Friday, December 19, 2008

My 2008 Christmas Card

Boston Common Christmas Tree

First off, Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope that this holiday season finds you well, even with the tough economic times we're facing. Hopefully you can find joy this holiday season in things that money can't buy.

I'm going to try to sum up my past year and looking back it seems like it's been a pretty full year. Definitely the #1 focus of this year has been completing my PhD research and writing my dissertation. I successfully defended my dissertation back toward the end of October, but haven't quite managed to get my committee to explain everything they want me to finish up in my final edits yet, so I'm not completely done. But getting close. Which feels good. Just not as good as being completely done would feel. Or so I imagine. In any case, it's definitely been an exercise in patience throughout the entire grad school process, and it's rewarding to be reaching the end.

Along with completing my research and the bulk of my writing, I also was able to get my first paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA) which was both exciting and rewarding. You should be able to view the abstract here even if you aren't a subscriber.

I'm also currently in the process of lining up a job for when I finish. I have a generous offer on the table here in Salt Lake and recently traveled to Boston for an interview with another great applied informatics group. Hopefully I'll have made a decision on that by the end of the year. UPDATE: Since the time I was drafting this, I came to a decision and decided to sign with Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City, and will be starting in January.

Speaking of my recent trip to Boston, I also did a fair amount of traveling this year, most of it school/work related. However, my first, and probably funnest trip of the year was back in March when my good friend Jon and I headed to New York City for Spring Break. We have another good friend, Randall, who lives and works out there, and he and his wife were gracious enough to not only let us crash at their place in Queens, but also drive us to and from the airport, show us around town and just be amazing hosts all around. Thanks, Randall and Traci! Definitely a fun trip.

Jon and Jake Times Square

Randall & Jake 404

Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge

You can read more about the trip in these blog posts:

Trip to NYC - Day 1
Trip to NYC - Day 2
Trip to NYC - Day 3
Trip to NYC - Day 4
Trip to NYC - Day 5
Trip to NYC - Day 6

and the Flickr photo set of the trip is here.

In late April, I had my first school/work-related trip, a brief trip to Madison, Wisconsin for a job interview out there.

Wisconsin State Capitol Building
Wisconsin state capitol building

A few more photos are here.

Also in the Spring, I went fly fishing for the first time, out to the Green River with my dad and older brother, and even managed to catch a fish on a flyrod. To be honest, there weren't a lot of fish caught by anyone, so I was happy to at least catch one.

My first fly fishing catch

While my brother and his family were in town we also had a "vacation" to Salt Lake City, that involved staying at a hotel, going to the aviary, and playing laser tag. It's always fun to get everyone together.

Then in late June, I went to Las Vegas with a group of friends, just for the weekend. I'm not a huge Vegas nut, but as long as I'm only there for a couple days, I can usually find a few things to do that I find entertaining.

Bellagio Fountains

I wrote about the trip here, and there are some photos here.

In early July, I made another quick trip, this time to Washington, D.C. for the annual NLM training conference, my 5th and final time participating in that conference, as my NLM grant ended in August. To be honest, it really didn't feel like a vacation. I was mainly focused on making revisions to some papers I was working on at the time, and I really didn't take much time to do any sight-seeing. I did get the chance to have dinner one night in Alexandria with my old roommate Chris, so that was nice.

After D.C., I was able to take a break from traveling and work on finishing up my writing. However, as I didn't finish up my degree by the end of summer semester I had to enroll for Fall Semester, the one bright side of which was being able to get student football tickets for another great season of Utah football. This year's team went undefeated and will be playing in the Sugar Bowl on January 2nd. This year's home schedule featured amazing last minute victories over Oregon State and TCU, and then a less stressful win over BYU to cap the season. My friend Jon, who started grad school at Washington in Seattle flew home to go to the BYU game and we had fun storming the field after the big win. Here's a blog about the game.

Hanging Out on the Field

Interestingly enough, my first year in graduate school was the year Utah went undefeated and then played in the Fiesta Bowl. Nice bookends for my grad school years at the U. In another interesting coincidence, my first year at the U for my bachelor's degree was the year that the Men's Basketball team lost in the national championship. I've definitely been lucky to see some great years of sports at the U.

And as previously mentioned, I did just recently return from a trip to Boston for another job interview.


Some blog posts about that trip are here:

Trip to Boston - Day 1
Trip to Boston - Day 2
Trip to Boston - Day 3
Trip to Boston - Day 4

and there are some photos here.

I'm still single, and still attending the same singles ward here in Salt Lake. We always seem to have a large number of fun activities going on, and fun people are always moving in (yay!) and out (boo!) of the ward. In February, our Elders Quorum was split and I was called to serve as one of the two new Elders Quorum presidents. It definitely hasn't been as stressful as the first time I served in this calling, but sometimes I wonder whether that is a good or a bad thing. I'm sure there is more that I could be doing, but hopefully I'm doing an alright job of things. I definitely feel blessed with good counselors in my presidency, even though I've just replaced my 2nd counselor for the 2nd time as they keep getting married on me.

EQ Shooting Activity 059
This was from an EQ Shooting Activity we had this past summer.

Speaking of marriage, I'm of course not married, but still en la lucha ("in the struggle") as we used to say in Argentina. As far as I can tell from my records, it looks like I've been on 20 dates so far this year, up from 16 last year (an increase of 25%), and 14 the year before. In case anyone is interested in that sort of thing.

I guess it also bears mentioning that I turned 30 this past September. I don't really feel all that different, but I guess with finishing up school and getting close to taking a career-type position, I am starting to feel a little more grown up.

30th Birthday
Picture from my birthday party

One of the highlights of my birthday was this video from my niece, Lucy, wishing me a Happy Birthday:

It doesn't get much cuter than that does it? :)

Looking back at the year that was, it definitely seems to have been full of fun, adventure, and accomplishment. I feel blessed to have had multiple great job options at a time when many people I know are struggling. I am so grateful for the many blessings in my life including my wonderful, loving family, and the very many friends that I've been blessed with. The older I get the more I think about the people in my life, and the less I think about the stuff. Once again, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Matt and Marti Jo said...

Looks like you had a pretty eventful year. and good job on the 25% increase:) Merry Christmas Jake!

Brenda said...

Wow Jake I didn't know how awesome you really are. All I knew about were your mad volleyball skills. Sounds like you had a great year. Glad I got to be part of the fun, even if it was only for a little while. Good luck with your new job!

Shayla said...

you make me laugh. :)