2021 in review

This year has been rather uneventful. I’m still figuring out how to be a good father and how to live in a pandemic without going insane.

Watching my daughter grow in to a real human being has—naturally—been the highlight of my year. She’s already smart, sassy and all around wonderful. She gets that from her mother. We don’t share photos of her on social media, so you’ll just have to believe me when I say she is also cute as a button.


In July, Spark (the company I co-founded and currently work at as Tech Lead) closed Series A financing. This new investment allows us to scale up the dev team and start to implement sensible plans for dealing with technical debt, something we’ve been struggling with recently.

I finally managed to get out and visit the team in October. I dropped in as a surprise during a “dev appreciation day”, where we were celebrating 10-years since the first commit of the Spark code base:

commit 696c07f5ddd5b0ed5604497941a987dfd5f3f0e8
Author: Lee Jarvis <lee@redacted>
Date:   Sun Oct 16 18:53:36 2011 -0700

    initial commit

The last time I visited Vancouver was during the months that the company was founded, meaning this was the first time meeting many of the 30+ team I have been working with for years. It was wonderful being able to surprise them.

And no, my initial project commit messages are no more creative than they were back then.


I predominantly write Ruby (and more specifically, Rails) code at Spark. My side projects though—of which there are 2-4 at any given time—have so far this year consisted entirely of Elixir (and more specifically, the Rails equivalent Phoenix) applications.

Ruby means a lot to me, but working with Rails has become tedious and I don’t really know how much longer I have in me. Writing Elixir and Phoenix code on the side has really allowed me to keep focused at work and avoid burnout.

I expect this pattern to continue through 2022 and beyond, and I suspect further down the line I will likely look to be working on more Elixir code and less Ruby code at my job.

Reading & Media

I have read an embarrassing number of books this year. I might even be in single digits. I have though managed to keep well up-to-date with my RSS feed which mostly consists of blog posts from independent tech writers and developers.

I continued to work through my Letterboxd watch list. To pick 3 perhaps lesser-known movies in my top-10 of 2021:

I picked up a new Xbox and have been enjoying the new Halo Infinite, as well as Forza and a few other games. Right now my wife and I are playing It Takes Two, which is very fun.


Not much to report here. Besides an especially gluttonous December, I have managed to keep fairly healthy. When I can feel myself slipping (especially with eating habits), I really force myself in to an Intermittent fasting schedule. It works well for me and really ties in to my highly-productive food-less mornings.

I have a bunch of gym equipment I keep in my home office and managed to work out 4-5 days each week for several months. It usually slips when I become unwell for one reason or another.

I caught COVID in mid-December, after having managed to avoid it for 2 years. I had a couple of rough days but the worst part was having to try and isolate from my wife and daughter in my tiny office for 10 days. Do not recommend.

Next Year

I don’t do the whole New Year’s Resolution thing. Instead, I try to have some sort of Yearly Theme that I try to follow and apply to everything I do.

That said, there’s a few things I want to do in 2022:

  • Work less
    • This year I managed to really nail down the environment I need to be ultra-effective. What I didn’t do, though, was reward myself with a better work-life balance as a result
  • Contribute more
    • I know I said I’m going to work less, but I mean work-work. I’d like to offer some contributions to Open Source Elixir projects
  • Move more
    • Maybe even re-join a gym or set some physical performance goals
    • I want to get my daughter in to some hobbies and classes to see what she enjoys. Maybe I can join in with something
  • Write more
    • I do this to myself every year, but I’d like to hit publish on at least a few of my 40+ draft blog posts
  • Cook more
    • We do a bunch of home-cooking, but 2021 lacked experimentation. We love food, and I want to put more time and effort in to this