year in review
December 30, 2016
Obligatory 2016 Listicle
Time to break down another year into an easily-digestable list of positive characteristics. Positive for me, anyway:
10. Got a new cat
We adopted a second cat last winter, this one orange, and even though he steals bread out of the toaster and bites the doorframes, he's a great little animal. There is much photography of him and the more annoying piebald one on my Twitter.
9. State-of-the-art phone
After ignoring peoples' conversations about data plans for almost a decade, I finally found myself in a situation where some knowledge on the subject would have been useful. Luckily, the kiosk reps were more than helpful, and after playing them off each other for my own amusement, I now have a sleek new phone that tells me more conveniently when the next bus isn't coming.
8. The Long Dark
GOD this game is good. Once past the learning curve, it's a perfect balance of chilled-out winter exploration and super-tense making-sure-there-aren't-wolves paranoia.
A sport I can do in all seasons, bouldering is as whole-body strenuous as it is fun. The community at the gym is friendly and helpful, and my unnaturally long arms and light frame allow me to succeed without necessarily being skilled!
6. Guest treatment at Hal-Con
Ah yes, this year the local sci-fi convention Hal-Con invited me as a Local Author Guest, as I am local and published a couple of books. I got car service, a PA, green room access, and all sorts of opportunities to meet actual celebrities.
It was an exhausting three days, but I sold a bunch of books, saw friends, and met new and old fans. And someone showed up with a cosplay of one of my characters!
Though I did have to admit to TV's Aaron Ashmore that I don't watch TV. That was kind of embarrassing.
5. Someone reviewed my shit
I was validated as an 'author' when one of my unsuspecting Hal-Con customers decided to review Snapback for local alt-weekly The Coast. Luckily he did not trash it. Might have had to shut down the company.
4. Two kitties sitting on me at once
The orange cat I mentioned earlier sometimes teams up with the piebald one to be ultra cute. Right now they're sitting on my lap, between me and the laptop, just licking each other all over the face. I'm pretty pleased about this, as I had specifically requested that I wanted this to happen on the adoption form.
3. Hella good Ruby on Rails jobs
My first programming job was good, compared to non-coding jobs, but it was, retrospectively, at a terrible company. After I left early this year, I got a much better job at a small crowdfunding agency, and when that contract ended, I had a few weeks to relax before starting at this new place. I'm using Ruby every day and the benefits are excellent.
2. That thing I can't tell you about
Look, I can't say a lot about this, but something good happened, and for one reason or another, it can't be printed here. I apologize for that -- this company prides itself on its transparency. But trust me: it was worthy of spot #2. Which places it right above...
1. This new milk frother
Working at the 'Bucks in high school got me the taste for lattes, and a stovetop espresso machine has been ever-present in my kitchen since. Frothed milk, however, has always been the challenge. Those Bodum hand-pump frothers never seemed to hold enough, and the wand-style spinny ones were terrible. Plus, microwaving the milk and skimming off the fat was always annoying, not to mention washing all the damn dishes.
As such, I've let my morning coffees get pretty sad over the last few years, often doing little more than adding a splash of cold milk to the espresso before I slam it back.
But my girlfriend noticed this severe life decifiency and got me an automatic frother appliance. I put milk in the jug, press a button, and it becomes frothed to my desired temperature. And the jug rinses out in seconds! My lattes are so good now, and it appears I can also make hot chocolates.
So, I'm sorry this ended up to be more of a "Best things I can remember from the last 3 days", but 2016 was long, and I didn't keep detailed notes. What, did you want an affiliate link for the milk frother? Fuck you.
February 12, 2016
Belated 2015 round-up
It may be 42 days into 2016, but I still haven't told you what my ten favourite things of 2015 were. Luckily you patiently waited.
10. eBook Distribution Platform
This should actually rank higher but I didn't want to bury the lead: I made a way for you to buy eBooks of Ghostcrime without making me walk to the post office! If you promise to check out the site, I promise to make the rest of these list items not directly self-promotional.
9. Rental cars
It's been a couple of years since I sold the ol' '96 Civic for parts, and I've been happier for it, but this summer I had reason to rent a vehicle for a week out of town. The Taurus was so new and technologically capable, I felt unworthy, but the driving was great. Though I was kind of concerned the rental agency would use the on-board computer to record my conversations and sell them in bulk to the highest bidder, so I tried not to sing along to the satellite radio too much.
8. Having a full-time coding job
Being self-employed was great and all, and the hours were fantastic. But there's nothing like the routine and paycheque of a proper job, especially one as fun as programming. Could have used a little more vacation, though -- I was itching to take a Taurus out again. I suspect they put a chemical into the air freshener to make you love the car.
7. Satellite radio
I alluded to this a few items up, but I guess everyone's known about this for years? It's pretty cool how it shows you what song is playing.
6. Gin Blossoms
I guess everyone already knew about them too but I was listening to some 90's Alternative mixes at work (to, uh, get in the 'zone') and they were pretty much the highlight. I was also introduced to Cake's early output this way. They don't get their own entry.
5. Bigger apartment
Being more employed helped finance a larger apartment. It's got tons of space for animals to run around, and there isn't an angry neighbour downstairs who slams his closet door whenever I drop a piece of fruit. I've been eating a lot more avocados as a result.
Creamy and neutral, these really bulked up my 2015 -- and my salads -- with delicious vegetable fat.
3. Small octopi
On the topic of food, I had a weird experience this year where I went to a decently upscale restaurant and ordered octopus. They were served whole, stood up on their curled legs like chess pieces, and as I ate them, I felt like an alien king. I'm not going to say the name of the restaurant. That's what Yelp is for.
