Life Tracking: Gas & Electric

Who knew my penchant for online bill pay would be a treasure trove for understanding my own behavior. Four years of using the internet to pay gas and electric bills provided the data and a few lines and colored blobs provide the context. The blue blobs are winter and the red summer.
Despite living in a warmer climate, and having access to air conditioning at the last two places I lived at, it's the winters that get to me. Also despite living in a temperate climate for a year where heat and AC weren't really a requirement, I fared no better than I fare if I purchase junk food and tell myself not to eat it. I'm not good at denying myself further comfort if the opportunity is there. Clearly I've been the most "green" by not having the option of heat or air. Fans and space heater use aside (and likely rising costs of utilities) I'm setting a new low trend at my current place. Will I see a resurgence this summer? Will that shiny new space heater I have my eye on increase my bills? Also, now that I can track it, will I be more aware of it and more likely to reduce my usage?


Powerful Women, Powerful Words

Over at Dr. Isis's there's a discussion on Time's Time's 25 Most Powerful Women of the Century. No Sarah Palin is not on the list. My mind immediately went to Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi, which goes to show I read too much about business blogs since she's regularly features on lists such as these, 25 Most Powerful Women in Business.
Some of the entries on women in the 20th century I question as truly being "powerful" but I guess it depends on how you define your list. For instance, Mother Theresa is on there. I'm not sure I equate "powerful" with Mother Theresa. I'm also not sure what influence she's had on the world at large. Was she a great person? Sure. Did she do good things that changed that world? I don't know about that. She's no Rosa Parks there. But Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Oprah or some of the makeup/clothing pioneers I can definitely see as being "powerful."
But skip over to Time's Q&A with their business women and you find something else. Most have their heads so far up in the biz-ness their answers are predictable. "What's your best decision ever?" "Duh, coming to work for this company and getting promoted." Doesn't matter whether you've been there two months or twenty years, if you don't say something nice about your current place of employment...better not bother saying anything nice at all.
One of the other questions they ask is "What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?" Most answer with some sort of "women aren't confident enough" blame the victim bullshit, or women just don't blah blah blah for themselves, or but it's so hard raising a family and being taken seriously, but that's probably my fault not society's. However, Joanna Maguire, an Executive Vice President at Lockheed Martin has the balls (see? it's always gotta be a pro-male analogy, even on a wanna-be feminist blog) to really nail down where the problem is:
"Cultural stereotypes continue to present significant challenges for women leaders. Stereotypes routinely cause men and women to underestimate and underutilize women's leadership talent. For example, when women leaders act in gender-consistent ways — cooperative and relationship-focused — they "fit in" as women, but are often perceived as soft leaders by both genders. When women act "like men" — authoritative or ambitious — they are often viewed as too tough and overly aggressive. As a result, successful women leaders must learn to effectively thread the needle and call on the leadership attributes of men and women when the time demands."
Now that I've outed her here as a radical feminist who thinks women are damned if they do and damned if they don't she'll probably get moved to Lockheed's Siberia location. But hopefully she'll slip by. I mean, Lockheed probably has thousands of executive VP's but it's nice to know there's one using their brain today.

Welcome back to reality

I spent most of my long weekend reading science fiction novels of space travel and long dead alien civilizations or playing Fallout 3: a post-apocalyptic video game. (Appropriately, Wired released this all instant Thanksgiving Dinner, or all-canned as I like to think of it, in preparation for when turkeys don't exist in non-radiated form). Yes there was family too but all in all it was a weekend of escapism at its finest.
Coming back to the cold, hard (or perhaps soft) cubicle walls is like a shadow over my soul. As we have no television I only heard news second hand or when hearing NPR on the drive somewhere. So this morning was a bit of a downer to hear what was described as a cynical ploy by the GOP just a few weeks ago is now the modus operandi; Obama is freezing Federal employee pay for two years. Selfishly I had hoped Federal employment might be an escape from my corporate purgatory. Now it seems even less likely with pay freezes and cutbacks that I will be able to find a place there. On coming into work I was also informed of a major project that will be taking a hiatus due to funding until next year. It's not a big part of my workload but doesn't bode well in general.
The interesting thing with playing a post-apocalyptic game for four days in a row is how it changes your views on your world. In the game you can make unique items with random crap lying around, or trade those things in for the game's currency. It inspires one to become a packrat, and has me looking around wanting to pick things up and take them with me just in case I need them. Sort of the opposite effect I had after watching a whole season of Hoarders. And it makes the world seem so much more populated and crowded after the emptiness of the wasteland. And it makes being asked why I didn't call into some meeting that was two weeks ago while I'm still filling up my first cup of coffee seem like such a paltry concern.
But I must wake up from the dream. Much as every Friday I struggle to leave the concerns of work left undone or "hot" projects waiting on my desk behind me I must now put my work face back on, if only to last a little longer to the winter holidays. I must pretend to care about meetings and powerpoint and signature approval and release schedules once again. Maybe not everyone else is leaving behind a post-nuclear world, but I suspect we all have to struggle a little today to fit back in again.



