A family emergency. A surgery. Insurance companies. Rejected claims. A water leak. A move out. More insurance companies. Expensive repairs. A move back in. Grinding Leetcode. Software interviews. A job change. Another one. Writing. Revising. Writing. Revising. Writing. Revising.
- Permutation City (Greg Egan) - This has occupied my mind like few other fiction books. It explores uncomfortable existential ideas about the nature of identity, life, and death (in many forms). I've been completely unable to stop thinking about the fact that experience – this perception of continuity – need not be from a continuous process. There is no need for one moment to be "close to" the next, or even computed in the same way. To the inhabitants it is all one continuous experience. It's hard to not go down the existentially disturbing hole of thinking about what information is (or can be) and it's potential effects on this thing we're experiencing (or think we are). TL;DR: https://xkcd.com/505/
- George Saunders (too many to list) - I had no idea this guy existed until earlier this year when an old coworker turned me onto him. I've spent most of my evenings since that point devouring just about everything he's written. The stories are personal, funny, honest, and moving. Best of all, they're short. In and out. Bada bing, bada boom. I get a delightful little punch of emotion and then I'm on about my day. I might actually enjoy his writing about writing most of all. There's a particular part in A Swim in the Pond in the Rain: the feeling of "combined triumph and disappointment" of realizing where we sit in the world. That we're "small and a bit pathetic" when compared to the people we want to be. Yet the only response to this revelation is to "boldly stand on our shit hill and hope that it grows". I love it.
- Pet Sematary (Stephen King) - I was completely absorbed in the world of this book. It's one of the few times I've not only listened to an audiobook, but felt it was a richer experience for doing do. The narrator (Michael C. Hall on the version I listened to) knocked it out of the park. The world and its characters were alive. Driving around poorly lit roads on a dark fall night is the primo way to experience this audiobook. Highly recommended.
- Super Mario 3D World+ Bowser's Fury. Pretty much the main game I played this year. Just a solid all around platformer with some awesome level design. It was the perfect game to pick up and play for a few (or several) minutes to unwind.
I also played Super Mario Wonder. It was... fine. The Wonder sections were often my least favorite part of the game. I'm a simple man. I want to jump on platforms. Often at high speeds. The game feels more like polish than substance. The fact that there were no complex bubble suit focused levels feels like a crime. Give me some Bubble Bobble style platforming levels, dammit! You had so much potential!
Favorite Movies / TV
- The Rehearsal - This show is a lot of things that are hard to articulate. The obvious comparison is Synecdoche, New York. It's hard to figure out where the line was (if any) between scripted versus "real" (in the sense that reality TV can be). It's a comedy, but also, heart breaking towards the end. You can never tell if what's unfolding is emergent and organic or if it was planned from the beginning. In either case, the ethical complexities uncomfortable. And it all ends with a butt crack.
- The Curse - I'll need another year to collect my thoughts on it. The show is... complicated, and raw, and uncomfortable, and... unclear, and... sometimes too slow, but... amazing.
- Clarkson's Farm - Sometimes, it's nice to just watch a show that's just comfy. This is a comfy show. I could (and would) watch Clarkson performing just about any line of work.
Random Favorite Stuff:
Larry McEnerney's talks on writing for value.
Progress on plans from 2022:
- Dependent Types - I got Okay(ish) at Idris. If you give me an hour, I can slowly prove that 1 indeed, and absolutely, equals 1. Time well spent. Dependent types are fun because they make the entire world of "normal" programming feel like it's built on a foundation of lies.
- I've gotten a lot more interested in formal correctness in general. TLA+ was another big study area. The latter ended up having a much bigger impact on my thinking (probably because actual proofs are hard, whereas exhaustive checks of invariants are (comparatively) easy). I'm still a massive, massive amateur, but TLA+ is something even amateurs seem to be able to play profitably.
- Learn enough Japanese to clumsily bumble through basic interactions. Uh. Hard no. Complete failure. I Anki'd the Hirigana and Katakana into my brain, but that's about it. Travel is one of those things that's not in the cards for the time being, so the effort died out.
- Write about Java. I started doing this, then kept doing it, and then kept kept doing it until I'd written quite a lot. Turns out, there is a lot to say about modern Java and the lessons learned building large systems at Amazon. So, one evening, feeling self-important ("the world should hear what I have to say!"), I sent a proposal to Manning, they liked it, and now I'm working on a book on Java! (If you ever want to feel unimportant and be plagued with the deepest feelings of self doubt and imposter syndrome that you can imagine: start writing a book!)
Plans for 2024:
- Hopefully have a calm year with none of 2022's shenanigans
- More or less singularly focused on finishing the book.
- More TLA+ (and discrete math in general)
- More dependent types (now Agda, rather than Idris flavored).
- Denotational Semantics (one of my favorite topics to pretend I understand (but don't))
- and also (if time allows): burn the American medical insurance industry to the ground