2011 Year End Review
It has finally come to that part of the year again where I take a step back and reflect on what I accomplished and where I’ve been over the last year. The last few years seem to have flown by me in the blink of an eye. I feel like I have been on full tilt since I started working in DC. My time seems to be limited and there are some times I feel a little distant from my friends. It doesn’t help that they are scattered all over the world.
I am going to use this post to go over what I have been up to, for those who want to catch up, and some outlook for the new year, you can call it my 2012 resolutions, but I am not. At work I take the review time that come around at the end of the fiscal year to look back at what I did and what I plan on doing in the coming year. This is sort of the same thing only, pertaining to my personal life, and maybe a little work.
Starting with the boring, and less flashy is my new-found love of reading/listening to books. I have never been much of a reader, not because I don’t like to read, but more because it makes me tired and I can’t read fast enough for it to be interesting to me. When I first started working in DC I opened up an account with Audible and started listening to books because my commute was at least two hours each way. This completely changed my outlook on reading. I knocked out a few books the first year around but this past year I really ramped up my reading and It has really taken hold.
A few of the books that stood out this past year were all great in their own way. Ready: Player one, which has turned out to be my favorite fiction of the year, really tapped into my love of 80′s pop culture, tech and games. I suggest that for the nerds in all of you. I thought about writing a review for this one but I think it would ruin the book.
I think my favorite biography was Rob Lowe: Stories I Only Tell My Friends. I never knew al lot about Rob Lowe, other than his role in The West Wing, and some troubles he had in his career. The most fascinating part was definitely his childhood and dealing with being a child actor. I felt that it was a lot of interesting coincidences and a fair amount of inside baseball. I had enough to say about this one to give it its own post.
ESPN: Those Guys Have All The Fun was one that I stumbled into on Audible and wasn’t sure what to expect. It turned out to be a great story of a television icon growing from the ground up. It is also interesting to listen to this book and how the topics seem to be evolving in front of our eyes with things like NFL Network and the soon-to-be NBC Sports channel.
Steve Jobs: A Biography, is a given. I was kind of disappointed in the b
ook but I took it with a grain of salt. My outlook for the book was that Steve was guiding the writing of book as a piece of his legacy that he would be leaving his kids. As I wrote about earlier on the blog, I have a large amount of respect for Steve, I don’t care about his personality as much, but as a visionary for the future, there is no replacement.
Finally, A Little Bit Wicked was the sneaker pick. I picked this one up because of my love for Kristen Chenoweth. This bio gave plenty of insight into her life and the journey to being the famous singer and actor. What was more important to me was the outlook on life that she has. There is a lot of faith involved but seeing how that faith makes a person is just inspiring. I hope that my own faith, as patched together it may be, has had a positive effect on my life. The early section on her adoption was also very powerful and I think is the closest thing to my own opinion I’ve ever read.
I skipped over a few tech books I read about the culture and some of the life altering products of out time. I also did some re-reading of my favorite books which included Stardust and Heavier Than Heaven. I also just finished re-reading the tenth anniversary edition of American Gods. I also am working on the new Steven King 11/22/63. I have really gotten into his work recently and it all started with Full Dark No Stars. I Read Under The Dome before that, but it was a little too much for me. I have since backtracked to older works just because I am also a movie nerd and hit up IT, Christine, and assorted others.
So you made it through the books I read this year, I guess you really want to see what I did this past year. I may not be living out of my suitcase but I did get out to some cool places this year. All the best trips were for work but when work is something you have fun doing, like teaching people about technology, it’s all good.
Starting from farthest away, I had the opportunity to visit Doha, Qatar. Don’t know where that is? Google Map it. So, this trip is probably the closest thing to visiting the middle east as I will ever be. I say that because I felt that there was a very eastern vibe there. Doha reminded me very much of a mega city being built over top of a very old school town. It was still a very eye-opening cultural experience and I truly regret not taking more photos outside of the conference I was working.
The runner-up trip by distance away from home was San Jose, Costa Rica. This was one of my favorite trips of the year. I was down they’re doing some training on photography and video. I didn’t have much time there, but it was enough to have a great time. It was one of the more entertaining trips I’ve taken thus far. It could be because I experienced my first earthquake, and it could be the late night idea to get higher a driver, buy some six pac
ks (not for the driver, sorry bud), and head to an active volcano with some advisers. BTW: my understanding of Spanish does not get better with alcohol.
Alright, getting closer to the U.S. with this past year’s NAFSA. This conference has pretty much turned into guaranteed travel for me and I was lucky enough for 2011′s to be in Vancouver, BC. Hands down, Vancouver was the most beautiful city I have been to in my entire life. I even set aside time to do some tourist photo stuff. I spent at least a full day in Stanley Park and almost
missed my flight home. My favorite moment had to be the sunset on the beach. Oh, and did I mention that it was during the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
Chronologically the first trip of 2011 was San Francisco, CA. unfortunately I spent most of my time in Moscone West for MacWorld. Which I shouldn’t complain about at all, the conference was awesome! I learned a ton of new stuff and met many of the tech community people I basically listen to year around like Leo Laporte and Sarah Lane. Had a brief conversation with Cali Lewis, Merlin Mann and Paul Thurrott. One day I was able to get out to walk the piers with my camera and even got out to Alcatraz which was probably the best part of the trip.
