So, I’m looking back at the last year of my life and taking stock.
I didn’t travel as much as I might have liked. We went to Guatemala early in the year. It was a bit surreal. It was a strange trip, as it was with friends and their family, and as such we were somewhat bounded by their priorities, agendas, and schedules. I would have been lost (or worse) in the country without their help, but I realized the value in having more freedom on a vacation. Vacation on anybody else’s schedule is far less restful and freeing than one on your own schedule. I will surely vacation with others again, but I won’t enter into it expecting the same solace that comes from vacationing alone.
Been to California a bunch of times for work. More often than not did very little than work, eat, and sleep at the hotel. Didn’t spend any time on the boundary having fun. Regretting that a bit. I used to go to California on work and find opportunities to do interesting things on the side but I seem to have lost that ability, growing old and exhausted, and constantly interrupted by things in other regions — operating globally takes its tolls. Or something like that.
Went to Paris once for work. Should have gone twice. Alas. Need to get better at my French, I’m an embarrassment when I’m there. Ate some crepes, lived on that and vending machine fodder, due to being too afraid to eat at a real restaurant. Would that I could change one thing about my life it would be to force myself to have learned more foreign languages.
Two years ago I set the goal to visit Galapagos in two years. I’m no closer to this objective. If anything I’m even further away. That’s rather depressing.
I haven’t played more than a half dozen or so games in the last year. I’m not super happy about this. I’m still hovering around 450 board games that I’m obviously not playing. Ugh. Need to kick off a gaming night again. Or something. Maybe I just need to sell the majority of my collection. I stopped gaming due to certain social decisions that I made a few years ago, and professional decisions I’ve made since then have cemented the deal, but it’s sort of depressing. I like playing games. I like having people over to play games. I still have cats, and people get allergic to those. I’m not sure what I want here, but I should probably focus on either selling off my stockpile or getting serious about playing with others soon.
I have a lot more wine than I did 15 months ago, when I started collecting wine. There’s a lot of young stuff set up for aging that will start to make this an interesting collection in about 10 years or so. There are two bugs I need to work out in the coming year. The first is that I need a better allocation of stuff that is drinking well now. The second is that I need to put some more focus on the varietal holes (largely talking reds, here): I have a bunch of Pinot Noir, Bordeaux blends, Cabernet, and Tempranillo. Rhone varietals and off-the-beaten path stuff needs some work. Late in the year I discovered the joy of a good Cornas, among other things, and realized I’ve been doing it all wrong. Not all wrong, really, but I’m optimizing in only a few dimensions when in fact my curiosity spans several.
I’m now engaged to Melissa, who I started dating in September of 2010. I’m very happy to know her and be spending time with her. We moved in together in a larger apartment next door the office that mercifully has air conditioning commensurate with my needs. Even in January, the air conditioning runs regularly. I’m an odd duck, but it works out. But, I’m really pretty happy with things there and every once in a while I find myself enjoying my life. That’s pretty neat.
Not having to commute to work has been a blessing. Walking to work in a few minutes permits staying up later and getting up later. Or, alternately, it permits getting up earlier and having a lot of time to oneself in the morning. It’s nice. If I have to work until late at the office, it’s still only a few minutes to get to my bed.
I guess what I’m saying is I’ve realized that there’s an incredible amount of value to violating the intimacy gradient and to getting work and home nearby so that one can stop spending a material part of their life commuting.
I’m still an engineering director at a financial services firm. I’ve got employees in several offices and several countries. I don’t write any code anymore. It’s not what I pictured myself doing a decade ago. I’m not clear yet on whether I’m good at it, or if I’m just better than the competition. There are times when it’s soul-crushingly difficult. There are times when it’s truly rewarding.
My last living, and most important, grandparent died this year. She was the woman that raised me when my folks were working. This was a tough loss. It still unsettles me from time to time. I miss her. I didn’t do as much as I should have in the last few years of her life to talk to her and visit her.
Going home for the holidays was tough this year; I should probably have gone to the graveyard and paid my respects, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do that. Not ready, I guess. I saw the plot after the funeral, but it’s going to take a year or two before I’m ready to walk down that path.
Listened to Maurice Sendak’s treatise on love, loss, and who knows what else on the way to Michigan. Beautiful stuff but soul-crushingly depressing and terrifying.
I’m not sure what hits me harder, Sendak’s interview on Fresh Air or listening to the radio chatter on the last landing of the Space Shuttle. Both tore at my heart and left me in pain.
It’s been a painful and emotional year.
The Physical Me
I’m fat. I think I mentioned that already in the introduction.
There are a lot of really great tools out on the Internet. Some of this stuff is software installed on a computer (be it a mac, PC, iPhone, iPad). Some of this is on the web. Some is both. Whatever. The distinction isn’t interesting anymore. The ecosystem is mixed medium now, get over it.
I had an iPhone 4, I have an iPhone 4S now. Both are great. It’s hard imagining life without smart phones. If this isn’t intelligence amplification, I don’t know what is. Anything more magic than this is grey goo.
I use Google Chrome because it’s relatively fast, relatively stable, and doesn’t suck too much. It keeps crap in sync. It works on all PC platforms.
Pixelmator is a great photo editor. Combined with Aperture, I don’t need Photoshop and don’t feel like I’m missing anything. That’s pretty neat. Welcome to the future and goodbye Adobe and all that.
iTunes is horrible and all, but it’s still where all my digital music is stored in ALAC. ALAC is open now I guess. I used it even when it wasn’t. I liked FLAC and all, but I like devices that just work better. I’m a simple guy.
Vim remains a fantastic text editor. I don’t know why I would ever use anything else. It’s not for everyone.
I use simplenote constantly. I use it to jot down random crap on my phone, computer, iPad, whatever. It’s great. It’s just a damn notepad with notes and a few features I don’t really use. Stupid, simple, easy technology that just works. For some reason on OS X I use Notational Velocity, but I just use the web/mobile interface everywhere else. It works out.
I’d love to say my use of dropbox is relevant, but it isn’t, because files and folders are dead, you just haven’t caught up with that fact yet. Instapaper is incredible, but my attention span isn’t, so it also just flails in the wind.
Pinboard is where I store bookmarks. It’s great. Go pay for it.
Twitter is my party line. I’d love to say it’s something more but I’m not sure it is.
Flickr’s great for photos, but I’ve stopped taking photos. Maybe I’ll start again.
Cellartracker is quite possibly the best piece of purpose-made software I’ve ever used. It’s relentlessly optimized to doing one thing extraordinarily well. I hope the redesign fails because it is perfect now for so many reasons so few people will ever understand.
Google Reader died this year. That’s probably the third thing that makes me sadder than I can really express. It was a carefully cultivated list of friends, and I worked to carefully cultivate a content stream, and now it’s just another fucking news reader. It’s the one thing I wish I could revert in 2011, the death of my grandmother included. That sounds pretty extreme and silly, but Grandma was pretty miserable at the end of things, and had been for years. Google Reader was pretty great and now there’s nothing like it; definitely lost a community there.
Facebook is pointless. Google+ is a joke. Social media is artifice? I don’t know. It’s not for me.
I’ve no point to make, but it’s 2012 and I’m in my thirties. Now what?