2011: A Year of Beginnings and Endings

As the final hours of 2011 slowly tick away, I thought I’d try to recap 2011 as it happened for me. Believe me, that’s pretty tough to do. Sure, there are a few highlights I can [vaguely] recall, but with twelve months, there’s got to be more than three or four things that happened this year. And for that, I say thank god for Twitter and Facebook.

January – I survived.

The arrival of January meant I had managed to survive my first term at Drexel, or in other words, being a college student for eleven weeks. But, as I suspected, that first term was the easiest I’ve had at Drexel. As one of my professors put it, “Second term means your honeymoon is over. Welcome to the real Drexel.” Other than that, judging from what I can find that I did in January, it was pretty uneventful this year. On the 24th, I mailed a letter for the first time in two years, say Summer Wars in theaters on the 26th, my MacBook Pro crapped out on me on the 25thish, got a fair bit of snow on the 27th (Drexel had a delayed opening), went to my first Philadelphia Orchestra performance roughly the 28th, and said farewell to Apple’s Xserve on the 31st.

February – Hello, Apple. Nice to have you as a special guest.

February saw a lot more action. And what better way to kick it off than by riding the slowest elevator on Drexel’s campus?

Isn’t she just wonderful 😛 Not just the slowest, but the crappiest. I haven’t had the chance to ride it lately, but I bet it’s a certified deathtrap by now.

February 2nd was pretty evenly matched between being a crappy day and an awesome one. The 2nd was the day it first looked like Borders wasn’t going to make it through the year (and sure enough it didn’t). On the other hand, it was my first day of playing the closed beta of Wakfu.

February 3rd was likely one of the best days I’ve had at Drexel: half a day of Apple on campus. Apple was invited to Drexel as a special guest to the Mobile Apps for Academe event, giving two keynotes on how to use iOS devices and their apps in the classroom. While personally I was of course there for Apple, it was actually a pretty cool event. We’re doing some really kickass stuff with mobile devices at Drexel. Besides Apple, if memory serves me right, the 3rd was also the day we at ZREO announced our Kickstarter project to get a live choir for Twilight Symphony (TPS). Thanks to our amazing fans, it was a huge success (and I promise you, we are really, really, really working on TPS).

Fast forward to February 11th… The 11th was the day I actually started to make use of my subscription to Crunchyroll as I discovered Eureka Seven, what I consider to be one of the best animes of all time.

Leap again to the 14th and you get the day I got my Sony Cybershot DSC-H55, my first personal camera that I love and carry with me at all times in Philly (OK, save for shower, bed, etc, but you get the idea). The 15th was practically an entire day of playing around with it and learning all the different features.

February 16th, 8:25am est. A day I will never forget. The 16th was the day Borders officially filed for bankruptcy, meaning one of my favorite companies and my favorite bookstore in the world was going to be out of business by the end of the year. For the longest time, I admit I was in denial, wanting to see Borders come out of it, but it was clear that there would be no Borders come 2012.

Jumping ahead again to the 20th, the 20th was a busy day for me as a member of Techserv. We held our first Learning Seminar that, well, could have gone better. I think the event itself was perfectly fine, but the turnout we were expecting never came.

Jump ahead another six days and it’s Pokémon Black and White Mall Tour day. Yep, I’m in college and I still sorta play Pokémon. I never actually beat Black, mainly due to my leaving Nintendo for Sony, but the mall tour was a fantastic way to spend the day. Totally worth the two or however many hours it took on SEPTA to get to the Franklin Hills Mall and back. It was a day I spent with a friend and it was awesome.

The 27th was a quieter day, but still a good one; I made Starbucks Gold and Crunchyroll released their first DVD, 5 Centimeters Per Second (which, by the way, is a beautiful movie. You should see it.)

March – Oh. My. God.

March 2011 is a month I will never forget. I believe it’s one a lot of people will never forget. But before the great tragedy of March 11th, March started off as  pretty good month.

