My Recent Weeks in Books, TV and Movies 1/4/19

My time away over the holidays did not have much TV and movies, but I did manage to read three books. The hope is that my reading will continue at a nice pace and my screen time doesn’t increase too much. Here’s what I watched and read.

Movies – I have not watched a new movie in a while. I’m pretty sure the only two movies I’ve watched in the last month are Elf and Miracle on 34th Street. It’s possible I had another old movie on in the background while reading at my mother-in-law’s house, but if so, I couldn’t tell you what it was. I did enjoy my regular Christmas movies.

Television – While I was away, the only time I watched TV was to watch sports or for background noise while I was reading. I have watched two new shows since I’ve been back this week. My daughter found the show Derry Girls on Netflix and liked it so much she insisted we watch it with her. I was leery, but I ended up really liking it. It’s funny and with six 30 minute episodes, it’s easy to finish quickly. I would recommend it. We also watched The Masked Singer. It is a really weird show where famous people wear elaborate costumes to hide their identity, sing in front of judges and are unmasked when they are eliminated. It isn’t something I should like, but it is oddly compelling and I think I will keep watching. The “judges” are terrible but I like Nick Cannon as the host and I like the mystery aspect and guessing who is behind the mask.

Books – I read three books over the break. Iron Flower by Laurie Forrest is the sequel to The Black Witch. I loved The Black Witch. Iron Flower was OK but really felt like 500 pages of set up for a third book. I hate that. Elevation by Stephen King was a Christmas gift I knew nothing about it and was surprised when I saw how small it was. It is a weird little story of a man who is losing weight(but not mass) and his life in Castle Rock. I liked it even though it was not what I expected from King. I also got The Outsider by King for Christmas. It is the normal big, 500 page King book. There is a murder of a kid and a respected baseball coach is arrested. There is plenty of witness and DNA evidence that he did it, but also witnesses and evidence that prove he was in a different city when the murder occurred. Midway through the book, a character from the Mr. Mercedes series shows up and becomes part of the story. I really enjoyed this one.

On Deck – I’m reading Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly. I think Connelly is one of the best mystery authors around these days. I love his books. I got four movies all at once from the library: Mission Impossible: Fallout, Equalizer 2, Smallfoot, and The House With a Clock in the Wall. I think we will end up only watching the first two. I’m really happy about the return of Brooklyn 99 this week and will be trying the new comedy Fam as well. We will probably also watch America’s Got Talent: Champions. I like a lot of the acts who are returning and I think Terry Crews will be very good as the host.

 

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2019 Thoughts

I’m not going to make official resolutions. I’m not going to call these goals. I’m just going to post some thoughts about what I would like from 2019. Maybe they are goals.

  1. This one is an actual goal – My usual read 100 books goal. I’ve been able to get to 100 every year so far, but just barely. I would like to read more and look at my phone less this year and make the 100 with time to spare. I would also like to read more authors I’ve not read before and take the time to go back and read older books I missed when they were released.
  2. I would like to spend less time sitting at home on the couch and more time out of the house doing stuff. I don’t really care what I’m doing. It could be a movie. It could just be dinner out. It could be spending more time exploring DC and Baltimore. We’ve gotten in the bad habit of spending most of our non-work hours sitting at home in front of the TV. I like TV, but I need more.
  3. To go along with the above, I would like to spend more time outside. It rained a lot last year and because of that, I spent a lot of time inside. I need to take more walks, hike, sit on the deck and read when the weather is nice. Just be outside.
  4. Find some way to not dread leaving the house in the morning. I think some of the above sitting on the couch comes from the fact that I don’t have a day to day life that makes me happy to leave the house in the morning. My days can be mentally and emotionally draining and that leads to wanting to go home and hide from the world. Whatever it takes, I need to find something that makes me not dread going to work in the morning.
  5. I want to figure out if I should try to write something besides a blog post I can write in 15 minutes or less. Do I have what it takes to do more long-form writing? Do I want to do that? Do I want to write content that takes research and time? Do people want to read that here? Do I want to consider moving from a paid WordPress site to a self-hosted site? Will any of this really matter on a blog that is lucky to get 20 views a day?
  6. I would like to make the time to do a couple more short trips to Kentucky to see my family even if it means taking a long weekend and driving a lot in a few days to do so.
  7. Whenever my friends from high school plan the 50th birthday celebration for the class this year I want to do what it takes to get there even if that again means two days of driving for one day there.

