Stephen Lindberg

Product Designer @ Iterable

3 January 2021

Yearly Review 2020

I just finished installing two new light fixtures. This is an appropriate home improvement task to complete as I sit down to write my 2020 retrospective. It’s been an eventful year. Early on we moved into our first-ever house. A lot of my free time has gone into repairs and improvements, but I’ve learned that I like handiwork and it’s taught me patience and planning. It’s great to live somewhere quieter, sharing no walls with neighbors, and I can paint the walls and customize it however I want!

Almost all of the goals which I set at this time last year have changed. I realize now that this is a strange time to set new goals, especially year-long goals. Instead of following the same formula, I’d like to instead write about the things that I enjoyed most from this past year, and my accomplishments, and not worry about setting new goals, which altogether seems more appropriate given my natural rhythm of changing interests and iterating on my short-term goals.

So, here are some of my favorite things from 2020:

Favorite show: Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken

Mizusaki, Kanamori, and Asakusa in their imagination-land.

This is such a fun show. It filled me with the same excitement I had when I would stay up to watch anime on Adult Swim in middle and highschool. I love that almost the entire cast is female – rare for an anime that isn’t “cutesy”. It’s definitely not a gender-targeted show. I also appreciate all the imagination and technical know-how that it manages to convey in an interesting way. It’s an anime about highschoolers and growing up as much as it’s a show about anime production. I would recommend it to anyone.

Favorite video game: Hades

Hades gameplay

It’s an addictive rogue-lite with fine-tuned hack and slash gameplay. Other action games wish they felt this good to play. I’m no completionist, so I was surprised to find myself continuing to play after my first successful run, and then continuing to play after the “proper” ending… and then continuing to play after my hundredth escape attempt (so, yes, it’s really addictive). The voice acting is excellent (if you don’t have a weird thing about anachronistic English accents), and the balance between arcade gameplay and story is very well done. If you like to chat up every character and really dig into the story, it’s there for you, and if you like to rush one run after another, you can do that too with minimal interruption.

Favorite book: The Book of Eels

Book of Eels cover

This became my favorite because it’s just so weird. It’s non-fiction that reads like fantasy. 100-year old eels, spontaneous generation, the mysteries of the Ocean’s depths – it sounds like a fairy tale. And you’ll get some incredulous looks if you repeat any of the astonishing tales to your uninitiated acquaintances. I listened to the audiobook with my partner while driving at night, which made the bizarre bits even more potent.

And so much more…

My job has gone fully remote, which is something I hoped would happen. I’ve dreamed of having a work-from-home job for a while, and even though the events that brought it about are unfortunate, I’m glad for the side-effect. Because my office is at home, I’ve invested in my desk setup. I also started streaming a little on the side, so having a nice microphone and camera is really great for working and also for play. A good microphone has made a noticeable difference when I have long calls or need to pair program for extended periods.

I started to dabble in Blender again, and made a few works that I’m proud of. I wanted to prove to myself that I could make something from scratch and stick with a larger scene instead of churning out “everydays”. I learned a lot and it’s been exciting to follow along with all the amazing new features that the Blender team has been rolling out this year.

I focused a lot on gift-giving this year, and planned more effectively both in terms of budget and schedule. It made the end of the year a lot less stressful, and I was able to really enjoy giving people gifts instead of feeling nervous. I hope to bring more of this energy into 2021 and deepen my relationships with my friends and family. And with that, I wish you a successful and happy New Year!