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.

Napping:
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.

Shoes:
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.

Pants:
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…

Fitnessing:

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:

Xmas 2021 by the numbers

  • Number of new trains and cars: 44 in total (3 MBTA Commuter Rail, 6 Red Line, 5 Orange Line, 4 Green Line, 5 Acela, 3 Amtrak, 3 red subway cars, 4 mine cars, 2 freight cars, 1 electric smart train, 3 paint-your-own, 5 Thomas the Tank Engine)
  • Number of COVID tests: 10 amongst all three of of us. Or, if you prefer, around $115 worth.
  • Number of days without daycare: 16. And it was a good thing, since we got close-contact emails from school for 12/20 and 12/21, which would have meant we’d have again been relegated to parking lot rendezvous.
  • Relatives visited on both sides: 12
  • Miles driven: 789, probably 50 of which were in service of eliciting desperately needed naps from somebody.
  • Cookies: We didn’t count. Nor should i take all that much credit for them. But let’s say there were 150 of them.
  • Playgrounds: 7, one of which was a new discovery.
  • Nights where we got a good night’s sleep: 3, maybe? Dude was out of his rhythm for sure.
  • Big, significant presents he hasn’t even gotten around to opening yet and are going to be seriously welcome when we get quarantined next month: 4

Not as exhausting as last years, where we were stuck together for 31 days and had even fewer places to go, and barely any way to see anyone, and were well and truly tired of each other, but I’m still confident he’s going to be glad to see his friends soon. And by the end of the week he’ll be glad to spend the day with us again. And his endless supply of trains.

Hey buddy, i got you something…

It is a truly ancient cliche, the idea that we should be constantly thinking about the world we leave behind, doubly so for those of us with the temerity/good fortune to bring kids into this world. We’ve heard things like this for all of my life, as some kind of motivator to make the world a better place, and i’d be lying if i said i don’t think about it. A lot, in these days where even good news days would horrify someone from twenty years ago.

The problem is, now i think about it as a not some idealistic rallying cry, a nebulous goal where incremental improvement accumulates pretty naturally over a lifetime as it did for generations before ours, but a series of problems to work. And in reducing it to that, there is both a focus and a drive to go back to the first principle of making sure his world is a good one, but also a need to see reality clear-eyed and maybe think about the possibility that we need to prepare for failure of plan A.

It doesn’t speak very well of me or our present moment that i’m so frequently tempted to think this way. To be thinking about, if not giving up (because that isn’t true), at least planning for what failure looks like. What’s it look like if the 1000 year storm takes our sea-level home in the seventh year we own it, maybe right after we put a lot of savings into renovating it? Where do you draw the line and recognize you’re governed by a despot, and how long do you stick around after that? What decisions do you make now under the assumption that no institution will look out for your career, your health, or your savings? And how do you prepare for all those things without breaking faith with the large number of people less fortunate than yourself?

Yet the tendency to look out for what’s immediately around you is real, because at least that you have control over. We can shout all we want at national politicians, but if the system is set up so that West Virginians have an outsized say about things that matter to me, maybe i start to care more about local decisions. Make Massachusetts the best it can be. If Massachusetts’ dismally mediocre governor won’t for instance, tell people to mask back up, then at least i can be glad that Boston will. If our governments can’t do enough for the less fortunate than at least i can point money at organizations that will. The circle gets smaller and smaller until you can start to see cause and effect again. Which has kinda always been the case, but my parents didn’t have the same kind of existential threats to their well-being that i’m leaving my son with.

Which is where that small thinking fails so utterly, of course. If a criminal wannabe tyrant gets reelected (or re-‘elected’, worse yet), if the people i already campaigned for and supported want to stop that but can’t, what’s left to do? Hope that your state somehow shields you from the worst of it? Maybe that works for a while there, but when he and his kind turn the whole country into an oversized coal-rolling pickup, nobody’s going to protect us from the sea. Nobody’s going to protect my retirement savings from cratering. Nobody’s going to keep my health insurance from retreating from the most minimal standard of provision of care.

It feels like the moment is now and it’s an impossibly fast train to catch. And it’s all but certain we miss it. And there won’t be another. i don’t know what happens next in this metaphor, but it feels to me like i have to build my own train.

On things coming to an end

It’s like moving apartments, or changing cities, or switching jobs, or some other big life change. Two of them at once. One we saw coming, the other a surprise.

It’s surprising how easy the end of the coronatime has been. Or maybe not; considering that each passing day brings a lapse of something that nobody liked, a relief from restrictions and from fear, and a lessening of risk that some days felt very far away, and other days felt like it was going to get you any second.

Getting vaccinated was a surprise, and not really something i sought out, considering that, having had COVID in December, i already considered myself rather well protected from having it again. But considering that my better half works with vaccines, and works with the virus itself, there was a back door for her, and for significant others, and I got one at Gillette Stadium on a relentlessly snowy day in February.

Two weeks later, any article would have said i was pretty much impervious, but it didn’t really feel different for me. Masks on inside, masks on outside, and no real concerns about actually getting it from anybody. Few people in a huge space at work, or everyone at daycare had also already had it. Not much of a change.

But the wife had had enough of the coronatime, what with having been at work for most days of it, and, justly confident in the vaccine, booked us a damn vacation to Disneyworld as soon as she knew we’d have our shots. More on that in another post.

Before that, though, we’d started to broaden our horizons a little bit. Like we’d go for a ride on the T just because baby man loves trains more than everything. We’d still be masked up, we’d still keep distant from people, but at the same time, there was just… nothing. No worry whatsoever about huffing the exhalations of any dozen other people on the Orange Line. It was normal, and unremarkable, and there was a feeling of proximity that was a little new, but at the same time, the extent to which i’d internalized the fact that It Was Okay was nearly total.

Theodore and I on the T.  For fun.

At Easter, my wife and i got to hug our siblings. And hang out inside if it rained. Or just if we wanted to.

Weeks later, we’d repeat the same in an airport, on a plane, in a theme park. In fucking Florida.

Like i said, discussed elsewhere. But it was fine. We breathed other peoples’ air. So much of it. Some of them were probably filthy with the ‘rona. It was fine.

Cases plummeted, in the weeks after we returned. We met friends at beer gardens.

We invited them over to our house like it was no big deal. The government made it very clear that things were working, and as the weather got better, suddenly the air outside felt like something the masks were denying us, cool spring freshness that we couldn’t wait to partake of.

And while much is still being made about the etiquette of wearing one, not wearing one, and whether or not one should judge those who continue to, here were are, walking around without them. And running without them.

And sure, new systems are emerging, a mask in every pocket for when you go inside, and the instinct to still give everyone a wide berth on the sidewalk remains. But next, we hope cases continue to plummet, and next the switch is truly flipped and there are no restrictions anywhere except for those we choose. Let’s hope we’ve indeed done enough to earn it.

We didn’t forget how to be normal at all, it turns out.

Unfortunately i can’t be sure i can say the same about my job.

The way things look right now, in a month or so, a project i’ve worked on for close to three years, or, roughly baby man’s age, is going to come to a crashing halt. It’s probably never going to ship. This happens in my industry, and nobody likes it (because we like to fucking brag about our work, obviously), but it’s a risk of doing business. In this case, though, this unmentionable thing has been in development for nearly a decade and has had tens of millions of dollars invested in it, so it’s gonna sting for more than just me.

And in my case, it changed everything about my work. Instead of being a cleanup hitter of a mechanical engineer, suddenly i was a project manager who barely touched CAD, but had over a dozen engineers in three countries to push. Instead of being a problem solver, i became a problem dealer, filling up other peoples’ inboxes with shit that was just time-consuming enough that i couldn’t do it alone. I wasn’t a doer, i was a talker. Making decisions and faking authority until i got drunk with it because there was no time to equivocate. Meetings all morning, inboxes filling up before i woke up, and cleaning them out and processing them, and swatting them back out to colleagues, vendors, clients, until i went to bed.

My work-life balance was upset in ways that are hard to even remember coping with. I woke up with the baby man before 6, for some of that time, and answered emails and other messages so Europe could act on them.

Every workday i looked at the clock because it was going too fast, not because it was too slow.

When i realized in retrospect that i’d worked, but not on the most urgent thing, i was furious at myself. At night, when i sent my wife to bed, i was secretly thrilled at the prospect of how much i’d get done in the 3-4 hours before i’d make myself go to bed. For some of that time, i would go to bed at the exact time that baby man would wake up in the middle of the night and begin howling to get out of the crib. I’d kneel on the floor next to it, put my head down on the rail and console him. Sometimes i’d pass out there. Sometimes i’d realize i was talking to him about work, half asleep. I ate horrendously, and for a few fun months i gave up trimming my beard and getting my hair cut.

It’s a joke to say that you shed sweat, blood, and tears over a project, but usually only two of the three are literal. It made me cry, it made me throw things, it made me an asshole.

Things got done, other things got ‘done’, a much larger number of other things just never went away and were black holes into which effort disappeared without effect. A bureaucracy grew and flourished, nourished by the large number of people whose energies it could sap. Good technical work occurred, a thing that didn’t exist was brought to life and we built a bunch of them and they all fucking worked. It was a goddamn miracle, sure, but the expenditure of effort on all the things that had precious little to do with that kinda just left me dead inside, professionally.

The mad pace continued with few meaningful breaks from July 2019 to October 2020. Only for a few of those months did i get to do what i really thought of as my job.

And that’s just it, now that it’s over, i know i miss what my old job used to be, but i don’t know if it’s still there, nor do i know if i know how to do it anymore.

So there we are. Two bad things are going away. We hope.

Fuck off forever, COVID.
Fuck off forever, Bad Project.

Year in Review, 2020

No political commentary or any of that here, just the (limited) data and context. It was a weird year in numbers, too.

Running: 188.5 miles.
It was an uneven year for running. As you might expect, the lockdown months made it difficult to get out a lot. In March, i made an effort to go run after being relieved of watching the baby man. In April and May, as the quarantine dragged on, i did less well at this. Working from home, I needed to do more than I did, but work was unrelenting. In December i got COVID so i didn’t do much running, being sick/contagious.

Bicycling: 746 miles.
It’s difficult to make up for 18-24 days a month of 5-6 miles a day, lost for ten months of the year. After May, it was possible to go into the office, so there were a handful of days a month where i went into the office, still. Beyond that, there were periodic bicycle tours of tunnels and construction sites.

Soccer: 17 games.
6 wins, 9 losses, 2 draws.
3 shots on goal, 1 assist.
27 goals allowed, 1 own goal.

Soccer was shut down for four months. For a further two months, it should have been shut down, but I stopped playing to avoid getting the ‘rona, which I did anyway, so how smart am i? Anyway, with an 80 team league reduced to 10-12, only the hardcore good teams kept playing. And us. Honestly, i’m proud of a lot of those losses.

Commuting:
Big surprise, it barely happened for the last 3/4 of the year! The usual mix of walk to daycare, bike or run the rest disappeared in favor of sparse bicycle trips, occasional runs home. All told, there were 75 bicycle commutes, still.

Travel:
We slept in two places that weren’t home for a total of 7 days. Upon reflection, this is surely the least i’ve been away from home possibly ever, but defiintely going back to the 1980s.
We visited two other states. Florida and New Hampshire. I know, right? We flew home from the one trip we took the week before everything shut down.
We put 3,247 miles on the car the whole year. Fewer soccer games played, only one trip to Foxboro, and a serious disincentive to be more than an hour from your own bathroom. The maximum was 557 miles in July.

Entertainment:
I saw the Revs play their home opener, which they drew, disappointingly. I saw one movie in the theater, which was The Rise of Skywalker, which was also mostly disappointing, upon reflection. The upside of the baby man taking upwards of an hour to go down at night is that i get to read under his crib. When i run out of twitter, i read books. I read four new books this year. Some people who read this will find this pathetic. We got 6 Lego sets this year and built 4. 8 Duplo sets and built 7. Some we are saving. We have approximately 35 linear feet of wooden train tracks.

