Leaving 2016 Behind
H. Bradford 1/19/17
I know that January is almost over, but I was never really able to finish reflecting upon my year. I’ve been a little busy, or mostly a little sleepy and lethargic. Things don’t quite feel “closed out.” I had about 50 New Year’s Resolutions for 2016 and I completed just over half. Here are the things I completed, the things I sort of completed, and the things I failed to complete. Really, 2016 was another great year. I visited southern Africa and the Caribbean and my brother in Texas twice. I graduated from CSS. I took up some old hobbies. I was politically active. There is little to complain about in my personal life. 2017 will have a lot to live up to. I don’t even think it is worthwhile to try to make 2017 as good as 2016! There are good years and there are bad years, but I think 2016 will be remembered as one of the best. Here are the accomplishments and failures of 2016…
- 125 Miles in State Parks/Trails: Completed
2016 was the 125 year anniversary of the State Park System so there was a challenge to complete 125 miles in the park during the year. Park users were encouraged to log the miles they spent hiking, biking, and paddling. I dutifully logged my miles. I even completed it in early November, logging most of my miles on the Munger Trail in October. I went on several autumn bike rides. It was a great way to watch the season unfold, as it was a Friday ritual each week in October. In the end, I completed the 125 miles, but I actually didn’t submit it to get my sticker and my face on the website. I took a victory picture and everything. I guess I forgot about it after the initial victory. It was New Year’s Eve when I finally remembered, but by then, it was too late. Oh well, it I really cared about the sticker, I would have submitted it. The sticker actually caused some anxiety, since I feared that I would lose it. Perhaps I can reward myself in some other way.
2. Visit Four New State Parks: Did Not Fully Complete
I visited three new state parks, though I suppose if I counted states outside of Minnesota or U.S. territories, I would have accomplished the goal. However, the goal was meant to be Minnesota state parks. As such, I did not fully meet this goal. This year, I visited the Hill Annex Mine State Park, Banning State Park, and Scenic State Park. Hill Annex Mine State Park was pretty cool, since my friends and I went fossil hunting there. It is an old mine pit that has uncovered cretaceous fossils. I found several neat fossils during our time spent fossil hunting. After the fossil hunt, we went on a mine tour, where we learned more about the mine’s history. Banning State Park was also quite nice, since it has lovely trails that wind along the Kettle River and sandstone cliffs. One of the trails marks various historical markers from when the park was a sandstone quarry. Finally, the third park, Scenic State Park, was visited only briefly. My friends and I spent a few hours there after visiting the Hill Annex Mine park. The park was more remote and not as well visited as the others. Since we were exhausted from fossil hunting and the mine tour, the park was not appreciated as much as it could have been.
3. Go Snowshoeing Four Times: Did not Fully Complete I went three times. Fail.
4. Go cross country skiing four times: Did not fully Complete
I only went twice last winter. Fail.
5. Go to Four Musical Events: Did not fully complete I don’t appreciate music enough. The only concert that I intentionally went to was Russian Christmas, a Christmas concert by the UWS Orchestra. I had a really fun time. It took me back to high school band. All of the music students looked wonderfully dorky. It made me want to join a community band. The other music events were Pride, which I was tabling at and a work meeting which happened to be at Little Angie’s while Hannah Rey Dunda was playing. Yep…so, attending more musical events is something that I need to work on.
6. Read Four Russian Novels: Fail
I read zero Russian novels last year.
7. Take of violin again: Completed Technically I did do this, but I only practiced about six times, mostly in December. But, I guess this beats the zero times that I practiced the last seven years!
8. Take up Ballet Again: Completed
I started taking adult ballet lessons back in September. This was the first time since 2011. You can read about it here.
9. Study Russian: Completed Again, I technically did this, but not very much. Again, you can read about it here: https://brokenwallsandnarratives.wordpress.com/2016/12/23/reflections-on-being-the-worst/
10. Do Yoga: Completed
I went to yoga classes twice. Again, not a stellar performance.
