Watching Past The Day [Updated]

Magnetic North
Magnetic North

2011 fades away, and what a year it was. I’m going to be breaking this into multiple posts. A couple that are my year mostly in numbers, like books, movies, travel, etc. The other mostly made up of intangibles, life, love, lessons, and the like. This will be one of the former. I tend to document and record lots of data as kind of a side function of my everyday goings on. It’s not that I’m particularly stat focused or live life by numbers, but I like to keep track of where I go, how I got there, how much I did. It’s pretty easy to do now-a-days, especially since a lot of record keeping is automated. All you have to do is know where to look for the data. For example, I can look at my Verizon Wireless account and see that I spent 3289 minutes [52.4 hours / 2.18 days] talking on my phone this year. That doesn’t include Google Voice, GMail, or Skype calls, so the total is probably a bit higher. A more impressive number is texts. 20,608 from my phone and another 15,223 from Google Voice, for a total of 35,831 text messages. So, all the info is out there, it just needs to be added up.

Though travel has always been a part of my life, I traveled a lot this year. To a few new places, to many familiar, and to many changed.

The Darkened Skies VI

Notable Destinations:

  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
  • Paris, France
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Cannes, France
  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Antrwerp, Belgium
  • Bièvres, France
  • Le Mans, France
  • New York, New York
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Olympia, Washington
  • Santa Cruz, California
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Syracuse, New York

That list doesn’t actually look that long to me, but given that a lot of those places I traveled to multiple times, it’s not that bad. Cambridge, MA just barely beat out Paris, FR for longest duration in any one place: 122 days to 112.

How I Got There:

  • Plane: Total Miles – 35,382
  • Plane: Longest Trip – Paris, FR to Seattle, WA: 5,016 miles
  • Train: Total Miles – 2575
  • Train: Longest Trip – Boston, MA to New York, NY: 219 miles
  • Car/Bus/RV: Total Miles – 6480
  • Car/Bus/RV: Longest Trip – Santa Cruz, CA to Albuquerque, NM: 1,053 miles

Those are the rough estimates for most of the major trips. If we say the average aircraft speed is 600mph, that means I spent about 59 hours on planes this year, or just about 2.5 days.



Music, Movies, TV, Video Games, the good ol’ Internet… I actually don’t keep track of a lot of this stuff. I mean, I can remember things like movies I saw, but there are no real hard numbers to track with that. Despite working for a video game company at the start of 2011 (Harmonix Music), I didn’t actually play that many due to my time spent abroad. If there was one I played the most, it was probably Peggle on my phone. Same with TV, I’ve watched almost no live TV while in Paris and same goes for my time back in the states. I did watch shows via iTunes though, mostly Mad Men and Breaking Bad. I recently got myself a Kindle Fire though, and have discovered that all of The X-Files is free to stream with a Prime account. I just started in on Season 3.

I don’t have a huge running list of movies going for 2011, but some of the ones I saw that came out this year that I particularly enjoyed were (in no particular order):

I also saw quite a few movies for the first time this year, including My Sassy Girl, Exit Through The Gift Shop, If Lucy Fell, Prête-moi ta main, (500) Days of Summer, and another French film that I just cannot seem to find the title of.


Paris: Street

Music is a different story. It plays a huge role in my life. It is a conduit for my feelings and moods, a motivator, occasionally a demotivator, a constant companion, and an inspiration for a lot of what I do. I mainly use iTunes for my music needs, though I have been using Google Music a bit recently. The following are the top 5 songs of 2011 based on number of total plays in my iTunes/iPod and Google Music.

  1. Iron by WOODKID

This song stands far and away on the top of my most played tracks in 2011. It inspired the redesign of this site and kept me sane through a lot of the year. It’s an intensely powerful song. To me it was a message to stand up, look at myself, and face what I needed to. To be strong and solitary, to remember that I am on my own journey and that I need to stay focused on it. Total plays: 964. Clocking in at 3:10, that means I spent 3052.6 minutes listening to this song. That 50.8 hours, or 2.11 days with it. That actually seems low to me.

  1. You Know My Name by Chris Cornell

Another track that often inspires me to try and be stronger than I usually find myself in dealing personal matters. It reminds of who I used to be, as opposed to the person I’ve become in the past few years, and the person I need to become. It faded out a bit in the middle of the year, but it’s been in very heavy rotation recently. Currently sitting at 612 plays. At 4:03, that’s 2478.6 minutes, or 41.31 hours, which is 1.7 days.

  1. Heron Blue by Sun Kil Moon

The high play count on this song comes from my iPod. I listened to it a lot when I traveled, especially on trains. For me it is an amalgamated memory of women I know. 402 plays. At 7:38, that’s 3068.6 minutes, or 51.14 hours, which is 2.1 days.

