My Year In Review: Part One A Somewhat Unexpected Journey

2012 was one heck of a year. I had a wild ride. Some good times and some bad. Many of my friends seem glad it was over as they look forward to better times in 2013.  Before I get to my busy year, I need to explain this amazing three part tale. I learned something these past few years. One is not enough to tell a good tale. From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to Twilight – Breaking Dawn and now the Hobbit, why tell my story in one run when I can milk it for two or even three parts. So here is part one. I hope you enjoy.

January started off with a bang!


SOPA dominated my thoughts in January. Over 7,000 websites joined forces and had a service blackout, to raise awareness that the Stop Online Piracy Act was so poorly written that it would allow, among other things, law enforcement to shut down entire internet domains due to infringing content in a single blog post. That was scary and the internet revolt was an amazing thing to see! I watched twitter and Facebook as well as numerous other sites. I wrote politicians and encouraged my friends to do the same.

This was also the first time in years I had fought for something. Truly fought. When I was younger, I fought for the environment, got politically active in a  small part and helped protect historical sites in my community as well as many other causes. Then work and life caught up with me. I was busy with other things and jaded. I had tried previously with Syfy cancelling some great shows but that too had failed. After the protests to the Iraq War to Occupy Wall Street, I was starting to worry that Americans didn’t have the voice we used to. I am glad that I was wrong. It inspired me to believe that we can still accomplish something as a people. This would lead to me speaking out a bit more and got me back out of my funk. As you will see, it shaped my year.

The first thing I was speaking out about was political candidates and the BS that they were spouting. The Republican Primary was long and ridiculous. So many foolish candidates. I would get caught ranting in the wrong places and at the wrong times. I also found many wonderful websites. Here is one of my many favorites.

Among others that I explored, my  favorite was Pinterest. This site created an addiction that I have not beat, and quite frankly, don’t want to. Pinterest is such an amazing site. Many of my friends have harassed me for using a site that they claim is “A Girls Site!” but they don’t know what they are missing. The Force Board we have created is my pride and joy. It is a collaborative board with thirty six other contributors who have pinned over 3,500 pictures. We have over 1,200 followers.

Television was a bit disappointing at the very beginning of the year. I tried Alcatraz and was on the fence. Nothing else was truly exciting yet. But February and March would improve. I did find the movie Tucker And Dale Vs Evil. It was a blast of cheesy horror and comedy.

February brought back many great shows. Walking Dead was by far my favorite. However all that February brought paled in comparison to the 3rd Anniversary of my marriage. My  wife is amazing. She tries her best to keep me sane. She gives me breaks from the kids. She tolerates our game nights and my need to get to opening night at the latest geek movie. She loves me unconditionally.I won’t get too mushy but I am truly lucky to have her.

Astrophotographer Jeff Berkes snapped this amazing view from outside Philadelphia, Pa., of the glowing clouds at the edge of space created by NASA’s ATREX mission, which launched five rockets to deploy a chemical that created the clouds for a jet stream study on March 27, 2012

March and April were a blur. Busy at work and at home. We moved in March and we couldn’t be happier. The place we moved to has much more room, is less expensive and has property for my kids to play. I enjoyed Game of Thrones, the final season of Eureka and much more. Right after our big move however, came a rare and awesome treat. NASA had a planned study of our upper jet stream. They called this mission ATREX. I was excited to see it since it would happen right off the New Jersey Coast. My good friend Jesse and his brother agreed to go. We met up at his house and then drove into Avalon, NJ. NASA had a live internet feed of the launch so, using my wonderful phone, we drove to the beach and waited, and waited, and waited. We watched the live feed of the launch site and continued to wait. The police drove by half a dozen times and finally confronted us. After explaining that we were simply geeks waiting for rockets to shoot gas into the atmosphere rather than drug users or thieves, they left us alone. We watched the night sky and talked about Star Wars for hours. Finally, at nearly 4AM, we gave up hope. Jesse had to be to work at 8:30AM and couldn’t wait any longer. I kept the live feed going on my way home and sure enough the launch went off at the last minute. I could see it from my back yard and it was amazing.

April was too busy to do much else but get in an occasional moment or to for playing on the web. During that time I found the GoPro Camera. Not only is this camera and the gear that comes with it amazing, the company has a spectacular daily contest. Go check them out, you won’t regret it. I also discovered Get Glue. It was a wonderful app and website. I have a decent sticker collection already and enjoy logging my favorite shows.

May was a whirlwind of a month. First was of course the Avengers. What a spectacular movie. 

Seriously! How amazing was that film? Joss Whedon got it. Like no other director before him, he just got it. But don’t just take my word for it. Try my friend  Evil Chicken for starters. Or just look at iMDb. It is on the top 250 movies of all time. If you have not seen this film, please crawl out from that rock and rent it, buy it, whatever is needed!

May was when my gaming group began playtesting Dungeons & Dragons. My regular gaming group began trying the new version and we were excited. The concept of players helping to create the perfect game seemed a fascinating one. We jumped in with enthusiasm but it quickly fizzled as the system did not fit well with our group. I wish 5th edition the best of luck. Our group will not be part of the building process. What our brief foray into D&D Next did, was make me realize, while I like change in many things, the gaming world and its constant changes are just marketing and quite frankly, we are happy with using the hundreds of books we already have. Don’t get me wrong, 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons was a great leap forward from 1st and 2nd edition. But when we realized 4th was not a good system we backed off. Deadlands evolved into Savage Worlds and that too was an improvement.

Vampire and the World of Darkness was not. Regardless of all that, I personally have over twenty Vampire books from the First and Revised editions. I can match that number in Deadlands. As for D&D, I have nearly eighty books from 3rd and countless from 1st and 2nd editions. When do I stop purchasing the new edition and continue to play what I already know and love. We still play Pathfinder/3rd edition and we have a great time. I may have to get a new system when my kids start playing them but until that time, we will stay old school!

The end of the month gave me and my community a surprise as well. Apparently our local zoo, which we all love and is quite the tourist draw, was rated #3 in the country! When you are in the area, stop by and see for yourself. For a free zoo, (donations are accepted) it is simply spectacular. From snow leopards and zebras to bald eagles and camels, you won’t be disappointed.

The month of May led to some amazing finds in apps. My work led me to them and my favorites, by far were Access My Library  and Goodreads. Access My Library is a wonderful series of apps. It is not only available for public libraries, There are also college, school and a Special Edition for military branches. They are amazing resources.

Goodreads is a great place to keep your reading history and share your reviews with everyone. It is also the perfect place to search for new books. I have been slowly adding my history and continuing it as I go.

June was a somber month. We lost Ray Bradbury and my NJ Devils lost the playoffs. Facebook began the big push to sell itself and soon would go to Wall Street. It was also the last month I worked with my boss Donna. She would retire on July 1st and one of the best working relationships I have ever had. She taught me a lot. Not only making me more confidant at my job but also about how to approach teaching technology. We still keep in touch and she is currently enjoying retirement.

It was not all bad. I had a great camping trip in Elk Neck State Park. That was a good week. It could have been a great week if it were not for the virus that hit each of us for 24 hours or so, but that was short lived.

We all enjoyed Matthew “The Oatmeal” Inman’s feud and amazing charity event when someone stealing his work decided to sue him. Yes that is right. However, his collecting $20,000 for charity turned into over $200,000. It turned into an amazing story and the good guy won!

Oh yeah, I also helped send Pitbull to Kodiak Alaska.

The first half of 2012 had highs and lows but it was definitely a more positive time than a negative one. Will the second half of the year be my Empire Strikes Back?

Stay tuned True Believers!


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