2016 Year In Review
By Nat Welch
Hello hello hello!
Thanks for coming to another review of a year in the life of Nat. This time we will be revisiting 2016.
To create this review, I went through my entire 2016 in photos on Flickr, and then added flavor text. After the month by month play-through, there is a summary of the year and a look into 2017.
I started January right here, sitting in a cabin on Lake Almanor. In December, I had interviewed and accepted a job at Hillary for America. In the beginning of January, I quit my job at LittleBits, and on January 18th, started at the Hillary for America HQ in Brooklyn Heights.
This was also my first real winter on the East Coast. Got used to commuting in the snow, for whatever that is worth.
So when I started at the campaign, I started working seven days a week. I don’t have a lot of photos of this time, but on February 1st, we had our first election in Iowa. It only got crazier from there.
I was dating Diana at the time, whom I really only saw Wednesday nights. For some reason, consistently, Wednesday was the only night life was at all sane.
On my birthday, I took my first vacation since I started working on the campaign, and took two days off. One of which I hung out in museums, the other I spent hanging with Diana.
I made it one year in New York! I didn’t really have time to notice though. During March there were elections almost every day, so there was a lot of waiting, celebrating and long nights.
I did get a chance to see a wonderful panel at the Whitney on the Freedom of Information Act and how it has affected working Journalists and how people use it today.
Oh and Travis came to visit for a week!
Finally, I don’t have any photos of it, but the campaign did it’s first hackathon the last weekend in March. It was one of my favorite weekends on the campaign, because I got to work with new people, play with some new tech, and try and solve a big problem.
Let’s start with the important thing: I was on TV.
An episode aired of The Circus where they had filmed in the HFA office while Howard Dean was speaking. Myself and a few tech people were in a shot. I didn’t put together an IMDB page like the campaign dog, but it was still a blast.
The rest of the month, I finally started taking more photos at work. We had lots of fun visitors and I started to really feel like I understood what was going on.
The downside of all of this is at the beginning of the month I broke up with Diana, so I was back to the single game.
In May, the campaign was slowly starting to become normal. I had some days off and we felt like we had the nomination in the bag. Recurse Center hosted their annual “Never Graduate Week”, and while I didn’t get to hang out at a ton of it, I did get to see lots of RC people I love:
Rohen and I went to the Whitney Curatorial Address. We were the youngest people there, but it was one of the more fascinating things I’ve been to. The curators talked about everything they had planned for the year and all of the decisions that went into building the museum. So much fun!
In May, I got to meet Bill and Hillary Clinton!
When I started on the campaign, I said I had three goals:
- Shake hands with Bill Clinton.
- Hug Hillary Clinton.
- See Hillary elected President.
In May, I shook hands with them both, and got to talk to Hillary Clinton a little about what I did on the campaign, so I viewed that as two bullet points crossed off. Also, notice the Tech team keeps growing!
At the end of May, I took a four day weekend and visited Washington, D.C. I hadn’t really ever felt like I had been a proper tourist in the city. After the campaign, if it went well, I was thinking of moving to D.C. to work on the USDS or try and get a job with the CTO. I last was in D.C. in 2010 for the Rally to Restore Sanity with @Madrox and @markgius, and I had visited once before when I was super young, but after this trip, I felt like I at least understood the basics of the city. Shout-out to Phoenix for hanging out.
June was a month. Very busy, since I thought it would be the last time I had free time until November.
I went on my first date with @mel_cantrell to a Thundercat show. It was an amazing show. I only wish he hadn’t started two hours late. The upside was dating Melissa was one of the best things to happen to me in 2016!
I got to see one of my favorite artists in concert: Bonobo.
Oh and I got to see @kathleen_warner!
Overall, June was a wonderful month. It wasn’t too hot, I had every weekend off, and it was the calm between the Primaries and the Convention. I tried to do as much as humanly possible!
July. July was a mad dash to the Convention. We launched so much software in July, I can’t even remember it all. July was wonderful, a celebration of everything we had done since I started, but also when the national eye really turned to the campaign and things got intense. We went back to seven days a week, and in my humble opinion, did an amazing job.
