2023: Year in review

Dec 20, 2023

Well that’s another trip around the sun. It’s been an interesting year to say that least (not that the last few years haven’t been interesting in their own right). This sharing part is a bit new to me as I haven’t had a blog or kept a journal since high school. But it’s one of my goals for the new year so let’s kick it off with my year in review of 2023.

Best of 2023

Since I don’t have a tried and true format for these annual reviews, I figure I’d start with a “best of” list. Here are a few things that I really enjoyed this year — not necessarily things that debuted this year.


Despite a long-awaited trip to Japan, the best thing I ate was at a new aburasoba restaurant in San Mateo called Kajiken. For those who haven’t graced their palate with this delicious dish, it’s essentially a soupless ramen (that’s right, no broth!) packed with flavor. Aburasoba has been on the rise in the Bay Area with heavy hitters like Taishoken bringing their umami-filled offering to the table as well. My go-to at Kaijiken is the Nikumori, but you can’t go wrong with anything they have.


Lots and lots of great movies and television in 2023, but if I’d have to pick a favorite, it would have to be Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End (葬送のフリーレン). It’s an anime about an elven mage who travels around collecting spells. It goes deeper into how she cultivates relationships based off of past experiences and how she contends with time given how much longer her lifespan is (compared to humans).

While it’s technically still running into 2024, I’m confident that it will still continue to be the best thing I watched this year. The story, animation, voice acting, soundtrack — everything is top notch. I haven’t read the source material (yet), but I’ve been told that the anime adaption has enhanced it that much more which is what you absolutely want from the medium.


Look through my Apple Music 2023 Replay and you’ll find quite a bit of songs from UK artists. My favorite album of the year was MYCELiUM by Aluna. I first started listening to Aluna when a co-worker at my first job told me about a band called AlunaGeorge which is her project with producer George Reid. And I’ve been hooked ever since. This is Aluna’s sophomore LP and I love that she oriented her album around collaborating with other artists. Not to mention that her vocals never disappoint.


Unfortunately, not a great year for reading on my end. I meant to cover a larger backlog on the way to Japan this year, but just never found the time. I only ended up reading a single book this year and that was World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks. This is actually a re-read for me.

Not to be confused by the movie with the same title, the book is a collection of first person narratives about various stages of the zombie apocalypse. Honestly, this work of fiction would make a great television miniseries. Here’s hoping that HBO picks it up one day. 🤞


2023 was a fantastic year for video games. It’s probably one of the highest “start a game and never finish it” by count for me. One game, however, stands out in my mind above the rest and that’s Cocoon. It’s a brilliant puzzle platformer from some of the creators of Limbo and Inside (also two great puzzle platformers). Cocoon maintains (and even exceeds) the level of quality and craftsmanship of those games while also bringing new, interesting, and exciting elements.

I won’t spoil too much, but playing through Cocoon really reminded me of the first time I played Portal. The way the game gets you to think how the world works or should work is so well done. Also for a game that has no dialog, UI, text, or prompts, it’s an absolute masterclass in teaching gameplay mechanics.


On the heels of the best game I played this year is the best thing I bought and that award goes to the Steam Deck. Who knew that a handheld Linux machine could be so fun! The Steam Deck definitely reinvigorated my love for video games and has given me a chance to chip away at my tremendous backlog. And that’s not just PC games, but also everything from SNES to Switch. I think that Valve really struck the perfect balance here and I’m excited for what other handheld hardware they pump out next.

On a separate note, my time with SteamOS and Proton have nearly convinced me to switch from Windows to Linux on my PC.


We finally made it out to Japan for our delayed honeymoon and it was everything we’d hoped for and more. It was extremely hard coming back to the states after the trip.

I’ve never really been much of a traveler. I always found it inconvenient; packing/unpacking, not sleeping in my own bed, etc. This first big trip post-pandemic has changed that a bit for me. I feel that despite all the inconveniences, the act of just being physically apart from the usual is just therapeutic. Not to mention the waves of new experiences, people, and culture that an unfamiliar place can bring.

Here’s to more travels!


I’ve always been an incredibly quiet person. I don’t normally raise my voice or try to be the loudest person in the room. It’s just not me. It’s not that I don’t have anything to share, it’s more that I don’t think that what I do have is worth sharing. Either because it’s inconsequential, too small, or just not good enough.

I’d like to change that a bit in the new year. I’ve always found that I’ve had a much easier time expressing myself through writing. Either through documents that I draft for work or messages in Discord. It just feels easier. I can take my time. Find the right words. Craft the right message. Or even take back what I said.

So what I’d like to do is write more. And through writing more, share more. On to 2024.