As I may or may not have mentioned here, I’m at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the summer (a rapidly-closing summer: I head back to Pittsburgh on June 30), officially working on a CMS-sanctioned project to unify disparate health care databases into something resembling a useable system. And, as a bonus, to take advantage of some nifty graph theory to make some inferences.
My unofficial duties, of course, are even more interesting: delving into the realm of public health dynamics in a large-scale fashion. But I will say that the work I’m doing is really, really taxing. Plus I’m in the final stages of getting a paper ready for submission to a journal, and I have to do the bulk of that work after normal business hours. It makes for an environment where my short duration in Knoxville is passing in a blur.
And that’s a dirty rotten stinking shame, because Knoxville is absolutely beautiful.
So I took a walk yesterday afternoon to take a quick break from my work, and my mind drifted to something a friend of mine had done a few years back on Facebook: post 1 random photo of absolutely anything every single day for a month. And it occurred to me that this might just be a really solid idea to guarantee that I spend at least a few minutes each day stepping back and taking a breather.
It’s a nice creative outlet that focuses my brain, but doesn’t demand long-term engagement like some of my secret projects. Fun as they are, between ORNL and Ph.D. research, I have little time or energy for hardcore tinkering right now.
In short, my plan is this: over the next 46 days (ending July 30, the day of my thesis proposal), I will post here with one photo taken on that day. A few guidelines:
- No “selfies”. This is less a rule and more a personal guarantee, because I think “selfies” are dumb and actually detract from whatever else may be in the photo. Were my fat head present in the foreground of the above picture, I think we can all agree the sunset would be less for it.
- It will pertain somehow to the day’s events. This is difficult to explain, other than to say that I promise I won’t snap a picture of some random landmark “just” to have a picture to post. I’ll put a little more thought into it (supports the idea of genuine breaks from work, rather than token efforts).
- The format will be similar to the Daily postings I did for a week last year. It will differ in that the focus will be on the picture; I’ll post some accompanying information, but probably not more than a paragraph or two.
- Only one picture! On some days this will be hard, as I don’t see a whole lot beyond the walls of the ORNL campus during the week, and finding something that’s both interesting and pays homage to that particular day will take some thought. On other days it will be harder, particularly on the weekends when I’m running races or traveling, and choosing just one photo be challenging!
I’m hoping this will capture a little bit of my life here in Knoxville / Oak Ridge, and will help keep me sane in the frighteningly-short span of days between now and my thesis proposal. I’ll specifically mark the “Daily Photo” posts as such, but may still intersperse “regular” updates as I see fit. To whet your collective appetites, I’ll post for Day 0 something I took yesterday (illegal, yes, but Day 0 doesn’t count in the official tabulation, so EAT IT) that I think effectively sums up my work so far.
It was the end of the day, I was leaving notes for myself for today, and I was getting a little punchy. Stuff happens.
Tomorrow is Day 1 of 46. Stay tuned!