Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The end of the year and Oughts review

It's that time of year again. The timer on the current year is expiring and the clock of the new year is about to begin ticking. Funny thing about time passing. It was just ten years ago that we were celebrating the new millennium. Many people were worried about the Y2K bug and would our world continue to function as it always has. At the same time we were looking forward to what the new millennium would have for us. Now the Oughts Decade has passed. I'm trying to avoid the debate whether this was the first decade of the new millennium or not, if the decade goes from 0 to 9 or 1 to 0 so I'll stick with the Decade of the Oughts; you know, where the first three digits were 200. In the blink of an eye ten years has come and gone, what has happened during that time. Time for reflection and planning.

I remember on December 31, 1999 watching the TV, glued to see the celebrations around the world. From Chatham Island to the Samoas, the new millennium swept across the globe. Standing on Waikiki Beach that night feet in the sand, feeling the breeze on my face and watching the fireworks both there off shore and down at Honolulu Harbor I was in debt, going through a buy out at work, and wondering if the lights would go off on the island. Luckily, the lights stayed on.

In July of Ought One, me and 60+ other employees were pulled into a meeting with the VP of Customer Care of the company who had flown in from Texas. After being bought out a bit over a year earlier they were shutting us down. Was I mad. No. I had learned that as an employee you are just like the copier paper. You are there to be used for the business to make money. I gave them my time and skills and they gave me a pay check. They had also sent me to Kansas on several occasions to work on a project for the company.

As people were leaving the call center, on Friday, September 7, I interviewed and was hired on the spot for a position with a computer training company. That was the last day the Honolulu Call Center was in operation. I started on Monday, September 10. The next day, the equivalent of this generation's Pearl Harbor happened with the attack at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. I was able to keep my position.

In Ought Four a major mile stone had been accomplished with getting out of debt. My last credit card was paid off and I started a savings account. The feeling was something that I hope more people can feel. I had to fight with the credit card company to send out a last bill showing the zero balance. I wanted proof that I had cleared my obligation to them! Since then people have poked fun at me because I did things like not have cable and for a long time I had dial up and not high speed internet access.

Technology was changing and in Ought Five I bought my first digital camera. It was exciting to come into the age of downloading photos instead of developing film. Podcasts entered my life, specifically Disney podcasts. Then it happened again. The company that I was working for was going out of business. Luckily I was hired by the training company that bought the customer list from the old training company. I worked there just three days and my first extended trip to Disneyland occurred. It was a great time taking over fifteen hundred pictures with the new camera. It was at this time I discovered that dial up wasn't going to cut it anymore. Uploading the pictures made me realize that I needed high speed internet so I signed up for DSL access.

Another first in Ought Five was my first Honolulu Marathon. I hadn't done race training so I walked it. There is a huge sense of accomplishment crossing that finish line for the first time. Just seconds under nine hours, hurting feet, chaffing, sun burn and blisters didn't diminish the feeling. It was almost as intense as the feeling of paying off the last credit card.

Ought Six brought another technology toy to me. I purchased my first video camera with my tax return and started posting videos up on YouTube. The new job had some advantages, the first was it was only four fifths of a mile from my house. When my car died I didn't worry since work was so close. It was easy enough to catch the bus or take the twenty minute walk. The second advantage was the company's international conference was taking place in Orlando. I was given the opportunity to attend. The trip allowed me to visit Walt Disney World for the first time in seventeen years. Ten days at Walt Disney World in Florida was followed up by six days at Disneyland in Anaheim. It was here that I met in person the head of the Disney Podcast Network which is a collection of Disney podcasts and a forum for discussion along with other members of the discussion boards. Friendships had been born on that trip I know will last a life time.

Meandering Mouse Club TV, my Disney podcast came about in Ought Seven as a result of an event at Disneyland, the first official DPN Westfest. I was asked by the head of the DPN to join the DPN as a video podcaster. He liked the videos that I had posted up on YouTube. The influence of the DPN helped me go to the Hong Kong and Tokyo Disneyland resorts in a single trip. I then headed back to Walt Disney World that same year with a new high definition camera. It was the year of the Disney trips. In October with all the videos of Hawaii up on YouTube I actually started the Trapped in Paradise podcast, a video podcast about Hawaii that I had been talking about for several months.

Ought Eight was the year of the social network. Plurk and Twitter were coming into their own. Facebook was taking off. I had upgraded my phone to a camera phone with data and internet access. It was amazing to start seeing people's real time updates from their daily lives or in my case their Disney trips. Work was getting tough with the downturn in the economy. There were signs happening that the company was in trouble. This year had a trip to Disneyland for the DPN Westfest event and then in October a trip to Disneyland Paris. In about eighteen months I had managed to travel to all the Disney parks around the globe. To the best of my knowledge, I was the first podcaster to travel to all the parks. Through social media, I heard of all sorts of people that I know personally or indirectly loosing their job.

The big change for Ought Nine was being laid off from my job in March. Frankly, it was all for the best. I was happy! Since I didn't have a job, I have been able to do all sorts of things including taking a creative writing class, going to all sorts events and places that before I wouldn't or couldn't do, wrote a novel and did the Honolulu Marathon for a third time. Without the restriction of working regular hours I was asked to be part of the In The Loop podcast which talks about the amusement park industry in general. Thanks to Clint and Pat for the opportunity. Being debt free and having a savings account has enabled me a level of freedom that I wish could go on forever.

Standing on the beach during the waning moments of the twentieth century, did I know that I would be participating in marathons, traveling to the global Disney parks, to personally produce video content or be part of audio content that could be consumed globally, to meet friends around the globe via the internet, write a novel, be debt free, be involuntarily shuffled between four employers like vegetable cans at the grocery store, be traveling for work to Kansas, Texas and other locations in the US or end the Oughts by writing a blog post and tweeting to friends welcoming in the new year as it passes though the different time zones? No way, not in my wildest imagination.

When the clock rolls from December 31, 2009 11:59:59 to 12:00:00 on January 1, 2010 the Oughts decade come to the end. What will future hold, who knows at this point. I do remember someone telling me, the best way to predict the future is to create it. I hope to accomplish many things. I realize that I need to set goals and not resolutions. Having strong enough goals will lead to the discipline necessary to accomplish those goals. One goal is to write a book that will be published. The other is to be self employed. With four involuntary job transitions over ten years, I want to create my future instead of leaving it to someone else, letting them dictate my future. Let it be on my shoulders, not some board of directors or other business owner.

Traveling is another option that I really want to embrace. Visiting overseas locations in Asia and Europe was so exciting! I hope to have more experiences that are just as exciting! Developing myself so that I can help others needs to be a priority. Since being laid off, I have realized that I hadn't spent time to work on myself as a person. If I don't improve myself, how can I expect to help others?

I've been so very blessed. Back in 1999, my future was bright and I didn't know it. I believe this statement from Jeremiah 29:11, "I know the thoughts I think of you says the Lord, thoughts of good and not evil, thoughts for a hope and a future". I stand on this promise. I expect 2010 and beyond to be even brighter than the Decade of the Oughts. I wish for and believe the same for you. As we say in Hawaii, Hau'oli Makahkihi Hou!


The Legend said...

Awesome Blog Joel!!