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31 December 2022

A Refreshing Respite

Huh.  I find myself in the usual position of writing this in the waning minutes of the year, but this time I'm finding it weirdly kinda refreshing, albeit still in the usual and frustrating way.

In particular, I'm struggling a bit to recap the year that was, in part, because, for the first time in a while, I have quite a bit of optimism for the year ahead.  (I suspect I'm not alone.)

Don't be mistaken: After the trials of the last few years, it'll be critical not to enter 2023 with any particular expectations.  Walk in slowly, no sudden movements, don't startle it — all that good stuff.  But I think, despite the necessary modicum of caution, there's actually a lot of concrete reasons to be hopeful.

Work life is progressing.  Stabilizing from the peak-pandemic chaos, surely, but not into anything resembling the past.  We welcomed new coworkers in April and May to expand our team, and they're already helping bring us well into our next phase of existence, as we continue to have more prominent impacts across campus.

And yet somehow, personal life is maybe progressing even more?  I finally have some decent answers to some long-standing questions.  Of course, major answers, while helpful, often beget further questions.  So still a bit of work to do there, especially in the weeks ahead.  I'm never one for resolutions, of course, but nevertheless poised for progress and positivism there, too.

Meanwhile, family have been struggling a bit here and there, especially these last few months.  Some ups, some downs, to be sure.  But broadly a bit more on the better side than the worse side at present, which is a relief.

In any case, it's been busy, and it's been good to have a bit of a break from it all.  During my stay in the Erie area, the weather sure has been, uh, variable: We broke the record low on 23 December with a temperature of –2 °F (–19 °C) on 23 December, only to break the record high a week later on 30 December, with 64 °F (18 °C).

Ah, home, sweet home.

Now if I could just get over dealing with the last ten days' worth of sugar.

Random tangent: It looks like all three major networks arranged to break from their primetime New Year's Eve programming for local news an hour early, at 22:00 EST.  Makes sense: Not only is the overall pageantry less rushed, but also ABC no longer has to cut away from national just as it hit midnight in Puerto Rico.  I hope that's able to stick around in future years, and wasn't just a one-off because this year's broadcasts aren't on a weeknight.


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14 May 2022


Did I really say 2022 was going to "feel about the same" as 2021?  Oh, what a difference a few months can make!

In fairness, I'd said it would be "long and transitional".  And now that I can see more clearly where the year is headed, that much has been spot-on.  But certainly not in the same sense, no.  Whereas 2021 was transitional in a more gradual way that even seemed stagnant at times, so far 2022 is transitional in the OMG IT SEEMS LIKE LITERALLY EVERYTHING IS CHANGING way.  It's not actually quite that dramatic, of course — but even good and necessary change, when significant enough, can get a little bit overwhelming at times.  Right now, I'm in the thick of that in more ways than one.

Of course, it's fun that my blog's birthday is around the same time as the National Association of Letter Carrier's "Stamp Out Hunger" Food Drive each year, which brings me back to my hometown and, in some sense, the same roots that bore this blog in the first place.  But things are also quite different, since I'm literally double the age I was then.  Now, at the age of seventeen, this blog is just a few short months away from being just as old as I was when I started it.

Maybe it's time for my blog to start a blog.  While it decides whether that's a good idea (it's not), here's some bloggy cake:

Still, while there's usually proximity, it's not every year that 14 May falls on the Saturday, which means both volunteering for the food drive and blogging on the same day.  If that weren't enough, the Eurovision Song Contest has been added to my radar in recent years.  And I have friends graduating at Carnegie Mellon's commencement ceremony tomorrow, so it was right back to Pittsburgh tonight.  And good, novel bloggy cake clipart is increasingly hard to find these days.  Busy, busy.

After that, my mother's spending a little time with me here before I help run a primary election on Tuesday.  Did I mention I'm a local Judge of Elections here?  Been that way for four years.  I'm so bad at this blogging thing.

And then it's right back to what already feels like the busiest summer season I've had at my job, even before adding in the two new full-time staff that have been added to our tiny team in the past five weeks.  (One started just yesterday!)  All of the shuffling, divvying, and expansion of responsibilities that entails — while certainly for the betterment of us all — will definitely take a lot of adjustment in the coming weeks and months.

As far as the food drive, though — since ya know, that's what's already happened — you could indeed consider it a "transitional" year as we got our bearings back: Folks remembering that the food drive exists, letter carriers remembering how and when to best get the food to us, us remembering how best to process the intake, and also getting used to doing it all in the social hall and food pantry area of the new church building, a building which hadn't even broken ground when we had the last food drive in 2019, and which by now has already been open for more than a year.  Today, we took in 3642 lb (1652 kg) of food nonetheless — among our lower totals but still an impressive feat — less a super-consistent 3.58% in spoilage from outdated or damaged foods.

So it's good to see that, despite the challenges of the past few years, and those that continue, the community's generosity hasn't changed.

Another thing that hasn't changed is my "pandemic hair".  Unless, of course, you count it having grown a year longer.

It was already pretty long in last year's post-vaccination photo at the age of just over 14 months.  Today, it's pushing two-and-a-quarter years since that last haircut on 27 February 2020.

I'd kinda missed a good window of opportunity last summer before the Delta variant came roaring through, but now I've got some big things coming up before which I'd like to tame it significantly.  I don't think I'll be going straight back to the short hair of the past, but I've gotta get this stuff out of my eyes.  And mouth.  And all over everywhere.  Just gotta find the time first to get it done right.  (Ya know, 'cause "big things" and "busy".)

And the humidity today, oof.  The result is not so much "unkempt" as "unkempable".  Suddenly all those hair product commercials that once confused me as a child make so much sense.

(Maybe my hair should get a blog?  Nah.  Besides, it's "transitional".)


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01 January 2022


Well it sure isn't March 2020 anymore, but I still don't know what it is.

Yeah, the calendar says January 2022, but oof.  That's weird, man.

If last year's New Year's Day feelings were "novel", this year's are really stale.  Hopefully things would soon be better.  Hoooppefulllllyyyy.

We'll get there.  Somehow.

At least I correctly pegged 2021 as long and transitional.  So far, prospects for 2022 feel about the same.  But progress upon progress adds up, I suppose.

Just two glyphs for this year's doodle; had to find a good font for twos.  I have a feeling that, with their increased prevalence, my handwritten ones (by which I mean twos) will soon decline in quality.  I think I'll manage.  And given that this year is starting out feeling much the same as the last, it's not surprising that I landed on a similar design.

Whatever last year's "checklists" have even become these days — gosh, it seems nothing is ever over anymore — here's to progress, whatever that may ultimately mean.

Random tangent: After last night's unusual thunder at my parents' place, this morning saw an unexplained noise around Pittsburgh at 11:24 ET! Theories quickly converged on a small meteor breaking up in the atmosphere. 2022 is already coming in with a bang!


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