Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in Review

You have your retrospective perspective, I have mine. It's been a busy year, and this review is more for my reference than yours. If you find the thoughts worthwhile, great.

So, one year ago...

While not part of my official day-job duties, I served as Chairman of the National Space Society’s 2011International Space Development Conference May 17-22. This event required coordinating, marketing, and planning the event, from the web site to the programming. It also involved working with the National Space Society in Washington, DC, NASA Headquarters, Marshall Space Flight Center's Office of Strategic Analysis & Communication, Huntsville Space Professionals, and other organizations and sponsors. The five-day event included a Space Investment Summit; a job fair; a gala dinner at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center; a trade show hosting over 20 companies and other organizations; bus tours of MSFC and local attractions; a luncheon for over 150 students from around the world; a charity auction to benefit the Madison County Red Cross; and over 100 speakers from across the aerospace industry and space advocacy community at the Von Braun Center and Embassy Suites Hotel. I juggled multiple responsibilities in the midst of budget and program uncertainties at NASA as well as a massive tornado outbreak a month before the conference (and one tornado during the conference itself!). The conference itself brought in 857 attendees and earned me an “Above & Beyond” Award from OSAC...all without casualties, unless one counts a temporary loss of sanity. :-)

In addition to the ISDC, I wrote agendas for half a dozen Science Cheerleader events and organized the paperwork of (now) over 100 Science Cheerleaders.

I wrote the first draft of a 59,000-word novel in November as part of National Novel Writing Month.

I survived months of job uncertainty and am currently in a stable berth in NASA's SERVIR program.

I started a second blog.

Oh yeah, and I bought a new car after the previous Bartmobile got a wee bit damaged.


So much for business. Am I a happier, better person now, than I was a year ago? Yes. Happier to be free of my ISDC responsibilities. Proud of what the group accomplished. And yes, happy that I can add a very large, successful event to ye olde resume. I learned a lot about myself over the course of the conference process, not all of it pretty.

The primary thing I learned is that I dislike being the guy in charge. I've learned how to better expend my social energies, as I frequently had to do my day job, then go off and do more stuff with other people after work. I learned that it is entirely possible to run a smooth operation so long as I surround myself with people who are able to do things on their own. I lead by allowing others to do their own thing with a minimum of supervision. I learned that I operate best in environments where information is shared openly, and that I get more than a little temperamental when I sense that is not the case.

And after a year of working with a large group on an intense project, my inner introvert has made himself clearly felt. I am learning to restructure my life and my pursuits to ensure that I have the space and time I need to recharge. I'm uncertain how, exactly, introverts find and keep partners in life. I find myself getting crustier about enforcing my personal quiet time and am getting set in my ways. This year marked 20 years since I graduated with my B.A. in English Literature; next year will be 20 years since I started working at Disney's Dixie Landings Resort (now Port Orleans Riverside). Time marches on, and I'm facing the realities of middle age: the need for ongoing exercise, more sensible eating, and political solicitude in the workplace. I'm not quite as brash, loud, or rude as I once was. All to the good.

But as always, I wonder where I go from here. I'm at the point where I've achieved my childhood dreams (including writing a novel!) but have yet to identify the dreams that will carry me forward for the next 40 years. Well, maybe I'll come up with some answers this year. Here's hoping. Farewell, 2011. Let's see what 2012 has to bring.

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