"And then I had to find some shackles to tie it down, and those are hard to find."
I'm picturing my coworker in the above photo situation. And you know what? Shackles are hard to find! I mean you'd think Home Depot would at least have something. What am I supposed to do during the upcoming zombie apocalypse?


Life tracking: PTO

That blue line is my balance of PTO (paid time off). That purple is a hypothetical line from May if I hadn't used any of my time off how much I would have now. I haven't even taken a vacation! All this is school and other obligations bleeding away my time off. It would be interesting to drop lines in finals weeks and see how much of a hit I'm taking from those alone.



So it's time for me to start job hunting. And there's a lot of really good reasons to do so. I went to a competitor's job fair a few weeks ago and it felt much like going into enemy territory. I expected at any moment someone would point me out and tell me I'm not allowed to even think or talk about the competitor let alone be taken on a tour through their facility. I'm not enormously sentimental especially not about where I'm at or the trials and tribulations I've gone through to get here. But there is one thing that's going to be difficult for me.
Much as I need to move on and do something new it is difficult to start all over. I have spent such a big chunk of my youngish life here. I know so many people, know how things used to be, know the history, and am well connected on the information grapevine. None of this has resulted in real positions of authority or responsibility but it does give me some satisfaction. And wherever I go I will be the newbie. People here know me from way back and even if I got a new area of responsibility enough people knew me from back then that it was not too difficult to earn some level of likeability and get started right away. But somewhere else I'll have to start from scratch. Prove myself every inch. And that scares me. Yes I've done it before, but I've only done it once or twice. And not from some level of experience to a greater level of experience, which is even harder if you're trying to pretend like you're already know something and then deal with your flareups of imposter syndrome.
I feel a little like the characters in Shawshank Redemption. When they get out it is hard for them to adjust to their new life. In prison, even though it was prison, they had achieved a level of respect and authority. Out in the real world they are just ex-cons. And I worry how much of myself I can take with me to a new job. I'm eager for new technical challenges but fear learning everyone's name or how to understand their internal database systems or how to figure out the best contacts along the way. I'm afraid of making new friends all over again. Afraid that what I have here is a sham based only on my personality and not on my skill. That starting somewhere else will be impossible once they all figure out how incompetent I really am. Because it's easy to keep sliding further into the quicksand of home. And it's difficult to grab the rope and step out into the jungle.


