2018

  • Berlin summer was sunny and unseasonally hot. It was dry, which took off the edge when temperatures touched 40, but was not kind to forests. Brandenburg wasn’t nearly as bad as British Columbia, but there were a couple of forest fires, one of which we smelled in the middle of the night. Is that a campfire? No, it’s climate change. It was good ice cream weather, less good for nature.
  • We moved to Toronto in November. More on Toronto in a three-month post around February, but briefly: south; sun; cold; lake; asphalt; concrete; food.
  • In January we travelled to Vietnam and Hong Kong, which was nice and busy and warm. In June we stopped briefly in London on the way to travelling around Ireland, which was very scenic and green and warm. In July we went to Gdynia and then had a sightseeing trip back via Malbork, Toruń, and Bydgoszcz. In October we stopped over in the Azores on the way to Toronto, and that was also green and mountainous and warm and pleasant. We had a couple of day trips, to Buckow (Märkische Schweiz) and Brandenburg an der Havel in the summer, and to Kitchener for a fairly German Christmas market in December. Overall it felt like we travelled less than last year, and we were happy with the amount.
  • I continued my involvement with Electricity Map, and got increasingly into OpenStreetMap later in the year. It helps that there’s a lot of mapping to be done in Toronto.
  • I read 32 books (Goodreads). I’m particularly pleased with reading some books in German (admittedly mostly translated novels — it’s easier when there’s a plot to follow, doubly so if I’ve read the book in the past). I managed my third-highest-ever number of books (32) and pages (11612) read. Noteworthy series: Rivers of London, Chmielewska’s autobiography, and two-thirds of His Dark Materials in German.
  • Music: still not much live. Setlist.fm looks better because it includes a mini-festival and openers; the actual shows were The Rural Alberta Advantage in Kreuzberg in February; then the next was Dream Serenade in November (The RAA, Owen Pallett, iskwē among others); then Stars in December. With three shows, I equalled the low result of 2012, and it would have been lower if I didn’t move to Toronto in November. The two RAA shows were the fifth and sixth time seeing them in last 7 years, and the Stars show was my ninth Stars show in 10 years.
  • Recorded music: more now! (last.fm) Having decent speakers helped. Particularly enjoyed: FM Belfast’s Island Broadcast, finally giving Broken Social Scene’s Hug of Thunder something resembling its due, and continuing with You Say Party, Boards of Canada, Cocteau Twins, and Röyksopp. I made a conscious effort, enjoyed music, and scrobbled second-most tracks since 2012: 3758, average of about 10 a day. My next goal is 5000 tracks, which would be best since 2012; stretch goal is 7500 (20 per day, equalling my long-term average including university days). I didn’t really listen to much new stuff though, that would be nice to change.
  • I learned some German. I got to a decent intermediate level. Sometime around the middle of the year something unblocked and I started to get it and at times think in German. Credit where credit’s due: my employer paid for 1.5 hour weekly private lessons and that helped a lot. Of course I left Germany soon after. Next year I’ll be looking for ways to keep my skills somewhat alive — or at least get a certificate — but there are also so many other languages to learn.
  • Hardware: I continued using my Thinkpad X220 with broken internal screen plugged into an external screen, until the move to Toronto (without the external screen) brought the issue to a head and I moved the hard drive into a T420s borrowed from my partner. I still have rather too many computers in various states of dysfunction (the X220, a T60p, an X200, and at least one Socket AM2 tower at my parents’ house) and hope to fix that soon.
  • I bought a new phone (I wrote about my first impressions) and didn’t connect it to my Google accounts, which I feel slightly proud of. But I didn’t do anything new in terms of moving away from Google, and rather little in terms of cleaning up data online and offline.
  • Before the Vietnam trip I bought a used Canon S120, replacing the S100 lost in 2016. It has excellent ergonomics, a good lens and sensor that can do decent low-light pictures (I’m not afraid of 1/30 s exposures), but the 2013-era legacy-camera-company software is very visibly lacking compared to what Google can do on phone sensors for backlit subjects.
  • My Nikon D60 DSLR suffered a possibly fatal shutter misalignment during the Ireland trip. I wasn’t able to repair it when I tried in October. I’ll try again, but it might be time for a newer bigger camera.
  • I continued with my diary. My paper notebook isn’t seeing as much use. Still it’s nice.
  • I am making slow progress on digitizing, but progress nevertheless. Moving continents helped push the line on some old stuff, but not all. We had a nice moving-contents list which detailed much of what we owned. It was a lot.
  • The skyline waits for the world.