Nat? Nat. Nat!

#531
2015 Year In Review

Hiya!

Thanks for coming to another review of a year in the life of Nat. This time we'll be walking through 2015. You can see past reviews from 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010 on this blog (yes I did move all of my blog posts to this domain from pseudoweb.net and tumble.io this year... sorry for the confusion).

2015 was so insane, I am having trouble wrapping my head around everything that happened. I moved from London to New York, started dating again, traveled to some cool places, quit a job, went to a programming retreat and started another job.

For those of you that know me well, you know that if I don't write it down, it probably won't get done. Over the years, I have also become increasingly dependent on taking photos of things to remember they happened. So these reviews have become essential for me to translate what I saw into a record of what happened.

Knowing that, to create this review, I went through my entire 2015 in photos on Flickr, and then added flavor text.

January

City of London Josh

January was interesting. I spent a lot of the month thinking about what I wanted to do in 2016. I was unhappy in London. Part of it was career issues, others was just an inability to build a social support network. Looking back at it, I think I gave up a little too early, but I don't regret the time I spent in London or deciding to leave. I spent a lot of time hanging out with Josh, who was in a similar spot in London: we were both Americans not sure what we were doing in Europe.

Monkigras Coffee Guys The Frankleys Perform at Monkigras 2015

Near the end of the month, I went to Monkigras. Monkigras was a fantastic experience, and a great setup for my traveling in February. I would recommend the conference to everyone interested in process, culture and software development. Shout out to @monkchips, I've never met a friendlier person. We ended up talking for like an hour after the conference closed (I think this was the first conference I stayed at till like 1am). We bonded over the amazing music he setup, The Franklys, and the intimate setting he had created.

February

At the very end of January (the day after Monkigras), I flew to Zurich. This is one of those trips I did not document as well as I should have, but was utterly amazing. I finally met coworkers I had been talking to for a long time on IRC in person, went to a spa with @reed, hiked all over the beautiful city, and experienced my first snow of the year.

2015-01-31 15.54.52_edited DSC00361_edited Breakfast. Snow!

February was packed with travel though. After Zurich, I was home in London for a while, and two of my favorite Googlers from Seattle visited.

GCE SRE LON Bill Andy

And then for my birthday, I flew to Copenhagen to meet up with @niket, @mattjoanou, @garrettmcmanus and Jaymie. I stayed in a hotel that was a boat, continued wandering everywhere, drank a lot of delicious Mikkeller beer, and just generally chilled with friends. On my last day, Jaymie and I went to a concert with a random girl she met at her hostel. Such a great trip.

Mikkeller! Garrett and Niket Boat Hotel Matt, Niket, Garett The Preatures Mikkeller Coaster DSC00954_edited

March

By March, I had given notice at Google, and was planning my escape to NYC, where I would be attending Hacker School (more on that soon). Before I left I tried to explore last corners of London I had been putting off, and take lots of photos of coworkers and the like.

Robot on Whiteboard Keith
Coworkers! Matt and Pascal
Ingvar! Toilet Quotes

Then I did a lot of flying... arguably more than I should have. I shipped a bunch of my things to SF, which was gonna take two months, but I had a bunch of stuff I didn't ship. So I flew to SF with the remainder. I went to my parents house and repacked a subset of my stuff into two small bags, spent an afternoon hanging out in the city with good friends (we went on a two mile walk, drank beer and ate tacos), and then flew to NYC. In total I was in the bay area for like 38 hours.

Friends

Then, I was in New York City. I purposely landed a few days before Recurse Center (which was renamed from Hacker School while I was traveling). The next three months are actually really well documented, because I wrote every day for one hundred days I was attending RC. Day 1 was my first post, and I started by spending the week catching up with friends who lived in NYC and exploring the city, trying to figure out what was going on and just decompress.

Manhattan Peoples Aaron and Nat

And then #recursecenter began!

April

So RC Spring 2, 2015 actually began March 30th, but whatever. I cannot explain to you how overwhelmed I was during the month of April. I had no idea what I was doing, what was going on, or really where I was. The first week of RC, I just tried to do everything, and successfully burnt myself out. So I started slowing things down, wandering around New York a lot, and instead of trying to figure out what to do, I just started coding.

Talk at Different Games Werewolf

Game night Little Face Coffee Shop Advertising

The second weekend in NY, RC planned a trip to Storm King Art Center. This was one of my favorite art things I have seen in NY. Such a great trip, despite being a really long car drive.

Cubes Gonçalo Holds Up Sculpture Duck

One thing that I started doing almost every day was going on coffee walks. I saw lots of cool parts of downtown NY with Recursers, and drank way too much coffee.

