My year in travel, 2007

In the webloggian tradition, my year in cities and towns for 2007:

  • New York, NY
  • Carmel Valley, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Ithaca, NY
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Washington, DC
  • Arcata, CA
  • Greenport, NY
  • Laguna Beach, CA
  • Las Cruces, NM
  • Rincón, Puerto Rico

One or more nights spent in each place, with italics denoting places I visited multiple times. Lots of vacations this year, but sticking to one city at a time. Lots of overlap with one person in particular.

Some overdue updates

I have the unhealthy expectation that Facebook = Reality, and sometimes I forget that not everyone has a news feed (or reads theirs every day). In case you missed them, here are some recent events in my life:

  • I got engaged to my lovely girlfriend
  • I started a new job as a research scientist at Facebook
  • I found out that my cholesterol is astronomically high

These are, of course, in some order of importance. More on each of these in due time, but I should state a few caveats to quell the fidgeting audience:

  • We do not have a date yet, we’re currently in engagement-celebration mode
  • My new job is roughly like my old job, except at Facebook instead of Yahoo!
  • Thanks to exercise and some dietary changes, my cholesterol seems to be in check for the time being

Happy New Year! See you in 2008.

Five things you didn’t know about me

I don’t usually participate in the “what is your favorite citrus fruit?!?” games, but when Chad calls, I listen. I got tagged Chad, Cody, Ian and some number of intermediaries back to the ur post.

1. I wanted to be an engineer from a very young age. When I was 5 years old, we had this yellow velour couch (it was 1982, remember) and solid oak coffee table. While my mom was talking to a friend or something, I placed one of the cushions between the coffee table and the couch. Then I said, “look mommy, soft bridge!” followed by one step and then the sound of my teeth making contact with the hard oak. Blood, tears, and a dental specialist for years didn’t get me down though: at age 8, I wore an MIT sweatshirt despite not knowing anything beyond the meaning of the letters. Not that I thought at ALL about the place between 8 and 22, but my 8 year-old self must have pulled some strings to get me in for grad school.

2. I was a frat boy in college. I was a member of the Alpha Delta Phi chapter at the University of Chicago. This is a statement that I always have to back up with excuses, like, “I was young, I needed the money,” or “I saw their hip hop a capella group as a way to explore my sensitive side.” Although it didn’t end on the best note, I admit that I had a great time there, and it put me among the likes of Ben Stein, P.J. O’Rourke and John Perry Barlow.

3. I never have been a very good actor. In the third grade my whole class put on a play. I don’t even remember the title, but I do remember my part: bus driver. I had one line in the entire hour-long production, and it went something like, “all aboard!” Anyway, my teacher at the time didn’t think that I was putting enough energy into it, and he coached me on how to be more expressive. In the end he yanked me from the part and I was the only student not to perform. This is the part of the story where I’d love to say, “but then I went on to star in a broadway production of the same play 10 years later.” But I didn’t. I became an engineer and I can’t even remember the name of the play.

4. During my Ph.D. I spent a summer working for the CDC studying STDs. When I tell this to most people they respond by saying “haha, so did you get a lot of hands on experience?” as they step away from me pretending I’m infected. The truth is that it was a really amazing internship, with them helping me understand the mathematics of diffusion on networks, and me helping them understand technology. Besides my published work, I did some fun projects looking at search traffic to their sites, correlating logs with seasonal outbreaks of various diseases (e.g. herpes and syphillis). I also showed them a little SEO to get their herpes information onto the first page of search results. And I learned a host of knowledge about sexually transmitted infections, which many of my friends find useful on occasion (please send your questions over email).

5. For a little under a year I co-ran a show on MIT’s radio station called electronic experiments. It had the brazen goal of being completely live, and mostly improvised electronic music every week. It was a hell of a lot of work, but ended up introducing Dan and I to just about everyone producing music in the Boston area. As for our music (Tek Fu), which was always improvised, I think someone once compared it to free jazz: “hours of monotonous garbage punctuated with (brief) moments of brilliance.” That led to the creation of our local music crew unlockedgroove, and eventually to the creation of our label under the same name. All of our vinyl is creative commons licensed, and Dan’s most recent record with Ben Recht is pretty dang hott.

My turn:

  1. Maciej Ceglowski
  2. Andy Baio
  3. Ernie Hsiung
  4. Justin Foster
  5. Michael Buffington

Likelihood of getting transmission? Low. But if I did it, they should have to as well…

Goodbye MIT, hello Yahoo!

This message has been a long time in the coming, but thanks to the ubiquity of the internet I’ve been outed. Sometime in late august I turned in a final draft of my thesis which afforded me this wonderful scrap of paper:

thesis receipt

Since I won’t technically be graduating until next June, this receipt is the only proof that I have that I have ascended the ranks of PhDdom. And thanks to my new rank I have creative license to make up words like PhDdom.

As for the next step, I looked into a number of different options for employment. Among them I found a gem in the budding research laboratory that is Yahoo! Research Berkeley. After careful consideration, the opportunity to help define the direction of a new research lab along with the social and technical resources provided by the company was an offer I couldn’t refuse. After a couple of weeks as a research scientist here I am genuinely happy and ecstatic at the opportunities I’m facing. Yay me!

I also happened into a ridiculous apartment in Nob Hill which was completely unexpected. My last two apartment-hunting experiences have been so easy that I’m starting to think I might have some serious karmic backpay. I’ve tried to get in touch with my friends who are in the area, but if I haven’t yet, please send me an email.

I’m still getting situated in SF and acclimated at Yahoo!, but I’ll hopefully be more accessible soon. First on my agenda is writing up the results of my thesis in a public form. Look for these results (both the MIT Weblog Survey and otherwise) in the next two weeks. Thanks again to everyone that helped me through my Ph.D. and those who allowed me to find this new life.

Oh, and San Francisco is the new New York City.


a lonely journeyOnce again overstated has lain dormant while I sought answers to some of life’s most pondered questions: will I ever graduate? If I do, what the hell comes next? How many licks does it take to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop? Which shaker does the salt go in? Are spheres the only type of bounded three-dimensional space possible that contain no holes?

I tried Google Answers. I tried fasting and I rewatched The Matrix. Without any clear resolve, this existential period has come to a close. Or rather, I’m not so distracted by the rest of my life that I can actually do more with my weblog than just delete comment spam. I’ll be attending the Internet + Society 2004 meeting starting tomorrow, so look forward to some reactionary note taking.

Exercise the body

I went to the gym today, which is strange because I’m typically a Monday/Wednesday/Friday gym person, and was surprised to see all the same people that I see on my normal schedule. Until now I had expected that all of them, the I-like-coffee-with-my-weights guy, the older-but-fitter-than-thou couple, and the attention-deficit-fitness kid were just like me, but instead they’re getting 5 days to my 3.

It’s the same realization that Chris Eigeman makes in Barcelona when someone reveals to him that men typically shave their faces with the grain, instead of against it (of course, he’s been shaving against the grain his entire life). I just assumed that everyone was on the same schedule that I was. Now that the bubble has burst, I guess I have to start going every day.

Back to reality

It’s sad when you’re dealing with the difficulties of life outside your blogdentity to watch your blog go fallow as a result. Someone should invent some technology to cache ideas so that when you’re too sad to even turn on your computer, your blog continues blogging by itself, keeping people interested. Needless to say, I’m back.

Distributed picture-taking

An experiment in distributed storytelling: while attending South by Southwest, every time I went to take a picture, I was preempted by another, more photo savvy individual. So where’s my photo album? Take a tour with some of my friends: