2023 was an emotional rollercoaster. I hit some medium highs, and some deep deep lows, mostly due to dating. I always wonder if I’m overdramatizing. But let’s be real: this year just fucking sucked. Work was quite annoying too, spending most of the year migrating an existing application to a moving-target new data format full of surprises. The post-40-years shitty health trend also kept going, so much so that I ended the year with a wisdom tooth extraction, yet another surgery, a cast, and crutches for 6 to 12 weeks again.
In October 2022, I had a very complicated open fracture on my right ankle. I spent 2 weeks in hospital, 3 full months with crutches, not allowed to put more than 15 kg on my foot. Then came a tiny surgery to remove 1 long screw connecting the tibia and fibula that was needed to ensure that the fibula bone fragments correctly grew back together. Leaving the screw in would have presented a high risk of breaking it, which can bring other complications. Then I spent countless hours learning to walk again, and getting back into a decent shape.
I drastically reduced my sugar consumption so I would not gain weight while I was recovering. I have also heard several times that sugar screws with your body’s healing process. For some reason I started drinking Coke Zero though. 0.5–1 liter per day. Which is absolutely not fine. I haven’t quit yet, and that should be one my 2024 goals.
I will detail the whole ankle fracture story once it’s over. And it’s definitely not over yet. During my last checkup with the surgeon, he noticed—ONE YEAR LATER—that the tibialis anterior tendon might have ruptured “at some point in the past”. So yeah, long story short, I got a fourth surgery to get that fixed, and the rest of the screws and titanium removed.
Everything was decided on very short notice. 10 days before that last ankle surgery I also got an unplanned wisdom tooth removal. Thankfully the tight timing worked out: medication could be stopped in time, and no risk of infection.
In between all this crap, I decided to finally get a vasectomy. As I never got laid in the last 10+ years, it never really was something I’d consider. This year however the Nina situation initially made me think I might have sex more regularly. Due to the doctor’s busy schedule, the vasectomy ended up happening after the only 5 times we slept together. No other opportunity presented itself since then, but I have no regrets getting the snip. I don’t understand how anyone can reasonably decide to have kids nowadays. Emotionally, maybe; reasonably, no.
Seeing Vivienne go to the CrossFit gym for at least 1 hour daily motivated me to to go the gym at least twice a week instead of once, and go on a bike ride 2 or 3 times a week, also instead of once. When there were enough daylight hours in the evenings during the week, I would even go on 2–3 hours rides sometimes, right after work. Usually, after an effort, I’m not very hungry, so I also started skipping diner most of Summer/Fall. All of this resulted in my weight dropping from the 88-ish kg I have been weighing since at least 20 years, to 82 kg at the lowest. I know that during the (mandatory) Swiss Army recruitment I was weighing 80 kg, but I assumed that 88 kg just was my immutable weight. So I was actually quite surprised this happened. And it’s not like I haven’t been doing sports my whole life. I guess it’s something with the continued effort of 2–3 hours road biking? I don’t know…
At the physiotherapy sessions, at some point we started indoor cycling to keep the leg muscles active. The only restriction was, still, not to put more than 15 kg on the foot. So mid December, 2 months after the accident, I started going back to the gym, doing a bit of upper body training, but most importantly indoor cycling for up to 1 hour. The goal was at least 30 km, increasing the wattage from 130 gradually up to 220. The tibia-fibula-connecting screw removal was on February 1st. The next day I started walking without crutches. I considered it safe enough to try some road biking on February 18th: 45 km on that day, and 89 km the day after. Everything felt ok.
For the first 2 months I would focus on road biking. The ankle felt strong enough to go mountain biking, but the risk of falling is just so much higher. For 5 months, till August, I went road/gravel biking with my dear old Schwinn:
|Elevation gain [m]
I don’t think it’s worth climbing during a road/gravel ride because the descents are boring and pointless, so might as well stay on flat ground. For this reason I focused on rides along rivers and lakes: Glatt, Thur, Töss, Rhein, Zürichsee, Bodensee. You can see that the distance to elevation ratio is pretty low in the stats above.
