2016 Annual Report: Antipodal

Most of these annual wrap-up blog posts are about the incremental changes from the year before. Slight changes, evolutionary changes. This year the change was bigger and more drastic than that.

Sure, I still did a lot of the same things: watched movies (47, up from 44 in 2015) and bought new music (20, down from 22 in 2015), and I actually read a few books this year (3) unlike 2015 when I read a grand total of zero. My consumption continued to drop in another area: I lost even more weight, getting down to my lowest level since 2001. Low enough that I could, and did, break out some of my favourite old t-shirts.

Meanwhile, work continued to dominate the year, especially early on. The thing I’d been working on so hard in 2014 and 2015 launched in January, and through the end of March it consumed pretty much every waking hour I had. It was a huge success, though, so it all seemed worth it.

I somehow managed to escape the office long enough for vacations to Costa Rica and Rwanda (with a stop in Amsterdam), and work jaunts to Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa twice, and Vancouver. I got away to Montreal two more times in the fall as well.

Of course, there was also a lot going on right here at home in Toronto, like hosting a New Year’s Eve party, seeing Jane Goodall speak, a Jays game, the Session craft beer fest, watching The Hip’s final concert in friends’ backyard, TIFF, visits from brother #1 and brother #2, a frigid MLS Cup final, and some live music.

I tried some new restaurants too, both in Toronto (Batch, Bar Hop 2, Pukka, The Wren, Buca Yorkville, The Gabardine, Thirsty & Miserable, and Little AAA) and out (Modern Steak, Charcut, The Catch, and Beer Revolution in Calgary; Redstone in Beamsville; Heaven in Kigali; Little Collins in Amsterdam; Modavie, Bocata, Brouhaha, and Mamm Bolduc in Montreal; Maison Publique, L’Amère A Boire, Pullman, and Station Ho.st also in Montreal; Union 613 in Ottawa; Bières et Compagnie, Pub Pit Caribou, and Brasserie Boswell in Montreal; and Gotham in Vancouver.

I did manage to get outside the city a little bit too, to Bat Lake in March, Niagara with brother #2 and my sister-in-law in the summer, and Eigensinn Farm with friends. Nothing after the summer though. After the summer things got complicated.

Without getting into too much detail, Nellie and I separated in September after being married more than twelve years. That was a pretty big, jarring event which threw the rest of the year into some disarray — for the last four months or so it’s been moving and lawyers and finances and such. Again, I won’t get too into the details, but in a year where people were selling 2016 Sucked tshirts, this was one more very tough event close to home.

And so a year that started off with so much success and celebration ended in a lot of chaos, making the year feel very bipolar. But there were some very silver linings too, which I’ll talk about some other time. For now, I’m going to wave goodbye to 2016, and not be the least bit sad to see it go.


Cover photo by Dani Ihtatho, used under Creative Commons license

2015 Annual Report: Hyper-focus

If 2014 was the year when work became the primary focus of our lives, 2015 was the year where it more or less became the only focus. In short, this was the year in which we cut back on a lot of stuff we enjoy, either to focus on our jobs, or for other reasons entirely.

Which is not to say I/we didn’t consume a lot…but the volume seems to be continuing on a downward trend as work grows in importance. We watched just 44 new movies this year, down from 51 last year, and the fewest we’ve ever watched since I began tracking in 2004. I bought far more music though, partly because I’ve started listening to music at work more often and can evaluate more new stuff. I bought 22 new albums this year, up from 6 last year, and the most in any year since 2009.

What really suffered, though, was the reading. Books, especially — I can’t remember finishing a single new book this year. I started a few but never got more than a few dozen pages in. It wasn’t just books though: last year I ready eight books, blaming the low consumption on the time it took to read all my feeds, posts, and tweets. This year, though, I effectively stopped following Twitter sometime in the fall. Books, Twitter…one by one the distractions got eliminated.

It went further: we didn’t even bother booking Hot Docs tickets this year, for the first time since we started attending the festival. We didn’t get out to the wineries in Prince Edward County or in Niagara, except for a couple of stops on the way to our friends’ place. There were no summer trips up to Bat Lake, just a quick one in March. There wasn’t a big trip like in years past. No new continent explored. Not even a new city, except where work provided an excuse.

