Embrace the unexpected / the difference
Well, well, well, it’s time to reflect once again on the year that just ended 😌 And set possible paths for the year to come 🌱
It’s the second time I am writing such a piece. And I think it’s important to start things by quoting the words I used last year:
[It is] inspired by the work of my Canadian uncle & family from whom I have received yearly reviews for as long as I can remember. The difference here is that I am making my review publicly available. This is a challenge, nobody is exactly the same in public as with their family or friends, colleagues, etc. My first goal is to make something relevant for myself and maybe tickle your curiosity along the way. Keep in mind that it will likely be a bit stingy in detail and no matter how curious you might be, we are not necessarily intimate on all matters.
2022 was a special year, meeting a lot of new people, getting on adventures, understanding a lot about myself and others, etc. It was publicly entitled “A year worth remembering” but I personally entitled it “Expect the unexpected” (there were some traces of that in the review).
I am very glad that 2022 kicked off this new habit of reflecting once a year, looking back and writing down my thoughts and acknowledgments, sharing with the ones who know or will know me, strengthening and deepening connections along the way.
For 2023, I am proud to personally and publicly entitle the year “Embrace the unexpected / the difference”, a natural evolution from last year. A lot of different people and things have been a source of tremendous personal growth / “catch up” in the past 2 years. Things that the 2 years-ago Florent was unaware of, inattentive to, thought to be too different, etc. that I now feel more knowledgeable, at ease with, more fluent in some ways. And that feels good.
2023, went by fast. Like extremely fast. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing. I am going to say something that will trigger some of my friends and acquaintances (who are usually a bit surprised when they learn that I am 3-5 years-old younger than what they initially thought): the more I “age” the faster time seems to go by. Cringe old vibes I know.
Note, I don’t think I have ever exactly fitted with the stereotypical people of my age, and I have never really cared about that 😄 In the end, I think it’s about everyone finding their own ways and respecting others’ 😊
2023 went by fast, time is limited, but it’s really good to take a bunch of hours across several days to sit down and write this in the last week of December. Gathering all those thoughts is kind of relieving and sets a new fresh state of mind for the months to come. I am writing this piece while I recover from a cold. I couldn’t put as much energy in it as I would have liked but I really wanted to keep New Year's Eve as a deadline.
To conclude this intro, as I feel this has to be said in 2023, this is guaranteed 100% Generative AI Free and 100% pure me, enjoy 🎉
I am going to keep a similar organization as last year with the three “facets” : professional, familial and personal as I feel it can help the reader follow through. Even if some things might have been a bit more intertwined this year.
Florent, the Émir de la Belle Data et de la Perf
Yeah, this year, my company Slack title was extended with “et de la Perf” (Emir of the Nice Data and Performance): I like nice well-formatted data but I also enjoy a lot performant / fast / efficient tech, optimizing database queries, digging into bottlenecks, finding bugs in the database connection pooler, etc. 🤓
Tech nerdy lines aside (I put those here a bit for the joke), 2023 has been a good entire Qomon year.
I am gonna start by quoting my first ever appearance on Instagram (omg):
I am lucky enough to be working on a daily basis around some of my hobbies: politics / building a better society & computer science. [...] My favorite thing about working at Qomon is the responsible autonomy we are given and the quite diverse, resilient, honest, transparent and effective collective we are in itself. Specifically, my favorite aspect of Qomon is that we are building something that has a long-term positive impact on society. I also love the very diverse ways Qomon can be used!
I enjoy our unique and growing team more than ever. I feel we are a one of a kind collective with great motivation. If in 2023 we are on an overall growing trend in terms of headcount, we had few people leave for different kinds of what I consider “good reasons”. That has impacted the atmosphere in different directions and I definitely miss many of those connections I extend this last remark to people moving back to where they feel better and who are still working with us ; dear Sunshine of Spain, you are being missed in the Paris office 🥲.
Though, I consider that we are all learning from these experiences and it feels reassuring that we are sticking to the Qomon way of running things.
Oh, and of course, I am so glad to have had an awesome someone joined the Data / R&D team full time this year 🚀 It’s very nice to be able to do more things, to share, challenge, learn, grow, safely disconnect during holidays, etc.
We didn’t have as big elections / events in 2023 as last year which changed the dynamic of the year. We had the opportunity to improve the Maps features by A LOT, finally switching to vector tiles and unleashing a lot more power. Deploying in production an early beta of the cool Insights© feature, adding search capabilities, etc. and setting the path for exciting new evolution next year.
