Friday, December 31, 2021

A Homer's Travels Look Back At 2021

2021 … From a burning dumpster fire to an epidemic of stupid.  I entered this year with some modicum of hope but it seemed the idiocy got in the way at every turn.  All I could do as the year progressed was shake my head in disbelief and turn off the news.


Let's look back at 2021, shall we:

  • January: The Blue Jays finally found my yard.  They made several appearances in my backyard this year, more than all our years in Omaha combined.  I started a journey of one thousand miles with good intentions.  Cookies welcomed the new administration.  A little hope in poetic form.
  • February: The joy of a frosty morning. I went a little bird nerdy at the beginning of the year as demonstrated by this picture of a Junco. Cold days visited us this month.  A visit to Mars.  A symbol of Q and things to come that finally came down six months later.
  • March: My first COVID-19 vaccination and the start of Spring.  We were so innocent then.  Who knew the vaccination would be so controversial?
  • April: On the second anniversary of starting my Appalachian Trail attempt I decided to go back and finish it.  With the second shot and a couple weeks the end of the tunnel was in view … briefly.
  • May: I was in a funk but travel plans were coming together.  I was two days late commemorating the tenth anniversary of my first Camino.  I had no good excuse for being late.  Another new bird visited our backyard.
  • June: We went on our roadtrip to the southeastern USA.  The first two weeks of the month we drove nearly four thousand miles.  The remainder of the month I documented our trip and we hosted the Wife's brother and niece as they volunteered at the Olympic swim trials.  It felt good to be out of the house even though where we went evoked many mixed feelings.
  • July: I finished documenting our southeast roadtripI aged another year.  The Wife and I watched more Olympic coverage than we usually do (which is a lot) and I suggested a change to how they run the games which I'm certain no one involved took note of.
  • August: I added the multitude of magnets collected during our southeast roadtrip.  We had a wasp visitor bearing gifts.  A storm came through and dumped a lot of water on downtown Omaha.  This storm had followed one that knocked out my Mom's power for nearly five days.  Following the storms and summerly hot and humid weather our air conditioner gave up the ghost and was replaced along with our similar aged furnace.  I admired some street art on a parking garage.
  • September: I finally caught up on on my backlog of podcasts (a result of the Appalachian Trail hike) and read my first book in nearly a year and a half.  I remembered the twentieth anniversary of 9-11 by looking at how I had remembered it the prior years and considering the mess we are in.  My hikes took me back into nature, the first since I left the Appalachian Trail, where I was saddened by what the passing of time had done to a once mighty tree.  I welcomed the cooler weather of the autumnal equinox even though summer hung on a little longer.
  • October: The Wife and a traveling nun had something in common.  My eighth Caminoversary was not forgotten this year.  A couple bird feeder bandits were caught red handed.  The month ended with a ghostly visitation.
  • November: We had our first snow flurries of this unusual winter.  The month went by in a blink so I summarized what I'd done.
  • December: I was surprised by the first bloom of my Christmas cactus.  We finally had our first significant snowfall even tho it didn't last long.  The month was unexpectedly warm until the last week of the month.  I didn't post about it but my Mom's husband passed away this month just short of his one hundredth birthday.  It was a sad note just before Christmas.
  • Walking: I started the one thousand mile challenge thinking it would be easy for me to accomplish.  I did not take into account the heat of summer or the disinterest of the fall that really slowed my progress.  I hike831.12 miles over 79 hikes.  It was the third highest annual mileage since I started keeping track in 2007.  I'm a little disappointed that I couldn't complete the challenge but I still managed to hike quite a few miles.
  • Biking: This year I didn't ride my bike at all.
  • Books: I spent most of the year catching up on podcasts that had accumulated after my Appalachian Trail attempt. Once I'd finally caught up to the present I started back into my reading though this wasn't until September.  I didn't set a goal like I'd done previous years since I wanted to ease back into reading without any pressure.  I did pretty good (for me) reading eight books.  Here are my Goodreads Stats for 2021.
  • Concerts, Shows & Music :  COVID-19 … need I say more...again?  No live shows at all this year.  I almost went to a free Elvis Costello concert but the heat and humidity … and frankly crowds kept me from doing it.  Like last year I did listen to a lot of music on Spotify.  Here is my Spotify 2021 Wrapped if you want to explore what the shuffle button did music-wise this year.
  • I posted 61 times this year.  Like last year I found it hard to get myself motivated to write. The summer roadtrip helped a bit.  I still didn't want to talk about the pandemic.  I still didn't want to post about politics.  There was too much of that out there and everything else was overwhelmed.  I didn't feel like adding to the amount of stupid that inundated us in 2021 so I didn't.
What will 2022 bring?  I have some health issues that will have to be straightened out.  I want to spend more time with Mom.  The Wife is retiring at the end of this school year.  Health permitting I will finish the Appalachian Trail.  We have a big adventure planned for the early fall.  In other words, there will be a lot of change coming this year.  With great change comes great adjustment.

