2023 review

Fireworks in Nagaoka, Kiyoshi Yamashita, 1950

Fireworks in Nagaoka, Kiyoshi Yamashita, 1950

I'm spending new year's eve in Denver, CO with my family. My graduation trip has been a lot of fun.

Road-tripping with a Kia Outlander, having Mt Rushmore all to ourselves cause it's winter, watching bisons cross the road right in front of us in Yellowstone, experiencing breathtaking sunsets on canyons and salt lakes, relishing the snowcapped mountains, spending Christmas in Seattle, seeing the great wave art in person, living in cabins and RVs, modern apartments, entire houses, and hotels, and entering myriads of antique malls, thrift stores, and bookstore throughout the trip, long hours driving listening to the Huberman lab podcast and chinese songs. I'm grateful I get to see all these places.

It's time to review my 2023.

I've written some reflections on my life in my birthday post and my graduation post, now it's time to answer some reflective questions, and look forward to 2024.

In an ideal world, I would be moving to the bay, maybe back with Tesla, dealing with housing, OPT documents, work contracts, getting a car and paying for car insurance, meeting up with my friends on the weekends, going to more events and hackathons, and live the life I wanted every since I started at INTI in 2019.

But life is never the way we plan, and there are things we cannot escape from, events out of our control.

However, I'm doing grad school, so I have another shot at this.

I had a hiatus back in 2020 when COVID hit, and it was 6 months of reading, learning, and exercising. So 2024 seems familiar to me, I'm going to have another gap break before my graduate school starts in Fall 24', but with more intention, bigger goals, and greater purpose.

My main goal is to fix the many issues of my body, dive into research and find the root cause, and get surgery to end the 3 years of suffering. I was stuck in the US, unable to get proper health care and support, so coming back was necessary.

If my health permits, I'm also going to explore my wide array of interests, and commit to learning, and more importantly, building everyday. Habits are essential to learning, so I aim to pick up some daily habits for coding and reading, like how I'm doing in this blog.

To really reflect upon, and look forward to the new year, I've answered a list of questions from Twitter.


  1. What were your favorite songs, photos, videos, podcasts, movies?
    • songs: Kiss of Venus, lots others, mostly k indie and kpop
    • photos: all the sunsets pictures I took
    • videos: videos by Horses, great art explained
    • podcasts: Huberman Lab, Lenny’s podcast
    • movies: Boy and Heron, GOTG vol. 3
  2. What was your favorite reading?
    • Books: Sun also rises, Death of Ivan, also the only two books I finished this year LOL. I need to read more.
  3. What were your favorite notes?
    • maybe my class notes for 472, I’m not a big note taker
  4. What were your favorite courses?
    • I actually enjoyed COM S 472 a lot, even though it was traditional AI, the programming assignments were fun.
  5. What was your favorite travel?
    • SF & the bay: summer internship, hackathons and AI meetups and talks, traveling with parents to redwoods, Monterey, Big Sur, and nice like Mountain View, Sunnyvale
    • Toronto: first time visiting Canada for the Airflow conf in Sept, lived in Chinatown and got to walk around UofT
    • Boston: thanksgiving trip with A, got to explore bookstores and museum, loved the culture and history
    • Seattle & others: graduation trip with family, from Ames -> SD -> Wyoming -> Montana -> Washington -> Oregon -> Idaho -> Utah -> Colorado -> Nebraska -> Ames
  6. What were your favorite events/milestones?
    • NCUR in Wisconsin, getting a drivers license, meeting new people at Tesla, hiking Yosemite falls, driving around the bay with parents, winning Anthropic Hackathon in SF, touring Alcatraz Island with 3 different friend groups, sketching howl’s moving castle, traveling alone to Toronto, CA for airflow conference, carving a pumpkin, going to Boston in Thanksgiving, shipping narrative with Wei Chun, graduating, Christmas in Seattle.
  7. What are you most grateful for?
    • family and friends

