Another Sunday Morning

This post will probably be a lot like last week’s Sunday Morning post. (With a few differences, maybe.) Unlike last week, I did actually sleep kinda OK last night. A friend dropped by yesterday, and we split a pizza, so I was a little worried that might make it hard to sleep (on top of all the other things that make it hard to sleep right now). So I took Tums, ibuprofen, and melatonin before bed. And I took a shower before bed too, to try to ease some muscle pain and clear out my sinuses a bit. So all that added up to me being able to (kinda) sleep through the night. I didn’t get out of bed until 7:30 though. I’m not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. I seem to be making it through the day without too much trouble so far. It’s 11:30 now, and I’ve managed to go out for a 10-minute walk and a 15-minute ride on my exercise bike. Neither of which sounds really impressive, but it’s really cold out, so it wasn’t easy to talk myself into going outside at all. And, these days, I have trouble making it past 10 minutes on the exercise bike, so 15 minutes is pretty good for me.

I just read a year-old Washington Post article about how exercise reduces anxiety and makes you feel more connected. A lot of the benefit of exercise applies whether you’re exercising alone or in a group. But, apparently, there’s even more benefit to group exercise. The article was written before the pandemic really took hold, but it’s interesting to think about how the lack of group exercise might be affecting people, and whether things like Apple’s Fitness+ or Peloton actually come close enough to simulating a real in-person group experience to actually matter. Peloton (of course) thinks it does, according to this blog post. I wonder if mounting my iPhone to my old exercise bike and watching an Apple Fitness+ video while I’m biking would help or if it would just annoy me. I tend to think it would annoy me, but who knows. (Today, I was listening to an old podcast interview with Weird Al while I did my exercise. I’m not sure a Fitness+ video could really top Weird Al. Come to think of it, can we convince Weird Al to record some fitness videos? That would be awesome.)

I’ve also come across a few references recently to a new book titled Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do Is Healthy and Rewarding. I’m probably not going to read that book, but I’ve bookmarked a couple of videos and podcasts featuring the author, and I’ll probably get around to watching/listening to one or more of them at some point.

One more Peloton-related link: I wonder if Joe Biden’s security folks have figured out if can use his Peloton bike without compromising national security yet?

Well, I started this blog post with the idea of writing about my current meditation habit, and how I’ve switched from Insight Timer to Calm, but now it’s lunchtime, so maybe that’ll have to wait until the next post.

Monday links and pandemic thoughts

I often spend a few minutes spelunking through the links in my “On This Day” sidebar, if I happen to pull up my home page for some reason. I know that’s not really a productive use of my time, usually, but sometimes I find some fun stuff. Today’s links included a reference to a 2016 NY Times article titled How Social Isolation Is Killing Us. However isolated I was feeling back then, it’s nothing compared to how I’m feeling after ten months of working from home, not traveling outside of NJ, and spending nearly all of my time alone in my apartment.

I’d like to think things are looking up now, but looking at some more recent links:

  • Two Masks Are the New Masks – I think I’m still fine with just one mask, but if I ever actually have to take a train to NYC or something like that, maybe I’ll try doubling up. (And maybe I should look into those KF94 masks they mentioned in the article. I already have a few KN95s. Can’t hurt to have a few different options, I guess…)
  • How to Take a Walk – This is kind of silly, but I get it.
  • It’s 30 Degrees. Shall We Have Brunch Outdoors? – There really isn’t anyplace here in Somerville that’s still doing outdoor dining. I should have taken more advantage of that, back when the weather was nicer. Of course, back then, every place that was doing outdoor dining was too crowded.

I’m looking at the calendar now, and thinking that, at the end of this week, I’ll at least be able to say “I made it through January!” My hope is that things start getting better in February. I’m hoping that vaccine distribution will start ramping up, the weather will start getting nicer, the days will get longer, and Tom Brady will lose another Super Bowl. Then we can move on to March, which is when things will really start getting better. (I hope.)

