2006 Wrap Up

When I kept my diaries on paper, the entry for December 31 would always contain a statistical summary of the year so that I had it as a quick reference. I don’t see why I shouldn’t continue that in electronic form. So what follows is packed with a summary of things from this year. If you are bored by this kind of stuff, please feel free to skip. This is more of a reference entry than anything else.

A. Reading

I completed 22 books this year, 12 less than last year, for a total of 3.9 million words (vs. 5.3 million words I read last year). This is my second worst year on record in terms of reading. 39% of my reading was non-fiction and 61% was fiction. In 2007, I am changing the way I track things slightly. I have never counted words for books I didn’t complete, but I think that is a mistake. Rather than go back through 11 years worth of data and try and straighten it out, I’m going to just start with the new method in 2007. Thus, the new rule in 2007 is that I will count everything I read in the total words (whether I finish or not, book, or short stories, whatever). However, as is currently the case, only those books that I complete will get a number. And short pieces do not count as far as numbering goes–only books.

There were no new 5-star books in 2006, but there were some 4-star books. Looking back through my list, I’d say the best books I read in 2006 (not counting books that I reread) were:

  • Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 by Edwin Burroughs and Mike Wallace. (At 778,000 words, this is also the longest book I’ve ever read.
  • Living It Up by George Burns
  • Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer
  • Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  • Braniac by Ken Jennings
  • Out of My Mind by Andy Rooney
  • Humans by Robert J. Sawyer

Among the better short fiction that I read this year:

  • “Inclination” by William Shunn (a.k.a shunn) ASIMOV’S (April/May 2006)
  • “46 Directions, None of Them North” by Deborah Coates, ASIMOV’S (March 2006)
  • Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer, serialed in the October 2006-Jan/Feb 2007 ANALOG

As far as the book collection goes, setting aside s.f. magazines I get via subscription, my collection increased by 66 books, bringing the total to 1,065 books.

B. Writing

I wrote more this year than last year but there are two reason for that. Even so, I only completed two stories and one poem. I started off the year writing “Graveyard Shift” which turned out to be the longest story I’ve ever written, at 20,000 words. I also wrote a short short called “Blind Date”. And finally there was my s.f. poem, “Schrodinger’s Intersection”. In addition, I have started, but not yet completed two other stories. Those will have to wait until next year.

I made 6 submissions this year, which seems kind of low. Of the 6 submissions, I have received 3 rejections. For the remaining three, I have not heard back on 2 of them, but it looks like I have a tentative acceptance on one of my stories, pending some additional revisions. More on this early next year.

The other reason that I wrote more this year than last year is this blog. This blog has replaced my diary, but even so, I have tended to write much more in it than I ever did in my diaries. I have not missed a day in the last 365 days, which means there is at least one post for every day of 2006, often more. In fact, my 2006 posts, taken as a whole, total up to just a hair over 280,000 words. That’s longer than John Steinbeck’s East of Eden; it is longer than Stephen King’s Needful Things. It is, in fact, an average of about 770 words per day, which in manuscript form is the equivalent of 3 typed pages. So if nothing else, I have written every day this year.

I posted 683 comments and received 1,246 comments on my own postings. At this time, I have “friended” 13 people and have had 12 people friend me as well.

C. Travel

Not as much travel this year as last year, but enough travel. I had 28,020 miles actually flown on United, making this the 5th year in a row that I achieved Premier status. That is nearly a 20,000 mile drop from last year, however. All told, my lifetime miles flown on United now stands at 227,968.

I made 5 round-trips on the Acela between DC and NY this year, enough to earn me “Premier” status on Acela for the first time ever.

I drove my car just about 4,000 miles this year and here is the truly remarkable thing about that: My diary entry for December 31, 1996 (ten years ago) reads: “In 1996, I drove my car about 19,000 miles.” That was back when I was living in Los Angeles and commuting 40 miles roundtrip each day. I love the subway!

And for the first time ever, I applied for and received a passport; this in preparation for the big vacation this coming summer. My guess is that when all is said and done, I will be back up in the 40,000 miles flown range this time next year.

D. Workouts and Health

I started working out regularly this year for the first time in my life. During the summer, I joined a gym and got a personal trainer, who I am still using, although most of my workouts are on my own now. At first, I only went to the gym when I was meeting with the trainer, but beginning in December, I set a goal of being in the best physical condition of my life by July 1, 2007. I’ve changed my eating habits and I’ve been to the gym almost every day since then. I am now getting up at 4:30 in the morning and going to bed by 8:30 in the evening. And I feel great!

I got a new doctor in 2006, one who is my age and who is a friend of a friend, which is nice. He’s a great doctor and I had my first check-up since moving back to the east coast.

E. Financial

My income increased by about $8,000 this year, although some of that is due to interest I earned on savings. My retirement savings increased by just over $16,600 in 2006.

I was talking about buying a house this year but I’ve given up on that for the time being. Everything that I like is too expensive. It is not necessarily more than I can afford, it’s just more than I am willing to pay. I’m in no rush.

F. Other stuff

In March, my nephew, Carson, was born. My niece, Ruby, turned 3 years old. jen_ashlock and jkashlock had their 1 year anniversary, while Dan and Megan and Rich and Tricia both celebrated their 10th anniversaries.

Doug came out in early June and the two of us took an awesome road trip up to Cooperstown.

I attended Rich’s graduation from his surgery residency at St. Agnes in Baltimore.

Of the 13 games to which I had Oriole’s tickets this year, I managed to make it 11. I also went to see the Yankees beat the Angels at Yankee Stadium, courtesy of strausmouse; and I saw the Brooklyn Cyclones, courtesy of kevnyc. As for the softball team at work, this was the first year that I was co-captain of the team. We were 2-7 but both of those “wins” were actually forfeits. I’m hoping we do better next year.

Meanwhile, strausmouse and Ryane announced they were having a baby, while Norm and Vicky got engaged and are going to be getting married a mere 84 days from today.

Trevor and thepopeswife moved away to Minneapolis. Denisse (of A.J. and Denisse) headed off to Europe to finish up her Ph.D. I didn’t get to see much of Dan and Megan this year, but did manage a short visit back in October.

On January 14, strausmouse introduced me to tequila. And by July 3, I was able to drink enough tequila (and other stuff) to make myself sick from drinking for the first time in my life!

All-in-all, I’d have to say that 2006 was a good year. Happy New Year everyone!