About six months ago I made some New Year’s resolutions, and I thought I might write a Q1 update, but here we are six months later and I haven’t written anything about how it’s going. So… it’s an H1 update.

1. Calorie Counting

Man this one is going well. This is the most effective diet I’ve ever been on, and I’ve been sticking on it for six months. It’s pretty simple to describe - I just count calories, using the default iOS health app. I am actually below the official government “not overweight” line for the first time in my adult lifetime.

So, yeah, great, I just need to keep it up.

It’s somewhat less simple in practice than it is in theory. It’s really not straightforward to figure out how many calories are in a given food. Even the best information on the internet will not be accurate to within about 20%. The “counting” isn’t the hard part, it’s the “estimating calories for a given food item” that is the source of errors.

I also just haven’t been drinking very much. Two days this past six months.

2. Astronomy Publication

I don’t think this goal is on track. Six months ago I thought it was plausible for my work on processing the Green Bank data to get rolled up into some summary paper, soon, describing our work on SETI search there. But, it’s looking like there isn’t a critical mass of people who want to work towards publishing a big analysis of Green Bank data this year.

I’m shifting the strategy here a bit. I’m focusing on this new repository of SETI-search and general radio astronomy algorithms, with two main principles.

  1. Faster than any alternative, via writing in C++ and CUDA
  2. Full support for interferometer arrays

My goal is to get this new software adopted as the production SETI search library for both MeerKAT and the VLA by the end of the year. These are interferometers rather than big single dishes, these are the new hotness, I should really write some separate blog post on just “what are interferometers”.

I’m less focused on “what algorithm exactly is it running”. I have a lot of ideas for algorithmic improvements, but everyone has a lot of ideas for algorithmic improvements. There are dozens of cooks in this kitchen. The limiting factor is the ability to implement search algorithms, and to implement them efficiently enough to actually run them on the scale of terabytes-per-minute.

So, if there arises a consensus in the scientific community that algorithm X would be a fantastic way to analyze incoming radio telescope data, I’d be interested in writing an efficient implementation of X, and integrating that into seticore.

I’m also less focused on “publication”. That’ll come in time and I don’t really want to work on a publication just for the sake of getting a publication - there’s too much of that in academic-world already.

3. Exercise

I’ve just been cranking along here. Working out four times a week is a pretty regular part of my routine now.

It’s funny, I don’t really think exercising has helped me lose weight. It just doesn’t seem like it correlates. But the reverse is definitely true - losing weight helps me exercise better. I have somewhat more endurance, and way more ability to do pullups.

I do think that exercising gives you more energy through the next day. Same with not drinking. My energy level the next morning is really boosted when I exercise and when I don’t drink.

4. Blogging

I’m a little behind on this one. Just a couple weeks behind, though. I wrote a script to compare how I’m doing.

I used to blog and try hard to get people to read it. I just don’t have the mental energy to do that every week. And it’s a totally different blog post. The stuff people want to read is like, zingers about Uber when Uber has been in the news. Thumbnails of GPT-3 which are easy to exaggerate.

The stuff I want to write is like, I read some books about the history of Mexico, now I have all this information swimming in my brain, and I feel like I should do something with it. I need to get it out, need to stop just thinking random uncorrelated thoughts on the topic and see if I can boil down what I really think. I want to reflect on the Drake Equation or AIs playing board games or the importance of slug welfare.

So, I am just not going to try to get people to read this. Not now, at least. But I’m going to keep writing. I’ll try to catch back up - I fell behind when I caught Covid a couple weeks ago.

Looking Forward

I’m feeling pretty good about the whole resolution thing. Calorie-counting has been a great success, astronomy publication has not been a success but on a meta-level I feel like the explicit goal-setting process was useful there because it made me think a bit harder about what to focus on.

It’s funny because at Google and Facebook I really hated the performance review cycle. One of the worst parts of working for a big company. But I like the process of having goals and being tough on yourself for not hitting them. I just hated being reminded that I was in a system where some other person’s opinion of my performance was really important to me. Every single time it would make me think, I wish I wasn’t working here. I should quit. I should be testing myself against what I can achieve in the world, not against what some coworker thinks.

Onward to H2. I’ll aim to do a similar writeup at the end of the year.