Heavy Metal

I discovered the Heavy Metal movie soundtrack on Apple Music recently. I had it on vinyl back in the early 80s, when I was in high school. I never bought it on CD, or from iTunes, because, for a long time, it just wasn’t available.

I’m not sure when I first actually saw the movie. It came out in 1981, but I don’t think I saw it until I was in college, so it would have been late 80s. And, likewise, I never got around to buying the movie on DVD or Blu-ray, though I’m pretty sure I had it on VHS at one point.

Anyway, I really listened to that soundtrack album a lot. Hearing it again is triggering long-dormant neurons in my brain. Now I guess I should buy the Blu-ray and see how many neurons get lit up by that.

I’ve been meaning to try an Apple Music embed on this blog, and it might as well be this. So here you go: the Heavy Metal soundtrack! It’s pretty corny and dated, but it’s one of my favorite albums from my misspent youth.

Sunday morning

I’m not sure I should really be writing a blog post right now, but I might as well give it a shot. I didn’t sleep well last night, and I’m still a little groggy. But I want to post a few links and get some stuff out of my head, so here goes.

First topic: Biden’s inauguration. A lot has already been written about that, and I don’t really have much to add, but I’d like to note one item of interest: Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem. Here’s an article from the NY TImes and one from NPR, both of which include video. I think it’s worth watching her read the whole thing. I’m not really a fan of this particular style of poetry, but I really think this was the right poem (and poet) for this particular moment in time. Here’s an interview with Gorman, again from NPR, from the day before the inauguration. And here’s something from Literary Hub, with every inaugural poem, ever. (There aren’t that many.)

Next (and completely different) topic: robocalls. I’ve been getting a lot of them lately. I can’t do much about those that come in on my home phone line. I get so few calls on that number that nearly all the calls I do get are robocalls (or unsolicited calls from actual humans). I’ve thought about dropping the line entirely, but I don’t really want to lose that phone number. Porting it over to a VOIP provider that does robocall screening is possible, I guess, but I don’t really want to mess with that right now.

For my cell phone, I’ve started looking at iOS call screening apps. I already have Verizon’s Call Filter app enabled on my phone, but it doesn’t do much. And I sometimes turn on the iOS silence unknown callers feature, but I can’t leave that on all the time. Here’s a Washington Post article from 2019 that I used as a good starting point for third-party apps. I’m worried about the privacy implications of some of them. For now, I’ve installed and enabled Nomorobo. The Sweet Setup, in this 2017 article, named Nomorobo as the best app for blocking robocalls. The guy who wrote that article shares a lot of the same privacy concerns that I have, and Nomorobo is just about the only app that doesn’t have some privacy issues. I’m on a two-week trial subscription. So far, I don’t think it’s successfully blocked any robocalls, so it’s not looking good. Since robocallers can basically just randomize their phone numbers, I’m not sure any call blocking solution is going to be really effective.

I’ll probably give up on the whole idea and just stick with the “silence unknown callers” method. That does mean that I’ll have to continue toggling it on and off, whenever I’m expecting a call from someone that’s not in my contacts (like a mechanic or doctor’s office that might not be calling from their main number). Here’s a blog post from someone comparing the utility of SUC vs DND (do not disturb). My thoughts on it are pretty similar to his. I think SUC would be a lot more useful if Apple would put a toggle for it in control center.

Next topic (also completely different): Sátántangó. I mentioned about a month ago that I had pre-ordered the new Blu-ray release. It should have shown up this weekend, but apparently got lost somehow. So I guess I’m not going to spend the day watching a 7.5-hour, black & white, Hungarian film.

