Joel Always one syllable, sometimes "@jayroh"

2023 year end review

31 Dec 2023

The sun sets beyond Beacon St. - Washington Sq, Brookline. The sky is a bright orange where it meets the horizon
One of the more beautiful sunsets in our neighborhood this year, which seems fitting, as the sun now sets on another year. Farewell 2023.

Well, it’s about that time. We are careening to the end of another year, and in addition to the natural impulse to reflect whilst relaxing during the quietest time of the work year, everyone is also publishing their “year in review” blog posts. With how much I enjoy reading these posts from people that are, to be quite honest, perfect strangers - I figure I should contribute, do the same, and give folks a peek into what 2023 looked like for me.


I started the year with no resolutions. No concrete goals. The best I could (would?) do was commit to doing the most, and the best, that I could to keep me and my family healthy. In March, on my birthday, I saw my primary physician for the first time since before the pandemic. From that visit came: full blood work, scheduling the colonoscopy (I am of that age), several visits with a psychiatrist, some therapy (which everyone, I posit, could use more of). Additionally, in March I kicked off working with Form Health as a patient/customer.

The good:

After 20+ years of neglecting a previous diagnosis of attention deficit disorder (no “hyperactive”) I got back on proper medication and was able to operate as – what I imagine to be – a normal human being. Something about writing code for most of my career worked with and through my “quirks”, but the switch to management, all of its meetings, and high-interrupt requirements, did not pair well with the parts of my brain that are off. The lesson here: do the research, recognize the patterns, and don’t make the mistake of considering proper medication a moral failure.

Last winter saw my activity take a dip, and some weight I’d previously lost, was found! The decision to double down on weight-lifting and engaging with Form Health righted the ship. I’m down my lowest number since the turn of the decade, which I’m pleased with. On a similar note to the one above, proper medication contributed to my being able to live a more “normal” human life. I will write more about this in the future as it deserves its own post.

It's me. In a gym. Taking a selfie.
This will be the first (and probably last) time I will ever put a selfie of myself out there, flexing. So, enjoy.

The bad:

For most of the year we battled through a cancer scare in our family. (I won’t get into specifics as some things deserve the privacy 🙂.) I won’t bury the lede, but everyone is ok and we are on the other side of the worst of it. Several procedures and many trips to the doctor have put us in a place where the risk is approaching zero. We’re not there yet, but almost. Needless to say the ordeal was … a lot. As a result I ended up taking some time away from work when everything just got to be too much. I am grateful to work somewhere that views their employees as people with lives both rich and complicated and sometimes rocky, bumpy, overwhelming.

(Of course) our dogs are a large part of our family. In the spring we lost Pearl. She was 12 and had lived a long and wonderful life. To this day we miss her terribly.

This past month my last 2 wisdom teeth were finally pulled. Folks. Do it all when you’re a young’n. Get them ALL pulled. Don’t weight until you’re in your 40’s. Trust me when I say it’s a bad bad bad bad idea to wait.

The last photo I have of Pearl.
R.I.P. Pearlie. We miss you today, and always.


The 4th anniversary at my day job came and went. This was a huge milestone for me as, historically, I tend to get a little antsy every few years. The challenges and opportunities never failed to keep me engaged, and I consider the people I work with on a day-to-day basis high character, high intellect, and highly empathetic human beings. If the “tech” world doesn’t make you ill then consider this an endorsement. We welcomed our first cohort of interns since the pandemic began and looking back on this year, consider that experience to be one of the most rewarding parts. (Shout out to Manuela and Tilon! And shout out to Hack.Diversity - an absolutely first-class org!)

On the Shubox front, I made the pivot from “bring your own bucket” to “buy a bucket w/Shubox” and finally turned the feature flag to 100%. I continue to work on it, but admit that, with some hindsight, I would have done some things very differently when I first started out. This coming year will be my put-up-or-shut-up year. Who knows how things will look in December of 2024.

Group photo in Post Office Square (Boston).
Group photo of our team back in July during our Summer Sweetness week.


  • Made it to Terrificon and met some childhood heroes. Will absolutely do it again in ‘24. (Jim Lee?!? OKAY!)
  • Took G to several Boston Celtics games. Some W’s. Most L’s. But that’s okay because each experience was a blast.
  • Watched G perform in a breakdance recital, and his first after-school play. He’s a born showman, this kid.
  • Set up my home office, permanently, as a combo standing and treadmill desk. My 13 year old Herman Miller Aeron chair now belongs to a new home, thanks to CraigsList.
  • Welcomed a new family member, our 4th English Bulldog - Ruth, or Ruthie, or “Rudabega”, or “Luda-Bega”, or “Ru-Ru Cakes”. There is still an abundance of puppy energy but she’s as sweet as she is crazy.
  • Met friends at as many Treehouse brewery locations as possible. I miss my friends. I talk to many of them every day, but I miss them.
  • Bought too many comic books. “Too many”.
  • Saw Botch, Converge, and Cave In at the Roadrunner as part of Botch’s reunion tour. Another bucket-list band ✅.
  • Saw several movies. Standouts:
    • Across the Spider-Verse
    • Oppenheimer
    • The Killer
    • The Holdovers
    • American Fiction
G flexing in his JB jersey, at the Celtics game
💪 CELTICS! 🍀 💪


It wasn’t the greatest year. It was also not the worst. As with many things, the key to sanity is not allowing yourself to get too high, or too low. I look back on the last 365 with many things I can smile at, and as a result I consider myself extremely fortunate, privileged, and grateful. Let’s hope that 2024 brings us more adventures, more laughs, and more triumphs.

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