Friday, April 11, 2014

On March 7, Tim Benham and I made plans to meet Dave Bost for lunch. Dave cancelled at the last minute. His e-mail is below. It breaks my heart to read it today.

"I'm sorry guys. I'm going to have to take a rain check. I'm out of commission today at home with a debilitating migraine headache.
I'm really sorry.
How's next week?."

2 days later, Dave was in the hospital and doctors were operating on his brain; 3 days and 2 surgeries later , he was in a coma. He never awoke from that coma. 

Monday evening – about a month after he checked into the hospital - Dave passed away.

I don't know his age, but I know he was younger than me and I know he left behind a wife and daughters.

For years, I have been part of the developer community and Dave, in his role as a Developer Evangelist, was charged with helping to build and support this community. But it was always clear that this was never just a job to Dave. He genuinely wanted to help people and to teach people. I never saw him talk down to anyone, regardless of their skill level. He was one of the most personable people I've known. When I think of Dave now, I always think of his smile, his positive attitude, and his relaxed, disarming manner. I think these attributes shine through in this interview I recorded in 2010: http://www.davidgiard.com/2010/02/10/DaveBostOnTheThirstyDeveloper.aspx

My first week at Microsoft was Dave's last with the company. It was his job to train me. He took the time to show me how he approached the job, where to find everything and what I needed to be successful.  We stayed in touch after he left the company, but we never got together for lunch as we planned.

Tomorrow, Dave's body will be buried and we will miss him and remember how much brighter the world was with him and his smile in it. I’ve taken comfort these past few days in reading all the tributes to Dave and seeing all the photos of him posted on social media by those who knew him better and longer than I did. It’s clear he touched many lives during his time on Earth.

The lessons from tragedies like this are almost always the same: Life is precious; tomorrow is not promised to you; appreciate those around you while they are here. Sometimes it takes a tragedy to remind us of these truths.

When I get home, I’m going to call an old friend and schedule lunch.

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Friday, April 11, 2014 11:05:04 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, April 06, 2014

4/6
Today I am grateful for students who are so passionate about learning that they are willing to stay up all night finishing a cool project.

4/5
Today I am grateful for those people with the talent, time and willingness to work to make outstanding movies for me to enjoy.

4/4
Today I am grateful for the amazing tools I work with every day.

4/3
Today I am grateful for all the time I spent with my son this week while he was in town.

4/2
Today I am grateful that I'm getting paid to watch the #BLDWIN keynote address.

4/1
Today I am grateful for this sunburn and this cold and this back pain and this heartache and a sleepless night and my inability to stop breaking wind.

3/31
Today I am grateful I am taking my son to his first Detroit Tigers Opening Day!

3/30
Today I am grateful I was able to spend time last night with old friends I hadn't seen in years - Pat and Joe in the early evening; and John and Melissa after dinner.

3/29
Today I am grateful for all those who donated their time to host a local edition of the Global Windows Azure Boot Camp all over the world.

3/28
Today I am grateful for the dozens of people who gave up their evenings to hear me speak in Bloomington, Cincinnati, Dayton, and Columbus this week.

3/27
Today I am grateful for lunch with friends yesterday and a great turnout at the Dayton .NET Developers Group last night.

3/26
Today I am grateful for

  1. Lunch with Barry Fridley, whom I haven't seen in years.
  2. A great audience at the Cincinnati .NET User Group last night.
  3. Going to the pub with the local Cinci devs.
  4. Hanging out with Nino late into the night.

3/25
Today I am grateful for the hospitality and generosity of Nino Benvenuti and his wife Shannon.

3/24
Today I am grateful that I spent nearly all my waking hours yesterday with my son.

3/23
Today I am grateful for excellent community events like #GrDevDay and for those work to put them on.

3/22
Today I am grateful that Lino told me he looks forward to my daily gratitude posts.

3/21
Today I am grateful for a long phone call with my sister, who I only see every few months.

3/20
Today I am grateful that the Great Lakes Area .NET User Group is still going strong years after I stepped away from leading it.

3/19
Today I am grateful for my first nerd lunch in a long time. It was good to see everyone again.

3/18
Today I am grateful for a few days at home before I hit the road again.

3/17
Today I am grateful for the Michigan State Spartans, who won a Big 10 basketball championship game in Indianapolis, just like the MSU football team in November!

3/15
Today I am grateful that, even though I am only home for a few hours, I get to spend much of it with my son.

3/14
Today I am grateful to #VSLive for inviting me to speak here. I had a great time!

3/13
Today I am grateful for 11 hours sleep and no morning commitments.

3/12
Today I am grateful for those who trust me enough to share their secrets with me..

3/11
Today I am grateful for a few days in the desert to recover from a brutal Michigan winter.

3/10
Today I am grateful that I am on my way to VSLive for the first time.

3/9
Today I am grateful I was finally able to resolve my e-mail client issues of the past week.

3/8
Today I am grateful for all this great recorded music from which I can choose.

3/7
Today I am grateful for a large and enthusiastic crowd for my presentation in Chicago last night.

3/6
Today I am grateful for the cartoonist Herge and the pleasure his character Tintin brought to so many of his fans, including me.

3/5
Today I am grateful for a packed room at the Findlay Area .NET User Group last night and for the the guy in the front row who helped me troubleshoot my failing demo.

3/4
Today I am grateful for my 8 apps that were approved for the Windows 8 and Windows Phone store this past week.

3/3
Today I am grateful for the 12 books I sold on eBay this weekend.

3/2
Today I am grateful for all the kind birthday wishes yesterday.

3/1
Today I am grateful I made it safely to Columbus last night, despite driving while exhausted.

Sunday, April 06, 2014 1:27:56 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, March 02, 2014

3/2
Today I am grateful for all the kind birthday wishes yesterday.

3/1
Today I am grateful I made it safely to Columbus last night, despite driving while exhausted.

2/28
Today I am grateful to see so many old friends and to meet so many new people this week.

2/27
Today I am grateful for the amazing job that @ChadGreen and his team did in making my first CodePaLOUsa a great success. #cpl14

2/26
Today I am grateful I was able to finish all the training, scheduling, expense reports, travel booking and other required administrivia yesterday so I can now focus on important things.

2/25
Today I am grateful that I am attending CodePaLOUSa for the first time.

2/24
Today I am grateful for audiobooks, which make a long drive more pleasant.

2/23
Today I am grateful for a trip back to Louisville, KY.

2/22
Today I am grateful for a couple days at home to catch up on things.

2/21
Today I am grateful I was able to spend half the week in and around my old Kentucky home.

2/20
Today I am grateful for 1. Lunch with my old friend Patricia Desmarais 2. A packed classroom last night for my workshop at the University of Cincinnati. 3. Reality Tuesday Coffee House in Park Hills, KY. 4. The opportunity to know Jim Weirich and those whose lives he touched these past few years.

2/19
Today I am grateful for 1. Spending an afternoon with my son Nick. 2. A front-row ticket to the Louisville-USF game 3. Lunch with Jonathan Hunt whom I haven't seen in over a year 4. Skyline Chili

2/18
Today I am grateful for a successful workshop last night. It was the first time I demoed App Studio.

2/17
Today I am grateful to learn something new every day.

2/16
Today I am grateful for the opportunity to be a Lector and Eucharistic Minister at St. Francis Catholic Church these past 10 years. Today is my last scheduled day as a Lector.

2/15
Today I am grateful for 1. A great crowd to hear my presentation at Avanade. 2. Discovering, on my way out of Chicago, that downtown Portillo's has a drive thru.

2/14
Today I am grateful to John for last night's basketball ticket and to Patrick and Susan for a place to stay last night.

2/13
Today I am grateful for 1. Great student groups who came out to hear me yesterday at the University of Toledo and at Eastern Michigan University 2. Lunch with my old team in Toledo.

2/12
Today I am grateful for the anticipation of a full day.

2/11
Today I am grateful for the flexibility to attend conference calls while sitting in my living room, sipping coffee in my pajamas.

2/10
Today I am grateful that I found 3 unused gift cards in my desk.

2/9
Today I am grateful for a night in my own bed and a chance to catch up on things at home.

2/8
Today I am grateful for: 1. Lunch with Joseph Guadagno and his brother; 2. A Coyotes hockey game last night; 3. An unexpected Alice Cooper concert between periods

2/7
Today I am grateful that my recent travels have allowed me to avoid a couple weeks of sub-freezing temperatures back home.

2/6
Today I am grateful for my cousin Sharon, whose positive attitude in the face of ovarian cancer and chemotherapy is humbling.

2/5
Today I am grateful that my mother is heading home after weeks in a hospital and a rehab center following her recent back injury.

2/4
Today I am grateful for the diversity of cultures, colors, and ideas that makes my country great.

2/3
Today I am grateful for the opportunity to pay off a large amount of sleep debt the past 2 nights.

Sunday, March 02, 2014 11:00:56 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Saturday, February 22, 2014

I didn't know Jim Weirich well. But I knew of him. And I knew the impact he had on others.

Those of us who have been engaged in the community could not help but be aware of Jim.

Jim had a reputation as an excellent Ruby developer; but, more than that, he had a reputation for sharing his knowledge with others. At conferences, he would explain Ruby concepts to experienced and novice developers alike and taking the time to make sure you understood it. I first met Jim when I attended his "Ruby Koans" session at CodeMash 5 years ago. Most people worked the Koans in either the morning or the afternoon session, but I was a slow learner and I stayed for the entire day, trying to figure them out. Jim was patient and answered all my newbie questions.

Jim also had a reputation for being friendly to everyone he met. Some people called him "Ruby Santa Claus" - partly because of his large size and his thick white beard, but also because of his quick smile and friendly outlook. I last saw Jim on the final day of CodeMash this past January. Walking past the Neo booth, I shouted "Hi, Jim." He smiled and asked how I was doing. It was a brief interaction, but I'm glad I have this as my final memory of the man who touched so many lives with his smile and his teachings.

