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Things I enjoyed in 2023

Published: December 30, 2023

This kind of year-in-review post isn’t something I’ve ever done before, but I guess 2023 was a big enough year to instill the desire. Career-wise I began the year working as a frontend dev in marketing at Shopify—a company of well over 10,000—and ended at a new position at Deno, where there are only about 25 full-time employees.

The change is night and day, in all the ways I hoped and expected. I loved Shopify and the wonderful people I met there—I could see myself going back one day, if the circumstances were right—but for now, a small startup is right where I want to be. I’ve missed the energy of being a bigger fish in a smaller pond; having what I do every day visibly contribute to the company’s trajectory.

I traveled a lot this year; both companies sent me on international trips (more on that later), and my family was able to take a summer vacation to Tennessee, along with a couple of other, shorter excursions.

In daily life, we spent our first full year in Kansas City, after moving in late 2022. My son started pre-k, and began making friends at school and in the neighborhood. I started to drink less and exercise more (both things I’m still working on and still not where I want to be with, but still positive). I started getting back into tabletop gaming just a little bit, mostly on the casual side of things.

I blogged more than any other year (without even needing this post to pad the numbers). I got to appear on a podcast because of one of the posts that blew up in dev circles, was mentioned or quoted on a few others, and started a handful of personal projects (at least one of which, hopefully, will see the light of day at some point).

But maybe more than anything, 2023 was the first year in a long time where I felt like I could say, unequivocally, yes, this year was better than the last one. There’s still a lot wrong with the world in general and plenty of things that could be better in my life personally, but overall, I’m a very lucky, privileged individual who mostly enjoyed a pretty great year.

Here are some of the specific things I really enjoyed.


I had the privilege of traveling to Toronto with Shopify in the spring, and then to Tokyo with Deno in October. Both trips, and cities, were exceptional. I loved Toronto, and earlier in my life, probably would’ve seriously considered moving there after visiting. Tokyo was my first time traveling overseas, and was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of trip. I tried to drink it in all I could, knowing that destination might never come up for me again.

Tokyo is amazing; I was astounded how the most populous city in the world is still cleaner and more walkable than any US city I’ve ever visited. (The more I travel, the nicest cities I’ve ever been to are not in the US.) The street by the hotel where I stayed was, astonishingly, no more busy than the street that runs by my neighborhood deep in the Kansas City suburbs (and likely much safer, too).

In addition, I got to do a company offsite in Cincinnati, and my family got to travel to Tennessee for a vacation over the summer. So I logged a lot of miles this year, and (aside from the fact that I caught a case of Covid at some point during the Tokyo journey) every one was an experience I’ll remember fondly for many years to come.

Nintendo Switch

According to my Nintendo Switch year in review, I logged around 550 hours of Switch time this year, which (to save you the math) works out to about 90 minutes a day. So…yeah, I enjoyed my Switch a lot in 2023. (As mentioned, I also traveled probably more than ever before in 2023, so that had something to do with it, in my defense. I also managed to play on the treadmill a decent number of times.)

My most-played game was Tears of the Kingdom, into which I poured a little north of 100 hours. I still strongly hold the opinion that Breath of the Wild and TotK are both overrated, with some pretty strong flaws people wouldn’t put up with in other series. (And, for that matter, that ToTK is really more like the world’s biggest, most expensive DLC than an actual standalone game.) Nonetheless, the receipts speak for themselves. I had a blast in this version of Hyrule.

This was also the year I finally got into Slay the Spire (on a work trip), so that came in at #2 on the most-played list, and the year’s greatest tribute to SNES RPGs, Sea of Stars, came in third. It narrowly edged out Vampire Survivors, quite possibly the best $5 I’ve ever spent. It’s a one-stick-shooter/mobile tower defense sort of roguelike that you only play for (up to) 30 minutes at a time, trying to level up your character faster than the hordes of undead come at you. Hard not to love even if it was $20, but again, it’s just $5.

