The Nine Faces of Dave
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2005-06-15 05:56:12 (UTC)

dave-man and the masters of science

My job is boring. I don't mean menial task boring, or lots
of dry technical reading boring. I mean boring in the sense
that I haven't done anything of substance for a week and I'm
not sure it's going to let up anytime soon.

We're in a bit of a deadlock situation. My advisor has been
gone for a long time due to having surgery, and the rest of
us can't very well progress without him around. Naturally,
being the highly motivated go-getter that I am, I've managed
to spend most of my time reading essays on programming.

I might get started tomorrow, since one of the guys who
actually knows what's going on and with whom I work directly
will be returning, finally, from Montreal. With any luck, I
can get some actual work to do with his input and finally
get going on some coding.

All told it's been rather discouraging. If I were among the
first-timers I would have no qualms about bringing all this
up with the director for our lab and seeing about switching
groups or something. Problem is, these are the same guys I
worked with last year; they brought me back for this round,
and I'd feel really shitty bailing out on them before things
even really got started.

Oh well. I guess everyone's gotta have a boring job at some
point in their life.

In happier news, I got into grad school, so now I don't even
have to go back to Rochester if I don't feel like it. This
does, of course, reintroduce the specter of having to decide
what the hell I actually want to do with my life.

My plan before, when I was assuming I'd be at Rochester for
another year, was to get on board with some sort of research
project or independent study program and be able to leverage
it into an honors thesis. I figured this would give me the
time I needed to really figure out what I wanted to do after
college, and maybe I'd find a Ph.D. program that sounded fun
and interesting and would pay well.

But now that starting grad school early has become more than
just an abstract concept, I've gotten back to thinking about
what I really want to do. Even if I want to do a Ph.D., an
early Master's is a big step up and a major advantage in the
event I get stuck with some professor who's just exploiting
grad student labor. Don't want to give me my degree? Well
screw you guys, I'll go someplace else!

Now at the same time, Rochester still has a few things left
to offer. There are some courses I'm still interested in
taking, and of course there are social opportunities I have
not yet checked out. And hey, if I get on board with a good
research project, that might be reason to stay on the whole

But let's be realistic for just a minute. The courses are
hard to argue with, especially the theory course I want to
take with the weirdest professor in the department. Social
opportunities are a different story; regardless of changes
in my personal circumstances, by drawing on my three years
of experience with the very special breed of people that
make up the Rochester student body, I have to conclude that
there's a good chance next year will be like the rest.

And as for the research project, that's very much up in the
air; the information retrieval projects are pretty much all
focused on stuff I'm not much interested in, and could cause
me to get strongarmed into courses I don't want to take, and
the simulation project is dicey since I haven't contacted a
professor about it yet.

Now at the same time, I have to consider the situation over
at Cal Poly. The major change is that I found out they no
longer have some of the courses I was interested in. This
is by no means a deal-breaker, but it's a factor. Also, I
have to look into what sort of funding possibilities exist
for me; I have one academic year of parental support left,
and then I'm flying solo. And of course I should try to set
up a visit of some sort.

I guess the real issue here is that I don't want to miss out
on good happenings, but I also don't want to waste time and
money, sitting in the frozen north, having no fun.

I was thinking a good compromise might be to go for the fall
to knock off my B.S. and then move to California for grad
school right when the weather gets to its worst. That way I
get to finish the courses I want to take, I give the social
scene at Rochester one last chance, and I don't have to pay
any overage charges for early graduation. The spring is all
but useless for the fun CS courses, so it could work out.
The only problem is that any project I got on would probably
last all year, and then I wouldn't be able to leave.

It's a complicated decision, and not one I should be trying
to make at almost 2:00 AM when I have work in the morning.

Interestingly enough, this situation has pointed out another
distinct advantage of being single; I don't have to consider
anyone's feelings but my own.

This is Dave, signing off.