In general, I want to spend less time sitting on my couch and more time doing fun stuff and find an everyday life that does not make me miserable enough to never want to leave the house. Easy, right?

Post-Christmas Blues

This was one of those good years where the calendar worked out where I took 4 days off and got 10. We left for Kentucky on December 22 and drove back on New Year’s Eve. I had one last day off yesterday and now this morning before I go to work from 1-9 tonight. Reentry to the real world is always hard. It seems harder this year. The post-Christmas blues are a real struggle right now for various reasons.

We’ve gone from spending 10 days with all four of us together to my son driving back to his house as soon as we were back on Monday. We’ve got a couple more weeks and then my daughter goes back to college. My wife is already at work and I will soon go back to the days of having a couple of hours alone every night. Assuming my leave request I put in last month is eventually approved, we will have one more week all together in Florida in a little over a week. It might be the last chance we have to travel together. I might have to consider resigning if told I can’t go. Anyway, I am trending toward more and more time alone. I always joke about becoming a hermit, but what I don’t really mean I want to be alone. I just want to limit the amount of time I deal with the general public. I would prefer more time with my family.

We’ve also gone from being with my siblings and their kids and my wife’s mom to being over 500 miles away from our extended family.  I’ve given up on ever moving back to Kentucky. We’re pretty much settled here and I will remain here or in the vicinity as long as my kids are here. I can’t do anything about living this far away from our family, but I look forward to the days when I have more freedom to travel to Kentucky more often to see family. I’m happier and less stressed when I’m there. Of course, I’m also on vacation when I’m there, but I’m sure family has something to do with it as well. I would love to be able to just hop in my car and head to Kentucky on a whim. Only 6 more years and I will be there.

Reentry is also harder this year because going back to work will be harder this year. I’ve reached a point where I need a change, but I’m not sure how to make that change. If I stay where I am, I’m pretty sure I will be exactly where I am 6 years down the road when I retire. It’s hard to leave for a variety of reasons. I would likely have to take a pay cut if I left, I would have to start over after 23.5 years with the same organization and some moves would mess up my retirement date. I don’t think there is anything that can happen to make my situation better. I’m kind of stuck and that is not a good way to start the new year. It makes the thought of going back tonight much harder.

I think the only way to make things better is to do more fun things when I’m not at work. Less sitting around alone feeling sorry for myself and more time outside taking a walk or doing anything besides sitting on my couch depression eating. I will have to work harder to fight the post-Christmas blues this year.

My Year in Reading 2018

Hello and Happy New Year! I’m back from Christmas hiatus and just watched my Kentucky Wildcats beat Penn State in the Citrus Bowl. I will celebrate by writing up my year in books. It was a struggle to get to my 100 books again, but I made it. I need to spend less time looking at my phone in 2019 and more time reading. On to the books! All of the stats are from Goodreads(as pictured below). My top books are the ones I gave five stars and then the four-star books I felt were the best of the rest. I will not include re-reads.

Top ten books read in no particular order

  • Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • For Every One by Jason Reynolds
  • There There by Tommy Orange
  • She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper
  • An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Jordan
  • One of Us by Craig DiLouie
  • Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory
  • The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
  • Lethal White by Robert Galbraith
  • Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah Dawson

Honorable Mention

  • Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
  • Noir by Christopher Moore
  • The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
  • Roughneck by Jeff Lemire
  • Rabbit & Robot by Andrew Smith

Book I would most recommend

There There by Tommy Orange, but listen to the audio. It has a great voice cast. She Rides Shotgun is a very close second, possibly a tie.