Super Mario RPG was my most anticipated game of 2023, having played a ton of that game as a teen, and I blew through it in a giddy burst of nostalgic glee. It’s a bit overpriced for a 30-year-old 16-bit game, but a nearly perfect remake otherwise. The battle system’s been tweaked just enough to keep things interesting, and otherwise every silly scene and word of dialogue is gloriously and lovingly preserved.

Super Mario Wonder didn’t make the most-played list just because it’s shorter, but it’s the best 2D Mario game since the time when 2D Mario games were the only kind, and while it could’ve been longer and/or denser (it’s got nowhere near the amount of content Odyssey does), it’s still very nice to see Nintendo putting some long-missing variety and polish on their tried-and-true formula. (I wish you could run over the obnoxious talking flowers with a lawnmower, though. Thank God you can at least turn the voices off.)

Finally, I spent a month or two in 2023 seriously into Splatoon 3 before deciding maybe I’m a little old for competitive online shooters.

I also replayed plenty of old favorites like Metroid Dread, Hollow Knight, Celeste, and Hades, each of which I tend to replay at least once a year. (Have I finished Hollow Knight 15 times now? Seems quite possible. Maybe 2024 is the year I finally take on the Pantheon of Hallownest.)

Randomizers, and running Windows on Mac

I also logged a ton of hours on the Super Metroid/A Link to the Past crossover randomizer this year.

If you’re not familiar: you play Super Metroid and Zelda: A Link to the Past as one game, with various doorways leading between the two. You can find any item in either game; you might find Link’s sword in Super Metroid, and you might need to complete a certain dungeon in Link to the Past to finally get Samus’s morph ball. There’s more info at the amazing domain for the project,

My best time thus far is around 4 hours 45 minutes (game time, that is; real time is probably much lower, since you can use fast-forward with an emulator to shorten transitions and cut scenes and such), and I’ve logged well over a dozen runs at this point. So it’s probably in my top three most-played games of the year, although I have no tracking to confirm that.

There are also single-game randomizers out there, if mixing the two is a little intense for you. It’s not for everyone, but if you have an easier time remembering the map of Zebes and Hyrule than you do remembering why you just walked into the physical room you’re in, you might find a randomizer worth your time. (Warning: they’re a little hard to get started with because Nintendo is notoriously litigious; you’ll need your own ROM of the game, and they aren’t always easy to come by.)

Enabling this habit has been Parallels, a software that lets you run a Windows…uh, window, on your Mac. I only have the one-time-purchase subscription (which apparently doesn’t work as well as the subscription model), but it works well enough for me to give up Boot Camp, and even well enough to run some Windows-only Steam games. (Or do some dev testing on Windows, if you wanna be, ya know, productive and all.)


Every other social media site sucks, and most of them have owners who suck even harder.

That’s a large part of why I’ve enjoyed Mastodon. It’s not perfect, and it’s begun to absorb some of the problems of other platforms as it’s grown. What’s cool, though, is that it’s still ad-free, still independent, still algorithm-free (that’s the big part), and still often boring.

No—really. It’s a feature. You’ll hit a point on Mastodon where you’ve seen all there is to see and so you’ll put your phone down and go do something else, and frankly, that’s a pretty unbeatable feature.

Mechanical keyboards

At this time in 2022, I had barely begun to try out the ZSA Moonlander, and was still mostly frustrated by its steep learning curve. But that curve wasn’t as painful as the thumb and wrist pain that had gradually taken over my work life, and so 2023 was the year I fully committed to mechanical/ergonomic keyboards, and I’m incredibly happy I did. I fell in love, and my wrists haven’t been in such good shape in December since at least 2019.

I also now have opinions on things like key switches, keycap profiles, and other similar nerdery, and own more sets of keycaps than actual keyboards. (Three, is the number of keyboards; the Moonlander, a Ergodox EZ, and the Glove80. I don’t think I’ll be trying any new ones out for a while now, though.)

I’m glad this was the year I finally put in the time to learn touch typing, and figure out what works best for my workflows and my body. Plus, they’re just cool. I wrote about the Moonlander here, and the Glove80 here.

