Retrospective: 2014

As has become my habit, at the end of each year I look back at the previous 365 days, and reflect on events–good and bad–to see just how my year has gone. 2014 had its challenges, and 2015 certainly looks like it’s going to be full of change, one way or another. So let’s take a look back at my 2014…

In World Events:

  • February 2nd – Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away.
  • On March 8th, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared. Worldwide search begins.
  • June – ISIS situation in the middle east escalates, leading to worldwide tensions.
  • August 11th – Robin Williams passed away. It was later revealed he was suffering from early stages of Parkinson’s disease, and depression, and had committed suicide.
  • September 30th – The first case of an Ebola infection in the United States (in history) is diagnosed in Dallas, Texas.
  • November 12th – The Rosetta spacecraft’s Philae probe lands on Comet 67P. This is the first time humanity has soft-landed a probe on a comet.

There were, of course, many more events of note in 2014, but those above are those that stand out to me, personally.

Injuries Abound

On September 1st, Jenny and I went to the Katy Mills mall to ride Segways through an off-road obstacle course. Neither of us had ridden one before, and we both had incidents with our ride. Unfortunately, Jenny’s occurred early on, resulting in her falling, and the Segway falling on her ankle. At first appearance, it didn’t look too severe, but when the pain and swelling got worse, she had an MRI taken on 9/26, and eventually was diagnosed with a deep bone contusion. Fortunately no surgery or anything was needed, but it took several months for her ankle to return to normal.

On October 27th, a most bizarre situation occurred to me. While at work, my left elbow started hurting, and very quickly swelled up to nearly the size of a golf ball. Jenny and I went to an urgent care clinic, where I was diagnosed with Bursitis. They drained the fluid which reduced the swelling a little, and referred me to my orthopedist (the same one I used for my knee when I tore my ACL). A week later, I learned that I had a staph infection in my elbow, which is what caused the Bursitis; I still have no idea how I contracted the infection, since I had no cuts or open wounds at the time. I was put on a strong oral antibiotic and had to go back to the doctor every couple days to monitor the progress.

This was a scary situation, because staph infections are quite serious, and can be potentially fatal. By November 7th, my doctor wasn’t pleased with the progress of the antibiotics, and recommended surgery. On Monday, November 10th, I went in for a Bursectomy, and was put under general anesthetic, while the doctor performed the surgery. He took another culture during the procedure, and a week later, I was deemed infection-free and healing nicely. Two weeks after surgery, I had the suture removed, and my elbow was on its way to being back to normal again.

On November 29th, Jenny grew sick, and was home from work for an entire week. This was highly unusual for her, as she rarely gets sick like that (though it happened at Christmas last year). A doctor’s visit proved that she had a severe sinus infection. Fortunately, the medications seemed to help, and by the time she returned to work, she felt much better. She still has a bad cough that’s taking it’s time going away, though.

Lastly, on December 20th, I underwent a sleep study (at last). I’ve been wanting to have one done for some time, but they’re fairly expensive, and until I’d met my deductible (due to the surgery on my elbow), I had postponed having one done. It seems that no matter how much I sleep, I rarely feel well-rested in the morning. I’ve grown worried that I might doze off while driving, so felt it was necessary to get a study done to see what’s happening with my sleep.

The sleep study itself was an interesting experience. There’s about 25 wires that get hooked up to you, all over your body, but most of them on your head. It’s difficult to sleep normally with so many wires attached, but I did my best. I won’t know the results for a while still, but I’m curious to see what the doctor can determine about my sleep, to see if anything can be done to improve on it.

So 2014 wasn’t a great year for our health, though I suppose it could have been much worse.

A ‘Switching’ Year

Of any word that could encapsulate 2014, ‘switching’ would probably be the most appropriate. I did a lot of switching this year, from the way I use technology every day, to the technology itself. For example:

  • 2/20 – I switched from using Any.do to Todoist for my daily to-do tracking.
  • 3/17 – I switched from Evernote to Microsoft OneNote.
  • 3/20 – I switched to a trackball, rather than a regular mouse (at home and at work.)
  • 3/27 – I switched to LastPass from 1Password for keeping all my passwords secure.
  • 5/15 – I switched from HostGator to StableHost for my website hosting.
  • 6/21 – Jenny switched cars, when we bought her a 2014 Ford Escape.
  • 6/23 – I switched back to using a physical journal, rather than on the computer.
  • 7/14 – I switched to a paperless life by buying a scanner, and getting rid of my paper files.
  • 7/24 – I switched to the beta of OS X Yosemite, which was a big change to my daily computing.
  • 9/19 – I switched from Android to iPhone, with the purchase of my iPhone 6.
  • 9/30 – I switched to using Windows 10 at work, with the release of the preview.
  • 10/24 – Jenny and I both switched to new computers, with our purchase of new iMacs.

