up and down and round and round
Post created: 2022-04-30
A lot to think about this year.
- My sleep schedule is suffering again. Mix of early bird neighbors and the return of some anxiety. Have been a little brain fogged over the past month.
- Optimistically, I am now aware of upsides to both outcomes for phd completion. OPT at a lower level is invalidated if you hold a higher level credential, e.g., even if you never used MS OPT, having a PhD means that even if you do a MS in the future, you can't take MS OPT. Whereas if you had a MS and didn't take OPT, and then you did a second MS in the future, you can take the balance of the unused OPT. So, in a way, all outcomes have their silver linings.
- Recent developments in geopolitics, world affairs, and local food prices are strongly feeding my prepper tendencies... I find it uncomfortable that I do not have basic EMT training. This is probably the biggest known gap in my knowledge. Otherwise, I've been stocking up over the months and could probably feed myself for a few weeks without further purchases.
- I have a new savings target for the end of grad school (assuming that I stay in the US until 2026), 100k. After forecasting, this is doable with some small buffer room, though it is ambitious and will require some discipline. Well, I'm not doing too badly. I entered the US in 2016 with around 3.4k USD to my name, saved up from work and past scholarships. I'm significantly more comfortable nowadays and can (and have) been a substantial financial buffer.
- Socially speaking, I am not making the most of phd life. I guess I also don't see the point or need yet, though. I'm still a little burned out from undergrad in this regard. I watched another isekai recently, and that scene with Clara Valac was a bit of a gut punch. I think I've recognized that feeling since I was in elementary -- most friends are only friends when you can do something for them, and I believe the quote was that "gratitude is merely a lively expectation of favors to come". I do miss being around my hs friends, they're the happy exception to my otherwise cynical views.
- An aunt who I liked a lot as a kid has passed. People who are kind to animals are really easy to like.
- I am grateful that I chose as I did, both in early ugrad research and for grad school. Being able to have faith in your advisor as a good person is calming.
- On a related note, a student from 50 (!) years ago reached out to my mom after finding our baking store, "excuse me did you teach at xyz before?", "you were my favorite teacher", and so on. I find that super heartwarming and I love that about Brunei's general population. If I can have an impact like that, if students are still like that, if society just manages to kind of hang on through all its problems, if worrying trends were to reverse or at least slow -- many ifs, but I would happily stay in Brunei for the rest of my life in that scenario.
- The weird new DB conf was nice. I miss tech confs. I wonder if tech confs are the opposite of academic confs in terms of what they prioritize? The code vs the idea.
- The gap between "theory" and practice in applied deep learning land is starting to really get to me. The model learns this, the embedding learns that. Well, on Twitter, if you look at the ML people they will tell you ML is all you need, if you look at the HCI people they will tell you HCI is all you need, so I suppose it makes sense if you look at me, ostensibly a DB person, I'll tell you that you need meaningful training data. If you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out? I wonder what Babbage would think of modern grandiose claims. Hm. Interested to see where the recent GOFAI initiative will go though.
- I am getting the itch to write some serious systems code. All this mucking around with dataframes is starting to get to me a little.
- I think I have a concrete and somewhat self-motivated research agenda now. The problem is that I'm not sure how to truly solve it. I think there should also be a theoretical connection to differential dataflow and friends, but I do not have enough brain in me right now to figure it out.
- I have started viewing salads as a food source. Unfortunately for my weight, I have also started viewing Aldi's chocolate brioche as a food source.
Lots of thoughts, but not much work getting done. That needs to change.