Sunday, January 11, 2009

2008 in (My) Review

Salutations, Gentle Reader! Here is my capsule view of 2008. This is not a review of major news and events; rather, it is a summary of my own activity last year and it is based on the annual "Holiday Greetings" letter that accompanies the cards Mrs. Brainwise and I send out. I should also point out that this post is not an exact duplicate of that letter -- I have removed (or severely edited down) my wife's individual entries from the letter because, well, it's not really for me to broadcast her business on here.

With that little bit of an intro, I invite you to read on (if you dare!).

Another year as a technical writer for a major ecommerce firm, and I find myself with another award. This time it was a team award for all the folks that support our suite of software tools, but I did receive my own statue (and a cash bonus). I was also promoted this year, so I am once again a Senior Technical Writer. And, yes, that is just as exciting as it sounds. In other work news, Mrs. Brainwise celebrated her 15th year at her company -- can you believe that? 15 years in one place! Kudos to her. I swear she is the heart of that place.
The basement renovation is nearly complete. After the installation of new windows and a coat of paint on the walls and floor, it looks brand new down there. The wait for a new steel door to be installed, however, continues. Until then, stuff from the basement is strewn around the rest of the house and Mom Sibley's basement (many thanks for her continued patience). Update: We shifted alot of stuff from the living room, dining room, office, and guest room back down to the basement just in time for the holidays. It's amazing how much room that reclaimed!
Milo and Otis started a new canned food diet and Mrs. Brainwise thinks they have never been happier. I think they have never been more annoying (at dinner and breakfast). But there is no denying the boys love their new food and it does seem to be helping their health. The newest cat news concerns Milo: For no discernible reason, he has taken to sitting on the couch with us. Oh, and it's not just sitting near us -- he is actually right up against us, especially when the heater is on. Otis has always been cuddly, so Milo's transformation as cuddler #2 has Mrs. Brainwise overjoyed.
Mrs. Brainwise traveled extensively this year: overnighting in Atlantic City with her mother a few times, and flying out to California to visit her sister. Aside from attending a few weekend retreats for the School of Sacred Ministries, my only travel occurred in late June/early July when we joined my family for a trip to Atlanta. My sister was scheduled to attend a school counselor conference so everyone tagged along for a vacation. The hotel was gorgeous if a tad crowded and noisy (a slew of high school kids were also attending a conference). I recommend the Botanical Gardens if you are ever in Atlanta – they are simply beautiful. But the real highlight of the trip came the day we left Atlanta and drove to the Smokey Mountain Ruby and Gold Mine in Cherokee, NC, where we panned for gemstones! It was so much fun finding all sorts of great gems. Next, Mrs. Brainwise and I struck out on our own to follow the Blue Ridge Parkway -- starting out by going the wrong direction (maybe we didn’t want to go home so soon). This was the most amazing drive ever, and we ended up in the most amazing town ever: Boone, NC. This little mountain community is perfect. It has that Penn State feel -- provided by Appalachian State University -- and it is a beautiful town. It could even become our annual vacation spot.
Mrs. Brainwise and I celebrated eight years of marriage and my 40th birthday this year. We observed these milestones by attending a football game in Philadelphia: the Philadelphia Eagles (her team) versus the Pittsburgh Steelers (my team). We sat in season ticket territory -- about 10 rows behind the Steelers bench -- and saw a great game (according to Mrs. Brainwise, that is). Lincoln Financial Field is a great place – from the workers, to the layout, to the food (not that there is much we can actually eat on a gluten free diet), to the game day feeling. It was Mrs. Brainwise’s day as her Eagles defeated the Steelers 15-6.
I've completed another season as Project Supervisor for the Montgomery Theater, a small professional theater in Souderton, PA. This year, I focused on upgrading and expanding music and sound effect control for Main Stage productions. For my efforts in this and other projects, I was honored with the 2008 Award of Excellence. Mrs. Brainwise schemed with the theater's staff to ensure that my parents and a few close friends were in the audience for the presentation. And, believe me, I was completely surprised. I just never saw it coming; never expected such an award.
I continue to serve on the School of Sacred Ministries' Advisory Circle, and have taken a leadership role as the Interim Co-Administrator. Earlier this year, I conducted my first class, Introduction to Indigenous European Spiritualities. This class replaces the previous topic of Celtic Spirituality and Earth Studies that had been part of the curriculum for years. One of my fellow graduates was a co-presenter with me, and our class was a great success. We not only expanded on the original topic -- as evidenced by the title change -- but (in the words of our previous Administrator, who is also the School's co-founder) our presentation was "probably the best class on Celtic spirituality the School has ever had." I am looking forward to teaching my next class, Introduction to Rituals and Ceremonies, at a retreat this coming March. Earlier this year, I was certified to offer premarital counseling and I conducted two more interfaith weddings over the summer -- both of which were outside. I am also honored to say that I am recognized as a gothi, performing spiritual observances for a growing community of Germanic Reconstructionists in the tri-state area.
And now here we are in 2009. I hope you enjoyed the recent holiday season, and I wish you a healthy and prosperous New Year.
2008 Collage

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