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My 2019 in Pictures & Graphs
2020-01-01

Since mid-2018 I've been keeping track of my feelings each day on a scale of 1-10. This year's data suggests I've been mildly happy most days, and only occasionally depressed.

The value of keeping these records is that they sometimes contradict the story I'd otherwise tell myself. When I think about the long-running dissatisfactions in my life, it can seem to me like I spend a great deal of time miserable. But evidently, those things aren't actually occupying my mind often enough for that to be the case.

I took about 440 pictures of my cat. I realize that such a low number represents a dereliction of my duties to the world, and offer my sincerest apologies.

I read about 50 books. Most were good and many were very good.

I'm trying to divert more of my time to other modes of learning though, like reading academic papers or working through courses. Nonfiction books often contain a lot of fluff and I'd like to be more efficient in gaining both depth and breadth of knowledge.

My phone says I walked an average of 8864 steps per day. I think the ones since I moved to Queen Anne should count more since so many of them were uphill...

Before I moved, I organized four sessions of the Kansas City Philosophy Club in which we discussed various metaphysics papers. These went really well, and I'm grateful to all the smart, interesting people who attended and shared their thoughts.

I also organized four sessions of the Kansas City Code Challenge meetup. This didn't get the consistent attendance I would have liked, but we did have some interesting discussions. I'm thankful to everyone who came, and in particular my friend Kris for consistently being there with something cool to show us.

The meetup got me interested in how to explain algorithms in comprehensible ways. I wrote several blog posts explaining the challenges we worked on in depth, and I'm currently working on ways to build better, interactive explanations.

Along with another member, I helped organize the KC chapter of Podcast Brunch Club for part of the year. We had good food & good discussions. This was the year I really started listening to a large number of podcasts; they've cut a deep chunk out of my audiobook-listening time.

In November, I relocated from Kansas City to Seattle. This served as an excuse for a beautiful cross-country drive, and my first time visiting South Dakota, Montana, and Idaho. Downsizing to the point where I could fit everything I needed in my car (I didn't hire movers) was also a worthwhile exercise in minimalist thinking, though probably not one I'll repeat.

I recorded myself playing 13 piano songs by 12 composers. By planning to make a recording of every song I learn, I'm providing myself a "done criterion" for learning: I have to learn the song well enough that I'm comfortable sharing my performance with others, and then I can move on. (Without a target like that to shoot for, there's a chance I'll get bored as soon as I've practiced it enough that there's no longer a dopamine hit from the novelty of being able to play the song, even though I may not yet have really smoothed out the most difficult parts or paid careful attention to expressiveness.)

I took trips to several places.

I basically fell in love with LA. How can anyone live there and not just visit the Getty Center all the time?

Montréal is absolutely charming and the the Notre-Dame Basilica is astounding.

Des Moines has a gorgeous library in its state capitol, and some slightly eerie sculptures I adored.

In Omaha, I ate some unreasonably good ice cream and traversed a remarkable pedestrian bridge.

The beauty of Minneapolis caught me completely off guard.

There are so many people I will miss in the Kansas City area. To all my friends from the sci-fi/fantasy book club, the Provocateurs & Peacemakers meetup, the philosophy club, the podcast club, and Cerner; my college friends in the area; my family nearby; and everyone else: thank you for being awesome. I look forward to our paths crossing again!

Get in touch with me at jacobaw@gmail.com.


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