Year in review - 2020 Edition

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I've never written annual reviews, but the last year was so unexpected that I thought it's time to document it. In summary: I lost my dog, moved into a new house and got a new job. I also set some goals for the following year.

We can possibly agree on 2020 is an utter disaster and in early January nobody thought how much the world change in just a few months, and we're going to be the so-called COVID-generation. I wouldn't say we had big plans, but the amount of negative things next affected me mentally. Fortunately things got better by the end of the year.

I had to say goodbye to my beloved dog

My son was born in the last months of 2019, therefore I was busy to take care of him and his mom. Our 13 years old dog, Domino was diagnosed with Cushing's disease right before Christmas, and she was on a medication for almost five months. Long story short, we started the feel that something wasn't quite right with her since March, but the vet told us it's flea allergy, and we suspected that the pregnancy also affects her. When things got worse in December I took her to another vet who confirmed my Google diagnosis: she had a tumor in her brain or around her kidneys which causing cortisol level increase. This hormone helps dogs to response to stress, control their weight, fight against infections, and it's tricky to diagnose. The medication was expensive, but we obviously gave it a shot. She was my first dog and came with my fiancée in a deal when I met with her 13 years ago.

The medication helped her dramatically until May when she began to behave strangely again. This time we thought it's her hip which was always a recurring problem in her life. She couldn't walk in straight line, we had to hold her to be able to wee, her legs were slipping apart. She got pain killers, but her symptoms only got worse. For the most part she was laying on the carpet or pressing her head into various corners of the room. In the last couple of days her eyes were gone foggy, it seemed she couldn't even know where she was. It was heartbreaking to see her in that condition. After a week of struggle we made the hardest decision: asked the vet to put her sleep. We might give her more time (and this thought has been hunting me since), but next to a baby we couldn't afford the money and time for further testing and examinations, and we also thought we're running out of time before she is losing her dignity completely, and we're only giving her more pain. (I couldn't even imagine what she was passing through for that seven months when her cortisol levels were up in sky.)

I believe she got her cure too late. Who knows, maybe if the other vet didn't misdiagnose her symptoms, or I had been pushier she could be still with us. Nevertheless, we spent marvelous 13 years together, and she was a very kind and loyal friend of ours for that time. I couldn't ask for a better companion for bitter times then her, I think of her every day.

More personal updates

One of the best outcomes of the lockdown that I had to work from home, which gave me the opportunity to be able to follow my son's progress from the first row. It's amazing to see how they learn things and evolve.

In July, I lost my last grandparent, and I couldn't go back home in time to say goodbye to him, and he had never able to seen his great-grandson. By that time I was speechless, I did barely accept the lost of Domino.

In August, we could manage to travel home to Budapest and introduce our son to the broad family. It wasn't easy, and our plans changed multiple times thanks to the changing restrictions, but we finally made it. We hadn't travelled too much when our dog was alive as we didn't like to leave her to strangers and by moving to abroad we had to cut all physical ties with relatives. We could only travel inside the UK in the last few years which was also great. We explored the south almost completely. Somewhat bitterly ironic that now she's not with us any more we still restricted by the pandemic.

In the summer we started to feel our rent too small, and I was literally sharing my office with the nursery. Finding another home wasn't as easy as we thought, but at the end of October we finally found a bigger house to rent in Fairford which is a market town in the heart of Cotswold. So we left Gloucester and the city life for now. It wasn't an easy decision, but living here for two months I have no complaints. We have everything we need in the area and other needs are available in Cirencester or Swindon.

In October, we also celebrated our third anniversary of moving to the UK. We're just over Brexit officially, we're going to see what will change, but I still believe it was one of the best decisions in my life.

In December after 4 magnificent years with my iPhone 7 I decided to replace it to a latest model, and I also bought a few stuff to improve our life and have an inspiring office.

At work

I started the year with a better financial deal and stronger relationship at my workplace with a lot of plans, so I felt myself in a good position. Then March when the government introduced the first lockdown businesses started to panic. As the only developer at the company I worked my butt off, never been on furlough and projects began to feel endless. The idea of financial safety also started to disappear when my workplace couldn't hold their promise anymore. In the summer I had an interview with another company, we immediately had common interest to each other, they gave me what I asked for, and I started there in early October.

In the last fifteen years I always had own clients and projects just to earn some pocket money, but this year I had decided to dismantle that slowly. Mainly to have more time with my family, but I also had plans to start to work on more beneficial side gigs. I haven't worked on anything in the last few months, and it feels amazing. The freedom and the fact that I have no more other duties after work is refreshing. My projects are still on hold, but hey, it's not a race anymore, I own nothing to anyone.

In June, I redesigned my website using Gridsome and TailwindCSS and made myself a frontend and WP starter kit on GitHub.

Music and films

I realised I haven't worked on any new DJ mixes or material since 2014 which is crazy. Having more free time resulted that I could play with Ableton during the festive season, but a hobby like this is really time-consuming, you need to be smart to find enough time for it.

This year I turned back to the 80s and 90s music and discovered a lot of bands I've hadn't really known like Oingo Boingo, Talk Talk, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, The KLF, Duran Duran, just a few example. I don't have a vinyl player yet, but I bought my first record last year, the latest album of Faithless which I also liked very much. The most popular band of the year for me was The Slow Readers Club. I loved their first three albums and couldn't stop listening them. (Except their last two, which were a bit rushed I think.)

I've seen a few movies in the cinema (The Invisible Man was quite good, but Tenet was rubbish), then a lot more at home during the lockdown. The Mandalorian was surprisingly good after the disastrous final trilogy of Star Wars movies. I also discovered and re-watch some old movie from the 80s. I bought some digital movies, but by the end of the year and the fragmentation of streaming services I began to believe again of physical copies. I have a plan to collect at least my favorites on Bluray or 4K.

Health

I'm on high blood pressure and acid reflux medications since my early twenties and that's not good, you can believe me. I still have around 50 kg overweight which might explain the need of these tablets. I've tried many diets in the last decades, but I've failed on all of them. When my fiancée told me the news that we're going to have a baby I decided to lose some weight, but I couldn't cope with the amount of stress, and I picked eating instead of exercising.

On mental health level I worried my ass of in 2019 (and it wasn't because of the pregnancy). That hasn't really changed in 2020, it was only different. I tried meditation, but I wasn't self-discipline enough. However since I changed workplaces, we moved into a bigger house, and I stopped with after hour commitments I feel myself so much relaxed.

Goals for 2021

  • Slowly change my lifestyle by the end of the year: exercise more, eat less and healthier, avoid sweets and alcohol, and loose at least 20 kg.
  • Launch my first SaaS product (codename: Custobear). I don't have big expectations, but the time I've already put into it worth a shot.
  • Finish my WordPress book called Surviving WP, which might also has a video course companion. I'm not a professional WordPress developer with 17 years of experience, but after a few years I find my zen with WordPress and I've 'collected some advice on the road how developers can get rid of assumptions and instead of complexity and unnecessary modernisation attempts how can they use the CMS more efficient.
  • I would like to read at least one technical book in each month to learn and get more experience in different fields, like programming, entrepreneurship and finance.
  • I would like to write posts regularly which was also a goal for 2020.
  • We still don't how does it go, but visiting a mediterranean country would be a good start to reboot travelling. I'd like to travel more often in the next decade.