December 16, 2013

2013 in Review

Linda and I spent more time on the road in 2013 than we have in a long time. In March we headed to Pittsburgh to help Linda's mom celebrate her 85th birthday. We already made a presentation album and thought that was kind of a tired idea, so we had a good time combing through all the old photos we could find and building a blog. Photos weren't in the front of our minds when we want back to Pittsburgh and to Cleveland too near the end of the year, but I did make to take a snap of the headlines after the Browns beat the Ravens. We had lunch one day at a grilled cheese restaurant, and that made me curious enough to get excited when I heard that GCDC will be trying the same thing in Washington soon.

Bill and Christy managed to synchronize their visit to Washington with the shutdown, so we stayed away from the usual tourist spots and visited Winchester and Congessional Cemetery, where Matthew Brady, John Philip Sousa, and J. Edgar Hoover rest, instead. (When I moved here, I thought that Congressional Cemetery was the home of the famous monument Henry Adams built for his wife. I finally learned that Rock Creek Cemetery was the place to visit, but it took me until this year to figure out that Rock Creek Cemetery is nowhere near Rock Creek.) Maybe this year I'll make it to St Mary's churchyard to pay my respects to Scott Fitzgerald. I can't believe I've lived here so long without doing that.

In October we also made a short trip to Richmond with Linda's cousin. Visits to the state capitol, another of Jefferson's designs, the Museum of the Confederacy, and Hollywood Cemetery fascinated us. It's really something to stand in a building where so many people from our history have stood and where so much of our history was made and to visit the cemetery where two of our presidents, Jefferson Davis, and Civil War figures like Matthew Maury (I didn't know who he was either, but a little while after we got home he showed up in a Science Friday broadcast) and George Pickett lie. (Ever the English major, I couldn't help noticing the monument to Ellen Glasgow right next to J.E.B. Stuart. I wonder who I didn't see.) At the Museum of the Confederacy we were lucky enough to tour a collections storage room behind the scenes and to find out who John Marr, for whom a local street is named, was. And the last thing we did in Richmond was have a memorable meal at Comfort. When we ate at a sister restaurant, Pasture, last year, I tried to persuade the chef to open a place in Springfield. They're that good.

I spent some time tracking trips other people take, too. Right now, Ben Saunders and Tarka L’Herpiniere are about halfway through their attempt to recreate but complete Captain Scott's trip to the South Pole. They were about 200 miles from the pole this morning; then there's only 900 miles back to the start in subzero temperatures. Even though it's just the two of them, their sleds, and their skis, it's an entirely different expedition from the one 100 years ago—Ben and Tarka have computers, satellite trackers, and movies and they send a blog post back every day and even answer questions from fans.

Paul Salopek is also on the trail. His Eden Walk is planned to take seven years, and his proposed route retraces the steps of early men from East Africa to the tip of South America. He's harder to keep track of even though his trip has attracted a lot of media attention and was featured in the Decenber National Geographic. Good thing he's travelling with Twitter.

We're both thankful for a year of good health. Rehab has gone well for Mike, and he can even claim some modest progress—he's lost track of the number of custom splints he progressed through this year with an eye to straightening his wrist, and he'll probably get yet another one before the week is over. This will be a manufactured product from Lantz Medical that's designed to work on both his wrist and his elbow. It's not pretty to look at, but the protocol for wearing it does not call for long periods of use. My adventures stay closer to home.

Got it!

We were impressed in 2013 by recitals from Inon Barnatan, Shai Wosner, Jeremy Denk, and Marc-Andre Hamelin (He sure has aged since the first time we saw him, but he still plays like a wizard) and by the HD broadcasts by the Met. The Eugene Onegin they did pretty much blew me away, and I was really taken by The Nose. I treated myself to reading Mimi Sheraton's search for the perfect bialy, a quest I'd like to recreate but I guess a trip to Poland is nowhere in my immediate future, devoured The Passion Conversation, and lingered over Middlemarch. I'll move on to The Glass Bead Game next and see what captures my imagination after that—I'd really like to take on some memoirs and essays, Anais Nin, Joan Didion, Susan Sontag, and Joseph Brodsky, and I wouldn't mind reading more travel essays from Pico Iyer.

The digital lanscape around here widened with a new iPad, a new Android phone for Linda, and a couple of Kindles. I'm sitting here listening to my music stream drop out every once in a while and I think it's time to update the home network next year. I've hung a couple of WeMo switches on it (I love them), but what I really want to add is some wifi-controlled light bulbs. I like the looks of Hue, but not the price, and I'm excited to take a look at the TCP bulbs that Home Depot is supposed to sell. Those are both nice-to-do, but what I have to do is unmuddy my digital footprint. Things started getting complicated when Twitter bought Posterous. I moved to Tumblr for a while, had fun there, but ultimately didn't like it. I latched on to Posthaven and am pretty happy with it. Meanwhile, the Ghost platform started up on Kickstarter. Working here is amazing, but it's a little rougher than Posthaven, even, because it's newer. I've been enjoying going through old posts to set this up, and it looks like I'll keep Posthaven as a site for quick comments about stuff I think is interesting or funny (there's lots of stuff there about health care, technology, drones, handwriting, and unplugging) and Ghost for more reflective stuff, especially about my stroke experence. That's a lot to untangle.