As 2021 comes to a close it’s time to look in the rear-view mirror and reflect on what I’ve done, where I’ve been, and what I’ve consumed. I’ll also look forward to what I want next year to look like.
Top 10 Moments
- Travelling to Portugal for ~2 weeks — port tasting and the Castle of Marvão were some of the highlights.
- Spending ~2 weeks with my family in Mexico — I was lucky to be able to work remotely for Resemble AI during this time. Shout-out to Karen’s for their happy hour piña coladas.
- Learning to play guitar — I opted to learn guitar on a whim one year ago and it is one of the best decisions I made this year. Learning guitar has been challenging in all the right ways and playing guitar is soothing in all sorts of unanticipated ways. Leading carols for my family this christmas was the cherry on top.
- Biking a metric century with my Dad and Sister — as an added bonus I got to do the century on my new gravel bike Rose.
- Volunteering at Sport Central — every Tuesday night I go to Sport Central to repair bikes for kids in need. I’ve learned so much about bike repair and become close with a great group of guys.
- Working at Resemble AI — I always seem to enjoy the cadence of working at a startup. Foo Fridays are amazing, I learned so much reporting directly to Zohaib, and it was a joy to get to learn Swift and iOS SDK development on the job.
- Hiking up to Landslide Lake — our campsite on the second night was stunning.
- Working with Armi and Cyrus — I got to work with them on a number of school projects, GrokJS, and CompE+. We see eye to eye on so much and I look forward to building more stuff with them.
- Getting vaccinated — what a triumph of science and technology.
- Canoeing — no overnight trips this year, but still thankful for the two times I got to go on the river.
Honorable mention to buying a Quest 2. It’s an amazing piece of hardware and it has some really great games on it.
Top 10 Movies and TV Shows
- Bo Burnham: Inside — this literally left my jaw on the floor.
- Don’t Look Up — I don’t even know how to describe how perfect the social commentary in this is. I wonder if my death will involve a Brontaroc?
- tick, tick…BOOM! — the majority of the Broadway references and cameos flew over my head, but it was such a beautiful interweaving of stories and musicals.
- Schitt’s Creek — A+ for a Canadian comedy. Like most of my other favorite TV shows the over-the-top characters make it for me.
- Derry Girls — impossible to watch without captions but so funny! Orla is the best.
- Only the Brave — I think I cried at the end.
- The Billion Dollar Code — don’t be evil 😏.
- Argo — a great movie made even better by the fact that it is based on real events.
- The Pianist — this was an impactful watch.
- Solar Opposites — the secondary plot about the humans in the ant farm is Rick and Morty levels of unique.
Honorable mentions for The Office, Rick and Morty, Drive to Survive, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Archer. These shows either released great new seasons or in the case of The Office are amazing enough to re-watch a third time.
Top 10 Books
- To Sleep in a Sea of Stars — one of the most compelling science fiction books I’ve read. Paolini’s visions of ship minds and augmented reality are riveting.
- The Psychology of Money — as far as I’m concerned this book is a must read. It seriously changed how I think about my risk tolerances for investing.
- Cloud Atlas — this is worth reading for the unique narrative structure alone (think Russian nesting doll).
- Crypto Theses for 2022 — stumbled across this in an email newsletter and then spent the next two days chained to my desktop reading it like a madman. It sold me on NFTs with this quote, “If a big part of our future lives are spent living in global, virtual, interconnected worlds (the metaverse), then NFTs are some of the primary building blocks for everything in that world”.
- Foundation series — a classic series that comes highly recommended. Fascinating to follow the thread of the Foundation through a century spanning history.
- Bird Box — a terrifying read. Way better than the movie. A story about wearing blindfolds deserves to be read, not watched 🤦.
- Real-World Cryptography — of all places I read this on the beaches of Mexico while sipping piña coladas. Cryptography is still a complex and risk-laden field but this book primed me with enough of the basics that I feel prepared to navigate it anyways.
- The Wealthy Barber — this was probably the fourth time I’ve read the book, but I always learn something new. It’s outdated in parts but the core message still holds water.
- Operating Systems: Three Easy Pieces — this book unlocked a big part of the modern computing environment for me. I love peeling back layers of abstraction and seeing how something works underneath.
- The Mom Test — an indie hackers classic. For the most part it lives up to the hype and provides you with some solid mental models for customer conversations and product discovery.
Top 10 Podcasts
- All-In — billionaires shooting the shit, ‘nuff said.
- Bankless — my crypto red pill.
- Acquired — I never thought I’d spend nine hours of my life learning about Berkshire Hathaway; yet here I am.
- Indie Hackers — Courtland is a masterclass podcaster and the show has only improved as he has strayed from the rigid interview format.
- Lex Fridman — Lex is such a delightful anomaly. I love being a fly on the wall of his conversations.
- The Art of Product Podcast — This new find fuels my passion for building.
