Log in

17 January 2015 @ 11:05 pm
Yearly Round-Up: Best of 2014  
And here's another year come to a swift end. How did I spend thee, 2014? Let me count the ways.

1. The Ipad
How is it that the thing you grew up without suddenly becomes so important to your existence that you can no longer live without it? I started the year with an Ipad Air purchase, and now I am completely addicted to its apps. Whether I am taking notes on Evernote, or reading books on iBooks, whether I am reading news/ articles on Flipboard, or using Google Maps -- user interface on iPad is simply mindblowing. You will start loving its touchscreen, its easy typing keypad, its portability, and its visuals. The pitfalls? The truly great apps are always expensive, especially Microsoft for iPad; tech issues can be a major pain; and the iPad has still not reached the stage where it can function independently without the laptop. But on the whole, a worthy investment.

2. Keep the streets empty for me
What is it about this song? The Lady Business pointed it out, and when the music video begins, it doesn't make any sense, just gothic looking people walking down the streets. And then, the lyrics catch on, and that haunting rhythm begins. I am a manic 'repeat song' player on itunes, and this song must have played at least a hundred times on my ipod. Best discovery ever.

3. Learning chess
Ever since I was a kid, I have wanted to learn chess. Something about the king and queen, bishop and rook reminds me of court intrigues and wartime strategies and cunning criminal masterminds. So, finally, I decided to purchase a cheap chess set on Amazon, and began my journey to learning chess. Its wonderfully simple and there's loads of teaching materials and tutorials on the net. If you have an iPad, there are some great chess-for-beginners apps too. What's best about chess is that all that strategizing and retreating and attacking can be such a great stress-buster. You will forget all your worries and just live in the game while it lasts.

4. Ancillary Justice
Hands down, my favorite book of the year, possibly one of my top ten books ever. Artificial intelligence rules the world, and sometimes, its more humane than most human beings. You can read my review here, but definitely read the book. You want something upbeat, something that inspires you to be good and brave and kind and heroic, read this book. Please.

5. Gravity
Watching Gravity on the big screen in 3D was an Experience. (I'm cheating here, putting a late-2013 item into the 2014 list.) I can't help it, I really like Sandra Bullock, and the movie was essentially a one-woman movie. The soundtrack is amazing too. But best of all was the subject matter -- pollution caused in outer space due to debris from defunct satellites and spaceships, causing immense destruction of life and property. Something similarly disastrous happened in 1979. I had even researched this topic previously and just written a paper on it in 2013, which has been published at the UK Law Review, so when this movie came out, I knew I had to see it.

6. Gretchen Rubin's daily dose of thoughtful thought
Have you read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin? If not, please go ahead and grab a copy. Research has shown that when people have set goals to follow, they are more productive, busier and hence, happier. I find this to be true, and Rubin's book sets out a few innovative creative goals to follow every month for a happier life. These goals are humble and inexpensive, like reading memoirs, humming a song every morning, laughing a bit more and taking up a new hobby at home. Point being, reading this book led me to her website, and her website spurred me to subcribe to her daily newsletter, in which she emails you an interesting quotation everyday and titbits about her book recommendations and other tips-to-do.

7. Podcasting
Yeah, yeah, old news. I jumped on this bandwagon quite late, but better late than ever. With my iPad as my loyal comrade, podcasting became super easy and accessible. There are some great podcasts out there, for gourmet lovers, to SFF lovers, from meditation podcasts to career podcasts, from self-help to writing tips. Daily doses, small doses, effective doses, whenever you need to wind down or are on the go.

8. Miss Phryne Fisher's Murder Mysteries Season 2
So, Season 1 was one of my best of year 2013. And Season 2 enters this best of 2014 list. What is it about Essie Davis and her small gang of colourful, sympathetic characters on this charming Australian TV show. Watch Miss Fisher solve improbable mysteries with impossible aplomb in the early Jazz era (1920s-30s) Australia. The history and the culture have been captured well, though Miss Fisher herself remains charismatically out-of-place with her modern (and even proto-feminist) ideals. Special kudos again to Detective Inspector Jack Robinson, who makes lots of faces at Phrynie and is as handsome and beloved as ever. May Season 3 come again soon. Recommended heartily for all fans of cozy mysteries, Agatha Christie and period dramas.

9. Master and the Margarita
This one was another new discovery. Though I am a frequent Asian Drama trawler, other foreign genres have been unknown to me. Then somebody recommended this Russian TV show, based on a book by Mikhail Bulgakov. (I recommended this show before as one of my favorite 10 period dramas here.) The show is based on a premise that Russia has become atheist, and the devil has come down to wreak havoc -- and he does, except the Master who wrote a novel about Pontius Pilate (the most hated Roman prefect), and his Margarita, a woman with a heart of gold and a spine of steel -- get into the devil's way. If I had to recommend this show for one reason, I would recommend it for the very first episode, where Jesus of Nazareth has a hair-raising conversation with Pontius.

10. Milestones
Personally, my life has changed shapes drastically. I have had to say goodbye to some old friends and beloved habits. I have had to make some tough decisions and have had to follow through on them. Sure, life is not easy. Sure, everyone has to make difficult decisions now and then, everyone has to stick to what they promised -- that does not change the fact that all of these people had a difficult time reaching where they did. And so did I. Here's to 2014, and to all those people who came out as survivors. Cheers. You've got this far, you'll go further.
Tags: ,
Current Location: Lonely Planet
Current Mood: gratefulgrateful
Current Music: Mombassa - Inception OST