2013

The math says 43%. That was Michigan’s chance, down one, of converting a two-point conversion to beat Ohio Sate who spent this season and last being undefeated by some combination of clubbing baby seal universities, being ineligible for post-season play because Tressel is a mentor and a saint but rules are hard and the truth is slippery, and raw talent. Kicking the field goal sends the game to overtime which in theory should give you a 50% chance of winning. The numbers lacked context though. Anyone watching knew the way the game was trending. Carlos Hyde couldn’t be stopped. Not by the girl he assaulted in the off-season, not by the Columbus Police Department, and certainly not by Michigan’s defense. Numbers are slippery too, and when you put them in context the result was the entire state of Michigan screaming at their TVs to roll the dice.

Honestly at this point, most Michigan fans were salivating at the thought of a 43% chance of being happy. Ever since the start of the second half of the NCAA championship basketball game, Michigan fandom consisted of new and more creative gut punches with increasing intensity. Lots of teams have down years, but Michigan managed it in a way that coupled disappointment with small indicators that things would get better. Hope. The hope is the worst part.

They gambled and they lost, and I was grumpy and everything was meaningless. Sports are dumb, except for when they are awesome, and your quality of life is certainly better if you don’t care about them at all, unless you do care about them while they are in the state of being awesome. My sister and brother-in-law came over for dinner after the game, but I was still a bit checked out. The told us that they were adopting from Ethiopia, and potentially domestically too. They are open to sibling groups, up to four years old. Perspective is useful.

Lots of things happened in 2013 and you can read on if you’d like, but here is the summary: I started more things than I finished. I learned things, but not to my satisfaction. There were plenty of disappointments and things that I wish were different or that I were better at. Those things don’t matter so much though. The biggest changes that occurred in 2013 have stacked the odds in my favor. The kid(s) that my sister and brother-in-law will adopt will bring far more than a 43% shot of happiness. I became married, which is also far in excess of 43%. My family is growing. I’m liking my odds for 2014.

In the grand tradition of being a month behind, it is time to review my life in 2013.


Personal

I got married, on purpose. At this point I could probably just drop the mic and be done with this post. There will only ever be a few more events to take place in my life with similar permanence and impact. Still, the transition from bachelorhood to married life has been mostly uneventful due to the caution and patience we had leading up to it. This was by design. The biggest difference is living with another person, and I’m realizing how some of the things that seem reasonable to me in my mind are odd and anti-social once I say them out loud. Like when my wife came home and found five pounds of pork belly hanging in her closet to dry. I was making pancetta by the way, and it was delicious. It is a good thing she is patient, but I am learning to be more thoughtful anyway. Marriage is a good thing.

I did a bit of traveling, but not a ton. First to the Mayan Riviera for the honeymoon, and later a long weekend in Portland. I meant to do a more thorough write-up about the honeymoon but never got around to it. The gist though is that it was excessive in nearly every way. We stayed at Secrets Maroma Beach, which is generally regarded as one of the best resorts in the entire Riviera. Rooms were full of dark hardwood and polished marble, with private furnished balconies. The resort itself was sprawling, and carved right out of the jungle. The food and service were impeccable and abundant. I’ve been to a number of all-inclusive resorts, but this was the first where they were taking some culinary risks. Lots of reductions and foams, which were sometimes hit and miss, but on the whole it was a phenomenal experience.

We did 8 dives on the honeymoon. With the exception of the Cenotes dive, we probably wouldn’t do another dive trip here. The reef formations and wildlife just across the way in Cozumel made for better diving. Our Cenotes dives, however, were probably the most surreal dives we have done. This was our first cavern dive and was an entirely different experience than reef diving.

I spent part of the year prototyping an Android/iOS turn-by turn racing game with space physics. I went out to Portland to collaborate on it with a friend, but his mobile development company got bought the week before I was scheduled to go out there, so I took a more casual trip out there instead to hang out, explore the city, and do some hiking. Portland is a great city and I can see the appeal of the Pacific Northwest.