March 2nd was iPad 2 day, also known as a day anyone that knows me and doesn’t care about Apple would want to avoid me 😛 March 3rd was the day my copy of 5 Centimeters Per Second finally arrived, the 5th we at ZREO met our funding goal for a choir for TPS, the 6th Pokémon Black was released and I learned about Qwiki, the 8th the 40th anniversary of Starbucks, the 10th I finally received my Poken, and the 11th was iPad 2 day. Or so I thought it would be. At 8:22am everything changed. The iPad 2 launch immediately dropped from the top of my priority list. In its place was Japan, who had just suffered their worst earthquake in history and was in trouble. Extremely serious trouble.

Immediately after seeing the news in my Twitter feed, I starting gathering any and all information I could on the event, checking for updates at every moment I got. However, it wasn’t until the 12th the damage started to become evident. The media switched over to mainly covering Japan, although getting most of their information wrong, finally showing images of just how bad the damage was. The 13th was when Fukushima became the primary focus of media coverage. The 14th is when just how sever things were became evident. And then it just got worse and worse with each day passing. The best I could do at the time was reallocate my Starbucks budget to the aid effort for Japan. If you know me, you’ll know that’s actually a very significant chunk of money.

March 18th meant Spring break had at last arrived, bringing with it a week off at home. The 19th I remember for two reasons: I hit half a million combined points in BOINC and the Pokémon theme was playing at Borders Freehold. March 20th. First day of Spring. AKA free Rita’s day. March 24th was when I knew it was really over for Borders. On the 24th, Borders announced the Philadelphia Center City store would be closing, the one I relied on at Drexel and one that was a beautiful store. March 25th was a full day alone in NYC with The Sony Wonder Technology Labs, Books Kinokuniya, and Image Anime as the highlights of the trip. March 27th was the return to Drexel to start the last term of the year.

April – Goddamnit Sony. Also potatoes. And Sakura.

Naturally, April 1st was April Fools Day, a rather mediocre one at that this year. Drexel’s own The Rectangle took the cake in my book. Needless to say, definitely looking forward to it this year when I return. April 2nd at 7:29pm marked my 1,000 check-in on Foursquare. Naturally, it was at the Apple Store Walnut Street. April 4th was the perfect example as to why I always have my camera on me: flash mob at 30th Street Station. April 10th was the Philadelphia Cherry Blossom Festival, which I volunteered at. Very long and tiring day, but very fun. I’m still debating if I want to go as a regular attendee this year or if I’ll volunteer again. I did have the morning free to do whatever, but it didn’t really get active until the afternoon. April 17th was the Philadelphia Science Festival, which I was at when Techserv exhibiting at until the rain started to pour down. April 18th was another personal blow day. On the 18th, The Philadelphia Orchestra filed for bankruptcy. As someone who both loves and works at the orchestra, it was pretty hard news to digest, but thankfully the music so far goes on. April 19th. Commence testing. Maybe the cake won’t be a lie this time. And hopefully this cold will go away quick. April 20th: Nope. Cold is here to stay *groan* Someone pass me a tissue please. April 21st marked the beginning of the infamous great PSN outage of 2011 and epic PR disaster for Sony. Permitting my dates are correct, April 22nd was the beginning of the celebration of the inauguration of Drexel’s 14th President, President Fry. On April 28th, FHNWRK began with my joining of Empire Avenue under the symbol FHNWRK. Regrettably, I haven’t had the time to keep up with it nearly as much as I used to. I haven’t the slightest idea if that will change at all when I go back to Drexel either.

May – Ding dong the witch is dead. Among a ton of other things.

