Year in Review – 2018

2018 was a good year for me. I took two big trips, my brother and his family came out for Christmas, and I kept myself busy with touch table conversions, reading and movies.


In July I went to Scandinavia with my parents. I enjoyed seeing some of Scandinavia and learning about their history, art and food. I really like the art by Munch and Vigeland and was surprised by how much I liked the scenery in Norway.

In September I went to Cape May and Philadelphia with my parents and my brother’s family. Highlights from that trip were time on the beach and the Barnes museum.

My brother and his family came to Colorado for Christmas and we spent the week at my parent’s house. It was fun to spend time with my niblings again. The youngest is 2 1/2 and I was impressed by how much he had changed since this summer.


I made seven games for the touch table this year: Notre Dame, Azul, Medici card game, Automobile, Settlers of Catan, Between Two Cities, and Galaxy Trucker. Automobile is probably the most fun that I’ve had doing any conversion, and I’ve also enjoyed doing some larger games this year. As we make more games for the table, each game gets a little less play. Automobile and Settler’s of Catan in particular are games that we were basically done playing before they were converted.

Bill also made a few touch games this year:

  • Caylus – Strategy game where players compete to build a city and castle
  • Stop, Squat and Roll – A territory claiming and press your luck game also know as “Claim It”
  • Codenames – Players compete to get their teammates to pick the correct pictures based on a one word description.
  • Ocean Raiders – A press-your-luck style treasure hunting game


In March I was lucky in the ticket lottery and got to see Hamilton in Denver. Even after all the hype I was still surprised by how good it was. It is the best musical that I’ve been to by a decent margin.

Also in March our residential Solar panel installation was completed. This really hasn’t changed anything, but it has been fun to see how much time-of-year, time-of-day, clouds and snow change the power generation.

We took the touch table to two events this year: The FoCoBoCo in Fort Collins and the B-Con in Denver. It is always fun to show the table to new people and get their reactions to the game conversions.

We got a Cricut paper cutting machine in September and Bill has spent a lot of time making decorations and cards for friends and family:

I went to a few other cultural/arts events this year

  • A friend introduced me to the Kirkland museum, and I highly recommend it. It is an art and design museum packed with very fashionable and artistic household products.
  • I went to a couple of the “One painting at a time” discussions at the Clyfford Still museum. They were just OK, but I really enjoy the museum itself.
  • My brother got me season tickets to the opera and I really enjoyed La Traviata. Their second show will be Marriage of Figaro in May.


Creating touch games is how I spend most of my free time, but I still only spent 650 hours making games this year (not including bug fixes or updates to old games). The rest of my free time is divided between computer games, books, Netflix and Violin.

I played quite a few computer games this year: Opus Magnum, Stardew Valley (again), Surviving Mars, Far Cry 3, Heat Signature, Sniper elite 4, Superhot, Pillars of Eternity, Bomb Squad Academy, and Wing Commander (again). Like the past few years, I’m spending less time on computer games than I once did. I still enjoy it, but games don’t hold my attention like they used to. The best games that I’ve played lately are Stellaris, Witcher III, Heat Signature and Stardew Valley.

I did more reading this year. I get e-books from the Denver library. The wait list is usually long, but it is super convenient. My favorite books this year were the Mistborn series, A Prayer for Owen Meany, Rebecca (my grandmother’s favorite book) and Little Fires Everywhere.

I also watched a lot of Netflix. Some favorites from this year: The Good Place, Infinity Chamber, Anomolisa, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Brigsby Bear, Personal Shopper, Bojack Horseman, and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. In particular Bojack Horseman has made some of my favorite episodes in any series. One episode this season made it into imdb’s top 10 episodes of all time. Unfortunately, you really have to watch the whole series to enjoy it, and some of the episodes are weak. The Good Place is also both funny and well made. Here is a fun video about why it’s such an interesting show.

I continue to work on learning violin. I played for 310 hours this year – basically an hour a day when I’m home. But I don’t feel like I’m making as much progress as I used to. Part of it is that 300 hours isn’t as big of a percentage of my total time as it used to be. But I also feel like my progress has slowed since I stopped taking lessons, and that if I wanted to improve I’d need to spend more than an hour a day practicing. I spent the first half of the year working on Suzuki book 9 and the second half on Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. I’d learned Spring and Summer before, so this time I tried to be more accurate and faster. I’m currently about 2/3 done learning Autumn which is harder than Spring or Summer. Sometime in 2019 I’ll hit 5000 hours of violin. Here I’m playing the last part of Four Seasons – Summer:


I don’t have many solid plans for 2019. We’d like to make a trip to Mexico and will probably sell the house there. We might also make a trip to New York to visit my brother.

I’m tentatively planning to do the “Tour De Vineyards” bike ride in Palisade CO this year. I’ll need to get road tires for my bike and find out if my time biking in the gym translates into road biking stamina.

