My 2017 in Review

2017 was an action packed year. Here are some of the highlights.

Major life events

Back to Freelance!

The biggest change this year was making the decision to quit an amazing job as a UX Designer for Qualtrics to go out on my own. Qualtrics is an incredible company and it was hard to leave, but the timing was right for me to do my own thing. The past five moths as a freelancer have been really fun and full of great projects (some listed below).

Nat’s big changes

Natalie’s big life events this year obviously effect me as well. Nat had endometriosis excision surgery in January which went great and she recovered like a champ. Ask us about “The Buttons” story sometime if you haven’t heard it yet. Not too long after recovering she took a new job at Bamboo HR doing their paid search marketing and spending some of her time as the actress in their commercials.

The Break In

We didn’t really make any big announcement when this happened, but in February our house was broken into. Many things were taken, but nothing irreplaceable. There were restless nights from the invasion of our space and inconvenient days dealing with insurance, but we got past it quickly. We’re now big fans of our outdoor Nest cameras and Ring video doorbell.

Friends

Lots of memories with our friends this year. We were lucky to see Sam and Deanna as well at Mike and Erin get married this year. In addition Alec and Becca got engaged. This summer we continued our BBQs which we rely on to see everyone we don’t see otherwise.


Work Projects

Some of my favorite projects I did for work this year.

Qualtrics Summit Stage

Technically I designed this in 2016, but it got built in 2017. It’s such a fulfilling experience to design something big on a small computer and then walk into a room a couple months later to see it.

Cake Website Animations

I was asked to help build the animations for this new browser app. Got to use BodyMovin.js for the first time which came with some tricky yet fun problems. Check the animations out live on cakebrowser.com.

VerticalOps Globe

After seeing a previous data visualization I made, I was contacted by a company, VerticalOps, to build them their own. I designed and built the whole thing, from adjusting the layers for the 3D objects to the charts and graphs on the sides. Built it with multiple JavaScript technologies (d3, three.js, p5.js). There’s more to come on this project in 2018.


Personal Projects

Wood

Last winter we made the decision that we should finish our garage to a good enough state to put our musical equipment out there. The first task was putting a shed behind the garage to hold all the yard stuff that gets dirty. This required me to build a platform for the shed. I had so much fun building the platform that I decided to try making more stuff. I ended up building a TV Stand for my home office, two side tables for the bedroom, and a big desk for my freelance office. Maybe one day I’ll get back to original project finishing the garage.

Resin Painting

On our trip to St George Nat and I saw a large art piece that we both really liked, but didn’t want to drop the money for. The description of the painting said that it was made using “Resin Paint”. Upon return to Provo I researched what that meant and made a couple attempts to make my own! Still have yet to make a large piece… but I might return to this in 2018.

Guitar Playing

I spent a lot of time in 2016 getting my chops and calluses back with guitar. At the beginning of 2017 I decided to start taking some lessons. From my years working in the music scene I knew who the best guitarists in the state were so when it was time to find a teacher I knew to reach out to Robbie Connolly. He helped me get a better grasp of the “why” behind how guitar parts are written. Lessons and continued practice also led to me finally buying a more legitimate guitar for myself since I had been playing on a Squire for 17 years now.


Trips

This year we rediscovered our love for taking road trips together. Early in our relationship Nat and I would drive to Sacramento to see her family and would listen to books and discuss our relationship. We started opting for the convenience of flying and sort of forgot how enjoyable and productive those drives were together. After that realization this year we started taking trips in part just to have the time in the car alone together. Another goal of our trips lately has been to stretch out our time in warm weather throughout the year. Living in Provo makes life cheap enough for us to take trips to warm places when we need to.

Trips

St George, February — First trip after Nat’s surgery. Went to Red Mountain Resort at the mouth of the Snow Canyon. Took some real easy hikes and tried to enjoy the warm weather before driving back to the cold north.

Atlanta/Alabama, August — My Grandma, Helen Robertson, passed away so we went south for the funeral. It was great to see family, both close and extended, whom I haven’t seen in years. This trip included the drive from Atlanta from Huntsville that rekindled our love for road trips together. We listened to The Butterfly Effect from John Ronson.

