This was a wild year of ups and down for me. My grandmother passed away last December which hit me much harder than expected, along with it being the catalyst of major family drama. This was followed by a rough winter where the meadery project I’ve been working on largely fell apart, along with a string of rough projects at work. December of 2018 through March of this year nothing was going right but then things slowly turned around and have improved steadily. 2019 was truly a rough year but has ended positively and all the groundwork has been laid for an excellent 2020.

The highlight of the year for me was definitely the opening of my Anchorage, Alaska Meadery, Two Seasons Meadery. We had our Soft Opening on August 24th which was one of the more insane days of my life followed closely by our Grand Opening on August 30th. In keeping with the up and down nature of this year, I had the funeral of my uncle on that same day. Fun stuff!

There was no specific low point of the year. The hits just kept on coming at the beginning of the year. My grandmother’s passing, ugly family drama, the original meadery funding source fell through, and all my work projects were in a bad place. It took a lot of effort, and patience, to slowly dig out of all that. So much of this year felt like I was going backwards or stuck in place. If there is any takeaway - it was to remind myself that the consistent application of small amounts of effort over a long period of time can produce big results.


Unfortunately I don’t have a big update for technology. I had a series of work projects that relied on legacy technology so I didn’t have a big opportunity to learn much new stuff this year. Any free time was spent devoted to getting the Meadery off the ground.


I try to read consistently but life gets in the way. I thought I did pretty well this year though and I got through some very good books that I would recommend to anyone. I kept a good balance between serious and fun reading this year.

  • Addiction By Design
    This was an excellent book that really explained how gambling games are built to maximize addictiveness. I heard about this book from an online discussion about addictive design patterns in mobile games like Candy Crush. There are so many ways to subtly change a user experience and addict people. The most striking takeaway from the book for me though was that the key goal with addictive design is not to entertain - but to pacify. When people became truly addicted to the gambling machines the “high” they began to chase was one of being in the zone, their mind blank, it has nothing to do with winning or losing.
  • The Obelisk Gate
    The second part of the Broken Earth Trilogy. I really enjoyed the first book, The Fifth Season, and this novel was good but didn’t hit me like first one did. I think it suffers, like so many middle novels do, of just being the middle of a larger story. A lot happens and it is well written, but you have to keep going to get a conclusion.
  • The Stone Sky
    The third and final part of the Broken Earth Trilogy. This was a great novel right until the end when I thought the overall conclusion was a bit flat. I still think the entire series is worth reading because of the great world building and characters. The journey was great but the destination it reached wasn’t completely satisfying.
  • Why does he do that?
    “Why does he do that” is one of those books that is hard to recommend, but also feels essential. It’s a sobering walk through the author’s history as a marital counselor. Her observations and research on abusive men and relationships is very clear and cutting. The overall conclusion: abusers almost never get better. It’s a heavy ready but I came away from it feeling much better equipped to identify these awful people.
  • Grant
    Grant was my favorite book I read this year (followed closely by “Why does he do that”). It’s a biography, and a long book, which isn’t for everyone but I came away from it with a completely different impression of Grant than I had started with. It also filled in a number of historical blind spots I didn’t realize I had - principally with Reconstruction. That’s why I loved this book. So much attention is paid to the conduct of the war itself without truly grappling with the awful reasons it happened and it’s long term legacy. The Civil War is of course covered extensively in the book but it doesn’t dominate the narrative like you would expect. A large amount of time is spent with Grant before the war and his experience afterwards is covered extensively. I knew about Reconstruction in a general sense but Grant was one of its primary movers and this provides the author with a great way to dive deep into the post war period.
  • Never Split the Difference
    I have a troubled relationship with business/negotiation/entrepreneurship books because they are almost all complete crap. This one rises above the average and I read through it a couple times because it’s a quick read and is immediately actionable. Chris Voss does a good job providing examples, justification for his methods, and fun anecdotes. The best part is that while there is a strategy to his negotiation techniques, it doesn’t have the sliminess you get from most sales books.
  • Children of Time
    This was a weird one. I enjoyed this novel even though I hated half of it. There are two narrative threads going on - one with the humans on a colony ship - and another on the alien planet the humans are trying to reach. I found the human plot on the ship to be ponderous and not very believable, while the alien plot had me hooked. It was a long novel but went by quick once I realized I didn’t care at all about the humans and started skipping those chapters.
  • Wanderers
    Excessive is the adjective I would use for this novel. It’s a very enjoyable read and the core hook is fascinating. There are also multiple twists through the novel which I really liked and the stakes keep ratcheting up until it kind of falls apart. Whole characters and plotlines could be cut without impacting the core story. Some characters make dramatic exits but then return for not very good reasons. Key characters leave the safety of the caraven for bizarre side quests. There are also some scenes that just feel wholly unnecessary (We get it, this guy is really really bad). It’s a mess but it was an engrossing mess.
  • Crushing It
    I’ve been on a Gary Vaynerchuck binge of late and thought I would enjoy his book but I didn’t. If you watch his youtube videos you get better content in a more condensed format. Pass.


I didn’t listen to as much music as I normally do this year. I was drawn into the Youtube Vlogosphere this year and it really took a bite out of my music time. I only listened to 17,928 minutes of spotify in 2019 vs 36,903 in 2018.

From my Spotify 2019 year in review: My most played artist was Kacey Musgrave w. Rainbow being my most played song. Not a big surprise really.

  1. Kacey Musgrave
  2. Carly Rae Jepsen
  3. Lizzo
  4. The National
  5. Passenger

I’ve been a spotify subscriber since 2011 and my most played artist of the entire decade is The National which is a result i’m pretty happy with.

My 2019 Spotify Year in Review

Here is my 2019 playlist of my favorite songs.


I discovered so many great creators on Youtube this year. This has been building for a while but it really felt like the quality of videos on Youtube hit an inflection point this year and i’ve been spending far more time there than I ever have. Some channels I would recommend that cover a whole range of topics:

  1. ContraPoints
  2. David Pakman
  3. Philosophy Tube
  4. Marion’s Kitchen
  5. How to Drink

2020 Goals

Getting the meadery off the ground was the culmination of many years of dreaming, planning and doing. It’s going well but we’ve really only just started with it. My main goal for this year is to just keep watering that plant so it becomes an even bigger success. I’ve been struggling with my work projects of late, but the new ones on the horizon look much better. For my own sanity I’ve been diversifying my work with new forays into recruiting, marketing, event planning, and interviews. I’ve been really enjoying these other tasks that are quite a bit outside my technical wheelhouse. I will continue to expand on these. Finally, I need to reach out more to friends and colleagues. I tend towards the introvert and can easily find myself saying “no” to things when I feel tired or am having a bad day. I’ve never regretted saying “yes” or organizing something. I just need to do it consistently.