Posts Tagged ‘years’

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.

2017

  • I lived in Berlin and mostly worked.
  • Summer weather wasn’t as great as last year, but it was nice enough. Sitting in the park with a beer got admittedly a little less novel, but sitting by the riverside with a book did not.
  • We travelled around Europe what felt like a lot: went to Vienna in January, Mallorca in May, Gdynia in June, Copenhagen in July, Hamburg in August, Lisbon in September/October, Dresden in early December to see the market, and Warszawa over Christmas. In March we went on a beach holiday in Maldives. We got a little travelled out.
  • I felt guilty for flying quite a lot. By Atmosfair’s estimate, just the flights put me more than twice over the yearly climate budget. This wasn’t helped by planning a trip to Vietnam and Hong Kong next January — also a lot of flying — late in the year.
  • My main software project, electric2go, fizzled out almost completely after March. In a fitting end, public APIs are slowly being turned off — DriveNow in April, car2go announced for early 2018 — and I increasingly lose interest as privately-run public transportation gets more private.
  • But luckily, I found Electricity Map, which rekindled my interest in energy, and I was able to contribute a little bit.
  • I read a satisfying amount of books, and set a new record for amount of pages read (15059, by Goodreads’ count). Half of the books I read were nonfiction. I didn’t get into a major series this year; I read four books each from Joanna Chmielewska (well, re-read) and Brandon Sanderson (including the newly-released Oathbringer), and late in the year started and almost finished the Remembrance of Earth’s Past series.
  • Music: not much live (setlist.fm). We saw the Rural Alberta Advantage in January and then next show was Svavar Knútur in September. We saw Sigur Rós at Tempodrom in October, and later on, FM Belfast and Sólstafir with Árstíðir in December. With five shows, this beat 2016’s four, but I’m still old.
  • Only a concerted effort of actually listening to music saved me from lows of 2016, and overall I scrobbled 2338 listens on last.fm, though this is still the second lowest since I started scrobbling. Early in the year I discovered You Say Party’s 2016 self-titled album and really liked it. I liked FM Belfast’s new album Island Broadcast, and listened to it a fair bit after seeing them live. I had a few listens to Stars’ new album There Is No Love In Fluorescent Light as well, and otherwise listened mostly to Röyksopp (Melody A.M. in particular) and Of Monsters and Men (My Head Is an Animal). Two of my favourite bands — Broken Social Scene and The Rural Alberta Advantage — came out with new albums but I haven’t listened to them yet. Oops.
  • My German improved a bit, but I would still hesitate to call myself fluent. Maybe one day.
  • I used a paper notebook, and wrote a diary for the whole year. I liked it. I started a paper to-do list in November and while not a magic bullet, it helped a bit.
  • I did not succeed in cleaning out. I’m still too attached to too much paper, much of it stuff I feel I shouldn’t feel attached to. I also wanted to clean out more older possessions. I didn’t do much in terms of separating myself from Google. Last but not least, I wanted to write more for my blog. But I feel alright about it all. It’s alright.
  • Underside.

… a young man who is always sensible is to be suspected and is of little worth—that’s my opinion!
— Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

