Wrapping up 2018

It’s the time to say: Bye, 2018; and Hello, 2019!  Are you ready for 2019, a new beginning?  I am.

On this last day of 2018, I’d like to share some of my reflections for 2018.

Bill Gates just did his review for 2018.  Mine is not that noble as his for sure.  Here is my version.

2018 has been a good year, but not that a great one.  It’s more like a mixed bag to me.  Let me explain why.

Trip to Taipei:

At the end of February this year, suddenly I wanted to see Taiwan.  In less than two weeks, I was there.  That trip was wonderful.

Compared to the mainland China, Taiwan has the similar language and culture.  But it’s different in many ways.  The people there are very kind.  The public transportation is very good, and people are really waiting in the lines in a perfect order.  I like the food there, and the places Yang Ming Mountain (Yang Ming Shan), and Tamsui (Dan Shui).

Roses and free concert:

In central Ohio (that’s where I live), there is the Park of Roses.  That’s one of my favorite parks.  I feel the best time to see the roses is around May 20.

Most of the pictures you saw in this blog about roses were taken in that park.

When was the last time you smelled the roses?  If it was a long time ago, don’t forget to do it in 2019.  Roses are so pretty, and the smells are so good.  Take a stroll at the park, sit on a bench for a couple of minutes, close the eyes, you can feel the breeze, smell the roses, and hear the tree branches dancing and birds singing.

This year I discovered a big thing.  One day in that park, I saw the notice about the weekly free concert every Sunday 7 PM to 8 PM.  This concert starts right after the Memorial Day, and ends around the Labor Day.  That’s for the whole summer!

What a nice combo: roses plus free concert!  The concert is on no matter rain or shine.  Usually it takes place at that open theater, with gazebo and lots of seats.  I just bring over my lawn chair.  If it rains, it is in that building at the entrance.

The concert may not be that spectacular as the Boston Pops July 4th concert in the Hatch Shell.  But it’s still good.

It turns out this concert has been going on for over 40 years.  I feel bad I didn’t know it earlier, after having lived here for close to 20 years.  But I checked with other folks who have lived here even longer, and none of them knew about it either.  Then I felt a little bit better.

The lesson I learnt is that, never ever stop to explore.  The beauty could be just around us, and it’s up to us to discover it.

Trips within Ohio:

This year, I did a couple of things I was dreaming about for years.

In late June, I went to Dayton to see the Air Show and the National Museum of the US Air Force.  I loved both.

Around the 4th of July, I went back to my hometown Ashland, stayed there overnight, and enjoyed the hot balloon festival.  It was cool.


I like reading.  Many of the books I read are memoirs.

Even President Obama listed his favorite books, music and movies for 2018.  Here are some books I liked:

  • Kickflip Boys : A Memoir of Freedom, Rebellion, and the Chaos of Fatherhood” by Neal Thompson
  • The Book of Separation : A Memoir” by Tova Mirvis
  • Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose” by Joe Biden
  • Man Overboard: confessions of a novice math teacher in the Bronx” by Ric Klass
  • My Dead Parents : A Memoir” by Anya Yurchyshyn
  • The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year” by Dr. Matt McCarthy
  • Stories for boys, A memoir” by Gregory Martin

I read the last 2 books while I’m in China, in the format of ebooks.  I still prefer the regular paper books.

Loss and challenges:

My life has not been that rosy as it seems to be.  In early October this year, my dad passed away at the age of 77.  Since then, I have been in China, trying to help my mom coping with this loss, and moving on slowly.

Thankfully my mom is doing very well.  I’ll wrap up this super long trip in several weeks, stop in Beijing for several days, and head back to my home in Ohio in late January.

Originally I was thinking about doing the Roth IRA conversion again this year.  In order to do that, I have to make the long distance call to US from this village.  It won’t be easy to make that call.  So I have to give up.  Plus I don’t want to access my investment portfolio from outside of US, due to the network security concern.  Probably I’m worrying too much.

The stock market has been so ugly lately.  I’ll write about it very soon.


The year-end wrapping up won’t be complete without mentioning about sports.

I enjoyed the World Cup this year.  Football wise, the Browns are doing very well this year.  I’m very proud of their progress.  I’m also following the Seahawks.  Glad to see they are going to the playoffs again.  Ohio State has always been great.  My Alma Mater team is doing good, too.

I simply can’t wait to kick off 2019.  The New Year means new hopes, plans, and dreams.  It also means the beautiful spring is not that far away.

Dear readers, how are you doing in 2018?  Is it a good year for you?  Any good books you recommend?

Happy New Year!

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4 Responses

  1. All good here Helen. I figure if we make it through the year with good health, everything else is secondary. Happy New Year! Tom

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi Tom, Happy New Year! Right, good health is really priceless. As another year started, it’s a good reminder for us to appreciate what we have.

  2. GYM says:

    Happy New Year Helen! Seems like you had a lovely year with fulfilling your bucket lists, however, at the same time, sad as your father passed away 🙁 Life is precious and you are enjoying every second of it! Have a safe journey back to Ohio!

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi GYM, Happy New Year! 2018 was a decent year overall. I appreciate what I have, like good health, safety and freedom. Yeah, life is short and precious. I look forward to the time in Beijing, and definitely love to go back to my home in Ohio soon.

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