Tag Archives: Favorite discoveries

Favorite Discoveries of 2014

  • Threes!, Hoplite, and Monument Valley for iOS. These games especially were the iPhone games I’ve fallen in love with and will probably keep replaying for another year or more. Threes! probably has the most play hours of any game this year, most of them from 9pm – 11pm. Hoplite is a turn based movement game with a neat mechanic for combat and leveling up. Nearly any 8-bit dungeon game is something worth your time. And I cherish every level of Monument Valley and I’m saving a few of the bonus levels for a future treat. Both are worth every penny.
  • Advocare.  Depending on what you take as my starting weight, since my weight on Day 1 of my 24 Day Challenge (263.9) isn’t my heaviest for the year (269.0), but I’m down 30 pounds. I’m eating differently, I’m cooking differently, and I feel so much better. Spark has replaced my morning coffee. Meal Replacement Shakes have become my everyday breakfast. I couldn’t be happier with the products and the results.
  • Lunarbaboon. It’s a web comic about a family. The comic is honest, imaginative, and subversive about parenting, relationships, time management, and what it means to growing up. Some days it makes me giggle, some times I laugh out loud, and some days it breaks my heart a little. Here’s a taste of it with some of my favorites: Winter, Travel, Puppies, Timer, Rescue, Deflect.
  • Arrow, The Mind of a Chef, and Black Mirror. Of the shows that are new-to-me that I started watching in 2014, there are three standouts. If you think Arrow might be your kind of fun, it probably is. Season 2 spent a lot of time doing flashbacks to Oliver’s time on that island and it’s one of my favorite parts of the show. In season 1 episode 15 of The Mind of a Chef, David Chang discusses the appropriate ways to smoke a whole hog. Also, Chang sits down with Allen Benton and Benton makes red eye gravy. If you know who Allen Benton is, then you know I was totally into this. Black Mirror isn’t for everyone, and it’s certainly not for kids, but if well conceived science fiction of how humans are affected by technology is your idea of a good time, Black Mirror will impress.
  • Allie Moss. She’s been on stage with Ingrid Michaelson, playing guitar and singing harmony, each of the three times I’ve seen Ingrid in concert. On the song Maybe, her harmony part is always a little louder than the lead vocal (it’s happened every time) and it makes me smile to think about. a couple weeks ago she promoted her EP of Christmas music on Twitter and I bought it on a whim, it’s only 3 songs, and it’s kind of wonderful. She’s released a couple more things on iTunes and I recommend getting into them. She’s just wonderful and I wish her nothing but success should she strike out on her own, but I’m also looking forward to seeing her on stage with Ingrid again soon.
  • Off Camera. An interview podcast with Sam Jones, photographer and director of the documentary I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, where he talks with his friends about their art. His friends just happen to be movie stars and rock gods. My favorite episodes are Dave Grohl, Matt Damon, and with skateboard legend and documentary filmmaker Stacy Peralta.
  • The Bellagio. In April of 2014, the family went to Las Vegas for a long weekend. We spent the most time at The Bellagio, which despite having been a Vegas a couple times already I hadn’t been to yet. We saw the Cirque du Soleil show “O”also at The Bellagioand it’s a heckuva thing. The casino floor is classy and comfortable and it’s just my favorite place to be when in Vegas. On a side note, I enjoyed New York New York’s gaming floor a lot too and the buffet at The Wynn was the best meal we ate that weekend.
  • Holiday Park Events at Walt Disney World. We went to WDW twice in 2014 and were able to attend both Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. These are special events at Magic Kingdom, which closes early to regular park guests and stays open late for attendees of the separately ticketed party. The lines are shorter, the fireworks and parades are bigger and better, and the park is filled with rare characters. At the Christmas Party, all seven dwarfs were lined up for group photos. I would love to attend these parties again.

Favorite Discoveries of 2013

Another year is ending, so here’s my list of the favorite things I discovered in 2013.

  • Here’s The Thing podcast. I heard about it from a tweet from John Siracusa and it’s a fantastic show. Alec Baldwin is a great interviewer and gets the absolute best guests. Sad thing is that most of the new episodes are reposts. I recommend the David Letterman, Billy Joel, Brian Williams, Dwight Gooden, and Robert Lustig episodes.
  • Nest thermostat.  It was a gift from my Dad and I was able to install it in about an hour. It’s keeps a history and learns your behavior and tries to save you money on your electric bill. And I think it’s saved us $30 a month actually. But the killer feature is grabbing your phone, launching the app, and changing the temperature in the house without having to get out of bed.
  • The Walking Dead game. Developed by Telltale Games, who may be the most human game developer out there, this is a superb game. So emotional. Lauren and I played it together (I held the controller) and at times we both teared up. Just wonderful.
  • The iTunes Artwork Finder, by Ben Dobson. To simplify how we watch movies and TV shows, I decided to put all the AVI and MKV files I have into iTunes. That meant using Handbrake to convert to MP4, but iTunes wants cover art for every file. This web site is written by a freelance developer as a tool he used for himself to get album art from the iTunes Store API. Now it searches for Movies, TV, and more. See also iFlicks 2 in the Mac App Store.
  • The Firestone Auto Care franchise in Mount Juliet. I used to work at an office within walking distance of a Firestone, but since changing jobs and moving to a new house I hadn’t found a new place to take my car. This Firestone is never busy, I never need an appointment, and it’s in the adjacent parking lot to the restaurant Cheddar’s, which has a good chicken tenders and a decent bar.
  • Hattie B’s Hot Chicken. On 19th Ave in Midtown, I’ve found my new favorite joint. And the last several times I’ve gone there, I’ve ordered the exact same thing: Large white meat plate, Hot, fries and slaw, and banana pudding. My goal is to work up to the Extra Hot, which will undoubtedly murder my taste buds in the best way possible.
  • Super Stickman Golf 2. I’ve played this little game for over 150 hours. I’ve made in-app purchases just to support the developer. I love this little game.
  • Candy Apple flavored Milky Way minis. Found them at Target in the Halloween candy section. They might soon break into my Top 5 candy bars.
  • Olivia Louise Johnson. This year my wife gave birth to our first child, Olivia. She’s such a happy baby. She has a big smile, bright eyes, and the fastest growing fingernails I’ve ever seen. She is alert, she interacts, and she loves to grab at my beard. She’s pretty awesome. She has changed my life for the better.

