2011: Year in Review
It’s been a very busy year at our house. Peter finished middle school and moved up to the high school. Tom is now a senior, and a lot of the year was spent in the college search/application circus. He got his learners permit last winter, but we’ve been too busy to get him out driving enough to get his license. Hopefully that sort of thing will get back to the top of the to-do list once all of the applications get submitted.
In February, we went down to Florida. My mother had cleverly arranged it this year so that we’d be there the same week as Ben & Dagny. It was really fun to get all of the cousins together, and Grandpa got to take everyone out tubing. We were also really happy that the weather this year was much warmer than it was last year, because we were having a very snowy winter back in Boston. We were actually able to wear swimsuits at the beach not sweaters like the previous year.
Our spring was touched with sadness as my brother David passed away. We miss him terribly, as do all his family and friends.
This was the first summer in a long time in which we didn’t have a big family trip. This year each of the boys went their own way. Peter went sailing in the Caribbean and got his scuba license. Tom, eschewing summertime, headed to New Zealand. Before Peter left, the three of us went up to Mount Washington for some nice hiking.
While the boys were out of town, we decided to take a trip of our own. Chris and I spent a week on Block Island. We rented bicycles for the week and rode all over the island. It’s a really nice size for that kind of exploring. Chris tried kayaking for the first time in the large central ‘pond’, where it was nice and calm. No pictures of that part as we didn’t want to risk dunking the camera.
Later in the summer, Chris and I went to Vancouver to attend SIGGRAPH. I hadn’t been in a couple of years, and it was nice to get back. I’ve been doing computer graphics for so long, that I’m now an official old timer. Even Chris has been to enough SIGGRAPHs that she qualifies as an old-timer too. The big thing this year was 3D scanning. Several companies were demonstrating their systems for creating a 3D virtual model from something scanned in the real world. Chris managed to get herself scanned three times, although we only ended up with two of the 3D models.
Vancouver is a wonderful (and highly caffeinated) city, and we did manage to get away from the convention center and see some of it.
My parents were in Copake, New York for most of the summer. We finally got out there to visit them over Labor Day weekend. Talk about cutting it close, they were returning to Florida by mid-September. That weekend we went to Lime Rock to see the vintage car races. It’s always fun to see folks driving those old cars the way they were designed to be used rather than polished sitting in a museum. In amongst the campers we spotted an old Panhard just like the one my father owned back when I was born. Imagine our surprise when it turned our we knew the owner and could introduce him to my father who still has a soft spot for that car.
One of the best parts of living close to Boston is all of the cultural goings on. Now that we don’t need to worry about finding baby sitters, Chris and I have been able to get out quite a bit and enjoy it. This year’s highlights included the Chihuly exhibit at the MFA, the Bastille day block party by the French Library, and a presentation of Metropolis with the Alloy Orchestra playing their score. While out in the Berkshires we also went to Tanglewood for a concert with Angelique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves and Lizz Wright. It was our first time inside the wonderful Ozawa Hall, and it was quite a performance. Each of those women have quite a voice and an amazing amount of energy – the three together was something else.
Chris is still enjoying her work at MIT. The rest of us were in there quite a few times this year too. It was the school’s 150th birthday, and they threw an enormous party. In addition, Tom and his friends used it as a resource for doing their physics homework, and both kids did classes there in the fall.
Tom and I have both been doing a lot of photography this year. Tom has discovered that he really enjoys manipulating his photographs to come up with something completely new. It also helps that his teacher completely encourages that type of creativity.
While Peter and I have been doing a lot of fun programming projects. Tom took an intro to Haskell class and thought it was really cool, but he hasn’t had time to explorer it. Peter built a new computer to keep up with all of his video gaming.
This summer I went to New Zealand for five weeks. Even just getting there was an adventure. I had a 6 hour flight to LAX that landed around noon, and then a 10 hour layover, and then I had my 12 hour flight to Auckland. We arrived in Auckland around 6 am local time, and then we spent the day in Auckland sightseeing, and wandering around. When my group met at LAX, we learned a number of things about each other. One of the things everyone else learned about me is that I play Dungeons and Dragons, and most of the group wanted to try it, so my first adventure in Auckland was to find some dice with which to play some D+D. The next morning, we left Auckland. We went to Kauwhata (pronounced koh-faht-ah) Marae, and we did our three hours of community service.
We also had fun, and set up characters and everything for our D+D game. After that, we spent one night in wellington, and we went to the south Island, taking a (very big) ferry from the north island to the south one.
We then spent some time riding our own bus around the south island. While in the south Island we decided to go skiing and snowboarding in Queenstown. So, on the day we were going to go snowboarding, we all woke up, and we headed out to the mountain early, so that we could maximize our time on the slopes. Those of us that hadn’t skied or snowboarded before had lessons during the morning, and then we had lunch, or so I am told by the other people who were there. Rather than have my second lesson in the afternoon, I decided to go ride down the full size slopes. I went up with some friends, but we ended up getting separated. Then, I had my accident. I got a concussion, and we don’t know exactly how, because nobody was there to see it, other than me, and the concussion made me lose my memory of most of that day. Supposedly, I probably fell on my face and kicked myself in the back of the head. I then got up, figured out that I was concussed, and then I rode down to the base of the slope, where I found someone I knew, and got them to take me to the first aid station. Being concussed seems to make me smarter, oddly enough. Anyways, I have no memory between the start of my lesson and waking up the next morning.
The rest of the trip was relatively uneventful, and I am too busy with college apps right now to write any more.
My year hasn’t been too exciting much of my time has been devoted to school and video games. One of the funnest things I did this year was going on a trip to the Caribbean for 3 weeks. During that trip I got my scuba diving license, did assorted community service, and learned to sail a boat. The people on the trip were great especially the counselor Kyle.
The trip was fun but, it was nice to get home and relax. Earlier in the summer I did some glass blowing which was really fun and it came out really well (except for my bowl I don’t like the bowl).
As summer ended I had to rush to finish my history reading book (which I failed to do on time), but it turned out that high school isn’t so different from middle school it only took a few days to understand the layout of the school. The work load isn’t too bad and there are a lot of new people.
The amount of games I’ve been playing this year has increased dramatically I’ve been trying to find games to entertain me in my spare time. I try to find original ideas to keep me focused. I’ve found many weird games like a self dubbed survival racing game. My favorite game was Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim which has been called Game of the Year by many people and I would definitely agree with that. Skyrim is a medieval RPG with a massive open world and a really intense story line. Minecraft is still pretty fun but it doesn’t update fast enough to keep me entertained.
Peter’s Top 5 Favorite Games of 2011
2. Nitronic Rush
4. Portal 2