2018 began with a big change and an expensive one. In January, I bought a condominium in the South Loop, making a homeowner for the first time in over 3 years. The condo isn't large or fancy, but it has a beautiful view of the Chicago skyline and wake up every morning to this.
The next big change of 2018 came at mid-year. Microsoft, my employer, had a reorganization.My old job - helping professors at top computer science schools teach cloud computing to their students - was eliminated. I was assigned a new role in which I was to work with engineers at various companies and help them build cloud solutions. In July, I was assigned to work with four companies and I began to build relationships with the technical folks at those companies. But because my company embraces change, we had another reorganization in December and I was assigned to work with different companies. So far, it has been good: I have learned a lot and I have worked in a number of new industries. It took some time to adjust to this role, but it was a familiar one, as it recalled my years as a technical consultant. I still miss the days of speaking at conferences and working with the developer community.
I continued to travel in 2018. I returned to Romania and Canada and made my first visit to Norway and England. I also visited Mackinac Island, Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Dorr County, WI for the first time. I made many of visits to Seattle, Austin, Toronto, Champaign throughout the year.
One highlight of the year came at the Imagine Cup Finals, where a team from the Toronto area - smartArm - were named world champions. I was excited or their success because I had mentored them at a hackathon at the University of Toronto early in the year and encouraged them to participate in the worldwide student competition.
Tim continued working as an IT consultant in the Chicago area. It has been great having him nearby and seeing him so often. Weary of his long daily commute to the suburbs, he began looking for other opportunities and he received two job offers in December.
Nick is in his second season as a basketball coach at Williams College in Massachusetts. He was promoted to top assistant this summer.
Much of my family got together this summer in Ellicott City, MD for a family reunion. Cousins from around the country met to share stories and hugs for a few days. It was a reprise of a similar event at the same location in 2002.
My cousin Sharon passed away in December after a long battle with cancer. We have been close since we were young and her death was difficult; but I was fortunate to be able to see her several times this year, including the days before her death. I will always be grateful that I arrived in California in time to say "Goodbye" to her. She died a few hours after I flew home.
I accelerated my reading during 2018. My purchase of a Kindle e-reader helped, as did a subscription to Audible. I could listen to books on my bike rides and read from my Kindle on long plane rides. As a result, my pace accelerated the second half of the year and I finished 2018 with a total of 47 books read. After years of effort, I even completed reading NPR’s list of the Top 100 science fiction and fantasy books.
I was blessed with good health last year. A return trip to the dermatologist revealed that I was cancer-free, following my surgery to remove basal cells from my temple. Despite my travel schedule, I kept up a regular gym schedule while I was at home and I even worked with a personal trainer. A back injury interrupted this in November, but I've recovered and I'm back on track with my exercise regimen.
I did a lot of bike riding this year. It was good exercise and a great way to explore Chicago, which I am still learning. I rode almost every day I was home in the summer, working up to rides of about 20 miles by the end of the summer. A warmer than usual fall and winter allowed me to continue riding late into the year.
2018 was my 11th year of blogging and I published more posts (209) than any other year. In fact, this shattered my old record of 155, set in 2009 and 2012. In November, I accomplished something for the first time - publishing a new post every day of the calendar month.
I continued recording my Technology and Friends show in which I interview technologists on camera. Due to a change in policy at Microsoft Channel 9, I migrated the show to YouTube. This transition caused me to miss my weekly cadence for the first time in years, as I skipped my usual Monday episodes in February and March. Still, I published 45 episodes during the year, including #544 on December 31.
I also re-booted GCast - a show featuring educational technical screencasts. I had recorded a few episodes years ago, but it had been long enough that I decided to begin again at Episode #1 this year. I released 28 episodes during the 2018.
I continued my quest to see a game in every the stadium / arena of each team in the 4 major North American sports. I checked the following 12 teams off my list this year:
- San Francisco 49ers
- Green Bay Packers
- Texas Rangers
- Washington Nationals
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Milwaukee Bucks
- San Antonio Spurs
- Carolina Hurricanes
- Dallas Stars
- Detroit Red Wings
- Montreal Canadiens
- San Jose Sharks
The Bucks and Red Wings were return visits, because each recently built a new arena. If you are keeping score, I still have 44 to go (8 MLB; 10 NBA; 13 NHL; 13 NFL)
Chicago is a great place to see live music and I took advantage this year. Below are some of the concerts I attended in 2018
- JD Souther
- Steve Earle
- C.J. Chenier
- Average White Band
- Freddy Cole
- Electric Light Orchestra
- Billy Joel
- Jeff Lorber Fusion
- Joey DeFrancesco
I am optimistic about this coming year. I have two major goals: to learn as much as I can; and to take all my vacation, so I don’t end up forfeiting some, like I always do.