2021 Year In Review

2021 was a weird year, both differently-weird and the-same-weird as the one which preceded it, and the transitions between the weirdness showed themselves in some of the things i observed about things i did in the course of the year. It was also three years in one; the tail end of a bad time, the promise of a normal time, and the dread and looming threat of another bad time, and to some extent that shows up here.

About This Year:

  • In addition to my usual self-reporting of things i do in the course of a standard year of being me, i used the Reporter app to periodically ask me certain questions about what was happening. Typically the average responses per day was about 6, including one at wakeup and one at bedtime. It was a lot of work to get an incomplete reflection of the reality of my year—it was interesting, but i won’t be doing it that way again.
  • Since recording this is an intentional act, it necessarily biases these numbers away from some situations where i was too busy actually doing stuff to write down that i was doing stuff. At downtimes (read: while my son was stalling going to sleep), sometimes i would correct for this, but imperectly.
  • What that means is that many of these graphs are unitless, and reflect only the number of incidences in a report, and that they’re best thought of as relative measurements of one thing versus another.
  • Not all of the things i recorded wound up being all that interesting, insofar as any of this is interesting to anyone other than me. I omitted stuff that didn’t really show anything worthwhile.

Stuff We Did:

Number of incidences of reporting including this activity, grouped roughly by type. Here, they are all scaled to the highest quantity, which was playing with the man, but that doesn’t mean i shouldn’t have spent more time drinking cocktails.

In many cases, “Watching TV” meant nothing more than that the little guy had demanded the TV to be on, in order for it to make annoying background noise while i was “Playing with the man”
Reasonably proud of that “drinking a beer” total, but it’s skewed by the fact that it corresponded well with leisure time that let me record the beer for posterity.
Yes, of course i filled out “driving” and “Looking for parking” after the fact. Didn’t even bother to do so often enough after bicycling. As always, these are imperfect statistics.
This is heavily influenced by the fact that the end of the Bad Project in the first half of the year still had me doing way more management and talking than engineering.

Places We Went:

Mostly a count of individual visits to places, with the exception of the first one: home/work/daycare, which is a count of reports in a place.

These are independently scaled.

Obviously i made more stops at daycare than this, but didn’t necessarily record them, as I was typically moving on toward work.
Two things to note here: One is that we didn’t go out that much this year despite a summer where we at least made an attempt to get our patio dining in. By my count, we ate inside in seven places. The second is that we have an absolutely hellacious breakfast habit owing to the fact that we’re surrounded by absolutely top-notch bakeries. Somehow there are no references to Blackbird or Kane’s donuts though.
The quantities here are not quite right, but are in general indicative of what our favorite playgrounds were. The “Train Playground” was probably underrepresented a little as he was very fond of it late in the year. He’s mostly too big for the play equipment, but well, that’s not why we’re there anyway, is it?
This is a disappointing result, mostly because i know we went more places with a more varied frequency than this. This is a good example of where what we did differs from what i recorded because i was too busy doing it rather than writing it down. Fine with that, obviously.
It’s worth noting that in the second half of the year, the little man and i would commute to school via train once a week: Commuter Rail from Back Bay to South Station, Red Line to Broadway, then a walk to school that was still longer than if we’d just walked from home.
No visits to Dilboy Stadium or McDonald Stadium this year. Winchester Community Park is new, and has both indoor and outdoor fields. In January and February, i did not play any indoor in Bedford.

Other Status Reports

How did i sleep?
Mostly not as badly as it sometimes felt like, but there remains a roughly 1-in-4 chance that something or, ahem, someone, is going to deprive me of a good night’s sleep for reasons.

Did he or didn’t he? Around 2PM, this is the question we start refreshing the daycare app to figure out. The difference is, as the year went on, we stopped rooting for a nap, and started rooting against it. As he grows up, most of the time he doesn’t need one, and can have a productive and good-natured day from start to finish without one. So on days where he takes a nap at school, we now look at this as kinda bad news, because he’s never going to sleep at a reasonable hour, which messes him up the next day and the next day and…

How clean is the house?
Or how clean isn’t it? A general status of the house’s degree of destruction, mostly focused on the living room’s level of scattered toys, but also to a lesser extent, recency of vacuuming, dishes in the sink, etc. Very subjective, and i’m not going to pretend that even the “clean” state would withstand any sort of objective scrutiny.