Getting back into reading

I’ve read more in 2023 than I have in most years. Maybe any year. A lot of that was in an attempt to spend less time on social media, especially before bed. Some was just a convenient travel activity; a lot was listening while working in the yard, walking, or traveling. But in any case, it’s a trend I’d like to continue.

I think my favorite thing I read this year was Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, which chronicles the shifting relationship of two childhood friends who bond over video games as a respite from their individual traumas, and who eventually make their own game and go into business together.

It’s a tumultuous ride, including many very real, often unexpected gut punches. The two have so much in common but often see the same events oppositely, and it’s as much a tale of their one-of-a-kind, chaotic, love-hate friendship as it is the swirling events and supporting cast members around them. I appreciate the author’s casual shorthand; she talks to you like you’re old friends, and regularly (successfully) paints in a few well-chosen words what other writers might dwell on for pages or chapters at a time, to keep the real story moving.

Other favorites from this year include All the Light We Cannot See, which is a rich, deep tale about a French girl and German boy in the time of World War II. The story jumps between the two for chapters at a time at first, just painting disparate vignettes of their lives and the times they live in, and it isn’t until near the end of act I that we can begin to see what might eventually bring their paths to cross.

I think it’ll take me a second read to really start to fully appreciate All the Light We Cannot See; I spent so much of the first read waiting for the inevitable convergence that I feel like I didn’t properly appreciate the journey. The author also has an extremely casual way of dropping very important information, and leaves parts of the story purposely ambiguous for the reader to see how they want to. So I think a second read might allow me to enjoy these details as the features they are, instead of hurdles to clear before reaching the ending. Still, it’s a well-crafted novel that captures both the beauty of life and the futile desolation of war in stark detail.

I’ve also been reading The Murderbot Diaries series, which I’m four books into at this point, and which is a fun, bite-sized escape from reality.

(By the way, I read all these on a Kindle PaperWhite, and while I don’t love supporting Amazon, it’s a great reader.)

In audio books (do I need to separate the two? I don’t even know), I listened to most or all of, and enjoyed, the following:

  • Cultish, an eye-opening read about cult-like groups and how they use language to reinforce group status in ways that play to our innate human needs and desires. Definitely worth a read just for the perspective on the appeal of such groups and how we’re all not so different as we’d like to think from those we know who get sucked into a “cult” of one kind or another.
  • The Big Myth, a dense, slow, academic dismantling of “market fundamentalism,” i.e., the popular conservative/libertarian belief that if you leave the market alone, everything will be great, and if you don’t, it’s ruinous socialism. (It lays out in almost tedious detail how these arguments have been built on nothing and proven wrong over and over again since the late 1800s—pretty much always on the wrong side of history, and absolutely always by corporations who just want to make more money with less oversight.)
  • Nudge, on how tiny changes in what people experience can alter their behavior, and the importance of setting good defaults (since defaults are usually the most popular choices)
  • Plunder, a book about how private equity is actually what’s ruining everything. (No really; everything.)
  • The Psychology of Money, which is exactly what it sounds like; a fascinating look at how what you think about money is very different from what inner feelings and motivations drive you, and managing your feelings toward money is often far more important than what you know about it
  • Drive, a book on what makes people tick, and how the old stick-and-carrot model of management and motivation is wildly outdated for modern work
  • Atomic Habits, a sort of self-help book for making big changes in your life by simply making as many tiny changes as possible.

(For whatever reason, when I’m reading-reading, I like novels, but when I’m listening, I generally prefer nonfiction.)


Was this the best year ever for CSS? It’s hard to track what landed when (how do you even count that?), but as of the end of the year, we have the :has selector, container queries, CSS nesting, text-wrap: balance, wide-gamut color and color-mix, @scope, @layer, @property, and lots more. It’s never been a better time to be writing CSS. (And you’ve never needed a framework like Tailwind less.)

TV and movies

Shrinking is hands-down my favorite thing I watched all year. It’s a stellar cast of memorable characters, and it manages that same mix of depth, humor, and optimism in the face of real pain that made early Ted Lasso so special. It’s top-tier from start to finish, and I’ll be eager to see where the story goes in season two.

