broken links

2008 Year in Review

I’m home alone tonight with a wicked sinus infection, drinking a lot of tea, running warm saline through my nostrils and reading Jeremy Clarkson. I sent my parents on their planned new-years outing with Tim and Carol earlier today, and saw Danielle off to her ball-drop party an hour ago, so the house has now fallen quiet with only myself and the cat remaining – and neither of us is putting shoes on until at least tomorrow. It’s been relaxing and festive having my parents here for the last week and a half, and tonight my empty house feels exactly that without them all around but I’m taking advantage of tonight’s opportunity to recuperate so I can enjoy the last couple days of their stay to the fullest. I am truly blessed with an incredible family that love each other unconditionally and are the best of friends, and I can’t say enough how much I appreciate the powerful (and rare) gift of growing up in a happy home. I thank God every day for them, and pray that I never take them for granted.

At some point tonight, I’ll probably turn on Dick Clark and let a team of underpaid television interns tell me what noteworthy things happened in 2008 while the world toasts each other on this oh-so-magical of holidays centered around humans’ apparent fascination with nice round numbers. Before that hour arrives, though, I feel compelled to look back on my own noteworthy 2008 moments.

Brian’s 2008 Year in Review
I made my modeling debut in early 2008 when my face (and a Threadless t-shirt) graced the Crutchfield website and greeted readers of their email newsletter. So far I’m not America’s next top model, but regardless it will make a great bullet point on my A&E biography.
While I technically bought my condo and moved in Dec 2007, it wasn’t until my sister and I returned from the holidays in January that we really started making it our own. I spent many long nights last spring pushing a paintbrush or tearing up carpet and I owe so many thank-you’s to the friends, family and neighbors that have lent their assistance – especially my parents, who have worked tirelessly on my home as though it was their own. I’ve learned a great deal about homeownership, remodeling, and project management, as well as memorizing the number for Dominos. I felt like such a grown-up purchasing major appliances, and I can’t explain how satisfying it is to look at the mantle I built with Mom or picture the attic insulation I installed with Dad and see the successful results of our teamwork. Danielle’s creativity has really made the decor come together, and I love that she found ways to incorporate my model cars and nerdy fixtures into the scheme. It’s a place I’m very happy to come home to, but it’s not been an effortless year by any means and I’m not sure I’ll schedule 2009 with the same remodeling pace.

My job really turned into a career this year, and 2008 was full of exciting challenges, new faces, huge opportunities and the heartbreaking change that is inevitable in the business world. There have been many nights I’ve lied awake fretting over big decisions or writing and re-writing an email in my mind, a sign that the responsibility I bear at work is shaping me and becoming part of who I am. I’ve grown up a great deal (professionally, at least) this year and I don’t feel like the same person anymore that struggled so much 7 years ago to find any job at all. My title changed 5 times this year (although only 2 of them were actually promotions) but there’s an intangible promotion that happened somewhere along the way, wherein I became a professional in my field, and more than just a lucky bloke that landed a good job by being in the right place.
Travel – boy, did I. More new cities and new countries in 2008 than in any year of my life, by a long shot. Texas in April, visiting Clint, Christi and Lilly on the beach in Galveston, and then again in July for more fun in the sun. Denver in June, San Francisco in July, and New York in September, all on business – a part of my new job and something I’d always hoped would be asked of me. In August I visited North Carolina for the first time, and internationally there was London in June for an amazing 2 weeks with Audrey and back again in July for another week with Katie and the UK team. Then I spent half of October down under in Sydney, an experience that I will never forget. I put a lot of new dots in my TripAdvisor profile this year and it was all pretty awesome.
Hobbies-wise, 2008 was a pretty banner year for me. I finally bought a motorcycle like I’d been wanting to for years, and managed to promote the SLUT when I earned my rider’s license. Some amazing photoshoot opportunities presented themselves this year and I was ready with camera in hand, from picturesque Nissan shows (where my Z happened to take first place) to the British Motor Show, Australian Motor Show and Seattle Motorcycle Show. Other than cars (and bikes) I also managed to capture a lot of Sydney and take advantage of Danielle’s connections to shoot a private tour of the Ballard Fishermans’ Terminal. Next year I’m hoping to take better advantage of local Seattle places and events, and hopefully still fit in photos of a few exotic locales, as well. I’ve also got a renewed energy for my Z and the Nissan team, and I’m excited for another summer season with them (where hopefully I’ll be in Seattle for some of it). 😉

