Hey look, I have a blog! Bit dusty around here... ;-)
2016 was a pretty crazy year for the world at large, but it also turned out to be
incredibly busy for me personally. A large part of that was driven by
one particular huge ongoing project
at work, but I also had a lot going on in other parts of my work and
in life in general.
Improve my skills with Python and Go: I did this, but in a more haphazard
way than I would have liked. Mostly I got more comfortable with each language
in fits and starts, driven by work and personal projects; but I never quite found
time for the focused study I meant to do.
Get a better understanding of theory: Similar to the above, progress on this
was mixed and spotty. I never really found time to sit down and work through the
textbooks I meant to read, but I did read a lot more research papers than in
previous years, and learned a lot more about current work in a few areas.
Refresh my math: Hard fail on this one. :(
Read more fiction by diverse authors: This is something I think I did a pretty
good job on, though my overall fiction reading went down more than I like.
I used to average 1.5 - 2 new novels a week; 2016 was highly variable, but the overall
rate was closer to 2 - 3 new novels per month. But the authors were more diverse!
Notice the caveat "new novels" in those rates;
in 2016, I spent way more time re-reading favorites than reading new work -- the
equivalent of just eating "comfort food" most of the time. Considering I spent
most of the year feeling stressed about work or other things, I'm not too
surprised by this, but I also don't like the feeling of getting to the end
of a year without reading much new work.
Make time for fun: Mixed results. On the one hand, I went to my first two
curling bonspiels ever, one in Denver and one in Tempe! And I spent a lot
of time supporting my wife, Leigh, with her roller derby team -- and they improved
their WFTDA ranking from 181 to 136 over the course of the year. On the other hand,
work took over a ton of my life last year, I had a decent amount of "life"
stress from sources including cats with health issues, and generally felt crappy
for large chunks of the year. Points against "fun".
Looking back at these goals, one thing I've noticed is that they're all fairly
vague and not always easy to measure. If I'm going to set new goals for myself, I'd
like to be able to have some kind of quantitative measure of how I'm doing.
(This may be loosely related to an obsession with metrics I'm developing at work...)
Read at least four new books each month
Resist the urge to re-read! The new works I'm reading should continue my
goal to read diversely (i.e., "don't read two books by straight white cis men back to back"),
and with an additional goal of pursuing an overall mix of three fiction works
and one non-fiction work each month.
Compete in at least three curling bonspiels
I really enjoyed the two bonspiels I went to in 2016, and they also helped
motivate me to improve my curling in Santa Fe. I'd like to keep doing this, and
trying for three bonspiels this year should continue to make me try to up my
Sub-goal, which is more slightly more difficult: win at least four individual
games over the course of those bonspiels. (More difficult, as the Santa Fe
curling league has limited ice time and I don't get to practice much...)
Submit papers to at least two conferences
Since I started at LANL in mid-2014, I've been an author on four papers -- which
I think is fairly amusing, as it means I've published more papers in this non-academic
role than I did the whole time I was in grad school.
Still, I'm really enjoying the opportunity to write up our work, and I think
we're doing some exciting stuff. So I'd like to try to submit at least two papers
to conferences this year to continue the trend -- though I obviously can't make
any guarantees about their being accepted...
Spend an average of two hours per week on fundamental CS knowledge
As I noted in last year's post, I was trained in physics, not in computer
science; so while I have a good "practitioner's knowledge" of a lot of CS
concepts, my background theory is spotty. I'd like to commit to spending
at least two hours a week, on average, building up that knowledge on
a more solid theoretical footing. And I'm hoping putting a number on it will
encourage me to actually make it happen!
Contribute code to at least three open source projects
I believe pretty strongly in the concept of open source as a way of producing
quality software which is developed in common by many organizations, but I
haven't been able to spend much time actually contributing to open source
projects over the past few years. I'd like to try to make time for this in 2017,
either at work or in my spare time. (Preferably at work, as I recognize the
fact that having free time for working on open source projects is a manifestation
of privilege all on its own.)
Exercise at least once a week outside of curling, preferably more
My physical exercise went from "best effort" to "nearly nonexistent" in
2016. I need to do better; health and self-care are important!
Blog at least once a month
Not counting this post! ;-) I like having a presence on the Web, and I think
knowledge-sharing is really important, but this blog hasn't gotten a lot of
use lately. So I'm going to try to post here at least once per month -- and to
remind myself that short posts are OK, if they capture an idea worth sharing.
Make time to support my family, friends, and community
I'm not sure how to make this one quantitative; but if the goals were
listed in priority order, this one would be first! The most important thing
in 2017 is to make sure I'm doing everything I need to to give my family the
support they need,
help my friends, and make my community a good place to work and live.
And note that "community" should cover more than just Santa Fe, NM -- but also
my professional community, my country, and the wider world.
Now let's see how it goes. Happy New Year!