There are some important changes happening in my life at the moment, and I thought the ol’ blog would be a decent broadcasting mechanism. What kinds of changes?
- Sabbatical! I’m taking a leave of absence from UC Berkeley’s Statistics PhD program. My second year in the program was rough, due to some health issues that seem related mostly to grad school stress. I have a standing invitation to return to the program down the road if I so desire. I’d like to thank the department for being so accomodating as I dealt with the roller coaster ride that is the medical system, and for giving me the opportunity to return. Bin, Jim, La Shana, my professors, colleagues, and friends: you guys rock.
- Moving! At the end of May, I moved from Berkeley back to Fort Lauderdale. I’ll be crashing at the Ackershack for a yet-unknown length of time, probably about a year. This makes me sad, as moving from the Bay Area to almost anywhere else in the US entails a major step down in quality of life. That said, I’m exceptionally grateful to have a place to rest and recharge. Mom and Dad: you guys rock.
The question lately has been, “If you had a year off, essentially totally unstructured time, what would you do with it?”
It’s an interesting thought experiment. “Travel” is the answer I heard most frequently from people my age (when I was in Berkeley, and there were actually people my age around), and I’d love to do some global exploring towards the end of my year. Traveling isn’t the most restful experience for me, though, and getting healthy is Priority #1 at the moment, so for the time being, I’m grounded.
A year is a pretty solid chunk of time, and the current plan is to cultivate a nice balance (something that’s been conspicuously absent from my life for a while now) of activities that I find stimulating and enjoyable. Stuff like…
- Music! I haven’t played music since high school, and I miss it. I’ve dabbled in guitar over the past few years, but I think it’s safe that I’m a bass clef, one-note-at-a-time kind of guy. Hmm… if only there were a bass clef instrument that we’ve had lying around the house for years, was less high maintenance than the trombone, and even allowed for the possibility of groupies. I know! I’ll play the bass guitar! Stay tuned. (Ha. Get it?)
- Programming! I took 1.75 programming courses this past semester at Cal and seriously enjoyed them. I’m going to keep the code ball rolling during my sabbatical. First, I plan to take Stanford’s Algorithms: Design and Analysis, Part I via Coursera, which starts in about a week. Next will come at least a couple of courses from Udacity‘s new line up. And finally, with that stuff under my belt, I have a few projects lined up, many of them at the intersection of programming and data analysis, at least one of them with some friends from Berkeley. Much more to follow.
- Health! But I don’t just plan to recover from the problems that plagued me this year and get back to where I was. No, my definition of health has changed quite a bit this year. Health isn’t having a 6-pack. Health is having the energy and strength to live the life you want to live. And by that definition, I haven’t been in very good health for a while. But moving forward, I’ll do a much better job getting there, and this year will be a great opportunity to discover and tune lifestyle decisions that make me feel great.
- Writing! I enjoy writing, and my sabbatical will give me a chance to practice. Though I’d like to bang out something more substantial one day, I’ll content myself for the time being with weekly updates right here. Though I’m sure that my grandmother will appreciate these, they’re more to keep me on track and discourage me from being a bum. I don’t think that’ll be a major problem, though… I’m going to enjoy a lot of what I’ll be doing this year, thus motivating me to keep doing them. Imagine that.
There are more than a few other projects on my list of things to do this year, and I’ll post about them when I get there. In the mean time… an adventure begins.