2023 Review

January 04, 2024

Well this has been a year! Some wins and plenty of L’s too.

One way to think about goals is to consider them as stated preferences - almost an explanation of parts of how you identify. Then, at the end of the year, you can better understand your revealed preferences based on what you actually achieve. For example, I am a reader. There’s just no denying it.

I generally believe Paul Graham’s thesis that the more labels you have for yourself, the dumber they make you. Evaluating goals is a good way to relieve yourself of some of your labels. I set a lot of goals last year - too many - and failed a lot because my attention ended up fragmented. At some level that’s good because like any good early 2000’s engineer, I’m good at context switching. But too often in our attention-based economy today, that means you end up feeling busy without accomplishing what you hoped. Trying to fix that was on my mind all of 2023 and it’s not all bad, but there’s still plenty more to do. We’ll get to 2024 soon, but first a bit about 2023!

Get Off Social Media

A mixed bag but trending in the right direction. I deleted Instagram on my phone after we got back from our RV trip. I re-install it every couple weeks to post something on a weekend or holiday. It feels different whenever it’s on my phone now. Deleting it and not having it for days makes you realize how powerful the draw is to just scroll a bit when it’s available. I like it more when it’s not there.

XfkTwitter is actually useful and engaging. There are real and interesting people there and while it’s been a rocky road since Musk, I still like where it’s going. This is the only one I’m not interested in giving up completely.

Engage On Twitter

I’ve had more fun interactions and conversations with people I’ve never met this year. And I get why people feel a rush when something you wrote has tens of thousands of people see it. It’s a fun hamster wheel. Bullish.

Pseudonymous Brand

By about April my wonderful and very intelligent wife explained to me why this is all so stupid and I stopped it. It was a dumb idea.

Smaller Bets

I like how this has gone so far this year. There’s a creation myth behind every big venture that’s usually wrong. One of my favorite engineering maxim’s is Gall’s Law, and it explains why:

A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over with a working simple system.

This is as true for businesses or side projects as it is for engineering systems.

CollegeValue is out there and used by a small number of people. There’s a half-finished book in the works. It’s NOT finished, but there’s a couple tens of thousands of words there. I’ve had to compartmentalize to think only about chapters otherwise it gets too scary. No other side projects took off this year, but the compartmentalization works. And this was an excellent step towards the right brain state.

Just One Thing

See the very first paragraph - I’m still too scatterbrained. Part of this is just dammit! there’s too many cool things to do! The other part is wow you are a lazy distracted dud. Those two average out to not much.

Part of the problem here is that there’s one school of thought that tells you to follow your passion. Do the things you’re excited by and you can’t lose. Another school of thought is that passion is for suckers and you should do the things that will actually become actionable - whether that means audience, profit, or some other metric.

The truth, like always, is some weird and differing combination of the two. Still trying.

An Amazing RV Trip

What a trip!. This was the coolest, most fun, most memorable trip I’ve ever had. Getting to adventure with my wife and kids like this was the highlight of the year, hands down. It was so good, in fact, that we’re doing it again this year!


For many reasons, other trips weren’t a priority this year. Still incoming at some point.

Dress For Work

I got a wardrobe update this year and started wearing it more. I still lounge around in sweatpants a lot, but I think this was an improvement. I’m nowhere as cool or suave as my son though. It was still the right idea, and I feel better about it now.


Welp, I read 64 books this year. That’s a lot. It’s more than my average, which is usually right around 50 and has been for some time. What happened? My wife set an audacious goal this year and decided to up her game to 40 books this year. She more than succeeded and I had to keep up of course! Then I just got in a rhythm and kept on going.

On the one hand, this is quite an accomplishment. The problem is the other side of the ledger. Reading this much drowns out some of my production function. I’m sure some people are able to read a ton and keep writing and producing a ton too; Tyler Cowen is the existence proof. I just think I’ve found a threshold where the ratios change for me and I want to re-focus on the production part of things.

Looking on a longer timescale, it’s a little depressing that I’ve been doing this pretty consistently and that I’m just a bit over a thousand books read as an adult. It makes me wonder about where the ranges are for different definitions of “well-read”.


I wrote a lot again. ls content/blog | grep 2023 | xargs wc -w says over 50,000 words in this here spot. A couple tens of thousands of other words elsewhere. I’ve also had more and more engaging written async conversations over email with a few friends that I’ve really enjoyed. So that’s good!

But. I’m still not happy. I don’t know how much my writing is actually improving and the idea of a daily habit remains ever outside of my grasp. I don’t think I’ll be happy with this until that happens.


I did 5 fasts this year from 1-3 days long, mostly in the first half of the year. They’re very hard and very, very good. I’m starting 2024 off with a forced fast - nothing like some modern dysentery to kick off a new year. But beyond that TMI tidbit, fasting is good and this was successful. Autophagy is a thing. More importantly, learning how to have less than you need and operate in that environment is a powerful skill.

Make Dinner On School Days

Another big win! Dad was killing the weekday schedule for a lot of the year. We’ve all got some new favorites dinners like cajun sausage skillet and chicken pesto burrata pasta. More importantly I had a blast cooking in the evening while the kids sat at the table and finished up their homework or hung out. I don’t know if this was the budgetary or dietary win I was hoping it would be (pasta is filling and burrata is expensive) but it was a lot of great family time.

Alcohol on Weekends.

Better near the end of the year. Not good enough. Ongoing change needed. Lent will be good.

Dirty Dozen at 225

Well I wasn’t 225 for very long this year, but I kept my strength quite well overall. I learned that the power of bodyweight exercises is significant. A friend and I did several months of 100/pushups a day with each other - we’d just text each other ✅ each day when done. This worked wonders. On my third workout with a barbell I pumped out 15 reps at 225 at about 240. Old man muscle for the win.

5K Time



I got sooooo close on a sloper V3 but no


No again. You know what’s interesting about these three? I didn’t care. I put them on the list because I thought they sounded cool. Like - I want to be the kind of guy that loves to go out for a surf in the morning. But when it comes to actually doing it.. yeah that’s not me. I’m more cool with that now I think. Said another way, I care a lot more about being the kind of guy that can rep out 225 than the surfer bro. Revealed preferences and all that.

Build A Larger Piece of Furniture

I did two, in fact! First there’s this awesome TV table, with a custom floating shelf for a receiver and equipment. Let me tell you, I noodled about getting the cuts right to make that shelf square for awhile. 23 tv1 23 tv2 And then there’s this zippered up maple slab coffee table! This was originally just the maple round. I thought I was all done with it - 6 coats of poly and all - put it in place in our house and the very next day the wood cracked from moisture movement! Back to the workship for some bowtie work, but the final result is cooler than just the round by itself. It has 7 coats of poly now, just because.

23 zipper1 23 zipper2

Get A New Suit

Check! Love the new suit. I tried a bunch on and ended up with the same color combo/style that my wife put through the wash accidentally a year ago! So I guess it was a good choice.

23 suit

Social Intellectual Group

Everyone has a network of people around them that define, flex, and mark their interests and engagement with the world. Mine has been growing over the last couple of years and it is one of the most rewarding parts of life. There is really nothing like a good conversation.

On to the next!

23 rvoff 23 bb 23 bros 23 eucharist 23 watkins 23 notch 23 cowboy 23 lift 23 windows 23 waterfall 23 party 23 chisel 23 hold 23 eroc 23 cousins 23 wall 23 rushmore 23 trail 23 siblings 23 waffles 23 weddingcousins 23 weddingkids 23 weddingus 23 ericzion 23 zion 23 arches 23 rv 23 girls

Like the content? Share it around..