There is much to be unhappy about as we close out another year. The news seems relentlessly dark, with a cost of living crisis, looming recession, a collapsing health service, war in Ukraine, and a pandemic that is very much not over, while everyone pretends it is. I am a generally positive person, but that attitude is certainly being tested right now. This post is a round-up of the good and bad of 2022 for me.
I welcomed an additional cat into my house this year, making a total of three. Pixel, Max, and Em are great fun and often appear in meetings, usually because they believe the video call is between them and their dinner. As the next section of this post will explain, I’ve been unable to do much more DIY this year. I did, however, get my garden sorted out. At the beginning of the year, I had contractors replace the rotten and dangerous deck and build a path to my office. I then hauled just under a tonne of slate chippings into the garden, dug out the lawns and made flowerbeds, and did a reasonable job of planting. I’m looking forward to spring again.
Can I have my robot body now?
I am never going to be a great cyclist. I learned to ride a bike as an adult. I can’t ride a proper road bike due to my smashed-up arm. All that said, early in 2022, I was improving, becoming more confident, and enjoying it rather than seeing it as the terrifying part of the triathlon that delivered me to the run.
I entered the Bristol Ride and was about ten miles from the finish when I came off my bike. I was near a marshall point, and they patched me up, and I limped to the finish, thinking the pain in my hand was just the fact I’d torn a bunch of skin off my thumb. Two weeks later, the skin was healing and still sore, so I begrudgingly visited the hospital, where it was x-rayed, scanned, and declared fractured with a partially detached ligament. Excellent work, and because this is my good hand, they were somewhat reticent to operate immediately. Non-surgical interventions didn’t work, and in October I had surgery to reattach the ligament. This should have been the start of recovery, but instead, I reacted to the dissolvable stitches, so I still have a hole in my hand and the possibility of more surgery soon. The upshot of all this is I’ve been unable to cycle outside all summer, so no triathlon for me in 2022, and it’s as yet unknown when I’ll be back on my bike in 2023.
According to Strava I ran 950 miles and cycled 2050 miles (mostly indoors on Zwift, where I am less of a danger to myself and others), so it’s not all bad.
This year at Google has focused on stepping into my new role as manager of the writers in Chrome Web DevRel. Management is new to me. Until I joined Google, I’d never had a manager in a formal big company sense, so there’s been a lot to learn. I am fortunate to have a lovely and talented team, and getting to know these folk better has been a highlight of my year. I’ve spent time this year learning how Google does management, talking to other managers, reading lots of books, and setting up processes and checklists to ensure I get the practical bits done without drama. I’ll share some of this in other posts, but I am going into 2023 with an understanding of the sort of manager I want to be and where I need to learn and grow.
The other side of my role is as the content lead for Chrome Web DevRel. We have two sites—web.dev and developer.chrome.com. When I joined, content was somewhat arbitrarily posted on one of the two sites, and we also had two legacy sites that got quite a lot of traffic but were no longer updated. I love a bit of tidying up. The two legacy sites are now gone, the content migrated and redirected to our current sites, and our sites now have distinct identities. We’re publishing Chrome-focused initiatives to developer.chrome.com and cross-platform and browser advice for developers to web.dev. Some content I’m delighted to have worked on this year includes the new courses—Learn HTML and Learn Accessibility, the new to the web platform series, and our posts celebrating things newly interoperable on the web platform. I’m excited to build on these foundations in 2023.
Travel and speaking
While the pandemic is far from over, I’ve been able to speak at several conferences this year. I’ve missed this side of my work so much over the past few years. I hadn’t realised how many of my ideas for new talks and articles came directly from the conversations at these events. Most of my talks are on Notist, I spoke at 14 events, 9 of them in person. I returned to some of my favourite cities—Sydney, San Francisco, and Vancouver. I also got to reconnect with many friends and attend and speak at events with my colleagues from Google.
My TripIt stats tell me I was on the road for 60 days in 2022, travelling 127,973km (all while wearing a mask!) and visiting 16 cities in 7 countries. It seems pretty tame compared to 2019 when I travelled 202,092 km to 53 cities in 13 countries, spending 171 days on the road. It’s harder to do my job on the road now. I did a lot of video calls at 4 am this year.
I’m still coming to terms with the fact that 2023 won’t involve creating a new talk for An Event Apart, and heading out to see the team and the attendees in cities across America. It has been a huge part of my life over the past few years. I will miss it and the team terribly.
So to 2023
I hope the issues with my hand will be resolved soon, ideally without more surgery, as doing anything with no fully working hands is a trial. I’m being more selective about my travel and speaking. I love it, and returning to in-person events after such a long break has reminded me how important it is to me; however, it’s a balance with so many other priorities at work. I also have a significant family event this year, as my daughter is getting married. I am not planning to wear a hat.