The 10,000 Step Club – 2020 Edition

Last year, as I was finishing up my fourth year with the Fitbit, I took my last look at my 25 best step days since I first started tracking my steps way back in July of 2011.  At the time, I had surpassed the 10,000 step plateau 217 times.  In the past year, I have managed to add an additional 45 occurrences, my 3rd best year to date, for a total of 262.  With my fifth year using the Fitbit coming to an end last week, I thought it would be appropriate to take a new look at my top 25 step days over the past 8 1/2 years, featuring only 3 new entries.

1: 4/14/2018 – 27,470 steps

My best single day total is from my April 2017 trip to New York to see Angelina.  The day’s excursions included trips to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, Central Park, the Guggenheim museum, and the Empire State Building.

2: 7/21/2018 – 27,278 steps

My July 2017 trip to Virginia, to hike up Catawba Mountain to McAfee Knob with Jeff and Val, fell just short of the top spot.

3: 6/6/2013 – 24,988 steps

2013’s trip to Disney World, which spent 5 years as my single day best, included excursions to both Epcot Center and the Magic Kingdom, and yes, falling 12 steps short of 25,000 still irks me.

4: 6/3/2019 – 24,665 steps

The first new entry comes thanks to last summer’s trip to Washington DC, and the day spent at the Smithsonian Zoo.

5: 8/8/2019 – 23,866 steps

The second new entry is from last summer’s work trip out to San Francisco and the day I walked to Pier 39 and then back to Oracle Park to see the Giants take on the Phillies.  It would have been even higher but I was dead tired and took an Uber back to the hotel after the game.

6: 3/18/2018 – 23,780 steps

Dropping out of the top 5 after only 1 year is my first day in Las Vegas for the 2017 IBM Think conference.  The day’s totals include gallivanting around town, including a trip up to Caesar’s Palace from the MGM Grand to see Absinthe.

7: 10/24/2018 – 23,362 steps

My October 2018 trip to Boston to see Angelina for our birthday gives us our next entry.  While she was in class, I took tours of Fenway Park and Harvard, before meeting up with her for a late lunch and then heading to the airport for the trip home.

8: 3/22/2016 – 22,493 steps

My one-time second highest day took place during the ill-fated trip to Disney World in March of 2016.  The day’s excursion started at Hollywood Studios before heading over to Epcot Center with Jeff and Val.

9: 7/27/2013 – 20,592 steps

Still my highest total at home in the state of Illinois, the next entry comes thanks to the 2013 BTN 5K and a, for lack of a better word, misunderstanding about where I should be picked up after the race.

10: 12/29/2018 – 20,374 steps

We wrap up the top 10 with 2018’s trip to California and the trip to Disneyland to see Danny perform with the Lincoln-Way Marching Band.

11: 8/5/2017 – 20,218 steps

The next entry came in August of 2017 on the first day of my trip to Boston with Danny and Michael.  After landing in town, we traipsed to the Science Museum, a breakfast joint, our hotel, and, finally, Fenway Park.

12: 7/14/2017 – 20,208 steps

Down to #12 is my 2017 trip to Disney World, a one day journey with Angelina to celebrate her high school graduation. Continue reading →

52 Books in 52 Weeks – 2020 Edition

A new year is once again upon us, and it is time to start the second decade with the goal to read an average of a book a week for the entire year, totaling 52 books in 52 weeks.

In year one, I only managed to finish 8 books.  Year two doubled that total.  Year three used a few graphic novels to improve once again, finishing with 24.  Year four was the first where I dropped from the year before, only finishing 18 books, which was well short of the ultimate goal.  Year five, I bounced back to finish with 23 books.  Year six, I had my best year since starting this challenge, not to mention my best reading year ever, finishing with 31 books.  In year seven, I matched that high point in total books, though far surpassing it in total pages read thanks to reading the entire Harry Potter series.  Three years ago, I dropped back down to 28.  Two years ago, I finished with my lowest total since 2014, finishing with only 22 books. Last year, I managed to up my total back to 28.

I’m going to give it another go this year.  I’ve got plenty of new books stocked up in the Kindle app on my iPad, not to mention one or two birthday and Christmas presents, so I’ve got a good pile to start with.  As a reminder, the rules I am using are:

  • You can count a book as read as long as you have completed the book in 2020 and at least 50% of that reading takes place in 2020
  • Any book counts as long as you’re not embarrassed to count it.
  • Poetry collections do indeed count.
  • Re-reading a book is okay as long as it isn’t done this year. (Reading Twilight twice in 2010 only counts as 1 read)
  • Audiobooks also count.

