As we Guyanese call it, these are the waning moments of 2017‘s Old Year’s Night. By the time I press “publish” it will be the new year.
I am spending these last bits of the year nursing a sudden migraine, eating guacamole, and marinating in the only form of artistic perfection that I know: the music of David Bowie.
As is my tradition, I reserve the first post of the year to unironically list those things for which I continue to be grateful. It’s an important milestone, as well, since this marks the beginning of the 25th year of this blog. That’s right: my website is now older than most of my adult students. Wow.
It’s been a bit of a privilege to have witnessed and participated in the birth and maturation of the internet. What began for me as a tool for accessing pornography quickly became a useful platform for marketing my writing and public engagements, eventually evolving to various businesses and media endeavours and even genuine scholarly pursuits.
I’ve lately begun playing with cryptocurrencies and open data, and this year was even recognized as a champion of online transparency.
The most popular day of this blog was Tuesday April 12, 2011, when over 33 thousand people came here for some reason. On that date, I wrote a post about my visions for the future of computing. But my most popular single post was written just a few days earlier, on March 24 of that year, about the death of Yuri Gagarin, an article that has been read almost eight thousand times.
These days, those are not particularly impressive numbers. Not when my Huffington Post column gets hundreds of thousands of hits, and not when a single interview on AJ+ has been viewed over six million times. (Such is the power of social media, that leaves the viral potential of a mere blog in the dust.) And certainly not when so-called “Youtube stars” make millions of dollars for being watched while they open boxes and do other dumb shit.
But I’m still proud that a space that I created 25 years ago just to ramble on about nothing can garner tens of thousands of readers. I’ve been approached by the regular batch of advertisers and marketers over the years to monetize the platform. But so far I just use the regular Google ads. However, if anyone wants to offer any real money, I’m always open to a conversation 😉
Back to Old Year’s Night. This night, my girlfriend is home sick, so instead of going out, I stayed in with my parents and…. and did what? Well, we had a heated argument over the actual sequence of events describing the 20th century history of the nation of Iran…. because that’s what Deonandans argue about.
Then my father and I had a contest over who can tell the better “Dad joke”. As an actual Dad, he had an advantage. But he’s not computer literate, and I had access to the internet, so I won. The winning joke (based on how hard he laughed): What do you call a Mexican who has lost his car? Carlos.
On to today’s main event…. what are the things I was thankful for this past year? In no particular order….
The love and support of a particularly reliable young woman. In my misspent youth I would have been slow to recognize and appreciate the value of a giving partner. (And Zod knows I drove many away with my selfishness). One of the few boons of middle age is supposed wisdom; and in my case that wisdom manifests as an ability to know when I got it good, and I got it good. Life is an adventure, sometimes a difficult one. Having a reliable partner with whom to brave the challenges is indeed a sweet gift of life, and we disrespect that gift at our peril.
With said reliable young woman comes an adorable canine quadruped dependent who is a royal pain in the ass, but whom I love so much I think I might explode. I weep for those who have only known human love. Bonds that transcend species are yet another wondrous gift of life, and for this I am indeed quite grateful.
I love my job. I really do. I complain about it a lot. But I actually and honestly love my students (not in a creepy way), and value my colleagues. I have a lot of criticism of, and concern for, universities as a whole. But I am definitely aware of how fortunate I am to be well remunerated, intellectually sated, ego stroked, and to be able to spend time with young adults at the time of the opening of their hearts and minds. It’s a privilege.
I am grateful for my health. I know this sounds pedantic. But I turned 50 this year, and the aches, pains, and physical challenges mount. But I am very physically fit, and have the resources and knowledge to manage my diet, time, and health care with cutting edge care. I am fortunate to live in a society of socialized medicine that affords me these luxuries, at a time and place in history when I have access to any food or product the world can produce. I am lucky and totally aware of my good fortune.
I have four siblings who are older. I learned late in life that not everyone with siblings has what I have: easy, reflexive and total trust in them. I don’t know how others without this boon navigate life.
Lastly, I am insanely fortunate –and grateful– to still have two healthy and independent parents, now in their 80s. Kids, listen to me: your parents might seem boring and controlling. But you only get one set in life. Spend as much time with them as you can. As that time slips away, you will cherish every last moment. Waste none of them.
That’s all folks. Nurse those hangovers!
Happy New Year. Here’s some more David Bowie. Sweet Zod, how much I miss him in the world: