I decided I was not going to recap 2010 in a blog post, but I changed my mind. This has been a very, very active year for me. It all happened fast, and I think the fruits of it are yet to come. That is why I say it was a year of foundations -- on many levels.
I got a little more out of my comfort zone this year. I started the year out speaking at a SharePoint Saturday event in Indianapolis. It was by far the largest professional group I have spoken to until then. Although I have played guitar for and spoken to much larger congregations, this made me a little more nervous. It was an unfamiliar audience with a very broad degree of experience. In August, the jitters went to a whole new level when I spoke to a breakout audience more than twice the size at devLINK (with a major head cold) immediately following Tim Huckaby's keynote address. In addition to getting more comfortable with speaking to larger professional audiences, I gained some great experience in how to prepare presentations and engage audiences.
In the second quarter of 2010, I was awarded the INETA Community Champions award for my work in the Microsoft community. My focus is on SharePoint, but I work with other products as well. My community work this year included leading the Evansville SharePoint Users Group, hosting a local SharePoint 2010 launch, speaking to other user groups in the mid-west, and speaking at the two regional conferences listed above. Online I was active in the Microsoft TechNet forums and the SharePoint Overflow forums. I taught classes, beta tested products, beta tested exams, earned new certifications, and even did a little writing (which you will learn more about in the future).
Our company grew. Our clients (the best clients in the world) seemed to have a productive year. We reaped a lot of fruit from our hard work, but again, I think most of the fruit remains to be seen. Much of 2010 was laying the foundation for great things in 2011. I'm looking forward to a great year professionally -- more stretching and getting out of the comfort zone.
Personally, I could go on for days. I love my family. My wife is a rock -- one of the pretty kinds. Karen is such a hard-worker and so supportive of her family. My kids are starting to come to their own. Jaelyn is on the student council and got some great roles at the community theatre. She started playing tennis in addition to soccer and has taken a real liking to it -- she'll be a force to be reckoned with. She still has one of the most beautiful voices I've heard, and she never misses a beat on the piano while she's singing. Jenna made the cheerleading squad and is having a blast with it. She's a power forward on her school's basketball team and plays on a great traveling team. She loves hanging out with her friends and enjoying a good laugh. I don't think I've ever seen a kid catch on to things so quickly -- from technology to board games to sports. She even caught on to math a little better this year. I've much to be proud of as a husband and father. We had a couple of great road trips -- hiking at Shawnee and kicking back at Cedar Point, Marblehead and the Kalahari in northern Ohio.
I started playing guitar again after a several month hiatus. I play frequently with a group of great musicians at Bethel Memorial Church in Princeton. I organized and coached our community's first girls junior high tennis team. It was a foundational year there, too. Many of our girls learned to play tennis for the first time, and next year they'll be very competitive. I started coaching basketball at the grade school again -- this time as assistant for a good friend. I love working with the fifth graders and seeing how much better they are at the end of the season compared to when they started. In addition to the above, I somehow became president of the Junior Titan Soccer Club. I'm honored to do it. There are big shoes to fill there, but we have a great soccer community and my kiddos love the game.
My incredibly gifted and hard-working brother-in-law Darvin (affectionately known as "Durr") retired from the Army just days ago after 20+ years of loyal service. Darvin has sacrificed for his country -- home and abroad -- including several tours to Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan. I appreciate the sacrifices Darvin and his family have made, and I wish him a blessed retirement/next chapter of his life. I'm also proud of my little sister Lana who decided to go back and get her teaching degree. She aced college and her student-teaching assignments. She's going to be an amazing teacher!
I honestly don't know how we squeezed it all in. My head was swimming at times for sure. Time off at the end of 2010 has been great for clearing my mind and renewing focus. Even by my own standards I've taken on too much, but I'm not willing to give any of it up at this point. I'm blessed to be a part of all of it.
Looking forward to a great and ambitious 2011! It's going to be exciting right out of the gate. Hope your 2011 is blessed and productive as well!
This is my first attempt at blogging from the phone. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Sometimes I get excited about the weirdest things. Late last month a judge ordered LimeWire to take its P2P (peer-to-peer) music stealing service offline. I'm an amateur musician at best (will likely never lay down a track), so why do I care? Well, not only was this a victory for some of my friends who are in the industry, but it hit me in another personal way -- one you might not expect.
Music has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. I have an uncanny ability to remember where I was the first time I heard a song. I like how hearing a song reminds me of moments in the past. I love how when you put on a good pair of headphones you hear sounds and harmonies you didn't hear before even if you've already heard a song a thousand times. And movies -- they sure make an impact on the success of a single. If you don't believe me ask Celine Dion or Bryan Adams. I like how music evolves and how artists forge new genres -- there is no end to the creativity. I'm intrigued by how songs I didn't like 20 years ago sound better to me now than they did then. I especially enjoy when an artist writes his or her own songs as an expression of his or her feelings. Music was likely the earliest form of self expression and it is sure to last forever. Everyone needs an outlet I guess, but to me it is more than that. I can't imagine life without music.
