I was inspired this week by the 10 Geeky Things to Be Thankful For post over on Wired.com’s GeekDad to do a post of my own this Turkey Day. 2010 has been a crazy great year for me. So much has happened and while it hasn’t all been awesome, it’s certainly left me grateful.

1. The Mrs

Granted, we’ve been married more than three years now and together even longer than that, but no list of things I’m thankful for could start anywhere else. She’s amazing and we’re amazing together. She’s the best part of my life every year, and this year was no exception.

2. The dogs

There are critters living in our home. They’re adorable. They’re energetic. They’re even pretty well behaved. I’m a dog person for life. Domesticating dogs has got to be the best thing we’ve ever done as a species.

3. The job

I’ve had some good jobs, and I’ve had some horrible jobs in my design career. Now I have an awesome job. I basically get to invent things for a living. Plus I get to do it in a cool office with smart, talented people. I think only Adam Savage has a better job than me.

4. The motorcycles

If you’ve, well, ever read this blog before then you know I’m a scooter enthusiast. I’d been somewhat prejudiced against motorcycles previously, but this year I actually bought one. I wanted to be able to wander the tri-state area the way I can wander the cities on my Vespa. When I first got my CB650, I didn’t really like riding motorcycles. That quickly changed though. Riding my bike has awakened a passion for motorcycles that just can’t be denied. Now I all but eat, drink and sleep bikes. What’s more, riding has forced me to have real dark-night-of-the-soul conversations with myself about risk, death and what living life really means. I’m better for it.

5. The games

I didn’t have a game system growing up. Now that I design interfaces for a living, I took that as the perfect excuse to purchase an Xbox 360. This year I’ve played some amazing games. Mass Effect 2, Fallout: New Vegas and Bioshock to name a few. I know that a lot of people don’t get the appeal of video games, but for me, it’s the storytelling. A game like Bioshock is a movie I get to participate in. In titles like Mass Effect 2, I get to steer the story with my choices. It’s not just fun to play. It’s fun to inhabit the worlds the game creators have made.

6. The Doctor

Ever since we ditched cable and started getting our entertainment exclusively through Netflix, Hulu and iTunes, I’ve been introduced to some amazing programs and films that wouldn’t have otherwise been on my radar. At the top of the list by a mile is the 2005 reboot of the iconic british sci-fi series Doctor Who. I’m going to write a longer recommendation post in the future, but for now I’ll just say this: Doctor Who is like candy for my soul. I couldn’t possibly love it more. I’m half way through season four and by most accounts, I’m not even really to the good stuff yet. I can’t wait.

7. The Streetliner

It’s been right at a year since I conceived of Project Streetliner. In that time, exactly what I’d hoped would happen has come to be. Not only has the idea evolved, but people from around the world have gotten involved. The concept is approaching finalization and most of the big decisions have been made. I’m at the point where I’m actually taking a serious look at how to finance the project. Why I’m thankful for this is that it’s been such a great mental exercise. It’s so much fun to pour myself into something of my own creation. It’s going to happen, and that’s exciting.

8. The MINI and MotoringFile

I’ve had my MINI since 2006, and I feel like it’s taken me that long to really learn how to drive it. I was raised to be kind to machines. And while I’m not mean to my MINI now, it took me all this time to learn that if I’m not driving it at least a bit aggressively, it’s actually a tad unhappy. So this year I started pushing the car a little harder — revving higher, shifting later, heal-toe downshifting, braking later — and I’ve fallen in love with it all over again. Just in time too, as I’ve become the day-to-day editor at MotoringFile.com. It’s strange and wonderful to add “automotive journalist” to my life’s resume.

9. The iPad

While I still think it’s bad marketing how Apple continues to call the iPad “magical” in their advertising, the thing is bloody brilliant. Thing is, it’s brilliant for reasons that none of us could have ever appreciated upon first seeing the iPad debut. Bottom line, the iPad is the most fundamentally extraordinary computing experience that I’ve seen in my lifetime. So much so, that it can’t fairly be called a computer anymore. This isn’t just a laptop without a keyboard. The combination of form factor, interface experience and available content gives the iPad an experience that completely transcends anything that’s existed previously. It is a completely different animal. I can now literally hand someone a YouTube video. The difference is subtle, but profound. It’s no longer “Here, watch this video on this computer screen.” Now I can effectively hand someone that video, or a website, or a document — a virtual thing — as tangibly as I would hand someone a book or a piece of paper. It also doesn’t hurt that the battery life pushes almost 12 hours.

10. The people

Three years ago, when I moved to the Twin Cities, I knew two people outside the office. While the number hasn’t grown exponentially or anything, the quality of people we hang out with regularly just floors me when I think about it. Smart, kind, fascinating people who have made Minnesota feel like home. We’ve had so much fun this year on motorcycle trips, new job celebration parties, poker nights and motorcycle events. The fun has been in the people though. Good friends, good company and great times.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. I’m also thankful for your readership!

Post photo from Flickr user AlyssssylA

Nathaniel Salzman