Featured image of post 2023 Recap

2023 Recap

Another year gone by and I'm late to the party.

So, you might have noticed I haven’t posted here in a while and this post is a bit late. It wasn’t until someone on the Drawabox Discord reminded me about it that I remembered I hadn’t done this yet. Thanks to them, I finally gathered up the enthusiasm to put my entire blog into my personal Gitlab and build a CI/CD pipeline to automatically push it up to my website, which should make the entire thing easier to update. There may be a post on how all that is set up if I can find the time.

In 2022 I went by months, for 2023 I’m going to go by quarters because I don’t feel like it was as eventful, so here we go:

Q1 2023

The first quarter of the year was perhaps the most uneventful. We got solar installed at home during February - 9.6kW of panels and a 12.8kWh battery - of course, this meant I spent several months obsessed with my power generation numbers and telling anyone that would listen (and some that wouldn’t) about it. It has resulted in a massive reduction to our bills, even after we struggled to get our power company to acknowledge we were feeding in power to the grid.

I started playing DnD with some locals during this quarter, meeting up to play every second week and following which bin week it is (good way not to forget!). We’re playing through the Dragon of Icespire Peak campaign. The DM had never run a game before, but is doing a great job, having picked up two groups and doing a number of charity one-shots. I created a gnome wizard named Gwendolyn Sprinklespark and generated much of her backstory with ChatGPT because I’m usually terrible at this kind of thing. She quickly ended up owning a mule through some clever haggling (read: swindling) with a simple townsperson down to around half the price. The header image of this post is some art I drew of her in March.

Amongst the more minor things that happened this quarter: I injured recovered from a small Achilles tendon tear, we had our entire house network cabled, I finally paid off my uni debt for my illustration degree and I bought a PSVR2 headset.

Q2 2023

In Q2, I sat and passed my Cisco DevNet Associate certification exam, I think I briefly mentioned this in this post which I wrote while I had COVID (why??). I got a decent grade, it renewed my CCNA, and gave me renewed confidence/interest in programming and DevOps in general. By June, I secured a DevOps position.

This reignited my interest in programming and I started working on a project that I’ve called Clockbridge. The project is a simple Flask app that presents a webhook endpoint so that I can collect events from Clockify, which is the app I use to track how much time I spend on various hobbies (this helps me keep doing them) before processing and pushing up to a Google Sheet that I’ve been maintaining for several years now. I’m also using it as a testbed to learn CI/CD tools, test-driven development, and better Python programming patterns. Striving to learn as much as I can has unfortunately prevented me from building a working prototype. Below shows part of the spreadsheet I use for drawing with 2023’s stats:

Drawing spreadsheet with 2023 statistics

As mentioned above, I caught COVID in May for the first time ever. I haven’t felt that sick in a long time - in fact, I hadn’t been knocked on my ass by any kind of illness since 2019, so it came out of nowhere for me. I took a test on the first day of being ill and it was negative, it wasn’t until I was moving some furniture a few days later that I felt breathless in a way I’ve never experienced before that I decided to test again. Lo and behold, it was positive. That knocked me on my ass for 2 weeks with sickness and it took me around 2 months to recover my exercise capacity.

I also got quite into watercolour painting in April, though getting sick did kind of kill my enthusiasm for it, I’d love to get around to doing some more.

Q3 2023

In July, I finally replaced my 2017 iPad Pro 12.9". I’d had it since February 2017 and it had served me well for drawing, playing stupid iPad games, and occasionally sitting in my kitchen for recipes. I killed one Apple Pencil in the 6 years of ownership (dead battery) and it had developed bright spots in the screen that didn’t disappear with application of a suction cup. I felt for a long time that I couldn’t justify a replacement because they all seemed like iterative improvements and my 2017 model still serves its purpose. I purchased an M2 iPad Pro 12.9" and have refused to install games on it so it’s a focused drawing machine. I’ve enjoyed using the new Pencil too… no more charging out the bottom port!

In the same month, I started to go to the gym twice a week. I did not enjoy it at first, even though I’d been going once a week for a year but I slowly fell into a rhythm and I usually look forward to going now. I take directed classes because I suck at self-motivating to do my own workouts and I like having the encouragement and help of a trainer to make sure I’m not doing things that are going to hurt me. That’s become more and more important as I’ve started lifting heavier. My 1RM for deadlift is 70kg, 2RM for squat is 60kg, and 1RM for bench press is 35kg. 💪

During September, I took an abstract art course at my local arts centre. I decided to take it to push myself out of my comfort zone and it… certainly did that, but I’m not sure how much I got out of it otherwise except for it being really chill to just throw multiple mediums at a canvas and see what I can make. I think I’ll try taking another course at the arts centre again this year but might go for something more representational. Which reminds me, the arts centre I go to has uninstructed figure drawing - I’d originally intended to go in May but due to COVID, I had to postpone to June, which the centre then postponed to a week where I had DnD, in the end, I finally got to a session in July and again in September. I had a lot of fun in the September session and I’ll try to go again this year.

