So here we are, December 31, 2014, the last day of the final year of my first half-century. How did it go?
I documented my life in 2014 publicly via 55 blog posts here and at Indie Moines — which I shut down in September, considering it to be a successfully-executed endeavor with nothing more to justify it as a standalone writing outlet for me. I quit Facebook in 2014, and became more active on Twitter. I celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary in 2014, reaching a milestone where the days I have spent with Marcia in my life are now more numerous than the days I spent without her. I achieved the aggressive budget that I set for my work place, adding revenue, shrinking expenses, and expanding programs, all at the same time. I traveled to Europe, Florida, San Diego, Las Vegas, New York, Massachusetts, Death Valley, Missouri, Minnesota, Chicago, and Wisconsin, among other places, both within and beyond Iowa’s borders. I spent more time with Katelin in 2014 than in any recent year, too, which was delightful.
Big picture-wise, then, it was a pretty good year on a personal front. Great Jorb There, Universe! Much appreciated! But, of course, if you’re a regular reader of my various websites, then odds are that you’re not here for such macro, big picture stuff, but rather for the micro, list-making, obsessive, nerdy, spread-sheet fueled piffle and tripe in which I specialize. So let’s hurry up and get on with discussing that kind of stuff, shall we? Yes! Huttah!
There’s already been a good amount of list-nerding and spreadsheet-geekery going on here throughout 2014, as follows:
- I named Stay Gold by First Aid Kit as my 2014 Album of the Year.
- I anointed “Midnight Sky” by Can as 2014’s Most Played Song in and around Chateau JES.
- I cited AC/DC’s Rock or Bust as the Best Album to Come Out Since My Best Albums List.
- I updated my 100+ Favorite Albums Ever list.
- I identified the one surprising thing for which Iowa is apparently famous among Google Searchers.
- I reviewed six of my all-time favorite novels in a “five questions answered in five sentences each” format; links to all six of them can be found at the most recent review of Günter Grass’ epic The Flounder.
- I identified and explained the ten key financial concepts that every nonprofit executive should (pretend to) know.
- I updated my Best Restaurants in Des Moines (For Everybody) analysis.
- I documented (again) my long, crazy affection for the Kansas City Royals back during Spring Training before all the bandwagon jumpers started rooting for them during their improbable post-season success, and also listed and explained all of my other favorite sports teams, just for the record.
- Me and two other nerds group-wrote a massive critical piece to identify the Greatest Live Album Ever.
- I used my huge movie database to again successfully predict the Academy Awards’ Best Picture Winner shortly after the nominations were released.
- I named my 20 All Time Favorite Animated Television Shows.
Goodness, that’s a lot of nerd stuff — and I didn’t even mention my large multi-attribute utility model designed to identify the best retirement city in America, or my two college basketball ranking models, or the analysis I used to win my second Fantasy Football title this year. Ahem.
Here, finally, are just a few more lists of the sorts of things I like to count, sort, and order as we prepare to greet 2015 on the morrow, hopefully without hangovers. Enjoy!
Favorite Books of 2014:
- Annihilation, Authority and Acceptance (The Southern Reach Trilogy) by Jeff VanderMeer
- The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert
- The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
- Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America by John Waters
- Desperate Passage: The Donner Party’s Perilous Journey West by Ethan Rarick
- The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12-Step Programs and the Rehab Industry by Lance Dodes
- Birdmen: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss, and the Battle to Control the Skies by Lawrence Goldstone
- The Big Midweek: Life Inside the Fall by Steve Hanley
- Future Days: Krautrock and the Building of Modern Germany by David Stubbs
- I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling With Villains (Real and Imagined) by Chuck Klosterman
Favorite Movies of 2014:
- The Grand Budapest Hotel
- The Imitation Game
- Under the Skin
- Jodorowsky’s Dune
- Only Lovers Left Alive
- Bad Words
- Fifty-Two Weeks of the Fall (I’m obsessive about Mark E. Smith and The Fall, I’m a big fan of pointlessly-masochistic writing projects, and I appreciate honest music criticism without commercial taint. This website delivered on all accounts from the first to the last day of 2014. Bravo!)
- Figuring. Shit. Out. (Amy Biancolli may well be one of the best writers I’ve ever read in any format: she’s funny, wise, prolific, thoughtful and candid about experiences that most of us cannot imagine, plus she has excellent taste in music and movies, and knows when to cuss and when not to. What’s not to love?)
- Reyna Eisenstark (The writer used to blog at a certain newspaper that I don’t mention by name anymore, but I liked her prose and content enough to hold my nose at her surroundings, and just focus on her words, while she was there. In 2014, thankfully, she finally moved to her own page. Hooray!)
- Cumbrian Sky (I first got hooked on Mars Stu when he began documenting Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity’s adventures on The Road to Endeavour in 2008. His writing style, sense of wonder, eclectic interests, and passion for astronomy — amateur and professional alike — are all brilliant and inspiring).
- XKCD (Again. Still. Of course. Duh. Randall Munroe’s live coverage of Philae’s landing on Comet Cherry-Gerry was a high-water mark in the ways that science and entertainment can collide online, and that was just one of dozens of sublime moments this year).