Posts Tagged travel

2017 Retrospective

Now that 2018 has finally arrived, it’s time to take a look back at 2017 with my annual year-in-review post.

2017 was a tough year in many respects, as I’m sure it was for many other people. The health issues I mentioned in last year’s entry continue to linger, though all testing indicates I’m apparently as fit as a fiddle. It all no doubt comes down to the joys of ageing. Oh well!

I was pretty happy with my fitness level last year. Thanks to some goading by my Apple Watch’s New Year’s challenge, I ended up running 3-4 miles on the treadmill every day from January 1st through late April. I lost 20lbs in the process! This tapered off thereafter once the weather improved and I spent more time in the garden. Unfortunately once I’d slacked off with the exercise habit, I did very little for the rest of the year. I finished the year down 10lbs from when I started, which is quite a feat considering the gastronomic journey that was 2017!

We had some sad losses in the family during the year. Earlier in the year we lost our old cat after a long battle with various health issues. It was a sad and strange time after her passing, and even our other cat seemed to notice her absence. We have since adopted two new cats from a local animal shelter, one of which is fairly young and the other is middle-aged. They all seem to get on fairly well after their initial settling-in period. Three cats seems to be a good amount, aside from the problem of frequently tripping over cats resting in the hallway! With all of this, our vet bills were through the roof in 2017.

Later in the year we lost two grandparents on opposite sides of the world in the space of 2 weeks. This was a sad time for both sides of our family. Both grandparents lived long, full lives, and we’ll all dearly miss them.

I picked up a new hobby after watching lots of gaming videos while running on the treadmill. In April I bought a box of Magic: The Gathering cards, and soon thereafter found myself playing tournaments at a local card store. This was great fun, as well as being a good way to unwind, exercise the old brain cells, and socialize. That first store closed down in late July, leaving me without a good local game store. Luckily I found an even better one a further 10 minute drive away, and I’ve been heading there most weekends ever since.

Related to the new hobby, I also started a YouTube channel with card unboxings. That became a new hobby in itself! My previous YouTube channel has a single video showcasing my old iOS game, so it was quite a change going from that to a new channel that actually gets some views. I passed the 10k view mark back in late November, which in theory should make it eligible for monetization (i.e. ads). Monetization reviews are apparently severely backed-up at YouTube right now, so it’s anyone’s guess when (if?) it’ll be approved. In any case it’s a fairly small niche, so I don’t expect ads will bring in much revenue.

Surprising no one, my writing goals weren’t met last year. This seems to be an ongoing theme. I submitted a bunch of stories, but wrote very little new fiction. Most of my spare time went toward working on my apps and growing the new YouTube channel.

I entered two flash fiction competitions during the year, this time for PodCastle and Pseudopod. My Podcastle entry made it to the semi-final round, but the other one was knocked out in the first round. I wrote both stories at the last minute, and had a blast writing and reading all the other entrants in each contest.

Last year I read a decent amount, taking part again in the Goodreads Reading Challenge. My reading was exclusively in eBook form. Here are my reads for 2017:

Shadow Play by Domino Finn
Black Spark by Al K. Line
Android for iOS Developers : A Step by Step Guide by Adrian Kosmaczewski
A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey
Generation Decks: The Unofficial History of Gaming Phenomenon Magic: The Gathering by Titus Chalk
Magic: The Gathering Drafting Guide for Beginners by Alexander Norland
Magic: The Gathering Rules and Getting Started, Strategy Guide, Deck Building for Beginners by Alexander Norland
Unidentified Funny Objects 5 by Alex Shvartsman
Productivity for Indie Authors: A Book about Doing Less and Making More by David Lee Martin
Relaunch your Novel: Breathe Life into your Backlist by Chris Fox
Deviant (Karma Police #4) by Sean Platt & David W. Wright
The Fall (Karma Police #5) by Sean Platt & David W. Wright
Homecoming (Karma Police #6) by Sean Platt & David W. Wright
Story Pitch: The How To Guide for Using a Pitch to Create your Story by Scott King
Destroyer by Chris Fox
Exiled By Chris Fox
Void Wraith by Chris Fox
Resist Them by Scott King
Magic Life: My Story of Becoming a Pro Player by Travis Woo
Eradication by Chris Fox

I still listen to some great short fiction podcasts on my daily commute, including Escape Pod, Pseudopod, and PodCastle. I highly recommend all of them, even to people who might not be short fiction readers. The podcasts are free, but please donate or subscribe if you enjoy listening.

