We caught the brief spell of warm weather over Memorial Day at Capitol Reef National Park.
In April we did a “Volunteer Vacation” in Vietnam with a company called GlobeAware. It was a mix of service and touristing and it was a blast. The service involved building a brick house for a woman whose house was falling apart, painting rooms and building a chicken coop for a deaf school (Hearing and Beyond), teaching English, and visiting a hospital. The tourist activities included Cham Island, My Son ruins, a couple of afternoons at the beach, and shopping. Some of us also fit in an amazing bike tour (Heaven and Earth) on the last day before heading to the airport for our 12-hour layover in Seoul.
Here’s a 5-minute video that’s focused on the service –
And a much longer one with all the activities –
And, of course, some photos –
I’m posting these in the wrong order, but oh well. On our way back from Vietnam (post coming soon) we had a 12-hour layover in Seoul. We arranged for a tour guide to pick us up in a minibus with an amazing interior and take us to several sights in the city, including:
Here’s a video summary –
If you couldn’t get enough of the raw octopus footage, here’s some more –
And a bunch of photos –
Another year has come and gone. Here are a few of my favorite things in 2018.
Pizzeria Limone. I’m usually the only male there and they have the worst background music ever, but their Caprese Pizza is really amazing. Here’s my TripAdvisor review.
Chocolate Cruesli is still the clear winner and will be for the foreseeable future.
Some concerts I enjoyed in 2018 were Brandi Carlile, I’m With Her, The Milk Carton Kids, Gregory Alan Isakov, Josh Ritter, Good Old War (twice), and Gabe Dixon.
For my favorite song of 2018, I’m going to go with Tremble by Oh Jeremiah.
Older stuff that was in frequent rotation in 2018 includes:
I had to check Goodreads to remind myself what I read. It took me most of the year to read Albert Camus’ The Stranger in the original French (L’Étranger), which I’ve been meaning to do ever since I discovered The Cure.
The book that impacted me the most was The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak. I listened to the audiobook after visiting the Documentation Center and Nazi Party Rally Grounds in Nuremberg and before returning to the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam. I’m about halfway through The Diary of Anne Frank, which is (of course) excellent.
Another great read was The Road by Cormac McCarthy. That story has bounced around in my head for months afterwards.
All the books that got 5 stars from me in 2018 were:
|An Introduction to the Book of Abraham||John Laurence Gee|
|Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts‚ Becoming the Person You Want to Be||Marshall Goldsmith|
|The Most Dangerous Game||Richard Connell|
|The Book Thief||Markus Zusak|
|The Road||Cormac McCarthy|
|Passage by Faith: Exploring the Inspirational Art of James C. Christensen||James C. Christensen|
|Ender’s Shadow (The Shadow Series, #1)||Orson Scott Card|
|Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain||John J. Ratey|
|The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism||Timothy J. Keller|
|Ready Player One||Ernest Cline|
|Understanding Temple Symbols Through Scripture, History, and Art||Jack M. Lyon|
|Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder||Nassim Nicholas Taleb|
|Why Bob Dylan Matters||Richard F. Thomas|
|Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men||Leonard Sax|
|Make Peace with Your Mind: How Mindfulness and Compassion Can Free You from Your Inner Critic||Mark Coleman|
2018 was the year I fully abandoned Facebook and Instagram. I had to fill the void with something, so I turned to Reddit. I like it for its ability to keep you up to date on memes and cat videos without all the human drama and overvalued opinions of Facebook. If you live in Utah you need to set up an account and pick some subreddits that interest you so you can see beyond the default top posts of your state, which are almost exclusively anti-Mormon rants.
I saw some fun places in 2018. It was my first time in Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic. I guess the highlight was the Vienna Cemetery.
Yousician is good fun. I’m learning to play the bass. Screen Time says I spend the most time on Fallout Shelter (after taking a break for a couple of years), DomiNations, and Netflix.
The one I’ve thought about the most is Dealt. I watched it on a flight when I was taking a break from Chinese movies and I can’t stop thinking about it. Life is unfair and that’s part of its beauty.
2018 is the year I discovered Would I Lie To You where British celebrities try to speak convincingly of a personal story that may or may not be true. I think I’m caught up on all seasons. My favorite participants are James Acaster, Bob Mortimer, Greg Davies, and the longtime team captains David Mitchell and Lee Mack. It’s hard to say what my favorite clip is, but try this:
My all-time favorites are Nate Bargatze, Jim Gaffigan, and Brian Regan. Dry Bar Comedy has some great clips on YouTube, although they can be hit or miss. Try Heath Harmison’s story about his arch-nemesis Meredith: