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Year in review 2003

Christmas means a lot of things to a lot of different people. In predominantly Christian countries, it's a time of holidays, decorated trees and presents. Commercialized? Certainly. Artificial? I don't think so. The Queen spoke from an army base, praising troops deployed abroad. Here, people send care packages to the armed forces in Iraq. The volume of mail worldwide goes up dramatically at this time of year. On this day in 1914, there was a Christmas truce in the trenches. Good will flows, people sit chatting with strangers on the bus and helping others where they can. Today, the streets in Seattle are deserted; those people are somewhere. It's more than just another day of the year, if nothing else it's a day reserved for family and friends.Thankfully, gone are the days of one phone call each year on Christmas Day. Cell phones, e-mail, IM, web cams and cheap flights make the world a lot smaller these days. But you still notice you're away from home. Whatever home means.A little reflection is inevitable; it's been quite a year. Short version good, long version follows.Well, there was the war. Or rather, it started with a massive protest against a war, before there even was a war. But there was a war anyway. And it lasted 21 days and everyone was happy when the statue came crashing down, even if it had been covered in an American flag for just a few seconds. And there was a made for TV rescue of of a now infamous private and everyone was proud. And then the dictator was caught, and everyone was happy again, but there still weren't any weapons to be found. And then TIME named the US Soldier person of the year, presumably forgetting the meaning of a coalition. And finally, today, hundreds of police, fire and emergency staff are active in line with the terrorist threat level Orange, at a cost of $70m a week. The world doesn't feel much safer than it did this time last year.Somehow the news of the war trumped most of the SARS mentions which, at one point, stood to devastate most of the human race. That didn't happen, but people still wore surgical masks in airports. Maybe we should thank them.Meanwhile, the world continued to turn and I saw some more new places as it did. An trip to LA, strolling down the walk of fame, enjoying the happiest place on Earth, visiting expensive shopping areas and seeing the sign. A last minute trip to Australia for a couple of weeks brought numerous hard bus journeys, some great sights, experiences (14000 ft in the air) and general fun all around. A moment of jealousy visiting MIT while attending a conference in Boston MA. Another trip to LA, eating in the Original Pantry and partying atop the Standard. A thoroughly entertaining weekend in Philly and New York and a quick one day trip visit to the Netherlands to wrap it up. There was a Seattle-Cambridge-Seattle weekend in there somewhere too but it doesn't count as new.Career-wise, I saw my first PDC event which was great, especially to see a feature of mine included in one of the keynotes. A presentation in the executive board room was a little daunting, but a good thing to have done. When SteveB yells 'I -- love -- this -- company!', I know what he means.What's next? A marathon and a mountain to name just two. The spur of the moment goals always make for more fun, so we'll have to see. Bring on 04.