Having Been Human
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Fri Oct 19 22:12:43 2012
Sine Curves in Everyday Life

Yesterday was reasonably social; went to help a friend's employer with migrating their internet presence to a new set of providers, which should make things much better for them. This involved a lot of explaining technical things to non-technical people (always a challenge, moreso without a blackboard). After that I hung out in a fun tiny coffeeshop in lower Manhattan for a few hours, then went to a book release party for a philosophy prof I know who runs a philosophy meetup. That was as awkward as I always am in large social gatherings, but helped by my knowing a few people there and there being plenty of philosophy topics to chew over; another philosophy meetup I sometimes visit might want me to talk about Rawls or Locke in a future event, which might be fun. Also, met Neil deGrasse Tyson, and after he did a neat demo about GPS handling in stock Android and iOS phones, I asked him about how the Heliospheres of multi-star solar systems work out (a question I've been wondering about, and which Google has been unable to answer); got a good answer from him. I think he may have been relieved to talk more about a science topic; earlier he had been elaborating his concerns about much of the practice of philosophy in modern times and how much of it has been obsoleted by science (didn't listen to enough of that to know if I agree with him or not). Eventually wandered home.

I keep thinking that I should get better at figuring out when I'll need my laptop when I head out for the day; I usually spend some time at a teahouse or somewhere where having it is enabling (and if I'm in the mood for programming, better yet), but it is a lot to carry.

Also, very frustrated that I can't do as much experimentation with Emulab and Ganeti as I'd like because I can't afford to build a cluster suitable for either testbed right now. I suppose I could see if I could convince Utah, CMU, or Google to loan me some hardware, but I doubt they would and even asking would be awkward and far more forward than I'm used to being.

Trying to push a bit more on potential contract/job leads, but not managing to make a lot of motion. Frustrating. I guess I actually can see if I can start the Google interview process again in January, but it'd be nice to have some income in the meantime.

I'm tenatively reaching out to my father again socially, which is weird but pretty smooth in practice. We talked a bit about the consulting thing above; I suppose it's pretty weird that he's a lawyer/accountant with good tech knowledge (programming-level) on the side, and I'm a programmer/researcher with good legal/politics knowledge on the side; conversations are generally interesting because of that divide. He did nudge me a bit to think about what I'm doing with my life, and I'm reminded that I really might like to be a law school professor; it'd have fewer of the negatives than actually being a normal lawyer or judge, and it'd be in academia. Still reluctant to do that because I'd worry that the years of study of a particular "Other People's Philosophy", namely that of our legal sytstem, would displace my own intuitions on what should be, but by becoming a disciple and eventually a guardian of the law, I would be able to build a life for myself that would have a lot of the right shape and activities for me (passion about the public good, concerns for codification, philosophy, etc). I have become worried that most forms of professorship have too little research and too much administration for that to be a worthwhile path for me; academic study of law is a form of philosophy. Still pondering this.