I’ve been on a blogging hiatus as the past month has been spent finishing my AI project that generates human-quality Yelp reviews (https://github.com/ajmanser/Yelp) , giving presentations of this project across Silicon Valley, cramming for technical interviews, and then interviewing.
Not blogging has definitely been a nagging pain point for me that I could no longer ignore. It’s tough when you’re doing algorithms questions all day to allocate the mental energy to write, but it’s like flossing… you can get away with skipping it for a while, but you quickly realize those minutes are well invested.
I’m currently studying/interviewing (phone) remotely from Los Angeles this week. I haven’t left the Bay Area Area for months which is a huge change from a year ago where I might have lived in 2 different countries during this period, let alone extra travel.
Staying put has advantages though. When I have a good routine I can be very productive as I auto-pilot through food/workouts/schedule. The downsides are that the routine can get stagnant, and it gets harder to make changes that are bugging me (like getting back to some minimal writing habit).
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about balance vs. focus. Specifically can I regularly do some writing, spend time with my friends/family/gf, maintain my fitness, prepare for interviews, meditate, learn new things in Machine Learning, etc. ? It’s definitely tough.
I spent a few months where I sacrificed pretty much everything else for my AI fellow program at Insight, but I realized it wasn’t sustainable for me the hard way. My physical conditioning was getting bad, my eyes were constantly tired from staring at a computer screen all day/night, my focus was getting worse as I tried to learn non-stop, and there was a general feeling of loss of enjoyment in my life.
I realized that there will always be more things that I want to learn/do than I have time for, and just to be content (difficult for me) with doing 1-2 things well while still making sure the other areas of my life are fulfilled. The key to me seems to check off the boxes even if it’s not the extent that I’m used to in the past. I used to journal every morning, blog once per week, and write 1 hour a day of fiction. At this moment I’m ok writing in my journal a few times per week, and making an effort to write a blog. It’s not the same as when I spent hours of my day working on my writing, but it’s also not completely abandoned.
I’ve been doing the same with my meditation (often just a few minutes), and a quick CrossFit or yoga workout. Conversely I am still overloaded with my learning pipeline, but I’m trying not to let anything fall off completely, spending time with friends during evenings/weekends, and stopping myself from reading news/blogs/tutorials every down moment I have.
One book I’ve been thinking about a lot is “Seven Brief Lessons on Physics”. It’s a short and poetic book about some of the biggest ideas in Physics, and connects me to some of the coolest things about learning math/computer science/machine learning: understanding reality. I very much enjoyed it, and am currently reading a larger book by the same author, but I would highly recommend this one first. Even if you’re not into science (I personally don’t read much) at the higher levels of Physics things get philosophical and allow you to think about the big questions in life.
Speaking of thinking this cool bird I passed by on a recent trail was pretty stoic and makes the cut for today’s pic.