  1. Extreme Ways by Moby

This song reminds me of who I used to be and the direction my life seems to often take. It reminds me that my story is much more complex than I think I can sometimes even remember, no matter how diligently chronicle it. That there are part of me that I still don’t talk about to anyone. With 378 plays at 3:58 a piece, that’s 1499.4 minutes, or just about 30 hours, which is 1.25 days.

  1. Devastation & Reform by Reliant K

In the most honest sense, this song is essentially my personal anthem. That actually makes it more difficult to listen to. I first heard this song when I toured with Reliant K in 2006 and it’s been a part of my personal playlist ever since. 364 plays at 3:42 each means I spent 1346.8 minutes, which is 22.4 hours, which is .93 days listening to it.

  • Faded Memories: Promyvion by Naoshi Mizuta

I left this song out of the top 5 because, in a way, it cheats. I often listen to this song on repeat while I sleep. I find it incredibly relaxing and it reminds of the calming, empty, landscape of Promyvion. 8178 plays at 4:25 means I’ve spent 44297.5 minutes, or 738.3 hours, or 30.8 days sleeping to this song. If I averaged 6 hours of sleep a night, I listened to this song about 124 nights this year.

It’s rare that I listen to a complete album all at once, but this year I found myself listening to the following two a consistent basis:

  1. Love – The Beatles
  2. Assassin’s Creed 2 – Jespyr Kid

Other notable mentions for music this year include:

  1. The Humbling River – Puscifer
  2. Stopwatch Hearts – Delerium
  3. One Million Miles Away – J. Ralph
  4. How We Live – Steve Pardo w/ Lindley Cameron
  5. Destroy Everything You Touch – Ladytron
  6. Derezzed – Daft Punk
  7. Wishery – Pogo


Places: Paris

It seems I packed the bulk of my 2011 book reading into the last few months. The only book I can really remember reading early in the year was my annual re-reading of James Redfield’s The Celestine Prophecy. I actually read it twice this year, as it was the first book I bought on my Kindle Fire. It’s an easy read, but it does present some concepts that I find fascinating. Both my analog and digital versions are thoroughly highlighted.

Though TCP was the first ebook I bought on my Fire, it is not my actual first Kindle ebook. That honor goes to Paul Carr’s The Upgrade, which was hilarious. I bought and read it alongside his other book, Bringing Nothing To The Party. I’d never read Paul Carr before despite being a big TechCrunch fan, but I was thoroughly entertained.

The funniest book I read all year though was easily Thomas Kohnstamm’s Do Travel Writers Go To Hell? I picked it up when I was visiting my best friend in Santa Cruz, having just come from Seattle via Paris. The title struck me, so I started it as I was headed to LA. I finished it there in one solid read through and immediately read straight through it again the same night. The book is laugh out loud hilarious.

The only other two books on my slate at the end of the year are classics I read every year. Neil Gaiman’s amazing American Gods (which, amazingly, you can still get on a Kindle for just $1.99) and my favorite book of all time, William Gibson’s Neuromancer. Neuromancer, for me, was one of those books that just changes your perception of everything. Every page fights you, as is the hallmark of Gibson’s writing style, but at the same time pulls you through to the next one. I have read all of Gibson’s works many times over, but Neuromancer holds a special place for me. I read it at least once every year, along with other Gibson works.

I also use Google Books for free public domain reading, including thrilling page turners like Charles Darwin’s Origin Of The Species.

My magazine list is pretty much the same as it’s always been. I never miss an issue of Wired or MaximumPC, though MaxPC has been slipping. I read assorted photography magazines, but none regularly. I just subscribed to the online version of Wired via my Fire, so I’m waiting to see how that compares to the analog version.

Hmm, this list looks pretty short, which in turn makes it seem like I just don’t read that much. That’s not actually true though, since I do the vast majority of my reading on the web via RSS. My primary aggregation tool is Google Reader and according to it’s stats, I’ve read 587,663 items in the past year. In just the past 30 days I’ve read 16,746. I currently have 62 active subscriptions in Reader, but that is kind of misleading for total numbers since recently I’ve been using Google Currents on my Kindle Fire to read news and web content. There are subscriptions I have in Currents that I do not have in Reader, so that adds to the over all sources.

Despite that constant flow of reading material, I still, more often than not, find myself lacking things to read. I burn through my RSS subscriptions as quickly as they come in, in both Reader and Currents. I find myself “running out of internet”, as it were, constantly. I read and absorb written material very quickly and there just isn’t enough input to keep me sated.

I’m actually going to wrap this up here. The music section took much longer than I expected. I still have tons of year in review info and writing to do, but I’ll break it all up over the next few posts.

To every broken heart in here
Love was once a part, but now it’s disappeared
She told me that
“It’s all part of the choices that you make.
Even when you think you’re right, you have to give to take.”