We lost Jim earlier this week. He collapsed at work Tuesday evening and died shortly afterward.

To Jim's family and to those  closest to him - especially Joe, Leon, and Doug - I send my prayers and my condolences. To the rest of you, I send this challenge: No matter how well you knew Jim Weirich, take his life as an inspiration to share knowledge and joy with those around you.

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Jim Weirich at CodeMash 2009

Saturday, February 22, 2014 9:44:32 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, February 02, 2014

2/2
Today I am grateful to those who went out of their way to connect with me personally while I was in Seattle last week.

2/1
Today I am grateful for a week at TechReady filling my brain and my belly.

1/31
Today I am grateful I was invited to a private party at a frickin' pro football stadium!

1/30
Today I am grateful for a seafood dinner in Seattle last night with my teammates, that I met this week.

1/29
Today I am grateful to the honest person who found and returned my laptop yesterday.

1/28
Today I am grateful for the opportunity to learn so much.

1/27
Today I am grateful for the hospitality and generosity of my friend Ted Neward and his family.

1/26
Today I am grateful for a good night sleep after a long day of travel.

1/25
Today I am grateful that my team is patient and willing to answer all my dumb questions.

1/24
Today I am grateful that so many universities are willing to allow me to come in and teach their students.

1/23
Today I am grateful I was able to stay inside yesterday and avoid the extreme cold.

1/22
Today I am grateful for lunch yesterday with my friend Dan, who I don't see often enough.

1/21
Today I am grateful that the folks at Indiana University were able to organize a game development event on short notice and that people attended on a day the University is closed.

1/20
Today I am grateful that my job takes me to Bloomington, IN, so I get to spend bonus time with Tim Giard.

1/19
Today I am grateful for a successful game development hackathon at Rose-Hulman yesterday in Terrre Haute, IN.

1/18
In 2012, I bought a new car. Although it's not fancy, I am grateful today that it has navigated safely through the many miles of bad weather and rough road conditions I've driven these past 2 weeks.

1/17
Today I am grateful I was upgraded to a 2-bedroom suite last night.

1/16
Today I am grateful that I've found a job I love.

1/15
Today I am grateful to start another year of the Great Lakes Area .NET User Group. #MIGANG

1/14
Today I am grateful to all the amazing people who appeared on #TechnologyAndFriends, helping me to make it to show 300.

1/13
Today I am grateful I could spend yesterday walking around downtown Chicago with my son.

1/12
Today I am grateful for an amazing day yesterday - watching a Spartan overtime victory with my goddaughter Amanda and my son Tim; followed by the Microsoft mid-winter party at the Chicago Field Museum.

1/11
Today I am grateful that no damage was done to my house while I was out of town 4 days during a severe cold, snow, and rain.

1/10
Today I am grateful to Jim Holmes and the amazing job he and his minions have done producing the #CodeMash conference the past 8 years!

1/9
Today I am grateful that 2 full days of precompiler workshops at #CodeMash are now behind me.

1/8
Today I am grateful to reconnect with so many old friends this week at #CodeMash

1/7
Today I am grateful we made it safely driving 130 miles in arctic conditions last night.

1/6
Today I am grateful for the young men who helped push my car out of a snow bank last night.

1/4
Today I am grateful for lunch yesterday with my son, who took me to his favourite cheesesteak restaurant.

1/3
Today I am grateful for my Aunt Ida, who passed away earlier this week. After 90+ years being kind to others, she has gone to heaven to be with her husband. RIP Aunt Ida.

1/2
Today I am grateful for the Michigan State Spartan football team and their exciting Rose Bowl victory over an excellent Stanford Cardinal team. #GoGreen

1/1
Today I am grateful for an amazing 2013. I grew more these past 12 months than I have in many years.

12/31
Today I am grateful I was able to keep down my breakfast. I'm feeling much better than I did yesterday.

12/30
Today I am grateful my son Nick was able to make it home for Christmas.

Sunday, February 02, 2014 12:29:24 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Saturday, January 04, 2014

2013 was a year of transition - a year of change. A lot of change. Big change.

In May, my father passed away after a long illness. He suffered from Alzheimer’s the last years of his life. During the last two years of his life, I was able to travel many times to Florida to see him. During that time, we became closer than we have ever been and I am still grateful I had the chance to connect with him at the end of his life, even though it was difficult watching him deteriorate during his illness. My last visit was just a few weeks before his death. In May, my sister called to tell me he was gone. My siblings and I traveled to Florida to say our last goodbyes. The funeral was an amazing event. I was able to deliver a eulogy (you can view it below or read a paraphrasing at http://www.davidgiard.com/2013/06/16/MyFatherTheSurvivor.aspx) and I the US Navy sent a team to perform full military honors outside the church (also shown below). Although we all mourned my father's death, I don't think most of us viewed it as tragic. It wasn't nearly the shock of losing my sister a few years ago. My father's long illness helped prepare us for his passing and gave us a chance to say goodbye. When he finally went, we were prepared and spent the time celebrating his life and appreciating those who remain.

My mother also has gone through many transitions this year, following the death of her husband with whom she shared over five decades. In October, she moved into an Assisted Living facility and put her house up for sale. The adjustments this year took a toll on her health and she spent several weeks in the hospital and in rehabilitation, but she seems to have rebounded in recent weeks.

My sons went through transitions this year. In August, they both moved out of state. I knew it was coming and I've always looked forward to their independence, but it was still a shock as they both moved out the same week. Timmy is now a freshman at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN and Nick graduated from Michigan State University (BBA, Management) and almost immediately enrolled in graduate school at the University of South Florida in Tampa, FL, where he is a graduate assistant for the basketball team. As a single father, I've planned nearly every weekend the last 10 years around the activities of one or both of my sons. Years ago, I moved here to Michigan and the only reason was to be closer to them. With both of them gone, my life has changed a great deal. Although I've missed them, I'm excited for them to move to the next phase of their lives and I see this as an opportunity to be more flexible with my own life (more on this later)

In 2013, I resolved to make an effort to be more optimistic. The most public display of this is my new habit of waking up each morning and thinking of at least one thing for which I am grateful. I’ve been sharing these thoughts on Facebook and Twitter and others have told me they appreciate and are inspired by them. I decided to do this because found that I was doing a lot of whining on social media and I realized this was not who I wanted to be and this was not the image I wanted to project to the world. My final negative post before my optimism resolution was a Facebook post on what would have been my 25th wedding anniversary. Publicly lamenting the loss of my marriage definitely did not sit well with my girlfriend, who is now my ex-girlfriend. Since committing to thinking of a new gratitude each morning, I've found my attitude is generally more positive and this helps me to accomplish more each day. Others have told me they've found inspirations in my daily gratitude posts. You can read more about this commitment at http://www.davidgiard.com/2013/08/07/DailyGratitudeAndANewAttitude.aspx

I continued my practice of public speaking in 2013, but I targeted some larger conferences. In June, I spoke at Tech Ed North America for the first time and in October, I spoke at DevConnections. You can view the Tech Ed presentation at http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/TechEd/NorthAmerica/2013/DBI-B220#fbid=. Of course, I also delivered dozens of talks at user groups and community events. Next year, I have been invited to speak at VSLive and I'm hopeful to speak at some international conferences.

October brought a big change in my career. After spending 15 years as a consultant, I accepted a job with Microsoft as a Technical Evangelist. This is a job I have pursued for some time, so when an opportunity came up, I applied and was hired. For years, I've been heavily involved in the developer community and this involvement took much of in my free time. With this Evangelism role, I can focus much more on teaching, organizing, and helping other developers in the community. There is a lot to my new job, but the biggest part involves helping people build applications for Windows 8, Windows Phone, and Windows Azure. I'm spending a lot of time teaching people how to build and submit apps and it's this teaching aspect that I'm enjoying the most. For the next six months, I'll be covering two districts (7 states), but I'll be moving to Chicago in mid-2014 and focusing primarily on developers in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. I spent much of the holidays getting my house ready for sale.

The move to Chicago will be a big change, but with my boys gone from Michigan, it is the perfect time to do this. I've worked in Chicago many times in the past and I enjoy the city and I'm looking forward to making it my home. I've spent many weeks there the past few months, meeting with my new team and with developers and community leaders and students and I really like the enthusiasm and passion I'm seeing in these folks.

As I've been going through my possessions these past couple months and deciding what to keep, I realize how much less emphasis I now place on ownership of physical things. I don't know when this change took place, but I am very happy to sell or give away many things I've held onto for years - sometimes decades. I see this as an area of great personal growth.

All in all, 2013 was a year of great growth for me. Even the challenges that arose this year came with opportunities to grow and connect with others and to change for the better.  It is because of this that I feel more optimistic at the beginning of this 2014 than I have in a long time.

Saturday, January 04, 2014 1:21:26 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, December 29, 2013

12/29
Today I am grateful for a day in East Lansing with my son Tim.

12/28
Today I am grateful that I've been able this month to get rid of so much of the junk I've acquired these past 10 years.

12/27
Today I am grateful that 4 of my apps were approved by the Windows Store this morning.

12/26
Today I am grateful for Christmas dinner at my sister's house, surrounded by my family.

12/25
Today I am grateful that God loved us enough to send us his only son. Blessed Christmas, my friends.

12/24
Today I am grateful that my friend John, from whom I hadn't heard in years, called me out of the blue yesterday for no reason. We talked for over an hour.

12/23
Today I am grateful that the ice storm that paralyzed much of the state missed my neighborhood.

