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Here are a couple of ideas or trends that I felt changed in my life and society over the past year.

Data Plan Dependence
This year, I went from having a data plan, to not having a data plan, to having a data plan again. What that has changed is that now it feels like it is a necessity to have data access everywhere and all the time. Once you have connectivity, you can’t take it away. It’s like trying to go from DSL/Cable back to dial-up.

With data plans come access to mobile apps, and geolocation is the big thing in mobile apps. Foursquare was my main obsession this year.

The Disappointment of Obama
All the hope from 2008 has dried up. The sweeping change that was expected of Obama hasn’t occurred. Where do we go from here? Will he even be re-elected?

In terms of life events, the big one this year was buying and then moving into our own home. There is a lot more to manage in a house than there was in a condo.

Old Hobbies
This year I didn’t really seek out new music. Music is still something I enjoy, but I am continually scaling back the time commitment I give to it. Before I use to listen to the radio, or at least figure out the new Top 40. In the last half of the year, I just didn’t care! I guess one year I will have to pick things up since I will only have old tired songs to listen to. I’ve also slowed down a lot in taking photos (I’m lazy to carry my SLR out with me) and no longer read comics (although may start up again).

No More Warcraft
I stopped playing Warcraft, and did not start playing Starcraft. I guess this is an Old Hobby but this has previously taken so much time that I think it is worthy of its own point.

Changing Domains
My preference has been slowly shifting to using my name domain instead of In the past, anonymity was more important on the web, but with Facebook and Google accounts, a person’s true identity is now much easier to find; so there’s not as much use to hide behind a pseudonym or domain name. At least I have felt that it is more important now to build my portfolio and repertoire both on my name domain and on LinkedIn.

To The Cloud!
To borrow Dell’s commercial hook, I’ve been evolving my habits to be less tied to a specific computer. Although I still have a desktop, I use it more as a terminal – for writing code, organizing pictures, etc. In fact, my computing devices have all become terminals, and are ever present, whether they are cell phones, netbooks, or real computers. Although I’ve always had email through GMail “on the cloud”, I think new and different hardware devices have really pushed this paradigm shift now.

Where Does Blogging Fit?
I still blog, and at a fairly consistent rate, but I know that I don’t have as much enthusiasm for blogging as had before (similar to other Old Hobbies). I’ve spent less time on this year’s recap in terms of stats and whatnot as well. I think I will continue blogging, but I have to understand where that priority lies in my life now, and that will affect how much time I put into it.

European vs American mentality
In the latter half of this year, I think I have adopted more of an European mentality when it comes to goods, rather than an American one. I define an American mentality as one that is focused on cheap and excess, whereas an European puts an emphasis on quality – I’d rather have fewer but better quality goods, like better performing tools. Although, that’s only for some products – I’m still happy splurging on Dollarama.

To continue my trend that I started in 2006, here are the places I stayed at least one night overnight in in 2010:

  • Mississauga, ON, Canada
  • Calgary, AB, Canada
  • Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Brussels, Belgium
  • London, UK
  • Grand Blanc, MI, USA
  • Chicago, Il, USA
  • Syracuse, NY, USA
  • Atlantic City, NJ, USA
  • New York, NY, USA
  • Toronto, ON, Canada
  • Jersey City, NJ, USA
  • Nagoya, Japan
  • Takayama, Japan
  • Tokyo, Japan

I keep expecting that each year the list will become smaller and smaller until I don’t travel at all, but the opposite seems to happen.

This year has been yet another of year of not-so-good music. Again, it is the combination of me losing interest in music as a hobby, changing tastes of “pop radio”, and just music that is not that great (although the last two might be intertwined). I spent almost half a year feeling that Bulletproof and Bad Romance from 2009 were the best top40 songs before they started going stale. In any case, here is my list (without a clear #1 or even top 5):

  1. Boys Like Girls ft Taylor Swift – Two Is Better Than One
    I couldn’t imagine putting a song by punk boy band as the best song of the year a few years ago. In fact, I probably hate punk boy bands worse than pop boy bands! Well what can I say, either I’m getting mellow or this is a great ballad.
  2. Scissor Sisters – Fire With Fire
    This is a song that I first downloaded from iTunes and have been listening to all year. Scissor Sisters make some good pop and this is another example. It’s not a spectacular but it’s a solid hit even after quite a few listens (although not being played on the radio helps).
  3. Bruno Mars – Marry You
    I first heard this on Glee, and looked up some if its unique lyrics to figure out what song it was. I think this song is the beneficiary of being a catchy song that I found out late in the year.
  4. Drake – Find Your Love
    Drake has had a big year, he had a couple of singles and I liked this one the best since he’s actually singing in this one instead of just rapping. Good summer song.
  5. Rihanna – Only Girl (In The World)
    Rihanna had a killer end of the year, a couple of big hits and some of them were actually great! Like this one. I think what sets single apart from the other Rihanna ones is that it has a Trance beat. Actually, if you take away the beat, I think her singing would sound very odd (try and imagine her singing the chorus acapella, it needs the Trance synths to act as a foil).
  6. Lady Antebellum – Need You Now
    This one is another Country crossover hit a la Taylor Swift. It’s a good ballad but I don’t know what else to say about it. It might blend in with all the Shania hits in a few years.
  7. Dragonette – Pick Up The Phone
    Although I heard this on the radio, I don’t think this one is your typical pop song. I like it because of its dance heritage and because there is a consistent (although vague) story throughout the song. I can see myself listening to this a lot (actually I did get it for free from iTunes too), and preferring it over the other hits that I ranked higher in a few years.
  8. Usher ft – OMG
    I respect Usher for actually singing in his songs; he can actually carry a melody (although it does sound like auto tune). That is one of the reasons I like this song, because it’s not the same 2 melodies for the whole song (see Rihanna songs); the melody actually on a rollercoaster of a ride.
  9. Ke$ha ft 3OH!3 – Blah Blah Blah
    Of all the crappy Ke$ha songs, I think this one’s the best. It’s just trashy pop, but this one is actually catchy to me.
  10. Katy Perry ft Snoop Dogg – California Gurls
    I don’t understand Katy Perry as an artist, she doesn’t seem to have anything special about her to seek out a specific demographic. It’s just very vanilla, yet they keep setting her up with good singles. California Gurls was the song of the summer, and the best part is Snoop Dogg’s rap and Perry’s interplay during it. Could this be the duet of the year? If so, that’s depressing.
  11. Ne-Yo – Beautiful Monster
    I don’t think song got a lot of airplay, but I like it the same reason as I like OMG. It’s got a non-typical melody, and there is also a driving dance beat. Ne-Yo should really be Usher’s protégé (or Michael Jackson v3.0)
  12. Rihanna – Rude Boy
    This is a catchy song but it also illustrates how poor of a singer Rihanna is. I think the whole song is sung within a perfect fifth, and it’s the same 3 phrases over and over!
  13. Kanye West ft Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, Bon Iver – Monster
    This one’s a late addition and it is a piece of work. It sounds scary and mean, and once you hear Nicki Minaj’s verse, it sounds crazy. I haven’t heard it enough to know if it’s truly a good song or not, it doesn’t have a catchy hook by any means, but it might be complex enough that it could be great.
  14. K’naan – Take a Minute
    The hook is catchy, but I don’t think this song is THAT great. Perhaps this song is surfing on the popularity of the Haiti cause.
  15. B.O.B. ft Bruno Mars – Nothing On You
    I didn’t understand who B.O.B. and Bruno Mars were until I watched this video (I thought maybe they were the same person or something). So Bruno Mars can sing, and B.O.B. handles the rapping. I think this song was the big breakout for the two of them, it’s a nice song.
  16. Spose – Awesome
    This song IS awesome. You have to listen to the lyrics to really appreciate it. Probably a one-hit wonder so I should grab it from iTunes later.
  17. Maroon 5 – Misery
    I’m kind of afraid to like this song because I’m afraid that this will be another catchy lead single that fools me into buying their album when the rest of it sucks.

This year there were no big life events, at least none that could compare with getting married. But that is good because that means life was smooth, and can be enjoyed without having things nagging in the back of your mind or as many responsibilities to think about.