While May 1st was a pretty boring, typical day, the 2nd wasn’t. At about 1am, the news broke that at long last, Osama Bin Laden was dead. While it was nothing like the scene outside the White House that the press was showing, there was a pretty good celebration at Drexel. May 3rd saw the return of the Mocha Coconut Frap, a drink I love and hadn’t had for a year or two. May 4th marked the arrival of the Konami U tour at Drexel. While the turnout was pretty small, likely due to the rain, it was a fantastic way to spend the day. May 9th was a pretty big day: at 10:19pm, The France Hopper Network opened up to the public. May 11th marked the opening of Access for Everyone: Computing at Drexel, 1946-1984 which I was at with Techserv as we demoed some of the historical computers from our collection. May 15th was the first day PSN was finally [somewhat] back up in the US, but it was also the day Borders Philadelphia closed its doors. May 17th marked the release of the first entry into the Week in Philly series. May 19th was a busy day, the 10th birthday of the Apple Retail Store, the beginning of Starbucks’ #SRCH game, and Drexel’s announcement the Academy of Natural Sciences was to become a part of Drexel. May 20th was a long night with the Techserv + DragonLAN LAN Party at Drexel.

June – One year down.

The arrival of June meant I had – somehow – managed to survive a full year at Drexel. June also meant the last summer break I’d ever have had begun. For those unfamiliar with Drexel’s programs, I’m on the five-year program. The first year I was in class September 2010 – June 2011. Summer break was June – September. The second year, my current, is a co-op for six months (for me, Sept – March) and then class for six months (March – Sept). Yep, that’s right. I now go to school (more or less) year round. The third and fourth years repeat the same structure as the second year. The fifth and final year is nine months (or three terms) of classes, with graduation in June.

Permitting my date is correct, June 4th marked the grand opening of Drexel’s first Library Learning Terrace after being two months behind schedule.

June 6th marked the beginning of E3, WWDC, and packing to leave Drexel for home for the summer. June 10th was both move out day and watching the Cubs play the Phillies is the evening. Not a bad way to say good-bye to Philly. June 13th marked the beginning of traveling back and forth between Philly for co-op interviews. Needless to say, I racked up quite a few Amtrak points in two weeks. Skip ahead a number of days to June 22nd: Jlist introduces Jlist points and Crunchyroll Guest Passes go from 24 hours to 48 hours. June 25th: TF2 goes free to play.

July – Mikunopolis, [Virtually at] Anime Expo, Wells Failo, and fireworks.

July for me opened with watching the Crunchyroll live stream of Anime Expo all day and fighting with Wells Failo (Fargo) to try to get some stupid technical stuff worked out so I could watch the livestream of the Mikunoplois concert. I caught some of it, but not live. July 3rd I went to go see the local fireworks with a friend. They were a shorter than I was hoping, but it was a good way to get out of the house for part of the night. And get stuck in traffic (Whooo traffic!). July 6th we got a moderately severe thunderstorm in the area, which made for some very good photo ops. July 10th my camera broke, marking the start of an extremely long and anxious wait for it to come back from Sony in Texas. July 12th, on the other hand, was a day of good news as I learned I had been selected for a co-op position at Bristol-Myers Squibb (where I am on co-op now). July 17th was an early morning day in order to see the last Harry Potter movie at the cheaper before 11am ticket rate. The 17th was also the day I started watching Madoka Magica, the most fucked up yet amazing anime I’ve ever seen (Contract? 人◕‿‿◕人). July 18th was the official death of Borders when it announced it was liquidating all remaining assets and closing all stores, bringing about the end of an era. July 19th was the public release of OS X 10.7 Lion, which now that I think about it, is probably due for a software update soon. July 24th I signed up for Reddit, something I still can’t decide if I regret or not. July 29th would’ve been an average day, if it weren’t for the fact the Cheesecake Factory Freehold lost power two or three times (I can’t remember anymore) while we were there for dinner (yay thunderstorms!)

