The 2022 to 2023 transition post

Welcome to 2023 everyone, and to the traditional yearly year transition post!

Figure 1: Scene from a recent windy family walk in Cape St Francis

Figure 1: Scene from a recent windy family walk in Cape St Francis

I wish all of you all of the best for this shiny new year twenty-twenty-three!

(By the way, this, the first day of the year, is the earliest that the yearly transition post has ever appeared!)


Over the past year, I published fifteen posts on this blog, 14 of which were “weekly” head voices posts (#237 to #250), and one the 2022 transition post.

In an ideal world where I get to divide up my time between family and friends, blogging, running and Emacs, I might be able to get close to the mythical 52 WHVs per year.

However, for me 2022 was definitely The Year of a Whole Lot of Work.

You might remember WHV #239 Embarrassing finitude, in which I observed that you only get to choose a really small number (probably only two: family and friends, and one additional project) of significant priorities that you can effectively contribute to over any given stretch of time.

I mostly remember that I’ve made peace with this limitation, and I am realising that (good) Work might be a crucial and substantial component of a long and good life.

Some stats

Invoking the goaccess log analysis tool using the incantation below reports that this site was visited by just over 126 thousand unique visitor IP numbers in the year up to December 27.

(for i in {1..11}; do echo $DOMAIN.access.log.$i.gz; done; echo $DOMAIN.access.log) | xargs zcat -f -- | goaccess --ignore-crawlers --log-format=COMBINED -

The most popular posts also over 2022 were the very old 2013 usa my data has left your building, the still quite relevant 2016 migrating from gmail to fastmail and my 2019 note-taking strategy post.

From this it’s clear that I really have to get around to completing that started-month-ago-but-languishing 202x note-taking strategy update, as my system has evolved quite substantially.

I did also publish five posts on, this site’s nerdy sibling, which in its turn attracted just over 147 thousand unique visitor IPs over the year.

The most popular posts from vxlabs were the following, in descending order:

Selected learnings from 2022

I went through all of 2022’s WHVs to make an extremely critical (haha) selection of learnings that bear mention in this yearly overview.

Because I think all of them are worthy of a retrospection, they are chronologically ordered.

  • WHV #237 Don’t step over the thingWe’re constantly stepping over the thing that we think we’re seeking in the act of seeking it.You can’t actually become happy. You can only be happy.
  • WHV #239 Embarrassing finitude – I’m going to summarise that post section here with “pick your battles”, or for the more poetically inclined readers “choose your f*cks”. Our time is extremely limited - it is best to make extremely deliberate and economical choices about the things that we spend our time and energy on at any point.
  • WHV #242 Multiplicity of me – If you skip everything else, read this one. It’s like “happiness for dummies, in 24 hours”.
  • WHV #243 Part-time role model – Some motivation to never stop trying to be the best you, also when, inevitably, you’ll only have occasional success.
  • WHV #246 Call up your friends – Do call up that friend you’re thinking up. Write thank-you notes. Send birthday messages. Make the connection!
  • WHV #249 Self-discipline – Take care of this personal engine and it will take you places.
  • WHV #250 Durable, blissful contentment

Quo vadis 2023

Writing on this here blog, and specifically the WHVs, is important to me for the following reasons:

  • They enable learning, through retro- and introspection.
  • Each successful post is an exercise in applied and externalised self-discipline.
  • I enjoy practising the dying art of writing.
  • They help to form a connection with other humans, both friends and strangers.

The reason for this retro-retrospection here, is that I am evaluating the (smouldering) results and implications of the tension between post regularity on the one hand, and self-perceived post substance on the other, over the past year.

I’ve erred on the side of post substance, when regularity might have been the better option.

It’s not that I was able to control it that deftly; what we have here is merely the result of trying to publish posts of a reasonable quality at a reasonable cadence.

My current feeling is that I would like to increase regularity, in spite of past performance.

To make this happen, I have to learn to be satisfied with somewhat less, and more importantly, I have to come up with improvements to my blogging workflow that enable a more predictable flow of material.

A new year won’t be a true new year without overly ambitious resolutions, now will it?


This year, I averaged 20km of running per week for a total of 1044km (118 runs, just under 99 hours) over the whole year.

Last year I did 25km per week, which is what I would have liked for this year as well, but this is fine. Any kilometres are better than no kilometres!

Figure 2: Random drop-outs in graph below. At least finished strong in last week of year.

Figure 2: Random drop-outs in graph below. At least finished strong in last week of year.

I did three quick spot checks in my daily journals to see if I could determine any specific reasons for the low / no-exercise weeks, but nothing jumped out.

I’m going to have to blame work for this one too.

Anyways, what I can say, without any hesitation, is that running made a massive positive contribution to my physical and mental well-being this year.

The effects can generally be immediately felt (that beautiful bit when it feels like all one’s limbs are finally working together, rhythmically even, is exhilarating), and usually signal another start of a cascade of positive physiological and life-style factors.

Running resolutions for 2023: 0) Much enjoy. 1) Don’t get injured. 2) Try again for the 25km/w average.