On the plus side, I also cut back in one other big area: my weight. As of this summer I started tracking what I ate, and I lost about 20 pounds. I’m not starving myself…I still eat and drink the same things. I just stopped eating the stuff I didn’t really want. I don’t even exercise. When could I? I’m working 70+ hours per week. [Note: I do not miss exercise and, on the whole, I enjoy my work, so…I’m good with this.]

Still, it’s not as if I’ve been living a secluded, monastic lifestyle. I mean, we traveled more than most people: New Orleans for Mardi Gras, Berlin (with Nellie, for work), Istanbul (without Nellie, also for work), an absolutely legendary 40th birthday trip to Quebec City and Montreal, and 18 hours to New York and back (again without Nellie, again for work).

We did a decent amount in Toronto too: the World Juniors, a Hip concert with CBGB, a beerworking event, the sixth Session beer festival, a Raptors game (which was unfortunately sullied by the presence of Stephen Harper), a Rush concert (one of their last, probably), a tiny bbq festival, the Rogers Cup final, a bourbon & chocolate tasting event, a craft beer boat cruise, a Rheostatics reunion performance, five TIFF screenings plus a gala, an epic Toronto sports evening, and Cask Days.

Trying new restaurants was still on the agenda too, like the newest location of Pizzeria LibrettoRose & Sons, RoselleBarberians, The Chase, the Every Time I… pop-up, RasaAloRodneysNAO Steakhouse, and Barque Butcher Bar for a wine(!) event.

We managed to get out of the city a little bit too, hitting Bat Lake with a crowd for the birth of 2015 and then again in March with a smaller crew; seeing friends in Barrie and going boating in Bolsover in the summer; and getting down to Niagara on the Lake with friends for a night.

So yeah, clearly it wasn’t a bad year. There were struggles and successes at work which I won’t talk about here, but which clearly put enormous demands on our time. Like I said last year, though: we chose these careers. And if working long hours* at a rewarding, high-paying job is my biggest complaint, then I’m doing just fine. The books can wait.

* I can’t say “working hard”; I grew up on a farm, so hard work means something different than sitting in an office or a meeting room


Cover photo by Dani Ihtatho, used under Creative Commons license


Cover photo by Dani Ihtatho, used under Creative Commons license

2014 Annual Report: Focus

If last year was a year of adjustments, 2014 was a year where the focus shifted entirely. Our jobs become the dominating, and sometimes sole, draw on our attention.

Of course, we still consumed a lot, in all meanings of the word. Yes, we watched movies, but only 51 new ones. (That would probably seem like a lot to some people, but it’s well off our average.) My consumption of music fell considerably; I bought only 7 albums this year, compared to 20 last year and 14 the year before. There are plenty waiting to be evaluated on my hard drive, but my habit of listening to new music on my (short) daily commute has given way to a number of podcasts. I did, however, read 8 books this year…that might not seem like a lot to some people, but it’s more than I usually do, since my attention is typically drawn to hundreds of tweets, news feeds, and status updates every day. Just one more area of focus this year, I suppose.

Shifting from personal consumption to mass enjoyment, we did manage to engage in a few cultural and sporting events around Toronto this year. It was a paltry showing at both Hot Docs and TIFF, though we did get invited to our first-ever TIFF Gala. I hit up a Raptors game with some work partners on Nelson Mandela night, and attended a timely screening of Selma with the director and lead actor at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. We bought ticket packages for the Toronto portion of the World Juniors, much of which is being played in the final days of 2014. We made a trek with some colleagues out to Stratford to watch A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We also packed a number of events — a Raptors game, the Alex Colville exhibit at the AGO, a Bob Dylan concert — into a long weekend with my parents in town.

We celebrated a few things too: Nellie’s 38th birthday, more Olympic hockey gold, Nellie’s friends’ wedding in Oakville, a new mayor (well, we didn’t celebrate the new one so much as sigh with relief that the old guard didn’t win), Christmas, and on a less significant note, a new phone at last.

We sampled quite a few Toronto eateries this year, some new, some old but new to us: Carbon BarMonk KitchenCampagnoloStockParts & LabourBoxcar SocialPatria (twice), ByblosPizzeria Libretto, and Michael’s On Simcoe. Beer became a focal point for our outings this year as well: festivals like Session, Toronto Beer Week, and Cask Days; visits from the Murphy Girls; and multiple hangs with friends who love beer as much as we do.

