Top 5 books:
- Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams: Short Stories, Prose, and Diary Excerpts by Sylvia Plath - not as captivating as Bell Jar but still it makes a very good reading
- Rwący Nurt Historii. Zapiski O Xx I Xxi Wieku by Ryszard Kapuściński - so true, that it hurts, unfortunately no English translation exists of this book
- The First Human: The Race to Discover Our Earliest Ancestors by Ann Gibbons - a very well written book about scientific quest to find origins of our specie
- Hardboiled and Hard Luck by Banana Yoshimoto - spooky and spiritual
- Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer - a story about fundamental Mormons that reads better than many criminals
Top 5 movies:
- The Rape of Europa - an absolutely amazing documentary about the fate of art during and after WWII
- The Namesake - a beautiful story of national and cultural identity in the times of progressive globalization
- Once - a story about love and friendship expressed through heart-grabbing music
- The Lives of Others - a stunning movie about totalitarian system that highlights the importance of individuals and their moral choices
- Grease-sing-a-long at The Castro - everybody knows this one... It's not the greatest movie of all times, but "seeing" it in The Castro is something that everybody interested in mass culture should experience at least once in their lives...
Top 5 restaurants of San Francisco:
- Parea It is actually a (Greek) wine bar, not a restaurant, so there is not much food there. Still I like this place a lot as it is cozy, has great wine selection, is very intimate and whenever there is live music it is really good.
- Burma Superstar Burmese restaurant that serves amazingly good food with many vegetarian options. It has excellent QPR. The only problem is that you usually have to wait 30-45 minutes before you get your table...
- Tawan Best Thai restaurant in the city (well, at least the best among 9 Thai places that I tried). Family-run, "hole-in-the-wall"-type of thing, but excellent, very light food, great service, moreover the prices are bargain and you even do not have to pay a corkage fee if you bring your own wine!
- Frisson American/Californian food. Nice decor, good food and special points for having my favorite dessert wine on the menu...
- Fresca A truly wonderful Peruvian restaurant specializing in seafood located just a block away from where I live.
Top 5 artistic performances (theater/opera/symphony/ballet):
- tings dey happen at The Marsh, written and performed by Dan Hoyle - a very well performed, intelligeny and funny story about oil companies in Nigeria
- Blackbird at ACT - an absolutely captivating story about ghosts from the past that sometimes hunt all of us...
- Sweeney Todd at ACT - a minimalistic, yet magnificent musical/thriller
- Carmen at SF Opera - the most beautiful of all Carmen performances I ever saw
- Grandpa, It's Not Fitting at The Marsh, written and performed by Will Franken - a very witty political satire that makes you laugh and cry at the same time
Top 5 most interesting youtube videos:
- Bush and Rice: Who?
- Benny Lava: Have you been high today?
- Giertych contra Kurski only in Polish... from the parliamentary session summarizing achievements of Kaczynski's government
- Miss South Carolina: such as...
- Window by Bajzel and Muzeum - had to be here, I am emotionally involved with it :)
- Bonus: something from Assen ;)
Monika's personal top 5 achievements:
- I am very happy with myself that I finally started running regularly (at least 3-4 times a week, 5-7km at the time). Thanks to that I feel that I am in reasonably good shape. (I also do other sports - I bike to work every day (that's 10km a day), 3-4 times a week I bike "hill-plus program" at the gym (then it is 30-40km and many many hills...), 2-3 times a week I play squash with Tadhg and Della, but somehow running makes me feel the best about myself. Maybe it is because it is something new that I started doing this year. Or maybe it is because I have a slight muscle fetish and it feels so nice to finally enjoy them also on my own body.)
- I am also very proud of myself that I started writing a blog, and that I still find time to do it more or less regularly.
- I am very happy that I managed to find a great place to live with really nice roommates and that within this past year I also managed to find a lot of great friends, many of whom - even in this short time - already managed to make a lasting mark on my life.
- I am very happy that living in California made me more open towards strangers and that now I can even start talking to people on the streets by myself!
- I also feel that within this year I managed to balance well time spent on working vs traveling vs having fun/doing sports/seeing people. That definitely feels good and contributes a lot to my overall happiness.
Monika's top 5 failures (and at the same time top 5 things to improve in 2008):
- I am not a good swimmer and I planned on changing that this past year. I failed. I think now my strategy will be to take swimming lessons - that will at the least make me show up at the swimming pool.
- This year I only read around 20-25 books, arghhh. That makes around 2 books a month. Embarrassingly little - I definitely have to start reading more.
- I made no progress in learning Spanish or any other language. My plan for the new year is to start every day with a breakfast during which I will learn at least few phrases in Spanish (or probably in Russian first as I am still planning on going to Moscow and St Petersburg in late April 2008).
- This year I also allowed myself to sleep much more than I needed to. I decided to cut on that and start waking up every day at 7 in the morning no matter what. In that way I will also finally have time to do yoga regularly and to eat breakfast at home.
- I definitely feel need to increase my efficiency at work and have my day better structured. For example I feel that I spent too much time checking my email and reading news while in the lab. I will try to limit myself in doing that. Let's hope it will work...