2008 in review

Well, 2008 was certainly interesting. Let’s do a quick year in review. This was my life, as seen through the blog:

January: [My server was down](http://www.flyingsquirrel.ca/index.php/2008/01/21/were-back/).
February: [I went looking for MP3 players](http://www.flyingsquirrel.ca/index.php/2008/02/21/what-i-want-from-a-portable-audio-device/).
March: Not much, but I [went home for Easter](http://www.flyingsquirrel.ca/index.php/2008/03/13/toronto-stop-over/) and [Ellen is awesome](http://www.flyingsquirrel.ca/index.php/2008/03/23/making-music/).
April: I finally got fed up and [canceled my gym membership](http://www.flyingsquirrel.ca/index.php/2008/04/12/the-gym-conclusion/).
May: [Anime North](http://www.flyingsquirrel.ca/index.php/2008/05/23/live-from-anime-north-day-1/).
June: I discovered I [no longer had a doctor](http://www.flyingsquirrel.ca/index.php/2008/06/19/apparently-i-dont-have-a-doctor/).
July: [Polaris](http://www.flyingsquirrel.ca/index.php/2008/07/12/polaris-day-1/).
August: [Nothing, apparently](http://www.flyingsquirrel.ca/index.php/2008/09/06/my-poor-neglected-blog/).
September: [An election](http://www.flyingsquirrel.ca/index.php/2008/09/08/ugh-election/) and [economic angst](http://www.flyingsquirrel.ca/index.php/2008/09/30/frustrating/).
October: [I lose my job](http://www.flyingsquirrel.ca/index.php/2008/10/17/new-opportunites/).
November: job searching (which I don’t talk about), [Barcamp](http://www.flyingsquirrel.ca/index.php/2008/11/23/barcamp-waterloo/), [home improvement](http://www.flyingsquirrel.ca/index.php/2008/11/29/good-bye-ron/), [Stratford](http://www.flyingsquirrel.ca/index.php/2008/11/09/emilia-galotti-and-romeo-and-juliet/) and [Wiki Links](http://www.flyingsquirrel.ca/index.php/2008/11/03/functional-spec-wiki-links-wordpress-plug-in/). I had a bit more spare time…
December: I start a new job (which I also haven’t talked about yet) and [Christmas](http://www.flyingsquirrel.ca/index.php/2008/12/26/merry-christmas-one-and-all/).

It makes me realize that most of the really significant stuff in my life doesn’t show up in the blog explicitly. It’s there. *I* see it. But only because I know what it is, and I can read between the lines. I suppose it’s kind of unfair that you can’t. But we’re all going to have to learn to live with that.

By far the most significant thing, of course, was losing my job. No small thing, that. If nothing else, it did settle a long-standing argument I’d been having with myself about whether I’d stayed at one place too long and should have moved on. I think in future I’ll be more cognizant of the signs and portents that I could kind of see then but are glaringly obvious now.

Those six weeks of joblessness have given me a fresh perspective on my life and my career. This is actually a good thing. I feel like I have much more of a direction now. I’m not entirely sure of the destination, but there’s more purpose to the journey.

I’m now working for a fairly small company in Kitchener named [Miovision](http://www.miovision.com/). It’s fascinating, and I can see a lot of challenge and opportunities there. It’s a slightly riskier move than a lot of places I could have settled on, but I think whichever way it goes, I’m better off with something like this than going for the safer option.

2008 also made it abundantly clear what a fantastic person Ellen is and how lucky I am to have her in my life. Without getting all mushy, she was the best part of every part of the year, and she single-handedly turned 2008 from what should have been a really crappy year into something really good. She’s my lovely alchemist.

Election Day reminiscences

Eight years ago today, back in 2000, I was sitting in a hotel room in Orlando, Florida watching the US election results. It was a pretty surreal experience.

[[Me in Florida for the 2000 election]](http://flyingsquirrel.ca/election2000.jpg)I was still working in QA. Our manager had managed to send a couple of us down for a conference just before the company clamped down on spending. The dot-com bubble was bursting and our ill-timed (and ill-conceived) dot-com play was barely getting started before the bottom was falling out. I think by election day we’d already gotten the email about the first lay-offs. Fortunately, neither of us were on the list.

There was a rally in town the day after we got there. Personally, I was more interested in seeing if I could find a half-decent BBQ restaurant.

Of course, we didn’t find out the outcome that night. It was still very much up in the air, and Florida was at the centre of that. At some point, George W Bush gave a speech that praised the resilience of American democracy, that it could survive such turmoil. How great a country it was that such things didn’t automatically lead to violence and bloodshed. I thought “Does that cross people’s minds?” Like everybody’s about to run out and start shooting each other, but everybody has to hold back and say “Oh, right, we’re a *democracy*. We don’t do that sort of thing.”

I mean, yeah, it’s good it doesn’t have to come to these things, but honestly, if it’s even an option, you may have problems.

The last eight years have been pretty crappy, from a macro perspective. Change is in the air tonight. There’s a lot of hard work ahead. Here’s hoping the next four will turn the tide.


I am very, very tired, but I can’t sleep. What better time than to go ramble on my blog?!

Wa-hey, I have a blog. I keep forgetting. I’ve gotten out of the habit of thinking of things to post.

When I was in highschool, I had this idea in my head that I should really keep a (private) journal, because every once in a while I’d realize that I was framing things that happened to me into narrative, but I never wrote any of it down. I never got around to doing that.

It was actually one of the reasons I first thought it would be a very good idea to get a computer. Because if I had a computer, I could write things down there. My handwriting sucks, and typing out a journal on my typewriter (yes, I had a typewriter) seemed a bit silly.