We did somehow find free weekends to get ourselves out of the city: twice to Niagara, twice to Bat Lake, and once to Prince Edward County. We got really out of the city six times this year: three times to Nova Scotia (twice to the family farm, once to Halifax for a weekend), once to Ottawa to surprise a friend for her birthday, once to Las Vegas (I spoke at a conference for the first half of the week; Nellie flew down and joined me for a long weekend at the end), and once to British Columbia for a week in the Okanagan and Vancouver. I also made flew to Miami and NYC for other conferences and speaking engagements; Nellie didn’t tag along for those.

Granted, it wasn’t all fun in the sun in 2014. I felt disappointed with the state of the world when I had to fend off a crazy guy from some girl I didn’t know, and when some racist homophobe ended my gaming hobby (both of which happened around the time gamergate was in the news), and when overdose and suicide took two actors who played roles which meant a lot to me. But those were all minor things that didn’t really have a lasting impact on us. Nothing like the sudden, heartbreaking loss of Michael. We really thought we had him for a few more years. He left behind a big hole in our daily lives. We still think about him all the time.

If you look at the list of trips above you might notice something: we had to abandon our plan, formed in 2012, to hit all seven continents before we turned 40. When I started my new job in October of last year and began lining up my two-year plan against the optimal time to travel to places like Antarctica, it became clear we couldn’t do everything before my fortieth birthday. So we shifted the cut-off to be before Nellie’s fortieth birthday, but when Nellie got a promotion to a bigger role earlier this year, we realized there was no way to pull that off either. The original plan for this year was to go somewhere — anywhere — in Asia, but work has been so busy for both of us that we couldn’t even plan such a thing, let alone get away for the 2-3 weeks necessary. A week in BC, where we were still in easy email contact, was as far as we could manage. And next year doesn’t look to be any more open.

We certainly wanted these new jobs, but they’ve required even more of our focus than we’d expected, and so…the other big ambitions take a back seat for a while. It’s the height of first world problems that our plans for more exotic travel will have to wait until our early forties, so we can’t complain too much. All we can do is focus on the task ahead and be patient.


Cover photo by Dani Ihtatho, used under Creative Commons license

Cover photo by Kai Chan Vong, used under Creative Commons license

2013 annual report: adjustments

I suppose it’s the custom that I begin these annual report posts with a rundown of how many movies I saw (65) and how many albums I bought (20) and how many books I read (just 3) this year, and how that compares to last year (54, 14, and 4 respectively). It also raises the question of what conclusions can be drawn from those numbers, if any. I’m leading toward none, other than that I’m prone to over-quantifying things. And in that spirit, I considered figuring out how many TV shows I consumed, but that would be beside the point: it’s the quality of what I watched this year that was so outstanding, not the quantity.

I do enjoy going back through the year, though, and recounting the things we did, like events in and around Toronto: a Game Of Thrones exhibit, a Leafs game where I got to see Sidney Crosby play live, another Leafs game which I saw live with my dad (his first live game in 49 years), a few Hot Docs screenings, Woofstock, the 3rd annual Session beer festival, Canada Day / Pride weekend, the city’s massive summer rainstorm, the Roundhouse craft beer fest, a special screening of Jaws at the Lightbox, our 12th consecutive TIFF, Nuit Blanche, a Thanksgiving feast, the ice storm, and of course the ongoing saga of our idiot mayor.

We also tried a number of TO dining establishments for the first time: Richmond Station, Bellwoods Brewery, Le Paradis, Woods, CarismaMonk’s Table, Bar Isabel, Hawthorne, and George. Richmond Station has since become a favourite, and I felt Bar Isabel earned it’s reputation among the top new restaurants in Canada. We did manage to host a few events at our place too, naturally centered around food and drink, like Bachelderannalia, a visit from the Thirphy girls, and a big dinner with our friends Matt & Kaylea (and assorted others).

We busted out of the city quite a lot this year too: Niagara-on-the-Lake twice and Grimsby twice, with winery visits part of all four trips. We also had a memorable dinner at Eigensinn Farm in Singhampton, and made three trips to Minden: Bat Lake twice, and Matt & Kaylea’s epic wedding weekend in September.

We didn’t do as many weekend trips out of the province/country as last year, but we did visit Boston for the first time, and Nova Scotia for a week, before making the big trip to Africa. That the Africa excursion was probably our best trip ever made up for the lack of other small side trips. Of course, I did still take a few trips for work, notably Phoenix, Chicago, San Francisco, and two more hops to Boston.

