2023 Review Picks
Brightleaf Square, Durham NC
In 2022, I started keeping a yearly note in Obsidian. Partway through that year, I also began tracking my favorite ‘picks’ for different categories. For example, my favorite book or tech purchase. I liked it so much that when we rolled into 2023, I dedicated a section of the note to track picks from the beginning. Instead leaving the results sitting in my Obsidian vault, I figured I might as well share them here this year.
What are ‘My Picks of the Year’?
So what exactly are my “picks of the year”? Simply put, they are items I select that stand out for a particular category. That’s really the only rule. There are a few other guidelines I follow though:
Does the pick have to be from this year?
Not really. I tend to prefer picks that relate to the year in some way, but that doesn’t mean they have to be from that year. I might pick a song from 10 years ago because I heard it for the first time this year, or because it is meaningful now.
Does the pick have to be my favorite for its category?
Nope. It might be the most influential, even if it wasn’t my favorite.
Categories are fluid.
When I started making picks, I made each category as I thought of items I wanted to rank. Now that I’ve done this for more than a year… the categories change. There are some categories that I simply didn’t have strong nominations for (i.e. I didn’t really watch any notable movies). I also allow myself to add new ones.
This is just for fun.
At the end of the day, this is just a silly thing I started tracking in my yearly note.
Why do yearly picks?
I think I’ve enjoyed doing a yearly pick for 3 main reasons:
- It is fun to look back at what I picked for different categories each year. I imagine if I continue this habit, I’ll enjoy looking back at my picks during various points of my life.
- Having picks in the back of my mind brings a new level of awareness around what I consume. It forces me to really think about how I feel about different experiences.
- Selecting final picks prompts me to reflect on why something was meaningful/important to me that year.
With all the background information covered, let’s dig into my 2023 picks!
Tech Purchase: Apple Studio Display
- Honorable Mention: 16" M3 Pro MacBook Pro
This category was hard this year. Looking back, I had an arguably obnoxious amount of great tech purchases, each which could win in less crowded years. Most of the year, I thought it would be the Apple Studio Display, but then I squeezed in my 16" M3 MacBook Pro right at the end of the year, making it a tough decision.
In the end, I still choose the Studio Display. For my uses, it’s a great monitor and does everything I need it to. Having a large Retina display has been amazing, and its speakers are good enough that I’ve really been able to simplify my desk this year, allowing it to be more flexible. Despite the cost, I’ve been very happy with this purchase. Also… +1 to the Apple Refurbished store 😉!
Non-Tech Purchase: Bamboo Floor Desk
- Honorable Mentions:
This category has a weird mix of all sorts of items. I switched to using barefoot shoes this year, and my Vivo’s have been a solid all around pair for that. Additionally, I’ve experimented with using more natural fibre clothes this year, and my linen+organic cotton p a c t shorts were very comfortable this summer.
For my pick though, I think I’m going with my Bamboo Floor Desk. I use it all the time, all over the house, and can slide it under the couch if I want to store it away.
‘House’ Purchase: Schlage Encode Plus Smart Lock
- Honorable Mention: Birdies Tall 8-in-1 Metal Raised Garden Bed - Mist Green
This is a category I added last minute, so I’m sure there are items that could be here I forgot.
The main reason I added this was to include our door lock as a pick. I knew it would be great to easily unlock the door when we got home, but I didn’t anticipate how nice it would be while leaving the house too. I just push the lock button and go. No more fumbling with keys. We’ve wanted to make this upgrade for quite some time, but the locks models we wanted were always out of stock. My wife and I are both very happy with this purchase.
Music Album: One More Time - Blink-182
I was a little skeptical when I saw the new Blink album released… until I listened to it. I love it. I’m sure there are many technical reasons to criticize this album, but I don’t care. ‘One More Time’ is a meaningful album, and I’m not the only one that thinks that.