My last trip for the year was Phoenix, Arizona for AIGA: Pivot. The conference was probably the most inspirational think I did all year. I think I need to do more events like this for my own sanity and for building my skills. Working as a one-man in-house design shop is that you don’t have other creatives around to bounce ideas or even back you up. I opened up a new can of worms on Data Visualization and some more personal development for me as a designer. There were a lot of great talks and plenty of things to follow-up on this coming year.
I was lucky enough to have time to get out to the Grand Canyon before I went back home. I missed out on the Grand Canyon two years ago but this time around I was determined not to miss it. Although I feel that I rushed it a lot, for joining up on a bus tour for a day, I think my photos came out ok. I think next year I am going to make sure to take a good vacation and go on a photo tour of somewhere interesting. I really think I have a long way to go with landscape photography.
So, a couple of life events included Snowcoming 2011 at Albright for my five-year, which made me feel old, especially after going up to Phi Mu and seeing how young everyone is. I think that was the last homecoming I will be attending until my next reunion. The fun part was the 6-8 inches of snow that we got on the day of homecoming. Beer ball in the snow is definitely entertaining to watch.
Some DC notes would also be in order I guess. The most shocking was the Earthquake which was just as close to work as it was to my house. Luckily a few months earlier I experienced an earthquake in Costa Rica as I mentioned before. Unlucky for me, the first one I was in a basement and the one in DC I was on the 6th floor of my building. Let me tell you, it makes a huge difference in how it feels. Mainly rumble vs. sway.
Ok, now here is my (hopefully brief) Occupy movement. The camp at McPherson Square is a block away from my work and they have been growing in numbers since October. I decided to go out with them one Friday after work to march and got some nice photos but it was very mild and the crowd was pretty small. Since then they marched a few other times and I really didn’t enough to go. A few weeks ago we even has a soft lockdown as they shut down 14th street outside my building. It was more a hassle to everyday people than anything else. I know one thing, the Revolution March a few years back was much more vocal and the people were very passionate. I don’t get that with this group.
I really don’t know what I think about the protest anymore. I think there is a lot of mixed messaging and I really don’t know if a lot of these people truly know what they are protesting for or against. There are a few that do, but all in all, there is a lot of angst caused by the upper crust of our society. I guess I might feel differently if I didn’t bust my ass to get what I have now and I have a suspicion that many of the protesters are the ones that can’t figure out why no one is helping them, when they don’t help themselves (I also know that there are people who are holding several jobs to make it by, that’s not the group I am talking about, although some also need to learn to live within their means.) OK, I’m done with that, I could go on a rant but I will stop it there. I almost gave the topic its own post, but didn’t think it was appropriate.
My last group of updates are techno ones. There have been two new additions to my house including an iPad 2 (purchased on launch day, my first apple line experience) and my iPhone 4s which I preordered and had mailed to the hotel I was staying at in AZ, since that were I was when It was launched. I also have taking a strong liking to Google+ for my photography and think it will be a larger part of my photography outreach in the future.
You made it to the future outlook! Good for you! I don’t know what made you read though all of this but you must have a lot of time on your hands. The first main outlook is my commitment to myself to build in more volunteer time into my schedule. I feel that it is something that I did a lot up through college and it has fallen off in the past few years since moving to VA. There is more on that in my last post here.
I also want to actively look for more photo gigs around DC, mainly events like concerts or shows. I feel that it is something I am good at and I just don’t get that much time to do it because without asking around, I don’t get that many offers for that kind of work. In general I always want to expand my photography and like I said earlier, I want to really go all out on a photo trip in the coming year.
I also want to take more advantage of work trips that take me to new places. Maybe take a few days before or after events to explore and do some sightseeing even. I expect there to be at least a few chances for that and tend to make the best of them.
Now the things I want to do in the coming year take up more of my time. You may be asking yourself, where is that time coming from? Well, it is coming from thin air. I will also continue to modify the way I manage my time at work. I have cut down on the extra time I spend in the office when it is not busy. The first two years in DC I have been putting in long hours and not all of them needed to be. I guess it is the way I am, but I hate leaving things undone.
This coming year I intend to manage that time better and put in less extra time while still getting the same amount of work done. I really burnt myself out this past year and it has taken until last month to really recover from it, if I’m not still recovering. I don’t intend to burn out again. I have made some real progress in laying foundations to build upon each year and in turn, each year should get easier.
Well, thanks for reading all of this. To call this an eventful year would probably be an understatement, but I intent to top it next year.