2020: A Year In Review

I skipped writing this post in 2019. Over the last few years I've been working on self-imposed obligations, or rather the practice of ignoring them. These are tasks that aren't necessary to do, don't benefit anybody in a meaningful way, but do add to my mental load until it's complete. I let myself off the hook last year and it felt great.

Finding a few minutes and the itch to write today, I figured some documentation of my 2020 was worthwhile. As terrible as the year has been, some landmark achievements have happened in spite of it. Here's a rundown of what I've accomplished this year.


In May of 2020, I graduated from The University of Akron with a degree in computer programming.

While discrete mathematics induced terrible anxiety and serious depression in 2019, being able to finishing out my degree remotely was a massive blessing. I saved money on gas and between-class bar bills,[1] had more time to dedicate to studying and work, and lost the weight of my 10-hour weekly commutes.

I graduated with a 3.697 GPA, Magna cum laude. There was no in-person ceremony. I wrote more about my graduation here.

Get a Job

In 2019, I took an internship at The J.M. Smucker Company on their Data Science team. That Summer a blast and, before it was over, the company asked me to return for a full-time position pending graduation. I'll tell you, knowing I had work lined up made my last year in school feel a lot easier. My only regret is not starting more quickly after I finished the Spring semester. [2]

I started in late June, immediately following my departure from Breaker. So far, I've worked on a number of projects across web development, automated testing, and ETL spaces. I'm learning a lot. My team is great and I couldn't ask for more.

Side Projects

Always eager to create things in my spare time, I continued a few small projects, both public and private.

Mike and I rather abruptly stopped recording Podchasm after recording an in-person episode at Terin's place last Summer.[3] Bantha Fodder slowed as well, until Q4 2020, when there was a resurgence. To save some money, we moved the site hosting from Squarespace to Transistor with all of the extra goodies once hosted there relocated here.

This was a fun episode we did with friend of the show Bobby Darling (Gatsbys American Dream, The Money Pit, American Fail, Acceptance).

I'm still not writing or reading as much as I'd like to, but after porting this blog [4] from Squarespace to Ghost, I found the process of getting my thoughts out much more easily than years past. On the blog, I've written a number of things ranging from personal, to instructional. I also started Discography.fm as an outlet to occasionally write about music. It's been a strangely and sporadically productive year.

Digitally archiving home video:
After hooking up a VCR to my iMac and gathering up all of the home video captured during my childhood, I set to work on digitizing it and making it available on my Plex server for on-demand streaming. This project is ongoing, but has already lead to some amazing discoveries. I highly recommend doing this for your own family's videos. If you don't have the equipment to do it at home, I suggest searching for a local library that has it available for this purpose.


2020 has been a phenomenally difficult year for a lot of people. My family has been very lucky to have had few cases of COVID, all of which had no critical impact on those that have had it. I lost two great aunts this year, Phyllis and Therese Davidson, both wonderful women who I miss dearly and whose lives I wish our family could have celebrated together after their passing. We also lost a dear family friend in Phil O'Rourke, who gave me my first job cutting his lawn.

Despite the heartache and isolation, I recognize how fortunate I have been this year. I was able to obtain full-time work with great benefits in my field of choice. I've been able to pay down my school debts faster due to waived interest. Both Mae and I are able to work from home, limiting our exposure to the virus and giving us more time to spend with Jazz. I'm extremely thankful.

Here's hoping for an even better 2021.

Read More:

  1. Barley House, I miss you and I wish our last day together wasn't so terribly spoiled. ↩︎

  2. We originally had plans to travel between my graduation date and start date, but COVID. ↩︎

  3. It wasn't Terin's fault. We just got very busy with our jobs and thus the show fizzled. We thank him for the use of his gear and giving Jake a place to crash. Miss you, friend! ↩︎

  4. jacobtender.net now comprises all content previously found on my personal portfolio and the curbside.audio blog. I wrote the theme by hand and love the design and organization today so much more than I did before. Hosting is considerably cheaper on Digital Ocean, even if upkeep is slightly more work. ↩︎