For months since last year, I have been hesitating to get a road or light gravel/touring bike. I want to try to go on multi-days bike rides at some point, and my Schwinn just isn’t the right size. So I figured the timing was right to get a sixth bike: the Cinelli Nemo Gravel 2023. I have no regrets. For the rest of the year, my road/gravel rides became slightly faster:
|Elevation gain [m]
50% more distance and elevation, in only 25% more hours. The right bike can make a difference. Ok, my legs might have gotten a bit better too.
During my holidays in September, I wanted to try to get all the way to the Klöntalersee and back. It became my longest ride ever with 193 km, 2’000 m of elevation, in 8 hours. The climb up the Pragelpass was a torture, with my bike’s gears being quite limited. But it was all worth it.
At the end of May I decided I was ready to get back on my mountain bike. I stayed reasonable until my holidays in Flims/Laax in September where I would say I started taking again some questionable riding decisions again. Nothing happened, but I should really try harder staying reasonable and out of danger. Besides my first time in Flims/Laax, I went to Verbier for 1 day with Katia because she wanted to try downhill biking. I also spent 1 day solo in Lenzerheide at the 1 year anniversary of my accident to have a look at the place it all happened, and get some closure. In 2023, I went mountain biking a couple of times with Rico, Thömä, and also with Guiom and Roger.
|Elevation gain [m]
What about BMX? My goal was to ride the NT trail at least a couple of times this year. My first session ended up being on August 14th. Prior to that, I went to the pumptrack in Effretikon once without jumping anything, just to get the BMX feeling back, and another time with jumping to see how my ankle dealt with the impacts. Everything went well, no pain, nothing. In the end, I rode at NT maybe half a dozen times. Definitely not enough considering that the trail’s days are counted (the parcel was sold recently for a staggering amount), but I think I was right playing it safe…
Here are my mandatory year over year Strava biking stats (BMX excluded):
|Elevation gain [m]
These statistics seem to be all over the place. In 2023 I rode the same distance as in 2021 in 25% less time, but with the same elevation gain as 2022. When road/gravel biking, you ride farther in less time, especially if, like me, you try to avoid hills.
The other day I checked out what I wrote on my blog 20 years ago, and I came across a rant about stuff I own and don’t use. This was during my last year of student life! Some things will never change I guess.
My biggest expense across all categories definitely was my new bike. The paint job alone was a CHF 400 option!
- Cinelli Nemo Gravel 2023. I just saw that there is a now a new 2024 model with ugly asymetrical chainstays. I am glad I did not wait any longer to get mine!
- I got a more road biking oriented helmet.
- I bought a short and a long sleeved jersey from Rapha, as well as a large hip bag and a handlebar bag that were on sale, but I have used neither of the bags so far…
- My commuter bike got jealous, so it got some long overdue fenders. The last ones have been duck-taped up for several years. I also ended up replacing the rear hub because the bearing cups were dead.
- The only thing the mountain bike needed were a pair of new tires after 2 years, and a new sprocket again. I’m still not sure if my rate of burning through drivetrains is normal or if I’m doing something fundamentally wrong.
- In Flims I finally got a pair of lightweight kneeguards for enduro biking. I could have gotten the same ones 50% off a couple of days later when Thömä and I went to a bike shop selling everything off before shutting down.
- From Rapha, I got a very large hip bag. But what I actually needed and bought was the smallest possible hip pack that could fit my hand pump, a tube and a multi-tool for my usual mtb rides.
- I had to replace my heavy duty u-lock after Rico forgot to retrieve mine in front of the hotel while I was in hospital last year.
- I got a set of elastic bands for physiotherapy to exercise a bit at home.
- I also bought a jumping rope to restore my calf muscles. I haven’t used it…
- After spending years wearing the same t-shirts in daily business and at the gym, I decided that it might be more hygienic to have dedicated gym clothes.
