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All items from January 2023

5 Jan 2023 : Reckoning and Renewal, Part III #
It's the start of 2023, and that makes it time once again for my annual evaluation of my previous year's new year's resolutions. Looking back, it seems in 2022 I went a bit overboard with my resolutions.

I blame a Guardian article I read at the time which contained a list of a hundred suggestions. I managed to whittle this down to five, but then added another five of my own. Leaving me with the following list:
  1. Maintain a digital record of all of my grocery purchases during the year.
  2. Learn quantum programming, measured by completing a book and writing at least one quantum computer programme.
  3. Complete my Curious Correspondence course with Joanna.
  4. Write up the bisection analysis work.
  5. Keep my average waste down to below 200 g per day on average.
  6. Sharpen my knives.
  7. Start a Saturday morning with some classical music – it sets the tone for a calm weekend.
  8. Be polite to rude strangers — it’s oddly thrilling.
  9. Learn the names of 10 trees.
  10. Politely decline invitations if I don’t want to go.
I gave myself 3% chance of success. So how did I do? Well, not too bad actually: six out of ten.

I did manage to maintain a digital record of all my groceries. It was a surprising amount of work weighing and recording the price of every item that came into my flat. The results on first glance seem interesting, but I'll write a separate post about that in the future. In the meantime, you can follow my progress analysing it on GitHub.

I failed to make progress learning quantum programming. But the topic is as interesting and important as ever, so I'm going to keep it on my list for this year. A lot happened in 2022 and I'm not going to beat myself up about not managing this task. Other interesting things took priority and I can't regret that.

I also failed to complete my Curious Correspondence course with Joanna. It turned out to be harder than expected completeing the tasks via video call. We did manage some of them, but they continued to arrive faster than we could complete them.

My biggest new year's resolution success was completing the bisection analysis work. Frajo and I wrote it up as a paper and submitted it to a journal. I have no idea whether it will be accepted or not. We submitted it on Christmas day, so cutting it a bit fine, but at least we got it done.

My average daily waste output was 122.93 g/day, which is well below my 200 g/day goal. Although it was slightly higher than in 2021, the difference is very small, and I'm happy that I was able to achieve some consistency. It required making some surprisingly hard choices when buying groceries: variety takes a hit when you have to choose the least wasteful choice every time. It felt a bit dull at times.

I asked for and received a knife sharpening block for my birthday. I only own a single cooking knife, but I've been using the block ever since to keep the blade sharp and effective. It's genuinely made cooking more enjoyable and I really recommend it.

On a few occasions I managed to start my weekend listening to classical music. It was okay, but I'm not sure it really had much effect on the rest of the weekend. A cooked breakfast (toast, baked beans, vegan bacon, ketchup) seems to give a more effective boost to my weekend, so I think I'll stick to that instead.

Honestly, it's almost impossible to find rude strangers in Finland. If I did, I'm pretty sure I was polite to them, but I'm also fairly certain I didn't. I would have remembered it.

Learning the names of trees turns out to be harder that it sounds. I learnt the difference between pines, spruces and firs. That's three, but I didn't get beyond that.

And finally, I did politely decline invitations. I didn't record the cases, but I made a point of using 'no' more effectively throughout the year. On the one hand it didn't come naturally, as I like to come across as agreeable. On the other hand it felt quite natural, given my misanthropic tendencies. It's a habit I'm going to stick with.

So there it is. New year's resolutions are all about change, and I'm expecting a whole lot of change in my life in 2023 already. Under these circumstances, opting to force even more turmoil on myself doesn't seem like such a great idea.

So my first unwritten resolution of 2023 will be to have fewer resolutions. But not zero. So here's my list for the coming year.
  1. Learn quantum programming. This stays on the list from last year, with the same conditions. But now it's right at the top of the list.
  2. Make the most of London with Joanna. If I'm going to be spending a bit more time in the city, then I need to make more use of the cultural opportunities there: plays, musicals, museums, parks, escape rooms; that kind of thing.
  3. Take the bisection work to the next stage.
The last of these will be the hardest; the long-shot goal. We had many ideas for improvements and it would be easy to let it slide, but it deserves some continuation.

I've not included any environmental goals this time either. I won't reasonably be able to measure my consumption or waste this year given I'll be living with Joanna. But that doesn't mean I'm going to slack off, and I'm still committed to my annual environmental audit, with the same aim of continual improvement.

But actually, it's a tough list overall, despite being short. I'm sure this time next year I'll be kicking myself for not going with a longer list of easier tasks. Like learning the names of trees.