After a very exhausting year of travel in 2016, this year was deliberately more relaxed with “only” 60,553 miles flown.

  • Saskatoon, Canada*
  • San Francisco, CA*
  • Pittsburgh, PA*
  • Bothell, WA
  • Agra, India
  • Delhi, India
  • Marshall, CA^
  • Beaverton, OR*
  • Half Moon Bay, CA^
  • Monterey, CA^
  • Carmel Valley, CA
  • Carmel, CA^
  • New York City, NY
  • Hicksville, NY
  • Glendale, AZ
  • Anchorage, AK
  • Seward, AK
  • Seattle, WA^
  • Klamath Falls, OR
  • Kirkland, WA*
  • Orlando, FL
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Toronto, Canada^
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Berlin, Germany

One or more nights spent in each place, with the exception of day trips marked with a ^. Those cities marked with an * were visited multiple times on non-consecutive days.

Previously: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007

Maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.


International jetsetting continued this year, with 141,349 miles flown! This is the first year that my travels extended outside of a single hemisphere, hence the rectangular map.

  • Luquillo, PR
  • San Juan, PR^
  • San Francisco, CA*
  • Beaverton, OR*
  • Seattle, WA^
  • Bangalore, India*
  • Gurgaon, India*
  • New Delhi, India^
  • Mumbai, India
  • Anaheim, CA
  • Walnut, CA^
  • Yorba Linda, CA^
  • Newport Beach, CA^
  • New Orleans, LA
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates^
  • Kolkata, India*
  • Cupertino, CA^
  • Saskatoon, SK*
  • Bangkok, Thailand
  • Ko Samui, Thailand
  • Whistler, BC
  • Pemberton, BC^
  • Vancouver, BC^
  • Richmond, BC
  • Portland, OR
  • Detroit, MI^
  • Shelby Charter Township, MI
  • Sterling Heights, MI^
  • Troy, MI^
  • Romulus, MI
  • Laguna Hills, CA
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Jakarta, Indonesia
  • Singapore
  • St. Louis, MO
  • Toronto, ON^
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Stoke Poges, United Kingdom
  • San Diego, CA
  • Palm Springs, CA
  • Mexico City, Mexico

One or more nights spent in each place, with the exception of day trips marked with a ^. Those cities marked with an * were visited multiple times on non-consecutive days.

Previously: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007

Maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.


With several trips across the North Pole, shuttling between San Francisco and India, I flew 104,028 miles this year. A new record!

  • Cabarete, Dominican Republic
  • San Francisco, CA*
  • Beaverton, OR*
  • Kirkland, WA*
  • Seattle, WA^
  • Half Moon Bay, CA^
  • Mill Valley, CA^
  • South Lake Tahoe, CA^
  • Stateline, NV
  • El Dorado Hills, CA^
  • Occidental, CA
  • Guerneville, CA^
  • Vancouver, Canada
  • Woodburn, OR^
  • Hyderabad, India
  • Gurgaon, India*
  • Bangalore, India*
  • Saskatoon, Canada
  • San Diego, CA*
  • Laguna Hills, CA^
  • Mission Viejo, CA^*
  • Chula Vista, CA^*
  • Montreal, Canada*
  • New York, NY
  • Puertos Morelos, Mexico
  • Agra, India
  • Santa Cruz, CA^
  • Rancho Cucamonga, CA
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Oakland, CA^*
  • Los Banos, CA^
  • Los Angeles, CA^
  • Anaheim, CA
  • Kolkata, India*
  • Kharagpur, India
  • San Juan, PR^
  • Humacao, PR
  • Luquillo, PR

One or more nights spent in each place, with the exception of day trips marked with a ^. Those cities marked with an * were visited multiple times on non-consecutive days.

Previously: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007

Maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.


Earlier this year, in a somewhat unexpected plot twist, I changed jobs and moved from Seattle to San Francisco. Since then, I’ve been exploring the Bay Area and also made frequent trips to visit family and friends in Portland, San Diego, and Seattle.

Despite spending most of the year on the West Coast, I managed to fly 55,156 miles this year, which was the most since 2009! I’m finishing off the year on a beach in the Dominican Republic and am looking forward to whatever’s in store for 2015.

  • Seattle, WA*
  • San Diego, CA^*
  • La Jolla, CA*
  • Palo Alto, CA
  • Beaverton, OR*
  • Camas, WA^
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Pickering, Canada
  • Vaughan, Canada^*
  • Corvallis, OR^
  • Burlingame, CA^*
  • San Francisco, CA*
  • Vancouver, Canada^
  • Berkeley, CA^*
  • Oakland, CA^*
  • Groveland, CA
  • Yosemite National Park, CA^*
  • Gurgaon, India
  • New Delhi, India^*
  • Agra, India
  • Hayward, CA^
  • Milpitas, CA^*
  • West Hollywood, CA^
  • Pasadena, CA^
  • Rancho Cucamonga, CA
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Santa Clara, CA^
  • Mill Valley, CA^
  • San Rafael, CA^
  • El Dorado Hills, CA
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Montreal, Canada
  • Cabarete, Dominican Republic

One or more nights spent in each place, with the exception of day trips marked with a ^. Those cities marked with an * were visited multiple times on non-consecutive days.

Previously: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007

Maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.


This year’s travel was an enjoyable mix of work and pleasure, with highlights including a cruise to Alaska, two-week vacation in Argentina and Brazil, and lots of short trips shuttling up and down the West Coast.

I flew 41,795 miles over the course of the year, which was pretty similar to the last few years. Many destinations kept bringing me back, including 13 trips to Oregon, 10 trips to California, and 5 trips to British Columbia.

  • Pickering, Canada
  • Toronto, Canada^
  • Seattle, WA*
  • Beaverton, OR*
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Chula Vista, CA*
  • San Diego, CA^*
  • Irvine, CA
  • Sunnyvale, CA*
  • Milpitas, CA
  • Berkeley, CA*
  • San Francisco, CA^*
  • Kennewick, WA^
  • Vancouver, Canada*
  • Ketchikan, AK
  • Juneau, AK
  • Skagway, AK
  • Carcross, Canada^
  • Victoria, Canada
  • Richmond, Canada
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina*
  • Puerto Iguazu, Argentina
  • Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil^
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • La Jolla, CA*
  • New York, NY
  • Cupertino, CA
  • Mountain View, CA
  • Blaine, WA^
  • Surrey, Canada^
  • Pasadena, CA^
  • San Clemente, CA

One or more nights spent in each place, with the exception of day trips marked with a ^. Those cities marked with an * were visited multiple times on non-consecutive days.

Previously: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007

Maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.


A year ago, I was excited to be leaving for France. That experience took me across Western and Central Europe over the course of four months, and dominates the list of cities I visited this year. I rounded out the year with some travel for work and more fun.

By the numbers, I visited 55 cities in 18 countries, rode 65 trains (hooray for Eurail!), and flew 52,976 miles.

  • Beaverton, OR*
  • Luxembourg City, Luxembourg*
  • Metz, France*
  • Paris, France*
  • Strasbourg, France
  • Colmar, France^
  • Stockholm, Sweden^
  • Sollentuna, Sweden
  • Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
  • Venice, Italy
  • Florence, Italy
  • Pisa, Italy^
  • Rome, Italy
  • Vatican City, Holy See^
  • Pompeii, Italy^
  • Heidelberg, Germany
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Alpharetta, GA^
  • Versailles, France^
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Monistrol de Montserrat, Spain^
  • Nice, France
  • Eze, France^
  • Monte-Carlo, Monaco^
  • Cannes, France^
  • Brussels, Belgium*
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • London, England
  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Vienna, Austria
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Seattle, WA*
  • George, WA
  • Bothell, WA
  • Eugene, OR
  • Bend, OR
  • North Bend, WA^
  • Camas, WA^
  • El Dorado Hills, CA
  • Vancouver, Canada^
  • Richmond, Canada
  • Troy, NY
  • Cambridge, MA
  • Sunnyvale, CA
  • Cupertino, CA^
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Pleasanton, CA^
  • Berkeley, CA^
  • Chennai, India*
  • Bangalore, India
  • Mumbai, India
  • Agra, India
  • Toronto, Canada^
  • Pickering, Canada

One or more nights spent in each place, with the exception of day trips marked with a ^. Those cities marked with an * were visited multiple times on non-consecutive days.

