It’s the end of 2023 and, as is my custom, I always read my retrospective from the prior year. And… umm… 2023 was not better than 2022. Well, in some ways perhaps but in many ways it was not what I was hoping it would be. But, I’m resolved to look on the bright side of things!

On the positive side, travel experiences this year were vastly better than last year. And I was able to go to a few places this year for work. I was in Boston in March, Virginia in April (first time there), Vancouver (for OSS Summit) and Boston (for Red Hat Summit) in May, Jasper Alberta in September (for holidays, we love Jasper!) as well as Raleigh, the Netherlands in October (for Summit Connect NL) and then also Raleigh and Boston (October was brutal!) and finally Chicago in November (for OpenShift Commons/Kubecon, first time there as well). All in all, it was busy, particularly Sept-Nov as it felt like between trips I was only home for a few days before having to head back to the airport.

The upside (and apologies to my wife) was that I missed a lot of the home renovations we did. We gutted the upstairs of our home and redid everything except the kitchen (which we’d redone a few years ago). Really pleased with how it turned out, less pleased that it took five months to complete. That said, I’m glad we did it and so the wait was ultimately worth it.

We also had to take care of my mother-in-law for two months. My father-in-law was in the hospital for “day surgery” on his ankle and we anticipated it lasting a week (after all, who believes doctors?). He was in hospital and rehab for four months! Unfortunately, due to the renovation schedule and the loss of use of the upstairs, my mother-in-law had to go to her sister after those two months so we could get things moving. It actually turned out well as her sister didn’t have stairs in her home and we realized (too late) that the stairs were wrecking her hip and giving her a lot of pain (including one trip to the hospital).

Unlike our trip to Jasper last year, this year was perfect and was an awesome time to wind down and relax. I think it was our best trip to Jasper ever and was so relaxing. Which was good because we came home at the end of the week and on Sunday I was flying to Raleigh and starting a lot of travel. That said, the trip to the Netherlands was awesome as I’ve not been there in over 30 years and was able to reconnect with cousins and aunts and uncles on both sides of the family that I’d not seen for decades. One of my cousins took us to the Gouda Cheese Experience and I highly recommend it. A museum for cheese is an odd idea but it was fascinating!

I also did quite well this year in the exercise department, trying to get a bit more active. I find exercising so incredibly boring, however, that I do it while playing video games. Well, two in particular. Nioh and Nioh 2. I’ve put a ridiculous amount of time into these games and have probably played them more than any other games (300 hours and attained level 340 in Nioh, 570 hours and attained level 750 in Nioh 2). I also had a daily activity streak that hit 238 days (thanks for tracking Apple Watch!) but sadly that streak got ruined when I got COVID for the third, maybe fourth, time in November. I still have a lingering cough as I write this. It was actually pretty bad this time.

Speaking of health, my wife’s health is really great (aside from me giving her COVID). The blood, iron and ferritin counts are all up and good so she’s energetic and able to do whatever she wants. Of course it does require a lot of supplements but whatever, she’s feeling really great which was a huge plus this year.

My daughter also moved out this year (hence the renovations). Is this a good thing or bad thing? I suppose it depends on whether she’s reading this or not ;) I’ll say it’s neither good nor bad. I definitely miss having her around all the time, but it’s so awesome to see what she’s doing on her own and overcoming her own fears of even being able to do it on her own. She’s doing amazing! I couldn’t be prouder of her. I do miss her cat though. I need to visit them both more often!

With her cat leaving, that left Ted alone. I think he appreciated the peace and quiet though, but that didn’t last long. My wife got a ragdoll kitten that we named Stuart. He’s very similar in attitude to my daughter’s cat (poor Ted, he will always be someone’s chicken nugget to chew on!) but he’s a pretty awesome cat and so soft. Great addition to the family this year.

From a work perspective, this was an interesting year. It was tough, due to all of the personal things going on (renovations are highly disruptive and having her mother-in-law here for two months was as well) so by the time we went to Jasper I really needed the break. The beginning of the year was marred by drama at work that made me less enthusiastic and probably quite a bit grumpier than usual. Thankfully that was resolved and right now I’m really pumped for next year. That said, it feels riskier to be in the technology/security space right now as evidenced by the SEC going after the SolarWinds CISO personally. A lot of those responsible for security programs are feeling that pressure and uncertainty — it doesn’t feel as “fun” as it used to with stuff like that hanging over our heads. Yet, while not always “fun” necessarily, there are plenty of things that make the job rewarding.

Finally, I started our ALDE (Advanced Leadership Development Experience) program this year which I’d put off for a few years since doing ALDP back in 2018. Thus far it’s been great. Getting more input from my boss, from my coach, from my staff, from indirect staff has been challenging and rewarding. Lots of areas to work on to become a better version of myself, so I’ve spent quite a bit of time reflecting on how I can change. 2024 will be a very different year for me in terms of how I lead, based on that reflection and inputs, and some actions I’ve put into place already. I’m looking forward to it. I think it will be good for me and the team.

Speaking of the team, I can’t help but think how awesome they are. Not just my staff — they’re pretty good — but the entire organization. Truly blessed to be working with some of the brightest minds in the industry! These guys and gals really give me the juice to get up each day and work, even when things are crappy. Huge shoutout to Red Hat Product Security. You all are amazing people.

Christmas this year was pretty awesome as well. All healthy, all good. Great times with family and friends. The weather was definitely odd… this time last year we had a cold streak in the -30C range, this year we’re at or above 0C most days. This week we even got up to 5C… pretty much shorts and t-shirt weather for us Albertans! Also got very into puzzles over Christmas. My wife got us advent calendar puzzles which was fun and it started a bit of an obsession now, so we ordered a few other puzzles to put together. It was great to end the year so nice. Merry belated Christmas and happy new year to everyone!

No new tattoos this year. The downside of running out of room I suppose. Seriously considering neck-tatts but my wife isn’t a fan of my chosen design (the Alien dual mouth on my throat.. she’s threatening no more kisses). Oh well, maybe not ;)

Books read

I do a fair bit of reading, but if I’m honest I stopped reading almost anything non-fiction since the COVID-19 pandemic started. This year I wanted to get back into reading more than just fiction (while still continuing to read fiction as that’s part of my go-to-sleep ritual). So to hold myself accountable to that goal I’ve been tracking which books I’ve read this year.

  • Knife of Dreams, Robert Jordan
  • HBR’s Emotional Intelligence Series: Confidence
  • The Gathering Storm, Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
  • The Coaching Habit, Michael Bungay Stanier
  • Darksword Trilogy 1: Forging the Darksword, Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
  • Towers of Midnight, Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
  • A Memory of Light, Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
  • Darksword Trilogy 2: Doom of the Darksword, Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
  • Sandworm, Andy Greenberg
  • Under the Radar, Robert Young & Wendy Goldman Rohm
  • Darksword Trilogy 3: Triumph of the Darksword, Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
  • The Devil’s Diadem, Sarah Douglass
  • The Axis Trilogy 1: Battle Axe, Sarah Douglass
  • The Axis Trilogy 2: Enchanter, Sarah Douglass
  • The New Testament in Modern English, J.B Phillips
  • The New King James Bible (just the Old Testament)

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