Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mid-year Accomplishments for 2011

It's good to stop what you're doing periodically and review the positive accomplishments in your life.

A couple of months ago I posted on how I was finally feeling back to my old self after a period of months of unforeseen setbacks and troubles.  Well, as it turns out, it wasn't as easy as just 'snapping out of it' and going back to my previously robust self.  There have continued to be good days and bad days.  But, overall, I've managed to gain and/or keep the upper hand for the most part, and the stock chart of my life has, in fact, continued in a generally bullish trend.

Now that the year is slightly over half over, and lest anyone (I'm mainly talking about myself here) think the first 6 months of 2011 were a wash, I want to stop, take a timeout, and acknowledge some of my actual positive accomplishments from the first half of the year.

(This is the part where I get all fidgety in my seat and want to go to the kitchen for a snack or bottle of water or something.  Maybe I should go let the dogs out to run around in the front yard.  In fact, maybe the plants on the front porch need watering while I'm out there.  And while I'm at it, the tomato plants on along the driveway need some attention too.  See?  I could just go on all day like this.)

Where was I?  Oh, that's right.  My actual positive accomplishments from the first half of the year.

Let's see.

Well, right around the time of my thumb injury, but before I realized how bad it was and went in for surgery, I went back to Tennessee and took a ton of photos of the completed Tennessee House.  I even got some specialized equipment so that I could take these special panoramic images.  I've been working with them in post-production with specialized software that stitches the images.  Finally, finally I just figured out how to embed them here on the ol' blog.  This last step had been frustrating me for a while, but I have it figured out! Actually I found some spare code in the junk drawer in the kitchen and, lo and behold, it worked.

They're 3-4 mb each, so they may take a minute to load.  Sorry about that, but I wanted to keep the image quality high.  You can click on there and pan around and manipulate it interactively, and maybe even zoom in and out.  Try it!

I took a bunch of these, of the house; I'm excited to take more of them, of things around LA, now that I finally know how to embed them. They operate on QuickTime, so you might have to install that as a plug-in to your browser to see them.

So, I achieved several things here.
1. I completed the Tennessee House. Mr + Ms Client have moved in and are happy. This is huge for me.
2. I got good pictures of the completed project. Also a big accomplishment.
3. I got a whole bunch of new equipment and software and learned how to use it all.
4. Bonus: I got to spend a little time with Jenn and Kelly and some of my ATLOS friends when I was back there in January.
Soon after I got back from Tennessee, and after my hand surgery and a couple weeks of recovery, I started teaching a full-time course load in the Architecture Dept. at Local Community College.  LCC has an excellent, and well-regarded architecture program, and I enjoy participating there. Related to that, I accomplished the following:
5. After a 5-year hiatus from teaching, I reconnected with my pro-academic side* .
6. Got to know and work with some really great colleagues, some of whom I already knew, and others who I was working with for the first time.  Maintaining some level of involvement in the academic world is important to me, even when I'm not teaching full-time, so this was good.
7. While teaching drawing, I managed to learn some new skills myself along the way, and got inspired to continue to develop my skills. Seeing the students learning new things always makes me want to learn new things myself.
8. I feel like I rediscovered some parts of myself that I had been neglecting for a while, on both my intellectual and creative sides. This was like getting reacquainted with an old friend I hadn't seen in a while but then suddenly realized how much I missed him.
Another academic endeavor from the spring was my participation in 2 Objectivist mini-conferences:  FROCON and ATLOSCON. The first of the two, FROCON, took place in Denver in early March. ATLOSCON was over Memorial Day weekend, in Atlanta. Both were a lot of fun, and I learned a lot and enjoyed the conferences tremendously.
9. As with most objectivist conferences, the social time was every bit as fun, if not more so than, the seminars and presentations. These events really are worth the effort to attend, even from across the country. (I think it also helps that I have developed a lot of friendships in these particular cities!)
10. I presented my lecture on Viollet-le-Duc, Sullivan, and Wright at ATLOSCON.  I refined it a bit from the presentation I had done at FROST last fall, and expanded my research in the process. 
There were new design projects started.
11. Farmer Jo, aka Ms. Client of the Tennessee House, has been ... displaced, but in a good way. As fond as I am of our memories together, I'm quite excited to have a new Ms. Client! We're going to remodel New Ms. Client's home, and I'm very excited about it. Some very cool ideas are beginning to form themselves in my brain, so stay tuned.
12. I got the urge to build a new bicycle.  Not sure where this exactly came from, apart from the fact that I built a bike years ago when I was in grad school, and just decided it was time to make another one.  I'm working on designs for a new bike, and hope to start welding soon. Summer fun!
13. I worked on some designs for a concrete doghouse for the backyard, but I think that project got displaced by the bike in my list of priorities.  Still, I think the effort merits a mention here, and the doghouse project will stay on the list of 'things I want to do in the not-so-distant future'.
There were other accomplishments, that aren't so neatly categorized.
14. I've made an effort to find fun new things to do with Paul + Todd (my faithful spokesdogs) over the past several weeks. We've found new places to hike and explore, and Paul even went swimming in the ocean for the first time recently!
15. I started a massive household purge, which is ongoing. The big motivation to get rid of stuff came when I decided to rent my spare bedroom to my friend Alan. He needed a place, and I decided I would rather have the extra money than to just let that room continue on as my de-facto storage unit. Clearing it out for him to move in made me realize how much the purge was needed.  So I've been throwing stuff out left and right, and have also undertaken a major reorganization of the garage workshop.
16. The big summary realization: Sometimes life throws you curves.  Sometimes you get kicked square in the nuts (literally or, in my case this year, metaphorically). It's ok to hunker down and just ride it out, if that's the best you can do. Just keep looking for the exit (as Andras Schiff would say, describing Beethoven) and moving forward, as best you can, in a positive direction. I navigated the obstacle course and came though stronger than I went in (with the possible exception of my left EPL tendon, but it is in very good shape today, thank Science and my excellent team of Physicians.) Stay true to yourself, do what you have to do to take care of yourself, and you'll probably be able to look back and find lots of things you accomplished, even when it felt like every little thing was a hugely disproportionate struggle.
So: Onward!  This post is already way too long to start in on things I want to do in the second half of the year, but I'm feeling more motivated than ever to do Great Things with the rest of 2011.

*as opposed to my amateur/armchair academic side, which was definitely alive and well throughout my teaching hiatus

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