Monday, December 31, 2007

Did you miss me?

Those of you (if any) who read this blog regularly (as opposed to those who get referred here by Google Image searches for McDonalds characters or Garth Brooks album covers) probably noticed that I haven't posted for a bit. Well I'm back in town and I'll definitely have another video coming on Wednesday and I'm also working on at least one other post that's long enough to merit being broken up into a couple parts. Anyway, I had a great Christmas and am excited for this next year.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Watch This Wednesday....or Thursday #13: You Sit on a Throne of Lies

I apologize for not getting this video out yesterday. I thought about posting it last night, but then decided to let this the Christmas Card get a little more time in the limelight. Anyway, here's what may be the last Christmas-themed WTW, a fun clip from the fun Will Ferrell Christmas movie, Elf.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My 2007 Christmas Card

Merry Christmas!

Assembly Hall

Pretty much along the same lines as last year, I'm slacking off on the physical Christmas card front, and giving you this cheaper, electronic version.

As I look back at the year that was 2007, I guess what probably stands out is all the traveling I did. I don't really consider myself a big travel nut, but this year I traveled to San Antonio, Palo Alto, Germany/Austria, and Chicago. Four places I'd never been, and in the case of Germany/Austria, a place I'd never really considered visiting. The trip to San Antonio was a family vacation to visit my brother and his family who live there, and the rest were all for school. If you want to read more about my trips, and/or see the pictures I took on my new digital camera, which I love, you can check out some of these links:

San Antonio (Pictures only)

Palo Alto (Pictures only)

Days 1 & 2 - Exploring Munich
Day 3 - Mass Transit Extravaganza
Day 4 - Stop looking at me, schwan
Day 5 - Austria, eh? Throw another shrimp on the barby!
Day 6- The depths of Hall
Day 7 - I got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell!
Day 8 - Monday Night Football
Day 9 - In with the Innsbruck Crowd
Days 10 & 11 - The Voyage Home
(Pictures only)

Chicago Travelogue, Pt. 1
Chicago Travelogue, Pt. 2
Chicago Travelogue, Pt. 3
Chicago Travelogue, Pt. 4
(Pictures only)

Here's a small sample of what you might find:

Jake's San Antonio Pics 070


Pool (right)

Neuschwanstein Castle from Marienbrucke

AMIA 07 - Chicago 143

When I wasn't busy gallivanting around America and Europe, I spent most of my daytime hours working on my dissertation research. Getting my research project off the ground end up taking much longer than I had anticipated, but alerts are finally going out to doctors, although not quite as often as I'd like. Additionally, I passed my qualifying exams back in the spring, and its nice to have that step out of the way. I also presented a poster at our annual NLM training conference that was at Stanford University this summer. I also was on a panel at the AMIA Fall Symposium. (Luckily the number of people who attended doesn't have to go in my CV.)

My poster

Its my goal to finish by the end of the coming summer, although given my inability to guess how long things would take me so far, that might or might not happen. At the very least, much of what I'm doing now is entirely up to me, and other than one small fix, hopefully I won't be waiting on other people. I've got a lot of writing to do in the coming months and hopefully that will go well. Certainly I would hope to have graduated by this time next year, which seems doable, but at the same time seems like it would still be quite the achievement.

Aside from school, I was released from being the executive secretary for my student ward in May, and was given what seems like a pretty cushy job as the ward communications co-chair, at least in comparison to the busy jobs I had before. Pretty much, I run the ward website, and make sure that people get their pictures taken, and that we have a sacrament program on Sundays. I've got a small, but efficient committee which makes things pretty nice.

Also this year, I moved to a new apartment in February just a few blocks away from my last one. The guys I live with here are nice and relatively clean, and in the brief moments that we're here at the same time we have good times.
Fall 2007 001
(Picture not taken in February)

And yes, I continue to be single. I've managed to go on 16 dates so far this year, which is a 15% increase over last year, for those of you keeping score at home (mom, dad, I'm looking in your direction). Not as many as I'd like, still, but a lot of times I just don't get excited about dating for dating's sake. If there's someone I'd like to get to know better, or that I'd like to spend time with, then yes, I'm all for that. So, yes, I do look at the numbers, but try not to put too much stock into them.

In the meantime, I still had time for plenty of random fun this past year.

Snowshoeing Jan 2007 023
I went snowshoeing for the first time.

Camp Tracy Activity 066
Back in the spring I won our ward Guitar Hero tournament, and then retired effective immediately so I could go out on top. (Not really, but I haven't played much since then.)

Jon's Birthday Bowling 040
I did a fair amount of bowling.

Swing batta batta swing

I went to a couple Salt Lake Bees baseball games, and tried out the "Fireworks" preset on my camera.

...Touchdown Darrell Mack!
I once again had tickets in the Muss, and only missed one Utah home game. Beating UCLA 44-6 was of course the highlight of the season.

The (Un)usual Suspects
Halloween was fun.