- After the tibia-fibula screw removal surgery, they gave me a brace to stabilize the ankle when walking. The problem is, it wouldn’t fit into any shoes I had. So I got a pair of sneakers. I ended up actually wearing the ankle brace only twice, and repurposed the shoes for the gym.
- I always wondered how much my mountain bike was weighing, so I finally got a simple digital luggage scale. Turns out it weighs 16 kg. The commuter bike is 11.7 kg, and the road/gravel bike is 10.7 kg.
I am not sure about the name for this category. It’s basically the useless-stuff-that-I-find-cute section.
- I’m still trying to stay away from big LEGO sets. This year I couldn’t resist the EVE & WALL•E and the Piranha Plant sets though.
- I bought the You are enough mirror by Jessica Hische a second time. It was a gift for Vivienne both as a joke and as a sincere cheer-up. A couple of months before we met, she hit her head on the corner of her open bathroom cabinet mirror, chipping off a part of her eye socket in the process. So my joke was that this was a harmless mirror with no sharp corners. But I received my order after she realized she met someone nicer than me and suggested we can stay friends. Like, 1 week after. So I slipped the mirror into her mailbox, with the same explanation I just gave here. I thought it was harmless, but apparently it was enough for her to completely ghost me. I don’t know. If I was stupid and overreaching, just say so and explicitly end the friendship we never had there. Anyway. I got a bunch of other things from Jessica Hische for me at the same time. I liked the self-gift, and I did not ghost myself. Oh, and the 40th birthday card for sister #3 was from that order too.
- one time at the Doodah skate shop I saw a flyer for an art exhibition using skate decks as canvases. After inviting Tamar—who refused but ended up going by herself later—I went with Guiom. The host of the exhibit was this very pretty artist named Momo. I checked out what else she was doing and got one of her nerdy stickers packs.
- a pair of shorts, underwear and socks from H&M. I feel like I’m making holes in my socks at an ever growing rate?! Maybe a side-effect of working in home office, walking around all day in socks instead of shoes?
- Vans Slip-on shoes with a multicolor flower pattern instead of the usual check pattern I got so many times in the past (in black, green, blue, pink). My physiotherapist recommended I see a podiatrist after my ankle injury. The podiatrist told me that Vans Slip-ons are about the worst kind of shoes I can wear. I’m sad. Not sure I will stop.
- I fell in love with Bello cycling caps and bought about CHF 200 worth of head wear.
- a couple of days ago, I got a second pair of pants that can go past the 90º angle of my fat cast when putting them on. No small
feetfeat! I didn’t need those last year because I could take the Vacoped boot off to put pants on (I could technically remove the cast too, but I am not supposed to put my ten-don under ten-sion. So it’s not worth the risk)
- When I had reduced mobility, I wanted something next to my couch to put my cup of tea, TV remove and game controller on. I opted for the classic IKEA 1x2 Kallax shelving unit. It was a bit tricky with crutches to get the package up to my apartment (same story for the new TV last year btw)
- I got a bit carried away about bed sheets. For the same reason I got a vasectomy—sharing the bed with a woman—I figured my bed sheets could be renewed. In the end, Nina never spent the night again. I still don’t know why. She came over a bunch of times, but never stayed. What’s more, I should have switched to 2 normal sized blankets instead of the 1 big one I have now. It avoids the unconscious fight over the blanket while sleeping.
- I bought my first external SSD for the scheduled backups of my laptop. So much smaller, so much faster.
- After making sure for 1 year that I really do not need it anymore and that I’m happy with my new laptop, I donated my beloved MacBook Air 11" via sister #2 to an asylum seeker teenager doing an apprenticeship.
- I finally got annoyed that the Apple Watch doesn’t come with a charger and that I would have to use my phone’s charger. So now I have an Apple 2xUSB-C 35W charger for both. First world problems…
Going to live shows was one of the few things that definitely got better in 2023. But it almost got into quantity over quality territory.
- With Nina, I went to see 3 bands—among them the Mamba Bites—play at Albani in Winterthur.
