Life · Observations

2017: A Retrospective

So, 2017…glad it’s over.

Depending on what side of the US political fence you sit, it was the best year ever or the absolute worst. Either way, it’s been exhausting. Polarizing.

Weinstein and the long overdue fallout.

Tornadoes. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

The Las Vegas shooting. The Egyptian mosque shooting. The Texas church shooting. The shootings. Always more shootings.

California on fire, again. Or is it still?

The birth of Fidget Spinners. The death of Net Nuetrality.

Friends were diagnosed with cancer. Or were declared to be in remission.

Friends lost jobs, some found new ones. Plans were rearranged.

Friends got engaged, got pregnant, got divorced.

Here at home, we lost two dogs to illnesses, four months apart.

We decided to keep the kitten who showed up on our doorstep in November. Against our better judgement.

Personally, 2017 was a year of introspection, although that isn’t really the right word. Probably not. Self-reflection is probably more accurate.

With so much going on “out there” out of control, it’s easy to get caught up in it. Show me one time that actually helps things, yet we still do it. I know it never helps me handle it. Much more effective for me is to just work on what I do with the information. Focus my attention and mental energy on what’s really important and the people I care about.

Late this year, I decided to make a conscious effort to do more of the things I enjoy, which sounds stupid, but I tend to be the first to say “I can’t [insert activity], because I have to [insert lame reason].” Little things, like having a beer with coworkers, carving out time to take a walk or read a book or work on a drawing, tended to take a back seat to other more responsible, grown up activities.

“I can’t hang out because the dog and cats have to eat at exactly five PM.”

“I can’t play disc golf on Saturday because I have freelance work due Monday.”

“I can’t go to Cars & Coffee because I have to clean the garage.”

This year I’ve worked on being more intentional about taking time for myself. Not to get away from others or shirk responsibility, but to be able to be more present and clear-headed when I get back to them. Doing things I enjoy makes me a happier person, which translates to being a better person, which, in turn, makes me a better friend, husband, employee. Shocking that we’re surprised that works.

By New Years’ I’ll have finished the third book I’ve read this year. Not that any of the three are difficult reads, but considering years have gone by where I haven’t read more than a few pages it’s a start. All three have been in the self-improvement genre though, so that’s new.

With any luck, I’ll be able to continue this trend in 2018. The ever-growing reading list will get tackled, read books will be shared.

I’ll write more, draw, paint and weld more. Hang out more. Care more.

Be more involved in things that matter and work to shun the things that don’t.

I guess luck has nothing to do with it. Maybe I should say that 2018 will be a year of doing things intentionally. More of the things that matter or that are good for me, less of the opposite. Why does that end up being so difficult?

Either way, good riddance 2017.

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.


Brontosaurus < Apatosaurus

Every member of every generation has one of those events that rock them to their very core. For some people, it was the the JFK assassination. For others, the Martin Luther King, Jr, assassination. For my generation, at least the early part of it, it was the morning the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded on live television. The latter part, of course, and probably for the generation after mine, it simple became known as 911.

There are many smaller events though, that don’t hit with the same impact, but that still stick with you.

For example, a mere 20 years ago in college, we were taught in our Astrophysics class that there were nine planets in our solar system. Then, suddenly, in 2002, Pluto got the boot. Downgraded by the scientific community to a mere “icy rock that’s also orbiting our sun but not really a planet sorry KTHXbai” and suddenly we’re down to eight. Our entire lives, nay, the entire history of the modern school system has taught that Pluto was a planet. Hell, it even had a Disney dog named after it…and now, from woof to poof! It’s off the list.

Another one of those moments where I learned that the scientific community was probably just trolling us was when they informed the world that “Hey, guys what? Probably the most famous dinosaur of them all didn’t really exist, Brontosaurus was really just another version of the Apatosaurus that kind of looked like the other one so yeah, sorry you got so attached to it. You still have the Triceratops though, so quit complaining or we’ll take that away too.”

The little boy nerd in me was crushed. Who am I kidding…I was crushed. Dinosaurs fueled the my imagination my entire life…and with a nickname like “Thunder Lizard?” It’s not like I lost sleep or anything over it, but still, you can’t just take that away from me. Come on!

Fast forward to 2017, when we have flying cars, and robots that do our bidding and, wait, never mind.

Anyway, and the second season of Netflix’ runaway show Stranger Things had just come out, and during one of several binge sessions, what’s this I see? One of the main characters is wearing a purple sweatshirt from the Science Museum of Minnesota, and it has a giant Brontosaurs on the front, in all its 2-dimensional glory, lumbering over its true name, set in some ugly-yet-period-specific font. I feel a twinge of sadness – it’s just one more nod to something that existed in the 80s, and now it doesn’t.

Like Kodak film. Or DeLoreans.

On a whim, I did a Google search for “brontosaurus sweatshirt” and what do I see?


Yeah, it’s an obvious money grab, but hey, credit where it’s due. They saw an opportunity and ran with it, and their gamble paid off.

In a big way.

In addition to the one I bought, apparently there are more than a few Brontosaurus supporters like myself around the world willing to shell out $40 a pop for the opportunity to ironically thumb their nose in the general direction of the scientific community, even if it was in “Ultra Violet.” The SMOM we hoping for 10-15,000 t-shirts, sweatshirts, and other swag when they opened up the shop, but got blown away by the response of 30,000 order at last check.

It shouldn’t be a surprise.

Nobody likes the name “Apatosaurus.” I have a feeling most people don’t even know if they’re saying it right.

And you can bet it doesn’t have a cool nickname.

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