(Yes, that's my very first Christmas tree and all 4 of my ornaments)
Once again it's time for me to put up some pictures and talk about the year that was 2012. I was surprised to find out that this is the 7th such blog post I've made. Seems like a lot for some reason. Has it really been that long since I lived at Turnberry? But I'm sure it's at least as much fun for me as it is for anyone else to look back on the year that was and take inventory of my life. Always, as I look back each year and remember what all I did, I'm surprised at how many things I did manage to fit into a year, and more importantly of how blessed I am to have good friends and a loving family. More than any specific thing that I've done, what I enjoy most is spending time with good company.
I was not as good at blogging this year as I have been in some years past, in part because things have been busier at work (I guess that's good, right?) -- still with Intermountain Healthcare -- and also because, at least in the 2nd half of the year, things have been busier outside of work as well, for reasons I'll get to momentarily (Spoiler Alert!: It's not because I'm getting married). I also thought I'd sprinkle in some personal favorite "Bests of 2012" along the way.
Best Book of 2012 (Non-fiction): "What the Dog Saw", a collection of essays by Malcolm Gladwell. Runner-up: Popular Crime by Bill James.
What the Dog Saw was a really interesting collection of shorter takes from Gladwell, and Popular Crime was a book covering the history of popular crimes in American history and attempting to build some theories and methods for categorizing and evaluating them. But my favorite parts were when the author would go over the known evidence and try to opine on whodunit.
One of the highlights of the early part of the year was a quick weekend trip I took down to Arizona to visit my friend Julie in Phoenix. And let me tell you, Phoenix is a fantastic place to fly in February. Or visit. But if you say "fly" you get an extra 'f'. :) Nice and warm. We had a great time exploring abandoned baseball stadiums, the Phoenix Zoo, and a Mexican restaurant called On the Border. (Have you ever heard of all-you-can-eat enchiladas?)
Best Movie of 2012 (Action): The Avengers
Runner-up: The Hobbit
Best Movie of 2012 (Comedy): Pitch Perfect
To be honest, I don't really remember seeing anything this year that I was blown away by, but the Avengers put on quite a show and was pretty entertaining along the way. The Hobbit was long, but I enjoyed all the time given to a book that I've read numerous times. Pitch Perfect had good music and made me laugh, and Anna Kendrick wasn't too hard on the eyes either.
Also in April, as a family, we had the pleasure of a visit from George's family, all the way from Hawaii, and my parents found a great place to rent up on Traverse Mountain for a couple days. It was lots of fun to have them here and to just do some stuff together for a few days. They won't be in Hawaii too much longer, and despite losing a free place to stay there, I'm much more excited about the prospect of having them much closer.
Best TV Show of 2012 (Comedy): Parks & Recreation
Best TV Show of 2012 (Drama): Breaking Bad
Runner-up (Drama): Sherlock
Parks & Rec just hits the sweet spot in terms of making me laugh but also making me care about its characters. The end of Season 4 of Breaking Bad (which probably aired on TV last year, but I saw it this year) had not one, but two jaw-dropping, me-staring-at-the-TV moments. Not a show for the faint of heart (it gets a little rough at times), but if that doesn't bug you, its worth checking out. And BBC's Sherlock has been fun to watch, and even more so now that Watson is The Hobbit and Sherlock is...the bad guy in the next Star Trek movie.
In Jeopardy! winner/author Ken Jennings came to do a book reading/signing here in Salt Lake, and my friend Kathryn was kind enough to humor me and come along to see what he had to say. He started his reading with a brief trivia quiz and it was cool to meet him and ask a Jeopardy!-related question that came up at work one day. ("Do you have to use question words to phrase your answer in the form of a question, or can you just use voice inflection?")
Best Album of 2012: Camp [Edited] by Childish Gambino
Runner-up: Underwater Sunshine by Counting Crows
I don't listen to many complete albums these days and this rap record by Community's Donald Glover was probably the only one that I listened to all of. Counting Crow's album of covers was also pretty good.
This summer was quite a bit different from those I've had in recent years in that I don't think I left town at all until the end of August. No road trips. No camping trips (minus a fathers & sons campout that my ward did). No St. George, no Lava Hot Springs. The main reason for this was that at the end of June I decided I was ready to buy a home. So I called my friend Caleb who happens to be a realtor and we got to work visiting pretty much every home that was for sale in the greater Salt Lake area. Ok, maybe not ALL of them, but it felt that way sometimes. One Saturday we looked at 20 houses (or maybe it was 21, I forget). In any case, doing that nearly every Saturday, and often a day or two during the week as well, kept me in town and kept me busy for all of July and most of August and even a little of September. I made offers on a couple places along the way that didn't work out for one reason or another, but finally near the end of September I found a place I liked that I was able to get for a price I thought was reasonable.
