2017: Year in review

Welcome! Thanks for coming to another review of a year in the life of Nat. This time we will be revisiting 2017. I am publishing this a bit later than usual, but January has been kind of wild.

You can see past reviews from 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010 on this blog.

I failed at photography this year, only because I have just been taking photos using my phone. I have been pleased with my Google Pixel, and you can see what I've been shooting in my 2017 Photo album on Flickr. How this usually works is I go through that album, and include a few images from each month and try and write up what happened.


In January, I was unemployed! I visited Portland, Seattle, Victoria, and Vancouver. It was a lot of fun, and thanks to everyone I saw and stayed with. The Pacific Northwest continues to be one of my favorite areas of North America.


February I was also unemployed. I flew out to SF for a few days to do interviews. I got to see my family which was fantastic. Oh and had a fun Valentine's Day with Melissa.


In March I spoke at SRECon in SF. I attended PAX East with Melissa, and I also started a new job at First Look Media.

PAX was interesting because East is so much bigger than West, and also I didn't have my usual group of misfits to hang out with while I was there. I didn't feel up to dragging Mel to lots of talks, so we ended up just hanging out in Boston for a bunch of the time. My SRECon trip was right after that and was a bit of a whirlwind. I'm glad I did it though, the talk was well received, and I got to see a lot of friends while I was out there.


April was pretty chill. Just hung out in NY, saw some friends and went to work. We did go to a live taping of LORE and of Bowery Boys which was fun.


In May, Melissa and I went to SF for a wedding. I also attended !!con. I wanted to attend Recurse Centers' alumni week, but I ended up getting a stomach bug, which kept me in bed for close to a week.


In June, Melissa moved in with me, and @rohenp moved out. It was a bit of an end of an era. Also, Jeanne visited, which was fun.


In July, Melissa and I flew out to SF to see Hamilton! It was a blast. Other than that, we kept it pretty chill, just working and relaxing in the oppressive NY humidity.


August was also a quiet month. A bunch of people from the HFA tech team hung out in NY, so that was fun. I spent a day up at Columbia University for SneakerCon, which was fine, but I don't think I would attend again. Columbia is a cool university though. I enjoyed exploring it.


September was wild. Incredibly busy. Melissa and I went to DC for her Birthday and saw a Nats' game. I went to St. Louis and spoke at Strange Loop. Oh! And we went to the Governors Island Art Fair which was cool.


My mom came to visit in October. It was nice, but it was interrupted by news of my parents' home in Santa Rosa burning down. We were fortunate in that no one was injured and we had insurance and whatnot, but it was a big shock. If you're interested, my Dad posted photos of what remained after the fire. Our local paper also put out some images of the fire.


Melissa and I went to a wedding in Philadelphia. It was beautiful and at the Barnes Foundation. We also hosted a small Thanksgiving at our house. I went to a set of talks by the Knight Foundation that were pretty good. We also got a brief visit by Melissa's good friend Sammi.


I got engaged! To @mel_cantrell! That was by far the highlight. But also, @reed visited. Melissa and I visited Travis in Portland and spent some time up at my parents' cabin in Northern California, which is where I proposed and where they are living now after the fire.

The whole year...

I was really happy that I was able to put out three review posts this year: Q1, Q2 and Q3. I found the whole year pretty frustrating, mainly due to watching the news. In hindsight, I think most of my frustration came from being unable to do anything about the news, at least at the level I was involved in 2016. My involvement in 2017 was closer to what I wanted it to be though. I found a job that let me support creators building great things. First Look Media is supporting a lot of writers, illustrators, filmmakers, photographers, directors, artists, etc. that are creating wonderful things that make me think, that challenge me, and also entertain me. I am happy at FLM, and that's been nice. It has been a great role to recover from 2016 while still growing, building and trying new things.

My relationship status escalated pretty dramatically in 2017 as well, which I am excited about. Nervous, definitely, but excited. I sincerely love Melissa, and I am delighted that she wants to spend the rest of her life with me. We sometimes encourage each other's introversion a bit too much, but overall we are helping each other grow and learn, and that feels wonderful.

The one thing I didn't talk about too publicly in 2017 is that in June, I signed a book deal for writing about SRE. I have been failing in writing due to the chaos in the fall, but I am hoping to pound it out in the next few months. Besides the relationship stuff, committing to writing such a massive thing has been the most challenging thing for me.

My goals for the past year (as of my Q3 post):

Improve physical health

  • Stretch every morning
  • Complete a 5K
  • Complete a half-marathon
  • Cook eight meals a week (Out of the 21 possible)
  • Record all eating
  • Join a sports team

As usual, this is the area I faltered in the most, but I am improving, especially at the cooking section. I also discovered I like Yoga, which has been fun. I've been mainly doing it by myself, but I'd like to escalate it to doing things in groups.

Put out content to improve the internet

  • Take in revenue from one side project
  • Write 200 posts in 2017
  • Maintain a four post per week average on https://writing.natwelch.com
  • Give five talks to groups larger than 10
  • Get 100 websites on Onesie
  • Try to get one #opsparty office hour a week

I took in some revenue from consulting work and the book, which made me feel good. It's not one of my side projects, but I did feel like it was working towards that. I did not blog enough, but I did talk enough. I gave four talks that met my requirements:

  • Hack&Tell
  • SRECon
  • StrangeLoop
  • The NY Academy for Software Engineering

I gave up on Onesie and opsparty, but I hope to revive them both in 2018.

Grow your brain

  • Read seventy books
  • Go to four art exhibits, live shows or movies a month
  • Read one non-fiction book a month

I read 73 books! An all-time record. I also met my art exhibit requirement but failed the non-fiction book requirement. For art and shows, I did alright throughout the year. I kept it strong in the last quarter:


  • MoMa
  • Benjamin Clementine @ Carnegie Hall
  • Kingsman: The Golden Circle
  • Blade Runner


  • Prospect Park Audubon Center
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • Knight Foundation: Forward and Back
  • The Barnes Foundation


Deal with reality

  • Find an interesting problem to solve with people you like (aka a Job)
  • Dedicate one day a month to address finances
  • Reevaluate all investments, and define a general money strategy and tracking system
  • Define what you want to be doing when you’re 40.

I did pretty well with this, the only thing I still haven't figured out is a ten-year plan.

Next year

I would like to quote @brainwane from her wonderful 2017 in review post:

This year I shall iterate forward, as we all do.

In that mindset, here are my goals for 2018.

Improve physical health

  • Do yoga for > 30 minutes two times a week
  • Complete a workout for > 30 minutes three times a week
  • Record all exercise, weight, and food. Aim to lose 10% of weight.

Put out content to improve the internet

  • Take in revenue from one side project
  • Maintain a 1.5 post per week average on https://writing.natwelch.com
  • Give two talks to groups larger than 10
  • Finish writing book

Grow my brain

  • Read 75 books
  • Go to four art exhibits, live shows or movies a month
  • Read one non-fiction book a month
  • Travel to five cities that are not NY or SF
  • Attend four conferences or classes or talks to grow knowledge

Deal with reality

  • Dedicate one day a month to address finances
  • Define what you want to be doing when you’re 40
  • Get married

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

Happy New Year!