St Petersburg, Florida

The Wee Toaty Explorers haven't visited Florida in a very long time. It's a whole lot nicer in the winter than in the summer.





Well, maybe when it's winter, you have to keep warm.


Where Does the Time Go?

Yesterday marked one year since I bought this house in Cayucos. I suppose it's a sign of my age that the year just flew right by. Just like that, I'm 20% through my maximum stay in one place. 


It's been quite a year, without a doubt. 

I have found very little to complain about here. Although it's a beach town, the only  time tourists really made it hard was the Fourth of July. Otherwise, the beach is always fairly empty at the end of my street. 

I've not biked as much as I thought I would, it's true.  The wind here seems to never let up. But the wind on Morro Bay isn't always bad and I've gotten to kayak a bit. The seals and otters make it a nice paddle, and I like that I can hang out in the built up harbor area or launch into the empty estuary. 

My neighbors moved at the end of last month and took their very loud dogs with them. New folks moved in yesterday and I learned that while people will apologize for their loud dogs, they'll never apologize for their kids. 

I haven't done as many improvements as I'd like--even a run down beach shack was more expensive than I expected--I replaced the shower doors with a curtain, put covers on the shed walls and made a place to put my kayak. 

All-in-all I'm pretty happy with living at an altitude of 60 feet, though it has made travel to Boulder harder on my head. It's hard to imagine finding a place after this one, but it is still early days. 

Next step is to find this year's birthday tree. Last year was late, and this year will be, too, because of travel. 

Off the Hook part 2




Yep, I'm giving them a second try. I had a small kayak paddle around the bay today and I'm hungry. Already they're doing better: I've already been asked what I want to drink. 



The waitress confessed that she doesn't like seafood, either, and gave me advice on the sushi. This trip is looking good. 

There's a huge seal playing with some kayakers out the window to my right, but the staff has/have brought down the blinds to cut the bright light. And that's good; otherwise it'd be a million degrees in here. 


The lighting is hard, but it looks like good food. There's plenty of wasabi, which is nice and the avocado roll has an interesting mayo sauce. 

This is tasty food. 

The waitress was pretty good at asking about soda refills (I got a couple big wasabi chunks) and the table cleaner kept taking my plates. 

Overall a good experience and so much better than the first try. Sushi and fries--I'll be back


EOY: Reading

This will really be the only End of Year summary. I'm not feeling much for retrospection this year, which is ironic considering my involvement in this year's Retrospective Facilitators Gathering.

Here are the books I read in 2014:


There are 61 covers in that picture, but I'm only going to credit 56 because the six books of the Nunslinger Saga are each really just novelettes (if that) and were collected into a single book anyway.

With that number revision, 2014 was in line with 2012's 56 and above 2013's 42. I suspect this reflects the added stability of a single home for the whole year (almost).

Favorites


It's been a good reading year.



This is the year when I fell back in love with science fiction. At some point, I tweeted that I thought Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice should win the Hugo. Gosh, it did that and more. A lot has been written about this science fiction novel, so I'll just repeat what I said last January: this book is completely up to the hype.



This is also the year that I fell back in love with fantasy. This series by Patrick Rothfuss is delicious, though it has not yet ended. I know there was a lot of talk about Lev Grossman's Magician books, which were good, but for me, if you're looking for a grown-up Harry Potter then The Kingkiller Chronicle is for you. This is a magic story as it should be told, with real adventure and a pint. If you like Locke Lamora, then you probably have already read these books.



I think that there are often stand-out books in the YA section that should live on their own on the adult shelves. I said in February that this series by Patrick Ness kept me enthralled to the last page. And snatches of it still walk around in my head. This is the story of a human colony that has fallen into the clutches of religious extremism and (more interestingly) is infected by a disease that makes the men (and only the men) involuntarily broadcast their thoughts to everyone around. I'd love to see this as a movie, but I can't imagine how they'd do it.