Rain Coffee Excursion Walking Group NJ view of NYC

May

street art

In May, six weeks in to my time at RC, half of the people left (RC works where batches overlap by six weeks), and we got two weeks off. During that time my family visited me. Lots more wandering with people from RC, by myself and with my family.

Bjork robots Relic Hells Kitchen RC Snacks BBQ Time Square Modern Bros Nintendo Art Chinese Fashion Chuck Close Satellite Steve Jobs Quote Grand Central Station. Ramen! Kayvon John Zuccotti Park Just fixing keyboards Riddle Discussions at RC First Morning Mingling The New School

Panorama view from Two Sigma

My uncle Bob passed away during this time as well, so I took a trip down to Philadelphia for his funeral.

Bob's Funeral

I also attended this amazing conference on Video Games and Art called two5six.

@randyjhunt, @kathandthat and @jaminwar #two5six

June

OK, so May and April were both insane whirlwinds. June, my last month at RC, I figure, sure, now things will settle down. They didn't really. I started the month off by flying back to SF for my brother's graduation from High School. I took some time and saw some friends as well.

Travis: Graduate Edition Xander, Le and Kareem

When I returned, I had two visitors: @beurredoux and @markgius.

Mark and Tracy at Katz Pre-Ramen Photo!

And then lots more RC, wandering and exploring.

Heidi, John and Alex Sunset Potluck Poloroid Coney Island Washington Sq Park Joe at Judd Sunset on NJ RC Spring 2, 2015 Batch The away team Pizza at Juliana's

Oh one pretty cool highlight from the month was being able to go inside the New York Stock Exchange! Thanks Recurse Center!

RCers Sonali Speaks RCers that are Blurry Nat the Stock Guy

I really skimmed over the time I spent inside RC. It was a crazy experience and I would recommend it to most programmers. I wrote a Return Statement on my time there, and it has a much more in-depth look at my time specifically at RC. I did get published through RC thought, and that was awesome! If you're interested, go checkout my article on DDoS in issue three of Code Words.

July

On July 2nd, my batch officially ended, and I flew home a day later. When I came home I had a pallet of stuff from London to go through. So a lot of my time was spent going through that, plus lots of other stuff I had left with my parents when I left SF the first time.

3D Tetris

I went up to the cabin twice, plus spent a bunch of time hanging out in SF trying to see people. I didn't get to see everyone I know and love, but I did a pretty good job.

Steve Prentice Richard Matt & Xander Hsien and Jeanne Alex Walter Dustin Dave View Sunset + Lassen Looking Field Clouds before the storm Le

August

In August, I moved to NYC. I say moved, because this time, I actually signed a lease with @rohenp and shipped 300 pounds (optimized down from the 800 I shipped from London) of my stuff there.

All of my stuff made it to NYC! New window view 2015-08-06_edited

The first few days I got back to wandering: I saw a concert with Rohen, I visited RC, I ate Thai food.

I'm a Dreamer Breakfast WTC Concert

But then, the foolery stopped, and I started my new job at littleBits!

Littlebits

September

At the end of August, and beginning of September, I flew over to Seattle to do a trip I've been wanting to do for a while. I started off by going to PAX Prime 2015 (which I think was my eighth time attending) in downtown Seattle. I also took the chance to visit some Googlers and some Recursers in Seattle (most of whom I forgot to take photos of... fail). Shout out to Mark and Tracy for putting me up in their new home, it was a blast.

PAX Badges Sushi Party Mark eats Burrito Chris eats Burrito Link Bill, Bruce and Pascal

I then took the train up to Vancouver to visit @kenpratt, a fellow Recurser. This solved a life long want to visit Canada which I some how never made happen before this year (maybe next year I'll finally go to Mexico). Vancouver is such a beautiful city. I don't think you'd have to do much to convince me to move there. Such great food, sights and my favorite type of weather (mild and wet).

Ken and Joey

I then took the train down to Portland to visit my buddy @AlbertusMagnus! I've known Chris since 2002 (he was the first friend I made in High School) and hanging out with him in his home of Portland was a blast.

Jaidra and Chris

I then flew back to NY... for a little bit. Halfway through the month I attended @namniart's wedding in sunny Santa Rosa.

Le and Dave Reed Jennie, James and Tracy Hendrix Wedding PCB Soldering with Bob and Maria

It was by far the nerdiest wedding I had ever been to, but it was just about perfect. I'm so happy for these two wonderful people.

Champaign?

At the end of September, I went to MakerFaire NYC and worked the littleBits booth there.

