Hello Jason,

I’m near the top of Mount Rigi as I reply. I’m now on my Christmas holidays and managed to carve out some time to go on a solo mountain holiday (thanks to my wife for allowing that). Unfortunately, the weather is not good. And I was the only person making it to the top (I’ve attached two images from the top - you may publish them with the letter). But I’m not on the mountain to sit outside anyway :-). I hoped to relax, reflect on the year, and write a bit – sometimes, it works better outside of home. But so far, I have not yet written much. Now I sit in the small restaurant beside the railway station on the mountain.

The US being a lot more in the south compared to Europe is also something I forget. But geography is not really a strong suit of mine :-D. I just wondered what the most northerly destination I visited so far. And it must have been Cologne (in Germany). I’ve only been to the US once (for a WWDC), so I’ve seen mostly the conference center and only a little of the country. I’ve enjoyed SF and want to get back at some point. However, there are so many places to go, and I’m unsure when I will manage it. We also have Japan on our list of destinations. We planned to go in the Spring before the pandemic. That did not happen for obvious reasons.

I have the feeling that many companies have downsized their offices now. There is just no need for offices anymore – at least in the computer sciences jobs. And I’m also with you that the company needs to live a remote-first culture for it to work. Luckily, we are small at the moment, and I hope that I can influence the culture in such a way as we grow.

How was moving 375 miles? If I tried that, I would land in a different country, so it would be a significant change (and depending on the direction I move, I would need to learn a new language as well ;-)).

I’m quite the opposite regarding habits; I tend to have compulsive behavior when I’m not careful. Luckily, I now know and understand some of the signs that trigger this so that I can work against it.

It is interesting with the swimming, and I was exhausted at the beginning with the 500m than I’m now with the 1000m. It is a question of the pacing, and I have now found the sweet spot where I can swim it at a usable tempo but also not go quite to my limit. And having done it now for most of the year also helps :-). I’ve lost track of how many books I have read this year. Only a few, I think (compared to other years). I planned on reading three books per month, but I was below that. It was more like two books per month. One of the reasons was that I switched to reading more nonfiction, which takes more time. And then taking notes and thinking about what you learn makes for a slower read. On the upside, it makes the reading more conscious and intentional. It feels less like fast food.

Another big goal was changing my workplace and starting the swimming habit. I don’t know what I want to do next year. One big topic is to be more open about others and be less in my bubble.

I wrote the text above yesterday. The weather is much better today, and I’m back at the top of the mountain. I am sitting in the same restaurant and enjoying my time.

cheers Chris

Hi Chris,

Things have been pretty hectic so it took me a few days to get back to you. While I’m not yet off from work for the holiday, I do already have a rotating cast of family staying with us. Unfortunately, I also had the return of some leaking in the house from severe wind and rain. I’m currently without an office, and soon our dining room will get torn apart as well. Things seem to be moving faster with both mitigation and repair than last time, but it’s a big unexpected expense and a big unexpected mess during a time where it’d be nice for things to slow down and go smoothly.

I want to say that the solo mountain holiday is exactly what this calls for, but seeing those pictures just makes me feel cold.

Moving was interesting. This is the third place I’ve spent a substantial amount of time living. My parents still live in the house they bought before I was born, but I went about 200 miles away for college and stuck around for some time afterwards before this move. It definitely broke a lot of my social groups and connections. I felt, for some time, less connected to where I lived than I ever had before. In some ways that was nice– you can burn out on places like you can with jobs, at least as far as I can tell. I loved where I was living, but I was “burned out” on it, in some ways. I think it’s taken the full seven or so years I’ve been here for it to start to feel like home. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I have a little bit of wanderlust again, but I doubt I’ll be going somewhere else soon.

I think there is something to think about in “finding your pace” in a sense. You found yourself at a pace that you can swim, and a pace that you can read. A lot of the times we set goals rather than set a pace.

I hope that these letters are a small start to getting out of your bubble! I also don’t quite know what’s the goal for next year, but I’m glad that this year I’m feeling introspective and thinking about it. Last year, I really struggled to think about what I wanted and I think that led to a year that was a bit less grounded and focused than I would have liked.

Being “evicted” from my damaged office is leaving me unmoored this week. But hopefully I’ll have something to grab onto in January.


Two plastic sheets covering most of my office, with walls in the back corner with substantial portions of drywall removed. There are blue blowers and dehumidifiers in the center of the room