Yearnote 2021

2021 is over. It was the second full year of COVID-19, possibly establishing the new normal.

I felt pretty good about 2020. This year was more of mixed bag. I missed my friends a lot and felt stuck professionally, but I had a plenty of good time, too.

On the photos: there’s one photo for each month, in chronological order.

Professional life

For many years, I’ve focused on building web services in Clojure. However, I feel that I’ve done enough of it for now and more interesting problems and bigger impact await elsewhere. Thus I’d like to turn a new page in my career. I didn’t quite manage to do it in 2021, but there were a few starts.

A higlight was taking a part in a project to implement a cookie banner for a popular Finnish web service. The banner itself isn’t that interesting, but I enjoyed learning about the compliance issues involved. Getting a large organization to honor the users' data collection consent is a lot of work even when everyone is on board with the change!

This made me interested in privacy engineering. However, I didn’t have a chance to dig into that more deeply. The direction I ended up taking was to become more involved in the operations: responding to incidents, increasing observability, learning about resilience engineering. I’ve always enjoyed debugging so incident response fits me well.

Open source and writing

It was a slow open-source year for me, but I had some small successes.

In early 2021, I ran a bunch of open source mob programming sessions at Metosin. Mob programming is like pair programming but with a bigger group of people. We would fix bugs or implement features over a video call. One person would share their screen and everybody else would tell them what to do.

This was an experiment to get others more involved in the open source work. The sessions were well-received but they didn’t become a regular habit. They needed more preparation than what I had time for.

In April, I thought that I’ll stop the weekly posting cadence on the blog and post better-thought-out posts more rarely. Well, that didn’t happen. I did write a lot, but it was all notes and morning pages and none of it ended up on the blog.

Out of the posts I published, here are the ones I liked the best, in chronological order:

Hobbies

It was a big year for my hobbies. Here are some highlights:

Getting a drysuit. I bought a drysuit (Bora by Palm Equipment) and this allowed me start the kayaking season early, right after the sea ice was gone. I did a lot of day paddles between April and July.

Whitewater kayaking course. I attended a beginner course organized by my kayaking club, Merimelojat. We spent a weekend at Pernoonkoski in Kotka. I learned a lot and it was a lot of fun! The whitewater community in Finland is not big but seems like they’re having good time.

Hiking. I did a number of trips but the highlight was my big trip to Lapland. First I hiked the Hetta-Pallas trail and then did a loop in Urho Kekkonen national park. Along with Karhunkierros, these are the most classic hikes in Finland.

Bouldering. I had tried indoor bouldering a few times during the pandemic and enjoyed it. In the fall, I gave it a serious go and ended up doing something like 10 sessions over six weeks. Again, a lot of fun: bouldering combines elements of exercise and puzzle-solving. Indoor bouldering is also a nice social sport in that it’s easy to try out and you can have a good time even if your skill levels vary. Hopefully in 2022, I’ll hit the outdoor boulders as well.

Slay the Spire. It’s a deck-builder video game and I played a lot of it. If you get into the game, I recommend watching Jorbs’s videos – he’s a great player and has useful explanations for why he does things. To allow yourself to discover things, play a bit before watching, though.

What about 2022?

I don’t know. I want to do so many things that there’s no way I can do them all. I don’t expect the pandemic situation to significantly change during 2022.

Traditional commentary on Finnish politics

I’m not surprised that Sanna Marin’s cabinet held together this year. There has been some signs of internal conflict, but I still expect them to hold together until the next parliamentary election in 2023.


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