My year in words: 2020 #

note: this is the first of this series, so you won’t find entries before 2020.

Although 2020 was a hard year for the world, I focus my post primarily on my projects outside of that.

Working remotely #

Like many in the US, I’ve been working remotely since March. By the time the work from home situation had begun, I had already duplicated my ideal work equipment at home: 2 4K monitors, a standing desk, and a desktop that was better than my work-issued laptop.

Google’s laptop did require me to add an eGPU, but after some hassle things worked well.

In some areas, I think working from home has improved my productivity. As a manager time management is key, and being readily available to everyone (not just my team) meant very little time to deep work.

With remote, many threads moved to e-mail or chat, and video conferences were used in cases where consensus could not be quickly reached. As a result, I have been able to defragment my focus time and my random communication time. With more focus time, I’ve been able to write more documents, leave more thoughtful comments on others, and actually code a little bit!

Contributing to OpenTelemetry #

In the first half of the year, I was contributing to OpenTelemetry as a maintainer of opentelemetry-python. I found the work really rewarding, and it was great talking to others in the industry around monitoring and instrumentation of applications.

In July, I moved from Zillow to Google, which came with it a shift away from monitoring as a focus. I had to step down as a maintainer, and have been an approver since, generally just reviewing PRs and small contributions.

Unfortunately I don’t see my involvement increasing in 2021, but I’m very thankful of the opportunity to be a part of a project that is filling a sorely needed gap in the open source community.

Going (mostly) vegan #

The Blue Zones, aggregates commonalities with areas of extreme longevity, and provides a great blueprint for living a long, satisfying life. I tried to incorporate some of those habits into my routine.

One aspect was the almost exclusively vegan diet: many blue zones only eat meat once a year or less. The most frequent was once a week.

I significantly modified my diet from frequently pescetarian to mostly vegan:

  • Reduced meat consumption: have fish for a meal at most a couple times a month
  • Lunch: most days is a salad, or a similar meal with beans and greens

I’ve also reduced sugary foods, eliminating sugary coffee drinks (I used to drink one daily).

As a final change, I’m also attempting to “intermittently fast” for 12 hours a day. There’s no scientifically proven health benefit, although it does give a lot more time for teeth to recover from the constant acid bath it encounters when eating foods.

Waking up at 6am #

It’s also been difficult to find some time to focus, juggling family and work. To that end, I’ve bitten the bullet and started waking up early.

It’s been great so far. I’m able to get uninterrupted focus time and I’m doing work when I’m at my most rested. As a result, I’ve been able to get back to writing a bit more code, or blogging, or whatever learning activity interests me.

Japanese Lessons and Studying #

One of my major goals this year was improving my Japanese. I want my two children to be fluent, and I’ve found my own Japanese lacking.

I started using italki for conversational practice, half an hour once a week. In addition, I read a chapter of Japanese manga a day, adding words I don’t know into my flashcard application.

This takes about 30 minutes to an hour a day to keep up, but It’s been helping my Japanese immensely. That said, I have a long way to go, with each chapter of Manga introducing at least a word or two that I don’t know the meaning of before. My current flash card count for Japanese sits at 1,150 words, and counting.

Books #

I had barely any time for books, but audiobooks and a little nighttime reading helped a bit.

Video Games #

The past few years I’ve been playing fewer games, but last year I received a Nintendo Switch, which has made games much more readily available to play for 10 minutes her and there.

Goals for 2021 #

I use a modified Bullet Journal Method to take notes and log my daily activites, and one aspect of that process is writing down a small list of long term goals to focus on for that year or month. I’ve found t

For 2021, my goals are:

  • Improve my Japanese.
  • Depending on whether I no longer have new Japanese words I need to memorize daily, I’d like to begin to learn Farsi (my in-laws speak it).
  • Learn to sight-play music on the piano.
  • Continue to contribute to the OpenTelemetry project as an approver, at least until the API and SDK reach GA.

Conclusion #

This has been a difficult year in most ways, and I hope that 2021 is better. But it’s important to make sure we remember both the good and the bad.