I lost 25 pounds in the first 3 months of 2008 and got back to size 34 jeans, a feat which I credit to a lot of determination on my part, a lot of protein shakes, and my excellent trainer Austin. I’m in better shape at 30 than I’ve been my whole life, and the spoils of victory have been sweet. I tackled wakeboarding this summer with Sean and Julia with more success than I’ve ever had learning a sport. I sold all my “fat jeans” on ebay and put the proceeds towards new designer ones, including a few from overseas shopping ventures. It’s been fun buying new, slimmer clothes, but even more fun having more energy and feeling healthier.
I turned 30! Yes, it’s just another celebration based on an arbitrary round number, but my parents, grandparents and friends all gathered to help me ring it in, and that’s what made it a milestone. The calendar says I’m officially a grown-up and in many ways I feel appropriately like one, but in others I feel as young as ever and as wide-eyed about the possibilities ahead of me as I’ve always been. Life continues to be good to me and despite small challenges I can honestly say my soul is very happy inside this body, following this path, living this life, and I think anytime you can say that you should consider yourself a success.

Moody Gardens, Galveston TX

I haven’t even posted my pics of my last trip to Galveston in April, but I was desperate to use a Mac for a few minutes after a week with nothing but my work laptop, and once I sat down at Clint’s Mac Mini I just couldn’t tear myself away. And that’s how I found myself elbow-deep in Photoshop pulling these pictures off my camera for you while Clint made lunch, fed Lllian, cleaned up the kitchen, and otherwise did all the work. 😉

Clint, Lillian and I toured Moody Gardens this morning, wandering through the indoor rain forest looking at frogs, birds, bats, fish, a sloth and a chevrotain. Here’s a few of my favorite pics in the meantime, before I get my photo gallery overhaul finished and post the full set.

Moody Gardens:

The rain forest expedition crew:

Lots of big, fancy birds:

Some cartoonishly-huge bugs:

Tiny, and probably highly poisonous frogs:

Lush, tropical foliage filled with giant blooms:


A very friendly lizard that was happy to pose on the railing for his close-up:

And even a species common to Texas, but equally at home in cities across America, the Cadillacius Urbanius Gangterus:

Rally Champions!

Eric and I entered our first rally yesterday in his Mini Cooper, the 26th Annual LaConner Tulip Cup. We had no idea what to expect, and no experience at all. Armed with a cooler full of snacks, a pile of maps, and a clipboard bearing the day’s clues/instructions, we were flagged through the cones in a mall parking lot and sent on our way, along with 282 other cars being released in packs of 20 ahead of and behind us.

We laughed (at ourselves and everyone else) all day, darting through small towns and along farm roads, many in classic cars you literally never see – MG’s, Austin Healey’s, Lancia’s, Alfa Romeo’s, Jaguars; everyone merrily turning circles around each other and repeatedly motoring right past the answers to their rally clues. We had a couple killer breakthroughs when we discovered shortcuts, only to later spend that hard-won time looping back for a missed landmark. Still, we finished as one of the first 5 cars, and had been released as number 68 (again, of 283 – it was huge!) so we made great time overall. It came down to correct answers, and as we were competing in his Mini we were up against 60-ish other Mini teams in our class – the odds were against us. Yet with a -7 (only 7 wrong answers) and one of the best times of the day… we won!

I’ve got tons of pictures of all the amazing cars i’ll get posted for you all. We (obviously) make a great driver/navigator team and we’re already signing up for another one in June. 🙂

Finally, an honest spammer (and a few other unrelated topics I needed to catch you up on)

Direct from my inbox to you:

honestspam.gif

Now that’s a subject line I can at least respect.

In development news, I accomplished the bulk of the site’s database migration last night (staying up later than I really ought to on a school night) so I should be able to post with more frequency now. I haven’t finished user commenting, or the moblogging bit, but rest assured they’re on the list. At least the primary gag order has been lifted.

It’s 3:45 and I’m trapped at work, done with everything I need to do for the day/week/month/quarter but imprisoned by a meeting my boss scheduled at 4pm. On a Friday. On the sunniest week we’ve had since October. How do I feel about that? I’ll let you come to your own conclusions. Would it be unprofessional to show up with my jacket on, keys in hand, bag over my shoulder?

Last Sunday was the first big Nissan meet of the year, and now that the season’s open the calendar events are popping up like mushrooms after a week of rain. I crammed the few days before and managed to swap out springs and shocks with new, better-performing ones and install sweet new wheels – the SpeedStar’s I’ve been wanting for ages – in time for a rainy day in a waterfront park with 200 other Nissans. Specs are on the modlist if you’re into that sort of thing. I’m so happy with my car right now I can’t even express it. Just enjoy the pictures with me in quiet awe:

new wheels
more wheels

Big plans for saturday? Yeah, me too.