Although because there are few peaks and troughs, I get the worry that I am sleepwalking through life. I think what contributes to this is work and the processes around it. There is a lot of repetition from Monday to Friday, and then the work itself is not too interesting. Sure, there are challenges/difficulties, and I’m being placed in different scenarios; but nothing is insurmountable nor a genuine shift in paradigm. There is a general ennui although I don’t know if it its because of IBM or what I should expect after the honeymoon period of working.

But to be fair, I can’t say it was entirely boring. I did grow my career with more responsibilities this year; I was leading a team (although am not a people manager yet) and had some lackeys to do the work I didn’t feel enthusiastic about doing (yay for students!).

The weekends were usually filled with parties/social gatherings, or family activities. In the summer there was the added load of festivals, short trips or weddings. One change this year was that we didn’t go downtown that much; every time we go it feels like an event since we don’t have convenient access to the subway anymore. That cut down on the TSO, CD crawls, etc.

We continued to travel this year, as we are trying to make the most of our opportunities before nesting. We went to Asia for our long(er) summer holiday for the second year in a row, it was not originally planned that way but because ended up there because of family considerations. I’m starting to get a bit tired of travelling, mostly because there is such a concentrated need to travel and make the most of it within a short period (i.e., 3 weeks every year); plus the places we go to and see are not that conceptually different from Toronto.

We did experience a couple of neat things though, one was being in NYC during St Patrick’s Day where they had the largest St Patrick’s Day parade in the world (although not that interesting once you’re there). The other was going to North Korea, although it was on a guided tour and we weren’t allowed to deviate and explore.

In this year, I also:

  • went on my first winery tour
  • moved my blog from a custom solution to WordPress
  • went to my first Toronto FC game
  • cleared 10000 in gamerscore (currently at 14495 – 72.29% completion)
  • wrote 238 blogs (about 2 every 3 days)
  • got my preferred Facebook user name
  • went to three weddings
  • tried out Google Wave
  • enjoyed playing Rock Band
  • didn’t lose a lot of money in the stock market
  • did my first (car) insurance claim
  • saw the general proliferation of netbooks and eventually I got into the game
  • gained a better appreciation of song/lyric writing
  • didn’t really spend money on photo gear (I think I only bought a $50 lens – THAT’S IT!)
  • experimented with data on mobile devices
  • spent a lot of time thinking about Myers-Briggs Types Indicator
  • climbed the CN tower for charity.
  • merged Coop Rankings with InternSHARE
  • Only went to the TSO once, the movie theatre 3 times and only bought 17 CDs!
  • was pretty much over the DS but Warcraft made a late-year revival
  • broke 58,000 on the odometer
  • didn’t really succeed in getting rid of stuff

To continue my trend that I started in 2006, here are the places I stayed at least one night overnight in in 2009:

  • Los Angeles, USA
  • Mississauga, Canada
  • Toronto, Canada
  • Manhattan, USA
  • Taipei, Taiwan
  • Seoul, South Korea
  • Hong Kong, China
  • Macau, China
  • Rome, Italy
  • Venice, Italy

As always (although maybe a bit earlier this year), here are what I thought were the best songs this year:

  1. The Killers – Human
    This song was released so early in the year that it feels old by now, but I’m not tired of it. It has a good singable (i.e., karaoke) melody to boot, except I still don’t understand whether I’m Human or I’m Denser??

  2. Kelly Clarkson – My Life Would Suck Without You
    This is up there with Since U Been Gone as the best Kelly Clarkson song in my books. It’s a great pop song written by the amazing Max Martin. Unlike many of her other songs, there is a driving danceable beat to this.

  3. La Roux – Bulletproof
    I first heard this song late in the year, and I’m kind afraid that the newness of it is biasing my decision. The beats and synths are catchy and the singing has just the perfect amount of whimsicality and longing. Actually I’m afraid overcompensating and this song should be even higher on my list!

  4. Dido – Don’t Believe In Love
    The entire CD is great, and surprisingly this song is by no means a standout. It’s just a reflection of how much I enjoyed this CD.