Body Scanning=Body Shame

There's a whole lot of hullaballoo about the new airport body scanners. And now it's the holidays, plenty of people will be travelling and for those who say no to the new scanners there's an even more invasive pat down. Makes me glad I don't have to fly anywhere this season.
But I have to admit, maybe people should just suck it up and walk through the scanner. You see, recently I purchased an XBox 360 Kinect. It's a device that allows games much like the Wii, but with no controller. A series of cameras and infrared sensors pick up your body and use that image so you can use your body as the remote in many new games. It's pretty fun. And now instead of the Wii elbow, I'll have Kinect-omg-I-can't-move-my-body. One of the games I got was the Kinect Your Shape fitness game. It seems pretty effective, I like the Tai Chi routines, and the cardio is seriously kicking my ass so presumably that means it has the capacity to increase my fitness. The one weird thing is unlike many of the other Kinect games that show an avatar as "you" this shows just a single-color blob for you. And let me tell you, it's pretty accurate and leaves nothing to chance. It's like you wrapped me in blue saran wrap and then filmed me moving around in that. It looks exactly like me. And unfortunately so.
Every single roll of fat is there to see. What in "real life" might be not so obvious thanks to clothes and layers is there right in your face. And to top it off there's some slender trainer avatar right next to you on the screen to compare yourself with. Okay, it's a decent motivator for trying to get fit. Do I really look like that? And it's sort of embarrassing. So I can see why people walking through body scans would have some qualms about it. But you know what? We don't want people bringing dangerous items on our planes intending to do us harm. And there's plenty of stuff we tolerate that is embarrassing.
Going to IHop and wolfing down one of their huge sampler platters is pretty embarrassing. And people do it every day. Wearing tight jeans and showing off your muffin top is pretty embarrassing. Using a public restroom is pretty embarrassing. Watching the grocery store employee scan in your soda, ritz crackers, vodka and reeses cups while you're alone on a Friday night is pretty embarrassing.
When the waiter at a restaurant asks us what we want we don't chew them out for invading our privacy. We don't yell at the grocery store clerk for scanning all our items. We've come to expect there will be ways in which our privacy is violated all the time. I am constantly asked to pull out my driver's license as identification which quickly tells you my age, height and weight (although it's a little inaccurate). So if this technology works, and works well, and we can all get on plane knowing we're safe I think it's worth dealing with something that's a little uncomfortable. I don't feel like this is inhibiting my liberty. They aren't telling me what video games I can buy or taking away my firearms. I'm going through an ordeal for the convenience of flight. I mean, I could grow all my own food so the grocery store clerk doesn't see everything I buy, but most of us deal with that invasion of privacy for the convenience of shopping at a place where we can get the things we want.


What's your city smell like?

DARPA is looking for a way to detect chemical attacks by gathering data on what various cities smell like. First they plan to make smell profiles for major urban areas. Then they'll need to take this data and figure out how to put it into some sort of map that a constant monitoring system could use. Theoretically these systems could detect any changes in the chemicals in a city's atmosphere rather quickly. I'm just curious to see the results once they have the data.


Design Fridays: The Claw

I have been keeping busy with numerous senior design projects. This was a not-adapted design for a claw in my mechatronics project. We ended up going with something else, two legs of the claw with a cam in the middle. From the original design (a worm gear and two center pieces to move the legs in and out) we tried to improve the speed, which was one of the major goals of the project. The direct drive screw moving the legs of the claw in and out was effective but extremely slow, even with a bigger screw.
My design represents an intermediate design where we considered having two sides and only one that would rotate to clinch the pieces. However, we were able to incorporate the cam into the existing built parts and went from an open/close time of 9 seconds to less than 1 second.


Please grow a spine, for the economy's sake

Dear America and Obama; you are not some invertibrate or mollusk that does not possess bones. You have spines (the American spine is obviously the [insert geographical landmark here].)
It is going to have to get ugly before it gets better.
See, the Federal Reserve Bank would like to try this thing called quantitative easing: they print a lot of money, buy treasury bonds, and hope to drive down interest rates. You don't hear conservatives complaining about what this is going to do because hey, they want lower interest rates too. Rich companies want to borrow stuff at lower interest rates, and the Feds hope this means the banks will finally start showing consumers some love again and let them borrow money for slightly better rates. Yeah, right.
But you could also consider this some backasswards trickle-down stimulus plan. Which might be better than no stimulus at this point. And given how Glen Beck and the neo-cons are pretty sure Stalin's stimulus package forced the Soviets to adopt crappy clothing, bad hair styles, and taxed Hitler so hard he killed all the Jews, they don't want to try another one in America. So they're okay with quantitative easing (who wouldn't be with Ben Bernanke's beard? That man could sell me a Government Motors car).
Unfortunately, a lot of people at the G20 this week are not okay with it. They're worried this will drive down the price of the dollar, give us a competitive edge in selling our goods to other countries, and hurt their economic exports. They think we are "threatening" our trade partners. Even China is concerned, just as we're trying to convince them to stop keeping their currency artificially low. Marketplace's commentator David Frum summed up what I wanted to say (and with fewer expletives):
China keeps its currency cheap so as to promote exports -- especially to the United States -- thus creating jobs for China's needy millions. How extreme is China's manipulation? Well, think of it this way: Since September 2008, the U.S. dollar has declined 30 percent against the currency of number one trade partner, Canada. Against number two, China? Flat until this summer, then down only five percent.
I feel like America and all its free market fanatacism is the only one playing by the rules in this game. We import H1B visa workers who take our educated jobs, allow our companies to go overseas and "outsource" and give them, if anything, lower taxes but nothing to disincentivize them otherwise. We import all of China's and numerous other emerging nations' goods without imposing any sort of tariffs. We struggle to enter China and India's economy as both those companies prevent outside companies from coming in and freely competing with their own companies.
If these companies want a trade war I say bring it on. How about America stops competing as the only country who's agreed to tie both its hands behind its back. How about if China doesn't stop manipulating their currency, we start imposing tariffs on their imported goods. How about if India doesn't want us to compete freely there we stop letting corporations outsource. How about we drastically cut back on the number of H1B visas. In Canada or most of Europe in order to hire a foreigner you have to justify that there is no native resident capable of doing that job. Here, we can just cut the pay and say no American software engineer will work for that kind of pay and apparently that's enough for all of silicon valley to important half the Indian population into California. We need to start taxing American companies equally for foreign and domestic employees. Outsourcing should not be a tax break. And if we need to do this one time pseudo-stimulus package and other countires want to whine about it, well let them. It'll probably be short lived that American goods will actually be more appealing to other nations and we can't always be the company carrying the trade deficit. So suck it up, world.


