2019 in Review

Wed 01 January 2020

A year ago I posted some personal goals, and now seems like an opportune time to review what actually happened. And publicly shame myself with self evaluations.

To recap the goals:

  1. Make Anki a daily habit
  2. Start and complete a useful machine learning project
  3. Master Puppet
  4. Start attending tech meetups in the bay area.
  5. Consolidate retirement accounts

Make Anki a daily habit

I need to consolidate my notes about this into a post of its own, but numerically, I studied more than half of the days in 2019 (224), reviewing over 6000 cards. I added 800 cards, with an overall correct answer rate of 95 percent. Paradoxically, this means I am likely doing too many easy reviews, or not mixing it up enough.

In 2020, I'll be focusing less on trivia like state capitals and times tables, and hope to focus more on professional interests. And maybe a little bit of mental math tricks -- just not hundreds of cards worth!

Rating 3.5/5

Start and complete a useful machine learning project

Never really made the time for this. I thought I'd finish up a hands on book I started last year but the thing appeared to be written in a python Notebook with a ton of gotchas that were errata'd. Kinda offputting.

Putting this at a 1 out of 5 instead of 0 because I did learn some time series prediction algorithms and apply them at work. They're more statistical in nature, but they are technically online algorithms that learn from new data!

Rating 1/5

Master Puppet

I did add a few Anki cards in the first half of the year, and I did make a few PRs at work, but it wasn't nearly enough to call myself a master. I think the reality here is that as container orchestration becomes more central, Puppet itself is a slightly flawed tool.

Need to think about whether to carry this over or bail out and focus on container ready replacements.

Rating 1/5

Start attending tech meetups in the bay area

Did none of that. A lot of these meetings start at 5 or 6, which is like, peak commute time. And some are in SF rather than South bay, further complicating it. SVLUG graciously starts at 7, but had 2 meetings in 2019, both of which I missed. And many of these compete with game night. To add fuel to the chaos, Yahoo Groups is shutting down or something, and Meetup.com wanted to introduce fees for RSVPs. I did get to go to WWDC this year, which was sorta cool, but not particularly good at building my local network.

I've joined a lot of virtual communities via Slack in 2019, but it's not quite the same. One would imagine SV as a hub of this sort of thing, and maybe it is but I'm just looking in the wrong place.

Partly I think the challenge here is not knowing anyone in the target meetup. Maybe I should start with a local morning coffee meetup associated with one of the Slack communities. Even though I don't like coffee. Or mornings. And we do have some corporate internal meetups that perhaps I should take better advantage of.

Rating 1/5

Consolidate retirement accounts

Started off and ended strong, with a lot of procrastination the other 10 months of the year. I've finished one, initiated the process with two more, leaving two accounts still to consolidate. I was hopeful I found a fully online way to deal with an otherwise paper and phone process, but no, even when you upload forms they call you to confirm the transaction with both parties.

The thing I hate about these sort of phone calls is people asking me questions I don't know the answer to, or making a decision I would have preferred to think about. This leads to a sort of analysis paralysis, and the best I can do is initiate the phone call with as much data and research as possible.

The two remaining accounts are less pressing as they're not costing me much beyond accounting time, but when you factor that in they should probably go. Will carry those over to the backlog for 2020.

Rating 3/5


It seems I committed to more than I could reasonably accomplish in a year, alongside normal daily life. Nothing wrong with that per se, but recognizing this state aids one in setting future goals. Only a few of my goals really naturally aligned with one another -- learning puppet and using Anki to learn things.

Another holistic observation is that I did a lot of this during winter shutdown, so maybe it's time to start planning vacations on the regular, now that I'm reaching the accrual cap.

And finally, it's important to note these are stretch goals almost by default. I didn't get much of the list done in May, but I did earn a promotion at work for the period ending in May. It's not like I did nothing in 2019, some was work related, some was impromptu new goals; it's just not public by default like the blog posts are.

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