August – NYC, the beach, Demolition Derby: Bathroom Edition, WTFEARTHQUAKE, Steve Jobs leaves Apple, and Hurricane Irene

August 5th was the day my camera finally returned from repair at Sony. Needless to say, I was a happy camper. August 9th was an all-day trip to NYC, with stops at the Sony Wonder Technology Labs, MoMA, Book-Off, and Books Kinokuniya. August 11th was a day of beach going, with Ocean Grove in the afternoon and Jenkinson’s Boardwalk in the evening. Time leap yet again, this time to August 20: the start of the complete demolition of one the bathrooms at home for a complete remodel. It looks a lot better now. August 23rd was a rather interesting day. At 2:03pm I experienced my first earthquake ever thanks to a 5.9 in Virginia. It was pretty small here, but we still felt it. It was both really freaky and really cool at the same time. I’ve been to California at least three times now, but I never experienced one while I was there. August 24th marked the end of the second Steve Jobs era at Apple when he announced he was stepping down from CEO.  The first thing that crossed my mind when I saw that was “Shit. Jobs isn’t going to be around in 2012.” August 25th meant get ready for Hurricane Irene. We were literally right in the middle of its path, with the eye passing right over the street corner. We were out of power from roughly midnight the 27th until 9:02am the 29th. There is actually a road here that is still washed out and awaiting repair. The major one was back in service within weeks.

September – Welcome to the real world.

The arrival of September meant the arrival of my first co-op through Drexel. My first real job. It of course also marked my 19th birthday on the 8th. September 19th marked the end of Netflix as we knew it. Netflix attempted to (and failed miserably) to spin of its DVD service into an entirely new service, Qwikster. Oh what a great laugh that was. In other tech news, on September 22nd Facebook introduced Timelines, which apparently didn’t start going public until a few weeks ago. That said, the one downside to beta testing things, you forget what has and hasn’t been released to everyone else. September 25th marked the end of my last summer break and the beginning of life in the real world. I decided to spend it in Philly. September 26th I started working at BMS.

October – What happens at Comic Con [Doesn’t] Stay at Comic Con.

October. The best month of the year for an Otaku living in or near NYC. At long last, it was time again for the annual New York Comic Con and Anime Festival. And what a year it was. Unlike 2010, 2011 lasted four days and took up the entire convention center. I honestly don’t know if I even saw half of the show this year it was that big. Needless to say, it was also significantly more tiring that 2010 was. The highlight for me easily was the getting to meet Makoto Shinkai in person. I can’t even tell you how cool that was. It was only for a couple on minutes, but we were able to have a small conversation. Thank you again Shinkai-san for the autograph and for all the hard work you put into your films. I am eagerly looking forward to seeing Children on disk here in the US. And in theaters if it get a theatrical release 😉

However, October was not all happy. Just one day after the announcement of the iPhone 4s, Steve Jobs passed away. October 5th was the day the technology industry and the world as a whole lost a great visionary. As I’ve said before, I never had the honor of meeting him, but I sure as hell considered him a mentor.

The last memorable event of October for me came on the 24th when my Roku arrived in the mail in significantly less time than estimated. Heck, it arrived before Roku even sent out an email saying it shipped.

November – Aloha.

November brought with it a very nice week in Hawaii. However, while I did of course have fun while there, it wasn’t meant to be a vacation. Instead it was a family gathering to spread the ashes of my grandparents. We were there from the 5th until the 12th. However, there of course was more to November than Hawaii, although it was the highlight. November 17th was the first time I heard about SOPA, the 18th my MacBook Pro got replaced yet again, on the 24th Bandai Entertainment announced they were closing The Store (which is now closed), the 25th was of course Black Friday, and the 26th was a full day of shopping at the King of Prussia Mall.

December – The month of traffic hell.

One of the downsides to having a ton of malls around BMS is traffic hell come time for the holidays. There were a couple of days where my commute time doubled thanks to the traffic from the malls and US-1. Other than the holidays and traffic hell, December was a pretty typical month. The only highlights were my cousin’s son’s 1st birthday on the 18th, Christmas of course on the 25thon which I received a GPS for my car, a very wet trip to NYC on the 27th, and family over on the 30th. That’s literally it.

And so begins 2012, what may or may not be the last year we all exist. I don’t believe it, but it does give a good reason to live every day as if it were your last. So here’s to 2012. May it be a year of adventure and a year in which dreams happen.

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