Like I said, though, I never got around to doing it. Just writing for myself never seemed like enough motivation.

A decade or so later, I decided I could make my homepage more interesting by [posting stories and observations and stuff there](http://web.archive.org/web/19981206031231/www.undergrad.math.uwaterloo.ca/~dscassel/). And that was nice. And then the whole blogging thing started to happen and I decided to get on-board with that. All because every once in a while I get things in my head that want to get out.

And I still get those, but I’ve never quite managed to get into a consistent routine about getting things out there.

[NaBloPoMo](http://www.nablopomo.com/) actually helped, even though I didn’t quite make it. Apparently they’re making every Mo’ a NaBloPoMo. It’s not [blog365](http://blog365.ning.com/), which seems like a bit of overkill for me, but maybe I’ll take up the challenge again in March or April.

I’ll have to think about it.

I have the stories running through my head, but they’re harder to tell right now. Work is interesting, but I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t get anything out of it. Trying to tell work stories is really hard, because trying to come up with something abstract to talk about that isn’t specifically about what I’m working on, yet isn’t so abstract as to be devoid of any meaning… that’s tough. I’m pretty happy with my personal life, but since another person is involved, I’m a lot more reluctant to talk about it.

Those two things are taking up a sizable portion of my headspace at the moment, so I suppose it’s not too surprising I’m having a hard time writing long dissertations on other stuff.

My brain is going all fuzzy now. I’m tying this in bed on [my new(ish) laptop](http://system76.com/product_info.php?cPath=28&products_id=47). That’s another thing I really should write about. I have things to say! Just not right now.

Maybe if I turn it off I’ll be able to get some sleep…

LEGO is awesome

In order to celebrate LEGO’s 50th anniversary, [Boing Boing Gadgets](http://gadgets.boingboing.net/lego/) is posting retrospectives on LEGO sets over the years.

I was all about the space and town sets. It looks like Joel was more space and castle. No town stuff, sadly. In his summary of his [nine favourite sets](http://gadgets.boingboing.net/2008/01/28/50-years-of-lego-nin.html), I absolutely remember building the headlining [Galaxy Explorer](http://guide.lugnet.com/set/497). I didn’t have the [Futuron Monorail](http://peeron.com/inv/sets/6990-1), but I remember wanting it desperately.

So that was a nice reminiscence. But then he posted [The Six Ugliest Space Lego Sets](http://dansdata.blogsome.com/2008/01/29/the-six-ugliest-space-lego-sets/). I looked at it, and it looked like, except for the two robots from the 90s, I had every one of those. I loved the [Robot Command Center](http://guide.lugnet.com/set/6951)! Even as the robot. It had mini-vehicles that fit in the robot’s sides, which is always cool.

On closer inspection, though, I didn’t actually have the 1593 at the end of the article, but the [two](http://guide.lugnet.com/set/6929) [sets](http://guide.lugnet.com/set/6880) it was built from. I think. The vehicle docking thing in the 1593 looks awfully familiar. I know I had all those pieces, though. They were some of the first sets I got. There’s no way I have the boxes or instructions anymore to figure out what I actually had…

Feeling Faint (The Gym Continued)

Back during one of my co-op terms in Belleville, I got it into my head that I wanted to bike out to my grandparents’ place on Purdy St–way the hell the other side of town. Now Belleville’s not an incredibly big town, but that’s still a substantial bike ride. You’re going downtown towards the river, crossing the footbridge and riding up the other side. It was summer and it was hot. While that still might not be an incredible achievement, I hadn’t biked much in years. Even though I biked a lot in highschool, getting my bike to Waterloo and back every term wasn’t something I wanted to do.

I was actually feeling pretty good by the time I got there. A little winded and tired, maybe, but I’d made it. And then I got off the bike.

Still okay. I thought. Legs were just a little wobbly. Ooh, I’m just a little bit light-headed. I rang the doorbell to my grandparents’. It was becoming increasingly clear that I wasn’t doing so well. I was sweating like crazy and my face was flushed. My grandma seemed concerned but I couldn’t entirely make out what she was saying. I let them lead me to a chair in the living room and they got me a drink. My ears were ringing and I was feeling nauseous. The whole world looked whiter. All I could do was sit back and breath, maybe taking a sip of water now and then.

It took a few minutes, but things slowly returned to normal. I had a nice visit, but I can’t remember how I got home. I think I left my bike and got my grandpa to drive me back.

I’ve had this happen a few times in the last few years. Like on my [biking adventure](http://flyingsquirrel.ca/squirrel/archive.php?article=46) several years ago, or once on the first bike ride of the season. This year, though, it’s happened an alarming number of times. Like when I’m doing some light riding on my stationary bike, or just biking to work. This is stuff I have no business not being able to do.

So at the gym last Wednesday, the trainer dude first decided that before I could get my little keyfob thing (which I *had* in fact been paying for the last 11 months), I should do a strength assessment. This involved going to several different weight machines and just seeing how much I could do. Legs, quite a bit… everything else, not so much.

After that, he had me run though a typical workout. Keep in mind I’ve never done this before. Last time I lifted weights was grade 9 gym class.

By the second or third machine, I was feeling a little shaky. He jokes “you’re not going to faint on me, are you.”

I go “Uh, not yet.”

After standing up from the next machine, I nearly do.

At least he was nice and brought me water and juice.

*([to be continued](http://www.flyingsquirrel.ca/index.php/2007/12/07/caffeine-the-gym-part-3/))*

(Yes, I think I have this figured out. But this is a long post already and I don’t want to keep writing. Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion!)