Sunday, October 23, 2005


First off I'll start with this week's mileage:

Mon 7 miles, fast pace
Tues (injured)
Wed 5.5 miles, slow pace
Thur (injured)
Fri (rest)
Sat 10 miles, slow pace
Sun (rest)
Week Total: 22.5 miles

PATHETIC!!! I need to start cross-training soon. I can't believe I'm on such a light training schedule for a marathon, which is in 15 weeks by the way. >_>

Anyway, I've been hit really hard this past week by something that's very difficult to fight against. I'm still burnt-out of course (that won't change until I manage to take a vacation and relax for once), and now its starting to have an even nastier effect on my daily life. It really hit me hard last weekend, where I found myself unable to do anything. Literally! I did nothing but watch anime and play SNES games on an emulator and sleep a whole lot, even though I had a big homework assignment due Monday and an exam I desperately needed to study for Wednesday. But I was unable to do homework or study, it was horrible. On Sunday night I realized that the only thing I can really do now is drop the class, so I did. I really didn't want to do it (its a great class), but I didn't have much of a choice at that point. I've had this happen to me before, but it was usually only briefly at the end of a semester and then I was able to rest and spring right back up again. I've still got a full 2 months to get through, and I don't think this is going away anytime soon unfortunately. I did a whole lot of nothing again this weekend, but I did manage to work on some homework for about 8 hours or so so I guess it could be worse.

Another side-effect is that I'm constantly tired. Not physically, but mentally. My mind is always so clouded and confused these days that I can't concentrate on a single thing, especially not research (which I have lost a lot of faith in at this point for my field, but that's another story). I sleep well over 8 hours a day now. On Friday, I got home around 3PM, went to bed before 4, woke up again around 8:30, did nothing for a couple hours and then went back to bed around 11, woke up at 3, did nothing again for half an hour, went back to bed at 4, and woke up again at 7:30. Is that whacked up or what? No matter how much I sleep, I still feel like I want to sleep more. My dreams are really the only place where I'm happy now.

Putting all my troubles aside though, I've been thinking really seriously about something lately. I've been getting more and more interested in things other than computer architecture since I've been taking this Neurophysiology class this semester, and I'm feeling very doubtful at this point that I want to do nothing but computer stuff for the rest of my life. Even though I like Freescale and I enjoy working there, I don't think it will make me happy in the long run. So, I think that I'm going to remain in school after I get my master's degree (hopefully this May). But I sure as hell don't want to have anything to do with my so-called "advisor" after that, and I definitely don't want to do a PhD in ECE at this point. What I'm thinking of doing is studying biology (specializing in neurophysiology). Maybe you're saying "Woah, so you spent 6 years of your life studying one thing and now you're doing a 180 degree turn on it?". The answer is no. I am glad that I became a computer engineer and I use my knowledge in it everyday outside the classroom. But I think I would be happier if I knew that the work I did helped people live longer and fuller lives. I don't just want to work so I can get paid, and so that a company can make profit. I don't find much meaning in that kind of work honestly. I've always wanted the things I do to have an impact on others and to make other people happy. That doesn't just go for work, but Allacrost, translating for Yanime, and all the other things I enjoy I do with that thought in mind. I don't know why I feel that way, but I do. I just want my existance to make other people happy (even if they don't even know me).

Not to mention I find all this biology/neurophysiology stuff to be freaking awesome too. :) This week I'm going to talk with some people in the biology department and in biomedical engineering and figure out what my options are. I feel like I need to get a BS in biology because I know practically *nothing* at this point, so I don't feel safe just hoping into a master's program in biology. I still haven't made up my mind completely about this, but I feel stronger and stronger about this decision with each passing day. I'd also like to take the opportunity to live like a real college student to. That is, not one that just studies all the time and hardly ever has any fun (which is largely how I was when I was working towards my BS in ECE at Purdue).

Ack, I rambled on for too long. Kudos if you actually read all of this. Well, for now I'm just going to weigh my options and when I have to make a decision, I'm going to go with my gut like I always have. ;)

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Don't let the man get you down!