One of our main challenges is to build an intuitive, exciting and engaging platform, releasing complex features that are understandable to everyone.
Also, in 2023, we have added worldwide contours thanks to Open Street Maps, and extended Data operations in existing or new markets: Mexico, United Kingdom (their census is very precise), the USA, Iraq, Nigeria, Germany, France, New Zealand, Canada and Belgium.
This year, I am very happy to have seen new kinds of projects / clients joining Qomon: big NGOs, unions, etc. And having clients commit for multiple years is exciting news and a great recognition for what we are building and plan on building.
We made mistakes but we also achieved great things and grew as a collective. I have to personally acknowledge that the last quarter of this year is balancing a bit the overall year and is setting a very exciting path for the next year: we are getting back to some important old routines and adding new ones to the mix. It's satisfying to see interesting small organizations joining through “SelfService” (no need to talk to sales, etc.), to see clients grow in a bottom-up fashion, to be acknowledged as a relevant solution for both small use cases and the biggest possible ones too, etc
I don’t want to spoil 2024, I feel some great stuff will be released by the Data / R&D Team, and of course, Qomon in general! Challenges across the board will be there. New people will join our unique collective. And we will be getting closer to our long-term objectives, and at this moment, I want to be there and part of the crew that will be achieving them.
On the professional side, I have to mention that I have switched offices: I am back in Paris 🎉 More on that later, but Bordeaux colleagues, you are being missed!
As a reminder that time flies, I expect to celebrate my three-year “anniversary” at Qomon in May. Time does fly.
My final words for this section will go towards my personal-fun-side-professional goal for 2024 (yeah… spoiler alert…): I really want to do the front page of Le Monde website with the results of the 2024 European Elections at the Polling Station level on election night (or more realistically the next morning). The public is used to the Municipality level and I feel like everyone could grow and learn from the polling stations results. We have put a lot of efforts at Qomon to have the best French Polling Station Maps in France, and we want to give back a bit ☺️
Florent, the “Florinou” facet
“Florinou” is my close family nickname. This is a public post. I am obviously not going to dive into an in-depth review here.
I honestly have focused a lot on myself especially in the last semester with me moving around. I have to acknowledge that it is a bit hard to look back on the year that passed on this side. One thing is sure, I wasn’t struck with really bad news this year, even if there was a close call in the recent days. I’ll stick to my 2022 conclusion: “la vie c’est short”, life can be unexpected, take care of yourself, the people you care for and do not wait for a possible later moment to enjoy it. Note that ‘enjoy’ is a broad term here.
In 2023 I went back a lot of times to the Paris area, where I could enjoy the presence of acquaintances, friends and family. I am very thankful to my parents for always warmly welcoming me and for the countless drive to the Massy TGV station on very early mornings 😇 Now and since mid-October I am more permanently back in the region for who knows how long 🥷 (but definitely not for life). I am definitely the new person of choice to water plants at my parents’ 🌱 Even though I now have a new “my place”, it’s nice to be able to invite people over at my parents’ and enjoy a bit more space.
Around the same time as me moving, I also openly shared last year review with my parents and siblings 😌 And the reactions were funny to be honest. Anyway, I am happy I did it. And since none of them became subscribers after that 👀 I won’t wait months to share this one and I’ll do it in a few hours.
Yes, you can subscribe to this blog 👀
In 2023, I was not the only child to move around and now our family is spread in France in a new way. In the end, that’s more places to explore with logistic support and opportunities to share.
In 2023, I also joined my parents and grandparents big wedding milestones celebrations. I am happy for them 😌 I have to say, it’s a bit confusing when I compare my family situation with a lot of my acquaintances family history. It’s also a bit fun to think about the fact that both of my siblings were clearly kicking off their family at my age. I don’t know exactly what to say, except that there are no plans of this kind for me in the foreseeable future. I am enjoying the relationships I have at the moment. Note that I like to refer to the word “relationship” in a “mathematical” sense: a link between two individuals whatever it can be, mentorship, friendship, companionship, etc. Yeah, the ‘multilayer graph’ nerd I was at university is back 🤓
If I look past the “first degree family”, I would note that I am witnessing cousins exploring and getting to adulthood.