Organize + Distill

  1. What was your biggest surprise?
    • how much influence and emotion (positive and negative) a single person can bring about
  2. What risks did you take?
    • initiating conversations with people in SF even though it was uncomfortable, being vulnerable and opening up to people
  3. How would you describe the year?
    • filled with memorable experiences, lots of traveling, new friendships, lots of health hardships and having to fight it alone, psychological and physical pain
  4. Which aspect was most challenging/most easeful?
    • managing GERD and other health issues, it prevents me from exercising and eating well, and impacts my energy levels throughout the day. It’s hard to be productive without good health.
  5. Where did you invest your time? Where would you have liked to invest more or less?
    • I invested a lot of time into curating and diving into rabbit holes, i would like to invest more in building and creating, than consuming.
  6. Most influential people in your life last year.
    • summer friends, curius people, a designer friend
  7. Top 3 wins for the year.
    • summer internship, surviving GERD, graduating
  8. What were your disappointments from the year?
    • rejected by Glassdoor
    • not submitting anything for ScaleAI and winning other AI hackathons
    • rejected by Tesla data engineering for Fall
    • working on (mostly) pointless projects at Tesla
    • not finishing online courses I started
    • not tutoring/doing CS research
  9. What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned?
    • that health is never guaranteed, human relationships are complex and messy, inspiration is so fleeting so act on it immediately. you can just ask people for things. DM people, ask to chat with them, you can learn a lot from mentors.
  10. What are you letting go of?
    • regrets, toxic friendships, my default depressive state.
  11. What advice would you give yourself?
    • stop thinking so much, don’t get too attached to things and people, actively fight against cynicism and pessimism, set a schedule for yourself, you’re too easily distracted to be working freely,


  1. What brings you the most joy? (Do more of that)
    • writing blogs, talking to friends, taking walks, sunrise and sunsets, going to old bookstores and museums, Japanese art, reading (and buying) good books, sharing good tools to friends, flowers, cute animals, building in hackathons, coding something fun.
  2. What's an undeveloped talent you want to explore?
    • sketching, building communities, web + app designing
  3. Who or what are you most committed to loving/serving?
    • God, myself, and my parents
  4. What are you looking forward to learning?
    • ML and deep learning, how to make iOS apps, investing, designing, programmatic art, genetical diseases, low-level programming
  5. Choose a word or phrase as your theme this year.
    • healing and growing
  6. Which goals will you commit to?
    • Social
      • 10k followers on Twitter
      • 50k followers on LinkedIn
      • 50k followers on Medium
      • 100 subscribers for substack newsletter
      • 100 subscribers on YT/Twitch
      • Kaggle Grandmaster
    • writing/reading
      • Read 52 books
      • weekly Substack newsletter (weekly links/rabbit holes)
      • Continue write daily on bneo.xyz
    • Coding
      • AI/ML
        • courses
          • fast.ai
          • Karparthy’s YT playlist
          • FSDL
          • Dive into Deep Learning & udlbook
          • the short deeplearning.ai courses
        • projects
          • ML algorithms from scratch
          • Read + implement papers from scratch
          • GPT from scratch
      • SWE
        • Cpp: text editor
        • Go
        • Swift
          • finish 100 days of SwiftUI
          • Ship two apps on App store
        • Python
          • contribute to open source AI projects
          • build AI projects
    • Finance
      • make $50k
      • invest $10k
    • startup
      • get into more launch programs
      • ship narrative AI for real, with user sign ups, pricing, twitter page, etc.
    • social
      • talk to someone new every week
      • organize a tech event in Malaysia
      • meetup with old high school friends + new ones from twitter
    • sleep
      • wake up 7:30am
      • sleep 11:30pm
    • health
      • understand what’s wrong with my body (why am I constantly tired? what am I allergic to?)
  7. What are your immediate next steps?
    • Post daily on LinkedIn + Twitter: resources, tips, learnings, ideas, respond + tag people
    • Stream my work session on YouTube/Twitch
    • Write more LLM and AI related content, be more consistent.
    • calendar
      • 3 hours/day learning (morning)
        • decide which day to learn what, break down to small chunks, figure out a good note taking platform and method, document and share learning every day.
      • 2 hours/day building (evening)
      • 1 hour/day writing (after dinner)
      • 30min/day reading (night)
  8. What new habits do you need to adopt/bad habits do you need to eliminate?
    • new habits: reading before sleeping, coding everyday
    • bad habits: scrolling in bed, pessimism, cynicism, complaining, self-hate
  9. What would you like to be your biggest win? What would make this year your best year ever?
    • curing gerd and having good health again

Let's see how well I commit to these goals.

Some advice to keep in mind.

Imagine where you want to be in 5 years

Then think through what that requires you to get done this year

And don't spend any time during the year on activities that don't point you in that direction.