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Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 in Review (Personal)

Once again, I set a few targets for 2014 in the broad categories of Reading, Writing, Running, and Cooking. If one measures one's life in new recipes cooked, books read, and miles run, then I really had a banner year in 2014... So here I'll use my blog to pat myself on the back.

Two years ago my wife and I resolved to read more... Not that we weren't already doing a fine job relative to many other new parents who abandon the practice entirely (or those folks who never read in the first place), but we wanted to affirm a dedication to something we both love. This year I set a target of 10 work-related books and 25 regular books. If there is one misstep, it's that I only read two work-related books -- both were outstanding: The Lean Start-Up and Don't Make Me Think. But I absolutely killed it on the pleasure-reading front, reading a total of 74 novels or non-IT non-fiction works. The number staggers me... Granted, there are a lot of quick hits in the roster -- breezy books such as the outstanding Lew Archer series of mysteries by Ross MacDonald, dark thrillers by Jim Thompson, and a handful of Georges Simenon stories. But I also tackled Hilary Mantel (the remarkable Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies) and Henry James (The Ambassadors). Without a doubt, this was my most prolific year as a reader -- even now I sit surrounded by novels that I've started and hope to finish in the first month of the year -- a Jim Butcher Dresden Files novel, Tolstoy's War and Peace, and an 1800's gallows confessional for my next graduate literature class! (As if I weren't busy enough already, I pursued a graduate-level literature class this fall and will take another one in the spring semester at Harvard Extension.) My renewed goal for 2015 is to read 40 -- that literature class alone dictates seven -- and at least three having something to do with IT...

From a running standpoint, I had an official goal to run 350 miles -- that seemed like a reasonable target, more than I've ever managed in a year before, nearly seven miles per week... Well, that goal fell in May, as I took a more serious approach to the treadmill ahead of my 15-year college reunion. Ended the year having run 812 miles, on my feet 111+ hours. That translates into an insane (to me) 15 miles per week on average, the pathetic 3-mile weeks this autumn buoyed up by a few 30-mile breakthroughs last spring. Hoping for a more consistent 2015 and setting a time goal for the year (motivated by sub-par 5K in mid-December) to best 24 minutes for 5K in an actual road race!

As for cooking, I followed my 42 new recipes in 2013 with an unreal 81 in 2014. Sure, I gave myself credit for some rather simple dishes as I experimented with grilling and new vegetables, but I'm excited to have expanded my repertoire a bit beyond shake n' bake. As with last year, here are the best three new things I made last year:
1. Bucatini with Tomato, Guanciale, and Chile
2. Crispy Salt and Vinegar Potatoes
3. Scarpetta's Tomato-Basil Spaghetti
But really, the best tasting thing I cooked this year were garlic scapes, a vegetable I had never heard of but found at several farm stands in Maine back in July... So damn good.

And finally, we turn to writing. I wrote practically nothing again this year. 17 sad blogs, a handful of tweets, and two rather good papers for my literature class in the fall... Not a single sentence that I might seek to publish. Thinking long and hard about whether to set a goal for myself in 2015. At the minimum, I'll reaffirm a commitment (likely again to be broken) to blog more often!


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