2016 Year in Review

Posted on 02 January 2017 by Joseph

Another year, another retrospective. For me, 2016 was a year of high highs and low lows. I spent a lot of time on the road, and a lot of time working, and I feel like my personal growth has suffered a bit as a result, particularly with regard to my hobbies. On the other hand, I spent some time doing some wildly new things.


  • The big accomplishment, though by no means exclusively my accomplishment, was the acquisition of the startup I was working for, Mobile System 7, by CA Technologies. The acquisition came at the end of a long slog through the M&A process, something I had experienced previously at MiserWare. I didn't love it that time, and I didn't love it this time, but the end result of this one was undeniably more satisfying. As a result of the acquisition, I am now a member of the CA team, and have been working to integrate the work we did at MS7 in the CA portfolio. I'll write more about this at some point, as it was one of my 35 by 35 goals.

  • Speaking of, I completed two more of those goals in 2016: I went a full month without buying anything, and I completed the AFI Top 100 list. The films were great, and exposed me to a ton of things I had never seen previously. My favorite film that I hadn't seen before starting the list was Apocalypse Now, and my least favorite was Titanic. Another great film from the list is Bringing Up Baby, well worth the watch. If you're lukewarm on classic cinema, Bringing Up Baby may change your mind.

  • I began learning about real estate investing and investment strategies in general. I bought two new properties this year. I moved into one of them, converting my condo into a rental. The other was a distressed foreclosure that I have been slowly getting into shape. Because of the travel I've been doing, it has proven harder to do the work than I had expected, but I have been teaching myself all sorts of new skills though and have had good luck so far.

  • Speaking of investing, with the rental property and other investments I hit my goal of over $2,000 in passive income this year. I am really excited about trying to grow this number again in 2017.

  • After recovering from a pulley tear, I managed to boulder V7 outdoors in the spring. I spent a lot of 2016 working on breaking into V8 and while I was very close I never quite made it happen. Always good to leave some for next year!

  • I studied a lot of Spanish, initially with Duolingo. I got frustrated with the program and gave up for a while, before learning about Fluent Forever. I have been using the FF approach for a month or so now and am really happy with the results, so much so that I bought it for my sister as a gift. I highly recommend the book and approach to anyone attempting to learn a new language.

  • I continued my functional language study, experimenting with microservices in Clojure and Haskell. On a tangential note, I have come to really appreciate the power of JVM languages and Clojure specifically. I also have spent a good bit of time learning about and ultimately designing streaming analytic systems, largely with a log-centric approach. These systems are fascinating, and many leverage concepts that I have grown to know and love from functional programming.

  • I read 24 (and a half) books, most of which were nonfiction. I need to read more fiction!

  • Despite upsizing my house, I have continued to downsize my personal possessions.

  • Other things I did from my goal list last year: ran 10 miles in one go; flossed almost every day; saw almost all of my close friends; practiced chess.

Failed goals

  • Make tonkatsu ramen I did make some Asian-style broth soups, but tonkatsu has proven illusive.
  • Participate in a food-eating contest I still want to do this bigtime.
  • Learn to ride a motorcycle I have a friend who has offered how, but I haven't taken him up on it. Am I scared?
  • Read the Dijkstra / Lynch papers I did end up reading about 5 or 6 papers from these lists, but I kind of got bored reading less foundational and more esoteric stuff.
  • Sew something pretty good I have not been sewing at all, though I just listened to the Yvon Chouinard episode of the How I Built This podcast, and it's got me wanting to try my hand at patternmaking.

New goals for 2017

Goal number one is one I shamelessly ripped off of someone's Instagram: I want to live a life I don't need a vacation from. I reckon there are two parts to that. First, embrace adventure, discovery, and true relaxation. Second, be more satisfied and intentional with the life I currently live. I'm working on both.

Other goals:

  • Do a 48-hour water fast
  • See all my close friends
  • Go scuba diving
  • Get another rental
  • Make $5,000 in passive income
  • Boulder V8 outdoors
  • Have a conversation in Spanish
  • Eat Tonkatsu ramen
  • Write and publish more
  • Play music with people
  • Finish Terry Pratchett collection
  • Brew some beer
  • Record my family's stories
  • Get healthy (eyes, back, hip, blood pressure)
  • Build a home theater
  • Come up with some good startup ideas
  • Get rid of more stuff
  • Play some tennis
  • No hangovers
  • See a solar eclipse [possible, there is one in South Carolina in August!]

Stretch goals:

  • Participate in a food eating contest
  • Reach (tonkatsu?) ramen profitability on passive income
  • Squat 315 (again)
  • Eat for a month on $100

2017 is going to be a big year for me, I can tell. I'm refocused on personal growth, ready to achieve some big stuff.

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