11. Try Four New Hobbies: Did not fully complete I tried three new hobbies. One of them, I did pretty well. The first new hobby was birding, which I think I availed myself at pretty well for my first year trying it. I recorded 132 species of birds last year. This is a hobby that I will continue. You can read about it here: https://brokenwallsandnarratives.wordpress.com/2016/12/03/a-year-of-birding/
The other hobby that I tried was collecting sea glass. This was a lazier hobby, if anything can be lazier than watching birds. I collected some glass found along Lake Superior overall several visits. I imagined doing some kind of craft or making jewelry, but I lost interest in it by the end of summer.
Finally, I started doing crossword puzzles, which is a way to pass time while on a plane or in the last fifteen minutes of my shift at work. It challenges my brain and offers a mild sense of accomplishment.
12. Go on a Cruise: Completed
You can read about it here:
13. Go to Africa: Completed You can read about it here: https://brokenwallsandnarratives.wordpress.com/2016/11/05/an-overview-of-overland-travel/
14. Plan a Trip to Central Asia: Completed
The travel continues. This summer I will be traveling to the “stan” countries for another overland trip.
15. Do the Entire Munger Trail: Fail I have done this before in chunks. A few summers ago, I did a grueling bike ride between Mooselake and Hinkley and back. It sucked. Maybe it is okay to fail at this goal.
16. Go to Four Cultural Events: Did not Fully Complete
I went to two cultural events. The first was Anton Trier’s talk at the Duluth Public Library and the second was Juneteenth in Superior.
17. Attend 40 Political Events: Completed I blew this goal out of the water, as I attended around 75 political events! You can read about this goal here: https://brokenwallsandnarratives.wordpress.com/2016/12/14/making-socialist-resolutions-an-activists-new-year/
18. Graduate from CSS:
I also blew this out of the water. I earned my Masters in Teaching and when I added all of the points possible in my classes versus the points that I obtained, I earned 99.33% of the points possible. So, yes, I lost a few points in a few classes, but I felt pretty proud. Also, I feel a little sad to be out of school. I feel that my brain is stagnating. You can read about it here:
19. Watch Twelve Documentaries: Completed I mostly watched a few Netflix series, including Wildest Africa, Wildest Indochina, a few episodes of Cosmos, a documentary about Ireland, and a documentary about Cats.
20. Watch Twelve Classic Movies or Read Twelve Classic Books: Fail
I watched three classic movies. These included Dracula, the Lady Vanishes, and Out of Africa. I try to limit my TV time and watch less than four hours of tv or movies a month. So, unfortunately I don’t get many documentaries or classic movies in during a year.
21. Run 10 Miles: Fail I think that the most that I ran was 6.
22. Identify 10 Butterflies, 10 Ferns, 10 New Wild Flowers, and 10 Trees: Did not Fully Complete
I taught myself to identify 10 new trees and 10 new butterflies, but failed to teach myself to identify any new ferns and only identified five new wild flowers.
23. Try Four New Fruits or Veggies: Did not fully complete I tried napales, ground cherry, and gem squash. To be honest, it is a little hard to find a fruit or vegetable that I have not tried yet!
24. Eat at Four New Restaurants: Completed
This may seem like an easy task, but I am a creature of habit. I often go where the food is familiar as it is easier. This year, I went to 7W Tap House. I liked the vegetarian selections, but found the food overly greasy. I also went to Toasty’s, which is pretty good as I like grilled cheese sandwiches, but also a bit too greasy. I went to Valentino’s, which I remember being good. I also went to Azteca twice. I tried out Bridgeman’s in Duluth, which actually has really good wild rice burgers. Finally, I did trivia at the Breeze Inn on Halloween and enjoyed the food there. I did eat at new places when I traveled, but this goal was meant to challenge me to try new local restaurants.
25. Write an article of Socialist Action: Fail Sorry party!
26. Do a travel series for Socialist Action locally: Fail
I thought it would be fun to do a travel series of educational presentations about places I’ve been like North Korea or Chernobyl, but I didn’t end up doing this.
