2021 Year in Review

Something I wrote about a while ago was doing weekly reviews.
Unfortunately Jen and I probably only did 6 or 7 of these this year with my Oct blog post being the closest to actually writing a review down.

A few things that stick out for this year:

  • We had Xavier’s first Birthday
  • Jen’s Ex said he wanted her back. He’s a violent person, possibly a psychopath
  • We got a big fish tank
  • We moved house to a place nearly 8x larger
  • My hourly wage increased to AUD$80/hr as I moved from being a sub-contractor to the main person in-charge of 3 decent sized projects. Although spoiler: Being sick makes it harder to get the work in and hours up to what would be ideal
  • Now I’ve got my own room to work in, I’ve been better at understanding what it takes for me to do deep work (I’ve been working on a blog post about this but it’s low priority)
  • Jen, Xavier and I have been sick or dealing with emotionally draining issues for the last 6+ months
  • Jen’s Mum dying was a big shock and big deal and disrupted our lives, but also meant Xavier and I have been able to meet a lot of her family
  • We had the seemingly yearly tradition of travelling around my birthday and experiencing a Typhoon a day or two after arriving.
  • It’s been good having Mac Mac here instead of our old house keeper
  • I was good having Popsie here, wee miss him, but hope he’ll get to see his Mum

Just recently

Today I’ve been busy with going through the websites I run and getting a Duplicator backup of the WordPress sites and making sure all the plugins and sites are updated, especially those with the All-in-one SEO plugin which has a major, easy to exploit vulnerability. I also setup Borg updates which has been good.

My Review:

1. Finances

Sent my invoices? Paid my bills? Next bills coming up? Financial snapshot? Assets and Liabilities listed? Working on creating a passive / portfolio based income stream?

I moved from getting paid monthly to directly working with clients. One pays me monthly for the hours I work, but it’s not enough to survive. The main client pays me when the project is completed. Back in October I was still working on a big project which ended up taking about 4 months to complete and I didn’t get paid until the 2nd Dec because it was both bigger than expected but I was also sick or busy with Jen’s Mum and everything else.

It was nice to get some money from Blackbox every month because we got a stock footage sale. It will be good to increase how much we upload.

Income in the last 12 months: AUD$43.8k
Debt: AUD -$2k
Cash / Bank account money: AUD$500
We also blew through all of Jen’s savings which was worth around AUD$5k, so that needs to be paid back. Plus there’s the costs of travelling to Australia and back coming up. The bank account won’t be happy for a while.

Money was a big issue for us this year.
I expect it’ll be an issue next year when trying to travel to Australia if Feb. Then we basically just want to get a whole lot of savings before I try something like working on my startup.

2. Health and Fitness

The last 6 months can be summed up with the word SICK.

  • Around late August I got a stomach bug because our house keeper didn’t wash her hands properly. I needed antibiotics.
  • Just as I was getting over that Jen then got a cold and a few days later Xavier got it. Then I caught the cold. So we looked after each other
  • Our dog got ticks
  • I got some bad hay fever like symptoms which I later found out was from an infection on my skin, possibly related to dealing with our dog so much. On top of that Zyrtec (Cetirizine) anti-histamines would make me really drowsy for a full day. I’m glad that strong hydrogen peroxide on my hand has removed the infection and my hay fever is pretty much gone.
  • I got my first AstraZeneca Covid vaccination dose. Then promptly went for a really long run and felt bad for a day.
  • There was a couple of weeks when everything seemed fine and I was full time productive.
  • Jen’s Mum had a stroke. We had to go up to visit her and spent a week nearby. It was a very sleep deprived week and we all caught a really bad flu from the hospital. Possibly Covid (didn’t have the money to get tested). Took about 2 weeks to recover
  • There was 1 day when everything seemed fine. I felt like I was over the flu and back at full strength.
  • On Halloween night Jen’s Mum died from the flu whilst also trying to recover from the stroke. It was devastating.
  • Jen’s local family visited for 3 days as a mourning ceremony. I ended up sharing a shot glass and getting a stomach bug. Was sick for nearly 3 days.
  • Jen was devastated and an emotional wreck for a long time
  • Our house was found to have termites and the landlord started pulling the ceiling down and spraying the wood with very strong poison. The fumes were very bad and we couldn’t move out of the house at the time as we had no money. They’ve yet to complete all the spraying and ceiling replacement. The rest has been put off until we travel in Feb. Covid19 willing.
  • After 40 days of mourning Jen and her step-Dad went to Pangasinan to bury her Mum’s ashes next to Jen’s Dad’s. She brought back a cold which Xavier and I also caught.
  • There was a day or two when everything seemed fine.
  • I went for a long 14km run and ended up very exhausted for a couple of days.
  • Jen’s family from Pangasinan came down to visit for a few days and we’ve caught yet another cold from them. Still getting over it. Although this time it doesn’t seem too bad… Except
  • I ended up with hemorrhoids. So whilst having all the muscle weakness from a cold I also can’t sit down for very long. But I’ve still had to work between Xmas and New Years.

