2011 “End of Year Questions” Meme: Cuba Libre, Newfoundland Screech, and Skinny Minnie Me

As promised yesterday, here’s my 2011 “end-of-year question” meme answers.  I’ve done a few slight revisions to the list I’ve used in past years but have also left some of the questions I thought about taking out because I don’t like them or I answer them the same way every year…

1. What did you do this year that you’d never done before?
Visited a communist country.

2. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Shea’s best friend growing up (and Pace’s guardian) had her second, a boy named Noah.  Lots of other friends, co-workers and extended family continue to have babies as well.

3. Did anyone close to you die?
It’s like a weird annual tradition that I think “Boy, will I feel like an idiot if I forget anyone!” and that this question also always turns me to morbid thoughts of my numerous aunts and uncles, all still alive but all somewhere between the ages of 60-80+ so that the answer to this question will inevitably change some year.  In fact, my dad is from a family of 10 kids and a 50th Birthday/50th Anniversary party on back-to-back nights in Calgary in May was going to be a mini-family reunion which would be the first time all ten siblings were together since, ironically, my grandma’s funeral.  But then his youngest sibling became quite ill and was unable to make it which was a bit of cloud on the whole weekend.  (It took my non-tech savvy cousin to point out near the end of the various events, “We should’ve hooked up a computer and dialed her in over the Internet somehow!”)

I mentioned Michael Jackson last year so continuing that theme for this question, Jack Layton and Steve Jobs were the most impactful deaths of a well-known individual for me personally.  The fact that the US actually got Osama Bin-Laden was pretty surprising too.

4. What places did you visit?
We had a good travel year with a week in Cuba, a week in Calgary for the aforementioned quasi-Hammond family reunion, ten days in Newfoundland for the wedding of one of my best friends from high school, many camping trips over the summer, wrapping up with Christmas at Shea’s folks in Weyburn.  We also have a holiday in Hawaii booked for January and since that will happen within twelve calendar months of our Cuba trip, it almost feels like another trip this year – whew!

5. What would you like to have in the next year that you lacked this year?
I’ve got a couple pretty specific answers for this question but I want to see if they come through in the new year before I start talking them up! 😉

6. What date from this year will remain etched upon your memory?
November 7 was a pretty monumental day.  We’d been waiting for months to have new windows installed then got an early morning call that they were coming the next day so we’d have to take down all the window hardware throughout our house to prepare.  I bought the new iPhone 4S and switched to the SaskTel network at lunch (exciting!) then ended the day in a meeting with the manager of HR being informed that, though it was nothing to do with me or my work, my job was being eliminated (shitty!).  It’s a long story which I can’t get into too much detail yet as there are still some legal issues pending from this turn of events but the main thing is that I’m not out of a job as I ended up bumping into another librarian position (who in turn moved into a vacant librarian position.)  Then, speaking of losing jobs, I went home and spent a few hours volunteering for my local candidate in the provincial election which saw the NDP absolutely decimated with numerous MLA’s, constituency assistants and other good folk losing their jobs.  So yeah, as days go, that was a pretty eventful one.  (I do really like our new windows though!)

7. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Without a lot of fanfare or gimmicks, I’ve lost 30 lbs in the last six months by simply deciding to eat a bit better and cutting out a lot of carbs and crap.  I would love to lose another 20-30lbs in the months to come if I can maintain the same slow but steady progress that started in the summer, sometime after our Newfoundland trip.

8. What was your biggest failure of the year?
Not so much a failure but with the elimination of my job, I guess there’s a sense of missed opportunity that I wasn’t able to successfully implement a number of the organization development related ideas I had for Regina Public Library.

