Looking back on 2010

Happy New Year everyone!

This has unquestionably been the most eventful year of my life to date (other than the year I was born).  At the risk of sounding self-absorbed I’m going to list the highlights so that it can go down in my personal history.

Here are the bullet points of what happened in pseudo-chronological order:

  • Erek and I made it to the top 50 applications of the Knight News Challenge (out of about 2,400)
  • Google called me out of the blue asking for an interview (funny story behind this one)
  • Lyla received a Fulbright Scholarship to go to Spain
  • I was accepted into the MIT Media Lab
  • Lyla graduated from Temple University, finishing her five-year undergraduate program.
  • My childhood dog – Mrs. Duffy – had to be put to sleep 🙁
  • I ended my time working for ColorQuick
  • I got a book published!  Sort of.
  • Lyla and I drove 1000 miles in less than a week: Cheltenham to New York to Boston to O.C. Maryland back to Cheltenham
  • I spent a summer working for SpeakerText
  • I got married
  • Lyla and I spent 10 days in Puerto Rico
  • We moved to Boston
  • Lyla moved to Spain to begin her Fulbright
  • I started my first semester at MIT
  • I learned how to make almost anything
  • I completed my first semester at MIT
  • Lyla and I spent Thanksgiving in France
  • I visited Lyla in Spain for Christmas and New Years

Not too shabby!  This year contained my wedding, two jobs, two post-graduate programs, three countries, and one U.S. territory.

Also, for a few months in there Lyla and I were in solid running for: a $400,000 grant, employment at Google, graduate school at MIT, and a Fulbright scholarship.  Holy crap.

As for you 2011, the excitement bar is set pretty far up there. No pressure.


  • Andrew R McHugh

    Hello Dan,

    (this is probably better suited for an email, but there is not one posted)
    My name is Andrew R McHugh. I am an undergrad at Westminster College in Fulton MO, studying physics, mathematics, philosophy (and a minor in MIS or potentially HCI). I also busy myself with many other projects and I’ve been looking at the Media Lab for grad school…but none of that is individually important to my question.

    How do you and (new) wife stay together and make it work? You seem to work a great deal and the distance isn’t intuitively helpful.

    Andrew R McHugh

    • Hey Andrew — thanks for the comment and sorry about the lack of email on here (that has been remedied now). I’m gonna send you one now so we can have a better conversation about this since there probably isn’t any truly general advice. For posterity though I’ll at least say a little bit here.

      Lyla and I started dating in high school, so we played the long distance game for 4 years while in college. I went to Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh and she went to Temple in Philadelphia, so we were a 6 hour drive / 1 hour flight away. Freshman year we visited each other once every 2 weeks, alternating who took the trip so that it ended up just being one flight a month which was do-able. As the years went on our workloads went up so we moved that back to once every 3 weeks.

      In a sense, the distance actually WAS helpful for the work / relationship balance because we were forced to learn to be independent while being in the relationship — if that makes any sense. It gave us the room we needed to grow as individuals – which is what college is all about right? So yeah, respect for individuality from both sides + caring about one another = the ability to work hard while maintaining a relationship.

      The end result of that setup is that now we are two individuals that grew together. I’m not sure if doing that is what made us compatible, or if we were only able to do it because we were already compatible. Either way, the result is that overall I don’t feel like I have to do things I don’t want (or not do things I do want) in order for us to be happy together. I assume she would say the same.

      As for this set of long distance, it is definitely no fun and we don’t plan on doing it again once her program ends. The good news is that at this point we have many years under our belts, so while the distance is painful, it isn’t dramatic.