2016 Year in Review
This post starts with a summary of my year, followed by some additional sections discussing other aspects of my 2016.
In 2016 I lived in three cities, completed my second last semester of school, and had two 4-month internships. I also started reading books regularly (thanks to my Kindle), started consistently doing strength workouts, and met many interesting people from around the world.
Jan — April
Lived in Edmonton and had a busy, project filled semester of computer engineering. I was really fed up with school, mainly spurred by the dysfunctional group projects — summer couldn’t come sooner. Throughout this time, I also spent significant time investigating the rental market in San Francisco and eventually signed a lease in a hilariously small shared room.
April — August
I moved to San Francisco in early May, and enjoyed two weeks by myself in the apartment (more like Hostel) before the roommates arrived. I started my summer internship at Mesosphere located in the middle of SOMA, aka startup-land. I settled into my summer project of making a 3-D datacenter visualizer with three.js/React. I had a lot of fun at Mesosphere, some highlights:
- the interns all got 1-hour Q/A’s with all the executives/founders
- we slept at the office when we had bed-bugs in our beds
- learnt a ton about three.js and graphics in general, had a lot of fun iterating and exploring on the visualizer, nailed the final presentation
- lots of chai tea from the cart outside
When I wasn’t working, I was often exploring the city either by foot or bike, and had a number of good weekend trips. It felt like I was on a vacation/travelling where I worked during the week. Me and my roommates became regular’s at Bob’s Donuts, often had healthy (and yes, yuppie) açai bowls on weekends, and frequented Mustafios pizza for our grease fix.
Our apartment room was at the Balmoral residence on 1010 Bush, and we meet young people from all around the world. I learnt that I can tolerate a lack of privacy, and became better at meeting new and diverse people. All the diversity always made for interesting conversation, but I was simultaneously amazed at how much we are all alike. Common themes were ambition, open-mindedness, adventurous, and liking to party/drink, and introspection.
I went on two major weekend trips with these people — staying in a huge Airbnb once in Yosemite and once at Lake Tahoe. I rented a car and drove the busy Californian highways both times. Highlights were hiking Yosemite falls in the sweltering heat without enough preparation, and slowly crushing my balls while jet-skiing at Lake Tahoe. In the nights, we had loud (but non-destructive) parties in the Airbnb’s.
September — December
I moved to Ottawa for a 4-month internship with Shopify. In distinct contrast to SF, I had my own 1-bedroom furnished apartment in downtown Ottawa. My time here started out hot and conducive to outdoor fun, and ended cold and stark and fairly boring. In the Fall, I had a couple day-trips to Gatineau park with other interns. It’s a nice park, but my main conclusion was to really appreciate the magnificent beauty of the Rockies out West. I did a weekend trip to Montreal, which was a lot of fun and totally exhausting — a lot of drinking, poutine, french karaoke, endless walking, poutine, lost in a graveyard, poutine.
I worked on a front-end team at Shopify, building UI components and committing (and deploying) regularly to the core repository. I mainly learnt about the challenges of writing and shipping code at a huge scale. The people I met at Shopify were amazing — kind, inviting, forgiving.
At the end of the term, I had the option to return full-time to either Mesosphere or Shopify. It was a very difficult decision, but I decided to return to SF and work at Mesosphere full-time starting next summer.
2016 was the most important year so far in my life for the development of my career, but it was also an adventure where I grew a lot personally.
It’s been a habit my entire life to be active (team sports, running, push-ups/sit-ups, stretching, yoga, etc), but around the middle of 2016 I started to regularly do stretch training at the gym. My (arbitrary, and maybe not ideal) benchmark of performance was number of consecutive pull-ups, which increased from ~3 to ~15 by the end of the year! Throughout this time, I maintained fairly constant weight, but feel leaner, and generally a lot better and more energetic. My ever-present lower back pain has been relieved, and having high physical goals has provided nice variety to my life.
Reading and Podcasts
2016 is the year I finally regularly read books in my spare time. Highlights are: Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman, Mindfulness in Plain English, Einstein: His Life and Universe, The Antichrist, and Siddhartha. The Kindle makes it super easy to read, and I spontaneous purchase so many books with one-click buy on Amazon.
Most of these books came as recommendations from either people I met, or were mentioned in podcasts. 2016 was also the year I started listening to podcasts! I started out by getting obsessed with the The Tim Ferriss Show, then I discovered how much I like Joe Rogan Experience, then I (unexpectedly) started really enjoying Gary Vaynerchuk’s content, I also found a lesser known podcast called Let’s Know Things, and have recently been getting into the Aubrey Marcus Podcast. The main topics I learnt from these are productivity, non-traditional lifestyle, consciousness/ego, and entrepreneurship.
Looking forward to an exciting and productive 2017!