What a year. The start of 2011 feels like it was ages ago. I spent time in five countries, finished my MBA, completed some huge projects at work, and watched Mathias bloom into a different level of preschooler. 2012 stands before me as a relatively blank slate, which is both exciting and a bit depressing. Momentum isn’t quite as great when one doesn’t know where to go with it, and that’s kind of where I am now.
Since I didn’t blog much this year—not as much because I was always busy as because when I wasn’t busy I was too worn out for writing—here’s a Mark Danielson 2011 Year in Review.
Last year at this time I was in Hong Kong. China brought my second of three MBA international programs. It was an interesting trip, although not necessarily in the ways I had expected. Unfortunately, there’s essentially no way I can write about the class and be fair to the students, staff and institutions involved, so I’m just going to leave it with my thought that Carlson needs to continue to develop and flesh out what it wants to accomplish with its China programs.
(That’s me running to address a camera issue.)
That said, I met some great people over there, and hope I’m able to keep in touch with them in the future. I’d even say I’d want to visit the mainland again sometime. (I should talk about my interest in North Korea sometime. We’d have to pass through China to get there. But first let’s see how Kim Jong-un works out.) And Hong Kong? It took me a bit to warm up to it, but Hong Kong is amazing.
And, well, this happened:
One of the interesting things about publishing my photos under a Creative Commons license is that they have a weird way of showing up everywhere.
In the early part of the year I did a funny thing. I applied for another international program and didn’t tell my wife that I had done so. Partially this was out of my own interest to see if I’d be accepted or not—I’d been rejected for the program a couple of years earlier and was curious if I could get in—but the downside of this was I had absolutely no plan once Carlson informed me I could go. After a few awkward conversations with Lisa, who graciously agreed not to kill me, I found myself in Norway.
And then Sweden.
And then Denmark.
Yeah, it looks like a vacation, but it was educational, too. Without dissecting this, I feel obligated to pass along that I had a couple of weird “these feel like my people” moments in Copenhagen. I’m German and Norwegian. Go figure.
DC, Baltimore and Philly
If there was a disaster-prone trip this year, it was our train trip to the east coast. And when I say “train trip” what I mean is Mark, Lisa and Mathias drove from Chicago to DC because the Empire Builder was three hours late into Chicago and by the time we got there our family bedroom on the Capitol Limited was heading eastbound without us. I dearly love Chicago and the fine folks who reside there, broad shoulders and all, but I was ready to strangle some Amtrak employees by the time we punted and started searching for a car. (Amtrak’s alternative plan for us would’ve gotten us into DC about 10 hours before we were planning on leaving DC.)
The problem once we got out east was that the area was in the grips of a horrible heat wave that, in addition to killing shut-ins everywhere, made being outside pretty much unbearable. It more or less kept us inside in DC, away from the ballpark in Baltimore, and saturated in our own sweat in Philly. Mathias suffering in the heat at Mount Vernon:
On the bright side, we had an generally excellent day visiting an old college friend in DC, and at least got enough of a taste of Baltimore to know that we needed to visit it again. I hauled us quite a ways from our hotel in Baltimore so we could see this thing:
Despite the heat, I can say that DC and Baltimore were fun cities. Philly, on the other hand, I can probably do without visiting for a while. If I once were the nations’ capitol, and then the nations business capitol, and now were neither, I’d probably have a chip on my shoulder as well. In that respect, it shouldn’t be surprising that the city of brotherly love appears to have so little of it. The cheese steak was good, though.
For the first time since we’ve lived here, we joined the Minnesota masses heading up to the lake:
As usual, visited Two Rivers and other points around Northeastern Wisconsin.
And, also as usual, hit Northern Indiana.
And, not at all usual, visited Gary. Because, you know, Lisa loved Michael Jackson. This is where Jacko spent his formative years:
And, fucked if I know why, Fargo.
Other than that, the gaps between school, work and travel were pretty normal. I had a root canal, started reading fiction again—I blew through the Millennium Series in about a month—and have been on-and-off-again running for much of the year. On that last point my schedule, and a financial unwillingness to join a gym, have conspired against me, but I’m still 10 pounds lighter than I was at the start of the year. (I’d still like to drop another 20.) Other than that, we intentionally had Christmas in Minneapolis this year. My mom was able to come up for a few days, and, despite the complete lack of snow, had a pretty good time.
My year-in-review wouldn’t be complete without some comments about my political arc over 2011, which in retrospect is the most tangible thing that’s changed about me over the past year. Which means… This year in review will remain incomplete. (Note to self: I need a private place to write this stuff.) I started the year as a bit of a lefty, and ended as something else.
And with that, hello 2012. You followed an amazing year. No pressure.