Just trying to keep myself entertained here… if i accidentally waste some of your time, too, well, bonus for you! Yes, it’s another exciting saturday at work; 12 hours of talking to myself, clicking reload on Gmail and my RSS feeds, and otherwise suffering from social withdrawal. The busy days go by pretty quickly, but busy saturdays are really not that frequent, and since i do this every week i’m at least getting better at finding things to amuse myself.

Sometimes the best way to deal with something is to look at it in a different way. It gets very claustrophobic in here sometimes, in a room saturated with white noise and lacking even reflected sunlight, much less a live window to the rest of the world. As i can’t really leave the building, either, it becomes quite a steel-and-carpet prison. Today i decided to explore my cage and focus not on the walls and key-card doors that hold me in, but on the vantage those 5 floors of cinderblocks provide me over the byways below. As such, i’ve composed a small photo gallery of a sunny saturday afternoon as seen out the (apparently infrequently cleaned) windows of my office building, at least from the vantage points i could negotiate via conference rooms, hallways, and the like. [Edit: Additional photos added to this gallery on later dates, as well.]

I am not always in the mood to approach things so poetically. Sometimes it’s nice just to throw money at your problems and see if that makes them go away. Enter, the GBA. ‘Member, we talked about this last week? Well, ebay is both my deliverance and my defeat… one impulse buy and 7 days later, and i’m holding a blue Game Boy Advanced SP. Used, of course – my powers of rationalization have their limits. My first impressions are that it’s awesome, and that it’s teeny-tiny and so very portable. It’s going to fit right in with the other toys that find themselves crammed in my pockets. A small selection of used games will keep me happy for awhile (notice my classy game case there, too?) and so far it has eased the passing of time quite remarkably today, and will – i predict – earn a permanent spot on my top-ten-things-to-pack for trips of pretty much any length, be they cross-continent or simply to ghetto Albertsons for cookies.

As is nearly always the case, the camera-to-computer data offload produced a few images i’d forgotten about, so here’s a bonus shot from monday the 14th of snow falling out my front door. I was all excited, hoping it marked the beginning of a major weather pattern change. Perhaps it was a Valentines Day present from mother nature? Alas, it was a cruel tease; it melted faster than Micheal Jackson’s nose in a tanning booth. Any affections i may have held for mother nature are completely withdrawn; we are so totally on a break.

Stayed up until 1 last nite getting the pics up and trying to come up with like 150 witty captions… not easy. Regardless, at least the pics are nice. So there’s a gallery of the Driven To Perform show that includes a bit of roll-in and everything i took wandering around the show floor for 12 hours. Then there’s a gallery for the NWN BBQ at Mt Seymour along with some shots of our driving adventures on the streets of Van City. And last but oh-so-certainly not least, a killer shot courtesy of the great James Walper of a model posing with my Z at the show. I know, i mentioned it yesterday, too, but i really like it! Plus i have a thumbnail now, and i re-hosted it locally. So go check it out, it’s kewl. 😉

Bumbershoot roundup

Long weekends are the best, especially when they’re Bumbershoot weekend. I got up at noon today – that never hurts! Yesterday i caught some great bands, check out the pix. Highlight of the day was Kinky, a rock/club band from Mexico that put on a great show. Go buy their CD at Amazon, they rock. Also had a great sunday afternoon with Libby downtown shopping for books and better careers. Good luck, Lib! And up in the photo gallery are pix of the Mariners game with some peeps on wednesday. We lost, but who really cares what the score is from the beer garden? 😉

Mixed bag, heavy bag

More photos up for ya, the NHRA drags a couple weekends ago. My excuse on the air show photos was that Gabe was too busy to help me label them… don’t know what my excuse was on these… 😉 Anyway, they’re up, go enjoy!

Heard from Josh Lambert this weekend, he’s headed to Bologna, Italy for sure, to find a job, buy a moped, and become a good Italian! We’re all very excited for him, and i’m sure next time i hear from him he’ll have some really cool life where he drives Ferraris or gets daily massages from hot Italian women or something. He’s nervous about it, but i’m not worried. He’s got more charisma than Ghandi – the Italians are gonna love him!

Got all ambitious this weekend and cleaned up a room in the basement so i have a nice gym. Still needs one more coat of paint on the floor, which i’ll do tonite, and then i’ll have no excuse not to work out. 😉 It will be really nice to go down there and exercise without the giant creepy spiders watching me from the shadows…

Stickers and joyrides

Don’t know if i’m gonna have anything really witty to say today, as i burned most of my clever energy thinking up funny slogans to be on t-shirts, and submitting them to StickerJunkie in hopes of a big phat prize and a cushy book deal after i become famous. So start watching for me on Leno, and if you have anything i’ve signed, you might wanna hang onto it.

