What's New: Edition 2023-12-10

Bringing the year soon to a close after one last business trip, some festivities, and a long flight home.

Last year, with the war in Ukraine still fresh and fears of a gas shortage in Germany at the front of everyone’s mind, I challenged myself to keep the heat off until January. I didn’t make it: sometime around December I gave up. My apartment’s exterior walls are all floor-to-ceiling windows. I don’t have the proper curtains to keep the flat properly insulated. Nevertheless, I was determined to do it this year.

My intense travel schedule certainly helped. I was away from home as frequently as I was in it. And this year I bought fully into the strategy of “warm the body before the home.” I invested in warm slippers and a W√§rmeflasche, a silicon hot water bottle. It’s been a lifesaver, honestly. All I had to do was make it to this weekend without turning the dials above “1” and I made it. I saved a little bit of the climate today. (Ignore my flying habits please).

The other thing is that I’ve just been too busy to notice being cold. I’m always jumping from call to call when I’m not on the road, then there’s German class, and then I’m off to dinner and off to sleep. I’ve been less reliably getting up early to read, partly helped by the darkness, but I’ve also approached the end of the year on full afterburners anyways. I’m ready to rest.

In this post:

Life updates

After 49 flights, 19 trips, 11 new countries, 43 books (and counting), 8,800 words on AI, countless conference talks, several podcasts, and dozens of projects, I am bringing this year to a close. I jumped on a flight back to Charlottesville this weekend and am cuddling happily with my dog and my cat and my wife.

What I’m reading

I wrapped up Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth. It’s a novel a bit hard to understand but powerful and relevant in the modern era. The novel stands as a critique of high society, can read as an early precursor to a kind of self-defeating femininity, and a heartbreaking romance all in one. I didn’t think I’d like it, but the book’s final scenes really drive the story home. My review will come soon. I’m a couple books behind there.

I also finished Misha Glenny’s The Balkans. There’s not a lot of happiness in this book. It’s a huge story with a lot of death. There’s a lot of history here to cover; the communist era merits only a chapter. Nevertheless, it helps explain the nature of the conflicts in Europe’s most misunderstood and maligned region. I’ve had the privilege to explore the Balkans these past few years and I’m excited to see the rest of them soon.

Now, I’m on to Max Beerbohm’s Zuleika Dobson at #59 on the Modern Library list. I’ve also opened up a Taschenbuch of Kafka’s Das Urteil/Die Verwandlung. Gotta keep those German skills sharp.

What I’m listening to

The Christmas staple in my home growing up was Ray Charles' The Spirit of Christmas. It’s a soulful album, glowing with the season’s essence, and it stands out nearly 40 years after its release.

What I’m watching

I’ve been trying to keep pace with the Marvel stuff. I genuinely dislike the whole multiverse saga. And perhaps the worst installment yet, Loki Season 2, shows how tired the writers, actors, and fans are. I don’t even think people can find enough passion in the show to write gay fanfic about it. But I’m sure I can be proven wrong here. I shouldn’t bet against the internet.

What I’m learning

I’m hell-bent to finish my C1.1 module before year’s end so I’ve been back to cramming online courses with Lingoda. I should be able to wrap the module by end of year. And I have a couple Azure certification tests planned that I need to start studying for this week.

Art and culture

My office had its end of year party this year, which was Berlin themed. It was nice to get a sense of the local traditions. Otherwise I haven’t really gotten out much to dive into culture.

Travel and exploration

I had one more trip, this time to Passau, before the year came to a close. It was a short trip, but worthwhile, and I’m happy to return there again next spring. Otherwise my only travel has been the long flight back over the Atlantic to come home. I’m ready for home.

My dent in the universe

I joined a local workshop collective towards the end of this year and I held the first instance of a Digital Safety workshop that I plan to run monthly. There are two versions of this workshop, one geared towards activists and organizers, and another towards people in vulnerable living situations. The soft launch was for the activists and organizers version and I was happy to have a safe and enthusiastic audience. I can’t wait to make this a regular thing!

Posted: 10.12.2023

Built: 24.06.2024

Updated: 10.12.2023

Hash: 7e352ca

Words: 879

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes