Looking Back on 2023

Reflecting on the past year, I’ve experienced a mix of ups and downs. Overall, however, I’m feeling delightfully positive about the whole thing. At the start of the year, my friends and I all came up with goals for 2023. I didn’t achieve either of my goals. A younger Caleb would have fixated on that, but when I look back, I still did cool things this year! This shift in mindset is, undoubtedly, one of the biggest victories of the year.

So, without a single game made and without a single story written, what did I do this year?

3D Printing Projects

Without a doubt, my 3D printing projects were a cornerstone of the year. I had some prior experience, but 2023 is when I really kicked it up a notch, and at this point I can comfortably turn my thoughts into something practical in Fusion. A prime example just happened. A couple of hours ago, some friends and I were talking about fidget toys, and I got the dumb idea in my head to take one of those keyswitch cubes and change one of the sides to actually sit on a switch, so you could put it on your keyboard. Now, not long after, I have one sitting on my desk and it’s hilarious.

The highlight of these projects for me would easily be the pair of keypads I talked about in https://calebmakela.com/posts/arcadis-one/.

I mean, look at it. It's so cool.

Since that post, I actually made another pad! One of my friends had a goal of their own this year (making YouTube videos), which he has absolutely been killing. One day, the two of us were talking about DaVinci’s video editor pad, which runs for hundreds of dollars. Feeling immensely confident in myself, I offered to just make one for him.

Where the previous pads were completely hand-wired, I decided that, since this was going to be in someone else’s hands, it needed to be professional. After numerous challenges and a great deal of online help (big thanks to Tweety, check out their stuff here), I made a custom PCB for the pad.

I still can't believe I made a real thing.

I feel like the full process might deserve a post of its own, so I’ll skip to the end for you. After days and days of prototype cases and failed prints, I ended up with a design I really liked, which included the logo I made for his channel earlier in the year. I sanded everything and did my best painting it (there are still some imperfections), and I think it turned out amazing.

Now we're professional.

It’s running Vial and QMK, so he can map everything however he wants with ease. I ended up making one for myself for when I’m editing my game recordings, and let me say, it feels awesome scrubbing through the video using the knob. If I were to do another one of these, I think I’d spend a lot more time working on the layout and testing it out. I was so excited to finish the PCB design that I just ordered it, which essentially locked me in to that design.

That’s not the end of my printing for the year though! I ended up making a handful of things for around the house that just sounded like fun little projects. Then there was one final print that was absolutely unnecessary but just sounded so funny.

Now they can hang out in style while I ditch them for my Snackbox.

I need something to write with always at hand.

Giving the pegboard a fresh look.

Listen, LISTEN, who doesn't want a 4-foot sword?

Getting Back Into Running

When the year started, I didn’t have any major fitness goals, but like I mentioned in https://calebmakela.com/posts/i-want-to-run-a-marathon/, I’ve started to get back into running in a major way. Since that post, I’ve stuck to it! 5Ks have become my regular workouts, and now I can comfortably do 10Ks. The big win for the year was when I was spending time with my family, camping at Diamond Lake in Oregon.

We hadn’t been camping there since I was a kid, and I’d never once been in the summer, but I could still remember the majestic views from where we stayed. So I decided I wanted to see it all, running the entire 11-mile loop around the lake. I can happily say that I did it. I’ll admit that I didn’t run the entire thing, but I ran most of it! Backed by a Sanderson audiobook, the runner’s high came quick and I just went.

Genuinely proud of the time.

At the end of it, I think I was really tricking myself, because I was ready to do it again. As soon as I took a few minutes to sit down, though, my legs turned to jelly and I ended up eating enough for three people in the next thirty minutes. It was well worth it for the sights.

Everything Else

As I’m writing this, I’m laughing at how short the post seems to be, a post that’s meant to encompass an entire year. I think that’s okay though! I still feel like I didn’t do anything major, but I certainly feel like I accomplished a lot of little things here and there that have built up to a year I can be proud of. So, naturally, I want to talk about some of those little things.

I’ve been consistently doing therapy this year. Something that I’ve been told numerous times over the years to try, both by concerned friends and by people I’ve hurt, and always decided wasn’t for me. Now that I’ve been sticking with it, I can say with certainty that my stubborn ass should have been doing it much sooner. I was still skeptical for a while, mostly probing the whole process, but at this point I feel it has genuinely helped me. I feel more capable of handling myself and my emotions, though it’s still difficult. It’s still funny to me, because so many of the things my therapist says to me feel obvious, but it’s always things my brain just never ventured to think of. I’m going to keep doing it into 2024, and I’m going to keep getting better at handling my own emotions.

I’ve been using an espresso machine for my coffee for a while now, and with that, I wanted to learn some basic latte art. I’m still inconsistent! However, I end up with some gorgeous cups here and there. Making coffee has become a fantastic part of my day that leaves me at peace.

I'm definitely picking out the best one.

I wrapped up my Dungeons and Dragons campaign. It became tedious and hard to keep track of near the end, but we all came to a nice solution to not completely abandon it. Now the story is done, and we’re going to play around in some new systems to figure out what comes next.

I did a lot of travel this year. Not far, mind you, but I got to go back to Oregon a lot to see friends and family. I miss it tremendously, and it was always a treat to go back.

I’m sure there’s even more that I’m leaving out, but as with everything else here, that’s okay. I’m excited for the year ahead. We’re setting up challenges for ourselves in the Discord again, so expect a post about that at some point.