Visiting Utah

I just spent a half-week in the Salt Lake City area of Utah and loved it.  Having lived in Boulder, CO for six weeks, and Nelson, New Zealand for 3 months, I would happily match the outdoors in Utah against either place.  The thing that blew me away about Salt Lake was the proximity to incredible nature.  Within a twenty minute drive we were in snow-covered mountains, lush forests, and surging rivers.

 

I went fly fishing for the first time which I plan to do again, and hiked to several lakes secretly tucked into the mountains.  The downtown of SLC had several great and well designed coffee shops that I was impressed with as well.  Combine all of this with a dozen CrossFit gyms in a 10-mile radius (Utah 10-miles, not SF or LA where that would be an hour of driving), some of the nicest people I’ve met, and extremely affordable housing to make one of my new favorite spots in the US.  If I was into winter sports I would seriously consider moving there, but for the moment I’m a weather wuss and enjoy my California winters.

 

My reason/excuse for visiting Utah was attending my friend Ari’s dad’s 60th birthday party, and the hospitality they showed was incredible.  I was also very impressed with their family dynamic.  Staying in Ari’s families house and seeing a completely honest and easy going communication between him, his parents, and sister was refreshing.  Even when discussing current or past relationships with details that I would be nervous to tell my close friends they shared openly with each other.  

 

My experience is that the more you practice being 100% honest with people, the more they reciprocate.  The biggest and most important value to me I learned a while ago is truth.  Truth with others, myself, and getting a better grasp of understanding the truth about reality.  Some people can join cults because they’re willing to lie to themselves for some sense of belonging or purpose, and perhaps for them the net value of believing something fake outweighs lying to themselves, but for me there is no afterlife that can compete with living in an honest reality.  

 

On an educational note I’ve been grinding away as usual on my Machine Learning/AI.  Some of my favorite educational resources are the three weekly digests that I read:

http://datamachina.com/

http://www.wildml.com/

https://jack-clark.net/import-ai/
As well as this book:

 

Hands-On Machine Learning with Scikit-Learn and TensorFlow

 

One of the things I love about the AI field is that it’s currently in a state of rapid change and improvement.  If you were proficient in AI a few years ago, moved to a cabin in the woods, and came back now you would have the whole ecosystem of software, research papers, and algorithms to learn.  I’m sure the same will be true a few years from now.  Things build though of course, and you’ll still be needed if you start now no matter how many articles I see talking about Machine Learning classes at every university being overbooked.

 

Before bed I read pretty much every single night, usually between 30 minutes and 1 hour.  It’s one of the most pleasurable parts of my day.  I read a rotating list of around 10 books on my Kindle depending on what I’m in the mood for, and this past week I finished a cool science fiction book called:

 

The Three Body Problem

 

It’s one of the few Chinese translated books I’ve read outside of the Tao Te Ching, and it was an entertaining thought provoking work.  My disclaimer is that the first half (and I saw many reviews stating the same thing) is a bit confusing and slow, but the second half is great.  It made me get more curious about physics, the potential of virtual reality, the cultural differences in China, and most interestingly the good/bad of humans in the universe.  There’s so much social unrest in the world right now, and my feeling is that it comes from people not being at peace/understanding themselves in their little moment of time in this world.  

 

Leaving you this week with one of the many beautiful views I encountered in Utah:

 

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