12/22
"Why were you late tonight, son?" "On my way here, I saw a woman begging on the side of the road. She was standing in the freezing rain with no jacket. So I went home and picked up my old jacket and drove it back to give it to her." "OK, I guess that's a pretty good excuse." That is what I am grateful for today.

12/21
Today I am grateful to have both my sons home for the holiday season.

12/20
Today I am grateful for the opportunity last night to speak at my first Demo Camp Lansing.

12/19
Today I am grateful for pizza, drinks, and fellowship at the #MIGANG Holiday Party last night.

12/18
Today I am grateful to have my son Tim home for a few weeks. It was totally worth driving 13 hours through a snowstorm yesterday to pick him up.

12/17
Today I am grateful my latest app was accepted in the Windows store.

12/16
Today I am grateful for all the stuff I sold on eBay last week, removing clutter and providing me with Christmas cash.

12/15
Today I am grateful to all those who braved the snowstorm yesterday to build apps with us at the DevUnleashed Hackathon.

12/13
Today I am grateful that: 1. I was invited to 2 holiday parties hosted by 2 great organizations in Toledo - Seed Co-Working and TechToledo 2. I ran into some old colleagues I did not expect to see again. 3. Lunch with my old team at Heidtman - one of the best teams I've ever been on.

12/12
Today I am grateful for the blanket of snow surrounding my house on this sunny day.

12/11
Today I am grateful for a break in my 500-mile round-trip commute until next year.

12/10
Today I am grateful for dinner last night with old friends and for the chance to meet a few new, very interesting people.

12/9
Today I am grateful that I had the chance this weekend to apologize personally for a mistake I made years ago.

12/8
Today I am grateful for: 1. A Spartan victory, a BIG10 Championship, and a trip to the Rose Bowl 2. Being able to attend the championship game last night - one of the most exciting games I've ever seen. 3. Watching the game with my son Tim and my friends Bryan, Patrick, and John. 4. Running into old friends Debora, David, and Sue and sharing a post-game drink with them. 5. John finding us a reasonably-priced hotel room for the weekend. 6. Being able to make it back to the hotel safely after driving hundreds of miles throughout the night.

12/7
Today I am grateful that I missed the storms in southern Indiana while driving last night.

12/6
Today I am grateful I was able to find a reasonably-priced hotel in downtown Chicago.

12/5
Today I am grateful for the kindness and hospitality of Pat Patrick Affholter and their wife who opened his home to me, saving me a lot of late-night/early-morning driving.

12/3
Today I am grateful for the warm reception the um Design + Business group gave to this Spartan last night as I taught them about Data Visualization.

12/2
Today I am grateful to the team that created Doctor Who and to those who recommended this excellent show to me.

12/1
Today I am grateful for 1. A chance to spend so much time this week with my son Timmy, who was home from college on Thanksgiving break. 2. Dinner last night with my friend Bryan. 3. Another Spartan victory.

11/30
Today I am grateful for a day in East Lansing, meeting many old friends and dinner with Darlene and her family.

11/29
Today I am grateful for 1. Thanksgiving dinner with my family. 2. My cousin Kevin Gill deciding to spend Thanksgiving with my mother in Florida.

Sunday, December 29, 2013 8:55:18 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Thursday, November 28, 2013

11/28
Today I am grateful for the drawers I cleaned out last night and the all excess clutter I threw away this morning.

11/27
Today I am thankful that everyone else is thankful today.

11/26
There was a time in my life I would lay awake in bed every night, unable to sleep, my mind racing with stress and guilt and regret. These days, I tend to fall asleep immediately from exhaustion, which is a thousand times better. I am grateful that this has changed.

11/25
Today I am grateful that my mother is out of the hospital and feeling better.

11/24
Today I am grateful that the Michigan State Spartans won 2 championships yesterday - the Legends Division in football and the Coaches vs Cancer Classic in basketball! #GoGreen

11/22
Today I am grateful to all those who put on another great #MVPSummit.

11/21
Today I'm grateful that Keith Elder traveled 1000 miles from Hattiesburg, MS to Southfield, MI to speak at a the Great Lakes Area .NET User Group. I wish I could have been there.

11/20
Today I am grateful for a chance to meet with a group of Midwest MVPs last night and learn what is important to them. I'm excited to work with such a passionate group of community influencers.

11/19
Today I am grateful for a chance to meet and exchange ideas with so many of the smartest people in my industry.

11/18
Today I am grateful that I managed to get out of O'Hare before the storms hit Chicago yesterday.

11/17
Today I am grateful that I get to the #MVPSummit, even though I'm no longer an MVP.

11/16
Today I am grateful that my son's basketball team scheduled a game near my home so I had a chance to watch him work and spend some time with him last night.

11/15
Today I am grateful to Martin Schray, who has gone out of his way these past few weeks to help me learn my new job.

11/14
Today I am grateful that I made it through a full month of this new job with no visible scars!

11/13
Today I am grateful I was able to find a 2nd row seat at face value to watch the Spartans knock off the #1 team in the country last night!

11/12
Today I am grateful for an amazing developer community here in Michigan.

11/11
Today I am grateful to the men and women who have served our country in the armed forces, especially my father Normand Giard (Lt. Cmdr., ret), who gave 22 years of his life to the US Navy.

11/10
Today I am grateful that my son's coaching career began last night with a victory!

11/9
Today I am grateful for post-game drinks at Hop Cat with my friend John and his lady-friend.

11/8
Today I am grateful for the generosity and hospitality of Josh Cheek

11/7
Today I am grateful that I was finally able to replace my broken phone yesterday.

11/6
Today I am grateful to walk through a gently-falling autumn rain on the way to the office.

11/5
Today I am grateful for social media (like this one), which allows me to maintain relationships during the times I don't see friends and family.

11/4
Today I am grateful for another beatdown of um at Spartan Stadium this weekend. That makes 5 of the last 6 for the good guys!

11/3
Today I am grateful for

  1. Dinner with an old friend - John Karamanos - who I haven't seen in 3 years.
  2. making it home safely from Chicago despite driving most of the night and stopping to nap at a rest stop 40 miles from home.
  3. sleeping in a bed for the first time in a week.
  4. A chance to speak at SharePoint Saturday Chicago for the first time.

11/2
Today I am grateful for the generosity and hospitality of Jason Farrell, who opened his home to me this week, saving me a lot of trouble and money.

11/1
Today I am grateful that my mother is now living in a place where her health is more closely monitored.

10/31
Today I am grateful for my brother Dan, who traveled all the way from Australia to help our mother move.

10/30
Today I am grateful that my brother-in-law Brit is finally home after weeks in the hospital, following his liver transplant.

10/29
Today I am grateful for a mostly-sunny-not-cold-good-walking-around-weather day in Chicago.

10/28
Today I am grateful to Scott Zischerk, who helped me figure out my Outlook issues yesterday.

Thursday, November 28, 2013 1:46:56 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Saturday, November 02, 2013
 #
 

Yesterday was my first solo flight for the Microsoft DPE team.

I've been at Microsoft over 2 weeks and I've spent my time learning technologies, filling out forms, learning about the company, and shadowing other evangelists.

But yesterday, I traveled to DeVry University in Tinley Park, IL to teach students how to build games for Windows 8.

The hosts at DeVry were great. They were extremely nice, they accommodated every request I made, they made sure the room was set up properly, and they even bought me lunch (Aurelo's Pizza is to die for, BTW).

I built a sample application of a game in which a player shoots monsters that chase him around a 2D landscape. We used the Construct2 game engine from Scirra Ltd - an impressive tool for building such games. The students followed along with my demo and built the project with me.

The students were great. About 30 high school students traveled to DeVry by bus and 4 DeVry students were in the audience. I was impressed that they not only picked up the tool and the concepts, but that they extended my demo - modifying the game in clever ways. One student flipped the game around so that the monster was shooting attacking humans; another bundled multiple players together so that he fired 10 rounds at once; another replaced all the game characters with NBA players. I was delighted to see so much creativity from high school students.

It wasn't all smooth sailing.  When I arrived, I discovered the only browsers on the student machines were IE8 and Firefox 3. Since these browsers don't support the HTML5 features of the Construct game, we could not use them. But the DeVry IT department quickly fixed this and I now have one more detail to add to the classroom setup sheet I hand to the next event organizer.

I was excited to get my first event out of the way successfully and I'm looking forward to the next thousand events.

Saturday, November 02, 2013 1:42:20 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, October 27, 2013

10/27 Today I am grateful to Scott Zischerk, who helped me figure out my Outlook issues yesterday.

10/26 Today I am grateful for a rare opportunity to sleep in.

10/25 Today I am grateful to Jason Farrell, who introduced me to elk burgers last night.

10/24 Today I am grateful to wake up to this view.

10/23 Today I am grateful I was able to find a sweatshirt in my size downtown last night after the temperature plummeted and before my walk "home" across the river.

10/22 Today I am grateful for the hospitality and generosity of Charles Stacy Harris III. Thanks to him, I am not sleeping on the streets of Chicago.

10/21 Today I am grateful for my first day working in Chicago as a Technical Evangelist.

10/20 Today I am grateful for an enjoyable 4 days in Phoenix and the great community of FoxPro and XBase++ developers at Southwest Fox.

10/19 Today I am grateful that my brother-in-law Britt, whose liver began failing years ago, underwent a successful liver transplant last night.

10/18 Today I am grateful to the MVP program, which I had to leave when I joined Microsoft. I was honored to be a part of it and the MVP Summit remains one of my favourite events.

10/17 Today I am grateful for the opportunity to speak at Southwest Fox in Phoenix, AZ.

10/16 Today I am grateful that CodeMash has invite me back to speak again.

10/15 Today I am grateful for the information and mentoring of Jennifer Marsman, who is helping me to understand and adjust to life at Microsoft.

