As I write this post, we are a little over 4 hours from January 1, 2010. First, I want to wish the four readers of my blog (I count myself) a happy new year. Should by a quirk of odd luck and randomness others read this, then you too, I wish a happy new year. As one year comes to a close and a new year (and decade) comes before us, it is a time for both reflection and to look ahead.

First a look back.

2009, I admit wasn’t one of the best years of my life. In early January, one of my closest friends lost his father. As a friend who lived a large distance away, I felt helpless in trying to comfort him. Having (thankfully) not experienced this myself, I did not know what to do. The following week, when I flew out to see him (a pre-planned trip) I discovered that my friend was far more resilient than I thought. Though the focus of the trip was to take his mind off of things, I discovered he didn’t need it. Later in the year I saw this friendship erode and end on September 18th for what I believed to be forever (he made it quite clear to me that this was to be the case).

Professionally, there were disappointments, to say the least. March 3 will always be a day I wish to forget but will remember for a long time. I discovered a new side of someone who works at the same company I do, a side I didn’t like. When others were told, some were extremely surprised while others reactions were, “yeah, I know.” Also another person who is very close to me continued to feel the full force and fury of our economic downturn and I could do nothing but provide moral, sympathetic support. He is still battling that storm, whose end, while not apparent, hopefully will come soon.

There were a lot of good things that happened in 2009. First, and most importantly, my mom’s cancer went into remission. She ended her treatments and even got to do something she never thought she would be able to do ever again, travel. Secondly, my dad regained the ability to drive at night. My parents got to enjoy freedoms once thought lost forever and for me, I think that’s a great thing! We also got to celebrate my parent’s 50th anniversary.

I got to travel to a place I’ve never been to before–Chicago the land of Obama (yeah, someone named Abe is also from that state). Yes, I’ve been to O’Hare earlier in my life, but I don’t get to count that. Despite the rain and nasty weather I had a great time walking around the city.

I also got to attend my first Defcon in Las Vegas. It was my first “Geek convention” and I found it fascinating. In November I got to do something for the third year in a row, turn a “virtual” friend into an “in real life” friend, someone I have known for six years. This was, by far, the best trip to Las Vegas I’ve ever had and certainly one of my favorite vacations of all time.

One of the nicest surprises of my life happened on December 16. That friendship, that I thought was over forever had a rebirth.  Let’s call this “friendship 2.0.” Someone once told me, “fortune favors the bold.”  I got bold and decided to reach out to the friend and he responded with kindness.  While I wouldn’t say the friendship is the same as it once was, it is still a good friendship and there is no one that knows me better than he does. I know he is a friend whom I trust and value any and all advice he can give me.

Professionally, right at the end of the year something nice happened. No, it wasn’t from the person I work with, but a peer of this person. I got an “Award For Excellence” for a project I was on. That one, single act restored my faith that there are truly appreciative people at the company I work for. Until that time, I simply relied upon myself for motivation (though my support lead also helped a lot). I am a self-motivated person, but it is always good when others help out. I can only hope my “friend 2.0” person learns and masters this skill–let’s call it “level 81” to use a World of Warcraft term.

A look ahead.

What will 2010 bring? Your guess is as good as mine. I hope “friend 2.0” continues on it’s successful journey.  I wonder what a service pack would look like?

Professionally, I am more optimistic than ever. I think this year when March comes around and a “look back” is done it will be better than 2009. I do hope that despite the merger and a thinning of the workforce, I will remain with the company. My job is evolving and I plan to evolve with it.

If all goes as planned, 2010 will be the fourth year in a row that I turn a virtual friend into a real life one. I look forward to seeing my friend of 19 years when I hopefully travel to Milan in June. I also hope another friend of mine from a kingdom across the ocean will also visit, but if not, maybe 2011 will be the fifth year in a row (neat, a half decade of turning virtual friends into real life ones).

I remain optimistic for myself, my family and my friends.

Again, happy new year!

coldwind heights

So I was checking out Google’s webmaster tools top search results was “coldwind heights.” I have no idea how this counted for 30% of my search results since until now, I never referred to coldwind heights. A little bit of Googling reveals that Coldwind Heights is a place in World of Warcraft. To be more exact, it is an elevated area located west of the Crystal Vice and east of Angrathar the Wrathgate. I suppose previous posts related to WoW has somehow linked my site to hits related to Coldwind Heights. For anyone that has a web site, I recommend both Google’s webmaster tools as well as Google Analytics.

World of Warcraft

For the past month or so, I’ve been playing World of Warcraft.  I know what many of you are thinking, “Michael, how could you get yourself sucked up into that addictive game?”  Well, I haven’t.  Thanks to an empty TiVo, I enjoy spending a few hours on the weekend playing it as well as an hour or two in the evenings after work to unwind.  You can find my three characters at the WoW Armory.   They are Strylr who is a Night Elf warrior, Starthan (no surprise there) who is a Human mage, and  Matityahu an orc warlock and who is my horde character.  Strylr and Starthan are on the Burning Blade realm (server) while Matityahu is on Gorefiend.  I am a member of the Supertramp guild and are working on a web site.  If you happen to see me or any of the guild members when on your adventure, be sure to wave!  I also have an 8 slot Ventrilo server running for guild members.  We may eventually go with a hosted solution since it’s relatively inexpensive.

The best part of the game is that it’s cross platform.  The game play for the most part is no different when playing it on my Vista machine as it is on my Macs.  There are a couple of things that make it different on the PC, but that’s specific to the computer I am playing it on, my Dell XPS 710.  The first is the Logitech G15 gaming keyboard.  It displays all of my characters attributes on its LCD screen.  The second difference is the support for 3D surround sound.  As my character moves around, the sound moves with it.  So for example, if there is a fire burning in front of me, the sound is coming from my front speakers.  if I turn 180 degrees the same sound is coming from my wireless rear speaker.