So from the sessions with my counselor, we've figured out that my fundamental problem is that I'm really burned out right now. The reason this happened was because since January, I've been pushed harder and harder by my superiors (my boss at work, my advisor, the professor I TA for, and even myself) and I'm getting handed around between them with no rest at all. All of them are very... pushy and try to wring out every drop of productivity that they can from me, and my mind and my spirit are just drained to the core. I keep working hard thinking "okay, get through this and I'll have a nice hard-earned break", but it never happens! Literally the second I become free of some responsibility, I am approached by someone else who wants me to work on a new project. For example, a couple weeks ago I got a call from a former co-worker at Freescale during my TA office hours (yeah, I know its weird), and the guy asked if I was busy (and I was really busy that day since half the class was in the lab), so I said yes, and he said "Okay, well we want you to come work for us part-time starting in December".

December. December. DECEMBER!? Finals don't even END for me until like the 17th of December, and they want me to hop right back to work? For the love of GOD, can I have a vacation PLEASE!?!? I mean seriously, I'm a human being not a robot! I suppose its nice to be wanted (and to be paid), but still man. I have important things I want to accomplish in my life and if I keep getting worked like this forever, I'm just going to be more and more miserable. Well there's more to the story, but I don't want to get into the details. Coincidentally, I found a series of three articles that talk about job burnout and the symptoms they describe in there fit me perfectly. They had a 25-question test in the second article to evaluate if you're burned out and between a 25-125 score range, I ranked a 92 (which means I'm pretty well burnt-out). In fact, my score would be more like 100 but two questions didn't apply to me (increase in alcohol/drug use and increase in TV viewing, neither of which I do). So at least I know what's wrong with me now, I just have to find a way to get out of it.

Anyway, I'm still running with the UT Marathon Team and things are going pretty well, but I have a shin splint in my left leg that's been holding me back. I HATE shin splints! :( I'm doing everything I can to treat it, but its not something that's easy to fix. I also decided to start using my blog as a mileage log, so here's what I did this week.

Mon 6.5 miles, fast pace
Tues 7.1 miles, slow pace
Wed 5.5 miles, slow pace
Thur 1 mile warm-up + track workout: 1600-1200-800-400 ladder
Fri (rest)
Sat 11.8 miles, slow pace
Sun (rest)
Week Total: 34.4 miles

Hmm, seems kind of weak to me. I thought I got in more milage than that. Oh well. After that long-ass run today I took a long-ass nap and I pretty much slept the rest of the day away. :P Long runs on Saturday mornings feel so good to me though. It's hard to explain, but that's what I've done ever since I was 15.

Anyway, I need to crack down and get some work done tonight. I'll make an effort to post more frequently rather than these sporadic long ass posts, but no guarantees. :P Oh yeah note to self: next time I'll talk about why I'm thinking of changing majors. ;)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Something to Write Home About

I've been putting off blogging lately, but I finally got something I just had to share about. :) But first of all I guess I should address some things from my last post. First of all, Rita didn't even touch Austin. It was a perfectly bright, sunny day during the weekend that it struck. It was kind of a relief and at the same time disappointing for me (I was actually looking forward to being in a hurricane. I know, I have issues). I'm still seeing that counselor on a weekly basis. My main problem right now is that I'm burnt out from being overworked hardcore for such an extended period of time, and the reason she/we believe that happens is because I always work so hard to excel in everything I do and once that happens, it's like my superiors/co-workers begin to always expect that level of performance/dedication, which would be fine if that was the only thing I did, but I involve myself in so many projects its like people forget that I have more commitments than just the one they care about.

Anyway, on to today's main event. HUMAN BRAIN DISSECTION PHOTOS!!! I should forewarn you that if you are weak at viewing pictures of semi-fresh human brains, then you should probably not read any further. I think this stuff is really cool though, so if you can stomach it and you're not eating at the moment, I hope you'll take a look and be impressed. :)

My favorite picture is the one where I'm holding the brain. :) The pictures didn't turn out that great because I suck at photography, and I had never used that camera before (I borrowed it from a friend), and I couldn't find the zoom on the damn thing. Plus I was trying to furiously take down notes as we were doing the dissection, so I wasn't focusing too much on getting good pictures. We looked at four different brains, all of which made it into one shot or another. Initially i was worried that I might feel sick or get disgusted, but I was actually completely fine. I got my hands all over those brains and I was feeling and poking and probing every place I could. :D

I'm not going to try and describe everything in those shots right now, because its 5:45AM and I've been up since 3AM studying. @_@ Anyway, it was a great experience and I really learned a lot. Seeing/touching a human brain was one of the items on my "Things to do before I die" list, so I'm pretty happy about it. :)