For my first annual Year In Review post, I want to look back on the highlights of 2018 and set some goals for the coming year.

Personal

Early in 2018 I came out as transgender. I’m so lucky to have a supportive wife and family, as this has been a year full of massive changes and stress. The first half of the year feels like a blur: finding a routine and navigating the social and medical issues involved was exhausting. There’s still a lot of hard work ahead but I feel like I’ve made a ton of progress in one year.

Hopefully in early 2019 my name change paperwork finally comes through!

Another, smaller change is that we went car-free in 2018. We’re now saving about $300/month with a combination of car-sharing and biking. I have already put all the savings into increasingly extravagant bike upgrades including a humongous basket.

Technology

I haven’t had a lot of time or energy for side-projects this year. Through work I had a few minor PRs to Presto accepted. In November and December I resumed my 3-year, on-and-off struggle trying to add schema evolution to gogen-avro. Even just responding to issues and sorting out a few minor bugs was pretty time-consuming.

My work has been leading me towards infrastructure security this year. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and presenting about Google Cloud IAM policies and OAuth, including a short talk at PyCon Canada in Toronto. In 2019 I expect I can present publicly about the tools and infrastructure I’m working on.

This May I’m looking forward to attending NorthSec in Montreal and participating in the team CTF competition.

Running

2018 was the year I got more comfortable running marathon distances. After the Race Weekend in 2016 I had vowed (to myself and Jasmin) to never run another marathon, but after a year away I wanted to push myself and try to break the 4 hour barrier.

I actually ran 2 marathons this year - a private one in April (4:28) and my Race Weekend one in May (4:02). The April one was right before I started HRT. I was worried that without testosterone all my training would be a waste and I wouldn’t be able to make it over the finish line. In fact this practice run gave me the confidence I needed to push on Race Weekend. In 2019 I plan to add at least one marathon-length long run to my training to give me a confidence boost and reduce race-day jitters.

2018 was also the year my dad ran his first half-marathon! He took up running last year at 52 years of age, and this year he ran in the Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon. In general the weekend was a clusterfuck - it was near-freezing, I forgot to bring any cold-weather gear, both of our phones died - but we both enjoyed ourselves and we’re looking forward to doing it again next year.

Media

After several years of being “too busy” to read, I finally got a new library card and picked up the habit again. It’s a wonderful thing to read before bed (or in the bath) instead of browsing Twitter.

The Left Hand of Darkness was by far my favourite fiction book I read this year. Obviously it’s received a ton of critical praise, but my summary would be: the mix of emotional depth and sci-fi world building was like Iain Banks but with feelings.

The Essential Chomsky, by Anthony Arnove, was my favourite non-fiction book. Reading 60 years worth of essays critiquing the media and US foreign policy really drives home how the ills of our modern world extend back to WWII.

Besides books, my favourite podcasts this year were Odd Lots, First Mondays, and Current Affairs.

Goals for 2019

Get back into Meetups. 2018 was a low-key year for social engagements, but I’d like to get back into attending and presenting more locally.

Write once a month. In 2016 I managed to blog once a month, and I’d like to aim for that cadence. These may or may not be technical, but I enjoy the act of writing.

Finish the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. In 2019 I’m choosing a late-season marathon to maximize my summer training time. In the past my Race Weekend prep has started in January, extended through the freezing winter, and then on the race day it’s boiling hot. I hate running in the winter.

Learn to cross-country ski. I’ve started skiing for cardio over the winter, but I have no idea what I’m doing. I want to continue practicing but also take lessons and improve how I accept feedback.

Find a psychologist. I have a great support system of friends and family, but they aren’t professionals. Adding a psychologist will hopefully help me manage stress and deal with setbacks.