7 Things I Liked in 2012

I don’t “do” New Year’s. It’s a lame un-holiday, notable only for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. We usually watch an old movie, eat snacks, and go to bed.

It is, however, a useful time for looking back on the Year That Was, seeing who died, and remembering all the awful things that happened. I wrote a long rumination on the miseries of 2012, and decided to put aside, for now at least, in favor of some of the better things that happened in my life for the past 12 months.

So let’s begin, as all my days begin, with …

 1. Chickens!

 One day last spring my wife said, “The local feed store is having an open house about raising chickens. Why don’t we go?” From such small things great projects are born. We got three chicks, my daughter jumped into 4H with gusto (providing a blessed reprieve from Girl Scouts), and I set about my three month quest to buy/build/steal a chicken coop.

In the meantime, the little darlings were being hand raised from 3 days old by a doting little girl. In the process, they became more than just poultry: they became pets. Amber, Diamond, and Ruby each have distinct personalities, and though they’re not the smartest critters on the block, they’re not as dumb as people like to think. They would have given us a lot of pleasure without even producing the 15 eggs a week they do in prime laying season. (Reduced to about 5 a week for winter.) We’re too disconnected from our food supply, and even a small step like keeping chickens helps ground us a bit more in the reality of the things we need to sustain us.

I initially intended to just post week-by-week snapshots of them as they grew from fuzzy McNuggets into beautiful hens, but people were interested so I continued with the Monday Morning Chicken for a few months.

For those missing their chicken fix, here’s 18 seconds of pure finger lickin’ chicken goodness:

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2. Halfway to a Masters

I started working on my Masters in Theology in Summer of 2011, at the request of my parish, and with the support of my diocese. They needed more people to train catechists and teach adult formation, and asked me to go back to school to get the credentials. As of this month, I passed the halfway point, and should finish by this time next year.

I never expected it to be easy, and it hasn’t been, but it’s remarkably fulfilling. It’s redirected my interests to new and unexpected places: away from St. Thomas and towards St. Augustine, away from the NT and towards the OT. Small bits of some of my work for the degree have appeared on the site, and I hope to adapt some more in the upcoming year.

3. Reading For Pleasure Again

My reading load for school was so large that I rarely opened a book that wasn’t assigned. Towards the end of the year, I made a point of carving out some time for light reading. I started with Paul Johnson’s little bio/rant about Socrates, which I do recommend, as long as you take his anti-Plato views with a grain of salt. Then, during Sandy, I began reading Anthony Trollope‘s Barsetshire Chronicles, and just loved it. I’ve been spending my Christmas break with old comics, and will try to continue making some time for light reading as I begin my next semester with classes on Moral Theology and Patristics.

4. Watching TV 

I try not to be one of those people who sniffs and says, “I don’t watch television,” saying the word “television” with the same tone they’d say “turd.” The fact is, though, I really didn’t watch all that much network TV, choosing instead to mostly watch movies, British dramas and detective shows, and 1960s spy series (The Avengers, The Saint, Danger Man, The Prisoner, Wild Wild West, etc), all on DVD or Netflix. The only thing I’ve follow for years was Smallville, Lost, and Fringe. This year I started watching Once Upon a Time, Person of Interest, Alcatraz (cancelled), Elementary, and Arrow, and I enjoy them! Good writing, fine acting, strong production values, and (often) good messages. Heck, even Arrow (on the CW of all places!) manages to work interesting moral messages in the superhero format.

5. Meeting The Bishops and Bloggers

I don’t get out much, so it was fun to drive down to Baltimore, participate in the bishops and bloggers meetup, and spend a bit of time in a pub with some other bloggers.

6. Techie-Type Stuff

Since tech, games, and gadgets are my bread and butter, I’m going to write something a bit longer about my 2012 experiences, thoughts, and best-ofs. Short version: iPad 3, Wii U, Kindle Fire, iPhone 5, Skyrim (a winter 2011 release, but played more than anything else in 2012), 10,000,000,  The Room, Notability, Newsify, Quantum Conundrum. The Samsung Galaxy line and the Surface tabs are also looking good in demos, but I haven’t had hands on time with them. More to come…

7. This Blog

 In Summer of 2010, Elizabeth Scalia asked me to consider writing for Patheos. (No, I don’t know why either. Too much Mystic Monk Coffee that day?) In any case, she was interested in adding me as a blogger, but I wasn’t sure about that level of commitment. I already had a modestly successful blog about gaming (now on hiatus), and starting another about religion seemed like folly. I wasn’t even sure I had anything to say in the format, so I told her I’d think about it.

Well, I think about things really slowly, and it wasn’t until March of this year that I decided to give it a shot. I’m still figuring it all out and trying to find a tone and a pace and a good mix of content to make it all coherent, but it’s been a decent enough start and I’m honored to be sharing the roster with some really talented people. I had a few posts get a good deal of traffic and shares, and I hope to get better at the format as I go along. I’m still working on folding this whole blog thing into my regular life (school, family, work, and teaching), and I thank you for your patience and patronage. Time is our most finite and valuable commodity, and I’m honored that you’d spend a little of yours with me.

I’d like to leave it on that note, even though 2012 was a year of many miseries. We are blessed with life in a world abundant with beauty, truth, and love for those who choose to seek it. As the years go by, those things may get harder and harder to find, until they’re no bigger than the size of a pearl. But that pearl, when we grasp it, will shine so brightly it will banish all the darkness of the days that came before.

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About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.

  • https://foothills.wjduquette.com/blog Will Duquette

    Keep it up, Tom, we like it. :-)

  • Harry Piper

    Good stuff, man. More stuff on chickens (and might I say, in case of a zombie/WMD/EMP attack it’s nice to know someone is prepared for the collapse of industrial civilization) and gaming please, if at all possible.

  • http://metabooleans.blogspot.com/ Nick

    You enjoyed Elementary?! Come on, man, BBC’s Sherlock or bust! :)

    But really, this blog has been great and I’m still glad I added it to my RSS feed months ago. Keep it up!

  • victor

    Yeah, definitely, keep up the blogging! I can’t believe you’ve only been doing it here since March, because it seems like a lot longer and I can’t imagine the Blogosphere without you now. Please do post more of your thoughts about the Wii U (we got one for Christmas and the boys and I love it), and if you ever need an additional CW show to catch up on, give “Supernatural” a whirl.

    Happy new year!

  • Subsistent

    As P —> Q, so Mickey Mouse with a tail —> an earlier Disney cartoon, since Mickey’s tail was later removed. (-:

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com Thomas L. McDonald

    Thanks for the kind words, all!

    We’re getting new chicks in spring, so I’ll start up the weekly posts as they grow.

    More game stuff coming soon: probably XCOM this week.

    Elementary isn’t as good as Sherlock (which itself isn’t as good as Jeremy Brett), but it’s a good American detective show: a format I don’t usually like all that much (except for older stuff like Columbo and Magnum).

  • Darren

    I like your list. Your blog has become a regular part of my reading list in the last year, it is very much appreciated. My parish has a midnight mass on New Years Eve to celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. It is a good way to bring in the New Year in the right spirit.