10/14 Today, I am grateful for new opportunities and past adventures and good changes.

10/13 Today I am grateful for the opportunity to work with the amazing, dedicated people on the INETA Board of Directors these past 2 years.

10/12 Today I am grateful for the support of Telerik and their Insiders Program, who sponsored so many of my presentations these past 4 years, allowing me to speak at many more events than I otherwise could have.

10/11 Today I am grateful for the support of Telerik and their Insiders Program, who sponsored so many of my presentations these past 4 years, allowing me to speak at many more events than I otherwise could have.

10/10 Today I am grateful that my son, who was rushed to the hospital Tuesday night with dizziness and an accelerated heart rate, is feeling better and appears to have recovered.

10/9 Today, I am grateful for all that I learned and all the great people I met and the great experiences I had and the interesting projects on which I worked and the customers that I respect during my 5+ years at Sogeti.

10/8 Today I am grateful for the outpouring of support and kind words following my announcement yesterday.

10/7 Today, I am grateful for the current team at my customer site - one of the best group of people with whom I have ever worked.

10/6 Today I am grateful to be going home. It has been a great trip, but I've been away a long time.

10/5 Today I am grateful to spend a weekend in Las Vegas with my son Nick, celebrating his college graduation.

10/4 Today I am grateful to Chander Dhall and to the team at Penton for putting on an excellent conference and for inviting me to speak at DevConnections

10/3 Today I am grateful that my DevConnections presentations are behind me and that they went well. I've been stressing over these for months.

10/2 Today I am grateful to those who came up to me after my presentation today and told me how much they enjoyed it.

10/1 Today I am grateful to Jose Mojica for giving me a ride to the airport yesterday and for a chance to see many old friends last night.

Sunday, October 27, 2013 3:42:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, October 14, 2013

I feel like I've been preparing for this job for the last 5 years.

Today is my first day as a Technical Evangelist at Microsoft. I'll be heading to New Employee Orientation shortlly.

To say I'm excited about this opportunity would be a huge understatement.

My primary focus will be on helping people to build applications for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 and helping them to use Windows Azure.

I'll be doing a lot of the things that I love to do and that I've done in my spare time for years - blogging, delivering technical presentations, learning new technologies, and helping others to build apps. But now it will be my day job, instead of something I need to make time for.

There will be challenges. For one, I need to quickly get up to speed on some of the technologies I'll be teaching. I've written and published a Windows 8 app and a Windows Phone app, but I'm still a novice. This needs to change in a hurry.

Also, I will be moving to Chicago soon and I need to get to know the developer community in the Chicagoland area. If you are a mobile developer (even on a non-Microsoft platform) and you live in Illinois, Indiana, or Wisconsin, I'd love to hear from you.

  1. Two reasons drove me to seek a career as a Microsoft Technical Evangelist:
    It will allow me to make a living learning and teaching - two of the things I enjoy the most.
  2. Every Microsoft Evangelist I have met - and I mean EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. - has been great. By that, I mean each is a sharp technologist; an intelligent, articulate communicator; and a good person. I'm excited to work on a team like this.

I am sad to leave behind some things. I have spent over 5 years as a consultant at Sogeti and I made many friends and learned a great deal. I can recommend Sogeti to anyone looking to work for or hire a good consulting company.

Also, in order to devote more time to my new job, I have resigned from the INETA Board of Directors and from the Telerik Insiders Program.

So, the past is the past and the next phase in my life begins now! I feel like I'm looking ahead in a way I have not done in years.

Monday, October 14, 2013 11:33:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, October 01, 2013

9/30
Today I am grateful for a trip to Las Vegas and a chance to speak at DevConnections.

9/29
Today I am grateful for those who worked so hard to put on a successful Bar Camp Tamp 2013 - The first bar camp I have experienced.

9/28
Today I am grateful for the health of my mother and for dinner last night with her and with my cousins Kevin and Kathleen, who drove up from Sarasota to meet us.

9/27
Today I am grateful that I'm heading to Florida this morning to visit my mother and my son.

9/26
Today I am grateful for the Detroit Tigers who have provided an exciting baseball season this summer.

9/24
Today I am grateful that I live in an area where there are so many user groups, giving me so many opportunities to learn and to meet smart people.

9/23
Today I am grateful for my blog, which has given me a forum to share my thoughts with anyone who wants to read them.

9/22
Today I am grateful to Julie Lerman and all those who helped her make the Vermont Code Camp an excellent event and my first visit to the Green Mountain state enjoyable.

9/21
Today I am grateful for a night on the town last night in downtown Burlington with Russell Fustino.

9/20
Today I am grateful that I'm visiting Vermont this morning for the first time in my life.

9/19
Today I am grateful to all those who came to my presentation at the Great Lakes Area .NET User Group last night.

9/18
Today I am grateful for exactly 5 years at Sogeti, for the people I've met, and for the things I've learned as a result of these years.

9/17
Today I am grateful for this coffee and the effect it is having on me this morning.

9/16
Today I am grateful for My first trip to Citi Field An exciting finish featuring a 2-out walk-off Mets RBI in the bottom of the 11th. The kindness of Becky Isserman, who helped me navigate NYC public transportation.

9/15
Today I am grateful to Stephen Bohlen and the other organizers of CodeCampNYC for their hard work in putting on a successful conference and for dinner and drinks with old and new friends in midtown last night.

9/14
Today I am grateful for a weekend in Manhattan and a chance to speak at #CodeCampNYC

9/13
Today I am grateful for the team on my current project. Some of our daily tasks are mundane, but I always enjoy interacting with this bright group of developers.

9/12
Today I am grateful for optimistic reports on the progress of Jeff Blankenburg's son Miles, who fell very ill recently and is now recovering from a brain operation.

9/11
Today I am grateful for an unexpected visit with John Avgoustis and Randy Eager.

9/10
Today I am grateful that I found my wallet that had been missing since Friday.

9/9
Today I am grateful for the opportunity to read the word of God to the congregation in church and for those who tell me they like the way I do it.

9/8
Today I am grateful for dinner with Pat, Brian, and Kelly and for the fact that we've remained friends for 33 years (so far)

9/7
Today I am grateful for Spartan football. Excited to attend my first MSU game of the fall today.

9/6
Today I am grateful for the Shrimp Louis Salad last night at Petterino's on Randolph & Dearborn in Chicago - one of the best salads I've ever eaten.

9/5
Today I am grateful for a relaxing train ride across the Midwest.

9/4
Today I am grateful that my very first Windows 8 app was approved for the app store.

9/3
Today I am grateful for the many times over the years that my son Timmy lifted my spirits when I was feeling down. Happy birthday Timmy!

9/2
Today I am grateful for a peaceful Sunday evening spent sitting outdoors, eating sushi, sipping espresso, and watching the world go by.

9/1
Today I am grateful that, after many years and many thousands of dollars, I just sent the last check, putting a financial end to an emotional tragedy in my life.

8/31
Today I am grateful for 1. The organizers of the CloudDevelop conference for inviting me to speak and for putting on a great event. 2. That the back pain that plagued me all day yesterday seems to have vanished after a good night's sleep.

8/30
Today I am grateful to Dennis Burton, who literally went the extra miles to pick up the laptop I left at home and bring it to Columbus, OH.

8/29
Today I am grateful for the help of Jeff Yates, who showed me how to implement scrolling in a Windows 8 XAML app last night.

8/27
Today I am grateful that I actually made it to the gym for the second time in a week. First time in months that has happened.

8/26
Today I am grateful that my sons each begin the next phase of their lives today as they each begin classes at a new college.

8/25
Today I am grateful I was able to cross off some items from my To-Do list that have been there for months.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013 9:33:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, August 25, 2013

I think I’ll post my daily gratitudes here on the last Sunday of the month.

8/25
Today I am grateful I was able to cross off some items from my To-Do list that have been there for months.

8/24
Today, I am grateful that my father and I became closer during his final years. I feel as close to my Dad today as we ever were.

8/23
Today I am grateful that my mother made it home safely after 3 weeks in Michigan. When I asked her how she enjoyed the trip, she told me "I stayed too long."

8/22
Today I am grateful that Nick Giard drove out to Southfield yesterday to join me for lunch.
But mostly, I'm grateful for the fine man that he has become and for the joy of being his father these past 22 years.

8/21
Today I am grateful for the opportunity to premiere my "Refactoring Legacy Code" presentation at the Northwest Ohio .NET User Group and for all the good feedback I received.

8/20
Today I am grateful I have had the opportunity to raise Tim Giard these past 19 years and to see the fine young man he has become.

8/19
Today I am grateful for our family tradition begun during the last millennium of going to lunch with my 2 sons every Sunday - a tradition that continued almost without exception for over 15 years. A tradition that ended yesterday as my sons will move out of state this week and begin the next phase of their lives.

8/18
Today I am grateful for the continued good health of my 2 sons and myself.

8/17
Today I am grateful for a chance to teach at my first Sogeti Boot Camp.

8/16
Today I am grateful that my son Nick completed his undergraduate requirements yesterday, earning a BBA from Michigan State University. #proudddad

8/15
Today I am grateful for the chance to hang out with Michael Wood. It has been too long.

8/14
Today I am grateful for a visit from an old friend.

8/13
Today I am grateful that my son stopped by for dinner last night and the chicken fried rice I made turned out great!

8/12
Today I am grateful for a rare and much-needed Sunday afternoon nap.

8/11
Today I am grateful for a dinner of fresh Maryland blue crabs with my brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews and mother.

8/10
Today I am grateful for my brothers and sisters and my nieces and nephews and my mother. I am looking forward to seeing them this evening.

8/9
Today I am grateful for all these great podcasts that ease my long commute.

8/8
Today I am grateful for Elizabeth Naramore, who inspired me to think about the positive things in my life, even when things are going poorly.