But all of that is really the same as last year, with slight variations in frequency or destination. Perhaps the three things which defined this year more than any other were the slight adjustments in our lives:

  1. Getting used to our new condo. By New Year’s Eve last year we’d barely settled in to the new place, and hadn’t gotten around to many of the enhancements we’d planned. We still haven’t gotten around to many of them, but it at least now feels like home in that unfinished way that everybody’s first real adult home does.
  2. Sonny’s passing. When a 20-pound ball of medication and affection who demands constant attention for ten straight years isn’t there one morning, it changes the atmosphere in your home. Five months later we’re all still adjusting.
  3. I left my company after 14 years, and started a new job. Two months in, I’m still getting used to this latest shift. It was a good move for me, and still roughly the same work rather than a career overhaul…but it’s definitely an adjustment.

There were other, more subtle things. I just realized this week that I haven’t been out to see live music all year, the first time that’s happened since I moved to Toronto. I also realized that my social networking contributions have slowed to a crawl, maybe out of overload, maybe out of lack of interest. I’ve already begun turning off a bunch of it and reconnecting with physical things, like books and outside air. The start of next year’s trend, maybe?


Cover photo by Kai Chan Vong, used under Creative Commons license

Photo by enigmabadger, used under Creative Commons license

2012 annual report: mobile

Did last year’s trend of consuming less media and consuming more wine & food continue in 2012? Yes. Did it maybe accelerate a little? Probably. Am I okay with this? Mostly.I mean, I am a little bummed that I missed some great movies this year, but I plan to spend the next week or so catching up. Still, I saw only 54 new films this year, down from 69 last year, and we rarely make a point of seeing films in theatres anymore. While it doesn’t feel like film is fading into a secondary pursuit the way that music has, it’s not quite at the top of my list anymore either. Actually — and somewhat surprisingly — music made a bit of a comeback this year: 14 new albums purchased versus 9 last year. It’s still nothing like it was a few years ago, though. I suspect this is the new normal. Also the new normal: I read far more tweets and news feeds than anything else, but still managed to consume a few books for fun, including Matterhorn11/22/63, The Psychopath Test, and Unbroken.

Caloric consumption continued unabated, though. We tried quite a few new (for us) places in Toronto, including Swirl, Goods & Provisions, Trevor, E11even, Midfield Wine Bar, Salt, Enoteca Sociale, The Oxley, The Beer Academy, Loire, Bestellen, Wvrst, Morgan’s On The Danforth, Bar Hop, AAA, and The Stockyards. Midfield, Enoteca, Bestellen, Wvrst, and AAA instantly became favourites. Some  favourites hosted a few special occasions too, like Jacobs & Co. for both Nellie’s birthday and our anniversary; a 10-course dinner paired with Rogue beer at Beerbistro; and our second try at the world’s top-rated beer at Bar Hop.

Really, though, this year’s recurring theme was about being ambulatory. Nellie and I took off on five weekend trips around Ontario (Prince Edward County; our friends’ cottage on Bat Lake; an aborted camping stay in Bon Echo; two visits to Niagara’s wine country), four trips out of the country (New Orleans with friends to see the Final Four; Sedona and the Grand Canyon just before I spoke at a conference in Phoenix; New York; Amsterdam & Brussels), and Nova Scotia for Christmas. There was no monster trip in there like Australia last year, and only the Amsterdam half of our European trip was remarkable, but the atmosphere of New Orleans, the beauty of Arizona, and the blast of NYC more than met our travel experience quota. In addition to Phoenix I logged a handful of quick trips  for work (San Francisco; Chicago; Washington DC; New York; London) but tight schedules kept me from exploring much beyond a few watering holes and restaurants.

Not that there wasn’t fun to be had right back here in Toronto, like Hot Docs, the Session 99 craft beer festival, TIFF (including a once-in-a-lifetime Jason Reitman table read), Nuit Blanche, a killer Jack White concert, and the 100th Grey Cup. We watched the Oscars with our friends T-Bone and The Sof, hosted a few little soirées at our place to kill our wine collection, tried to change our friend Lisa’s mind about beer, watched some March Madness with CBJ+M, introduced our friend Kaylea to Midfield, had a tiny 15-year Dalhousie reunion, sipped our way through a Zinfandel tasting, watched some stand-up comedy with MLK & CBGB, and made one of my favourite baristas happy by giving him a bayonet. Of course, getting to and from these things was a lot more enjoyable this year because of one of my favourite new things about the city: Uber.

