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Reflecting on 2009 and looking ahead to 2010

January 4, 2010

I used to think the tradition of using the New Year as both a time of reflection and looking ahead/goal-making (e.g., resolutions) was cliché  – but as I’ve grown older, I do find that the end of one calendar year and the beginning of another is a great time to do such things. Mostly because, like most people, I use my (very few) vacation days around this time of the year to get out of the office, away from a computer, away from the internet, and away from the myriad tasks and obligations of work and life. Time off, especially when combined with travel, is very conducive to thinking back and looking ahead.

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Reflecting on 2009

2009 was a pretty good year for me in terms of my research — all my dissertation projects are now published and out in peer-reviewed literature. These projects were, of course, started years ago but the final products all ended up coming out in 2009 (technically, the final paper is in the ‘early view’ section of a journal right now and will have a 2010 date when it comes out in hard copy). My original plan was to publish blog posts about each of the three studies around the time they came out. So far, I’ve only done that for the first one (see here). Finishing posts for the other two papers is part of my resolutions for next year (see below).

I had a fantastic opportunity in June of 2009 to help teach a portion of a field- and classroom-based course in sedimentary geology at the University Centre at Svalbard. This was my first trip ‘above’ the Arctic Circle and although I was only there for a short time it was a great experience. Although I get the opportunity to teach training classes for my job right now, which I love, it’s a different experience compared to teaching graduate students.

2009 was also the year I tried Twitter. I have mixed feelings about the value of Twitter — some days I think it is an important and transformative way of online communication and interaction — on other days it seems like a frivolous waste of time. It’s a fantastic way to share links but the signal-to-noise ratio can be quite low unless you monitor it very frequently. I get the sense that both Twitter and Facebook will transform in 2010 in ways that will turn people off — more spam, more ads, more “marketers”, etc. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what the next big thing will be.

In terms of my blogging in 2009, I ended up decreasing both the frequency and scope of posts about halfway through the year – just don’t have as much time to devote to it as I did a few years ago.

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Looking Ahead to 2010

As I mentioned above, research projects left over from my PhD are essentially complete and published. My current research is with my employer and mostly proprietary. That is, the data is proprietary and cannot be shown/discussed on this blog*. It’s possible that some of this work will end up being published in journals at some point in the future, but that can be a long and difficult process. However, there are a couple of projects that were spawned from previous research that aren’t directly related to my day-to-day work. The challenge with such “side projects” is finding the time to work on them.

Over the holiday break my wife and I were getting rid of clutter in our house and I came across my stash of pre-digital photographs. I have tons from when I took geology field camp in the ’90s (wow, that sounds like a long time ago now!) and from other field work and travels in Colorado and Utah during the early 2000s. I’m going to start scanning these sometime in the next few months — which will provide a new source of Friday Field Fotos that I hope will add some variety to the series.

Things I hope to do in 2010 (in no particular order):

  • Finish and submit a synthesis paper about the turbidite strata in Patagonia — this one has been a group effort with colleagues who have done work down there and attempts to summarize the detailed stratigraphic work within the context of the more regional studies of tectonic evolution. This will be my last first-authored paper from this region unless I’m lucky enough to get down there to do some more field work at some point in the future.
  • Finish a series of blog posts related to research on sediment delivery to a Holocene deep-marine basin offshore California.
  • Put together post(s) for research of detrital-zircon record (and associated tectonic history) of the Magallanes foreland basin in southern Chile.
  • Write at least one post for the theoretical stratigraphy series (see #1 and #2).
  • Start scanning collection of pre-digital photographs (as mentioned above).
  • Decrease the amount of pointless and/or frivolous bits of information both delivered and consumed via Twitter — which might lead to using it very infrequently or not at all … will have to see how it goes.
  • Read more books (physical, tangible books — the kind you can hold in your hands!).
  • Select/tag/bookmark fewer online articles and blog posts to read per week — and then actually read them all the way through in one sitting.
  • Declutterize my life in the real world in addition to my online life.
  • Practice piano more often — and work on a more productive practice routine.
  • Volunteer my time and expertise for science education in my community.
  • Yeah, I know this is cliché … but exercise more and eat better. My wife and I did pretty well in 2009 on this front but there’s always room for improvement.

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* I will not discuss specifics of my job on this blog under any circumstances. Please don’t ask any specific questions or bring up detailed information. Please see disclaimer page for more information.

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