Favorite Discoveries of 2012

With the year coming to an end, here’s my list of the favorite things I discovered in 2012.

  • Pinboard.in Easy site for bookmarks. Fast, reliable, and searchable, it’s become the best place to keep Internet stuff I want to remember later.
  • The Hunger Games.  I read all three books early in the year before the movie, which was pretty awesome, was in theaters.
  • Gimme bar. Automatically creates a fully searchable backup of my Instagram, Pinboard, & Twitter history, plus it has a bookmarklet so I can grab anything from inside my browser and keep it. It’s like Pinterest for introverts. And all my content is backed up in Dropbox.
  • Letterpress. Free to play iOS word game. I’m getting better at it.
  • Hi-Chew Fruit Chews. Found these at the Japan showcase in Epcot in Walt Disney World. They are like a soft chew Starburst that comes in awesome flavors like melon, banana, and peach.
  • Dark Sky. a weather app of iOS that tells you if it’s raining at your exact location. I check it pretty much every day before I leave the house.
  • Brenthaven bags. I was issued one when I started my new job and I don’t think I’ll ever own a different laptop bag.
  • Yogurt Mountain. My new favorite frozen yogurt place. They have marshmallow cream and nutella in squeeze bottles.
  • Taco Bell churros. Finally. And it’s about time, Taco Bell.

Favorite Discoveries of 2011

With the year at a close, here’s my list of the favorite things I discovered in 2011.

  • ifttt.com and Evernote. The best way I’ve seen to create a searchable repository of your “Likes”, “Faves”, “Reblogs”, and “Stars”.
  • Multigrain Tostitos Scoops. best chip on the market.
  • Hypercritical, Back to Work, and The Incomparable podcasts. These podcasts have introduced me to new ideas, reinforced and also debunked long held opinions, and made me a fan of the medium.
  • Frozen Butterbeer. Only available at Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando. I need to learn to make this at home.
  • Nylabone and Kong dog toys. Especially the durable toys for active chewers.
  • Ender’s Game. I had never read it. I might just re-read it in a couple of months.
  • AppleTV Airplay. THIS. more of this, lots more.
  • Clay Christensen’s lecture on successful innovation. He gave it at an IT Symposium in October and it is the best hour long video I’ve watched all year. Changed how I think. Watch it here.
  • Keurig. I’m not a coffee snob, so it’s perfect for me.
  • Married Life. So great. Not always easy.

Favorite Discoveries of 2010

With 2010 in the books, here’s a list of the favorite things I discovered in 2010.

  • The joys of homeownership. I bought a condo in a neighborhood I love, 3 bedroom 2.5 bath two story with a woodburning fireplace and lots of closet space. I paid a 20% downpayment with a cashier’s check and handing over the contents of my savings account was an act of courage. I sanded down the textured stucco on a hallway wall. I took out the bifold door that closes off the washer & dryer and hung a sound dampening curtain. I hung closet organizers in the master bedroom.There was one day when I made 4 trips to Home Depot.
  • the music of Sara Bareillis. Both her albums are solid, filled with soft & sweet and girl-power-piano-rock ballads. She has good musical talent, tremendous vocal range, quite a good songwriter, and willing to take chances with her songs. She has filled the void that Norah Jones previously occupied.
  • Gardening. I had a small raised bed garden in the back yard for the first time and it was wonderfully therapeutic. I got more jalapenos out of the garden than I know what to do with, along with more rosemary, basil, and tarragon than a man can use. So I learned how to pickle jalapenos and dry spices. That was fun too.
  • Instagram. I’ve spent $15 on several iPhone apps trying to do what Instagram does. Has some great photo effects to salvage my bad pictures, but the reason I love it is because it lets me preview multiple effects to pick the best one for that photo. Take that, Hipstamatic. It also sends it to Flickr or Facebook or Twitter, so that’s one less step for me.
  • Maker’s 46. I bought an extra bottle.
  • Bleu Cheese. I never liked it, but it’s starting to win me over.
  • Reddit. This is like the meat packaging plant for the Internet’s LOLburgers. What’s on Reddit.com one day is a meme the next. More stuff from Reddit this last year has made me laugh than hardly everything else on the Interwebs.
  • Angry Birds. This has been a year or handheld gaming. I never owned a Gameboy or PSP, never saw the point of it, until I could start playing games on my iPhone. I dearly love simple games, especially ones with high scores, especially ones that require perfection. Many other iPhone games have found playing time on my iPhone this year, which combined total more time gaming than I did on my beloved Xbox 360.
  • Lauren Young. Our first date was January 2nd, 2010. In 2011, I’m gonna marry that girl.