Now for some stats:

2017 Stats:

New apps released: 0
App updates released: 53 (includes Lite and Paid versions)
2017 Word count: 1,037
Stories written: 2
Stories published: 0
Total submissions: 11
Total acceptances: 0
Total rejections: 11
Waiting for response: 0
YouTube videos released: 227
YouTube channel subscribers: 221
Books read: 21
Comics read: 12

My iOS, Mac and PC app sales have mostly remained flat, despite releasing a record number of updates (53!) throughout the year. The Bonsai Album updates alone took over 6 months to complete, starting in 2016. Revenue is slightly higher than last year, and I managed to keep expenses much lower. Even though sales of the new apps from 2016 improved early in the year, they still didn’t come close to meeting my low expectations. I also have a lot of work ahead of me to update all my iOS apps for the iPhone X! The simulator for this device was very clunky and I’ve had a great deal of trouble getting my apps updated to cope with the new screen requirements. I ended up purchasing one just before Christmas, so hopefully that will smooth development of these updates from now on.

In August I announced I’d begun working on a new PC app, Artwork Tracker. This is getting close to completion, so I’ll hopefully be able to release it later this month. I hope it does well, since people have been asking for it for years!

I’ve decided to shelve development of Bonsai Album for Android. There simply wasn’t enough time in the year to learn a new platform and develop an app from scratch for it, while still updating all my other apps. I’ll re-evaluate this again once I’m done with the iPhone X app updates, but I doubt I’ll have the bandwidth to work on an Android version.

I didn’t do much with my bonsai this year, other than keep them alive. There were no bonsai shows or botanic garden visits, and thankfully I don’t think I lost any more trees in 2017. I still spent a lot of time in the garden this year, expanding the flower garden in our front yard, restoring the back garden to its former glory, and growing the usual selection of veggies (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, peas, beans, and cucumbers). We had a decent crop this year, although I was disappointed the zucchini didn’t grow.

Last year was fantastic travel-wise. In addition to the usual trips back and forth to Michigan, we went on epic road trip out west with my parents in our Dodge Charger, passing through 6 states (Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota) along the way. We visited Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and the Badlands, along with stopping at various weird and wonderful roadside attractions (giant otter, bison, Jackalopes, dinosaur, cow, and more!) and seeing the sights in South Dakota. We also spent some time in the Wisconsin Dells, and again made the pilgrimage to House on the Rock.

So that was 2017. Normally I’d spend a few paragraphs on my goals and grand plans for 2018, but since this seems to be a great way to ensure none of it ever happens, I’ll be keeping everything under my hat this year. Having said that, it’s pretty clear I definitely didn’t slack off in 2017!

I hope everyone had a good year, and best wishes for a great 2018. Happy New Year!

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Schloss Neuschwanstein und Hohenschwangau

Here’s a selection of photos from my visit to the Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles in Germany last month:

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As usual, much more at the Flickr photo stream here.

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Where’d January go?

It’s time to update this thing! January was insanely busy, and things are only now beginning to settle down a bit.

Writing-wise, I was off to a good start, working on some new short stories early in the New Year. Unfortunately work got busy fast, with long hours and an unexpected trip to Munich for two weeks! One weekend I did a brief tour of the city and went to the Bavarian Alps to see some castles, so I can’t complain too much. I’ll post another entry with photos soon.

Ever since getting back home I’ve been devoting most of my spare time to working on my first iPhone application, and that’s going well so far. I knew there’d be some conflict between this and the writing, but since I spent hardly any time on the app in January, I figured it was time to balance things out. With the way the economy is right now, it might be a wise idea to prioritize that above my writing for now. The ‘Thing A Week’ plan won’t be working anytime soon.

While on the trip I finished reading Samantha Henderson’s novel, Heaven’s Bones: A Novel of the Mists, blazing through it in record time. I’d had a peek at it previously and provided some comments on the early chapters, and now I wish I’d had the time to read it all back then. I hardly know how to describe it, other than to say it’s a combination gothic steampunk police procedural fantasy with substantial medical and horror elements. That’s a poor description at best, so you really have to read it for yourself. It’s fiendishly clever and has a style reminiscent of some of Sam’s other stories set in Victorian times. From what I understand there’s a bit of a shared-world Wizards of the Coast setting, but it didn’t lessen my enjoyment any without having that background. Anyway, pick it up, especially if you’re a Sam Henderson fan.

The weekend before last I put together the potting bench Carrie gave me for Christmas, so that’s sitting in the basement ready to go. She’s already used it to plant her terrarium, which turned out very nicely. I’ll need to get some veggie seeds started soon, and the bench will make the process much more comfortable than in the past. I’ll also need some new growlights, since the old ones are presently illuminating a bunch of cacti and Bonsai.

With the imminent release of the Watchmen movie, I’m finally taking it off the shelf and adding it to the reading pile. I hear this is one of the best graphic novels of all time, so I hope it doesn’t diminish everything else I read afterward. I’ve also got a stack of Wolverine back issues to catch up on, in preparation for the forthcoming movie. From what I’ve seen, it looks like that’ll be a good one, too.

What I’m Reading:
Just After Sunset, Stephen King
Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

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