2012 In Review (updated)

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It hasn’t even been a full day into 2013, so while everything is still fresh, I’d like to take the time to write up a little synopsis of 2012. I drafted something on my blog during a game of Ticket To Ride last night, but I don’t feel like it was complete enough. I had some time to think some more on my bus ride back from NYC, and I figured I’d toss it out on Facebook there for those curious to read.

Probably the biggest defining ‘thing’ of 2012 from January to April would be Grad School. It absolutely dominated my life. Fresh from a disappointing first semester filled with Linear Systems failure, I tackled Nonlinear, an independent study, and a new job as a research assistant for the naval architecture department (among other school-related things). It was probably too much to reasonably take on, but I was still naive and feeling like an overachieving undergrad. It might have been miserable at times, but it was… an exciting misery if that makes any sense. I legitimately felt like the pain from all those experiences was expanding my horizons.

My job at the Marine Hydrodynamics Lab took me into the summer where I got the opportunity to fly to Memphis and help with testing a hovercraft in the Large Cavitation Channel, a gigantic Navy testing facility where things like ship and submarine hulls are tested. It was a really cool opportunity to see how multi-million dollar research projects are conducted and what a one-of-a-kind engineering facility was like. Plus, living off per diem and having sushi and beer (sometimes) with some smart and reasonably cool people was an interesting change of pace.

Immediately following my research stint I dove into my internship at Lakehurst. I was working with some awesomely nice people in a department that dealt with UAVs. I don’t think I could have asked for a better placement, all things considered. It was probably the most dynamic group at NAVAIR, everything job they do is brand new.

About halfway through my stint at Lakehurst, I found out that I had been accepted into the SMART Fellowship program, although just barely due to the financial state of the program/country… But I made it in, which is the important part. The financial burden it relieved me of made me feel significantly better about having to seek off campus housing. And the stipend went a long way towards clearing out my student loans. It also meant I had guaranteed employment at Lakehurst after graduation which was yet another burden off my chest.

Fall rolled around and I settled into my not-Northwood housing. I tried to be a little more social this semester… Went to a Halloween party, saw a movie, etc. I did a lot of “working-with-someone-more-motivated-than-myself” to keep myself from slacking. The course load was overall quite reasonable, and I was pretty comfortable with it all.

That semester however wasn’t without setbacks, and I think the biggest was giving up a 4+ year relationship. Breakups are always fairly painful… and memorable. It was the day of the iPhone 5 release. And when The XX and Microsoft were doing a promotion that showed where around the globe people were streaming their new album Coexist. I’ll never be able to hear “Angels” without thinking about… whatever. You can only really look forward from these things. You have to. And trust that everything in life will work out. The alternative is pretty bleak. So while I might feel like WALL-E again and sort of wistfully stare at people holding hands, I just have to plow forward and keep saying Hakuna Matata to myself. Life will work itself out.

And yet, in this dearth of love, there was also so much of it created (and boy did it make me feel old). Seeing friends get engaged, or even married (coughSteveTurnercough), never ceases to give me something to smile about. It’s something so beautiful you can’t even begin to feel jealous. Just happy.

One of the small things I’m quietly pleased about is the growth of my online self-expression. In the month leading up to New Years, I’ve been steadily growing to over 200 site visits to my blog per week. On my YouTube channel, I now have 64 subscribers (no idea who they are, lol) and nearly 210,000 views. Although most of them are from my Book Safe and Wine Bottle Cutting videos, my new content (projects and gaming) viewership is growing. Back in the days of Battlefield: Bad Company 2, my random fun-tages might only see a dozen or so views. Now I’m slowly approaching a consistent triple-digit view count on my newer videos. It’s certainly not going to be a significant source of income for me, but I’m nonetheless glad to see some people appreciate my quirky perspectives on engineering-gaming-photo-food-blog-raphy.

It think it’s way more fun to do this as a hobby than to have taken on Art/Film/etc as a major. And more rewarding on a personal level too, I’ve chatted with people from the UK, Norway, etc who’ve come across my videos, and I find that sort of dialogue very cool. It definitely shows how powerful a tool the internet can be in uniting societies.

I suppose the ‘too-long-didn’t-read’ of all this is: 2012 has been a year of many big adventures and changes, some happy some sad. My life is doubling down on engineering, and with a masters degree coming in one more semester plus a ton of experience behind me, I think I’m in pretty good shape to face whatever my career will throw at me. My creative outlets like YouTube will only mature further and hopefully bear some interesting fruit. And I will figure out how to wreck at life. All I need is a healthy dose of optimism and friends, and I think everything will turn out okay. So 2013, bring it on. I’ll be waiting.

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