Spent a while discussing the great pop vs. soda debate with Ian on IM. If you’re unclear where you fall, let statistics be your guide. I personally am a big proponent of soda, despite growing up in pop-heavy montana. I mean, they use soda water to make it, and pop is just such an overused word – you can pop someone with your fist, you can pop into or out of a place, you can even pop the top of a soda… tires do it, bubbles do it, weasles do it… just too generic. Although i’m a big fan of calling them ‘kleenex’ and not ‘facial tissues’, the idea of referring to all soda as ‘coke’ annoys me, also. Guess i’d never survive in texas… But all kleenex are facial tissues, where not all sodas are coke. Mutual exclusivity and all that. Eek, calculus flashback. Quick, think about something mindless…professional wrestling… the fox network… my job… ok! Better!

Summer weeks are nonstop joyrides it seems, from a nite on the lake to a dinner in a bar to a movie downtown to a weekend bbq. I’m very behind on eating junk food, watching cartoons, sleeping in past noon, and other important weekly tasks that i’ve been forced to let slip lately in the face of the all-consuming social life. It is summer, tho, so i should take advantage of the lovely weather and cheerful spirits to indulge a bit – there will be plenty of rainy days to settle down with a book (or my bills) and a hot drink (really anything that i don’t order at a bar would be good) and curl up in front of the fire (or the washer and dryer). Mm, gotta go, i need to get home and work out if i’m gonna be in shape for wakeboarding…

Uh, no particular topic

What’s the deal with time moving so fast, anyway? The last two weeks have felt like a whirlwind…

Trip to MT was great, it was awesome to see Mom and Dad and see how their new house is coming along. It’s going to be really cool (pix coming!), even despite the washboard roads and early-morning livestock fiascos. Tonya and Jared’s wedding was a great chance to see them, and catch up with a few others. A sunny, amazing weekend to travel, too. Lance, Matt and I caught the new Charlie’s Angels movie back in missoula sunday, which is great, and joined Grama and Grampa, Grama Frances, Aunt Judy & Uncle Gordy, Jennifer & Anthony, Taylor, Zachary, and Mom & Dad for McKenzie River pizza at Rowdy’s Cabin. Overall, a great vacation, although i did come back somewhat less than rested. 😉

Christian finally got his phone fixed just before i left, so feeling a little less disconnected there. I called him at sunday brunch and passed the phone so he could congratulate Tonya, too – ironically, he was at a wedding reception at the time. He’s hoping to run the Florence marathon in october (yes, in Florence, Italy!) and i’m going to try and cross-schedule my trip to be there waiting at the finish line! I have the money all saved up, gonna start shopping for plane tickets pretty soon. So exciting!

Gabe returned to Seattle from air force tech school on friday, so since i’ve been home monday we’ve been hanging out nonstop. Helped him pick up his Honda streetbike (pix coming!) from the repair shop, and now that the frame is straight we’re both seeing the potential to make it really cool, and are really excited to start working on it. He’s gonna be stationed at McChord AFB in tacoma, so he’ll be around awhile – we’re gonna do all sorts of stuff. 😉 We also rolled thru Sturtevant’s, an awesome ski shop (staffed with cool, friendly people despite being on the eastside) and a found a sweet DNA ski jacket for half off – part of my watch-for-good-deals-on-gear-so-i’m-outfitted-by-next-season plan. Sweet!

Found a bunch more cool anime movies and some japanese musicians that are really cool – added a few of them to my Amazon wishlist. Feel free to buy me something. 😉 I ordered Akira on DVD and it arrived just before i left, so i haven’t watched it yet. I’m excited, tho – it’s one of the cornerstones of modern japanese animation, and digitally remastered in DTS it’s supposed to be really impressive.

Headed to Woodburn, OR (near Portland) with the NWNismo crew tomorrow morning, for a track day and some vacation time. Hopefully, i’ll be able to scam a ride down there in somebody’s Z32 (Clint? Christi? Hint hint!) but as long as i make it down there, i expect i’ll have a good time. Patrick is rolling down to Cali tomorrow morning, too, so we might caravan with him as far as Portland. He’s gonna be gone until sept 21st – it’s gonna be lonely around here for the summer! And he’s gonna miss out on some serious boat time… 😉 That’s today’s plan, btw. I still need to do some laundry and pack tonite, but hopefully i’ll be done with work a bit early, to meet Kim at home and head for Lake Union and some watery summer fun! If ya wanna go, gimme a call… 😀