Most of my good friends know I have some type of fractional-life crisis on a weekly to bi-weekly basis. The crises range from the standard: is my major right for me, to the more extreme: is college even the right path for me, would I be happier opening a bagel stand in the Pacific Northwest, or maybe shaving my head, selling my possessions, and moving to the Himalayas to become one with the universe.
For the last six years, I've been using BSPWM, a window manager for Linux, along with a variety of impractical operating systems and terminal based tools. Among other consequences, my laptop screen constantly looks like a scene from CSI when they have two people on the same keyboard with green text flying across the screen in an attempt to "hack the mainframe", and I look like a nerd.
It's my last semester at UT, I'm in 10 hours, and I have a lot of free time. Last week, I woke up at 9 and went back to bed, the chance of something urgent needing my attention on any arbitrary day being so slim that I didn't even hesitate. Sometimes I'll wake up early on purpose just so I can get that warm feeling of drifting back to sleep. I eventually rolled out of bed at 11, just in time to catch my pre-med roommate readying his backpack for a 12 hour day on campus.
One of the best things about the CS degree plan is its flexibility. As I've written about before, I'm an advocate of using this flexibility to explore diverse topics. When else in life are you going to study ancient Native American civilizations or the psychology of music with the depth and rigor of a college course?
The following are some of my positive experiences with electives at UT.
I ended my last post with this question:
"When the movie is first screened to the cast and crew, when the opening scene illuminates the faces of the main actors and directors, what's the location assistant thinking? Does he feel a sense of ownership of the movie in front of him? The same emotions as the protagonist and producer? Is he proud of his work or is his job so specific, so far removed from the big picture, that he feels like a stranger in the audience, simply enjoying the free popcorn and daydreaming of weekend plans?"
During my monthly existential crisis, I'll often draw an analogy between larger tech company employees and the cast of a movie. In my analogy, the CEO is the star, the person people talk about when they discuss the movie. E.g:
"Bro you haven't seen Shrek 2? That movie's definitely top 5 of all time, Eddie Murphy's delivery is hilarious."
"Bro have you heard Google's harvesting all our data? I don't trust Sundar Pichai, man. I think it's his eyes."
Disclaimer: This is just a perspective on my own life that hopefully resonates with someone. I'm not criticizing anyone who's double majoring. Everyone has their own reasons for doing things.
Coming back to west campus after being gone Halloween weekend, I knew my apartment would be a little grimy. Halloween is my roommates' favorite holiday, and they celebrate accordingly. On my Uber ride back from the airport, the driver delivered an insistent speech about why AI would eradicate humans by 2030, which allowed me time between empty nods to plan my day. Sleep-deprived, starving, and with work to catch up on, I envisioned myself walking in, ignoring the slight living room damage, eating some cereal, taking a nap, and attempting to be productive for the remainder of the day.
My weekly operating systems projects were due Sunday night. I'm not the best programmer, and was taking a few other time consuming classes, so these weekly projects consumed most of my weekends.
Starting tasks intimidates me. The conflicting goals of wanting to do a good job and wanting to be done as soon as possible often give rise to procrastination. I'm far from a perfectionist, but the fears of going about something the wrong way or getting off to a poor start and having to re-start from scratch are paralyzing.
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