There is a chance that my family will travel to South Carolina or Illinois, but that will depend on my brother’s schedule and my dad’s health.

I received a Fitbit fitness tracker for Christmas. I’m enjoying it so far. The biggest improvement over my old Jawbone is having a watch and getting notifications from my phone. So my first programming project for the new year will be getting Fitbit data into my Timeline program.

I don’t really have any big resolutions for 2019. I want to continue spending my time the way I have been in 2018 with maybe a little more effort toward hiking/biking this summer and a few more trips downtown for a symphony or other show. The light rail line to Union Station has made trips downtown much more enjoyable for me. I always hated finding and paying for parking.

Year in Review – 2017

2017 didn’t feel as busy as the last couple years have been. We didn’t have any trips that required a lot of planning like in 2015, and I created fewer touch table games than in 2016.


We spent March in San Carlos. We spent a lot of time reading, went to the beach regularly and ate a lot of good food. It was a very relaxing trip. We also got a gym membership and went most days. We took a lot of walks and a couple hikes, one in Nacapule canyon and another to the top of Tetekawi peak. The Tetekawi hike was challenging; we got a very early start, but it was still a hot, difficult climb.

I enjoyed this trip more than I expected to. I was worried that I would run out of things to do and be bored. But it was nice for the month. Life just had a slower pace- like actually being retired. If we were going to spend longer there, I’d bring a computer to use for programming. On the way back from Mexico, we went to the White Sands Monument.

In August we spent a week in Montreal with my brother’s family and my parents. I enjoyed the city and spending time with my family. We went to Notre Dame, the Archeology Museum, the Biodome and Botanical Gardens. We ate out at “Au Pied de Cochon” (Foot of the Pig) where we had some of the richest, fattiest food I’ve ever eaten.

We got back from Montreal just in time for the solar eclipse. We drove a few hours north with a group of friends to get into the total eclipse path. The eclipse was spectacular and well worth the awful drive home. I’m definitely planning to see the next one that crosses America in 2024. The atmosphere at the park was interesting. People were a bit more nerdy and friendly than usual. When totality happened people cheered, shouted and let out exclamations of surprise. I was shocked by how much the temperature dropped and how crazy bright even a tiny sliver of the sun is.


I made three games for the touch table this year. Village and Broom Service were standard board game conversion projects. I enjoyed both and am getting more comfortable adding slightly nicer graphics, sound and animations to my games.

I also created a tutorial about how I convert board games for the touch table. I made a series of blog entries and accompanying YouTube videos describing the process. For the tutorial, I converted a very simple board game called No Thanks. The tutorial took a lot of time and I probably spent more time creating it than people will spend reading and watching it.

When we first retired, I wrote software to simulate our finances and predict if we had enough money saved. This fall I spent time updating that software to be more robust and user friendly with the plan to release it. I finished it right at the end of the year and released it as SimRetirement.

Bill made several games for the touch table this year:

  • Murderdrome – A real time robot programming game
  • Nexus – A conversion of a competitive strategy card game
  • Starship Factory 2 – A conversion and re-theming of “The Builders”
  • Fighter’s Empire – A cooperative space combat action game.
  • Dungeon Raiders 3 The Escape – A conversion of the real time board game Escape: The Curse of the Temple


I played a few computer games this year: Doom, Cities Skylines, South Park, The Witcher 3,, Stellaris, Infinifactory, Stardew Valley, and Ashes of the Singularity. I’ve had a harder time getting into computer games lately and haven’t spent as much time playing them as I used to.

2017 was also an inventory year. Every four years we take a full inventory of all the stuff we own. It takes a while to update the inventory because we take pictures of everything new. It is kind of fun to see what has changed and the photos are surprisingly interesting to look at after several years.

I sold my Insight, so we are down to one car. So far it hasn’t been too inconvenient.

We built a new 55″ 4K touch table. Building the table took a lot longer than we expected it to. Every part of the process had issues. The bezel on the TV didn’t look very big, but it was big enough to make it hard to quickly tap multiple times. Fortunately Bill was able to take the TV apart and remove it. We also struggled to get reds to display properly which turned out to be a flaw in the old video card I was trying to use. We bought the touch frame from the same company that we used for our first table; but we had lots of problems getting the touch working well. We spent many hours working with the company’s tech support to get the frame to not have any dead spots and also not detect extra touches. For the enclosure, we wanted a flat pack table like the ones Mesa Mundi demoed at PAX. After contacting at least five different CnC design companies in town, Bill finally found someone through Craigslist who was able to do the design and cutting. We’d intended to have the new table built shortly after returning from Mexico in April and we finally got everything working early December.

Bill created an in-home puzzle room for me and our friends, The puzzle room was a huge amount of work that provided a very exciting hour of problem and puzzle solving. It was a great success: the puzzles were a good difficulty, we were never stuck for long and there were enough different things to keep everyone occupied.