Some white guys pontificate

Tony Velocci, one of the editors over at Aviation Week, writes this week about an executive roundtable in which he and some aerospace and defense executives discussed diversity in the industry. Or maybe more appropriately, the lack thereof.
It is a question worth pondering as one surveys the makeup of the industry as a whole: mostly Caucasian men, with nearly a third of the total workforce 50 to 59 years old. Among larger contractors, about 40% of all employees, many of them involved in major defense programs, will be eligible for retirement within several years.
Of course that's the same spin on soon to retire engineers we keep hearing every month or so. And it appears to be total bunk. I'm pretty sure the 60 year olds I'm working with will keep working long past when they are eligible for medicare, which tends to be the defining measure for when people retire around here. But clearly they aren't getting real good data when they throw out predictions like that. The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article about Gen X in the workplace: stuck in the middle. Frustrated Gen Xers waiting for Boomers to retire and dealing with "entitled" young millenials in the workforce.
But is it really like that? Yes it seems like there's a lot of old guys hanging on, but at the same time most of my management chain are either Xers or at most on the young side of Boomers. And I don't see too many people here counting down the days until retirement. We all know the recession destroyed a lot of people's portfolios so I'm sympathetic that people need to work longer and save more. While most commenters on Velocci's story predictably said things like "this isn't even an issue" or "this is a silly story" a few had insightful comments on the aerospace industry. Bill Sweetman, another Aviation Week writer, had this to say:
Part of the problem with attracting "the best and brightest" to a mature industry is that you are competing with the new and trendy. Aeronautics and space were in that position once - think of the 1950s and 1960s in southern California - but the bloom went off the rose with the 1970s layoffs, and since then the hot tickets have been IT, biomedical engineering, and robotics.
You do have to wade back in and compete. And indeed to some extent, the problems we see in aerospace might be of its own making, along with its customers. See my post today: what is exciting about 25-year procurement cycles? You become an engineer to make things, not support the tenth analysis of alternatives that may (this time) lead to an RFI, before the customer takes his ball and goes home.
It's fast-cycle companies that are attracting the talent (Scaled, SpaceX, Insitu, iRobot, Aurora, to name a few). But it is still industry giants that have most of the money.
And he's right. It's hard to tell people what I do because when you think engineering you think something really hands on and awesome. Many of my classmates have leapt at the opportunity to use me as a contact to get in at my company. But then they talk about the lab where they are currently working, happily often, and sometimes I think they should stay. Or another commenter, who points out the industry is still as appealing as anything else:
But since graduation, I've applied to countless jobs across the industry with no response. After nine months of searching I eventually went back to graduate school to try and improve my chances and keep my skills sharp, but so far it's only resulted in a single phone interview. I'm not alone, either - some of my friends have sent out over a hundred applications with no success, and my graduate classes are filled with people who gave up for the time being on getting into the aerospace industry and went back to school. I hear stories at job fairs and company presentations of hiring managers that are swamped with hundreds of applications for each entry position, and the booths of companies like Lockheed and Boeing often have lines just as long as those at Apple and Google.
So young people are still trying to get in at these companies, and in high numbers. And does the defense industry want to rebrand anyways? I am reminded of an old Admiral who didn't want too many days off because "the military doesn't get those days off." And the military in this case was also the customer. Or as Mr. Velocci asked,
Companies like Apple and Google are magnets for young people, but can you imagine any of the 20 largest companies trying to duplicate the work environment that exists in those iconic enterprises? Probably not. You do not want your culture to look too different from that of your customer, one senior executive observed.
But even the dismissive posts, the ones that think this topic is silly, that you just hire a consultant and the consultant will tell you how to fix your problem. They have actually managed to nail it on its head. It's an employer's market right now. And if a company can't get young people/minorities/women/ewoks it's probably because they're not really trying. And maybe that's what disappoints me the most. Not that engineers continue to tend to be mostly white males, but that nobody cares. That the people with the money and the authority to make a difference choose not to, again and again.


