2021 year in review
Reading time: 1-2 minutes
This year sorta felt like 2020, part 2. The pandemic is still not over. We’re essentially in the same boat as a year ago: a new Covid variant to deal with, and increased cases because of the holidays. But things are getting better overall. The long tail of people are getting vaccinated and things don't seem as generally stressful as before as we seem to have adapted to how we go about our lives during a pandemic.
There was even a period earlier in the year where things appeared to be almost normal! My brother and mom took the opportunity to plan a trip to Romania for us to visit family. Things worked out pretty well while we were there and it was nice to be able to see family that we haven't seen in a few years. But as hopeful as things appeared to be with the pandemic coming to an end, coming back from our trip, things regressed as cases started to surge again for the summer and the number of people getting vaccinated slowed down.
It's been another decent year for Blocks Edit. We launched some cool new features, and a redesign/under-the-hood upgrade in November. We also worked with some great customers that we've recently started to showcase on the site.
From the blog
I did a review of Hey, a new email service, which was more about how to stop avoiding email as a form of communication and make it work as it was intended.
And from the Blocks Edit blog, my favorite post of the year: why visual email builders are bad at email design which is another Blocks Edit philosophy kind of post that shows how we do things differently than other visual editors.
Links to my favorite articles and media
I usually post these via my Twitter.
- On climate change (video) - how nuclear energy is actually the answer
- On cancel culture - interview with Jonathan Rauch on his new book, The Constitution of Knowledge about how cancel culture has affected free speech
- On product design, a couple of tweets: Design decisions and design output
- On how to think about our time and attention
- On how we should use data
- On work, another couple of good tweets: practice, and mastering something
- On self-promotion and blogging
- On business: competition and focus
Books and comics
- Rework, reread - I started reading Rework again, following along with the Rework podcast which is dedicating an episode to each chapter.
- How to Live - the new book by Derek Sivers is a collection of 27 perspectives on various ways to live your life, taken to their extreme. With a conclusion that helps you decide how to apply them all to your life. I won't spoil it, but it'll seem obvious by the time you get to it!
- Blinkist - an app that features summaries of non-fiction books. Each summary is anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes and is available as audio or text. I decided to take my ever-growing list of books I want to read and look them up. The summaries work very well. There are so many books that don't need to be as long as they are!
- A collection of Avatar: The Last Airbender comics - I bought them from a Comixology sale in the past and I finally got around to reading them. They felt like watching additional episodes of the original show which I haven’t watched since 2009, around the time it ended.
Shows and movies
- South Park: Post-Covid and Post-Covid: The Return of Covid follows Pandemic Special and South ParQ Vaccination Special
- David Byrne’s American Utopia - the live concert from David Byrne (Talking Heads front-man) that toured a couple of years ago and then ran on Broadway. I've been getting more and more into his music over the years and really wanted to go to this concert, so it was great to see they did a recording of it (and it was directed by Spike Lee!)
- How To with John Wilson - while John Wilson documents New York and interviews people, he learns how to make small talk, improve your memory, split the check, cover your furniture, and more
- Synchronic - From the same duo behind the movies Spring and The Endless, I kinda hyped Synchronic up for myself, and still ended up enjoying it. It’s kinda tough to describe it in a way that doesn’t make it sound not very interesting. It’s probably better to go into watching it without knowing anything really.
- James Gunn's The Suicide Squad did not disappoint in its weirdness and fun!
- The Mauritanian - what a powerful movie that came out in time for the anniversary of 9/11. It's basically about just how messed up the Guantanamo Bay situation is. Not just for the many innocent prisoners being tortured. And not just for the soldiers being ordered to torture people. But also because it shows how beyond ineffective the operation was at doing what it was intended for. And the fact that it's continued to run for so long is madness.
- American Rust - I don't want to spoil it, but it leads up to a great finale
- Leverage: Redemption - a comeback of the show Leverage, from the same original creators and pretty much the entire original cast too. It has the same charm as the old series while updating well to recent events that it bases some of its episodes on.
80’s horror movies
I decided to explore a genre that I feel like I've ignored in the past.
- Pumpkinhead - has some of the standard staples of 80's horror movies, but goes deeper as a movie than you would expect!
- Magic, which the creator of Chucky credits as inspiring him to come up with the Chucky character
- Hellraiser, which I'm not sure why I haven't seen until now
- Society was pretty entertaining
- So was Bloodsucking Freaks (technically came out in the 70's)
- Transylvania 6-5000 was a fun comedy
- Vampire in Brooklyn was pretty decent also (technically from the 90's)
- Mass Effect Legendary - a collection of the original trilogy with enhanced graphics and gameplay refinements that I played after around 9 years since playing the original. I was selective with my play-through experience, focusing on the parts I remembered enjoying the most. Man does it still hold up, with improved gameplay of the first one bringing it together with how great 2 and 3 are. The graphics quality makes it feel fresh yet still familiar, and having all the DLC included makes it feel more complete.
- Mass Effect microsite - while playing, I put together a Mass Effect microsite of a lot of the in-game writing that expands on the world-building the series is so good at. It’s served as some good night time reading material.
- The Forgotten City is a cool time loop game that dives deep in Roman mythologies and analyzes morality and how it should, or shouldn't, be enforced. I enjoyed watching a play-through of it and look forward to future games from this new studio!
- Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines was a fun play through to watch
More of my favorites this year.
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