My first book of the year looks like it will be an autobiography of 2020 Ford C. Frick Award winner Ken Harrelson.  All told, 2020 should be another good year.

The Still Growing 10,000 Step Club

Last year, as I was finishing up my third year with the Fitbit, I took my last look at the top 25 step days I’ve had since I first started tracking my steps way back in July of 2011.  At the time, I had surpassed the 10,000 step plateau 165 times.  In the past year, I have managed to add an additional 52 occurrences, my best year to date, for a total of 218.  With my fourth year using the Fitbit coming to an end last week, I thought it would be appropriate to take a new look at my top 25 step days over the past 7 1/2 years, featuring 10 new entries.

1: 4/14/2018 – 27,470 steps

My best single day total is our first new entry, coming this past April during a trip to New York to see Angelina.  The day’s excursions included trips to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, Central Park, the Guggenheim museum, and the Empire State Building.

2: 7/21/2018 – 27,278 steps

Another new entry, from July’s trip to Virginia, fell just short of the top spot, thanks to a hike up Catawba Mountain to McAfee Knob with Jeff and Val.

3: 6/6/2013 – 24,988 steps

After 5 years as my single day best, 2013’s trip to Disney World falls down two spots.  The day’s excursion to both Epcot Center and the Magic Kingdom ended up with a total of approximately 12.5 miles.

4: 3/18/2018 – 23,780 steps

The third new entry comes from last spring’s trip to Las Vegas for the IBM Think conference.  The day’s totals include gallivanting around town, including a trip up to Caesar’s Palace from the MGM Grand to see Absinthe.

5: 10/24/2018 – 23,362 steps

We round out the top 5 with the fourth new entry, from last fall’s trip to Boston to see Angelina for our birthday.  While she was in class, I took tours of Fenway Park and Harvard, before meeting up with her for a late lunch and then heading to the airport for the trip home.

6: 3/22/2016 – 22,493 steps

My former second highest day took place during the ill-fated trip to Disney World in March of 2016.  The day’s excursion started at Hollywood Studios before heading over to Epcot Center with Jeff and Val.

7: 7/27/2013 – 20,592 steps

My now seventh highest total, and my highest at home in the state of Illinois, came thanks to the BTN 5K and a, for lack of a better word, misunderstanding about where I should be picked up after the race.

8: 12/29/2018 – 20,374 steps

The eighth highest entry, and fifth new entry, took place just over a month ago and the trip to Disneyland to see Danny perform with the Lincoln-Way Marching Band.

9: 8/5/2017 – 20,218 steps

The ninth highest entry came in August of 2017 on the first day of my trip to Boston with Danny and Michael.  After landing in town, we traipsed to the Science Museum, a breakfast joint, our hotel, and, finally, Fenway Park.

10: 7/14/2017 – 20,208 steps

We wrap up the top 10 with another trip to Disney World, this time a one day journey with Angelina to celebrate her high school graduation. Continue reading →

52 Books in 52 Weeks – 2019 Edition

bookshelfA new year is once again upon us, and it is time to start year ten of the goal to read a book a week for the entire year, totaling 52 books in 52 weeks.  In year one, I only made it to 8 books.  Year two doubled that total.  Year three used graphic novels to improve once again, finishing with 24.  Year four was the first where I dropped from the year before, only finishing 18 books, which was well short of the ultimate goal.  Year five, I bounced back to finish with 23 books.  Year six, I had my best year since starting this challenge, not to mention my best reading year ever, finishing with 31 books.  Three years ago, I matched that high point in total books, though far surpassing it in total pages read thanks to reading the entire Harry Potter series.  Two years ago, I dropped back down to 28.  Last year, I finished with my lowest total since 2014.

I’m going to give it another go this year.  I’ve got plenty of new books loaded in the Kindle app on my iPad, plus a few new purchases from Amazon, not to mention one or two birthday and Christmas presents, so I’ve got a good pile to start with.  As a reminder, the rules I am using are:

  • You can count a book as read as long as you have completed the book in 2019 and at least 50% of that reading takes place in 2018
  • Any book counts as long as you’re not embarrassed to count it.
  • Poetry collections do indeed count.
  • Re-reading a book is okay as long as it isn’t done this year. (Reading Twilight twice in 2010 only counts as 1 read)
  • Audiobooks also count.

