Sunday, December 30, 2012

Year in Review: 2012

As we approach the end of yet another year, I thought I'd do a bit of reflection on the year that has just passed.  Not a reflection on all that has happened in the world since January, but rather a reflection of my own experiences through this two thousand and twelfth year of the common era.

For Christmas last year I got a Kindle Fire and a membership to Amazon Prime, so by January of this year I was riffling through all the free movies and TV shows available for live streaming.  I was wary at first of watching anything significant because the Kindle Fire screen, in case you don't know, is very small.  It's larger than a smartphone, of course, but only about 2/3rds the size of an iPad - slightly less than 8" by 5".  After doing a couple of test runs on a few Family Guy reruns, I decided I could handle watching an entire TV series on the Kindle screen.

As such, I started my love affair with Lost.  

When Lost first premiered back in 2004, I was intrigued by the countless commercials I saw for it, but wasn't in a place where I felt like I could dedicate myself to a weekly TV series (it was obvious from the commercials that this was the kind of show you had to watch every week to keep abreast of what was going on).  So instead, I put my interest in it on the back burner and figured I might watch it some day on DVD.  That "some day" finally arrived when I discovered Amazon Prime had the entire 6-season series for free.

I was completely, totally, and utterly hooked within the first ten minutes of the first episode.  

Long story short, I spent most of January to March watching Lost.  Instead of climbing into bed and reading, as I typically do, I climbed into bed each night quivering with excitement over the next installment.  I would turn the lights off, plug in my headphones, and watch the show with an eagerness that was almost stupid.  Sometimes I would watch two or even three episodes a night, depending on how early I had to get up.  I woke my wife up more than once gasping at some unexpected turn of events.  

She typically didn't share my enthusiasm.        

I managed to watch the whole thing, more than 120 one-hour episodes, in just a couple of months.  And I gotta say....waiting 8 years to watch it was well worth it, because instead of having to wait a week between every episode, and months during the summer, I got to go from one show to the next at my own pace.  This helped dramatically to keep the ongoing plot issues straight in my mind.  Anyone who has seen the series will know how utterly mind-boggling it can be at times.  Not having to wait a week or more between episodes made the progression of the plot much easier to follow.  After each episode, I would go to Wikipedia to read the summary of the episode I had just watched, and this also helped to keep things straight in my head (it was also useful for going back and reminding myself what had happened in previous episodes - this was particularly good because sometimes a plot element would be introduced in one episode, but not followed up again for a span of 10 or 12 or even 15 or 20 episodes; by the time they got back around to it, I'd forgotten what it was about).  

Anyway....totally loved it.  Highly recommend it.  

The only problem with my Lost obsession was that I got virtually no reading done whatsoever for those first few months of the year.  For a brief period of time, I basically became a non-reader.  Which was really weird, because I have been a more-or-less daily reader since at least the age of 30, and I was a frequent reader for a decade before that.  To go three months and read hardly anything at all (I think I finished one very short paperback during that stretch) was really out of character.

After the series ended, I got back on my reading wagon and actually managed to read more books this year than I did last year (more on that when I post my 2012 Reading List...I know you can't wait).

I turned 37 in February and celebrated with friends from work at a little bar called Mt. Lookout Tavern in Cincinnati.  We had a really good turn-out (which, of course, made me feel all warm and fuzzy) and I think a fun time was had by all.  I know I sure enjoyed myself - the gallon of beer and countless shots I drank helped significantly, although I'm sure I was hating life the next morning.  Don't actually recall, to be honest.  You only remember the good times.

This picture pretty much tells you everything you need to know about that night.

In March the NCAA tournament started, and I spent much of my free time fretting over whether my beloved Kentucky Wildcats were finally going to break their long championship drought.  I should never have worried: they had a run through the NCAA tournament that has got to be one of the most difficult stretches for an eventual champion in tourney history, and never really came in danger of losing a game.  It was topped off by meeting, and defeating, their cross-state rival, Louisville, in the Final Four - a situation that has literally been dreamed about by fans in Kentucky for decades.  The final victory over Kansas - the fourth "blue blood" school they had to face in their tournament run - was almost like an afterthought, on the heels of the win over Louisville.  

