Surviving 2020

Well, that was... a year. Like most people, for me 2020 was somewhat less than ideal. But at the end of the day the upheaval and restrictions have made me very thankful to live with people I love deeply, to have a livelihood that was only briefly interrupted by the pandemic, and to have a clean bill of health. With those I escaped 2020 more fortunate than most.

I'm not going to spend too much time re-immersing myself in that dumpster-fire-of-a-year, but what follows is the usual listicle of the books, tech, and miscellaneous stuff that helped me get through it.


For most of 2020, there wasn't a lot to do but hunker down and read. Fortunately for me, this is how I spend most of my free time already. Some of the books I most enjoyed:

  • Hillbilly Elegy
  • Moonwalking with Einstein
  • Programming with Types
  • The Road
  • Programming Rust
  • The Soul of a New Machine
  • Bowling Alone
  • The Information
  • Hell Yeah or No
  • How to Live- a Life of Montaigne
  • The Nurture Assumption
  • Reinventing Comics


You may have noticed above that like every other programmer and their dog, I spent a little time with Rust recently. While the language is too low-level for my current needs and tastes, I was impressed and inspired by its tooling and the deep integration of typed functional programming idioms in the language. Dipping my toes in was a great learning experience and I expect that I'll return to it at some point. Maybe lifetimes and the borrow checker will "click" for me next time.

Most of my other programming endeavors have been in TypeScript for the last 18 months. The language is still adding interesting features and I still feel like there is more to learn. For UI work, I'm quite satisfied with TypeScript/React/Apollo.


From time to time I add a top tag on Pinboard to items that I particularly like (they show up as bigger circles on my homepage's beeswarm chart). The ones I tagged in 2020 were:

Board games

Have I ever mentioned here that I'm a big ol' board game nerd? Before the current restrictions on social gatherings were in place, I had a lot of fun gathering with friends and family for the odd game night. I don't record new games or plays, so some of these are probably from 2019, but below are some of the "new" games I've most enjoyed recently:

This site

I moved this site from Jekyll to Eleventy this year, but that was pretty much the extent of the effort I put into it. I certainly appreciate the dramatic improvement in build speed, but otherwise it was a mostly lateral move. After playing around with NextJS a few months ago (and being quite impressed), I'm already considering another migration. These technology changes are pointless, low-impact projects, but they're also decent ways to kick the tires on new technology and learn a few things.