2016: My Year

2016 is over in just a few short hours for us here in the Western Hemisphere. It’s already 2017 in much of the world. A perfect time to look back.

In 2016 I didn’t read enough. I almost let my blog completely die. I quit multiple jobs. And I’m on the verge of rejecting multiple job offers at once. Sounds wonderful.

But there are some positives to come out of this year. I bought my first DSLR, which I’ve wanted for quite some time. I proceeded to take my new camera to Washington, DC during my first real vacation as an adult. I visited the Library of Congress. I visited Austin for the first time on my own. I made some long overdue personal decisions that I’m looking forward to.

Everyone wants to talk about how 2016 has been the year of celebrity deaths. I don’t see the point of this. It sounds to me like people are worried about the wrong things. Old people die. It isn’t surprising. Especially when the world as a whole has actual problems affecting the lives of every human alive today, and those not yet born.

Maybe my year wasn’t ideal and a few celebrities died, but I refuse to complain. There are people without food, shelter, and clothing. How about all these people worried about the deaths of celebrities actually worry about something a little less glamorous?

That’s what 2016 really boils down to. People focused on such trivial things. Instead of making memes about Harambe, why not support an animal rescue organization? Instead of focusing on how many celebrities have died in 2016, why not support some of their favorite charitable causes and organizations? And instead of complaining about how rough you have it, why not think of the people who have to walk miles just to have access to water?

I know my 2016 didn’t go according to plan, but you won’t find me feeling sorry for myself.

What were some of the highlights of your year?

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2017 Reading Challenge Announcement!

In 2016 I hosted my very own reading challenge for the first time. Of course I didn’t even complete it myself. So now I’m upping the stakes! Last year’s challenge included 20 books. This year’s includes 25. Branch out and read along with me as 2017 unfolds and I continue to diversify my habits. Take a screenshot, share on your social media accounts, and take up the challenge starting on January 1!

Once again the only rule is that you can’t use the same book for multiple requirements. And don’t reread if you can help it!

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2016 Reading Challenge: The Martian

WOWZA.

Guys, THIS BOOK!

By now everyone knows the story of this book. And I imagine most people also know that it was originally self published. I know just about every person alive has an opinion on this book. This will be mine.

I cannot praise this book enough. I don’t know if the science is 100% accurate, but it doesn’t matter. He made me believe every single word of it. It’s odd because this is both one of the funniest books I’ve read while also being one of the most hopeless.

I admit that I’d seen the movie beforehand, but as great as the movie and Matt Damon were, they don’t come close to the original.

  • The writing style
  • The humor
  • The SCIENCE

I loved every one of those things in this book. I talked about the language used in my book as being unnecessary and forced. This book showed me the difference between a true professional and an amateur. He used cussing throughout the book, but you know what? IT WORKED PERFECTLY. I’m not sure why people criticize authors sometimes for using language that we use every single day of our lives. I don’t think it makes any sense. So I imagine there would be individuals who’d say they’re turned off by the language in the book. My response would be that THEY LEFT HIM ON MARS. IT ISN’T GOING TO BE SUNSHINE AND RAINBOWS.

Whew. Moving on.

I enjoyed the interaction between all of the characters because I felt that it most represented how people actually interact instead of how characters typically interact in books and on TV shows. It never feels natural to me.

I have nothing negative to say about the book. How often does that happen with me!? But I can’t write this post without talking about Mark Watney. He’s very likely the funniest character I’ve ever read. Which is crazy because he was left for dead on Mars! I enjoyed all of his scientific explanations for the crazy things he was doing to stay alive, though I understand why they were largely left out of the movie.

There is one other part of this book I want to talk about. Rarely does all of humanity get behind something. Actually, it doesn’t happen. But in this book that’s exactly what happened. Billions of people were behind Watney. They were working to get him food. They were praying for him. They were coming up with rescue plans. It comes down to something Bill Nye said throughout Unstoppable. He said earth is our only home for now, but I’d take it a step further. Earth is our only home but every one of us is human. We spend enormous amounts of resources, money, time, and human capital just trying to tear each other apart. We kill mercilessly and needlessly. And we view our own brothers and sisters as enemies. I think our possibilities as humans are limitless, if only we could recognize the potential that we’d have simply by working together. We could go to Mars faster than we anticipate. We could cure disease for everyone, not just the West. We could end military conflicts that go on and on with no end in sight. We could raise the quality of life for every person on earth. And we could live in a more prosperous and peaceful world. If only we could recognize that there’s a common ground between every one of us.

