Much like every annoying countdown show, it’s time to be reflective about 2010, given that the pages of its closing chapter are slowly flipping by regardless of our ability to read at this pace.
Overall, a mediocre year in fiction, largely due to my fascination with reading several of the financial bestsellers of the last couple of decades (Barbarians at the Gate, etc.) as well as one book about the recent financial crisis, The Sellout, which kept me from reading much fiction in the first third of the year.
I also read some books that had promise but turned out to be absolute crap: Out Stealing Horses turned out to be written for its intended emotional effect rather than being good writing with a good story. Chronic City seemed to be Lethem’s attempt to write something so bad just to see if his fans would keep reading (see Radiohead’s Kid A), and Brothers by Yua Hua, where an author who writes with incredible soul spins his wheels on a massive morality play where you quickly desensitize to the characters you will begrudging follow for hundreds of pages. I will not provide images nor links to these books, and considered not mentioning them just to prevent their internet relevance from increasing, but I felt I should warn people.
One of the best surprises of the year was Open by Andre Agassi – a great insight into someone whose public image was inaccurate and misleading. I’ve always been fascinated with highly talented people who hated their talent, or the practice of it – my definition of a tortured soul. I know that I’ve learned to love the sport of tennis because of my love of Lisa, so my appetite for this book might also be “enhanced”. But I can say that I never liked Agassi in his youth but found myself cheering for him during his later comebacks. Ah, to be part of the crowd.
I doubt my choice of Inception as my favorite movie of 2010 is that unique. For the most part, I didn’t really see many movies in theaters, though the recent Harry Potter movie was rock solid. The year began with a great concept with horrible execution (Daybreakers) and was followed by an old concept and script that actually entertained me (Clash of the Titans).
The best “netflixed” movie of the year was This is England, hands down. I couldn’t get excited about 500 days of Summer, There Will Be Blood, or The Hurt Locker – despite all three clearly being well made movies with creative appeal. I returned to Othello (is there any better character than Iago, ever?) and Hamlet. Funny People and American Gangster both were solid offerings. I failed to enjoy a minute of the True Blood series on HBO, but felt an uneasy kinship with Dexter from the start.
The Pixies was my favorite concert of the year, despite not expecting much. Interpol also surprised me because I had assumed they probably weren’t that great live. But the biggest shock of the year was that I like The Band Of Heathens. It’s not much of a surprise that I’m associated with heathens, but just that I would actually like a band that could easily be classified as country / folk / blues. I’ve even seen them live twice this year.
For the seventh year in a row, Taco Deli wins the best thing to consume award, though this year Accelerade, purely by the volume consumed, came in a close second. While during training, my weekend order was a blue plate (two tacos, rice, and beans) and two more tacos, I still relished every bite. I’ll miss Taco Deli.
My favorite recipe was “two-week chili” because I would make enough turkey chili to last two weeks, for my fourth meal of the day (the one before dinner).
Despite having to resign from the board of Breakthrough Austin (due to relocating to Australia), Lisa and I will continue to be supporters and fans of Breakthrough Austin from afar. This personalized video is a great example of how Breakthrough’s message is undeniable, and getting to witness their results – helping students become the first in their family to attend college – has been a privilege. I continued my volunteer work with TOSA, we also got to know of the amazing folks at The Miracle Foundation, and of course Transplants for Children, the cause for my Ironman fundraising campaign (we raised $11,000!).
Athletics / Health
11 months, hundreds on miles in the pool, on the bike, on the trail. Finishing time: Twelve hours, 45 minutes. Whew. Okay, enough about that. I celebrated my sixth anniversary of my kidney transplant on December 21st, and our third wedding anniversary on Cinco De Mayo. My kidney transplant was the biggest hurdle in getting approved for a visa in Australia, but in the end the generosity of Atlassian, the company I am going to work for, overcame all the bureaucratic obstacles.
My main hobby this year was searching for a job overseas. A full post on this later, but it occupied a lot of time because of my OCD approach to everything, despite only making one trip out of the country during the job hunt (not recommended, but I didn’t have much choice given my training schedule).
Given that my life was already going to be crammed full with Ironman training, Fundraising for Transplants for Children, job hunting in other countries, and keeping Lisa happy, I needed work to be as focused as possible and to be surrounded by smart, capable people who knew what they were doing. Luckily my consulting work for health care companies last year became even easier as I joined up with John and Chris from Escalation Point, and couldn’t have enjoyed working with a team of people more. As the team grew, things only got better and better. It’s definitely tough to leave such a great team.
The most exciting part about 2011 is how little I know about what it holds. A new continent. A new country. A new city. A new company. Cantwaitcantwaitcantwaitcantwaitcantwaitcantwaitcantwait. And, we now know our date to arrive will be Friday, January 21st.