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X of the year 2013

Climbing: El Chontacoatlan, Taxco del Alarcon, Guerrero, Mexico, Thanksgiving. I sent Mantis, the first pitch of Mala Fama, and Procopio, all third try. Great climbing, fun partners, one of the best trips ever. This is my favorite kind of climbing. Close second: Maple, May and September. Sent ZT and 49, several one-fall burns on Dry Times and Functional Idiot, and two two-fall burns on Spacelord. Also good trips to the Gold Wall (Hillbilly Limestone, Subdivision, Regeneration, Aurum, Check Engine), and Column of the Giants (Sugar Brown).

This is probably my best climbing year ever. I sent a bunch of 12s at various places in a few tries, including a very good day at Bear Crag where I did Jagged Sky and Mercy Buckets back-to-back. I even got to where I could do the warm-up and the one next to it on a fairly regular basis. I should have put in that wall years ago. Thanks for all the holds Nino.

Climbing gear of the year: La Sportiva Solutions, and Send Downgrader thighpads. Holy cow. Everyone’s caught up to 5.10 in rubber, and the fit and performance of these shoes is just amazing. For years I put up with 5.10s crappy fit (other than the Moccasym which is still a great shoe, but seriously, for almost every other 5.10 shoe, who has fucked-up heels like that?) and lousy quality (fast breakdown of fit, broken velcro, delaminations) because the rubber was just so much better than everything else. Sure, you could buy Boreals or Sportivas and have them resoled with 5.10 if you wanted to add $50 to a $150 pair of shoes. Come to think of it, Solutions are about $175, so you’re kinda still doing that. But they’re comfortable, perform, stick, and are high quality. Just light years beyond the Teams that 5.10 made to compete with them. Or anything else. So I think from now on, Moccasyms or Sportiva.

And if you’re crawling up routes (cough, Jailhouse, Chonta, CotG, Maple), the Send thighpads (I’m on a campaign to call them what they are) are the shiz.

Magnetron locking carabiners are pretty good too, as are belay glasses.

Climbing class of the year: The falling and movement class from Arno Ilgner. While I’m not a big fan of the self-help woo of Warrior’s Way (and I always want to say it like “Wayne’s World”), my logical mind does appreciate the logical way of thinking about climbing that Mr. Ilgner presents, more especially in Espresso Lessons. After a couple of decades of climbing, including scary stuff, it’s nothing I didn’t know, but like the proper notation in physics, just writing it down in the right way makes it more obvious. You can say there are four Maxwell equations, and work for years to understand how they’re Lorentz invariant, symmetric, relativistic, or you can write them down in the proper way and it becomes obvious. Arno Ilgner helps me think about it in an obvious way. And I could have done the exercises in his books without the class, but doing them in a class with instruction was truly worth it. I recommend it to anyone who has trouble with their head, or falling. And to anyone who doesn’t yet know how to give a soft catch.

Exhibit of the year: Eggleston at the Met. I didn’t like Eggleston at first, but he grows on me. Also Morell at the Getty, where I got to sneak along with a group of patrons he was guiding, which was fun. Serendipity. Pier 24 is what all art exhibits ought to be. Man Ray/Lee Miller at the Legion of Honor (yeah, I know, 2012), Oldenburg at MOMA. Crewdson at LACMA was eye-opening, thinking about photography.

I have tickets to Turrel at LACMA in a week so I’m excited about that.

Music of the year: Nothing hit me on the head like the National did a couple of years ago, not even the new National. I listened to a lot of new stuff on Spotify. I like the Mountain Goats, but they’re not new. Just new to me.

Book of the year: still waiting for something to grab me like Lost Books of the Odyssey did last.

Movie of the year: Anchorman 2 is probably the worst thing I’ve ever seen. Nothing stood out as awesome, though I’ve been saving Upstream Color for a rainy day when I can give it my full attention. American Hustle was good.

TV show of the year: Archer. I laugh out loud every episode. Justified is good, I’m still working through Breaking Bad, and 30 Rock is missed, especially Alex Baldwin. Walking Dead got slow and pointless. I need to try Louie CK.

Non-climbing gear of the year: I’m fully converted to iPad-dom now. Love it. Also this retina MBP is pretty satisfying, especially with a Belkin Thunderbolt dock and an IPS monitor and a half-dozen disks connected. I also invested in a light alarm clock, which is so much better a way to get up for the 5 A.M. gym call than an obnoxious buzzer. The NEX-6 is a good camera, but I still love the D700, which just fits my hand. I haven’t pulled the trigger on a D800 yet – maybe if the price falls. Though the one request I’ve had from buyers is to print bigger, and the D700 is about the limit for the Epson 3880 (which I’m also very happy with, despite needing to replace the cartridges now for $450. Ouch). And I’m happy with Mavericks, which restored printing to the Epson and the Phaser, although it’s not clear that I have my color profiles sorted yet. Still too dark. I had this fixed then something changed.

Syncing is also a strong contender. Evernote, Dropbox, iCal, Contacts, etc. As is Siri, who is starting to get me though she can’t pronounce names and once made me laugh for five minutes about a missed voice recognition (“can I borrow your tent” became “can I borrow your tits”. I sent it anyway.).

Easy unbreakable encryption of email and cell phone would be a champion if someone could make this happen.

Personally: The Forerunner says I ran or cycled 1258.88 miles this year, though I didn’t always carry it so that’s an under. But yeah, not my best year in mileage. On 31 December 2012, I was averaging 6:36 per mile when I executed a class 2 ankle sprain. Then at the end of April I had an unfortunate encounter with the dread poodle-dog bush and clindamycin, both of which had a months-long ill effect. About which the less said, the better. Avoid the dread PDB. So not my best year for overall fitness, though I’m climbing as well as I ever have, so go figure.

In an encounter that even the most rank S2V rom-com would reject as too Hollywood meet-cute, I met someone I really liked, a lovely, nice young cyclist. But hey, I live in Hollywood, or close enough. Even though it didn’t work out, the good news was that I seized the chance, didn’t blow it. At least not entirely. Still debating that one in my head. At least I didn’t walk away regretting a missed chance. And still… it could happen.

Sequestration, flat or shrinking science budgets, and JWST sucking all the air out of the room for basically the rest of my scientific lifetime means that I pushed all in against the wrong flop late in the game. But what are you gonna do? I had aces in the pocket, position, and a good sized stack. It was the right decision. The EV was good. Sometimes the flop doesn’t hit you.

Person of the year: Edward Snowden. Fuck the pope, and fuck Time. Let me know when the pope supports contraception, women priests, and priests being married. Or even not molesting little boys. Until then it’s all talk, and talk is cheap. Snowden actually did something, at great cost to himself.

Dogs of the year: Alex and Milo, of course.