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31 December 2016

Taking a Step Back

It wouldn't be New Year's Eve if I weren't semi-frantically running around — physically, metaphorically, or otherwise — to cram things in before the end of the year.  Today has been no exception.

Part of that involved doing duty for the Pitt Band Alumni pep band at this afternoon's basketball game against Notre Dame.  Since I got a couple tickets to give away, I invited my friends Ed and Erin to watch the game.  Unfortunately, Pitt lost 78–77 in overtime, but fun was had by all.

It's also the end of an era in Pittsburgh, with the Port Authority of Allegheny County changing its fare policy for the first time since its inception on 1 March 1964.  Among other changes, paper transfer slips are being eliminated, so I spent a little time to get a small keepsake.

And of course, there was the leap second this evening at 23:59:60 UTC (18:59:60 EST), which obviously had to be celebrated by a nerd such as myself.

Now I'm racing against the clock blogging, and I'll be eating hastily-made New Year's Eve Nachos shortly.  You'd think I'd learn...

But enough about my day... this is the day I traditionally talk about my year.  So let's take a step back.

At the end of 2014, I wrote that it had felt like a continuation of 2013, "with many of the same accomplishments and many of the same struggles."  I think 2015 and 2016, taken together, can probably be construed similarly for me.  Maybe part of that is simply the natural course of things, as my personal perceptions of time accelerate.  Certainly there's been a lot of adversity in my life this year, but there have also been several successes, and most of what happened in both spheres this past year have simply built on what happened the year before.

Probably the most notable for me has been my recent shift into the once-elusive "gainful employment".  I still can't quite believe it — to be honest, I don't think much of what 2016 actually brought was on my mind at the start of the year — but that's certainly something I'm pleased about.

In a lot of other ways, though, 2016 has been rough for a lot of people, and I think almost anyone would be lying if they said they'd come out unscathed.  But amidst all of the chaos and uncertainty, I think that there's a lot to have gained from this year, and that I'm all the stronger for having lived it.

Random tangent: It's a Ryan Seacrest year here tonight, although that's made much easier by the fact that Carson Daly's show is only airing from 23:30 to 00:30.  There's a little of Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin mixed in, though, for flavor.  At least "twenty-seventeen" has clearly won out.  Can you imagine "two thousand seventeen"?  It's already a lot of syllables as it is!  (Gloria Estefan said "it's almost 2007".)


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14 May 2016

Exhausted in a Good Way

I'm glad my blog's birthday is in May, because it's an excuse to force myself to update this blog.

It's been a busy several months, filled with new and old, deadlines, projects, friends… you name it.  In case you couldn't tell already, I think one of the most revealing things here was that I didn't get to write anything here on 29 February this year.  (I was pretty upset that a few major deadlines kept me busy right up until midnight that night.)  I guess my thoughts from 2008 and 2012 will have to suffice.

Today was no exception to the busy nature of 2016 to date.  Last night, I borrowed a friend's car and drove up to Girard for a little-more-than-24-hour visit wherein I spent 8 of those little-more-than-24 hours volunteering, as every year, with the National Association of Letter Carriers' "Stamp Out Hunger" Food Drive.

And this year, the food… Did. Not. Stop. Coming. In.

We blew past our previous record and ended up taking in 7436 lb (3332 kg) from the Girard and Lake City community — which will all go right back out to those members of our community in need of it in due course.  But while things usually die down in the sorting and shelving effort after 16:00, there was no real end in sight for us today.  We decided to stop shelving at 17:00 like normal, and just get everything else we could out of the way for volunteers to continue processing on Monday.  (Pictured here is about half of what was leftover when we stopped.)

But exhausted as that left me, I had to drive back to Pittsburgh, because I have a couple good friends graduating from Carnegie Mellon University tomorrow morning.  And although at the start of the year, I alluded to hoping to post more often here (and I always wish that can be the case!), for now I've been "posting" more to them personally, in real life, and that's been really great.  So I wouldn't miss the opportunity to celebrate this milestone with them for anything.

But I still made time to bake some bloggy cake.  Eleven!  Today really is a day for big numbers.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm really tired and need to go to bed.


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01 January 2016


Twenty-sixteen.  A year that has already been so often talked about, by now it just rolls off the tongue.  You can thank long, drawn out US political campaign cycles for that one.

Actually, because it's a presidential leap year and Election Day isn't until 8 November, there are still 312 days left to go in the US presidential campaign — the longest possible period that can lie ahead of general elections while still technically being in the same year.  Oof.

In a slight, but otherwise unnoticeable break from tradition, this year's doodle was made in Illustrator instead of Photoshop.  It's technically the more correct tool for the job — graphic design and all — and since I happened to have occasion to learn a little of it in the last few months, I figured I'd continue to put that knowledge to good use here.  (Or something like that.)

This evening, I shared a lovely dinner with a good friend who was in town, and as we discussed our lives, he confessed that although he had seen my retrospective blog post from last night, he hadn't read it.  I, in turn, confessed that it didn't really delve into many relevant details — arguably, this blog never has.

To be honest, I think that's more than a bit of a shame.  There have been reasons, to be sure, for most omissions.  But, as 2015 gave me much more clarity and calm about my daily life, perhaps in 2016 I can begin to sort out what bits of my life are best shared here and more intently post about them.  And while I won't (intentionally) dredge up the old stuff — most of which would require years' worth of context to fully cover anyway — I can certainly be more mindful of times when I can share relevant parts of my experience more easily.

Or, maybe, ya know, I'll just get busy again and forget all of this.  Words are cheap… but at least I keep coming back.


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