Stephen A. Fuqua (SAF) is a Bahá'í, programmer, and conservation and interfaith advocate in the DFW area of Texas.

November 16, 2009

Graduate School Stories

E-mail from UT Graduate School: "Share Your Graduate School Stories". Let's see, which one... perhaps the "story" of negotiating expectations down to 40 hours/week on a 20 hour appointment that expressly stated that the student isn't supposed to work more than 20 hours? I sometimes wonder what life would have been like had I been able to spend more time studying for my classes [don't think it would have made much difference though -- I was in over my head as a physics grad student].


Maybe a story about the time when our Redhat network (for which I was god) was cracked by an as-yet-undisclosed vulnerability in a daemon, and I spent the week rebuilding everything and got chewed out for erasing my boss's hard drive and not knowing that he kept all of his thousands of e-mails in his inbox, rather than saving it to the backed-up home folder like everyone else? (Though I had god-permission, I didn't know about /var/spool/mail on local machine at the time, or whatever the path is. I had made my best guess as to what directories to send to Amanda).

Or perhaps the day that I showed up to a student organization meeting with a face so red and angry that it seemed to stun my friends, after spending 3-4 hours exporting a hundred huge images from a PowerPoint, manually shrinking them, and re-inserting? (Oh, and it took a while to clear the print queue too, from the Man's ill-fated initial attempt at printing the 300 MB doc on the HP LJ 4). That was about as angry as I've ever been.

I'm not really bitter about these things today; I've long been over them. My grad school time did include a lot of good on-the-job learning about programming and sys admin that basically gave me a career. It is actually kind of useful to remember some of these painful moments; keeps things in perspective. Keeps me from being too nostalgic for UT (well, only a little bit!). Makes me push back thoughts of trying to get back to school, at least a little further back (besides, don't know what I would do there, too many good but unproven options).