Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Not a Creature was Stirring, not Even a Mouse

Here we are again in December with my annual holiday letter for 2009. I hope this finds you well.

You’ll note that this edition has less ‘stirring’ than I typically report out. I just reflected on the year and realized I didn’t travel internationally once! Not even Canada! I guess I am falling down on the job. I do have a few minor updates to share.

In July, after 8 and a half years in lower Manhattan, I moved to Brooklyn. The borough of Kings has fewer tourists, fewer NYU students and more parks. I do a lot more biking now and I’m closer to most of my friends. (I do miss 29 occasionally, especially my pigeon watching efforts.) I’m still only 20 minutes from midtown by subway, but the vibe is much more local. It was a tough decision for me and so far I’m pleased with it.

Another difficult choice I made in July was to leave Accenture after 11 years. For all my colleagues still there, “Go on! Be a Tiger!” I realized I had no interest at all in the partner track and it started to feel to me that the part where you do good work is over and the part where you focus on sales was going to take over my life.

In some ways, the change is barely noticeable. I’m working for Perfect Sense Digital now, a tiny boutique internet consultancy. My client for them is Scripps Networks in Knoxville, Tennessee (FoodNetwork.com, HGTV, etc.). So I’m still a contractor working for a remote client, traveling back and forth each week. The actual work is pretty much identical to work I would have done on a project for Accenture.

In other ways, it’s a big change. The company has about 40 people, not 140,000, so I’m not on any task forces, saleable units, communities of interest or other total wastes of time. I’ve also decided to work Monday-Wednesday, which works for PSD, and for my client. Working 3 days a week is much better than working 5. (On that point I’m uncharacteristically resolved.)

In my spare days, I’ve started doing the things I always wanted to do if I had a bit more time. I’m coaching the Beacon High School Girls Ultimate Team. I’m really enjoying coaching because the girls get so much better every single practice. I start with them at 6:30 AM on Thursday morning and they are always enthusiastic at that hour, which is something of a miracle for 14-18 year-olds.

I’ve also spent a fair bit of time this year walking dogs and socializing cats at a Brooklyn Animal Shelter, Animal Care and Control. Please spay and neuter your pets! Please never buy puppies from farms and breeders that exacerbate the problem. Trust me, there are plenty of good dogs around, and if you ever need one, I will help you get one. Walking a great dog on his or her last day at the shelter has been one of the more bittersweet experiences of the year.

In November, I had a wonderful time visiting my entire extended family in Louisville, Kentucky for Thanksgiving. It was great to see all my cousins, aunts and uncles. In addition to the traditional over-eating, we took group trips to historic Churchill Downs (I won!) and the Louisville Slugger Bat Factory and Museum. I also attended my first ever college football game (UK vs. UT) with 70,000 of my closest allies. Special thanks to my cousins Matt & David who kept me housed, fed and flush with activities.

Ultimate-wise, this year was a bit strange. My beloved club team, Ambush, folded and I decided to try my hand at co-ed. I played for Zojirushi, which was full of nice people, but co-ed ultimate is really not for me, so it was a tough season.

This June I went hiking in Zion National Park in Utah. One of the hikes we did was 14 miles down a cold river with a current and steep rock walls on either side! In the river! I was scared and cold but the scenery was amazing. The highlight of that trip was seeing a pair of reintroduced condors.

My family is all doing well. My parents are still in Maryland and once again hosted most of one of my ultimate teams for a tournament in August. The ‘Ark’ seems to grow larger every day. There are 2 horses, 2 mini-horses, 2 cats and now 3 dogs in the Kelly Maryland compound. Do plan to shower there if you are hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Thanks to all of you who continue to ask about my niece Lindy. She is doing just great (happy, healthy, in first grade) and pretty much about to take over the world. I suggest you get used to the idea. Resistance is futile. She lives with her parents and older sister in Raleigh and all are doing well.

I am sure you all have causes that are important to you in your lives. I’ll just remind you that Pediatric Cancer Research is very near and dear to my heart and recommend Alex’s Lemonade Stand as a great charity to consider. A more tactical (and less costly) approach is to be a platelet donor. If you’re eligible to give blood, you can do it. It takes about an hour and 20 minutes and is just as easy as giving blood but helps cancer patients more than you can imagine.

