Books I read 106 books in 2015, of which 41 were nonfiction and 65 fiction. Only 10 were rereads, since I have all the books from Mom’s house to deal with. The books I particularly disliked were May We Be Forgiven by A. M. Homes (stereotypes and unlikeable characters), Canned by Franklin Schneider (smug millennial mocking people who actually work for a living), and Shlepping the Exile by Michael Wex (gimmicky with Yiddish mixed in, but nothing really happening). Books I liked a lot were Educating Alice by Alice Steinbach, Scribbling the Cat by Alexandra Fuller, My Father’s House by Meyer Levin, Follow the Money by Steve Boggan, The Longest Winter: Scott’s Forgotten Heroes by Meredith Hooper, My Home is Far Away by Dawn Powell, and several thrillers by Laurence Sanders. My two favorite books of the year were The Brethren by Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong (about the Supreme Court) and The Long Gray Line by Rick Atkinson (about the West Point Class of 1966). Both of those were nonfiction works on subjects I wouldn’t have expected to find at all interesting, so it’s more impressive that I reacted so strongly to them. Good writing will do that.
I only got rid of 84 books, but I have another 79 ready to go out.
Volksmarch: Between weather and general malaise (and a touch of laziness), I only managed to do 7 events in 2015. I didn’t finish any of the special programs I had intended to, nor did I start any new ones. I do have plans to start some new ones this year. I did add one state capital (Santa Fe, NM). My status on the (now expired) special programs is 13/20 each for Bakeries, Murals, and Main Street, and 14/20 for Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I stayed at 37/50 for States and am now at 33/51 for Capitals.
Travel: I did surprisingly little travel in 2015. How little is that? I only ended up with about 36,000 Premier Qualifying Miles on United. My two big trips were to Norway (including the Hurtigruten cruise) in late March and to South America (Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, with a stop in Panama on the way) in November, so ended up visiting 5 new countries. (I had been to Argentina previously.) I didn’t do much frivolous domestic travel, though I did go on Flyertalk 3 with Captain Denny in January (a trip from JFK to LAX, including behind the scenes activities at LAX and visiting friends in Los Angeles), Boston for my 35th MIT reunion, Las Vegas for a mileage run, Vancouver for the NPL con, Kansas City for the National Storytelling Conference, Toledo for a Mud Hens game, Albuquerque for some volksmarch events (and to visit a friend), and another trip to L.A. to get together with people I worked with umpty ump years ago. I drove down to Norfolk to do some more volksmarching and go to a storytelling house concert. And I took several trips to New York, some to deal with stuff at Mom’s house and some for fun.
And, yes, I realize that normal people would not consider this a light travel year.
Culture: I went to plenty of storytelling events, including a few of my own performances (at Better Said Than Done and at Friendship Heights Village), as well as swaps and concerts by other storytellers.
I saw 22 movies, including one in a theatre and three at film festivals. Highlights were Deli Man, Still Alice, and Spotlight.
This was also a light theatre going year, due to being in mourning. I did permit myself to see new musicals, on the grounds that I was reviewing them and supporting their development, but that was still pretty limited. Until, of course, October, when the mourning period for my mother ended. Anyway, the theatre highlights of the year were Kid Victory and Cake Off at Signature Theatre, Beautiful at the Kennedy Center, and Rothschild & Sons at York Theatre in New York.
I only went to two music events all year. That assumes one counts Good For the Jews as music, instead of just comedy. (The other was the Holocaust Survivor Band, which I still need to write about.)
My overall cultural highlight of the year was Neil Gaiman’s reading and talk at DAR Constitution Hall.
Goals: Needless to say, I didn’t do well on last year’s goals. I did nothing at all on three of them (travelogues, digitizing records and tapes, and taking an on-line class). I did 7 Volksmarch events, so score 47% there. I read only a few more pages of the Bible, so score maybe 5% at best on that one. I knitted three and a half large afghan squares, each of which should count as 4 normal squares. So I will count that as 14 squares and give myself a 27%. I kept track of my spending most of the year, but fell apart in the last quarter, so will give myself an 80%. And I will give myself a 50% on organizing genealogical information, though part of the reason it is low is because I kept finding more documents and information.
Overall, that gives me a 26% on goals for the year. Oh, well, I can do better this year.
Which brings me to goals for 2016. My major focus is getting my life (both physical, e.g. my house, and electronic) in order. Also, reducing the level of ambition may be the secret to success!
- Write at least two travelogues. This is more realistic than catching up completely, so is less panic-inducing. I am thinking it may make sense to work backwards from more recent trips.
- Finish two afghans. I am doing the thermometer afghan (a row a day, with the color determined by the temperature), which is inherently finishable in a year. And I want to finish the one I’ve been working on sporadically throughout the past year. Admittedly, that will require knitting more frequently than I have been.
- Finish reading the Bible already. The only obstacle here is sheer laziness.
- Get my inbox in each email account under 1000. Yes, I know you folks who manage inbox=0 will be unimpressed. But it is lot better than where I am now.
- Digitize at least 3 tapes and 3 LPs.
- Do at least one volksmarch event a month.
- Reach million mile status on United. (That is a million butt in seat miles, which gives one permanent gold status. I am actually not far and this should be easily achievable, but it is worth stating.)
- Get rid of (discard or file appropriately) all the papers at home that are anywhere other than the top of my desk.