Things I've Done That Make My Life Better

These are all very selfish, so sue me.  Readers who don’t like navel gazing should stop reading now and make sure not to gaze at their own navels.  Things I’ve done recently that have improved my life (brought to you by the word “shrill”):

  • Reading and listening to less politics, and when reading politics not responding to what appears to me to be an amazing lack of logic and/or grasp of the complexity of a situation.  I mean I enjoy political views that I don’t agree with, but only if they aren’t built of a tower of logical fallacies.   I’ve decided not to respond to or comment on a multitude of blogs, on all sides of the political spectrum, especially those that begin with the assumption that they are absolutely completely correct, and have the answers if only you’d just listen to their single solution.  It’s not that I don’t care about politics, it’s just that I don’t think what you have to say adds that much.  Sorry.
  • Learned a lot about graph isomorphism.  Did you know that one of the seminal contributors to understanding graph isomorphism algorithms, Boris Weisfeiler, went missing in Chile during 1984 under nefarious circumstances?
  • Tried to perform work that will be rejected.  This one has succeeded(!), though I can’t say I feel absolutely good about it.  But still it has made my life a bit better because I don’t feel guilty about not doing something a bit different.  I really really really like my recent papers, but referees differ in that opinion.  These referee’s have also taught me a lot about how I shouldn’t review papers, so I thank them very much!  I’ve also realized that quantum computing is now old enough to have curmudgeon reviewers from within the field.  Congrats, you’ve just made the field a lot less happy, Mr. Curmudgeon Reviewer, I hope you have a good time in your old age sitting in your air conditioned tenured position, counting your citations!
  • Read Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, which, while it gets a little iffy in it’s breathless report of the science of barefoot running at the end and shows its magazine article roots, is a fun read about extreme running.
  • Not responded to blog comments in which the commenter remarks about how “X” has made the commenter so angry that they will “no longer be reading this blog.”  Okay, Mr. Angry Commentor, thank you for sharing, but is the world a better place with your comment?  Probably not.
  • Said “no” to reviews.  Yes, I am a bad citizen.  I’ve only reviewed something like 5 times the number of papers I’ve submitted.  I’ve decided I will only review papers that I feel I would be an excellent reviewer for the paper, not just a good one.  And, yes I am much less inclined to review a paper if it comes from a publisher who seems to be part of a journal system that is highly dysfunctional.
  • Taught myself Ruby.  Not hard to do, and lots of fun.  Next up is understanding Rails.  Plus I got to read Why’s (Poignant) Guide to Ruby, which I highly recommend.
  • Disconnected from news that isn’t really news.  It’s addicting listening to what passes for news these days, but I’d rather spend that time learning something outside the redundant reporting that is nearly entirely predictable from past news articles. Podcast provide a vastly more interesting audio distraction.
  • Expanded my ability to cook into new and exciting regimes.  I’ve now got a killer spinach salad, a out-of-this-world pork tenderloin with carmelized pears recipe, as well as some pretty good pizza mastered.  Next up: must learn how to produce outrageously good and spicy BBQ!
  • Spent lots of time with Baby Bacon, trying to pen down the points about life that are important, thinking hard about what I want to do in the future, and what positive moves I can act on going forward.  Yeah, I’m a touchy-feely  hippie guy.  So sue me 🙂

6 Replies to “Things I've Done That Make My Life Better”

  1. I recommend the new yorker fiction podcasts.
    If you don’t listen to them, then regretfully I will become angry and stop reading your blog.

  2. Tried to perform work that will be rejected.

    No need to even exert that much effort. Simply co-author a paper with me and you’re guaranteed to be rejected.

    Disconnected from news that isn’t really news.

    Good for you. Personally, I quite enjoy what the BBC puts out in the way of Podcasts. It makes my 80-minute commute much more tolerable and gives me any news that actually is important while leaving out all the drivel. Plus I genuinely learn something.

  3. Dave, this is a great topic, and a great list.
    Here is my contribution: (1) watch the Coen brothers A Serious Man (the lead character is a quantum physicist, yay!). (2) While you’re watching it, be aware that A Serious Man is *not* a retelling of the Book of Job … the critics were all wrong about that … but rather the Coen brothers have made … a zombie movie!
    As in *all* zombie movies, everyone in A Serious Man is either a fully-developed zombie (that is, a dybbuk), or else, is struggling to ardently to avoid becoming a zombie, or else, has given up in despair and is simply waiting to join the zombie horde.
    Importantly (for me), the Coen brothers have made a movie that has a good heart … and anyone who watches it will be motivated to struggle a little bit longer … against the zombie/dybbuk hordes!
    Think Casablanca … uh … with zombie/dybbuks instead of Nazis. 🙂
    Best … academia … quanta … judaica … Coen bros … zombie movie … ever!

  4. Bill Murray and Jeff Blum star in The Life Acquatic … yet another hilariously good-hearted science-themed movie …
    “Do student interns get their own Glocks?”
    “No, they have to share.”
     🙂 🙂 🙂

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