2016

  • I moved to Berlin in April and spent the year eating ice cream and not doing much else.
  • There was a river and canals and parks. I missed the mountains and the sea though.
  • I didn’t work, and that got boring after a while, and I didn’t end up doing all that much programming either.
  • I got to a very weak conversational level in German. I became keenly aware of privileges of knowing English – I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to move to e.g. Canada while knowing as much English as I know German. It’s definitely reinforced how difficult immigrating, integrating, and learning a language is.
  • I travelled the Trójmiasto—Warszawa—Kraków north-south line in January, and visited Gdynia again in June to see family. I visited Ontario, including the biennial visit to Kitchener-Waterloo in September. On the return flight stopover I took a two-week trip around Iceland, including four days of Westfjords and seals and many geothermal hot pools and it was great seeing the glaciers again. I also went to Nürnberg (for the the Christmas market) and Hamburg (for CCC) for a few days in early and late December respectively. I felt like I should have travelled more around the region.
  • I failed many of the goals I had set out in 2015, including financial, but I can’t bring myself to be really bothered. It’s OK.
  • I read a lot of books, including in particular fiction by Brandon Sanderson and Charles Stross, a series of short simple books for German learners by André Klein, and, earlier in the year, non-fiction about industrial revolution (I have a 4500-word draft sitting since April waiting to be finished up). Many of the books were fairly short, but I still read more pages than last year overall.
  • I didn’t listen to much music at all, both recorded (last.fm) and live (setlist.fm). I went to fewest concerts since 2012, again meeting the trend of even-numbered years being slower. I scrobbled less than ever since signing up in 2006, though what I did scrobble was slightly more varied than in 2015 – the result of a few “shuffle all” days. There were a number of reasons – storing music on an external hard drive mostly not plugged in, doing a different kind of work not as suited to background music, lack of good loudspeakers — but I will be trying to change that trend and get back to some of the music I’ve enjoyed in the past.
  • I started keeping a journal, on paper, and late in the year started writing with a fountain pen. How very hipster.
  • Hardware changes: I bought a new lens for my DSLR — a 35 mm f/1.8 — ahead of the Iceland trip as the kit lens was showing its 8 years of being bumped. Unfortunately it was a year of losing things, as I left behind a USB charger in Waterloo (I felt a bit sad, I’ve had it for five years and it worked well) and I lost or was helped to lose the Canon S100 on the last day of the Nürnberg trip (breaking a good trend of 8 years without a camera loss). I then broke the Nexus 5 touchscreen four days later. The screen on my X220 is becoming increasingly wonky and I might need to do something about it next year.
  • The planned data organization and clean-up went meh. I digitized a bit, but there’s still a lot to do. I started using a password manager with stronger passwords, deleted some online accounts and started a Google cleanout – yay to that.
  • I felt not as interested in photography. I still took pictures but I didn’t really care about processing or sharing them. Changing hobbies is a weird feeling.
  • I feel kind of bad about this, but the year wasn’t bad for me. It was quite good.
  • Treasure hiding.

2015

  • London taught me that there is such a thing as too big a city for me, and how nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded is a thing. Air quality and cost of everything but especially housing are my two major complaints. I will be moving next year and the real test will be if I miss London once I am away.
  • I was mostly happy with my life in London, though. I have a job that lets me learn and pays enough to save money. My commute is a 20-25 minute leisurely cycle away from lorry corridors. My grocery store is 5 minutes’ walk from my house. The weather is mild. I have some plants on my balcony. The quiet life is alright.
  • I went to Iceland to see the solar eclipse in March. Chances of clear skies in Iceland in March weren’t great, but I did see the eclipse and two nights of auroras as a bonus. I bought a lottery ticket next. In August I travelled around the Scottish Highlands, visited Dunnet Head and climbed up to the Old Man of Storr and it was lovely. I also travelled to Toronto and Montréal briefly in April, and to Trójmiasto in May. In September I visited Berlin for three days.
  • I went to Pycon in Montréal in April. I went to Pycon UK in Coventry in September. I did a lightning talk at Pycon UK and it seems to have gone alright.
  • I got a newer laptop — an X220 with an IPS screen — and an external 21″ IPS screen. Otherwise it was a quiet year, although my Nexus 5 continued its disintegration and my SLR camera lens seems to have gone wonky.
  • I failed my goals for launching programming projects and writing blog posts, although I’m pleased with electric2go code starting to look almost like decent Python.
  • I saw a good amount of live music (setlist.fm, last.fm), again continuing the trend of odd-numbered years being more music heavy. I saw Stars for the eighth time. I saw a Icelandic musicians in contrasting settings: Rökkurró and Árstíðir in tiny indie basements off Hackney Road and in Dalston respectively, Ólafur Arnalds at the Barbican, and Of Monsters and Men at Brixton Academy. I also saw Death from Above 1979 at Brixton Academy but it wasn’t 2004 anymore. I saw Hot Chip, Mogwai, and The Twilight Sad again, the reformed Failure, Mew, Metric (for the first time, oddly enough), Destroyer, an awesome The Ocean/Sólstafir/Mono show, 65daysofstatic a day before they were due to play Bataclan on 14 November, then closed out the year with BRAIDS and Of Monsters and Men shows.
  • I listened to a bit more recorded music, but still well off the highs of 2007-2009 or even 2010-2011. I listened to a lot of Röyksopp, particularly Melody A.M. and finally giving The Inevitable End its due, and Of Monsters and Men, My Head Is an Animal. I also gave Kveikur something approaching its due and to an extent re-started listening to older Sigur Rós albums. New discoveries were pretty much limited to Árstíðir. Broken Social Scene’s self-titled was my most-listened-to album, mostly on the strength of the first half of the year. I also listened to a fair amount of Boards of Canada, FM Belfast, múm, The RAA, and Cocteau Twins. Maybe I’m getting too old to listen to new music?
  • I read a fair amount of books, more pages though not quite as many books as last year, and just missed my yearly goal. I blame some very long books. I started off the year by continuing my read through Douglas Coupland’s bibliography, then tried Neal Stephenson but got completely tired out by The Baroque Cycle, so switched over to William Gibson. I then tried my hand at Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, but only managed the first 1000-odd-page volume — I might continue next year. Towards the end of the year I started reading non-fiction about the history of the industrial revolution, a period which initially came to interest me as a driver of urbanization and environmental impact. More on this later.
  • I started removing and organizing data more — among others, started cleaning my webhost for the first time since 2006 — but there’s still a long way to go. 15 years of computing is starting to add up. I have too many hard drives and too many paths on them like /Archives off STUFF drive/F drive lol/temp/. I would like to organize more data than I create next year.
  • I didn’t catch up on Flickr/photo sharing nearly as much as I’d have wanted, though I did manage to beat 2014’s grand total of seven uploaded photos.
  • This will be my monument. This will be a beacon.

