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December Writing Challenge 2018: Day Zero

Level 17


“I heard a bird sing in the dark of December.

A magical thing. And sweet to remember.

We are nearer to Spring than we were in September.

I heard a bird sing in the dark of December.”

- Oliver Herford

Here on the eve of the darkest month, when cultures across the world celebrate light in an attempt to brighten the short days and long nights, we want to bring some illumination to our THWACK® community too, in the form of the December Writing Challenge. In my announcement, I described how this challenge has been an uplifting event each year, and how many of us—both inside SolarWinds and in the THWACK community at large—look forward to it as a chance to reflect on the past and connect, both with each other and with our goals for the coming year.

I don't need to repeat the instructions (you can read them in the announcement, here), but I hope this post gives you a final reminder to keep an eye on the December Writing Challenge forum starting tomorrow and each day during December.

Rather than a word-a-day style writing prompt like previous years, this year's challenge has a single idea: "What I would tell my younger self." We're excited to read everyone's contributions, ideas, and discussions.

See you in the comments section tomorrow!


It is something special that we celebrate light.   In the christian faiths we celebrate the birth of Christ, as he was the life and the light of the world.   But similarly other faiths also have celebrations Hanukkah a Jewish holiday that celebrates the liberation of Jerusalem from the occupation of Antiochus IV, king of the Seleucid Empire in 165 BCE.   The first day of Hanukkah marks the start of Hanukkah, also known as Chanukahor Festival of Lights. Kwanzaa, has Seven candles in a kinara symbolize the seven principles of Kwanzaa. 

These are a couple examples of how light is used and believe are celebrated during the darkest of months at least in our hemisphere. 

This shall be an interesting exercise in self-reflection as it will quickly spill from our professional lives into our personal. Remember the Butterfly Effect everyone.

Level 20

I wish I knew what I know now back in 90's o.O!

Level 12

This Idea "What I would tell my younger self." is really the best way to learn and Thwack is all about learning from each other's experience.

Level 14

I am really looking forward to this.

Level 16

Probably not the right place to put in a plug for the orion dark theme?

Level 15

I have to admit.  I am really looking forward to this series.  In my long a varied life, there are lots of things I wish I could tell my younger self.

The darkness . . . need not be feared or reviled.

The darkest nights produce the brightest stars.

The dimmest candle can remove the dark.

Level 14

So looking forward to this!!

Level 14

Can't wait to get started.


This reminds me of time which would never stop no matter what, "The beautiful journey of today can only begin when we learn to let go of yesterday" - Dr. Steve Maraboli 

Level 13

Really looking forward to this.  On a side note,I actually like December.  Cooler days are much better for us distance runners, and I've been watching Orion traverse the sky during my early morning runs.  Love it.

Level 17

Heh. "cooler" days in Cleveland are a little more like:


Community Manager
Community Manager

I approve this message and I will be stealing this GIF for anything that I post about winter from this point forward.

In the darkest month, it seems logical. I say do it. Everyday.

Level 20

Heck yeah even cooler than it used to be in Cincinnati when I lived there...

Blow, blow, thou winter wind - William Shakespeare

Blow, blow, thou winter wind,

   Thou art not so unkind

      As man’s ingratitude;

   Thy tooth is not so keen,

Because thou art not seen,

      Although thy breath be rude.

Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:

Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:

   Then, heigh-ho, the holly!

      This life is most jolly.

   Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,

   That dost not bite so nigh

      As benefits forgot:

   Though thou the waters warp,

      Thy sting is not so sharp

      As friend remembered not.

Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly...


Tomorrow can't come soon enough. I don't want time to slip by any faster really, I just want to read everyone's essays.

That almost feels like a Yodaism.....  (said in my best William Shatner voice.)

Gif Stolen....

Level 12

Lights are always brighter in the dark of the night.

Level 8

While I can't really write, I would impress upon my past self to learn sufficiently from mistakes, and apply those lessons constantly, to never make the same mistake twice. Too often we can find ourselves in bad habits, forgetting what we learned from previous mistakes.


As we talk about light it's important to remember that the opposite (darkness) is the absence of light.

Level 9

Yay !


Looking forward to contributing this year!

Level 11

I have an issue getting to Day 4 of the writing challenge.

That's the link from the browser, but I get an error;


The item does not exist. It may have been deleted.

SO how does one get considered to be an author for this?

Pete, tinmann0715​, adatole had posted a note in the MVP Slack channel. I was trying to remember if he sent one out in the MVP Forum on Thwack too, but don't recall. I know he had all the days in December spoken for.

Thanks Tom for letting me know. I guess I must have blinked and missed it.

About the Author
In my sordid career, I have been an actor, bug exterminator and wild-animal remover (nothing crazy like pumas or wildebeasts. Just skunks and raccoons.), electrician, carpenter, stage-combat instructor, American Sign Language interpreter, and Sunday school teacher. Oh, and I work with computers. Since 1989 (when you got a free copy of Windows 286 on twelve 5¼” floppies when you bought a copy of Excel 1.0) I have worked as a classroom instructor, courseware designer, desktop support tech, server support engineer, and software distribution expert. Then about 14 years ago I got involved with systems monitoring. I've worked with a wide range of tools: Tivoli, Nagios, Patrol, ZenOss, OpenView, SiteScope, and of course SolarWinds. I've designed solutions for companies that were extremely modest (~10 systems) to those that were mind-bogglingly large (250,000 systems in 5,000 locations). During that time, I've had to chance to learn about monitoring all types of systems – routers, switches, load-balancers, and SAN fabric as well as windows, linux, and unix servers running on physical and virtual platforms.