Thankfully it’s not been COMPLETELY just a time of being sick. I’ve still been working and exercising. At least, exercising when I can. I’ve been able to do a few runs here and there. It’s just every time Jen and I start running we get sick and have to start over again.

3. Family and Friends

Obviously the death of Jen’s Mum was devastating. But I’ve been making sure I try and video call my Mum and Dad and my friend Travis and I have been catching up for occasional games of Minecraft or visiting each other’s place and having all the kids play.

We’ve also had Jen’s family visit a lot this year.

4. Production vs Production Capacity – Balanced?

The focus this year has been on production. On doing lots of paid programming work. We’ve not had a chance to do much stock footage work nor work on ourselves or my own startup projects.

But, whilst I got close to it, I didn’t let myself get burned out trying to work whilst being sick.
I’ve learned to take time to relax. If I’ve been flat out for 3 days straight working or dealing with things and barely had time to myself I’d take a day to just play computer games or spend time doing what I wanted to do and then would be right back at it after the down time. But in years past I’ve not given myself the chance to properly relax into that down time and ended up doing sub-par work for weeks and causing emotional issues.

5. Household tasks and general organisation

Jen’s mostly got this covered. She keeps the house clean. Although I’ll occasionally come along and do deep cleaning. I’m especially picky about glass, mirrors and the like being clean.

I did sort through the cabinet in my studio room this week which was good. It was becoming hard to find anything.

6. Short Term Wins

Learning Vue.js, TailwindCSS and Hugo have been great from a programming perspective. I’ve also been doing some great work with the Yii2 PHP projects and I had been doing some good work with the NodeJS based platform I was developing for the stock footage analysis system. Although that’s on the backburner until I can afford to bootstrap it.

Meeting Jen’s family was another unexpected side effect of everything that happened this year.

Getting some of the interesting projects as part of my work done was great.

Working on the Post Scarcity Podcast was also good, although we’ve not yet completed that, need another episode before we release it.

Setting my room up to be a Podcasting studio with sound insulation around the walls has made my room feel more professional. I want to spend time in here a lot more now.

7. Vision of the future

The shorter term vision of the next few months involves:
Jan Save money. Thankfully we aren’t also being kicked out of our home whilst they deal with Termites as was on the cards.
Feb – I’ll be kicked out of the Philippines on the 24th of Feb as I’ll have been here for 3 years by then. As I’ve got to leave, the aim is to travel with Jen and Xavier to Australia. But there’s financial as well as paperwork and Covid19 restriction issues. I’m especially worried given Australia has been so strict with lockdowns and they’ve recently been hit hard and have over 1.3k cases in South Australia just yesterday. It’s a massive spike for SA and I’m guessing it’s mostly the Omicron variant, but haven’t researched much.
With some luck we’ll be able to go and it’ll be a case of a 2 week quarantine stay at my Dad’s place. With less luck it’ll be a 2 week stay at a Quarantine hotel. With even less luck it’ll be just me going.