My first book of the year looks like it will be authored by a former president.  All told, 2019 should be another good year.

Prolific Authors 2017

Way back in December of 2011 (and again in the Decembers of 2013 and 2015), we took a look at the authors I have read the most, dating back to high school. Since our last check-in, I’ve read an additional 60 books from 47 different authors. There shouldn’t be much movement over the past 2 years, but it’s time to take another look and see if my “favorite” authors have changed much in that time span. Once again, we will be limiting ourselves to the now 54 authors from whom I have read more than one book.

Author Name Current Total 2015 Total Difference
Nancy Holder 15 13 2

A new leader in the clubhouse, as Nancy Holder adds 2 new additions over the past 2 years to put her out front.

Richard Castle 14 9 5

The second largest increase (or largest for someone I had read before) goes to the writer (or writers) using the nom de plume of the main character from the television show Castle.  I’m guessing this total will stay pretty static, with the show off the air for over a year now.

Greg Rucka 13 13 0
Christopher Golden 12 12 0
Stephen King 12 12 0

These three round out the top 5 with absolutely no movement over the past 2 years.

Brad Meltzer 11 9 2
Jeffery Deaver 8 5 3

Slight increases for both of these authors, with more to come.  Meltzer’s next book is already pre-ordered, while there are a few unread Deaver works on my Kindle. Continue reading →

The Still Growing 10,000 Step Club

Last year, as I was finishing my first year with a Fitbit, I took my last look at the top 20 step days I’ve had since I first started tracking my steps way back in July of 2011.  At the time, I had only surpassed the 10,000 step plateau 81 times.  In the past year, I have managed to add an additional 35 occurrences, raising the total to 116.  With my second year using the Fitbit coming to an end last week, I thought it would be appropriate to take a new look at my now top 25 step days over the past 5 1/2 years, featuring 12 new entries.

btn10K-41: 6/6/2013 – 24,988 steps

My best single day total continues to be from my 2013 trip to Disney World.  The day’s excursion to both Epcot Center and the Magic Kingdom ended up with a total of approximately 12.5 miles.  And yes, it still bothers me that I didn’t get those 12 additional steps to reach 25,000.

2: 3/22/2016 – 22,493 steps

My first new entry shares much in common with my #1 day, taking place in Disney World last March.  The day’s excursion started at Hollywood Studios before heading over to Epcot Center with Jeff and Val.

3: 7/27/2013 – 20,592 steps

My now third highest total came nearly 2 months after my highest, thanks to the BTN 5K and a, for lack of a better word, misunderstanding about where I should be picked up after the race.  These 3 days are the sum total of my days over 20,000 steps.

4: 6/2/2016 – 18,725 steps

The second new entry comes from last June’s trip to Universal Studios.  Our first full day at the park, we split the day between Universal and Islands of Adventure, taking in all of the different Harry Potter options.

5: 6/4/2016 – 18,617 steps

The third new entry rounds up the top 5 with another entry from last June’s trip to Universal Studios.  The day included another trip to Islands of Adventure, and would have ended up even higher but for an afternoon trip to the hotel pool.

6: 9/6/2015 – 18,259 steps

Down three slots from last year, my now-sixth highest total comes courtesy of my trip to Toronto in September 2015.  This Sunday consisted of traversing around Toronto, with trips to Royal Ontario Museum and, at night, the Molson Canadian Ampitheatre for the Oddball Comedy Fest.

7: 9/11/2015 – 17,889 steps

My seventh best total also occurred during my trip to Toronto.  My last day in the city was spent at the Eaton Centre mall, the Hockey Hall of Fame, and a few other stops.

8: 6/8/2013 – 17,852 steps

My now-eighth highest output brings us back to Disney World in 2013, this time for a day split between Animal Kingdom in the morning and Hollywood Studios in the afternoon.

9: 6/1/2016 – 17,243 steps

My fourth new entry again comes courtesy of last summer’s trip to Universal.  This first day of the trip started in Chicago at O’Hare and took us to the Hard Rock Hotel for check-in and a round of mini-golf at City Walk before taking a quick trip in the afternoon to Islands of Adventure to reacquaint ourselves with the original Harry Potter attractions.

10: 6/5/2016 – 16,317 steps

We round out the top 10 with my fifth new entry, which again took place last summer at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, where we tried to take in all of the non-Harry Potter attractions.

