Jason Becker
December 4, 2023

Every episode of The Gilded Age. Literally the only show on any streaming service on the Apple TV.

A television with old school snow in blues, greens, and purple.
December 3, 2023

This month I’ll be chatting with Christiaan

Hi Jason,

I was looking forward to December – not only for the start of my turn in the letter wiring – but also as it marked a year of change for me. So today, when I’m writing this letter to you, I’m a pretty different person than earlier in the year when I signed up. And that is for the good :-)

One of the biggest changes I made this year was switching my job. It took so much courage to take the step and go from something known - and not all bad - to something new and unknown. On the other hand, I’ve started to do sports regularly, and that would not be a sentence you heard from me last year. Chris is a computer nerd, and they do not do sports ;-). So I started swimming this year, and I quite enjoy it.

It is early morning right now when I write these words (6:00), and I soon need to start work. I’m conducting a “Cybersecurity” Workshop for my co-workers today. I hope all goes well. It is quite the change now that I’m in a company where I’m currently the only “computer guy.” It is funny how you can’t rely on a common body of terms everybody knows or a “common culture.” I don’t know how to describe that, but we all had the same background and knew the same stuff at the old place.

It is good for me to stretch again and navigate some uncharted waters. Having the same background is not necessarily all good – it makes for an easy life – but not for the best solutions. This also fits perfectly into the theme of change I have for this year: be more open to the world.

So, how was your year? Did the regular writing with strangers change something?

Looking forward to your reply, Chris

Hi Christiaan,

Switching jobs is a big change! One I haven’t made in almost a decade. It’s crazy to think that April 2014 was the last time I had a different employer. And while what I do and everything around me has changed a lot, I still have worked for Allovue for as long as I went to college, high school, and middle school combined. Wow.

A couple of years back I started playing volleyball again, and it has been a huge boost to my mental health. I’m glad you’re enjoying the swimming! What is it that you feel attracts you to swimming, specifically? I haven’t really done it in a long time, but I know how exhausting laps can be. And quiet. I’m not sure I could sit in my head for that long… or swim for that long, for that matter. How much swimming do you do when you go? Something tells me that even in my best shape, 15 to 20 mins would be all I could do.

Writing with strangers has been a highlight of the year. For one, it’s caused me to stop and think about what I’m doing and where I am a lot more than I usually do. Reintroducing myself, digging into different parts of my state of mind and what’s happening has been a form of forced reflection that is sometimes absent. In many ways, these letters are a better journal than any journal I’ve ever kept.

Let me know how your workshop went! Did you feel you were able to communicate effectively? Make it fun?

And now that we’re at the end of the year… what are your plans for next year?


7pm on Sunday in December— also known as midnight.

December 2, 2023

Back from Paris, but pretty sure I’ve got the flu.

November 30, 2023

Getting rid of lead in pipes is a straightforward, great thing for the government to push. Huge return on investment when it comes to increasing our health and creates good jobs.

November 29, 2023

I’m not even actually back at work, but I just had a great idea. Even though I’m deliriously tired on jet lag, vacation definitely is working to clear the juices.

November 28, 2023

Popular Science was a huge part of my childhood and probably why I always said that I wanted to be a scientist when I grow up. I haven’t subscribed in 20 years though— eventually it was too much concept car and not enough reality for me. I’d say Ars Technica is my primary replacement.

It’s an amazing feeling to not have Slack installed and feel zero compulsion to check in. I’m out of office fully for the first time in a long while. I’m sure there will be some small messes to clean up when I get back, but I’m doing a good job of leaving that for Monday. At least for now.

I think Threads is a better platform for photos than Instagram is.

November 27, 2023

It says something about me that the release I’m most anticipating in 2023 is Houston Mono.

I remain surprised that rich people want to block wind turbines to “protect their views”. I think they look pretty great?

Elsa just asked me if I remembered my box number in college— I thought for a second, and did remember. Turns out, I have some money from the state of RI under unclaimed property. It was listed at my old box with my middle name as my first name. $0-50 coming my way.

November 26, 2023

A year ago today we started our winter in Mexico City.

I find it so strange which words we translate and which words we transfer. It’s bizzare to me that we don’t often call countries by the same name as the natives do, for example.

November 25, 2023

Ah, a civilized continent where even at 7am on a Saturday the train from the airport is faster and cheaper than a cab.

5pm EST was a brutal time to fly to Europe. Neither of us could sleep a wink on the flight. Landed at 6am local time. Hotel couldn’t get us into a room until 1:45pm. We walked as much as as we could until 11am ish than sat exhausted waiting for our room. Just had a 2 hr nap and we better get up.

November 24, 2023

I know that Elixir clicks because I’ve been off for days and I can’t stop thinking about writing code.

Sometimes a book is just too heavy. Every part of it is good, it is a complete story, but you can feel the weight of the amount it’s trying to accomplish and it makes it harder to enjoy. There are just a few too many plots; the stakes ramped just a bit beyond “necessary”.

Some of my favorite books are complex, some are challenging, some are both. Sometimes my favorite books have seemingly no stakes whatsoever— see Becky Chambers.

Loading up my Kindle with a year’s worth of reading for a four day trip during which I will only finish the book I’m already halfway through, as you do.

Too few people are talking about Scavenger’s Reign, a show I had no idea existed until it’s run completed. Great example of how for all the “data” out there, streaming services somehow still miss that I’d want to watch a strange, moody, animated scifi show.