9. What was your biggest surprise?
“I called you into this meeting to inform you that we are eliminating the position of Organization Development Specialist.”  :-0

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing beyond the usual sniffles and a flu or two.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
New windows, a new furnace, new ceiling insulation are what springs to mind.  I guess it was one of those kind of “home improvement” years around our house so no exciting new technology or cars or stuff like that.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Working on Jaime Garcia’s campaign in the provincial election campaign, I was continually impressed by his professionalism, work ethic and graciousness.  I think he’s got a bright future in politics and am happy to now call him a friend as well.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
As of the end of today, Regina Public Library employees will have been without a new contract for two years.  I’ll leave it at that.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Home improvement projects.  Travel.  Restaurant meals.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The thing I got most excited about this year was our trip to Hawaii next year!  I just love everything about taking a trip – the research, the planning, the reading, the anticipation.  (I guess this answer applies to our Cuba and Newfoundland trips too but Hawaii is definitely my current obsession!)

16. What song/album will always remind you of this year?
“Six Volts” by Fred Eaglesmith is great and I love the song “Johnny Cash“.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
A) Happier or sadder?
Even with the shock to the system of having my job eliminated (right before Christmas – nice timing, eh?), I think I’m in a pretty happy place.  I’m very much a “work to live” guy rather than a “live to work” person so all I have to do is look at my life, my family, my home and realise how truly lucky I am.

B) Thinner or fatter?
Much thinner.

C) Richer or poorer?
I feel poorer but mostly because we spent so much on home improvement stuff that our house needed. But we also received some significant (and  unexpected) sums from oil money and family gifts so those things more than equaled out.  So both richer and poorer aka “about the same”.  😉

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Since I started keeping track ten years ago, I’ve tended to read about a book on week on average with one year seeing a high of 75 books read.  This year, I only read 35 – probably as much as anything a reflection of how my reading hasn’t decreased but shifted – on the bus, I’m more likely to whip out my iPhone to read Twitter and Facebook and online newspapers rather than pulling out whatever old-school print book I’m working on.  It’s still reading when I do it online or on a smart phone but I can’t help feeling like I’m losing something.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Hmm, this is one of the questions I thought about eliminating as it’s always tough to answer (or if something springs to mind, it’s tough to answer publicly!)  So let’s just say that Shea and I probably eat out at restaurants way more than we need to – an expensive hobby after awhile and not always easy if you’re trying to lose weight either!  (At the same time, it’s an indulgence we both enjoy – we’re always eager to try any new restaurants that open in Regina and love seeing how the culinary landscape here has improved in the last five years.)

20. How did you spend  Christmas?
Took some extra time at Christmas and had a relaxing holiday with Shea’s folks at their home in Weyburn.  A family friend unexpectedly showed up outside in a Santa costume right after Pace had already rushed to bed, after hearing someone (grandpa) ringing bells and saying “Ho-ho-ho”.  So Pace got up again, saw the *real* Santa on the street saying hello to him by name.  Probably the most mind-blowing experience of his young life!

21. Who did you spend the most time communicating with?
I think I said last year that I was going to eliminate dumb questions this time around.  I don’t know – last year I said “Shea” but I also spend a lot of time (too much?) in a wide range of web-based communities.  Maybe that’s Internet addiction but maybe it’s just cool to share conversation and insight with people around the world on a regular basis?  Yeah, I’ll go with that one… 😉

22. What was your favourite TV program?
“Breaking Bad” is one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.  A co-worker got me hooked and after downloading and watching the first three seasons in quick succession (the show’s about meth manufacturing and ironically, each episode is like a “hit” of a drug that needs to be parcelled out slowly!), we now await every new episode with trembling hands!

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I was going to say Kim Jong-Il but he went and ruined it.  😉

24. What was the best book(s) you read?
In other years, I’ve cheated by picking both a fiction and a non-fiction book instead of one single favourite.  I’m going to do that again this year.  Like the Oscars, a book’s odds of being chosen as the “Hammy” for best book I’ve read seem to go up if I read it late in the year.  Two books I read in the last quarter of the year and which both, in their own way, deal with themes of ecological crisis – “Evolution” by Stephen Baxter and “The Leap” by Chris Turner are my picks for this year’s “Hammy” award(s).  In fact, if I had the money, I’d send a copy of “The Leap” to every political leader in the country at every level – it’s that important and that good!

