Year in Review 2023


Zander Gordan


December 31, 2023

The Scott Monument in Edinburgh, captured on my honeymoon

I got married, visited the ancestral homeland (Scotland), and attended my first in-person academic conference in years (NAAFE). 2023 was the year I felt the pandemic move firmly into the rear view. Hopefully going forward I will maintain that momentum, especially in regards to travel, as I feel I have a few lost years to make up for.

What else can I say about 2023?

I watched a lot of sports. The only time I really felt invested was during the FSU football season, which saw them go undefeated until a horrific bowl game loss to UGA yesterday. Everton is doing better than last year, except that they are still in the relegation zone due to the draconian points deduction. Honestly I have not even watched that much soccer, maybe as the campaign continues my interest will intensify, especially if Everton are once again fighting for safety.

Since I watched a lot of sports (besides soccer), I also watched a lot of commercials. I believe I am relatively pro-commercial, at least compared to most people I know. Yet I have numerous gripes with the commercials I see. First and foremost: there simply is not enough variety. I see the same commercials again over and over, and I simply do not understand the economics of how that, in the current year, is the equilibrium. If you spend time on YouTube, you will see a much greater variety of ads, often linked to the topic of the video you are watching. Yet when watching sports, I am expected to watch the same ads over and over, mostly from insurance companies. Who selects insurance coverage on any other basis than getting a large number of quotes and selecting the best rate? And why is Shaq the spokesman for everything from pizza to cheap cruise vacations to printer ink (also for Icy-Hot, but at least that one makes sense, it is the only ad in which he actually, you know, plays basketball). In 2024, I need MLB Network to get it together and run ads from more than 8 companies.

How many commercials can this guy do?

I digress.

2023 also brought a fair number of developments in the world of economics. Most notably, the US seems to have definitively achieved a “soft landing”: inflation has been driven down to manageable levels, with no recession in sight. Of course, don’t tell that to my mother, or vast numbers of other Americans, for whom I think the working definition of a recession is “a time in which myself and people I know are financially struggling”, which with elevated home prices, rents, and interest rates, encompasses a larger share of the population than the new phillips curve numbers would suggest.

Now about those home prices: is it a bubble? Most people in my profession seem to have come around to saying no. I was a bit of a holdout, and circa this Summer I thought the Case-Shiller index for some markets was showing signs of weakness, but the latest numbers do not bare that out. So seemingly, no, it is not a bubble, and yes, somehow, a 1000 sqft home older than my grandpa, in the neighborhood he grew up in, is now close to a half a million. I always thought Pinellas County was similar in its urban topography to Los Angeles, and now we are getting home prices to match. Here’s to remote work and telecommuting, and the flexibility it brings; with any luck 2024 may see me joining the hordes leaving their old familiar nests for cheaper pastures.

If we do decamp, I’ll need to find a place with a good sized backyard for my dog Cannoli. He’s getting older, and yet shows no signs of slowing down, except that he has firmly decided he does not like being picked up. I don’t know how we survived living in a 2nd floor apartment with him, at this point a fenced in backyard seems like an absolute must-have for him to run around. In a remarkable first, one of his Christmas 2022 gifts is going to survive into 2024, so perhaps he is learning to be more gentle. This year he got a gigantic buffalo horn, we will see how long that lasts, I give it 2 months tops.

I already made a post about my favorite music of the year, but I neglected to talk about my personal musical activities for the year. I adopted a new moniker, EBINLO, and released a few pieces of music and some DJ mixes. Going forward I will keep posts about music stuff mostly segregated to the EBINLO blog, but will occasionally mention it here as well, especially if there are any major milestones to report. This year saw me acquire more gear than I ever have before, thanks to my decision to get into Eurorack. But I think it is working, the modular system keeps me motivated to create in a way that did not happen when working just in Ableton. In the back of my mind I always consider whether I should try to improve my piano skills as a way to improve my relationship with music-making, but probably I never will. I would say my biggest goal for music making in 2024 is to spend less time on sound design and more time on arrangement.

My newest track includes the unprecedented use of inhale-scream vocals, which I may expand on in the future

I didn’t dance enough this year! Probably I could say that about almost any year, but I think this year it was especially true. It’s so important to move around, and there’s no better way to move than with the music. I think I remain firmly committed to spontaneous, unchoreographed dancing, and I wonder what the current dance floor situation is like in the age of the TikTok dances.

Even the wedding, unfortunately, involved less dancing than I would have liked. Though there was I suppose by most people’s standards plenty of dancing. The wedding was mostly as nice as we could have hoped, and in fact we achieved our stated goal of being legally bound to one another, which is the important part. The cake, I am told, was very good, though I only got a single bite of it. The family seemed to enjoy themselves, and we are all very grateful that the extensive planning and coordinating is now done with.

If I had to summarize I would say: wedding good, Scotland better, economy debatable.