General life update

Me at Stone Mountain, 9/28/2012

You know that feeling where you have something you want to say, but you’re really busy, so finally you just splooge out whatever and slap it up onto your blog just to be done with it? And then you’re left staring at that obnoxiously ill-formed post for days because you don’t have time to write another one? Well, that’s how I feel about my most recent post, and so I’m basically writing this one to bump it down. :>

I’ve been doing well. I’m not sure I have mentioned this on the blog yet, but I’ve had a full time contract position for the past several weeks that has been really fun and rewarding. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the work and the people, and I hope to be called back again for future projects.

In addition to that, I’ve been taking free courses on Coursera to try and improve myself. I’m interested in data, statistics, design, user experience design, programming, critical thinking, all sorts of stuff. I started out taking Statistics 1 from Princeton, but unfortunately the time requirements of the course were too much for me alongside full time work and my home obligations, so I had to drop it in the fourth week :( I do feel that I learned a lot in that time, though. I am now taking Learn to Program: The Fundamentals (a Python course) from Toronto University and Human-Computer Interaction from Stanford University. So far it seems that the workload and time requirements are low enough that I should be able to manage both courses while working full time, which is a relief. I’m really enjoying the Python class, and Human-Computer Interaction is fascinating.

After these two courses, I’m scheduled for a more intense Python course, then a general course on design, then a course intriguingly called Think Again: How to Reason and Argue, and finally, next April, Introduction to Data Science. I am so excited about all these courses. It has been great to engage my brain this much again; I love the feeling. There are other Coursera courses I’m interested in as well; it was so hard to narrow them down! It’s amazing and wonderful that all of this content is free.

Sean and I are coming up on our 10th wedding anniversary next January. We’d like to go somewhere new and special to commemorate it, but we’re having a hard time deciding where. Due to financial constraints, we’ll probably be limited to the contiguous United States, and obviously weather will be a factor that time of year. Suggestions are welcome!

That’s about it for now. I hope to write again soon. :)

Study abroad memories

The University of Kentucky Office of International Affairs recently asked past participants of its programs to post their favorite memories on their Facebook Wall. Here’s what I wrote:

Thanks to UKIA, I spent roughly six weeks in Japan in 2001. It was my first time outside the US. I was really impressed with how well the trip was organized, leaving my fellow students and me free to just take everything in and learn all we could. The whirlwind rail tour put me in touch with Japanese history and culture in a way I never could have experienced in a traditional classroom. I’m still friends with the girl whose family I stayed with in the small town of Yatsushiro. There are so many memories that it’s hard to choose a favorite, but ranking high are the dusk view of the lighted port city of Hakodate from the mountains, swimming at the base of waterfalls, writing a short essay on the aesthetics of haphazard power lines (really!), and strolling through preserved historic areas in tiny mountain towns. Ten years later, I’m still “homesick”!

Why can’t people write?

I’m not talking about injecting voice into prose; I’m talking about spelling things correctly, using correct verb tenses, and having enough of a vocabulary to not misuse common words. These are professionals, people with important jobs, community residents who want to get their voices out there. These are PIOs for nationally-affiliated organizations.

Has it always been this way? Have I just been shielded from it by not working in large organizations or seeing dozens of horrendous news releases every week?

Japanophiles like to make fun of Engrish, and to haughtily suggest that in this 21st century, Japanese companies could surely hire a native speaker to write their copy.

But I wonder if a native speaker would truly be any better.