Twofish's Blog

August 16, 2006

The answer is NO.

I asked my employer if I could take a week off each month to do academic stuff.  The answer was no.  As a result, I’m currently on the market for new jobs.  If I leave then this is actually a very amicable divorce.  I politely asked a question.  They politely gave an answer.  I’m still going to be working here for the next few months at least, but my heart isn’t here any more.

As far as what I want.  In less than one hundred years I’m going to be dead.  Right now through my actions, I’m writing my own obiturary.  I’m working one three or four projects which successful or not I think would be worth putting in my obiturary.  The job I’m working on right now, it’s interesting, it pays the bills, but it is nothing that would make for an interesting obiturary.  That also explains why I’m not too concerned with money.  He made a lot of money isn’t that interesting to have people talk about after you are dead.

How do I feel?

First I’m glad that I asked the question and brought up the issue.  I like to think that I learn from my mistake, and one very big mistake I made fifteen years ago, was that I avoided asking a difficult question, and having a difficult conversation, and the consequences of that still haunt me today.  Today, I asked the question, had the difficult conversation, got a NO as an answer, and whatever happens it’s not going to haunt me fifteen years from now.

I’m also scared out of my mind.  What am I scared of?  Well there is the uncertainty and instability of figuring out what to do, but that’s not the real fear.  The real fear is that this job is “as good as it gets.”  That would be extremely depressing, if I found out that this were the case.  I know that I can’t have everything that I want, and I know that I’m going to have to compromise with reality.  The question that is open is *how much* I’m going to have to compromise, and if I find out that I happen to be working in the best place in the world, that would be extremely depressing.

I’m also sad.  The problem is that the company that I’m working at does some useful and interesting things, and it has a very cool vision of the future.  I’m the type of person that wants to believe.  I want to believe in something.  The trouble is reprocity.  In order for me to believe in someone else’s dreams, they also have to believe in mine, and it is sad that they just don’t.  But on the other hand, it is something of a relief because it means that I can leave without feeling too guilty about the consequences.

One thing that I’ve learned is that love and passion involves trust and commitment.  I’m willing to put a huge amount of energy toward my wife, my kids, to the United States, to China, to MIT, to Wikipedia, to Wikiversity, to science, to academia, to quantlib because they can’t or won’t easily leave me and kick me out.  What I can accomplish for these things is limited only by my energy and my abilities, and I’m the type of person that wants to see what it is that I can do.  But I can’t put this sort of energy and passion toward someone or some institution that doesn’t show the same level of trust and commitment to me, and the modern business isn’t set up to do this.

I can fall in love with quantlib, because I know that the licenses prevent anyone from taking the result of my passion and labor away from me, but I can’t fall in love with the piece of software that I’m working on in my day job, because that can be taken away from me.  I made that mistake once before when I worked on a wonderful piece of petrophysical software that had a huge amount of potential.  It’s sitting in some server now, totally dead and useless.  It like having a piece of your soul removed, since when I’m writing C++, it’s like writing poetry, I put a piece of my soul into the program, and I’m not every going to make the mistake of falling in love with a proprietary program.

Anyway it is sad that the company and I could not have come up with a “shared dream” of the future, but that was not my decision, and I don’t have any responsibility for the consequences (which I think will be bad).  It was my responsibility for bringing up the issue in the first place, but I’ve learned the hard way of the awful consequences that happen when you don’t find a way of saying what you feel.


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