Here's to a Happy, Prosperous, and Healthy New Year for all.  May all your dreams come true in 2022.
(That last line rhymes!)

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Book: John Green's "The Anthropocene Reviewed"

My last book of 2021 was John Green's "The Anthropocene Reviewed".  Author John Green, before writing his novels, reviewed books.  He was instructed not to include his personal feelings in his reviews.  This book is a departure from those instructions.

The book is a collection of topics ... music, art, feelings, place, events ... reviewed by Green intertwining personal events and beliefs with the topic reviewed.  The topics are eclectic and full of meaning.  The anecdotes are interesting and fun to read.

This book, as a whole, was a pleasure to read.  If you look at your own life and take stock of all the meaningful things that make you you, you would end up with a strange mix of topics just like this book.  Seeing someone else's list reminds you that we are all similar under the surface.

I gave this book four stars out of five on Goodreads.  Green is a good writer and his life, like many others, is delightfully ordinary.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Merry Christmas To All (Except COVID)

 Hope everyone was treated nicely by Santa Claus (and 
 COVID the Grinch). 

Our house decorated in red and green laser light.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

OK Winter Is Finally Here ...

... how about some snow and cold weather? We had a really cold day last Saturday but temperatures are back above average.

                                             

  Happy Winter Solstice Everyone !!!  

                                             

 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Book: Andy Weir's "Project Hail Mary"

This is the third book by the author of "The Martian", an excellent book that I gave five stars on Goodreads.  Andy Weir's second book "Artemis" did not live up to the first book.  I gave it four stars but looking back I probably should have given it three.  His third book, "Project Hail Mary" almost gets there.  Not as good as "The Martian" but definitely better then "Artemis".

In his latest book the author gets back to his science roots that showed in "The Martian".  Some of the math is overdone and inserted in odd places.  Sometimes I was tempted to skip over the math paragraphs. Fortunately the story of a global disaster, a  long shot attempt to save humanity, and first contact held my attention and I looked forward to crawling in bed to read every night.

I gave this book four of five on Goodreads because it did overcompensate on the math but, if I could, I would have give it four and a half stars.  After enjoying "The Martian" so much I am happy Weir is getting back on track and producing truly original and interesting science fiction.

Monday, December 13, 2021

Book: J.S. Dewes' "The Last Watch"

J.S. Dewes' "The Last Watch" is the first book of a two book series.  It is an odd book where the characters and the fictional history are very interesting but the major scientific premise of the book is just too out there to be believable.  This made it hard to suspend disbelief at times.

The book follows a military outpost on the frontier.  Hundreds of years have passed since a war was fought and won against a powerful enemy.  Where the story goes from there is off the rails.  And from there it gets worse.

Having said all this, I liked the characters enough that I was able to wrestle my disbelief  into submission enough that I could ignore it's whining.

Despite its scientific implausibility I gave the book four out of five stars on Goodreads.  The characters interested me enough that I will likely read the second book.  I just hope the scientific malarkey is reined in in the second book.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Finally … The First Snow

We finally got our first real snow overnight.  We got maybe one inch.  The driveway and sidewalks were mostly clear as most of the snow melted on contact leaving only the snow on the grass as evidence that it really happened.  The temperatures later today and tomorrow guarantee that it will be all gone by the end of the weekend.

The first snow of winter 2021.

This winter (I know … winter doesn't officially start until the 21st) has been odd.  We usually get our first significant snow in November.  We've even had a couple first snows in mid-October.  This year the temperatures have been warmer than normal and there've only been two or three really cold days so far.  The winter is feeling more like an extended fall.

To make it all worse, it is supposed to set a record by going above 70℉ (21℃) this Wednesday with record high temperatures on Tuesday as well.  Crazy.  Just crazy.

Saturday, December 04, 2021

Christmas Season Has Started!

I currently have four Christmas Cactuses.  Three of them are beginning to bloom.  The fourth is taking its time.  I missed the first bloom.  It was on a cactus I thought was not blooming but there turned out to be two blooms tucked away behind some branches.  I discovered the blooms yesterday.

The first bloom of the 2021 holiday season.

Christmas season has officially started!!!