Social Media hiatus

Boy, has it been a tough year or what? I have had to make a concerted effort to stay positive more than I can remember in a while. Starting a new job helped a lot with that, as the old one was just beating me down. I’ve also continued running a lot, to get back in shape for running the Boston Marathon next April. I haven’t biked as much as I would have liked, even though work is pretty close for me; it always seems like there is something going on before or after the work day that I need to get to, but I will make more of an effort with that. Curling also started again, which is a nice reprieve two or three times a week. After a slow start to the year, I’ve even started reading more regularly. And yet….

I decided that it’s time to get off of social media for a while. Even after culling the people I follow on Twitter, it still makes me angry more than it brings me joy. Facebook has gotten to be mostly useless noise. Half the time I check anything out on there, I’m just scrolling and not really taking anything in. So I’m quitting them, for now. I might occasionally pop on to do a quick update for curling or that sort of thing, but I’m going to make a serious effort to avoid them altogether. I deleted them from my phone even.

So now what? I devote more time and attention to real life. I’m going to keep reading more. I’ll catch up on some TV shows I’ve missed (without looking at my phone the whole time I’m watching!). I’ll dust off that old Raspberry Pi project I was working on before our basement got renovated. But mostly, I’ll just be here, in the present. Sounds pretty great.

2010 Favorites

It’s time once again for my yearly favorites!
First, in the book category, for non-fiction we have Blind Descent and The Big Short. For fiction, Let the Great World Spin and A Visit From The Goon Squad. Overall I finished 45 books, just a few short of my goal of 52, but not bad.
In the ever-present beer category, I didn’t review nearly as many as usual, but I most enjoyed Founders Nemesis and Drie Fonteinen Oude Kriek.
And as always, we relive the rest of the year’s events:

Looking forward to 2011!

2009 Favorites

It’s time to close out the aughts with one last year-end wrapup. Let’s take a look back at the year that was, shall we?
I slacked off a little bit this year and only got through 32 books. But quality, not quantity, was the word this year. I really only felt like two or three books were real clunkers (*cough*Dan Brown*cough*), and there were a lot of 4 and 5 star ratings. Some of my 4-star ratings are ending up on other people’s top books this year! The clear non-fiction favorite was The Lost City of Z. Fiction is not so easy. The Gone-Away World was one of the most original I read. At Swim-Two-Birds was my favorite “classic.” If pushed to pick an overall favorite though, I’d have to go with City of Refuge, but be sure to check out all my reviews from the past year, lots of good ones I haven’t mentioned here.
Only 19 beers this year, definitely slacking on that front. By far the favorites came from the newcomer to the DC area, Founders Brewing, with their Breakfast Stout, and Red’s Rye.
Of course, one of the big reasons I slacked on beer reviews was the fact that I became custodian of my neighbor’s kegerator, definitely a big highlight this year. Evan started preschool this year, big for him. If you asked Ellie, her highlight would probably be the fact that we had a lease membership at the pool this year, so she got to have her birthday party there. We also went to see Bruce Springsteen in concert, awesome. The Spartans made it to the NCAA basketball championship game, but lost to UNC.
Last but not least, the highlight of the entire year was finally going to Ireland. Did I seriously never get around to writing about that? Jeez, what a slacker.

What’s New?

It’s been a while since I really updated on what’s been happening.  Well, a lot of changes!

We refinanced recently (4.875% for 30 years).  I’m pretty sure we’re done with refinancing now.  Our mortgage rate is actually less than our auto loan rate!

We opened a new checking account.  Our old credit union was getting to be too inconvenient, and they just announced they are closing the service center we used to go to, so we opened a new account at the same credit union our mortgage is with.  Our new account even earns (a miniscule amount of) interest since we have the mortgage too.

We have a new phone company.  Our phone number will remain the same, but while we transition, you may notice the caller ID coming from us has a different number.  Once we decide that we like the new company, we’ll port the old number over, and all will be back to normal.  Unless the call quality is horrible though, I think we’ll be sticking with these guys.  The company is Callcentric, and they charge $1.95/month for an incoming phone number, plus $1.50/month for 911.  Then all incoming calls are billed $0.015/minute, and outgoing is about $0.02/minute.  Pretty good deal, really.  I can even use my iPod Touch to make calls using Fring from any Wifi hotspot, but that’s a geeky detail I won’t go into now.

Aside from that, Ellie is seriously reading a LOT, and all on her own.  We’re amazed at her progress.