My two beautiful daughters are wired the same way. When we get in the car, even if only to drive a mile, it's "turn on the radio!" And that is precisely why I celebrate the demise of LimeWire -- because stealing music (and other media) is not only a serious offense, but also endangers a great tradition.
Rewind (gulp) 25 years. I remember taking a pocket full of quarters to play Pacman for the very first time at a Rexall store in southern Indiana with my Walkman pumping tunes into my ears, of course. A few years prior, I remember listening to WRAY (even before it was a country station) on the army radio I got for my birthday. I remember dropping quarters in the juke box at a diner on the way to Florida, and watching my friends dance to virtually every Michael Jackson song at SkateWorld in Princeton. I also remember saving up my lawn mowing money until I had enough to ride my 10-speed to 3D (Danner Discount Department stores) to buy the cassette I had saved for. The generation before me did the same thing...only they bought 45's. We will leave 8-tracks out of the story because it will only detract from the real point.
One thing I don't ever remember doing, however, is stuffing a cassette in my pocket or sneaking a compact disc out of a store in my overcoat. I wouldn't even think of stealing an album -- and chances are neither would you. So technology has made it easier to steal songs, and even much less risky (if not socially acceptable), but it doesn't make it right.
But here's an angle you may not have considered: what did P2P sites like the LimeWires and Napsters of late do to our children's appreciation of music? Out of one side of our mouths we criticize them for being unappreciative and taking things for granted. At the same time, we are equipping them (if not coercing them) to abandon integrity and tradition.
One of the favorite gifts in our house has become the iTunes card. It's sad that many would consider me a sucker for actually paying for music. Imagine their reaction as I admit that I find great pleasure in paying for our music. It is one of the seemingly few remaining ways I can relate to my teen and 'tween in a cultural sense. Sure, the medium has changed, but the premise is the same. They are just as excited to earn and redeem that card as I was to earn dollars and buy cassettes back in the day. If I make them work for the cards, or make them wait until an occasion arrives where I can gift one to them, they tend to be more thoughtful with their selections and more appreciative of their purchases. It takes me back to the aisles and aisles of musical paradise at 3D where there were so many good albums to choose from, but enough money in my pocket to buy just one. I must admit, though, that I'm jealous of them for being able to preview songs for free and purchase singles at less than a dollar. It was a real downer blowing ten bucks for a tape only to learn that the first single released was the only good song on it.
Well that was a wordy post to be my first from the phone! I think I have carpal tunnel in my thumbs now. In closing, we were driving home "from town" tonight and Daughtry's "September" started playing from the playlist. All conversations ceased as our daughters sang along with every word. It's a classic for sure. It gets that reaction every time it plays when the girls' friends are riding with us, too. I flashed back to some old Bon Jovi and Van Halen tunes. I recalled how earlier in the year we sang them at Karen's high school reunion and everyone knew the words by heart. I have no doubt that a couple of decades from now the conversations will stop at a high school reunion as my daughters sing along to "September" and recall the day they downloaded it from a store called iTunes. I know, right?
I'm a proud dad today. Our Jae-Jae has been cast as Louisa in the Gibson County Theatre Company's Sound of Music that will run July 22, 23 and 25 at Princeton High School. I can't wait to see it...it is my favorite musical by far! As a youngster in Princeton, I took art lessons from Tinsley Webb on the south end of town. Tinsley was a gifted artist and I always think of him when I watch the Sound of Music. Almost every class he would sing songs from the musical -- he knew every word by heart.
An interesting fact we learned tonight: Louisa was played in the original film by actress Heather Menzies (now 60). Heather is the wife of the late Robert Urich known as "Spenser" in television's Spenser: For Hire. In 1994, Robert Urich was in Evansville filming A Horse for Danny at Ellis Park. Karen and I ran into him at the clock shop in Eastland Mall. Believe it or not, he was wearing the trademark Spenser orange vest and looking at grandfather clocks. We put our grandfather clock in layway that night (we had just returned from our honeymoon) and brought it home on our first anniversary. It still sits in our living room. Robert died in 2002 after a lengthy battle with cancer. His wife, Heather, herself an ovarian cancer survivor, still resides in California. Small world, right? But I digress...
We're proud of Jaelyn and are looking forward to seeing her sing and dance as Louisa. She is already studying the film -- or at least was until conking out just a few minutes ago. : ) Congratulations to everyone involved! It is going to be interesting to see how you pull it off. You have definitely got some work ahead of you, but the Gibson County Theatre Company always produces a great show! Check it out in July and check out Willy Wonka Kids in June.
I wanted to give a shout out to my good friend Jamie Rowe of Christian metal band Guardian fame for throwing together an excellent landing page for me. Not only is he one of the best front men ever, but he is as creative as they come. Jamie is the owner of Spark Media - use him for your creative needs and you will not be disappointed. His email address is at the bottom of my landing page. Jamie and Heather are some of the most talented and most genuine people you will meet -- their kids rock, too! I am excited for them as they are expecting another child. Also exciting is that the most distinct Christian metal band of all time is reuniting for some fun and sharing it with the world online at www.houseofguardian.com. Thanks Jamie!