Tag Archives: Year In Review

2016 Year in Review

My experience of this year mostly lends itself to sorting into two, very different, categories: political, and other.

Except that politics isn’t really something separable from other areas of life, however much one may wish or believe that to be so.

Once again, I confront election results that are not only distasteful, but could very realistically make me a healthcare refugee in the foreseeable future. I’m self-employed, I have an expensive preexisting condition, I’m ineligible for Medicaid and a long way from Medicare (both of which will also come under fire anyway). If a Republican federal government junks the Affordable Care Act (and rules out substitutes which feature either redistribution or heavy-handed regulation, which are the only real ways to make private health insurers cover someone like me), I’ll have to look for other governments that might be more helpful. Which, right now, probably won’t include Ohio.

Meanwhile, even in my own life this year, “political” bled substantially into “other,” although this was admittedly voluntary to a great degree.

I really feel that, looking back, I actively “volunteered” for very few of the political activities in which I found myself immersed in 2016. But if I was recruited over and over, I rarely said “no,” and perhaps after a time that amounts to volunteering.

Oh, Lakewood politics, you’re crazy but maybe that makes us a match.

Read More →

2015 Year in Review

One year ago, I expected that “keep doing my thing and try to make ends meet” would predominate in 2015, and that forecast wasn’t wrong. In day-to-day existence, that definitely characterized most of this year. But there were exceptions, and in looking back on the whole year… those exceptions loom remarkably large.

Unlike 2014, it feels like the “events” of 2015 are such as to support a “top stories” list. Probably something like this:

Save Lakewood Hospital. After 36 years without any real involvement in local politics, anywhere I’ve lived, I dove straight into the deep end and have spent almost 12 months, now, involved in an impossible soap opera controversy that is still a long way from ending. For much of the year, a logo that I designed over a weekend was on signs on just about every street in Lakewood. Last month I got up and spoke to city council; strangers have stopped me in public to thank me and ask my opinion. Just about every day of “Christmas vacation” I replied to at least some correspondence about this campaign. Etc., etc., etc. The experience as a whole has been fascinating, energizing, demoralizing, rewarding, and maddening.

Japan! I spent a week in Tokyo. It was actually a bit like my experience with Save Lakewood Hospital—fascinating, energizing, demoralizing, rewarding, and maddening—but more compressed, more expensive, less worrying and way more fun. (Aside from flying across the Pacific. Blecch.)

Authorship continued, and actually turned a profit! In 2015, I attended another author fair, spoke at Lakewood Library, mostly finished my research on a third book and got an early draft nearly complete, and craziest of all I showed a modest profit for the year. I’m still a long way from an all-time profit, thanks to spending a bunch on publishing Brilliant Deduction, but if that’s viewed as a sunk cost I made a real profit for the first time, this year.

I went to Baltimore, for three hours. Related to the aforementioned research, I made a round-trip visit to Johns Hopkins University in right around 16.5 hours. (From Lakewood, Ohio.) This wasn’t actually… awesome, aside from verging on awesomely stupid, but 1) it makes for a story, 2) I did find material to justify the trip, thankfully, and 3) it’s nice to know that I can still pull off a stunt like that.

Politically, despair was mixed with multiple instances of hope, and even near euphoria. There was bad in 2015, oh my yes. From the dismal election outcome here in Lakewood all the way up to not-so-grand geopolitics. Yet… who can forget those incredible days in June, when the Supreme Court gave marriage equality the green light and basically pulled the plug on “undo Obamacare” hopes. Who can forget “PURE APPLESAUCE!,” ever? Then there have been the ongoing follies of the Republican party, from March’s fiasco in Indiana to what one pundit seriously predicted would be “the best field in a generation” of presidential candidates… bwa ha hah. Just weeks ago, even as Lakewood city council was disgracing itself, real leaders met in Paris to negotiate the future of the entire biosphere and actually didn’t produce a complete disgrace, for once.

Read More →

2014 Year in Review

I don’t really have a big Year in Review post in me this year. I don’t know how much that’s me slowing down, or the novelty wearing off; perhaps a little from column A and a little from column B.

For the most part, certainly in terms of the creative/work theme on which I have focused in previous years, the story of 2014 was publishing another book and otherwise just hanging on. I’m still proud of Cotton’s Library, and the fact that I was the first person in its four-century existence to write and publish a book-length history of this important collection. Still, I guess that having done this once before, something of the wow factor is missing this time. I’m not sure what it says that I can feel like researching, writing and publishing a book is just part of the old routine… but that’s kind of how it feels now.

Work in 2014 also had a “keep doing my thing and try to make ends meet” lack of magic. At the moment, most of my clients are with one firm, so a lot of the work is of a kind, in addition to being sharing-restricted anyway. They do throw challenges at me, but not too many are the type of challenge that is solved by exploring new frontiers in creative design. Lot of charts dense with numbers, lot of coordinate maps. More Microsoft PowerPoint…

Otherwise, I did a surprising amount of drawing, including this, this and a series including this. I began researching a third book. I also had some interesting minor adventures like visiting the Cartoon Library, revisiting archives from my college house-presidency for a current-resident archivist, and changing ISPs. That last one was really less an adventure than a fiasco, though, and on the whole…

Really, 2014 was kind of a downer year, to be honest. I feel a deeper pessimism about the society around me than, very possibly, ever. Contrarians can offer all the “the world is actually getting better!” items they want, and I’m aware that there is a lot of the world about which I have little more than a hypothetical awareness… but pretty much all the world with which I feel any practical affinity seems like it’s locked onto a negative trajectory for years to come. Basically, I see a world of which I just don’t want to be part, and no practical alternatives.

That just makes for a drag, every day, basically. Meanwhile my individual existence hasn’t been on any kind of offsetting highlight trip, as noted. “I feel confined, only free to expand myself within boundaries…”

And this just seems like that’s basically that for now. Tough crap, keep on slogging. I have some plans and ideas, inevitably; I maintain some expectation of wringing some juice from life in 2015 come what may.

But it does seem like “keep doing my thing and try to make ends meet” will predominate.