Previously: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007

Maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.


Another year is ending, so it’s time for another summary of the year in travel. I spent 2011 mainly shuttling between Atlanta and the Pacific Northwest, with the big exception being a short trip to Ghana for research. This year’s travel resulted in 41,287 miles flown, about the same as last year.

I’m very much looking forward to spending my final semester of grad school in at Georgia Tech’s campus in Metz, France starting next week. I plan on traveling around Europe as much as possible while I’m there, and will hopefully do a better job of blogging too.

  • Beaverton, OR*
  • Seattle, WA*
  • Atlanta, GA*
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Accra, Ghana
  • Sunset Bay, OR
  • Pickering, Canada
  • Waterloo, Canada^
  • Toronto, Canada^

One or more nights spent in each place, with the exception of day trips marked with a ^. Those cities marked with an * were visited multiple times on non-consecutive days.

Previously: 2010, 200920082007

Maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.


This year began with a flurry of travel for job interviews and grad school visits, and then was relatively quiet once I graduated and returned to Portland in the spring. In August, I moved to Atlanta to begin grad school, and finished the year off with some conference travel and tourism.

By the numbers, I didn’t fly nearly as many miles as I did last year, with a total of 40,340 miles flown. It was also the first year that I didn’t set foot in India since 2005. Even so, I can’t complain – it was a very enjoyable year.

  • Beaverton, OR*
  • Seattle, WA*
  • Stanford, CA^*
  • Mountain View, CA
  • Savannah, GA
  • Surrey, Canada
  • Vancouver, Canada^
  • Toronto, Canada
  • Pickering, Canada
  • Atlanta, GA*
  • Corvallis, OR*
  • Welches, OR
  • Santa Clara, CA
  • Santa Cruz, CA^
  • London, England*
  • Egham, England
  • New York, NY

One or more nights spent in each place, with the exception of day trips marked with a ^. Those cities marked with an * were visited multiple times on non-consecutive days.

Previously: 200920082007

Maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.


This post is based on an answer I recently contributed to Quora. I’ve been wanting to write a comprehensive guide to computer science grad school admissions (like the ones by Mor Harchol-Balter or Justine Sherry) for a while now – rather than letting such a large task intimidate me any longer, perhaps it’ll actually happen if I post it in pieces.

By the time you begin applying to grad school, the single piece of your application that you have full control over is your statement of purpose. You can’t change the grades that are already on your transcript, and moreover, those only tell an admissions committee whether you’ve proven yourself to be a good student in the classroom. Similarly, your recommendation letters are another critical part of your application, but you probably won’t have much control over exactly what’s written in them.

Given this opportunity, don’t blow off the personal statement. Instead, use it to your advantage by covering important points that don’t surface elsewhere in your application. Here are the things I would include when applying to a research-oriented graduate program:

  • A research statement.
    This should comprise the majority of your essay. The reader is likely concerned with your ability or potential to conduct research, so hopefully you already have a successful track record of research and related coursework. Discuss what research you’ve done and things that you might be interested in working on as a graduate student.

  • Explain what motivates you to pursue graduate study.
    Are you looking for a career in academia or research? Did your previous research experience convince you to pursue a career in research? Do you want to teach as a professor? This is the place to say so.

