2020: Year in Review

Howdy all,

It’s been one year since I wrote my last update on the blog. I am hoping to become more active in the near-term future as I’m in progress (albeit slowly) of migrating my site to a new server so I can expand it by adding new sections to cover my interest in cars/racing and cooking. In the process, I’m also planning on reducing my time on social media and likely removing my Facebook account.

But let’s get down to the business of this year in review.

2020: Pretty Messed Up

Obviously, even if you’ve been living under a rock, you’re aware that 2020 was the year of the COVID-19 global pandemic. As to how it affected me, I still am under it’s spell as I’m staying at home and trying to keep safe until vaccines become widely distributed in my area and I get the vaccine myself. I don’t think I’ll be able to fully unpack the shifts that this has had on society and the world at large for several years now, but at least as a direct impact it lost me my first opportunity to do a keynote by invite and ended all my typical world travel for the year. It’s been such a mentally and emotionally exhausting year that it’s actually kind of blah just writing about it, and I can’t bring the energy I need to go into deep detail.

2020: The Good Parts

All that in stride, some good things happened for me in 2020 as well. My long-time (now 3+ years) girlfriend moved into my house with me and my long-time roommate moved out. I got some home renovations done while stuck indoors, all DIY, learning some new skills in the process. I’m doing much better at saving money and being frugal. One of the two biggest changes though is that I took up cooking once again, even enrolling in an online culinary school for six months, and it turns out I’m pretty good at it. I now love cooking, and I cook 3-6 times a week, eating leftovers the rest of the time or my girlfriend cooks on intermediary days. The second big change is that I resigned my position at Percona to come almost full-circle in my career, starting at Mozilla in July 2020 to be the Network Security Product Manager for Firefox Desktop.

For those that haven’t known me that long, when I was in high school almost 16 years ago, was my first introduction to contributing online to open source software. It started with hanging out in the IRC network for Mozilla, known as MozNet, and from there I ended up doing bug triage and QA, writing reproducible testcases and filtering out duplicate bugs as a volunteer. Somewhere along the way I got to try my hand at doing security analysis and found and reported some security bugs in Firefox that got me awarded one of the first handful of bug bounties Mozilla handed out. I evangelized Mozilla, both Firefox and Thunderbird, during my time in college, and I’ve continued to be a loyal user since, although my contributions waned when I started my career full-time. It’s hard to express in words how emotionally fulfilling it was to be approached by a recruiter to join Mozilla now, so many years later, and to actively give back to the community that in some ways brought me up in the ways of the tech industry and open-source. The principles espoused in the Mozilla Manifesto have been guiding principles for me during my entire career, as many can attest to my staunch advocacy for user privacy, user agency, and strong security. I’m very proud to be involved in advancing these causes directly now.

What’s Next?

2021 seems to be the year with promise of a return to normalcy, but it remains to be seen if vaccine distribution programs will work out the way we all hope they will. In the interim, I’m continuing to do what’s necessary to ensure the safety of myself and my loved ones, while working to be even more frugal and minimalistic in my daily life. I think the pandemic has taken the airwaves lately, but the real issue of the day on which my generation will be judged is how we address climate change and the toxic manipulation of ad tech which motivates modern consumerism, one of the main drivers of climate impact. While one of my hobbies is not very great for the climate, in all other aspects of my life I am working towards becoming as carbon neutral as possible through offsets, choices of energy source, and reducing my wasteful consumption.

For the next three years I’m going to be laser-focused on improving my personal financial situation to really shore up my long-term strategy for my life goals, and a lot of that has to do with improving my home and reducing my waste. Finances allowing, I intend to try to get my home energy usage entirely covered by rooftop solar within that time frame, and to essentially be debt free other than my mortgage. I’ve already made many energy-saving home improvements with more to come, and I am hopeful I can retrofit my existing house to be as close to carbon neutral as possible by 2025. From there, I will continue to work towards ways in the market that I can make choices to minimize my own climate impact, such as buying optional carbon offsets when having goods shipped to me or traveling.

All the bigger issues aside, on the smaller scale I want to continue improving my cooking, expanding my recipe repertoire, and establishing healthy routines to improve my personal health and wellbeing. I will continue racing cars, and improving in this way as well, chasing the goal of being a competitive entry in NASA TT4 (maybe TT3 down the road). Besides these things, my time and energy is focused on my relationship with my girlfriend and with my family. If 2020 has taught us anything as a society, it’s that our time on this Earth may be shorter than we think, and we daily choose how we want to spend that time and the precious resources at our disposal.

Hopefully I can get something written in the next week to summarize my journey to find a COVID-safe activity date we can do outside the house for Valentine’s Day, and what I ended up going with, and what I found along the way.