Books: I read a mere 34 books this year, though that included a fair number of long books and does not count travel guides. Favorites included Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, Silent Honor by Danielle Steele, A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline, The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris, and Sweet and Low by Rich Cohen. Books I disliked included Leave It to the Toff by John Creasey and A Marriage Made in Woodstock by Cathie Pelletier.
I never managed a used bookstore run this year, so I have a lot of books to get rid of. Probably on the order of 150 books ready to go, once I get my act together.
I should also list two other things in this category – a talk by Alexander McCall Smith and volunteering at the National Book Festival.
Volksmarch: Absolutely nothing, though I did manage to buy new walking shoes.
Travel: I had three international trips over the year – El Salvador in February, French Polynesia (Bora Bora and Tahiti, plus an eclipse cruise which called in Moorea but otherwise was all at sea) in June/July and my December trip to the United Arab Emirates (specifically Dubai) and Oman.
I had business trips to Colorado Springs, Los Angeles (a couple of times), and the Bay Area (a couple of times). As for personal travel, I made the annual pilgrimage to Stamford, Connecticut for the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament and went to Boulder, Colorado for the NPL Convention and to the Bay Area (specifically, Fremont) for the National Storytelling Conference). I went to New York 3 times and to Philadelphia for a genealogy society excursion and to El Paso for a minor league baseball game.
I also went to a few Travelers’ Century Club luncheons. And several embassy events. Then there were the travel shows in both D.C. and New York.
Puzzles: I continued to be middle of the pack. I was particularly disappointed in my performance at Lollapuzzoola (43.4 percentile) because of a fiasco in Puzzle 4 costing me a lot. On the plus side, I solved cleanly at the Indie 500 and finished in the 57th percentile there. I finished in the 70th percentile at the ACPT, though I had a dumb error on Puzzle 6, costing me a clean solve.
As for RockOn (the NPL con), I had a lot of fun. The people who did the walk-around puzzle I brought seemed to enjoy it. My particular highlights were: 1) getting a puzzle that had to do with an obscure place I’ve been to and 2) getting to know some people better who I hadn’t really interacted with much before.
Ghoul Pool: I did quite well this year, finishing 4th place (out of 21) with 206 points. More significantly, 11 of my initial 20 picks died. Those were Kathleen Blanco, Leah Bracknell, Tim Conway, Herman Wouk, Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, Johnny Clegg, Ken Nordine, Jerry Herman, Russell Baker, Robert Mugabe, and John Paul Stevens. Reloads who I scored on were Ivan Milat, Holly Clegg, Michael Sleggs, and Denise Nickerson. I should be able to reveal my picks for 2020 some time next week.
Genealogy: The biggest thing is that I got to meet a couple of cousins in person, including one on my Bruskin line. I have not, however, had nearly as much time as I’d like to for research.
Baseball: The El Paso Chihuahuas game I went to in April was the only game I actually made it to in person this year. But the Washington Nationals won the World Series and that makes up for a lot of schedule conflicts keeping me from ballparks.
Culture: If I counted correctly, I saw 7 plays, 17 musicals, 1 ballet, and 1 opera. Favorites included Assassins at Signature Theatre, Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish in New York, Falsettos at the Kennedy Center, Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity at Signature Theatre, Hands on a Hardbody at Keegan Theatre, and Come From Away in New York. I also enjoyed two staged readings at the National Academy of Sciences (Ada and the Engine and Defying Gravity). By the way, I counted those among the plays. I also went to a Cirque du Soleil show, 2 concerts, and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.
I went to One Day University 3 times, one of which included a short film festival. I saw 12 movies, of which my favorites included RBG, Free Solo, and Green Book.
As for storytelling, I went to only a few story swaps, but I performed in 5 Better Said Than Done shows and 3 other shows. And I went to several performances by other people.
Goals:I had 9 goals for 2019. I’ll give myself a 30% on finishing shredding and filing household paperwork. But 0% on organizing genealogy files, organizing yarn, and organizing photos. I get 68% on my reading goal, 10% on my workout goal, 40% on bringing lunch to work, and 80% on eating fruit daily. It looks like I only managed to enter the Style Invitational twice, so I get 50% on that goal. Summing that all up, I’ll give myself a 30% on the year. It could be worse.
As for 2020 goals, I am largely focused on getting ready for retirement. (I am planning on October 1st.) So here are a few thoughts, in somewhat random order:
- Update my household technology (personal cell phone, television, etc.)
- Develop a budget for living within my retirement income
- Enroll in Smithsonian Certificate Program in Art History
- Finish organizing (shredding or filing, as appropriate) household paperwork
- Get at least 200 books out of my condo
- Learn at least 6 folk tales
- Enter the Style Invitational at least 4 times
- Read at least 52 books
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