I designed, built, and launched a new portfolio at brianfeeney.design. I wanted my online professional life separated from my online personal life, and for my career to have it's very own home on the web. The site concept is of a resume which can be drilled down into, revealing portfolio work. It's still a little clunky, and I'll be improving some of the UI, soon. Making clickable areas more visually clickable. Adding more of my older stuff. Better distinguishing the process work from UI/UX deliverables. I like how it looks so far, which is why I published it, but I'm looking forward to making it better.
Lisa and I celebrated with a late dinner at Bar Bête on Smith St. A really nice prix fixe, where we split the cod and steak entrees. The fireworks were going off on our walk home.
2023 was a challenging year for a number of reasons, but we had some good things to celebrate. Our first full year in our new home, for one. Here's hoping 2024 is a better one, for everyone.
Woke up to see this hawk outside the bedroom window planning murder.
Visited the small museum Poster House in the city. It's slightly over-priced for having only two exhibitions, but both were interesting. In the basement, posters for environmental movements and events from the past fifty years. The main exhibition was "Art Deco: Commercializing the Avant-Garde" and it included numerous prints recognizable to a student of graphic design. Particularly impressive were these Dubonet posters, which had originally been displayed always as a tryptic to make use of clever puns recognizable by the French. "DU BO" = "de beaux" = "looks good". "DU BON" = "it is good". "DUBONNET" = the brand, Dubonnet. Roughly, translated, of course.
We took the train to Greenpoint to look at a credenza in a vintage shop we considered buying. Despite being kinda cool, it didn't match our current living room furniture enough. We left it for someone else to snag. Afterwards, had lunch at Frankel's. Can highly recommend the smoked nova and bagel or the pastrami egg & cheese sando. It's a cramped, little space, but the park and its hundred benches is around the corner.
There's a new flower delivery service in Brooklyn called Botanical Brothers. A few weeks ago, they were out promoting themselves in our neighborhood, stopped Lisa, and she signed up for a free first delivery. They arrived today and look amazing. We're going to continue with a recurring delivery, hoping they all arrive this beautiful.
I'm learning French. It started with Duolingo, 1000 days ago. I know that number because the app gamifies your streak, and this morning I reached that milestone. Almost three years! C'est dingue.
I had always wanted to be able to speak and read something other than English. I can get by with my Spanish in a pinch, but it's rudimentary. I have German ancestry, so I had tried that for a short while. That didn't take either. But I love French music, French philosophy, French artists. Turns out I also really enjoy the French language. It’s like a sister tongue to English, so much shared between them. The more you learn of French, the more you end up understanding about English. The history of the two languages are so intertwined.
In December of 2021, I ran into a friend downtown Brooklyn who was having a one-on-one lesson with her French teacher. Having had a year with Duolingo myself at that point, stumbled through some passable français avec eux ... with them. I really liked the challenge, and I really liked the teacher, so we agreed to start lessons the following January. That was almost two years ago, and I can now spend a full hour conversing in ~rough~ french. Trés inégal. J'écorche le langue.
I listen to a few French podcasts for five to twenty minutes, most days. I'm slowly working my way through Sartre's Le Nausée in French (I've read it twice in English). I occasionally put on an episode of French TV on Netflix. And I listen to French music, from time to time. I'm getting a little better at understanding it. When I hear it on the street, en passant, I catch most words and generally understand the subject. That's fun!
Next is finding ways to speak French with more people than my teacher. In restaurants, at work, etc. There are French speakers all over my neighborhood in Brooklyn. I'm almost one of them.
We spent Thanksgiving in Montreal. A quick vacation in a new city, wandering new neighborhoods, eating good food. It's a very nice place and I'd love to come back in the summer when it's warmer and we could wander more freely. I was able to practice speaking French, which wasn't too successful since anyone hearing me struggle went immediately to English. Visiting the Drawn & Quarterly bookshop was on my list of things to do, and I walked out with one book, Mourir Pour Le Cause.
I only discovered later that the author, Chris Oliveros, was himself a founder of the bookstore. It's in French, as you can see, and I'm really enjoying it. I had hoped that a graphic novel would be a great reading-in-French learning experience and it is. I'm going to keep growing my library with books like these.
Our good friends the Bobek's asked us to join them on an impromptu, one night trip to Atlantic City, staying at the Bogata. I'm not a gambler, but after watching Brian having a great time playing craps, I decided to join in. Started the night with $40 on the table and ended up with much more than that. The luck was with me. The winnings ended up paying for our steak dinner and the hotel, if you can believe it. Even Lisa ended up coming home with a little more cash, thanks to a Wonder Woman slot machine which paid out.
As for the boardwalk, can't really recommend it. It's clearly a couple decades past its prime. Perhaps one day, it'll find a second life, but that time is not now.
Every year, we visit our friends in Yardly, PA to carve pumpkins with their kids. My pumpkin this year was this chomper. We also visited a rural theme-park of sorts called Shady Brook Farms. They had live music, a couple haunted houses, a gemstone prospecting thing, food and drinks, and a corn maze in the shape of Reba Macintyre's face. I deeply regret not recording our walk through it on my Apple Watch for the path drawing.