You can find my resume here if you’re interested in my career story.
I thought it would be informative to write the rest of my About page using “ice breakers”. Googling “ice breakers” leads to results like “If you were a vegetable…”, so I searched for “normal ice breakers” instead. I still get “If you were an animal…”, but that’s better, somehow.
Here we go:
If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
A sloth, apparently. My wife came up with this analogy because she thinks I move so slowly. Enough people either agreed or thought it was funny enough that the joke stuck around. Once, I was gifted sloth socks as a wedding party favor. I love those socks.
What is one goal you’d like to accomplish during your lifetime?
To contribute something that is useful to humanity 100 years after I’m dead. Because why aim low, right?
When you were little, who was your favorite superhero?
As an adult, I like Marvel movies as much as the next person. As a kid, I didn’t particularly care for superheroes. There are no rules. If the Hulk fights Wolverine, who wins? Who knows, because the physics of the world adapt, on the fly, to the plot. It’s all magic, in the end. Incidentally, I love a rules-based magic system, à la Brandon Sanderson.
Who is your hero?
Elon Musk, unfortunately. I’ll likely never meet him, but if I did I’m sure it would be the embodiment of “Never meet your heroes.” My hipster defense is that I independently learned about Tesla while browsing the web as a kid. This was back when Tesla was duct taping laptop batteries to the bottom of a Lotus Elise.
Three random reasons I like Musk:
- He tweeted about Superintelligence by Nick Bostrum and has clearly digested the book himself. Superintelligence is one of my favorite reads. There’s a thoughtfulness in that book that I’ve rarely seen elsewhere.
- He taught me to think in orders of magnitude. “It’s more than 10 and less than 1000, so about 100.” The world is complicated, and it’s often (usually?) difficult to provide accurate estimates. I’ve found this technique useful for clarifying my own thoughts and for communicating how I consider variance to people who don’t know the word variance.
- He cares about the future of humanity enough to put effort into increasing the likelihood that we survive. I don’t know many who spend more than fleeting moments thinking about either the future or humanity. Of those that do, even fewer care. Sure, there’s the argument that Musk is just saying these things because he’s a savvy businessman. But I don’t think that’s the case.
If you could have an endless supply of any food, what would you get?
Maybe venison. This is a hard question because I keep thinking about all of the downsides of having an endless supply of a single food.
What’s your favorite thing to do in the summer?
Go to the beach. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
- Reading time
- Late-night Netflix
Who's your favorite cartoon character?
I don’t immediately have a good answer for this, sadly. But there are a lot of different directions this could be taken. I briefly considered Waldo, as a general homage to Black Mirror. Mulan seems like a good choice cause she’s a badass. Plus, good music. And even though I haven’t seen it all Aang keeps popping into my head.
If you could visit any place in the world, where would you choose to go?
is a Hindu temple complex in Cambodia and is the largest religious monument in the world - Wikipedia
The name is cool, the description is cool, the photos are cool. The whole thing just seems like something out of a fantasy epic. Equally important, I’ve never been anywhere in Southeast Asia, which seems like a fascinating place. I’d love to spend some time in the country experiencing the culture.
What’s the ideal dream job for you?
Being a venture capitalist qualifies as both ideal and a dream. I don’t know how you’d measure this effect, but I hypothesize that VCs have outsized influence over humanity’s trajectory. Even compared to CEOs, politicians, etc. There’s a lot more I want to say about this, but I don’t have all the words yet. I’ll leave a full explanation and defense to a later post.
Are you a morning or night person?
Night. My routine is basically work, gym, dinner, and time with my wife, followed by a couple of silent hours at the end of the night to work on whatever I’m interested in at the time. Some weeks, more gets accomplished in the ~10 hours at night than in the ~40 hours at work.
What are your favorite hobbies?
Even though I don’t spend as much time playing as I would like, I love ultimate frisbee. One of my favorite aspects of it is that a huge range of skill levels can play simultaneously. On one hand, noobies can still contribute because—at the amateur level at least—defense is more important than offense but takes significantly less technical skill. On the other hand, the frisbee and its slower speed of flight (relative to balls) allows for extremely exciting displays of athleticism.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
Frog legs from a frog my brother and I hunted out of our pond and cooked over a fire. We weren’t sure how long to cook them, so we left them on the fire forever. While they weren’t burnt, every last molecule of water had been evaporated. They weren’t good.
Name one of your favorite things about someone in your family.
My brother has always intuitively known how to generate fun. That may seem like a boring and non-unique answer. But most people only know how to enjoy entertainment that’s provided to them. Mahlon knows how to generate entertainment from nothing. That’s a rare skill. It’s a skill I’m particularly thankful for him having, because it’s one I’ve been able to pick up over time, due to his showing me how to do it as kids.
What's a unique or quirky habit of yours?
Ehh…people like to imagine they’re super unique. Well, they are. But only because of the curse of dimensionality. Along any individual axis, people aren’t nearly as unique as they pretend.
I’ve never heard anyone else called out for holding their breath while they’re thinking. This means I tend to exhale heavily at semi-regular intervals while working. I didn’t know this was something I do until one of my friends on my high school’s Academic Team yelled at me to stop because it was bothering them. Since then, multiple other people have kindly reminded me to “keep breathing”. I suspect other people also do this, but I’ve neither noticed nor overheard someone mention it to another.
If you had to describe yourself using three words, they would be…
Human. Creator. Bioinformatician.