2021 Retrospective

Well, 2022 is nigh. Been seeing a lot of “end of the year” posts, so figured I’d write my own. Unfortunately, my memory is completely shot, and I also don’t write in a diary or journal, so this entry’ll probably be a bit on the short side.

First thing that comes to mind is that we collectively suffered thorugh an entire year of COVID. I have been permanently working from home since March of 2020, so my own daily routine hasn’t changed much. I roll out of bed and downstairs to my “office” for a commute. Vigilance in my own social circle relaxed somewhat with the arrival of vaccines, although for indoor gatherings (church and stuff) we all still wear masks. I got my own set of shots (Pfizer) in April, which was a bit of a relief. All three kids got theirs as well, when they were able. My immediate family has stayed COVID free this year, which I chalk down to both precaution and luck. I don’t really foresee the pandemic getting any better in the new year, as cases are rising, and folks around here are basically pretending it doesn’t exist.

While I continue to work from home, the kids have actually started going to in-person school this year. We kept the twins out of preschool last year, so this is their first public school experience. Fortunately, there’s not as much contention about making the kids wear masks in our district — meaning that they all are wearing them. I don’t think I’d feel safe, otherwise. Even with the masks, we’ve gotten quite a few notices of COVID transmission in our oldest’s classroom, and the kids still bring home more conventional sicknesses. One silver lining from 2020 was that we all stayed healthy throughout the winter, which has not been the case this year.

In spite of health concerns, we did take a few family vacations this year: one to the Florida panhandle in early January, and then to the west coast of Michigan in July. The Florida trip was based on the desire to go someplace slightly warmer and less snowy. Rentals are cheap in the off season, and we reasoned that there would be fewer people as well. Well, there were definitely fewer people — only northern crazies like us would be walking the beaches in 40-50 degree weather. That being said, it was actually pretty nice. A lot warmer than Ohio was, plus nice scenery in the form of the beach and ocean. We also went to as many parks as we could in the area.

We went on the Michigan trip was with my wife’s family. It was basically a chance to go to some beaches in slightly warmer weather. Similar to Florida, our goal was to hit the beach every day — with varying degrees of success. One surprising highlight was a “dune tour” sand buggy ride. The driver went a lot faster than one thought would be safe, so the kids were initially pretty nervous, but eventually got over their initial fear and started to enjoy it. They have actually been asking to go back, so I think it was a success. My favorite location was Tunnel Park.

One bit of sadness we experienced this year was the death of the (almost 13-year old) family dog, Belle. In October she randomly fell over and started seizing up. After slowly recovering, the seizures started happening with more frequency, and finally were too much — she stopped breathing one night while at home. I was sitting next to her while she passed, so hope that my presence was somewhat comforting. As I told folks afterwards, dying at home with someone you love next to you is about as good as any of us could ask for. After a brief mourning period, we ended up adopting a rescue puppy that we named Stella. She’s quite the mutt, but has a good chunk of German Shepherd in her. It’s been a challenge for both her and us to adapt to the new living situation.

In personal news, I turned 40 this year, which felt like a symbolic milestone. I’ve been dealing with bouts of ennui, and some of the things I’ve focused on this year have been because I want to push back on the feeling of being “old.” After running two marathons last year, and not performing as well as I wanted, I tried hiring a coach for a few months in the spring. I think I was hoping that I would get some sort of mystical insight into correct running form, or dramatically improve, or something like that. What I ended up getting was interval workouts every other week, and a weekly running plan that was similar to what I was already doing. After 4 months, I decided not to continue with the coaching, mainly because I hate running on a track. I ended up following the same marathon training plan that I did last year, and had more success at the staffed Columbus marathon (read my race recap here).

I also changed jobs this year, after almost 5 years in my second stint at CoverMyMeds. I think the impetus was feeling bored/trapped/whatever due to my age, as well as stagnating in career growth at the company. McKesson, the corporate overlord, also decided to merge CoverMyMeds more closely into its existing structure, actually renaming their technology arm “CoverMyMeds.” So now that name refers to quite a few more people/offices than it previously did. The “legacy” employees didn’t really like some of the changes that were imposed, including changing (worse) benefits, and management basically said “our way or the highway.” So lots of senior/long-tenured people left. I ended up leaving after my manager left, and I was passed over for both a promotion and raise. I went to a company called Upstart, a fintech company that had opened a Columbus office a while ago. It was my first time getting RSUs as part of the sign on process, which was kinda cool. Unfortunately, my team’s onboarding process is not great, and over two months in I still feel like I don’t know what’s going on, and am hardly contributing. Hopefully things change in the new year, or else I might start grinding leetcode again in preparation for another round of interviews.

Tangential to work (at least in my mind) was paying off our mortgage this year. Work -> money, right? Now this achievement isn’t quite as monumental as it seems, just because the mortgage (and by extension, house) was pretty small to begin with. However, it does free up a good chunk of change to start investing elsewhere. Maybe I can stop being a wage slave a few years earlier than I would otherwise. Nothing like working your pain-free years away and retiring when your capacity to enjoy life has lessened.

I didn’t keep a list of consumed media this year. All I know is that I didn’t read as many books as I should have, and played more video games than I should have. In fact, one of my goals for 2022 is to keep better written records of my life. That way I might have the ability to look back with more accuracy at what I accomplished, rather than guess at the end of the year. I’d also like to get back into casually studying Japanese next year. I have no illusions that I’ll ever be fluent, but I do have a decent base in the language, and would like to continue to expand neural pathways. I’m going to continue to run next year, with a focus on aerobic base and low heart rate training. I’d like to get a sub 3:00 marathon, but am limited in terms of the time available for training. If I was able to train for one hour every day, at my current speeds my weekly distance would be in the 56 mile range. Throwing in a long run day could boost that into 60+ territory, which might be enough. We’ll see what happens. I’d also like to find something enjoyable to do for work, whether that’s grow into my current position or get a new one. I’m pretty fortunate in that I can choose from a sizable pool of different companies to work at, but my problem is that I have a hard time caring about the specific industry that a company is in. And technology for technology’s sake is usually pretty boring as well. Maybe I need to get out of web programming.

Thanks for reading this far. All in all, 2021 wasn’t too bad of a year, considering. Happy New Year, and hopefully I’ll see you all in another 12 months.