2021 Life Updates, Before Winter Comes

I should get back to blogging more frequently, and may have some motivation to do so in the near future. Might as well start now on getting a few of these unfinished drafts out of the way (some sitting here for years). A lot has happened over the course of the calendar year, and it’s worth speaking on all of it.

Jobs: So many people in my network of data professionals switched jobs in 2021, particularly over the last month. I was no exception, moving into the world of consulting in August by joining Analytics8, a Chicago-based data firm with a Raleigh office. I still work remote most of the time, but probably go into the office about once every two weeks or so (shout out to vaccinations). Consulting is a bit different of a beast, and I do appreciate what members of the community have mentioned heading in. Not to mention that A8 has a good primer for people like me who are new to the experience. We handle all sorts of stacks, and I add to the bench of people with a depth of experience for the Microsoft stack in particular. So far, my first clients allowed me to learn new experiences when it comes to Azure and optimization alike, including a decryption exercise that took some cracking but went well…that’s a separate post for later…

As I begin work with my next full-schedule client, I get to move outside the stack for the first time in ages as I do some dbt engineering…and this is a client that goes all the way outside. They sent a MacBook Pro, use G Suite for their office tasks and documents, and host a lot of their items on Google Cloud. It’s not even Linux…it’s iOS; somehow that may be the greatest challenge of all.

Speaking: after my presentations of neurodiversity in the fall of 2020, there was demand for the same talk in 2021. The Azure Data Community started a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion group, and somehow I was asked to be the first person to present (I’m a white guy, but I’m autistic and was ready to give us a seat at the table). Then came the request to speak at Summit 2021; I had submitted a more technical session which was going to be dicey for selection, but then I was asked to do the neurodiversity talk again.

If I can be honest, I am a bit worn down on virtual conferences, which is why I turned down two invites this year (including one where I was ready to do a beginner session on Power BI for the first time ever). I did get to join some hangouts at Summit, but not to the full extent that others likely did, as I drove down to Hilton Head Island on Thursday and had to detach myself so wifey and I could relax and enjoy some ocean sunrises. When good topics, and January, roll around, I’ll have more of the neurodiversity and other types of sessions ready to roll.

Return to racing: Speaking of Hilton Head, I ran my first half marathon since February 2020. I did not go in with many expectations, as my running fitness has regressed since my foot started having problems. This was more about seeing what I still had in the tank. Turns out that I surprised myself with a time about three minutes or so faster than I anticipated. The Hilton Head Half Marathon could be more scenic as a course, as part of the race is along a highway. However, this was pretty well organized and also did its part to allow for pandemic distance, and we do get a cool bridge view after a climb. There was even a cool single track section for about 150-200 meters in the middle to break it up some. I stayed pretty consistent in terms of pace and heart rate, progressing well in the final 5k so I could leave it all out there. The race was nowhere near my personal best, but it shows me that I can get back if I put in the work.

These last 18 months or so have not been great for my health. I sometimes comment that I put on the COVID-19 (*knee slap*) since May or so, and that was accurate at the beginning of the fall. Over the last six weeks or so, I began slowly shedding the weight and getting myself recommitted to the routine. I have talked to Char about the possibility of getting a coach again so I could focus on balancing out the runs with bike rides (not just the Peloton, but taking the Cervelo for more spins) and strength work, and started asking friends about all their coaches as a result. We’ll see if that is in the cards for 2022 once we pick new races.

Safe to say that life comes at you fast, and that’s definitely been the case here. Seeing more family and friends again while figuring out exactly what we want leads us on newer paths that we likely didn’t envision when 2020 started. Now to work on more content!

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