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Inspired by “Fogus’ yearly list of great things and people that I discovered, learned, read, met, etc.” - this is my own version of what were the best things I discovered in 2019.

Main Stats

  • Daily Steps (Avg.): 12037 (+9%)
  • Aikido 256 hours (+15%)
  • Shodo 51 hours (-43%) to be honest, this is in part due to me devoting a lot of time to drawing (which in turn I am not logging) but also to have dropped the ball on my own Shodo teaching.

Fiction Books

Technical and Non-Fiction Books/Papers

Miscellaneous Web Articles

  • Programmers deal with weird grammars all the time, why not take advantage of that skill....
  • When visiting a place I always try to have a peek at markets (or even just supermarkets), this article explains why.
  • I will never live in a place that includes something like this - and knowing me, even if I did, the place would turn in a mess in 2 weeks… but still.

Favorite non-book media and entertainment

Movies and TV are basically untouched nowadays ... so there is very little competition in this category

  • An Officer and a Spy
  • During my brief vacation in Tallin I visited a nice little art exhibit.
  • During 2019 I started being active on Hooki - which is basically an Italian forum for discussion of articles published elsewhere.

Gaming

Basically… nothing. I bought a copy of Mattel Games Spirits Of The Wild Card Game but (predictably) it is sitting on a shelf since forever.

Content (produced by me)

Not much to report, I am afraid.

Tools

  • Spokelit LED Wheel Light. So good that someone stole it from me, actually :(.
  • MacBook Air. This one was bought during Xmas 2018 actually, but it saw full use only during 2019 so it is reasonable to talk of it here. I am fairly happy with it (USB-C is a bit of a hassle sometimes but nothing major)
  • iPhone 8plus - Same as MacBook Air: bought late 2018. I finally made the switch to a "plus" model and predictably the "wow, this is huge!!!" effect disappeared in a couple of days. Pretty satisfied with it, I hope to get another couple of years of usage before upgrading.
  • Line of Action - this site single-launched my renewed passion for drawing. Reccomended if you just want to get a bit of practice. I would also like to mention that I found it through Kevin Kelly's Recomendo.
  • AGPTek A4 LED Light Tabel I was a bit skeptical about this so I went for a really low-budget version. The brightness control is a bit fiddly but all in all I am very happy with the price/performance. I use it sparingly (I try to write/draw without assistance most of the time) but it is versatile and can be useful in many different ways.
  • TP-Link RE200 WiFi Signal repeater. I had some bad experiences years ago with a similar device (I think it was the only time in my life that I actually sent something back to Amazon) - this one worked well and with not much fussing.
  • Matite Aquarell A. Durer 36 Atellier Box not exactly cheap, but very hugh quality, and apparently very resistant to fading.
  • During my trip to Portugal I had the chance to taste Ginjinha - a sort of Portuguese 梅酒 but based on cherries instead of plums. As a rule I do not usually drink alcohool before noon, but this still allowed me to spend most of my time in Portugal comfortably marinated in Ginjinha.

Services

  • Lufthansa Frequent Traveller Card I actually received it far earlier than 2019 but I started to get some actual benefits in 2018 and I just had it renewed so I think 2019 is the right "place" to mention it. The most interesting perks for me are the chance to add an extra piece of checked baggage for free (useful for souvenir-intensive trips like going to Japan) and access to Lufthansa (and selected partners) lounges.
  • Hookii - this is a news aggregator based in Italy. The real interesting part for me is the community of users that comment the various items, I actually made the almost unprecedent move (for me) to actually go and meet some of them in Real Life™, too.

Calligraphy/Art

  • Tagawa Goroh is a Japanese calligrapher (with a strong background in graphic design and some experience in most other visual art forms, including photography). He has an extremely (as in "unmistakably recognizable even by someone like me") style which is at the same time extremely beautiful and so far from classical style to be almost impossible to decipher, even for another Japanese calligrapher.
  • I took part in the annual International Calligraphy Exhibit and - surprisingly enough - I won again a minor jury prize for "outstanding work" .

Martial Arts

I keep training and keep attending seminars, both here and back in Italy - but there was no special highlight this year.

  • In the second half of 2019 my Jo started splintering a bit, so I ordered a new one from Aikido24, which are sort of like the "european branch" of BuJin Design. Please note that my old jo came from exactly the same source (I bought one soon after moving to Germany) and the fact that it started chipping off was more due to me neglecting proper maintenance (you should sandapaper and oil your wooden weapons regularly) than to any defect in the manufacturing.

Food & Dining

  • Chalet Saudade (Sintra) Cozy place located maybe 100m from Sintra's railway station. It could easily be considered a "tourist trap" but I had a fantastic brunch there for my birthday so I will always remember it fondly.
  • Paladar Zen. (Lisbon) My only regret is that I found this on the very last evening of my stay in Lisbon.
  • Gerichtslaube(Berlin) This is another place that could be considered a bit of a "tourist trap", too, but I have visited it already 3-4 times when friends visited me in Berlin in the past years, and I have always been happy with it.
  • The Juicery Berlin. Another place I discovered in a previous year, but that in 2019 saw "many happy returns" for me.
  • Tajikistan Tea Room Berlin. Another place originally visited first in 2018, but which saw me back a couple of more times this year. I have to credit Atlas Obscura for pointing me there on the first place.
  • Cuberdon I have visited Belgium fairly often, but for some reason I never met this oddì, geode-like type of confectionery till this year.
  • Optimum Nutrition Gold Protein Powder Being a blood donor I get regularly get tested for various things. In 2018 they started reporting low level of proteins in my blood. Now this could be due to my vegetarian (almost vegan) diet, but on the other hand my diet and my physical activity have not really change since way before than 2018. I started looking into this more deeply and I suspect that people (especially people that consume animal proteins) do not really realize how much proteins we should intake. Anyway, I have shopped around a bit and this (which vegetarian-friendly) is now my main protein supplement. I take a full dose each morning as part of my breakfast (and the problem seems to have been solved btw).

Shopping

  • Saint George's Bookshop: a nice bookstore in Berlin. Just as for restaurants, there are probably a billion places which I simply do not know about. This just happened to be in the right place at the right moment, so to say.
  • Bucalo my company has no real dress code, but I tend to wear formal in the office. Bucalo has a shop in my hometown in Italy, so I started going there for my wardrobe needs.

Places

Art

In April I started drawing as a hobby. I soon resurrected my comatose Instagram profile and I am now posting there regularly. Here are the highlights for 2019:

Best as in "Most voted"

The Internet has spoken: my best work to date is a Frog copied by a Mike Mignola's signature sketches.
I do agree that it came out nicely, and I find Mignola's style very striking and evocative (while "easy enough" to copy, at least for me).
Still… I am a bit sad that some other - way more complex - drawings never got much success.

Best as in "This is what I like more"

It is really hard for me to pick just one drawing as "the one I am most satisfied with", especially considered I have around 200 items to choose from.
In the end I vote for this, because it was relatively simple to draw (where simple means "effortless") while still being very satisfying to me.