Last topic: Harold Budd. I was listening to a podcast this week and the host mentioned that Budd had passed away recently. I did a little searching and found obituaries from the Times and NPR. His death was apparently related to Covid-19, so that’s one more artist lost in 2020 to this pandemic. My favorite Harold Budd album is The Pearl, an album he recorded with Brian Eno in 1984. Today might actually be a good day to listen to some Harold Budd. Some nice slow ambient piano music might just help me get my brain back on track, after last night’s troubled sleep.


podcasts and podcast clients

The pandemic has caused some changes in the way I’m consuming podcasts. (This is, of course, one of the more trivial changes caused by the pandemic, but this blog is all about trivial concerns.) I used to listen to tech podcasts during my commute; I don’t have a commute anymore, so I’m not burning through podcasts like I used to. And I used to listen to music podcasts at my desk during the day. I still do that, sometimes, but since I have full unfettered internet access at home, plus full access to my personal music collection, I mix things up a lot more, sometimes listened to streaming radio, sometimes to old CDs, and sometimes to music podcasts. Earlier in the pandemic, when the weather was nicer, I’d sometimes listen to various podcasts while out for long walks, but I’m not really doing long walks anymore, so now the backlog of podcasts is really piling up. I hardly listen to any “talk” podcasts anymore, except for a couple of humor ones. (I’ve really needed humor over the last year or so…)

This has all got me to rethink which podcasts I’m subscribing to, which iOS podcast client I should be using, and how I should be consuming them. My old system, in place since I switched to Overcast in 2015, is to subscribe to a number of podcasts, organize them into playlists in Overcast, and listen to them in in chronological order, oldest to newest. I had a few themed playlists, one for tech podcasts, one for humor podcasts, one for long music podcasts, and one for short “song of the day” music podcasts. That all worked out pretty well. I always had something to listen to, offline, downloaded to my iPhone.

Overcast, by default, keeps just the 5 most recent episodes of any given podcast available offline. (You can change that to a larger number, of course.) If you don’t listen to them, they drop off and get replaced by newer episodes. (But it does keep track of older episodes that you haven’t listened to, so if you’re listening to stuff in oldest-to-newest order, you’ll sometimes see older episodes greyed-out at the top of your list.) For me, lately, it was getting to where I was always just listening to stuff that was a month or two (or three or four) old. I started to get tired of that, and started to feel like it was a waste to have Overcast keep downloading episodes, then just deleting them and replacing them with newer episodes that would just again get deleted later. (I know, I have unlimited internet access at home, so it doesn’t hurt anything to download podcasts just to delete them later, but it still seems wasteful somehow.)

I’ve also been thinking about the best way to consume single episodes of podcasts that I don’t want to subscribe to, and random podcast-like audio files. I’ve been using Huffduffer for that, and it usually works well, but not always. Overcast has a facility for uploading files to the web that can then be downloaded into the client, if you’re paying $10/year for Overcast Premium, but it’s somewhat limited.

This all got me thinking about how I could switch things up. I read somewhere about how Castro uses a kind of inbox metaphor to let you sort through new episodes of your subscribed podcasts, and queue some of them for later listening, and dismiss others that you’re not interested in. That sounded more like the way I want to listen to stuff now. Castro (if you’re paying for their “Plus” level) also has a facility for “sideloading” files that sounded a bit more flexible than Overcast’s. (It can also rip the audio from a video file and save that to Castro, and that sounded like it might come in handy. Huffduffer can sometimes do that too, but it’s a little clunky.)

And, since I was looking at new clients, I looked into Pocket Casts too. Pocket Casts is kind of interesting. It was acquired by NPR (and a few other public radio organizations) in 2018. But now, apparently, they’re looking to sell it back off. So I’m not sure what the future of the app will be. Like Castro and Overcast, it also has a Plus tier that gives you the ability to save files to the cloud and listen to them in the app.

Overcast, Castro, and Pocket Casts all support importing and exporting OPML files, so it was easy for me to export all my subscriptions from Overcast and import them to Castro and Pocket Casts. Actually, Overcast exported both my active podcast subscriptions, plus other podcasts that I wasn’t currently subscribing to, but hadn’t actually deleted from Overcast, so it wound up being a list of 35 podcasts. So that gave me a bunch of stuff to play with in Castro and Pocket Casts.

