Well, here we are at the end of 2022 and frankly, I'm hoping 2023 will be better. Is it just me or do things seem to continue getting worse? The economic uncertainty, war, inept governments, broken medical systems, intolerance across the board, and everyone seeming angry about everything... this year has been a challenging one to remain positive. And that's just anecdotal. Apologies for starting this off on such a sour note but I had such high hopes for 2022 that were quite quickly dashed and... well, the world just feels like it's circling the toilet.
What a lovely way to start this blog post!
But there have been some good upsides as well. I wrote a lot more this year, which meant there was more content on this site, even if a lot of it is just pointers to other publications, such as the recent post on opensource.com, the article for Red Hat Research Quarterly, the Red Hat blog on vulnerability management and also on supply chain risks, so there was a reasonable amount of writing done. Also I was interviewed on ZeroBytesGiven and SiliconAngle, both of which were a lot of fun.
At the beginning of the year I joined the OpenSSF governing board as an observer and at the end of the year I took on the responsibility of representing Red Hat on the board instead of Chris Wright, which is a great privilege and honor. I'm looking forward to representing Red Hat and the open source communities there.
Things have been pretty good at work this year. Red Hat is weathering the economic conditions fairly well and while it impacted us by having to slow down hiring, it could have been worse like it's been with some other companies. We had a fair bit of turnover and really saw the effects of the so-called Great Resignation, but we've gotten some pretty incredible people to take those spots so I feel pretty good about it. The team has been charging hard this year, getting a lot done. If you read the Red Hat security blog there's quite a few articles written by folks on the team about all the incredible work that's been done this year. It hasn't been without its challenges, and I'm really proud of the team and all they've accomplished.
It was nice to get back to seeing people in person again this year. After a few years of not traveling (which I didn't mind!) I had actually started to miss it. The first trip this year was pretty nerve-wracking due to lingering COVID concerns, the stupid Arrive-CAN app, chaos at airports... It was good to start traveling so as to see people in person again, but the travel experience itself was truly painful at times. This year I went to Singapore for the first time, Boston a few times, Raleigh a few times, Denver for the first time, and Lake Tahoe for the Linux Foundation Member Summit, a first for both the event and the location. Being in all of these places was great... getting there, or getting home, left much to be desired. On my way to Boston I had to spend a night in the Pearson airport because, after sitting on the plane for an hour to leave for Boston, there was no ground crew to wheel us back from the terminal, and when all the planes emptied, all of the available hotel rooms nearby were booked solid. So many planes delayed, so many times running for planes that I didn't need to run to, because they were also delayed. Took my first WestJet/Delta flights in years and I'll never do that again... delays on the way to California, missed the flight to Reno, stayed in a hotel in LA, was booked on two separate flights from LAX (a morning flight to Salt Lake City and an evening direct to Reno), every time I tried to board the system freaked out because of the evening flight they didn't take me off of... and then when leaving and it was time to check in, my flight from Reno to LA had disappeared and I was cordially invited to checkin for my flight from LAX home -- with nothing to get me to LAX! 🤬
About 50% of the trips were reasonably good, even though they had delays, but the other 50% were really quite stressful. Still, it was nice to see people in person and it was really nice to get to Red Hat's HQ in Raleigh again.
I feel bad for those who got stuck over the holidays, and those who are still stuck as I write this, as we've had more airport insanity than we've had for some time and at such a large scale as well. I'm not keen yet to go on holidays somewhere I can't drive to, such as when we went to Jasper this summer for a week which turned into two nights because of the Chetamon Wildfire that took out power to the townsite (and hence our cabin). We made the right decision to leave after being without power for about 6h as it turned into a number of days without power.
Speaking of disappointing holidays, revamping this blog over Christmas was probably the only highlight. My daughter was sick with a stomach bug, my wife's uncle died on Boxing Day, and my mother-in-law went into the hospital Christmas Day with heart issues that we're hopeful the doctors are sorting out, although we expect her to be there for a few more days yet. Post-Christmas has been spent doing a lot of fretting and going to and from the hospital or to visit my father-in-law to make sure he's not too lonely. Tragically, my daughter's boyfriend's mother passed away a week before Christmas as well, under some rather sad circumstances.
Not quite the way I had wanted to end this year but at this point I can only consider it to be the icing on the cake of a truly terrible year.
The worst for me, however, was my wife's health this year. It's been another challenging year and a revisit of 2018. Most of the year she's been feeling poorly, and we're a bit stuck on how to make her body properly absorb iron because it seems as though it isn't. She's been on iron pills for the last number of years, and I suspect that stress is a major trigger to something in her body not working as it should. At the beginning of this year we started the work to sell the acreage her parents lived on and move them into an assisted living facility that's located a little closer, and a significant amount of that effort was done by my wife. In fact, she quit her job so she could focus on it, and that's when she started feeling poorly, almost -- but not quite -- as bad as in 2018 which, looking back, was likely triggered by other stressful family events. We finally managed to get her a series of iron infusions this summer and her numbers were good, but she got her iron and hemoglobin levels tested three months after the infusion and the iron is low again, while the hemoglobin is still high. But that will only last for so long with no iron to help produce red blood cells, so I expect she'll need another infusion soon. Unless some of the help our naturopath is giving us works; we're trying different and additional iron now, along with a few other things, so we'll see in a month whether those iron levels have gone up.
All in all, from a work perspective, this was an incredibly challening yet rewarding year. From a personal perspective, it was an incredibly challeninging and not so awesome year. In fact, it's been probably one of the toughest since I've started writing these retrospectives. Yet, we soldier on and take the good days and the bad as they come. Next year will undoubtably come with its own challenges, although I'm optimistic that we'll finally get things sorted out with respect to my wife's health. So we put our trust in God and pick ourselves up when we get knocked down.
One of my favourite proverbs is Proverbs 24:16: "For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, But the wicked shall fall by calamity." It's also a Japanese proverb: "七転び八起き" or "Fall down seven times, stand up eight."
I guess there's a reason I got this tattooed on my hands a few years ago. Sometimes it just comes down to reminding yourself that, no matter how tough things get, we always get to choose. We can choose to lie down and feel sorry for ourselves, we can choose destructive paths that just end up making things worse, or we can choose to get up, dust ourselves, embrace hope, and move forward.
UPDATE: my mother-in-law was only in the hospital for a week and got out before New Year's, which was great. She seems to be doing much better now on updated medication, had some really great nurses and doctors while there, so definitely answered prayers.