In the summer our family vacationed in Georgia at a place called Tybee Island.  We had a nice trip, but the accommodations were not as nice compared to where we stayed in 2011 in Isle of Palms, South Carolina.  I don't think any of us were able to keep that comparison out of our minds, and it led to a general feeling of letdown throughout the trip.  Still, there's no such thing as a bad trip to the beach, and despite nearly being blown away on the beach one day by a summer squall that blew up out of nowhere with disturbing speed, we had a nice time.  

The first night we spent there, I got so drunk I basically didn't get out of bed the next day.  Not a fun memory.  And not a very smart thing to do on a family vacation with not only your children, but your in-laws.   

The good thing that came from that night's debauchery, however, was that I used my hangover as an impetus to stop smoking and to start using my e-cigarette exclusively.  I made it three months on the e-cig until, sadly, I went back to the real thing this autumn.  Getting ready to try another brand to see if I can make it stick this time.  It's one of my New Year's resolutions, although I generally hate those things (New Year's resolutions, not e-cigs). 

After the joy of experiencing Kentucky's epic NCAA championship, I was pleased to have my hometown Cincinnati Reds dominate their division all year in major league baseball.  I thought there was a very, very good chance that both my teams were going to win championships - Kentucky in the NCAA's, and Cincinnati in the World Series.  Unfortunately, the Reds choked on their own vomit and failed to even make it to the NLCS, despite winning the first two games of the NLDS on the road.  Such a huge, huge letdown.  

During the summer, I made the very stressful decision to switch to second shift at work.  I angsted about it for several weeks, and actually turned down the offer the first time it was presented to me.  But after talking it over again with my wife (she was strongly opposed to me passing the opportunity up), I went back and agreed to make the switch.  The money is certainly better, and the hours work better for my own personal living habits, but I miss the camaraderie I shared with my friends on first shift, and I don't see my wife and kids very much during the week.  We've gotten those issues (mostly) ironed out at home, but I feel like some of my friendships and relationships at work have suffered as a result of the move.  I don't feel the closeness anymore that I used to feel with some of my co-workers from first shift, and I haven't really developed those warm, comfy relationships with anyone on second shift.  Both of those things are a real drag.  I also don't get to work much with the students anymore, and I don't like that either.  

In addition to these issues, of course, was the biggest public issue of all in 2012 - the presidential election.  I always get emotionally involved in presidential elections.  My blog pretty much attests to that.  Still, I think I did a pretty decent job this year - publicly, anyway - of staying above the fray and being as objective as reasonably possible.  I really liked the post I made in March about Mitt Romney's chances of winning in November.  If you missed it, you should check it out.  I think my analysis proved accurate.  I also correctly picked the winner in 47 of the 50 states.  The only ones I missed were states where I picked Romney over Obama.  Obama won every state I predicted for him.  

That wasn't just luck; analyzing polls really does lead to accurate predictions - which is why it's such a sham when political analysts or candidates' spokesmen get on television and suggest that polls aren't trustworthy.  They are trustworthy, if you know how to analyze the data, and you're honest.  Both those ingredients are required.  Some of my friends were shocked at Obama's victory in Ohio; that's because they don't know how to analyze the data.  Karl Rove does know how to analyze the data, he's just dishonest, intellectually and in every other way humanly possible.  

I've ended the year with a succession of four 3-day weekends in a row - all completely unplanned except for one.  I've managed to give away several of my shifts to people wanting to pick up hours.  I have plenty of vacation time, so I've still gotten paid.  It's been nice to have a little break from the grind each week.  We've already had more snow this week than we had all of last winter combined.  Not particularly happy about that, but so it goes.  

My plans for 2013 include losing weight, quitting smoking permanently (I've had way too many false starts), and finishing my book on political party history in the United States.  We'll see how I've done come next December.

Gratuitously irrelevant picture of Rush in the 1970's.


Scott said...

The post was already too long, so I am opting not to amend it, but I had to give a shout-out to the Jimmy Buffett concert I saw with my brother Russell and his wife Kelly in April, which was a great time, and the Rush show in Indianapolis (which I attended alone) in August. I wrote in detail about that Rush show, so no need to rehash it all here.

SonjaC said...

Quite a good sum up of the year, very well thought out as usual. You must take after your mother

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