I like Castro, but I quickly discovered that it doesn’t support anything like the playlist functionality of Overcast. So there’s no obvious way to group podcasts together. If I wasn’t listening to both talk and music podcasts, I probably wouldn’t be bothered by that, but I really like to keep those separate. So I guess Castro isn’t really for me.

Pocket Casts does support something like playlists. They call them filters, and they’re probably a little more powerful than Overcast’s playlists. I set up “long music” and “short music” filters, and they worked exactly as I wanted them to work. Pocket Casts also has a “new releases” filter that is kind of like Castro’s inbox. And there’s an “up next” queue similar to Castro’s. So it seems like there’s not much I can do with Castro that I can’t also do with Pocket Casts. And, if I was going for the “Plus” tier, Pocket Casts is $10/year, while Castro is $19/year. So, if I was determined to switch away from Overcast, I’d likely go with Pocket Casts.

Pockets Cast Plus also has desktop apps for Mac and Windows. While those aren’t strictly necessary, they would come in handy. My current method for listening to podcasts at my desk is generally to use AirPlay from Overcast to send them to AirServer, which works, but isn’t perfect.

But, in all this messing around with apps, and reading reviews, and thinking things through, I think I’ve realized that I can reconfigure Overcast to work for the way I’m consuming podcasts now, and not bother switching. Here’s what I think I’m going to do:

  1. For podcasts that I’m still fairly interested in, I’ll keep subscribing to them, but switch my playlists from oldest-to-newest to newest-to-oldest. When I see episodes at the top of the list that I’m not interested in, I’ll just delete them. And I won’t stress about getting through the whole playlist. It’s fine to let older stuff drop off. It’s not hurting anybody.
  2. For podcasts where I’m only occasionally interested in listening to specific episodes, I’ll leave them in Overcast as inactive, and just peruse them occasionally and download specific episodes.
  3. I might put together a new “queue” playlist that doesn’t include any podcasts in particular, and just load single episodes of random podcasts into it. (Which is apparently something I can do, but didn’t realize, until I started messing around.)

So, yeah, I probably overthought this whole podcast thing. I took some screenshots of Castro and Pocket Casts, and will include them below. I could probably write another blog post about which podcasts I’m currently listening to, and what’s been getting me through the pandemic, but I’ve already spent too much time on this one. I’m not sure if any of this will be helpful to anyone else, but (as often happens), writing this post has helped me figure things out, so it was worth my time.

Castro screenshots

Pocket Casts screenshots

what a week

In my last post, on New Year’s Day, I said “I’m expecting the first couple of months of 2021 to be pretty rough.” It turns out, the first couple of weeks of 2021 have been pretty rough. So one week ago, we had an angry mob storm the Capitol building, and today, we saw Trump get impeached for the second time, at record speed.

I wanted to write a post about the whole insurrection thing over the weekend, but I just couldn’t get my thoughts together in any coherent way. I still probably can’t, but I feel like I need to get some stuff out of my head, regardless. It might not be that organized or coherent, so I apologize if it isn’t.

It’s been interesting to follow the reaction of some of our local NJ politicians to the Capitol incident. Here are a few links.

