2014 Year in Review

2014 was a good year! It feels odd saying it. It felt like an uphill battle a lot of the time. I think that battle was mostly in my head though, as some really great stuff happened. So I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge all the good stuff.

The good stuff in brief: I started a new job. I started (and finished!) a bunch of projects in python, woodworking and writing. I was generally quite healthy. I started biking to work. Over all I’m feeling like I’m finishing the year on an upswing.

The details:

Woodworking
I built a bench
bench
A child’s seat
seat
A stool
stool

I also built a bat house, a gate and some shelves, none of which I have decent pictures of though.

Writing
I wrote somewhere around 12 short stories. Most of them were as part of a class I took, but I also wrote some after the class. I’m really happy about that.
Here’s one of the stories: Olivia’s Good Morning

Coding
I spent a lot of time this year trying to improve my coding skills – most of that time was spent on Python. This lead to some cool projects:

I participated in NaNoGenMo this year. NaNoGenMo is like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) only the goal is instead of writing a novel during the month of November, one attempts to write a program to generate a novel. My entry was a python script that generated a book titled “A Full and Complete Reckoning of Uncommon Mythical and Monstrous Creatures.
You can see the code here: creatures.py
You can see the full-book output here: creatures.txt.
The full list of NaNoGenMo entries is here, if you’re curious: https://github.com/dariusk/NaNoGenMo-2014/issues

I made some Twitter Bots:
https://twitter.com/creativitybot – A new brainstorming/creativity idea every three hours.
https://twitter.com/storyrobot – A brief plot/story is tweeted every three hours.
https://twitter.com/creaturelist – A new imaginary animal is created every three hours.
https://twitter.com/truthbombsbro – A horrible bit of tech/venture startup-speek “advice” is generated every three hours.

I made a python script that calculates the distances between frets on a stringed instrument (hopefully I’ll actually build a stringed instrument sometime so I can use this calculator)
https://github.com/samtb/FretCalculator

I also made a little script that pokes me every day to do something productive/creative – it auto tweets to my twitter account https://twitter.com/samteebee every morning at 7am.

Reading
Man, this was a good year for me and reading. I read 40 books this year (some were quite short, indeed). That’s more than twice as many as last year. Goodreads claims I read 10,858 pages this year (4600 last year). Here are this year’s books, in the order in which I read them:
The Summer is Ended and We Are Not Yet Saved – by Joey Comeau
Lockpick Pornography – by Joey Comeau
Life After Life – by Kate Atkinson
Creative Thinkering: Putting Your Imagination to Work – by Michael Michalko
Sand Omnibus (Sand, #1-5) – by Hugh Howey
The Fault in Our Stars – by John Green
Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead – by Sara Gran
The Encyclopedia of Early Earth – by Isabel Greenberg
The Night Circus – by Erin Morgenstern
Show Your Work! – by Austin Kleon
Ashfall (Ashfall, #1) – by Mike Mullin
Divergent – by Veronica Roth
The Cat Who Walked a Thousand Miles – by Kij Johnson
A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain – by Adrianne Harun
Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls – by Alissa Nutting
The King of Limbo: Stories – by Adrianne Harun
Forty Stories – by Donald Barthelme
Ashen Winter (Ashfall, #2) – by Mike Mullin
Moonwalking with Einstein – by Joshua Foer
The Devil in the White City – by Erik Larson
The Martian – by Andy Weir
ZZT (Boss Fight Books, #3) – by Anna Anthropy
By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain – by Joe Hill
Candyfreak – by Steve Almond
Boy Proof – By Cecil Castellucci
Uglies – by Scott Westerfeld
Blue is the Warmest Color – by Julie Maroh
Rogues – Various authors
The Magicians (re-read) – by Lev Grossman
The Magician King (re-read) – by Lev Grossman
The Magician’s Land – by Lev Grossman
The Slow Regard of Silent Things – by Patrick Rothfuss
The End of Everything – by Megan Abbott
Sunrise (Ashfall, #3) – by Mike Mullin
The Lies of Locke Lamora – by Scott Lynch
Right Body, Wrong Junk – by Avery Edison
The Enchanted – by Rene Denfeld
The Shell Collector – by Hugh Howey
Clipping Through – by Leigh Alexander
We Were Ugly So We Made Beautiful Things – by David Barringer
This list, with ratings and short reviews I wrote for each book is here, if you’re interested:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/4660461-sam?utf8=%E2%9C%93&order=a&read_at=2014&sort=date_read&per_page=50

Health
I got better at running this year, too. It wasn’t exactly a conscious effort to improve, but I think it was simply a result of my efforts to run more/consistently throughout the year. I did have one goal: to run a sub-20-minute 5k. I got very close (20:21, I believe), and I’m blown away by that.

This seems like it would be a good time to make some resolutions or plans for next year, but I’m not going to do that. I’ve gotten into the habit of keeping a rolling list of projects I want to do and/or skills I want to gain or improve on. I’m going to keep that up. Maybe I’ll do another review like this next December. We’ll see how next year goes. You can keep up with me on twitter if you’re at all curious.

PITH

PITH: Extremely Short Stories by Sam Brelsfoard
PITH

My first book of fiction has been released! It’s available from Amazon in e-book or paperback form. It’s also available here as a free PDF download.

The Valley and the Hills

The grass was deep. From where he lay he could see only green in his peripheral vision. Arms stretched out at both sides, his body cut a stout, lopsided asterisk in the hillside. He took a deep breath, filling his lungs with warm, humid air and as he slowly exhaled he imagined he was blowing the clouds on their course far above the valley. He closed his eyes and made the sky break apart into hundreds and thousands of tiny shards, spilling down onto the town below. When the storm was over he opened his eyes and observed the shrinking sky and the ground closing in on him as he sank deep into the hungry soil.

Bugs

The bugs were first discovered in the sheep’s matted wool. They came from somewhere extra-terrestrial. Most agree they came on a meteorite. The first major infestation was found in Scotland, if the history books are to believed. Too little was recorded and too few records remain to have any certainty. The bugs control most of us now. But we few ‘invisibles’ keep the species alive. Well, truly alive. The bugs will always need hosts, after all. We will build our numbers, though. Slowly, eventually, we will rise again. We know their weakness and we have a plan.

About A Girl

She had teeth like a broken fence and the sad face of a bloated goldfish. Her hands were softer than air and she had patience for only babies and dogs. She gamboled through life marking years with scars and schematics from projects and artwork gone both poorly and well. She made you forget about what couldn’t be. She reminded you to think less, like you used to. She had a way of looking through you with her big globby eyes as she’d take your memory and your soul and crush it to dust, filling hourglass upon hourglass with your silty remains.

Unity

Each unit was designated a fenced area, 500 yards square. There was a small shed full of standard construction and woodworking tools in one corner and raw lumber in another. The units filed into their pens and huddled in the centers of their cages. The distance between each group was vast, though everyone still spoke in short whispered commands regardless. Unit 8 was the first to take action: 20 men grabbed 20 shovels and started digging directly in the center of their plot. Within a couple of hours they had a deep foundation framed out and were working on the roof of the fort.

Taking It All In

At the bottom of the ocean her cold dead eyes saw everything in blue. A cold blue that told her that her world, the one she’d known so recently, was now frozen forever, for her. This would be her vista until her retinas disintegrated or were consumed by the living creatures around her. She thought about the past, but dwelled on the present. She thought about the sky. Also blue like the frigid sea. The sky eventually left her memory, and her eyes fell from their sockets. Her toes remained for years to come, enveloped in canvas and cement.