Twofish's Blog

April 26, 2007

Popping open the parachute

Filed under: Career, quantitative finance — twofish @ 3:34 pm

Last week I left my previous employer.  It feels like jumping out of an airplane (with more than a little push).  It’s not a bad feeling actually.  Scary mostly, but not unpleasant scary.

It’s hard to describe my current status.  Technically, I’m unemployed and “out of a job.”  The curious thing is that I don’t feel as if I am unemployed or “out of a job” since I’ve been as busy, and perhaps even more so than when I was employed.  To quote a useful expression, my job is now to get a job, and that involves calling people, writing resumes, preparing for interviews, reading back and forth, travelling.  A lot of stuff which means that I have much less time for blogging.

 I don’t want to talk too much about the last days of my employer right now.  Someday, but it’s too soon to talk about it.  However, looking over the last several years, I made a series of strategic decisions which seem to be paying off right now in a big way.

The first big strategic decision was to leave the employer before my last employer.  This was a good decision because at the time, I had the chance to continue on albeit with relocation, and I decided to jump ship.  This is good because I’ve been “between jobs” before.  I know what to do, what not to do.  I’m finding in particular that resume writing is *much* easier to do the second time around.

The other big major strategic decision that I made was to put too much of my identity into my new employer or the software I was writing.  This meant that in leaving my employer there was much less emotional trauma than when I left Halliburton, and *MUCH* less trauma than when I left MIT.  One thing that shows this is how little time it took to clean out my desk.  I got notice at 2:30 that my employment was at an end.  By 2:45, I had packed up my office and left the building.  There wasn’t really anything in there that was personal.  Only my personal laptop which I unplugged and carried with me to my car.  This was in contrast to when I left Halliburton when there were boxes and boxes of stuff.

The other thing that made this much less traumatic was that I defined my “job” as something much broader than the 40 hours that I spent at “work.”  I saw myself and still see myself as a “junior faculty person” with a work week of between 60-80 hours.  This made it trival to cope with losing a job, since it was like losing a source of grant funding.  Annoying, but not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

More to come….

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April 5, 2007

Thought provoking article

Filed under: china, iraq, politics — twofish @ 8:35 pm

Here is a thought provoking article

 http://www.feer.com/articles1/2007/0704/free/p036.html

Thinking is hard.  Scholarship is hard.  What makes  it hard is that it’s easy to be blindly in favor of the Chinese Communist Party, but it is just as easy to be blindly against the Chinese Communist Party, and the conclusions that you come up with by assuming that everything that the Party says or does is wrong are likely to be as incorrect as the conclusions that you come up with by assuming that everything that the Party says or does is right.  Trying to sort through and  figure out what is going on is hard work.

The way that the Chinese Communist Party manages to co-opt people is interest.  They just talk.  If you talk with most Chinese officials, you end up finding that they are normal, decent, well-meaning people, and if you spend a lot of time talking with someone that seems nice, normal, and decent, you end up starting to see the world in the same way that they do.
Let me point out one thing that  Dr. Holz didn’t mention and that is the huge impact that Iraq has had on discourse.  Before this Iraq thing, there was a clear coherent ideological alternative to the Chinese model of development.  Now there isn’t.  If you open your mouth today and talk about freedom and democracy spreading across the world, the first thing that people will think about is George W. Bush and the war in Iraq.  The amount of damage this has done to democracy promotion efforts throughout the world is incalculable since Beijing looks infinitely better than Baghdad at this point.

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