It's a 3 bedroom-2 bathroom townhouse in Millcreek, with a family room in the basement. I closed at the end of October and moved in the first week of November, and I feel like I've barely had a day to relax since. :) I've got a medium-length list of things to work on on it, and I suspect that as a home owner that list never really goes away. In any case, its been nice to finally buy my own place, and I've been working on getting it furnished/decorated, though so far the only new things that have actually arrived are a washer & dryer, and a dining table. I've got a couple couches coming at the end of the month, and have started thinking about what I might like to put on the walls, but there's not much up so far.
Best Video Game of 2012 (Xbox): Batman Arkham City
Best Video Game of 2012 (Free Online): Kingdom Rush
To be honest, I didn't love Arkham City the way I loved Arkham Asylum, but it was still pretty fun to play through. The only other game I really played extensively this year was Halo: Reach, and I like that one, but that one was more of a time killer than being really engaging. As for Kingdom Rush, I may have started playing it last year. I don't recall. But either way it's fantastic and its free and you'll probably like it a lot. :)
Backtracking a bit, as I mentioned, I DID leave town at the end of August, going to Hawaii for a week with a few friends. We had a great time and played pretty hard the whole week. Always fun to be there, and especially so because it means spending time with George and Kimi and the kids, though we spent less time doing family stuff than in on other trips since I was there with friends. I did manage to blog about that trip, and if you look down further on the blog, you can read all about it.
Best Song of 2012: "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen
Runner-Up: "Good Feeling" by Flo Rida
Runner-Runner-Up: "Little Talks" by Of Monsters and Men
Also Really Liked: "What's My Noise" by The Hood Internet
Choosing a best song of 2012 was maybe one of the hardest categories to decide. There were quite a few songs I really enjoyed this year across many genres. I haven't put together my Best of 2012 playlist yet, but I suspect it'll be pretty long. Since I had to choose one song to be the very best, I went with "Call Me Maybe". It was really catchy when I first heard it and then when I hadn't heard it for a while, I'd hear it again somewhere and just really enjoy it. Also it is one of the best songs for just throwing it into casual conversation. :) Flo Rida has been putting out a lot of fun upbeat songs and chances are you've heard "Good Feeling" and "What's My Noise" was a fantastic dub-step style remix of Snoop Dogg's classic "What's My Name?" that I just really enjoy. "Little Talks" should win an award for being the song that sounds most like it was recorded by Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros but actually wasn't. :)
Another highlight of August was getting to see Counting Crows in concert for the first time in several years. They've skipped Utah on their most recent tours, but they were finally back in town. I went early enough to see all of the opening bands and get a pretty good spot in the first few rows, and eventually my friend Emily showed up to keep me company. My good spot led to some great photos, which were definitely a highlight of the year for me.
In September, I got to go see The Head and the Heart again, and I really do love their music. Last time was a little more intimate, in the garage that is Kilby Court, but this time they were at The Depot, and had a little more room to rock out. I also enjoyed Blitzen Trapper who opened for them.
Best Book of 2012 (Fiction): 11/22/63 by Stephen King
Runner-up: The Wind Through the Keyhole, also by Stephen King
These two were both by the same author, but totally different in subject matter. The first was a story of a man who travels back in time to stop the Kennedy assassination, and the other was a story shoehorned into the midst of the Dark Tower series, and it was fun to have some old friends back.
My last trip of the year came in November, just a few days after I had moved into my new place. My good friend Jon is wrapping up his PhD in Chemistry at the University of Washington, and will be leaving Seattle shortly, so I thought it would be good to get up there one last time to see him and Seattle, and when his brother bought some tickets to the Utah-Washington football game, he suggested that would be a good time for me to come. And it was. :) Utah didn't end up winning the game, but it was a great weekend nonetheless. Highlights included dinner at Red Mill, seeing the Kurt Cobain bench (Why?!!!), and taking the ferry across to Bainbridge.
Speaking of Utah football, we (my mom and dad and I and whoever I could convince to come with me) did have tickets again this year. Not Utah's best year of late, but we DID beat BYU (3 times!) and had some other fun late seasons wins over Cal and Washington State. And I've been a Utah fan long enough to know that some years it just doesn't go as well as others.
And for those who care to know (including and possibly limited to my parents), I am still out there in the exciting world of being single and dating. As best as I can tell, I went on 47 dates this past year. If I can get in one more before the year ends that would be 4 a month. Bro. Poll would be so proud. :) 24 of those were first dates, and 7 of those were blind dates. And yes, I'm still currently available. Ladies. ;)
It seems like I should write something here in closing to sum up my year. Obviously the biggest change of the year came toward the end, with buying my own place and moving out of Brandon's place after 3.5 fun years. I didn't travel as much as I sometimes have in the past (Can you believe I only went to Hawaii once this year?!). But on the whole things don't seem to have changed too much. And to be honest, that's kind of the way I like it. :) Thanks to everyone who shared this year with me. I hope this Christmas season finds you all in good spirits. Remember that it's a lot easier to find happiness by wanting what you have than by having what you want.
Happy Christmas to All and to All a Good Night!