8/7
Today I am grateful for a Daily Gratitude and a New Attitude
8/6
Today I am grateful for the Mud Hens game last night with Kevin Gill and Tim Giard.

8/5
Today I am grateful for a tasty pulled pork meal at Slow's Barbecue on a Sunday afternoon.

8/4
Today I am grateful for
1. Having my family over for a cookout yesterday
2. Seeing my mother for the first time since my father's funeral
3. An excellent Chris Hillman & Herb Pedersen concert last night.

8/3
Today I am grateful for
1. An unexpected Greektown dinner last night with my cousin, sister, brother, and sister-in-law.
2. Today's barbecue that will bring most of my family to my house.

8/2
Today I am grateful that I found a couple $20 bills in a jacket I haven't worn for months.

Sunday, August 25, 2013 7:32:12 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, August 06, 2013

A few months ago, I discovered that I was doing way too much public whining on social media outlets. I used Facebook and Twitter as an outlet for my frustrations- real, imagined, and overemphasized. After I made this unflattering discovery, I decided two tings:
1. This was not the image I wanted to project to the world via my online presence.
2. This was not the attitude I wanted to permeate my life.

I've always believed that a good way to start changing one's attitude is by changing one's behavior. So I made a commitment to focus on the good things in my life - to wake up each morning and think of something in my life for which I am grateful.

I was inspired to do so by a couple talks I heard recently - one by Layla Driscoll at KalamazooX, titled "Find Your Happy; and one by Elizabeth Naramore at Stir Trek, titled "Stop Drinking Spoiled Milk". Layla and Elizabeth each keep a daily log of things for which they are grateful. They each shared some entries from their own logs and pointed out how this helped keep them focused on the important things in life. I decided to make a similar commitment to focusing on gratitude and to make my gratitudes public in the hope that others would be inspired as I was. I started on Facebook, posting a new gratitude each morning and later began cross-posting these on Twitter as well.

I find myself grateful for a variety of things. Sometimes, I think of something good that happened yesterday; sometimes about the anticipation of something coming today; and sometimes it's about a larger something that affects my life for years.

The results has been extremely positive. Although I still occasionally get down and I sometimes whine about the bad parts of my life, I find that my daily focus on gratitude has helped to counteract any lasting effects of depressing circumstances.

In addition, many people have responded to these posts - online and in person - and told me they enjoyed them. I've even seen others doing the same. I don't know if they were inspired by me or by the people who inspired me but I don't care. When I'm reading the thoughts of friends on social media, I'd much rather hear about how they are focused on the positives of their life than be overwhelmed with negativity.

And for that I am grateful.


Below is a partial list of gratitudes I have posted to date.:

Today I am grateful for the Mud Hens game last night with Kevin and Tim.

Today I am grateful for a tasty pulled pork meal at Slow's Barbecue on a Sunday afternoon.

Today I am grateful for
1. Having my family over for a cookout yesterday
2. Seeing my mother for the first time since my father's funeral
3. An excellent Chris Hillman & Herb Pedersen concert last night.

1. An unexpected Greektown dinner last night with my cousin, sister, brother, and sister-in-law.
2. Today's barbecue that will bring most of my family to my house.

Today I am grateful that I found a couple $20 bills in a jacket I haven't worn for months.

Today I am grateful that my mother and cousin are coming to town for the first time in years.

Today I am grateful for a delicious sushi dinner last night with my son and my final visit to East Lansing while he is a student there.

Today I am grateful for my cameras, which have allowed me to preserve moments of my life better than my own memory could.

Today I am grateful to read the tweets of @nprscottsimon as he chronicles his last days with his dying mother.

Today I am grateful I had the chance to catch up with Mike and Toni yesterday at lunch. It has been too long.

Today I am grateful for a long walk from one end of the runway to another yesterday afternoon with a sunny sky above me and a light breeze at my back.

Today I'm grateful that I made it to LearnSomething at Fanzoo Technology last night for the first time in a long time and that I made significant progress on a demo for my next presentation.

Today I am grateful for a great time last night with family and friends at the screenings for the Detroit 48 Hour Film Project.

Today I am grateful I didn't wake up with the hangover I deserve.

Today I am grateful to awaken to the sound of gently-falling rain on my bedroom window.

Today I am grateful for the time spent with my sister Denise, who passed away 4 years ago today. She has inspired me in so many ways.

Today I am grateful that Microsoft named me an MVP for the 4th consecutive year.

Today I am grateful that, for nearly 2 decades, my boys and I have maintained a tradition of going out to lunch together after church each Sunday.

Today I am grateful for this:
IMG_4721-S[1] IMG_5207-S[1]

Today I am grateful that my brother is staying with me. It's a rare visit, since he lives near Sydney, Australia.

Today I am grateful for the opportunity to deliver a eulogy at my father's funeral.

Today I am grateful that my mother, who has been through a very rough time these past 5 years, is now as strong as I have ever known her.

Today I am grateful that, years ago, I stumbled into a career that encourages me to learn every day.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013 8:46:38 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, June 16, 2013

My father passed away last month. He was 81 years old and he was a survivor. Since his death, I’ve been thinking about all the challenges he faced in life and how he managed to survive them.

My father was in high school when his own father died. His response was to enlist in the US Navy after graduation so that his mother would not be burdened by another mouth to feed.

He didn't just enlist in the Navy: He served honorably for 23 years; he went to school at night and on weekends, eventually earning a Bachelor’s degree from George Washington and a Master’s degree from the Naval Graduate Academy. He and my mother raised 6 children (including me). He received his commission, served in 2 foreign wars, saw combat in Viet Nam as a Hospital Corpsman, and retired as a Lieutenant Commander after 23 years of honorable service.

After retiring from the Navy, he entered private left and he excelled at this as well. He worked over 20 years at St. John Hospital, overseeing its expansion into one of the largest health care organizations in Michigan. He was active in the community and served as a President of the Grosse Pointe Rotary Club. His children grew up and moved away and began families of their own. By the time he retired, he was Vice President of St. John Medical Center and ready to move to Florida to play bridge.

In Florida, he didn’t just take up bridge: He learned the game so well that he became a Life Master within 5 years. He was also active in his new community of Sun City Center, serving as President of the Bridge Club and a member of the Knights of Columbus. He remained very active while his health allowed him to be.

In his later years, his health began to fail. Skin cancer, blood disease, and nerve damage in his back and leg all took their toll on him. But he remained positive and downplayed the limitations of his physical body. The Vietnam War did not kill him and raising 6 kids did not kill him and the stress of running a hospital did not kill him, so what chance did skin cancer have?

Two years ago, he was struck by his greatest physical ailment when Alzheimer's began to rob him of his memories and his speech and his mind. Still, he remained positive. I heard from multiple caregivers that he always had a kind word for them. This was his way of defeating Alzheimer's - at least temporarily.

Last month, Normand Giard finally succumbed to all the physical trauma he had endured. He slipped into a coma and died quietly within 48 hours. My father passed away on May 10, 2013. My family flew to Florida to mourn him and to comfort my mother and to hug one another; then we each flew back home to resume our lives.

But the story doesn't end here. When I think of my father and his life, I am struck by what I see as his greatest strength - his ability to face the difficulties thrown in front of him and perceive these as challenges, rather than obstacles. My father focused on finding solutions to his problems, rather than dwelling on unfortunate circumstances.

My plan is to honor my father's memory by trying to emulate this trait. By focusing less on the obstacles in my path and more on the opportunities these obstacles present; By seeing each challenge in my life as an opportunity to excel, rather than an excuse to fail; by finding things to be grateful for, instead of things to complain about.

This will be my gift to my father - Normand Giard, the survivor, whom I miss very much on this Father's Day.

Giard_013-M[1] Giard_008-M[1]

 Giard_011-M[1]   IMG_0713-M[1]

Sunday, June 16, 2013 10:06:18 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Saturday, March 30, 2013

My youngest son recently completed his senior season of high school basketball, ending my 8 consecutive years as a high school basketball parent.

To commemorate the occasion, I created a highlight video of his team's season.

Saturday, March 30, 2013 9:25:07 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Thursday, January 24, 2013

2012 was a busy year for me.

I did well at my day job as a consultant for Sogeti. At the beginning of 2012 I was promoted to Senior Manager consultant. Of course, that title means nothing to you, but there are only a few of us in Michigan, so we are basically responsible for leadership in the unit. I think my biggest accomplishment in this role was to improve our counselor program, encouraging senior consultants to serve as mentors to more junior consultants.

I also completed a number of successful projects for a string of Sogeti customers. Along the way, I learned more about Windows Azure, SQL Server Reporting Services, Identity Management, and cascading style sheets.

I continued my active role in the developer community.

Although I didn't seek re-election as an officer of The Great Lakes Area .NET User Group (GANG), I remain involved in the group and focused much of my time on recruiting speakers. Seth Juarez, Sarah Dutkiewicz, Phil Japikse, Kathleen Dollard, Steve Smith, Gael Fraiteur, Mike Wood, Randy Pagels, Jason Follas, Jimmy Bogard, and Ted Neward all spoke at GANG during 2012 - an impressive list by any measure. As a bonus, we held an extra meeting in October at which Richard Campbell and Carl Franklin interviewed Jeff Wilcox for an episode of The Tablet Show, which you can hear at http://thetabletshow.com/?ShowNum=55.

Early in the year, I organized the first Detroit Day of Azure, an event that featured 14 outstanding speakers from 7 different states. The conference sold out and the feedback was positive. You can watch many of the presentations at http://detroitdayofazure.com/.

