2022 in threes

End of year reflections.

Three moments of 2022

Not dozing in the sun in Munich airport. We flew from Sydney to Rīga via Singapore and Munich, and both transits were terrible, Singapore because it was the middle of the night and Munich because we wanted it to be and it very much wasn’t. But Munich airport has plastic lounge chairs in the airport and we lounged on them in bright summer sun pouring in through huge windows, allegedly fixing our body clocks, or at least, being awake.

Wandering in a daze of pain through Muir Woods. I went to Muir Woods twice this year, on both trips to the Bay Area. The second time I had some kind of digestive upset and ended up in a slightly altered state of consciousness, torn between pain and the somewhat meditiative experience that is inherent to Muir Woods.

Carrying a couch up our street in breaks between rain. We rented office space (former therapy rooms, in fact) near our home in 2021 in order to have a place to work that wasn’t also doubling as a school and 24/7 nuclear family circle of hell. I found it hard to let go of the lease before winter was over since it was difficult to imagine a winter without society closing down.

And then I tore my MCL skiing — the opposite of that kind of winter — and it was hard to give up the lease because I couldn’t help move the furniture out of it. Finally, with the historic spring rains, it was time, and the couch was the last thing out, moved to our porch for a freebie pickup just ahead of a forecast downpour.

Three meals of 2022

Georgian food at Alaverdi, gruzīnu restorāns, in Rīga. Mostly I remember cheese dipped in honey, and wine, and the fact that it was 10pm and not yet sunset.

Smoked pork on rye bread, bread pudding, pickled cabbage various colours, honey vodka among other parts of our food tour of the Rīga Central Market. It started inauspiciously with the guide being (only a little late), but then she was thrilled to meet Australians (“they let you out!” “people from Australia and New Zealand are Latvia’s best tourists!”) and even our picky child was moderately pleased with the idea of an afternoon snack of pork and bread.

Fish at Doyle’s at sunset. I’ve lived in Sydney for 24 years and there’s still a raft of fundamental Sydney things I haven’t done, this was this year’s. The sunset is the key, more than the fish.

Three photos of 2022

Goodbye Culburra: photograph of the photographer casting a shadow onto beach sand, out of focus waves in the distance Uluṟu & Kata Tjuṯa before dawn Fallen log covered in moss in a forest, near the Latvian village of Sigulda

Three pleasures of 2022

Mid-childhood. My children are nearly 9 and 13, They were never not people, but at this stage being a kid of a particular age is a less dominant part of their identity than being particularly themselves. So we have cricket that approaches a part-time job in its commitment level, 5:30am starts to get to cheerleading, sketches in advance of a future fashion label, and someone unexpectedly installing chess apps on their phone alongside TikTok.

Certainty. I haven’t had to tell anyone that their holidays or school or surgery aren’t happening or are delayed or are being replaced with some rushed together home equivalent. I skipped only one family event myself due to illness/contagiousness.

A welcome summer. It rained so much this year and has been so cool that the moderately warm summer days of late December have been quite welcome and joyful, rather than the harbringer of unpleasantness it can be in many years. Watching the sunset from Milk Beach on Christmas Day while a group danced to salsa music from someone’s phone; the morning of New Year’s Eve supervising pre-teen girls squealing in the gentle surf at Wattamolla. Beautiful.

Three news stories from 2022

A year of pundits being terribly wrong about the biggest of big stories. Putin won’t invade Ukraine (Atlantic Council, BBC, Al-Jazeera, University of Melbourne), China will not exit zero COVID (Time, the Atlantic, Bloomberg).

Apparently our former Prime Minister was formerly several other ministers too. The point I, and many others, return to a lot, is “but, also, why?” This is yet to be satisfactorily explained.

Two and a half metres of rain for Sydney. Someone I know lost a friend in the regional flooding.

Three sensations from 2022

Fatigue-and-pain hour. I had COVID at the end of January, it felt like being the last person to get it, but the seroprevalence surveys put me only in the first 40% or so of Australians. Overall I’d put it at worse than most colds, better than influenza, and certainly much better than that time I had early sepsis (which is quite the barometer for bad illness). Its tendency over about the next two weeks to show up arbitrarily once a day for about an hour at a time, fatigue-and-pain hour, was the most distinct part of it.

A plane rocketing down a runway ahead of taking off. Twelve times altogether I suppose but I most distinctly remember the first one leaving Sydney for San Francisco in March, 772 days since my previous plane flight in February of 2020.

The dim shape of chairlifts in the clouds. Our first day in Falls Creek in August was a windy whiteout — they evacuated the mountain at lunchtime — and my daughter gamely skiied down a run with me with neither of us having skied in two years. I was motivated mostly to keep the chairlift in sight for reference rather than find an easy slope and so was very proud of her fortitude.

Three sadnesses of 2022

Tech layoffs and the associated rumour mills, churn, and anxiety. It’s been especially hard since the economic boom that immediately proceeded it was very much a money-boom; during that period folks were sick, sad, and isolated, and do not have an emotional boom-time worth of resilience.

Relatedly, the mid-career exit of women I know in tech continues apace.

Sulking at a hotel window view of Falls Creek’s Summit area during the “walking is very uneasy and requires a lot of planning” phase of my MCL injury. A very winter sport moment, but I had finally found an instructor to sort out my parallel turns this time for sure, just long enough for me to catch the wrong edge ahead of the end of week bluebird days, and it was frustrating.

