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December used to be the tenth month...

...That's why it's called December.

Once upon a time, there were just ten months, of varying lengths, in a year. Until military mastermind (and calendrical whiz) Julius Caesar revolutionized the calendar game with the intro of his Julian version in 45 BC.

He dropped a permanent January and February right at the start, making the year twelve months, pushing the tenth month into the twelfth position. But the names didn't change, so December is still stuck with the name December -- which doesn't suit it at all.

On the plus side: the move made things more orderly (the year prior to the introduction of the Julian calendar was, and is still, referred to as the "last year of confusion").

Anyway, the point is: December is a great month, filled with holiday parties and end-of-year celebrations and general bonhomie. Despite the misnomer, it's a winner in my book.

Also, are you good? I hope so!

To wind down 2018, and in anticipation of our next twelve-monthed orbit around the sun, here's a few things I've been up to, a sweet Christmas playlist and some other assorted tidbitlets. 

Feeling festive

It is a holiday festive season, and at home we have a tree and of course I made some eggnog. I brought it to my office Christmas party, and despite quite a few predictions that I would be ostracized or make everyone sick (or both), it went down very well. Nog conquers all.

Chiara has never been wild about Christmas, but now that we’ve got a growing little family, she's gotten a bit more excited this year. (Plus we watched Office Christmas Party on Netflix the other week and that put the holiday spirit in where the eggnog hadn't yet reached).

In the spirit of sharing some of that festive spirit, here's my Christmas playlist for this year.


A new job

It's not quite on the same level as adding two extra months to a year, but I've had a change in my schedule recently. I'm now eight weeks into a brand-new job. And it feels pretty good.

At the end of September, I left my old job at the startup Tiqets to take a role as Chief Editor at Signify. Moving from a company of about 100 people to one of approximately 30,000 was a big shift. Apparently, my background as an iconoclastic rabble-rousing performer and wiseacre endeared me to them. And so far it's been a nice mix of writing, training and new ideas.  

In fact, my very first day of employment there involved my training a section of the HR department on the Signify writing style -- before I'd even written a word for them! That's the kind of strange beginning I like.

The takeaway here is: so far, so good.

Coaching for TEDx

I've watched many TEDTalks before, and reference them often when I teach public speaking. But my first actual TED attendance was in November. About a month prior I bumped into an old acquaintance, who invited me to be a speaker coach. I said yes and had a couple of great sessions with a Senior TED Fellow who was giving a talk about temples on the moon. 

It was a super-cool talk, though it's not online as he's hoping to present it at another upcoming TED event. But I enjoyed the time beforehand and of course the day itself was thought-provoking and inspiring. Very on-brand.

Ever Better -- a show is launched

On 6 November 2018, I did the very first public performance of a brand-new storytelling show called Ever Better. This show was a collection of true stories, drawn from childhood through my teenage years into early adulthood. All stories of mistakes, mishaps, fuck-ups and general foolishness, juxtaposed against my habit of reading self-improvement books.

What can I say? I may be getting ever better but I'm also still a highly imperfect work in progress. My imperfection endures.

The idea for this show has been in my head for a while -- a few years at least. But some of these stories required even more distance in order to get the requisite perspective. And then there was the logistics and general effort required to prepare, rehearse, produce and perform a full-length solo show.

But for a number of reasons, this fall worked out to be my window. So I booked a premiere date, hired a director (the excellent Joana Ponder), and set to work. Read more about it (and see more excellent photographs of the event from Robin Straaijer)

The time I was on CBC's Street Cents - back in 2001.

Roundup of links

The top 100 Christmas songs, ranked

A great Christmas playlist I made on Spotify. The best of festive tunes

The history of eggnog, and a great nog recipe

38 up-and-coming comedians you should know, according to Vulture

Embracing imperfections, the Japanese art of Wabi Sabi

Why did this fake band go on tour?

Merry Christmas, or otherwise happy year-end festivities to you, wherever you're at! May your next year make this one look just half-decent in comparison.

Copyright © 2018 Ryan Millar, All rights reserved.

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