Hobbies

I started smoking this year. Meat, that is. I have an electric setup that I am pretty happy with. This led to a much larger charcuterie project that I have barely scratched the surface on. I’ve made quite a bit so far though, including bacon, pancetta, and duck prosciutto among others. I’m enjoying it but the hardest part is writing about it after I make something which has been my intention with this project. Some of these things are just really hard to write about in a way that doesn’t bore myself and my readers. I do kind of regret not creating a separate website for this project, because it’s cannibalizing this space at the moment. I will probably have to decide soon if I want to keep being exhaustive, or if I will skip ahead a bit to get to some of the more interesting and complicated parts. The chapter on sausage will be a bear to get through, and how can I claim to have lived if I’ve never fermented meat at home?

I started drinking coffee this year, and it is funny it has taken me nearly 30 years to do so. I’ve known for years that I would probably get into coffee at some point, but I’ve always wanted to wait until I have the time to pursue it properly. I still haven’t had time to understand it with the rigor I hoped, but I did buy nearly every brewing method possible to try, along with a precision water heater, and a burr grinder. Most days I am defaulting to full immersion brewing with the AeroPress, which has all the advantages the french press except for that you can use a finer grind for a shorter brew time and less bitter extraction, with none of the sediment of the french press. I’m still exploring, but I find myself being drawn towards Kenyan varietals. I’ve decided that for now I’m not going to buy a roaster but I’m not sure if this is a sustainable position for me to hold. I’ve started doing some research into espresso machines though, so that will probably happen at some point. Espresso is a whole other beast though.

I hope this doesn’t come off as image crafting, but when something grabs my attention it is hard for me not to explore it as thoroughly as possible. Shannon calls this a “zest for life”, but she’s maybe just being polite. This was the year that crypto-currencies went mainstream, starting with Bitcoin, and it has really captivated my attention to the extent that there was a two-week period where I was reading about it and learning how it worked for nearly four hours a day. Not for political nor economic reasons like some of the crypto freaks out there, and I don’t have really strong opinions about the longevity of these currencies (also for political and economic reasons). But a truly decentralized deflationary currency with a public ledger and the ability to move money around the world with negligible fees is a fantastic thought experiment. Most of the programming I have done in my career so far has been single-threaded client/server stuff, so it has really stretched me as I’ve been learning and understanding the Bitcoin protocol. I have some ideas in this space that I will hopefully have some time to explore this year.

Technology

This is more for my record keeping, so you can skip this section. I don’t expect it will be interesting to many people. I ditched my HTC Evo 4G LTE in favor of a Nexus 5. Previously, your only hope of having an Android experience that wasn’t broken was to install Cyanogenmod, or buy from the Nexus line which the carriers and OEMs haven’t had a chance to ruin. Cyanogenmod incorporated, their release times fell in line with those of the carriers, and they started letting older devices wither unsupported, which was the case of my barely 1-year-old Evo 4G LTE. Android is great if you are actually running it and not some mangled approximation. At this point my best bet of achieving that is sticking to Nexus devices.

I upgraded my 2008 Macbook to a 15′ Retina Macbook Pro, 2.7 GHz i7, 16GB DDR3, 750GB SSD. You basically have to max these things out because it’s all system on a chip these days which doesn’t lend itself well to changing your mind later on down the road. OSX is fine. Windows is fine. OS wars are useless. I’m spending more time on linux these days, and graciously less on VMS. I’ve gotten rid of all spinning disks in my household with the exception of my ZFS box. I’m using gitlab.com for source control for my personal projects. I’ve grown tired of hosting and adminning my own servers, so I’ve slowly been offloading that work to other services. Gosh, now I’m even boring myself.

2014

My focus for 2012 was to focus on fewer things so as not to become a jack of all trades, proficient at none. I mostly failed in this regard, but I think I’ll try to continue along this vein. Still, there are many things I would like to do and few that I probably will. I’d like to play more piano, keep exploring charcuterie, write here more often, write more software in the mobile space, take more photographs, volunteer more, etc, etc, etc. Time is a limited resource, and I feel so many things pulling at it wanting a piece. I’m getting better at managing it, but it’s an art not a science.

I don’t think I will get too specific here that way when I post back next year I won’t be able to read this and be like oops I got an F. Really, it doesn’t matter though. I could fail everything I try this year. Michigan football could find new ways to torture the souls of ordinarily reasonable people. But I’m going to be an uncle. I’m married and happy about it. 2014 will be great, with beyond 43% certainty.

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