Wow, it's a little hard to believe that we have left the blog here sit for 10 months. Somewhere along the way, posting just kind of dropped off as a priority. So apologies for that - maybe we'll do a little better in 2012. As this is the first time I'm blogging about some of these events, I guess it'll be a fairly long post. 2011 for us was an interesting year. We played host to quite a few guests, mostly in the summer months, and returned home for the first time in a couple years for Diane's brother's wedding. There was a fair amount of uncertainty for us though as the future of my employer hung in the balance after some rather shocking revelations. More on that later. Here's a month by month breakdown of the events of 2011 for us.
We kicked off January by attending our friend Jay's birthday party which was took the form of 'pub golf'. In this pub crawl format, you are put on a team and given a score card that instructs your team to drink a particular set of drinks at each venue. Your team is scored for the number of sips it takes to down the chosen beverages. So for example a 'hole' might have 2 pints of beer to drink with a par of 10 sips. Needless to say, the competitive nature of people made for some interesting strategies. Diane and I joined the party halfway through for the 'back nine' and people were already quite drunk from the first part. Much fun was had by all.
January's highlight trip though was the ski trip to St Anton which was the only thing I really blogged about for 2011. So for details you can go read that trip report.
There was a bit of holiday hangover after skiing in Austria. The one trip I did get away for was a weekend trip to Nottingham to play a poker tournament there. The weekend included not just the tournament, but also a trip to see the Nottingham Panthers play hockey and witness the epic Hummus prop bet in which a friend of ours attempted to eat two liters of hummus in an hour (he failed).
Our first two-time visitor aside from our parents was Jess, who arrived in town in time for St Paddy's day this year. Like the previous year we decided to go to watch the Hurling and Gaelic football. The next day, we went out to watch the Irish women's rugby team face off against England for the women's six nations championship. Ireland wasn't victorious, but it was a pretty fun night out.
Another poker tournament weekend also happened in March, this time in Manchester. As a happy coincidence, Epica was playing a show while I was there so I picked up a ticket to see one of my favourite bands.
On April 15, the online poker world was collectively shaken by the announcement that the US DOJ seized the domains of the top 3 US facing online poker sites. With some hefty criminal charges levied at the owners of these sites, the day has been labeled 'Black Friday'. The aftershocks of this day have yet to be totally determined, but suffice to say it made things pretty interesting work-wise for the rest of the year.
A week later, Diane and I headed to London to catch the Serenity / Delain show there. It was the first time we were there on our own: previous trips there had been with our parents on each side. So we spent a leisurely weekend there on our own seeing a few sights (St Paul's Cathedral, and the Science museum).
Diane went back to Canada a couple weeks earlier than I did to help with the preparations for her brother's wedding. In that between time, I made another trip to a poker tournament in Cork, Ireland in which one of my colleagues made a very deep run. He ended up finishing 2nd which was a pretty awesome result. I also got offered a ticket to see the Kings of Leon when they played at Slane castle. The ticket was a VIP one which meant we got to stay away from the gigantic pack of people. It was a fun concert to go to.
I joined Diane in Edmonton for a three week long trip. While there, we caught up with friends and family which made the three week period pretty packed of activity. Diane's brother Eric got married in a lovely outdoor ceremony. We also paid a visit to my grandparents in Rimbey which was a nice trip out of Edmonton for a day.
Jacqueline and Rick were our next visitors just a week after we returned so a week of hanging out with them and showing them the sights was in order.
At the end of June a second blow to the company after black friday was dealt when the Alderney gambling control commission pulled the company's license. This blow would mean the company lost its only revenue source and would result in a several months of uncertainty about how long I would retain a job. While this issue has yet to be resolved even today, things are looking quite a bit better now so the uncertainty that plagued the rest of the year is almost gone. It definitely made its mark though on the rest of year for us.
The other happening in June was I eeked out a victory in an internet based hockey pool. You can see my name atop this year's NNPT here although that link will probably only be good until the playoffs start up again next year. Unfortunately the title is all I get for beating out 126 other registrants in this pool, but it is still pretty cool to win something like this.
June was a pretty hectic month, which meant that July was going to be relaxed just as a way of cooling down from the constant busy-ness. Still, we had yet more visitors: Mike and Nolan stopped by on their tour of Europe after a conference in Spain. They were only in town for a few days though as they moved on to London. But while they were here we took them to Glendalough. I also joined them at the Guinness storehouse before heading on to hang out with one of the competitors in the computer poker competition and his prof for dinner.
We went out one night in August to cheer on Ireland against Croatia in a 'friendly' football match. The game ended in a 0-0 draw, and was a reminder to me of how dull that particular sport is to watch for me. Of the sports that people enjoy over here I much prefer rugby - it just feels so much more exciting.
There was a big poker tournament in Dublin this time and a whole bunch of our group went to play. My boss ended up with a deep run finishing 2nd overall for a nice payday. Another friend of ours also made the final table and finished 4th, so it was a pretty exciting to watch from the rail.
Our friend Kepi was our next visitor. On one weekend we took him up to Derry and to see the giant's causeway which was a nice trip.
Soon after Kepi departed, Rebecca and Scott were our next visitors. Their visit coincided with a couple of leaving parties and stag parties that I was invited to, but we still managed to squeeze in a trip out west to Galway and Kylemore Abbey one weekend.
My line manager also got married in October. The festivities were held at Clontarf castle on the North end of Dublin. A muchly enjoyable evening.
Two events in November conspired to draw me back to North America within a week of each other: the first was the world series of poker main event, in which Sam Holden had made the final table. We met Sam during some of the poker tournaments we played in England and Ireland. A large group was headed over to Las Vegas to support him, and I thought it would be fun to hang out but had a little trouble justifying the trip on its own. The second event was my friends Curtis and Simone were getting married just a week later. After some deliberation I decided to book the flights: a few days in Las Vegas followed by a few more in Edmonton.
Las Vegas is a crazy town. While I enjoy playing poker, it really is a ridiculous place. Still, being there for the main event final table was a pretty cool experience. It's a shame Sam was the first eliminated from the final table - it would have been amazing for him to go deeper yet. Still, the trip wasn't without its story value. The night I arrived I got there just in time for the big group going out for dinner at a brazilian bbq restaurant called "Texas to Brazil". The place serves all you can eat beef/lamb/pork/chicken in various cuts served directly to your table on gigantic skewers. After eating way too much at dinner and entirely jetlagged we returned to our hotel where we ended up playing a poker tournament there which I eventually won a few hours later. The rest of the Vegas trip was quite fun. We went and saw Blue Man Group one night, and also had probably the best Sushi I've ever had in a place called Sen of Japan.
I then flew on to Edmonton for a few days of seeing some family and a few friends. Curtis' wedding was quite fun, especially the time I spent catching up with my University buddies.
It's been a pretty quiet December. There's been a couple of small Christmas gatherings and an evening where I went to see Leinster play against Bath in rugby, but other than that it has been a time to relax.
That about does it for my review of 2011. As always, I'll leave you with some of my favourite photos from the year (many of them not yet uploaded until now!). I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and all the best for 2012!