2020: The Year In Review

Do I need to say that 2020 was an awful year? Must I?

Let’s watch a Carl Sagan video before I get to my annual review of the first post of each month.

This is not the “Pale Blue Dot” video I was looking for. I went through my blog archives, I went through my Facebook archives, I searched on YouTube. I couldn’t find it. I believe I’ve found references to it online, and I believe it was taken down, unsurprisingly, in a copyright claim. But this video is nice, and will stand in its stead.

As with previous years, I’m linking to the first blog post I made each month. I don’t blog every single day — indeed, this year I’ve been really bad about updating the thing — so it’s not uncommon for the month’s first post to be in the latter half of the month (like February). The result is a strange mix of whatever was on my mind, and at least two months I went the easy way out and posted recent photographs, sans context, for the month’s blog post.

January: Revisiting the Washington That Never Was. I talk about B.F. Smith’s 1852 painting of what is now the National Mall in Washington, DC, showing a version of the Washington Monument that was never built, the original shore line, the Washington City Canal looking quite pleasant, and shadows pointing south (an astronomical impossibility). I downloaded a high resolution version of the image from the Library of Congress website, did some clean-up, and now it hangs in my home office.

February: The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes: Making an eBook. I didn’t make a blog post in February until the 16th, and that’s because I spent six weeks making an ebook out of Ellery Queen’s long-out-of-print anthology, The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes. I talk a little bit about the history of the book, my own interest in it, how I started building an ebook six years ago then stopped, what I wanted from it, and why I picked it up again and finished it. I showed off some of the work — it’s purely a private project — because no one else will ever see it. I’ve done some work to it since then — a few more typos smashed, a rethink of the way notes work due to the way the Kindle handles (or rather, doesn’t) OL/LI tags — and, frankly, I’m still quite chuffed by it.

March: The Most Notorious Brothel Owner in Civil War Washington. My great-great-grandfather William Gardner is buried about thirty feet from Mary Ann Hall, a brothel owner in, as the title suggests, Civil War Washington, a fact I discovered when, through a circuitous Google search, I landed on her Wikipedia page and, when looking at the cemetery image there, knew exactly what I was looking at, because I’ve stood in exactly that spot. I’ve been wanting to visit Congressional Cemetary ever since — the last time I was there was a few days before my vision went sideways and I was hospitalized — but, due to COVID, I haven’t had the opportunity to get down to DC. In 2021, then.

April: A Perfect Spring Day. In the second week of working from home due to COVID precautions — and at a time when we all thought we’d be back in the office by Memorial Day — I went for a walk into Dallastown to stretch my legs and expand my vistas. I had ambitions of blogging more because I was working from home — then I didn’t.

May: A Loss in the Lynchburg Baseball Community. Ronnie Roberts, a fixture in the Lynchburg Hillcats front office, died of cancer. I’d met him two years earlier and talked about that.

June: Speculating About The Great Gatsby. Was Jay Gatsby an Army deserter? Something I noticed when re-reading the book.

July: Scenes of Early Summer. Nothing momentous. Tea. The neighborhood cat.

August: Harrisburg Baseball, a Century Ago. Another find at the Library of Congress, a photograph of Harrisburg from the early 20th-century, showing the old ballpark and the Capitol complex. I annotated the photograph and compared it to my own, more recent photos. Compare also to this mid-19th-century painting of Harrisburg.

September: A Triple Parody. While doing some genealogical research, I came across a brief parody of Sherlock Holmes, A.J. Raffles, and Sexton Blake in an American newspaper in the early 1900s. That genealogical research produced this, an account of how my great-great-grandfather’s mother-in-law was reportedly 100 years old when she died in 1886 and why I have doubts. Serious doubts.

October: Early Autumn. Nearly seven months into working from home, some photographs of the neighborhood, which became a bit of a personal project throughout isolation.

November: Gritty Leading the People. A collection of some of my favorite Tweets from the week of the 2020 presidential election, some about the election, some not.

December: Scenes of Recent Life. Photos and commentary on life around Thanksgiving. Nothing groundbreaking.

I say this every year, but in 2021 I’m going to try to write more. I may share more links. I may share more photos, I may only write for a paragraph or three.

For a better, more cohesive, review of 2020, see my contribution to this PREVIEWSworld article. I was asked to offer some thoughts on what got me through isolation this year, and I took an hour to write something a little more involved and thoughtful.

It was for work, so I pull a few punches, but the only thing I would really add that I didn’t express is that some days I struggled, there are some days I regret, there are some opportunities missed, but that’s okay. Sometimes, just getting through the day counted as a win.

Published by Allyn Gibson

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

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