- CoRecursive — the way in which Adam wraps technical problems in a story about humans makes me love the field of technology.
- Changelog Family — the information density of the average episode is a bit too low for me but there are diamonds in the rough.
- My First Million — at times the hustle is a bit too much, but with timestamps you can find some diamonds in the rough.
- The Tim Ferriss Show — perhaps Tim could make less liberal use of his soap box, but — you guessed it — some episodes are diamonds in the rough.
Looking Forward to 2022
By the end of this year I’ll graduate. With that in mind I’ll need to start making some decisions about where I want to work full-time and where I want to live. I also want to consider less traditional options like digital nomading or consulting for the start of 2023.
- Leverage my connections to have multiple full-time offers post-graduation.
- Seriously research the possibility of digital nomading or consulting at the start of 2023.
Travel and Adventure
Thanks to remote schooling and work I spend a lot of time at home. Travelling abroad and doing adventurous things is a great way to spice up my life.
- Travel to Eastern Canada.
- Do a multi-night canoe trip on the North Saskatchewan.
- Bike an imperial century.
I’ve had some trouble with physical and mental health problems over 2021. Looking forward to 2022 I want to take a more holistic approach to my health, or in other words, I want to do a lot of yoga.
- Build a habit of doing yoga multiple times a week.
- Do a mix of body weight exercises at home and weightlifting at the gym.
- Keep biking and training for a century.
I find the digital world to be both a blessing and a curse, software itself is amoral but amplifies the underlying good or bad. On one hand I’ve never been more connected, empowered, and informed. On the other hand I’ve never felt so isolated, paralyzed, and confused. Not quite sure how to get off the treadmill or if I even want to, but the following seem like some rational first steps.
- Avoid having my phone be the first thing I interact with in the morning.
- Limit the empty calories I consume i.e. Instagram, Youtube, etc.
2021 was a big year for my finances: I read some great investing books; started investing in crypto; got my traditional investments in order; and built a big spreadsheet to help me keep track of my overall financial direction. I’d be happy if all I did in 2022 was continue to dollar cost average into my investments and keep my spreadsheet up to date — compounding will take care of the rest.
- Keep dollar cost averaging into passive index funds, ETH, BTC.
- Keep my spreadsheet up to date.
Greatest meme ever pic.twitter.com/iuCLBUgFdD— Zuhayeer Musa (@zuhayeer) October 15, 2021
Building things makes me happy. I don’t intend to be prescriptive about what I’ll build in 2022 — all that matters is that I build something.
- Build and publish 2+ projects.
Last year I focused on reading less short/medium-form blog content and more long-form book content. Blogs have their place, but I felt that I was missing some of the nuance you find in books. I also wanted to rediscover fiction. It was a good start last year but I want to pick up the pace. The Kobo I got for christmas should hopefully assist with this.
- Read 1.5+ books a month (for a total of 18+ over the year).
If you’re overthinking, write.— Alex & Books 📚 (@AlexAndBooks_) October 9, 2021
If you’re underthinking, read.
I tend to overthink (understatement of the year) so I should definitely be writing more. In the first year of this blog I managed to write eight posts. I chalk it up to a productive spurt in the early COVID lockdowns. In 2021 I only managed to write five. I think it’d be a big win if I wrote ten or more posts in 2022. Writing has compounding benefits so I want to start the compounding sooner than later.
- Publish 10+ blog posts.
Learning guitar was one of the best decisions I made in 2021 so I want to keep my foot on the gas pedal. The hardest thing here will be continuing to do focused practice; at the one year mark I have enough skill that I find it really easy to waste a whole practice session just noodling rather than working on the fundamentals.
- Complete Justin Guitar Beginner Grade 3.
- Complete Justin Guitar Ear Training and Theory up to Grade 3.
- Keep playing in front of family and friends to practice performing.
- Find more people to jam with.
- Stretch goal: Record a cover of a song.
If you’re in college, I’d encourage you to spend the spring semester (maybe redeploy your book budget into ETH gas fees), learning and testing different crypto protocols on Earn, Rabbithole and other places. Best case scenario, you hit the lotto on a few more airdrops. Worst case? You flunk out, and you’ll get hired on the spot by a crypto company once you show them your degen score and NFT merit badge library.
— Ryan Selkis in Crypto Theses for 2022
2021 was the year that I got red-pilled by crypto; I started buying ETH and BTC; I started mining HNT; but most of all I read and listened to a lot of crypto content. In 2022 I want to double down on actually tinkering around with crypto. I’m convinced that Web 3.0 is going to be huge so I want to get in early. The end goal of the tinkering is to discover what still needs to be built and to go build it.
- Continue to dollar cost average my way into ETH and BTC.
- Purchase or host more Helium miners.
- Register an ENS domain.
- Try out some DeFi protocols.
- Buy some NFTs and get involved with the communities.
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