Maurice's 2007 Year End Letter

Congratulations! You have the privilege to read my third annual year end and review letter. For those who read my blog ( this letter will have some review, but I promise to mix in a generous portion of new information. So strap yourself in and put that helmet on the ride is about to begin... Ok, it's not really that exciting, but this letter will hopefully hold your attention while you read it.

The foods I've eaten this year have been dramatically different from my diet in past years. Previously I focused on how much I ate and how quickly I could prepare it. And by how quickly I mean if it took more than five minutes that was WAY too long. After reading a few books on nutrition I decided to try and eat more healthy foods. Being the extremist I am I jumped into this diet head first. At first I was spending a significant amount of time each day making my healthy meals. However, throughout the year I've been able to pick new healthy meals that I could prepare more quickly, and now all my meals take 15 minutes or less to prepare. While this is more time than I used to spend making meals, it seems manageable. The food I eat today is much more varied and healthy than I've ever eaten in my life and I can tell that my body likes it. I would wager that I ate at least four times more vegetables this year as compared to any other year of my life. That's a lot of vegetables. I've also become more aware of what Americans as a whole eat and I've come think the number one killer in America is added sugar. If we were a practical people, instead of waging war or fighting terrorism we'd tackle problems like our terrible diet. It doesn't make much sense that we focus ourselves so much towards solving difficult problems that affect relatively few people before these easier to solve issues that affect many more people. However, I'm not going to hold my breath for any changes in this area.

I really dove into figure skating this year. I participated in three competitions and two shows. I was victorious in all the competitions, but that wasn't all that difficult because there aren't many adult male skaters out there to compete against. Every time I competed against the book, which I think is pretty easy. I'm pretty sure as long as I do all the required elements and don't fall I win. It was fun, but I found it was taking up a huge amount of my time so a few months ago I re-prioritized so that I had more time for other things and have since cut way down on my skating. I still think its fun, but I'd rather do a variety of things over focusing so much on skating.

I finally had a good winter for snowboarding in the east. It wasn't that we got better snow last year. I just got lucky on when I took my trips up to Vermont. On one trip I hit it perfectly and there was 18 inches of powder when I got there. It proved to me that if I'm lucky snowboarding in the east can be just as much fun as snowboarding in the west. The real issue is that you're much more likely to get good snow out west. Besides snowboarding, hiking is the other physical activity that has been pretty constant in my life for many years. Nothing really spectacular pops out in my mind about my hikes around New England. Well there was one time when I quite literally walked into a rafter of turkeys. I was walking over the crest of a hill and I saw them just as they did a squawk and fly away maneuver. It nearly startled the poop out of me. One new activity I've started this year is Yoga. A friend of mine started giving a yoga class after work twice a week and I've been attending. So far it's made me noticeably more flexible. I've only been doing it for a few months, but I do think it is also already helping my balance and coordination. I'm hopeful these things will make me a better snowboarder. It's almost snowboarding season so I'll find out pretty soon.

For five days in June I was a juror on a criminal case. Since the case was about the rape of a child they had to go through over a hundred jurors before they could find 14 of us who would be impartial. It was pretty difficult for me to sit through the case and listen to the evidence being presented. In the end every one of the jurors agreed he was disturbed man and was probably guilty, but being probably guilty and guilty beyond a reasonable doubt are not the same. We found him guilty of a lesser charge, but not of rape. It was frustrating because what really put doubt in our minds was the incompetence of the police. If they had just done their job properly we would have had much better evidence and would have been more confident that we made the correct decision. When referring to the correct decision here I'm talking about in respect to what really happened, because I have no doubt the jury made the correct decision with the evidence that was presented to us. Even though it was a difficult process for me I have no regrets for taking a week of my life and going through this process. It gave me more faith in the judiciary branch than I had previously had.

While I'm on the topic of the judiciary branch, I also had to give a deposition for a case where my company is getting sued in an area I had filed a patent for a few years ago. This was an entirely different atmosphere compared to the criminal case mentioned above. This was a very stream lined process. I spent a day with my company's attorneys learning how to answer questions and then a day answering questions. Our attorneys spent the most of the first day telling me that I should answer their questions truthfully, but not give any extra information. Do you know what 2+2 is? 4. Wrong! The answer is yes. Every fiber of my engineering soul wanted to go into detailed answers to their questions. Instead I gave truthful but terse answers.

There is one change in my life that has been nothing but positive this year and it is Devon. I started volunteering at Big Brothers Big Sisters, which is a non-profit child mentoring organization. We tend to meet once a week and we do some activity that's fun for young children, but I almost always find the activities fun too. Being the renascence man that I am, I try to keep the activities as varied as possible. We've done dozens of activities ranging from swimming to paper airplane fights. The Big Brothers Big Sisters organization sometimes passes out free tickets to us so we've also got so see some pretty exciting baseball and hockey games. It's been amazing seeing Devon grow during the past six months. Young children change so fast it's amazing. Beyond helping Devon's development, I know this program has benefited me too. I recommend people try volunteering to programs like this. Not only do you help others, but you help yourself.

I changed teams at work this year. I now work on a team that writes software for mobile phone graphics chips. I've only been on this new team for a few months, but it's been great work so far. The part I really enjoy about this job is that it's constantly changing and keeps my mind challenged. I've come to realize that I'm a very lucky person to enjoy my work. Too many people just endure work, and I recognize that I'm very fortunate to actually enjoy it. Last year the company I've work for since graduation (ATI) was bought out by AMD. While most people haven't heard of AMD, many people have heard of Intel. AMD is Intel's main competitor where Intel has about 75% of the computer market and AMD about 20%. It has not been a good year for AMD. They lost about $1.5 billion. That figure boggles my mind. The ATI portion is now making money so we joke at work that they might need to spin the ATI part of their business off for cash, but I don't really think that will happen. I doubt AMD will really cease to exist, but if they don't start turning profits pretty soon something will change. I'm not sure what will change, but something will. Anyways I just thought I'd give you all an update on what's going on at work. Please don't worry about AMD because I'm certainly not. I like my job there, but I'm sure I could easily get another job I love somewhere else if I ever need to. I don't think anything major will change at AMD during the next year, but we'll have to wait and see to be sure.

That about wraps it up. It's been another great year. Next year looks like it could be even better. In a few days I'm leaving for a month long vacation to New Zealand and Australia. Thinking about it gets me so excited! I'll have to tell you about how awesome that trip turned out next year.

I hope everyone has a fun holiday season.