I live in Atlanta, Georgia with my brilliant wife and our significantly less brilliant cat. Because I am fortunate enough to be doing work I love, a lot of my free time seems to turn into work time. Not all of it, thankfully. I spend my spare time volunteering with local programs, and my spare spare time hiking, tabletop gaming, reading, and listening to music.
Social justice issues matter a great deal to me, so much of my free time is spent on volunteer activities. I work with Atlanta’s homeless population as a volunteer for organizations such as Lost-n-Found Youth. As part of that work, in 2013 I developed a program that teaches financial management to young people who have recently overcome homelessness. In partnership with Georgia Institute of Technology and our American Mathematical Society graduate chapter, I also developed an outreach group that travels to regional colleges encouraging undergraduate female and minority students to consider advanced careers in mathematics.
To relax, I enjoy long walks, in both urban and natural settings. Whenever traveling, I find walking the best way to get to know a new location. Seeing a place up close, you experience it in ways that aren’t possible from a car or plane. Over the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting some beautiful places, including: Trondheim, Norway; Savannah, Georgia; San Francisco, California; New Orleans, Louisiana; Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio; and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
I have played tabletop role-playing games since I was twelve. In my opinion, a good RPG unites the best aspects of improvisational theatre and immersive fiction. Keeping with that sensibility, I care far more about the style of game than the rule-set involved. My favorite style is what is now called OSR: “old-school” fantasy role-playing, typified by systems like Labyrinth Lord, OSRIC, and Swords & Wizardry. To see what I mean, take a look at Greg Gillespe’s Barrowmaze.
A close second in my list of favorite styles is the dark horror typified by games like Call of Cthulhu, Delta Green, and Trail of Cthulhu. While not always to my taste, I love the way these games can mix unsettling chills with 1920s pulp magazine-style action. The classic example is Larry DiTillio’s Masks of Nyarlathotep.
I am a firm believer in the “anti-library” concept popularized by Umberto Eco: keep the books you will read, not those you have read. My sympathies are with poor Henry Bemis from The Twilight Zone’s “Time Enough at Last”: when my busy schedule permits, I will devour two novels a day, sometimes more. My tastes are eclectic, but they include mystery, horror, and a broad range of scientific non-fiction.
Despite my tendancy to absorb new works, I have a core group of authors whose works I reread over and over again. I am particularly fond of the mystery novels of Rex Stout and John Dickson Carr. Jane Austen’s novels are a constant source of pleasure, particularly Pride and Prejudice. I love the ghost stories of M.R. James and the short fiction of Robert E. Howard. Richard Stark’s novel The Hunter is a disturbing yet fascinating crime noir character study; his development of Parker’s character leaves me spellbound. I love The Face in the Frost by John Bellairs. Of more recent works, I enjoy rereading the Laundry Files series by Charles Stross and the Harry Dresden books by Jim Butcher. For someone who cares about computing and math, as I do, Don Knuth is a wonderfully amusing writer and his series The Art of Computer Programming is a browser’s dream.
We live in a golden age of music, where the best recordings from over a century are only a click away. My impossible goal is to listen to all of it. Because I have eclectic listening habits, my playlist might include Frank Sinatra today, Taylor Swift tomorrow, and Billie Holiday the day after. The genres I listen to include 1920s blues, 1940s jazz, 1960s folk, 1980s and 90s alternative, and millennial pop. On occasion, I also enjoy classical music and broadway showtunes. I love complex rhythms, vibrant tones, and sophisticated lyrics.
Where music is concerned, everyone has their own opinions. That said, I’m always happy to share recommendations. Here are a few less well-known artists I enjoy: Garland Jeffreys (“Hail, Hail Rock ‘n’ Roll”), Eric Burdon (“Spill the Wine”), and Gil Scott-Heron (“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”). On the off-hand chance you haven’t already heard them, give a listen to Marvin Gaye, Armin van Buuren, and everything by the Rolling Stones and Beethoven. You'll be glad you did.
- “Department Award Diversity Champion” In Proof Reader, Volume 9, 2016, pages 18-19.
- “High School Math Competition” by Gregory Mayer. In Proof Reader, Volume 9, 2016, pages 24-25.
- “Graduate Profile: JD Walsh” by Alan Diaz. Originally published in Proof Reader, Volume 8, 2015, pages 30-31.
- “Georgia Tech High School Mathematics Competition.” Georgia Institute of Technology School of Mathematics, March 12, 2016.
- “5 Georgia Tech NSF Fellows Awarded GROW Fellowships.” Georgia Institute of Technology, July 22, 2015.
- “Graduate Student Awards.” Georgia Institute of Technology School of Mathematics, April 18, 2015.
- “CETL/BP teaching awards.” Georgia Institute of Technology School of Mathematics, April 1, 2015.
- “37 Graduate Students Earn NSF Graduate Research Fellowships.” Georgia Institute of Technology, April 29, 2014.
- “Joseph Walsh Receives NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.” Georgia Institute of Technology School of Mathematics, April 12, 2014.
- “Top seniors to be honored as Presidential Scholars.” Western Michigan University, March 17, 2011.