2010: Year in Review

31 December 2010 · 3 comments

Back in the olden days, when Folded Space was new, I used to post annual reviews. Okay, maybe I only did this twice three times: in 2002, 2003, and 2006. But I always liked the idea, and I always meant to continue it. So, after a seven-year hiatus, I’m going to do another year in review.

This past year was one of the best in my life. It didn’t start out that way, though. On 01 January 2010, I was fat, tired, and unhappy. Let’s look at what changed me into a happier and healthier man.

Your Money: The Missing ManualThis was a great year on a professional level. At my personal-finance blog, I completed the shift from being the single author to instead being head editor with a staff of writers. This is very important. I was headed for burn-out at Get Rich Slowly, and if I hadn’t found some sort of solution, the blog would have fizzled. I still write several times a week, but now I have other people sharing the burden. (I happen to think this makes the blog more interesting, too.)

Meanwhile, I published my first book: Your Money: The Missing Manual. Your Money: The Missing Manual. This isn’t the “J.D. book” I’d hoped to produce, but in a way that’s fine. I got a chance to learn how the publishing process works, so that when I do write the J.D. book, I’ll do a better job. Besides, I’m proud of Your Money; I think it distills a ton of information into a minimum of space.

Finally, at the end of the year, I picked up a monthly feature in Entrepreneur magazine. I’ll be writing the “Your Money” column starting with the January 2011 issue (which is out now). I look forward to seeing where this takes me.

All the same, I have no professional goals for 2011. I’m ready for a year without ambition!

A year ago, I dubbed 2010 my personal Year of Fitness. Though I was slow to start, I followed through with this promise. Once my book was finished, fitness became my top priority, and has remained that way for nine months.

Because I’m J.D., I’ve tracked copious amounts of fitness data over the past year. Yesterday, I spent some time compiling all of this info into monthly and quarterly summaries. Here’s the quarterly table:

J.D.'s fitness stats for 2010

A few explanations may help interpret this. Most of the numbers are quarterly averages. The chest, waist, and hip measurements are end-of-quarter numbers. (And I’ve been measuring my hips wrong. Now that I know how to measure them, I can say that my current hip measurement is 37 inches, not 36 inches. I’ll change methodology for 2011.)

I have a fancy scale that sends an electrical impulse through my body to make estimates regarding fat and muscle composition. That’s where those numbers come from. VF and Age are also from the scale. VF is “visceral fat”, a numeric representation (with no unit of measure) of how much fat I have between organs. Age is my “body age”, an estimate of how old my body is (kind of like in Wii Fit). “Rest” tells how many calories my scale thinks I burn for basal metabolism.

My Body Bug also measures some interesting data. The burn column represents the number of calories it believes I’ve burned during a day. Sleep is how many hours it thinks I slept. MA and VA measure my daily minutes of moderate activity (walking) and vigorous activity (running), respectively.

Of course, fitness isn’t just about the numbers. Sure, I’ve lost weight, but more than that, I’m faster, stronger, and healthier than I’ve ever been. It’s awesome. I hope to continue this trend into 2011.

But plenty of people (including Kris) are tired of me talking about fitness. So, let’s move on to another area of my life…

Kris and I were bitten by the travel bug during our 2007 trip to England, Ireland, and New York. We’ve been meaning to do more of it, but it wasn’t until this year that we were actually able to follow through.

As soon as I turned in the final manuscript for Your Money: The Missing Manual, we flew to the jungles of Central America, where we spent a week in Belize.

Cave tubing in Belize

In April, I spent a long weekend with Chris Guillebeau. I got a lightning tour of Chicago, then spent 48 hours riding across the U.S. by train.

Geeks on a train

Mac joined me in May to journey north to Alaska, where we spent ten days plying the Inside Passage with my neighbor, John. We caught fish and shrimp, stole crabs, soaked in a hot spring, and had close encounters with whales. Nature is amazing.

Boating in Hobart Bay and Tracy Arm

In July, I spent a weekend outside of Denver, Colorado, where I was the keynote speaker for a small blogging conference. I didn’t get to see enough of the surrounding area, but that’s okay: I had a great time meeting the other bloggers.

J.D. speaking at the Savvy Blogging Summit
Photo by Debba of Girlfriendology.

Our big trip came at the end of the year. Kris and I flew to Europe for nearly four weeks of touring France and Italy. That was too long. We had a great time — and I look forward to seeing more of Italy in the future — but it was certainly good to get home.

