Ten thoughts for December.

Having been too busy last month to extend the ‘Nine thoughts for November’ franchise into 2010, I now return, with interest on late delivery, absent alliteration but with assonance. Happy new year.

1. On the last day of 2010, at the close of a decade, the delay seems to render this an appropriate forum for reminiscing on the ’00s behind and forecasting the ’10s ahead.

2. In 2011, I will be finishing two substantial projects that have defined the latter half of the current year: the U.S. State department’s visas site and my thesis. While satisfying to complete, projects that arch over calendars have a potential for individual days fraught with existential crises. Engaging two such projects at once in similar stages rather than parallel tracks of conception and execution – one at school, one at the office – has magnified that potential in a seemingly logarithmic way.

Worse, the potential for parallel deadlines looms.

3. I will be defending my thesis in late April 2011. Unlike the pomp and circumstance of graduation, the defense is tension and release, rigor and adrenaline and the most delicious pitcher of cheap beer. It matters to me. I will literally be standing for my research.

Your presence is requested. I’ll try to make it a Monday or Friday. It’s a presentation followed by a Q&A, and it lasts about an hour. We’ll get drinks after.

4. I don’t know what will happen to my research after I write my master’s thesis. I have been considering the social process of making the web browser as the first part that I will complete at Georgetown. Broader research about the social effects of the browser will comprise a second part; discussion of design and causality will be the third. It is not about the browser wars, but the browser wars are the setting for a significant amount of the research.

I have months to figure this out. In the meantime, two very rough chapters are ready. For now, I am flying.

5. There is nothing quite like watching the sun rise while ascending from zero to 20,000 feet above sea level. While the sun rises everyday, it is too rarely experienced quickly enough to feel like a hit.

6. There is no number 6.

7. I have often documented my complicated relationship with the suburbs of Los Angeles and each trip there raises its scepter. Something I hadn’t admitted to myself until this trip is that I am so compelled to return because I relish the challenge of doing something people in this place might care to notice.

When asked my thoughts on the city, I often refer to this BLDGBLOG post:

L.A. is the apocalypse: it’s you and a bunch of parking lots. No one’s going to save you; no one’s looking out for you. It’s the only city I know where that’s the explicit premise of living there – that’s the deal you make when you move to L.A.

The city, ironically, is emotionally authentic.

It says: no one loves you; you’re the least important person in the room; get over it.

What matters is what you do there.

In my case, to do what I wanted, I had to leave.

8. I exceeded the expectations I had for my life in California in 2001. I have flown thousands more miles, sent and received hundreds of postcards. Finished college, started graduate school. Composed a book of 10,000 words and 103 pictures from 30 miles of walking and 20,000 miles of flying. Saw several dozen concerts, made almost thirty mix CDs, made friends. Started a business, designed higher-traffic sites, moved east. Lost 40 pounds. Invested. Saw my screencaps featured in books, my words in lectures, my picture in a magazine.

I took a road trip to Fallingwater and discovered Storm King.

On Tuesday, over dinner with Rishi, I had wagyu beef, scallop sushi topped with a sliver of black truffle, and a glass of Balvenie 15. I played a street fighting video game on a Microsoft console by controlling my avatar with only my hands and feet. I am writing this now on an Apple laptop powered by an Intel processor, connected to the internet on an airplane. (If you had to choose between turbulence or disconnectedness, which would you choose?)

It’s unlikely I’ll exceed expectations for my life in 2020 to quite the same degree.

9. A part of me believes that my ideas about what I will do in 2011 will at once inform and be completely distinct from the things I will reminisce over in 2020. I had no idea when I was nine that web design was a profession, let alone one I would practice with a degree of success to the point of being a decade-long career before the age of 30. Technology created new opportunities that my expectations did not take into account, and I imagine the next ten years will by defined similarly by a combination of diligence and freakishly rapid innovation.

10. A part of me believes that the row of Jumbotrons mounted on griffins advertising factory outlet sales and staring down 5 Freeway traffic in Commerce will be included in an establishing shot of Los Angeles in November 2019.

It’s less than ten years away.

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