Q4 2023

The end of the year started to wind down again, much as it started. I bought a Steam Deck off eBay in October (they’re still unable to be bought directly in Australia), which is simply one of the coolest devices I own and has gotten a lot of usage day-to-day since I bought it. I’m personally a huge fan of it running Linux (given my day job) and have found it probably easier to come to grips with than others perhaps have. I installed Emudeck on it fairly soon after purchase and used NFS to mount the network share with all our ROMs on it - this does mean I can’t emulate games when out and about, but it does give me a massive library to choose from without filling up my Steam Deck’s storage.

In November, I got the gap between my front teeth fixed. I’ve had a gap between my teeth since I was born. In 2017, I had surgery to cut the flap of skin that kept my teeth apart and I had somewhat naively hoped that my teeth would close on their own. They did not. I was at the dentist for a regular check-up and she suggested that because my bite, jaw, and all my other teeth are relatively normal, using braces or retainers to close my gap may be overkill or introduce other problems so she suggested a procedure called dental bonding. I agreed to have it done and after 2 weeks of teeth whitening, I spent 2.5 hours in the dentist chair having the gap between my teeth closed. I’m much happier with my smile now and I’ve attached a pic below.

Before and after dental bonding

I took up my drum classes again this quarter after I originally decided to pursue more one-on-one. Unfortunately, I didn’t book those lessons with enough regularity for me to practice consistently so I needed to get back into the classes which are weekly during the school term. I participated in the end of year concert and felt a lot more confident about my performance this year. I do think the solo lessons helped me with things like timekeeping and especially not letting others throw me off track. I’ll be continuing them in the new year.

Finally, a bit of a mixed bag for December. Firstly, I started a 5km training plan on my Garmin watch/app in order to build some more cardio fitness since a lot of what I’ve been doing at the gym has been weights. So far I can run about 250m continuously, but my times on Strava continue to improve almost every time I go out, so I’m confident I’ll progress eventually. Secondly, I had to travel in order to get a specialist scan done, which diagnosed me with endometriosis. For me, this doesn’t change a lot, I don’t have to get surgery yet and it still affects my life the same way as before, I just have more of an explanation for why I sometimes have low energy, stomach issues, or random pain. I’m still coming to terms with what it is to have a chronic health condition.


This year has been yet another one of those years where it’s just disappeared in the blink of an eye. I set goals last year and I accomplished about half of them. I’ll go over them below.

  • Lose weight, build muscle. I don’t have a number in mind, though it would be neat to see the balance tip on my scales from 50/50 fat/muscle to more muscle.

This one, I was absolutely successful with. I lost around 13kg over the course of the year, with some help from my doctors but mainly thanks to my gym work and trying to learn intuitive eating. I had a DEXA scan in August that revealed my my body fat percentage was 42.5% with lean muscle being 55.4%, which means I absolutely met this goal and will have continued down that path as I lost more weight in the final quarter of the year.

  • Do my best with drumming and learn some new songs. Push out of my comfort zone and learn those 16th notes.

This goal was quite vague but I guess from some perspectives I might’ve achieved it. After I had COVID, I struggled a lot to get back on the drumkit. Once I started my group classes again, I was practicing more regularly again and technically speaking, I did play a few fills in my end of year concert that contained 16th notes and they weren’t so scary after all. That said, I haven’t played my drums since Christmas Eve at this point, so I do need to establish a more consistent routine.

  • Finish my Cisco DevNet certification. I would really like to get into DevOps eventually, so maybe the next thing to try after this would be some Docker.

Well, I passed the certification exam in April and got a job in DevOps in June, so I really smashed this one out of the park. I also got into Docker and have built and deployed incremental improvements to Clockbridge in Docker containers through Gitlab CI/CD. My boss also purchased me a Kubernetes course that came with a Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) exam voucher, so I’ve been looking at container orchestration too.

  • I don’t really have any drawing goals - I chase things as I see them and feel like it.

Without a goal, I can totally say I knocked this one over, right? I didn’t manage to complete anything much. I took up and worked on Alphabet Superset quite consistently for some weeks but fell off when I went on holiday in November. I do plan on finishing it slowly though.


Now for my 2024 goals! I’ve split them up into categories:


  • Be able to run 5km
  • Continue to go to the gym at least twice a week
  • Lose 20kg


  • Keep going with classes
  • Build confidence
  • Jam with other musicians at least once
  • Practice at least once a week


  • Finish my Clockbridge project
  • Prototype my own journalling app
  • Use my projects to learn more DevOps concepts
  • Complete my Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) certification
  • (Stretch Goal) Look at the RHCE


  • Complete Alphabet Superset on my own timeframe
  • Work my way through Meds Map
  • Draw more of my own stuff

That’s all I’ve got for 2023. See you in a years’ time for another one of these, but hopefully sooner for non-recappy posts!

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