In the first half of the year, when I typically was not going so far from home, not getting on my bike as often, and going in and out on a more occasional basis, usually i’d slip on my loosely-tied Sambas quickly. As the year went on, i went to work more often and resumed preferring my Chuck Taylors on those days. There were ten days wherein i did not put shoes on at all.

In the middle of a global pandemic, why bother with them? My son, i mean. In the winter, especially following our lockdown December of 2020, he spent a lot of time without them. This was the downside of toilet training in that, at home, he saw it as an excuse to ditch his pants. If we never left the house, then he saw no need for pants. This was as high as 22% early in the year.

Cat Status:
Is the cat bad? What do i mean by bad? A recent incidence of: bringing a mouse inside, swatting me, walking on my head in the middle of the night, scratching furniture, walking on the kitchen counter, menacing my dinner, interfering with my getting the man down to sleep…


The goal this year was to improve upon last year, and this we did, somewhat.

You might have thought that bicycling would be a straightforward place to improve upon last year, but as it turns out, that’s not so simple. 2020, after all, did start with 2 1/2 normal commuting months. In October of this year i nearly got back over 100 miles in a month for the first time since January 2020. But as it ended up, I was only two whole miles ahead of 2020. Two whole miles. The furthest from home I rode this year was Huron Village, and the most miles in one day was 20, the same day. This year i’d like to find more days to take the scenic route to work and add bonus mileage, but as always, the main goal is to not get run over. Toward the end of 2021, traffic got serious again. I biked in 3 towns other than Boston: Cambridge, Somerville, and Brookline.
Running was a big win over last year. 37 more miles than the previous year, despite the fact that December utterly got away from me at work and at home. Should have been a lot better. 225 miles was pretty good for last year, though. A lot of my runs were built around going and finding new places to shoot train videos for my fellow filmmaker. Longest run was 4 miles, twice, in August and October. I would like to get to 300 total next year and do that with some longer runs. Beyond that, my pace was complete crap all year, for some reason, even in March and April, and i refuse to accept that somehow i’m suddenly a year too old to be in the low 9s as i’ve basically always been.
In 2021, i did play 11 more soccer games than in 2020. It was very routine from March onward, and for a lot of the year, i was really happy with how i played. As a team we played well in general, and I don’t think we lost more than a couple games by multiple goals all year. In general, i got up and down the field more and more effectively and picked my head up and slowed down the game while on the ball vastly better than in previous years. In the middle part of the year i was connecting passes really well. In October and November, for some reason, i couldn’t put the ball where i wanted to save my life. This year: regain some quickness, continue to get my defensive footwork back, improve my movement in the attacking half of the field. Maybe score a goal, but i’d be happier with more assists, probably. Mostly, the last two years make me thankful that i can still play, still stay on the field with people half my age, and appreciate that there may come a day where i can’t.

Statistics: 1 goal, 1 assist, 16 shots on goal.
30 goals allowed in 28 games
1 own goal, 2 fouls

Travel and Exploring:

We drove considerably more this year than the year prior, well over twice as many miles (8,547), for two main reasons. One was that we could go further from our house than the limit of our bladders, and two was that we had people to safely visit more or less whenever we wanted; her parents in the area all summer, and my parents 250 miles away in Maine (in January, May, July, November, and December, as you might guess). We don’t car commute at all, so all of this driving is leisure. Other contributors are trips to Foxboro to watch the Revolution (12 times, but i also got vaccinated there) and my own weekly games.
It’s easy to see here that the amount of commuting noticeably increased as the year went on. Toward the end of the year, I was in the office a minimum of three days a week, even when i didn’t need to be. Why? Because we arranged our lives in the city because we love the city, but also because getting to work easily still has value for us and hopefully always will. And part of it means that the assumption that you have a good place to work at home is simply not true for us. i missed my desk, i missed the shop, and yes, i missed the free diet mountain dew.
One of the benefits of living with one of the world’s foremost fans of public transit is that you go ride the train a lot. As mentioned above, we commuted to school on the T a lot in the second half of the year, meaning that there was a lot of Commuter Rail and Red Line in addition to the usual Orange Line trips.

