What I Did on My Sabbatical from Intel

Yesterday was my first day back to work since my Sabbatical (combined with some vacation time) started on October 15, 2007. That’s right – I haven’t been to work for almost three months. It was great. ๐Ÿ™‚

People ask me what I did on my sabbatical, and the truth is, nothing really earthshattering. I co-organized and put on Ignite Portland back in October, which was a smash hit. We took a 2 week trip to Idaho and Utah to visit family and friends. We thoroughly enjoyed the holidays. But I kind of feel like I could have accomplished more. Maybe I’m just too demanding of my self in my expectations.

See, I had high hopes and big plans for working on some big project that was going to change the world. I had a ton of ideas, and just needed to settle on one. I was going to learn a new programming language and write a really awesome, useful application. I was going to work on my video production/editing skills. I was going to put together a web curriculum to help people see the web as a space, instead of just a tool. I was going to work on my photography hobby, and take some amazing pictures. And I was going to spend time with my family, and be an amazing father and husband.

What really happened? Not all of that, for sure. But parts.

Ignite Portland was a huge success – we had about 300 people come (we hit fire code exactly – 297). If any more people had shown up, we would have had to turn them away. And the presentations were awesome. I still have the HD video that I shot of the whole event (2 hours worth) that I still need to edit and post. And we’re already planning Ignite Portland 2 for early February (hit up the site for details – presentation submissions are open until Janurary 15 if you want a present).

I never got around to learning a new programming language. That one just kind of fell right off the plate.

I really didn’t do a whole lot of video editing, though I did use iDVD for the first time, and was quite impressed. Now I have another app/area that I want to learn how to use well.

I did get some initial work on my “web as a place” curriculum idea, and I have the beginnings of a project that I really hope could be something useful to a large range of people. I’m trying to get the scope of it right, and working with some real educators, to help me get it right. But I don’t really have anything to show off yet, so stay tuned.

i did spend quite a bit of time with my photography hobby. I got my Nikon D40 DSLR camera right at the beginning of my sabbatical, and I took a few thousand shots in the last few months. I learned a ton, and had a lot of fun doing it. This one has got some legs. As always, you can see my photos on Flickr.

One thing I hadn’t planned on doing, but really, really enjoyed, was read. Tons of books. Non fiction (techy/geeky stuff like Lawrence Lessig and Eric S. Raymond), science fiction (like Cory Doctorow, Charles Stross, William Gibson, etc.). I bought and read more books in the last couple of months than I have in a long time, though I’ve always been a voracious reader. It made me want to get an Amazon Kindle even more, so I could have all of my books with me all the time, and easy access to new ones. I’ve got my pennies saved up now, but they’re still backordered until who knows when. Oh well.

As far as being a terrific father and husband, I did my best. ๐Ÿ˜‰ You’d have to ask my family if I succeeded, but I did learn a few important things. Right from the get go, I learned how hard and important Rachel’s job as a mother is. I could never do what she does, day in and day out. I don’t have the patience. Tons of respect and admiration and thanks to her for being a wonderful mother to my children. I’m so glad she’s there to balance me out in their lives. ๐Ÿ™‚ She had to “kick me out” of the house a few times, because honestly, with the holidays and everything, I generally liked to just be lazy, and sit around the house. Some of that is OK, but after a while, the family got on my nerves, and I got on their nerves. So, key learning for next sabbatical is: keep Josh occupied and working on things, for the sake of domestic harmony.

In the end, sabbatical was awesome, and I’m really glad that my employer, Intel, offers it as a benefit. I’m already looking forward to my next one. And I’m back to work now, recharged, full of big new exciting ideas, and ready to dive in and start poking the beehive with a stick some more in 2008. Wish me luck! ๐Ÿ™‚