Bucket List

Why does my bucket list grow faster than my completed list?

Mark Ewing

4 minute read

Bucket List

Most people end up having a list of things they’d like to do in their life before they ‘kick the bucket’. Often this is made up of big events - a foreign trip, some daredevil adventure. But sometimes that list is a bunch of little things.


I’ve published a package on CRAN - readOffice - which was designed to enable the importing of text from modern Microsoft Word and PowerPoint files. This scratched off an item from my bucket list of ‘give back to open source’. But now I want to do more - I want to make a meaningful contribution to a package of substance that gets used a lot.


I really want to get into computer vision, especially as it relates to my hobby of painting miniatures. I’d like to try and build algorithms that can identify the manufacturer of miniatures and maybe even the model itself from pictures people upload.

Deep Learning

I’d love to learn more about these feature transference neural networks which take characteristics of one image and apply them to another. I’d love to try and transfer a paint scheme of one miniature to an unpainted mini.


I want to learn more about C++ programming so I can be better equipped to take alogrithms implemented not-in-R and make them into R implementations.


I have a list of 100+ miniatures I want to paint.

Miniature Gaming

I currently play Warmachine but there’s not a local scene for the game where I am. So I want to learn Malifaux and Warhammer 40k (also Age of Sigmar looks gorgeous, so that too!)


I’ve done a little bit of backpacking with my wife and I’d like to do more to get my son involved and do family trips.

And it keeps growing

I think the issue, at the end of the day, is FOMO. I have a strong fear of missing out on all the cool stuff people around me are doing. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by some really cool people who do very interesting things. I’m glad that I’m constantly getting reminded of what more I could be learning and doing. The people I’ve surrounded myself with, physically and digitally, are all people who are pushing to grow and develop themselves and as they break into new areas, it just highlights one more thing I could be doing.

Better than no ambition

It’s frustrating sometimes, because the issue isn’t that I’m money limited, it’s that I’m time limited. There’s only so much time in any given day to be a dad, be a husband, be a friend and also learn a bunch of new stuff and also do my painting and still have time to play the games for which I’ve been painting. But I’d rather have this problem than to find myself among those who have no ambition and whittle their lives away doing things of little consequence or development.

The other challenge I face is feeling like I’m a fraud for doing what someone else has done. It turns out that the officer package supports the import of modern Microsoft Word and PowerPoint files - and it seems to do it better than my readOffice contribution. My pride turned to ash in my mouth - why had I bothered? Now I’m just cluttering up CRAN.

I look at the paint jobs that professional painters do on miniatures and then I look at mine and all I can see are my imperfections - why would I post it to Twitter? Who wants to look at my stuff when they could look at awesome stuff?

Don’t limit yourself

I started this blog because I saw other people doing technical blogging and I wanted to contribute. A lot of what I’ll end up publishing has already been written or said by other people, maybe even better. It’s easy to convince yourself to not try because someone else is better. But sharing and contributing isn’t a competition (miniature gaming is), especially not in an open source community.

This comic from this tweet is very motivational for me. Just because someone else has done something shouldn’t preclude you from doing it as well. I have never once googled for a solution and been upset to find lots of me-too posts. In fact, the way people learn can be very different and the way I’ve written something might be very helpful to someone.

So, as they say, ‘Never stop never stopping!’ and get out there and start crossing items off your bucket list while keeping the bucket overflowing.

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