Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Friday, December 31, 2010

  2010 - A Very Hard Year, thankfully over

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..

In 2010:

My wisp6 project got close to completion. I'm still writing it up. That's going to take months. I find myself fixing bugs, and working on the technical problems I'd encountered, like bufferbloat, far more than the write-up.

In April the Survivor TV show rented my house in Nicaragua out from under me - killing the album I was recording there with the Pobrecitos AND the wisp6 project. The property dispute related to that house cost me a lot of hair, weight, money, and friendships. It was a massive no-win scenario, there was no way I could make anyone on any side happy, including myself. I don't think I'll ever be able to write up what happened in those final weeks before survivor hit town; it's still too painful. Maybe I could fictionalize it and deal with my demons that way.

The result of that stress got me down to 180 pounds, finally, from about 190. It's about the right weight for me. I got hypoglycemic, but looked good, especially for a 45 year old. I was already in the best shape I'd been in in a decade. I swam for hours each day at that house. I miss the 2AM swims the most - far better than sleeping pills!

At the start of the year I'd ended a relationship that wasn't working. I feel very lost without a better half, but was even more lost with a worse half.

I left Nicaragua, looking and feeling about 80 years old. I don't even remember the month now. May?

I took a grand (train) tour of the US to calm down and get my bearings. I went from a crashing two month low to a really wild engagement party - I met up with a zillion old friends! and inside of a few weeks - although still very tweaked overall - was feeling much better - but it wasn't until August before I even felt halfway normal - and bad stuff kept happening. In particular, I got slammed with an 270k overdue tax bill (since cut to 24k after spending months finding and then filing the paperwork). The government still has the entire contents of my savings account, however. I shan't ever see it back.

I reconnected with a lot of old friends, helped a few out of trouble, and met in person net-friends and net-family I'd actually never met in person.

I fell into a brief love affair with my Android phone. It's broken now, and I don't care.

I looked for a new place to live and settled on trying out Colorado, if I decided to return to the US.

In August, some work I did 12 years ago turned out to be more important than I thought. I got in trouble for writing about it, too. I was asked to take the piece down. I didn't. A small rebellion, to be sure.

Prior to the tax bill I was planning to return to the wisp6 project, now I can't, except at a low, background level.

In September - during the rainy season, the worst time of year - I went back to Nicaragua.

I debated long and hard about sticking it out, about resuming my projects, about restarting my life there...

In the end, I packed up or gave away most of my stuff, said goodbye to everyone, had one last - perfect - surfing session. A lot of people I know there had already left for gr$$ner pastures, too. Survivor brought on a sea change.

I quit a gig that conflicted too much with my conscience, and lost another friendship due to that. I'd taken money and hardware for the job, and ended up giving all that way. My conscience remains conflicted.

I returned to the US with nothing but a suitcase, laptop, guitar, and a broken heart.

I erased the 60,000 words of the book I'm never going to finish in a fit of pique. I'm GLAD it's gone, I can think up new things with what I learned while failing to write it.

I didn't surf enough last year. I didn't play enough music, either. The band I'd been in broke up the year before, and I'd loaned out my bass on what ended up a permanent basis, and without that, my skills slipped.

I wrote two pieces of new software, gnugol and cryptolisting. Gnugol is shaping up nicely and a couple friends are helping out. I am loving working with other people with complementary skills, and getting complementary feedback.

I switched to a new blogging system, and went back to Emacs for as much work as possible. My productivity seems to be improving.

The week I arrived in Colorado I had a shot at good jobs at two big companies, but couldn't bring myself to sign the NDAs they had for the mere interviews. The legal language was genuinely frightening! There's too much left I want to write about and publish to cope with having a gag across my mouth and mind. I think I'm stuck at being a consultant for small firms; where I can negotiate a fair NDA - at least in the US, the IP regime has become impossible to deal with. The opportunities crossing my desk lately have been really trivial and un-interesting. Not for the first time, I'm going to have to make up my own gig, or find a way of promoting what I'm interested in doing out wide enough to find a match.

On the whole, this was probably the fourth most stressful year I've ever had. I went from the high of near success with wisp6 to a totally out of the blue and sideswiped by a reality (show) low. From happy and healthy and productive to vibrating all over the place.

I made many bad decisions this year. I've dwelt on them a lot more than I would have liked, too. If I could have the last 18 months or so back, I'd have done something totally different.

Right now I'm not adjusting to the cold of Colorado well, and lacking a car, can't go anywhere on a whim. It was easy - even pleasant - to walk 6km in Nica - not so much here. I'm back up to 200lbs...

I'm glad this past year is over. There were so many things I didn't finish - what I regret most was only getting halfway through that album, even more than wisp6. There's no way to finish - or even restart it, now.

I have no idea what will happen next year! It's a blank page!

At least, I survived survivor. I'm paying down debt and working towards having options. I'm enjoying coding up gnugol. I'm (badly) coping with the irony of having a great protools studio downstairs and not having except my (admittedly great) roomate to play with. It still hurts too much to listen to the half mixed record I will never finish.

I miss Nicaragua and my friends there a lot, and yet I think I'd like to try somewhere else, perhaps Brazil, or Spain, whenever I can find a way to do it. I feel like my time, healthy, on this planet, is getting short. I want to spend more time with friends and family, and less time with computers, and see more of the Real World, with my own eyes.

My New Years Resolutions thus far:

When faced with a difficult decision: sleep on it, write it out, get independent advice. If people pressure me to do what they want, and want an answer now, they're probably on the wrong side of the issue: Say no, more often, sooner, not “maybe”.

Collaborate more. Make a stronger effort to find people worth collaborating with. Use email more. Use usenet again. Push into the mainstream more patches - but logout at the end of the day - create some music.

Learn some more (Filk) songs on guitar. Work on the hard parts (drum tracks, mostly) and get them nailed.

In the late winter, take a trip, maybe go to a SF con, maybe go east, maybe go west, maybe go south.

Go skiing, once, to see if I still like it.

Finish something - anything - so that I'm totally happy with it.

Live as simply as possible. Love, learn, and be honest and true to myself.

Say less, and listen more.

Stay alert for new opportunities. Or make some.

Pay attention to the results of the Dawn mission.

Have a happy new year, everyone!

(even those that have been acting http://www.alternet.org/story/149369/8_smears_and_misconceptions_about_wikileaks_spread_by_the_media/?page=entirelike tools in the wikileaks saga)
 
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David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


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