11: 9/5/2015 – 16,083 steps

We head back to Toronto for my eleventh highest day, my first full day in the city.  There was exploring along the riverfront and, of course, a trip to Rogers Centre for a Blue Jays game.

12: 9/23/2014 – 15,728 steps

This total was accomplished thanks to the 2014 Sprint & Stride 5K race that was held at work.

13: 4/11/2016 – 15,597 steps

My sixth new entry took place last April, where an exciting day of work was followed by a trip to Wrigley Field for Opening Day festivities.

14: 9/9/2012 – 14,957 steps

My now-fourteenth highest total comes thanks to a Sunday in Belfast spent walking from our hotel, down to the Titanic museum, and then back again.

15: 6/7/2013 – 14,940 steps

Another day of 2013’s vacation to Disney World, this day started with a morning trip to the hotel pool, followed by an abbreviated day at the Magic Kingdom.

Continue reading →

2016: The Year In Movies

Movie_Reel_22

2016 saw a bit of an uptick in movie watching for me, with the vacation over the past 3 weeks of December helping to greatly boost my total to its highest level since 2011.  I managed to watch 88 movies last year, 19 more than last year, though my fifth consecutive year under 100.  Again, many things contributed to this, chiefly the insane amount of TV I’ve been watching, the greater effort made towards going out for walks, and the awful amount of time I spend either at work or getting to and from work.

Here’s a look back at the first 50 movies I did manage to watch last year and what recollection, if any, I have of them. The films are listed in the order I saw them.

RU Awake? (2015)
A short film starring the lovely and talented Molly C. Quinn.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011)
A young kid tries to solve a mystery connected to his father who died in the 9/11 attacks.

The Pact (2012)
A bad horror film starring TV’s Caity Lotz.

Tell Tale (2010)
A short that I have no real recollection of.

Let’s Be Cops (2014)
Two Purdue alums find that impersonating cops is better than their normal lives.

John Wick (2014)
Keanu Reeves returns in a surprisingly good turn about a mourning hitman who returns to work after his former boss turns on him.

If I Stay (2014)
A teenage girl faces a choice to live or die after a car accident puts her in a coma.

Two Night Stand (2014)
A snow storm forces a hookup to last much longer than either participant anticipated.

Hot Pursuit (2015)
Reese Witherspoon is a no-nonsense cop who learns to bend the rules while trying to arrest Sofia Vergara.

Backcountry (2015)
A city couple gets lost in the woods while camping. Continue reading →

52 Books in 52 Weeks – 2017 Edition

bookshelfA new year is once again upon us, and it is time to start year eight of the goal to read a book a week for the entire year, totaling 52 books in 52 weeks.  In year one, I only made it to 8 books.  Year two doubled that total.  Year three used graphic novels to improve once again, finishing with 24.  Year four was the first where I dropped from the year before, only finishing 18 books, which was well short of the ultimate goal.  Three years ago, I bounced back to finish with 23 books.  Two years ago, I had my best year since starting this challenge, not to mention my best reading year ever, finishing with 31 books.  Last year, I matched that high point in total books, though far surpassing it in total pages read thanks to reading the entire Harry Potter series.

I’m going to give it another go this year.  I’ve got a few new books loaded in the Kindle app on my iPad, plus a few new purchases from Amazon, not to mention birthday and Christmas presents, so I’ve got a good pile to start with.  As a reminder, the rules I am using are:

  • You can count a book as read as long as you have completed the book in 2017 and at least 50% of that reading takes place in 2017
  • Any book counts as long as you’re not embarrassed to count it.
  • Poetry collections do indeed count.
  • Re-reading a book is okay as long as it isn’t done this year. (Reading Twilight twice in 2010 only counts as 1 read)
  • Audiobooks also count.

My first book of the year looks like it will be A Bloody Storm, the third part of Richard Castle’s Derrick Storm novellas.  All told, 2017 should be another good year.

Book 30 (of 52) – Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling

11 months ago, I started on this journey into the world of Harry Potter rather reluctantly.   Now, having finished the seventh and final book in the series, I’m going to say it was a worthwhile ordeal.  In this last entry, Harry, Ron, and Hermoine have left Hogwarts and are tracking down the remaining Horcruxes in an effort to defeat Voldemort once and for all.

Rowling definitely ups the action this time out, and characters we’ve come to know and love do not survive the final battle.  The stakes are real, as they should be after 7 trips to the same universe.  All in all, it was well worth the effort to cram all 7 books in to one year.