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Alabama Shakes was a group cited by a number of people in a “Best of the Year in Music” MetaFilter thread which I’ve since lost the bookmark for.  Personally, although I doubt I’ll spend much time listening to it going forward, I enjoyed familiarizing myself with the folk music of both Cuba and Newfoundland.

26. What did you want and get?
The NDP as the Official Opposition federally (although ironically, they’re in a weaker position than before when they were part of a minority government with fewer seats but more power to affect change.)

27. What did you want and not get?
A federal NDP win (or at least the NDP as official opposition in a minority government situation) and a better showing by the Saskatchewan NDP in our provincial election.

28. What were your favourite films of this year?
“Bridesmaids” had the single funniest scene I’ve seen in years in any movie. “Moneyball.”   “Descendants” (mostly for the Kauai storyline and scenery!)  Looking forward to a couple I haven’t seen yet as well – “Super 8”, “Melancholia” and “The Artist”.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I came to work and I was 38.  However, the weekend before my birthday, I’m pretty sure I sat in Pace’s paddling pool drinking beer in the extreme summer heat so that’s a nice image for you. 😉

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Again, I’m not going to get into too much detail but I attended a free workshop put on by the Canadian Management Centre whose speaker was a PhD in Business Administration.  At the start, he asked the packed hotel conference room how many attendee’s employers partook in a particular organizational development-type activity.  It would have been immeasurably satisfying it I had been able to put up my hand like every other person in the room…especially since I’d proposed that very activity for RPL but had it rejected by management.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept this year?
I’m somebody who regularly wears clothes I bought 3, 5 and even 10 years ago.  So if anybody has a suggestion for a better question to substitute here, I’m all ears! 😉

32. What kept you sane?
Pace.  Shea.  Club Fun.  Self-awareness.  Funny Facebook updates. A sense of perspective.  Dreaming about pacific beaches.  One very relevant and very humourous library-related Twitter feed.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?
I think the global response against abuses of power – whether dictators being overthrown or the Occupy Wall Street/We Are the 99% protests – were pretty inspiring.

34. Who did you miss?
RPL has had an extremely high turnover rate during the past three years so I miss a lot of my coworkers who have left the organization.

35. Who was the best new person you met?
At the same time, that means RPL has brought in a lot of new people and many of them are great people.  As just one example, the HR Unit has been one of the most stable at RPL in terms of turnover.  But they did bring in one new employee this year and he’s a great guy with tons of insights on everything from politics to religion to television (he was the one who got me hooked on “Breaking Bad”) to sports.  He is however a Leafs fan but I try not to hold that against him.

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned this year.
If you get an e-mail inviting you to a meeting with the shop steward present, that’s probably not because they’re going to give you a Christmas bonus! 😉

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year?
Not a lyric per se but as I mentioned earlier, the music of Cuba and the music of Newfoundland – both products of unique cultures with amazing back stories – helped to define my year, whether it was “Sonny’s Dream” or “Guantanamera”.

38. A photo that sums up your year
Not everyone sees it this way but for me, it’s not about how much money you make or what your job title is or how many people report to you or how many hours you work each week.  Ultimately, what it all comes down to in life is this…

39. Best App of the Year
If you don’t have Flipboard on your iPhone, go get it now.  It’s awesome!

40. Tell us another valuable life lesson you learned this year.
“It is what it is” was a mantra I repeated throughout the year.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks 2

  1. From Head Tale - On Tipping in Cuba on 14 Mar 2012 at 9:47 pm

    […] (typeof(addthis_share) == "undefined"){ addthis_share = [];}Chris Turner, author of the Hammy winning book, “The Leap”, has an outstanding article in the latest issue of The Walrus about the unique relationship between […]

  2. From Head Tale - Going Green in Calgary Centre? I Hope So (And I Don’t Care Who Knows!) on 25 Nov 2012 at 11:01 pm

    […] How To Survive and Thrive In The Sustainable Economy which had the incredibly great honour of receiving the “Hammy” no-prize award as the best non-fiction book I read last […]

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