Twitter: 1,986 tweets.
You’d think that in an election year, never mind the unrelenting clusterfuck of 2020, that i’d tweet more than my usual pace of 150-200 a month, but it’s not true. There’s not much of a pattern here. My guess is that the most noteworthy thing i posted this year was a joke about a tribble.

The Internet:
72 Instagram posts, plus 141 days of instastories.

The Cat:
The cat has been battling something like a UTI lately. She peed outside her litter box dozens of times. Some of them were while i had COVID so i can’t count. We partially solved this by moving her litterbox into my isolation zone in the bedroom. Because what the hell, i can’t smell anything. Now, though, i have nevertheless smelled plenty of cat piss. She also puked 35 times this year, and drew my blood 8 times.

Drinking:
This year i drank 147 beers, which is really not impressive, but i have an excuse. First, is that i lost half a month to COVID. And while i did institute a policy of a work-from-home lunch beer for the heady first two weeks of lockdown, i don’t think that made up for the lack of general festivity, friends, or social occasion.

Anyway, my other excuse is that this year we tried to improve our cocktail and wine consumption. We did well at this, and will count them next year.

Food:
I ate at McDonald’s 10 times. Could be better, but it wasn’t bad. We ate 8 burritos, and got ice cream 9 times. Pathetic. Especially the last one. Completely unacceptable performance. As far as coffee is concerned, we don’t go out for it much, but it’s a 3:1 Dunks – Starbucks ratio.

Other shit:
Daycare: We went a period of 108 days without daycare starting in March. We went a further 33 days without it in December.
COVID: I got 5 tests. The last one was positive. Annette got 5, but they were all boring and negative. Baby man got only one test, which was negative, but we’re all pretty sure he has it. I isolated for 9 days in the bedroom, and the first day in the outside hallway. I caused my office to get shut down for 3 days.
Population: We started the year with three people in the house, now we have four. Somehow, she’s a grad student.
Home Renovation: 1 room painted. 1 room wallpapered. 2 light fixtures. 3 shelves. 2 miscellaneous wooden thingys. 1 piece of Ikea. 1 miniature playground. 1 rug. 5 other pieces of furniture.

Next year: It will be different, with any luck.

Last year: Ha, you caught me. Never posted it. It’s coming. Update: It’s here.
Previous years: 2018, 2017, 2016.

Year in Review, 2019

What’s it say about 2020 that i didn’t really find enough time to put together my charts and graphs for 2019. Here we are in the first days of 2021, and thinking back to 2019 and looking at the numerical detritus of a different madness is hard to wrap my brain around. Not to say 2019 was normal, it was nuts, but it was a hell of a lot closer to normal than our current moment.

Off we go.

Running: 161.6 miles.
An absolutely embarrassing year. Excuses: In March, we traveled. In June and July, we traveled. In September through December, i worked an unholy amount.

Bicycling: 1,056 miles.
Nearly three weeks of traveling in France, and two weeks in Germany meant that this was less than it could have been. Not a lot of trips outside of commuting.

Soccer:
33 games. 16 wins, 15 losses, 2 draws.
16 shots on goal, 1 assist. 47 goals allowed, one own goal.
We were decent this year. Missed a lot of games due to travel. While i was generally really pleased at how often i got into the attack, and i forced a lot of good saves, one of these days i have to score one.

Commuting and Transport:
197 bicycle commutes. 31 run commutes.
21 MBTA trips.

There were 15 car commutes in there, but in my defense, 10 of those were in a foreign country and four of them involved a U-haul and 500lbs of prototype. Our T usage was, of course, heavily Orange Line-centric, considering it’s a block away.

Work, Sleep, and Sanity:
This is the part where you can start to see some effect of the mad pace of the hellproject, even though the averages sort of mute the drama of it. In September through December, i worked too much and slept too little, and that shows here. Sometimes i would put my laptop away at 2, climb into bed, and the man would immediately begin yelling, and i’d go kneel next to the crib, put my head down on the bar, my hand on his back, and shush him back to sleep. For what seemed like ages. And i didn’t never pass out on the bar of the crib. Looking at some of those average hours of sleep though, holy crap, how did we survive that. And that outlier in March? That was due to trading off a stomach bug that resulted in entire days of sleeping. And work got worse in November and December, but the man started sleeping through the night. So those canceled each other out a little bit. And even though our vacation in France was a well-documented disaster, both the we and the baby man slept great. 2019 was a stretch, is what i’m saying.