I somehow convinced the talented and hilarious Bruce Delo to do the cover for Ghostcrime in the middle of his own manic rush to complete the weighty KOBRA STALLION, Vol.1: Reptile Justice in the Stars. It's the first (or second, depending on what you count) book in the series he's doing which is already epic enough to have its own wiki (though it doesn't actually have a wiki yet). It was pretty great to watch his creative process, tons of fun to bounce ideas around, and his daunting project gave me valuable perspective on my own. Also, we shared a table at Hal-Con, and that was a blast.
1. Pickled eggs
Sorry, Bruce -- pickled eggs edged you out this year. The tanginess of a pickle, with the nourishment of an egg? It can only be pickled eggs. I bought them whenever they were on sale. No way I'm paying $4.79 for six eggs and a jar of vinegar.
Well, there you go. I hope it was worth the wait. So are you going to check out my new site where you can buy DRM-free Ghostcrime eBooks? There's an easter egg where you can make it look like it's raining.
December 31, 2014
Year in review: 2014
It's that time of the year again -- I mark the extra minute of daylight at both ends of the day, if it isn't overcast, and have to think up another annual summary post. Like I have the energy. Let's get this over with.
10. Pickled beans
These just made the list today. Crunchier than pickled eggs, these over-sized beans are sure to chase away the winter blues.
I invested in some fuzzy blankets last winter and they're certainly up there with the best.
At some point this year, there was sunlight, I'm sure, for most of the day. It was really warm outside, and sunlight was the root cause. It makes the list.
7. Riven: The Sequel to Myst
Decided to go back to this miserable cluster of islands after 16 years. I'd forgotten how it's just one vague, sprawling puzzle, and I'd somehow romanticized the whole thing in my mind as a fun time. Which is why I also have to include...
6. Official Riven Strategy Guide
Kept this slim volume handy for over a decade just in case I ever had a Riven emergency. I know there are online walkthroughs, but what if there wasn't Internet, or power, and only half a battery charge left?
5. Java programming language
The clean, easy-going Ruby language made the list last year, but this must have angered Java, as it's back with a vengeance. So strict and unforgiving, under the guise of being helpful. UnsupportedOperationException? Thanks, you asshole, I kind of figured. If I give it a list spot, maybe it'll go away.
4. Giving up on what I'm doing to go to sleep
An excellent strategy. Year-end wrap-ups are supposed to be about media that was released that year, anyway, and I actively avoided most of that. Hope it was good? I might have to read some lists later.
December 31, 2013
2013 Year In Review
Everybody's making lists of things about the year so I thought I would do the same. Except I really didn't listen to any new albums this year and the only movie I saw in theatres was Elysium, which was visually striking but fairly shallow otherwise. So it's just going to be a list of stuff I liked this year. It follows:
10. Wireless headphones
Playing loud music or games during the night is a favourite pastime of mine, but in order to be respectful to neighbours, I have for years tethered myself to my desk with headphones. In March this changed when I procured a set of comfortable Sony headphones! Now I can walk about, sit in armchairs, wash dishes, cry in the bedroom, etc. without ever having to stop listening to....
9. Bee Gees Greatest Hits
Say what you will about the Gibb brothers but it won't take this gem off the list. It's great background music for any sort of task, menial or otherwise, and the stretch from Jive Talking to Islands In the Stream is basically perfect. Sometimes I feel bad for broadcasting this wirelessly so often, but if anyone else is picking up the signal on a baby monitor or something, they've definitely stopped using it by now.
8. AdBlock for Chrome
After YouTube cranked their ads early this year and continued to do so, their site elicited more and more profanity from me, especially when I'd set up a playlist of British comedy to listen to while away from the computer. But the AdBlock extension removes all of the pre-video ads and also cleans up Facebook a great deal! Thanks AdBlock. You really should be higher on the list. I didn't plan this very well.
7. Propellor Porter
A beer so dark, so smooth, so flavourful -- it can only be Propellor Porter. I wish I had some right now.
6. Wireless keyboard
For when I want to write but don't want to stare at a screen, I'll Bluetooth my Microsoft Wedge wireless keyboard to whatever device I have on me at the time, allowing me to write WHEREVER I WANT. The sensation of typing into nothingness is disorienting at first, and requires slightly more editing afterwards, but it's quite freeing. I can type on the bus, in dark rooms, in parks, etc. Which is definitely my thing.
More physically and mentally taxing than hiking, trail-running is my new favourite exercise. I am lucky I did not get seriously injured though because I was not ready for how intense it was.
4. Ruby programming language
Mm, almost no brackets to speak of, and unit testing is ridiculously easy. With its simple syntax and casually-typed variables, it feels like programming in crayon. One day someone will pay me to do it professionally but until then it's stodgy Java all the way.
3. Proper server administration with DigitalOcean
Before this year I'd never been with a web-hosting company that gave me root access to a server and let me install whatever I wanted. I didn't think any of them allowed that. But then during my Ruby exploration I started a server on DigitalOcean and lo, I had to install my own software stack! Exactly how I wanted! Most fun I've ever had, except for that time that I lived with a badger.
2. Standing desk
After a serendipitous discovery of some sturdy end-tables at a yard sale, I made a platform for my normal-sized desk and my life changed forever. Or at least my lower back did. Standing desk rules. But not as much as....
That's right, the dried cranberry snack topped the list this year. I used to buy them in bulk from the grocery store, but then I discovered, in the same store, the make-your-own-candy-trail-mix station had them for half the price. Life-altering.