Goodbye 2011 - wtf just happened?

So it’s 2012 and at the start of the year, you have a think about the previous year and what happened to you… for me, 2011 was a pretty intense year…

It all started on a high.

With my big sister visiting from the US with her husband for Christmas, a baby on the way, a good outlook for work and a new BBQ, things couldn’t be better, really…

Then the floods came.

Our home got flooded in the January 2011 Brisbane Floods. We evacuated on the Tuesday night at around midnight with a few things and got some of our more treasured possessions up higher than usual (which as it turned out was a good thing). We were able to get back to the unit block we live in, on Friday, but we still could not get into our apartment. We had hordes of amazing volunteers helping us out to clean up the mud and mess that 1.2meters of river and sewage water will do to a place – which was just an amazing sight to behold – strangers and neighbours and friends and family came out to help for days… By Sunday we were up to the real cleaning and rebuilding efforts. In times of crises you really get to know who your friends are – and we have some fantastic friends.

Living at my parent’s house.

My parents (who incidentally own the apartment we live in) live about 10 minutes from where we lived. During the floods we “moved” in there while the floods past – unfortunately they didn’t so much go past as through. So we were now living at my parent’s house – my partner, Amanda, and I. Amanda was about 6months pregnant at the time, so it was trying for all of us. It was wonderful of my parent’s to have us but at the same time it was a little stuffy not having your own space to “nest” in prior to having your first child. Living at your parent’s house (and for Amanda, your in-laws house) when you are 33 and pregnant is not the most pleasant thing in the world.

Rebuilding.

While we were living at my parent’s house, every weekend was spent, not looking at cutesy baby stuff to fill a nursery with but helping my Dad rebuild the apartment. We stripped the plasterboard back off the brick walls up to about 1.5meters and cleaned the hell out of the bricks. The carpet was removed, some of the walls came down to make way for a more open-plan living area. My dad was in the process of renovating the second bathroom at the time of the floods (he had almost finished it) and the en-suite had been finished a couple of months prior to flooding – so the bathrooms had to be replaced (well, at least the cabinets did) – as did the kitchen. One of my friend’s dad owns a Kitchen and Cabinet makers business and they donated a rather sizable kitchen to replace the one we had to remove (Bain’s Kitchens – website link coming soon) – which was amazing! So after weeks of cleaning and getting things ready to put back in, we got the go-ahead to start putting the walls up and on (we had to wait for the brick to dry out enough before doing the plastering). After that it was fairly rapid to get things up – I say rapid – months of rebuilding work – my Dad worked tirelessly and Amanda’s parents came into town to help out whenever they could – a big thanks again to everyone who helped!

Oliver.

I always knew that having a child would be a fairly big change, little did I know how profound it would be. Amanda’s waters broke on Saturday 7th May at approximately 1pm in the afternoon. After 16 hours of labour the doctors made the decision (based on the fact that Oliver was starting to not recover as well from the contractions as he should be) to send Amanda for a caesarean section. At no point during the labour did I feel queasy or faint, but once Amanda had been prepped for surgery and I was waiting by myself in a little ante-chamber outside the operating theatre I felt decidedly faint and had to sit down for a moment.

The waiting room

After about ten minutes of fierce tugging at Amanda’s lower abdomen (on behalf of the doctors), Oliver was born – the time was 5:51am. Amanda had to stay on the operating table as she was hooked up to innumerable machines (and currently cut open) so I was ushered over to see my son recover from the ordeal and watched the colour return to his body. After a moment of just looking on, a nurse said to me “You can touch him – he’s your son…” – so I held his little hand for the first time – magic! After he was weighed he was finally put onto his mum’s chest for a little bonding time (only 2 minutes worth) and then I was sent on my way with him in a bassinet to the recovery room, where I waited for 30 minutes or so for Amanda to be sutchered. After what seemed like hours, she was finally wheeled out and Oliver was able to have his first food – mum’s breast! He was a natural, of course – takes after his father you see – and he fed well from his mum… I then got to go and see our parents who were waiting outside the recovery room and got to walk down the corridor towards them yelling “It’s a boy!” – That’s one of those moments in life that you will never forget – so much joy!

Settling into parenthood was not too difficult, Oliver slept well once we got him home from the hospital, and although there was a worry about a slight heart murmur (which was later dismissed by a specialist) he has been a very healthy, strong baby boy. He has a great temperament and is generally a happy little child. “`Q1Q1qQ12q2wq2wqw3qww2q3” – Oliver wrote that reaching around from the back of the laptop as I sit on the couch and write this – smiling at me with a cheeky grin (knowing he is doing something wrong!). I could write an entire article of this size, just on him – I never thought I would be such a doting parent… how life changes…

Work.

Work was full of ups and downs in 2011. Through the first 3 months, I was working on the Dreamworld Funplanner, a project that had been on and off at work for 2 years. It was functionally complete by the time I had “holidays” for Oliver’s birth, but the client had some changes and questions about integration with the main website (which we were not doing), and once I had come back after Oliver’s birth, the client went on holidays. The site finally went live around July!

During 2011, I got to work on two Smartphone apps, using Adobe Air to target iOS and Android, one of which was rejected by the app store because they said that it lacked device functionality and could be done in html (5)… wtf Apple? Pretty different paradigm – the mobile platform, but Flex made things pretty easy with Flex 4.5 and Spark components (although I programmed a lot of the component skins myself in pure Actionscript for speed). Other not-so-run-of-the-mill project’s I got to work on over the year were a hybrid flash / html (heavily interactive html) site for a jewellers (that never got to go live – but that is a story for another time), some R&D work using the Microsoft Kinect connected through C# and C++ (not at the same time) to flash / Adobe Air, but the year felt very busy and was a heavy grind of projects… Unfortunately there were some negative influences in the company that seemed to drag the entire culture downhill somewhat during 2011 – not just employees but also business practices… I am really happy to say these have been rectified and 2012 looks bright… The negativity got to me a bit and I was actually looking for a job – not actively, but I had my eye open…

My job title in 2011 was Lead Interactive Developer, but really my role was Flash Team Leader. Nearing the end of 2011 my title was formally changed and I was given both the time and the mandate of the company to upskill into other areas of web development – focusing on interactive development (mostly front end, javascript, css, etc). My title is still Lead Interactive Developer but I have a more senior role in the company, and am able to affect change and lead the interactive side of development for all projects, not just flash.