Here are my top 20 things (besides my wife and buns of course) from 2021. This list is by no means perfect or comprehensive and in no particular order, but things that managed to make it past all the self-filtering at this point in time.

  1. Vaccines - Obviously, we cannot talk about 2021 without talking about the elephant in the room, COVID-19. After a year of saying “after everything that’s happened,” we (as humans) can now give a giant screw you to COVID. The development of this vaccine is probably one of the greatest achievements I may see in my lifetime. Using a new technology, we were able to create, test, certify, and begin deployment in just about 8 months from (what I perceive) as the start of the pandemic. Kudos to the scientists, researchers, medical staff, etc. who made this all possible. Let it be known that you will go down in history as someone who saved millions, maybe billions, of lives.
  2. - This tool has been amazing for me. It’s a way of managing all of your knowledge and notes sort of like Wikipedia with all those links between ideas. It’s a free alternative to something like Roam Research which is $15 a month for multiple users. Obsidian also functions as my daily journal where I can write my thoughts. I migrated away from using which also functioned similarly to a Wiki except it is cloud based. The pro (at least for me, maybe not for others) is that Obsidian is a local folder populated by Markdown (slightly formatted text files) files that I sync via Google Drive.
  3. Spiderman: No Way Home - I would say this is the best movie of 2021. Sure, we didn’t have a lot of choices (Matrix Resurrections was not good and while Dune was great, it suffers from being a 2 parter which I have to wait until 2023 for) and it may get a boost from recency bias, but nonetheless it is one of the few movies I would recommend almost everyone see if you’ve ever seen any Spider-man or Marvel movies.
  4. Dune (the board game) - I recently had watched Dune so I was excited to see the flavor of this board game. It’s a re-implementation of one of my favorite board games of all time, Rex: Final Days of an Empire by Fantasy Flight Games, which is actually a reimplementation of the never reprinted 1970s game of Dune. Our game session was so fun the first time around, we played a second round right after wee in the late night. I am definitely bringing this out again for my next board game session.
  5. Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture by David Kushner - This book got me to play and beat Doom. I had never liked Doom as a kid because I was really sensitive to violence, my parents banned me from it due to its violence, and I am just generally anxious playing single player games that make me feel alone. However, the narrative of the development of Doom was so enticing I just had to play it. This will probably be the last game ever developed in this perfect storm of bro-culture, a very small development team, and limited deployment schemes. The book was a fantastic listen in the car.
  6. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens - I started it in 2021 and was hooked in that year so this totally counts. This book hit the top of the NY Times Bestseller list in 2018 and I have just got around to it. I actually got this as an audiobook at first, but returned it after I realized I have a lot of difficulty listening to fiction in the car and especially when the reader has an accent (relative to me). I bought a paper copy months later on a whim and was not immediately hooked. It honestly took me 30-40 pages before I started caring for the main character, Kya, and the setting. Once the rising action started happening, I read multiple times a day (I read often, but in very short bursts of 15-20 minutes) just to get through this faster.
  7. Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker - This book got me really focused on trying to sleep better. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve really come to value sleep. However, this book put in my face the effects of not getting enough sleep. This book truly changed how I view sleep and how I actively try to make sure I get that 7-8 hours of sleep every single night.
  8. Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor - Also another book that has changed my life. I am a former mouth breather because of this book. I didn’t see a reason to breathe through my nose unless I needed to smell something. This book made me switch to nose breathing due to the overhwhelming number of benefits for longevity and health. To be honest, I cannot remember the exact details of the benefits, but despite that, I do actively focus on retraining my body to breathe through my nose (except in smelly situations).
  9. Back 4 Blood - This will be polarizing for some people, but at least for my group of friends we sunk 20 hours into the beta and 60 hours into the main game. That was a lot. This game was so much fun for me, I want to play it right this second, but I have to wait for people to pick it back up again.
  10. Getting married - The whole seesaw in August regarding masking mandates kept us reeling back and forth. However, after all was said and done, the wedding was absolutely dope. Only pictures can do it justice. I’ll just drop the album here (thanks to Karina & Maks Photography for shooting them BTW) before actually revealing the link to anyone else. Thank you to everyone who helped make it amazing and of course to my amazing wife Kim. Everyone said it was amazing in every single way.
  11. My bachelor party - This was just amazing. We discovered nerf. We played lots of MTG. We drank lots. We played lots of games. Michael did a great job organizing it. Thank you to all who came in and made it a great time. This was also one of the last experiences I had with Harris who passed this year.