Worst Books I Finished

  • America 51: A Probe into the Realities That Are Hiding Inside the Greatest Country in the World by Corey Taylor – His rants are usually fun. These were not.

Book I Dustbunnied

Space Opera by Catherynne Valente. I know some people liked this one. I felt like she was trying to be Douglass Adams and failing spectacularly.

Number of books read: 101

Number of pages read according to Goodreads: 31860. I did the math and that averages to 87.2  pages a day. Once again, I think I can do better.

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A Look at Tater’s 2018

Looking back over my 2018 photos(the only way this old guy can remember a lot of the year) I was reminded that this was a year of big events and changes for the Tater family. This year they were all positive events. Let’s look back.

January/February – I never do much in the winter months. We come back from Kentucky and hope for snow days to relax. In January I chaperoned my daughter’s last youth group trip and possibly the last youth event I will ever chaperone. February I turned 49 and did my normal tour of free food I get from restaurants. Not much else happened that I can recall.

In March we finally got our snow. Unfortunately, it happened right when I was supposed to head to Philadelphia for the Public Library Association Conference. I was able to switch my train ticket to the night before I was supposed to leave and get my hotel for an extra night and I beat the storm there. We finally got our snow day while I was away at the conference. I got a good shot of the convention center in the snow.

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The spring had some big events. I presented at the Maryland Library Association Conference early in May. The rest of the month had two major events. My daughter’s senior prom and high school graduation and inching closer to an empty nest.

Her graduation gift was a trip to England and Paris. We went to London, Oxford, Bath, and Dover in England and then headed to Paris for a couple of days. It was the first trip in a while with all four of us. It was nice to be together as a family again. It was a good trip.

In July. my wife’s annual conference was in India and I once again tagged along. I’m glad I went and experienced India, but it was one of my least favorite trips for the conference. There was not much to do around the hotel, not much assistance from the hosts and India tried to kill me with a stomach issue and a tree attacking me and cutting my arm. I was really happy to get back to the US this time.

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August marked the beginning of our empty nest when our daughter moved into her dorm. After that big event, the rest of the fall was uneventful. I spent a lot of time at home alone and didn’t do anything exciting. The closest to exciting I got in the fall was volunteering where my son is an intern helping them get deer off the property. We didn’t travel for Thanksgiving. I went to some Ravens games. Nothing really to talk about at all.

This month we met the kids in DC to go to Zoo Lights and then go to dinner. It was nice to do something Christmasy where the kids could easily take Metro to meet us. We should do more DC stuff.

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This past week was another big milestone for the Tater family. My son graduated from college on Wednesday. That went by really fast.

My year was full of big events with some lulls in between, but it was a good year. 2019 should have fewer big events. I hope it is a good one.

My 2018 in Blogging(So Far)

I decided to go ahead and post a Year in Blogging review tonight, mainly because I have nothing else I want to write about at the moment. I’ve had a pretty good year for me. It wold probably not be that impressive for other bloggers. Here are the details.

I have 7621 views from 4116 visitors. This has resulted in 2280 likes and 798 comments.

Most of my views come from WordPress Reader and Facebook with Twitter and The Bloggess also each resulting in triple digit views.

5415 views are from the US, 656 from the UK., 418 from India and 367 from Canada. Those are the only ones with above triple digits. There are a lot of random countries represented. I’m sure all of them were disappointed when they got here.

The following search terms were recorded as bringing people here:

friends boring strangers

hangover movie memes
the tater family bad influence
alan meme
read before commenting
 and then “unknown search terms”
My top five posts were as follows:
My Philly Adventure with 134 views
Exploring Career Options with 109 views
A Short Rant with 92 views
So, that’s my boring look at the numbers behind my year in blogging. Almost 2000 more views than last year. Maybe next year I can get close to 10,000.