Not everything great this year was SF/F. Mick Herron's Slow Horses is a great spy novel. It tells the story of British agents who have failed into a division that's meant to keep them out of the way -- they messed up badly enough to be pulled off the streets, but not so badly that they can be fired, I guess -- and how they take initiative. This is good stuff.

Goodness, I could just go through and list every single book. Here are some other thoughts that fall neatly into categories:

eBooks


In 2013, less than half the books I read were electronic. In 2014, 100% of the books were. And all of those, by the way, I read on iPhone. With this smaller shack I live in, there just isn't room to keep adding to the 1000 books I already can't fit into the house. On top of that, it's just so much more convenient for my business trips, especially now that we don't have to stop reading during take off and landing. I do miss the smell of used book stores, but I just can't justify bringing another object into this house to be put into a box or in storage. Maybe after the next move.

At any rate, I did read some things that I wouldn't have if I hadn't gone to Amazon Prime, and most of it was dreck. However, I did read one self-published series this year that really pulled me in. I wouldn't call it the most polished thing I'd ever read, but it hooked me and dragged me from book to book: The Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker is worth the time.

Apocalypse Now


I'm not really a fan of apocalypse or post-apocalypse novels. I did not like The Road at all. But this year had two standouts for me, both I highly recommend:

The Last Policeman (Ben Winters) and its sequels tells the story of the time leading up the destruction of earth. Everybody knows it's coming; nobody can do anything about it. Should life go on normally anyway? What's a police officer to do when there's no future?

Station Eleven (Emily St. John Mandel) is another book that everybody has been buzzing about. I'd be surprised if this isn't on the Hugo ballot this year.

SF/F


Speaking of the Hugo ballot reminds me that some time in the past I had started to grow bored with SF/F. It's the genre where my heart lives, but it hadn't done much for me for a few years. But this year, with the books above, I am excited about it again. So much so that I have to mention a couple more books I read this year.

City of Stairs (Robert Jackson Bennett) combines the best of other world fantasy with a detective/spy novel. This one will also likely make the Hugo ballot, if I am living in the same world as everybody else.

The Moon King (Neil Williamson) is a beautiful novel of the fantastic that is another great example of fantasy without all the baggage that the last century gave us. It deserves awards, but I suspect it's too quiet and beautiful to gain traction.

Miscellaneous


Female:Male -- 15:21 (by author count), 26:28 (by book count) - 1 writer/book unknown

Not much to say there, I think. It's about the same as last year. One of these years I will make a concerted effort to switch the order. I'm only a few books away. (I seemed to like to read other works by a woman author more often than books by men this year.)

Birth Country (by author count) -- 25 US, 5 England, 3 Canada, 1 France, 1 Scotland, 1 Australia, 1 Unknown

Still heavily American reading habits, sadly, and almost identical to last year. I am embarrassed by the lack of Asian and African writers in my pile.

Birth Decade


  • 1860s: X
  • 1870s: X
  • 1880s:
  • 1890s: X
  • 1900s: X
  • 1910s:
  • 1920s:
  • 1930s: XX
  • 1940s: XXX
  • 1950s: XXXX
  • 1960s: XXXX
  • 1970s: XXXXXX
  • 1980s: XX
  • unkwn: XXXXXXXXXXXX


I had a lot more trouble finding out ages this year. This is the first year I've read folks born in the '80s (thanks Robert Jackson Bennett and Nathaniel Rich). Neil Williamson is the closest to my own age.



Polar Bear Dip

There were no polar bears for this year's Polar Bear Dip, which was held near the pier in Cayucos.

However, a dolphin did come to visit right beforehand:


Yeah, hard to see. Here's a close-up:


There was also a seal cruising along for a bit, but its picture wouldn't have been any better. Still, it was a lovely day, on the chilly side, but not really polar bear weather. The water, though, was likely verrrrry cold.

But that didn't stop the hordes of crazy people from running to the ocean when directed.