  12. Work - This is kind of a weird one, but I’m going with it. My workplace has been amazing for dealing with this crisis and giving me a reasonable wage increases in light of inflation and for recognition of my talent and value. All the stories I hear of every other workplace, sound honestly really awful. As a current MBA student, I just can’t believe some of the decisions made when your workplace is hemorrhaging people. While my job isn’t exactly stimulating every day, I am satisfied with the work I do combined with the stability it provides me and my family. In the years where workplaces have shown dislike for their workers, mine has embraced their workers and I truly appreciate it.
  13. Motion sensing trash can - I use it literally every day. It doesn’t rock like the old foot pedal one when it opened. It can also sit away from the wall where it doesn’t scratch it up. It is expensive, but it has affected my day-to-day life to a benefit.
  14. Ecobee smart thermostat - This has lowered my electricity bill by ~15% per month plus a $25 credit for participating in high-energy demand savings times. It also heats up based on motion sensing by room. It will probably pay off itself in by March (just after 1 year) and then I will be in net savings from it (and helping the environment!).
  15. 8 inch skillet - We already have an 11 inch pan and a wok. Getting an 8 inch skillet is the perfect size for haemul pajeon (seafood scallion pancakes) from H-Mart and oyakodon (chicken & egg bowls). With this last piece, I think our kitchenware needs are all fulfilled and complete!
  16. Wheel of Time, Season 1 - Despite the lukewarm reviews, I quite enjoyed the show. Some of the changes made from the book to the show do not get in the way and actually improve from what little I know of the source material. I have enjoyed a fill of fantasy after Game of Thrones miserably ended a few years ago. I really do hope this series continues on somewhat deep into the books. I can’t see actors/actresses sticking around for 14 books worth of TV show. Although, that would be incredible if it did.
  17. The Witcher, Season 2 - Again, another show filling that fantasy gap. I can’t believe the first season came out at the end of 2019 before the pandemic. It’s finally back and the series kept a much better pace this time. This may be due to the fact that the source material is now the main story arc rather than a collection of side stories which is what season 1 covered.
  18. Wandavision - I just had zero idea what to expect out of this show. The trailer was pretty jarring (remember the black and white trailer?) when it first came out. After watching the series to completion, wow it really showed the depth of both characters absent from the movies. The show also showed us the impact that the D+ MCU shows could/will have on the overall movies. I think the D+ shows will be a great complement to the movies as we are still hooked (even after some fatigue and actually skipping Eternals in theaters) on the whole MCU.
  19. Hawkeye - Honestly, I am a Hawkeye fan. Not like super hardcore, but I always root for him to make an impact in every scene he is in. I think overall he is underappreciated because his skills are dramatically glossed over. He just shoot bow good. Sometimes sword good. Thor BTW is a demigod. Hard to look good when Hawkeyes only outings were the Avengers movies (Jeremy Renner’s cameo in Thor 1 does not count and let’s face it, Civil War was Avengers 1.5) and outshined by literally everyone. His only comparison was Scarlett Johannson’s Black Widow who had about the same set of skills minus, but she’s hot. Anyways, I was a fan of the Matt Fraction run of Hawkeye comics (the only collection of comics actually in my posession to survive the many book purges) which this show draws a lot of inspiration from. Seeing the art style combined with the many nods in writing just felt like my long term investment (I got the volumes in 2014 IIRC) finally paid off.
  20. Joe Biden - Dropping convtroverial pick for the last one hah. He is not the progressive idol I thought I’d have as our next president (healthcare, marijuana, student loans please?). He is however a whole hell of a lot more stable than our last president (yes DJT was still our president). As of this date, his approvals are low, but let’s face it: we are not mired in a controversy and drama every single day. The controversies I can just count on my hand:
  • Neera Tanden where she called Mitch McConnell “Voldemort,” Susan Collins “The Worst,” and “Vampires have more heart than Ted Cruz.”
  • CDC reduced the quarantine window down to 5 days. This was just really strange overall and I know it made the medical community really mad about their saftey. I just think it’s plain stupid.
  • Not completing Build Back Better Act by Christmas. This one is only partly his fault as he was not able to smooth it all and is not the only player for this game, but just like all things in politics, progress is slow and it eventually will get there in some form.
  • The Afghanistan pull out process I think could have been a little bit better planned with us getting out all our people in a timely and reasonable fashion. Overall, it was going to be chaos, but for the most part we got almost everyone out (124,000 through the 6 weeks leading up to the deadline with less than 200 Americans remaining as of November 26th, 2021).

​ Overall, Joe Biden has kept my politics mental health in line. He hasn’t wowed me (yet, maybe ever, who knows) but at least I am not going crazy every day with something stupid.