Sunday (1/15/17) 5:33pm - ... wherein Peter lists his favorite purchases of 2016.
Yup! It's that time again: time for me to go back through the year's purchasing records and compile a list of my favorite things I bought over the last twelve months.
Without further ado...
One of my best purchases was a simple roll of shelf liner
. I cut out a stretch that's about the size of two sheets of paper, and laid it out where I usually plunk my cutting boards. What's great is that it firmly secures the cutting board (or whatever else I plunk there) in place, so things are easier (and safer) to work with.
A few years ago, I bought some great little neobdymium magnets
for the fridge. This year, I found out they make neobdymium hooks, too
. So I now have a batch of freakishly powerful magnetized hooks attached to the fridge. Probably the cleverest thing I did this year was to attach a simple book ring
to my favorite dish brush
, and ta-da! it hangs up neatly beside the sink, on the side of the fridge.
I also bought a fine little digital scale
. Measuring by weight is a godsend for baking -- volumetric measures don't mean jack when you're parceling out (say) all-purpose flour.
I am so, so glad I discovered restaurant-supply plastic-wrap
. Repeat after me: "GladWare Saran Wrap is from the devil." It's too thin to do much besides float away from whatever you're trying to attach it to, and the box is so flimsy that half the time it doesn't even cut the plastic properly. (Note -- you can get this product for half the price listed in the amazon link if you go to your local restaurant-supply store.)
Finally, you can buy dried cherries in bulk
from amazon pantry, and they are amazing.
One of my favorite purchases, full stop, was this pair of hiking shoes
. I'd never owned decent hiking shoes before, and suddenly being able to clamber around in the woods on grippy, waterproof feet was something of a revelation.
My favorite app I bought this year was a piece of screenwriting software called Highland
. With Highland, I can set up screenplays as text files (using the "Fountain" formatting convention
). Then, if I want to do page counts or just see how it looks in proper screenplay format, Highland will show the file as a screenplay and let me edit it there if need be. Since I'm one of those fogeys who's happiest writing in an old text editor (I use Notepad++
along with a ton of customized AutoHotkey
macros) and syncing my text files with Dropbox, Highland was a godsend, letting me layer a screenplay formatter on top of my usual writing system.
As a close second, Type2Phone
lets me use my MacBook as a keyboard for my iPhone. Yes, I still hate the iOS virtual keyboard
, and I delight in finding any convenient replacement for it.
Prior to this year, I'd seen Roombas mainly in cat videos
, and I assumed they were overpriced and didn't work very well. I managed to score an iClebo YCR-M05
for Lindsey for Christmas for under $200, and I've been proved wrong on both counts. It does a great job cleaning the house, and it's soothing to watch it do its methodical work. Plus I hadn't realized the little disc robots could easily vacuum under beds and sofas.
In the world of exercise, I've discovered resistance bands
, which have been a safer, cheaper, more portable, and easier-to-store alternative to freeweights. (I also picked up some extra handles
and a door anchor
One realization I had: for me, a puck of shaving soap lasts just about forever. So I went ahead and splurged on fancy English shaving soap
, and I have regretted nothing.
Finally, I picked up a cheapie laptop -- an HP Stream 13
-- for $200 or so. Nobody will mistake it for a high-powered Windows machine, but as a beater laptop I can edit text files on, it's worked out great.
Oh, and Games, Too
Here's a quick rundown of my favorite video games I played this year:
- Papers Please combines a game mechanic that shouldn't work -- verifying documents at a Berlin-like immigration checkpoint -- with bleak, fascist world-building to create a hell of a compelling game.
- 10000000 and its sequel, You Must Build a Boat share the same basic pleasantly-addictive mechanic: you're guiding a hero through an 'endless runner' RPG, but using a match-3 puzzle board to do all the fighting and spellcasting.
- Alto's Adventure was my favorite iOS game -- it's an exquisitely designed endless runner based around snowboarding. It has gorgeous graphics, and creates a lovely sensation of flow as you jump and flip your way down the endless mountain.
- Mini Metro is the game you've always vaguely imagined every time you looked at a subway map and thought, huh, I wonder if I could buld a game around that. Think of it as SimCity, only you're just building out the subway, and as soon as your stations get overcrowded you lose. It has the soothing, minimalist design you'd expect from subway-map enthusiasts.
- SpaceChem is a fascinating puzzle game about chemical engineering. Molecules come in one end, and you've got machines to pick them up, move them around, bond them together, and split them apart, all so you can drop some requested molecule out the other end.
- Finally, I just started playing Fez, an 8-bit-style puzzle platformer that uses the same 2D/3D perspective-shift mechanic from games like Super Paper Mario to entertaining effect.
On to 2017!