2016 Year in Review

A lot of people on social media couldn’t wait for 2016 to be over because, they believed, 2016 encompassed more than the usual number of unfortunate events for one year.

I haven’t checked but I’m pretty sure 2016 wasn’t worse than any other year. Of course, last year there were a couple of pretty impactful events. The UK’s decision to leave the European Union (Brexit) and the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America (Endpire1) are, no doubt, going to have lasting consequences.

However, for me, 2016 was one of the best years of my life and it flew by so fast, I can hardly believe it. The biggest highlight of course being that in 2016, Andrea and I got married.

Here’s a quick recap with links to a few of the blog posts I made last year:

  • Teaching in Brocket for Alberta Works — I loved that job and feel a real connection with my students
  • Presented at SWATCA — my first time presenting at a conference, was very happy with the glowing reviews.
  • Sascha — after a long and happy life, sadly, Saschi had to be euthanized.
  • Hutterite Colony — rounding out my Southern Alberta teaching experience, my time on the colony won’t soon be forgotten. I felt a great connection with the kids and the rest of families there. They treated me both as family and as an important part of their community. I felt bad leaving them for…
  • Teaching New Media in Taber at W.R. Myers — Even though I was hired to continue next year (temporary) at the colony, my dream-job (probationary turning to permanent) came up and I had to take it.
  • Drone Fair — attending the first Drone Fair in Calgary with my brother was a chance for us feel more like we did when we were kids. I loved hanging out and chatting while learning about remote controlled aircraft. It was a super fun weekend and he even came home with a new drone.
  • As a summer job, I was thinking about door-to-door sales for the home security/home automation company, Vivint. I did a bit of training with them and though excited about the product and the opportunity, in the end some cultural differences gave me second thoughts.
  • Summer in Waskesiu (Prince Albert National Park) — great time on the lake but I only caught one fish all summer.
  • Our riverside wedding — Nestled in next to the gorgeous South Saskatchewan River, we said our vows and got married in front of friends and family.
  • Started my new job at Myers — teaching New Media, Finance, Animation, Computer Science, and CALM. I feel so lucky my teaching career is finally taking off.
  • New Teacher Conference — travelled to Calgary for some professional development. First time travelling for work.
  • Adobe Education Exchange Classes – honoured to be recognized for my artwork
  • Visiting family in Medicine Hat and Saskatoon for the holidays

Here’s hoping 2017 will bring many more great memories (and more blog posts).

1. As far as I know, I just coined the term “endpire” — meaning the end of an empire. Hopefully it catches on.

Malletball

Yesterday afternoon in the park, we helped celebrate our friend Thomas’s birthday with a potluck and games. I played some chess, had my hand injured in a slack-line tightening incident (I’m fine), didn’t come in dead last at croquet, and ate some of the best devilled eggs and broccoli salad I’ve ever had. By all accounts, it was already a great afternoon, but then something amazing happened.

Thomas pulled out a volleyball and together with five others of us armed with croquet mallets, we spontaneously created the new lawn game and soon to be sensation, “Malletball”.

It was amazing how simple and yet complex the game was from the start. We cordoned off a small section of the park, using croquet gates to mark goal posts. We felt that it would be too difficult to score if one could just block with his body, but what would be the punishment if you did block? I came up with the idea that it should be a point for the other team if the ball touches you and Thomas added then that it would be five points for a goal. So quick; so perfect.

Probably the most amazing part was that despite swinging mallets at each other nobody got hurt. As long as Matthew’s smashed thumb doesn’t count as somebody. There were a few near misses. One time I raised my mallet up over my head to stop a flying ball, the end of the mallet unscrewed and came tumbling down nearly grazing my head… resulting in the birth of the no high-sticking rule.

Some other interesting developments, Thomas invented a way to juggle the ball in the air, I created a fairly inspiring “behind the back” maneuver, not to mention the ways we learned to flip the ball up to a teammate to try and hit it at an unsuspecting opponent. (Though it is easier said than done).

The teams were very even. We decided to finish at 100 points, and the final tally was 100 – 94. I can’t wait to try it again, perhaps with hockey nets next time.

Malletball

Sascha

Today Andrea and I said goodbye to our lovely dog Sascha. She hasn’t been doing well and eventually the time came that the kindest thing we could do for her was to euthanize.

Young Pup Sascha

Andrea got Sascha from a women, who got her from a family, who got her from a shelter, who got her from a family. As in, Andrea became her fifth and final family, way back in 2006.

The story goes that the woman couldn’t really keep Sascha but she didn’t want to return her to the shelter because she had already been to the shelter once and, according to the woman, if Sascha went back, there was a strong possibility she would be put down.