But, in the end, I don’t think this year I was there enough, attentive enough, to make a general statement that feels accurate as I did last year regarding my family learnings. Let’s see in 2024 😌
I’ll definitely conclude this section by saying a huge thanks to my family for the help in moving back from Bordeaux! Your support was invaluable 🫂
Florent, the “<pick your favorite personal nickname>” facet
I don’t think “Flobulous” is the most accurate nickname for the personal section this year, so I’ll let you choose your own: Flobulous, Flobot, etc. 😉
I would say this year naturally followed 2022 in many aspects. No one popped up in my life from “nowhere” this year. But I feel and I know for sure that the majority of my relationships have evolved. And gladly grown for most of them (I use “gladly” but it’s also OK to reframe / accept the stagnation / degrowth of others).
Early 2023, I told my bosses that I was gonna move out of Bordeaux at some point this year. I (still) love my Bordeaux colleagues and the very few people I am still in touch with there. But I had been sharing a house for 2 years, and I grew extremely incompatible with one of my housemates over time. The atmosphere became unhealthy (but you also learn stuff from every situation). I also didn’t manage to grow a wide enough network of relations there and I felt the need and desire to move back to the Paris region.
So here I am, in my new Home, in Gif-sur-Yvette. Sharing a new apartment. Yes, it’s a bit of an uncommon / “different” apartment share for those who know the details. It was one thing to suggest it. It was another thing to plan it, with some doubts, of course. And it was another thing to execute it, with some challenges, of course. But 2+ months later it feels great, natural, supportive, etc. etc. It’s the first time I am starting a ‘colocation’ with people I know and things are actually quite straightforward with good communication, which we have.
It is also the first time I am living in a place that we furnished from scratch, so it’s a bit of my first personal Home 🏠.
I enjoy the location, the view we have (Bordeaux / Pessac was way too flat for me 😭), the people I am with, all the things I am learning, etc.
I am happy when I can help people be happy 😌
And, of course, the RER B is sh** but you don’t need my blog post to know that 😉
In terms of “significant” events this year, I can also mention the loss of Ginette, the bike that followed me in all my adventures in the last 2 years. I hate bike robbers… Ginette still does not have a replacement yet, but it’s definitely planned in 2024. I want to get back on my bike packing trips! I love those.
The other worth-mentioning things are that I changed glassess and I got a new haircut this year. 2022 was the year of the birth of my bear. And now, 1.5 years after my last “short” hair cut, and patiently growing hairs, I now have what I believe is called an undercut / bound hairstyle 🎉 I like it a lot. I love playing with the hair elastic color depending on what I am going to do or who I am going to see that day, or even what is the color of the political clients I am going to meet 🤫 There are still some plans for some earrings one day, maybe. I still haven’t had the intuition for what would look nice to make the jump. So, do keep the suggestion flowing 😇
I know a few things on my personal side can be a bit unusual to some of my readers, but “Embrace the unexpected / the difference”. I am happy after all 😊
On a more personal note, I feel that I have grown and matured quite a bit this year again. I did things that felt hard before doing them and now they feel natural. The synaptic connections have bridged the gaps.
On the adventurous side of me, this year was *packed*.
I have gone on 86 one-way train trips (for the record, I have subtracted 27 Bordeaux <-> Pessac), including around 20 Paris-Bordeaux round trips. So on average I took the train once every 4.24 days, that’s a bit crazy.
An example of this packed year is: I had these crazy 2 weeks during summer when I took a train from Bordeaux to Nantes, then bike packing trip to Morlaix, trained back to Nantes then Bordeaux, train to Castelnaudary the next day for wedding anniversaries, then train to Le Creusot with a beer stop in Lyon, for a professional Offsite, then train to Paris and finally Bordeaux.
I love taking trains.
I am so lucky to be able to work on trains and from anywhere regularly.
Turning 28 this year and having to say goodbye to my TGVMax subscription, associated booking bot and Carte Jeune is going to be hard Dear French Government and Regional bodies, please make the TER national pass a reality in 2024, the Earth needs it.
Anyway, this year I have been to several places in France, Germany (God, German food…) and Spain: Alençon, Arrens-Marsous, Avignon, Biarritz, Bormes-les-Mimosas, Carcassonne, Cassis, Castelnaudary, La Ciotat, Compiègne, Le Creusot, Étretat, Fécamp, Fontainebleau, Frankfurt (Germany), Fréjus, Giverny, Hendaye, Josselin, Laval, Libourne, Lyon, Le Mont Ventoux, Morlaix, Nantes, Niort, Ollioules, Ouistreham, Passau (Germany), Regensburg (Germany), Redon, La Rochelle, Roncesvalles (Spain), Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, San Sebastian (Spain), Savenay, Six-Fours-les-Plages, Strasbourg, Toulouse, Tours, Ulm (Germany), etc.