2600 Booth Littlebits @ Makerfaire NYC

October

Matt stopped by NY in the beginning of the month, and we went out with @chris_nolte, @farzadallday and a few others and partied in the Lower East Side, which was a blast.

Nolte and Matt

Later in the week, a coworker Kristin shared tickets with me to go see Stars in Brooklyn. It was such an amazing show!

Stars Geographer

Later in the month, Rohen and I followed @nicholasbs's advice, and attended the Gowanus Open Studios which was cool. So much good art. I didn't take any photos except for this quote though...

Quote

I continued to work for littleBits.

Web Team

And I continued to wander (surprising no one...).

Spicy Ramen Sam

Sculpture Sashimi

Fountain by Boat House

November

At the beginning of November, my Mom, Dad and I traveled to Urbana, Illinois to visit my brother during his first semester of university at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Travis gave us a tour of the university and we all hung out for a day.

Tour Guide Travis Sculpture Mom and Dad

I also had two visitors during November in NY. @alexbaldwin and Kat!

Alex Baldwin Kat and Nat

December

December started off with a special guest. My Mom!

Mom and Nat Kayvon and Mamie Mom Rohen and Mom

We had four days packed with museums (Whitney, MAD, Cloisters and Guggenheim), Soho Art Galleries, Tea, Central Park wandering, hanging out with friends, a Broadway play and a concert at Carnegie Hall.

Reservoir

Halfway through the month, I retreated back to California, and traveled up to my families cabin near Lassen. I'll be here until the end of the year.

Lassen Lake Tree cut down and decorated. Persimmons

The whole year...

I can't seem to find my goals for 2015... probably proof of how lost I was in January. The only thing I have written down is to "figure out a way to build and ship products as part of my job". I don't think I actually did this... which is a little frustrating. I did complete my goals at RC, completing five projects. Going back to a document I wrote at the beginning of 2015, I sketched out some priorities for what I wanted in a career in 2015.

  • Build stuff people use daily
  • Have a source of creative outlet
  • Promote creativity and communication
  • Work with people who inspire me
  • Work with people who I can learn from

RC being one quarter of 2015 easily fulfilled four out of five of these goals. Nothing in the first or third quarters really touched on these goals, but my some of my time at littleBits in the fourth quarter has made progress on these wants.

If I look at my goals for 2014, I had goals around physical health, travel and art. This year I traveled to three cities I had never been to before: Copenhagen, Zurich and Vancouver. I traveled to three cities I hadn't been to in a while: Portland, New York and Philadelphia. My physical health didn't really improve. I still haven't gotten back to the 2013 level of the gym twice a week, but I didn't gain any weight. My general endurance did decrease though, I can no longer run a mile easily, and definitely not under ten minutes. As for art, I took around eight hundred and fifty photos. Less than last year, but an amount I am comfortable with. I also created a bunch of websites I like, and I've been writing in my journal more, so I'd view that as a success.

Moving away from goals, I measured a bunch of other parts of my life.

I listened to a lot of music. Sadly Last.FM got rid of the stream graphs I loved using for displaying my year end listening trends. Instead some statistics according to my Last.FM. I had 21,143 scrobbles this year (which is tracks played and recorded). Broken up by month:

monthly scrobbles

And the top artists I listened to this year:

top artists

I wrote a lot of open source code, although my Autumn wasn't very productive.

Nat's 2015 in code

I even read 70 books, continuing my yearly trend of reading more books each year! Goodreads.com actually did a really cool breakdown of my reading with their new feature, Nat's year in books.

year in books

What I'm particularly stoked on is I am continuing a trend of solid growth in number of books read. This growth is not sustainable, but if I stayed around this area of five to six books a month, I'd be stoked.

book history

Next year

OK, after my failure of goal setting in 2015, I'm going to try and flush out solid goals for 2016. The best goals, in my opinion, are measurable, so here are some measurable ones:

  • Lose thirty pounds of weight
  • Be active (elevated heart rate) for two hours per week on average
  • Take in revenue from one side project
  • Travel to five cities you haven't been to before, or at least not in five years.
  • Read seventy books

My final goal I haven't quite figured out yet. But I want to delve into a large side project. Something more ambitious than I have ever done. I'm thinking of it as my stretch goal for 2016. I've been thinking a lot about using 100:10:1 to figure out what this thing is. If I do start on this (which I should) I want to blog about it more. Just share my progress often, like I did with my posts during RC.

Anyways, thanks for reading! Feel free to send me feedback @icco or nat@natwelch.com

Happy New Year!

/Nat

P.S. If you didn't see my holiday card, and you're reading this, you should check it out, it is meant for you: Nat's 2015 Holiday Card.