Sascha with Andrea

When Andrea and I started dating, she explained to me that she and Sascha went for walks in the coulee everyday. They were returning from one of those walks when I happened upon them in April of 2013. So, in a way, I have Sascha to thank for meeting Andrea.

Sascha with Andrea and me

She was so lovely. She will be missed.

Hooked

Last night after catching what I thought would be our dinner, the second hook on the lure accidentally pierced Andrea’s thumb during the hook removal process when the fish made a last effort to escape by wiggling and jumping.

The lure with its two hooks, one attached to the mouth of the jack fish and the other deep in the centre of Andrea’s thumb, connected every flop of the frightened fish to driving the hook deeper. I held the fish down and another fisherman nearby helped us take the lure from the fish’s mouth.

This is what it looked like after we got the hook off the fish and the line:

IMG_6768.JPG

After a moment or two of wondering exactly what we should do and a couple a failed attempts, I gritted my teeth, locked the plyers onto the hook, and ignoring my tendancy to be paralyzed with empathy for her pain — I pulled it out as straight as I could. I’m not sure how it can be the case, but Andrea insists it barely hurt at all.

After all that, the fish, however, was too small to keep so I let go.

Apple Watch

I’ve had a strange affinity for all things Apple lately. Most recently, against my better fiscal judgement I decided to pre-order the famous Apple Watch. It wasn’t an easy decision, I went back and forth with myself for months after it was first announced last September. I even hesitated for a couple of days after the pre-orders started on April 10th but even when I finally convinced myself it was ok to click the buy button I was left with a feeling of uncertainty.

After much anticipation with a dash of frustration (I opted for pick-up which meant navigating the perplexity that is the light-industrial area), it finally arrived at its new home on my wrist yesterday.

My first thoughts about the new gadget are probably similar to what others have said. It’s lovely — heavier than I imagined but then again I’ve never had a real watch before, (anything more than $50 has always been out of my price range). It’s shiny and black and fun to swipe and explore. Honestly, it doesn’t do a lot relative to the amazing iPhone 6 with which it’s paired, it’s just a lot of fun to take phone calls on my wrist, to see messages as they arrive, and to know the time again (all without resorting to the savagery of pulling my phone). I love it.

As others have talked about, Siri seems smarter than ever — though after the last update there seemed an improvement on her phone version too.

Probably most important, though not the most fun, I know for a fact I have missed at least one less phone call than I would have without it. Considering my living depends on catching such phone calls, perhaps the Apple Watch will pay for itself.

In case you’re wondering, I’m no longer uncertain if the watch is right for me. I would buy it again in a second.

A Little Adversity Goes a Long Way

I’m happy to say that today, I approached a Phil Connors level of perfection in everything that I did. The day didn’t start out very promising with only a half day of work scheduled (out of town) and not the slightest inkling of a plan for the afternoon or evening.

As it turned out, the half day of teaching was extended to the full day, the afternoon was perfect weather for both raking and mowing the lawn, then I had time to make myself an upgraded frozen pizza (one must add red peppers, spinach, and onions in order to bring plain pepperoni freezer pizza to acceptable levels) to jam out on my new guitar, watch the daily show and even eating some chips and salsa. After cleaning up supper like someone with OCD, I roused my roommate Justin from his long afternoon nap and we went to the university climbing wall and pool. Now that I’m back and laying comfortably in my nice, warm bed, my arms are quite tired and my eyelids dropping but I feel great. Aside from the arduous trouncing by the elephant in the room, it’s amazing all the positives that can come from a little adversity.

A Glimpse

Student 1: Hey Mr. Milner are you still together with your girlfriend?

Me: Nope. Thanks for bringing that up though.

Student 1: Ohhhhhhh! I’m so sorry.

Student 2: Oh, that’s so sad, you were so cute.

Student 1: I thought you were going to get married.

Me: You’re not the only one.

At which point I can feel my face turning bright red.

iPhone 6

This week the world was introduced to iPhone 6. Last week I had my credit card number compromised which meant I wouldn’t have to stay up all night to order a phone that won’t even ship to me until October. I did, however, get a new card in the mail yesterday and the phone which I have been anxiously holding off through three generations of iPhones (four if you count the 5c) will finally be on it’s way in just another week. The photos I’m going to take are going to be amazing… I can’t wait.

Some might argue that spending so much money on a new Apple device would actually be much better spent on buying Apple stock. The $500USD that was spent on my first ipod (the iPod Photo 40gb) would have been a better investment in Apple stock considering that same $500 would now be worth $12470. While I really loved my iPod, it wasn’t worth $12.5K.

So this time around, I decided to have my cake and eat it too. I invested in the spring and so far I’ve made enough to pay for my iPhone just out of earnings. The tough part is deciding to pull my money out now or to let it ride for the long haul. This little chart, What if I had bought Apple stock instead? would suggest I should let it ride.

Update: it has arrived!