- With Rico, we saw Nasty Rumors and Dee Cracks at Gaswerk in Winterthur.
- With Rico again at Salzhaus in Winterthur we watched a fun battle of the bands.
- Still with Rico, we went to see No Fun at All at Schüür in Luzern.
- Obenuse Festival, where I watched Back East, Talk Me Off, No Turning Back on Friday, and Chelsea Deadbeat Combo, Shellycoat, Nasty Rumors, Wonk Unit and Dee Cracks on Saturday. I saw Tamar on both days, but we just greeted each other, nothing more.
- If Laura didn’t take the initiative for our first (and only) date, the Madball gig at Kiff in Aarau would have been our first date.
- Gabriel and I went to see Iron Maiden at the Hallenstadion in Zürich. It was so bad. But at least I got to see the band I got my very first CD of, back in the early 1990s.
- Laura told me about this bar named Ebrietas that sometimes has good shows. We both (on our own, not together) went to that evening where Spy, Combust, Mindwar and Kharma were planned. But the lineup was shuffled around and one of the bands did not play. So I have no idea who was who in the end.
- Not long after, I went to Ebrietas again. xDregsx, Fuse, and Gøldi were playing. It was weird, not my thing.
- I had tickets to see the Descendents for the first time. But the show, at Schüür in Luzern, got canceled.
- Bad Cop Bad Cop at Dynamo in Zürich were super fun!
- I told Laura, who lives in Baden, about Strike Anywhere at Werkk in her hometown. Both my interaction with Laura, and Strike Anywhere’s show were awkward.
- I was looking forward to seeing Millencolin at Komplex 457 in Zürich, and they did not disappoint.
- Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I went to Gaswerk again with Rico to watch some punk shows. I enjoyed Tüchel. For the fourth time this year, I saw Laura again at a gig. I was a bit surprised this time, as it was punk, not hardcore. But she said she knew some band members.
After seeing some of the bands live, I bought a bunch of music from bandcamp because they’re still the best digital music marketplace, paying out 80-85% directly to the artist or their label.
As I haven’t finished the books I bought in previous years—not because they are not interesting, but because I am too lazy—I bought only one book in 2023. It’s been out for a while, and I’ve known about the corresponding website even longer: The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows
Here are two examples of genius word inventions:
n. the tranquil pleasure of being near a gathering but not quite in it—hovering on the perimeter of a campfire, talking quietly outside a party, resting your eyes in the back seat of a car listening to friends chatting up front—feeling blissfully invisible yet still fully included, safe in the knowledge that everyone is together and everyone is okay, with all the thrill of being there without the burden of having to be.
n. the hollow feeling of having gotten exactly what you thought you wanted, only to learn that it didn’t make you happy.
Last year, while laying in my hospital bed, I decided to get a PlayStation 5, which snowballed into buying a new TV and a video signal converter box for my older consoles. Well… I haven’t played any PS5 games this year. Instead, I played 3 amazing first-party titles on the Switch:
- The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. It is better than Breath of the Wild in all regards. But it’s still a sequel, so I played it with a little less enthusiasm, and didn’t get very far in the game.
- Metroid Prime Remastered is one of my all time favorite games—Metroid Prime—entirely re-made and prettified for the Switch. So so good.
- When I saw the first trailer for Super Mario Bros. Wonder I was worried it would be over-the-top. But somehow, Nintendo made all this psychedelic shit work nicely. The game is super fun, fairly easy overall, but with some real hardcore levels in there too.
- I hesitated several times over the last years to get a 8BitDo USB Wireless Adapter to play Switch games on the TV with my PlayStation controllers. I never bothered getting a Switch Pro Controller since 1) I like the PlayStation controller ergonomics, and 2) I actually almost never played Switch games on the TV. But now I do. The controller detection is a bit finicky though. I still haven’t figured out the exact sequence of actions that work 100% of times, especially if I use the same controller for the Switch and the PlayStation.
My podcast consumption is still a bit random, trying out different new shows. But nothing convinced me enough to subscribe.
