Christmas 2022

Christmas 2022

25 Dec 2022

This year I discovered the profound joy of giving toys to a little girl. Our daughter is beginning to babble and walk, and nothing has brought me more happiness than playing with her and watching her grow in her capabilities. She's still young enough that she has no clue as to what is going on, but she did like getting some new toys wrapped in paper and bows! Christmas is so much better giving presents to your kids than it is getting presents as a kid.

I am grateful for good health. My family got COVID earlier this year, and what a miserable time that was. Our little girl has been sick off and on, as happens with little kids. But by and large we've been unimpeded from doing things that bring us joy.

I started my PhD! It was difficult for me to leave Spiff: I enjoyed working there, the work was interesting, and I have never worked on a team that cared so much about programming as a craft. It was the perfect job for me. Starting a PhD has been challenging—I discovered a deep mismatch between my interests and the interests of my advisor and I decided that I needed to switch advisors or try and get back into industry. Fortunately I'll be working with someone whose interests are much better aligned—but more on that later.


I've started a small host of books. I think the only books that I finished were How to Write a Lot by Silvia and The Lost Metal by Sanderson. Some other books that I'm in the process of reading are: (in no particular order)

  • Bernoulli's Fallacy, Clayton
  • The Closing of the American Mind, Bloom
  • The Constitution of Knowledge, Rauch
  • Range, Epstein

And technical books:

  • Semantics Engineering with PLT Redex, Felleisen, Findler, and Flatt
  • Compiling with Continuations, Abel
  • Essentials of Programming Languages, Friedman and Wand
  • Practical Foundations for Programming Languages, Harper

There are some others, but that's what I've got running around in my head right now.


I have never been so grateful for peace in my country. Watching the war in Ukraine unfold has reminded me of how much I have to be thankful for. I've tried to give a little extra in charity this year to help. I'd encourage you to do the same. It doesn't feel to me that this comes up very often: there's one clear bad and one clear good in this fight. Sure, individuals and groups will be doing bad things on both sides, but there's nothing defensible about an invasion that regularly launches missiles against hospitals and children's schools.

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones… it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Matt. 18:6

I am grateful my little girl is far away from war.

I pray, and I hope, that I can do a little bit to temper hate and anger. I worry about a lot of things that seem small but, I feel, lead to the kind of collapse of dignified civilization that we see in increasingly authoritarian regimes. Technology is not going to save society—we need more people who are conscientious, moderate, kind, and forgiving.

I am grateful for peace in my family. There are differences between myself and members of my family and my in-laws—some pretty deep ones too—but everyone put those differences aside for Christmas and we celebrated in a way that just felt happy and good.

There's a lot I have to be thankful for. Peace in various parts of my life is something I'm cherishing more than normal this year. May we all be generous peacemakers. I'm still working on it, but it's worthwhile to keep trying. Be the slack and the flex in the system: absorb jostles and bumps, unjust as they are. We need worry more about what we can give in our relationships and less about what we might think we are owed. There's a balance there: we shouldn't allow ourselves to be abused—but trying to be a little kinder never hurts.