Just a quick note to wish everyone a great 2015 and give a recap of the year.
2014 was more a year of positive change and accomplishment than its predecessor. There were some challenges along the way the help result in these positive changes. At the end of June, I was laid off after 10 years at the same company. I was in the library with my kids on an early lunch break when a co-worker posted that she'd been let go - probably my last choice of someone to be let go - so for the next hour until I got the call, I figured anything was possible. After working 20 of the previous 21 days, I was about ready for a break! I'd just returned from my second week of the season working with the Oakland A's on the West Coast. Both trips were memorable professionally and personally as I did spend many mornings walking around the local parks and Bay Area attractions like Muir Woods before working at the Coliseum at night. I watched Derek Jeter's final at bat in Oakland (which was the last time I'd see him bat in person) sitting next to, of all people, the daughter of former Yankee Kevin Maas (an admitted Jeter fan she was!) I didn't expect to be out of work so long but with severance and unemployment, I was able to enjoy time with the family while searching out a new job. The job search was frustrating at times, even if it included getting to tour the studio of ESPN College Game Day, but in the meantime it allowed for me to spend a week camping with the family in Massachusetts, as well as the annual week at Cape Cod and week staying with Carrie's family in East Lyme. We'd also spent a week in Washington DC earlier in the year seeing the monuments, Smithsonian and Washington Nationals.
Among the accomplishments was completing my first novel - Rivers End. I started writing it after Christmas in 2013, after the passing of my grandfather, with ideas coming from his passing and from the death of his uncle Calvin. It took about 2-3 months to write and nearly as long to edit (and I'm sure I still missed a few things). The day I completed the second edit was the day I was laid off from tickets.com! On top of applying for new jobs that night, I also completed another set of edits and the book was off to be published. Completing a novel felt great. Everyone now and then someone brings it up unexpectedly. It's something I always wanted to do (I've finished a manuscript before, but never brought it to full fruition - although I am debating revising my first manuscript and self-publishing). You don't get rich on publishing a novel, especially with very little publicity, but it's still interesting to get small checks every month or so!
After a month of waiting out a company reorganization and international regulations, I was finally able to accept a job at my new employer, AudienceView. It kept me in ticketing and returned me to full-time Software Quality Assurance. AudienceView has been great so far. As far as their QA practice, it is much further advanced than where I came from with the opportunity to learn automation, new scripting formats and work in an Agile/Scrum development environment. While I will miss working at tickets.com, it was probably time to move anyway. My first week at AudienceView was spent in their office in Toronto - my first time in Canada since 2007. Toronto is an under-appreciated city. And it's great to be at a company that is growing, rather than going in the opposite direction. It is frustrating not being a "software expert"... yet... give me a few months!
Time with family and friends was cherished. The kids enjoyed the summer, especially the vacations. Both returned to Academy of Aerospace and Engineering Elementary for a second year. Josh's love of science, chemistry and physics continues as well as new interests like Cub Scouts. Megan continues to excel and is becoming a reader. Megan is showing artistic skill and creativity as well. Carrie is back at Silas Deane. Her first students there are out of college now - so she's been there awhile! She continues to develop challenging and exciting lessons and labs for her kids. Carrie also is a Cub Scout Den Leader! The children can be challenging at times, to say the least. They aren't very "generic" kids who you can plop in front of video games or television. Carrie does a great job of getting them motivated in their interests and planning their activities. We also added a new member to our family, our dog Gorgo. We adopted him after a dog adoption event across the street from us in October. Megan and Josh are taking responsibilities as pet owners.
Also during the summer, my best friend since preschool, Chris, was married. Scott (another of our friends from youth) and I were part of the wedding on a beautiful Thursday night in August. Scott and I also worked on his restaurant which he opened this year as well as helping my father move. It was a difficult stretch for my father - selling his house, moving farther from his job and suffering a heart attack. But he fought through it, returned to work and settled in a new house with his wife in Florida. It is difficult for him to be away. I still think I can stop there at his old house on my way to New York City. It is also difficult with my sister Meredith expecting her second child in March and with her daughter's health concerns. But us four siblings, Jen, Meredith, Ryan and I are still close and are there for each other.
I also have to mention that my alma mater, UConn, won men's and women's basketball titles in the same year again - and are still the only school to ever do that.
In 2014 we lost two great actors - Robin Williams and Phillip Seymour Hoffman - both tragic and both too young. These two actors could play any role just as well as anyone in Hollywood. I think the difference between the two in their careers was that Robin Williams had a complete portfolio (he really had a portfolio that could have spanned the career of two or three actors!) while I think Phillip Seymour Hoffman's best roles were yet to come. We saw a glimpse of it in The Master (which was generally a difficult movie to watch but Hoffman was amazing). Had he lived, I think you'd have seen another 20 years of diverse comedies, action films and dramas. Personally, my high school class lost two classmates - Morgan Brooks and Erin Hunt, which we remembered at our 20th class anniversary. Morgan and I had just spoken earlier in the week when she passed unexpectedly. We shared a favorite film - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Morgan lost a brother and always spoke so kindly of him. I'd like to think they are together now. I had more people tell me just amazing things about Morgan after she passed - sacrifices of caring she did toward people she loved. Erin's death was sudden as well. Erin loved to post really difficult sports trivia that only Bill Colrus or I could ever get right on my facebook wall. Erin took an interesting career path to become a chef. We'd always talked about going to a Mets game but it never came together. It's a shame for his brother and family and his children that Erin is gone so young. I also reflect on those who lost parents or siblings or friends or family this year.
2014 didn't go as planned but exceeded expectations. I think of my first trip to Oakland (which I had two day's notice before going). It snowed unexpectedly on the way to the airport. I missed my connecting flight in Los Angeles due to the snow. I got to Oakland Airport only an hour and a half before the first pitch of the A's opening day (night) game. But once I was there, everything went very well. The path anywhere is part of the fun, even the parts that are unexpected. Here's to another great year in 2015.