  • Convince the admissions committee that you’re qualified.
    You should have already done this while covering the above points, and your recommendation letters and CV serve this purpose as well. Even so, address any remaining red flags that might be on your application. For example, if you are switching fields, you might want to explain why, and if your background doesn’t have an obvious alignment with your new interest, discuss what makes you qualified to enter the program (eg. a non-technical person entering computer science would likely require remedial courses to make up for the lack of technical undergrad training).

  • Explain why you’re applying to this particular school.
    You should explain why the school and program are a good match for you. What does this school offer you that others do not? How might the program help you fulfill your career goals? If there are individual professors whom you’re interested with working with, you might want to mention them and which projects of theirs interest you – this is a good way to nudge your application to their inbox even if they’re not on the admissions committee. Are there research papers from this school that have interested you? (If you put school-specific things in your essays, be careful to submit the right copy with each application!)

Another reminder that was mentioned on Quora is that this is very different from the essay you probably wrote for undergraduate admissions. A PhD admissions committee cares about your research abilities far more than it does about your quirky hobbies or childhood defining moments (unless they’re related to your research!). That said, it’s still used to evaluate your written communication skills, which are very important considering that your deliverables as a researcher will be in the form of publications, so take the time to exterminate any typos or grammatical errors from your essay.

Beyond this general advice, I highly recommend that you ask fellow students and friends in your discipline for their personal statements. If you’re working with students who are currently applying, volunteer to review each others’ drafts. In addition, get advice from people who are already graduate students – they were clearly successful at navigating the process you’re going through.

Good luck!


A Lesson in Brevity

I recently sent Comcast an inquiry which said “I just signed up for service. What is my account number?” Their response, which follows, is so incredibly verbose that I feel compelled to share it with the world.

I must say, though, that my experience with Comcast in Atlanta has been nothing short of stellar. They installed service at my new apartment within a day, gave me a great deal, and I’m getting far more bandwidth than I was promised. No complaints so far, though I might have to send them a bill for the time it took me to read the email below.

Dear Sunil Garg,

Thank you for contacting Comcast Email Support. My name is [removed], I will be your Comcast representative that will assist you with your concern.

I understand Sunil that you need your Comcast login and account number information to access your Comcast online billing account at Comcast customerCentral. I can completely understand the importance of being able to access your Comcast.net account and be able to view and make payment online. I can only imagine the inconvenience that this log in failure had caused you and I know the importance of getting this resolved the soonest time.

I will be more than happy Sunil to provide you detailed information on how to retrieve your Comcast logins and rest assured that your Comcast user name and password concern will be taken care of.

Sunil, Comcast is now giving you the new customerCentral. the one place for you to pay your bill, manage your account settings, and get help and support for all Comcast products. You can easily access Comcast customerCentral from either Comcast.com or Comcast.net. But you need to use your Comcast User Name and Password to access the site.

I would be more than happy to assist you with this matter, however, for your security more account information is needed. You will need to chat with us to provide this information, and to get the assistance you need. I am sorry to say that we here in Email can not generate the password for your email account because there is a need to verify further your account information.

Asking for this account information is for your own protection and guards against someone changing your account information without your permission. This also helps our agents process your request quicker.

You may chat with one of our Online Customer Support Specialists 24 hour a day, 7 days a week at

http://www.comcastsupport.com/chat

Please have the following account information ready when you chat with us:

  1. Account holder’s full name
  2. Complete service address
  3. Comcast Account Number
  4. Last 4 digits of the Social Security Number, and
  5. 4 digit security PIN (if you have Comcast phone number)

Thank you, I know your time is important. I am really sorry for all these troubles. If you need further assistance, please feel free to respond directly to this email. You can also call us at 1-800-266-2278 or chat with us at http://www.comcastsupport.com/cdvchat. We appreciate you taking the time to contact us.

Thank you for choosing Comcast as your provider. Comcast appreciates your business and values you as a customer. Our goal is to provide you with excellent service. It is with gratitude to have you as my customer on this email and I appreciate the opportunity you have given us today to resolve your issue. Enjoy the rest of your day, Sunil and take care.

Sincerely,

[name removed] Comcast Customer Care Specialist