The End – 2008 Recap

Perfect for the last day of the year – Dill Pixels’ Flickr collection of “The End” screens from famous movies:


Quick recap of 2008 for the Hacker/Kubes family:

Sprinkler Miles started 1st grade and is barreling full-steam ahead into an amazing childhood. Watching a child go from knowing his letters to being able to read full-on books aloud is a delightful experience. His ideas are still mind-bending, his physicality still awesome. He doesn’t just ride a two-wheeler — he rides it long distance (he and Amy surprised me on bikes at work one day – a five mile trip each direction). Two days after getting a pogo stick for Christmas, Miles logged a record-breaking 23 hops (love that recovery at the very end of the clip). He’s sweet and thoughtful and loving and every minute with him is a joy.

In sadder news, Plato – our family cat of 17 years – finally reached the end of his comfortable life. We had him put down late summer after he could no longer move comfortably or hold his bladder. Plato’s been a staple of my life with Amy since I’ve known her, long before we were married. And he was the cat Miles was born with – his first relationship with an animal. Losing him was tough.

On the work front, I’ve transitioned from webmaster for the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism to webmaster for the Knight Digital Media Center, while staying in the same chair (and realized I’d been sitting in the exact same chair for seven years running). Taking that job meant spending a few months learning Python and Django. A long ramp-up, but absolutely loving Django now, and using it for more and more side projects as well. Birdhouse Hosting also started offering Django this year.

With the Knight Center, I’ve been involved with a mission to help newsrooms across the country figure out how to address the challenges of crumbling revenues and massive layoffs, as the distributed web continues to threaten the traditional/localized newspaper. News organizations are going through massive mental shifts, becoming increasingly technology focused. The center runs week-long workshops for visiting journalists, who come to have their heads crammed with ideas for ways to create innovative and compelling content online. Year after year, my association with the J-School proves challenging and rewarding, and never sits still for long. I feel extremely lucky to have job security as this ugly recession settles in.

Other misc: I’ve been writing occasional music-related pieces for Stuck Between Stations, which I run with a few friends. When time allows or the weather/mood command it, I’ve been strumming away on the ukulele. And, perhaps a bit sadly, Twitter all but killed my urge to blog. I feel bittersweet about that – on one hand, Twitter is a much more fluid experience than blogging, and can be done in the margins of life without requiring big chunks of time. On the other hand, I do miss the more in-depth expressive capacity of the real thing. But writing regularly is important; I promise not to let the blog die, no matter how much more convenient Twitter may be.

Amy too has a new job. After a year of being a regular parent participator at Miles’ school, Amy applied for – and got – the job of 2nd/3rd grade classroom assistant. And just a few weeks into that gig, she was asked to be the official math teacher for the 3rd grade class. On Fridays she teaches visual arts to the combined class. She’s jumped in with both feet and is loving being with the kids. I built a brand-new web site for Miles’ school this year.

Also in 2008, I made several trips to Morro Bay to help my mother move out of my boyhood home and into a new life with my father in the mountains. The change was a long time coming, went smoothly, and had a happy ending, though it was tough to say goodbye to my childhood home. But the change is all for the better, and has brought new unity to our family.

Looking back, 2008 has been a year of small revolutions and grand plans, satisfaction and warmth. Life is good. Love and best wishes to all Birdhouse readers, and to my extended families on both sides.

Lou Reed :: Move Your Heart

5 Replies to “The End – 2008 Recap”

  1. Sounds like a pretty cool year.

    Maybe it’s just me, but it looks like on the crestmont website the “close” image for the lightbox script is missing.

    Hope your new year is cool as well!

  2. Thanks Jeremiah. And nice eagle-eye on the missing close box on the lightbox script. Should be able to fix that easily enough. Done :)

  3. Hey Scot,

    Just checking in. Things are up and running here in Dakar…I marvel at my luck/blessings. Our house has a roof terrace encompassing nearly an acre of space, with tantalizing peeks at the ocean; which stands just yards away at the bottom of an 80 foot cliff. Incidentally, roof, in French, is pronounced toit (twah). That’s right; I’ve got a huge toit where everyone can party. And I have yet to put too much mileage on that joke. We live in little neighborhood separated from it’s surrounding by a brand new road that puts us next to the ocean, and the remainder of our archipelago across a deadly asphalt chasm called the Grand Corniche. We’re nestled next to a 12 storey Grand Mosque which has the worst muezzin (prayer caller atop the minarettes) in the city…pity…I love the Islamic call to prayer, but when done badly it’s just caterwauling. The Mosque sits at the bottom of the cliffs in a great bowl with its own black stoned beach…lovely. We sit atop the cliff, and so are at eye level with the top of the twin minarettes…photos to follow soonest. We will enjoy it for now, but there are two enormous hotels being constructed either side of us…must be that “progress” everyone’s talking about.
    The kids love it. Their soccer skills, by necessity, are becoming amazing…their French is tinged with Wolof and English…they become impatient with American friends who ask them how many zebras and elephants they’ve seen. Their response is to tell them about the carcass video log we keep. On our weekend walks we keep an eye out for new, dead sheep/goats/cows on the side of the road (nighttime traffic here is deadly to all living things) – they have come to understand decay (from flesh to bone), and have had an uncomfortable glimpse at our place on the food chain. They have come to learn that the traditional Islamic greeting of A’salam u Lek’um is not a threat or terrorism indicator…Al Humdulilah. My son eats fish eyeballs (at the table, not willy-nilly) and will touch anything he finds interesting…regardless of smell, texture, parental protest, or the ability of the thing to be touched to defend itself or deliver great harm or death. My daughter has abandoned Barbie and princess images in favor of realistic family play. She loves Playmobile toys. They’re mundane! Wonderful! There is no suggestion of how to play with the things…just little things to play with. No commercial corollary to some movie or tv show….no underlying social conditioning toward militarism, misogyny, aggression, or subjectivism. Here is a toy house/barn/plane/tractor – here are the people who interact with said thing – here are their extra bits; tools, clothes, etc… (as few or as many as you may want)…now play. Love it. All in all she’d rather read and listen to Zeppelin…fine with me…
    My wife and I are entering our 20th year together…holy shit! ‘Nuff said. Ready for 20 more. We have decided that this should be our last third world post…now we’ll have to convince the State Department…Carla’s new PhD should help…I still have my wit and charm and a resume unusable outside of the embattled shitholes of the world…c’est la vie. Raising kids is a great job anyway.
    I’ve read about you and yours tell me more when you have a moment…how are Josh and Ethan? How does Morro Bay look now?
    Wa lek’um a sallam,

  4. Yow, thanks for the excellent update, Paul. Your life is so much different from… anyone else’s I know. Your kids are very fortunate to be raised in such an interesting environment – they’ll thank you the rest of their lives for the perspective they’re gaining now.

    Fish eyeballs? We can’t even get Miles to try pasta with sauce on it, or hot dogs with grill flecks. Given the choice to eat unfamiliar things or go hungry he’ll choose to go hungry.

    Josh is back in the monastery, doing an additional stint, but due to emerge soon. Ethan is living in Las Vegas, doing his thing and happy as far as I can tell.

    Rainy day and I feel like geocaching… got to motivate. Thanks again for the update! All wonderful.

  5. i’m so sorry to hear about plato. dan and i remember him with much fondness. seventeen years is a great lifetime for a cat.

    congrats to you and amy on both of your jobs. those kids must * love * amy.

    and miles seems like so much fun. i can’t believe how quickly they become 100% kid!

    please say hi to josh when he emerges.

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