Another very challenging year for lots of reasons. It's been very spiritually rewarding I think, but that doesn't diminish the challenges or pain.
I left my contractor position with Siroonian and started contract-to-hire with WEX in April (contract ended in October and the conversion was successful; nice to have benefits for the first time in my career). This was both out of necessity and out of a desire to move on in my career. I needed a larger salary to support my family, as we were actually losing money slightly on what I was making with Siroonian. The position with WEX came about as a stroke of serendipity, as the staffing firm York Solutions came upon my resume and submitted me to a few jobs, and after a couple weeks I got the interview with WEX and they offered me the job the next day.
As far as the job itself goes, it's been an interesting shift of perspective working for a global company. Scrum and kanban have become second nature to me now, where before this my work has been much more informally organized; and it's been great to be able to contribute not only my coding and problem-solving skills to my teams (both the scrum team and the larger teams we fit into) but also design and UX expertise when applicable.
I can't say I like having to use GSuite and Windows on the daily for work, but it comes with the territory. As I've mentioned in my previous posts on the matter, I make up for it where I can.
There have been challenges as a husband and father — trying to balance personal convictions with supportiveness and compassion. As I've mentioned it's very difficult raising a child with almost no physical social network to fall back on, and it takes its toll on the relationships. I've let my temper get the best of me on more than one occasion and it's come very close to taking my family away from me.
I got tattoos in October as personal reminders to help me remember my values and guide me in my actions and conduct: the Wheel of the Dharma symbolizes the noble eightfold path and reminds me to follow it in my conduct with others and towards myself; the Yin-Yang symbolizes balance, harmony, relationships/interconnectedness, and tolerance/channeling of chaos.
On that note, I've been returning to zen practice, trying to do zazen daily when I can. It's tough with a toddler in a 1-bedroom apartment... When I can't do zazen, I try to do meditation in other modes (standing, walking, lying). I've been reading Dharma books (The Three Pillars of Zen is an excellent contemporary guide to practice, and I am starting through Dogen's Shobogenzo) and listening to the podcasts from Upaya Zen Center and Mountain Cloud Zen Center, two Zen centers here in Santa Fe.
I've been having great adventures through books this year. I read Murakami's Dance Dance Dance, Dostoyevski's The Brothers Karamazov (finally! I was in the middle of it when Z was born and restarted it twice since then), and Roberto Bolano's 2666. These three books in particular seemed to show me the depth and variation in human experience and desires, and the latter two especially really dive into good and evil. I have also been gaming a fair amount. I made it all the way through Tales of Arise and am on my second playthrough in a harder difficulty, and I'm on the third disc of .hack//G.U.. I'm also slowly playing through Star Ocean IV - The Last Hope, which I never finished previously. You can read my tales of arise review for a deeper look into that game and my thoughts on it, but I reserve judgement of the other two until I finish them.
I've been rollerblading once a week or so, sometimes more often if I can swing it. As always, it has provided me an amazing release from the stresses of life and a way to both let out aggression and invoke a synthesis between physical and mental modes of practice. I got new skates: blitzwalker, and they're awesome. I also got a nice digital camera and am compiling some clips for a new edit.
This year was pretty productive for my software projects: quartzgun, which I started around the holidays last year, is mature enough to write some decent web apps in; nirvash (shown above) is a modular CMS written using quartzgun, and can manage this site; onyx is a slippy map tool written in Typescript which can be used to save geographical data locally and share it privately; felt is a virtual tabletop application still in early development which will fill the gap between Google Drawings and Bugbear to provide a lightweight and private tabletop for distributed D&D et al.
I also started Light Crystal Systems, a studio/brand to provide a more presentable face to projects like onyx and felt, and the basis of new network resources that I want to host. As the next year progresses, I hope that I can continue to implement projects under Light Crystal Systems to make sustainable, holistic, and private software and network infrastructure more accessible to people.
vajra was also an interesting project I finally implemented: a low-power, upcycled homeserver/workstation (from which I write this post, as ksatrya is waiting on a new SSD). As mentioned in its page, vajra is a device that came into my possession by accident when an ebay seller accidentally sent it along with the refurbished video card I ordered. It sat mostly unused for almost 2 years until I decided to order the docking station and set it up with Void Linux (musl) and use it as the glue that holds the homelab together. It's a wonderful hub, and the low power nature of it keeps it from getting distracting and also holds a certain charm, not to mention the permacomputing/sustainability spin.
planning and the future
We didn't get to travel that much this year, mostly for financial reasons. Similarly, we have been reconsidering our living situation and related goals, and are unsure of what our long-term solution on that front is going to be. For now we have decided to prioritize our mental and physical wellbeing, and let the next steps come naturally. That's all we can do, really.
For next year, I want to prioritize taking excellent care of my family and myself, and try to let everything else come organically. Trying too hard to make a vision for externalities come into fruition, especially when you have the responsibilities I do, just leads to stress both internally and in one's relationships. That was a lesson I had to learn the hard way this year, and I'm taking it seriously.
Here's to 2022 and all it taught me, and to 2023 and everything we have in store for the coming year!