I continued to do a lot of public speaking in 2012, delivering about 30 public presentations during the year. I spoke at 15 conferences, 6 user group meetings, and a couple companies during the year. The most challenging event was the Tampa Code Camp, where I delivered 5(!) different presentations in a single day. The high point of my 2012 speaking came at Tech Ed North America, where I won the Speaker Idol competition. As a result of winning this contest, I was invited to speak at the 2013 Tech Ed conference in New Orleans this June. I was able to attend a lot of conferences in 2012 thanks to the Support of Telerik. As a member of the Telerik Insiders program, they sponsor my travel and I help to promote their products and company at the events where I speak.

I taught an Azure Kick Start for Microsoft in March.

At the beginning of the year, I accepted an invitation to join the INETA Board of Directors and in March, I was elected INETA Treasurer. INETA is an organization that supports .NET User Groups around the world. My primary role is promoting the Champions program, which recognizes people who contribute their time to help the developer community.

At the end of the year, I volunteered to help Dave McKinnon organize 1DevDay Detroit, an ambitious conference held at Cobo Hall in downtown Detroit. We sold 600 tickets to this event and I was honored when Dave asked me to serve as Master of Ceremonies.

I continued producing episodes of Technology and Friends and I think the show has improved with time. I'm proud to say I was able to publish at least one episode every week of 2012. Hopefully, I can keep this streak alive during 2013. As of the end of 2012, I had release 246 episodes.

In November, I won the first annual Compiler Award, which was created by the current GANG officers. They presented me with an engraved trophy and I was surprised and grateful to receive it.

I had a lot of success this past year, but I also received a lot of help. The user group volunteers kept GANG going strong and many of them helped run the Day of Azure. When I whined on Twitter that I was stressed about teaching the Azurei Kick Start, Dennis Burton volunteered to teach two of the modules – a huge relief for me. I facilitated an Azure “Birds of a Feather” session at Tech Ed and I was fortunate to have experienced Azure developer Mihai Tataran to co-present and answer all the hard questions. When running the INETA Champs program, I enlisted the help of Dave Noderer and Mark Rosenbert, who are connected to the developer community outside my local region. It’s largely because of the help I receive that I’ve been so willing to give my time to others.

As I look back on 2012, I'm proud of the things that I accomplished, but I realize that I focused a disproportionate amount of my time on work.

There were reasons for this: My two sons are getting older (18 and 21) and have become independent and I have no intention of stifling that independence; also a long-term romantic relationship ended suddenly and unexpectedly (for me, anyway) at the end of 2011.

I did spend many weekends this past spring and summer traveling the country with my son and his basketball team. The summer season ended at a tournament in Las Vegas, NV.

Both my sons are preparing to graduate in the next few months – one from high school and one from college. Tim has been accepted to 4 different colleges, but has not yet decided on his destination. Nick will complete a business degree this summer and plans to launch a career coaching college basketball. He is currently the Freshman basketball coach at Okemos High School.

Bu my time commitments were different this year than they have been the past few years, so I put my time and energy toward achieving my goals and I tried to accomplish as much as I could.

In 2013, I plan to have a bit more balance in my life. And a bit more sleep.

Thursday, January 24, 2013 10:12:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Thursday, November 22, 2012

Today is Thanksgiving and I am making pumpkin pies and preparing to call my mother and brother and go to my sister’s house and enjoy dinner and an evening with my siblings and their families. But I’m also remembering the good things in my life and thanking God for them.

Today, I am thankful for my family - especially for my two sons who continue make me proud every day.

I am thankful for my friends, especially those who supported me through the difficult times of my life.

I am thankful for the occasional encounter with a kind stranger. These events renew my faith in the people of this world.

I am thankful that I am stronger today than I was a decade ago. At that time, I had no idea how I would move forward.

I am thankful for the success I've had in the community and for any respect that his been shown to me by my peers.

I am thankful that I have not had to worry about feeding my family or putting a roof over my head.

And finally, I am thankful that my faith in God has kept me focused on the future, despite my strong desire to dwell on the past.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends.

Thursday, November 22, 2012 10:43:14 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, November 11, 2012

While traveling recently, I lost my wallet. It happened in the airport - somewhere between the Detroit security checkpoint and the Baltimore luggage claim. After checking with the airport and the airline and retracing my steps, I was convinced it was lost forever and I began to replace the cards inside.

Weeks later, I received a message on Facebook from a stranger.

A woman found my wallet in the airport. Reading my name on my driver's license, she searched for me online and found me on Facebook and sent me a message, so that I could confirm my identity and my address.

Shortly after our Facebook exchange, the wallet arrived in the mail, along with a money order for all the cash that was in it - over $200.

I was struck by this incredible act of kindness and honesty by a complete stranger. She could easily have kept the wallet or kept the cash and no one would have known or thought poorly of her. But she went out of her way to find me and return everything she found.

I am unlikely to meet this woman personally, but that does not mean I cannot repay the kindness. My plan is to pay it forward - to pass kindness on to strangers who cross my path. The likelihood these strangers will repay me in kind is low and I accept that. With any luck, they will be inspired to help others and the kindness will work its way back to the original stranger who helped me and the universe will be remain in balance. And a better place.

Sunday, November 11, 2012 10:22:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, December 27, 2011

 

2011 is drawing to a close and I'm ready to declare it a success.

My sons are happy and healthy and getting good grades. I had the pleasure of watching my son Nick play basketball for Michigan State this year and I hired a personal trainer for Timmy this past summer, which improved his game a great deal.

This year, I co-authored my first book - Real World .NET, C#, and Silverlight [http://www.wrox.com/WileyCDA/WroxTitle/Real-World-NET-C-and-Silverlight-Indispensible-Experiences-from-15-MVPs.productCd-1118021967.html], which was released in November by Wrox. I wrote a chapter on ASP.NET 4, MVC, and jQuery.

In my day job at Sogeti, I spent most of the year at the same customer (a large auto manufacturer in downtown Detroit) and I've been able to deliver several different projects for them. My managers saw fit to promote to Manager Consultant at the end of the year. Among my new responsibilities are engaging our consultants with the developer community and promoting Azure within the region.

In November 2011, my two years as president of the Great Lakes Area .NET User Group came to an end. I'm proud of what we were able to accomplish the past two years and confident that the impressions I made on the group will be felt for years to come.

I received some recognition this year. I was renewed as a Microsoft MVP in July and I was promoted to Senior Manager at Sogeti a couple weeks ago. I attended my first MVP Summit in February and March and I enjoyed it so much I'm planning to return in 2012.

I love speaking at conferences and user groups and I continued to do this in 2011. In addition to deliver numerous presentations at user groups and community conferences in Michigan and Ohio, I spoke at MADExpo in Virginia, at CodeStock and DevLink in Tennessee, at the Chicago Code Camp in Illinois, and at the Redmond .NET User Group in Washington.

I attended a few conferences at which I did not speak, including CodeMash, the Telerik Insiders Summit, the Microsoft MVP Summit, and DevConnections.

Not everything was positive this year. My father has fallen very ill and has moved to a nursing home near his home in Florida. And I'm still trying to figure out why a relationship lasted 5 years and ended so suddenly.

But all in all, my life seems to be moving in the right direction after some bumps over the past few years. I'm looking forward to the emancipation of my sons in the next 18 months as they graduate - one from high school and the other from college. Things may really get interesting then.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011 9:35:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 was a roller coaster.

My children – Nick and Timmy – are active and healthy and bright and are turning into young men and leaders. They make me proud every time I think of them. Timmy turned 16 this year and looks more like a man every month.

One of the high points of the year was watching my son Nick achieve a goal toward which he has worked for years. After two tryouts, he is now a member of the Michigan State University varsity basketball team. Nick has been invited to some good teams in the past, but this is the team that has advanced to the Final Four each of the last two years. As a lifelong MSU fan, I was thrilled to see him become a part of this elite team. I am extremely proud of him and it made this a special year.

In March of this year, I achieved a goal of my own when I was named a Microsoft MVP. I’m grateful to Jennifer and to Alan who nominated me and to those who supported me.

One 2010 accomplishment of which I’m very proud is the resurgence of the Great Lakes Area .Net User Group (GANG) - a professional organization that I served as president this year. Attendance nearly tripled from the year’s first meeting to the last meeting and the group is now seen as a model for other user groups in the region. I made a point this year of attending a lot of other user groups, even when I was not the speaker. This helped me steal ideas draw inspiration for GANG.

I renewed several old friendships in 2010, catching up with people I hadn’t seen for years. The Internet helped me with this. In July, my high school class held its 30-year reunion. I attended and had a blast. My contribution to the event was a slide show of old photos of classmates that was projected on a wall throughout the evening. People loved it.

I continued my trend of doing a lot of public speaking this year. 2010 started for me with a tour of Ohio during which I spoke at 4 user groups in 3 days. I spoke at the Cleveland .Net User Group in March and August I spoke at the very first meeting of the newly-formed Lexington, KY .Net User Group (although my presentation was abbreviated due to a bomb threat). I spoke at both Codestock and Devlink this year and even gave a vendor session at CodeMash. I presented at 3 different Day of .Net conferences, the Pittsburgh Code Camp, the Cloud Camp Detroit, the State of Michigan Developer Briefing, and a SQL Server 2008 R2 customer event, sponsored by Microsoft in Cleveland.

I was even a guest on a podcast for the first time (besides my own), appearing on the Community Megaphone Podcast with G. Andrew Duthie and Dane Morgridge.

My own show – Technology And Friends – is stronger than ever. I released over 70 episodes in 2010. I tried to keep a consistent schedule with the show and I’m proud to say that I released at least one show every week since January 18. The show also appears weekly on Channel 17 in ann arbor.

I completed my first full year as an INETA mentor and several people expressed appreciation for the increased communication they received since I took over. I covered four states (MI, OH, PA, and WV) most of the year. Recently Sam Nasr volunteered to take over responsibilities for Ohio.

