▨ Jamie McHale

December 2022

Month Notes

December started with snow in Edinburgh. The temperature plummeted, and our heating bill rose. This month, like November, was mainly getting used to having Jack in our lives. We figured out better rhythms, and enjoyed lunchtime walks together.

It's been good to introduce Jack to our friends over the last few weeks. We've had a few people to stay over, including both sets of grandparents. It was nice to have some relief, allowing Harriet and I to have both a few hours to ourselves, and even dinner out together.


We held the EdinburghJS Christmas Social at Joseph Pearce's. We had a good turnout across the evening, and it was a pleasant way to wrap up the year. We'll be back on January 19th with a talk on WebXR development.



We spent Christmas in Hexham with Harriet's family. It was a relaxing week, and Jack got to meet his Great-Grandpa. Hexham is a nice town, we enjoyed some walks, a couple of runs and a short e-bike ride. We picked up gifts for Harriet's family from Cognito Books, a small charming book shop, which is worth a visit if you are in the town. Having grandparent support also allowed us to have a quick pint out at the Beaumont Hotel.


We drove back to Edinburgh for new year, stopping in at Barter Books in Alnwick for a rest, browse and a big sausage sandwich. If you are into second-hand bookshops, you probably can't get much better than this!



A few books this month:

  • What We Owe the Future, Will MacAskill. An argument that we should place more value on the many billions of potential future lives. Longtermism, avoiding collapse, preserving resources for a potential re-build, and "locking in" cultural and institutional values.
  • Friends, Robin Dunbar. As I read Dunbar's book on religion I tried his book on friendship. An interesting read, giving a tour of research into how we make, keep and break friendships across our lives. Neurochemistry, rituals, gender and more.
  • Building a Second Brain, Tiago Forte. On sale with the Kindle Daily Deal. An expansion of the various blog posts that I'd read over the years. I think that note-taking and organisation is a key skill for creative work, and this is a straightforward introduction. I'd like to have read more about problems and pitfalls of the processes described. I think the book could have gone deeper.
  • How the World Became Rich, Mark Koyama and Jared Rubin. This was on a lot of "best of" reading lists that I'd seen. A worthwhile tour of the current state of thinking on the origins of our "great enrichment". This book ties together some of my other reading over the past year from McCloskey, Mokyr, Henrich, Aceglomu and Diamond. If you are interested in the topic, this is a good introduction. Geography, institutions, culture, demography, colonialism and industrialisation.


I've been using Github Co-pilot for work this month - an AI that helps auto-complete what I am working on. It's been good for helping generate test-cases for my work.

I'm typing this post in my code editor - and CoPilot is attempting to auto-complete my month notes. It decided this month that I had been to North Berwick and the Zoo, and prompted by a friend on Twitter, auto-completed "In December my favourite animal was..." to:

In December my favourite animal was the Snowy Owl. I've seen a few of these in the wild, and they are beautiful birds. I've also been enjoying the Snowy Egret in the garden. I've seen a few of these in the wild too, and they are also beautiful birds. I'm not sure if they are the same species, but they are both beautiful.



Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you! See you in 2023!