2011 Christmas Letter

January brought a milestone… my first trip to the dentist in 12 years. Not for any particular reason, but because I figured everyone should see a dentist at least once every dozen years. The result, one tiny cavity. And a nice deep cleaning. And replacing all of my silver fillings with composite. I also upgraded my PC in one last attempt to make it not suck. After $3,000 in upgrades, it still sucked. In January, we also made a presentation at the University of Kansas that led to licensing of two exciting medical devices.

In February, since the 5 buinesses I was already managing weren’t enough, we launched Epic Finishing, a plating/anodizing/engraving business. I also made the switch. Finally. Bought my first Mac… an iMac 27″. To say that it changed the way I work would be an understatement. I would spend the next 10 months replacing every computer I come in contact with to a Mac. I enrolled in a Final Cut Pro class that lasted about 18 hours, and then immediately realized I now had yet another skill that I would be expected to use on the job.

March brought all sorts of fun stuff from a business standpoint. The consulting company I work for got an eviction notice (the building was purchased and new owner wanted everyone out), and within a couple of days, the medical device company got an FDA recall notice. This presented all sorts of interesting things. The eviction notice gave us 30 days. If you’ve ever looked at commercial real estate, you know that’s simply not possible. Even if you find a new space the same day, it takes more than 30 days for the buildout, not to mention the move. The FDA recall was not our fault, but we had to clean up the mess. A mess we’re still cleaning up as of the writing of this post.

April was very expensive. I went out and bought a BRAND NEW Jeep Unlimited for about $40,000. 6 days later, we had the biggest hailstorm I’ve ever experienced, which is something considering I live in Kansas. My truck, the Jeep, and the roof, windows, deck of my house were smacked. I used the check for my truck to pay taxes, and we got the Jeep and house fixed. But it was a pain, and it cost a lot. While all of this was happening, we were securing a new location for the consulting company, and I was managing the FDA recall. To say I was stressed would be an understatement. The move into the new office happened the last week of April. The new landlords are awesome and the space is actually much nicer than the old one.

In May, the church moved into a permanent building, after 7 years of meeting in schools. Sadly, the location we had to share space with a Jewish group so that meant the entire sound system had to be put up and torn down each week. Christen and I did the setup until I melted down and told the pastor I couldn’t do it anymore. Late in May, a tornado went straight up the road towards were I work, leading us all to hide in the stairwells like we were hiding from Nazis. Fortunately the storm took a detour and destroyed some of Kansas City Kansas, instead.

In June, we hired two new assistants at the consulting company, which meant lots of help, and… lots of training. As is my tradition, June was a month filled with gardening. I’m very proud of my front yard gardens, and I spend way too much time and money on them. Between work and weeding, that’s about all I had time for.

A much more disturbing trend started to develop in June and July. I started losing my ability to remember things. Like, in a scary way. It started happening often, I’d have someone come and say “remember yesterday when we talked about X” and not only could I not remember talking about X, I couldn’t remember having a conversation with that person at all. I started logging my conversations as they happened, and sure enough, I was losing big chunks of every single day, within a day. I high-tailed it to the doctor, who promptly ordered a sleep study. My apnea/hypopnea index (AHI) was 83. An AHI of 30 is considered “severe apnea”. 90 minutes into the study they put a CPAP mask on me because they were afraid I was going to have a stroke. August brought CPAP, which brought sleep to my life. For the first time in at least 20 years, I started dreaming. My blood pressure dropped 30 points. I didn’t spend all day yawning. I could remember things. My anxiety went down. I took a vacation with the family to Arizona. My first time there. It was 106 degrees and comfortable. When we got back, it was 116 and humid in KC. Go figure.

August also brought change on the church front. When I arrived back from vacation, I found that I and my fearless cohort, Christen, had been replaced in our absence. We’d been leading the music for about 11 months, so imagine our surprise. I felt like I should write 95 theses and nail them to the door. We both stayed for a few weeks but things got a little ugly and we ended up moving on. For me, that meant moving on to Bedside Baptist…

In September I got to do a comprehensive quality audit of the medical company operations. If you have ever audited a quality system, you know that it’s completely riveting. September also marked the biggest purge of Facebook friends I’ve ever done, culling more than 40% of my total number. Go where you’re celebrated, not where you’re tolerated. At the end of September, David Koechner rubbed my head. Really. Also in September, Jenna and I decided to part ways. She decided she wanted to move to Colorado and spend time in the mountains. Naturally I’m staying in KC. It’s home.

I filed at the beginning of October. Did I mention that Liz moved in to be my roomie? I can’t remember what month, so we’ll say it was October. That way I have something to say for an otherwise uneventful month.

In November, we finally moved Liz’s storage-locker-o-crap into the house, and she turned the man room into the girliest room on the planet. We also said goodbye to Chasey the cat in November. She was not young by any stretch, but lymphoma is never a happy thing. Tragedy struck on the 14th of November, when one of my oldest and kindest friends died in a head-on collision, along with her oldest daughter. I was Heidi’s date to her senior prom, and bought her first cigar for her on her 18th birthday. Her other two daughters survived the crash, but Heidi will leave a big hole in the universe. She was larger than life.

Finally in December, I gave up on the iMac. I needed more power. I went with a Mac Pro 8-core, put 64GB’s of RAM in it along with 4 512GB Solid States. Needless to say, it’s fast. Sheriff had to get a facelife. He kept getting MRSA infections in the fold above his nose. After the surgery, he was like a puppy. He could smell, taste, and see properly for the first time in his life. I’d never seen him salivate over a new scent before. It’s been so good to see him behave like a normal dog. It was a year full of ups and downs, but it was a year of change. I expect 2012 to be a year of new beginnings. Here’s to you all.