Thursday, 2/15/01

I'm almost on track to being "normal". I did "work" during the day, and was a leech on society at night. Although, as my excessive use of quotation marks suggests, I don't think too much of my work. Let alone normalcy. The work is interesting, and really exciting at times, but it's just a game to me. It's playing with numbers. I'm turning up some really amazing properties of numbers, but I basically consider it to be discovering knowledge for its own sake. The practical applications... aren't very interesting. To me. Make chips go faster. Woo-hoo. Shumway and I concurred the other day that the majority of the EE grad students at Berkeley, if asked to give a one-sentence description of their research goals in layman's terms, would have to say that they are "making chips go faster".

And that's a perfectly legitimate thing to do for a living. Just as legitimate as selling fishing supplies, or raising chickens. Certainly more legitimate than telemarketing long-distance services. The advancement of technology is a noble and worthwhile goal. But not for me. I don't want to advance technology. I want to help people. In a more direct manner than making their chips go faster, or selling them fishing supplies.

I don't mind too much now, while I'm in school. But I'm leaving school in a few months, and I have to decide what to do with my life.

Pete thinks I should go down to Alesis and make audio electronics. Donna relayed Peter Manca's suggestion of Foveon, where I could make digital cameras under the guidance of Carver Mead. And while I'm sure I could work for a toy company such as those and find something I really enjoyed, a project that I could throw myself into... I think I would feel like I was wasting my life away. Toys are fun to make, just as numbers are fun to play with. But as a long-term occupation, it's not fulfilling.

I just have this feeling that instead of making toys for rich kids, or devising ways to make computers go 5% faster, I could somehow somehow somehow be using my skills to save lives. Or significantly improve the global quality of life. Or something big and noble and hopelessly idealistic like that.

Wow. What an ironically inappropriate segue into my nighttime activity of being a "leech on society". Of course, in my mind, societal leeching encompasses any sort of non-productive activity that includes utilization or appreciation of other people's work. So, it's rather hard to avoid. :) My leeching of choice this evening was, once again, comics. I read through the archives of Avalon High, which I'm almost embarrassed to admit I like. I'm just a sucker for romantic tension between well-developed characters. Same reason I like Kimagure Orange Road, I guess. I also read, in print, Snowblind, a graphic novel consisting of issues 3 through 10 of Hepcats. Pretty intense. I want more. But it seems that Hepcats is dead, so I'm not sure how much more there is. I'm currently working my way though the archives of Sluggy Freelance, which is pretty good, although it's not as involving as the others. The homicidal bunny might be funny for some people, but I mostly find it off-putting. Just like Stewie in the TV show "The Family Guy". Mean-but-lovable characters just don't work for me.

While I read comics, I ate Triscuit with big hunks of sharp cheddar cheese. I'm almost proud of my sloth. (Hey, two sins at once.) Now all I have to do is start watching TV.