When we got back from San Carlos I got a gym membership and have been exercising most days. I’ve had more energy, had an easier time sleeping and possibly been a little happier.

I’m still playing violin. I spent most of 2017 working on pieces in Suzuki book 7 trying to play them at full speed. In 2018 I hope to make it through Suzuki book 9.

Year in Review – 2015

This is my second annual “year in review” post. It’s like a lazy Christmas card to the internet.

Overall we had a good year. We are healthy, enjoying our free time, and keeping busy making software and games for the touch table. We did a lot of traveling this year with trips to Boston, San Carlos Mexico, Essen Germany, a Mediterranean cruise and a couple trips to see family.

Mesa Mundi invited us to PAX East again this year. We stayed with the Mesa Mundi team in Sharon, so we got to spend more time hanging out with Toby, Rebecca, Laura and Matt.

In April we drove down to San Carlos Mexico to relax, enjoy the warm weather and spend some time on the beach. On the way back, we checked out the Very Large Array Radio telescope and stopped in Santa Fe and Taos. The VLA was a bit of a detour, but it was well worth the time.

To celebrate my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary, we joined them on a Mediterranean cruise with my brother and his family. It lasted two weeks and we got to see a lot of interesting sites. It was also nice to spend time with brother’s family again, and the food on the cruise ship was excellent.

In October we celebrated our 42nd birthdays by doing something geeky and going to the biggest board game convention in Essen Germany. We had a lot of fun at the convention and also saw the Zollverein coal mine complex. We played and saw lots of new games and have ended up adding quite a few of them to our board game collection.

We went to Kansas for Thanksgiving and to Idalia CO for a mini family reunion in June. It had been quite a while since I had seen some of my aunts and uncles and we got to spend time with a couple cousins that I haven’t seen in years.

Along with travel and travel planning, I spent a lot of time this year writing games for the touch table. I wrote five games this year: Puerto Rico, Vegas Showdown, 7 Wonders, Caverna and Muck. Vegas Showdown was the last game that I wrote in the Torque game engine and 7 Wonders, Caverna and Muck are written in Unity. I’m enjoying working in Unity. The Unity editor is really good and makes laying out the graphics for a game much easier. It is also nice to write code in C# instead of Torquescript. Another big advantage is that the Unity community is a lot more active and there are assets and plugins that are available for Unity that can save a lot of time.

I also wrote a new version of my Timeline program for tracking major life events. I added the ability to track health metrics collected by a fitness tracker to the application.

I am still practicing the violin. I had a recital in May and stopped taking lessons in August. I may start lessons again someday, but for now I am learning on my own. We are also still hosting bi-weekly game nights with friends and have started attending a local gaming group meetup on the off week.


Next year will probably be a little less busy than 2015. We don’t have nearly as much travel planned. We hope to continue making touch table games. If we continue at our current pace, we will reach fifty games sometime next year.

Year In Review – 2014

I don’t mail out a Christmas card, but I’d like to provide a brief summary of my year to family and friends who I haven’t gotten to see this year. I also enjoy doing a bit of reflection at the end of a year.

It felt like a busy year, and I think it is because of all the travel that we did:

  • In March we went to Effingham Illinois for my Uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary.
  • We took the scenic Amtrak train ride from Denver to Glenwood Springs with Bill’s parents for spring break. (Photos)
  • We took a two week tour of England, Ireland and Scotland with my parents in September. (Photos)
  • In December we went to Chicago for my cousin’s wedding and took in a couple museums. (Photos)

We also went to two game conventions promoting our touch table software. In April we went to Boston for our second PAX with Mesa Mundi. We enjoyed the convention and getting to see all the Mesa Mundi people again. In July we brought our own touch table to the Conclave of Gamers convention which was held at a nearby hotel. This was the first time we have done a convention without Mesa Mundi. This convention was less busy, but the attendees stayed at the tables longer and we got to try a bigger variety of games.

In January we had a wedding reception game day to celebrate our legal marriage last year in New York. The wedding was a civil ceremony with just my brother and his wife as our witnesses, so this game day gave our friends and my parents a chance to celebrate with us. It felt strange to have a wedding reception after being together for so long, but it is nice to be recognized by our government, and I had a lot fun that day and appreciated the well wishes.

Right after getting back from PAX in April, I started a short term contracting job that lasted through June. Before this job, Bill and I created Fire Platoon. After the contracting job ended, I wrote Le Havre and Puerto Rico while Bill learned the Unity game engine and wrote High Score, Pair Soup and started on a space racing game.

In February I had my third violin recital. We hosted it at our house and invited my parents. I have been playing for five and half years and the rate of improvement has slowed way down. But is it more fun to play now, and I am still trying to practice daily. In August I fractured my shoulder in a biking accident and couldn’t really play for two months.

Overall we had a good year. We didn’t make it down to Mexico this year, so that will be a goal for 2015. Hopefully we will also get to spend a little time with my brother and his family next year.