2020 in review

You don’t need me to tell you 2020 was a bad year. Others will write about the details that apply nationally and globally, so I’m going to jump right into my own retrospective.

The 2020 wallowing

I was planning on a trip to Iceland followed by a new job with room for advancement in 2020. Instead I stayed at my current job (a good job!), made an attempt at a side hustle that has so far largely fizzled, and was obviously not able to go to Iceland. I didn’t visit family in Montana for Thanksgiving or Christmas. At work, I made a few dumb mistakes (we did rebound in each case, happily). It was, on net, a rough year.

That’s about all I have to say about that. I don’t want to wallow too much, but I also don’t want to go further without acknowledging the struggle.

The better stuff

All that said, the rest of this post summarizes my accomplishments for the year. I write this to remind myself that even though it didn’t generate those external signals, I still did a lot. I advanced my skillset, did my job well, and patched through the year.


  • Got out of bed every day and went back to sleep every night
  • Kept Earlham CS running through the pandemic, student dispersal, lockdown, and restricted return
  • Modernized our systems engineering infrastructure with better monitoring, solid backups, improved responsiveness to inquiries, and higher availability – still a long way to go, but we’re so much better than we were a year ago
  • For each error I made, rebounded and learned a lesson
  • Migrated our cluster infrastructure from Torque to Slurm successfully
  • Learned a bunch of low-level details about filesystems, SELinux, and more en route to improving overall quality
  • Took 10,000 steps most days and got outside frequently
  • Provided a lot of internal tech support, engineering, feedback, and project contributions to the projects associated with the Iceland program
  • Made checking LinkedIn a regular part of my routine, though I should use it more socially in the new year
  • Purely as a hobby, learned a ton about video and audio production

Casual observation: I posted a lot in February, and my tech achievements primarily happened over the summer.

I also want to dedicate a section to expanding my horizons. I couldn’t do it with travel, but there were a lot of new things I got the chance to explore this year:

  • On Spotify, listened to 1,408 new artists and 366 new genres (“genre” seems like a nebulous category, but I am taking the win)
  • Watched a lot of new movies, including the complete Hayao Miyazaki filmography
  • Learned to make curry! (this winter squash red Thai curry recipe is great)
  • Baked a pie – apple – for the first time, at Christmas
  • Grew my hair long for the first time in my life (it’s still growing actually – not getting a professional haircut during a pandemic)
  • Visited and walked new hiking trails

That was 2020 for me.

What’s next?

I can’t guarantee 2021 will be better than this year. However, I do have some broad intentions around a theme for the new year. I will do all that is in my control to make the next year better, and I hope you join me.