Song: I’m too small for this world - Mandelbro
Earlier this year I had a Max Reisinger video playing in the background while working. There’s a section of the video that uses I’m too small for this world by Mandlebro, and by the time the song’s second verse hit, I was already hooked. I continued to put it on several times a week throughout the whole year. So good.
One More Time from the Blink album was also a powerful song that I wanted to include here. Lastly, as a parent… Cat Cat Frog Frog got a bunch of playtime this year… although my son never asked for it. My wife and I both legitimately enjoy it and listen to it all the time 😆.
Game: Melvor Idle
- Honorable Mentions: Baldur’s Gate 3
As someone who adores Old School Runescape, but doesn’t have enough time to truly feed that addiction… Melvor Idle is perfect. It’s based on OSRS, but an ‘idle’ game. Most of my enjoyment in OSRS is planning out when and how to level up everything, and make money doing it. That’s basically what Melvor Idle is at its core. You select at task, log off, and check in a few hours to plan and switch to something else. It’s wonderful.
I’ve had Baldur’s Gate 3 for years as a pre-release, but didn’t start to play the released version until the last few days of the year. I’m hoping to play it more in 2024.
Book: Born to Run by Christopher McDougal (Audio)
I didn’t read/listen to too many books this year, but one I did was Born to Run. I heard of it in the past, but with me switching to barefoot shoes, and starting to go on light jogs, I thought it was a good time to give it a read. I listened to the audiobook (thank you Durham Library!) and found it very engaging. It had a bunch of ’non-fiction’ type content, packed into an entertaining story to drive everything. A perfect combination.
- Honorable Mentions: Pilates
As mentioned above, this year I occasionally went for what some would call a ’light jog’. It sure as hell wasn’t running, but it was more than a walk. I largely blame my Earthrunners, as their springy lightness made me want to keep going after jogging through an intersection one day. A few times during the year, when I had the time and someone else watching my son, I would go out and do a few miles at different paces as needed. Usually in the rain. (I love the rain).
I also started doing more pilates classes on Apple Fitness+ and like it much more than I thought I would. I’m not sure why I’m surprised, as it combines all my favorite exercise focuses: strength, core work, flexibility, and balance.
Written Media/Website (Added): Kevin Quirk’s Blog
- Honorable Mention: Low-Tech Magazine
This was a new category I added this year. I redid my rss and read-later setup in 2023, and focused on consuming more ‘small web’ content. I followed more personal blogs this year as motivation for my website redo. One blog that kept popping up everywhere was one I already had in my feed: Kev Quirk’s website. Reading a bunch of his posts (and others’ he linked to) helped push me to finally do my redesign. Moreover, I used the simplecss theme he created as a starting point for my website.
Low-Tech Magazine has influenced me to rethink how I live, and how to adapt more sustainable practices. It also influenced my website redesign, after reading about their redesign.
Hobby: Small Web/Blogging
- Honorable Mention: Gardening/Learning permaculture & Ecology
As mentioned above, the largest personal project I accomplished this year was my website redo. This was prompted by the internet becoming shittier, and my desire to find better spaces on it. This lead me to the rings of the ‘small web’, personal blogging, and sustainable web design. I redid my website and want to continue exploring this space in the future.
I also started gardening for the first time this year. Just a simple raised bed, but I also read about permaculture (and ecology) this year, and hope to grow the hobby over then next few years.
Lastly, I ended up selecting Typora for my software app this year. With the website redo, I can more easily use normal markdown editors for my posts. After trying a few, Typora has become my favorite for writing some of my drafts (including this one). Additionally, it has been helpful at work. When I want to export a markdown note I wrote in obsidian, but want it formatted nicer for an email, Typora’s formatting stays when I copy and paste to Gmail. This is a game changer.
Those are my 2023 picks. Not terribly exciting, but they do create a snapshot of my 2023, which I think is interesting. I’ve already setup my 2024 note, and have a few items to add as potential picks already. We’ll see how they fair as the entire year continues to fall into place.
Obsidian Callouts Traded my 14" M1 Pro MBP for a 16" M3 Pro MBP