Three plans for 2023

Both types of NSW beach road trip, that is, north and south, and both in the next four weeks. We booked the southern one, back to the same town where we holidayed in 2019, 2021, and 2022, some of my family booked in to meet us there, and then my son was invited to play in a cricket carnival about as far in the opposite direction as is possible. So, northern cricket tournament first, unpack cricket gear, wash remainder of clothes, head south.

SCUBA. The big hobby of our 20s, but early mornings and babysitters made it so unappealing in our 30s. We’re hoping to dive off Byron Bay, which I have wanted to do for at least 15 years. I don’t think going back to 20 dives a year is on the cards, but, I plan to do a handful of them.

Falls Creek re-run. 2022 was our first extended family ski trip, we stayed in a local family’s hotel full of regulars, with a communal lounge and a babysitting and dining for kids, and of such are family traditions made.

Three hopes for 2023

A narrative of my career that makes sense. My career isn’t bad — it’s highly paid and I get good reviews — but its current iteration is very formed by “just get through this crisis and then” where “this crisis” refers to at least four completely distinct events over three years at this point. A sustainable narrative is what I want.

North American winter, a year from now. I wanted to do this the year my son was 10, it somehow seemed like the perfect age. That year was 2020, so, we did not. I don’t dread the flights or the prices less after Europe in 2022; this may be a case of wanting to want something. But I’ve wanted to want it for a long time!

Catch up on my photography backlog. I’m almost, but not quite, three years behind. I’m not ready to give up. It’s a lot, but there’s a lot of beauty and memories in there that I want access to.

2023 charitable giving: homelessness, justice, self-determination, climate

I like to share my giving in order to give folks who don’t know where to give, or who might be inspired to do their own research and start giving, even if not to the same organisations.

I have three of tiers of 2023 recurring giving. The largest level is organisations I have a longer history of giving to and more insight into their strategy. The next level is newer causes I am interested in or exploring. The final one is a “hat tip” level of donations supporting not-for-profit technology organisations whose technology I use a lot.

Larger donations

The Haymarket Foundation is a secular organisation focussed on people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage in Sydney. They specialise in complex homelessness (eg, people with mental health, drug use, or trauma), and we particularly value that they are trans-inclusive. My family has supported them in the past (eg at the start of the pandemic, and as their winter 2022 matching donors).

The National Justice Project, working for systemic change for asylum seekers and refugees, Indigenous people, and detainees, often through strategic legal action. They have advocated for offshore refugee detainees medical case (eg DCQ18’s pregnancy termination, child DWD18’s care for self-harm) and for an inquest into police inaction preceeding the murder of Indigenous baby Charlie Mullaley (if anyone has read Jess Hill’s See What You Made Me Do, Charlie’s terrible death is one of the central stories you may remember).

GiveDirectly Refugees which gives unconditional cash transfers to long-term refugees in Uganda. Unconditional cash transfers give people in poverty the power to decide what they need to spend money on in order to address their own situation. Australian donors can donate via Effective Altruism Australia to receive a tax deduction.

Note: I am not an uncritical supporter of Effective Altruism, see eg How effective altruism let Sam Bankman-Fried happen, Against longtermism, Effective altruism and disability rights are incompatible. I do specifically like the case for unconditional cash transfers.

Smaller donations

Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT: Aboriginal-led justice advocacy and legal representation.

Original Power, building self-determination in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, via a Giving Green recommendation.

Farmers for Climate Action, influencing Australia to adopt strong economy-wide climate policies with opportunity for farmers and farming communities, via a Giving Green recommendation.

Purple House / Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation. Late stage kidney disease is endemic in remote Australia. Purple House runs 18 remote dialysis clinics enabling people to get back to their country and family. It also offers respite and support while dialysing in Alice Springs or Darwin.

Hat-tip donations

Internet Security Research Group, who fund Let’s Encrypt. Let’s Encrypt’s free HTTPS certificates are securing the very page you are viewing right now.

Signal Foundation, who fund Signal messaging, I use Signal for secure communication with many friends and communities.


You may also be interested in the organisations my family supported at the start of the pandemic.

Green rock

April 2022

In utmost naivety, we expected the red centre to be only rock and red dirt. But the whole desert is alive with desert oak and spinnifex (andm if you are lucky, quandong), and Uluṟu in particular attracts and shelters water, and thereby, herds of ghost gum and zebra finches.

The wettest and the greenest is in the near permanent shade of the Mutijulu waterhole. People defecated on the rock when climbing was allowed; Mutijulu won’t be safe for human consumption for 20 more years.

Greenery at Uluṟu Rich green around Uluṟu Ghost gums at Uluṟu Dry grass near Uluṟu Ghost gum near Mutijulu waterhole, Uluṟu Rock face near Mutijulu waterhole, Uluṟu Marching upwards, Uluṟu

All photos.

This winter, support the Haymarket Foundation and their work with complex homelessness!

In March 2020 my family began supporting the Haymarket Foundation, a secular charity for people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage. We’re particularly supportive of their work on complex homeslessness, and their trans inclusive crisis housing.

We’ve continued supporting them since, and this winter we are matching your donations to the Haymarket Foundation, supporting residents like Deo Nuyu, a refugee from Burundi, who cannot access income support without a protection visa, to remain housed. Volunteer Vic, who recovered from drug abuse with the help of the Haymarket Foundation, credits their case workers with the difference in his life.

My family and I are matching donations to the Haymarket Foundation up until June 30, give today to support homeless and disadvantaged people in Sydney!