A look back at my 2014

Last year was a good one for me.  I made a little money on the stock market, completed reading 15 books, did 100 hikes and traveled some in the U.S.

I say I made a “little money” with stocks doing my own internet trading.  I should have made more, though.  For much of the year, until September, I was doing much better than my benchmark, the S&P 500.  But suddenly my energy stocks went to the dogs as the price of oil dropped and dropped and dropped.  I owned a solar company which also sank in tandem with the oil market.  Not sure I understand why.  Anyway my gains for the year amounted to 2.6 % and the S&P buried me by the end of December with its gain of 11.4 %.  Ugh.  But since I don’t define myself by money it was OK.  At least I didn’t suffer losses.

On the reading front, my book list jumped threefold from a dismal five in 2013.  Very proud of that.  I give credit to focusing on a single book and setting up a schedule of 15 pages a day.  You can get through a couple of novels a month that way, not that I read a lot of fiction.  The best book I read was “Lawrence in Arabia,” a historical account of T. E. Lawrence’s exploits during WWI.  Think “Lawrence of Arabia.”  I so enjoyed that book, I read another, “The Last Days of T.E. Lawrence,” that followed his military career after the war until a motorcycle accident ended his life.  Of the 15 books, six were fiction.  In rereading Orwell’s “1984,” I found several similarities to today’s America, particularly to the right-wing’s fears and policies that are leading us down a path to ruin.  Most complex of my reading was Nietzsche’s “Beyond Good and Evil.”  There were times when I wanted to give up.  There are often numerous words between subject and verb, so many in fact that I started parsing sentences like I did in high school.  But I stayed with it and found in the end the German philosopher was an enjoyable read.  You just have to get into his cadence and sentence structure.  The last book I read, “On Reading the Grapes of Wrath,” made me regret not reading Steinbeck’s classic about Okie migrants coming to California in the Thirties.

While I’m in to high-quality hikes more than quantity, I got swept up late in the year as I approached 100 and made an effort to reach that milestone, the most hikes I’d done a year.  Some were daunting.  In getting to the summits of Maricopa Peak and Orion Peak, there was exposure to steep drop-offs and falling boulders.  That I travel solo 95% of the time and on the latter peak without a cellphone made them a little more risky than needed.  I could have done many more hikes if I had struggled through summer’s horrid heat.

On travel, Nebra and I stayed in-country this year.  In August we flew to Chicago and did a circle around Lake Michigan.  In Chicago we watched a baseball game in storied Wrigley Field during the stadium’s centennial season and took an interesting architecture tour by boat up the Chicago River amid the downtown highrises.  We spent about five days in the lake’s attractive port town of Petoskey, Michigan, best known by me for its connections to the author, Ernest Hemingway.  He and family spent summers at a nearby lake,  and he produced numerous short stories from his experiences there.  As a side trip, we visited Fairmount, Indiana, the hometown of the late actor James Dean, an idol of mine as a teen-ager.  Dean is buried there and his grave has been loved to death with visitors leaving mementoes round the tombstone.  Lipstick “kisses” are all over it.

I have many other interests, too numerous to get into here.  And I have made no resolutions for 2015.  Have my fingers crossed for some nice adventures.

 

 

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