In a word, 2011 has been CRAZY! I’ve had some crazy years in my time, and while this year is not nearly as crazy as some have been, it definitely holds a place on the “Craziest Years Ever” list.

A Brief Summary of 2011:

Moving

Karen and I gave up hopes of selling our house after waiting 3 years for the economy to improve so we could move to Baltimore to be closer to K’s parents and help them out. Lorena and Tess offered to live in our house, pay mortgage, etc. so that we could move. Thanks Lorena and Tess! Karen quit her long time job that she really loved (and found a new one in Baltimore), and in April we drove approximately 3007 miles away from Oakland, CA to Baltimore, MD to live in an awesome apartment that K’s friend Lisa found for us. Thanks Lisa!

Baltimore Life

Living in Baltimore has been a challenge to say the least. When we got here, we went to the local SSI office to officially switch from California to Maryland. While filling out the paperwork in the office, we found out that I am no longer eligible to receive SSI because we no longer live in our house. It is only okay to own a house if you live in it. Surprise! That was a pretty huge blow which has been hard to recover from. So hard, that we have not recovered from it yet. Karen had to take a large pay cut as well because jobs generally pay less here than in CA.

I still do not have a Maryland driver’s license, even after going to the Maryland MVA 3 times and waiting 12 weeks for New York State to clear my record in the National Driver Registry for something that was taken care of in 1984. One more trip to the MVA should do it.

Next was The Dentist. In August, I had an appointment for a “simple root canal” that would take 1/2 hour. Maybe I should have taken it as a sign that the day started with an earthquake, but I went anyway. It did not take 1/2 hour. It is 4 months, 9 dentist/endodontist appointments, and one emergency room visit later, and I am still dealing with the aftermath. I have 2 more appointments in January to (hopefully) finish the job. Some damage may be permanent.

Work has been pretty good. Luckily, my business is portable, and I can still work for my clients/colleagues in the bay area. Even more luckily, before moving here, I met an awesome woman on LinkedIn who has hooked me up with some jobs, introduced me to some people, and let me share her office. Thank you M!

It is not all hard. I love living here. I love the city. I even like the people. K’s friends are awesome and it is good to live near her parents so we can visit them and help them out. In general, I find that people are much more down to earth here than in the bay area. I like that. Our apartment is a block away from EVERYTHING, and I found a great place to do karate. I missed the east coast. It took me 20 years to miss it, but I am glad to be back. I love the changing seasons and the chill in the air. I am comfortable here. It is also nice to be so much closer to my family!

No year is complete without a few bulleted lists:

Favorite Apps 2011:

  • Komodo IDE 7 – I have been using Komodo as my main code editor/IDE since 2009. Both the free editor and commercial IDE get better with every version. Komodo 7 is in RC1 right now and should be released soon. Some bugs that were in the alpha and beta are fixed in this version and performance is improved. This version also includes my chalkboard color scheme as a system default called Dark_Chalkboard 🙂
  • Dropbox – There are not enough good things I can say about Dropbox. Now that I am working with 3 computers and an iPhone, it is hard to imagine getting along without it.
  • Moom – A relatively new window management app for mac. I have used several of these apps over the years, but Moom is my favorite one yet. Customizable keyboard shortcuts like the others, as well as a nice visual popup when hovering over the ‘maximize’ button on any window. Definitely worth $5.

Favorite Websites 2011:

  • WPCandy – Early last year, Ryan Imel relaunched WPCandy and it has quickly become my favorite place to keep up with the crazily fast moving world of WordPress news. Thanks Ryan!
  • Facebook – There are many things to hate about Facebook, but no matter what annoying things they do, it has still allowed me to have more human interaction than ever before in a way that does not overwhelm me (or if it does, closing a browser window fixes it).
  • Pinterest – I have recently discovered Pinterest and have been using it as an alternative to Tumblr. I like that it is limited to visual things.

Favorite Places in Baltimore:

  • Baltimore Harbor – I miss the San Francisco Bay more than anything else since we moved. It is really great that Baltimore has such an awesome harbor. Great place to walk around aimlessly and lots of fun things to do.
  • Charles Village Pub – One thing that always seemed to be missing from various places I lived in the bay area was a local pub. Now, we have one down the block. A great place to stop in and have a beer or to meet people at.
  • ETC – AWESOME place for the local tech and business startup communities. This is the place where the local WordPress and PHP meetups are held, as well as the place where I share office space. It is also the home of Beehive Baltimore, “… a coworking community of freelancers, entrepreneurs, and other creative professionals sharing a common workspace in Baltimore, Maryland”.

I am hoping that 2012 will be an easier year for us. I am happy to be here and glad we made this decision and finally got to make it happen. For the most part, we are very lucky! We have jobs, an awesome apartment to live in, a great city to live in, close proximity to our families, and are surrounded by great people.

Happy New Year everyone!