Most of the changes I made in 2014 were technology-related (no surprise there), but looking back now, it’s clear to me how many things I changed, and how useful those changes have become. In fact, the past few years have seen many changes to how I use my technology, and it’s really simplified things for me. I’ve found it’s easier for me to get things done, and I believe these changes have a truly important impact on my future. More on that in a little bit.

A Possible New Career

On December 2nd, I learned that my job is changing at work. It’s never good to hear things like this, but in my case, this is actually a huge opportunity. Since starting this job, I’ve always had a goal of handling projects of bigger and bigger scale. Fortunately, I’ve had great opportunities to apply my skills to projects at work, and have been pretty successful. Recently, I’ve begun studying to take the CAPM exam, which is kind of an entry-level Project Manager certification. Eventually, I hope to earn my PMP (Project Management Professional), but it requires more experience that I currently have in order to obtain it.

My position at work will be phased out at the end of March, but there are other jobs within the company that I can apply for. One of those is Project Manager. I’m excited by the idea of the job (even though change is always scary) and feel I will do excellent at it. Within a few months, I likely would have been looking for this role regardless. I like the company I work for, and didn’t really want to leave, but I was ready for something new, and this opportunity feels like perfect timing. Plus, it would let me work from home!

There’s still a lot that has to happen before I get the job, but I’m on the right track, and feel confident that I can land it. If I do, 2015 could be an excellent year. If I don’t, 2015 could be a rough one. So for now, I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Miscellaneous

  • 4/7 to 4/11 – Took a week’s vacation, and stayed home.
  • 5/20 – Bought my first-ever audiobook. Wasn’t particularly impressed by the experience.
  • 5/26 to 5/30 – Took another week off from work, but stayed home once again.
  • 6/21 – Bought Jenny her 2014 Ford Escape. Got a great deal on it, and it has all the bells and whistles that Jenny wanted.
  • 6/23 – Restarted my physical journal. I had slacked off on keeping a journal for far too long, and this was designed to get me back into the habit; I think it’s been successful.
  • 9/1 – The Astros fired their manager Bo Porter, due to conflicts between him and the General Manager. It was kind of surprising, since Porter was only in his 2nd year.
  • 9/20 – I finally got to see comedian Louis C.K. live, when I attended the Oddball Comedy Festival in The Woodlands. Lots of good comedians, and I had a good time.
  • 9/29 – The Astros find their new manager, in A.J. Hinch. He was pretty much an unknown to most people, though apparently pretty respected in the baseball world.
  • 10/2 – I found Ruby Red Squirt in Houston! Those who know me know that I love this soda, but that it hasn’t been available here for decades. This usually is only found in the northern states, but our local Walmart has been carrying it recently. It was quite the find, though I credit Jenny for spotting it before I did.
  • 10/7 – My best friend welcomed his 2nd daughter into the world as Avery Elizabeth Specht was born.
  • 11/21 to 11/28 – Took another vacation at work, this time for Thanksgiving. Mom and Dad came down for the week while I was off, so we got to enjoy the time together.
  • 11/27 – Jenny and I hosted Thanksgiving at our house. This was the 2nd time we had done so, though previously it was at our rental house, so this was the first in our home. It was also the first time Mom and Dad were here for Thanksgiving at our house, so it was extra special. We’re taking over Thanksgiving duties from Jenny’s grandmother, so we’ll be hosting it every other year, when we’re home for Thanksgiving.
  • 12/24 to 12/27 – Spent Christmas with Mom and Dad at their house. We took the dogs with us, as has become the norm, and everyone had a great time. Mom & Dad especially liked their gifts, and Jenny was surprised by her new iPad mini. As for me, most of my gifts came early, so I didn’t have a whole lot of surprises, except for one from Jenny, which was a great gift.

Summary

Looking back, I’d have to consider 2014 a good year. With the exception of our injuries, 2014 was pretty uneventful. We plan to go to New York in July this year for my cousin Rene’s wedding. We’re both very excited to go, and if I do get this new job at work, it will mean some necessary changes at home to accommodate the new job, so this could be a very eventful year. Here’s looking forward to 2015, and whatever it might bring.