Quick, albeit classic, story. To save $2.50, I decided to walk from Hyde Park to the Green Line in the middle of the night. This took me past the only emergency room in the area (the rest were shut down, probably for reasons relating to the story you're about to hear).
I've spent the week in San Diego, working on setting up things for the new job. For the next month or so, I'll be living in a hotel while we complete our move to the west coast, so new posts may be a bit sparse for a while. Moreover, all I've got right now is my wok computer, for which my employer has mandated the use of Internet Explorer, further thwarting my efforts to communicate with the outside world. Or not - who knows? Anyway, I have a story from my flight out here, another bit of magic brought to us by the TSA.
In 2007 or so, I was living in Hyde Park on Chicago's south side. For those of you who don't know, Hyde Park is a little pocket of neighborhood centered around the University of Chicago that is surrounded by miles on each side by some of the worst ghetto in the city. The relatively tony neighborhood owes its unique location to the stockyards and the prevailing upwind direction during the summertime months. Eventually the cows left and the rich people moved to the northside, leaving the University alone. While Hyde Park remained fairly robust, the surrounding blocks have rotted for the better part of a century. How bad are these neighborhoods? How's this - after I moved to the north side, I would schedule my long marathon training runs to end at the nearby red line station. I did this to ensure that I wouldn't stop, even after covering 22+ miles, because if I did stop there was a very real chance I'd be mugged or shot.
While many stories were born during this time in my life, the one I want to share comes from one of my brief ventures outside Hyde Park. The images from this incident were burned into my brain as indelibly as a branding iron sears the ass of a bull.
Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only person on the planet who's having a good experience. Unlike the hellish experience portrayed by my peers, I ended the year incredibly grateful that 2016 was such an awesome year.
Susan and I visited Spain, France and Italy. I made a 17-day trip to Colorado to train for a marathon that I absolutely bombed. Along the way, I broke 100 miles of running per week on two occasions, the most notable being a 111-mile effort in Colorado Springs at 7,000 feet of altitude. I do not recommend trying this, at home or anywhere else. We also took trips to San Diego and San Francisco as part of work travel, as well as a week-long trip to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. This wasn't a big travel year for us, but next year is looking bigger - Susan and I are planning a longer international trip, and there are some other travel plans I've got on the back burner.
Work-wise, it was a good year. The big news was the relocation of my job from Chicago to San Diego. We'll be relocating throughout this month and the next. Suffice to say, I'm very much looking forward to the change of weather (not to mention trading views of the Pacific for the skyscrapers-and-corn motif of northeastern Illinois). As part of the move, I'm going to be a manager of humans, something I have actively tried to avoid for a long time due to the Peter Principle
In macro, next year's vocational outlook is positively rosy; the new Trump administration will put zero pressure on the pharma industry to control prescription drug prices, so we should see another year of record profits (and a fat, wholly undeserved bonus for me). Meanwhile, my employer will continue to heavily subsidize my healthcare and the expected Republican tax cuts should benefit relatively high earners like myself. Although I don't particularly care about these things, they're the silver lining of having a Republican senate majority and Commander in Chief.
Financially, it was a decent year as well. One of these days I'll write a post about my actual expenses and how I minimize them, but for now let's say that I kept my spending around $28K, which includes buying half of a new-to-us car for Susan and taking some lengthy vacations. The market returned a whopping 13.2% (mainly on the tailwind of the late-year market rally by professional investors optimistic about record profits), and between my additional savings and return on existing investments I was able to come very, very close to the point where I will never be forced to work again.
Finally, one of my goals at the beginning of the year was to begin writing more seriously. A first step was this blog, which was an effort to get me writing more consistently and get my creative juices flowing. This past year I wrote 52 blog posts on a variety of topics, roughly meeting my goal of one post/week.
Goals For 2017
Finish the move to California. Right now I'm juggling all kinds of shit - moving our lab, moving Susan and myself, selling a home and finding a new one, and eating all the crap in the cupboards so it doesn't go to waste. In particular, I'm really looking forward to a 2,100-mile drive with Susan and three cats.
This Website needs more work. I am not a web designer and it shows. I need a front page that doesn't make the eyes bleed. Content-wise, I'd like to keep posting one entry a week. I feel I have a lot more things to say, particularly one science topics, money/investing, and perhaps observational humor. I also need to think about ways to expand this outside of people I know. Right now, I make no effort to advertise this site beyond Facebook posts and, while I'm not interested in writing so much for financial gain, I would like to reach a broader audience at some point.
Finish my current novel. A little secret - I've been working on a second work of fiction (the first is in a desk drawer) that could be described as The Martian in a lab. I'd like to finish a first draft in the next 3-4 months.
Be A Little Nicer. Just a little bit. I've always had a more acerbic type of wit and I've never been shy of telling it like it is, but there are times when I need to hit the brakes a little bit. This is especially true when I get stressed - my inner turmoil seems to leak out a bit too much. While I have no good ideas on how to dampen this sort of behavior (or even quantify this goal), I'd like to become a little more laid back.
Hope everyone else had a good year and best wishes moving forward!
BY THE WAY: According to my website statistics, my most popular post from 2016 was My Experience as an AirBnB Host.
Get ready for one of those "I don't give a shit cause I'm not in academia anymore" posts. This one was inspired by a guy I used to work with - he told me it took him four years to get through his master's program in biomedical research, an inordinately long time for that sort of degree. When pressed for details, he explained that his mentor decided to change some variables in one of the backbone projects for his thesis, variables that the professor had suggested himself before the experiments ever began.
This is most definitely not cool. While PhD students are supported by their advisor's grants, Masters folks pay their own way; adding uneccessary experiments that will likely never see the light of day adds not only time to the degree program, but also student debt. Perhaps more importantly, it's a classic example of moving the goalposts and, in most academic situations other than research-oriented fields, would not be tolerated. And yet this story is hardly unique - everyone has some tale of getting screwed over.
Noah's Inner Monologue
Scribblings of a man who can barely operate an idiotproof website.