Yearnote 2023

Hello and happy new year. Like last year, I’m going to indulge in self-reflection and tell you about my year.

On the photos: there’s one photo for each month, in chronological order.

Software engineering

I poured a lot of energy into technical work. I built a system for managing large data migrations and spent a lot of time on polishing and operating a large cloud backend written in Python.

It was nice to spend a lot of time on actually implementing things. I learned a lot about new technology. I now know a lot more about various AWS services (AWS Lambda, looking at you, and DynamoDB too) and about using Python at scale.

The flipside of the coin is that I’m not sure if I’m any more skilled at shipping large projects than I was a year ago. Technical work is in my comfort zone; collaboration and coördination less so.


I wrote this about 2022:

I didn’t blog much in the latter half of the year. I was busy at work and I didn’t have much to say. I hope to get back to blogging soon, though. I’ve learned a few lessons worth sharing and it would be great to participate in the software engineering community’s intellectual discourse.

I didn’t get back to blogging in 2023. A part of the problem is that after leaving the Clojure community behind, I haven’t become a member of another software engineering community. Writing in the void doesn’t work – you have to write for someone and right now I don’t know who I am writing for.1

Still, I wrote one good post about Python packaging, titled “Do not use requirements.txt”. Thanks to everyone who engaged with it! I didn’t realize it would strike such a nerve, but it got a lot of attention. Alas, the trouble with Python packaging is here to stay.

Eating better

I chaged how I cook and eat and it improved my life!

In fall, I was having trouble with cooking for myself on weekdays. Starting to cook when you’re already hungry is the worst. After work, I would often procrastinate with cooking and then feel miserable the whole evening.

Luckily I bumped into booritney’s ultimate guide to meal prep. Obviously I had heard about meal prep before, but it was such an inspiring post that I started meal prepping immediately.

I have always cooked with the intention of eating the leftovers the next day, but now I reserved time for cooking even bigger batches of food. I started to assemble the dishes into ready-to-eat portions and ensured that I have a small dessert for each meal.

Turns out this works really well for me! I enjoy cooking as long as I don’t have to do it while hungry, so batching it into time when I have the energy for it was a great improvement.

Despite all the meal prep, I was often weirdly hungry and craving for treats. I decided to keep a food diary for a week. My conclusion was that… I’m not eating enough. I started eating more and I became less hungry. Wow!

My calorie and protein intakes were clearly under various recommended numbers. This is not a common problem for the average Finn in this day and age, so it had not occurred to me to consider it. I’m glad it turned out to be so simple to fix. Being hungry sucks.

Outdoors life

In the summer, I kayaked Soisalo Runt. Located in Lake Saimaa between Varkaus, Kuopio and Heinävesi, Soisalo is the largest island in Finland. I paddled around it, starting and ending in Varkaus.

It took me nine days to paddle the 245 km trip. Along the way there are a bunch of beautiful places like Southern Kallavesi and Kolovesi National Park. I especially enjoyed the scenery of Heinävesi Route and it was fun to paddle downstream.

The trip was not without hardships. The constant rain and mosquitos made my mood miserable and my new paddling jacket gave me a rash. Still, I finished the planned route. That was some Type 2 fun.

As a cherry on the top, I went through Taipale Canal with a kayak. Going through a 160 m lock with five meter difference in the water level was exciting and slightly scary.

I also participated in Nordic Sea Kayak Camp in Inkoo organized by Suomen Merimelonta (formerly known as NIL Finland). It was a great weekend of kayaking lessons, hanging out with other kayakers, and even a small competition.

My favorite lesson was the one about paddling backwards, taught by Anssi Nupponen. Turns out it is fairly easy to do as long as you understand how it works, and that understanding also transfers to paddling forwards.

In addition to kayaking, I climbed indoors a lot, sailed a bit, ice skated a bit, and did a small hike in Lapland.2 Also, I fell through the ice while walking on a frozen lake. It was less unpleasant than I expected.


I read a bunch of books and I did a Fedi thread on them. It was a nice exercise to write at least a couple sentences about each book.

The book I’ve thought about the most this year was a graphic novel. Kate Beaton’s Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands is a memoir about how she graduates from the university and goes to work at Canada’s oil sands to pay off her student debt. A big topic is being one of few women at the isolated work camps (content warning: sexual abuse). Recommended!

Beaton is also known for her web comic Hark! A Vagrant, which I recommend for lighter mood.

Best of 2023

  • Best album: Tremors in the Static by Vega Trails. Lovely atmospheric jazz. In general I love everything released by Gondwana Records.
  • Best porridge: The rice porridge from Helsinki Christmas market with browned butter and miso caramel. I didn’t actually have it at the Christmas market but I followed the recipe (in Finnish only) and it turned out great!

What about 2024?

I don’t know yet. I’ll figure it out.

Traditional commentary on Finnish politics

In each yearnote, I express (lack of) surprise at the current cabinet of the goverment of Finland.

Last year, I predicted that Sanna Marin’s cabinet would fall apart right before the election like Juha Sipilä’s cabinet did. That did not happen but I will not let it put a damper on my political punditry.

I don’t think Petteri Orpo’s cabinet is going to fall apart in 2024. The cabinet has gone through many scandals already and their politics face strong opposition. Nevertheless, the cabinet parties continue to enjoy their voters support. Prime Minister Orpo gets it that you can stay in power as long as you keep the cabinet parties happy.

I expect that the scandals will continue, though. The Finns Party has a strong track record there and many of their politicians got elected by being provocative and polarizing. I don’t think they are planning to stop.

  1. This post in specific is for my friends, but that’s not the case for my more engineering-focused posts. ↩︎

  2. Before writing this post, my perception was that I had slow outdoors year. After going through all my photos and notes, I’d say I actually had a pretty good outdoors year. It’s easy to forget all that you have done when you hear your friends’ cool stories. ↩︎

Comments or questions? Send me an e-mail.