The problems with data extrapolation

I've been doing a lot of curve fitting lately. Mostly to create a pattern to improve software or just some stuff for school. But I've noticed that it's pretty easy to find the curve you want, rather than the curve you need.

Take the housing market. Plenty of people out there have a vested interest in it picking up again. But plenty of other people have an interest in it staying down. I get it. Some people are underwater and want/need it to go up again. And plenty of other people would like to buy and want it to go down even further to make that easier. Or just want to be right in their feeling that the market is still overinflated.

Take Michael David White, over at HousingStory.net. Here's his graph for where he thinks prices are going:
I'm curious how he came up with this fit so I exported the data myself (you can too from the Case-Schiller home index website) and played with it a little. For fun I also pulled some data from the government's various census collecting sites that you'll see later.

Case-Schiller has only been collecting data since 1986. I grabbed the data from my hometown county, which looks pretty similar to his curve fit but might be more representative of living in a higher cost of living than looking at the whole nation averaged together. If you assume from about 1997 and on is an abberation, and do a linear fit from 1986 to 1997 and extrapolate it on into the future you get a line that looks very similar to what White came up with.
Clearly that would mean a huge drop in home prices if you were looking only at the first 10 years of data. That yellow line is inflation, this fit would seem to say inflation should rise faster than home prices. Well what if you fit the whole thing?

 Fitting the whole collection of data would seem to say homes are now underpriced and we should expect a pickup soon. I don't think anyone's anticipating that much of an increase in home prices either. Once again, the danger of looking at even the whole data set, the first 10 years, the last, or whatever portion you pick. No matter what trying to predict can seem pretty silly.

Here I just grabbed inflation with both the average and the median. Looks like White could have grabbed the average for his data as well, but as it's rising slower than inflation you have to wonder at that. And what's inflation mean anyways? Should se assume home prices will rise any faster or slower than inflation? What about food prices. There's been a lot of talk that food has stayed relatively cheap for Americans, what if we compare total food inflation to home prices.

If we looked at the rise in food prices, home prices don't look that far off or too far inflated. Does White think there's a food-price bubble? Does he think food prices are going to come crashing down anytime soon? What about healthcare?

I don't hear anyone speculating that healthcare costs are going to go down anytime soon. There's been plenty of talk about the "housing bubble" or even the "higher education" bubble. But you don't hear anyone saying you should pull out of healthcare stocks or just wait for that big crash in healthcare prices that's going to happen anytime soon.

And that's the danger of data extrapolation. It's plenty fun to graph some data and draw some lines. If you have a specific agenda, it's not hard to find something to back it up. But truth is it's just not a good way to make a conclusion. I expect Mr. White gets a lot of press and blog hits from people who want to buy right now and are really hoping prices will drop even more. They might or they might not. But these lines could tell any story you wanted them to.


