Reflections of 2017, and looking to 2018

Ah, December 31, the year is about done, and there are some thoughts clanking around my head. Time to extract them before the temptation to eat myself into a coma wins the battle.

Number 1 – Work

It has been a good and busy year at work. I am currently in the certifications group at Cisco, and while it is product management, it is different from my prior roles. In many ways that is refreshing, as it brings new challenges, and opportunities.

I started the year as a contractor (or C-Worker, short for contingent worker), but in July I was converted into a full time employee, a pretty significant development. That reduced some (ok, a LOT) anxiety in my status. Being a contractor had some benefits (as in, 8 hours are done, turn off and unplug), but unpaid holidays and unsubsidized healthcare really made it touch and go.

Cisco, while a giant, is a pretty good place to work. My colleagues are amazing, and I am doing meaningful work.

Number 2 – Current Events

I remember from my grade school experience the attempts to get us as adolescents to care about current events. I hated it (or, more importantly, ignored it), and just lived in the moment. I should have learnt then to read the news.

Today, and this entire year, has been a long string of “what the actual fuck” moments. From the 2016 election cycle, the unending stream of oh-snap actions by Trump, and his gaggle of horrible cabinet picks, and the twitter feed of doom.

When you can’t think it will get worse, it always does.

Fortunately, the line was held on the ACA, although the tax bill will weaken it significantly, Trump and the Republicans in Congress will be tarred with the results.

It is somewhat distressing to watch this unfold in real time.

2017 was a year of some monstrous data breaches. Perhaps major corporations who are entrusted with our private data will start taking security seriously. But I doubt it.

Speaking of the tax bill, I think we will save a couple of hundred this year. Certainly not a game changer for us.

As part of my job, I do a fair amount of research on the future of work, and the disruption of virtually every industry by tech, and the rise of automation worries me about the future. Clearly robotics and AI are encroaching on ever more once considered “safe” careers, and that will continue. Clearly, there are some political considerations that could ameliorate this, but I have no faith that our elected leaders are up to the task. Some form of universal basic income will be needed, but before that happens (especially in the US), a lot of very heavy lifting will need to happen to the safety net (healthcare in particular).

Again, I am not hopeful, but eventually, there will be a movement, or there wil be revolution.

Number 3 – Health and Family

Doctor with stethoscopeAll is good on this front. I still struggle with the arthritis in the left thumb that impairs my ability to ability to play guitar, that is a bummer, but it is tolerable.

I wish I weighed less, but then again, who in their 50’s doesn’t?

No cardiac events, completing 7 full years from my heart attack without any major recurrences. I do visit my cardiologist annually, get lab work done, and all seems good.

At the beginning of 2017, I started to diet, and did pretty good for a couple of months. Alas, I fell off that cart, and probably put on a total of 8 #’s over the rest of the year. While not a resolution, I think I will again attempt to moderate the diet, and get to a place where I can more consistently exercise. There are gyms at work, so I will look into that as an option. Over this shutdown, I did scope out how to possibly cycle to and from the office, and apart from downtown San Jose, it is a possibility, but alas, that bit in downtown will prevent me from any regular bicycle commuting.

In general, I do feel fine.

Maker's Mark bourbonI am drinking a lot less. Partly because the gout flares up when I have more than 1 or 2 malted beverages. But mostly because I just don’t care for how it makes me feel. Oh well, no major loss. The current bottle of bourbon I have is well over a year old. (I used to go through a couple of 750ml bottles a month).

About my family, I wish that were as positive. Alas, my father was diagnosed with onset of Alzheimers in 2016, and while it is not ever going to get better, at least in 2017 his decline has been controlled with medication and other exercises. I am thankful that my brother and his wife were able to move to San Diego to be closer to them and help out. I visited at Thanksgiving, and I will make the trek again for his birthday in early March.

My stepfather, Don, is really beginning to worry me. He seems to be degrading, his breathing seems labored, and I am getting the impression that his health is failing. Alas, he doesn’t like discussing it so we just keep our fingers crossed.

Number 4 – Garrett continues to surprise us.

Garrett by the FireIn March 2017, we celebrated the lil’ Dude’s 12th birthday, and he continues to do well, especially in light of his age. He does suffer from arthritis, likely due to his racing years, but we switched from Rimadyl that was punishing his stomach, to Metacam, an NSAID that we switched away from due to the risk to his kidneys. But, at his age, we don’t worry too much about that, and want to ensure that his remaining time is as comfortable as it can be.

He still demands walks, and he roaches non stop, clearly enjoying his sunset years as an only dog.

I know that it isn’t too uncommon for greyhounds to make it to 13 or even 14 years, it is painful to watch him age. But, his apetite is amazing, and he still is pooping well, both things that we watch for significant changes. For a dog who has butt-loads of cancer in his family tree, we are happy.

Number 5 – Travel

It was probably the lowest travel year I have had in nearly 20 years. Almost none for work, and apart from a long weekend with my buddy Rich Goodheart in Pennsylvania, I stayed mostly at home.

Not sure that 2018 will offer more opportunities, but the need for a longer vacation is beginning to swell.

In 2016, we spent a long week in Baja California, visiting friends near San Felipe. It might be time to consider another European trip.

It will probably depend on whether we get a bonus, and if Barbara’s business begins to take off. Fingers are crossed.

Summary

After a trying 2016, 2017 was a positive rebuilding year. Still have some work to do, but the job is good, and I am enjoying it. I do wish my meds didn’t suppress my metabolism, that makes it doubly difficult to lose weight, but it is the curse of the bad genes my mother handed down to me.

Life is good.

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