Survived another orbit around our star. As is my tradition, I now will look back on the year 2014. It was another weird one, but perhaps the correct observation is that they’re all going to be weird ones from here on out. May revise this as I remember things I’ve forgotten. May not. In no particular order, here goes nothing:
My nephew was born in the early hours of January 1st. It’s been fun seeing him every month or so, seeing him develop, and getting to know him. It’s also been fun to see my brother and his wife become parents. Of course, it’s also nice to hand the kid back at the end of the day, go get a beer, and head home without one for the evening. I am pretty happy leaving things at godchildren, nephews, and nieces. I am becoming increasingly frustrated by the folks who feel it necessary to tell me that I will change my mind and that I will regret not having children down the road.
While I try to keep learning things regularly (if erratically), I made a concerted effort to focus on specific areas this year. Early on I completed a networking course via Stanford’s MOOC. I later took a Scala course via Coursera. I read several books on management and software architecture and dabbled in a few areas like machine learning. I’m glad I did these things and I realized it’s something I want to continue going forward. Notably most of this effort is front-weighted in the year; in the latter half of the year I spent more time being introspective and puzzling through various existential crises. This had impact on nearly all of my projects and interests; none of my blogs saw much in the way of content in the last third of the year. I’m disappointed especially by my lack of material on the beverages blog. I’ve completed far fewer books than I should have.
I started the year predominantly playing Guild Wars 2 as far as video games go. I dabbled in a few things since then but have predominantly been playing Destiny in the latter quarter of the year. It’s enjoyable for its mindlessly unapologetic shoot and loot mechanics. Arguably I’d like to get more into the raid, but then that would also make it less casual, too. It’s a conundrum. For the first time in years I’m playing more video games on my couch than on my computer. It’s sort of weird but not entirely unpleasant. Means I spend more time near M in the evenings, which is a nice bonus.
The office and living room stereos are in a good place. I’ve been maintaining a pretty healthy split between vinyl and digital. Valves have been disappearing from the system (phono preamplifier and power amplifier both are out of rotation) generally, but both have tubed headphone stages at the moment, at least as an option. Listening preferences for headphones have generally shifted from traditional dynamics to planar magnetics. Tone preferences has shifted from neutral to a mild preference for warmth and the second order harmonic. I think my only current point of disappointment is that I’ve yet to find a DAC I love: I love vinyl, but I have (and will continue to have) a red book library that’s not going anywhere. Provenance (and, well, availability) is too much of a bother to screw around with DSD to any degree. But, I may have to give up. 2015 may be the year that I learn to stop worrying and love the delta-sigma modulation.
My 2004 WRX got pretty expensive to maintain in a hurry this year. I did the needed repairs and unloaded it for half what I bought it for more than a decade beforehand. My luck will be it doesn’t need work again for a few more, but I wasn’t willing to take that risk. Lacking an exciting alternative, I ended up with a new 2015 WRX. Other than being a larger size, I’m pretty sure it’s better in literally every way.
I started personal training three times a week (half an hour) with a personal trainer. I am glad I do it, it’s good for me, and it’s having positive effects on muscle tone. I occasionally even enjoy it. The biggest downside has been relatively slow gains and a propensity for injury. The worst example of this was injuring my shoulder during the bench press and having to spend nearly six months recuperating. I’m able to keep doing other exercises but I miss the bench, of all things. My weight is not down dramatically (and I’m under no illusion that that’s because I’ve just traded fat for muscle; muscle grows much more slowly than that) from the beginning of the year; this is an area where I do need to focus more in 2015. I’ve also been eating significantly better though I still get a decent amount of carbohydrates from alcoholic products. In any event, I am happy with the effort and progress I’ve made here, but I need to take things further. It’s important.
We had a really great trip to New Mexico. That was pretty much it for fun travel and vacations this year. In general I spent a lot more money on stuff than on experiences, and that is, as always, a mistake. This is another area with significant room for improvement in 2014.
I spent too little time with friends and too much time alone with my thoughts. I’ve become increasingly distressed with my cruelty and unkindness. Sometimes this is overt, but I regret that more often than not it is unintentional.
M and I will have been together half a decade this fall. The majority of that time, we’ve been engaged. It’s good stuff. We should really get around to an actual marriage this year.
Wines of the year, in chronological order:
- Twenty Five Reasons Petillant Sauvignon Blanc (vtg unclear and/or NV?)
- 1999 Kalin Cellars Semillon
- 2007 Klein Constantia Vin de Constance
- NV H. Billiot Fils Champagne Grand Cru Brut Rosé
- 2002 Littorai Pinot Noir Summa Vineyard
- 1996 López de Heredia Rioja Blanco Reserva Viña Tondonia
- 2001 La Rioja Alta Rioja Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial
- 2007 Demuth-Kemos Mountain Terraces
- 2011 Arnot-Roberts “Griffin’s Lair” Sonoma Coast Syrah
- 2012 Arnot-Roberts “Griffin’s Lair” Sonoma Coast Syrah
- 2007 Vilmart & Cie Champagne Grand Cellier d’Or
I could write the same paragraph about my career as I did last year, so I won’t. Still not clear on whether it’s the impostor syndrome, the Peter principle, or something else entirely. I took a few nasty blows that make it easy to indulge in the former, but who knows?
I again find myself in possession of a beard, a state I was in a year ago. This one’s a lot longer and isn’t slowing down anytime soon. I’m rather fond of it. And flannel’s resurgence. On the upside, despite all appearances otherwise, I make a pretty terrible lumbersexual.
What I would like to focus on next year:
- Further increase the focus on my health.
- Learn more. Share more.
- Spend money and time on experiences, not things.
- Find more time with friends. Find more friends. Connect better with old friends.