Looking back on this year.
- We went on a week-long trip to Chicago and Milwaukee! We traveled for a family get-together. Despite it being pretty hot, I really enjoyed the city of Chicago. I enjoyed public transit, Nora and I did a bunch of walking in the mornings, and we made it to the Reserve Roastery, Lincoln Park Zoo, and Shedd Aquarium. The highlight of the trip was getting to go to the beach and be in Lake Michigan with Nora. We also had fun going back to Dixon, eating Arthur’s, and meeting with one of Suzi’s childhood friends (and having our kids all play together at Wooden Wonderland)
- We were back in Tulsa for a few weeks. For me, it was more of a “Work from Tulsa” thing than it was a vacation. It was during Nora’s summer break, and so I was using the opportunity to work from a different physical space (instead of literally working from home) and have a commute again. I worked out of my friend Chance’s axe-throwing studio (which was kind of amazing - I could just take a break in between meetings and throw), and also really enjoyed going to a number of different coffee shops - Foolish Things, Double Shot, She Brews, and The Collaborative Coffee & Wine Bar. It was pretty hot, but it was actually during the Seattle heat wave where it got up to like 110 or something, so we were doing relatively well.
- We also went back to Tulsa for Christmas/New Year’s! This time, with an abrupt stop from working. It’s just been a whole lot of family time, including a trip to Arkansas for more family.
- I didn’t read very much. I completed Jemar Tisby’s Color of Compromise and Tim Keller’s Hope In Times of Fear. I am slowly making progress through Andy Crouch’s Culture Making and John Mark Comer’s Live No Lies.
- I listened to the Holy Post podcast from Phil Vischer (the guy who made VeggieTales) where they talk about current events in American evangelicalism and some interesting things around cultural engagement.
- I also listened to The Rise & Fall of Mars Hill from Christianity Today and enjoyed it a lot - I thought it hit on a lot of things that I couldn’t quite verbalize while also not simply criticizing Mark Driscoll or Mars Hill. The whole story of Mars Hill is interesting to me because we live in Seattle (where the church has left an indelible mark), had friends who attended or were on staff at the church, and were even listening to some of the sermons when we were in college. The first episode in particular makes it clear that the conditions that allowed for something like Mars Hill to happen in the ways that it did had a lot of factors, none so simple as a single leader - and it says a lot about the state of American Christianity, us as individual churchgoing believers, the Christian industry, etc, that everything transpired the way that it did.
- In terms of music, Spotify said I listened to Porter Robinson, Jonathan Ogden, and Blackpink. I think I also listened to a bunch of King’s Kaleidoscope and older Ed Sheeran.
- I play on the worship team at church now. I think I started this year - I only play 1-2 times a month, but I’ve enjoyed the chance to play keyboard again, worship in person, and meet more people through it. I’m definitely pretty rusty though - after not playing for about 3 years, I definitely don’t feel like I can play like I did in the past.
- Been in life groups through the year at church. Mostly biweekly though. At some points, we went through Philippians, Romans, 1 Corinthians, and The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Tim Keller.
- We’re back in person at church every week (excluding the weeks where I’m playing on the worship team and need to get there 2 hours early to set up). That’s been nice for setting up a rhythm, though it is a perpetual struggle with Nora to keep her entertained with us during the service, since there isn’t an appropriate child-oriented program for her. The church typically has met at an elementary school, but that school system wasn’t allowing renters for a while, so we were sometimes at a hotel, sometimes at a theater, sometimes on Zoom entirely. And when we were there, there were sometimes restrictions around how many people could be singing or needing to show proof of vaccination (put in place by the hotel or school system, not the church itself).
- Suzi and I supported 2 local non-profits: REST (Real Escape from the Sex Trade) and Urban Impact!, in addition to some of our friends involved in ministry.
- I’m still at Airbnb, working on the same team in the same role (Trust Tools). My team grew a bit, we’re all still remote. I still haven’t met like half the team. The office very recently reopened with some parameters, so I’ve been going in maybe once a week. Sometimes work-life balance was really hard, I started taking a day off every other week to try to make things more manageable/sustainable.
- I started working towards trying to become an engineering manager (rather than an individual contributor). I think that transition will solidify soon. As a result, I went to a lot of meetings this past year. Maybe it was just part of the transition, but I felt like I’d just take meetings during the day, and then if I needed to do any individual contributor programming work, the only time possible to do that would be at night or on the weekends. I triaged and delegated a whole bunch of random work and ran sprint planning..
