2015: Year in Review

Hands down, this has been the best year of my life and it’s pretty much all thanks to a little guy named Oliver. 2015 is the year I became a father and I never truly appreciated quite what a positive impact it would have on my life until it happened. Sure — I knew from friends and general life experience that children are a wonderful thing, but I don’t think you ever really appreciate it until it happens to you. I cannot express how much I love him. I was fortunate to be able to take a total of nine weeks’ paternity leave in the last nine months to spend watching Oliver grow, helping him learn and experiencing the truly loving nature of his personality. Oliver has achieved so such much in 2015 — rolling, babbling, pulling himself up, cruising around the house holding onto things and laughing. There is nothing better in life than hearing him laugh! I’m excited to see what he’ll achieve in 2016.

This year I’ve seen Chrissy evolve from an amazing wife into an amazing mother, too. Her ability to be the best mother to Oliver come rain or shine has been really inspirational to me. She’s kept a cool, calm demeanor and has achieved so much despite having not had a good night’s sleep at all in 2015. There’s nothing I enjoy more than hanging around with her and Oliver and just being silly together!

This year we visited England again. It was great for Oliver to meet his extended British family, but we definitely planned too much. As much as I have fond memories of my seven years living in central London, I feel the lifestyle it imposes on its inhabitants is definitely less compatible with the more family-oriented lifestyle Chrissy and I have built out here in San Diego. Still, it was a great trip and lovely to see everyone, and we learned some valuable lessons about traveling with a young child that will help us make our next visit all the more enjoyable. We also took a shorter trip to Colorado for Thanksgiving, which was excellent! It was fun to spend some quality time with (part of) Chrissy’s family and to experience proper wintery weather, including snow!

2015 marks a year of great work achievements for me. We shipped Apartments.com back in February, then acquired, overhauled and re-launched ApartmentFinder in the same calendar year! I’m pushing myself into a role where I’m basically CoStar’s go-to-guy on anything related to imagery (a key asset of our business and products). I’ve started work on large changes to our image processing pipeline, moving a lot of the technology up to Amazon’s cloud. This project has given me an opportunity to learn new languages, development stacks and methodologies, and has shaped me for the better as a developer. I also earned a promotion to Lead Software Engineer of which I’m most proud. I’m in the very fortune position of absolutely loving what I do, which is a great place to be when work consumes such a large chunk of life. I look forward to what 2016 will bring in the office.

My main goal for 2016 is to lead a more active lifestyle. I know that’s quite a cliché resolution, but I’ve basically been a whole lot less active since leaving London. I attribute this partly to the fact that San Diego isn’t particularly walkable (I used to walk 5/6 miles a day in London, just getting around, whereas San Diego is so vast and hilly you basically need a car for pretty much anything), but I also attribute it to my being lazy in this area due to my general preference for the indoor world of geekiness and technological productivity.

I’m lucky to have a high metabolism which means my weight hasn’t fluctuated much but my recent annual physical exam showed that my blood pressure is on the “slightly higher than ideal” side (as it has been for a year or so). Also at 33 years old I really should be doing something. With my new role as a dad and the sad passing of various people in 2015, it’s re-iterated to me how wonderful life is but how very mortal we all are. Thus, I don’t want these “silent symptoms” (like blood pressure) to get out of hand. I plan to resurrect my love of running by going three times a week in the mornings before work. This will be influenced by Oliver’s schedule of course, but Chrissy and I have devised a plan that should work for all of us. To help me stay motivated, I got a fitness band for Christmas (thanks Santa!) which tracks all of my steps and will urge me to move when I’ve been stationary for too long. We also bought a blood pressure monitor which I’ve been doing once a week and loading into the health repository on my phone to keep a track of it. I hope that I’ll see my blood pressure return to more favorable levels as my exercise increases.

Another big goal for 2016 (and one we’ve been acting on in the last few months) is to stop just dealing with things that are causing us an emotional burden. Or to put it another way: upgrade, outsource or “just fix” things that we’ve been dealing with that no longer bring us joy and happiness. I recently made some technological changes that have brought me a great deal of joy and peace, and early in 2016 we intend to replace some fruit trees in our backyard that have done nothing except making us complain for the last couple of years!

I resolve to try and be more social again. Oliver’s arrival has meant we’ve kind of gone “off the radar” a little bit. I don’t miss big nights out one bit, but I do miss the company of good friends. I plan to make more of an effort to do baby-friendly things with my friends, so I can benefit from their company whilst also getting Oliver more exposure and giving mummy a well-earned break.

My final goal for 2016 is to be more charitable. I am consistently reminded of how good we have it compared with many others in the world. I’m happy with the amount we donated this year, but we both agree we can always do better.

My favorite albums of 2015:

The Charlatans — Modern Nature (BMG)

The Chemical Brothers — Born in the Echoes (Virgin)

Tame Impala — Currents (Modular)

Muse — Drones (Helium-3)

Dr. Dre — Compton (Aftermath)

Happy New Year to everyone who has taken the time to read this. I hope 2016 is a great one for you and your families.