Even as the year ended with us feeling locked in and shut down yet again, bracing for a seemingly unavoidable rendezvous with the ‘rona, we can’t pretend that 2021 wasn’t a huge improvement on the year prior, based on all the things we got to do this year, especially in the spring and summer:

  • As discussed here previously, we went to Disneyworld. My better half looks back at it half-jokingly as a bit of a lavish overreaction to a year of lockdown, and while we were there, our tired man had more to protest than one might have thought, but ever since then, he’s watched our home videos from that trip dozens of times, so i think maybe he liked it. This was our only plane trip; 2 flights in total for the year, 2 airports visited, 1 airline flown.
  • We went to 3 of Disneyworld’s parks, and also to Canobie Lake Park. The little dude likes rides, and he likes ’em all-you-can-eat even more. By my semi-accurate count, we got on 68 rides this year, also counting assorted carousels around home.
  • This year i spent 29 nights away from home. 21 of them were in Maine.
  • Other than Massachusetts, we visited New Hampshire, Maine, New York, Rhode Island, and Florida.
  • We went to 0 Red Sox games this year. Our feelings about modern baseball are complex, and we mean to go this coming year, but needless to say, our three-year-old will not have the attention span for it right now.
  • We visited the zoo 3 times, and the aquarium once. We did not set foot in the Childrens’ Museum despite having a membership all year.
  • We went to the beach 3 times, and went swimming in a pool 16 times including his swim lessons. Dude loves the pool so, so much. We also went splashing in assorted fountains and splash pads 8 times.
  • We went hiking twice.

Food and Drink:

Seems like it’s pretty easy to tell which half of the year was still kinda locked down and which half of the year we were eating healthy, and which half of the year we stopped giving a damn. January and July are notable in that i was hanging out with my siblings, and well, that pretty much always results in more beer drinking, including my top score of 8 in one day.

However, we are trying to broaden our horizons this year, so we also should mention:
18 nights of drinking wine, almost entirely excluding the summer
17 nights of drinking cocktails, almost entirely during the summer where we were eating outside. Go figure.
Helped by steady attendance of Revolution home matches and multiple road trips up to Maine, as well as my son’s pretty healthy love of Happy Meals (mostly due to their coming with chocolate milk), our McDonald’s performance was pretty good this year. You can see also here that during the summer, we did a lot of patio dining, and in the winter, we subscribed to a weekly takeout+wine service from a local wine shop which was frequently awesome. As mentioned elsewhere, our pastry habit is significant.

Stupid Internet Things:

Hmm… i wonder what happened in January? Other than that, i don’t tweet as much as i used to, which is probably for the best. A lot of them are about him, too. Or about the cat. Or slandering cars. Or porg-related retweets. Or not-so-insightful analysis of #nerevs. Or celebrations of Yankee Elimination, one hopes.
The blue bars are photos in my iCloud normalized to a per-day count over each month so that it fits on the same graph as the Instagrams in pink. Is that good data visualization? Is any of this? Is anyone still reading? Unsurprisingly, we took a lot of photos at Disneyworld, and a lot again at Xmas time. But even during quiet, locked-down months, i still take a ridiculous number of photos, mostly of that guy.
  • We made four train videos to share with other train-loving kids out there. Somehow we have 7 subscribers and over 500 views amongst them. Our selling point is that we have a lot less incessant ding-ing than other MBTA Commuter Rail videos. Ask me how I know this.
  • So far, not for external consumption, i’ve put together seven roughly 45-minute supercuts of assorted videos we take over the course of the year. My son is a narcissist, so he doesn’t get to watch these as often as he’d like, but he still always wants more. There will probably be 9 of these total for 2021.

To Do This Year:

  • Get that guy vaccinated.
  • Get on a plane more than once.
  • Actually take the little man to a new state.
  • Take the ferry to Eastie or Charlestown and explore. And have tacos, probably.
  • Do more squats and burpees.
  • Use the $10 commuter rail weekend fare to go explore.
  • Eat more ice cream.
  • Write more than 3 times a year.
  • See a movie in a theater?
  • Meet friends at beer gardens more.
  • Go on a short trip to a nearby city, maybe, without worrying about whether trains, museums, restaurants are safe.
  • Do more hiking with the man. Maybe even camping.
  • Spend more time lounging on our patio.
  • Probably not leave the country unless it’s to Canada.
  • Do something inside, right? Probably?
  • Spend less time on this next year? Who knows? Work is slow right now and this was fun for me. If you read all this i question your sanity.

Past Years:

Author: rcolonna

crashes, bangs, maniacal laughter.

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