- On “culture” and “social impact”: I was a mentor for a formerly incarcerated programmer with an org called Unloop for the first few months of the year, then became a mentor for an apprentice as part of Airbnb’s Connect Apprenticeship program. I organized mock interviews for a handful of Unloop students as well (sourcing engineering interviewers from within the company) and an employee panel for a non-profit in the Bay called Dev/Mission. I was fortunate to receive a nice company-wide feature at the end of the year for my broad work in social impact, and got to share a bit about my life story/trajectory (this “testimony” included the turning point of my life, finding God).
- Nora had a germ-themed party. She had gotten really into the ideas of germs and hygiene/cleanliness, so Suzi took the idea and ran with it. There was “pin the germ on the human”, “spray the germs” throughout the yard with water bottles, petri dish Jello with gummy worms and other gross germ-looking things, etc.
- Nora wanted to be Saturn for Halloween! She got really into planets at some point, and a book on Saturn was actually the first non-fiction book we checked out at the library for her. (We actually just noticed at some point that she knew all of the planets in order, she just kinda absorbed it.)
- Nora has been going to gymnastics! Like three times a week! It’s all play-based right now - it’s mostly just jumping off of things, but I can see that she’s getting braver and more confident, and has better balance/motor skills.
- There’s a ton that happened, honestly, and the above are just some of the biggest events. We had a lot of fun jumping off of things, turning the staircase into a slide, finding new parks to go to, occasionally going on stroller runs or scooter rides… We didn’t drink as many sugary drinks or eat as much ice cream as last year (for the better) and didn’t get to go to other peoples’ houses very much (same as last year). We played with KiwiCo boxes. We got museum memberships at the Museum of Flight and the Wing Luke Museum, and occasionally went to the Aquarium or KidsQuest in Bellevue. One time we rode the light rail as a family to Beacon Hill and got fried chicken sandwiches and soft serve from Milk Drunk (with stops at the library and the playground at El Centro de la Raza).
- Suzi spent some of the year making masks and selling them via her Etsy shop. When Covid (thankfully) started to seem like it was going to settle down, Suzi spent a while trying to figure out what to do next (since masks would presumably have decreased demand). After a bit of searching/exploring, she settled on felt flowers. She applied to a big craft show called Urban Craft Uprising and she got in! She grinded for like 3 months and the show was the first weekend of December. She hit all of her goals! She did a ton of work for it beyond simply making things. She got a business license, designed business cards, got a Shopify website, social media marketing, went to virtual seminars on things like marketing strategy and reengagement, designed and built her “storefront”, pivoted to making DIY kits, did all of the graphic design for that, made videos, had to find printing, made sure she could process payments, etc.
- I mostly drank coffee at Caffe Vita (and, at nights, decaf only at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Cap Hill since it was open). Mostly bought coffee beans from Onda Origins, ground with a refurbished Baratza Encore (Suzi got that for me for Father’s Day a few years ago) and brewed with a V60.
- I ran more than last year, about 650 miles compared to 400. After being sidelined for about 3 weeks and seeing a sports medicine doctor, I think I pinched a nerve in August (which was a bummer, because that was right before our Chicago trip, so I couldn’t run in Chicago). I subsequently reactivated my gym membership at Rainier Health and Fitness so that I could go in and squat and help my muscles be more balanced. I still mostly kept my mileage between 10 and 20 miles a week without getting seriously hurt, and could put in a long run on a random weekend, but wasn’t really stringing weeks of consistent training together. Suzi gifted me a rather nice Garmin watch (a Fenix 6 pro) from Black Friday, so I am quite grateful for that, and that might possibly get me more excited to train consistently. My longest run was probably 8 miles, which I did a few times. On one day off, I took a slow run from my home in Upper Rainier Valley onto Beacon Hill, through the ID and Pioneer Square, before ending at Westlake, where I caught the light rail back home.
- I launched my Boba Life side project on Android. Turns out my integration with a MapView was simply causing a runtime exception (as opposed to my hunch that the crash was related to asking for Location permission). The thing that helped the most was actually asking Chris if I could use one of his old Android devices. Thanks Chris.
- I deleted my Twitter account. I actually gave it up for Lent a few years ago and never returned to it. I realized I just didn’t need it anymore.