Lunch in Paris

On top of all this, I enjoyed several weekend vacations, including the annual trip to Sunriver, the annual hiking trip to Opal Creek, and the first annual book group weekend at the Sylvia Beach Hotel. Based on my rough calculations, I spent 56 nights away from home this year. I wonder if I can get a discount on the mortgage…

Note: With so much time spent away from home, it’s no wonder that Kris and I have become obsessed with travel gear. We’ve learned that traveling light is the only way to go. We’re constantly searching for smaller luggage and lighter clothes. We both now use just one carry on, and that’s smaller than the size limit. (We each have a small personal bag, too.) And I’m seriously debating whether to take just one pair of pants and one button-down shirt for our three weeks in Africa. I can’t see any reason to take more…

What does 2011 hold for us? Soon we’ll leave for safari in southern Africa. In July, we’ll spend a week in Alberta, Canada. And later in the year, I may or may not fly to Abyssinia (again with Chris Guillebeau), or there’s a chance I’ll hike England from coast to coast. We’ll see. (Looking even longer term, Kris and I want to visit Patagonia before long, and I hope to take another trip to Europe with my cousin Nick.)

In past years, I haven’t just rounded up my activities. I’ve also charted various stats and trends in my life. Here are a few for which I could find lots of past data.

Weight on December 31st
173 (2010), 213 (2009), 199 (2008), 195 (2006), 199 (2003), 198 (2002), 198 (2001)
I covered this in detail above, so I won’t dwell on it. It’s interesting to note that my weight last year would have been about 193 if I hadn’t gained 20 pounds while writing the book. Let’s see if I can remain disciplined and not allow myself to balloon back to the mid-190s in the future…

Books read
~25 (2010), ~40 (2006), 43 (2003), 56 (2002)
Ah, but this is a sad category. Consider that I read 90 books from mid-September 1997 to mid-September 1998. But that was back before I lived my life on a computer. Still, I think can do better than just 25 books in a year. I’m not foolish enough to aim to read 100 books in a year like Trent (who I think doesn’t realize how much time that’ll take), but I could certainly try to read one book per week. Maybe this should be a resolution?

Favorite Books
2010: Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson, Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry, and Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
2003: Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust, H.M.S. Surprise by Patrick O’Brian, and I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
2002: Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey, Moby Dick by Herman Melville, and The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean

Weblog entries (Folded Space only)
87 (2010), 87 (2009), 123 (2008), 200 (2007) 214 (2006), 261 (2005), 289 (2004), 329 (2003), 203 (2002), 74 (2001)
I’ve been writing Folded Space for nearly a decade. Clearly, I used to write much more. In fact, I was writing about six times a week in 2003. Even as recently as 2007, I wrote here about every other day. Though it seems like the numbers are in decline, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Over half of this year’s 87 posts at Folded Space have come in the past ten weeks. In fact, since the middle of October, I’ve resumed a pace similar to the Olden Days. At this rate, I’ll make about 237 posts in 2011. You know something? I’m committed to doing it, too!

Expensive Toy
iPad (2010), Nintendo Wii (2006), Nintendo Gamecube (2003), Apple iBook (2002)
Every year, I fall sucker to some expensive gadget or other. This year, it was the iPad. I have mixed feelings about the device. At first I couldn’t find a good use for it. I’ve since found a use, but that use is non-productive: It’s a great machine to play games on. I’m inclined to get rid of my iPad (and my iPhone, actually), but Kris has asked me to keep them, so I won’t. Yet.

Favorite Film
2010: True Grit (I didn’t see much else this year, but this was great)
2003: Spellbound (a little-known documentary)
2002: Amélie (which my brother Jeff hates)

I could keep writing this year-end review for hours, apparently. I’ve already been at it for two. I’ll let it go.

How was your 2010? Did you accomplish everything you wanted? Have you made progress in important parts of your life? What were your favorite memories from the year?

1 bethh January 2, 2011 at 09:05

J.D., I too absolutely love “I capture the castle” – what an amazing book! When I worked in a public library I foisted it upon many a patron :-) Have you seen the movie? I keep getting it from netflix and then not watching it – I’m afraid it won’t be as awesome as the book and don’t want to ruin it.

What an amazing year you’ve had!

2 jammer(six) January 3, 2011 at 08:59

I’m curious… Why do you want to get rid of your iPhone? Too much of a time suck with games and the Internet in your pocket?

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