When I look back on 2010, it is impossible for me not to think of 2009. Those who know me know that 2009 was a difficult year for me, mostly due to the death of my sister Denise and my family’s struggle to protect her daughter’s inheritance. These struggles continued in 2010 as I faced a lawsuit from someone trying to steal most of Denise’s assets. But I completed my work as Denise’s representative and that tragedy is now behind us. The closure left me with a feeling that Denise is finally at rest. In retrospect it was the second most difficult year of my life, but 2010 was a marked improvement.

My family faced another challenge this year when my 78-year-old father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I visited him in the fall and saw a noticeable change in his appearance and his behavior. My father survived two wars and skin cancer, so we will see how he does battling this.

My close friend Souha lost her mother this year, which shook her considerably. I read the eulogy at the funeral and I’ve tried to provide support, but this still pains her.

All told, the good far outweighed the bad this year. The valleys of the rollercoaster helped me to appreciate the peaks.

This has truly been a remarkable year in my life. 2010 brought some problems, but God helped me make it through these problems and, in the end, the problems were far overshadowed by the amazing things that took place these past 12 months.

Friday, December 31, 2010 5:49:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Thursday, December 30, 2010

I published over 125 blog posts in 2010. Below are my favorite posts from this site over the past 12 months

Goals for GANG in 2010 (Jan 20)
A banner year for our GANG (Nov 24)
These two posts belong together. In January, I sat down with the new leadership team of the Great Lakes Area .Net User Group (GANG). Together, we laid out some goals for the year and steps to achieve those goals. After the last meeting, I recorded how we were able to achieve each of our goals.

Producing an Online TV Show (Mar 20)
This is a 6-part series I wrote on the steps I take to produce Technology and Friends. If anyone is interested in producing a similar show, this is a good place to start.

DevLink 2010 (Aug 17)
This post is how I want to write every conference summary. I talked about the overall conference, about my presentation, and I shared what I learned at individual sessions. Other conference recap posts fall short primarily because I lack the time to organize my thoughts.

The Elements of Style (Jun 22)
I like this review because it describes both the importance of the book and its importance to my life.

Declaring variables with var (May 13)
This article describes a coding issue I had barely considered until it came up during a code review. I realized at the time, that I didn't have an opinion on the topic. So I did some reading, formed a conclusion and articulated that conclusion. Isn't that what a blog is all about?

Are certifications worthwhile? (May 18)
I finally wrote down my thoughts on an argument I've had many times.

A Dream Comes True (Nov 14)
Hey, guess what? I'm an MVP! (Jul 1)
These are brief news announcements of key events in my life during 2010. I was proud and wanted to share them. So I'm sharing them again here. So sue me.

Thursday, December 30, 2010 6:15:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, December 29, 2010

In 2010, I released 68 episodes of my online TV show - Technology and
Friends
.

I've tried and failed to select my 10 favorite shows. I recognize that some shows are better than others, but I found it hard to whittle a top 20 down to a top 10. I feel strongly about the first two episodes on this list, but the remaining 8 could change depending on the day or my mood. In any event, I'm proud of the show and proud of each episode listed below.

Episode 100
This milestone episode featured clips from previous show. It's light-hearted and entertaining and I think it turned out really well.

Episode 131: 2010 Ann Arbor Give Camp
I'm particularly proud of this one because of the effort I put into it. I started with almost 5 hours of video and somehow got it down to under 20 minutes. I think it captures the spirit of Give Camp very well.

Episode 76-Gary Short on Technical Debt
Gary carries this episode with his humor and intelligence.

Episode 81-Jennifer Marsman on Windows 7 Development
Jennifer always packs a ton into her presentations, so it's no surprise her interview turned out great. All I had to do was ask a couple open-ended questions and listen.

Episode 105-Nathan Blevins on Mindstorm
This is one of the first shows I did with a prop. Nathan showed off a robot and the software that runs it.

Episode 123-Joe Ross on Ford Sync
I like this one because it is a different perspective. The whole interview was filmed in the front seat of a car and we get a close look at the Sync hardware.

Episode 88-Cameron Skinner on VS2010 Architecture Tools
Cameron had a full schedule but made time to share his experience with me. Lots of informaiton in this one.

Episode 77-Mike Amundsen on HTTP and REST
This is a topic that often makes my head spin. I included it because I learned so much from Mike.

Episode 111-Mike Wood on Moving to the Cloud
This conversation isn't extremely technical, but Mike brings up some great points to consider when choosing a technology.

Episode 78-Jim Holmes on Unit Testing
Almost a year later, I still get a lot of comments on this one.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010 5:47:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, November 14, 2010

This weekend, I experienced something that most people never will. My son Nick played in a Division 1 basketball game. He wore #40 for the Michigan State University Spartans and played 2 minutes in a 96-66 win over Eastern Michigan. The Spartans have an excellent team this year – they are currently ranked #2 in the nation after coming off 2 straight Final Fours – yet Nick made the roster as a walk-on.

The most important thing in my life is the success and well-being of my two sons. Most of my life the last couple decades has revolved around them and I often take more joy in their successes than in my own.

I have followed Michigan State sports for even longer. MSU is my alma mater and I have supported and defended her athletic teams through good times and bad the past 30 years.

Friday night in East Lansing with 2 minutes to go in the game, two of my favorite things were mystically combined into a new ultra-super-awesome-mega-favorite thing, that was greater than the sum of its parts. It was like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups times 1,000 – It was my son and my favorite team.

I will never forget the moment my son’s name was announced and he ran onto the Breslin Center court. What he did during those 2 minutes was unremarkable and unimportant. The fact that he was out there, wearing the Green and White and 15,000 fans were cheering for him (none more than this one) is important and remarkable.

I am enormously proud of Nick for the hard work he put into getting here. And I am grateful for this gift he has given me.

f

More photos

Sunday, November 14, 2010 2:00:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Saturday, July 10, 2010

I attended a high school reunion tonight and had a blast.

Maybe it's because we see each other so seldom; maybe it's the festiveness of the occasion; maybe it's our shared history or our diverging paths; but this group seems to get nicer as they get older.

It's hard to believe it's been 30 years since I graduated from Grosse Pointe North High School.

For the event, I made a slideshow of photos that my classmates sent me. Many people told me they enjoyed it, so I will share it here.

You can view the original photos here.

Saturday, July 10, 2010 2:15:51 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 was a difficult year for me in many ways. My sister Denise was less than three years older than me when she passed away in July. Her death left a wound that is still healing. Worse than her death was the revelation afterward that she had been betrayed by someone close to her - someone we all trusted. We are still fighting this battle and it continues to elevate stress in my family.

But I also experienced many positives events in 2009.

The support of friends and family has been instrumental in getting me through these difficult times. If you are in this group, then I thank you. The tragedy shared by my family has brought us closer together in many ways.

My two sons continue to grow (physically and emotionally) and they continue to impress me with each new stage of their life. Timmy is now in high school and is showing more leadership qualities than I expected. Not long ago, he organized an independent basketball team completely on his own. They competed in a large league and he even convinced his brother to coach the team. His team performed well, despite playing in a league with kids mostly 1-2 years older. Timmy is working hard to balance school work with football and basketball. Nick is in his first year at Michigan State University. The time away from home is maturing him and each time I see him, I see more of a man and less of a boy. I remember a similar transformation in me during my first year at MSU. I particularly admire the fact that he is setting high goals for himself.

I have been dating a woman for quite a while. She didn't grow up in the US and her background is very different from mine, which presents some challenges; however, she is exceptionally kind and she is the most giving person I have ever met and I'm grateful she remains part of my life.

I did a fair amount of volunteer work this year, but most of it was not altruistic. I volunteer at a local non-profit music club in exchange for free admission to the concerts; I volunteer at the local public access TV station as a way to learn more about television production. The most good I did through volunteering was with the three Give Camps in which I was involved this year. I'm looking forward to participating more next year.

The biggest personal goal I did not hit this year was to lose 25 pounds. Resolving my sister's estate, being a single father, and other commitments kept me in the car so much that I had little time to exercise. Still this needs to be on the list next year.

One of my professional goals for this year was to be more involved in the software development community. In particular, I wanted to do more public speaking.  In 2009, I spoke at 5 conferences, 4 user groups, 3 internal Sogeti talks and 2 special events (ArcReady and NPlus1 summit). I expect this trend to continue as I have 5 presentations scheduled for January 2009.

I also became more involved in the Great Lakes Area .Net User Group this year. As Vice President, I took on the role of speaker coordinator and was able to line up some excellent presentations for the group.

In January I began production of my TV show "Technology and Friends" (although the show did not have a title for the first few episodes). During 2009, I published 63 episodes online. Recently this show has also begun airing on Channel 17 of my local cable system. Recording and producing was a great experience. It gives me the opportunity to talk with a lot of smart people and I have learned a lot about software, communication and video production.

I began my blog two years ago, but I devoted more energy to it in 2009. This article is the 155the entry for the year - an average of almost 13 per month. I don't know if I'll keep up that pace in 2010.

Despite the poor economy in Michigan, I managed to stay employed all year. During 2009, I worked for a significant time for three customers. At the end of each engagement, each customer had wonderful things to say about my work.

As the Microsoft Application Development lead in Michigan for Sogeti, I focused primarily on technical training for our consultants and on building a sense of community. I organized a series of "Grok Talks"  designed to exchange information. Some talks were delivered by Sogeti consultants (giving them valuable presentation experience) and some by experts in the industry. This was a big success and we plan to continue it next year, even though I will not continue in the same lead role.

As I write this, I realize that 2009 had more positives than negatives. The loss of my sister and subsequent discoveries still made it a difficult year, but I was able to accomplish a lot, thanks to some hard work and the support of family and friends.

