2023 has been a memorable year and –at times– downright existential. Looking at the scorecard, it’s pretty clear there’s been more downs than ups. Despite everything, I maintain a positive outlook and am forward-looking.

I’m happy to report that I failed at all my SMART goals from 2022. Every. Single. One. Zero KPIs were harmed during the course of the last year. Running a quick postmortem, I think setting goals like this is stupid now. That said, I love data. So as I wrap up this year, I’ll start with the quantifiable outcomes and move into the less quantifiable aspects of 2023…

Fell short in the books department

I read or listened to 39 books this year which means I officially fell out of the “Book-A-Week” club and I’m glad about that outcome. Rather than powering through an endless backlog, I took a more one-in/one-out approach with the library. I feel like I got more enjoyment out of the books I picked up this year by taking it slower.

I had a goal of reading four Japanese language manga but failed at that. I started two (Delicious in Dungeon and Mobile Suit Gundam: Cucuruz Doan’s Island) but got hung up on cooking and military vocabulary. Japanese has always been like that for me, it takes a lot to load the “domain” into my Brain RAM. With some effort this may be something I can re-pick up in 2024.

I planned to read less in 2023, so I guess I succeeded there. I had another goal of watching more TV, but that didn’t happen. I watched some anime (Gundam) so perhaps I qualified but I didn’t keep track. I also switched from audiobooks to catching up on podcasts. No regrets.

The year of the personal website

I wrote ~70 blog posts this year between my blog and the Luro blog. That’s not a good year… that’s my best year yet! And I have 39 drafts in the hopper. My short term goal is to push publish on half of them. But let’s look back at some of the greatest hits from this year.

And it’s not just a good year of blogging for me, I can feel the resurgence of blogging in my bones. I cleared out over 2000 items in my RSS queue and there’s 500 more unreads in there again. If I were running a clandestine XML-based social network, then I bet the number of people in that club would have tripled this year. More people blogging on their personal sites makes the web feel small and weird again, like walking through a friendly neighborhood as opposed to being under the florescent lights of a giant shopping mall.

It will be interesting to see what happens with websites in 2024 and beyond. We’re at a weird tipping point for the web where ChatGPT makes it trivial to flood the internet with disingenuous, cheaply generated content spam. What’s the point of writing if a machine can bullshit faster than I can? Why would I put effort into reading that which you didn’t put effort into writing? Did you hear that story about the male conference organizer who was also a fake dev influencer e-girl? Big yikes.

I wonder if the “personal” part of personal websites is the difference maker going forward. I’m more apt to share something written by someone I know than some AI content farm.

A year of emergencies, loss, maladies, and stress

We hit the deductible on our health insurance this year and I think that’s a perfect metaphor for 2023. A brief chronological recounting of this year’s trauma…

  • (Feb) Austin froze again - 125 hours without power. Thankful for friends who housed us and helped us chainsaw branches.
  • (Apr) Goodbye, Rudy - Our sweet dog crossed the rainbow bridge.
  • (Apr) An emergency appendectomy - As family boarded a plane to visit us, an appendix decided to leave town. Thanks to Mark, our friend, who performed the surgery.
  • (May) Back-to-back-to-back-to-back cases of strep - Thank you, public school system.
  • (May) Stress attack - Ack! Began dieting and trying to relax.
  • (Sept) Root canal to kill a jaw-eating bacteria in tooth - No more purple tooth!
  • (Sept) Diagnosing a mysterious foot fungus - Not fungus, Disney rash.
  • (Oct) Physical therapy and an MRI for a herniated L4 - Back pain is the dumbest pain

Managing stress and losing weight was my big personal focus this year. It feels good to lose 30 pounds, but it feels even better to lower my resting heart rate 10+ BPM. Being on a “no fun” diet for 7+ months is good for me but contributes to a feeling of a boring year. I’ll take that trade I guess or sell a kidney so I can afford Ozempic.

The Good Parts

2023 wasn’t all bad vibes! Some notable and good events happened this year…

What made this year were the small moments that don’t make the “Year in Review” lists. Like watching my son play baseball, or my daughter master new cheer skills, the jokes and tickles, playing Christmas songs on the piano, building the occasional plastic model, or playing games with the family. Those are the moments that make up the majority of my days.

🔮 What’s in store for 2024…

2024 is gearing up to be a year of big changes, hopefully with less medical surprises… but it’s New Year’s Day and I already know that’s not the case. Ughck. Nevertheless, we persist. For me it’s a season of reassessing, reprioritizing, and rethinking my personal goals. What do I want for ol’ Dave Rupert and how do I get there? Not an easy question to ask myself, but worthwhile.

Since I failed at quantifiable goals, I’m not doing those again. Here’s what I have on my brain that would make for a successful 2024.

  • Activate an active lifestyle - I addressed a lot of stress and weight loss this past year, I’d like to layer in sustainable activity as well.
  • Write more shitty sci-fi - I have about six stories on deck and I’d love to complete them.
  • Draw more - I’d love to be someone who doodles all the time. I could be that guy.
  • Write for other publications - I’m comfortable with self-publishing on my blog and I’d like to up the editorial challenge this year by writing for other sites or zines.
  • Survive the 2024 US Election - This will occupy enough mental bandwidth that I am reserving space for it.
  • Make a video game? - Always chasing this dream.

That seems like a year’s worth of ambition right there and a good place to end this retrospective. Tired, weak, and worn; I hope this year is better for you than the last and that those around you are happy and healthy.