I mainly want Xavier to meet his grandparents, otherwise we’d just travel to Hong Kong and go to Disneyland for a few days, which is our backup option, with just me travelling to Vietnam or somewhere like Malaysia for a day or two as the emergency option if needed.
March – If we are in Australia the aim is to spend a month there. 3 weeks with my Dad, a week with my Mum and a week travelling. I’ll still need to be working, but I can work from anywhere as long as I’ve got wifi.
April onwards – Pretty much just saving money. The aim is to have AUD$25k in savings. Which means we’ve got to earn more money and put half to savings. Our rent is 1/4 our currently monthly income. I’m already working at the max of 4hrs/day in the flow (deep work) for 6 days a week when I’m not sick. So hopefully we won’t be getting sick.
We might however also try for another child. We’d love a girl if possible.

Long term Vision

My main long term aim is to help humanity transition to a Post-Scarcity Society.
Jen’s main aim is to raise great kids and have a great family. She’s an amazing Mother and partner.

8. Important but not urgent tasks

Something I’ve managed to do over the last 2 days is rework my servers backup systems.

I have a server with 1TB of HDD space which I used for offsite backups. I had an extensive Rsnapshot backup system setup, however the HDD got corrupted, the hosting provider said it was something about an unstable host, so they moved my VM to a new machine. That was months ago and I’ve been without a good rolling backup system for a while. So I’ve finally set one up and have switch over from Rsnapshot to Borg which includes compression, encryption and deduplication on a block level (so appending a single line to a multi-GB log file doesn’t make a whole new copy).

I’ve then got to get back to work on the TZM.community remake with Cliff.

I’ve also got to finish off my Post Scarcity Podcast episode on Cradle to Cradle.

But all of these things take up my deep work time and means I’m not working

9. Learning and Education (what to direct my learning towards next)

Some books I loved listening to this year:

Podcasts I recommend:

You Are Not So Smart

You Are Not So Smart Podcast website

I also enjoyed the Gradient Dissent podcast about Machine Learning, but that’s a lot more niche.

Compressed.fm is OK, but not amazing. Mostly because I’ve got 10+ years experience in doing web development. However I did learn about some new tools, like Tailwind CSS and want to actually use it from listening.

10. Teaching, Training, Writing and sharing my knowledge

I’ve not done nearly enough of this. But I’ve got a few posts and even videos I do want to make.
Unfortunately I’ve not had time to work on my own projects in the last few months so I’ve not had a chance to do things like the Kubler Code’s live streaming whilst programming on my own projects.

11. Willpower challenges and strength. Or behavioural changes

Mostly just trying to be less distracted by Social media, get more meditation time in and return to good sleeping patterns when possible.

All in an aim to work more so the family can afford to live well.

12. Food/Nutrition

Doing fine with this. Since Jen stopped breastfeeding back in November she’s been serving less food and I’ve also gotten better and leaving food on my plate or others plates and trying to eat later instead of stuffing myself full. So I’m no longer increasing in weight little by little.

13. Gratitude. What are we grateful for?

My family.

Our health (when we aren’t sick).

The fact that I have a flexible, well paying job which lets me work whatever weird hours usually work for me (except when there’s meetings).


14. Sleeping patterns and other behaviours?

We are back to our usual night owl routine of going to sleep around 4am and waking up around 1pm. Jen, Xavier and I are used to it. Although there was a period of about 2 weeks where there was some emergency I had to attend to in the morning or something was happening with Jen’s family. But we are generally stable.

15. Jen, Xavier, Maui

I love them all and miss them when they aren’t around.

Well, except Maui our dog ;-p

16. Love life

Yeah, I’m not going to go into any detail about this except to say that Jen and I love each other a lot.

Overall, it was a draining, exhausting year.

Hopefully 2022 will be more financially rewarding and in the 2nd half of the next year I’ll be able to spend more time working on my own projects.

By Michael Kubler

Photographer, cinematographer, web master/coder.

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