  • Andy Kim got some attention for picking up trash in the Capitol building after the incident. Here’s an article from the Post, and here’s one from It’s a small thing, but it was one of the only positive stories to come out of this, and really reflects the kind of values I want to see in my elected representatives.
  • Meanwhile, Bonnie Watson Coleman, another NJ rep, has now tested positive for COVID-19. Here’s an article on that from NJ Spotlight. While of course there’s no way to tell for sure, there’s a good chance she was exposed while locked up in the Capitol building with a bunch of other lawmakers, many of whom refused to put on a mask. So that’s infuriating. Here’s a Post opinion piece she wrote. (She’s not happy.)
  • Mikie Sherrill is alleging that some members of Congress led “reconnaissance” tours of the Capitol a day before the insurrection. If true, that’s… horrible. (But she could be wrong on that.)
  • Jeff Van Drew continues to disappoint, being the only NJ rep to vote against certifying Biden’s win. Here’s a USA Today article on that. A lot of people aren’t happy with Van Drew, but I’m not sure he cares. Here’s an article about protests calling for him to resign.
  • Van Drew also, for some reason, decided to wear an extremely weird suit to work today. People have been making fun of him for it on Twitter. Here’s one from Sam Bee. And another from Matt Platkin. Not really a big deal, but I guess it’s yet another example of his generally poor judgement. (And it gave me a laugh today, which I sorely needed.)
  • Chris Smith, meanwhile, is keeping a low profile. Both he and Van Drew are quoted in this article about today’s impeachment.
  • My own rep, Tom Malinowski, has been setting a good example. Today, he hosted two online meetings, one on vaccine distribution and one on the insurrection. I watched parts of each. He always comes across as calm, reasonable, and thoughtful in these things. I’m leery about putting too much faith in a politician, but he genuinely seems like a hard worker and good guy.

I’ve definitely been experiencing some information overload over this past week. I feel like I need to keep up with the news, but so much of it is just crazy. I want to talk to somebody about it, but I’ve hardly got anyone to talk to. (Hence this long, rambling, blog post, I guess.)

My Twitter feed often becomes quite surreal these days. I keep stumbling across stuff, and thinking it’s from The Onion, but it’s not. Or thinking that I must have misread something, but… nope. Here are a few examples:

  • Trump really was planning to give the Medal of Freedom to Bill Belichick. That was not an Onion article. (He declined, though I actually did first read about that in The Onion.)
  • Someone Wrote “Trump” on a Florida Manatee, from the NY Times.
  • From NPR: “Joint Chiefs Remind U.S. Forces That They Defend The Constitution” — because apparently that’s something we can’t take for granted anymore?
  • And I could probably add a few more links, related to some of the characters who romped around the Capitol building last week, from the weird guy with the viking hat to the scary guy with the zip ties. I’ll just add one: “Jamiroquai Singer Says Capitol Rioter In The Viking Helmet Isn’t Him.”

I had a few serious, high-level, articles about the insurrection that I wanted to link to, but I’m too tired to do that, and I’m not sure they’re necessarily the best ones to reference. Maybe I’ll revisit that later. For now, just one more link: I Recommend Eating Chips, from the NY Times. This is a pretty dumb article, but it does kinda sum up how I’m feeling lately. I’m trying very hard not to stress-eat, and I’m definitely not eating Doritos, but I’ll admit I had a small bag of potato chips with my lunch on Sunday, and it felt pretty good.


New Year’s Day 2021

I’ve been writing big New Year’s Day posts on this blog every year for the last several years. I might as well do one this year too. Obviously, last year was a doozy, and a lot of stuff has changed, and a lot is still in flux. I’m not even sure where to start. So I’ll start with links to the last few New Year’s posts:

And I guess I’ll follow a format not too different from previous years.

Health, Weight, and Sleep

My weight has been pretty steady at around 135 pounds this year. It dipped a bit in spring & summer, getting down to 130 briefly, but has rebounded back to 135. I dropped some weight at the beginning of the pandemic, probably because I wasn’t eating any take-out food. I’m still logging all of my meals with Lose It, which I’ve been using since 2013.

I’m also still using Sleep Cycle as an alarm clock and to log my sleep. I’ve been having some weird dreams this year, but apparently so has everyone else. My sleep quality has been mixed, I’d say. Some nights I’m fine, and some nights I’m not.

I was pretty good about exercise through the spring and summer. I did a lot of walking. I’ve cut back on the walks now, since it’s been getting colder. If I don’t go out for a morning walk now, I try to do ten minutes on my exercise bike instead. (I’m glad I didn’t get rid of that thing.) I need to be careful about not letting up too much through the rest of the winter.

