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In Review: 2019

Career Boy by Dorian Electra


This is the review one - only looking backwards for now. Same style as last year: start with the summary then explain it.

  • Traveled 32,371 miles
    • recorded with Google Timeline
  • Wrote 19,803 words for the blog
    • thanks bash: find . -maxdepth 1 -mtime -365 -exec cat {} \; | wc -w
  • Read 9,036 pages
    • recorded with Goodreads
  • Worked 2,668 hours
    • recorded with Toggl time tracking app
  • Took 2,179 photos
    • Shift+Click on Google Photos
  • Drank 602 beers (289 were PBR)
    • Manually recorded, accuracy mostly guaranteed
  • Rocked out to 25 concerts
    • Manually recorded
  • Played music for people 3 times
    • Manually recorded

Resolutions

I had some goals from last year, or at least the January version of me did. Let’s see how what they were1 and how I did.

Write an EP

This one was waaay harder than I thought. My friend and I drafted up a solid dozen ish songs between us (over maybe 20 drafts) and we really only have one original locked down and it’s totally their’s2. What I found out was that:

  1. It takes a lot of time to write a song!
  2. It is hard to get sounds out of your brain and into someone else’s instrument
  3. I really wish I could play guitar to help sketch ideas out

I’m not saying this one was a “fail”, I’m just saying that we’re still working on it. Nothing was wasted here, so I’m happy.

Play a gig

Hell. fucking. yeah. Checked the shit out of that. Not stopping either. Do this.

Always see the opener

There was one concert where I missed the opener and I distinctly remember feeling bad about that. It was for logistical reasons (tough to get out of work that day and over to Berkeley). Otherwise, we had a pretty damn solid track record: 96%. Looking back, I remember the opener as much as I remember the headliner. Actually, more - I skipped the headliner two or three times this year because I was only there for the opener, oops.

Write long-form/“deep” technical content

Dedicated readers may expect this to be a complete fail, but I’m actually thrilled on this one. I wrote a lot of deep technical content this year, it was just on our internal work wiki (Confluence), not my blog. While it’s unfortunate that I couldn’t post them here, I am proud of myself for committing to this. Technical documentation is a passion of mine, and I received quite a bit of wonderful feedback from others about my writing this year. Some great topics I got to learn and write about:

  • Grounding
  • Test Plans / Design for Test
  • Radiation / Heavy ions
  • Jira / Task Management

Close out technical projects

Same as above, with one exception. I did push one personal tech project out: FPGA Pin Trends. I pushed out a ludicrous amount of stuff at work which I’m proud of. I am slightly disappointed that I couldn’t make more personal technical projects, but looking back, I’m not sure where that time would’ve come from! That balance is addressed later.

Better social relationships

Tough to say, at least that’s what I thought originally. How do you really know if you have good social relationships? Well… it’s pretty easy actually. You have friends and you support them. You start bands with them. You try and see them even when you don’t work together anymore. You travel halfway across the world to get a beer. You go to their concerts. You realize it’s not the frequency but the magnitude. You feel blessed.


Top Lists

Anyone who publishes lists in December is a fool. You just dropped 1/12-th the year out of consideration. I know most people are saturated on these by now, but hey, you’re here on this site so what do you expect? Some arbitrary lists for the last year:

Favorite things I read this year

  1. The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt. An outstanding if difficult novel. Primarily focused on archetypes (hero’s journey), learning (about the world), and learning again (but about oneself). The book itself is an interesting tale, but the three or four stories told during the book to the main character are so, so powerful. They are unfortunately too long to quote here, but the saga of the piano player is so powerful it merits a book by itself.

  2. How to ru(i)n a record label by Larry Livermore. Life is hard, people don’t know what they’re doing, and sometimes you really screw up. Larry did quite a bit, but he also kept his eyes on what really mattered: the music. The book was an OK memoir if you don’t like punk rock, and a good one if you do. It got elevated to a great one with the closing epilogue, which directly addressed where my head was at and immediately righted its course.

If you lived in a different part of the world, if you were too young or too old to be there, if perhaps you weren’t even born yet, never let anyone tell you that you missed out or that you couldn’t possibly understand what it was like.

Staple a flyer to a telephone pole for a basement show in Poughkeepsie, Kokomo, or Las Cruces, and you’re treading in the footsteps of Operation Ivy, Crimpshrine, and generations of bands, poets, and troubadours who came before and since. Sing a song, write a book, upload a video that tells the story of what it means to be you, and only the calendar will divide your efforts from ours.

  1. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. Much like The Last Samurai, I love this book not just for it’s story but how it tells it. It’s all about the unreliable narrator(s) here. The unique spin here is that the narrators vary in the novel… depth? You are never sure who is reading who’s writing. Who is living and who is being written about? The out of left field sci-fi turns at the end may turn some people off, but given that I know nothing about quantum physics and Zen philosophy, I found it delightful.

When you beat a drum, you create NOW, when silence becomes a sound so enormous and alive it feels like you’re breathing in the clouds and the sky, and your heart is in the rain and the thunder.

Favorite entertainment I watched this year

I am really not that great at this category, but some quick thoughts (order arbitrary). I definitely recommend all of these, just not with enough confidence (or samples) to say they are “the best” of anything:

  • Blinded by the Light (Film): Pakistani kid living in Britain deals with racism thanks to Bruce Springsteen. I could watch this on loop just due to the pure, cheesy, rocking, loving displays of emotion. I can’t wait to read the book it’s based on.
  • The Expanse (TV): Probably the only show I “binged” this year. It’s not perfect, but it’s very, very clever. I think Season 1 was one of the best detective shows I’ve seen in some time. The more sci-fi it got, the less interested I got, but it still kept me hooked through the three seasons that were out at the time. Thanks for that!
  • Avengers: Endgame (Film): I’m not the biggest Marvel fan, but in a year with so many conclusive letdowns (looking at you, Game of Thrones), Marvel deserves some serious applause for sticking the landing. I saw this late on the Sunday night of opening weekend and the crowd was still standing and cheering during the hits. They earned it! It was awesome! Damn right!

Favorite games I played this year

  1. God of War. How can a game all about fighting be about closure? How can a series about war be about fatherhood? The game never lets you go with an ingenious single-cut camera. You never observe, you always participate. The very first boss battle had my jaw on the floor and I struggled to pick it up 20 hours later once I had finished. It is incredibly unfortunate that non-gaming people will write this off due the incredibly bland name, but it’s really a story that people should experience.
  2. Tetris Effect. Yep, it’s just Tetris. Nope, it’s not just Tetris. I needed stress relief many times this year, and this provided it. It is a powerful, powerful thing to immediately be able to zone out and just get into another world. I recently got a VR headset and can’t wait to play Tetris with it. What higher praise do you need?
  3. Alfonso’s Bowling Challenge. It’s free, 10-20 minutes long, and of the funniest games I’ve ever played. You owe it to yourself to try this, it’s hilarious. Even if you don’t “play games”, please, just click the link.

Favorite concerts I attended this year

Smoking Popes, Direct Hit!, Get Married at Bottom of the Hill on February 23

I wish I took a picture, but truth be told, you couldn’t capture it. Direct Hit! is the best punk band alive. I dragged out like … 15 or so people? to this show, and most brought another one with them. This was the first real rock-n-roll show for people, and I was an eager conductor. Direct Hit! didn’t think anyone would really know them, and that’s probably a fair assumption. But after 5 or 6 beers in a casual, professional pre-game, I was not allowing that assumption to come true.

First: an ear-bleeding, throat scratching FUCK YOU as they tuned.

Second: Our group’s GET PUMPED roar, a call and response classic known to the ages.

Third: Everyone is now home and the show is about to start.

