Larry David the cat sitting on the couch on his back

Best Things This Year (2023)

I spent the first 4 days of 2023 stuck in bed.

I threw my back out on New Year’s Eve after days of painting my old apartment / new house. I thought it would get better on its own but after four days I finally went to urgent care. They put a giant needle in my hip and sent me home with steroids.

I asked the doctor if I’d be ok to get on a plane in a few days and he said, “it will be difficult, but do it. Covid changed everything. I am visiting my family in Turkey next week and every year from now on even if I am in a wheelchair because who knows if it is our last chance?”

I walked out of urgent care and got on a flight a few days later: The first of 10 flights I took this year along with 5 road trips. My back feels better than ever and I think most of it is due to my new Thuma bed (not an ad, just a happy customer). I’ll talk about some of these trips, but first…


Meet Larry David. His owner passed away unexpectedly, so we took him in and he is the friendliest cat I’ve ever met. He never knows what to do with his hands.

I went to California a lot

Common Paper participated in the W23 batch for ycombinator which brought me out to San Francisco. I ended up taking Sasha and Owen back at the end of the summer for a long SF / Lassen Volcano National Park / Bolinas trip that we’ll remember forever.

Other travel

Some were for work and some were for fun, but in 2023 I spent time in New Orleans, Austin, Mexico City, Madison, Illinois, Michigan, Baltimore, DC, NYC, Buffalo, and Scrub Daddy Headquarters in Pennsauken.

Philadelphia Data Visualization Meetup is BACK

We held events in July, September, and November. It’s back and better than ever before. We hope to have 6 events in 2024.


Sasha and Owen continue to tear it up in the Collingswood theater scene with roles in Music Man, Once Upon a Mattress, 12th Night, Newsies, and COMING SOON SHREK: THE MUSICAL. Can’t wait.

Odyssey of the Mind

Our team finished second in NJ and made a second appearance in the world finals at Michigan State. We finished 14th in the world in our problem/division.

Live Music

This year I saw Beck, Death Cab / Postal Service, Phoenix, Dinosaur Jr, Florry, Greg Freeman, Neil Frances, Paul F Thompkins (more musical than you’d expect).

According to Spotify, my favorite sone of the year was Beck’s Thinking About You.

I also attended a choir performance Sasha was in over the summer that did the most amazing piece from a Scandavian composer. I still can’t get over it. Sasha and Owen both sang in their school choirs and Sasha was in Madrigals/Chamber Choir, too.

Collingswood Porchfest

Did Collingswood Porchfest again this year including some silly songs with Carolyn about Target and bidets which people love more than any of my stuff.

crime jazz music

I started a new instagram to catalog all the wild music descriptions in captions, inspired by the Prisoner’s crime jazz music.

Ice cream

We made a lot of ice cream this year, including VCR (Vanilla Chocolate chip Raspberry), CORP (Coffee ORreo Peanut butter), and Mexican Hot Chocolate.

Echelon Mall

Took a brief trip around the old Echelon Mall to hunt for the lost city of Exhilarama.

Carolyn and Remy

Had another great year with this lady, but we lost one of the pack. I’ve never really connected with a dog before and Remy was a special one. He was predictable yet mysterious. Aloof but loving. Loyal, but sometimes held a grudge. I’m aware that I described most cats (not mine), but I appreciated the complexity of his personality and the love and focus and attention he brought to Carolyn’s life. I cherish the small part I got to share.

Keanu Reeves hands here

Weather reports

One day on a morning walk I made fun of the weather with Bill Wither’s Ain’t No Sunshine and the habit stuck around for a few weeks.

DJ Diesel aka Shaq at the Phillies game

I’m not sure how any game can top a 19-4 rout where Shaquille O’Neal (DJ Diesel) performs afterwards.

Movies and TV

I got really into The Prisoner this year and even went as #6 for Halloween. I also loved Station Eleven, I Think You Should Leave, Oats Studios and Succession. For movies I loved Arrival and Hereditary. Across the Spiderverse and Barbie were pretty good, too. In October I took Sasha and Owen to see the premiere of Jason Taylor’s Cast & Crew which was fun especially sitting with the cast & crew.

I’ve been doing these recaps since 2011 and I try to keep the descriptive and not offer too many predictions, but I feel like 2024 could tougher and more rewarding than ever. Common Paper really seems like it’s getting the traction we need which bringd a whole new set of challenges.

There’s a lot to be thankful for and worried about, but I’m especially thankful I’m not stuck in bed.

(link to the bed that has since saved my health)

Previous years