On the meditation front, I’ve certainly done more meditation this year than I’d usually do. One of the reasons for that is that I’ve been working from home since March, so it’s easy to take a ten minute midday meditation break. Back when I was working in a cubicle, I was too self-conscious to meditate at work. (And, really, the office environment is too noisy for meditation anyway.) I was using Insight Timer for most of this year, but I switched to Calm in December, since I had a deal to get a free year of Calm Premium. I have enough opinions on meditation apps right now that I should probably hold them for another post. But overall, I’d say that meditation helped me get through this crazy year.

I did finally get my hearing checked this year, in March, just before the pandemic lockdown really kicked in. The results were pretty much what I expected: I’ve lost a lot of hearing in my left ear. My right ear is fine. The doctor said that I’m not really at the stage where a hearing aid would make sense. My hearing issues haven’t really much mattered this year, though. If I’m talking to anybody at work, it’s on my computer, and I can just turn up the volume as much as I need. And I’m never in a crowded restaurant with a lot of background noise, so that’s not a problem either.

Work and Professional Development

I’m feeling very lucky to have had a good, steady, job this year, and to be able to work from home. My performance review for 2020 was very good. I didn’t really expect a raise this year, given the general state of the economy, but I got one. So that’s all good. There are going to be a lot of challenges ahead, going into 2021. Again, that’s probably a whole blog post of its own though.

On the professional development front, one nice thing to come out of 2020 was a lot of free virtual conferences. I didn’t participate in as many of those as I would have liked, but I did manage to watch some content from Microsoft Build and Microsoft Ignite. Most of my efforts at learning new stuff this year were centered around SharePoint Framework (SPFx) and Microsoft’s Power Platform stuff. I wasn’t really successful in getting any projects done with any of this new stuff in 2020 though. I have a couple of big projects at work that will really need to get done in 2021. I’m still not even sure if I’ll be using SPFx or Power Platform or something else though.

Looking at last year’s post, I see I was talking about trying to learn maybe Rust or Swift in 2020. I definitely didn’t do that. The one new general thing I tried to learn in 2020 was React. And that was mostly because I needed to learn it for SPFx.


I’m in pretty good shape, financially. Certainly better than most people, given the state of things. I’ve actually seen my checking account balance grow this year, presumably because I didn’t spend any money on travel, or on day trips to NYC, or even on a lot of little things like restaurant meals and gas for my car and Starbucks coffee. I expect 2021 will be similar. Given how little interest I make on my checking account, I really need to shunt some money over into my Merrill account and buy some more shares in an S&P 500 fund. The stock market (after a brief crash back in March) has done surprisingly well this year. And I probably need to sit down with a financial advisor at some point in 2021 and move some money around. There’s some stuff I want to do to simplify my finances a bit, but I can’t do it without figuring out the tax implications.

I opened two new credit card accounts this year, which is pretty unusual for me. I traded in the AmEx Green card I’d had since college for an AmEx EveryDay card. That was done mostly because the fee on the Green card had gone up to $150, so I wanted to replace it with a fee-free card. And I finally gave in and got an Apple Card. I’ve only used the Apple Card to buy my new Apple Watch, in November. I don’t really anticipate using it for anything other than Apple Store purchases.

I’ve also been thinking about getting an Amazon Prime credit card. I spent nearly $2000 at Amazon this year, so the 5% back could be as much as $100 for me. There’s really no reason for me not to get it, other than not wanting to add yet another card to my wallet.


I’m always obsessing over subscriptions. The pandemic has caused me to pull the trigger on a few subscriptions that I’ve been holding out on for years. Partially because I have some extra money to spend (as noted above), and partially because I have some extra time to kill at home. So I might as well spend some money and time on nice stuff that’ll distract me from the horrible state of the world right now.

