2014 Best & Worst

10. My favorite albums that I discovered in 2014 were Barchords by the group Bahamas. I listened to it all the way through on many commutes back and forth to Pittsburgh. The mood was perfect for leaving your family, driving through a snowstorm, and heading to a pitiful apartment complex. My other favorite album was Bright Mississippi by Allen Toussaint, there’s no bumps along the way, just a perfect album to listen all the way through on a Sunday morning or early Saturday evening.

9. Favorite movie from 2014 was Guardians of the Galaxy. The movie is ridiculous and I’m probably juvenile for enjoying so much, but sometimes you just need to savor a great summer action movie. I loved the cast of characters and far fetched scenery, if I could be any animal, I would be Rocket Racoon. I also loved the Imitation Game and almost gave it the top spot, but think I may just be giving it more credit because I am so fascinated with Alan Turing. Fury was also an excellent movie, worth checking out.

8. Favorite book that I read in 2014 was Flash Boys by Michael Lewis, I’ll read any book he writes (assuming it is non-fiction). This was about high frequency trading among Wall Street firms and the escalating war for faster broadband connection to receive market information (job numbers, oil production, etc.) faster than their competitors, make trades based on that information a split second faster than the competition, and building computer programs that can process all this information and make trading decisions in nanoseconds (a billionth of a second). The most terrible book I read was about the actors who were present in Ford’s Theater during the Lincoln assassination. Other books I completed in 2014 were; a biography on Alexander Hamilton and an excellent book about…you guessed it, Alan Turing, called The Enigma. The Enigma wasn’t my favorite book because while I loved most of it, there were technical areas that were tough to plow through. I am now reading a book about the dangers of artificial intelligence and will read David vs Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell next.

7. My favorite place I had to travel this year was easily driving through Southern Califonia with a rental car. I got to visit San Diego Dave, drive to Palm Springs, and hit up Leguna Beach. I also enjoyed a November trip to Venice Beach, CA. Other exotic destinations included driving to Toledo, OH (there’s an amazing minor league ballpark there that I hope to visit someday, I ate the chewiest piece of meat ever there, we wondered if they fed the cattle racquetballs), Louisville, KY(boring), Niagara Falls (fun family trip), West Palm Beach, FL and Columbus, OH (where I had the best cheeseburger of the year at The Thurman Cafe, seriously, you need to go there if you’re ever in Columbus).

6. Best toy of 2014, I assembled a Lego Millennium Falcon in my Pittsburgh apartment. It took my several days after work. I watched Pirates games on TV while putting it together…bliss! My father got me a drone that is pretty awesome too, Jaclyn says my years of video game skills have prepared me well to pilot the device as I can chase after her with the device.

5. Least favorite thing about 2014, working with realtors. I hope the day comes when the real estate process can be handled online without a realtor. I know, you might say, if you use an online tool, you may get exposed and lose money or purchase get misled in a contract. Well, we effectively lost money and had misleading contracts with a realtor, so I’d rather do that without giving up the commission. Hopefully, we’ll be in this house for a long time!

4. Favorite snack of 2014 was popcorn. For the first 35 years of my life, I could care less about popcorn, but my kids are obsessed with it. If they smell popcorn, they have to have it. We used to walk through Doylestown and stop in the County Theater to just pick up some popcorn. Now we go to the Popcorn Factory on The Strip in Pittsburgh and try out all the flavors. Definitely acquired a huge taste for popcorn in 2014.

3. Favorite sports moment of 2014 was getting out of a business meeting in downtown Pittsburgh around 5:30, seeing a Pirates game scheduled for 7PM, walking a couple blocks across the Roberto Clemente bridge, buying a solo ticket and watching the game in the cheap seats by myself on a summer weeknight. I also developed a small obsession with Steve Blass, a former Pirates pitcher who was dominate in his first couple of years as a pro, won the World Series, and then lost the ability to throw strikes. Heard about him on NPR’s This American Life and then unearthed an old article about him in The New Yorker magazine from 1973. He is now a Pirates broadcaster and does a great job, I love stories of people who have to face their kryptonite and how they handle it, he handled it with dignity and courage. Now when a baseball player struggles to throw the ball (see Mackey Sasser), they call it Steve Blass disease, but he takes it all in stride and is a great face of Pittsburgh.

2. Best Pittsburgh moments were having our families come out and visit us, loved giving tours of the Steel City. A close second is the day when we finally were capable of navigating around the city without Google Maps. Really enjoyed driving out to Ohiopyle, PA and seeing Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water.

1. Best thing about 2014 was the cultural institutions. The family belongs to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Art Museum, Carnegie Science Center, Andy Warhol Museum, and National Aviary. Between all these places, the family has probably made 20 visits and they’re actually learning something each time they go. There’s no way we would have gone into downtown Philly 20 times, too much traffic & parking is outrageously expensive, we just love the convenience of Pittsburgh, plus, there’s a ton to do. Hope we continue to get visitors in 2015!

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