I have to say that looking back it was a pretty great year, and I have no reason to believe that next year won't be just as great. At times I've wondered if I'm on the right path, and then I have to realize that if I weren't where I am now, I would have missed out on a lot of experiences, and especially on meeting so many great people that I'm lucky to know. I hope that this Christmas finds you all doing well.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Watch This Wednesday #12: Fa-ra-ra-ra-ra Ra-ra-ra-ra

That's right...its time for more Christmas themed video fun. This week, its the part of the last scene of the classic film "A Christmas Story", which I can't imagine that you haven't seen, especially now that TNT shows it for 24 hours straight (or is it 48?) at Christmas time. I actually know someone whose family actually likes to go out for Chinese on Christmas, an idea they got from watching this movie. Oh well, I guess when its the season to be 'jorry', everyone has their own traditions.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Random Thoughts on the English Language #16: Laundry Day

I've got a big pile of laundry that I need to wash when I got home, and that may have resulted in the phrase "laundry list" going through my mind today. As in "I've got a laundry list of things to do in Salt Lake" or "a laundry list of ways to reduce workplace stress", etc.

Anyway, where did this term come from? Have you ever made a list associated with laundry? If you did, what would it consist of? "#1: Wash Laundry"? or perhaps with more detail? "#1: Wash Laundry. #2: Dry Laundry. #3 Fold Laundry.

Grocery lists I have seen. Laundry lists, not so much.

Monday, December 10, 2007

End of Year List HQ

Just like last year, the site is compiling end-of-year lists for 2007, from all over the web. Already a decent-sized list, I'm sure there'll be plenty more to come. You can see them grouped by category, source, or date for your conveniences. Recently lots and lots of lists from Time and New York Magazines.

Some of my favorites so far: Time's top television ads and top viral videos, and New York Times' Year in Ideas.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Watch This Wednesday #11: Five Goooo-ooold Rings, Ba-dum-bum-bum

In keeping with the Christmas theme of the month, I found this Muppet version of the 12 Days of Christmas from the John Denver/Muppets Christmas Special. We had the soundtrack on tape growing up, and its forever influenced the way that I think the song, ought to be sung, especially the Five Gold Rings part.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Thoughts I had while doing a left outer join on severity indices

Warning: These are some pretty random thoughts

1) Obviously mistletoe is a Christmas tradition, and at numerous singles events (and non-singles events) people hang this over the entryway to the house, but more often than not, no kissing actually happens. So I was thinking, we should get some new plants that mean different things that could be hung. You know, like "stalk of wheat = hug", or "sprig of parsley = backscratch". How about "clove of garlic" = "necking", which guarantees that only non-vampires would be biting your neck?

2) As a friend of mine pointed out to me, if Quidditch were a real sport, it would have some of the dumbest rules in the world. Lets review: (From the Wikipedia entry on Quidditch)

"Teams continue using the same goal posts to score throughout the game. Capturing the Snitch earns the Seeker's team 150 points, equivalent to 15 goals scored by Chasers. Since the game ends immediately after the Snitch is caught, the team which captures the Snitch is very likely to win the game."
Lets compare this to a basketball game with some Quidditch rules. 4 players from each team play regular 4-on-4 basketball, while one player from each team has to get the special ball and make a shot from the opposite free throw line (lets call this the "long shot"). The game can't end until someone has made this difficult shot, and whoever makes the shot gets 30 points for their basket.

How many basketball games are won by more than 30 points? Very few. So only in rare cases would the team who made the long shot not win, no matter how bad they were. So why are the other 4 players even playing 4-on-4? Just to give the crowd something to watch while they wait for someone to make the long shot? And if your team was behind, and you were the long-shooter, wouldn't it be in your interest to not only not make the long shot, but to prevent your opponent from doing so? However, if your team was losing by more than 30 points, the odds are that they aren't going to be closing the gap as time progresses.

Or maybe a football game where the kickers tried to make a 60 yard field goal worth 70 points?

Anyway, I didn't hate the Quidditch parts of the HP books like some have, as I thought they were a good excuse to show off some broom-flying, but still the rules leave something to be desired.

Random Thoughts on the English Language #15: Gender Equity

So a man can be a 'womanizer', but for some reason when I used the word 'manizer' no one knew what I meant.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Who Do You Want to Be Today?

If you're one of the rare brave souls who has ventured to scroll way down on this blog, you may have seen in my sidebar some of the books I've been reading lately. Anyway, I was reading Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury for a minute today (its actually a book that lends itself quite well to brief moments of reading), and came across a real gem of a thought there. An older lady with a penchant for saving ticket stubs and theater programs is upset by the children who refuse to believe that she was young once, but then later that night she has this thought in the form of a rebuke from her deceased husband:
"My dear, you never will understand time, will you? You're always trying to be the things you were, instead of the person you are tonight. Why do you save those ticket stubs and theater programs? They'll only hurt you later. Throw them away my dear....

It won't work...No matter how hard you try to be what you once were, you can only be what you are here and now. Time hypnotizes. When you're nine, you think you've always been nine years old and will always be. When you're thirty, it seems you've always been balanced there on that bright rim of middle life. And then when you're seventy, you are always and forever seventy. You're in the present, you're trapped in a young now or an old now, but there is no other now to be seen."
As I read this passage, I thought how true it is. No matter our past, we are only the person we are right now, and we should make the most of today. No sense in beating ourselves up over past failures, or resting on past victories. Who do you want to be today?