Funnily enough, it was right here in Toronto that the most significant movement of all happened: after five and a half years in our first home we bought a new one. We remained in the same neighbourhood — the same building, in fact — but acquired more space for ourselves, the cats, and of course the wine. We’ve been in it less than a month, and it feels more and more like home each day. After three months working through the unpleasant mechanics of buying one home whilst selling the one you’re in, it feels good to actually enjoy the new home rather than just planning for it.

The thread of movement, whether it was across an ocean or down the stairs, which ran through this year is likely to continue into the next, as we’ve given ourselves the ambitious goal of seeing all seven continents before I turn 40. That gives us less than three years to see four more continents, but we have a plan. We begin that journey next year, and fully expect our movement from this point on to present more of an adventure than previous excursions; perhaps that’s an early prediction for next year’s theme.

However you fared in 2012, I wish for you a moving 2013. Happy new year, everyone.


Photo by enigmabadger, used under Creative Commons license

2011 annual report: evolution

Some time around the spring of this year I suffered what I guess would be considered burnout. I don’t talk on this blog about where I work or what I do, but basically for the previous 2.5 years I’d been going non-stop, working 75+ hours every week, in the office nearly every weekend, etc. and it began to wear me down. I never hated my job — in fact over the vast majority of that time I loved my job, and still do — but I think all those hours and time pressure just got the better of me. Of course, I couldn’t see that until after it happened, when I was living like I had an empty battery. Everything seemed dull for a few months.

But then, in the summer, it was like someone jump-started me. Some changes at work and some conversations with friends helped give me some perspective, and reminded me that evolutions aren’t always a nice, straight line. It’s usually lots of forward, a little back, and then lots of forward again. So I definitely felt some significant ‘back’ in the early part of the year. Still, it’s not like I got fired or held the hand of a dying relative or underwent gender reassignment surgery or dug my village out from a mudslide or anything, so when I’m talking about ‘significant’ you have to put that in the context of a very safe, comfortable, lucky existence. Just so we’re all clear.

Now then…what actually happened this year? Well, certainly lots of good stuff, despite how it sounded with all my whining up there. We had a great visit from one of my brothers, and he returned with his most excellent wife for an encore. We hosted two dinners for our friends CBGB and MLK, and celebrated GB’s birthday with a surprise birthday party at his sister’s that lasted into the wee hours. We also celebrated from afar when the West Memphis 3 — whose case we’d been following for years — were released from prison. And, most importantly, Nellie and I celebrated Valentine’s Day (which I have renamed Best Friend Day) quietly at home, and our 8th wedding anniversary with a return visit to perennial favourite Canoe.

There were a few bad things too, like Dick Winters dying (since watching Band of Brothers I’ve somehow felt like he was an old friend or something) and the tragic suicide outside our window, as well as kidney stones and the worst cold I’ve ever had (it kept me from flying home to see my family…seriously, there was pus coming out of my eye) but that’s all pretty minor in the grand scheme of things. Though kidney stones seemed fairly major when I was writhing in pain on my living room floor waiting for a baby alien to come screaming out.

One of the biggest things for us is always the traveling. This year there were a few great short trips, like New York in the winter, Nova Scotia in the summer, camping and cottaging and even getting an early jump on an eventual Spain trip courtesy of the host at our local wine bar. But most of our vacation time was saved up for our awesome three-week excursion to Australia.

We took part in some recurring Toronto events like Hot Docs and TIFF (after which we no longer fear being in the last box) and a boat cruise around the Toronto islands like the one we did last year, as well as some special events like amazing Pixies and Godspeed You! Black Emperor concerts, and a play about Mark Rothko. We also witnessed a national event which was probably felt most deeply here in Toronto: the death of Jack Layton, which I’ll always remember as more of an uplifting event than a depressing one, thanks to Mr. Layton’s final messages to Canadians and the outpouring of emotion in Toronto’s public spaces.

We tried scads of new restaurants and bars, including La Bettola, Paese, Lady Marmalade, Starfish, Against The Grain, TOCA, Lucien, Capocaccia, Ruby Watchco and the new version of Smokeless Joe on College Street.

