2020 year in review
Reading time: 6 minutes
2020, the year of a global pandemic, essentially makes it the shittiest of years in who knows how long. The year is over, but we still need to hang on a few months more because the thing that has made 2020 so shitty is not quite over yet!
These next few months could be the worst of all as the number of Covid cases have increased over the holidays. My parents got it a few weeks ago. They managed to get through it and are now doing fine with only a couple minor symptoms left, but my dad ended up in the hospital with pneumonia at one point which was pretty scary. I spent the holidays video chatting with them and going through photos of past holiday times.
As for the rest of the year, I spent most of it at home, needless to say, with my head down in work on Blocks Edit. We've recently hit some important internal milestones from our efforts. One of the big things we're proud of is getting to a pricing model that allows for a completely free version.
From the Blog
I only wrote one personal blog post this year, and of course it was on the pandemic:
- The pandemic and plant-based - there may be more pandemics to come. And as it turns out, it's related to how we farm animals to eat. All of our infectious diseases, the common cold, all flu's, come from animals!
- Thoughts on working remotely - As I've worked from home for many years now, and with more people starting to do so because of the pandemic, I decided to highlight the things I do that I found to work well.
- An email design system for your thoughts - what a design system is and the point of using it. My Blocks Edit side project for the year.
- Blocks Edit How To series - each post is an aspect of how our approach is unique from other visual editing tools: using templates, implementation, sharing and exporting, text formatting, and using images
- Newsletter - most of my goings-on I now tend to write about in my monthly newsletter which I've been sending out for three years now! Here are a few highlights: Politicizing the need for caution, 30 years in the USA, and How I'm getting through self-quarantine
- Tweets - Some tweets from others I thought were worth sharing: on inspiration, on interaction design and complexity, on our ability to choose, and on the time we have
Books and comics
I did not seem to have enough patience for reading books while self-quarantined even though that was the one thing I was hoping to do more of going into it. I did get some comic reading in though.
- Expressive Design Systems by Yesenia Perez-Cruz - while researching design systems for Blocks Edit, the book does a good job of presenting how despite using a design system for consistency, it doesn't mean it can't also be used for further creativity.
- Bill and Ted’s Excellent Comic Book Archive - when the sequel to the original film came out in 1991, this comic series started out as an adaptation of the movie's script (which was a little different from the final film) and continued with some further Bill and Ted adventures.
- The Story of God: A Biblical Comedy about Love (and Hate) and The Trouble with God: A Divine Comedy About Judgment (and Misjudgment) by Chris Matheson - from one of the creators of Bill and Ted, I listened to these both as audio books, read by the author. He goes through the bible and its stories with a hilarious characterization of what appears to be a very flawed God.
- The Sandman - I also listened to a fully dramatized audio version from Audible that came out this past year while reading through the comic book series.
- Anything That Loves - an anthology series of various LGBTQ comic book artists talking about their sexuality and how its perceived by the world around them.
Shows and movies
I also seemed to lack patience for watching movies this year (maybe from anxiousness from being stuck inside my house all the time?), so it's mostly been shows. I caught up on old ones along with some great newer stuff. And a bunch of random YouTube stuff in-between.
- Homeland - seasons 6-8 on Showtime, concludes on a strong note, cementing it as one of the best shows on TV
- Better Call Saul - season 4 on Netflix, Saul's path towards breaking bad continues, which is a vague description that doesn't spoil anything
- Future Man - final season 3 on Hulu, a fun wrap-up to a fun show
- Legion - final season 3 on Hulu, one of the better superhero shows right now, similar to Watchmen
- Chernobyl - limited series on HBO Max, of how the real event happened
- Steven Universe - all 5 seasons on Hulu and HBO Max, a fun show full of optimism that could help one get through a pandemic
- War of the Worlds - season 1 on Epix, a nice take on the end of the world story
- Boys State - documentary on Apple TV, on the game of politics
- Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates - season 1 on Netflix, on how Bill Gates is saving the world
- Bill and Ted Face the Music - via digital purchase, I made this a movie event, also rewatching the first two before, and it actually lived up to the excitement I had for it, making it a good follow up to the original films
- Resolution - movie, via digital rental, not worth saying anything about to potentially spoil
- The Endless - movie, via digital rental, best watched after having seen Resolution, but not required
- Her - on Netflix, I felt an itch to rewatch it
- Videogames - I watched play-throughs of games as they seemed like another thing I couldn't do this year, and I didn't have the right gaming setup for in some cases: Doom Eternal, Walking Dead: Sinners and Saints VR game, Beyond a Steel Sky on Apple Arcade
- Music - here are some highlights of what Apple Music is saying are my top songs of the year: Don’t Fear the Sun by The Toxic Avenger, Grounds by IDLES, John Wick Mode by Le Castle Vania, Can't Anybody See? by The Toxic Avenger, Right Where You Belong by Blame My Youth, Visiondome by Highway Superstar, and Everybody's Free By Rozalla; and a couple more that for some reason didn't make the list but should have: Miss You by Trentemoller, and Cradles by Sub Urban
- Poolside FM - music that can best be described as summer vibes in the 80's. If music that sounds like it's from the 80's has become a genre, this would be a sub-genre of that.
- Two-Headed Dreams - a live online show with magic and variety acts
- RIP Amazing Randi - I've attended his TAM: The Amazing Meeting conference a couple of times years ago as I got into the skeptism community. I met and hung out with some awesome people and even chatted with Randi while waiting in line to get one of his books. Here's a podcast interview with him that covers his career well.