The Last of Us was my other favorite of the year. It’s a profoundly human story wrapped in the cloak of a zombie-ish apocalypse. The show deftly wanders off the main path for rich, deep side quests for entire episodes at a time, to give us a brief close-up view of the lives of its characters in this unforgiving world. It’s also easily the best video game adaptation ever made, despite the low bar in that category. (Sorry, the Mario Movie was fun, but ultimately just a middle-tier animated film more held up by its license than by its execution.)

Other shows I watched this year worth mentioning are Silo, a sci-fi novel adaptation about an underground city where class structure mimics the levels of the physical structure. Nobody knows the history of why or how they got there, but most are certain they can never go outside, and fearfully heed the harsh rules of the Silo for fear of expulsion.

Silo is excellent, and I definitely recommend it, but it started stronger than it ended, in my opinion. (Also: Common is in way, way, way over his head in this cast.) Still, it’s a journey well worth taking, and the wide-open door left for the second season offers some very intriguing possibilities.

Finally, I enjoyed finally getting to The Morning Show, although as of this writing I’ve mainly only seen season one. It was very good, though at times its highly recognizable cast got in the way of the story more than they supported it, in my opinion, and the jury’s still out on season two and beyond.

In terms of movies, this year I enjoyed Across the Spider-Verse, Barbie, and Top Gun: Maverick (which I know didn’t come out this year but I didn’t watch it until now). The newest Ninja Turtles was also a really good time.

My wife and I also spent a lot of time re-watching old Disney movies, having a four-year-old, and I maintain that Luca is highly underrated. Encanto is also a gem. Most of the movies we grew up with were great to revisit, too, but I gotta say: The Lion King, for all its fondly revered nostalgia, holds up a lot worse than most.


Indictments, court rulings, bankruptcies, prison time for insurrectionists, plummeting social network value…yes, it was truly a great year for bad things happening to bad people, and I am here for all of it.


Although I wrote earlier in the year about switching back to Alfred, that switch didn’t last more than a few weeks, and I’ve been meaning to write a followup to that effect.

Most of the things I didn’t like about Raycast, it turns out, were config issues or things otherwise easily remedied. But Raycast’s interface, and its sprawling market of extensions and integrations, tip the scales for me. I’m 100% on the Raycast train heading into 2024.


Every greenfield project I started in 2023 used SvelteKit as its base, and I don’t see any reason that’s going to change in 2024. SvelteKit is fantastically versatile, wonderfully simple, incredibly powerful, and a delight to use. Plus, it rolled out a slew of performance updates and even better ways of doing things this year. The future of SvelteKit has never been brighter.


Life’s too short to wear cheap socks. Get yourself some Bombas.

“Guts” by Olivia Rodrigo

The album rocks.

ShopTalk Show

My most-listened podcast of the year, and the only one I never miss an episode of. The D-D-D-Discord is full of great people and conversations too.

Casual tabletop games

I didn’t play a lot of tabletop games in 2023, but I started getting back into them after playing pretty much none for the last few years, and I’ve enjoyed both Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza, and Chicken!, both of which can be adequately played with a 4–5-year-old.

Writing satire

My biggest CodePen of the year was this Honest LinkedIn Notifications pen, and I also wrote this satirical post about layoffs in 2023. Maybe I’ll do more of that kind of writing in 2024, too.

Good kitchen tools

I cooked more in 2023 than I had for most of my life prior, and good quality stuff for the kitchen is the difference in a bad time cooking and a smooth, enjoyable experience.

I love lots of stuff from Our Place, especially the Always Pan 2.0 (pretty much any time I cooked anything, I used this) and the Oven Pan, which handily doubles as a griddle if needed. Both are amazingly non-sticky. Our Place’s kitchen shears are also great (especially good for cutting up a kid’s pasta, pizza, hot dogs, etc.)

I also love my Hedley & Bennett chef’s knife. I have a comparable Wüsthof, and I honestly think the H&N one is better.

Lastly, a Vitamix blender is worth every penny. (I mainly use mine for smoothies and for grinding a pound of coffee beans at a time to make cold brew, but it makes short work of both.)