August was the last calm moment I can remember in 2016. We were still working hard, but we had time off here and there, and it was all sort of idyllic.
One of my favorite things in August was Melissa and I went and saw Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology. One of the things I don’t talk about often is how much I love fashion. I’m not a huge consumer of it, but growing up around my mom who was always making clothes, knitting, weaving, embroidering, I somehow always thought about it. One of my favorite things about being in New York (and London for that matter) was how present the fashion industry is in the city. This exhibit was a celebration of the history and technological advances of that industry, and I had so much fun. The hilarious thing, we didn’t even know it was still open. Melissa and I just wanted to go to the Met on our last day off in August.
Oh, and I got to hear Gerald Jay Sussman talk thanks to RC. That was awesome.
Finally on the last day of August, we had a party at the home of Richard Garriott. I took a ton of photos, it was a great night just to talk and stare at famous stuff on the walls. Richard was an amazing host, and a truly fantastic collector.
September was apparently spent eating. Tech-Ops did a celebratory dinner, I went out to eat with fellow staff folks, Melissa and I celebrated her birthday, etc. Oh and Aaron took me to see the U.S. Open! That was fun.
Also, I got to see the always wonderful Lego!
At the end of September, and the beginning of October, I made a quick little jaunt to D.C. for work. It was… illuminating? Thanks to timball for letting me crash at his place and for the warm hospitality of all of the Sunlighters I met.
October was probably the longest month of 2016. Looking at these photos, I often go “that was October?!?”. Lots of work as we tried to get millions registered to vote and remind people that Donald Trump is a fascist who will ruin your life, and that Hillary Clinton wants a better life for all people. Also, I got really sick at one point. And not to be forgotten or outdone, the amazing @pliable came and visited!
I’d like to also call out the amazing “Pear Bonus”. At Google there was this thing called “Peer Bonuses”, where you could pretty much tell Google to give any other employee $250 when they did a good job. It was wonderful. A great way to say “Hey! You’re awesome. Go have a nice dinner.” Krista and @PritikaN took that idea and invented the wonderful “Pear Bonuses”. It’s the same idea, but since the campaign has very little money, you instead give each other pears. timball and I both received them in October. It made me feel nice.
I spent the first week of November working harder than I have in a long time. I was mentally exhausted, sleep deprived, angry and just overall emotional. I spent the next three weeks drunk, crying, sleeping and trying to get some work done. There were lots of long walks in parks. Lots of awkward meetings. Strange text messages with friends. It was a weird month. I overall liked 2016, but November 2016 is probably in the top five worst months I have ever experienced.
That being said, I will never forget it. November solidified relationships. November was when I spent time with people I didn’t know before 2016, and now whom I would give up my bed for, or answer a phone call for at any hour. If you worked on Hillary for America, and I’m being 100% serious here, even if I never said one word to you, if you are hungry, I will feed you. If you need money, I will give it to you. If you need a place to sleep, my door is open. If you need to rant, my ear is available at the nearest bar, coffee shop, park bench, phone call, email or video chat. You’ve given so much, I could never begin to repay it. But I will do my best.
One last thing about November. My family visited for Thanksgiving, and it was wonderful.
The twelfth month of 2016 was a month of recovery. Melissa and I went to Montreal for a few days. I then spent the rest of the month in California trying to see people and catch up. I saw like 10% of the people I wanted to see, but it was progress. @alexbaldwin and I spent a week hiding in the woods cooking and writing software. The @punchd team had a reunion in SF. My family, Melissa and I went to the mountains for Christmas and New Years. It was chill. I slowly started feeling like a normal person again.
The whole year…
I am honored to have spent most of the year working to try and get Hillary Clinton elected president. I would do it again. Because of having such a goal driven and positive work space, I view 2016 as overall pretty great. The place I spent most of my days, HFA HQ, always made me feel good. I felt loved and needed. This helped me get through all of the stupid painful things that happened in 2016.