What will 2010 hold? The crystal ball is a little hazy (try again later), but I expect to continue coaching girls ultimate and perhaps captain a (relaxed) women’s club team of my own. There is also a possible trip to Rwanda on the horizon. Please let me know if you will be in NYC as I’d love to see you.

As always, those of you seeking more frequent updates should bookmark my blog: courtneyspondence.blogspot.com. Best wishes for 2010 and for Peace on Earth.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Hi there.

Just a few quick notes. First, it's almost time for me to draft this year's holiday letter. To make sure you're caught up you might want to review last year's edition.

Last weekend I went to Chattanooga to see Paige and Marc. I had a blast. I had the chance to meet Sawyer for the first time and I spent a lot of time playing with Olivia. She is a shark at memory and I am working on Paige and Marc to let me take her to Vegas. We went to the Chattanooga Aquarium which has a great Jelly Fish exhibit. We also went to an ugly sweater Christmas party. That was a blast, though I was unprepared. Sunday we had some great brunch and I got on the road. It was great to see them and I am amazed how big the kids are.

A note on driving in Tennessee. NO ONE uses turn signals here for changing lanes or turning. Ever. It is very strange. I read it as a last holdout of Confederate separatism. "I don't have to tell anybody my business about if I am going to change lanes or turn. That is between me and the lane."

I'm scheduled to donate platelets again tomorrow. I'm working in NYC next week, which is great. I'm off to my sister's in Raleigh to wait for Santa with Kate and Lindy.

The Eagles beat the giants again. David and Goliath. I very much enjoyed the game but our defense could use a boost. We can clinch a playoff spot this weekend at home against the Niners.

Allen is a Sixer. Back where it all began. I'm getting tickets to a Sixer's game at the garden in March. I just hope he is well enough to play.

I recently finished reading City Behind a Fence about the work at Oak Ridge to create the nuclear material for the bombs dropped on Japan in WWII. I never really considered the herculean effort that went into creating those. I had pictured a few scientists squirreling away. There were 80,000 people that worked in Oak Ridge in construction, in the reactors and in all the other normal facets of a town (school teachers, security, retail) all for the single focus of creating this weapon. It's an amazing story of taking the land and creating a huge operative town-base in no time. I was so impressed with the speed and direction of the effort. I just don't believe that if we needed to send 80,000 people to work in the creation of solar farms in Arizona and Utah to save us from Global Warming and oil dependence, that we could ever get it done, let alone in 4 years.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Extended Family

At the Louisville Slugger Museum
Out to Lunch at Lynn's Paradise Cafe
At Churchill Downs, picking a winner in the 5th

Thanksgiving was great. I went to Louisville, Kentucky to see all my aunts, uncles, and cousins. We had a lot of fun. I went to Churchill Downs for some racing and to the Louisville Slugger Museum. Much good food was eaten and fun was had by all. Special Thanks to Matt, Mary, Claire, Gracie and Elise for putting me up.

I also went to my first college football game and saw the UK vs. UT game with 70,000 or so other people. We did a lot of tailgating, cheering and though the game didn't go our way in the end, it did go to overtime and I had a lot of fun.

My parents got another rescue dog. She is a cute baby golden and they are calling her Penny Too. Current score: Humans 2, Varmints: 9. I'll keep you posted on the uprising as it develops.

Please check out my friend Danielle's amazing website Toomuchtodo.org. This year especially nonprofits are really suffering with cut budgets, reduced donations and increased need. Danielle has researched and identified 40 really great causes. The site highlights organizations where the rubber really hits the road and people are doing meaningful work for change. In Danielle's words, "Throughout the site you will find statistics on the overall issues and needs here in the United States. I have tried to match the areas of need with organizations that are committed to fighting the issues that our communities are facing everyday. " My favorite so far is an organization to help homeless veterans in the New England area, but I'm certain that if you check the site you'll find at least one organization you can throw your support behind.

Shorts: I'm off to Knoxville for work. Coaching Beacon is still going well. I saw Almodovar's Broken Embraces and found it indulgent and navel-gazing. Eagles win big today and are still in the playoff hunt. I went to this great play(?): Dutch AV.

Be well.