  5. Pink – Please Don’t Leave Me
    Pink does a great job singing songs in a depressing, self-pity mood. This one is no exception. Just like Who Knew in 2006, I think this one is going to be a classic for me.

  6. Empire of the Sun – Walking on a Dream
    Best Electronic track of the year, which I got courtesy of iTunes (free, natch). The video is very crazy, they will be so embarrassed in 10 years.

  7. Shakira – She Wolf
    This song is a trip down bizarre street. How can you NOT like a song with the line Darling it is no joke, this is lycanthropy? I’m surprised Shakira can get her accent around those words but you know what they say, lips don’t lie!

  8. Lady Gaga – Bad Romance
    I feared that this song was another case of bias towards the new hawtness but after thinking about it for awhile, I can say that this is a pretty good song. Lady Gaga’s singles have a catchy hook and this is no exception, even if it is nonsensical. What makes this song great is because she’s singing in her lower register.

  9. Metric – Gimme Sympathy
    This is a great song with a catchy melody. The first Metric song I actually liked. But what bothers me is that it makes no sense; the lyrics are vague to a point of nonsensical. Who’d you rather be? / the Beatles or the Rolling Stones? Um sure, but in what context?

  10. Colbie Caillat – Falling For You
    I liked this song but I’m sorry can’t get that stupid video out of my head when I hear it. Why did I ever watch the video?? Now this song isn’t that good.

  11. Lily Allen – The Fear
    Great production on Lily Allen’s sophomore album. I wouldn’t have paid that much attention to this song except I was watching the video in NYC. The only problem with The Fear is that I think it is a bit too mellow and after listening to it to awhile, it fades into background music.

  12. Ciara ft Justin Timberlake – Love Sex Magic
    Best duet of the year, catchy beat to groove to. Since I didn’t associate a lot of songs with summer this year, I guess this would also be my summer song too.

  13. Bat For Lashes – Daniel
    There isn’t a lot of indie music on this list except for this track and maybe Phoenix’s 1901. I learned about Bat For Lashes by downloading this single from iTunes but unfortunately what I like about this track is unlike anything else that they put out.

  14. Black Eyed Peas – I Got A Feeling
    I Got A Feeling had potential for greatness, but now it is just normal.

  15. Phoenix – 1901
    I was a bit disappointed that Phoenix’s new CD Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix was not as catchy as their last one, but 1901 is up their with the best Phoenix tracks. It’s reminiscent of the clean post-punk revival sound a la The Strokes which my listening habits have deviated from in recent years.

  16. John Legend ft Andre 3000 – Green Light
    I think this is an under rated song when it came out early in the year. It’s up beat and fits into that nebulous genre that’s not really pop, adult contemporary, hip-hop or R&B.

  17. Taylor Swift – You Belong To Me
    There is a surprising trend this year where Pop songs actually have good lyrics! Well at least the Taylor Swift ones. This isn’t a great song but its catchy; now if I can only find the radio edit…

  18. Cascada – Evacuate the Dancefloor
    I think Cascada has had a few singles, but this is the only one that stuck on Canadian radio. Perhaps it stuck too well. Along with Hedley’s Cha-Ching, they played these two songs once ever hour or something. It’s catchy, but not that good. I like the 2nd rap though.

  19. Miley Cyrus – Party in the USA (video)
    I guess this song is self-referential in that Miley doesn’t think that she’s successful enough. Party in the USA is a throwback, it sounds like it came from the 90s. I like the namedrops (i.e., Jay-Z) though.

  20. Whitney Houston – Million Dollar Bill
    I don’t know what happened to this song. It was supposed to be Whitney Houston’s comeback single, and she certainly threw in all the Whitney-esque you could ask for. It was a good song, and catchy too; but then the radio suddenly stopped playing it. Well you can’t make a comeback if the radio doesn’t play your song??

  21. Taylor Swift – Love Story
    The Romeo and Juliet song. For the longest time, I thought this song was by someone else, but then I found out and downloaded it. Did you know the country version starts with a banjo??

  22. MGMT – Kids
    Kids has a great hook, but I’ve listened to it Just. Too. Much. And the hook is not as great as Time To Pretend so it doesn’t survive repeated listens.

