I never published “a list” last year, and probably for good reasons – 2010 was a rough year. Little did I know that 2011 would be even more strange, with higher highs and lower lows, another ten or twenty decibels of emotional dynamic range. In an effort to at least put a stake in the virtual ground with respect to one of my 2012 resolutions, and to tie up 2011, here’s a list:
Family Moment: Not what you might expect, but having my entire family safe and sound in Jerusalem, when the #71 bus we had been riding earlier in the day was destroyed in a bus station bombing. Shock, fear, powerlessness, anger, relief, and lots of love in the space of about 35 minutes. Tie for second place – moving our daughter onto the University of Pennsylvania campus to start her college years, and seeing our son named to the All-Essex Conference Second Team offensive line.
Work Moment: Starting at Juniper Networks, I faced a fairly steep learning curve of networking protocols, industry standards, and internal code names. After a few months of non-recreational reading, I had a conversation with one of our senior engineers who specialized in network modeling, and we covered graph theory, network protocols, and bin packing algorithms in a conversation in which I finally felt that I was able to hold up my end. Thanks, Chris.
Reading: I’m declaring a tie between the ghost-written Clarence Clemons autobiography “Big Man: Real Life and Tall Tales” and Michael Kardos’ “One Last Good Time”. Both reflect a bit of Jersey life as seen through the last-summer spray that blows off of the ocean; both are full of fictional amalgams. And I miss Clarence Clemons.
T-Shirt: “Dr. Fluff’s Powerful Pills” shirt that I bought at a Phish show in June. In addition to being an amazing show with great friends, the shirt has enough subtle humor in it to make me laugh repeatedly, and remember the start of another one of ten true summers (bonus points if you get that reference, too).
Email: Seamus Burke asked me to co-write the foreword to Volume 2 of “Oh, Goodie” in print. Incredible awesome.
Nerd Toy: USB oscilloscope. Very useful for debugging guitar pedal problems. Probably the same quality as the old HP scope that I used in the EE part of my undergrad days, with multiple trigger options, plus the ability to save waveforms in image form to view on your laptop.
Thoughts for 2012: (1) Write on self-imposed deadlines. From blogs to emailing friends (more than requests for things I’ve forgotten) to working on one of three book ideas, it’s mental exercise. (2) Exercise doing things I enjoy: golf, swimming, ice hockey, roller blading, power walking. Phish shows make a great sound track for healthier living. (3) Support small-scale artists. I’m going to fund more projects on KickStarter, ranging from the King Tut City Gardens documentary (close to being in the can) to Seamus’ “Oh, Goodie Volume 2” to other things that strike my fancy, I’m going to direct my money where my mouth laughs or smiles. (4) Spend more time with my friends. One of my hockey buddies said, on the occasion of his 50th birthday, that being surrounded by good friends was his mark of a life well lived.
Turning the pages on the 2012 calendar, I can look forward to any number of milestones: second (and last) kid into college, being an empty nester, embarking on the Peoplehood Project, hoping for a good Devils run, a solid close to the Giants’ season, and a fun finish to the high school sports experience. As I tick off the “lasts” that come with children entering adulthood, I’m equally looking forward to the continuous stream of “firsts” that those events enable, coupled with turning 50 and celebrating 25 years of being married.