Outside of the campaign, I did learn a lot about myself while doing my 100:10:1 project, #tenbysix. I was not overall successful, but it was a learning experience.
I didn’t get retrospectives written for the first three quarters like I hoped I would, but I did get one done about half of the way through the year. My goals for 2016 were as follows:
Improve physical health
- Lose thirty pounds of weight
- Run for thirty minutes, three times a week
- Be able to run four miles without stopping
- Stretch every morning
Ship more side projects and be creative
- Take in revenue from one side project
- Participate in 100:10:1 (Create a list of 100 projects, build MVP of 10 by June, and a fully flushed out project by EOY)
- Write 200 posts in 2016
- Maintain a four post per week average on https://writing.natwelch.com
- Travel to five cities you haven’t been to before, or at least not in five years.
- Read seventy books
- Go to five art exhibits, live shows or movies a month
Improve physical health
Uhm, yeah. I weigh the same and didn’t meet either of my running goals. I did get pretty good at stretching every morning though, so that’s nice. I also stopped drinking soda for the most part, so that’s nice too.
Ship more side projects and be creative
100:10:1 was the big success here, even if I didn’t finish. I learned I can’t shuffle more than two projects in my head, and I also need usually two dedicated days to build the beginnings of larger projects. Talking to people about my projects, and then working with them in the room is also an amazing way to get stuff done. Shout out to @alexbaldwin, @saturnial and @ifosteve for helping me with that.
I did not make any money from a side project in 2016.
My blog averaged 1.63 posts per week, with 85 total posts.
I read 51 books out of 70. I feel pretty good about that, even though it wasn’t my goal.
I spent time in Montreal, Washington D.C. and Santa Rosa. I hadn’t spent much time in either of these cities in the past five years (and had never been to Montreal), so I’m counting this as three out of five. Not perfect, but considering how little I traveled in 2016, this was pretty good.
For outings, my second quarter post covers April through June, and my first quarter post covers January through March. My goal was to do five things a month, lets see if we hit that for the last six months. These are pulled from my Foursquare history.
- Star Trek Beyond
- Lord British’s House
- Gerald Jay Sussman
- The Met
- A Recurse Center talk
- The Secret Life of Pets
- New Museum
- U.S. Open
- An American in Paris
- National Gallery of Art - East Building
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
- The Red Turtle
- Jason Moran @ Village Vanguard
- The Oculus
- Ellis Island
- Pop-Up Magazine
- Doctor Strange
- Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
- TOM SACHS SPACE PROGRAM: EUROPA @ YBCA
Moving away from goals, I measured a bunch of other parts of my life.
I listened to a lot of music. My Last.FM wasn’t incredibly accurate this year. I’m assuming this is probably on 70% of my actual listening. I had 23,246 scrobbles this year (which is tracks played and recorded). They generated a report this year for the first 11 months of the year.
I wrote a lot of open source code, not my best year, but not my worst.
I am currently unemployed (and looking for work in Brooklyn, BTW), so figuring out what 2017 will look like is complicated. I am traveling to Portland, Seattle, Victoria and Vancouver starting January 4th, so hit me up if you’re in any of those cities and you wanna hang out.
I liked my 2016 goals, so I think I’m going to keep a few them, although still do a quarterly update if they seem too easy. Melissa wants to run a half-marathon, so I might try to do that as well.
Improve physical health
- Stretch every morning
- Successfully complete a 5K
- Successfully complete a half-marathon
- Cook eight meals a week (Out of the 21 possible)
- Record all eating
- Join some sort of sports team
Put out content to improve the internet
Grow your brain
- Read seventy books
- Go to four art exhibits, live shows or movies a month
- Read one non-fiction book a month
Deal with reality
- Find an interesting problem to solve with people you like (aka a Job)
- Dedicate one day a month to dealing with finances
- Reevaluate all investments, and define a general money strategy and tracking system
- Define what you want to be doing when you’re 40.
Anyways, thanks for reading! Feel free to send me feedback @icco or email@example.com
Happy New Year!