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04 January 2018


Thirty. Three-zero. Yes, today is the trigentennial anniversary of my birth, which means I'm now 30 years old.  Three whole decades.  It's yet another big number to wrap my head around, though in this case, I've had a few years' worth of mental preparation.

After years of considering myself to be in my "mid"-twenties, I realized shortly after turning 28 that that wasn't really going to work anymore.  That one came as a bit of a shock, but made me determined not to let 30 sneak up on me.  Like I said earlier in the week about this year itself, it's something about those eights that strikes me as inherently anticipatory.  Must be why, despite having been born in 1988, I'm more of a "nineties" kid.  ;)

Anyway, I celebrated midnight quietly at home before bed, then — because my job is in IT — woke up reading about the recently-disclosed Meltdown and Spectre side-channel attack vulnerabilities with wide-reaching implications for nearly every machine in production that contains an Intel chip, before getting ready to head into work and coming to an unfortunate realization that one of Ed and Erin's cats had probably urinated on both my coat and my scarf when I'd visited last night.  So I switched to an old coat with a broken zipper, and braced for the frigid 10 °F (–12 °C) weather.

Despite the apparent panic in the broader industry, I had a calm but productive day at work, one of just eight between the holidays and the start of spring classes at Carnegie Mellon, so I've got to make them all count.  Looped back home afterwards, picked up the soiled coat, and brought it back to my friends' place where they graciously made quick work of "going through the process" to properly clean everything because this happens frequently enough that they thankfully have a process down solid.  Then a mellow dinner with them at Fuel and Fuddle.

Nothing wild and crazy today, nor last night, either, since it's been so cold.  It's 6 °F (–14 °C) now and getting down to 0 °F (–18 °C) by morning, and even a bit colder tomorrow night.  The Post-Gazette says it's the coldest stretch of weather in Pittsburgh since 1989.  I don't know by what metric, because I definitely remember colder days, but certainly it's been cold for a long while.

But I guess I've officially earned my tricenarian card.  And I can take out my now-expired vicenarian card which was issued ten years ago and put it next to my old denarian card which I'm sure I was given at some point.

Random tangent: I definitely taught myself all those words just after midnight today. And apparently rarely-used words like those have quite a few spelling variants.


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01 January 2018


Okay, real talk: The concept of twenty-eighteen is just boggling me.  It kind of has for a while, and it really is now that it's here.

As I've noted in the past, I tend to take the onset of even-numbered years more in stride and with a more generally positive outlook.  My mother often makes similar remarks at New Year's; to her, even years "just feel right".  And on an intellectual level, yeah, it makes sense.  It still manages to jive somewhat on paper, despite feeling like an astronomically big number and yet literally not being that much larger than anything else we've dealt with recently.  But really, less than a day into it, something about 2018 just feels… off.

It certainly wasn't the first day itself.  It was a perfectly reasonable holiday, prefaced by traditional New Year's Eve Nachos, and ringing in the new year with my parents at their house, although my brother was out attending a party elsewhere.  After indulging in staying up somewhat late, I slept in a bit, but not unreasonably so, spending most of the morning helping my mother take down a few Christmas decorations and gathering up all of my belongings from my extended holiday stay to prepare to return home to Pittsburgh.  And then a bunch of the extended family assembled once more for one last Christmas hoo-rah! before dispersing for the season.

But somewhere in there, I think — maybe — I've cracked the case.  At least kinda.  As it happens, part of today's hybrid holiday celebration included a cake (delicious and raspberry-filled from Wegmans) in celebration of my upcoming 30th birthday later this week.  And now that the custom of starting our years with "two"s is itself old enough to be an "adult", it all just feels a little… odd?  Even if it's even.  (Heh.)

That and, with the benefit of nearly a decade's hindsight, 2008 and 2009 were both quite formative years in my life and self-discovery at the start of my twenties.  So the similar-looking 2018 and 2019 just seem like they already have high expectations for my thirties?  It's interesting, anyway, how the numbers we grow up around leave their lasting imprints on us over time, even when they come up in different ways.  Or maybe that's just me.

Anyway, I really never go into any real detail about any of the symbolism behind my yearly New Year's doodles, and to be honest, a lot of the choices are just avoiding overt reuse of past designs.  This time, though, I knew pretty early on today that these greens would feel right.  It's a hope for a year of renewal, perhaps… forward-thinking, looking ahead.  The "eight" — as well as the "nine" to come — simply acts as melodic tension as the chords of life naturally resolve toward the next decade.

Of course, nothing about life actually resolves itself so neatly like that, and the whole symphony, broadly defined, doesn't really ever end.  As it is, I'm about to enter my fourth decade of life, and by that frame of reference I could just as easily make a similar argument about the two years just past as the two forthcoming.  Round numbers tug at our hearts and tell good stories, or something like that.

But between the onslaught of world news and politics, increased responsibilities at work, and shifting aspects of my social life, a lot of 2017 has been a near-constant struggle to stay simultaneously well-informed, personally productive, and mentally well.  The old adage, adapted for the modern era, is that you can only really have two of those three at a time, and certainly in any given month the winners and losers have varied.  I think I've been managing mostly not to neglect any one of them for too long, but it's been hard.

And so, if 2017 was a year in which I felt somewhat downtrodden and laden with various burdens of life, 2018 is a year in which I hope for some "fresh air", whatever that might mean for me in the months that lie ahead.  A year in which I'm more intentful in actively adjusting my lifestyle to suit my style and set my course.  Maybe those actually are high expectations, but at least they're truly self-imposed, and I'm actually pretty confidently in a good place for once… so let's keep going.

See?  I knew I could turn it all into a positive.


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