The rest is a jubilatory blur.

Fest 18 Saturday in Gainesville, Florida on November 2nd

The line up was preposterous: Rational Anthem, Signals Midwest, Dikembe, Slingshot Dakota, Dowsing, Joyce Manor, Dollar Signs, Oceanator, Spanish Love Songs, Worriers, Spraynard, Bad Cop/Bad Cop. I’ve written a post about this show already, and I’m still not over it.

Bruce Lee Band, AJJ, Joyce Manor at Bottom of the Hill on November 8th

I did something dumb and my head was kind of messed up and I didn’t really want to be here anymore and I looked up and I saw all my heroes in the crowd and I thought I was dreaming and it turns out they’re normal people too and I realized that when you write a lot of songs about screwing up you have a lot of experience screwing up and when they can still be here having a good time after all that I mean I guess I can too right?

Some photos

Same as last year - no pattern here, just the photos that vividly captured moments for me. Not chronological, not ranked, just captured.


Roundup Thoughts

Some other major stuff happened in my life. They’re probably enough for a full on blog post individually, but I wanted to log them as 2019 thoughts and posting in 2020 seems unfair! Reflections can’t be patient! They have to be now!

The first thing that changed in my life this year was I got a new apartment with new roommates. I justified a lot of reasons to live in the previous place I did (location, price, size, etc) but honestly, it was awful. The people living there were the stuff of nightmares. It was comical for two weeks, but after that the “Punchy Alcoholic Meets The Coked Up Architect Of Market Street” bit got real old. 12 months of that was idiotic. I had a friend over once and he kind of stared at me in disbelief as lucky him: he was a humble member of the audience for another classic round of “We Should Break Up The Engagement But Let’s Stress Test The Bed First”.

I prioritize few expensive things in my life3, but the classic advice of “spend money on things that separate you from the ground"4 holds true. Unfortunately I discovered the slow, painful way that comfortable shoes won’t make you want to open your home door. A nice bed doesn’t mean you get to sleep. A lovely couch can in fact be too large if you’re afraid to share it. I have a new place now – well, no, now it’s my place and nearly old. My roommates aren’t just peaceful, they’re supportive and joyous. I wish I spent more time with them!

But I don’t. I barely saw them this year. I think I legitimately went two weeks without ever seeing them once, and we all lived in the same apartment. What was I doing? Working. Working. Working. I don’t need to rehash those old conversations, my posts from the first half of this year honestly hurt to read. I’m very, very glad I wrote them because they helped me grow as a person, but growth doesn’t come for free. February through June was just a mental blackout for me. I barely remember the nonstop hours, I just remember coming up for air. I tried to resolve to never do that again, but I already slipped up and had it happen in December again. Been here too much, I got a tolerance.

Let’s end on the high note though. I conquered one of my long, long lasting fears this year and I’m incredibly proud of it: Finance. I took the first step and brought it to light publicly with a blog post (probably one of the best ones I’ve written). I was still disgusted with everything, but at least I could look it in the eye. Now I’m not even ashamed, they’re just numbers. My numbers can’t hurt me5, I own them. I figured out budgeting and tracking and all of that business. It is so, so empowering.

Over the last 365 days, I made some pretty big sacrifices but traveled 1290 days in fast forward. Even if that doesn’t happen again, I can now promise you that this will be over by the time we talk about the 20’s.

there is a light

See you then.


  1. As in, I didn’t even remember them… alas. ↩︎

  2. Friend if you’re reading this, I remembered that where it started! We were at the Iron Chic and I was splitballing and I think that’s where we found the main chorus line. Still your song in and out of course, just honored to be part of the history. ↩︎

  3. More on that very soon. ↩︎

  4. I used to say this so much apparently my ex repeats it to the point their new significant other now repeats this, attributing it to me. This is bizarre and I was much happier without knowing honestly. ↩︎

  5. This is not true for many people, and I am privileged to say this. ↩︎