27. Read 20 Books: Completed
I had a low reading goal and ended up reading 24 books. You can read about it here: https://brokenwallsandnarratives.wordpress.com/2017/01/13/a-year-of-books/
28. Begin my Life Birding List: Completed
29. Go to the Dentist: Completed I had been avoiding this for a few years. Well, no excuses as I have dental insurance now. I ended up going three times. Twice for cleanings and once for a filling.
30. Hit a Traveler’s ½ Century: Completed
A traveler’s century means traveling to 100 countries. This year, I hit 50, hence the ½ century mark. I believe I am at 55 countries at the moment, depending upon what counts as a “country.”
31. Go to the Planetarium Four times: Completed I went to UMD’s planetarium four times, where I learned about the moons of the solar system, voyager I and II, and the June night sky.
32. See the Northern Lights: Fail
Although I monitored the KP index and went out on several nights with high solar activity, I did not see the northern lights.
33. See a Meteor Shower: Fail Although I attempted to watch the night sky during a few meteor showers over the year, the conditions were too cloudy or simply did not yield enough meteors to feel worthwhile.
34. Take an Art Class: Fail
35. Volunteer Four Times: Completed
I volunteered with NYS to make fleece blankets for youth in their programs, though I only made one blanket. I also volunteered at the Loaves and Fishes Holiday Party for the first time. The party is an annual event, wherein low income or homeless people in Duluth can enjoy a free holiday meal with music. It was a really nice event. I also volunteered to table for the Homeless Bill of Rights at Duluth All Soul’s Night, and tabled for Safe Haven at Pride and Love and Bruises.
36. Go Camping: Completed
37. Edit Book 1: Fail I did not do any editing of the books I have written and have not published.
38. Finish Book 5: Fail
39. Play Soccer: Completed You can read about it here: https://brokenwallsandnarratives.wordpress.com/2016/12/23/reflections-on-being-the-worst/
40. Go to Fencing Four Times: Fail
My legs and saggy butt could really use some fencing. Alas, I didn’t even attend once!
42. Get an Archaeopteryx Tattoo: Completed
43. Write 25 Blog Posts: Completed
I actually wrote 50 Blog posts in 2016!
44. Go to an artistic event: Completed I went to an art show at the Red Herring Lounge about Duluth Labor History. So, as you can see, I can really grow in my appreciation of art.
45. Write a Poem: Completed
I wrote a few poems. I can’t say I am a great poet, but hey, at least I tried!
46. Study Korean: Completed I didn’t quantify this goal. So, let’s say I studied Korean, but not very much.
47. Collect Four Globes: Fail
I decided that collecting globes would be fun and educational. I did not buy any antique globes, putting my collection at zero.
48. Attend Two Performing Arts Events: Completed I went to see the Nutcracker and Dracula ballets. I also went to the Vagina Monologues, which I would also count.
49. Try Four New Activities: Completed
This differs from the goal of four new hobbies, as it is meant to be something that may or may not be repeated in the future. My four new activities were searching for fossils, a helicopter ride, a helmet dive, and collecting sea glass. I double counted collecting sea glass, so perhaps this is cheating. The helicopter ride was exhilarating though slightly dizzying. The helmet dive was uncomfortable, disorienting, and a little terrifying. Collecting sea glass and fossils were both pretty tame activities, as one can imagine.
50. Attend Four New Social Events: Completed
I tried out a few new social events, such as Books and Beer, where people get together to read and drink at the Red Herring Lounge. I don’t drink, but I like books, so, it was pretty cool. I also attended my first “Nerd Nite.” Socialist Action launched a new social event called Socialism and a Slice at Pizza Luce. I also attended a meeting for the Society of Creative Anachronism, which was pretty fun, but I don’t have time to devote to it at the moment. Other social events included trivia at Pizza Luce, comedy night, and the Russian table at Sir Ben’s.
51. Run a 5K: Completed
I actually ran two! I ran the Pride 5k and the Spooktacular 5K in Superior.