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Tag Archives: 2016

2016 is now over, yet whenever I see or write 2016, that number still has the “new year” feel to me. Usually that feeling only lasts a few months, but it feels really odd this year. I’m not stuck in 2015 though, seeing the year 2015 makes it feel like a while ago.

Late-night snack at the SLS Las Vegas in January

It’s not like 2016 was forgettable, there was a lot of stuff that happened. This was the year that…

  • Apollo started Junior Kindergarten (i.e., real school)
  • Traveled 4 times overseas for work
  • The Leafs got the #1 pick in the draft and picked their franchise 1C – Auston Matthews
  • Both kids are big into Paw Patrol and Lego/Duplo
  • Everyone had to re-adjust sleep and wake up schedules and figure out drop-off/pick-up routines – welcome to the next 15 years
  • Vacationed to Disney World, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Sesame Place
  • Donald Trump got elected as the President of the US

Chinese New Year display at chinese school

One thing that did change this year was that I did a lot less development work. On the work side, my role has shifted and I’ve been spending more time on product/strategy/management and much less writing code. I probably only had a couple bursts of code writing this year, probably amounting to less than 2 months of the year. On the personal/hobby side, it was almost non-existent. I guess it was a combination of 1) nothing piqued my interest enough to build, 2) It’s too difficult to get mindshare even if you build something. I wonder if the dip in writing code is going to be a trend or just a blip this year?

Atop Twin Peaks in San Francisco in February

My work travel shifted this year. I rarely went to NYC (only twice, and in the same month) or Silicon Valley (only once). Instead, I went to Dallas once and Korea 4 times. The Asia trips eat up a lot of time (usually spend 2-3 days flying and 3 days at work) and I didn’t even gain status with an airline from it! I would have been fine with fewer trips overseas as it’s always to the same destination and you don’t get a lot of freedom when travelling for work. It was also difficult to organize the household when I’m travelling and Pauline’s back at work, so I want to do that less. At the same time, it’s almost at a point where the amount of travel will dictate my career path.

Sharing a book in Rochester

While I was travelling, one thing that kept coming up in my mind is that there a lot of parents with only a single child; and they are doting on them incessantly or being overwhelmed even as both parents handle a single child. Now that Jovian is older, I have more perspective with looking after two children at once. It’s another ballgame with more than one, but not because it is a lot of work. It’s a different experience for both the child and the parents when there is only a single child, the parents have more opportunity and ability to focus on them.

With Cars in Orlando

Both kids are older and more independent. Jovian has progressed to a point where he can play constructively with Apollo (instead of just pushing or taking things from him) and its heartening to see the brothers interact. While Jovian still takes advantage of Apollo, Apollo is genuinely willing to take care of Jovian. Both kids are now in school or daycare 5 days a week so they don’t spend a lot of time at home, and we’ve gotten used to doing dropoffs and pickups (welcome to the next 15 years).

Joking with Aladdin and Jasmine at Disney

Apollo is at a point where milestones are difficult to recognize and there are multiple tracks of learning between school, friends and family. He knows a little bit of math (no division), can struggle through reading (sight words and basic phonics) and is starting to draw recognizable scenes. We’ve spent less time with Jovian on the basics than we did with Apollo, but he seems to be doing OK – recognizes the alphabet, sings a lot of songs, and is a regular motormouth.

Having brunch with Winnie the Pooh & gang

This year, my life felt like a 80/20 scenario where 80% of the time, it’s driven by logistics around the kids. Then 20% of the time I’m travelling and it’s all about work. Now that the boys are older, I think they should be more independent and less clingy, but I feel the opposite is actually true.

Jovian’s happy that he has cake on his birthday

Since they are older, they are in less confined/controlled environments and can end up in more circumstances where they actively need our help (i.e., being sick, need to get to a program). One example of this is having to get them to school on time every day. A lot of time is spent figuring this out, and I don’t think it’s going to get any easier in the next couple of years.

Eating dinner with Cookie Monster and other Sesame Street friends

Star Trek Timelines was my go-to game for the entire year as it was on mobile and pushed my OCD buttons. I also spent time playing Blizzard games (Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm and even a little bit of WoW to complete a quest). I tried a variety of other mobile games and board games on mobile, but nothing else really stuck. I powered up the XBOX360 later in the year to introduce Apollo to some video games.