What happened in 2008? Let’s get the big stuff out of the way: 1) Got married, 2) Moved out, 3) Went to France, Japan and California, 4) posted 222 blogs (60% of the days), 5) bought 45 CDs for $184.86, 6) went to TSO 6 times, and 7) only bought 1 camera and 1 lens (which was for my new camera so it doesn’t really count). Well that part was easy; the remaining small and subtle details are hard to summarize. If you’ve been reading my blog over the last year you’ll know what I’m up to! Here are some random moments and thoughts that serves as my attempt to phone in the yearly recap.

This was the year that environmentalism became the cause célèbre (and no, it’s not because I counted 170 Priuses while in California). Perhaps it was the gas prices that sky rocketed up to $1.30/L, or maybe enough people saw An Inconvenient Truth (I finally saw a bit of it on TV). This was the year that stores started selling (reusable) plastic bags for 5¢ or reusable cloth bags for $10. Companies started advertising their environmental goodwill so you can dispose your income on their excess.

A second year has passed working day in and day out at the same job. Those jokes of a four-month switch are long gone, yet it’s quite easy to fall into the rhythm of working. A couple of more blinks and 40 years will have passed by. Which is good and bad, because when things are uneventful, that means not a lot of (career) progress is happening.

This was the year that the first half-black American was voted in as President. Obama will have a lot to work through and I’m interested to see whether he will introduce real reforms into the financial industry. When I took Econ a few years ago, I was disappointed that I missed a chance of a lifetime to make millions in the stock market tech bubble. Little did I know that I would see another bubble where I could have made several magnitudes of fake money less than 10 years later. I missed my chance again. Will another opportunity appear in the next 5 years?

Half of the year was busy, with wedding planning on my mind during the day and occupying the weekend. A big, looming deadline which you cannot work towards was unhealthy as it kept occupying my time but I couldn’t execute on it. But once the wedding was done, I’m in the opposite state, without having to worry about kids running around or crisis situations at work.

My gaming platform of choice moved on from the Nintendo DS to the Xbox360. I don’t bring my DS out much anymore, unless I know for sure that I have to wait 30 minutes or more. One reason is because my friends don’t play as much, but it’s also because my narrow tastes have gone through the DS back catalog and played everything worth playing. I’m still working through the 360 back catalog, but all good things come to an end. Such as Warcraft, I finally stopped playing that after what 5 years?

I’m back from LA, and here’s a hastily put together blog of places I stayed overnight in 2008.

  • Toronto, Canada
  • Paris, France
  • Mississauga, Canada
  • Kyoto, Japan
  • Kinosaki, Japan
  • Hiroshima, Japan
  • Okayama, Japan
  • Fukuoka, Japan
  • Kofu, Japan
  • Tokyo, Japan
  • Buffalo, USA
  • Los Angeles, USA
  • San Diego, USA

Also: 2007, 2006.

Another year and another 40-odd songs downloaded for free from iTunes (I screen them first). Here are the best from this year:

  1. Brooke Waggonner – Young Friend
    Awesome song, like a better version of Sarah Barellies’ Love Song. I would never have known about this song if not for iTunes.
  2. Kardinall Offishal ft Akon – Dangerous
    Had second thoughts about downloading this one, but now it’s a classic!
  3. Black Kids – I’m Not Going To Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You
    This song is so 2007 and the major label release is a bit different than the indie version I downloaded from their MySpace
  4. Cut Copy – Lights & Music
    These electronic dudes sound like they’re from the 80s, and are finally getting radio airplay in Canada. This song is better than that song they’re playing on the radio though.
  5. Karina – Can’t Find The Words
    Originally I didn’t think this R&B single would be that great, but it has grown on me.
  6. Duffy – Mercy
    Big song from the summer, was a free download in March.
  7. Lenka – The Show
    Cute pop singer in the vein of Annie. This is not the best song, but it’s still catchy. Another artist that iTunes introduced me to.
  8. I Nine – Seven Days of Lonely
    I heard this song on the radio first actually, it’s not bad so I downloaded it when it was free.
  9. Danger – 11h30
    Another catchy electronic track. Between this and Cut Copy, it seemed like it would be a good free year for Electronic. But these were the only two highlights.
  10. Babasóonicos – Microdancing
    I usually don’t bother downloading the Latin Single of the Week but this one was pretty catchy.