Thanks, Andy Weir. For writing a book that shows us exactly what humanity is capable of if we simply work together. Now let’s get to moving closer to that vision.

This satisfied the requirement to read a book set in a foreign country. I mean, Mars is another planet! Ha!

Have you read The Martian!? What did you think?

Top Five Wednesday: Who’s Coming to my New Year’s Party?

I haven’t done one of these in a LONG time. Mostly because the girl who took over started with crap topics. Bleh. The topic is pretty easy to comprehend. Leggo.

Katniss Everdeen

She’s the Girl on Fire. I mean, come on.

Harry Bosch

I don’t drink alcohol. So I’d sit down with a bottle of water out away from the rest of the party and talk to Harry about everything. He’s insightful and I doubt anyone could match his stories from decades with LAPD. I’d also tell him his daughter would make an excellent detective.

Mark Watney

I just finished The Martian and have LOTS of thoughts on it, but for now I’d just like to tell Mark here that’s he’s hilarious. Stay tuned for a full review in the next day or two!

A

She’s the protagonist from Every Day and it would actually be cool to invite her every year to the New Year’s party just to see her in different bodies.

Guy Montag

This might seem like an odd choice when you consider the fact that I HATE this book. But I’d invite him because every other person invited to this particular party would love books. And this bastard burns them. I’d pretty much just tell him off. And perhaps create a mob in the process.

Those are the five characters I’d invite to my New Year’s party! Who would you invite to yours!?

A Birthday Tradition

Today I turn 25. 2016 was not what I expected it to be. But I won’t complain about it. I have food to eat, clothes to keep me warm, and a roof over my head. The saying is that someone always has it worse than you. I know I’m fortunate, even if I’m still job searching.

My birthday tradition since I’ve been an adult has been to do nothing on my birthday, which is exactly what I’ll be doing today. Just reading, mostly.

Now wish me a happy birthday so I can get back to my book, The Martian. What’s your favorite birthday tradition?

2016 Reading Challenge: Texas Rising

This is it! The final homestretch!

The latest book I read for my 2016 reading challenge was Texas Rising by Stephen L. Moore. It’s about the Texas revolution and the decade in which Texas was an independent state.

The book was very well done. It gave the reader plenty of information about well known battles and landmarks, such as the Alamo and Goliad. We know those stories down here in the state, but I imagine the average reader doesn’t.

Though I’d firmly disagree, I know people tend to say history is boring. But this book wasn’t. If you take a moment to realize who was fighting and who was sacrificing everything, then you can’t possibly become bored with the book. Imagine if the world were different today and there were no military installations throughout your state. Then it was invaded. But no one was there to fight them off. So leaders traveled throughout the state trying to recruit any willing volunteer to fight for the cause. That was Texas.

What made the book even more interesting for me was reading about present day locations. The county in which I live actually played a role in the revolution. How cool is that!?

But with this book being about events that took place nearly 200 years ago, there was bound to be some things that leave you wondering why. I imagine you’re aware of the Trail of Tears. Easily one of the low points in the history of this country. But Texas wasn’t much different. At first Texas leaders thought they could buy peace with the Native Americans. But soon realized that it wouldn’t work and made every attempt to forcibly remove or kill every Native American in Texas.

The Natives were violent toward Texas Rangers and settlers, but what were they supposed to do? What would you do if someone knocked on your door at home and said they were taking ownership of the property? You’d fight like hell to keep what’s yours. They did. But it wasn’t enough and peace eluded everyone.

As someone who enjoys history, this book was a great read. Texas history is both similar to and different from US history.

I hope that in 200 years Texans will look back on the current period and realize how much better and more equal life is for them than it is right now. History only repeats itself, unless it doesn’t.

This satisfied the requirement to read a book that takes place in your favorite city or hometown.