Franco Q2 2017: 90-day Lookback

Ukulele Practice Everyday

Pretty sure I played ukulele every day in the last quarter.  On the days I didn't feel well, I played for 30 minutes or so and then shut it down.  On the really crazy days, I put in about 4 hours.

I can spend 20 minutes a day practicing a song that is only 2 minutes long and still not have mastery over it after a month.  And so, I have a lot of respect for people who make it look easy.

I've been recording video of my practices.  I was doing this selectively at first but found that I was too nervous about "getting it right" for video and it didn't feel natural.  So I decided to purchase an external 4TB USB drive and now I am recording nearly every minute of my practice.  I burned ~3.2GB of storage just yesterday.  It's an extravagant use of storage, but totally worth it and storage is cheap.

I posted 3 videos to my Youtube channel and 9 videos to my Instagram profile.  I've been embracing a mode of "Document, Don't Create" and it's a lot easier for me to just post something that has rough edges with that mindset.

The 50 songs project is going strong, albeit slowly.  I now have a combined 43 songs on my "accepted" and "active" lists.  The instrumental solo songs take a good bit longer to be able to play but are very rewarding.  I have found that most of my energy goes toward this and I am fine with slowing down the project for this purpose.  James Hill's site, The Ukulele Way has been the most important resource in my development during the last 90 days.

Also, I finished working my way through Harmony and Theory and I am now pursuing Ear Training during breakfast.

Physical Challenges

Q1 2017 presented a number of physical challenges for me.  A shoulder injury sustained while practicing Jiu Jitsu has made me reluctant to do pull-ups since January and those were a staple of my workouts.  So I've switched to resistance bands and I am doing my own rehab.  I can now do half height (to 90 degrees) pull-ups without too much distress.

And, just a month ago, I found out just how bad it is to add miles really quickly.  I ran so much I limped for a week.  So I put myself on the injured list and I will not be running either of the races I listed on Franco Now: 2017 1Q.  That being said, I did run with The Raven in Miami when I was there in January, so I had my fun.  I am still proud of most of my training but I am looking forward to taking a break from running to heal up.

Time Enough for Heinlein

I read a LOT of Heinlein.  Added many quotes to my Aphorisms page.  I think I've just about had enough of him.  So going to move on to other readings.  Dune perhaps.  And more Sanderson.

Strong Tech

My tech development went pretty well during Q1 2017.  I made a conscious effort to spend more time working on frontend Javascript/ReactJS/BootstrapCSS work and it has paid off nicely.

I have agreed to take on Scrum Master role for the team so I will have study up to understand how I can help the team to better organize and turn our hard lessons into new cultural practices.

And Other Things As Well

I hosted two WDS Local DC meetups.  I do a roll-call in the days before each to ensure a quorum before proceeding.  It works well enough.

I didn't do so well at contacting a friend each day but I feel like I did pretty well at keeping in touch with remote buddies.  I averaged a phone call with a long-distance friend about once every 2 weeks and even managed to get some people on/before their birthdays.

I started the process for becoming a volunteer with the County.  Going to try to focus on assisting Seniors with living during 2017.  And I am hoping that I can incorporate ukulele into this.

90-day Look Back - 2017 1Q

90 days ago, I declared my key projects: Franco Now: October 8, 2016

This post is a look-back at what I actually did with my time.

Key Projects


I did really great at making Ukulele my #1 priority in my non-work hours clocking 60-120 minutes of practice and study a day. I bought two Hawaiian-made Ukuleles: one from Kanile'a and one from Kamaka. Very exciting.

Practice/Study includes the following areas:

  • Right Hand Techniques: Strumming, Fingerstyle, Dynamics, Rhythm
  • Left Hand Techniques: Chord shapes, Hammer-on/Pull-off
  • Chord progressions
  • Solo Instrumentals
  • Harmony and Theory
  • Swing

Practice materials and songbooks include:

Also, a nice resource is being a regular at the NVUS Ukulele Meetup.


The project is organized around memorizing 50 songs by heart but there is no formal restriction on how easy/hard the songs are nor whether they are vocal or solo instrumental.

Vocal songs involve more to memorize and risk that song will not fit my vocal range and ability and may need to be transposed or scrapped.

Solo instrumentals take longer to practice but are really gratifying and are not subject to my feeble and unpracticed vocals.

As of 1/2017, I now have about 15 songs that I have played through 5 times or more without a lead sheet. This is my crude measure of a song being roughly ready.

Other Projects

Nearly everything else was not given much time. I haven't done any sketching or lettering for a couple months now. I might like to add that back in but will continue strong with the Uke while it calls to me.

WDS Local DC has been slow to start but I booked 3 dates for 1Q 2017 and we will see how those go.

Clojure and functional programming is done during work hours only and is given a LOT of time since I am paid to do it.

Practices and Experiements

Follow the Sun

#FollowTheSun has changed given the winter. Presently, we shutdown for bed around 9-930 and go full lights-out at 10pm or thereabouts. Wake up time is around 730a.

Cash Mostly

#CashMostly is going strong and will likely be a permanent part of how I manage money. I was chatting it over with a friend and he asked me what good it does at all for me. I replied with a question: what good does it do to give money with every single swipe to a small set of corporations that seem hell-bent on lobbying the Federal government without any scruples? I'd rather not play their game. Choose my rules. Determine when my convenience is really important and take on a bit of diligence as a practice against always choosing convenience at the expense of everything.

Exercise and Movement

I gave myself a break from running after finishing the Army 10 Miler. Now it's time to start training in earnest for the Rock and Roll Half Marathon. My next race.

Winter has been more sedentary than I would like but I get out for a run a couple times a week.

Time Theming

I've gotten used to ignoring my daily themes. This is probably a sign of imbalance or a need to reconsider priorities.

Time with Friends

Mixed bag here. I've done a great job of scheduling phone time with friends afar. And I've done a really poor job of keeping in touch with friends in-person. I pretty much saw my local friends about once during 4Q (except the ones I work with).

Weekend morning hikes help with this. And perhaps some board/card game days would also help.


I read the following books to completion during 4Q 2016:

I did not read what I set out to read... instead just whatever was interesting enough to keep my attention.

I am presently reading Time Enough for Love (also by Robert A. Heinlein). I don't know what will be next.


I am collecting great quotes from the things that I read in a new section of my website: Aphorisms