Yes yes the annual “what songs I liked the most” post. Here’s my 2007, 2006, 2005, and 2004 version. This is starting to be a trend. A couple of things are different this year: a) I’ve decided to split my iTunes downloads into another post (this one is too long), 2) I made a personal pledge NOT to listen to radio for the last month and a half of the year (radio is annoying redux) so I might be missing some singles, and 3) 4 of the top 5 songs are hip-hop (kinda). I don’t even like hip-hop! I don’t know if this means that hip-hop producers are the best, or that the other genres sucked this year.

  1. Estelle ft Kayne West – American Boy
    American Boy is #1 this year. I’ve blogged about it before. Basically, Kayne is the best rapper on the radio, Estelle has a great tone, and the British accents are catchy.
  2. Mariah Carey – Touch My Body
    Another great, great song that has #1 single written over it. Although, it’s not very deep so in a few years it won’t be as great.
  3. Coldplay – Viva La Vida
    Listening to Coldplay is like drinking soup with mystery ingredients. Usually it’s just some random blended-in taste. Occasionally, there are some great ingredients and recipe that make a success and this is an example
  4. Sean Kingston – Take Me There
    This sounded like a great summer song, but unfortunately it was played on the radio during the winter months…
  5. Kardinal Offishall ft Akon – Dangerous
    I’ve hard Kardinal Offishall’s name around Toronto for a couple of years and am glad he finally got his big break. This is the summer song of 2008.
  6. Kreesha Turner – Don’t Call Me Baby
    Kreesha Turner’s another Canadian, and this is actually her second single (Bounce With Me was on the radio first). The tone of her voice is unique in this one which is what first attracted me to this song
  7. Leona Lewis – Better In Time
    The first 100 times I heard this song, I thought it was by Alicia Keys!
  8. Deborah Cox – Beautiful You Are
    The beat on this track reminds me of P. Diddy ft Keisha Chante’s Last Night from last year. But this Scarberian’s version is more positive.
  9. Metro Station – Shake It
    Downloaded in 2007 off iTunes, I’m an early-adopter thank you very much. Did you know Trace Cyrus, Miley Cyrus aka Hannah Montana’s half-brother is a singer in Metro Station?
  10. NKOTB – Summertime
    They’re back, and have had what, 20 years to write a catchy single. This one is not bad, but couldn’t they do better?
  11. Miley Cyrus – See You Again
    Love this song, it has a catchy chorus and looks like it’s in the right range for…KARAOKE!
  12. Katy Perry – Hot N Cold
    Even though this song is better, I bet Katy Perry will still be a one-hit wonder in 5 years.
  13. One Republic – Stop And Stare
    I am surprised I rated this song this high, because it’s very generic and forgettable.
  14. Usher – In This Club
    I remember hearing this song in a random restaurant in Paris, before it was big in Canada. Very backwards, but memorable in that respect.
  15. Natasha Bedingfield – Pocketful of Sunshine
    Another generic pop song…
  16. Ne-Yo – Closer
    Ne-Yo has had better singles. I don’t think showcases his skill.
  17. Rihanna – Take A Bow
    Written by Ne-Yo listening to too much old school Madonna?
  18. Beyonce – If I Were A Boy
    Beyonce stepping into the shoes of “a boy” is neat and so the lyrics carry this ballad
  19. Duffy – Mercy
    The swing feel and Duffy’s distinctive voice make this song catchy; but listen to it too much, like I did, and then have the radio overplay it does not improve its longevity
  20. Rihanna – Disturbia
    This track is a bit weird, I wouldn’t classify it as pop, but it is!
  21. NKOTB ft Ne-Yo – Single
    This track is part of my conspiracy theory.
  22. Kid Rock – All Summer Long
    That Sweet Home Alabama sample is well travelled but still catchy. And it carries this song.
  23. Katy Perry – I Kissed A Girl
  24. Britney Spears – Womanizer
    Britney can pull off the sultry singing better than ANY singer. Even when she’s crazy