A notch above a monkey

2018 review

I just reread my last year review and could copy first two paragraphs with few changes. I am still fine, loved ones less so and there were new horrific organisational experiences to replace old ones.

Without wish or intent to go into much detail, this was a year in which our home had to be listed as a no-go location in a restraining order and I observed Slovenian police and justice system dealing with credible threats to life and continue failing miserably to this day. Not all failures come down to sex, but being a woman certainly seems to make things worse for you.

Still, I ended last year in a much better mood than I started or was for much of the year. No doubt visiting Madagascar and Réunion, while physically taxing, helped a lot. As did summer visit from friends, hiking more than ever, building Legos and working on a new project.

Recently a British minister was ridiculed for playing with Lego sets, but I can only recommend it, especially to those under stress. Calming effect of putting bricks together and satisfaction of building something is truly relaxing. I don’t know what I might do this year, but last year I build Taj Mahal:

Taj Mahal

This year I would also like to build something more useful and less tactile. I made prototypes to test the idea of an email Instapaper at the end of last year and hope to get it running some time this year, if I can resolve problems around financially tolerable and reliable email delivery. It might even lead to some fresh content on this website if I write up an idea or two after I test it with this service.

Last year I did not read much, but we hiked often which really paid off in Réunion where a bout of dengue led me to carrying heavier than expected backpack for days at end. Possibly was the fittest I’ve ever been and if I could get into the same shape this year while improving my diet and losing some weight, then that would be great.

My main goal last year was to take care of loved ones. I cannot remember why I felt it necessary to state this as it is, will be and should be most important thing I do every year.

I do not want to give myself a pass again for not doing much else. I felt getting stupider this year, which was a wholly unenjoyable experience. 2019 is the year of my new, less flattering demographic age bracket, but I will not be remotely old enough that dulling of intellect would be expected or acceptable. I suspect this “development” had a lot do with what and how much I read last year and I will focus my efforts there to expand my general knowledge.

Speaking of learning, I did not make much progress with Spanish last year and won’t first few months of this year either. At some point (spring?) I’ll have to if I don’t want to forget what I already learned.

My plans for 2019 are unintentionally vague so there is a good chance that I could in some sense fulfil more than usual including another long trip abroad. There is one thing I want to change from 2018 and that is just being more intentional in whatever I will do. Nothing seems to make time feel wasted so reliably than spending it without a forethought.

Books I read in 2018

…were too few. Even worse than 2016 from which I lifted this post’s beginning. At least none of them were duds. All of them are worth reading, but I reserved bold for those that are not too niche.

Links lead to Smile Amazon. I still get nothing from referrals, but at least some charity might get few cents instead of also nothing. Brodeck Report is lacking a link because graphic novel has not been translated to English yet. Book titles are in the languages in which I read them.

The list:

  • The Magic of Watches by Louis Nardin. A very fine introduction to the world of (wrist)watches and one of the best designed books I own. A very good introduction for already interested that is at its weakest when it is trying to sell you this hobby, but more than makes up for it elsewhere.
  • Platero y Yo by Juan Ramon Jiménez. Bittersweet stories about author's friendship with a donkey. Above my Spanish level and will have to read it again some day. Lovely prose where my understanding was not too foggy.
  • Brodeckovo poročilo (Brodeck Report) by Manu Larcenet. A fantastic graphic novel based on a novel by Philippe Claudel about difference and intolerance in a village near French-German border soon after WW2. Wonderfully drawn and impactful, it would be difficult to imagine it is not doing justice to original material which I have not read yet.
  • Architecting Angular Applications with Redux, RxJS, and NgRx by Christoffer Noring. I have mixed feelings about this book. It is a good introduction to the topic, but I am still not persuaded about the approach. I have some qualms about organisation of the content as the book seems to be confused about who its audience is and certainly about many technical mistakes in code samples, but I would still recommend it as the best introduction to those who need to get acquainted with its topic.
  • The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories by P.D. James. Judging by this book P.D. James deserved her high reputation. Crime stories best read around Christmas, all of them superbly conceived and written. Highly recommended.

My plan for this year is simply to get into a habit of reading books again with a healthy mixture of fiction and non-fiction. No particular number in mind, but single digit would be disappointing as it would mean I again wasted too much stuff on mostly short fluff found on the net.

It would be great, if I managed to rise to last year’s challenge of reading a book in each to me familiar language, but probably won’t.

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