering route through Eaton CanyonÂ (where I ended up helping out in a rescue), and returned to Yosemite. It’s good to see that typed out, it makes me feel like I haven’t been slacking as much as I have been.
I’ve included a few images from these various things in the gallery below. But, first, here are some links to a few projects I’ve been working on that have gone live recently:
Above is a short video encompassing some of the experience of hiking through Subway in Zion National ParkÂ in early September. It’s a damn good time if you have the knowledge and will to do it.
I recently got back from Zion yet againâ€”this timeâ€”backpacking the Narrows route for my third time. It is always rewarding, although, I felt the pain afterward in a way I hadn’t before. Too much time at a computer being sedentary is wreaking havoc on my body. Thankfully, I was able to renew my gym membership last week so I can get into proper shape again.
I finally decided to give sleeping outdoors tentless a try while on the Narrows trip. Thankfully, it didn’t rain and it was an enjoyable experience. I’ll have to do it more often. I also led my first multi-pitch sport climbs in September (two pitches each). Hopefully, I can start devoting some more time to climbing and advancing my skills.
Work has been pouring in, which is great, but I’ve had little time for much else. Balancing life and self-employment is a challenge I certainly haven’t mastered yet. I’ve completed several projects recently. Some of them will be live soon and posted here for the world to deride.
I’m back from Utah. Karl, of Extreme Things, and I were doing a bit of canyoneering through the Left Fork of the Virgin Riverâ€”a route called Subway. It’s a great slot canyon with a few rappels, squeezes, and swims. We added a bit of extra adventure to our trip by accidentally entering the canyon too soon adding four rappels to the hike. The adventure compounded when we realized a few members of an inexperienced group of ten had followed us down and were stranded on a ledge 35 feet above the canyon floor. Â Karl ascended our rope, built them harnesses from webbing, and I belayed them down to safety. The next several hours were filled with awesome canyoneering and a bit of babysitting as we helped the group navigate the more technical obstacles. I, of course, brought along the GoPro and intend to post a video and more in-depth trip report later.
A couple of videos I directed recently are also online now. The first is this year’s commercial for the West Hollywood Book Fair. The second is one of three Combat Arms shorts we at Butcher Bird Studios Â did for Nexon earlier this summer. The other two should hopefully be completed soon.
Working from home brings many benefits yet poses several obstacles. Sure, there are inconsistent work and pay, but one that kills me frequently is something I will dub ‘Desk Chair Imprisonment.’ There are days I awake, walk a few steps to the office room, and sit at a computer for many hours â€”never stepping outside of my apartment. This is unacceptable and it is one of the detriments of self-employment I have yet to conquer. Sadly, today is one of those days.
Last spring was when I made the leap. I quit my job and pursued self-employment. Last year was a time of travel, copious climbing, backpacking trips, and other adventures. Moving into this year, I accepted it would not be the same. Growing and developing my businesses would have to be the priority. Sometimes it is, sometimes it is fighting procrastination, and other times it is embracing the need to get out of my house and do some fun shit.
Thankfully, I have been doing more fun stuff again lately. Within the last few weeks, I’ve taken a short I worked on called Delivery to a festival, ran the technical canyoneering route in Rubio Canyon again, participated in the Tough Mudder, hiked one of my favorite rock-hopping routes, rafted some whitewater in Kernville, and biked 24 miles down the beach. Thanks goodness summer is getting here, it is just the incentive I need to get out of this damn office chair.
I’ve been busy knocking out shots for Marty Mitchell. If you don’t know what that is, check out ManyMaladies.com. It’s a short kid’s show I shot in my living room two years ago and have been slowly compositing and animating. I am forcing myself to finish it this year. You can find out more, see images, videos, blah blah blah at the website.
The business I started with a few friends, Butcher Bird Studios, is officially an LLC and we finished another half-hour episode of Nexon’s Block Party Blabberbox. I’m hoping to update our website in the next week.
Erika and I attended the Red Rock Rendezvous, a climbing festival in Red Rock (near Vegas). It was great excepting the traffic to and from and the lackluster weather. The wind was ridiculous. I’m planning to go again next year.
I don’t foresee this post being especially interesting to anyone other than myself. It’s the last day of the year so I feel obligated to take a look at the goals I set for myself for 2010 and see if I passed or failed.
I created two lists: priorities and optional. I fully completed 12 of the 15 items under priorities. Of the remaining 3, I made valiant strides for 2 of them (Finish Current Video Projects + Become Adept with environment creation in Vue) and failed completely at 1 of them (Start drawing on a regular basis again). 2 items on the list were taken to an extreme: Take Rock Climbing Lessons + More long-distance backpacking. I ended up taking nearly every rock climbing class available to me and managed to go climbing at least twice each month. I also backpacked the West Coast Trail over six days (I was really only thinking of 2-3 day trips when I set my goal). I am also happy to see I ticked off 3 rather large goals on the optional list: Backpack the West Coast Trail + Backpack Zion Narrows again + Take a trip out of the country. Although I didn’t fully succeed in attaining my priority goals 100%, I feel pretty good about my overall success especially when factoring in the achievements in the optional category. 2 huge things left off my goal lists entirely that were achieved this year were becoming completely self-employed and starting a new business with friends (Butcher Bird Studios).
In the end, I feel comfortable giving myself a passing grade. Sitting down earlier this year and creating that list of goals made it much easier for me to attain them and allowed me to gauge my progress throughout the year. I doubt I would have done all of those things if I hadn’t set up a list of this sort. I highly recommend forgetting about the New Year Resolution bullshit and instead setting Annual Goals. It worked for me and I need to sit down over the next few days and start compiling a list for 2011.
A faltering economy, constant layoffs all around me, and my encroaching unemployment in April have had one very beneficial side-effect: I am motivated and inspired. I’ve been working like crazy on a variety of different things. I’ll post more about many of them as they develop, but I’m mostly keeping mum for now. One of those things is a new portfolio site. I haven’t had the chance to do one properly (hopefully that will happen before April), but I have really been needing to get my reels online. Thus, I threw together a new portfolio site that isn’t too terrible. It’s wonky and full of outdated work, but the reels are brand new and represent my video work over the last couple of years.
Have a moment to waste? Stop by Chinnystyle and watch the reels.
On a side note, I also uploaded a few more of the old terrible movies we used to make in high school and college on the YouTube. Only about 30 more to go.