Twelve Things I Learned in 2012, Part 1: The First Half-Dozen

First things first. I wanted to spend 2012 very intentionally in regard to time, creative efforts, and media consumption, as a result, I tracked any media I watched or heard, provided it was 20 minutes in length or longer. Please keep in mind as I share the numbers that I almost always have something playing in the background while working, doing chores, or completing household finances, etc.  I also tracked the money we spent as a household, less cash purchases prior to the move (for at that time we were essentially putting everything on credit to rack up the points). Looking back on all my tracking, I learned the following:

1) I love me some motion pictures. In 2012, I watched over 370 Hours of motion pictures plus an additional 146 hours of featurettes, podcasts, and behind-the-scenes material, all of which would have been playing in the background while doing other things. Of the 366 days of 2012, I spent almost 22 days watching movies or listening to media about movies (and again, that is only movies and film-related content over 20 minutes, not to mention the brief movie-reviews I watched on youtube and the hours of trailers I saw). I can assuredly say my love of cinema has continued well beyond my coursework at school.

2) I do not love television as I once did. In 2012, I watch 238 hours of television (including sports broadcasts and lots of news), which may sound like a lot, until you consider that the average American person watched 168 minutes per day in 2011 (according to the Bureau of Labor) and I averaged 40 minutes. I think I am finding that the medium too time-consuming these days. Given the current programming climate, if one finds a scripted show they truly like and want to follow, they are essentially required to watch it from the pilot forward, which may include upwards of 20, 45-minutes episodes per season, which is a fair of time once tallied. I have a feeling this interest in television will continue to wane in 2013, until it dwindles to the point that I only watch programs specifically recommended to me by multiple trusted parties (or someone else is watching something and I happen to be in the room).

3) I have been spoiled by good teaching. Not including the times I was actually seated in a physical church pew, I heard or watched 429 sermons or religious lectures in 2012, for a total running time of 305 hours (a significantly lower amount than I spent on film and film-related content, I know). I have received an immense amount of excellent training and exhortation straight from the pulpit and lecture stage. While this category includes Q&A’s, debates, and sermons, I am pleased to see that I digested a fair amount of non-entertainment-related media. This is encouraging, except that I feel like I should be doing alot more in life given the amount of instruction I have acquired.

4) I may have budgetary controls in place, but I still spend a fair amount on collectibles; however, I am also surprisingly unattached to them. What I mean is that, though I bought a number of new items this year, I also sold a number of those items and others gathering dust in my collection. Including the gift money I received this year, I spent $535 on toys, mostly on Lego but some on a handful of collectible figures here and there. That’s not a huge portion of money as far as American hobbies go nor our overall household AGI, but it is not negligible either. Contrasting this, however, I also sold a great deal of my collection in the pre-move purge and post-move scurry for cash. I only made a $230 net from online from toy sales, (accounting for fees and original carried cost of items), but we actually pulled closer to $700 gross, with my selling more than 175 pieces from my collection, some of which were acquired in the same calendar year but flipped due to their present fair value. Net collection increase based on personal purchases:  was -80 items. That number notwithstanding, I have recognized this year that my greed for earthly treasures is still something against which I should rally with more intentionality.

5) Speaking of which, I have come to better understand why Lego is my new hobby–frankly, it hits all my quadrants in one nicely bundled package. I could write about this in a series of posts (and I likely will), but for now I will just hit some quick points. Lego provides a tactile experience that is creative, can be communal, lends itself to detail and provides scaled replicas of both licensed properties I enjoy and original ideas/custom creations. It’s likely going to be my new hobby for the foreseeable future. For those who enjoyed “Stunk’s Bricks Pics” in the last quarter of 2012, you can expect more to come in 2013 and hopefully further years thereafter.

6) I still enjoy finding music, both new and old, but I also get frustrated when I get too much new content too quickly. This year I discoved Noisetrade, and I started to download every free album they recommended. This was too much for me. The process of listening to all the new music became more of a chore than a leisurely pursuit as 100s of tracks backed up in my unplayed library, wating to be heard who-knows-when. By the end of the year,  I would simply check the Noisetrade recommendations, download an album or track and just pass on all the others. I have kept a runing total of the artists I have decieded to keep and who will receive a donation from me in the future when I get some coin to spend, but I do not foresee myself hunting for new bands in 2013. Offline, I have heard some great old tunes from the Carpenters at my parents’ house (“Yesterday Once More” and “I Believe You” are new favorites) and also became taken with the score to the anime, Rurouni Kenshin, as recommended by niece  This year’s big winner on the “new band” front was Beautiful Eulogy, with their debut album, Satellite Kite. 

So, that’s something. Or six things I suppose. Looking forward to 2013, I am trying to decide what I want my next year to look like given what I know of myself, my habits, my interests, and my goals. I’m thinking that I will continue to track my media consumption, as I found this to be a useful tool throughout the year, particularly in regard to the disparity of film and television to sermons/teaching; and of course, I will continue to track my spending. The question now is, “To what end?” Do I want to spend twice as much time listening to sermons as I spend watching television? Do I want to set more stringent constraints on my spending to ensure I only buy a certain amount of new items and that my collection continues to decrease rather than grow? I don’t know. As I synthesize this information with that of my next post, I will begin to develop a gameplan for 2013.