- The Allusionist: The Box
- The Allusionist: Fat, part 1
- Dini Mundart: «Dialektratis» Aargau. This is the German dialect I speak.
- Les Couilles sur la table: Nous faire justice #3: enquêter
- Les Couilles sur la table: Dans la tête des ados
- Les Couilles sur la table: Séducteurs professionnels
- Feu sacré: Anne Mellano, codirectrice de Fairtiq: «Bestmile, ça a été les montagnes russes.». It was interesting to listen to my ex-boss talk about the last days of Bestmile.
- 99% invisible: The Frankfurt Kitchen
- Un podcast à soi: Inceste et pédocriminalité : la loi du silence
- Twenty Thousand Hertz: Tournament of Champions. Very funny episode; not representative of the podcast though.
- Scene on Radio: S5 E1: In the Beginning. Interesting take on the influence of the ideas in the Old Testament on causing the climate crisis.
- I had been ignoring Sex Education for years, thinking it was a teenies show. But it’s actually quite good. Once again, the last season was the season too much.
- Vivienne recommended I’d watch Sharp Objects, and she was totally right.
- I watched season 6 of Black Mirror, but was frankly a bit disappointed. It’s become less weird and controversial over the years.
- I watched the first season of Arcane for the third time. And I finally convinced someone else to watch it: sister #1.
- Sister #2 recommended This World Can’t Tear Me Down. I liked it very much, so I also watched Tear Along the Dotted Line. The italian dialect sounds funny too, and I did not understand a single word.
- During the first three episodes of Blue Eye Samurai I was skeptical. It’s very pretty, but the story seemed a bit predictable. But it got better, and it’s a very good show! I’m looking forward to next season’s killing spree.
- Season 3 of the Swiss show Tschugger came out this year. Still very fun. Though probably not as fun if you don’t speak Swiss German, and haven’t lived in Switzerland.
The bad (that I still watched till the end):
The ugly (that I stopped watching):
For me, Covid has killed going to the cinema. I picked 2 movies—Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and Oppenheimer—that I wanted to experience on a big screen and with big sound. For Oppenheimer the screen was extra big (IMAX, my first time), but the sound was waaay too big. I literally plugged my ears during the loudest scenes. Spider-Man was set up better, but there were a bunch of idiots in the row behind me. I saw a third movie at the theatre: Der Bestater. Definitely not worth it, haha. So yeah, I’m not convinced by the movie-going experience at all anymore.
My YouTube consumption is still excessively high. To prevent that, I tried to subscribe to channels via RSS and not rely too much on algorithmic recommendations. It semi-worked. I am watching mostly science/maths/physics stuff, mountain biking, BMX, video games related content, and also some skateboarding:
- She’s so Skate, Brooklinn Khoury Recovers from Pit Bull Attack | EP 95 | Hawk vs Wolf: this lady is badass! The story of the pitbull attack starts at 5:00
- The Final Push | Skate Across America Day 57: I followed Chad skating across the USA through at least the second half of the journey. Pretty epic!
I could totally relate to this great quote from Jason Lee. What skateboarding is for him is what BMX is for me:
I have all that I have ultimately from skateboarding for sure and as I’ve said it’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me […] I really genuinely don’t know what I would have ended up doing had I not found skateboarding
And I always like it when skaters have BMX-related stories (and vice-versa), like when Johnny Knoxville mentions Matt Hoffman’s inhuman pain tolerance:
I do also watch lots of comedy bits, like this one:
Non mais les enfants, ils sont de droite. Toujours, ils disent: “c’est à moi, c’est à moi, c’est à moi”. Ils trichent pour gagner, c’est des grosses balances, ils polluent la planète, ils ont un cuisiner, un chauffeur. A chaque fois, ils veulent devenir policiers, et dès qu’ils voient un clochard dans la rue, ils disent: “pourquoi il travaille pas lui?”. Ils sont de droite, les enfants!