Down at the harbourfront

It is between spending time on all the little things associated to kids, and existing hobbies like games, that I felt like I didn’t pick up any new hobbies or new experiences. It’s not that I was bored, just that on the year end reflection, it’s hard to identify what was unique about this year. In the past, the unique thing(s) would be travel but this year’s travel was “on rails” (for work) or to destinations that were of interest to the kids. What defines a year will continue to shift in future years to be more kid-oriented, but perhaps this was the year where I have self-consciously hit the inflection point.

On top of the Thomson Hotel

We got together with friends less this year. One reason is because a lot of us have kids now and it’s difficult to do large gatherings or events because they have to be kid friendly and have enough room for friends, partners, kids, etc. That’s tough to organize. Then we have to take into account schedules. Not just whether someone is busy, but when their kids’ programs or naps begin and end. That means a lot less of going to a person’s house and even going out to eat.

Fall & Hallowe’en in a single picture

We still see Apollo’s friends a bit, although not as much as before. Jovian doesn’t have his own circle of friends yet. Between these 2 group of friends, and our own adult friends, I was hoping to ensure that we have a meal with at least one family/set of friends every week. It wasn’t a new year’s resolution but just a general goal. I think I achieved this about half the time, but it’s difficult to juggle schedules and plan.

Skating at Nathan Phillips Square

At the end of the year, I had a couple of days to spend with Apollo because he was at home sick. Physically, he’s four – but when he is away from other kids, he looks older. And he’s at an age where he not only remembers what happens but why things are happening. I think the trend next year will continue to be focused on kids, and how to bring them up “in the right way”; but Apollo has sufficient life experience, communicative capability, and personal desires that he can see me as a role model and a friend, in addition to his parent. It makes our interactions more important and meaningful, and I hope that I can be more of a mentor than a parent to him.

Apollo loves Santa, but Jovian is still a little wary

This year I travelled to a bunch of different places for work, and did a bunch of road trips. Next year, I suspect the trips will be fewer:

  • Toronto, ON, Canada
  • Las Vegas, NV, USA
  • Grand Canyon Village, AZ, USA
  • Mountain View, CA, USA
  • Orlando, FL, USA
  • Seoul, South Korea
  • Rochester, NY, USA
  • Scranton, PA, USA
  • Langhorne, PA, USA
  • Dallas, TX, USA
  • Manhattan, NY, USA

Here’s the full list: 2006 (10), 2007 (8), 2008 (13), 2009 (10), 2010 (15), 2011 (18), 2012 (8), 2013 (10), 2014 (5), 2015 (14),

This year’s music listening consisted of new music from artists that I enjoy, and a smattering of top KPop and western Top40. At home, I had my usual iTunes music and we used a custom Spotify playlist in the kitchen. In the car, I burned KPop CDs but started listening to a bit of radio towards the end of the year as I didn’t keep up with new KPop releases as much and the music started getting stale. I noticed and am glad that Top40 has shifted to be more house and jungle oriented rather than Hip Hop.

Here’s my list for the year:

  1. 태연 (Taeyeon) – 제주도의 푸른 밤 (The Blue Night of Jeju)

    The Blue Night of Jeju is a cover of, I guess, a classic Korean song (many other Korean artists have covers) and it’s my favorite song from this year for a number of reasons:

    1. It’s by my favorite singer
    2. It’s in the sweet spot of her register
    3. The song and this particular arrangement is catchy
    4. Taeyeon’s music doesn’t typically have guitars so this is unique

    The only problem I have is that I can’t find a place to buy it. I believe it’s only digital, and I have to sign up for a Korean service (melOn) to download it. I’m almost at a stage where I’m going to do that!

  2. 아이유 (IU) – 스물셋 (Twenty Three)

    Pulling an “Adele”, IU wrote a song about her age. I don’t understand it because it’s in Korean, but it’s got a catchy hook. I bought the rest of this album, and this is heads and shoulders above the rest of the tracks; mostly because it’s a pop song, rather than in the style of her more recent albums (i.e., Red Shoes)
  3. Charlie Puth and Selena Gomez – We Don’t Talk Anymore

    This song has a great hook (and not much else beyond that), but that’s enough to make it a great pop song. It’s funny that Selena Gomez collaborated on this song because in a way it’s a lot like her songs – the same words repeated over and over again.
  4. 태연 (Taeyeon) with Dean – Starlight