Boise, September — To celebrate my birthday, we drove during the peak of the fire season to Boise. Couldn’t see more than a mile away during the drive. Didn’t matter to us though. Listened to some Esther Perel on the drive, ate great food, and got a great tour of the city from our friends Mike and Erin.

Pajaro Dunes, September — Spent some time with Nat’s parents at their condo. Lots of walks on the beach and seafood dinners.

Las Vegas , October — Went on a quick trip for Nat’s birthday to see the Love Cirque show and hang out by the pool.

Carribean — November — Spent thanksgiving on a floating fancy Applebees. Saw some beautiful islands and enjoyed 80 degree days during winter.


Liesure

Walks

For the last couple years I have loved taking walks just before sunset. Natalie and Rambo sometimes tag along. If i’m alone, I put in the headphones, listen to my audiobooks and just stroll. Also notable is Nat and I made it up to Rock Canyon this year. Don’t know why it took us so long…

Bike

I biked less than I hoped I would this year, but still found the chance to get out. I was biking to work during the hot months, but it’s such a short commute now it’s hardly even much of a ride.

Sous Vide

Ever since watching the Harvard Science + Cooking class I was curious to try sous vide. A large purchase of frozen fish pushed me over the edge on purchasing one. I’d say that the meals I’ve made with the help of this wonderful little water circulator have been some of the best I’ve ever made.

Concerts

There are many notable bands I saw live this year (not including the many local shows we attended).

  • Elton John (Thanks Qualtrics)
  • A Perfect Circle
  • Spoon
  • Sylvan Esso
  • Sego
  • Imagine Dragons and Neon Trees
  • The one local show I will call out was the first Salty Mouth Show that we attended with Jay William Henderson and Quiet House. These dinner + shows are an amazing engagement of all the senses. I’m looking forward to more in the coming year.
  • We also went to Stadium of Fire for the first time this year.

Books/Audiobooks

I read/listened to a lot of great books this year. Here’s what I finished:

  • The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
  • Homo Deus by Yuval Harari
  • So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport
  • We are Legion by Dennis Taylor
  • On Writing by Stephen King
  • Deep Work by Cal Newport
  • The Butterfly Effect by Jon Ronson
  • Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer
  • Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
  • The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Originals by Adam Grant
  • Radical Candor by Kim Scott
  • Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss
  • The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz
  • Remote by Jason Fried and David Heinemeir Hansson
  • Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
  • Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  • How to Make it in the New Music Busines by Ari Herstand
  • The Confidence Game by Maria Konnikova
  • Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
  • How Great Science Fiction Works by The Great Courses

Music

You can see my top songs playlist here: https://open.spotify.com/user/spotify/playlist/37i9dQZF1E9N5KbNhBx7hZ

Some highlights for me:

Father John Misty’s new album

Perfume Genius

Royal Blood’s new album

Sylvan Esso’s new album

Movies & TV

I’m going to forget some but there are so many good things to watch these days.

Movies I saw in the theater

  • Hidden Figures
  • Lion
  • Kong: Skull Island
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  • Baby Driver
  • Alien: Covenant
  • Dunkirk
  • Logan Lucky
  • Mother
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • Justice League
  • Lady Bird
  • The Disaster Artist

Shows and Series I watched

  • The Handmaids Tale
  • The Defiant Ones
  • Rick & Morty
  • The Orville
  • The Good Place
  • The Last Man on Earth
  • This is Us
  • So You Think You Can Dance
  • When We Rise
  • Archer
  • Bob’s Burgers
  • Mad Men
  • Legion
  • Broad City
  • Westworld
  • Big Little Lies
  • The Deuce
  • Game of Thrones
  • The Young Pope
  • Vice
  • Last Week Tonight
  • The Leftovers
  • Stranger Things
  • Mind Hunter
  • Black Mirror Season 3
  • Glow
  • Master of None
  • Hot Girls Wanted
  • The OA
  • 3%

Sports

Nat had talked about trying tennis this year which we did a couple times. She’s a natural! I started golfing this year. I’m not very good yet, but it’s been fun to be on a new learning curve for something physical.

Looking Forward

There are many trips, projects, books, shows, friends and more that I look forward to in 2018. I hope to collaborate with more people. I hope to have new experiences. I hope to make more cool stuff and learn new things. Happy New Year and bring on 2018.

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