This year has been quite busy and exciting for Diane and I. Here's a brief-ish look from my perspective at the year that was 2007. Obvious highlights for the year are the engagement in May, finishing my MSc degree in January, and the Man-machine poker match in July. January was a pretty relaxing month for me, despite my master's defense being scheduled then. The biggest reason for this was because my thesis needed to be turned in three weeks prior to my defense. So for the bulk of the month of January I didn't have a lot that I needed to do so I spent a lot of my time playing poker. My friend Mike had convinced me to switch my game over to shorthanded no limit hold'em, and I quickly found more success there than I had had in my couple of years of limit play. After successfully defending my thesis, I was hired on by my former supervisor to continue work on the poker project at the UofA. Finally, Diane and I went on the annual department ski trip to Jasper on the last weekend in January. It was quite fun, as usual. This time, unlike past years, Diane and I spent both days on the mountain skiing instead of joining the usual group that hiked down Maligne Canyon on Sunday.
The biggest event in February was the free beer that I put on with my friend Jeff who also recently defended. In our department, it's a tradition for freshly defended students to hold a department-wide free beer night. Jeff and I held a rather successful free beer (the bill is pictured). I also happened to have a birthday in there as well somewhere.
In March, Diane and I joined a couple of our friends and for another ski trip, this time to Kimberley. This was the first year in a long time that I had managed to get out to two trips out to the mountains so I was pretty happy about that. The weekend was quite a success, and we look forward to our next trip out to the mountains now that it is wintertime again.
April saw my photography hobby become much more serious as I purchased a couple of new lenses for my camera which had been getting increased use up to that point. I purchased a new low-light wide-aperture lens and a better walk-around zoom lens. You can view some of my work on my flickr page. I've been more and more active on flickr, uploading 178 photos over the year. Another key event in April was the first Bayne family reunion in over a decade. We went to Camp Nakamun which is a pretty nice facility, and got to spend some time meeting some family that I haven't seen in many many years. So that was cool.
Diane and I were engaged on May 31, so that was the big event that month. We had a pretty good meal at the Creperie for her birthday, and I would pop the question later that night. By that time, we had been dating for over 3 years, and we both kind of felt that it was the right time.
June was a frantic month for me as my officemate Darse and I worked hard in preparation for the upcoming AAAI poker competition. The bot we eventually entered won the bankroll competition (with the other UofA entry taking 2nd place), so that was pretty cool. Following the deadline for entering we began working towards building a bot for the man-machine competition which had been confirmed for July. So the entire poker group began working like crazy to get a bot ready.
As the deadline approached, we worked long and hard to get a bot tested and ready for the match. Along with those responsibilities, we also needed to organize the match details, work on public relations stuff like webpages, press releases and interviews and all sorts of little things. The match went pretty well with relatively few hitches. My duties during the match included taking photos and working on a live blog on the website so that people who couldn't attend could still follow what was going on. After the four sessions were over, we barely lost with a record of 1-2-1. It was a lot of fun, and pretty cool to be able to meet and hang out with the poker pros Ali Eslami and Phil Laak.
After the last match, Diane joined me out in Vancouver to take a few days of holiday. I had only been in Vancouver once before, and we only went to the beach and then moved on in our travels. So there was a lot of touristy stuff I hadn't had the chance to see. We spent a few days there and saw the Aquarium, the Capilano Bridge, Stanley Park, the Sun Yat Sen Chinese garden, and quite a few other things. We stayed in a lovely bed and breakfast, and it was a quite relaxing trip!
August was a slow month. With all the wild preparation and the work that went on during the big match, I felt quite a bit of post-match let down and managed to not get a lot done in August. It was in this month that I found out my officemate would be going to Ireland to work at Full Tilt. Darse's departure is a big blow to the UofA poker group.
In September, I was able to start picking up my productivity at work again. Two particular events of note were Diane's family reunion in Manitou, Saskatchewan, and Darse's Wedding. The family reunion was pretty cool - Manitou is a small town in Saskatchewan where their claim to fame is their lake that has some sort of mix of minerals (mostly salt) that make you float in the water more easily than normal water. So we spent a fair amount of our time swimming around in the pool that was fed from the lake. I got some glorious photos while I was there (pictured) since we caught sunset at the exact right time over the lake. Darse's wedding was an honour because I was one of the only people that got invited (thanks to my camera hobby). They held it in a lovely spot next to the river valley, and my job was to take some photos. Several turned out quite well I think and they were pretty happy with the results.
Diane and I had our engagement photo shoot in October, and we started getting down to business with planning the wedding. By this time we had the hall picked out, the church booked, and the photographer chosen so we were feeling pretty good about where we were at. Hopefully the planning continues to get done at a good pace.
November and December lacked any big stories or trips. We've been busy with social and family gatherings, and have been out of the house to see people or attend parties. It has kept us real busy and in some respects I think I'm starting to get a little drained.
Christmas was good this year. It was pretty low key, which is something that makes me pretty happy. The gift giving thing has come down to a minimum which also makes me happy -- I'm a fan of the main gift of Christmas being the time that everyone spends together playing games, and enjoying each other's company.
I think I've managed to remember most of everything. If I'm missing something important, Diane is sure to remind me and she'll mention it in her year in review (forthcoming).
I hope everyone had a lovely holiday season and a very happy new year. Good luck to everyone in 2008! Morgan