Have been really enjoying End Of Year List Season this year, so I decided to jump on the train!
In May of this year, I had a baby named Sunny. This was obviously the biggest part of my year, and it's impossible to summarize, so here are some quick thoughts?
- Surprise fact! Babies don't drink water!! They get nutrients exclusively from breast milk and/or formula!
- Gratitude My little family is fortunate to live in the same building as really good friends who had a baby just 3 weeks after us. For us, it means we have another family we get to share experiences and tips and ideas with. We had the opportunity to go to a new parents group (one of my strongest 'new parent recommendations'), and one of the most consistent challenging themes that we heard from other parents is not having access to other babies, and we feel very thankful for our situation.
- Bravery This summer we had an insane surge of stacked weddings that were delayed because of COVID, and Sunny went to 5 weddings in her first 4 months of life!! We're very proud we were able to pull this off!
- Sleep & used market I'm pro-Snoo! Apparently this robotic bassinet is a very divisive item among parents these days, but I'm taking a stand, it's great. Happy to discuss with anyone. I'm also proud of the fact that we bought one used, it broke, we repaired it, and we've since resold it for the price we paid. I'm also amazed by the second hand market for baby stuff, where you can get pretty much anything (a less controversial opinion, but a worthwhile one to reiterate!)
- Hard to be original So many of the things everyone told me about parenting are true, in a way that makes it hard to be interesting. Like... it's all true. It's hard to sleep, it's fun, it's challenging, it's rewarding, etc. etc. etc.
- #1 Baby Award I officially have the best baby!!
- Middle name We did not give Sunny a middle name, but at a cute age in the not too distant future, we will let her choose her own. I'm very excited to see how this plays out.
- Work life Lucy and I were lucky to have generous to parental leave (by American standards). I had a lot of dread about returning to work, but the return loomed much larger than it actually was. It feels good to use my adult brain, and as it turns out, like anything, balance is great! Taking a break from Sunny, and coming back to her feels incredible. (And since I'm lucky to be working from home, I get to see her quite a bit).
- Sharing Photos I made a bespoke photo sharing website for friends & family to see her at sunnystrick.com. It felt like the right balance of fun, private, and personal. Unfortunately, it was a lot to maintain so there are only 2 months of photos... but that's how things go. Here's a highlight though, which represents our family structure in those first few months.
- Dog & Baby Relationship Our anxious dog Pilot started out nervous around the baby; he'd scurry away anytime we tried to push them together. But one day, he realized her mouth tastes good, and he started licking her face. Sunny loves it. Pilot is still hesitant, but he'll get in there for a face lick, which is great.
- Gratitude Pt. II I sometimes take for granted that I'm raising Sunny alongside a capable, loving, and strong woman, but I shouldn't. We're both lucky to have her in our lives.
In the beginning of the pandemic, I picked up the clarinet, which became the beginning of a musical journey, of which I made progress this year.
- Jazz Ensemble! For the first time, I played music in a group. I joined the San Francisco Community Music Center Adult Jazz Ensemble Beginner 1 class. Here's one of our tunes with my solo at 2:31
- Recording Unfortunately, once the baby was born, my clarinet practice took a major hit, but throughout the year, I made some progress with composition and recording. Here are three songs I recorded from this year (playable in the jukebox on my site as well).
The Due Date Song (original)
Don't Leave Me (original)
Turtlehead Poo (cover)
- Resolution I find the recording of tracks to be very rewarding, and have made my 2023 resolution to record 12: 6 Originals, and 6 covers.
This year, I've continued working for Brilliant.org. (It's a great company and we're hiring!) And my favorite project this year was working on a mathematical input box. Here's what it looks like:
This example may appear simple, but there's a lot going on under the hood. You can see:
- The box is evaluating the learner's input (as much as it can).
- The box is serializing the learner's input, and sending it as input to the graphical rendering toolkit that's used above (but only when representing a valid expression)
But also, what you can't see is:
- The box is specific to this problem, but is extremely flexible, and therefore has an accompanying API that the content author can use to define it.
- The box has a notion of correct or incorrect, that the author can specify.
- The box type checks a decimal input For example, it will let the learner know that they should be including the variable t
- The correctness and incorrectness, as it turns out, are represented in the API in the same way that the serialization validation is written, and is expressed in Elm as an applicative (much like JSON encoder/decoders).
- It's written in Elm (though the UI is built on top of the excellent mathlive project)
And that's all likely confusing but...
- I'm really proud of the work and of the API we created.
- It's used to teach math in a really great way on Brilliant.
- And you can see see more about this (or at least, the rendering library we use) in this excellent talk about our work, done by my colleague Pontus.
This Year In Media
Some of my favorite things I consumed this year
Book of the Year
Close To The MachineEllen Ullman
A memoir of a woman coder in San Francisco in the 1990s. This breezy read hit for me on a number of levels.
I deeply relate to her descriptions of how it feels to code. It is situated in a really interesting time in San Francisco, that sits between time periods everyone talks about (ie. It's not hippies, it's not early Apple, it's not crazy partying before AIDS, it's not early burner mischief, and the hateable post google IPO take that takes from all of that). It's about a woman who loves computers, having really strange romantic encounters, and figures life out in SOMA in the 90s. And it's funny, sexy, relatable, and extremely well told.
Top Five Songs
- Bi Kameleou by Volta Jazz
- This Will Be Our Year by The Zombies
- Low Down Man by Squirrel Nut Zippers
- New Summers by De Lux
- Kansas City by Joya Landis
Favorite Learning Online
Blender For MusiciansBen Levin
Blender never really clicked for me, but this extremely pragmatic and entertaining course got me there. It's fun and pragmatic. Learn how to make characters and animate them to music.
I haven't gotten all the way there yet, but soon I'm making a 3D animated music video, for sure.