2014

  • I left the mountains. I’m still not sure how I feel about that.
  • I lived in Montréal for two winter months. It wasn’t quite enough to get a sense for the city, but I know it a bit better now. I got around with English, particularly around McGill, but it’s not the ideal way to do things.
  • Participated in my first professional conference, PyCon 2014! It was fun and I will be back in April 2015. Palais des congrès de Montréal is a fantastic space and one of my more aesthetically-pleasing moments of the year came when I found a side aisle with an oasis of quiet and sun and electricity and World Sick on headphones and it reminded me how much I enjoy looking out on cold sunny days.
  • I went to Cuba and it looked like communism in the sun, complete with concrete bus shelters and road overpasses to nowhere. I also briefly visited Kitchener-Waterloo and spent a weekend in Quebec City in early April (it was still snowy and wintery).
  • I had a week-long layover in Iceland at the beginning of May and tried to make the most of it going around the island and into the Westfjords; a bit too compressed but still amazing.
  • I moved to London! I walked around London and didn’t get hit by a cab; I biked around London and didn’t get hit by a bus. See my post after three months and it’s been getting better since.
  • Out of London, I did the tourist thing and visited Stonehenge; went up to Edinburgh for a weekend of the Fringe Fest; and travelled from Prague via Munich through Switzerland.
  • I visited Poland at the end of the year, my first time in the country in 13 years. I was a little apprehensive — as a grown-up I’d been a Polish person, but I was always a Polish person abroad. Now I was briefly a Polish person in Poland. And I was alright at it. I could do it! I could be a Polish person. I didn’t fully fit in, but in the normal ways I don’t fit in in Canada: social awkwardness, etc.
  • I got a Nexus 5 and I broke the screen within half a year. My thoughts are mixed, a mini-review is forthcoming.
  • I had earphones and listened to a decent amount of music. Foremost were FM Belfast’s new album, Broken Social Scene, Crystal Castles, and The Rural Alberta Advantage including their new album. A new Stars album came out but I didn’t listen to it that much.
  • On a more mainstream note, Lorde’s Pure Heroine turned out to be a perfect city-by-dark album in November and December, Underworld’s Barking a close second.
  • I saw a satisfying amount of live music, not quite as much as in 2013 but no 2012-level drought either (last.fm, setlist.fm). I saw Broken Bells in Montréal, Owen Pallett twice, Mogwai, The Twilight Sad twice, Ólafur Arnalds, The Notwist, The RAA, and reunion shows from The Jesus and Mary Chain and Slowdive.
  • Musical moments:
  • January 25, 9 a.m., Vancouver late winter sunrise, driving a white Modo minivan over the Fraser Bridge southbound, Lorde — Royals
  • April 14, Montréal afternoon, first blast of summer, Young Galaxy — New Summer
  • late fall, London early-dark afternoon, Lorde — Team
  • We are faster than you and you know that we are strong.