Evan is talking a lot, and more understandably.  There are still some “Evan-isms,” which you can only understand once you have the context, but a lot more is becoming a lot clearer.  He is also really into his music class now.  He sings along to most of the songs, and does the rhythm sections.  He, unlike Ellie ever did, will even get up and dance and play and sing at music class, and is the first one to give the teacher a hug at the end of class.  He is dangerously cute too, of course.

I think that’s about it.  Oh, and of course, there’s the new website which is running on WordPress now.  You can submit comments again!  Hooray!

2008 Favorites

Another year, another list of favorite stuff that happened in the past 12 months. Looking back on the previous year’s worth of blog entries, it’s hard to believe that all this stuff happened in the last 365 days.
I read 38 books, and my favorite would have to be The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon. Five stars were few and far between this year, going only to A Fire Upon The Deep, Child 44 (my favorite book that was published this year), Brasyl, Physics of the Impossible, and The Gunslinger Born.
I drank 23 beers, with the highlights being Allagash Grand Cru, Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest Fresh Hop Ale, Magic Hat’s Jinx and Roxy Rolles, and the new record holder: Bell’s Two Hearted Ale.
Other highlights this year would have to include Obama, the Giants beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl, winning the second event at the Dykes Bonspiel, joining a CSA, starting to ride my bike to work, my spontaneous birthday road trip to Chicago, doing the Zipcar Low Car Diet and doing the Zipcar date night, visiting KC, visiting Yankee Stadium for the last time. And who could forget Shane buying a heifer and giving up red meat? But my personal favorite moment was getting my picture in the paper!
We also managed to achieve almost all of our financial goals this year: mostly stayed out of any additional debt (except for some slight slipping due in part to our Ireland trip planning, but that’s on a 0% card for the next year), adjusted my paycheck withholdings, increased 401(k) contributions, kept contributing to emergency funds and savings accounts, and set up and started contributing to Evan’s 529 plan. I also reevaluated our car and home insurance policies and saved us a bunch of cash. The biggie we’re missing is the life insurance, so hopefully we can get that done soon.

Travel Light

With the news that American Airlines is now going to charge $15 for the first bag you check (which is actually not new, Spirit Airlines does it, as does RyanAir in Europe. The difference is that they are discount carriers), you might find traveling lighter useful. I highly recommend the One Bag website, which teaches you how to efficiently pack your bag, and recommends carry-on compatible travel packs. You also might find the One Bag, One World blog useful, as well as this handy comparison chart of travel packs. And don’t forget the packing cubes!

Obligatory Results

The results of that previous post (feel free to comment if you wanna get in on the action).
Shane

  1. I’m friends with you, as you said, because my brother thought we should be. We like way too many of the same pop culture things (Lost, poker, Chipotle).
  2. Lately, I associate you with no red meat. Before that, it would have been Fletch.
  3. I like that you have such strong convictions (your wife, your faith), BUT that you aren’t so set in your ways that you aren’t afraid to change (Obama!).
  4. We’ve known each other so long (not), it’s hard to pick a memory. Remember when we used to be able to watch Lost AND Alias on the same night? Yeah, that was great.
  5. Even though I associate you with KC and the midwest, I know that you’ve been out of the country (to Italy, at least). Where else have you traveled and what’s your favorite trip of all-time?

Mike

  1. Duh, you’re my brother. Somehow, we made it through adolescence without killing each other, and once we both went away to college, we probably became better friends.
  2. I associate you most with the EVP tour. So much so that when we were watching a show on National Geographic about sports bras (don’t ask) and they showed EVP women playing, I was looking for you.
  3. I like that you stuck with the volleyball thing even though everyone always said you were too short, or not good enough.
  4. When I cracked my head jumping off the wall in our backyard in France, you ran to the house to get mom. How’s that for a memory?
  5. What the heck are we going to do in KC for a whole WEEK over Memorial Day weekend? The Royals aren’t even in town! Alternatively, since that’s not really something about you I’ve always wanted to know: did you love or hate living overseas?

Lisa

  1. You’re my friend because we always have things to talk about. We don’t always agree, but we ultimately have the same goals in life, and we’re getting there together.
  2. I associate you most with baking, because of all the goodies you make that I have to bring to work so that we don’t eat them all ourselves!
  3. I like how you are with our kids. Even when they are at their most frustrating, your love for them always shows through.
  4. My memory of you is sitting out on my porch in Rochester Hills, MI while you were on an internship in NYC and talking on the phone for hours.
  5. (You can answer this in the comments, since you don’t have a blog) If you weren’t home with the kids every day, what would you be doing?