Things vs Wunderlist

27 04 2012

In the past, I have struggled with getting things done. I eventually resorted to a professionally-designed and developed GTD solution, called Things. Then its quality fell off a little bit. Then I started looking around for something else and I found Wunderlist.
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Traffic time sink

22 04 2012

What is the point of living in the suburbs or anywhere outside of a major city when you frequently have to return to that city on a regular basis? This really comes back to a big problem we are going to have to deal with as Americans. We are going to have to address the rise of the suburbs in the 1950s and 1960s and how they have affected our quality of life.

Riding near the canalI have lived in the northern suburbs of Indianapolis, Indiana my entire life. It’s a nice place to live but there is not much to do here and my university and, possibly, my next job are in downtown Indy, half an hour away.

Often, the opportunity presents itself to bike or walk while running errands. I have sometimes found myself zipping by stationary traffic on my bike, with an admittedly smug grin on my face.

Unfortunately, I cannot eliminate driving as a necessity in my life and I do everything I can to avoid traffic jams. I always try to avoid driving during rush hour and I tend to stay off the main streets during the day. It does not just save me gas and time, it saves my sanity.

I guess this may not be particularly Earth-shattering advice, but avoiding traffic jams will make your life a little better. Rather than wasting time just sitting in your car, you can go accomplish something you actually want to do. Trying to get a little smarter about how and when I drive has definitely made my life easier.

Protected: Calculus I was awful

13 04 2012

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Hug it out or we’re all doomed

30 10 2011

I am trying to get a better grip on my own empathy. I have been narcissistic and self-centered in the past and I am trying to move past that because I have come to a realization. We are finished, as a species, if we cannot look at each other and realize that we are looking at other beings with similar thoughts, needs, and desires as ourselves. To realize that and to really grasp the fact that we need to be better than we are if we are going to survive is crucial.

I was recently listening to an interview with author Steve Almond, where he described giving a commencement address to a group of people my age who had mostly adopted a “body culture,” as he put it, and was representative of a society that placed little emphasis on existential thought or self-reflection. Read the rest of this entry »

About to do something reckless and stupid

2 02 2011

The smart thing and the right thing are sometimes not the same thing. Should you do something simply because you can? I can do my job. It challenges me. I have learned a great deal from my job over the past seven months. Unfortunately, I do not get much satisfaction out of my work.

Stay hungry. Stay foolish.

I graduated from college about nine months ago and this is my first full-time, salaried job. I work as a web developer. I graduated with a degree in Informatics, which is an IT-related major. Before that, I was an Astronomy/Astrophysics major. Before that, a Geology major. Because my academic performance as an Astronomy major was not great, I decided I just wanted to graduate, so I found the easiest degree program I could, one that mildly interested me. I blasted right through, graduated, and got a job I could do but did not really care about.

This lack of interest or enthusiasm is no one’s fault but my own. I can get through each day, pushing sites out the door, but there is no fun in it for me. I like the people I work with. They are smart, nice, and knowledgable.

I did the smart thing. I got a steady job with good coworkers in a familiar city that is somewhat easy for me to execute. The question is did I do the right thing? I am considering doing something drastic and stupid but it might be the right thing for me to do. Let’s see if it acutally happens.

Astronomy Course Schedule, Mark I

31 01 2011

If you have been reading my blog, you know that I have been toying around with the idea of going back to school for my Astronomy Bachelor’s degree. I may even continue on to a Master’s degree. I am not certain if I have it in me to the full PhD/postdoc route. But grad school is a decision to be made a year before graduation.

I talked with an Astronomy/Astrophysics academic advisor at Indiana University back in December. Here is the rough course schedule we came up with.

  • Summer 2011
    • MATH-M211 Calculus I (4 credit hours)
  • Fall 2011
    • MATH-M212 Calculus II (4 credit hours)
    • PHYS-P221 Physics I (5 credit hours)
    • AST-A221 General Astronomy I (4 credit hours)
  • Spring 2012
    • MATH-M311 Calculus III (4 credit hours)
    • PHYS-P222 Physics II (5 credit hours)
    • AST-A221 General Astronomy II (4 credit hours)
  • Summer 2012
    • MATH-M343 Intro to Differential Equations with Applications I (3 credit hours)
    • MATH-M303 Linear Algebra for Undergraduates (3 credit hours)
  • Fall 2012
    • MATH-M312 Calculus IV (4 credit hours)
    • PHYS-P331 Theory of Electricity and Magnetism I (3 credit hours)
    • PHYS-P441 General Astronomy II (4 credit hours)
  • Spring 2013
    • PHYS-P332 Theory of Electricity and Magnetism II (3 credit hours)
    • PHYS-P453 Intro to Quantum Mechanics (3 credit hours)
    • AST-A451 Stellar Astrophysics (3 credit hours)
  • Fall 2013
    • AST-A305 Modern Observational Techniques (4 credit hours)
  • Spring 2014
    • AST-A452 Extragalactic Astrophysics (3 credit hours)

Nearly all of my liberal arts and non-degree credits are done and were taken recently enough that I can count them toward this degree. I will also need to take an intensive writing course at some point in this degree program. Given all that math and physics, it would be a welcome break.

I am making a pretty big assumption with this course schedule. That assumption is that I quit my steady, well-paid, job with health benefits and go back to school full time for another three years. That is a decision I am still wrestling with and I am far from making a decision. This is really just a thought exercise for me to see how long it would take me to complete this degree that I have been eying since  2007.

Rationality could keep us from extinction

5 01 2011

I was inspired to write this when I saw a video of Dan Dennett discussing the possible future of religion and it really made me think and hope.

The gist of Dennett’s comments were that, as has happened throughout recorded history, people become better and better educated. As this happens, organized religions are forced to update their positions on various issues. Religions and information do not mix well. The recent flood of information to the entire world, via the internet and other media, has informed people of the larger world and all its people and beliefs. In the modern world, it is exceedingly difficult to shut this out and shield your children from it.

Here’s where my thoughts and hopes come in. If more parents would accept the information age for what it is and allow their children to explore, analyze, and find their own answers, we would be better off. I am not, however, advocating a completely hands-off approach to parenting. Parents should expose their children to science in depth and allow them to investigate competing religions to their own.

We live in a time when humanity could snuff itself out in a week or a generation. Things like war, unmoderated pollution, and unpreparedness for natural disasters could prove ultimately fatal for our species. The key to avoiding extinction and providing for humanity’s long-term survival is to have a generation of well-educated, reasonable, and rational people making decisions and solving problems. Education and an decrease in indoctrination from religious parents will not just make the Earth a better place to live, it could save our species.