Another year passes, and it’s time for one of my annual year-in-review posts. Unfortunately this will be the 2nd year in a row that isn’t particularly cheerful!

It was a year that held hope that we would emerge from the pandemic, and life would return to normal. The bright spots were resuming our previously cancelled travel plans, and the addition of two energetic kitten brothers to the family. Unfortunately it was also a pretty grim year that hit our family pretty hard, with the loss of two family members within the space of 6 weeks. A beloved uncle in Australia lost his long struggle with multiple illnesses, and my father-in-law passed away suddenly the following month. Neither were COVID-related, but these losses still hit hard just the same.

On the work front, I finally returned to the office one day per week starting in October. It was a bit strange resuming the commute and having to wear a mask all day, but it was good to catch up with coworkers I hadn’t seen in well over a year. Despite working from home most of the year, it was still very challenging dealing with projects across multiple timezones with tight deadlines. What made it even more challenging was coping with the aftermath of the resignations of several key coworkers both locally and overseas.

As with 2020, my personal fitness last year was still pretty abyssmal. We walked around the block when the weather was nice and did some hiking on vacation, but that was about the extent of my exercise. This year we either need to get our old treadmill fixed or buy a new one!

I’m still enjoying collecting and playing Magic: The Gathering (card game) in paper form and on MTG Arena (on PC), but haven’t played any tournaments in a game store since earlier 2020. I still visit my local game stores when new sets are released, but it’s tough when COVID is still affecting organized play. On a related note, my Magic card unboxing / gameplay YouTube channel continues to grow, reaching 18.2K subscribers in 2021 with almost 5 million total views. It’s sometimes a tricky juggling act to keep it going, but that’s all part of the fun of YouTube! Between some modest ad revenue, card sales, and support from patrons (via Patreon), I’m mostly able to cover the costs of running the channel.

There’s nothing new to report about my fiction writing efforts. I had neither the time nor inclination last year!

I participated in the Goodreads Reading Challenge again last year. I didn’t read much, but it was more than 2020, so I’m calling that a win! Here’s the list for 2021:

Saint Death by Mark Dawson
The Sierra Adventure: The Story of Sierra On-Line by Shawn Mills
Not All Fairy Tales Have Happy Endings: The Rise and Fall of Sierra On-Line by Ken Williams
The YouTube Formula by Derral Eves

Now for some stats:

2021 Stats:

New apps released: 0
App updates released: 4 (includes Lite and Paid versions)
YouTube videos released: 776
YouTube channel subscribers: 6,465
Books read: 4

Sales for my iOS, Mac, and PC apps continued to decrease in 2021. I was able to release some long-awaited iOS updates for Orchid Album and Artwork Tracker, however this had zero affect on sales. Development expenses were thankfully pretty low in 2021, aside from time. I still need to complete some major updates for two other iOS apps (Plant Album and Cactus Album), but ran out of time last year.

I’m still keeping my remaining tropical bonsai trees alive, but haven’t accumulated any new ones in many years. We were able to visit the Chicago Botanic Garden a few times in 2021, and it was good to see their collection of trees alive and well, along with visiting the rest of the garden. We were also able to visit the Anderson Japanese Garden in Rockford for the first time in over a decade.

I grew veggies in our garden as usual, including tomatoes, peppers, beans, cucumbers, and zucchini. We had a ridiculous crop of cucumbers and zucchini, and even found a pumpkin and a gourd growing early in the season! The pumpkin grew pretty huge, and it was suspiciously similar to one we let rot in the garden from the previous year. I grew some giant sunflowers in the veggie garden and self-watering pots, which the local wildlife loved when the seeds started drying out.

We were thankfully able to resume all our travel plans that were set aside in 2020. During summer we visited Isle Royale National Park in Michigan, along with some sights along the way to Grand Portage, Minnesota (where the ferry departed from). That was a fantastic place to visit, with plenty of hiking through some incredible scenery. On the way back we spent some time at a beach house in Door County Wisconsin, relaxing on the beach and doing some kayaking and geocaching. The previous month my wife and son went on an epic RV trip out west with the inlaws, but unfortunately I had to stay home and work. I had to be satisified with their fun tales and awesome photos. Over Christmas we were also able go on our repeatedly-cancelled cruise to the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao), but were sad my father-in-law wasn’t there with us.

So that was my 2021: a year of mingled hope, adventure, and terrible sadness. In my 2020 recap I said I’d like to lose the excess pandemic weight, read more, and travel more. Two out of three isn’t bad! For 2022 I’ll be thankful to have a safe and healthy family, and hope I don’t have to learn too many more letters of the Greek alphabet.

I hope you had a better year, and have a great 2022 and beyond. Happy New Year!