    Taeyeon’s solo singles are typically in the R&B or soft rock genre, which is not a type of music I enjoy too much. This song is typical of those genres, there is no strong melody or beat, nor is it super catchy or showcase her voice (in fact I feel it’s mostly Dean’s song). However, like Rain, it portrays a feeling and so the song grew on me. I like the video as well.
  5. 태연 (Taeyeon) – Why

    When I heard about the title track from Taeyeon’s second EP, I was a bit disappointed because I thought it would be in a similar vein to I. However, when the song finally came out, I was pleasantly surprised that it was pretty catchy – it’s a dance track rather than R&B. I think this would be the song that epitomizes 2016 summer for me.

    I didn’t like the original video for this song, but the dance version is great. The choreography reminds of Michael Jackson dancing!

    It’s tough to pick the better song between this and Starlight from Taeyeon’s second EP. I like Why more right now, but I think Starlight will have more longevity – hence the ranking.

  6. Calvin Harris ft Rihanna – This Is What You Came For

    This song is good almost entirely due to Rihanna’s scat-ing, which I find funny because when Rihanna started out, I thought she was a weak singer with a small range.
  7. Justin Bieber – Lose Yourself

    This is one of the first songs that I noticed that started having the stripped down approach to songwriting. It’s not really acoustic, just that there is not a lot of instrumentation and it is focused on singing. I think it has aged pretty well since I heard it in early 2016.
  8. 티파니 (Tiffany) – Once In A Lifetime

    Tiffany had her solo debut album this year, and while I didn’t like her two singles, I thought this track was the standout track. I’m not sure if it’s worth buying the entire album though.
  9. The Weeknd – I Feel It Coming

    This song is so new that there isn’t a music video or even a good audio-only version of this song on YouTube. I didn’t like the first Daft Punk x Weeknd collaboration that much (see below), but when I first heard this song, I knew it would be great. It just sounds like Daft Punk, and their cameo in the bridge is perfect. What I missed is that The Weeknd is doing his Michael Jackson imitation, but when the radio mentioned that, it clicked and made a lot of sense. Because it’s so new, I’m afraid that it might not have that much longevity, otherwise it would have ranked higher.
  10. Just Timberlake – Can’t Stop The Feeling!

    This is a happy song from a movie soundtrack – sounds like it’s repeating the success of Pharrel William’s Happy from 2013! Great pop song for this year, but I don’t think it’s going to have a lot of longevity.
  11. 세븐틴 (SEVENTEEN) and 에일리 (Ailee) – Q&A

    This is one of the only KPop songs which isn’t by artists that I like. In fact it almost doesn’t matter who sings it, the song is catchy and the singers are stepping over each other which makes it sound complex.
  12. 윤아 (Yoona) with 10cm – 덕수궁 돌담길의 봄 (Deoksugung Stonewall Walkway)

    This is a standard pop duet with a catchy hook. I think Yoona’s voice is under-rated (given that she is supposed to be the face of SNSD) but she’s trying to hard in this video.
  13. Bruno Mars – 24k Magic

    I guess Bruno is creating a new niche for himself now that hip hop & R&B are dying on top40. Instead of house or becoming a singer/songwriter, he’s continuing his Uptown Funk trend and becoming the leading funk singer of the ’10s. This song is really good when you first hear it, because every part of it is something different. But it falls off a cliff pretty quick once you hear it often. All the unique elements become regular.
  14. 태연 (Taeyeon) – Rain

    This song is an earworm for me but overall I didn’t enjoy it that much (again because it’s R&B/soft rock).
  15. The Weeknd ft Daft Punk – Star Boy

    The Weeknd and Daft Punk, two of my favorite musical artists collaborating on a track. This is going to be awesome! Well it turns out that it wasn’t that great. It’s not a turd, but the beat wasn’t as catchy as other Daft Punk tracks and The Weeknd doesn’t singing is not as melodic as it could be (although I noticed that most of The Weeknd’s singles don’t really involve singing like his early works).
  16. Selena Gomez – Hands To Myself

    I got Selena Gomez’ album for free last year as part of a Microsoft Groove promotion, but didn’t really listen to it (only listened to Same Old Love). Then I heard this song on the radio and added it to my playlist. The song is actually not noteworthy, except one line in the bridge that makes it worth it.