Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Best of 2014

Everybody likes looking back on the year and comparing their experiences to see what stood out most for them in their field. I don't really have a field in which to determine such things, but I'll see what I can do with what I've experienced: video games, hikes, movies, blog posts, podcasts, and TV shows. Alas, I didn't really read many books this year.

On that note, I'm judging things that I experienced this year, not things that were made this year. There are too many things that were made this year that I didn't experience, and too many things I experienced that weren't made this year. Also, this list is limited to things I experienced for the first time this year, so things like my Final Fantasy 7 play-through don't count. Given that, here we go:


Dragon Age: Inquisition. No question. I'm still getting lost in this massive fantasy world and enjoying it thoroughly. Unlike most other games I've played this year I haven't quite beaten the game yet, but I'm not worried. This game is hitting all the right notes for me: cool characters I enjoy talking to, a cool story, rewarding exploration, good voice acting, and an understandable crafting system.

Runners up: Papers, Please and Rogue Legacy. Papers, Please showed me a whole new kind of video game and made it incredible, while Rogue Legacy sucked me in and kicked in my "one more time!" compulsion like few things ever have.


Hutch's Pool. No question. It was a long, long hike (about 14 miles, according to Laura's pedometer), but the sights we saw along the way were just awesome. We ended up deep in the Santa Catalina mountains, with Tucson completely hidden by the mountains between us and the city. The pool itself was pretty cool, too, as was the stream that ran from it. If we ever go again, though, we need to leave early enough that we can get back to the shuttle stop and ride the shuttle back rather than adding several miles to the hike.

Runners up: Madera Canyon and Cathedral Rock. Both of these hikes lead to beautiful views, and both were not in Tucson. Madera Canyon showed us a verdant valley of green in the middle of a desert while Cathedral Rock offered a tough climb up to a magnificent view of the Sedona area. Also, a special mention to Ventana Canyon, where I proposed to Laura.


Brazil. I saw a lot of great movies this year, so this is probably the toughest choice. However, Brazil stands out as the most interesting movie experience I had this year, with an interesting, strange, funny, somewhat depressing story that I'll never forget and which I'll want to share with others.

Runners up: The Wind Rises and 12 Angry Men. I also feel like I should mention Inside Llewyn Davis and Seven for being stand-out movies as well.


Specifically, I'm talking about my own blog posts. Having written 362 of them so far this year, there has to be at least one or two good ones, right? Most of the time I'm just barfing words on a page and hoping it's somehow understandable, but there were a few posts that stand out to me:

My favorite is probably The "Be Yourself" Fallacy, in which I attempt to tear down a phrase that people like to throw around like it's gospel. I also enjoyed my posts where I talk about my dad, leadership, how to be good at things, an economic theory, and America's obsession with fixing things. If you have a favorite, though, let me know! I'm very interested in finding out what was received well.


The History of Rome. I learned a lot, and this podcast rekindled an interest in history for me. It also gave me hours and hours of content to listen to.

Runners up: WTF and Planet Money. Marc Maron's WTF podcast delves deep into the lives of the people he interviews, and it's very interesting to listen to most of the time. Planet Money, meanwhile, does what I hoped to do with my economic blog posts: translate the complicated world of money into something you can understand.


Friday Night Lights. A show about an alternate reality in which football is the most important facet of people's lives. Seriously, though, the show is dealing with some pretty interesting social issues, and it's interesting watching this small town grow and change over the course of the show. I'm only one season in, though, so I don't know if the show maintains this level of quality. Here's hoping.

Runners up: The Legend of Korra and A Game of Thrones. Korra jsut kept getting better and better right up to the end, and I love that the show was primarily available online for the final seasons, though I do wonder what that did to the show's budget. Game of Thrones, meanwhile, keeps straying farther from the books as time goes on, and I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes.

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