I am looking forward to a happy and productive 2010. I have big plans, some of which I plan to share soon on this site.

Happy New Year and may God bless you all. 

Thursday, December 31, 2009 12:41:05 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sometimes, life gets hard and it's easy to forget that I have much for which to be thankful. Here are some things for which I am thankful this year.

My sons
At 15 and 18, they have grown up strong and smart and good natured (at least they are good-natured by teenager standards). They are tall, good-looking, athletic and popular, without being arrogant about it. I cannot wait for them to fully grow to manhood.

My siblings
My sister passed away this year. Her death and what followed put a major strain on the whole family. My siblings and I banded together for support, without which we could not have made it through this trying time.

My parents
They are pushing 80 and their health varies each day, but they are still going strong. I'm glad they are still a part of my life.

My friends
You know who you are and I appreciate the listening ear and the cold beer.

My career
This wasn't my first career choice, but it is the one that I've enjoyed the most. The constant learning keeps me moving forward.

Happy Thanksgiving all. Don't forget the good things and good people in your life.

Thursday, November 26, 2009 11:19:25 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Thursday, October 08, 2009

HopeMongers is attempting to connect people together via charitable donations. The web site HopeMongers.org allows individual contributors to donate small amounts of money (they use the term "Microgiving" to describe this) to individual projects that help the poor of the world.

By doing so, they eliminate much of the bureaucracy and cost that burdens many other charitable institutions. The projects that HopeMongers supports tend to be small in size and focused on an individual community. Examples include digging a well to provide clean drinking water for a village in Haiti; construction of a building to house an orphanage in Uganda; and a computer education center in South Africa.

"All the money that's donated to HopeMongers goes to the project" said lead architect Phil Japikse.

On the web site, each project lists the amount needed to fully fund it and the amount raised so far.

Sam Henry of Microsoft is the driving force behind this site and he has traveled around the world seeking, vetting and overseeing projects to show on the site.

But many others are involved in the development of the web site.

DiscountAsp.net donated the web hosting; SAAS hosts TFS and the build servers for free; and most of the development time was donated by dozens of talented developers. Those who didn't volunteer worked on the project at a discounted bill rate.

The development team was spread across the US and worked part-time, which presented a number of challenges. For instance, most of the collaboration took place between 10PM and 1AM Eastern time, via LiveMeeting. For those interested in the technology, the site is built using ASP.Net web forms built with JQuery, C# and NHibernate.

The site is now live and accepting donations. Visit http://www.HopeMongers.org  to learn about the projects and to give a little. You can even donate to the HopeMongers project itself from the site.

I gave $10 to help provide clean drinking water to a village in Uganda and I feel better for having done so.

Thursday, October 08, 2009 6:17:30 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Saturday, October 03, 2009

I am months late producing this video. But now that it's finished, I want to show it off. Earlier this year, my son's 8th grade basketball team tied for the city championship. Here are highlights from the season.

Saturday, October 03, 2009 9:30:23 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My sister Denise passed away very suddenly Saturday morning. I very much appreciate all those who have offered their love and support over the past few days.  Below are the details of her funeral and visitation.

Visitation
 Wednesday 7/15, 3-9PM
 Thursday 1-9PM (Rosary at 7PM)
 Wujek-Calcaterra & Sons Funeral Home
 36900 Schoenherr Rd.
 Sterling Heights, MI 48312
 Map: http://is.gd/1yL05

Funeral Mass
 Friday 7/16, 10AM
 St. Isadore Catholic Church
 18201 23 Mile Rd. (at Romeo Plank Rd)
 Macomb, MI 48042
 Map: http://is.gd/1yLLJ

Entombment
 Resurrection Cemetery
 18201 Clinton River Road
 Clinton Township , MI 48038
 http://is.gd/1yLN6

Denise and David

Tuesday, July 14, 2009 2:55:36 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mike Cramer and I grew up in suburban Detroit when Mark "The Bird" Fidrych burst onto the sports scene.  Tall, lanky, long-haired and filled with quirks, the Bird captured the imagination of both kids and adults during his time with the Detroit Tigers. His career was brief but spectacular. He won Rookie of the Year in 1976, but an misdiagnosed arm injury the following year hindered his performance for the rest of his career.  Several attempted comebacks fell short and Fidrych pitched his last Major League game in 1980.

In 1976, Fidrych was famous for both his pitching prowess (he started the All-Star game and was runner-up in the Cy Young voting as a rookie) and for his on-field personality.  I saw him pitch once that year.  I was 14 years old and I remember well his enthusiasm for the game.  He would talk to the baseball between pitches and sometimes he would get down on his hands and knees to smooth out the dirt of the mound. He never hid his joy after getting a batter out or retiring a side or winning a game.

Now Mike Cramer has a film which features Mark Fidrych and the effect he had on a young boy in suburban Detroit - an effect The Bird still had when the boy grew up and struggled with his empty life at middle age and set out across the country to find the answers from his boyhood hero.

Mike's movie - Dear Mr. Fidrych - debuts this Friday night June 26 at the Detroit-Windsor International Film Festival.

Mr. Fidrych will not be in attendance.  The Bird passed away less than three months ago, killed while working alone on a dump truck on his Massachusetts farm.

But the Bird is in this film and I believe he will be at this screening in spirit. I hope you go watch it. The Bird and the movie may inspire you the way he inspired me when I was a kid; the way he inspired Mike Cramer and the boy turned man of the movie.  Maybe he'll inspire a generation of sports fans and movie fans who never got a chance to see him.

Maybe this is the comeback that baseball denied The Bird.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009 9:40:49 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Today I start a new job. 

My last employer and I parted ways about a month ago when they decided to close their Michigan office.  I've been extremely busy since then - interviewing; writing articles; preparing and delivering presentations; attending DevLink; and spending time with my family.  I even managed to sneak in a California vacation last month. 

After weeks of interviewing, I ended up with four job offers.  I chose Sogeti primarily because of the people I met.  They have hired a number of very bright developers in Michigan during the last year and the prospect of working with them excites me.  I didn't choose the highest offer or the shortest commute (although these were both factors, of course).  I chose the position that I felt would benefit me the most in the long term.  I tried to see myself a year after working for each company and I believe I chose the one that would enhance me the most professionally.  I relish the idea of learning from people smarter than me.

I'm nervous for the unkown but excited for the challenge.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008 5:57:13 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Thursday, September 11, 2008

I was working at a large utility company in downtown Cincinnati on the morning of September 11 2001.  I had only been at my desk an hour when I heard the rumors: someone had flown a plane into the World Trade Center.  I checked CNN.com but was unable to access its site.  Every news site I tried reported that their server was too busy to respond. 

Instant messages began to trickle in.  Co-workers relayed phone calls from their families.  The office was filled with rumors: a second plane had hit the other tower; one tower had collapsed; another tower had collapsed; the Pentagon was hit; the White House was hit.  It became difficult to separate truth from fiction.  It became nearly impossible to focus on work.  Eventually someone wheeled a TV up to our floor and we were able to watch live reports and hear the news with at least some credibility.

If an enemy attacks the US, Cincinnati could be considered a likely target - many federal government offices, including the IRS and Court of Appeals are there; Procter & Gamble, one of the world's largest companies is headquartered there; and a nuclear power plant sits a few miles west of the city.
 
The department manager walked through our floor around 10AM to announce that management had considered the issue and decided all employees should remain at work.  A half hour later, he returned and informed us that they had changed their mind - the building was closing and all employees were to go home. 

I was one of the last to leave the building because I told a friend that I would drive him home if he couldn't find a ride from someone who lived near him (By that time, the buses were not running)  He found a ride from someone else, but by the time he told me, the building was nearly empty.

When I walked outside, it was nearly midday but the city was eerily quiet.  There were no cars, no buses and no people.  No boats sailed on the Ohio River that morning.  From horizon to horizon, no airplanes appeared in the sky.  Even the birds were gone.

In those days, I used to park about a mile from my office and I didn’t see a soul on my walk.  It could have been 3AM Sunday except for the sun burning overhead.  I was reminded of movies in which the protagonist awakes and goes outside to discover he is the only living man left in the world. 

I drove straight to the school where my two sons (1st and 5th grade) were enrolled.  I walked to one boy's classroom and stood at the window and watched him silently.  I'm not sure how long I stood there but the bell eventually rang and I stopped him as he exited for his next class and chatted for a few minutes, telling him nothing about the attack.  I told him I loved him.  Then I walked to my other son's classroom and did the exact same thing.  I spoke to my wife, who worked at the school.  We had little to say to each other.  School was not dismissed early that day and I left before the boys did.

On the way home, I stopped at a coffee house and sat, numb thinking of the day's events.  I knew thousands had died in New York, but I didn't know what it meant to the rest of us.  I didn't know what would happen in the coming weeks and months.  Were we at war?  Would we be attacked again soon - closer to home this time? 

I once read that everyone in America remembered where they were when they heard about John F Kennedy's assassination.  I was a year old in 1963 and wasn't aware of it until years later.  But I believe the same can be said of September 11.  It is our generation's Kennedy.  I haven't met anyone above the age of 20 who doesn't remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard of the World Trade Center Attack. 

It turned out that the outward changes in our lives were minimal - no further attacks of this magnitude were carried out and no terrorists came near Cincinnati.  But I think we were all changed that day. 

But our attitudes changed that day.  As a country, we became more vigilant and more suspicious.  Security tightened noticeably in public places and most people did not complain about the inconvenience.  People now have a greater appreciation of the risks taken by firefighters, policemen and soldiers as they carry out their duties.  Most of us take our safety less for granted than we did before.

Our lives were instantly separated into the time before September 11 and the time after.  Seven years ago, we didn't how - but we knew that things had changed.

Thursday, September 11, 2008 9:00:14 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)