Drinking: 203 beers.
You might imagine that the weeks-long vacation in France might be the peak of my beer drinking. Instead, it was in May, where my first work trip to Germany involved several nights of getting a solid buzz on with round after round of Dinkel Acker with clients and colleagues. Then we did that again in June. And while there were many 1664s by the pool, there was also a lot of wine. And also there was a lot of things going wrong and relentless hustling.

Food:
11 trips to McDonald’s.
14 times
getting ice cream.
489
total cups of coffee.

Travel:
41 nights spent somewhere other than home: 8 in Germany, 16 in France, 3 aboard airplanes. 10 in Florida.
11 airports.
4 countries.
Not actually that impressive, but i did spend a lot of time in two of them. For a period from the end of May through mid-July i spent more weeks in Europe than in the US. Look at how fucked up things are here, can you blame me?
6 states.

5,319 miles on our car, the most in August and September for trips to Rhode Island. A considerable additional number of kilometers on two rental cars in France and two more in Florida.
3 theme parks visited: Disneyworld in Florida, Disneyland Paris, and Sesame Street Land in Florida. Baby man does not lead a bad life, i don’t think.

Entertainment:
We saw zero movies in the theater. Won zero games of bar trivia out of maybe two or three. I went to 8 Revs home matches, and they were 4-3-1.

Internets:
Here’s how you can tell I was busy in 2019: I only uttered 1,056 tweets. averaging a mere 70 per month for the second half of the year. 78 Instagrams, though. Not so bad.

The Baby Man.
Back when I could still keep stats on his bodily functions.
Barfed 18 times.
Pooped in the process of diapering 3 times.
Peed on me 6 times.
Blew out 65 diapers.


But none of these things happened any later than July.

That Guy

For once, i have a good excuse for not having written, dear reader.  After what seemed like forever, back in late June, the girl and i had a kid.  Many have said that this would be a notable event in life, and upon reflection, i believe they may be on to something.

Behold, anecdotes:

  • It’s amazing how much leaving the hospital with the man resembled buying a house or a car, or getting your diploma in the mail.  A huge, momentous thing involving years of effort, buckets of emotion and tens of thousands of dollars, reduced to opening an envelope, or getting handed a set of keys.  In this case, signing a form, and snipping off the anti-theft tag, and off you go.  You have a kid now, and get to/have to go home on your own.
  • Most people’s image of going home from the hospital is probably not chaos.  However, since the dude arrived early, none of his stuff was assembled or positioned.  And since the girl recovered so well and we got to go home early, a full Sunday’s worth of hospital visitors became houseguests, houseguests who even beat us home.  After we were done basking in the glow of everybody being thrilled for us, after the door shut, there we were, in kind of a big ‘now what’ moment, which involved the dude in a little (just-assembled) rocking chair sitting peacefully while we frantically assembled bassinets, put away clothes, ran out to buy stuff we forgot, and tried to piece together a system.  My grandfather tells a story about coming home to a tiny apartment in Queens with my mom and immediately going to the nearest pharmacy and asking, “So, what do I need?”  We weren’t quite that bad.
  • The first few days were near-constant… recycling.  The man?  He’s fine, he’s easy to deal with, sleeps well, eats well, all that stuff, but i swear, i was breaking down boxes on a near-hourly basis.
  • But really, we’re stupidly lucky.  The man has been on one feeding a night since he was 4 weeks old.  He’s largely calm and cheerful and snuggly.  i had just one night of pacing back and forth trying to get him to calm down and go to sleep before i passed out.  One.
  • It should be noted that our sanity is greatly helped by the nice gadgets i wrote about for my employer here.
  • The wicked hot summer has had the unfortunate effect of stranding the girl (with her well-documented love of long-walks) and the dude (who likes sleeping in his stroller just fine) inside for probably half his life so far, which is kinda messed up when you put it that way.  Theoretically the man shouldn’t be able to sweat just yet, but since he’s related to me, he found a way.  Now that he’s finally able to go out in non-blinding/scorching sun, his reaction to seeing the sky and the trees and the skyscrapers and the cars and the planes and the birds is priceless.  Wide-eyed wonder.  We can’t wait to show him all the things.
  • We’ve been very conscious of self-imposed pressure to put our money where our mouth is, so to speak.  We always pictured ourselves being light on our feet, and ready to head out the door with the critter on a pretty quick basis.  So far we probably deserve a C+ on that.  There’ve been plenty of occasions where we’ve been running late, because the man is sleeping, or because the man wakes up and is hungry, or blows his pants up, or whatever.  And of course, before vaccinations, we didn’t bring him inside places if we could help it.  Despite the increase in difficulty level, we generally head out with one small diaper bag, and have brought him to baseball games, soccer matches, bars, restaurants, beer gardens, and so on.  And we’re prepared to flee from these places if things go badly, but haven’t had to.  He’s a nice baby.  And especially while he’s little, and portable, we want to make sure he’s used to the world outside our basement.
  • Terms for the child, other than his name: critter, man, little man, big man, baby man, dude, babby.  More to come, i am sure.
  • A nice side benefit of having a very big, heavy baby: exercise!  Lifting him up in the air has been scientifically proven by me to help burp him, so as a result, it’s good arm exercise.  Corollary: the cat now feels practically weightless.
  • But really, having a baby is an invitation to tackle a whole bunch of new problems scientifically.  Poop color, poop timing, volume, formula consumption, sleep cycles, eat cycles, contrary to my usual tendencies, i don’t have a spreadsheet for any of this, but it’s all in our head, all the time.  Learning about him all the time is key to keeping him happy and well, and ourselves sane.

Most of all, though, every new day feels like there might be something that’s new to him, and if he’s excited by it, we get to be, too.  It’s a hell of a thing and we’re so lucky to be there for it.

The Evil Within

It’s hard to tell if some of the internet’s favorite darkest jokes are funny anymore.  Some white guy shoots another dozen people, we ask “WHERE WAS HE RADICALIZED?”  The President says something rash, and we nervously laugh about nuclear war.  And in recent weeks, we quip about how everybody would be fine if we just followed Mike Pence’s rules, or if we wouldn’t be better off if we just got all men out of government, or how we’d rather hear that beloved public figures had died than that they’d done the seemingly inevitable act of harassment or worse.

It’s common, is the point.  Astonishingly common.  The rule, rather than the exception, maybe.

Maybe some of these more intentionally-strident statements on Twitter are actually right.  Maybe it’s ironically right to stereotype based on gender, but the stereotype is that men are likely to turn bad.  Maybe we’re all carriers of this disease and its emergence is more likely and tougher to battle than any of us might care to admit.

Logically enough, i then wonder, what if it happens to me?  When do i become compelled to do something this (pick one on a range from: stupid > shitty > immoral > horrible)?  What happens, does a switch flip?  Is it age?  Is it triggered by wealth or advancement in society?  Is it lurking?

There’s something that naturally bristles when you see people say that all this awfulness is partially your fault when you know you’re not awful.  Like watching the umpteenth episode of DuckTales where the boys learned that Webigail could do anything they could, and 11-year-old me thinking ‘i fucking know that already’.  It doesn’t matter, until someday in the distant distant future it’s somehow made right, it’s for those of us carriers of the evil gene to deal with.  Not being evil is not enough, you have to at least support the idea that it exists and still requires work.  Maybe it’s complacency, decades of conviction and assurance that you’re a good person, that allows it to sneak up on you, and one day you find yourself defiling a potted plant and thinking you’re still okay.

Don’t get me wrong, i don’t actually think that i’m going to turn evil someday, but maybe considering the possibility that we all might be capable of this behavior is a good reminder to, you know, not.