I finally subscribed to Apple Music. I signed up for a six-month free trial in October, so I don’t need to start paying for it until April. But I will likely keep it going when that happens. After years of trying to resist switching from CDs & MP3s to a subscription service, I’ve finally given in and embraced the new way of doing things.

I’ve also signed up for Disney+ and Hulu. I wanted Disney+ for The Mandalorian and Soul. And Hulu had a Black Friday deal where you could get the ad-supported tier for $2/month for a year, so that seemed worthwhile. I’m still resisting HBO Max, but I might give in on that one too eventually. If Wonder Woman 1984 had gotten better reviews, I’d probably have done it by now.

I might also sign up for the Apple One subscription bundle at some point in 2021. I don’t really need Apple TV+ or Apple Arcade, but if the pandemic keeps going, I’ll probably give in on that.

Books and Comics

According to Goodreads, I read 86 books in 2020. I’d set a goal of 100 books, and I didn’t reach it, but I’m OK with that. Most of those were comics, but (again) I’m fine with that.

For my Great American Read group, I didn’t really get through much, but I did finish Gone With The Wind in March, so that was a big one. I also read White Teeth, Invisible Man, and The Outsiders from the TGAR list. I’m still an admin in that group, and we’re still posting monthly group reads, but I’m not sure why I’m still bothering with that. The other admin is doing about half the work, so that’s good. I feel like we’re going to have to wind that group down in 2021, but I’m not in a hurry to do so.

My favorite comics of the year were probably the Resident Alien collections that I read back in May. And the Locke & Key series was also surprisingly good.

I’m still ordering a few titles from Westfield every month, but I think I’m going to wind that down over the next few months. I haven’t gotten on board with DC’s Future State thing, and I’m not reading any Marvel books. So that just leaves a few books from smaller publishers, and it’s probably best if I just switch to digital and/or trades for those. Also, my Comixology backlog is nearly 200 books (mostly collections, not single issues), so just working through that could take me a few years.


As I mentioned recently, I watched a lot of movies in 2020. Looking at Letterboxd, I see that I watched a total of 73. Probably my favorite film of the year (that actually came out in 2020) was Soul. My second favorite would have been Onward, so the year for me was bookended with solid Pixar films. I did a rewatch of all four Avengers films early in the year, and a rewatch of all the Daniel Craig Bond films just recently. Those were both fun distractions. I also tried to watch a bunch of Kurosawa films, but I only got through four. For 2021, I want to watch some more Kurosawa, and maybe rewatch a bunch of Miyazaki films. (I bought several of them on Blu-ray earlier this year, and haven’t watched any of those discs yet.)


I am kind of proud of myself for getting through 2020 in one piece, not too much worse for wear. I managed to avoid putting on weight, picking up a drinking habit, getting COVID, and losing my job. I think my mental health is reasonably OK, all things considered. I’m trying not to stress about things I didn’t do. I’d like to have spent more time on “enriching” activities and less on pure distraction, but I’m mostly OK with having watched 73 movies and lots of TV, and having read a lot more comics this year than novels or non-fiction books.

I’m expecting the first couple of months of 2021 to be pretty rough. I think the vaccine rollout will be slow. I don’t expect a change in the status quo on mask wearing and social distancing and working from home. Winter will probably still be in full force through to early March, so we’re not going to be able to do much outdoors. I think the current surge of COVID cases will continue through February, and not start to let up until March. I don’t see us all being able to return to anything like normality until very late in 2021, if at all. But, hopefully, by summer, we’ll have enough folks vaccinated and the political situation will have stabilized enough that we’ll start on the road to “normal.”

I’m thinking a lot about short-term strategies for getting through winter. Things like getting my groceries delivered, watching a lot more “comfort” TV, reading a lot of comics, working out on the exercise bike, meditating, blogging, journaling, whatever helps. I’m not making any resolutions for 2021. I’m going to take it day by day, and I think that’s what we’re all going to have to do.