One other thing that felt like an evolution this year was how my interests continued to shift from music to wine. I guess that’s not really an evolution so much as a transition — both are forms of art — but just be a doll and help me support my primary thesis, would you? So while my movie consumption — I watched 69 new ones this year — was comparable to last year’s total (71), and I read 10 books (to last year’s 9), I only bought 7 albums. By comparison, last year I bought 19, while in prior years I would routinely buy north of 30. Granted, I still have 14 albums (!) on my ‘must listen to these before the end of 2011’ list, but that’s still a significant downward trend in musical obsession.

So, obviously, the new obsession is wine. And beer too, I suppose. On top of the trip we took to the Margaret River while in Australia, we made three trips to the Niagara wine region. I even felt the need to defend Ontario wine in a post earlier this year. In the last few months we took part in a tasting put on by the Small Winemakers Collection and participated in a food-pairing contest between 13th Street Winery and Mill Street Brewery, naturally dubbed “Street Fight”. The beer connection continued with a sampling get-together put on by my friend Mike and the Session 99 craft beer festival. However, I did have to say goodbye to last year’s endeavour Project FiftyBrew and the original Smokeless Joe in a tear-filled evening.

Me, I’m happy with an evolution from an obsession with music to an obsession with wine. I’m not sure my bank account is pleased about it, but my bank account can suck it. I’ve learned to generally be pleased with any kind of evolution at all.

Happy new year, everybody.

2010 annual report: expansion

Dear stakeholders, I present herein the report on my progress for the year 2010. Please, hold your questions until the end.

The highlight of the whole year may well have been our excellent trip to California where we visited San Francisco and the Napa and Sonoma valleys. Trips to Nova Scotia for our friend Karen’s wedding (in the spring) and to see our families (at Christmas) were great too, especially since being away from Toronto during the G20 meant we managed to avoid that whole clusterfuck. We even went camping in Algonquin. All in all a good year for travel.

Of course, we enjoyed ourselves closer to home as well. We were mesmerized by the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, and celebrated the men’s hockey gold in Dundas Square just like the rest of the city. We saw a Habs/Leafs game, our second in three months after not seeing one in the previous 12 years we lived here. We did new Toronto-y things like dragon boating and a harbour cruise and biking around the islands and seeing a concert (Iggy & The Stooges) live in Dundas Square. We also did annual pilgrimages to Hot Docs and TIFF.

We explored a few new local restaurants like Origin (twice) and Duggan’s (many, many times) and ate an utterly decadent meal at MoRoCo in our first venture past the truffle bar out front. Most of our new restaurants discoveries came during our travels, and I’d need all day to list them all. Really, the biggest change this year might have been Nellie’s emerging talent in the kitchen, preparing incredible meals for Valentine’s Day (as is her custom) or various dinner parties.

I watched 71 new movies, bought 19 albums and ten DVDs, and read nine books. That’s right, only nine; I blame it on the fact that I’ve been reading Postwar by Tony Judt since January and I’m 2/3 of the way through the goddamn 830-page thing. Believe me, reading 560 pages of Judt is like reading 5 normal books, so I have to keep taking breaks and reading something else. In 2010 I read Empire of Illusion by Chris Hedges, Enterprise 2.0 by Andrew McAfee, Liar’s Poker and The Big Short by Michael Lewis, The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman, Blood Meridian and No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy and Ill Fares The Land, also by Tony Judt.

Lots of good things happened in 2010, like when I won the Oscar pool, or when we won some art at auction during a charity event, or when I finally settled on my favourite albums of the past ten years, or when my team and I volunteered at Ronald McDonald House. I got to watch my Canadiens make a run deep into the NHL playoffs, and maybe best of all was that Nellie’s favourite team won the cup, and she helped her dad celebrate that win. Of course, there was a lot that troubled us too: some small (a Rogers fiasco, the earthquake which I suppose was more fun than troubling from my perspective) and some big (the afore-mentioned G20 debacle and — perhaps most importantly — Chris Farley somehow being elected mayor).

Most of all, though, I think the biggest development of 2010 was my expanded interest in wine and beer, especially local wine and beer. We finally took advantage of the two main wine regions near Toronto, making two trips to Niagara, one to Prince Edward County and one to the AGO for a wine tasting event called TasteOntario. learning that there really is great Ontario wine out there. I then decided to take that local streak and apply it to beer, starting a little endeavour called Project FiftyBrew.