I still don’t feel the need to travel far. I spent a couple of days working remotely from France:
Sister #2 asked if I wanted to go on vacation with her and the 2 kids. I suggested Stresa in Italy. It was nice overall, but the stay was a bit too long. The city is not that big. And we got 1 full day of rain. Here’s the beautiful spot I was having a tiny lunch break at on my way with the bike from Locarno to Stresa:
Several times I suggested Vivienne to join me during the remote working from France. She never turned it down, but also didn’t accept it. Then I wanted to spend a couple of vacation days in Laax. I suggested this to her too. The plan would have been for me to go biking on my own half of the day every day, and for us to go hiking or do other stuff the rest of the time. Same non-reaction from her. I even got an extra nice room, in a hotel that accepts dogs. I am stupid. I basically paid twice as much as I would normally do, and got reminded during my whole stay of how dumb I am. The biking part was nice though. On the one rainy day, I even got extra zealous and used the hotel’s gym, and did a 15 km hike. On the last day (of 5) I went home after breakfast because I was fed up of holidaying alone. I was ashamed and I even lied to the receptionist girl, telling her that I was going biking somewhere else.
Like I mentioned before, the 2023 dating experience was quite eventful, in some good but also in a lot of bad ways. You can read about it in a previous post. Since I wrote that, Nina contacted me a couple of times, and even asked me out again. I turned it down because I was busy anyway, and I also told her that we could hang out, but that absolutely nothing will come out of it. I haven’t heard from her since. As for Vivienne, I haven’t heard from her since early September. I wrote her a postcard from the vacation I suggested we spend together, and messaged her 2 or 3 times, but it’s been dead silence. Textbook ghosting.
During the last 4 months, I had 4 one-time dates. The first was with Hannah. She was again one of those Tinder matches I talked a bit, then stopped, then asked out but it just always was the wrong timing. We eventually ended up meeting once for a drink. I wrote her again once afterwards, but she hasn’t answered. I considered this enough of a hint that she wasn’t interested. The second one-time date was with Landen, a UX designer at Google. We met for drinks one evening. She seemed cool, sporty, educated. I am not sure why I haven’t asked her out a second time. The third one-time date was with Sandra. We barely chatted before, and met for a coffee pretty quickly. I didn’t like how she expressed herself, and she kept making wrong assumptions about me, based on absolutely nothing since we had barely talked at this point. We parted ways very politely, and she immediately unmatched on Tinder, so I guess the feeling was mutual and crystal clear for once. The fourth and last one-time date was with Natalie. We were messaging a bit and she told me she had studied architecture at ETH. I then told her that I was working at a software company co-founded by an ETH architecture alumni. She immediately guessed the company, and it turned out she knew my colleagues. We ended up having coffee one morning, and that was it. Like with Hannah and Landen, there was nothing wrong with Natalie. I just felt nothing. But that might be on me. Maybe I’m very stupidly still not over Vivienne. On the other hand, neither of them never wrote again either.
I had a funny thing happen to me. There’s this nearby park I went to several times in 2023 eat takeout pizza. Once, I get to the vincinity of the park and hear people shouting. I have seen people from India/Pakistan play cricket there in the past, so I thought that’s what it was. I sit down in the grass, start eating my pizza, look more closely, and realize that it actually is people brutally hitting each other with baseball bats, branches and sticks. They were reasonably far away, so I stayed where I was and continued eating my delicious meal. Then the riot-control police get to the scene and split the group in two. One of the groups was now very close to me, but they seemed harmless. They clearly had beef against the other group, but not against me. So I continued eating. When the riot police got aggressive for no reason and started using pepper spray, I finally left. More police were joining in, then 2 rescue helicopters also flew in. I thought that this was so blown out of proportions that maybe some media outlet were reporting on it. Sure enough, 20min was, and I was on the cover! That little speck on the picture, a bit outside the group, is me next to my bike sitting in the grass eating pizza wondering wtf is going on:
I’m handing the mic to GiedRé to end this year review:
Embrace the suck. Move the fuck forward.