So many opportunities to get nice pictures 🎉 And in short, places that I knew, places that I discovered and some places that I will for sure come back to in 2024.
I do have to mention the scariest “oh shit” moment I had this year: I don’t recommend the saddle “Port du Lavedan” in the Balaïtous, Pyrénées. We were on a hike with a friend and it’s one of those rare times in my life I felt really anxious. It required a bit of climbing with big backpacks and a lot of wind at 2 600m altitude. I clearly went slightly above what I would have wanted to experience with the gear and guidance we had. Even though we felt OK doing it again after 2 hours. The mind forgets fast; but let’s not take unnecessary risks.
All in all, a lot of adventures, solo or shared. Every single one was nice!
Looking back at last year numbers & objectives, setting the path for 2024
Here is the update on my transport / carbon footprint from last year:
~33 000 km by train ⇾ slightly raised to ~35 000 km this year
~4 000 km by bike ⇾ my rough estimate is 2 500 km by bike this year (I have been more in Paris where I bike less)
~1 400 km of mostly car sharing ⇾ ~3 700 km this year, more adventures required the car and also did moving.
0 km by plane ⇾ 0 repeated 🙌
Looking back at objectives set early last year:
I did change bank to “Crédit Coopératif”, I can recommend it!
I don’t know for sure if I ate less meat this year, but I know for sure that I kept it as a strong objective and I kept thinking about it.
I did go on holiday, not necessarily as much and as far as I would have liked. But I did spend a lot of great times with others and took some awesome pictures.
I did not add a new time consuming habit to my life. Writing takes me a lot of energy and I don’t feel like I can be regular with it. But I know for sure that I took more pictures and that I am taking more time to take care of others 😌
“Keep learning, supporting, becoming more aware, cherishing relationships and embracing change.” I think I did!
So what personal vibes I'm gonna chase this year?
Mind about my diet for the planet (also for my own health 😅)
And extend my cooking knowledge / creativity, I feel there is room for that in my new colocation. Maybe start to gather the recipes I enjoy.
Go on adventures in Spain, Switzerland & Northern Europe (most of them are theoretically planned). I am not sure the GR20 hike is for this year unless some people join this project and I get physically ready for it.
Share hiking / bike trips / adventures with more / new people ; introduce new people to these kinds of adventures.
I would love to join a collective / “militant” group, it would remind me of the good all days before the start of my “professional life”. I feel my work is already a lot in itself. But I love engagement towards the community and I think I can help with my skill set. Just like with me being helped to kick off my adventures facet in 2022, I’ll need some help / push here. Feel free to reach out.
Be less tired (I have a lot of energy but I am also a bit tired regularly 😅)
Keep learning, supporting, becoming more aware, staying open-minded, exploring, cherishing relationships and embracing change.
I am thankful for 2023. All the people that I enjoyed spending time with and from whom I have learned so much. I have materialized my giving back mood in a different way as last year, giving time for the people I care for, furnishing a shared apartment, etc. So I don’t have numbers to share this year. But I really love to give back to the causes that are important to the people who are important to me. I think I’ll be able to get back on that track next year. So for next year, get ready to be asked: “Hey, is there anything close to your heart I could give to? 😊”. Yeah, I like supporting others and what they are doing. That’s one anecdote about me.
If you want another more random anecdote: I have listened to 90 000 minutes of music on Spotify this year, and I don’t freaking have a single artist or title name that I know 😅 Yup. Don’t give me a hard time for it 🙏
Anyway, my final words are,
Just like 2022, I am truly grateful for 2023, and especially grateful to all the people that have made it possible.
Farewell 2023. Happy new year eveyrone!
PS: I hope you have enjoyed along the way some of the lovely pictures I took this year. I would have loved to include more pictures covering everything I have explored this year but it would have interrupted too much the text. The selection here is from the ~4000 pictures I took and rest assured that they were not all that great 😇 You can view a lot more here https://photos.floflo.ch/2023.html.
I tried to include in this review more pictures with people than last year, while purposely keeping them as anonymous as possible.
For the photography nerds around there, most of them were shot on a Fujifilm XT-5 — new camera body this year — and a mix of these lenses that I have gathered in the last 5+ years:
Fujinon XF10-24mmF4 R OIS WR (I feel this lens lacks a bit of sharpness, but I LOVE wide angle — I’ll look for evolution here in 2024 😇)
Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR (this lens is so sharp but a bit heavy)
Fujinon XF 56 mm f/1,2 R (well if you want Bokeh)
Fujinon XF 50 mm f/2 R WR (sweet lens)