I really enjoyed the following books:


  • Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir - feel good edge of seat stranded in space but have to save the earth human-alien-buddy movie -book. Great for engineers who know how to suspend disbelief.
    • I could not remember that I had ever bought this book, but enjoyed the living daylights out of it. Only later discovered that it was GOU #1 (who shares my Kindle account)! 🥰 we enjoyed the same book!
  • Termination Shock by Neal Stephenson - this is such a disciplined, detailed, diligent piece of science fiction by someone who clearly has practised this art and honed their craft to perfection. I enjoyed the story (it does require some reader stamina) and appreciated the massive skills of the artist.
  • Permutation City by Greg Egan - click on the link to the left to go to my mini-review in WHV #240.



Somewhere in the second half of 2022, I somehow lost my reading-before-sleep habit.

I plan to reinstate this habit, and to install the new habit of reading more books on my phone (vs being limited to my Kindle, which is not always with me).

Armed with these two life-hacks, I hope to finish reading 20 books in 2023.

Please send me your recommendations in the comments below!

Systems and tools for running this human

As per tradition, I quote from previous transition posts my explanation of “The System”:

The System is Emacs, and orgmode, and multi-scalar note-taking everywhere, and sketching, and daily habits, and a whole bag of tricks to try and keep this creaky old frame moving in the right direction.

Similar to last year, Emacs, Orgmode and Org-roam are still going very strong, and constitute the lion’s share of my personal knowledge management system.

In fact, with the imminent Emacs 29 release, a recent build of which I’m typing this draft into (English is hard folks…), Emacs has only become more compelling.

Amongst many other improvements, tree-sitter, eglot and use-package are now all part of core.

Byeeeeee Dropbox!


The time has finally come for me to drop (again) Dropbox.

Although I have been a paying customer for many years (see WHV #15 from February of 2010 for a report close to the start of our commercial relationship), in the end it was their intransigence and inscrutability around the Dropbox Paper 2020 migration that broke the camel’s back.

They have been promising since before 2020 that they would migrate all existing users to the new 2020 edition of Dropbox Paper.

However, now all you can find about this are frustrated forum posts from long-time customers. My direct support request to be migrated was promptly answered, and then closed with the following message:

As much as I would like to help, currently, the latest version of Paper release is available to new users only.

Our team is currently in the process of working on this new feature in order to build the best Paper experience for all our users.

I still really love that tool (winner of the WHV Award for the Most Unexpectedly Useful Software Tool of the Year 2021!), but the interaction above only served as a reminder of the pitfalls of a relationship like this.

During the writing of my yet-to-appear 202x note-taking approach blog post, it bugged me that I had to come up with a good explanation for why I allowed Dropbox Paper to break my rule of everything-needs-to-be-a-file-I-could-sync.

Although my yearly Dropbox Paper subscription is only up for renewal in June of ‘23, I decided to bite the bullet and migrate everything out to an extremely frightening mix of OneDrive, syncthing and unison.

As I write this, it’s been just over two months with nary a hiccup.

In June, I’ll let that Dropbox subscription lapse.

Dropbox Paper, RIP.

(With 1writer and also Plain Org on the iPhone, and syncthing on my main desktop at home, plus Apple Notes for the truly ephemeral stuff, I have a pretty capable mobile response to Paper.)


  1. I would really like to publish a blog post titled Note-taking approach 2023. Ideally, it should be full of information about my current PKM system.
  2. Write more notes, including both journals and Zettelkasten-style notes.
  3. Stretch goal: Maybe get another useful patch into Emacs.


2022 was my first year back in employment, after eight years of freelancing.

In this year, I have only become more deeply involved and invested in the current Stone Three adventure.

As I mentioned previously, I have the privilege of working closely together with extremely capable folks, in a high-trust setting.

Many of my colleagues are smarter than I am in their respective fields. Due to that, and the fact that we are both growing and innovating, I am constantly learning.

My personal responsibilities span the spectrum from programming, through mentor- and leadership to management and org-level technical decisions. On the other dimension, I am exposed to everything from software plumbing to data science, engineering and visualization. (This is what’s known as a PiM-situation. PiM = pig in mud)

The work is hard, but it’s varied, it’s challenging, it’s together with a group of humans I like, and it feels meaningful.

I have written all these words to try and explain that although it’s clear from this post that Work(tm) took up significantly more time and space this year, it has contributed substantially to my well-being.

Freelancing was less stressful – I could focus on the engineering tasks at hand and usually deliver. Now I have more responsibility, which brings substantially more stress but also more satisfaction.

Furthermore, in terms of maintaining the plasticity of my neural network, something I do have to pay more and more attention to thanks to the advancing years, the variation and challenges of my current work setting are great.

That being said, I definitely have to get better at controlling stress.

Things I would like to work on in 2023

In addition to the blogging, running, reading and systems resolutions mentioned above, I would like to work on the following bigger themes in 2023:

  1. Work(tm).
  2. Self-discipline, as featured in WHV #249. I will implement this by writing really stern messages to me in my diary.
  3. Creating, restoring and maintaining good habits that compound: Reading, writing, running, mindfulness practice.

… and then finally, my central theme for 2023 will be:

4. Expansiveness

Sometimes, most probably when you’re out in nature, you experience your senses really opening up.

It is as if the usually clearly defined borders between you and your surroundings start to fade away.

I’ve talked about this phenomenon before, in WHV #217’s The Strange Continuum of Consciousness and in other places.

It’s a great feeling, and it usually happens when you are fully present in that moment.

For a while, you can get pleasantly lost in the infinite and fractal detail in the moment and its participants.

For a while, you can truly appreciate the beauty of your surroundings, of the food and drink you might be enjoying, and of the humans in your company.

In 2023, let us be expansive!