Happy Chinese new year — Year of the Ram!

by Joey deVilla on February 19, 2015

happy chinese new year

I was born in the year of this Chinese zodiac animal, the only sign for which there seems to be some disagreement on the name. That’s because the symbol for this zodiac sign,  (yáng), could refer to either “goat”, which the Chinese call the shānyáng  or “mountain goat”, or “sheep”, which they call miányáng“or cotton goat”. The Vietnamese unambiguously use their word for “goat” in their zodiac, the Japanese insist that it’s a sheep, and like English speakers, Koreans and Mongolians say it could go either way.

I prefer go with the most badass-sounding interpretation: Year of the Ram.

As the 8th sign in the Chinese zodiac, it’s an auspicious one, what with 8 being the lucky number in Chinse culture. For the year 2015, the element is wood, which means that if you play Settlers of Catan, the old joke “I have wood for sheep” is going to be the catchphrase of the year. Consider yourself warned.

If you were born in any one of the Years of the Ram — 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967 (my birth year), 1955, 1943, 1931 or 1919 (hey, I could have a reader that old) — you’re in good company. Along with me, there are:

  • Literary Rams: Charles Dickens, Mark Twain,
  • Tough Guy Rams: Hulk Hogan, Chow Yun Fat, Bruce Willis, Christopher Walken, Zhang Ziyi (c’mon, she kicked ass in Crouching Tiger!)
  • Renaissance Rams: da Vinci, Michelangelo
  • Musician Rams: Franz Liszt, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Harry Connick Jr., Joni Mitchell, Billy Idol
  • and of course, Geek Rams: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, William Shatner (not just the original Captain Kirk, but the one who also single-handedly invented software testing)

joey and inflatable sheep

If 1991 and 2003 are any indication, the Year of the Ram is generally a good one for me. Both involved recovery from some rough times.

In 1991, after getting ejected from Crazy Go Nuts University for academic reasons, I got back in thanks to learning how to negotiate, schmooze, and cajole — a skill that has served me well to this day — and on the strength of my computer science marks. I returned to what were the best years of my colorful, Van Wilder-esque university career and landed that computer science degree. That piece of paper turned out to be useful as late as last year, as it was a key part in my getting TN-1 status, allowing me to work in the US and move in with this lady:

In 2003, after barely eking out an existence as an independent consultant in the post-dot-com-bubble burst and some relationship weirdness earlier in the year, I went on to attend a gathering with Doc Searls that ended up kick-starting my career as a tech evangelist: first at Tucows, then on to Microsoft and Shopify. As with my degree that I earned after getting back into school in the previous Year of the Ram, the experience I gained from that Year of the Ram also played a part in bringing me here, to Florida, just over two weeks away from getting married.

2003 is also the year of the Best Accordion Picture Ever:

This Year of the Ram sees me having paid off credit card debt acquired from working on a business that paid next to nothing, but at the same time hooked me up with my current employer, GSG. It will be my second year living in Tampa, my first year married to Anitra, and the start of a new life in many, many sense. It looks as though the pattern of the upward path during Ram Years will hold, so I’m looking forward to the coming year! I hope you are too.

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