There’s a large portion of my life which I don’t discuss here, and that’s what I do for a living. Last year I said developments at work were the biggest source of change in my life; this year I’d say that change has become the status quo, to the point where everything else (watching movies, listening to music, watching TV, reading books, and certainly blogging) falls by the wayside. Know what else stops when work is like this? Exercise. I haven’t run in months, and at present I weigh more than I ever have before in my life. Obviously, I’m hoping that my 2011 annual report will contain news of how I turned that around. To that end I did one last thing in 2010 to get that underway: I signed myself up for the Harry Rosen Spring Runoff 5k.

So it seems the two most noticeable elements of my 2010 were my expanded interest in wine & beer, and my expanding waistline. As I write this, it occurs to me the two may not be unrelated.

2009 annual report: steady

Let’s see, what happened in 2009?

Well, we took a big trip to France, a relaxing trip to Nova Scotia and a weekend trip to Ottawa for my brother’s birthday. Closer to home we enjoyed Toronto things like Hot Docs, TIFF and a Leafs/Canadiens game, as well as concerts by Mogwai, Frightened Rabbit and The Rural Alberta Advantage. We also made it through some rather dodgy Toronto moments like being stuck in a high-rise elevator and a tornado-spawning storm.

We celebrated friends’ events like the weddings of our friends Jenn & Trent and Tatiana & Sean, and for my friend Adam the signing of a record deal with a major label. We also said goodbye to some friends, like Nick and Stryder.

We tried, for the first time, fantastic restaurants like Amaya Bread Bar, Jacobs & Co, C5, North 44, Fid, The Wellington Gastropub, Scaramouche, and book-ended the year at Nota Bene in January and December. We also returned to old favourite Canoe, and I got to try Splendido one last time before it changed ownership.

I watched 80 movies (for the first time, that is; I re-watch movies all the time), bought 30 albums and got 15 DVDs. I also read 14 books (quite a change from previous years when the MBA all but killed my pleasure-reading): The Coming Of The Third Reich by Richard Evans, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, Rock On: An Office Power Ballad by Dan Kennedy, A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Almost Home by Damien Echols, Columbine by Dave Cullen, The Blind Side by Michael Lewis, The Long Walk To Freedom by Nelson Mandela, Deliver Me From Nowhere by Tennessee Jones, Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk, The Dark Valley: A Panorama Of The 1930s by Piers Brendon, A Short History Of WWII by James Stokesbury and A Writer At War by Vasily Grossman.

So while last December I felt pretty blah about the year gone by, I was happy with this year. Most of the significant change came at work, which I don’t talk about here, but trust me when I say it got a lot more interesting and significantly busier for both of us. Outside of that, though, there was a lot of good, very little bad and a whole lot of steady. Given that 2009 was anything but for a lot of people, I’ll take it.

2008 annual report: lassitude

Perhaps it’s just that I’m in fuzzy-headed vacation mode, but I can’t really think of anything very big that happened to me in 2008. No moves. No job changes. No adjustment to marital status. No new kids, or even nephews or nieces. No accomplishments to speak of, except maybe finishing the MBA, but that was more of a four-year event that just happened to conclude in October. Likewise the 5th wedding anniversary; cool, but it wasn’t like we accomplished it all in 2008.

Even our trips weren’t that exciting this year. Our trip to BC was just as spectacular this time as it was two years ago, but a lot of it was familiar territory. Four (!) trips to Nova Scotia for various reasons were fun, but not exactly new adventures.

Sure, I watched 108 new movies. I got 17 books, 18 DVDs and 22 albums. I wrote 410 blog posts (including this one) and lord knows how many tweets. But I’m pretty sure none of that adds to up to actually doing anything. Wait, hang on, that’s not true…I did do something: I gained ten pounds. Oh, and I gave up on vegetarianism. So I have that going for me.

I’m pretty sure that every year of my life — the ones I can remember, at least — has been better than the last.  2008 was no different; my life in 2008 was better than in 2007, and I continually feel lucky at having the luxury to be troubled by the petty details of an easy and enjoyable life. However, it doesn’t feel like I had much to do with any forward momentum my life is enjoying, and I don’t like that feeling. I’ve had a sense of ennui for the last few weeks; I think now I know why.

Fare thee well, 2008. I won’t miss you, but I will love you.