Quality vs Speed

Some Qantas engineers are charging they're being asked to sign off on maintenance and inspections on aircraft they have not actually seen. I think this is the whole dichotomy of do you want it fast or do you want it right. Sometimes your maintenance staff is so competent you want to trust them to do the procedure without an engineer breathing down their necks. Other times you don't want to wait for the engineer. Still others it's not a flight critical component or is for a test. So I understand the need to push along production and maintenance procedures.
Still, it's disturbing a production-level passenger aircraft would be shooing asides the concerns of its engineers. I'm sure Qantas being publically listed on a half dozen European stock exchanges has something to do with the CEO, Alan Joyce, accusing the engineers' union of making false claims. He said/she said and maybe their stock prices won't take a dip. He then tried to back it up saying 92% of "heavy maintenance" operations are done domestically, which is not where the complaints are coming from (they are complaining about foreign sites). But heavy maintenance doesn't sound like some all encompassing description. I'm sure a great number of flight critical maintenance is occurring at these foreign locations.
I'm not saying don't fly Qantas or don't buy their stock right now, but it's extremely disheartening when one of these cases pop up. As an engineering staff member, it's not easy to make these kinds of allegations or claim due diligence was not done. Those kinds of complaints get you fired or transfered to the Siberian office. Or margianlized to where you can't make those complaints anymore. It's easy to dismiss unions as being useless or costly, but I hope people appreciate that in this case it was the engineer's union who had the clout to make sure these complaints were heard and no illegal backlash happened. I understand wanting faster turnaround times and lower costs but the CEO should know when management goes against engineering recommendations in favor of a quicker and cheaper product they are risking lives. I'd like to think an enlightened, scientific society will someday have criminal courts to deal with those kinds of managers.
For more along the lines of quality inspector in the photo above, see the History Channel's Women Factory Workers of WWII gallery.


Care and feeding of a liver

Bioengineered livers might soon be within our grasp. Researchers at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center (could that name be any longer?) have grown human liver cells into small, working livers. It's early yet, but the next step is animal studies to make sure these miniature livers continue to function like real livers. I already talked about a researcher who was engineering an artifical kidney he had hoped to par down to implantable size from the now room sized working artifical kidney. It's interesting to see the paths of research take both strictly biological and also technologically assembled forms. I think with diversity in development we are more likely to see huge leaps in science on this front and not be far from a Star Trek-esque world where many internal organs can be replaced with the proper machines.
And for those wondering, you can get your own plush organs (as seen in adorable photo) here at I Heart Guts.


DARPA Thursdays: Coming in 100 years, to a galaxy near you

From the same people who brought you the internet and bombing the moon, there is an exciting new effort to build a long distance interstellar travel program. Exciting if you can wait 100 years. DARPA and NASA's Ames Research Center are pairing up to look into the foundation and business model necessary to accomplish some serious space travel in another century.
Their goal is a noble one; inspire a multigenerational effort to do now what is necessary to accomplish this huge task in 100 years. Because something this big will take many generations and extensive planning. It will take government funding, private business models, and scientists and engineers inching us closer to the technology needed while an inspired public encourages the efforts that will get us into space again. It hearkens back of course to the space race: the Apollo program and JFK's still chilling words (at least to me). The words that let us look beyond elections and taxes and deficits and think about where we really want to go. Turn our eyes to the stars and think about what could be of America's scientists and engineers.
We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
Still gives me goosebumps when I hear the audio. So maybe DARPA and NASA's effort seems a little too far reaching, a little impossible and unsustainable, maybe even naive. But if we could go to the moon in a year when my TI-83 would be the size of a room, maybe this too is possible. Or in the words of the poet Robert Browning,
Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,or what's a heaven for?


Grow your own shrooms

Used coffee grounds and mushrooms don't usually bring to mind entrepreneurialism. A couple of university business students in California both approached their professor after a class where growing mushrooms in coffee grounds was mentioned, and he paired them up and they've been trying to make a business of it ever since. Apparently growing the mushrooms themselves for local restaurants proved too space inefficient. So now they make these kits, a sort of DIY. Right now they're running all this on their own with very little fixed expenses so it remains to be seen whether they could actually make a profit from this venture.
This is timely for me as it is senior project time in my design class. I was surprised to hear my classmates speak up in dismay that projects developed for a private company would be something they would not retain the IP (intellectual property) rights for. I think many will go the academic/research route just to control the rights to the projects they work on. I know not all of them plan to go to grad school, so it's interesting to me how many have that spark of creativity where they would like to keep working on and keep developing their ideas. I, like the characters in Shawshank Redemption, am mostly "institutionalized" and can't see myself working on something that is more research driven than private. However there are lots of good projects. Another classmate of mine was mulling over doing a project that had a lot of meaning and could actually help people versus something that would be more likely to get him a job. I'm trying to push aside any desire I might have to work on some of the more "interesting" projects in favor of something less difficult so I'm not as overwhelmed in the next several months. I guess we all have difficult decisions to make.


Job Hunting

You know the economy is bad when people are ok with working in "hole in the wall." Yes it's a real place. I bet they get a gazillion applicants too.